“We give thanks to you, O God; we give thanks; your name is near. People tell of your wondrous deeds.”
~Psalm 75:1 (NRSV)
This psalm could just as easily be titled, The Boastful Will Be Judged.
What more fundamental a theme could we find as an undercurrent through all divinity and Scripture than that of rebuke over boasting—the setting up of a personal exaltation? It is an abomination of the first degree; the replacement of God, against the First Commandment; the placement of one creation over the Creator.
That is, in effect, what we do in our boasting; for even in that moment there is no need beyond the self. It is, of course, a lie of calamitous proportions. And the genuine humble know it; they shrink from boasting—their own or others’.
This psalm advises, by first-hand example, thanks for all things be given to the Lord.
The LORD Judges – Quietly And Otherwise
Casting our minds back to the great tsunamis of 2004 and 2011, ideas of God’s role of judging the earth came to bear, however forlorn a thought. We do not think, however, how, as the tectonic plates shifted, the Lord God held the whole world steady—steady that it did not shift to the point of breaking apart (verse 3).
Selah—we ought to pause thankfully on that!
There is much safety in knowing our wholly good God will not ordain any judgment against the earth that would condemn the people of God. But the Almighty will judge.
The humble psalmist senses the judging nature of his God and he respectfully fears him. Such awe is found rending his heart he is compelled to warn the proud of their foolishness in verses 4-5.
Nothing allowed on earth is such forth despite God. All is because God ordains it.
The LORD Holds The Cup Of Judgment
Unsuspected by the wicked is the bountifulness of the cup of judgment that God holds in one hand.
They (we) even reject defiantly any mode of judgment for ‘bad luck’, blaming innocent parties, the circumstance, the day, the weather—you name it; anything but responsibility for their (our) actions. There is anything but the sight of a righteous God judging unrighteousness. And it is only unrighteousness—to the extent of all humanity—that cannot comprehend all of the judgments of God. Even the spiritually adroit will periodically sit condemned in their consciences; there is a reminder to rejoice in thankfulness and, thereby, return to humility. God cannot be wrong.
This can be a hard word to receive and it is nevertheless true; when we broaden our minds, though, to think not like a human but like the Divine, we enjoy the possibility that all judgment is right—for it is; the Lord ordains it.
This spiritual principle of Jesus’ abides all through life: “All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted” (Matthew 23:12). One way meets with peril, while the other meets with undeserved grace. Those who boast will be judged, while those who lift up their Lord will rejoice forever.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.
Image: Francisco de Zurbarán, St. Francis in Meditation, c. 1635-39.