Reading with the Pastor
Matthew 22 and Psalm 21-22, Proverbs 22
Psalm 21 is radical in its celebrations. The first half is focused on the glories of salvation and rescue (vss. 1-7) and second half turns and exposes God’s burning wrath on those who are His enemies (vss. 8-13).
The first half is as encouraging as the second half is alarming. Generally, we love the first half and feel squeamish about the second half. We like to think and meditate on the love and mercy and kindness and faithfulness of God. We don’t like and rarely meditate on God’s wrath and judgment and absolute righteousness and holiness. We want a God who applauds our achievements and disregards our rebellions.
But that is not the God revealed in Scripture.
The God of the Scripture is “peerless in His perfections” to quote the first chapter of A.W. Pink’s book (The Attributes of God). Moses, after getting the new tablets on Mount Sinai after having broken the first in his anger over ancient Israel’s idolatry with the golden calf, wrote down what the Lord declared to him about Himself in Exodus 34:
“The LORD, The LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, . . . (vss. 6-7a)
I can almost hear the typical American-trained heart, crying out,
“Yeah, that’s my God. Yea God! That’s the God I love. That’s the God I serve.”
But read on people. That isn’t all that God revealed about Himself.
“. . . but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and fourth generation.” (vs. 7b)
This part of God’s self-revelation is less comforting, less embraceable to our American-shaped hearts. We need a Bible-shaped heart to fully embrace what God tells us.
What would happen if our hearts were shaped more by the Bible than our American culture or even the American Church subculture? Precisely what happened to Moses when God told him these things. And what would happen to us? We would do what Moses did.
“And Moses quickly bowed his head toward the earth and worshiped.” (v. 8)
So, may your heart bow in worship of a God who is great in mercy but whose wrath is kindled against all who will continue to rebel against His will. May you say with David,
“Be exalted, O LORD, in your strength!
. We will sing and praise your power.”
Part of “The Poetry Project”
(Not great poetry but deeper reflection on the meaning and application of the psalms.)
[Always read the Psalm first (Psalm 21).]
That They Might Bow
You have the power
. the power and the glory, and the majesty
To rescue or condemn
Rescue me, O great and sovereign Ruler and Judge
. for I am guilty,
. and filthy, and
. and habitually rebellious.
Make my cowering heart glad in Your presence
Make my heart trust
. So it will be immovable.
Let Your kindness and mercy break
. the heart of Your enemies rebellion.
So that the fire of Your wrath
. will not consume them
Make them like Moses
. that they might turn to You;
. that they too
. might bow and worship You.
And be rescued.
Go to Psalm 22
2 thoughts on ““That They Might Bow””
This is what I term the bribe and the threat approach. We might call it the carrot and the stick. It is sad that we have not progressed past this rather primitive approach. Yes, man is fallen or flawed and needs to be God fearing. However, it does appear that there has been no change, no improvement in man or in religion in these past thousands of years. We impute our hang ups on to God. There is a danger to this “God is an angry ogre” approach if it is taken too far. Excessive guilt and excessive fear can serve to drive people to despair or to resist out of resentment.
What about those who have evolved spiritually beyond this primitive, legalistic approach? Food for thought.
I think the “food for thought” is more that our view of God is shaped more by our culture and desires than it is by the biblical narrative. As a Christian, I want my view of God to be shaped, re-shaped, and constantly reformed by an always deepening understanding of His word that stands over and above all cultures in all times.
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