No doubt a part of the wonder which is concentrated in the word “Behold,” is excited by the unbelieving lamentation of the preceding sentence. Zion said, “The Lord hath forsaken me, and my God hath forgotten me.” How amazed the divine mind seems to be at this wicked unbelief! What can be more astounding than the unfounded doubts and fears of God’s favoured people? The Lord’s loving word of rebuke should make us blush; He cries, “How can I have forgotten thee, when I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands? How darest thou doubt my constant remembrance, when the memorial is set upon my very flesh?” O unbelief, how strange a marvel thou art! We know not which most to wonder at, the faithfulness of God or the unbelief of His people. He keeps His promise a thousand times, and yet the next trial makes us doubt Him. He never faileth; He is never a dry well; He is never as a setting sun, a passing meteor, or a melting vapour; and yet we are as continually vexed with anxieties, molested with suspicions, and distu rbed with fears, as if our God were the mirage of the desert. “Behold,” is a word intended to excite admiration. Here, indeed, we have a theme for marvelling. Heaven and earth may well be astonished that rebels should obtain so great a nearness to the heart of infinite love as to be written upon the palms of His hands. “I have graven thee. “It does not say, “Thy name.” The name is there, but that is not all: “I have graven thee.” See the fulness of this! I have graven thy person, thine image, thy case, thy circumstances, thy sins, thy temptations, thy weaknesses, thy wants, thy works; I have graven thee, everything about thee, all that concerns thee; I have put thee altogether there. Wilt thou ever say again that thy God hath forsaken thee when He has graven thee upon His own palms?
Posts Tagged ‘Zion’
Tags: Christianity, God, Lord, Lord's Cricket Ground, Psalm 91, Religion and Spirituality, Thy, Zion
Tags: Bible Study, Buber, God, Jacob, Lord, Martin Buber, Talmud, Zion
There is a story told about the Jewish philosopher, Martin Buber, which profoundly shaped his outlook on life. One day, as Buber sat in meditation, he heard a knock at the door. He was on such a spiritual high, he wasn’t even sure that he had heard it. He tore himself away from the feeling of ecstasy and opened the door.
A stranger was standing there, and sensing that he had interrupted something, he told Buber that he would come back a different time. Ever the gentleman, Buber told the visitor that he was welcome now. The man came into Buber’s house, and they sat down to talk. But Buber wasn’t really listening. His head was still in the clouds. The visitor stammered and stuttered, but couldn’t get the words out. Eventually, the fellow apologized and politely excused himself. Buber went back to his meditation.
Later, Buber heard that this man had taken his own life. He had obviously come to visit Buber because he was seeking advice and encouragement, but Buber had been too wrapped up in the mystical world to see the real word before him. Buber was stricken with grief and regret. He realized that a mystical high was not the goal of real spirituality. Helping people in need is a genuine encounter with the Divine.
The psalmist wrote, “The Lord loves the gates of Zion more than all the other dwellings of Jacob.” The Talmud asks, what’s the difference between the gates of Zion and the dwellings of Jacob? And why does God prefer one over the other?
According to the Talmud, the gates of a city were where people would interact with one another. It’s where they would do business dealings and meet with each other. The city gates were always busy and teeming with life. The dwellings of Jacob, on the other hand, are a reference to the quiet and contemplative setting of study halls and places of worship. There, people would commune with God.
God prefers our interaction with each other to our interaction with Him. Not that He doesn’t love prayer and Bible study; it’s just that He loves it more when we take what we’ve learned and put it into action. The goal of spirituality is not to live in ecstasy; it’s to live in reality – and make real life better. Feelings and inspiration must be translated into our actions.
When we serve others, we serve God.
Tags: Beatitude, Christ, God, holyspirit, Jesu, Lord, mourn, Zion
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. (Matthew 5:4)
By the valley of weeping we come to Zion. One would have thought mourning and being blessed were in opposition, but the infinitely wise Savior puts them together in this Beatitude. What He has joined together let no man put asunder. Mourning for sin–our own sins, and the sins of others–is the Lord’s seal set upon His faithful ones. When the Spirit of grace is poured upon the house of David, or any other house, they shall mourn. By holy mourning we receive the best of our blessings, even as the rarest commodities come to us by water. Not only shall the mourner be blessed at some future day, but Christ pronounces him blessed even now.
