The Character of the LORD

We live in a secular world. People focus on secular accomplishments, judge value in physical ways, and offer materialistic explanations for their own existence. While the intellectuals of modernity attempt to couch their trust in the world in scientific and philosophical terms, in the end they have simply added technical dressing to a pagan principle. They proclaim the glories of the physical because they deny the spiritual. Secular humanism, the de facto religion of the irreligious, demands a self-saving doctrine built on self-centered trust and self-styled purpose in order to create a self-oriented glory they call self-esteem. How sadly typical that, in order to find value in themselves, they consider it necessary to eliminate God from their thinking. In the process, they limit themselves and their value because they see themselves solely as material beings as well. The LORD offers so much more to His creation than an existence rooted in worldliness. But if we expect others to see this, we must ensure that we fully appreciate it first. In Psalm 115 the psalmist contrasts the worthlessness of paganism with the transcendent nature of  the LORD, and this comparison retains similar substance in combatting modern secularism within our own hearts.

Secularism assumes all existence is physical, but the LORD transcends this world (Psa. 115:1-8). Left to his own devices, man strives for personal fulfillment rooted in his own selfish desires, a matter easily justified if man is the measure of all things. But the existence of a Creator demands humility of man and submission to His will, a will that exists apart from this earth, rooted in omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence. Any attempt to assert some will by appealing to human experience and wisdom pales in comparison—not only in the nature of the claim but also in the actuality of the practice. Like the pagans of old, materialistic practitioners today, trusting in worldly wisdom, end up caught in the trap of their own hypocrisy, constantly adjusting their precepts and advice in a silent acknowledgment of their fallibility and ignorance. Secularism implicitly encourages its adherents to trust their instincts for personal behavior, trust secular “experts” for answers to life’s questions, and trust government programs for life’s problems. The faithful, on the other hand, trust the LORD (Psa. 115:9-11). This does not constitute a blind faith in the immediate dissolution of all problems in life but rather a recognition that following the prescriptions of divine revelation provide far greater help and protection in life than the combined wisdom of thousands. Secularists convince themselves that they alone are responsible for every positive advance of humankind while simultaneously blaming humanity for every perceived calamity in existence. Because they place themselves at the pinnacle of thought, they reject the providence of a Creator who cares for His creation and for those who serve Him in particular (Psa. 115:12-15). They give millions of dollars and years of effort to try to solve problems that do not exist—all because their pride rejects God. And thus they live in fear, lacking the comfort of the simple phrase, “The Lord has been mindful of us.” Most of all, secularism degrades individual purpose and replaces it with personal fulfillment—a natural progression for those who view life without reference to God or eternity (Ecc. 1:2-16)—but the LORD gives purpose to life (Psa. 115:16-l8). We live as caretakers of the earth—not its children. We live treating life as a blessing and an opportunity to serve God—not an existence created by chemistry and defined by biology. We live for God and for eternity in accordance with His character, and that changes life itself.

Advertisements

Are You Impressed?

Different people find different talents, characteristics, and achievements impressive. Someone interested in sports will find a feat of athleticism far more impressive than a perfectly performed violin concerto. Similarly, an official in the State Department likely values the skill of negotiation more than those working in Defense. Therefore, our own interests play a significant role in what impresses us, a tendency that can lead people into an echo chamber of self-congratulation and away from greater understanding. Ignorance plays a role as well. In public speaking, such as preaching, people usually marvel at memorization, emotionally moving displays, and a well-honed rich baritone voice while taking for granted excellent organization, meaningful development, and thoughtful analysis. In this case, ignorance leads people to notice the obvious in presentation but miss the important in essence. 

While the connection may appear tenuous at first, this problem regularly presents itself in the spiritual realm. Depending on the religion, denomination, or philosophy, what impresses a person reveals much about themselves and about their choice. Certain people find the ceremony, pomp and circumstance, and formality of particular religious groups impressive and compelling. Others wonder at the quiet solitude and meditative qualities emphasized elsewhere. Likewise, many embrace an emotional emphasis and spontaneity while others find this meaningfulness while seeking deeper intellectual meaning within themselves and society. Close attention reveals that people are impressed by and drawn to something they feel that they need in their lives—for whatever reason—or that reflects their own personality.

