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The Light of the Upright

November 23rd, 2017

Light dawns in the darkness for the upright; he is gracious, merciful, and righteous. (Psalm 112:4)

A short little verse, but a wonderful promise from God. The upright are protected by God and light comes for them in times that appear dark to others. John wrote: “Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul” (3 John 2 ESV). Our lives in general are not to be more prosperous than our souls are rich with the knowledge of God. The first and greatest secret to all prosperity – whether it is in health, friendship, success in our career, or our possessions – is the spiritual progress of our soul. 

The greatest test of the health of our soul is how we endure darkness. The darkest time of the night is just before dawn, and often in our lives God entrusts into our hands dark times. We may feel friendless, lonely, without resources, weak, and fatigued, but the Lord is on our side and He will send His light at the right time. It is our job in such moments to patiently wait for Him and to continue to act in an upright way.

To be upright means to walk the way of the Lord, to be continually conscious of Him, to do what is right in all circumstances, to treat others rightly according to the commands of God, and to trust in the Lord. Trust is found not only in what we do but in what we do not do. The upright does not panic, does not waste resources, does not get ahead of God, rather he submits all things to God in prayer.

His relations with others is characterized by graciousness, mercy, and righteousness. Rudeness is not part of his nature. He acts with kindness towards others, and fairness. He is considerate of the difficulties that others face and is concerned about them. Compassion is what he feels – feeling what they feel and wanting to help them. He prefers to help the weak than to be seen among the strong.

So the upright man does not live in fear. The upright is a light of encouragement and strength to those who are troubled. He says in the midst of the storm, “Never fear. ‘The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge’ (Psalm 46:7).” He lives in the light of the compassion and faithfulness of God, and considers God the chief reality of the universe, and everything else mere shadows without substance.

Matthew Henry wrote:

They shall have comfort in affliction … Unto the upright there arises light in the darkness. It is here implied that good men may be in affliction; the promise does not exempt them from that. They shall have their share in the common calamities of human life; but, when they sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light to them, Mic. 7:8. They shall be supported and comforted under their troubles; their spirits shall be lightsome when their outward condition is clouded. Sat lucis intus—There is light enough within. During the Egyptian darkness the Israelites had light in their dwellings. They shall be in due time, and perhaps when they least expect it, delivered out of their troubles; when the night is darkest the day dawns; nay, at evening-time, when night was looked for, it shall be light.

Faith alone provides some light, but faith can never be light by itself. Faith by itself is merely us thinking positively. Faith must believe in One greater than us, and biblical faith believes in God. It is not merely a positive, forward looking attitude that guards us from worry. It is God Himself, and He is in finitely more than our thoughts alone.

Daily Devotions, Dealing with Difficulties , , ,

Be Still and Know

November 10th, 2017

Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted in the nations; I will be exalted on the earth. (Psalm 46:11)

There is no more holy duty for believers than to still our hearts – barring worry and anxiety from them – and dwelling on the revealed knowledge of God. There is likewise no spiritual activity that is more rewarding for us than this.

Be still – the original Hebrew uses a verb form that emphasizes this as a completed action – an intransitive verb, for all you grammarians. It does not merely say to slow down for a second, or to let our busy and anxious thoughts dwell on a different topic. It means to come to an end to our distractions and to sink down in the reality of God, putting the entire weight of our minds upon Him.

The 46th Psalm is about anxious worrying, fretting about all sorts of worst case scenarios. “We will not fear,” the inspired author says, “though the earth gives way,” in order to swallow us up, it would seem, “though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea” (46:2). It is the unbalanced and unchecked constant thinking about all that can go wrong that destroys spiritual peace in our lives.

There is a point to considering what could go wrong, and to making proper preparations, but our faith in the reality of God, in His faithfulness and power, adds another dimension to this matter. A worrisome mind may prepare logistically for dire circumstances, but at the same time never feel at rest with out a heart of faith in God.

And know – the knowledge of the truth of God can come only by His revelation. He must enlighten our minds before we may know that He is God, and that truth must be embraced with faith in order to be personally appropriated. “No man can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” (John 6:44).

There are some scholars who believe this verse is primarily directed to the nations, and not to the believer. It is the proclamation to those who are not yet His people, calling them to believe and obey Him, to bow before Him and worship Him. If that is the case, it cannot not be said that it means nothing to the believer. It does in fact proclaim a truth that we believers must embrace in our hearts.

The prophetic timeline – we also note that these last two statements, of God’s exaltation among the nations and upon the earth, are placed in order properly according to the prophetic timeline. The first, to be “exalted in the nations” speaks of worship, and means literally to be exalted in the hearts of the many different peoples upon the earth. The Greek translation of the New Testament era used the word “ethne” or “ethnic groups” to convey this thought. As the gospel goes out and is preached among the nations, many bow their hearts to God in faith and believe in Christ, and He is exalted in their hearts.

The second prophetic statement of being “exalted on the earth” speaks of geography – the word is “eretz” and it means the earth itself. When Christ returns He will set up His Millennial Kingdom and reign on earth, fulfilling the kingdom prophecies of the Old Testament.

These two thoughts, of current faith among the people of the world and of a future kingdom established on earth, are meant to bring comfort to our hearts. God is at work in the world and He will bring people of all nations to genuine faith, and He will ultimately establish His kingdom on earth.

These are truths that we are to rest in and take to heart. Faith gives soulful balance to the preparations we make for what the future may bring tomorrow.

Daily Devotions , , ,