Monday, January 9, 2017
Long ago you spoke in a vision to your faithful people. You said, “I have raised up a warrior. I have selected him from the common people to be king. I have found my servant David. I have anointed him with my holy oil. I will steady him with my hand; with my powerful arm I will make him strong. His enemies will not defeat him, nor will the wicked overpower him. I will beat down his adversaries before him and destroy those who hate him. My faithfulness and unfailing love will be with him, and by my authority he will grow in power. I will extend his rule over the sea, his dominion over the rivers. And he will call out to me, ‘You are my Father, my God, and the Rock of my salvation.’ I will make him my firstborn son, the mightiest king on earth. I will love him and be kind to him forever; my covenant with him will never end. I will preserve an heir for him; his throne will be as endless as the days of heaven. But if his descendants forsake my instructions and fail to obey my regulations, if they do not obey my decrees and fail to keep my commands, then I will punish their sin with the rod, and their disobedience with beating. But I will never stop loving him nor fail to keep my promise to him. No, I will not break my covenant; I will not take back a single word I said. I have sworn an oath to David, and in my holiness I cannot lie: His dynasty will go on forever; his kingdom will endure as the sun. It will be as eternal as the moon, my faithful witness in the sky!”
Covenants are sacred promises God makes, and does not break. On the other side of the coin, unbroken is not the word that immediately comes to mind when I think of promises made by humans to God. They’re somewhat like our New Year’s Resolutions.
How are those resolutions going for you, by the way? OK…sorry I asked; too painful to mention now.
God made a covenant with Abraham, renewed it to Jacob, and sealed it as a promise to King David that Palestine would be forever the special land of Israel’s possession. Considering Israel’s history to this day, a casual reader of Scripture would probably take exception with Psalm 89, claiming that God forgot his promise. That claim would be wrong.
How can we say that? At times the ongoing political machinations of humans makes it very difficult to view God’s promises being worked-out, but they are there nonetheless. When the sun hides behind the moon in a solar eclipse, it doesn’t mean the sun has been obliterated – only obscured; something got in the way of the light.
See/hear once again from the Psalmist:
…if they do not obey my decrees and fail to keep my commands, then I will punish their sin with the rod, and their disobedience with beating. But I will never stop loving him nor fail to keep my promise to him.
Punishment, or corrective action may not look like loving, but God’s motive of saving us from our sins makes no mistake. When God works-out his promise to one person, it does not preclude dealing with the sin of another. God’s love is as unfailing to the promises he made to David as it ever was. But the sin of one person always muddies the waters for everyone. A child that goes Prodigal certainly upsets the whole household.
And dealing with the unruly child doesn’t mean that their parents love the others less; it’s simply a reality that discipline is part of loving. The mere fact that a child has been “allowed” to go rogue is proof of what happened in Eden; we have been given free will, and God will engage with us because he loves us too much to watch us go self-destructive.
So, yes, his covenant promises still stand with Israel, and all who bow their knee to JHWH, to all who love His son, and to you and me. Those are unbroken promises!
The ever-present question, born of a common sense view of history, is NOT for us to ask: why doesn’t God keep his promises; the real question is: have we lost our minds when we don’t keep our promises to God?