The Holy Spirit will surely comfort those hearts which mourn for sin. They shall be comforted by the application of the blood of Jesus and by the cleansing power of the Holy Ghost. They shall be comforted as to the abounding sin of their city and of their age by the assurance that God will glorify Himself, however much men may rebel against Him. They shall be comforted with the expectation that they shall be wholly freed from sin before long and shall soon be taken up to dwell forever in the glorious presence of their Lord.
Tags: Apostle, Behold, Christ, God, Isaiah, Jerusalem, Lord, Zion
Until the redeemed know something of the efficacy of atoning blood and have their consciences purged from guilt and filth by its application, they cannot come and sing in the height of Zion. But when they are redeemed from the hand of him who is stronger than they; when atoning blood is applied to their consciences to purge away guilt and filth; when Christ is revealed and made experimentally known; when his gospel in the hands of the Spirit becomes a word of power, and a view of the King in his beauty is granted to the believing heart, then, drawn by the cords of love and the bands of a man, they come to Zion, where the King sits enthroned in glory. It is called “the height of Zion,” not only because Zion was high literally, but because the Lord of life and glory is exalted to the highest place of dignity and power. God‘s ancient promise was, “Behold, my servant shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high” (Isaiah 52:13); and the Apostle says, “therefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name” (Phil. 2:9); and again, “Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come” (Eph. 1:21). But why do they come? It is to commune with him, to worship him in the beauty of holiness, to get words from his lips, smiles from his face, touches from his hand, and whispers from his lips. And when he is graciously pleased to speak a word to them as Prince of peace, to reveal himself to their souls in the glory of his divine Person as God-man, and to shed abroad his love in their hearts, then they can sing, and in them is the promise fulfilled, “They shall come and sing in the height of Zion.”
Tags: God, Isaiah, Israel, Joel, Lord, Satan, Sin, Zion
The beauty of the black lacy design against the pastel purple and orange background grabbed my attention. The intricacy of the fragile pattern led me to assume that it had been created by a skilled artist. As I looked more closely at the photo, however, I saw the artist admiring his work from a corner of the photo. The “artist” was a worm, and its work of art was a partially eaten leaf.
What made the image beautiful was not the destruction of the leaf but the light glowing through the holes. As I gazed at the photo, I began thinking about lives that have been eaten by the “worms” of sin. The effects are ravaging. Sin eats away at us as we suffer the consequences of our own bad choices or those of others. We are all its victims.
But the photo also reminded me of the hope we have in God. Through the prophet Joel, God said to Israel, “I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten” (Joel 2:25). And from Isaiah we learn that the Lord appointed him to “console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes” (Isa. 61:3).
Satan does everything he can to make us ugly, but the Light of the World can make us beautiful—despite Satan’s best efforts.
Tags: Bible, God, Jesu, Lord, Praise, Prayer, Psalm, Zion
In the opening verse of Psalm 65, the writer presents us with a seeming paradox: we are to be silent before the Lord, and we are to praise Him. How can we simultaneously accomplish both of these things? Either we can hold our peace in His presence, or we can lift our voices to Him in prayer, but we cannot do both at the same time. What, then, does the psalmist mean to tell us?
Essentially, what we may learn from this verse is the importance of listening. Indeed, the highest form of praise to God is to listen carefully while He tells us what He requires of us. Only once we fully subordinate ourselves to God’s will may we truly begin to speak of praising Him.
In fact, in establishing this principle, the psalmist is attempting to teach us that the secret to all good relationships, namely, is to listen well. So often, we think of our loved ones in terms of our expectations of them. We expect that our loved ones will respect us, and we expect that they will appreciate what we have to say. But how often do we stop and think in terms of our responsibilities to them? How often do we contemplate that we are responsible for their wellbeing, and responsible to ensure their happiness?
Truly, if we wish to show our loved ones that we really care for them, the best way to do so is to open our ears and our hearts to their deepest desires. We must ask ourselves, “What do our loved ones wish of us?” After all, what better way to demonstrate that we value a person than to seek to know how we might make his life better? In this respect, the most effective and praiseworthy way to express our love for those who are most precious to us is to keep silent, and wait for them to speak.
Let us all strive to listen – to our children, to our spouses, to our colleagues, and listen to our neighbors. And above all, we must listen to God. It is in this way – through our silence – that we may best show that we care.