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(Part 23)


November 10, 2009

Today’s psalm reading (Ps 34:2-19) continues to teach us about looking to God who delivers the just. Our theme for 2010, taken from the book of Job, tells us about reverential fear (or awe) and the call to righteousness and justice. These are all interconnected.

The one who is holy is one who will fear the Lord. The one who fears the Lord is one who is on the way to holiness. “Fear the Lord, you holy ones” (v.10a).

Those who fear the Lord and who are growing in righteousness and justice are those who can call upon the Lord for help in times of distress. “Fear the Lord, you holy ones; nothing is lacking to those who fear him.” (v.10). “Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. The Lord has eyes for the just and ears for their cry.” (v.15-16). “When the just cry out, the Lord hears and rescues them from all distress.” (v.18).

Life is full of struggles and pain and crosses. We will be afflicted, some way, somehow. Many times we will be tested and will be at the point of helplessness and hopelessness. These times are not necessarily bad for us. They are times that should lead us to God, and trust more in Him.

No matter what is happening to us and around us that weighs heavily on us, we have the assurance: “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, saves those whose spirit is crushed.” (v.19). This is not just a pious statement, but it has been shown in the life of our Lord and Savior Jesus. He has gone through such anguish and torment. He was crushed in spirit. Still, he endured, and God came through for him.

So God will be there for those who fear Him and are growing to be just and righteous.

David in his psalm teaches us about the fear of God. “Come, children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord.” (v.12). In what ways do we show fear of the Lord.

First, we avoid sin and wrongdoing. “Turn from evil” (v.15a). But we do not only avoid sin, we also foster virtue. “Turn from evil and do good” (v.15a). In doing good, we are to work at justice, and “the Lord has eyes for the just” (v.16a). Justice is giving to each person what is their due as children of God. If we relate to others in this way, then the fruit is peace, that is, being in right relationship with everyone. There then need not be conflict in the world. Thus we “seek peace and pursue it” (v.15b).

Second, we guard our speech. “Keep your tongue from evil, your lips from speaking lies.” (v.14). James tells us about the power of the tongue (Jas 3:1-10), by which we can bless and curse. Satan is of course the father of lies (Jn 8:44). So we are not to speak evil of one another, and we are not to judge others (Jas 4:11-12). Such speech is what causes disunity in the body of Christ, which ultimately affects adversely its witness and its work.

When we do the above, then we will experience the fruit of God’s love and care. We will be saved from all distress (v.7), we will be delivered from our fears (v.5), we will not be shamed (v.6b), we will be radiant with joy (v.6a), we will have life and prosperity (v.13), we will lack no good thing (v.11b).

Wow! What a wonderful blessed life, even amidst adversity. We fear God, and we then need not fear anything else. We seek God and He answers us (v.5a). We are always secure, with the angel of the Lord encamping with us (v.8a). Nothing at all is lacking for us (v.10b).

What is unfortunate is that many do not know such a God. Many do not recognize His hand in the crosses that come our way. Many miss out on the bountiful blessings that come with clinging to Him and turning our lives over to Him. Many do not know how good God truly is. If we did, and we turned to Him, then we would be happy in life. “Learn to savor how good the Lord is; happy are those who take refuge in him.” (v.9).

What do we say and do in the face of such a great and wonderful God? The Almighty! Just and righteous is He!

With awe and great amazement, let us then bow down in worship. “I will bless the Lord at all times; praise shall be always in my mouth. My soul will glory in the Lord that the poor may hear and be glad. Magnify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together.” (v.2-4).

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