However, when the psalmist reflected on Israel’s birth as a nation, an escape from the greatest power of the time preceded by ten plagues that devastated the land, and on her entrance into what became the homeland (Psa. 114:1-2), rather than recounting the impression made upon those other nations or even the children of Israel themselves, the psalm instead turned to anthropomorphism, assigning living behaviors to the inanimate in nature. However, these actions had a root in reality. The Red Sea and the Jordan River, the borders of Egypt and Canaan respectively, both retreated at the command of God to allow Israel passage (Psa. 114:3). Similarly, when Israel camped below Mount Sinai, the people witnessed the quaking of the mountains before the LORD delivered the Law (Psa. 114:4). Nevertheless, the questions that followed show the real point (Psa. 114:5-6). Why did this happen? Since the psalmist intentionally gave the waters and the mountains traits of the living, making decisions about their behavior, the explanation must do the same. What impressed the waters and the mountains? The next verse answers the question in the form of exhortation: “Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord, At the presence of the God of Jacob” (Psa. 114:7). The mountains and the seas, recognized for their power and majesty, even worshipped in pagan cultures, here acknowledged the sovereignty of Yahweh, bowing down in figure before Him to do His will. This alone should impress, and yet the psalm adds one more note in the same closing sentence, “Who turned the rock into a pool of water, The flint into a fountain of waters” (Psa. 114:8). The same God whose power and presence impress the mountains shows interest and care for His people. This unique combination is the most impressive aspect of God, and yet so many miss it. Indeed, because people search for a religion, a church, or an idea that fits their personality and proclivities, they fail to appreciate and be impressed by the God who cares for them and simply wants them to do His will (Heb. 5:8-9).  

Purposeful Praise

Everyone enjoys receiving praise. In general it denotes respect, appreciation, and admiration. In learning it indicates satisfaction, competency, and progress. Praise can motivate us toward reaching new heights while justifying the effort made to that point. People have so valued praise that they began treating it as a means of building self-esteem, even to the point of offering praise for meaningless non-accomplishments and failed attempts. Sadly, this latter practice divorces praise from worth, acting as if the words themselves hold the power instead of realizing that the power of praise lies in the truth of the statement, the sincerity of the speaker, and the relationship between those involved. And while many might recognize the folly of empty praise lauded on children for spelling cat with a k, and though many might reject vain offerings of adulation heaped upon them undeservingly, Christians sometimes fail to reflect deeply on the meaning and purpose of praise when they bow before Almighty God. 

The writer of Psalm 113 had no such difficulty. For him, praising the LORD came naturally from a consideration of the distinctiveness of His being, the grandeur of His sovereignty, and the blessings of His covenant. He opened with what might seem generic praise and yet proves to be far from it: “Praise the LORD! Praise, O servants of the LORD, Praise the name of the LORD!” (Psa. 113:1). This is personal praise—praise offered to the One who revealed Himself as Yahweh to Israel, praise given by servants who humbly bow in reverence and devotion, ready to do His will, and praise rooted in the personal relationship the covenant He established made possible. As He explained to the Israelites while they still suffered in Egypt, “I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name LORD I was not known to them” (Ex. 6:3). The covenant created a special relationship, and that relationship elicited personal praise. But this praise did not usher forth lightly, casually, or routinely. The closeness of the relationship proved all the more amazing when considering the great majesty of the LORD. Eternal, omnipresent, and sovereign—no small sampling of appreciation could do. The praise must match the One praised, and for the LORD that requires a recognition of His transcendent spirit, submission to His sovereignty, and a heart giving its all (Psa. 113:2-4). Then, having reached up to touch the hem of divine majesty, the psalm takes an unexpected turn that distinguishes Jehovah from the pagan claimants to the throne of deity in the form of a rhetorical question: “Who is like the Lord our God, Who dwells on high, Who humbles Himself to behold The things that are in the heavens and in the earth?” (Psa. 113:5-6). He is indeed unique. And His interaction and attention to man proves just how different He truly is. The glory of the LORD is visible not in His aloofness towards mankind but rather in His loving interest in every man. Nothing escapes his notice, and nothing is beneath His interest. This description defies not only the gods of mythology and paganism but also the pretensions of Gnosticism and Deism. Through divine providence, the LORD reaches down from the heights of heaven to lift up the lowly upon the earth. He lifts the poor out of their poverty and the needy out of their necessity (Psa. 113:7). He lifts up leaders from among the humble and gives recognition to the unknown (Psa. 113:8). He grants children to the barren and builds a nation for the ages (Psa. 113:9). There is nothing the LORD cannot do. 

