Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Psalm 76 – the Awesomeness of God

When we think of the most powerful and awesome of things on this planet, we’re stunned by tsunamis and other natural disasters, rockets and weaponry, technology, and simply the size of things. Yet, the awesomeness of God makes all of this pale into insignificance… and we hardly even notice it!

As I listen on with the National News in the background there’s unions haggling for wage rises for their members, botox medications available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, and the typical crimes of the day being reported. Life--the life we live--is so small. It’s a sin that we get wrapped up in the nothings of today, and give in to fear, when we have the divine hope of God to consider.

There is simply more to life. There has to be something that puts this life into proper context. Then I thought of God and Psalm 76.

This poetically placed psalm profiles just part of the awesomeness of the LORD, and these below I find are noteworthy:

“Make vows to the LORD your God, and perform them” –Psalm 76:11 (NRSV). We make promises all the time and break them. Our wills endure for a time and then we weaken… “Like a city breached, without walls, is one who lacks self-control.”[1]

When we approach our God, who is entirely graceful and doesn’t force us to make rash promises, we ought to appreciate his power--only he can assist us when the “very citadel of [our] human self-determination has been seized and taken over.”[2] Only he provides the final answer! Divine grace is miraculous.

When we consider the majesty of God, and how he is the King of kings and the Lord of lords, we see a “divine warrior whose kingship was established and whose capital was gained by victory over other gods.”[3] Everlasting mountains, the stout-hearted, troops, horse, and rider are all utterly nothing without God in verses 4-6, sending the reader forth toward Psalms 93-99, which all speak of the wonder and awe of God; Psalm 97 particularly, is a favourite.

In verses 8-9 we again get the glimpse of the God of the oppressed, establishing political order, justice and righteousness. He is the Almighty Judge, and whilst he’s slow to anger, nothing can assuage his wrath.

Why would we not absolutely fear this God? It is rank folly to act in any other way. If he can inspire fear in kings (verse 12), why would we, mere peasants in contrast, want to raise his ire? God is simply revered.

Finally, as an aside I asked my wife over the dinner table, ‘What makes God so awesome in all of creation?’ Her answer stunned me. Without much thought, she simply said, ‘He didn’t reject us.’[4] God, Creator God, found a way for us to be reconciled back to him through Christ--he didn’t just leave us in our sin. We have a God so awesome and powerful, a divine warrior, yet he’s also a personal friend who can help us truly live like no other. That’s simply awesome.

Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
[1] Proverbs 25:28 (NRSV).
[2] Thomas C. Oden, The Good Works Reader – Classic Christian Readers (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2007), p. 194.
[3] James L. Mays, Psalms – Interpretation (Louisville, Kentucky: John Knox Press, 1994), p. 250.
[4] Reconciliation is conditional, of course. God doesn’t reject us if we accept him.

No comments: