December 11, 2022
Heavenly Father, we don’t know how often the people of Israel sang this Psalm, but given the perennial struggle with their leaders, they should have sung daily these words: “Put not your trust in earthly rulers, in a son of man in whom there is no help”
Speaking your words, Father, the prophet Samuel warned Israel of the consequences of getting the earthly king they clamored for, over against your direct rule through your prophet. You told them a king would claim all their rights. He would make soldiers of their sons and servants of their daughters. He would take their fields and vineyards and give them to someone else. He would require a tenth of their grain and wine along with the best of their flocks and they would become slaves. (I Sam. 8)
Of course, we are not Israel who wanted a king in order to be like the surrounding nations. We are the surrounding nations with kings and presidents and earthly governments, and we recognize the traits of rulers you describe to Israel. This very day in America we struggle with how much power our government should hold, how much tax the government should levy, how much we should spend on weapons of war, what rights individual should keep and what rights should be removed for some notion of the common good. Every two years the fur flies. Politicians hocking their schemes, tell us their plans are best. The confusion is worsening. The best we can do is try to make sense out of the whole thing and vote our conscience, sometimes the lesser of two evils. Whether good or bad, our earthly leaders are eventually replaced, their plans fade, and a new regime comes to power. Is this where our hope and help lie?
In the midst of this local and world-wide futility, the words of this Psalm ring out loud and clear:
5 Happy is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord his God,
6 who made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them,
who keeps faith forever;
7 who executes justice for the oppressed,
who gives food to the hungry.
[who] sets the prisoners free;
8 [who] opens the eyes of the blind.
[who] lifts up those who are bowed down;
[and] loves the righteous.
9 [who] watches over the sojourners;
[and] upholds the widow and the fatherless,
[who brings the way of the wicked to ruin]
We don’t know your timing, Father. How long will we wait for your justice to be revealed? In this world we see the oppressed and the hungry and the prisoner. There is no end in sight. Those of us who are doing well worry we may soon suffer as they do. We see everything from inept to deliberately authoritarian government. Our earthly leaders fail us or worse, intentionally work to control us. But we will not fear. May we know the joyfulness in trusting you. May we say with stronger and stronger voices and with increasing confidence that you are our hope and help. Father, we don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on you.
Our trust is in you, O Lord, our God. Our allegiance is to you, O Lord our King. You, Lord, will reign forever.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord we pray,
And all the people said, AMEN