These were no mere boasts. This praise reflected Israel’s history. The nation, as promised, sprang forth from the womb of Sarah. Their first two kings rose to prominence from obscurity. Then the LORD’s kindness renewed and from the poverty of captivity provided the means for rebuilding the temple, Jerusalem, and the nation. However, one final thought makes this praise all the more significant. The psalmist quotes from Hannah, who would bare a son given to the LORD. But more than that, this psalm anticipates Mary, who would sing a song of praise that not only celebrated a birth made possible by the LORD but also signified just how much He would be willing to humble Himself on behalf of mankind (Phil. 2:5-8). Praise the LORD!

Blessings of Righteousness

God has done so much for man that it boggles the mind. From the provisions of creation to the promises to Abraham to His intervention in history with the children of Israel to the sending of the Savior, at every turn God stepped in to provide precisely what man needed at exactly the right time. Indeed, even before Jesus came, the psalmist acknowledged this. However, sometimes men spend so much time marveling at the grace of God that they fail to consider the responsibilities of faith. Psalm 112 pairs with the previous psalm, so indicated by the acrostic based on the Hebrew alphabet, and answers Psalm 111’s citing of all that God has done for man by calling on men to respond in the only manner appropriate to such an outpouring of grace—with faith and faithfulness. In the opening declaration the psalmist writes, “Praise the Lord! Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, Who delights greatly in His commandments” (Psa. 112:1). Thus, the righteous will respond to all that God has done with praise, with reverence, and with a careful consideration of the divine expectations for man contained in God’s Word. As the verses that follow demonstrate, this triad of characteristics produces a particular character and way of life.

Following God’s design for life develops people prepared to lead others in society and to provide guidance for generations to come (Psa. 112:2). By conforming to the character and conduct described in Holy Writ, individuals put themselves in a position to prosper in life, working to provide for themselves and for others in need (Psa. 112:3a). More than this, their spiritual behavior creates a legacy that not only affects their fellow men but also reaches into eternity (Psa. 112:3b). The righteous become a blessing to people they know (Psa. 112:4a), demonstrating interest, compassion, and fairness in all their dealings with others (Psa. 112:4b). Indeed, the heart of the righteous reaches out to others with unmistakeable generosity (Psa. 112:5a) while maintaining good judgment so that no one should take advantage (Psa. 112:5b). Even during hard times, the righteous maintain a steady faith because they do not allow the difficulties of the moment to dominate their view of eternity, trusting the LORD to provide and protect whatever might come to pass in this life (Psa. 112:6-8). Such preparation of the heart makes it possible for the upright to use their own blessings to help others (Psa. 112:9), just as the apostle Paul noted when he quoted from the psalm (2 Cor. 9:9-12).

The righteous life offers the only fitting response to all that God has done. Nevertheless, while the righteous respond to God’s goodness with praise, reverence, and study, unfortunately, not all are righteous. The wicked fail to appreciate God’s blessings, reject His favor, and allow bitterness and resentment to grow within until they can see none of the good God has done. Left only with their own desires, they have nothing of value to treasure in life, and their lives often show it (Psa. 112:10). How sad, with all that God has done from creation forward for the benefit of man, that some remain oblivious to these blessings and instead see only themselves. Having God in our lives improves everything about life. It gives us perspective and purpose. It develops within us compassion and character. It challenges us to do more for others and see beyond the moment. When we see what God has done for us, it is truly amazing what righteousness in us can then do.

