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Fear and Work in the Night

“Then Gideon took ten of his men — his servants — and did just as the word of Yahweh told him. Yet, because he was too afraid of the house of his father and the men of the city to do it by day, he worked at night.”

(Judges 6:27)

Had the scriptures simply told us that Gideon took ten men by night to tear down the altar and Asherah pole, we might have thought him brave and prompt, doing what God commanded immediately after the voice of Yahweh departed from him. Yet, God provides us with one additional piece of information: Gideon was afraid. And because Gideon was afraid, he did his work at night so that the men of the city and of his father’s house would not interfere or threaten him. Not bold and prompt, but fearful…and in this case, Gideon fearing both God and men. Thus he does what God tells him to do, but in the night.

Fear can be both a strong motivator and a crippling enemy. And how often we, as Christians, fall prey to the fears that we find in our lives. Some, like that of spiders or of heights, are irrational but others are perfectly rational and reflect very real possibilities. Yet, God repeatedly tells us in the Scriptures that the only one we ought to fear is Him, for God can destroy both body and soul when the things of this world can touch the former but do nothing to the latter. In the end, though, Gideon does do what he is commanded; sadly, often we do not. While fault can be found with both, who honors God?

The Fright of the Condemned

“For behold, the kings gathered together 

and they passed by it together. 

They saw it and thus were terrified;

They were horrified and ran away in haste.”

(Psalm 48: 5-6 {verses 4-5 in English})

It does not take much reflection to recognize just how often it plays out in history that the nations have waged war against God’s people. From the Exodus forward nations have attacked from all corners … Egypt from the south, Philistia from the west, Babylon from the East, and Persia from the north are just a few to get started. And apart from the times when the hand of the Lord was against his people in discipline, God was faithful as the Warrior of Israel…our rOw;b…Ig lEa (El Gibor — “the Heroic God” — Isaiah 9:6). He is our defender in times of trouble (Isaiah 33:2).

The language of God defending his people is common enough, but have you ever reflected on what it must have been like to be on the receiving end of God’s wrath in these cases? Have you ever wondered what it must have been like for the Egyptians to fact the dark side of the glory cloud, which defended Israel while they waited for the Red Sea to part (Exodus 14:19-20) or perhaps on the next day, what it must have been like for those Egyptian charioteers upon whom the walls of the Red Sea collapsed. Think about what it must have been like when the confusion came upon the camp of the Midianites and they, in their confusion, attacked one another (Judges 7:22-23) or when Shamgar slew 600 Philistines with an ox-goad (Judges 3:31) or Samson slew 1000 with a donkey’s jawbone (Judges 15:15). Can you imagine what the night must have been like when the Angel of Yahweh went out and delivered his people by slaying 185,000 Assyrians in a single night?

The examples abound when we look back across history, but there yet lays ahead an example that is singular in significance and awe. For when Jesus returns again, he will call his people to himself but enter into final judgement against his enemies…the reprobate. There all of the nations of the earth will stand before our warrior God and taste the fullness of his wrath and for all eternity find themselves under judgment.

The kings are described as gathering together to pass by — to pass through — Israel…with the implication that they will be plundering the land on their way and yet they were terrified. The Hebrew word used here is hAmDt (tamah), which means to be horrified and frozen with fear, and indeed, this will describe (at the very least) those who will be under God’s wrath. How might we escape this wrath, you ask? Through the gate of Jesus and through Jesus alone. Turn from your sins, confess them to God, and seek Jesus in the faith that only God can give. Yet, let us be clear, serving God rather than self or mankind is not primarily about escaping wrath…it is first and foremost about giving God the honor and glory that he is due. Let us stand in awe of our God, not out of fear of impending destruction but because he is glorious and worthy of our praise and adoration.

A Time to Keep Silence and a Time to Speak

“But Peter followed him from a distance up to the court of the High Priest and going in he sat with the subordinates to witness the end.”

(Matthew 26:58)

 

“And Peter, from a distance, followed him as far as the courtyard of the High Priest and he was sitting with the subordinates and warming himself by the fire.”

(Mark 14:54)

 

“And when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down in the midst of them.”

(Luke 22:55)

 

“The servants and the subordinates were standing around a charcoal fire they had made because it was cold and they were warming themselves. And Peter was also in that place and warming himself.”

