Psalm 145:1-7; 2 Kings 18; Acts 5:17-40

Psalm 145:1-7: Something I had not noticed before is that this psalm extols God, [“Let me exalt You, my God the king” (1)], but it also extol’s the name of God: “…let me bless Your name forevermore” (1) and “let me praise Your name forever more.” (2). For the Jews, of course, the very name of God is sacred and cannot be uttered. Even today, Jews indicate the scared nature of God’s name by writing “G-d.”

We Christians tend to be completely casual about God’s name, both in conversation and exclamation. “Oh, my God” is used so frequently that it has become an acronym, OMG. In our casual and profane use of God’s name we demean not only God, but ourselves as well. Would I casually toss off “OMG” after reading “Great is the LORD and highly praised, / and His greatness cannot be fathomed,” or reflecting on the true meaning of ” the grandeur of Your glorious majesty,” or singing “And the power of Your awesome deeds let them say, / and Your greatness let me recount?”

I think the answer is obvious and this psalm reminds me that God is not a mere concept or something to be trivialized in conversation.

2 Kings 18: At last! Righteous king Hezekiah, who “did what was right in the sight of the Lord just as his ancestor David had done.” As we know form the previous chapter, there is no higher praise from the historian than that. In fact, there can be no higher praise than this: “He trusted in the Lord the God of Israel; so that there was no one like him among all the kings of Judah after him, or among those who were before him.: And as we would expect, Hezekiah and all of Judah enjoys the fruits of the kings failth–and his example, “The Lord was with him; wherever he went, he prospered.” (7). Faith also brings great courage: “He rebelled against the king of Assyria and would not serve him.” (7b).

Compare Hezekiah to Israel: “The king of Assyria carried the Israelites away to Assyria… because they did not obey the voice of the Lord their God but transgressed his covenant” (11)

Nevertheless, the might of Assyria attacks Judah and there are significant losses; Hezekiah strips the Temple to pay ransom, but the army led y the Rabshakeh, arrives at the walls of Jerusalem, who says something that has modern resonance, “Do you think that mere words are strategy and power for war?” (20). He then speaks in Hebrew so all in the city could understand, saying, “Do not listen to Hezekiah when he misleads you by saying, The Lord will deliver us.” (32) The Assyrian brags that everyone he has met in battle he has conquered. But Hezekiah had ordered the people not to speak a word in response. And they do not.

Remaining silent is sometimes the very best strategy. What will happen at Jerusalem with the Assyrian army arrayed against it?

Acts 5:17-40: The authorities have had enough of the Apostles and their impact on the lives of the hoi polloi and imprison them. But an angel opens the prison doors and says, “Go, stand in the temple and tell the people the whole message about this life.” And the apostles respond as we might expect, “When they heard this, they entered the temple at daybreak and went on with their teaching.” (20, 21)

The leaders are now apoplectic, and drag the Apostles before them and Peter–with enormous courage– tells them,“We must obey God rather than any human authority” and speaks the Kerygma of Jesus Christ. “When they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them.”

But Gamaliel points out these sorts of people have come and gone and their movements died out of their own accord. He wisely advises the leaders to let the Apostles go because “if this plan or this undertaking is of human origin, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them—in that case you may even be found fighting against God!” (38, 39).

The ensuing 2000 years suggests that Gamaliel was a wise man indeed. Luke makes his point to his readers and us as well: this movement begun by Jesus Christ is something that has never been seen before on earth.


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