Nationalism


Psalm 68
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. A Song.
1God shall arise, his enemies shall be scattered; and those who hate him shall flee before him!
2As smoke is driven away, so you shall drive them away; as wax melts before fire, so the wicked shall perish before God!
3But the righteous shall be glad; they shall exult before God; they shall be jubilant with joy!
4Sing to God, sing praises to his name; lift up a song to him who rides through the deserts; his name is the Lord; exult before him!
5Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.
6God settles the solitary in a home; he leads out the prisoners to prosperity, but the rebellious dwell in a parched land.
7O God, when you went out before your people, when you marched through the wilderness, Selah
8the earth quaked, the heavens poured down rain, before God, the One of Sinai, before God, the God of Israel.
9Rain in abundance, O God, you shed abroad; you restored your inheritance as it languished;
10your flock found a dwelling in it; in your goodness, O God, you provided for the needy.
11The Lord gives the word; the women who announce the news are a great host:
12“The kings of the armies—they flee, they flee!” The women at home divide the spoil—
13though you men lie among the sheepfolds— the wings of a dove covered with silver, its pinions with shimmering gold.
14When the Almighty scatters kings there, let snow fall on Zalmon.
15O mountain of God, mountain of Bashan; O many-peaked mountain, mountain of Bashan!
16Why do you look with hatred, O many-peaked mountain, at the mount that God desired for his abode, yes, where the Lord will dwell forever?
17The chariots of God are twice ten thousand, thousands upon thousands; the Lord is among them; Sinai is now in the sanctuary.
18You ascended on high, leading a host of captives in your train and receiving gifts among men, even among the rebellious, that the Lord God may dwell there.
19Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up; God is our salvation. Selah
20Our God is a God of salvation, and to God, the Lord, belong deliverances from death.
21But God will strike the heads of his enemies, the hairy crown of him who walks in his guilty ways.
22The Lord said, “I will bring them back from Bashan, I will bring them back from the depths of the sea,
23that you may strike your feet in their blood, that the tongues of your dogs may have their portion from the foe.”
24Your procession is seen, O God, the procession of my God, my King, into the sanctuary—
25the singers in front, the musicians last, between them virgins playing tambourines:
26“Bless God in the great congregation, the Lord, O you who are of Israel’s fountain!”
27There is Benjamin, the least of them, in the lead, the princes of Judah in their throng, the princes of Zebulun, the princes of Naphtali.
28Summon your power, O God, the power, O God, by which you have worked for us.
29Because of your temple at Jerusalem kings shall bear gifts to you.
30Rebuke the beasts that dwell among the reeds, the herd of bulls with the calves of the peoples. Trample underfoot those who lust after tribute; scatter the peoples who delight in war.
31Nobles shall come from Egypt; Cush shall hasten to stretch out her hands to God.
32O kingdoms of the earth, sing to God; sing praises to the Lord, Selah
33to him who rides in the heavens, the ancient heavens; behold, he sends out his voice, his mighty voice.
34Ascribe power to God, whose majesty is over Israel, and whose power is in the skies.
35Awesome is God from his sanctuary; the God of Israel—he is the one who gives power and strength to his people. Blessed be God!

Last night I watched Donald Trump give his acceptance speech as the Republican nominee for president of the United States. I mention this only because now this morning we ponder the words of Psalm 68 and the two circumstances seemed linked in my mind. I will say it is the first time in my life that I’ve listened to a political speech that lasted that long. Generally, my attention span isn’t strong enough to do that. But I hung in there and at the end of 75 minutes I was hollow, skeptical, and a little fearful. Promises were made and threats were issued – very few of which he will truly ever have the power to act upon but that doesn’t stop him from speaking the words. There was embedded in this speech a form of nationalism that was more than a little frightening.

King David approaches his kingdom in a far different fashion for he realizes that his kingdom is absolutely nothing without the power of the Almighty God. David’s sense of nationalism is founded on God and His power to exercise His own will. David realizes that he is 100% beholden to God’s power alone. There is sense of nationalism in David but it is reliant upon God alone. There actually is only ONE kingdom, and that is the Kingdom of God. All others are merely human constructs and as such have feet of clay.

With the many enemies the people of God face today—atheistic ideologies, militant Islam, humanism, materialism, false teachers within the church—it often seems that the church is fighting a losing battle. But we can be as confident of final victory as David was. Before the almighty God, even great armies are as fragile as smoke, which the wind blows away, and as soft as wax, which melts in the white-hot fury of the Lord. As it was when the Egyptian army floated ashore at the Red Sea, as it was when Sennacherib’s army was destroyed in a night, so it will be for all God’s enemies when Christ returns.
Brug, J. F. (1989). Psalms 1–72 (2nd ed., p. 261). Milwaukee, WI: Northwestern Pub. House.

While David used examples from the history of Israel, the particulars don’t really matter. We could just as easily insert our more recent history into the psalm and the outcome would still be the same. The only kingdom that matters is God’s Kingdom and He has sealed it by the blood of Jesus on the Cross of Calvary. All other kingdoms are mere shadows. So our politicians can promise us the sun and the moon (and we know that Hillary will do the same next week) but their power is made of mist and shadows. Power comes from God alone and He will decide when to return and end all of this. While I may belong as a citizen the United States, my life belongs to the Kingdom of God, won for me on the Cross.

Comments

  1. Thank you. Like many I have been worried about the fate of Nation with our political banter. I am embarrassed like many about the candidates and their behavior. I often wonder what the future of this earth holds. But you are right God is in control. It certainly reminded me and made me at peace and directed back to who really is the King. Blessings.

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  2. You use the right word - embarrassed. I'm finding it takes a constant internal reminder that God is indeed in control.

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