Monday, May 11, 2015

Two ends of a spectrum with balance in the Psalms . . .



Judges 20:1–21:25, Philippians 4:21–23, Psalm 72:1–20

Today’s OT reading is summed up by the final verse: “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 21:25)

Eleven of the twelve tribes of Israel had gone to war against one tribe because of the evil done to the Levite’s concubine (yesterday’s post) and in the end, many people lost their lives. This happened because they were not following the Lord, nor did they have any authority in their lives to hold them accountable. It reminded me of a line in a book about Scottish history that went something like this: “If the clans didn’t have anyone else to fight with, they fought with each other.”

It would be easy to put them down, to be critical of their lack of unity and their ways of dealing with “family” issues. Such bozos they were. However, when I think about the temptations that cross my mind and what would happen if I followed them, how can I be critical? Without the strong leading of the Holy Spirit, the results in my life would be just as horrifying. Sin is a powerful and destructive force. The headlines in the newspaper every morning prove it.

The NT reading is in stark contrast. It is at the close of the joyful book of Philippians where Paul simply conveys greetings to God’s people. He adds only a few lines, yet they show the difference that Jesus makes in the family of God. Obviously, these people cared for God and one another.

“Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me greet you. All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.” (Philippians 4:21–23)

So also did King David who came along much later than the time of the judges. He prays to God with an attitude of care and concern for God’s people, but also praises God for His goodness . . .

Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to the royal son! May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice! Let the mountains bear prosperity for the people, and the hills, in righteousness! May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the children of the needy, and crush the oppressor!  . . . . For he delivers the needy when he calls, the poor and him who has no helper. He has pity on the weak and the needy, and saves the lives of the needy. From oppression and violence he redeems their life, and precious is their blood in his sight . . . . May his name endure forever, his fame continue as long as the sun! May people be blessed in him, all nations call him blessed! Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things. Blessed be his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory! Amen and Amen! (Psalm 72:1-4, 12-14,17–19)

No wonder people read the psalms to get a balance of rebuke and comfort. The OT judges tipped the scale too far to darkness and evil. Sometimes Paul seems so godly that I cannot reach that height. But David is easy to relate to as he speaks of his fears and then overcomes them by exalting the greatness of God. 


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