During my devotional reading this morning in Psalm 46 – 50 I was particularly impressed with the timeliness of the theme of these Psalms to our current condition in the United States. Donald J. Trump is now President-elect. Those who supported him are pleased and looking forward to the implementation of his platform.
On the other side of the election, there is chaos. Demonstrations in the streets and despair among the Clinton supporters. Why is it that there is often chaos and disruption when the leftist progressive elements of our society don’t get their way and when the conservative elements don’t get their way, they largely are quiet and work to maintain order in society? These Psalms give some insight into our present phenomenon, I think. So, first let’s look at Psalm 46.
God Is Our Fortress
To the choirmaster. Of the Sons of Korah. According to Alamoth. A Song.
46 God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
6 The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
7 The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah
8 Come, behold the works of the Lord,
how he has brought desolations on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the chariots with fire.
10 “Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah
There are two major themes in this Psalm: God’s protection during natural disasters and God’s protections during national disasters.
The natural disaster theme is particularly clear in vv 2-3. It is a picture of earthquakes (something we Californian’s know about). In this picture the mountains slide into the sea and then the sea is so disturbed (possibly a tsunami?) it roars, and the mountains tremble at it’s waves.
National disaster is depicted particularly in v 6. Here nations go into chaos, and some nations are overtaken and are subsumed into other nations. This is often the result of war for many peoples.
In both of these themes, the Psalmists response is: “The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah”
What is indicated by the title, The Lord of hosts? The hosts referred to here are the mighty warrior angels of heaven. The fierce angelic beings who have fought victoriously on behalf of Israel over and again in Biblical history. And, I believe, they were very instrumental, though probably unseen, in the famous six-day war of Israel during the last century in which Israel’s enemies were decisively routed.
The other reference is to the God of Jacob. This phrase is usually freighted with the idea that Jacob was one of the honored fathers of Israel and held in high esteem and that God is his God and we are identifying with the God of our father, Jacob. And, while there may be an element of truth and appropriateness in this idea, I have come to appreciate my Pastor’s take on this phrase greatly.
Jacob was not really a wonderful hero to be emulated. He was a master manipulator; you might even go so far as to say he was a con-man. He conned his elder brother out of his birthright, etc. So, a better description of Jacob is that he was a screw-up. You know, he is like you and me, very flawed and frequently screwing up. But, he was chosen by God. Wow! This is the essence of the gospel; God has chosen we screw-ups due to nothing on our part. God, in his steadfast love, just decided to choose us. That is what is meant by grace.
Back to our observations on the current chaos on the progressive left.
The progressive left of our society is largely irreligious and holds no faith in God. Of course, this isn’t descriptive of every single person on the left, but as a generalization, it is true.
The conservative element of our society, on the other hand, is largely Christian with other elements that espouse the traditional Judeo-Christian worldview.
Progressive leftists have nothing to rely on but themselves. They have no confidence in the providence of God as the Sovereign who raises up nations and takes them down. (Think bloody French revolution). So, when they don’t get their way, they must act out. If it is to be, it is up to me!
Meanwhile, back in the religious conservative camp, get our way or not, there is confidence in the providence of God. “The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah”
It is humbling to say that the Lord of hosts is with us. But, that is what he has said. He is with his people of faith.
The God of screw-ups is our fortress! That is our good news and why the religious, conservative elements of our society generally do not take to the streets and cause chaos.
I am so glad he is the God of screw-ups, aren’t you? I believe this is also one reason why such a vast majority of evangelical Christians voted for Donald J. Trump in this election. Sure, he is in some rather bold ways a screw-up. He is also a man of great accomplishment and is possibly capable of bringing great change to the direction of America that is desirable to conservatives. He is not a spiritual savior; he is no messiah. There will be no political messiah in the country or any other until the Messiah returns and establishes the New Heavens and New Earth. So, we don’t put our ultimate confidence in human leadership. Today, consider this:
“The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah”