Thirsty Thursday- STAND FOR SOMETHING Psalm 41

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Blessed are those who have regard for the weak; the Lord delivers them in times of trouble. The Lord protects and preserves them—they are counted among the blessed in the land—he does not give them over to the desire of their foes.

 (Psalm 41:1-2)


I’ll bet you’ve heard the saying, “If you don’t stand for something you’ll fall for anything!” The phrase has often been attributed to Alexander Hamilton, including in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s blockbuster musical, where the title character challenges his eventual nemesis Aaron Burr with the phrase,

“If you stand for nothing, Burr, what’ll you fall for?”

It’s a great line from a great song [Listen HERE] in a great American musical…the only problem is, Alexander Hamilton didn’t say it!  Not that Alexander Hamilton anyway. At least there’s no record it. Apparently, the name confusion arose when the phrase was uttered on the telly by a British newscaster named Alex Hamilton (no relation) in 1978: “Those who stand for nothing fall for anything.” (Who said we can’t have a little fun on Thirsty Thursday?)

So, if Alexander Hamilton didn’t say it, where did the line come from originally? Sadly, no one really knows. But I think the sentiment of that line is captured throughout the Bible, including here in Psalm 41. God tells us over and over through His word that anyone who belongs to God has to stand for something. Of course, our mysterious phrase begs the question, “What, then, should we stand for?” There are plenty of good causes we could stand for—racial equality, women’s rights, the environment, truth and justice. And there are lots of not-so-good causes as well. Is it really enough just to stand for “something?”

David begins his song by identifying a cause worth standing for.  Perhaps you hear some faintly familiar echoes from 1000 years later, when Jesus spoke his Beatitudes in the famous Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1-11). There, Jesus tells us that it’s the poor (in spirit) and the meek; it’s those who hunger and thirst (for righteousness); and those who are persecuted and insulted (for the sake of Christ) who are blessed. Unlike Jesus’ teaching, however, David’s “beatitude” isn’t aimed at the person in those difficult circumstances, but rather at the person who stands up for someone in those circumstances.

He says “Blessed are those who have regard for [consider, notice, prosper, teach, understand] the weak [low, poor, thin from hunger]; the Lord delivers them in times of trouble.” David goes on to describe how he has come to know this truth.  Psalm 41 moves from promise (vs. 1-2) to penitence (vs. 4) to petition (vs. 10-12) to praise.  David is saying, in effect, God had regard for me in the midst of my struggles because I had regard for others in their struggles. Or as Jesus later stated it, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” (Matthew 5:7)

Jesus and David both teach us that when we stand up for the right things, God stands up for us!

But the Apostle Paul points out that it can go the other way as well…that God comforts and cares for us in our distress so that we can provide comfort and care for others (2 Corinthians 1:3-7). God doesn’t have to wait for us to be good and loving to someone else in order to show His love and goodness to us.  It’s called grace!

God’s grace is demonstrated and embodied in Jesus Christ. He didn’t wait until we were good before he offered his love and grace. In fact, he gave his life for us while we were still losers and enemies of God (Romans 5:6-10).  David’s beatitude promise in Psalm 41 is good—God will do unto us as we do unto others—but the love of Jesus is infinitely better.  Jesus takes “regard for the weak” to a whole new level.  He is not only willing to “stand up” for us, but he is willing to “lay down” his life as well (John 10:11-18)

It’s hard to stand up for what you really believe in, but it’s even harder to lay down your life for it. And that’s exactly what we are invited to do if we are followers of Jesus. Most of us know what John 3:16 says about God’s love for us, but we would do well to memorize 1 John 3:16 as well:

 “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.”

If we really want to stand for something (Jesus), we should also be willing to fall down for someone in need. Who do you know that’s weak or hurting today? Who in your world is living below the poverty line—physically or spiritually? Are you willing to stand up—or lay down your life—for them?  Who among us is hungry for the Bread of Life and thirsty for the Living Water? I hope that’s all of us! The good news is that we can find those things in Jesus…we can find real life in Him. Drink deep, my friends, and share the life of Christ!

 Pastor Philip

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