Daily Reflections August 11, 2017
Jerusalem finally fell to the Babylonians after one and a half years of siege. The city was burned, the walls were torn down, and the leaders were deported to Babylon. 2 Kings 25 gives the detailed narrative of the account that Jeremiah is relating here. The day had come when the prophecies of Jeremiah, since the first chapter till now, concerning Jerusalem came true. Although God used Jeremiah to relentlessly warn the people, they refused to listen. So, God fulfilled what he promised—every single prophecy, exactly as he said it.
The Israelites knew the severity and surety of the wrath of God. They even experienced tastes of it leading up until the day of the fall. Lamentations 4:4-5, written by Jeremiah, gives us a glimpse of what it was like near the end of the siege:
“The tongue of the nursing infant sticks to the roof of its mouth for thirst; the children beg for food, but no one gives to them. Those who once feasted on delicacies perish in the streets; those who were brought up in purple embrace ash heaps.” (Lamentations 4:4-5).
It is not the picture of a strong nation losing an honorable battle. It is an image of a foolish people, watching the cup of God’s wrath begin to tip and yet refuse to submit till they tasted every drop. Neither the warnings nor the foreshadows could soften their wayward hearts. John Calvin describes it well when he says, “We hence learn how ferocious must have been the character of the king, that he could see miserable men perishing by scores, and yet persist in his obstinacy. Nor is there a doubt but that the people were also on their part obstinate, and became at length stupified through their sufferings; for there was hardly one, from the least to the greatest, who did not despise what the Prophet taught; and thus they were all blinded by madness and stupidity.” 1
Humanity has not changed. How many times have we been warned by godly men and women that the path we have chosen is against God’s design, only to reject their counsel and shun them from our life? How many times have we cried in anguish, suffering the consequences of our sin, and yet continue in persisting disobedience? Friends, in the words of Calvin, this is us ‘blinded by madness and stupidity’. Do not remain so until the end as the Israelites in Jerusalem did. Repent, plead for mercy by the atoning work of Jesus, submit the the Lord, and live.
Yours in Christ,
Pastor Evan Webster
The words of Psalm 13 reflect David’s very real lamentation over his perceived absence of the presence of God. This experience is one that many people throughout the history of the church can relate to, but it is also an experience which many people are scared to express. If we confess that God feels absent in our lives we might open ourselves up to the criticism of other. For example, it would not be unrealistic to imagine that we might be told that this problem is a result of our own inadequate efforts. After all, one might remind us that if we draw near to God then He will draw near to us (James 4:8). We might also be told that God’s absence is a result of unconfessed sin. God’s perceived absence is actually part of the Lord’s discipline or a result of the hardening of heart that sin effects in us. Neither of these explanations, however, fit with David’s experience in Psalm 13. By his very crying out to God we see a man drawing near to the Lord, and there are Psalms where David cries out over sin and the absence of God (see Psalm 51), but this is not one of them.
Therefore, it would seem from Psalm 13 that David is experiencing an absence of God that cannot easily be accredited to his own actions. David is God’s anointed king, and yet everything seems to be going wrong for him. He is lonely and sorrowful. His enemies are rising up against him and his anointed reign appears to be in jeopardy. Where is the God who worked so powerfully in the days of his youth? This is the experience that many people in our churches struggle with silently. They read their Bibles, cry out to God in prayer, and even join in corporate worship, and yet they are still filled with the sense that God has hidden His face from them. What is to be done in the midst of these hard times? Thankfully, David concludes this psalm with some helpful advice.
“But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, because He has dealt bountifully with me.” Psalm 13:5-6
The first thing that we must do is take God at His promises. He has promised to never leave us, or forsake us (Deut. 31:6). So great is the love of God for His children that He gave His only Son to die on their behalf (1 John 4:10). He has also promised that nothing will ever separate us from His love (Romans 8:38-39). We must, therefore, allow theses promises to have greater authority over us than we do our experiences. Secondly, we must recall the ways that the Lord has dealt bountifully with us in the past. The human capacity for forgetfulness is great, but herein lies the power of both written word and community. Record and tell others of your experiences with the Lord, for this might provide the hope that you need in future times of crisis. Note, however, that neither of these pieces of advice offer a solution to David’s problem, but they do provide the hope needed for continued endurance.
1 John Calvin and John Owen, Commentaries on the Prophet Jeremiah and the Lamentations, vol. 4 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2010), 422–423.