April 29, 2014

Psalm 37:39 The salvation of the righteous comes from the LORD;
he is their stronghold in time of trouble.

Here at the end of this listing of all the benefits that accrue to the righteous, it is good to be reminded that those benefits are all the Lord’s doing. We can never be good enough or smart enough or strong enough to save ourselves, whatever anyone thinks. David knew that from abundant personal experience. He also knew full well that simply being righteous does not keep you from having troubles. It’s like Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble.” (John 16:33) That’s simply a fact of life. Parents who try to shield their children from any possibility of getting hurt, physically or emotionally, aren’t simply on a futile quest, they are actually doing their children harm by making them less prepared to live in the real world. We aren’t to go looking for trouble, but when it comes we aren’t to be surprised or go into a panic. As this verse says, in such times the Lord is standing by to be our fortress, and we are to “run into” Him, just as it says in Proverbs 18:10. (I really like the musical setting for that verse. It’s fun to sing, and it’s true!) All around us we see people who run to almost anything but the Lord when they encounter trouble of one sort or another. Truth be told, we all do that at times, but the Lord is the only reliable fortress, and in Him we can rejoice regardless of the circumstances. (again, John 16:33)

As a pastor, I am constantly dealing with people who are trying to rely on something other than the Lord in their difficulties. With people who are not Christians it’s one thing, but with Christians it can be quite exasperating. Sometimes it even seems like they don’t want to be delivered! It’s not at all that we are to be passive, but rather that our focus is to be on God and obedience to Him. The life of David, who wrote this Psalm, is certainly instructional. As long as he relied on the Lord, putting his best effort into it, he was remarkably successful. It was when he thought he could figure it out, whether it was bringing the Ark into Jerusalem or having a good time while the army was at war, that he got into trouble. In verse 25 of this Psalm he says he is writing this from the perspective of age. I am already far past average life expectancy of even 100 years ago, and am even past my father’s age when he died. Learning to rely on the Lord without being passive hasn’t always been easy, and I still haven’t learned it perfectly, but I can say with full confidence that it’s the best course, indeed the only course, to receive the fullness of all that God has planned for us.

Father, thank You for Your total faithfulness. I started to say “amazing,” but why should it be amazing that You are faithful? Thank You for the privilege of sharing Your truth, Your grace and love, with others. Help me do it ever more effectively, so that more and more people may know the joy and peace of Your salvation, membership in Your family, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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