Daily Update #147

Today’s Readings  Ephesians 5:1-6.       Psalm 128.           Luke 13:18-21.

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10).

Psalm 128 is one of the fifteen psalms that were probably sung by those coming to Jerusalem to visit the temple. It is short and sweet, providing images of domestic bliss and promises of God’s future blessings and peace. However, it also attaches two clear conditions to these promises – “Blessed is everyone who fears Yahweh, who walks in His ways (verse 1). For us to fear our holy and perfect Creator God, who is powerful beyond our imagining, is entirely logical. However, like me, you may struggle more with the condition that we should fear Him than that we must walk in His ways. A dictionary check of the word ‘respect’, which we sometimes substitute for ‘fear’, is quite helpful :- ‘accepting someone for who they are; showing esteem and honour; adoration; awe; deference; high regard; approbation; homage’ etc. etc.

Psalm 128 shows that Yahweh delights to bless (place in a favoured position) each person who is obedient and true to him. However, as Dr Alec Motyer said of this psalm, such “blessedness results from a dovetailing of attitude (“fear’) and action (‘walk’). By implication here, there is a heart rightly reverent; a mind that knows God’s revealed truth; and a will directing the daily walk.” The  psalmist also indicates that broader benefits can arise from an individual’s right attitude towards Yahweh. The God-fearing husband is blessed with a delightful wife – “like a fruitful vine”, and upright children – “like transplanted olives”. This picture is explained by Dr Motyer as follows: “the basic essential is the devout individual (v1 and v4); from him (in the psalm) blessing fans out into home and family (v3) and into the community (‘the good of Jerusalem’ in verse 5) and into the future (‘the sons of your sons’ and ‘peace upon Israel’)”.

So Psalm 128 reveals that God’s blessings will flow from the upright person to his or her family, the wider community and future generations provided that:

i)   proper honour and respect (the right attitudes) are shown to Yahweh; and

ii)  individuals learn to “walk in His ways” in obedience to His requirements.         

The American pastor and theologian James Montgomery Boice (1938-2000) said of the images of vines and olive plants that “they are biblical symbols of the abundant life. They symbolise rich blessing.” The Baptist paster Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892), widely known as ‘The Prince of Preachers’, once said of God’s preconditions for such rich blessing, “it is idle to talk of fearing the Lord if we act like those who have no care whether there be a God or no. God’s ways will be our ways if we have a sincere reverence for Him: if the heart is joined unto God, the feet will follow hard after Him.” This psalm challenges each one of us, therefore, to ask:

i) is my attitude towards God one of obedient reverence and respect?; and

ii) am I allowing the Holy Spirit to give me the strength to walk each day in His ways, in the very footsteps of Jesus my Saviour, rather than my own?

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Thank You Father for all that You have given us through your Son Jesus. Please help me to love and revere You for ever. May the Holy Spirit enable me to walk in Your ways each day of my life. Please bless my family, your Church and the whole of my community. Please come close right now to each person I know who needs Your special comfort and close presence at this difficult time. I ask all these things in and through the precious name of Jesus my Lord. AMEN.

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