A Holy Week Juxtaposition

I read this psalm about the powerAnd greatness of our God The same week I am thinking about the humiliation And suffering of our King.

The juxtaposition is palpable.

“Fire goes before him and consumes his foes on every side.” – Psalm 97:3

Sometimes. Except for the day His Son was surrounded And there was no fire to be seen. Only the silent restraint Of a God that replaces sending fire With receiving lashes For the sake of His beloveds.

“His lightning lights up the world; the earth sees and trembles.” – Psalm 97:4

Sometimes. Except for the day darkness covered the earth And there was no lightning to be seen. Only the sacrifice Of a God who replaces trembling subjects With a buckling body His own Son crushed By the weight of His beloveds’ sins.

“The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, before the Lord of all the earth.” –Psalm 97:5

Sometimes. Except for the day the empire seemed to win And there was no melting to be seen. Only the weakness Of a Messiah who seemed to perish Before the wrath of a nation. His beloveds left wondering If they got it all wrong.

For they didn’t know the subversive truth That strength given up For the sake of another Is the most powerful force of all.

Psalm 97

That was my reflection on Psalm 97. Link up with your own reflection below. Or stop back next week for a reflection on Psalm 98.

Hope, the election, and Psalm 33

Most people I know think November 7 can’t come soon enough. I agree. We are weary of all the politicking. The ads, the debates, the phone calls. The number of attacks is perhaps equal only to the number of promises. Both presidential candidates have assured us that they are the true hope for America. Each has pledged that if we elect him, our lives will be better.

I don’t really believe either of them.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe it is important to vote. I think each of us should weigh carefully what we believe is the best next step for our nation and place our vote accordingly. However, I think we need to be careful with that word “hope.” Our hope is a fragile thing. If we hand it over to a human being, it is likely to get broken.

Ever person running for every office in the country right now is a fallible human being. No matter how worthy their intent, the political decisions they make once in office will have mixed motives. And no matter how strong they seem now, their power and control will be limited.

I cannot imagine those first days and months in office for presidents. As they see they dynamics of a new Congress, as they learn the confidential information they could not know before they held the highest office, as they live through global events that they could not foresee, how do they weigh those things against the promises they made while on the campaign trail? I wonder if their disappointment is even bigger than ours.

There is a difference between hoping for a better future and placing our hope in a person to get us there. The first leaves room for those unknowns. The second virtually guarantees our disappointment.

No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength. A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save. – Psalm 33:16-17

What is true in America today has been true for every nation in the world at every point in history. We are not in control of the world. Our power is limited.

The Lord foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations. -Psalm 33:10-11

The Lord, and only the Lord, has plans and purposes that hold fast. Why? Because God is not a fallible creature. His power and authority are unmatched.

By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth. He gathers the waters of the sea into jars; he puts the deep into storehouses. Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the people of the world revere him. For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm. -Psalm 33:6-9

The Creator of the Universe is not wringing His hands in heaven, waiting to see whom our little nation elects as President. God was on His throne at the beginning of time, He is on His throne today, and He will continue to be on His throne no matter who is sitting in our oval office.

Even ancient Israel, a nation uniquely blessed by Yahweh to be a blessing to the nations, was never to put their hope in their king. Their hope was to be placed only in the Lord.

We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you. - Psalm 33:20-22

As we place our vote and wish for a better future for this nation, my prayer is that we remember that this world is broken. Even if the person we choose is the one who is elected, we will be disappointed in coming days. May we place our hope only in Yahweh, whose love never fails. And may we continue to worship Him no matter what the future brings.

Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him. -Psalm 33:1

Walk through the Psalms is a series reflecting on the beautiful and timeless poetry found in the middle of the Bible. It is an intentional study of God’s Word, grounded in the belief that God gave us the Bible so we could meditate on it, whether that takes us through inspiring or frustrating territory.