Don’t Give In

That time when you realize Psalm 50 is relevant.

Photo by Eduard Militaru

I have been thinking and praying about where we’re at in this crazy world of ours. Something just isn’t connecting for me as I see my tribe, my people, so quickly give themselves to the power of the empire. It doesn’t matter if they’re on the left or the right. Every few years they scramble over themselves to align themselves with power for a “seat at the table.”

This time around it was more stark than ever.

Today Psalm 50 was one of the passages in the Scriptures that I read. I had to return to it because it was, as my friend The Beard says, “relevant.”

It’s so money, that I want you to read the whole thing and not just the snippets:

A Psalm of Asaph.

The Mighty One, God the LORD,
speaks and summons the earth
from the rising of the sun to its setting.
Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty,
God shines forth.

Our God comes; he does not keep silence;
before him is a devouring fire,
around him a mighty tempest.
He calls to the heavens above
and to the earth, that he may judge his people:
“Gather to me my faithful ones,
who made a covenant with me by sacrifice!”
The heavens declare his righteousness,
for God himself is judge! Selah

“Hear, O my people, and I will speak;
O Israel, I will testify against you.
I am God, your God.
Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you;
your burnt offerings are continually before me.
I will not accept a bull from your house
or goats from your folds.
For every beast of the forest is mine,
the cattle on a thousand hills.
I know all the birds of the hills,
and all that moves in the field is mine.

“If I were hungry, I would not tell you,
for the world and its fullness are mine.
Do I eat the flesh of bulls
or drink the blood of goats?
Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving,
and perform your vows to the Most High,
and call upon me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”

But to the wicked God says:
“What right have you to recite my statutes
or take my covenant on your lips?
For you hate discipline,
and you cast my words behind you.
If you see a thief, you are pleased with him,
and you keep company with adulterers.

“You give your mouth free rein for evil,
and your tongue frames deceit.
You sit and speak against your brother;
you slander your own mother’s son.
These things you have done, and I have been silent;
you thought that I was one like yourself.
But now I rebuke you and lay the charge before you.

“Mark this, then, you who forget God,
lest I tear you apart, and there be none to deliver!
The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me;
to one who orders his way rightly
I will show the salvation of God!” (ESV)

First, our God does not keep silent. He speaks and he is perfect and beautiful. His desire is not for sacrifice but for us to offer thanksgiving, keep our word, and call on him when we are in trouble. How beautiful is that? Our God says, “When you’re in the depths, when you’re in trouble, call on me! I will deliver you, I will care for you. I got your back!”

Second, the wicked are described as people who speak his statutes with their lips but celebrate thieves, keep company with adulterers, they spread lies, and speak against their brothers. They ignore discipline.

This should shock you, it does me. The wicked are not here described as “others” but as those who speak with words the statutes of God and are “brothers” of the faithful. On the one hand this makes sense as God is speaking to ethnic Israel. On the other, as we consider how it applies to the Church today, it is deeply challenging.

As we scramble for power and “a seat at the table” are we celebrating thieves, adulterers, spreading lies, and speaking against our brothers? Are we selling our very souls because we believe that the political agenda to which we ascribe is more effective at building the kingdom of God than God is?

Pastors, we must call the people of God to not give in to the powers. We must remind them that faithfulness to God is primary. There is no savior on Capitol Hill, there never will be. In the time of trouble we are to call out to God, not a political leader.

It seems that we, like the people of God in the past, desire a strong man or woman, so we can be like the rest of the nations. God’s warning through Samuel to his people is well heeded for us today:

So Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who were asking for a king from him. He said, “These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen and to run before his chariots. And he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants. He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants. He will take your male servants and female servants and the best of your young men and your donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the LORD will not answer you in that day.” (1 Samuel 8:10–18, ESV)

I pray we will repent. I pray we will turn from our desire for a hero and embrace our one true King.

Will you pray with me? Will you join me as I seek to set aside the trappings of Empire and follow the Crucified Servant King?


Don’t Give In was originally published in The Rev on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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