Spiritual Motivation

The assembly should highlight the week of every faithful child of God. This period of worship, study, and devotion provides the much-needed focus and spiritual context for life that the world attacks as dull or meaningless. Every gathering offers yet another opportunity to remind ourselves of the extent of God’s interest, the depth of God’s love, and the might of God’s power—all exercised throughout millennia for our personal and eternal benefit. However, even many Christians fail to appreciate this blessing. Some consider it onerous drudgery; some treat it as ritualistic sacrament. Some attend out of duty and obligation; some cannot even seem to manage that. But those who understand the LORD and think about the LORD will always take time to unite and join their hearts together in worship to the LORD. “Praise the LORD! I will praise the LORD with my whole heart, In the assembly of the upright and in the congregation” (Psa. 111:1). Nevertheless, even those who diligently gather can have trouble concentrating and focusing on their purpose. Dinner plans, the score of the game, relationship problems, and worries of day to day life tend to intrude because people rarely plan and prepare their minds for worship even when their bodies are in attendance. This makes the remainder of Psalm 111 even more relevant. An acrostic psalm, the author weaves through the Hebrew alphabet while offering numerous allusions to the proven character of God, with special attention to the Pentateuch. Thus, pointing to the past, the psalmist pictures the steadfastness of the God of the present, giving all readers a series of recommendations that provide motivation to assemble together and worship the LORD and that offer focus as we bow before His throne. Therefore, in preparing yourself for the assembly, give attention to the message of this brief psalm.

  1. Contemplate the power the LORD displayed in creation (Psa. 111:2). Never view the beauty of creation without seeing beyond the physical majesty to the spiritual majesty of the Creator (Psa. 19:1).
  2. Consider how the work of the LORD through His providence contributes positively to life (Psa. 111:3). Whether working through Joseph or Esther, God accomplished great things by using the faithfulness of ordinary people. This should be our goal as those belonging to Him (Phil. 1:21).
  3. Think about how the LORD put His grace and mercy on display in making salvation possible in a way worthy to be remembered. Every day should include thanksgiving for God’s grace displayed in the cross of Jesus Christ, and every remembrance of that love should bring us back together to remember Him as His people (1 Cor. 11:23-29).
  4. Reflect on God’s faithfulness in caring for us (Psa. 111:5). Whether physical or spiritual, the Lord has provided what we need the most (Jas. 1:17; Eph. 1:3; Matt. 6:33).
  5. Ponder how much God did to make a people HIS people (Psa. 111:6). The LORD took a people enslaved in Egypt and made them the nation of Israel. In Christianity He has taken a mass of unrelated individuals and made them His family (1 Pet. 2:9-10).
  6. Study the inspired truth God has revealed (Psa. 111:7-8). The more attention we give God’s Word, the more guidance it offers, the more it unites us, and the greater our reward (2 Tim. 2:15; 2 Pet. 3:18).
  7. Meditate on His majesty and holiness that have made redemption possible (Psa. 111:9). Regardless of all the evil that goes on in this world, God’s plan will prevail; therefore, His will deserves our greatest attention and His Son our every allegiance (Rom. 8:35-39).

If these truths do not motivate us to gather in the assembly and do not help us focus on our Lord while there, we have lost sight of everything God has done. In the end, our motivation to worship should find root in something greater—our motivation to serve and obey the LORD every moment of every day. Therefore, all this reflection should serve as both motivation and means to translate our reverence for God and a knowledge of His will into humble obedience (Psa. 111:10). Many attempt to worship with a passive heart, learn with a passive interest, and live with a passive faith. But a real relationship with God requires more, and that is why God is right to expect more.

Messianic Meaning

David’s words recorded in Psalm 110 anticipate the Messiah so precisely that his prophetic utterances from this passage formed the foundation of inspired arguments multiple times in the New Testament. As such, they deserve even deeper consideration and explanation because the implications of this single psalm offer powerful testimony to the truth of Christianity in the midst of giving witness regarding Christ Himself. Almost exactly a millennium before their fulfillment, by inspiration the shepherd king of Israel pointed to a Superior and, in so doing, pointed to a superior way.

