Reading: Psalm 68
Your procession, God, has come into view,
the procession of my God and King into the sanctuary.
In front are the singers, after them the musicians;
with them are the young women playing the timbrels.
Praise God in the great congregation;
praise the LORD in the assembly of Israel.
There is the little tribe of Benjamin, leading them,
there the great throng of Judah’s princes,
and there the princes of Zebulun and of Naphtali.
Summon your power, God;
show us your strength, our God, as you have done before.
Because of your temple at Jerusalem
kings will bring you gifts.
Rebuke the beast among the reeds,
the herd of bulls among the calves of the nations.
Humbled, may the beast bring bars of silver.
Scatter the nations who delight in war.
Envoys will come from Egypt;
Cush will submit herself to God (NIV).*
All of Psalm 68 is a hymn of triumph—national triumph. In today’s reading it is apparent that this psalm is a triumphant processional song penned by David. The enemies of Israel have been vanquished and God’s army has returned victorious.
For Christians today, does this psalm hold a deeper significance? Does it signify more than a celebration after a military conquest?
The King we serve—the one born in a stable—didn’t come to establish an earthly kingdom by means of guns and war. In his defense before Pilate Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place” (John 18:36).
Make no mistake; Jesus calls us to be citizens in his heavenly Kingdom. It is a Kingdom that is headquartered in heaven, but its address on the earth is the human heart—your heart—my heart. Furthermore, that Kingdom grows in power and influence as we yield our will to God and joyfully become more like His son, Jesus. For followers of Jesus, battles are won as we submit our will to God.
There are nations—Egypt and Cush (the upper Nile region) are mentioned here—that will submit themselves to God. But for us today, submission must first come from our own stubborn heart.
Response: LORD God, I yield my will to you. Conquer my heart with your love. Through Jesus sacrifice on the cross I am yours. Help me to joyfully live as a productive citizen of your Kingdom on earth. Amen.
Your Turn: Have you been conquered by the love of God? Where is your primary citizenship?
* New International Version, Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica
Some good news: The first volume of 365 Days through the Psalms by award-winning author David Kitz will be published in November, 2020, by Elk Lake Publishing. Two additional volumes will follow in 2021 to complete the three volume set of devotions from the Psalms.
1914, atheists, blaming God, citizen, conflict, disaster, human stupidity, Kingdom of God, Margaret MacMillan, national interests, national objectives, nations, plans, slaughter, The War that Ended Peace, war, World War I
Reading: Psalm 33
The LORD foils the plans of the nations;
he thwarts the purposes of the peoples.
But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever,
the purposes of his heart through all generations.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD,
the people he chose for his inheritance.
From heaven the LORD looks down
and sees all mankind;
from his dwelling place he watches
all who live on earth—
he who forms the hearts of all,
who considers everything they do (NIV).
I confess I am a bit of a history buff. I am currently reading The War that Ended Peace by Margaret MacMillan. The subtitle is The Road to 1914. As you might guess, it highlights the causes of World War I. Throughout, the author meticulously points out that war was not inevitable. A change in course by any of the key players in the years leading up to 1914 could have prevented this monumental catastrophe. Each nation had plans and objectives that they considered in their best interest. Quite naturally the pursuit of those plans led to conflict with neighbouring nations with opposing objectives.
What does the psalmist say about national objectives? The LORD foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.
Nations pursue their own perceived national interest. Despite the rhetoric we sometimes hear, they do not pursue the plans and purposes of the LORD. For political leaders national self-interest trumps the purposes of God. In fact the purposes of God are seldom considered. But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.
Was it God’s plan and purpose to have millions of Christian believers go to their slaughter in World War I? Many atheists purport that this is what we believe. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are responsible for our own actions. God does not cause war. Humans cause war and they carry it out. Why should we suddenly blame God for what we have engineered through our own dogged stupidity? Blaming God for our own arrogant idiocy is the pinnacle of irresponsibility, yet we do it all the time, both on a national and a personal level. Most often we are the author of our own disaster. We stubbornly fail to pull back and change course before it’s too late.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people he chose for his inheritance.
Response: LORD God, thank you for choosing me to be to be one of your people. Help me to live a life that is pleasing to you, my Father. You watch over me. You, O LORD are my inheritance, and first and foremost I am a citizen of your eternal Kingdom. Amen.
Your Turn: How does personal conflict escalate? Do you blame God rather than yourself?