(John 18:18)

 

Probably the obvious question to ask is with whom did Peter sit? Matthew and Mark speak of subordinates and John adds servants, but the question is, who are these people gathered in the middle of the night in Caiaphas’ court. Luke implies that these were amongst those who arrested Jesus, leading some English translations to render these verses as Peter sitting with the “guards.” Yet, the cohort (the official soldiers from the Temple) seems to have either departed or faded into the background for a variety of reasons, leaving us more likely with the rabble-rousers that made up the mob that accompanied the Cohort from the temple. Needless to say that this crowd is not a casual crowd and they are anything but neutral to the events that are transpiring.

Often this courtyard scene with Peter’s denial is portrayed as if Peter is being asked innocent questions about his association with Jesus and that his denials are out of an unfounded fear of what might happen. I don’t think that is what is implied here, though. These questions come from a very hostile crowd that is wanting to see blood — thus, while we still might speak of Peter’s cowardice to follow Jesus even to prison or death (Luke 22:33), prison or death most certainly would have been the end of this night for Peter had he spoken boldly of his connection with Jesus. Peter had escaped capture in the garden just hours earlier (if that long!), it is sure that this escape was fresh in his mind and he knew the climate of the people with whom he would be mixing in Caiaphas’ courtyard. Danger was all around.

It should be noted that some English versions translate Peter as standing by the fire while the synoptics (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) portray him as sitting. This objection, if it be a real objection, can be answered in two ways. The simplest way is to recognize that Peter first approaches the fire standing up and remains standing so long as those around him are standing. Then, as Caiaphas takes his position for the trial, people settle down and sit. Peter, not wanting to stand out chooses to sit as well. The second way — if it be a way at all — is to note that the word that John uses, i¢sthmi (histami), can simply mean to be located in a particular spot (standing or sitting). Thus, there is no real contradiction between John’s account and the account of the other four evangelists.

While these questions may be curious, there are two clauses in these verses that are very striking. The first is how Mark refers to the fire around which Peter and the subordinates are gathered. Instead of using the ordinary word for “fire,” which in Greek is pu◊r (pur), he chooses to use the word, fw◊ß (phos) — “light.” One might be tempted to dismiss this as a curiosity, that perhaps Mark was simply looking for a different word to use for variety until one points out that this is the only time Mark uses the term fw◊ß (phos) in his entire Gospel. Furthermore, this is the only occurrence in the Greek New Testament where the term fw◊ß (phos) is used to refer to a fire.

One still might be tempted to suggest that Mark is just referring to the light that is emitted from a fire to foreshadow the fact that Peter would be recognized by those around him. Of course, this is presuming that this fire is the only source of light in the courtyard, which seems to be an odd assumption as oil lamps likely would have filled the space with light. A better answer is to recall that Mark is traditionally understood to have served as Peter’s scribe in Jerusalem, and thus this gospel was written under Peter’s oversight. Thus, there seems to be the suggestion here that the one thing Peter does not intend to do (at least initially) is to hide. His presence by the fire, in other words, is not just to warm himself (though that is one of the reasons), but is also to be present “in the light” and not in the midst of shadows. Of course, Peter’s nerve is lost as the proceedings go on and he realizes that he is noticed, but it is likely that at least at first, Peter’s intent was to be visible.

The second thing of particular interest is Matthew’s statement that Peter followed to see “the end.” The end of what? If Matthew is referring to “the end” of Jesus’ life, could it have been that Peter expected Jesus to be tried and executed even before dawn? Could Matthew have been speaking of “the end” with respect to their pilgrimage from the Sea of Galilee to Caiaphas’ courts? This latter explanation seems to be a better answer to the question. And, while likely not “the end” as Peter anticipated at the time, it indeed was the end — the end of Peter being only a follower and time for Peter to stand up and lead — though that final aspect would not be fulfilled until Pentecost. Solomon writes that to all things there is a season — for Peter (and for the other 10 who remained faithful), the time of following Jesus as he walked and taught in this earth had come to an end. Soon, the time would be for him to speak — and speak boldly he would.

The Great King is to be Feared

“For Yahweh Elyon is to be feared — Great King over all the earth.”

(Psalm 47:3 {verse 2 in English Translations})

 

As kids we were always told that it wasn’t nice to call people names — at least bad names… Yet, there is a practice of scripture of attributing names of honor to God. These names are names that reflect the attributes and character of our God, not the progressive development of a religion like some of the liberal “scholars” would suggest. And what we find in this verse is a grouping of three names that are bound together.