The opening words, “The LORD said to my Lord” (Psa. 110:1a), establish the Messianic nature of the psalm. David’s acknowledgement of the lordship of another, while reigning as king, by Yahweh’s own declaration, demands recognizing this Lord as his superior—not just a future descendant—as Jesus’ question to the Pharisees demonstrated (Mark 12:36). Beyond that, the statement that follows demonstrates not only His Messianic nature but also His divine identity, for sitting at the right hand of Yahweh puts Him above David, above angels (Heb. 1:13), and in the position of Co-Regent with God (Acts 2:34-36), reigning with the glory of a great battle until He should secure the final victory (1 Cor. 15:25, 55-57).  Thus David noted the coming Messianic rule, imbued with divine authority expressed through divine decree (Psa. 110:2; Matt. 28:18-20), calling out for volunteers to join the cause of the reigning Monarch (Psa. 110:3). However, despite the astounding promise of these first three verses, the next statement delivers an equally powerful prophecy, “The LORD has sworn And will not relent, ‘You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek’” (Psa. 110:4). This simple combination created a whole series of problems for Jewish interpreters. The identity of the Messiah itself baffled them greatly, holding steadfastly to the Descendant of David due to other prophecies while ignoring His promised superiority. However, a descendant of David would come from the tribe of Judah. Nevertheless, this Descendant would also be a priest, declared so in the strongest way possible, as the writer of Hebrews recognized (Heb. 5:5-11; 6:13-18). Yet, this—by necessity—required a change from the Law of Moses to something new since priests came from the tribe of Levi and the household of Aaron (Heb. 7:11-17). Therefore, God having given Him the roles of King, High Priest, and, by implication, Lawgiver, the Messiah would reign at the right hand of God until His will was fulfilled and the final foes’ defeat came to fruition (Psa. 110:5-7).

Thus, this short psalm took the previous promises of the coming Messiah in an unexpected direction. The Messiah would indeed come from the Judaic lineage of David, but He would be greater than David, the founder of the dynasty, though He Himself was a descendant—an untenable position in the ancient mind unless the Son also preceded David, which He did as Deity (John 8:58). Moreover, He would serve as High Priest, consolidating the leadership of God’s people by divine appointment with the implication, though missed, that His rule would also mark the end of the Mosaical Law’s authority and the beginning of His own superior authority. This psalm therefore anticipated some of the most fundamental and foundational doctrines of Christianity regarding the identity of the Messiah, the consolidation of kingship and priesthood, the abolition of the Law of Moses, and the Messiah’s authority to judge not only Israel but everyone. 

This may seem rather mundane centuries after Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, but its prophetic power demonstrates that this was always God’s plan, and Jesus lived it to perfection. Christianity hinges on every single one of these principles, and the Holy Spirit offered mankind clues of their coming one thousand years before their fulfillment. Thus, these doctrines of the New Testament are no invention of the apostles but rather an elaboration on the divine purpose, here proven by prophecy.

The Guilt of Accusers

Lies hurt. They hurt the truth, they hurt feelings, and they can hurt reputations. However, when lies turn into accusations and accusations into action, a malicious lie, once believed, can lead people to commit character assassination, outright violence, and even atrocities—and justify it all in the name of a lie. People have little patience today to wait for evidence, and many seem uninterested in facts. The world’s rejection of absolute truth has led the people of the world to find comfort in the relativity of lies. Encouraging worldviews independent of reality has thus led to the proliferation of extremism across the spectrum and its accompanying self-justification. The incivility, division, and vitriol exhibited in society so regularly today characterizes interactions at every level in practically every sphere, whether political, ethnic, social, or even spiritual. Having abandoned the anchor of truth, people have no standard for agreement and no foundation for reconciliation. Hatred, contention, jealousy, anger, and ambition rule the day. However, these problems did not arise recently. They have existed for millennia, even if their current incarnation has a more technological flavor to it. In fact, in the ancient world, trials mainly consisted of accusers attacking and the accused defending himself before a government official. Psalm 109 captures the ageless essence of the issue as David presents this problem in the form of a type of courtroom where he stands as the accused. 

