Archive for December 9th, 2019

“A God without wrath brought men without sin into a Kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a Cross.” H. Richard Niebuhr, Reformed theologian

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Psalm 17:

Deliver my soul from the wicked by your sword,
14 from men by your hand, O Lord,
    from men of the world whose portion is in this life.
You fill their womb with treasure;
    they are satisfied with children,
    and they leave their abundance to their infants.

This Psalm is a “ A Prayer of David” which he may have prayed for deliverance from the hands of King Saul who attempted many times to kill David.  King Saul alone did not attempt to kill him as he had the army at his disposal and many who were for Saul even though he had turned away from the Lord. David  and his faithful were surrounded by the wicked. 

It is bad enough to expect physical harm from the,  “wicked who do…violence” (vs. 9) but harder still are, “…men of the world whose portion is in this life” (vs. 14)as this speaks to a more blatant spiritual struggle. 

According to the Lutheran Study Bible, vs. 14 can be translated, “…from men whose portion in life is of the world”.  When our portion in life is of the world, then we are “men of the world”.  This is the beguiling and devilish wickedness which is spiritual.  “Men of the world” are self-satisfied, centered on the world.  The Lord fills the righteous and the wicked alike, with “treasure” of the womb: children. But even the gift of family becomes self-satisfied when centered on the abundance/wealth passed on in inheritance.  The spiritual wicked do not will as the Lord wills that the greatest treasure is the Lord Himself and so for our children to,  “… bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6: 4)  Such centering on “abundance’ speaks to idolatry and the number one idol is money. As it is written, “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” (James 4: 4) And again: “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God‘s law; indeed, it cannot.”  (Romans 8:7) There is more to life than the dollar sign:  the sign of the Child in the manger and the sign of His Cross for sinners.

It is difficult to separate physical and spiritual wickedness and resist it and fight it, yea, on our own we cannot resist and so the Lord taught us to pray:  Lead us not into temptation, as recorded in the Bible.   David knew by faith in the Lord the means to do so, “Deliver my soul from the wicked by your sword…” (vs. 13).  David speaks of the spiritual sword and this is supported in Ephesians 6:

“In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God…” (vss. 16-7).

David’s sword, as the Apostle Paul’s sword is the Word of God and ours as well.  The Lord’s spiritual means is the only way to combat spiritual temptations. The self-satisfied are a terror to the Christian because we want that kind of world as well and well we know that the world is under the judgment of God. We are under the Lord’s just judgment as well when we are set on the flesh and world….so the devil.  The Lord has provided  the way out:  His Word and the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ.  This is a good reminder in Advent as the Lord sent the basis of all the weapons of the Spirit: His  own Son. So, take up daily the Lord’s Sword of the Word in the Scriptures.  Let us pray,

BLESSED Lord, who hast caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience and comfort of thy holy Word, we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

(Collect for the Second Sunday in Advent in the Church of England)

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