How Long, O LORD?

Tags

, , , , ,

“How long, O LORD?  Will you hide yourself forever?  How long will your wrath burn like fire?” (Psalm 89:46).

            The psalm which began with such jubilant exultation has turned to sorrow—almost despair.  After a lengthy reflection on God’s might (vv.5-17) and His establishment of the kingly line of David (vv.18-37), the psalmist reflects on the current state of affairs, when God’s people had been overthrown and oppressed (vv.38-45).  The latter portion expresses this lament in a plea for God’s deliverance.  In trouble and distress, God’s people call out to Him.

            When it’s hard to see a light ahead, trust in the Lord.  When you wonder if your suffering will ever end, if your burden will ever be lifted, call out to the Lord.  God is there, compassionate and merciful, wise and strong.  He looks graciously upon the humble and needy, and carries them in His almighty strength.

Incomparable God

Tags

, , , , , , ,

“O LORD God of hosts, who is mighty as you are, O LORD, with your faithfulness all around you?” (Psalm 89:8, ESV).

            The eighty-ninth psalm continues its exultation of God Almighty.  He has blessed His people in their king (vv.2-4), He is the God of incomparable glory (vv.5-7).  In this eighth verse, the power of God is extolled in tandem with His unfailing reliability.  Who is like God?  Of course, the answer is, there is no one like Him.

            To our incomparable God we look for strength and joy, for hope and salvation.  In His power and love we may anchor our spirits against every storm of life.  This wonderful combination, that God is incontestably mighty and that He is loving and faithful to His people, should draw from our hearts both comfort in trials and worship to our King.  May the mercy and might of the Lord be your strength and joy.

Make Known His Faithfulness

Tags

, , , , , , ,

“I will sing of the steadfast love of the LORD, forever; with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations” (Psalm 89:1, ESV).

            Ethan the Ezrahite begins this psalm in jubilant praise.  God’s past mercies stand as the basis for His people’s gratitude and witness.  Such reflection on the past steels the people of God for trials of the present and future (see vv.38ff).  Our hope lies not in ourselves nor in our circumstances, but in the “steadfast love” of God our Redeemer.

            Remember and rejoice in the faithfulness of God.  The Lord is kind and compassionate, and He has shown His love in the cross of Jesus Christ our Savior, who laid down His life for us.  In hardship and struggle, in sin and defeat, in blessing and delight, proclaim the Lord’s steadfast love—remember the faithfulness of God.

Come Before Him

Tags

, , , ,

“But I, O LORD, cry to you; in the morning my prayer comes before you” (Psalm 88:13, ESV).

            Psalm 88 is not among the cheerful psalms; and so it is a good psalm for those whose days are not cheerful.  Heman the Ezrahite knew darkness and the feeling of being rejected by God.  And, even though his prayer ends in the darkness, there is hope in the place of waiting.  He takes his misery to the Lord; so should all who suffer.

            God is with us, even when we must walk grim and shadowy roads.  If you ever feel tempted to despair, cry out to God and do not lose hope.  The Lord is gracious to the humble and compassionate to the hurting.  Take heart, and look to God, who cares for you even in the deepest struggles and sufferings.

A Battle Hymn for the Times

Tags

, , , , , , , , , ,

Some more fine renditions of the Battle Hymn of the Republic, for your enjoyment:

  1. The United States Army Field Band, in a much-viewed performance
  2. First Baptist Dallas, a very strong performance with full choir and orchestra
  3. The Harp Twins offer a lovely rendition; notable (and unfortunately rare) is their performance of the entire original song, all six verses and the correct line “let us die to make men free” rather than the usually sung “let us live to make men free”–fitting for a song sung by Union soldiers marching to shed their blood against the Confederacy. Observe especially the original last verse of the song: “He is coming like the glory of the morning on the wave / He is Wisdom to the mighty, He is Succour to the brave / So the world shall be His footstool, and the soul of Time His slave / Our God is marching on.” A battle hymn for the times, indeed.

Pandora’s Revolution

Tags

, , , , , , ,

They’re coming for your children.

Of course they are.  We already knew that.  That’s what this, and this, and this, etc., are all about.  It’s just unusually forthright for them to sing about it—a forthrightness they must have realized was unhelpful for their cause; I notice their youtube video has been made private.  But notthebee has preserved it, because it’s a valuable warning.

