Bread – Needy

June 30, 2017


Psalm 72

For he delivers the needy when he calls, the poor and him who have no helper.  He has pity on the weak and the needy, and saves the lives of the needy.”  Ps. 72:12-13

There are three actors in these verses, two apparent and one disguised.

The first apparent actor is described as both a noun and an adjective.  Man is both the “needy” (the noun) and the “needy (man)” (the adjective).

Who are these needy and what do they need so badly that they are needy.  When we answer the what, it will identify the who.  When we think of need, we most often think of physical issues have to do with money.  He or she needs a job, needs a shelter, and/or needs food and water.  We have a famous researcher who has described a ‘hierarchy of needs,” and these needs for shelter and food are first on the list.  At the top of the list is the need to be appreciated, to be wanted or desired, to have our pride stroked.  In between are the needs for safety and security (free from worry) and companionship.

We make a big mistake when we believe that the only needy people are the ones in the food lines.  The truth is that all of us are needy of these things, but also things like hope, safety, security, friendship, and dignity.

So the answer to the “who are the needy” question is “Everyone.”  You, me, them … everyone is needy.

So now that we have identified who the needy person is, who is the the second obvious actor.  It is the “he” in the sentence, which relates back to an earlier verse, the first verse, where the “he” is the king, which in the case of this specific Psalm could have been Solomon.

Since the “king” today is the government, perhaps these verses could be interpreted as a command that us, the needy, are to turn to the government (the king) for the fulfillment of our needs, to fulfill our need for food and health care, our need for safety and security, our need for dignity in the word, and our need for companionship.  And so, in the mad rush to fill our needs, our world would have us turn to the “obvious” king for deliverance, to the state.

And so the natural course of man is to give to the state the power to “help” them, and in so doing give up their individual rights to the collective.

Entire civilizations and philosophies are founded on this principal, that it is the “king” who protects, to delivers good things, who feeds, etc. his needy people.

But to do so ignores the silent actor in these verses, the disguised actor.  Who is this?  Well, I think it becomes obvious when we remove the written attempts to bring God to our level and change the verses so that they now read: “For He delivers the needy when he calls, and poor and him who have no helper.  He has pity on the weak and the needy, and saves the lives of the needy.”  What have I changed?  One letter in one word.  I changed “For he…” to “For He…

And now you know the rest of the story.  The “He” who delivers is the King of the Psalm, the Messiah, Lord of Lords and King of Kings.  It is not the man-king but the God-King.

Because we are needy, we will look to a king to deliver us from those needs, to save us.  If we are secular and have no faith in Christ, the king is the state and we will want the state to feed us, teach us, raise us, nurture us, build us into communities of the king’s making, and love us.  This is slavery unto death but it is the choice of needy people who only see the little “king.”

If we believe in Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are still needy but the source of our deliverance is a different king, a King Jesus, Creator of the world.  Our King is King and we will look to Him, Father, and Holy Spirit to feed us, teach us, raise us, build us into communities of His making, and love us.  This is slavery unto life and is the choice of those who see the big “King.”

You are needy.  Which king will deliver you?

________

© 2017 GBF   All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.

 

 

 

 

 

Bread – Save

January 22, 2016


Psalm 3

“Arise, O Lord!  Save me, O my God … Salvation belongs to the Lord; Your blessing be on Your people!”  Ps. 3:7-8

Before the first “Selah!” of Psalm 3, David (and we) were focused on our troubles, on our enemies, on our poor condition and place.  After that and before the second “Selah!,” we refocused our attention from ourselves and our situation to the Lord and His power to be our shield, our glory, and the lifter of our heads in times of trouble.

Now we arrive at the third part and it is a fitting way to end the week.  In this third part, David cries out to God “Arise, O Lord! Save me, O my God…” and he ends with the familiar phrase “Salvation belongs to the Lord.”

The question of the day is what is God saving us from?  The phrase “Arise, O Lord!” is noted by the commentators as the familiar invocation of God to assist the Israelites in war.  In this context, and given David’s dire situation in the desert, running away from his treacherous son, the word “save” here could well mean that David is asking God to save him from his physical, present circumstances … to help him defeat his enemies, overcome his son, re-enter the palace, and take back his throne.

When we pray to God to rescue us, to save us, isn’t it often in this context?  We have found ourselves lost and we ask to be found.  We have found ourselves in a bad situation surrounded by enemies and we ask God to defeat the enemies and restore us to our place.  We lose our job and we pray to God that He rise up and find you a job.  We expose ourselves to sin over and over and, when we are reaping what we sow, we ask God to rescue us.  We become ill from a deadly disease and ask for healing, for saving from the disease.   David may well be doing the same thing.

But, immediately, David changes from a focus on rescue from a bad place in specific to eternal rescue, “Salvation belongs to the Lord.”  From “rescue me from this pit” to “rescue me for all time.”

And that is what we are inclined to do.  Know that Christ has saved us eternally and ask from time to time that God save us from a bad situation we find ourselves in.

From physical save to theological, eternal save in one easy step.

But the problem is, we have all asked God to save us from X, only to find out that the next morning X is still there.  Where is God?  Why hasn’t He arisen to save me?   And in that reality, in that truth that God does not always show up in the time, way, and effect which we want, we come up with any number of explanations, from “God doesn’t love me” to “I am unworthy” to “it wasn’t in God’s will” to “there is some unrepented of sin.”  And a thousand other explanations.

There have been many books written about how to deal with the unanswered prayer.

But I want us today to stand back and think a little further.  Isn’t there a third way that God saves us.  We are taught the eternal salvation.  We ask for the physical salvation.  But doesn’t God always, always, always save us from ourselves?  Doesn’t He always save us from our emotions when we let Him?

Maybe the third way God saves us is by rescuing us from our emotions.

When we ask God for healing from our illness and nothing physical changes … we are just as sick as we were, has anything changed?  I think if we look into our hearts when we have asked for something and not gotten it, we know that something has changed.  Our emotions have changed from fear and anxiety to peace and joy.  Our bitterness toward the person harming us has melted away into forgiveness.  Our self-righteous attitude that says we deserve everything has converted to a honest appraisal of ourselves that says we deserve nothing.  Our love of self transforms into a love of others.  Prosperity defined by money and power is recreated by God’s power into prosperity defined by relationships.

When David prays “Arise O Lord!  Save me, O my God,” is he praying, really, for physical deliverance or emotional deliverance?

When you are in trouble because your car won’t start and you cry out to the Lord to start your car and, presto, it still doesn’t start, has God shown up and saved you?  I think the answer to that is “yes,” not because He started the car but because He changed how you respond to the car not starting.  He has changed your emotional reaction to one of worry and hurry to one of, “Oh well, this too shall pass.”  He has changed your attitude toward the problem.  He has changed you.  He has saved you from yourself.

So when we pray to be saved from our affliction and our affliction remains, has God shown up?  If the answer is that hope has replaced despair, promise has replaced worry, life has replaced death, caring about others has replaced caring about yourself, and solutions have replaced problems, then, “yes” God has saved you.

We can and we will ask God to rescue us from our enemies.  And sometimes He will and sometimes He will appear not to have.  But the miracle is not that He rescues us from our enemies, but that He rescues us from ourselves, from captivity to our emotions and selfishness.  That is the miracle.

Arise, O Lord.  Save me, O my God!  Because You have, You are, and You will.  Thanks be to God!

__________

© 2016 GBF     All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.

 

 

 

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