For today, One Year Bible Online links here.
The righteous look out for the needs of animals, not because they are commanded to do so, merely because it is a side effect of doing God’s will. On the other hand, even when they try to be kind to animals the wicked are cruel.
I read this psalm and it reminds me of when I have looked at people who I thought had the perfect life and I envied them. How come they had everything they wanted in life when I was struggling? This psalm so perfectly reflects what I learned. The wicked always seemed to have everything they could possibly want. I remained faithful, but I began to doubt.
Then God showed me how things were not the perfect picture which those people painted: the great music or movie star who had everything money could buy committed suicide. Why? Then the stories came out about their struggles with substance abuse and/or with people they loved who did not love them back. Or the man with the great job, the beautiful wife, the talented kids, the beautiful house…he’s getting a divorce. It turns out that he and his wife have been fighting for years and perhaps those talented kids have turned to drugs or some other form of rebellion. His whole life is coming tumbling down around his ears.
I am not saying that there are not people with great lives, but it is not the wicked who have great lives. I really do have the great life. I know others who have things I wish I had, but I made my choices. I chose the things I wanted more, and God gave them to me. Because I have remained faithful to Him, my wife and I have a wonderful marriage. My beautiful wife is not looking elsewhere for satisfaction in her life. We work together to serve God and find the things which make life worth living…which is redundant right there. Serving God is the thing which makes life worth living.
Well, that is not where I was going when I started writing about this psalm, but it is where I went and it works for me. I hope it works for you.
There is one thing in every one of the accounts of the healing of the demon possessed boy that I do not understand. It is when Jesus says the following, “You faithless and corrupt people! How long must I be with you and put up with you?” What does He mean by that? Who is He addressing? Is He addressing the boy’s father? Is He addressing His disciples? Is He addressing the crown? I do not know. I struggle with it because it looks like a statement which should tell me something important about following Jesus, but I don’t know what that something is.
Fortunately, there is something Jesus says in this passage which I do understand. “Whoever is the least among you is the greatest.” There are different ways to look at this, but they all come out around the same place. There are two different takes I want to look at. The first is that if we want to be among the greatest in the sight of God, we cannot puff ourselves up and seek recognition from others. If we spend our time trying to show others how special we are, we are failing.
The second take is that the people we view as being the greatest, almost certainly aren’t. It is the people we view as lowly and unimportant whom God tells us are the ones who really matter to Him. They should be the ones who matter to us as well.
This passage begins by talking about the share of the Levites and how they get a share of the offerings which people make to the Lord. There is a lesson there on how we should treat those called by God and the Church into ministry. I want to give some thought to that lesson and touch on it more later.
Next Moses warns them against sacrificing their children. Every time I read passages in the Old Testament condemning sacrificing children I cannot help but think about our society’s attitude towards abortion. Our society tells women to sacrifice their children for the sake of “convenience”. He goes on from there to condemn all sorts of “magic”. There is no better way to sum it up than to quote the passage:
And do not let your people practice fortune-telling, or use sorcery, or interpret omens, or engage in witchcraft, or cast spells, or function as mediums or psychics, or call forth the spirits of the dead.
Those who do these things are detestable to God. He drove the people in the land out to make room for the Israelites because they did those things. God will do the same to our people if we do these things. And I know many people who do some or all of those.
I was going to stop there, but then I saw the command to not convict anyone on the basis of just one witness. The emphasis in this passage is on making sure that justice is served, but there is a lesson there for us in our personal lives. We should not judge a situation on the bases of hearsay. We should be careful to carefully establish the facts before we reach a conclusion about a situation.