An Oath

(Today’s post by Wayne Bunting)

Psalm 1o2

oathThe author of this psalm shows right from the beginning that he wants the Lord to remember what David sought hard after: “a place for the Lord, a dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob.” He’s talking about the temple, which was built during the reign of David’s son, Solomon. It seems as though this is a psalm written for the inauguration of the temple of Solomon. And the author of this psalm asks for the Lord to inhabit the new temple with His presence. The focus is on The Lord’s presence. But more specifically we should notice that the reason that David so strongly desired for a temple to be built is because it would be a place where the presence of the Lord would live. Prior to this, God’s presence was seen in the Ark of the Covenant. Now, in verse 8, the author of this Psalm invites the Lord and His ark to dwell in the temple, among the people.

Verses 12-13 state that “The Lord swore to David a sure oath from which he will not turn back: ‘One of the sons of your body I will set on your throne. If your sons keep my covenant and my testimonies that I shall teach them, their sons also forever shall sit on your throne.”’ The Lord’s covenant with David denoted that if David’s sons kept the covenant that David made with the Lord then the Lord would always put a member of David’s lineage on the throne of Israel.

If we fast forward into Israel’s history we see that the kings of Israel (and Judah) were not faithful in David’s covenant with God. This unfaithfulness led God’s people into darkness as well as what amounted to God’s people cheating on God with the other false gods from the surrounding nations. All of this culminated in the exile of God’s people into Babylon. God removed David’s descendents from the throne and gave them over to other nations. Never again was a descendant of David on the throne of Israel without having to be subservient to another ruler. The consequences of Israel’s unfaithfulness to God are serious and far reaching.

But what is interesting is that although Israel and its kings broke covenant with God and was unfaithful to Him, God was not unfaithful to them. He is constant throughout all of Israel’s history. He maintained who He is and upheld His end of the covenant. Even more than this, God set in motion the redemption of His stubborn and unfaithful people even while they were being punished for their breaking of the covenant (see Ezekiel). Later, as Israel sat under the rule of another nation, Rome, God sent the redemption that He foretold hundreds of years earlier in the prophets. This very thing was spoken of in the book of Daniel, a book that historically takes place during Israel’s exile in Babylon, but which foretells future events that would happen in the life of God’s people. Specifically, Daniel 3 shows how God will cause the kingdom of God to rise out of the kingdom of Rome.

This took place when God sent the promised messiah, Jesus, to redeem Israel. His death on the cross served to be the final and ultimate sacrifice to redeem God’s people from their sins. When Jesus said “It is finished,” this is what He meant. Subsequently, the whole world was given the chance to be redeemed through this redemption of God’s people, and the gentiles (us) were allowed to be grafted in to the plan of redemption and called God’s people.

This display of mercy by God is amazing. It shows the depth of love that the God we serve has for His people. Even if we are unfaithful He is still faithful. That is a very comforting thought. Not that our sins have no consequence, because He disciplines those whom He loves, but that despite our sinfulness and stupidity God is constant and never changing. He will always be there for us. Our sin may cloud Him and get in the way of our communion with Him, but He never moves. He will never leave us or forsake us.

Because of the redemption of Christ we have the presence of this constant and faithful God living in us, who are now the temple in which He dwells. We should want the presence of God to be close to us like the author of this Psalm wanted the presence of God to live in the temple. What would it look like if we made that our number one focus in life? What would it look like if we sought after God and His ways before we sought after our own ways? What would the world that lives in darkness see in us if we wholeheartedly sought after the presence of God and wanted Him to richly live in us?

We have the power of God in us, so we should seek to exercise the gifts that the Lord has put in us and build up the church, and show that power to the world. Doing this requires a fear of the Lord, and a willingness to submit to His Holiness. To fear God requires us to give up ourselves. That is something that most people don’t want to do.

Our culture breeds self attainment. This idea has infected the church and wreaked havoc for a long time now. The world calls it “progress,” but this progress has only bent society towards a human endeavor, and the realization of sin sickened human desires. If we as God’s people want to live for God like we are meant to, to have His presence richly and intimately in our lives, then we are to shun this idea of humanistic attainment, give up ourselves, and allow Jesus to be the Lord that He is. I have seen too many Christians dumb down the movement of God in the area that they are in, and quench the Holy Spirit, because they are putting themselves and the world’s ways before God. If we rid ourselves of ourselves and live for Christ only, the world will be changed, the kingdom of God will pour into the world, and the darkness that our nation is espousing will flee.

In the presence of God all sin and self must fade away.

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