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Sunday: The Lord’s Unstoppable Faithfulness — 8 Comments

  1. Picture with me a sweet elderly couple who has been together 60 years. They finish each other's sentences and always look out for each other's best interests. Is it hard for them to be faithful to each other? Now, remember suffering Hosea whose wife Gomer was repeatedly running away, selling herself and longing after other men. Was it hard for Hosea to rescue her time after time, and buy her back (Hosea 3:1-3)? How about a trusted friend...is he or she easy to love? Jesus says so, He said that anyone can love a lovable person, but He told us to be faithful in loving those who are not lovable (Matt.5:46-48). Same with forgiveness. It may be easier to forgive 70x7 someone who is genuinely sorry each time (Matt.18:21-22), but what about being faithful to forgive a self-centered someone who doesn't care about your forgiveness and sees nothing out of step or unjust in how they treat you?

    It's this contrast that stands out for me in Ps.78. God's faithfulness contrasted with how very little we deserve His faithfulness. And also, sometimes how very little we care about His faithfulness. See in Num.13:30-31 the 12 scouts who have had a glimpse of the Promised Land standing there. Hear the majority (83%) grumbling, identify with the distrusting questions and comments over and over that show we think we know better, note our eagerness to act independently of God (I can do it myself), cringe at the practical atheism of so-called "Christians". They actually said something like, "God, My life would have been better if I'd never listened to you or followed you!" (Ex.14:12; Num.14:1-4,10). This kind of response continues today. I am still a nominal or half-hearted believer if I am at the stage where I feel a need to put God's faithfulness to the test over and over, and keep refusing to move forward in obedience to His voice (Num.14:22)...if my auto-pilot is to lean on my own understanding rather than God's (Prov.3:5-6)...if I hang out with those identifying as God's people, but hang back from the bold, risk-everything faith of the Caleb and Joshua types. Good news is if I want out of this stage, that's a healthy sign of the Holy Spirit's sap stirring in me.

    One final thought about God's patience, kindness, and mercy... Ps.78 matches God's faithfulness to the unfaithful with human emotions like "pained", "angered", "grieved" (Ps.78:21,40-41,58-59). To relate, I know when my dear Mom worries a thing to death, over and over, it exhausts me. If I could I would get her from point A to point B quickly as I could to avoid the exhausting process. For example, at bedtime, there's the endless, "Is the stove off? Are the windows closed and locked? Are the doors locked? Is anyone coming over? Do I have any appointments tomorrow? Are you going anywhere tomorrow? Is the stove off? Are the doors locked? Etc. Etc. Round and round. If we could go from bedtime teeth-brushing to lights off without these anxieties, it would be calmer for both of us. Now back to Israel, if God could have gone directly from Egypt to Canaan as quickly as possible it seems like it would have been easier for the Israelites and for God. To my human understanding the shortest route is always better. But God says, "No". God says that they needed the extra time for God to "humble you, test you, and do you good in the end" (Deut. 8:16).

    We won't be any more thankful for God's gifts, resting in His provisions, wondering at His grace in heaven than we are now. Gratitude and trust are not situational, they are relational. God knows that. We want the miracles like manna and then we quickly forget when they become everyday blessings....everyday gifts like fresh air, life, food, shelter, friends, family, even the gift of salvation and the invitation to come boldly to the throne of God in prayer.... we easily take grace for granted. Mom and I are both learning that our needs are miraculously supplied. It's much easier to learn this in the wilderness than at the table that is overflowing. We're being trained (Deut.8:5,11-18; Heb.12:11) so that we remember that we are helpless even while sitting at the table overflowing with milk and honey (Ps.78:22-25). God is parting the rivers of our pride to save us from drowning our faith in ease and prosperity. God slows us down and sobers our self-sufficiency with trials...at every age and stage.

    • When God shows his faithfulness, he leaves no loopholes that we can use to doubt him. He seals everything and is a God that leads more than by example.

  2. Today's lesson is based on Psalm 78 which provides a historical summary of the nation. It reminded me a bit of Australia's history. There are the good bits we tend to remember with ceremonies added to the national calendar. And, there are the bad bits that nobody wants to talk about. Sometimes the bad bits come to the surface and tend to occupy the media to the exclusion of the good bits.

    Typically when that happens we get a collective guilty conscience and make some sort of grand statement that often has little substance. Perhaps the biggest lesson we should learn from looking back at our history is that we understand ourselves a little better.

    I think that Psalm 78 serves the purpose of helping the Hebrew nation to understand itself a little better. We, of course would suggest that they should have appreciated the leading of God a little better. But, that appreciation won't happen if they do not understand their situation. We can argue about the sequencing of understanding however one thing is clear, the roller coaster of human behaviour continued and continues to this day. And in the background, God is always there waiting for us. Persistence and patience. That is the big-picture lesson of Psalm 78.

    On a different but related topic: Carmel and I began reading or listening to the Psalms at the beginning of this year and have just finished Psalm 150 last night. We used "The Message" paraphrase. Carmel read when it was her turn and I used the audio version when it was my turn (my voice gets a bit cracked when I talk for too long). We really enjoyed the experience of reading and listening, particularly in a modern language (except for the American pronunciation of "God" - Gaard).

    What were our impressions:
    1) There is a lot of praise and that gets repetitious. You can understand that when you recognise that many of the psalms were set to music where repetition is more effective.
    2) There are some wonderful thoughtful psalms where you are challenged to participate more deeply in your spiritual relationships.
    3) Some nationalistic psalms were difficult to take. I put those down as part of a growing experience. We cannot expect 21st-century thinking from three millenniums ago. God gives us room to grow.

  3. God is always with us, teaching us to trust Him and showing us the bigger picture. When we learn to trust Him and listen to His guidance, He gives us the gift of persistence and patience. Throughout history, God has proven Himself worthy of our trust. We have nothing to fear in the future when we remember how God has led us in the past. When we embrace this evidence of God's care for us, our persistence and patience will grow for the present and the future.

  4. To me reading this psalm remind me of unfaithfulness and despite all my stubbornness yet he has been so merciful and lovely Dady indeed, it is my call upon to us all to continue trusting and obeying him all the time and keep building faith in him.

  5. I find that we have fallen into the same trap in that we refuse to teach the love of God to our children. The relationship between God and man is not learned in a school. We must help our succeeding generations to recognize God's role in their lives. It's not to be a tyrannical learning to build resentment, but one which points them to how God's precepts are intricately woven into our everyday lives. As people of God, I find that we don't know how God is working in our lives so we can't tell others. Israel forgot what they experienced and hence lost sight of Jesus to the point where they didn't even recognize Him who came to save the world from sin. Lord help us to study your precepts and open our eyes that we would deepen our relationship with you and teach others to do the same.

  6. This psalm made me realise that all the history is replicated in the psalms. I can see the same accounts coming through again. Showing me we are still the sane people that our Creator loved from the beginning of time.


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