May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you. May the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you rule the peoples justly and guide the nations of the earth. Selah May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you. Then the land will yield its harvest, and God, our God, will bless us.Psalm 67:3-6
Today’s world is in a state of unrest that it has not seen for a long time. World-wide, people are losing hope for the future as we see many of the difficulties we face as being without a solution. It is hard for 2020 Man to admit his inability to find a satisfactory way forward. Even the devastation of the corona virus pandemic that is currently claiming thousands of lives throughout the world, and could multiply exponentially, is often overshadowed in the news by the threat posed to every nation by serious political unrest and ‘natural’ disasters. It seems that Australia is not as isolated from these things as we had assumed.
We need to take note that when the psalmist says, “May the peoples praise you, O God”, he is not giving them the option of defining this ‘God’ for themselves. He is not talking about the ‘Allah’ of Islam, or the Buddha, or Krishna, or any other concept of a divine Being formed in the mind of Man. He is talking about the ONE-AND-ONLY TRUE God, who created the Universe from nothing, who reveals his power and glory clearly in his Creation, who has revealed himself unambiguously and infallibly in verbal propositions in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, and who has shown himself supremely to us in history in the Person of his One-and-Only-Beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Because THIS God is not just a ‘belief-concept’, but a living REALITY, a Personal God who can be known TRULY, if not fully, through these three means, Creation, the Bible and Jesus, the psalmist can call him ‘OUR God’.
‘Our God’ is worthy of all praise by all people, he tells us. Our God is the source of ALL blessing for ALL nations. Our God is the One who rules over ALL people justly, and who guides the nations of the earth. So why are we in such a mess, and why is it getting worse at present? Why does clever ‘2020 Scientific Man’ feel so helpless in the face of all that is happening in, and to, his world? Is it because the adverb ‘justly’ that modifies God’s ‘rule’ requires him to withhold the blessing of peace and prosperity while ever people continue to ignore him and refuse to honour and praise him for what he has done for us in Christ?
If the answer is ‘Yes’, then our praying, with the psalmist, “May all the peoples praise you”, must have its primary application in our own hearts. Does atheistic, materialistic Modern Man oppose ‘our God’ because of the ‘bad press’ he gets from our witness? Let us remember that, when we pray in the Lord’s Prayer, “your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”, we are praying as much for our own lives to be brought into line with God’s will as for this to happen everywhere on earth!
The woman [from Tekoa] said [to King David], “Why then have you devised a thing like this against the people of God? When the king says this, does he not convict himself, for the king has not brought back his banished son [Absalom]?2 Samuel 14:13
This is now the second time in 2 Samuel that a clever ploy has been used to ‘trick’ David into recognising a deep-seated sin in his own heart. Although he loved his son, Absalom, very dearly, he could not bring himself to forgive him for killing his brother Amnon. A change of heart was effected by Joab encouraging a Tekoan ‘widow’ who was unknown to David, to go to the king with a fictitious story about her son who killed his only brother and so was in fear of his life. If this guilty son were not forgiven, and his execution carried out, the ‘widow’ would be left destitute of an heir. As Joab rightly predicted, the soft-hearted king would see the greater damage that would follow if the Mosaic Law was administered without mercy. Yes, David decreed that mercy should prevail.
A similar thing had happened when Nathan used a ‘story’ about a rich man stealing and killing a poor man’s only pet lamb to feed a friend, in order to expose to the king the enormity of his own sin in committing adultery with Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba (2 Samuel 12).
It is an interesting aspect of our fallen nature that we are able to see the sins of others with 20-20 vision, while at the same time being blind to our own, even greater sins! Jesus’ warning comes to mind: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way as you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:1-3).
Perhaps the most important thing I am to learn from all this is: When I recognise a fault in some other ‘fallen’ human being, I should assume that there is a strong possibility that, because I also am a ‘fallen’ human being, I am probably guilty in the same way but have been unable to see it! The Apostle Paul elaborates on this in Romans 2: “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgement on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgement do the same things.” This is scary … but important, and helpful. It is possibly after the experiences with Nathan and the Tekoan ‘widow’, and as a result of them, that David penned the earnest petition: “ Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24).
The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.2 Corinthians 10:4-5
What are the ‘weapons of the world’? Are they not things like gossip, manipulation, anger, revenge, spin, facebook posts, text messages, putting the worst construction on the motives of those who oppose us – or just upset us?
If only we could say with Paul that we don’t use these ‘weapons’, and say it with a clear conscience! Too often we let our fallen nature get the upper hand when we come into conflict with others. And, perhaps surprisingly, we even find ourselves doing this to those close to us, even those we love dearly – a harsh word, an unkind word, or perhaps no words at all!
So, what are the weapons Paul is encouraging us to use – the ones that actually win wars in the spiritual battle in which we are constantly engaged? Are they not things like love, and kindness, and gentleness, and patience, and forgiveness, and acceptance, and encouragement, and putting the best construction on the motives and actions of others? Paul says these things are what will demolish strongholds with divine power!