Gleanings from the Bible: Psalms 127, 135, 137 and 139.

Psalm 127

There is peace in knowing God and being able to commit your future, your dreams and desires into his hands because, unless Yahweh builds the house, the builders labour in vain. There is no gain in driving yourself into the ground to increase your wealth. God knows what you need and grants sleep to those he loves.

Children are a heritage from Yahweh… a reward…

When you observe western society you would wonder whether it had ever realised this truth. The message our society sends is a mixed one. On the one hand we seek to make the welfare of the child the centre of our educational systems (almost to the point of encouraging them to be self-centred). We probably seek to protect them from harm more than at any other time in history. And yet they are becoming less and less exposed to the truths about God, they are becoming more exposed to violence and pornography and the unborn child has little or no chance if the parent decides to terminate his or her life.

If we really believe that children are a gift from God then it should mould the way we think about them and nurture them. It should dictate our and their priorities in their involvements and exposure to the world. Particularly we will want to introduce them to the Creator, who gave them life and who will build their house if they will commit themselves to his ways.

 Psalm 135

15 The idols of the nations are silver and gold,
      made by human hands.
16 They have mouths, but cannot speak,
      eyes, but cannot see.
17 They have ears, but cannot hear,
      nor is there breath in their mouths.
18 Those who make them will be like them,
      and so will all who trust in them.

I don’t notice too much political correctness with the prophets! They tell it as they see it, or rather as God shows it to them.

We don’t come across too many idols of wood and stone, though they are not unknown in some migrant families in Australia. Assuming that idols are the things which replace the worship of God, we may ask what constitutes idolatry in the wider community these days?

It must be those things which we treasure the most, above God. The things to which we devote most of our time and energy. The things that replace prayer, reading the Scriptures and our corporate worship. So it could, in fac,t be almost anything!

Verse 18 – Those who make them will be like them – is, I think, proposing that idolaters will become as lifeless as the things they worship. Another aspect to that is that we can become like the things we love the most – they change us – they turn us into something else.

However, to spend time with God in worship, prayer and praise, is to become  more like him, whose name endures for ever (v13).

Psalms 137 and 139

Psalm 137 is a lament of people who have lost everything and who now dwell, mocked and despised, in a foreign country with alien gods. Their experience is one of abandonment by Yahweh. But, even knowing that, it is hard for us to read verse 9. The talk of dashing infants against rocks makes us wince. At worst it expresses an anguished abundance of violence, hatred and vengeance. At best it is calling for justice and the non-perpetuation of a people who have already dealt so cruelly with the Judeans, now living in captivity. It also puts the task of vengeance into the hands of God, who has the right to mete out justice. However, Jesus has taught us a better way. Though we may find ourselves initially responding to situations in anger, it is grace and forgiveness that transforms both perpetrator and victim for the better.

Psalm 139 is such a contrast in attitude. Wherever the Psalmist may be, God is there, holding him fast! God knows him intimately, better than he knows himself and before he even came to birth and gained self-consciousness. God sees the unborn and knows what they will do, say and achieve. He has plans for them. Of course they have responsibility to respond to God’s will for them, and to walk in the ways that he has set before them. This is why the Psalmist prays that God will search him, not so that God will discover things he hadn’t noticed, but rather that God will reveal to the writer what he already knows about his unwarranted anxieties and offensive thoughts and actions. Once known the Psalmist can embark on correction with God’s help.

It is in this sort of intimate walk with God that we can learn to weather the storms of life and respond appropriately to the people who cause them.

 

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