Anyone who steps forward to lead with conviction will face unjust accusations at some point. At that first realization of the severity of the attack and malice underlying it, the heart searches desperately for someone—anyone—to come to its defense (Psa. 109:1). The lying tongues of angry accusers spill out their jealousy and hatred against the innocent to justify themselves, often projecting their own motives, ambitions, and behaviors onto their victim (Psa. 109:2-3). Sadly, many of these attacks come from former friends and associates who feigned love as long as it proved useful but inwardly loved only themselves (Psa. 109:4-5). The situation itself unnerves the righteous as helplessness and indignation swell within. Then a cry for justice calls out: Who will set things right? Never does the path of justice seem clearer than when injustice has visited your doorstep. Therefore, the plea of David before the court calls for true justice, for the false witness to receive the punishment he so desires to be meted out on the object of his lies (Psa. 109:6-20). The details throughout carry a deliberate touch of irony. The accuser should be the accused. The punishment recommended should become the punishment received. The fate of Haman in the book of Esther well reflects the tenor of the passage. However, the final portion of the psalm provides perspective often missing from our own sense of justice. Rather than attempting to manipulate the system or returning evil for evil, the psalm closes by turning to the Lord and trusting Him to make things right. Rather than trusting in our own inherent goodness, which we lack, we should realize our own weakness and thus trust in the LORD (Psa. 109:21-24). Thus, when attacked by others, the faithful will draw nearer to God and place the matter in His hands (Psa. 109:25-27). The greater our confidence in the righteousness of the LORD, the greater our confidence can be that justice will be served—eventually (Psa. 109:28-29). The LORD’s character stands fast; therefore, His people can move forward with confidence when they stand with Him (Psa. 109:30-31). 

However, one verse in this psalm adds an important dimension to our understanding. In Acts 1:20 the apostle Peter quotes from this psalm and applies it to Judas: “Let his days be few, And let another take his office” (Psa. 109:8). The one who delivered Jesus for death ultimately suffered the curse from his own accusations. Our innocent Savior, on the other hand, “‘committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth’; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed” (1 Pet. 2:22–24). The accusations against Jesus make the lies told against us seem small in comparison, but our approach should be the same.

Fighting Valiantly

The character of the psalms as a collection of individual works assembled with deliberate and divine purpose created the possibility of a later psalmist repurposing portions of earlier psalms, with minor adaptations, for use in a different context. David himself did this in applying the words of Psalm 18, penned originally in regard to Saul, to the enemies defeated towards the end of his reign. Similarly, he wrote two versions of  his psalm denouncing the fool who denies God’s existence (Psa. 14 and 53). In Psalm 108, a psalm attributed to David, we find an interesting combination of Psalm 57:7-11 and Psalm 60:5-12. The inspired editor eliminated the material specific to David’s historical situations, the first referring to his danger while hiding in a cave and the second regarding an approaching battle, and then combined them to emphasize how faithfulness to God remains the key to victory in whatever circumstance. Therefore, this newly formed psalm carries the strength not only of David’s trust but also the recognition of God’s positive response as an essential element of its background. It also combines personal protection with corporate deliverance. This combination and the circumstances described likely date the psalm itself as post-exhilic, perhaps formed by Ezra during the events that unfolded in Nehemiah 4, when references to the victories of David and allusions to the promised (and fulfilled) vanquishing of their enemies would bring confidence. Regardless of the timeframe, this hybrid psalm encourages the soul to aspire to great things by trusting God to deliver on His promises.

During times of turmoil and upheaval, when challenges appear on every corner and enemies arise with magic in their hearts, the answer lies neither in compromising with the pressure exerted by the world nor in fleeing before their onslaught but in trusting the God who can protect, guide, and deliver even in the worst of circumstances. Therefore, whatever challenges you currently face, keep a steadfast heart that reaches to the depths of your soul (Psa. 108:1), eliminating all doubt but instead offering all you have from the very moment you wake (Psa. 108:2). While the world may revel in secularism and self, God’s people rise above the influence of their environment to keep their eyes and their hearts firmly attached to the One who rules over all (Psa. 108:3). God is, God is One, and God is interested in us. These truths deserve dedication—not doubt. However, until we see the vast difference between the glory of God and our own need for His mercy, we will never appreciate how much we should trust Him, placing ourselves in His hands with faith in His greatness with a full recognition of the depths of our need (Psa. 108:4-5). Thus, existing as needy creatures, we must acknowledge that we need His deliverance desperately, His salvation completely, and His interest considerably (Psa. 108:6). Indeed, our hope and our joy depends not on what we can accomplish but on what God, in His holiness, has promised (Psa. 108:7-9). For Israel this meant deliverance from their enemies and safety within Canaan, but for God’s people today it encompasses deliverance from sin and safety within the church (Acts 2:38, 47). Only God has the strength, the wisdom, and the power to achieve the victory that all of us need. None of us can do it alone, and no man’s help is sufficient (Psa. 108:10-12). Nevertheless, for those faithful to God, achieving victory exists in both proof and promise, for Jesus brought victory by His death on the cross (Heb. 2:14-15; 1 Cor. 15:55-57). In the apostle John’s words, “Faith is the victory” (1 Jn. 5:4), which makes it a matter of trust. But as Israel of old recognized, trusting God to provide the victory does not eliminate our need to fight (2 Tim. 4:7). Yet the promise for the faithful offers hope even in the face of the greatest of foes (1 Pet. 5:8); therefore, “Through God we will do valiantly, For it is He who shall tread down our enemies” (Psa. 108:13).