Yahweh is a name we are used to seeing. This is the “I am that I am” name that God gives to himself and provides to Moses, recorded in Exodus 3:14. It is a name that reflects God’s covenantal character of God as well as the eternal nature of his being. God always was, God is, and God always will be. While our existence is measured and bounded by time; time is a creation of God and has no bearing on his being — time has a beginning…God does not. Thus he tells us that we are to know him by Yahweh and by that name he is to be remembered throughout the generations (Exodus 3:15).

The name that is attached to Yahweh is Elyon (pronounced with a long “o”). Usually we render this “Most High,” and that is an accurate rendering of the title. I chose to leave the word untranslated, rather, to help set it apart as part of God’s glorious title of honor here. Elyon was a term reserved for God himself and was not to be given to men. It reflects that God is not the greatest in a set of like beings, but he is a being par-excellence — one of kind and incomparable to others. God stands alone as God. He is mighty and true and if you are going to fear any, this is the one you should fear. Jesus echoes this when he states: “do not fear the one who can kill the body, but fear him who can destroy both body and soul in hell” (Matthew 10:28) — Yahweh Elyon is the one of whom Jesus is speaking.

The final title is that of “Great King.” Many translations render this as, “a great king,” and that would be a legitimate translation were the subject being spoken of God himself. God is not just one of many great kings, but he is the great king — he is King over all the earth. While the definite article “the” is not present in the text, the context of the text sets this phrase apart as being a title attributed to God, thus neither article (“the” or “a”) is necessary and we see this again as a title of glory and honor.

You know what is interesting, though… As Christians, we are usually very quick to proclaim that Jesus is indeed the King of all Kings and the King over all the earth, but we rarely act as if he is the King over our lives. Kings make rules and Kings demand the obedience of their subjects. Yet how often we go about our lives acting as if we are our own and making decisions based on our preferences rather than on the basis of obedience to God’s command? I think that there is an explanation for our behavior, though — we do not obey our king because we do not fear him… A double-whammy — a double sin.

Loved ones, our lives are not our own. If we call ourselves Christians, then our lives belong to the one whose name we have taken and into whose name we have been adopted. The house rules demand that we obey if we love Christ (John 14:15). Will we? Will you? Do you fear your heavenly Father in a holy and reverent way that motivates you to a lifestyle that will honor him? In the end, such is the mark of a believer. May we indeed be able to sing the words of the psalmist from the bottom of our hearts in the deepest sincerity in our life here and eternally.

What, Me, Worry?

“‘Behold, I am positioned over the spring of water and the daughters of the men of the city are coming to draw water. May it be that to the girl to whom I say, ‘Please extend to me your pitcher that I might drink’ and she would say, ‘Drink and I will also water your camels.’ Let her be the one appointed to your servant, for Isaac, and through her may I know that you work covenant faithfulness for my lord.’”

(Genesis 24:13-14)

 

Notice the language of appointment being made here. There is a clear expectation on the part of Eliezer that God has orchestrated things from beginning to end and that one of these girls coming out to water will be the one that God has chosen to marry Isaac. He sets the standard as he prays, asking that the one whom God has chosen shall show courtesy toward him, offer him a drink, and water his camels for him. Certainly, the young girl that shows this kind of grace and hospitality will be the one that God has appointed in his covenant faithfulness. And thus, he waits and will soon meet Rebekah — again, an instance where God demonstrates his control, for he sees Rebekah coming out of the city.

How quick we can often be to doubt the faithfulness and grace of God. We doubt and worry and second-guess, but none of these things befits us as children of the living God who loves us. Jesus says that it is the role of the pagan to worry for these things that we need (Matthew 6:32); indeed, the pagans have gods that neither can speak nor hear nor move (Psalm 135:15-17) and thus neither can hear nor answer the prayers of those who serve them. Our God is living and active and not only hears but acts in the life of his loved ones — we need fear nothing.

Worry robs our hair of color, our nights of sleep, and our friendships of depth. We fear committing because we fear that the end might soon be near. Loved ones, fear the Lord and him alone. He is the God over the heavens and the earth and he has chosen to come into a relationship with you. He promises to provide for all of our necessities and he promises to never leave or forsake us…what more do we need? God is even the God who ordained the timing and the manner in which Rebekah comes out to the watering hole for her family — who knows, she might have come down with a cold and been sick that day — and that is the point; when God so appoints, this things will come to pass — and God has appointed (Ephesians 1:11), so why worry?

