Sunday, October 14, 2007

It is time for you to act, LORD...


Sixteenth letter of the Hebrew Alephbeth

The poet of this psalm declares with humility and gratitude: "I have done what is righteous and just;" and I consider all your precepts right". It is refreshing to be around others who take to heart and live out God's commands. He knows what it is like to get pushback when one follows the LORD to intensely, "do not leave me to my oppressors" and do not let the arrogant oppress me." By focusing on himself, he acknowledges his own need for the LORD to deal with him "according to your love", which means "teach me your decrees." He knows himself, he knows that there is so many more commands to memorize and abide by - which is a sign of love and devotion to God and neighbor. He admits: "I am your servant; give me discernment that I may understand your statues." I like that, an honesty about his own status - he doesn't always understand what God is getting at, and he doesn't always know what to do. But rather than get defensive, he stays authentic and seeks the LORD's help in obeying Him...which is the way it is supposed to work.

Then there is this interesting twist in the song: "It is time for you to act, LORD; your law is being broken." To some, they might point to the removal of the Ten Commandments from schools as a perfect illustration of our moral dilemma and need for God's intervention. Maybe. But I think the heart of his request is based on his experience - both personal and community: when the LORD's law is broken, unrighteousness, injustice, arrogance, poverty prevail. Israel was bound to obey the LORD's laws, it is what made them special - and when they disobey, they break the covenant, and thus are making themselves enemies of God - not a good position to be in. This poet wants to see God act in the hearts of the lawbreakers, that they might be saved and that those they oppress might be delivered. That is not how I typically pray, but maybe I should start...

He ends it with an appropriate line for me: "I love your commands more than gold." Do I? Have I a golden calf hidden in my home? Which takes up more of my attention: obedience to God or accumulation of material possession and financial sustainability? Jesus says: Seek first my kingdom and its righteousness, and I'll take care of everything else. Will he? I think of Zaccheus, who let Jesus into his home, and then at the end of the meal essentially said: "I will do what is righteous and just; I love your commands more than all my gold - therefore I hate all my wrong paths." Amen.

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