God

Hope from Isaiah 32:1-8

See, a king will reign in righteousness,
and princes will rule with justice.
Each will be like a hiding place from the wind,
a covert from the tempest,
like streams of water in a dry place,
like the shade of a great rock in a weary land.
Then the eyes of those who have sight will not be closed,
and the ears of those who have hearing will listen.
The minds of the rash will have good judgment,
and the tongues of stammerers will speak readily and distinctly.
A fool will no longer be called noble,
nor a villain said to be honorable.
For fools speak folly,
and their minds plot iniquity:
to practice ungodliness,
to utter error concerning the LORD,
to leave the craving of the hungry unsatisfied,
and to deprive the thirsty of drink.
The villainies of villains are evil;
they devise wicked devices
to ruin the poor with lying words,
even when the plea of the needy is right.
But those who are noble plan noble things,
and by noble things they stand.

(Isaiah 32:1-8)

Whatever needs you have–and we all have them–Christ Jesus can fill them. Many among us are poor, weary, and thirsty. He gives them drink and shade. Some are so tense or nervous they can’t speak a coherent thought. Christ relieves them and sets them at ease–gives them rest. Liars plant trip-wires and false accusations, but justice will flow like a mighty river at the feet of King Jesus.

God is good. Christ is King. Some submit but others rebel. So he asks us, “what about you? Who do you say I am?” (Matt 16:15)

 

Love (III): “Know you not,” says Love, “Who bore the blame?”

Jim McGuiggan introduced to me a poem by George Herbert, called “Love (III).” I might’ve read some Herbert briefly in an English Lit class in college, but none of it stuck with me the way it did after hearing McGuiggan read it in his audio message, “God and Timid Sinners.”

I downloaded that file and listened to McGuiggan many times during daily commutes in Hangzhou.

“If you like religious poetry, you may not like George Herbert’s work, but if you love it, you’ll devour his material…about timid sinners too conscious of their sin to be fully aware of the profound, fathomless love of God toward us.

So please do not let the word “sinners” deter you from savoring this sweet poem. Oh yes, we have sin, and that’s the point: some of it is all too real for some of us, and we never forget our moral failures. Something might be said of the benefit of remember our sin. Absolutely. However,  the point of this poem, I think is to invite those who can’t forgive themselves, to accept the healing and salvation God offers.

***English-to-English translation note: The poem itself is in italics to stand apart from my words on this page. However, I’ve removed italics for emphasis, actually (which is risky behavior, since its reversed as per usual). I added quotation marks to help clarify the discussion taking place in the poem and emboldened (really, blog-ified) two lines that tell–in a way only poems can–of God’s scandalous and matchless will to forgive us (you!): perfectly displayed in the death, burial, and resurrection of His son Jesus the Messiah, our Lord and King.

Without further ado:

Love (III)

by George Herbert

Love bade me welcome. Yet my soul drew back
                              guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
                             from my first entrance in,
drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning,
                             if I lacked any thing.
 
“A guest,” I answered, “worthy to be here:”
                             Love said, “You shall be he.”
I the unkind, ungrateful? Ah my dear,
                             I cannot look on thee.”
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
                             “Who made the eyes but I?”
 
“Truth Lord, but I have marred them: let my shame
                             Go where it doth deserve.”
And know you not, says Love, who bore the blame?
                            “My dear, then I will serve.”
“You must sit down, says Love, and taste my meat”:
                             So I did sit and eat.
 
 

Psalm 50: God Shines Forth

              The Mighty One, God the Lord,

       speaks and summons the earth

        from the rising of the sun to its setting.

Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty,

       God shines forth.

(Psalm 50:1-2 ESV)

© 2013 Clint R. Boyd.

© 2013 Clint R. Boyd.

God “speaks and summons the earth.” Right off the bat, The Mighty One, God the Lord, speaks and summons. He is the boss, but what kind of boss is he?

Well, we get a picture — of the sunrise and sunset. The Psalmist is saying that this speaking and summoning is done from dusk ’till dawn, but with the words sunrise and sunset comes a memory of a splendid sight for those who’ve seen the sun rise and/or set. For any who haven’t had working eyesight to see a sunrise or sunset, this must be calling upon the one of the greatest faculties of the human mind: imagination.

Either way, clearly we are invited to get a greater understanding God by mentioning him directly after the sun’s radiant rising and setting:

“God shines forth.”

He is not a gloomy God. This is not Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. The Lord Almighty is righteous, Holy, and just, always loving and using honest weights and scales (Proverbs 16:11). He is not an oppressor. He is the Great Giver. That’s why He doesn’t need anything from us, nor can we provide much for him past adoration, worship, trust, and thanksgiving.

“I will not accept a bull from your house

or goats from your folds.

For every beast of the forest is mine,

       the cattle on a thousand hills.

I know all the birds of the hills,

       and all that moves in the field is mine.

If I were hungry, I would not tell you,

       for the world and its fullness are mine.

Do I eat the flesh of bulls

       or drink the blood of goats?

Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving,

       and perform your vows to the Most High,

and call upon me in the day of trouble;

       I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”

(Verses 9-15)

Thankfulness is how I should feel and be toward God. You and I were created to glorify and ENJOY Him — to bask His radiance, mercy, and forgiveness — forever. All of that is made possible, of course, by Jesus Christ, who was slain for that purpose, then resurrected: the greatest news in the history of mankind.