Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Psalm 25: humiliation

Humiliation is one of the biggest problems for those who are poor in spirit. Or for those who are without power or without wealth. In his account of the Sermon on the Mount, Luke writes "blessed are the poor." Matthew, however, writes, "Blessed are the poor in spirit." For Luke, there is no difference between the poor and the poor in spirit. Matthew, belonging to the Chosen people who are rich in God and who in his times were hateful toward those whom they consider "dogs" --gentiles, sinners, etc-- simple says poor in spirit. In that way, he subtly shows that one can be part of God's family and yet not be poor in the thing is to aim for poverty of spirit. By the way, Poor in spirit means humbled, not full of the world's arrogance; it doesn't mean lacking a spiritual way of life.

Isaiah calls Jesus a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Sorrows and griefs bring about humiliation.

The Bible is full of verses about the woundedness that life brings to the poor, the outcast, the orphan, the widowed, the have-nots. IT is often among these people that humiliation occurs. The psalms also talks about mockery, rejection, humiliation, sneering and how the haves treat those they consider beneath them. In fact they often tell us -- as in Psalm 37-- not to worry about those kind of people.

0 A little while, and the wicked will be no more;
though you look for them, they will not be found.

11 But the meek will inherit the land
and enjoy great peace.

12 The wicked plot against the righteous
and gnash their teeth at them;

13 but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
for he knows their day is coming.

14 The wicked draw the sword
and bend the bow
to bring down the poor and needy,
to slay those whose ways are upright.

15 But their swords will pierce their own hearts,
and their bows will be broken.

16 Better the little that the righteous have
than the wealth of many wicked;

17 for the power of the wicked will be broken,
but the LORD upholds the righteous.

18 The days of the blameless are known to the LORD,
and their inheritance will endure forever.

Psalm 39 shows what happens inside the soul of a person who has to deal with the mockery non-religious people always give to religious people (or the mockery religious but worldly people show toward religious people who keep themselves pure from the world."

I said, "I will watch my ways
and keep my tongue from sin;
I will put a muzzle on my mouth
as long as the wicked are in my presence."
2 But when I was silent and still,
not even saying anything good,
my anguish increased.

3 My heart grew hot within me,
and as I meditated, the fire burned;
then I spoke with my tongue:

4 "Show me, O LORD, my life's end
and the number of my days;
let me know how fleeting is my life.

5 You have made my days a mere handbreadth;
the span of my years is as nothing before you.
Each man's life is but a breath.

6 Man is a mere phantom as he goes to and fro:
He bustles about, but only in vain;
he heaps up wealth, not knowing who will get it.

7 "But now, Lord, what do I look for?
My hope is in you.

8 Save me from all my transgressions;
do not make me the scorn of fools.

9 I was silent; I would not open my mouth,
for you are the one who has done this.

10 Remove your scourge from me;
I am overcome by the blow of your hand.

11 You rebuke and discipline men for their sin;
you consume their wealth like a moth—
each man is but a breath.

12 "Hear my prayer, O LORD,
listen to my cry for help;
be not deaf to my weeping.
For I dwell with you as an alien,
a stranger, as all my fathers were.

13 Look away from me, that I may rejoice again
before I depart and am no more."

One of my favorite psalms is Psalm 25 which begins thus:

To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul;
2 in you I trust, O my God.
Do not let me be put to shame,
nor let my enemies triumph over me.

The Bible tells us not to be vindictive and to forgive those who wound us. Not that God will forgive them because we have forgiven them. The Bible never says that because we have forgiven someone, they will be forgiven by God. In fact, it says Vengeance belongs to God. What we are to do is to keep our own hearts pure and not allow the humiliation to dig deep into our soul and spoil our joyful walk with Christ. -C

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