Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Glory Belongs To God

Psalm 117:1-118:29

“O Praise the LORD, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people.  For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the LORD endureth for ever. Praise ye the LORD.” (Psalm 117:1-2)

The shortest Psalm, these two verses address the fact that every person and country on earth should be thanking the Lord for his blessings.  Throughout their existence, he has made the things they need to survive available, and has offered eternal salvation and eternal hope, even to those who have been most rebellious and evil.  The same thing is required for salvation today as was required five thousand years ago, so that everyone can still have the same chance. 

“O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: because his mercy endureth for ever.   Let Israel now say, that his mercy endureth for ever.  Let the house of Aaron now say, that his mercy endureth for ever.  Let them now that fear the LORD say, that his mercy endureth for ever. “ (Psalm 118:1-4)

God had chosen Israel as his special people and the sons of Aaron as his high priests.  For over five hundred years, thy had repeatedly broken the covenant with God, yet each time they repented and acknowledged their sin he forgave them and blessed them again, not inflicting the maximum punishment they deserved.  The nation should thank God for always being willing to forgive, as should the priests who so often contributed to their sin.  Every person who serves God, whether Jew or not, has benefitted from that same mercy, and should thank and praise him for forgiving them. 

“I called upon the LORD in distress: the LORD answered me, and set me in a large place.  The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?  The LORD taketh my part with them that help me: therefore shall I see my desire upon them that hate me.  It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.  It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes.” (Psalm 118:5-9)

David spent several years fleeing for his life, constantly in danger, and praying for God to protect him.  God blessed, destroying the kings who tried to have him killed and giving David the kingdom instead.  He understood what Paul meant in Romans 8:31-32, when he said, “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?  He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?”  The creator of the universe has invested so much in us that he will surely protect his investment, and he has the power to do whatever is needed.   No human or human agency can possibly overpower him, empowering those who support his peopleso that their enemies are destroyed.  It is far better to place our trust in God than any person or human agency, because he has a vested interest in us, and the power to accomplish his purpose, while humans may decide to cut their losses and desert you. 

“All nations compassed me about: but in the name of the LORD will I destroy them.  They compassed me about; yea, they compassed me about: but in the name of the LORD I will destroy them.  They compassed me about like bees; they are quenched as the fire of thorns: for in the name of the LORD I will destroy them.” (Psalm 118:10-12)

On the one hand David had been attacked by Israel, while fighting off Philistine invasions, Amalekites, and numerous other invaders.  It felt like he had disturbed a swarm of bees and couldn’t relax for a moment.   God had delivered him enabling him to defeat them and  stopping their attack like spraying water on burning weeds. 

“Thou hast thrust sore at me that I might fall: but the LORD helped me.  The LORD is my strength and song, and is become my salvation.  The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous: the right hand of the LORD doeth valiantly.  The right hand of the LORD is exalted: the right hand of the LORD doeth valiantly.  I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the LORD.  The LORD hath chastened me sore: but he hath not given me over unto death.” (Psalm 118:13-18)

His enemies had done their best to knock David down, but God kept him from falling into sin or being destroyed.   Those who love the Lord live safely and joyfully, with God to act on their behalf.  While they experience his chastening and correction, they need not fear he will allow them to be killed.  
“Open to me the gates of righteousness: I will go into them, and I will praise the LORD: This gate of the LORD, into which the righteous shall enter.  I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation.” (Psalm 118:19)

Even when we are doing our best we still sin.   David understood what Paul meant in Romans 7:18-19.  “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.   For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.”   It seemed so hopeless that in Romans 7:24, he asked, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?   In Romans 8:2, he answers the question .   “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.”   Only God could make him fitted to receive his blessings, and he was confident he heard him. 

“The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.  This is the LORD'S doing; it is marvellous in our eyes.  This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.  Save now, I beseech thee, O LORD: O LORD, I beseech thee, send now prosperity.” (Psalm 118:22-25)

This is specifically about Christ, but it also refers to those who have believed.  The world views Christ, and his followers as having little value, yet they are the ones God has chosen.   Having been treated as worthless, it is especially exciting to find God has chosen us.    We celebrate the day, knowing he is the one who made it happen, and expecting him to make things better for us.

“Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the LORD: we have blessed you out of the house of the LORD.  God is the LORD, which hath showed us light: bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar.  Thou art my God, and I will praise thee: thou art my God, I will exalt thee.  O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.” (Psalm 118:26-29)

We have been richly blessed that God sent his son to make salvation available to us, just as he sent others to protect David.  We go to his house to show our appreciation, recognizing it is him who showed us the truth.  We make sure he is the one who gets the glory, and not the pastor, the church, or anyone else, because he is the one who deserves it.  

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