This is the Pandora’s box opened by societal acquiescence to the sexual revolution.  Obergefell wasn’t just about who gets a marriage license, but whether florists will be persecuted for having a conscience, whether women’s spaces will be violated, teens mutilated and children indoctrinated.

But evil will not have the last word.  And even here and now, paganism does not have all things in its power.

June gives way to July.  For those coming for our children, another song makes suitable reply—the Battle Hymn of the Republic:

“Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword:
His truth is marching on…”

There is a God, and He takes a dim view of the corruption of children.  But there is still time to repent, before that ‘great and terrible day’ (Joel 2:11).

“He is coming like the glory of the morning on the wave,
He is Wisdom to the mighty, He is Succour to the brave,
So the world shall be His footstool, and the soul of Time His slave,
Our God is marching on…”

Jesus is Lord.

Strengthen Your Servant

Tags

, , , ,

“Turn to me and be gracious to me; give your strength to your servant, and save the son of your maidservant” (Psalm 86:16, ESV).

            Psalm 86 ends as it began, with a plea for God’s merciful deliverance.  While the accent lies upon the grace of God, David also draws attention to the relational context: God is his master, and he is the servant of the Lord.  We may not find this the most tender of the titles of the people of God, but it is a great and honorable thing to be a servant of the Almighty.  God’s servants may look to Him in trouble, and rely upon their Lord’s redeeming power.

            May the Lord look mercifully upon you, and lift you up in every trial.  Fix your eyes upon the gracious King, who saves His servants, and trust in Him through the dark places of life.  God is gracious and good, a refuge for all who come to Him.

Two Declarations

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

For American Christians, Independence Day—the 4th of July—marks the intersection of our spiritual and civic lives, and the tension found there.  We are sojourners in a world no longer our home, for we have been called out of this darkness and into the kingdom of Christ; yet, while we are to live in the kingdom of the Son, we still sojourn in the world.

            This can be a tricky business.  The church must never conflate any of the kingdoms of this world with the kingdom of God, must be vigilant against letting the world steer the church as the tool of some government or worldly ideology or political party.  Nonetheless, when Christianity has saturated a society, the kingdom can make an impact upon the nations of the world and shape them in ways that are more in keeping with God’s truth, justice, and goodness.

            There is much of that in American history, and we are right to appreciate and celebrate that legacy of faith in our nation—not total faithfulness, by any means—there are glaring blind spots and hypocrisies that we are well aware of—but nonetheless, Christianity exerted a huge influence on our cultural formation and national consciousness, and there is much in that to be thankful for—particularly on this day, as we celebrate the wonderful freedoms that we, as Americans, enjoy.

            Consider that pivotal document in U.S. national history, the Declaration of Independence, and the kind of worldview needed for such a document to be written.  I do not say that the founding fathers were all orthodox Christians—some were, many weren’t.  But those who weren’t right-believing Christians weren’t necessarily true deists either, as is sometimes alleged—and they certainly weren’t secularists like so many of our leaders today.  They were men who could speak, in their Declaration of Independence, of God as the “Supreme Judge of the world” and of entrusting themselves “to the protection of divine Providence”.  They were men who could write such things as this:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness…”

            We who have had the privilege to live in America are so used to this, but what an uncommonly wonderful national foundation, in a long global history of tyrants and brutal aristocracies.  What kind of worldview could form a free nation?  The kind that recognized as self-evident that people are not accidents of nature but creatures of God, created equal by God, and deriving from our creator God these unalienable rights as regards our treatment of one another.

            But there is an even greater declaration, one that stands when cultures and republics fall.  It is a privilege to live in America, a nation that once recognized that the doctrine of creation meant people should be free and equal, and where that truth so long disputed and despised nonetheless continues by God’s grace to allow us to live in freedom.  But it is even more wonderful to live as a citizen of the kingdom of God.

            The doctrine of creation provides a sound basis for a free nation; the doctrine of redemption provides the only basis for free people.  God sent His Son into the world, to live and die and rise for us, so that we could enter into His kingdom and enjoy eternal life, the wonderful freedom of the Spirit, and the true happiness of abiding in Christ.