Today’s passages: Jeremiah, chapters 21, 24, 27; Psalm 118; 1 John, chapter 2
Scripture: Psalm 118:1-9 (NRSV) – O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his steadfast love endures forever! Let Israel say, “His steadfast love endures forever.” Let the house of Aaron say, “His steadfast love endures forever.” Let those who fear the Lord say, “His steadfast love endures forever.”
Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me in a broad place. With the Lord on my side I do not fear. What can mortals do to me? The Lord is on my side to help me; I shall look in triumph on those who hate me. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to put confidence in mortals. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to put confidence in princes.
Observations: (1) Out of my distress I called on the Lord. That doesn’t mean, “I called on the Lord when I couldn’t figure it out on my own”; it doesn’t mean, “I called on the Lord when my friends couldn’t help me”; it doesn’t mean, “I called to the Lord when the government wouldn’t do anything.” When we are in distress, we are to call upon the Lord! If he chooses to use other people to help us, that’s certainly within his power – but we need to look to him first. When we do, we won’t have to look anywhere else! Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me in a broad place.
(2) It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to put confidence in mortals…than to put confidence in princes. In a time when everyone seems to want to look to the government for help – regardless of what help they’re looking for – we need to remember that our strength, our hope, our refuge, and our confidence is in the Lord. Again, God sometimes uses earthly rulers and governments – just as he used Nebuchadnezzar, as we see in today’s readings from Jeremiah – but that doesn’t mean that we should put our trust in them. It also doesn’t mean that we should assume that because God is using them that God approves of them. The Bible makes clear that God honors and approves of those who obey him. As our reading from 1 John 2 says, “Now by this we may be sure that we know him, if we obey his commandments. Whoever says, ‘I have come to know him,’ but does not obey his commandments, is a liar, and in such a person the truth does not exist; but whoever obeys his word, truly in this person the love of God has reached perfection.” (1 John 2:3-5a, NRSV) Now, this doesn’t mean that we’re supposed to go around telling people that they don’t really know God. It simply means that we should be “as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves.” We need to be aware enough to recognize the difference between those whom God is using for his purposes, and those who are truly following God. If we’re not, we risk being led down the wrong paths.
Applications: God is reminding me today of the importance of staying grounded in the Word, and walking in obedience. When we do that, it becomes obvious to us when others are really following God. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to put confidence in mortals…than to put confidence in princes. We need to stay focused on the only One who deserves our confidence!
Prayer: Father, thank you for reminding me that when we call on you, you answer us. Even when the answers are not necessarily what we’re looking for, we can trust that they are the best answers. Lead me in your paths today, that I may glorify you by my obedience. May your Kingdom come and your will be done today, by me, by all your children, on earth as in heaven. Amen.