Psalm 27; 2 Chronicles 26:16-28:8;

Psalm 27: With the exception of the 23rd Psalm, this psalm opens with among the most encouraging—and most famous—verse in the book:
The Lord is my light and my rescue.
Whom shall I fear?
The Lord is my life’s stronghold.
Of whom shall I be afraid?” (1)

Once again using the 2-line/ 2-line verse structure of repeating the same thought but using different words in the second verse (this is the essence Hebrew poetry), our psalmist tells us once again that no matter how powerful the enemy he will remain protected by God because he trusts in God:
Though a camp is marshalled against me,
my heart shall not fear.
Though battle is roused against me,
nonetheless do I trust.” (3)

If we really took these verses to heart just think of how our lives would be different. Living in complete assurance that God protects us and that we do not have to fight our enemies on our own. But I always seem to want to conduct the fight on my own. It’s all about control in the end, isn’t it?

Having established his trust in God and belief that he resides under God’s benevolent protection, the poet asks that he be granted respite from his enemies in order to worship God for the remainder of his life:
One thing do I ask of the Lord,
it is this that I seek—
that I dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life
to behold the Lord’s sweetness
and to gaze on His palace.” (4)

But in the meantime before that much desired day comes, our psalmist finds himself in the midst of battle surrounded by enemies. Nevertheless, his confidence on God remains strong :
For He hides me in His shelter,
on the day of evil.
He conceals me in the recess of His tent,
of a rock He raises me up.” (5)

The alternating verses that praise God’s protection and then anticipate the future of peaceful worship continue as we read again of his desire to be at peace so he can worship God:
Let me offer in His tent
sacrifices with joyous shouts.
Let me sing and hymn to the Lord.” (6)

But there is still a scintilla of doubt as our poet moves into full supplication mode:
Hear, O Lord, my voice when I call,
and grant me grace and answer me.” (7)


Your face, Lord, do I seek.
do not hide Your face from me,
do not turn Your servant away in wrath.” (8b, 9)

The lesson here for me is that even with the most profound trust in a God who loves us we will always experience pangs of feeling abandoned by God. Like a young child in bed in a darkened room crying out for his parents, we will still cry out even though deep down we know that God is standing by us—and like our parents that he loves us.

So, we can cry out with the psalmist as he once again is trusts that God is indeed at his side:
If I but trust to see the Lord’s goodness,
in the land of the loving—
Hope for the Lord!
Let your heart be firm and bold,
and hope for the Lord.” (13, 14)

This is perhaps my favorite psalm because it deals with those moments of doubt about God’s presence and benevolence that I believe come to any believer in his journey with Jesus and God. IMHO, anyone who claims a complete unalterable confidence in God that never wavers without those doubts arising—especially in times of trouble— is failing to understand what the Creator/Creature relationship is really all about.

2 Chronicles 26:16-28:8: Uzziah is feeling his kingly oats and believes he is fully qualified to offer sacrifices in the temple by himself. 80 priests restrain him from committing this sacrilege, pointing out that “It is not for you, Uzziah, to make offering to the Lord, but for the priests the descendants of Aaron.” (26:18) This makes Uzziah angry but God moves fast and causes him to become leprous. Unfortunately for him, it appears very publicly on his forehead. As a result, “Uzziah was leprous[c] to the day of his death, and being leprous lived in a separate house, for he was excluded from the house of the Lord.” (26:21)

Of course the root sin here is pride. Uzziah believed he was such an excellent God-follower that God would automatically grant him the ability to do whatever he pleased since it was about religious observance. We often see the same pride in churches where someone believes they’re uniquely qualified to be God’s direct intercessory. And we encounter those same folks today—whence the term “holier than thou.”

At the age of 25, Uzziah’s son, Jotham, becomes king. Happily, “He did what was right in the sight of the Lord just as his father Uzziah had done.” Our authors slyly append the comment, “—only he did not invade the temple of the Lord.” (27:2) Jotham reigns for 16 years and “built cities in the hill country of Judah, and forts and towers on the wooded hills.” (27:4) He also defeats the Ammonotes in battle, who are forced to pay heavy reparations. The people of Judah must have been happy under Jotham to spared the usual leadership drama for 16 years.

Jotham’s son Ahaz ascends the throne and is a complete ne’re-do-well: “He did not do what was right in the sight of the Lord, as his ancestor David had done, but he walked in the ways of the kings of Israel.” (1,2) Worse, he erects Baal idols and abuses his children and, “made his sons pass through fire, according to the abominable practices of the nations whom the Lord drove out before the people of Israel.” (3)

We can hear the resigned sighs in their voices as our authors point out that God punished Ahaz: “Therefore the Lord his God gave him into the hand of the king of Aram, who defeated him and took captive a great number of his people and brought them to Damascus.” (27:5) Later, Ahaz is defeated by Israel and “the people of Israel took captive two hundred thousand of their kin, women, sons, and daughters; they also took much booty from them and brought the booty to Samaria.” (8) As always, the moral of the story is all crystal clear. When leadership fails, those who are led also fail.

Acts 23:25-24:3: Paul barely escapes with his life as the tribune sends him off to Caesarea accompanied by a letter from the tribune, which explains that while the Jews accused him of heresy but upon examination, and noting that Paul was a Roman citizen, the tribune writes, “I found that he was accused concerning questions of their law, but was charged with nothing deserving death or imprisonment.” (23:29) In other words, as far as the tribune is concerned, Paul is innocent, but the Jews still deserve a hearing, as he tells Felix, the procurator, that “I sent [Paul] to you at once, ordering his accusers also to state before you what they have against him.” (23:30)

Five days later, “the high priest Ananias came down with some elders and an attorney, a certain Tertullus, and they reported their case against Paul to the governor.” (24:1) Ah, a lawyer. Now we know there will be problems for Paul, who will naturally insist on defending himself.

As is their wont, the attorney begins his opening statement by flattering Felix: “because of you we have long enjoyed peace, and reforms have been made for this people because of your foresight.” (24:2) I think we can figure out where this is going…

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