Morning Light – May 13th, 2016

ml_2016Today: [Psalms Ten] Triumph over Evil. In this psalm David laments that God seems so far away in times of trouble. He complains that the wicked are acting with impunity to oppress the godly. This sounds very reminiscent of our day. Yet David has every expectation that the situation he refers to will change. He puts his trust in God and believes that justice will prevail. In our day many are offering solutions to the things that trouble the church. Where does our salvation come from? David’s psalm is an encouragement to us to maintain our trust in God and not be distracted by the false promises of those who cannot effect real change in our society.
[Psa 10:1-18 KJV] 1 Why standest thou afar off, O LORD? [why] hidest thou [thyself] in times of trouble? 2 The wicked in [his] pride doth persecute the poor: let them be taken in the devices that they have imagined. 3 For the wicked boasteth of his heart’s desire, and blesseth the covetous, [whom] the LORD abhorreth. 4 The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek [after God]: God [is] not in all his thoughts. 5 His ways are always grievous; thy judgments [are] far above out of his sight: [as for] all his enemies, he puffeth at them. 6 He hath said in his heart, I shall not be moved: for [I shall] never [be] in adversity.
In the Septuagint bible this psalm and several after it are treated as one with Psalm 9. What is the Septuagint and why would we make note of it? The Septuagint was a Greek translation of the Old Testament that dated two centuries before the time of Jesus. It is almost exclusively quoted by Jesus and the disciples throughout the New Testament. It was not a favorite of the Pharisees or Sadducees because it was not written in Hebrew. It was considered a liberal translation much as many people today do not prefer the NIV bible but rather stick with the KJV. This is interesting in light of the fact that Jesus and the writers of the New Testament and the disciples preferred the Septuagint though it was views as a more liberal, populist version of the Old Testament.
Psalm 10 is a psalm of complaint against the wicked and a complaint against the seeming distance of God from His people in times of trouble. Why does it seem that God can be so far from us in times of difficulty? In Psalm 46:1 we read that God is a very present help in time of trouble. Psalm 145:18 tells us that the Lord is near to those that call upon Him in difficult situations. Hebrews 4:16 says we will always find God’s grace to help us in times of need.
Yet there are those experiences when we cry out “where is God in all of this?” Why does God not instantly act to deliver us when difficulty comes? It is true that God’s timing is not our timing. In Rev. 3:11 Jesus says “behold I come quickly” and it’s been 2000 years. Nonetheless God is with us even when it seems He stays His hand. He is with us even when we don’t feel His presence. It is wonderful to feel God around us in times of need and in times of blessing but just because we don’t feel Him doesn’t mean that He is not near.
7 His mouth is full of cursing and deceit and fraud: under his tongue [is] mischief and vanity. 8 He sitteth in the lurking places of the villages: in the secret places doth he murder the innocent: his eyes are privily set against the poor. 9 He lieth in wait secretly as a lion in his den: he lieth in wait to catch the poor: he doth catch the poor, when he draweth him into his net. 10 He croucheth, [and] humbleth himself, that the poor may fall by his strong ones. 11 He hath said in his heart, God hath forgotten: he hideth his face; he will never see [it]. 12 Arise, O LORD; O God, lift up thine hand: forget not the humble.
This psalm also complains about the wicked. When we feel persecuted and disenfranchised it seems that those who impose their will upon the faithful in Christ Jesus do so with impunity and God seemingly does nothing. We look around us at the social engineering and experimentation taking place in our society and it is very grievous. Ancient standards are being deconstructed, and vile practices are being accommodated and often forced upon people of faith under threat of law.
We want to cry out that it isn’t fair or right and yes this is true but as David says we live in a wicked world. We live in a world that does not like to retain God in their knowledge. The fact of the matter is that on the whole the population of the earth does not seek after God or have God at all in their thoughts. It is vain therefore to expect something different from the world because this is who they are and this is what they do. We can disagree and be dismayed but the fact of the matter is that they need a savior. Conservative legislation will not save society. Electing a conservative will not in the final analysis bring our country closer to God. Let the world do what it may our responsibility is to keep seeking the kingdom.
We must never forget the despotic rule that the early church suffered under. The Caesars were brutal. The very government that Christians were required to pay taxes to was the government that rounded them up and fed them to the lions. What is to be our response in the face of the organized and motivated enmity that society and government is manifesting toward the Christian faith? I believe the best example we can draw from is that of the early church.
For all the brutality and suppression of the early church the Roman eventually had to face the fact that the more Christians they killed, the more Christians there were. Roman procurators wrote many letters to Rome asking for leniency for Christian communities not because they felt sorry for them but because persecution caused the church to grow in a way that was difficult for the government to control.
In China the church after long decades of relative peace is under siege by the government. Even state sanctioned churches are being bull dozed. Hundreds of steeples are being ripped from existing structures to prevent them from being identified as churches. Pastors are being imprisoned and congregations are scattered. It is illegal for parents to speak of Christ to their children before the age of 18.
As reprehensible as this is it is no longer unfamiliar to the western church as we see the government ever tightening its grip on religious freedoms and criminalizing matters of faith all in the name of the greater good. Christians have lost their businesses, their homes and livelihood for holding to matters of faith that have stood since Moses’ day. As David says in this psalm the wicked lurk in the streets waiting for and taking their opportunity to assault the righteous and we have no reason to expect things to get better.
What is the solution? Political reform will not change anything. From the days of Ronald Reagan until now political leaders have lied and manipulated the church and produced absolutely not one piece of effective legislation in behalf of the Christian voting block. We cry out with David not to a legislature or a governor or a president. We cry out to God as in verse 12 “Arise oh God lift up your hand and forget not the humble…”
13 Wherefore doth the wicked contemn God? he hath said in his heart, Thou wilt not require [it]. 14 Thou hast seen [it]; for thou beholdest mischief and spite, to requite [it] with thy hand: the poor committeth himself unto thee; thou art the helper of the fatherless. 15 Break thou the arm of the wicked and the evil [man]: seek out his wickedness [till] thou find none. 16 The LORD [is] King for ever and ever: the heathen are perished out of his land. 17 LORD, thou hast heard the desire of the humble: thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear: 18 To judge the fatherless and the oppressed, that the man of the earth may no more oppress.
In verse 13 we see the reason why the wicked act with such abandon. They say “the Lord will not require it”. In other words there is no accountability. Nonetheless David says in the next verse that in spite of man rejection of God and persecution of the faithful that justice will come. David says that God is a helper to the fatherless. Our fathers nationally are our governors, legislators and presidents. When we have no representation or our leaders enact policies that oppress us remember that God is our help. We don’t need to pine vainly away for the next Republican pseudo-savior. Our help is in the Lord. Remember the words of Jeremiah:
[Jer 17:5 KJV] 5 Thus saith the LORD; Cursed [be] the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD.
The early church suffered greatly under harsh persecution. Yet they were not an activist church, neither were they an insurgent church. Nonetheless in 3 generations the known world led by Rome collapsed helpless at the foot of the cross. How did this happen? By political reform? By armed rebellion? No – the faith we serve triumphed because of how believers prayed and how they died. We have an example of the church triumphant in the first 4 centuries of the church if we dare to follow it.

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