The Beauty of Hindsight

From the moment Moses’ original appearance before Pharaoh led to that ruler’s hard hearted crackdown on the family of Jacob, the children of Israel established their spiritual credentials as unappreciative complainers in response to the goodness of the LORD. Even as they came to recognize His power through the ten plagues, their instincts focused on complaining before the Red Sea, complaining in the wilderness, and complaining at the foot of Mount Sinai. After receiving the Law, they complained about the prospect of fighting giants, and even after coming within the confines of Canaan, they complained when events did not turn out as they wished. They had some high points in their history, such as the reign of David, but their history as a nation trudged ever downward—with only a few exceptions—until finally they ended up in Babylonian captivity. Then, after their national humiliation at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar, the destruction of Solomon’s temple, and years of poverty and exile, they received the hope that God had promised all along: they could go home and rebuild. Only then did they begin to appreciate the care and character of the God on High they had ignored. Thus, the reflection of Psalm 107, which begins the Fifth Book of the Psalms, reviews the history of Israel with attention to hindsight, highlighting the lessons Israel should have learned along the way but had not. However, rather than offering a heavy condemnation of their forefathers, the psalmist focused on the goodness and mercy of God throughout. “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever: (Psa. 107:1).

In hindsight Israel realized their identity as a needy people redeemed by God, cared for by God, and established by God (Psa. 107:2-7). In hindsight Israel recognized the consequences of their own rebellious behavior and how essential their humiliation proved in awakening them to their spiritual need for the salvation only God provides (Psa. 107:8-14). In hindsight Israel recognized the foolishness of sin and the justice of God’s judgment. In turning to the LORD they finally accepted the saving power of His Word when coupled with faith (Psa. 107:16-20). In hindsight God’s children developed an appreciation for sacrifice, for the joys of serving God, for the benefits of His presence in their lives, and for the hope deliverance offers (Psa. 107:21-30). God had done plenty for them throughout their history, and they finally took the time to see it and thus offer the repeated cry, “Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men!” (Psa. 107:31). In hindsight they offered the praise due for centuries, acknowledging God’s providential care and activity throughout all of life and history, especially to their spiritual benefit (Psa. 107:32-42). Therefore, after a millennium of rebellion, of ignorance, and of self-inflicted pain, the children of Israel finally had concluded what God had made available to them all along. Everything God had done for them, everything God required of them, and everything God had said to them was for their benefit and came from the deepest heart of love.

How sad that the most important insight into the character of the LORD would come only after years of obstinacy! And yet how often does that situation repeat itself today? God has showered so much love (Rom. 5:8), so much attention (Heb. 2:5-18), and so much wisdom (Prov. 1:7) on mankind, and yet so many ignore Him, reject Him, and rebel against Him, just like Israel of old. The lessons of truth remain available, for God has made them known (Jn. 8:32; 17:17; 2 Tim. 3:16-17). Unfortunately, the stubbornness of men often holds out, waiting for a worldly option instead of embracing the only saving option we have. Hindsight is 20/20. But do you really want to wait until Judgment Day to learn how much you needed God all along (2 Cor. 5:10)? “Whoever is wise will observe these things, And they will understand the lovingkindness of the Lord” (Psa. 107:43).

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