Jump Start # 3183
Psalms 37:25 “I have been young and now I am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his descendants begging for bread.”
Our verse today is wrapped around the personal observations of David, the writer of this Psalm. Been there, done that, is how our passage sounds like. Been young. Now old. This is what I have seen, David says. God has taken care of His people. The wilderness tells us that. God’s promises tells us that. Battles with giants, lions, fires tells us that. God helps His people. Give us this day our daily bread is just another reminder of how God helps us.
There are some thoughts we need to consider from this:
First, because I do not personally witness an aspect of this does not mean that it is not true. One does not have to taste the bread to know that God provided the bread. So much of a person’s thinking and even theology is wrapped around what they have experienced personally. Not everyone in the Bible literally heard God speak. Yet, we know that He did. Not everyone in the Bible experienced a miracle, yet we know that He did miracles. Very few people throughout the Bible were raised from the dead, yet we know God has done that.
From our own perspective is not a fair, accurate nor solid place to stand. We’ve not seen everything. We’ve not known everything. It is easy for us to make broad generalizations based upon our experiences and those conclusions may not be true. It’s easy to assume all Christians are based upon the interaction I’ve had with one. Or, that all congregations are like the one I had witnessed. Those generalizations do not see everything and they are often unfair.
For instance, it is easy for one generation to trash the previous generation and to conclude that they missed things, made a mess of things and failed. How harshly some talk about our spiritual forefathers. Some preachers have no respect for the men who have gone on before. Their words are critical, condemning and harsh when they talk about what was done in the past. Some are saying that the previous generation never talked about grace. It is said that they never preached grace except to condemn grace only. And, it is because of that, they claim, the church is in the hopeless trouble we find it today. It’s all because of the past generation of preachers who spent far too much time talking about issues of cooperation and never about the grace of God.
Those that say such things are foolish. They are ignorant of history and the long pages of evidence that says just the opposite. Read the old, old papers. There are tons of articles about grace that never mention “only.” There have been many, many powerful sermons for decades about the saving grace of God. To say that our forefathers, or the past generation hardly ever preached on grace is historically not true and a statement that stands without evidence. Broad generalities often can be so broad that they are useless. Because a certain person never heard lessons on grace is not to say that the whole generation never preached on it.
And, to put this in perspective, Jesus never used the word “grace.” The sermon on the mount doesn’t mention grace. Jesus’ interaction with the woman caught in adultery illustrated grace. Jesus’ words to the penitent thief on the cross is all about grace. The story of the prodigal is about grace. Yet, Jesus never preached “grace.” In fact, there are nearly a dozen times when Jesus talked about Hell in His teachings. He talked more about Hell than He did grace. Are we to conclude that Jesus was negative and more about condemning than saving? Our observations and conclusions can be a bit wacky.
And, it’s easy to be a backseat driver to other things that we seemingly see so clearly. Why did the apostles have such a struggle with faith? Why did they not get the proper kingdom concept earlier? Why were earlier generations preaching so hard about division, cooperation, organization and things like that? We weren’t living in those times. It’s hard for us to understand. But it’s not right, honorable, nor fair to those heroes of faith for us to trash them because we think they spent too much time on those topics. What will the next generation think of our preaching today? One must deal with things as they are with what information he has.
Second, only the Lord sees everything. David could say, “I’ve been young and now I am old, and I have not seen the righteous forsaken.” Yet, elsewhere in this very book of Psalms, the cry is made about why God doesn’t hear prayers. There are times the Psalmist feels alone. There are moments when he begs God not to turn His face away from him. All of that certainly could be viewed as “forsaken.” I’ve not seen the righteous forsaken nor his descendants begging bread, yet there was a time when David was so hungry that he ate the bread preserved for the priests. He might have felt forsaken, desperate and without options in that moment.
We must not judge a person by just one chapter in their life. What we jump into likely is not the whole story. There is always a back story. There are always factors surrounding the choices and decisions made. In the midst of a battle, be it a literal battle, a spiritual battle, or an emotional battle, we might draw some conclusions that fail to take into account the tremendous pressure of what was going on in that battle. God knows. God sees.
Third, God is good. The very characteristics of God is goodness and holiness. If you being evil, know how to give good gifts, how much more will your Father who is in Heaven give what is good, Jesus said. The parables of the prodigal, the laborers in the vineyard illustrate the kindness, generosity and love of God. Even if David had not seen with his own eyes the righteous being taken care of by God, we know that they will be. The nature of God is built upon that.
I have seen. Be careful making conclusions with what you have seen. You’ve likely not seen everything. You see things from your spot in the world and there may be exceptions and things you never realized. Let God’s word be our conclusion. Let God’s word form our thoughts, opinions and decisions.
I for one, am very, very thankful to the many courageous preachers from the past generation and even those beyond. They have helped us. They have encouraged us. They were not perfect, and neither are we. They did the best that they could, as we are trying to do the best that we can. Many a preacher who is currently being paid far more than any of us deserve ought to realize the powerful sacrifices that those preachers in times gone by have made to make all of this possible. Living in preacher’s houses, paid so little that many had to work another job, those heroes preached their hearts out without complaining. To say that they didn’t do enough or that they didn’t do it right is a mockery that ought not be tolerated. Saying such things is disrespectful, unkind and should be stopped. God bless the great heroes of whom we stand upon their shoulders.
I’ve been young and now I am old…