Devotional on the Psalms

2004 – Big Island, Hawaii

Can’t we all just get along?
Psalm 133: How wonderful, how beautiful, when brothers and sisters get along!
Here’s one of those “praise chorus” length psalms, just a few sentences long. It’s another of those songs sung by the pilgrims as they make their way up to Jerusalem to worship at the Temple. The topic of this short chorus is “unity.” I can just imagine a family making their way to Jerusalem to worship. Maybe the kids are a little tired and irritable and start picking on one another. Mom and dad start singing this song about getting along! Not only that, but as they journey to Jerusalem the pilgrims anticipate not only worship, but the deep fellowship they will enjoy with their fellow worshipers. They’ve come from the four corners of their country to worship together and that’s a beautiful thing. In this dry, arid land, the imagery of the first High Priest, Aaron, being anointed with and overabundance of oil sounds refreshing to them, so they use that image and the picture of abundant dew falling on the parched ground to describe the refreshment they feel in their souls as they join God’s people in worship. As we go through our weeks, dealing with everything life throws at us, we too anticipate the time we have with our brothers and sisters in Christ. That, too, is refreshing to our souls.
Take Away: it’s a beautiful thing when God’s people get together in harmony.

Devotional on Jeremiah

Heading for the hills
Jeremiah 9: At times I wish I had a…backwoods cabin.
One thing that draws me to Jeremiah is his transparency. He tells us, not only what God’s saying, but also how Jeremiah feels about things. Those feelings range from compassion to anger and from hope to despair. At one point he says he’s “heartsick” over the sins of his people and wonders if there’s a “balm in Gilead” that can be used to heal their brokenness. He wishes he had the physical ability to weep the rivers of tears because of his sadness over their sin and the coming judgment. Then, he switches to anger. They’re worthless people, not worth his effort. He wishes he could just get away from them and let happen what’s going to happen. As I say, Jeremiah is a study in transparency and his feelings run the full range of human emotion. I’m not wired the same as Jeremiah. I don’t dip so low and I don’t soar as high. Still, I can identify with him to some extent. The truth is that, like Jeremiah, I can be filled with loving compassion for someone and be frustrated to death with them at the same time. His desire to step away from these people for a while and head for the hills isn’t off the mark at all. Even the best of people can only carry burdens for so long before a break is needed; a chance to reevaluate and get a fresh grip on things. That “backwoods cabin” experience might actually be the “balm in Gilead” that will not only help Jeremiah bring healing to these broken people, but will also bring healing to his spirit as well.
Take Away: We must guard against getting so people-focused that we fail to be God-focused.