Psalm 138:1 I will praise you, O LORD, with all my heart; before the “gods” I will sing your praise.
Podcast version here: http://media.libsyn.com/media/stushie/Rebel_Cry.mp3
This is a rebel psalm. It was perhaps written when the Jewish people were exiled in Babylon and found themselves surrounded by images and idols, statues and altars to the mighty gods of the Babylonian empire.
In such conditions, people usually become overwhelmed, but not the guy who wrote this psalm. When he bows down in front of the other ‘gods’, he doesn’t give his heart to them. When he sings praises, he doesn’t offer them to Bel or Nebo. And when he prays, he doesn’t ask foreign idols to intercede on his behalf.
On the outside, he may have looked like any other convert to paganism, but within himself he keeps his faith fully focused on the God of his fathers, the Jehovah of Jerusalem, the Lord God of hosts.
I love this psalm because it encourages God’s people to hold on to their faith in the midst of trying circumstances. This person would be silently praying in schools and public places. He would organize and attend underground churches in China. He would hold on to hope in the midst of a Nazi concentration camp. He would keep the faith no matter who or what tried to take it away from him. This psalm is a sacred poem of a religious rebel.
We may never experience anything like this in our lifetime, but the lesson that we learn from this psalm is the same as that of which Paul once wrote: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for the courage of some of God’s people whose faith never fails them, even in the midst of tyranny, oppression, and injustice. We pray especially for Christian groups in China that seek to worship You, even though they are constantly harassed, arrested, and imprisoned. Help us to be reminded of the true cost of faith and of the blessings that we freely experience. In Your Holy Name, we humbly pray. Amen.
John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to comment on today’s message, please send him an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.