“Because the poor are plundered and the needy groan, I will now arise,” says the Lord. “I will protect them from those who malign them.”
[The book of psalms is our songbook of life—in celebration or grief, in confidence or confusion, in joy or anger or despair. I invite you to read and reflect on these songs of life wherever YOU are this week. Read the psalm, read my reflection below, then consider posting and sharing your own observations at the bottom of the page.Today’s devotion is adapted from a post on October 25, 2018]
“Stand for Something”
In my BOFB (Big Old Favorite Bible) I have scribbled my reflections, highlighted & underlined my favorite parts, and even added the occasional “!?!” in the margins. You get the idea. My BOFB has been my wise conversation partner for the last 25 years.
Years ago, right next to Psalm 12:5, I wrote in bold letters, “Finally, God stands up!” The psalm writers have been imploring God to “arise” in Psalm 3, 7, 9 and 10—and they will continue to ask God to stand up and do something 10 more times in the rest of the book. But this is the only place in the Psalms where God says He’s going to do it! “I will now arise,” says the Lord.
If you’ve been tracking with the rest of the songbook, this seems like a pretty big deal! What sort of things make God arise? Why does God finally stand up? The answer might surprise you.
“Because the poor are plundered and the needy groan, I will now arise,” says the Lord. “I will protect them from those who might malign them.”
The psalmist has asked God to arise and deliver him (Ps. 3:7), to arise in anger against the rage of his enemies (Ps. 7:6), to arise in judgment against the nations (Ps. 9:19), to arise and break the arm of the wicked man (Ps. 10:15). But here in Psalm 12 God finally says He will arise—to protect and save the poor and needy. Before God stands up to punish the sin and wickedness in this world, He wants to stand up and help the helpless, heal the hurting, protect the vulnerable.
Just like the psalm writers, I sometimes find myself waiting for God to arise and punish the bad guys rather than praying for God’s love to reach out and save the lost and hurting around me. Maybe that’s because I know I can’t do much about the bad guys…or maybe it’s because I know I could do more about all the lost and hurting around me! If God would just arise and take care of the situation it would get me off the hook. If I care enough to pray for the least among us, I might just be called to do something about it. That would be pretty inconvenient!
But it is exactly this kind of inconvenient love and mercy that God is all about! It’s who God is! “The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished.” (Numbers 14:18)
Thank God that He is slow to anger but quick to extend love and forgiveness! He extended that grace to me, and He offers it to the world around me. AND, God wants me to follow His lead. He wants me to stop wishing for the condemnation and judgment of all the “evildoers” and join Him in extending His love and compassion everywhere. Don’t worry, He won’t leave the guilty unpunished—but He also will never ignore the poor and needy.
Just imagine the great things that could happen if His whole church would join Him in that mission! If you want to verify that in scripture, just dust off your own BOFB and start reading! Whatever else you may do, remember to stay thirsty for God’s Living Water, and “share the life!”