Reflections – 2012.10

The Least Intimidating People on Earth – October 2012

As we continue through the Psalms as a congregation, we have arrived at a couple of Psalms (47 and 48) that place an emphasis on the Lord (i.e., Jesus Christ) as King.  In Psalm 47 the focus is on the “great king over all the earth” … it is an ascension Psalm (“God has gone up with a shout”), a call to worship and praise, faith and obedience … the language in this Psalm is unambiguous – “God reigns over the nations; God sits on his holy throne.”  His rule is established.  All men, all nations must answer to Him, either with humble hearts (gathering as “the people of the God of Abraham”) or with proud rebellion (see Psalm 2 for an example of what this might look like).  But there is no question who the King is (the one being pointed to) – it is the Lord, namely, our Lord, Jesus Christ.

And then there is Psalm 48.  A Psalm about “the city of the great King” – the place where God dwells – Mount Zion.  There was actually nothing particularly spectacular about Jerusalem, that it would, as the Psalm says, cause the kings assembled against it to be “astounded”, to “panic”, to take flight.  In fact, a cursory reading of the Scriptures, particularly the books of Kings and Chronicles, paints a picture of Jerusalem as one of the weaker cities in the Middle East, paying tribute to the big boys (Egypt, Assyria, Babylon) and trying to prevent being taken over – sometimes it works, sometimes it backfires.  All in all, Jerusalem was not particularly intimidating.  Humanly speaking.  Now, it is true, that the one time when the people trusted the Lord (i.e., under the example and authority of their earthly king, Hezekiah), that the city was delivered – not because of the might of the Israelite armies, but because the lesser king Hezekiah pleaded for the people to the One whose city it was – “the great King.”  Most of the time, though, trusting that Psalm 48 was true was too difficult for the lesser kings of Judah and Israel and the people they ruled over.  And so man’s ways of having “peace” were implemented (treaties, tribute, open war) … and ultimately Jerusalem fell because of its adoption of the ways of the nations around it, its trusting in foreign armies and foreign gods, and its unbelief, i.e., its rejection of the message of Psalm 48.

Today, Christ (the one who has been established as the great King) still dwells on Mount Zion, i.e., the city of God – not physical Jerusalem, but He dwells among His people, the Church.  We are now the city of God, the place where Christ dwells.  And because we are who we are, there are enemies who will surround us, seeing us as weak, sheep for the slaughter, etc… Assembling, they come on together – world and devil – to destroy the people of God, this puny city known as the Church.  They forget one thing, though – who the great King of the city is.  When “they saw it” – when their eyes are opened – suddenly there is an awareness of their doom … because Christ the King is in our midst.

Brothers and sisters, when you consider our congregation (and Christians in general), we are the least intimidating people on earth.  We are, by God’s grace, those who are willing to suffer for righteousness, who live lives of joy, service, peace, kindness, compassion, etc… we are as Paul says, not that wise, not that powerful, not that noble.  We are not impressive.  But we belong to Christ – we are a part of His city, the Church.  And in this city, we are secure.  Because the King is there.  And He is making us into something wonderful … sons and daughters in “the kingdom of heaven”, those who will “inherit the earth”, those who will “see God”, those who will “be comforted.”   So, as Psalm 48 says, “Let Mount Zion be glad!”