 

Witnessophobia

“Yahweh Tsabaoth is with us;

A high stronghold is the God of Jacob. Selah!

(Psalm 46:12 {verse 11 in English })

 

And the psalmist closes with the refrain, repeated from verse 8 (verse 7 in English versions). Though the world might come to an end, the God of Armies is with us. He is our guard and our shelter from the storms of life and the enemies that would seek to do us harm. He is the beginning and the end, the Alpha and the Omega. He is the Lord of Hosts. And he is with us.

If we believe these words, why do we struggle so when it comes to engaging the world with the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Why do we fear that which cannot threaten or harm us? I, like many, suffer from a fear of heights. Even in a glass elevator, where I am perfectly safe and protected as I am lifted upwards, the fear causes my pulse to rise and my grip on the railing in the elevator to grow very tight. Why? Phobias are irrational fears, and though they affect us in real ways, when you look honestly at them, they are kind of foolish. Why should I fear riding high in the air in a glass elevator? Nothing will harm me! Yet my knees grow weak. It seems that many Christians, while not necessarily suffering from a phobia of heights, suffer from a phobia of sharing their faith. Some jokingly refer to this as “witnessophobia,” but let us speak honestly — it is an irrational fear that stems from a sinful heart and a fear of rejection. Friends, don’t fall into this trap, our God is the Lord of Armies and a high stronghold and he has not given us a spirit of fear but one of power and love and self-control (2 Timothy 1:7). Why hesitate; go, share the love and truth of Christ Jesus with a friend or neighbor that does not know him so that they too may find refuge in the Lord of all Refuge…Selah!

We have a Stronghold in the God of Jacob

“Yaheweh Tsabaoth is with us;

A high stronghold for us is the God of Jacob. Selah!”

(Psalm 46:8 {verse 7 in English})

 

What a wonderful statement the psalmist makes. This is the kind of statement that ought to be set in stone on our patios and stenciled on our walls. It should be the words we are reminded of when we wake up and engage the day and that give us comfort when we lie down to sleep. Our God is a refuge that will keep us and preserve us and in his hands we have no need to fear.

This verse is begun with a fairly common title of God: tØwaDbVx hÎwh◊y (Yahweh Tsabaoth) — literally, “Yahweh of Armies” or “LORD of Hosts.” Hosts, in this context, are not those people that wait tables, but are the hosts of soldiers at the beck and call of a general. In this case, it is the Heavenly Host that is spoken of, the hosts of angels that serve at the word and command of God on high. As Christians, we often only think of God in terms of “Jesus meek and mild” and forget that after the resurrection the language we find describing our Lord is of a mighty warrior coming on a horse to destroy his enemies and to liberate his people from the effects of sin in the world around us. This is the mighty God we serve and this is the reason we should have no fear — for Yahweh of Armies is with us!

And not only that, but our God provides for us a stronghold in which to dwell. The word for stronghold, used 11 times in the Book of Psalms (twice in this psalm!) is derived from the Hebrew word bÅgDc (sagab), which refers to something that is inaccessible to the reach of human hands. Thus the idea of a stronghold is not simply marked by strong walls of defense, but it is marked by a high elevation where none but the eagles will roost. And it is from that vantage point that the psalmist describes those who trust in Yahweh as their God. Though the enemy may roar like a lion, the stronghold is quite secure.

So, beloved, why do you fear from within such a stronghold? Do you not trust your God to protect you from slander and from sword? Do you fear the enemy who would malign your name when you are safely behind the walls of our God? Do you fear harm when the mighty hosts of heaven are unleashed in our defense? Loved ones, why do we go about our lives acting with such fear when it comes to sharing what is true with those around us. Do we love those around us so little that we will not show them the pathway to safety in God’s arms — a pathway that leads through the gate of Jesus alone — that we are unwilling to show them the way? How often we act as if we are safe it does not matter what happens to others around us. Is that love? We call it courage when someone runs into a burning building to save someone who is trapped inside; why do we Christians exhibit such cowardice when it comes to the many people trapped in their sin that dwell around us? Loved ones, we have a mighty God to protect us, let us cast fear to the side and boldly share the truth about life in the confidence of the stronghold we have.

The Sleep of the Beloved

 

“It is vain for you to get up early and go late to your dwelling,

Eating the bread of toil;

For he gives to his beloved sleep.”

