By James Boice
Theme: How to Respond to God
In this week’s lessons, God is displayed as the righteous Judge who demonstrates his wrath toward sinners, but mercy toward his chosen people.
Scripture: Psalm 76:1-12
There are always people who are angry at God’s judgments, even at the thought of them. They want to tell God that he is unjust to judge, that he cannot act that way. But that is a futile response. God will do as he will do. If we are wise, we will pursue another line entirely. What should that be? In the final stanza of the psalm (vv. 11, 12), the writer makes two suggestions.
1. “Make vows to the LORD your God and fulfill them” (v. 11). This is a word to Israel, who alone can claim that God is her God. The point is that because God delivered Israel from the Assyrian invasion, therefore the people owe him their allegiance. In other words, the thought is precisely what we find at the start of the Ten Commandments: “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me” (Exod. 20:2, 3). Because God has saved, redeemed and now delivered his people, they are to worship and serve him only.
Is there any less of a demand upon us who have been saved from sin by the death of Jesus Christ? Hardly! If anything, the obligation is even greater. If you have been saved by Jesus, you must both follow and obey him. Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). He also said, “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say” (Luke 6:46)?
2. “Let all the neighboring lands bring gifts to the One to be feared” (v. 11). This is a word to those whose God is not God but who are answerable to him anyway. It is the equivalent of the way Psalm 2 ends. For after describing the arrogant rebellion of the nations of the world and echoing the profound scorn God has for such foolish and inadequate rattling of swords, God turns to the arrogant, saying, “Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you be destroyed in your way” (vv. 10-12).
That applies to you, if you have not yet bowed in faith and obedience before the Lord Jesus Christ. The psalmist says that God “breaks the spirit of rulers,” and he will break you too if you resist him. It would be better if you would submit to him now. Then you will find mercy and be able to join with those who sing praise to God in Zion.
- How should you react to God’s judgments?
- What obligations have you taken on upon being saved?
Reflection: How do you approach God?
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