Yesterday we were thinking about how our personal sense of spiritual poverty could be a blessing, in that it was the spiritual equivalent of hunger pangs, causing us to go to the Lord for sustenance. Psalm 36, from which we quoted yesterday, could also be the Old Testament answer to another of the beatitudes, ‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they will be filled (or satisfied).’ Matthew 5:6.
The psalmist begins that psalm with a lament, not about personal spiritual poverty, but about the state of the world and the wickedness that he sees all around him. He writes ‘the wicked have no fear of God, he flatters himself too much to detect or hate his own sin. The words of his mouth are wicked and deceitful; he has ceased to be wise and to do good……… he commits himself to a sinful course and does not reject what is wrong.’ Psalm 36:1-4.
Now I know that there are many good and kind people all around us, but I do think that it is hard to live as a Christian in our society and not become vexed by the kinds of things we are seeing day by day. There is a constant barrage of information about things happening in the world, that should never, never happen given the beauty of our created world and the magnificence of mankind as the crown of God’s creation, but as C.S. Lewis reminds us ‘mankind is noble but fallen’.
We know that many things are amplified by the media, but nevertheless it is grievous that so many around us are living lives well below who God made them to be, and who they are destined to become in His love for them. Furthermore it can often feel as if, in our world, right and wrong have been reversed and that the devil has so deceived people that they don’t even long for goodness and righteousness anymore, let alone for the God who made them.
We can vex ourselves about these things, find ourselves recounting things that we have read about, or dwelling on the evil in the world, both in our own minds and to others, but we know that doesn’t actually change anything, or help us, as we try to live righteous lives in a fallen world. David wrote ‘Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong………do not fret when men succeed in their ways,……….refrain from anger ……..do not fret – it leads only to evil’. What wisdom for our day, written fifteen hundred years ago!!
Instead he says, ‘trust in the Lord and do good…..delight yourself in the Lord…….commit your way to the Lord…..be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him…’ Psalm 37:1-8. And then we read back in Psalm 36 ‘Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the great deep…..…..How priceless is your unfailing love! Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them to drink of the river of your delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.’ Psalm 36:7-9
God loves that we are grieved about the state of the world, but not that we rail about it, moan and complain, or recount to each other how awful it is. He loves that we hunger and thirst after righteousness and He loves it even more if that hunger causes us to seek Him again and again. His promise is that we shall be ‘satisfied’, or ‘filled’. So let us thank Him that we feel His grief over the state of His world, and let that grief drives us to Him as we hunger and thirst after righteousness.
Then we can also thank Him that there is somewhere really good to go when we are feeling vexed about it all, that we can come into His sanctuary, that we can come under the shadow of His wings and, yes, we can feast on His goodness and righteousness and kindness, and in His light we too will see light. We will see situations and people the way He sees them, and be able to speak to them with hope and faith in our hearts.
As we said yesterday this word ‘blessed’ is not the stained glass window kind of ‘blessed’. It means great happiness, prosperity or enrichment, abundant goodness and delight. So when the enemy puts his wares on display, I can let my hunger and thirst for righteousness drive me deeper into the arms the Lord. I can thank Him that He welcomes me and that I will then find myself richly blessed – ‘satisfied’ with His goodness.