For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods.
For all the Gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord mad the heavens. Psalm 96:4-5
The psalm demands an allegiance as stunning today as it was in the day it was written. Praise the God of Israel as the God of peoples and lands. Dispense with all other gods as they are simply idols, powerless and without meaning. Though we may not carve idols, our age certainly replaces God with other objects of devotion. Observer the lines pouring out of Verizon stores this week to possess and iPhone, the people believing that ownership of this phone would be transformative enough to queue up for hours in the winter cold.
Three calls to action follow the psalmist’s establishment of the authority and omnipresence of God:
Ascribe to the Lord, O families of nations, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering and come into his courts.
Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness; tremble before him, all the earth. (vv 7-9)
To what do we ascribe glory and strength, really? To whom do our offerings go? Do we tremble before anything?
Grace and peace to you.
image Truth Will Set You Free
“They know nothing, they understand nothing.
They walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken.”
At the heart of this psalm lies a truth that has not changed since the first human leader stepped up and began to exercise control over others. All leaders, whether they believe in Him or accept His hand in control of their ascension. God is intentional in placing specific people in particular positions of authority to arrange His course for history.
Israel cries out to God for justice, asking why He does this. They ask “How long will you defend the unjust and show partiality to the wicked?” (v2). The demand justice from Him, “Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” (vv 3-4) Israel wants to know why God allows those He has placed in authority to abuse that position and injure His people.
Why indeed? Is there consequence for godlessness? Is God the only one who can reach out and lift up the weak and fatherless?
Grace and peace to you..
image by Stuck In Customs
Submission is among the most difficult of the spiritual disciplines to put into practice. Every time that we place another above self we run the risk that out submission will be abused. The Christian is willing to be obedient to the Lord in this risky venture but we search for limits and these are reached when submission becomes destructive. This point is clear in the words of Christ,
Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Mt 22:37-40)
We are challenged by Peter who described a radical submission to wordly authority in his first epistle. He says “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.” Our submission is a clear sign to the watching world that we see authorities as vested in their position by God. We are obedient up to the point at which the submission is abused and it becomes destructive.
This ‘spiritual authority’ is the key indicator that the modern Christian is alert to. We are deeply aware of the differences found in a world of Christians and those who are antagonistic toward Christ. Are we allowed to refuse to submit in situations where spiritual authority is absent? For the most part, no. We are to emulate the radical submission of Christ to greatest extent we are able until such point that it becomes destructive. Until then, we model the Gentle Soul and pray that their hearts will be touched.