(Psalm 127:2)

 

It may be granted up front that there is some discussion as to how to interpret the last line of this verse. Commonly it is rendered as I have done so here, but some would argue that it ought to be rendered, “for he provides for his beloved during their sleep.” Though the nuances of the psalm are changed within that translation, the essential meaning of the text remains the same. God provides for the needs of his beloved — and he does so in an abundantly wonderful way.

In the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), Jesus speaks in much the same way. It is expected that the pagans will lay awake worrying all night, working long and thankless hours to provide bread for their families. Their idols are false creations of their own hands and imaginations. What benefit can a chunk of wood give me apart from helping to heat the house when I burn it in the fireplace? If I create something with my own hands, it contains no power to do anything but sit there. It has no life. One can draw no hope or assurance from such things.

But we worship a true and living God — one from whom we can draw assurances. He lives and is the God of the living (Matthew 22:32; Luke 20:38) and not of the dead; he gives us new life (1 Peter 1:3) and he gives us that life abundantly (John 10:10). And thus Jesus says to us, “why do you sit home and worry about what may or may not happen this week or even tomorrow?” Do we forget whom we serve? Our worry seems to betray that we do, yet to the beloved, God gives rest and peaceful dreams at night.

How often my dreams have been haunted by the cares of countless anxieties—anxieties that are projected in nightmarish ways. Yet, in prayer, there is rest for the soul. How often there has been tossing and turning rather than restful slumber; again, trust in God’s provision, believer, and you will find that rest will come. There is no need to fear what may transpire; our God is sovereign over all events (Ephesians 1:11) and has promised to work them all out for our good (Romans 8:28). What comfort there is in those divine promises to us! What rest we can find in that context!

For the believer, rest means more than sleep during the evening hours. Rest also includes rest from one’s enemies—the greatest of which are the spiritual powers of wickedness that roam this world like a roaring lion. They may roar, but we are held secure in the hands of our loving Savior (John 10:28-29); of what shall we fear? No, we are loved of God and true love casts out all fear (1 John 4:18).

Loved ones, sleep well and dream well of the glory of our God. He will provide for your needs because he loves you (Matthew 6:31-34); the pagans eat the bread of their sweat and toil—enjoy the restful sleep that your Father provides.

Abraham’s Fear: Genesis 20:11

“And Abraham said, ‘It was because I said, ‘no one fears God in this place and they will slay me over the thing of my wife.’’”

(Genesis 20:11)

 

“For this reason, I remind you to rekindle the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give you a spirit of cowardice, but of power, love, and self-control.”

(2 Timothy 1:6-7)

 

How often believers fall into the trap of fear. How sad it is when those who should know no fear of the things that can destroy the flesh of this world succumb to the terrors that it seems to present. Even here, Abraham, the “father of the faithful” (Romans 4:11), falls prey (once again) to the fear of what will happen if Abimelek finds out that Sarah is his wife, not his sister. And rather than trusting God, he falls back into his old sin of half-truths to try and cover himself.

As Christians, though, fear is not a character trait that should mark us. We have a God who is Lord of all of the heavens and who reigns sovereignly over his creation. We are in his hands and not under the power of the hands of our enemies. What confidence that should give to us, what boldness we should have as we share the Gospel of truth with our neighbors, friends, and co-workers. We, of all people, should be going out and sharing our faith; yet how often we adopt a fortress mindset and retreat our Christianity behind the walls of our church buildings. How sad it is that Christians who know the power of God in their lives can then doubt that power so greatly that they become timid and fearful and do not speak the truth into the lives of those around them.

Loved ones, love God. And whether the people in our communities love and fear God should not stop you from sharing the Gospel. What is the worst they will do? Make fun of you? Try and ridicule you? Was not our Lord ridiculed and made fun of for our sake? Will they attack you and harm you? Was not our Lord beaten for your sins and for mine? Will they kill you? Indeed, they may, but why fear those who can only harm the flesh when the God of heaven has the power to destroy both flesh and spirit? Loved ones, there is nothing to fear… go, make disciples of all men by seeing them baptized in the church and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commanded. There is nothing to fear from men.

Shall I, for fear of feeble man,
The Spirit’s course in me restrain?
Or, undismayed, in deed and word
Be a true witness for my Lord?

-Johann Winkler


 

Fear Not, Little Flock!

