LIVING WISELY, LIVING WELL
Posted in Hope
The Great Promise-Keeper Gives Us Hope
“And I will appoint him to be my firstborn, the most exalted of the kings of the earth. I will maintain my love to him forever, and my covenant with him will never fail. I will establish his line forever, his throne as long as the heavens endure.” Psalm 89: 27-29
One of my favorite movie quotes is from main character Andy Dufresne in the movie The Shawshank Redemption: “Hope is a good thing. Maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.” Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13 that “these three abide: faith, hope and love.” Think of that– “Hope” is one of the “big three” of our relationship with God. In reviewing Psalm 89 for this devotional, I started thinking about hope, what is its source, and what it means to us as Christians.
Psalm 89 is attributed to Ethan. The Psalm reflects a time when the house of David was in peril. Scholars are uncertain as to whether this was at the time of captivity by Babylon or some other time when Israel was experiencing a downfall. Ethan calls on God for salvation from this dark time. Ethan contrasts the prosperity and perpetuity of David’s throne that God has promised with the reality of Israel’s demise. Ethan laments God may have abandoned His covenant with David. Verses 27-29 quoted above are Ethan’s reminder to God of that covenant, that David’s line is established forever, and his throne will last as long as the heavens endure (this covenant can also be seen as a promise of the Messiah).
Ethan assumed that God’s promise to David entailed earthly prosperity and freedom from trials and tribulations. Like Ethan, I often have a confused view of the nature of God’s covenant. When life is good, I like to assume that the good times will continue indefinitely. I may thank God for the blessings of the good times, but I fall into the illusion that there won’t be bad times, at least not any time soon. Life soon corrects that misimpression: a loved one or a good friend dies, a friend discovers she has cancer, I am anxious for the well-being of my children, pressures mount at work, I am anguished over the state of our society.
It is easy in the hard times to question whether God is doing his part. Why does he let bad things happen? Why doesn’t he step in and deliver the results I want, when I want them? Doesn’t God promise us better than this?
These thoughts reflect a distorted view of God and of his covenant with his people. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 13 that we “see through a glass, darkly.” Looking through that hazy lens, we don’t see that God’s promise is much greater than an assurance of an easy path during our earthly life. Rather, God promises us that we will be with him, and in the right relationship with him, for eternity. He promises this even though we are sinful and unworthy. Not only does God promise this, he has already kept his promise. Through the resurrection of Jesus, the promise is fulfilled. We can enjoy the fruits of that promise right now.
So does God keep his promises? Absolutely. And the product of God’s faithfulness, his keeping his promises, is that we have hope. By “hope” I mean not just a wishful anticipation, but “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) “Hope” in its Biblical sense means “assurance.”
Let’s start thinking about hope: do we feel it, do we show it, and how can we share it?
Prayer: Father, forgive me for consistently failing to understand and follow your word, particularly when I prefer to understand it in a way that just benefits me. Help me to remember that your love is for eternity, and my hope is an eternal relationship with you. Thank you for giving your Son, through whom I — though unworthy — can have hope. In Christ’s name I pray, Amen.
Submitted by John McArthur