Trust and Obey
by Richard Ettensohn
February 26, Thursday – Psalms 50, [59, 60] or 19, 46; Deuteronomy 9:23–10:5; Hebrews 4:1-10; John 3:16-21
The scripture readings today teach us the results of belief and obedience. Lord God help us (and especially me) to apply them to our own lives today.
In Deuteronomy 9:23, Moses tells the Israelites that they did not believe God and they did not obey God’s voice, when God told them to go up and possess the Promised Land. The Israelites did not believe so they disobeyed a clear and specific command from God. Of course, I would like to think that I would never act like “they” did – but I do.
In Psalm 19:8, the Psalmist praises God’s law as the standard for obedience: “The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;”
However, the Psalmist also knows that the law cannot cause obedience, even though the commandment of the Lords enlightens the eyes. “Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults.” (Psalm 19:12). We are so sinful that we lack understanding of our own errors; all of us have faults that are secret even from ourselves. We even commit sins of presumption; sins that we know are sins and nevertheless commit intentionally (often even with advance planning!) (Psalm 19:13).
The Psalmist cries to God for cleansing from the secret faults first, even before the sins of presumption. Is this because secret sins can take dominion over a person’s life even before the person is aware that they exist?
Therefore, the Psalmist prays that the words of his mouth and the meditations of his heart will be acceptable in God’s sight. Isn’t it true that what we think and what we say leads to what we do?
In Psalm 46, the Psalmist extols God as our “refuge and strength.” We sometimes most need God as our refuge, to shield us from the storms of life. Sometimes we most need God as our strength, to help us fight the battles of life. “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.” (Ephesians 6:10). Thank God that He is “very present” to help us! (Psalm 46:1).
Life for a Christian is a spiritual battle. We need rest. The theme of holy rest occurs in Psalm 46:10: “Be still and know that I am God” and also in Hebrews 10:9: “There remains therefore a rest for the people of God.” However, this rest is not automatic. The conditions of entering into this rest are belief (Hebrews 10:3) and obedience (Hebrews 10:6).
John 3 sums up the other readings for today. In John 3:16, Christ tells Nicodemus that everlasting life is through belief in Christ. And this belief leads to obedience: “But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” (John 3:21).
“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14).
Image by Ed Yourdon (used by permission via Creative Commons).