Thursday, May 26, 2022

What Can We Do When Confronted by The World’s Wickedness? - Psalms 86

Stop for a moment and consider the wicked world we live in today, as has been displayed in just the past few weeks.

March 1, 2022 The man who fatally shot three of his children and another adult at a Sacramento church Monday night before killing himself has been identified as 39-year-old David Mora Rojas, according to the Sacramento County Coroner's office. His three daughters have been identified as 9-year-old Samarah Mora Gutierrez, 10-year-old Samantha Mora Gutierrez, and 13-year-old Samia Mora Gutierrez. Nathaniel Kong, 59, who was supervising the family visit, was also killed in the shooting.

May 12, 2022 A Nigerian Christian student was murdered on her university campus yesterday by a mob of Muslim students who accused her of blaspheming Islam. The murdered woman, Deborah Samuel Yakubu, was a 200-level student at Shehu Shagari College of Education in Sokoto in northern Nigeria. She was the leader of a women’s Christian fellowship group on campus. Two videos posted online show the aftermath of the killing. In one, a half dozen men beat Deborah’s lifeless body with sticks while they shout “Allahu Akbar” (God is great). A second video shows her body burning while her killers boast about killing her.

May 14, 2022 - New York authorities have identified the 10 victims killed Saturday afternoon when a self-described White supremacist opened fire in a grocery store in Buffalo. Three others were injured. Several of the victims killed at the Tops Friendly Market were community members or had personal connections with those who actively serviced the local community, including a local food pantry chef and the mother of the city’s former fire commissioner. All but one victim was over the age of 50 and 11 of the victims were Black, while two were White, police said.

May 15, 2022 The deadly shooting at a church in Laguna Woods, California, on Sunday, was motivated by the political tension between China and Taiwan, authorities said Monday. One person was killed and five were wounded, four critically, in the shooting inside the Geneva Presbyterian Church, the Orange County Sheriff's Office. All victims are adults and range in age from 66 to 92 years old, the sheriff's office said.  The suspect was identified as 68-year-old Las Vegas resident David Chou.

 May 24, 2022 - A shooting at a Texas elementary school killed 19 children and one teacher on Tuesday. Gov. Greg Abbott identified the suspect as 18 yr-old Salvador Ramos, a Uvalde resident, who is also dead. Ramos shot and killed his grandmother after posting it on Facebook and then posted he was going to shoot up an elementary school.

And we cannot forget that we are still witnesses the horror of an unjusifed war between Russia and the Ukraine that is destroyed the lives of hundreds of people, for the sake of territory and prestige. If all that is not enough wickedness then just read about the persecution of Christians around the world and especially in the Muslim countries with no outcry from the rest of the world.

At times like this, I often go to the Psalms and just read until I find one that touches my heart and gives voice to my own questions, fears or sorrow. I did that morning and I came to Psalms 86. Let me just share it with you, give a few thoughts and then we can all pray for those who are hurting to the very core of their humanity today.

Psalm 86: 1-5 God, Give Help

Bow down thine ear, O LORD, hear me: for I am poor and needy. Preserve my soul; for I am holy (sanctified to you) : O thou my God, save thy servant that trusteth in thee.  Be merciful unto me, O Lord: for I cry unto thee daily. 4 Rejoice the soul of thy servant: for unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee.

David in these opening verses asks for 5 things. 1) Bow down, Lord, hear me, 2) preserve my soul, 3) Save thy servant, 4) be merciful unto me, 5) and rejoice the soul of thy servant.

In these petitions we see a child of God who is helpless and has no ability, no answers, no hope within himself. He knows he needs the mercy of God to save him and to return him to the joy he once had.

He gives 6 foundations of his prayer. 1) I am poor and needy, 2) I am holy, (set aside, sanctified to thee) 3) I trust in thee, 4) I cry unto thee daily, 5) I lift up my soul to thee, 6) For you are good, ready to forgive and full of mercy to those that call upon you.

David’s foundations for his prayer to be answered are his need, his relationship with God, his trust in God, his daily prayers, the offering of his life and the character of God as good, forgiving and full of mercy.

You can see why this prayer is considered a universal prayer during times of crisis, pain or loss in our lives or in our community or our nation. Like David, we don’t have any answers, we don’t have any ability to overcome or understand, but we trust in God’s love and mercy and we pray and we pray and we pray. We call out to God, asking Him to bow down, reach down, from heaven and hear our prayers and bring us back to a place of joy in our lives.

Psalms 86:6-10 God, Give Hope

Give ear, O LORD, unto my prayer; and attend to the voice of my supplications. In the day of my trouble I will call upon thee: for thou wilt answer me. Among the gods there is none like unto thee, O Lord; neither are there any works like unto thy works. All nations whom thou hast made shall come and worship before thee, O Lord; and shall glorify thy name. For thou art great, and doest wondrous things: thou art God alone.

After David asks for God’s help, he then looks to God for hope. Once again he asks God to hear him, “Give ear, O Lord, (O Jehovah) to my payer and attention to my supplications, my most intimate needs brought before You.

I think vs 7 is the key verse for the Psalms, it was the reason I it spoke to me, “In the day of my trouble I will call upon thee, for you will answer.”  What can we do when madmen driven by the demons of hate, religious bigotry, racial bigotry, or political rage carry out the will of Satan by acts of unspeakable violence? What can we do in that day of trouble but call upon God?

David bases his hope upon his Lord, for there is none other like him. David knows that God has made all the nations and that one day they will all worship him and glorify His name. His hope is a reality because God is great and does miraculous things. He is God alone, and only God can give hope with all seems hopeless.

Psalms 86:11-17 - God, Give Guidance

Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name. I will praise thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart: and I will glorify thy name for evermore.  For great is thy mercy toward me: and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell. O God, the proud are risen against me, and the assemblies of violent men have sought after my soul; and have not set thee before them.  But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.  O turn unto me, and have mercy upon me; give thy strength unto thy servant, and save the son of thine handmaid. Shew me a token for good; that they which hate me may see it, and be ashamed: because thou, LORD, hast holpen me, and comforted me.

Finally, as David closes his prayer, he asks for guidance from His God and knows that as God works in his life, and answers his prayer, he will be drawn closer to God and find the guidance and peace his soul so desperately craves.

He asks God to teach him and in that guidance he will walk in truth and his heart will be united, undivided by the wickedness around him and able to focus in faith on God. He then contrasts God with the troubles and violence around him, “12 I will praise thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart: and I will glorify thy name for evermore. 13 For great is thy mercy toward me: and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell. 14 O God, the proud are risen against me, and the assemblies of violent men have sought after my soul; and have not set thee before them. 15 But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.

He again pleads for God’s presence, love and strength, “O turn unto me and have mercy upon me, give me thy strength.” He declares himself a "son of thine handmaid", he means one born into the service of God and thus a lifelong servant to his Master

The last thing he asks is for God to make him a token, a symbol, a sign, for good in order that those who hate will see it and be ashamed because Jehovah has helped and comforted him.

In all the prayer, David does not ask for deliverance, or for God to stop or prevent evil and violence. Instead, he asks for God to give to him those things that will draw him closer to his Lord, make him a stronger servant and in overcoming the turmoil, he will be seen as proof of God’s goodness, and bring glory to the Lord.

In the midst of the senseless violence and cruel hatred all around us, may we understand what David understood, may we pray for what he prayed for, and may our hearts be united upon our Lord that we may find His presence, love, strength, help and comfort always. - Pastor Kris Minefee

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