Roger's Postings

Friday, December 16, 2011

Psalm 89:1-4; 19-26.               Sing of the Lord’s great love!             18/12/11

 I will sing of the Lord's great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations. {2} I will declare that your love stands firm forever, that you established your faithfulness in heaven itself. {3} You said, "I have made a covenant with my chosen one, I have sworn to David my servant, {4} 'I will establish your line forever and make your throne firm through all generations.'"
 {19} Once you spoke in a vision, to your faithful people you said: "I have bestowed strength on a warrior; I have exalted a young man from among the people. {20} I have found David my servant; with my sacred oil I have anointed him. {21} My hand will sustain him; surely my arm will strengthen him. {22} No enemy will subject him to tribute; no wicked man will oppress him. {23} I will crush his foes before him and strike down his adversaries. {24} My faithful love will be with him, and through my name his horn will be exalted. {25} I will set his hand over the sea, his right hand over the rivers. {26} He will call out to me, 'You are my Father, my God, the Rock my Saviour.'

 How truly great and magnificent is our God. He is the Almighty God who is over all and in all that is good. Surely we will sing of the Lord's great love forever; with our mouth we will make his faithfulness known through all generations. We will declare that his love stands firm forever, that he has established his faithfulness in heaven itself. He is God Almighty himself who deserves nothing but the greatest of praise.

But why? Why should we sing his praises? What makes him so great? Is it because he gives us what we want? Is it because he is a God who suits our way of thinking and our imaginations? Is it because we can see, quite clearly, that he is a God who has everything under control and evil is defeated? Is he a God who has made everything good and wonderful for us as we live out our lives every day?

 Well, no! In fact this psalm was most likely written in the midst of the Babylonian exile. In this psalm, the psalmist sings about a problem. God had promised that there would always be a king in David’s family. But now there was no Jewish king! The army from Babylon had beaten the Jewish army. They took the Jewish king to Babylon, and the King of Babylon (Nebuchadnezzar) became king of the Jews. How could anyone explain this? For the Israelites, everything was going wrong; and most importantly of all, there was no longer a king on the throne: no longer one of David’s line, ruling over Israel. Their world was in a mess; and yet they sing this song of praise to God for his love and faithfulness. Now there is a challenge to our modern thinking.

In verse 3 the covenant that is mentioned is what God and the Jews had agreed on. If the Jews would love and obey God, then he would keep them safe. He would be their God and they would be his people. The Jews had a special covenant name for God: Yahweh. We translate it, LORD. In this part of the psalm, the psalmist says that he still believes that the Lord will do what he had promised. And he was right! Even though it may not have seemed so at the time.

We also need to remember that Christians have sung this psalm at Christmas time for many centuries. This is because Jesus is a king from David’s family, he will always be king and he was born at Christmas. That is how we explain the problem ... even if the psalmist did not know this! Yet, maybe, he had a far better understanding that God was always living and ruling over his people, than we do today. Maybe he knew that there was always that connection between the Messiah and his ongoing rule over all.

 But having said that, we can see the faith and complete confidence that the psalmist has even in the midst of his adversity. Despite the fact that everything looked to the contrary, he knows that God is true to his word. He knows the Lord is the Almighty God who does hold all things in his hands. The covenant he made with Israel stands: he will be their God, and he will be faithful to the promise he made to David. Even though Israel had turned their back on the Lord, he would not turn his back on them. He would be true to his word.

Yes, God was true to his word and still is today. He did say that he would punish the sin of those who betray him and his faithfulness, and who reject his decrees and commands. His holiness and justice will be maintained: The Israelites were sent into exile for their failure to keep their side of the covenant.

But at the same time he was true to his word; in that he would not take his love away from his people and away from David’s line. Even though the people violated the covenant, the Lord would not: he would not betray his faithfulness. He would continue to love his people even though they did not deserve it.

But hang on, some people would say; there in Babylon we can see that God is not true to his word. There was no king in the line of David anymore. In fact they were not even a nation anymore; far less a people who could know that they were loved. Is it really so loving to destroy a people and send them into exile?

 But again despite this, the psalmist knows that the Lord is true to his word, even though it goes against all the senses. He knows that He is still loving and faithful; true to his covenant. Even in his words and promises with regards to the king, he knows that it is true despite the evidence. So he sings the praises of his God because he knows that he will fulfil his promises in this regard; somehow. He looks forward eagerly to see once more the revelation of all that he has said and promised.

 That is now where we today look also. In the midst of Advent, our focus is turned toward Christmas: the coming of our Lord as Saviour and King. Just as the psalmist looked forward in hope to see this fulfilment, so we look back to this great event and see the true fulfilment of all that is said and promised.

 Now we can see and know for sure that, in Jesus, a descendant of David’s line, we have a king who rules eternally; past, present and future. He is the anointed Saviour of mankind. He is the one who would and did crush our greatest foe, Satan. His death on the cross, nailed the defeat of Satan once and for all. He was raised from the dead so that we can know for sure that he is our living and ruling LORD.

 The covenant that he established, through our baptism, which joins us to his death and resurrection, now stands secure for us. We know that we are loved, forgiven and made members of his family. He is our God and we are his forgiven people. He is now our glorious and everlasting King, to him be glory and honour now and always.

Through this covenant he also promises us an agreement that is sure and lasting. Even though we may waver and fall along the way; we know that he is true to his word; he is still our Lord and his love and faithfulness is sure. So nothing now can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

So as we approach Christmas, in the midst of our hassles, distraction and uncertainties: not perhaps even sure what going on because of all that is wrong and bad in our world; we too can sing of the Lord's great love forever. Even though our society has lost its way and doing its best to discredit Christianity: even though it might seem that the Church is dying and that God no longer cares about what is happening; we too can have the same confidence as that of the psalmist, to know that God is true to his word.

Yes, maybe he is reminding us of what life is like if we choose to ignore God and his word and not seek to live in this covenant relationship that he has made with us. But as we again look back to him and trust that he is true to his promises, we can look up and be positive despite what we see. We can be assured that Jesus is still king over all, and all things will work out as he has said. Jesus’ coming two thousand years ago and his death and resurrection are his guarantee that this is so.

 Therefore we can sing of the Lord's great love forever; with our mouth we will make his faithfulness known through all generations. We will declare that his love stands firm forever, that he has established his faithfulness in heaven itself.   

Praise be to the Lord forever! Amen and Amen.

 Pastor Roger Atze
Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish


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