Have you ever noticed how many times the Bible talks about fear? There is a fear of the Lord, which is the source of wisdom and knowledge—a fear that reflects a holy reverence for who God is. There is also a fear of the world—a fear of going hungry, not having the things we need, or of being persecuted for our faith. This is a fear that we are not to entertain in our lives, for it ruins our witness. The reason we need not fear any of these things is because we have a God in heaven who is sovereign and all-powerful and who loves us with a love that will never be lost or squandered. The pagans do not have a God who will do for them what our God does for us.

There are ramifications of leaving this second kind of fear behind. When you let go of fear and worry you also are left without excuses—you know, those excuses we all use to avoid doing what God has called us to be and to do. Notice what Jesus says immediately after these words:

“Fear not, little flock! For it is the pleasure of your Father to give you the kingdom.”

(Luke 12:32)

In other words, it is the pleasure of God to give us—his church—the kingdom. He will use us to transform the world around us to the glory of Christ Jesus. What a wonderful promise—though we are strong, we are not measured by our size, but by the size of the God who is working through us and dwelling in our hearts.

When we read these words of the Gospel, our heart ought to skip a beat! Is this what God really intends for our little church? The answer that God gives us in an unequivocal, yes! Yet, there is a catch. Jesus also stipulates a means by which he wants us to accomplish this task in the verses that follow:

“Sell your possessions and give benevolences. Make yourselves coin bags that do not wear out and an unfailing treasure in heaven where no thief comes near nor does any moth destroy. For where your treasure is, there also your heart will be.”

(Luke 12:33-34)

Note, Jesus is not telling us we must take a vow of poverty—here he does not say, “sell all of your possessions.” The fact that he still calls us to have a money purse is a testimony to that. The key is what we are using those possessions to accomplish. If we pursue possessions to gain more possessions for ourselves, then the possessions become idols and distract us from God’s purpose. If the possessions are but a tool to accomplish the work of the kingdom, then God will bless their use, for your heart will reside with heavenly things, not earthly ones.

So what does this mean for us? It means that our handicap is not our small size as a church and congregation. Our Father will not limit his work based on human considerations. Our handicap is our fear of letting go with the things we treasure on earth—both individually and corporately. Remember, David did not form a committee before he went to fight Goliath—he went in the strength of God and slew him. The God that gave him that boldness is the same God that indwells every believer, there is no reason that we too should not be so bold as to engage the giants of unbelief in our day.

A Proverb in a Song: part 6

“Why should I fear the day of evil?

Iniquity is the very footprint of those who surround me—

Those who trust upon their own strength,

And boast of abundant riches!”

(Psalm 49:6-7 {Psalm 49:5-6 in English Bibles})

 

And now the Psalmist sets the question before us.  How is it that those who believe in God can walk without fear in the presence of Great evil?  How is it that when they are surrounded by men of iniquity, they can stand confident in their God?  Thus, with this in mind, the rest of the psalm is aimed at reasoning through this question and setting the answer before an unbelieving world. 

What I find particularly interesting is the interplay between these two verses.  Verse 6 (Hebrew) begins with the question of fearing in the day of evil and ends with a definition of what the day of evil happens to be, namely the time when his foes surround him—implying the idea of their seeking to crush him.  Literally, the psalmist writes that Iniquity is the “heel” of those who surround him—it is what defines them firstly, but also, it implies malicious intent—particularly in the context of the verb bb;s’ (savav), which means, “to surround.”

As the psalmist moves to verse 7 (Hebrew), he provides a definition of those whose footprint is iniquity—of those whose very life is defined by sin.  And the psalmist lists two attributes:  they rely on their own strength and they praise (or boast in) wealth.  Sadly, that sounds like much of our American culture today?  In America, we idealize the “self-made-man” and the man who can “stand alone” against the world.  Oh, how this mindset is so alien to the Biblical mindset!  How we are not a people who stand alone against the world, but who stand united not only with other believers in the body of Christ but also with Christ himself as our King and Lord.  We are not self-made men and women, but are God-made, and, oh, how I thank God that this is the case!

Beloved, if you are swayed by the world to adopt their views of what makes a man great and strong, you will be led into pride and iniquity.  In addition, if you are relying on your own strength, from where do you find comfort and peace when you are surrounded and overwhelmed by the enemy.  If your strength is in your riches or in your strength, you will be defeated and sink in to fear—and oh, how far that is from where the heart of the believer is to be—how far indeed.  Believer, cling to Christ and find your hope and strength in him and in him alone and call others to do the same.