Psalm 76

In Judah God is known; his name is great in Israel. His tent is in Salem, his dwelling place in Zion. There he broke the flashing arrows, the shields and the swords, the weapons of war.

You are resplendent with light, more majestic than mountains rich with game. Valiant men lie plundered, they sleep their last sleep; not one of the warriors can lift his hands. At your rebuke, O God of Jacob, both horse and chariot lie still. You alone are to be feared. Who can stand before you when you are angry?

From heaven you pronounced judgment, and the land feared and was quiet- when you, O God, rose up to judge, to save all the afflicted of the land. Surely your wrath against men brings you praise, and the survivors of your wrath are restrained.

 

Make vows to the LORD your God and fulfill them; let all the neighboring lands bring gifts to the One to be feared. He breaks the spirit of rulers; he is feared by the kings of the earth.

In this age of Grace we’ve gotten pretty familiar with the Lord. And familiarity breeds contempt, they say. In our case it makes Him appear smaller than He really is. That pablum we were all fed about Gentle Jesus, the “sandal-shod social worker” who walked the shores of Galilee patting little kids on the head and telling everybody to turn the other cheek was OK for starters. But we need to remember that He’s also the Creator of the universe with unimaginable power. A generation of liberal theology has made some of us forget all about that power.

When Assyrian King Sennacherib brought his armies to Mt. Scopus and threatened Jerusalem with war, he woke up on the morning of the battle to discover that 185,000 of his soldiers had been killed overnight. (2 Kings 19:35) When’s the last time you saw a battlefield strewn with dead enemy soldiers who had been arrayed against you, slain by the power of God and nothing more? I guarantee you Sennacherib had great respect for God’s power that morning.

In the Old Testament it was His power that people saw most. In the New Testament it’s His love. The problem most Jews and Christians share is that they’ve only read half the book, so they’ve only seen one facet of His personality.

For the Jews God is a powerful warrior Who doesn’t suffer fools lightly, so “keep your distance.” That attitude deprives them of the intimacy He wants to have with them. For us it’s OK to crawl up on Daddy’s lap for comfort but can He really defeat our enemies? Many of us aren’t sure so we don’t even ask.

The only solution, of course, is to read both halves of the Book. It’s the one way to really get to know the Author. When you’re done, go out and ask for something really big. And when you get it remember, it was His Love that made Him want to give it to you, and it was His power that made Him able. Without both, He wouldn’t be God.

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