Category Archives for gospel cliche

Will Righteous Children Beg For Bread?

I must admit that this is one of our “shout” texts, but does it say what we want it to say? Psalm 37:25 says “I was young and now I am old, and I have never seen the righteous forsaken or his seed begging bread.” On the face of it is simply a statement of fact for the Psalmist. He has never seen it happen. OK, but then we read it and see it as a promise that our children, if we are true to God, if we pay our tithe, and if we go to church, etc, will never have to worry about food.

However, in a world where whole regions have children dying of starvation, we have to wonder, are we reading this text correctly? In a world where financial gurus bring down economic systems that causes many to permanently lose their jobs, I have to ask is this true. The Psalmist is generally seen as David. If we look at life of David we even see he begging for bread on occasion 1 Samuel 21:3 and 1 Samuel 25:8. And didn’t Uriah seemed forsaken as David himself killed a righteous man. (2 Samuel 11:5-27) Then his own child had to die as a result of this fiasco. Was the child guilty? (2 Samuel 12:18)

Thus whatever the Psalmist meant, he did not mean that the righteous would not ever fall on hard times or even be in a position that seems “forsaken.” Yes, there are some in our churches, elderly, who are eating cat-food and splitting their pills in half trying to survive.

As you know, I don’t like the easy answers. I don’t like the answer that says “well those are simply not righteous.” I say that I don’t think the answer is that easy, but there is our text still staring us in the face.

The Psalmist might have been engaging in homiletic hyperbole. The Psalmist may have just been speaking something that is generally true, namely that the righteous generally are not begging bread. Maybe the Psalmist was speaking to the truth that we can never be ultimately forsaken because God is with us in our pains, hurts, and heartaches. Perhaps the Psalmist is saying that poverty are only transient elements in the life of the child of God.

In the end…I am still wrestling with the text, and this struggle gives me pause and slows me down from quickly using it as a promise for contemporary living. This struggle causes me to recognize that I don’t know if you are going to lose your job. This struggle causes me to recognize that I can’t promise great living down here. But I will hold on to that text tenaciously as Jacob held on to that “man” who was trying to get away. Like Jacob I will say to this text, “I will not let you go till you bless me…” (Genesis 32:26)

No Weapon Shall Prosper – Really?

The Bible says in Isaiah 54:17 “No weapon that is formed against you will prosper.” Many preachers, gospel singers and Bible teachers have emphasized this text to us who have their enemies come against them. We sing this in our songs. We rejoice at what seems to be a guarantee that weapons will not assail us.

What Does This Mean?

However in the midst of our shouting, some of us must ask the simple question, “what does this mean?” Some of us make a simple statement that if our enemies weapons cannot hurt the true child of God. In that world the righteous are a bit like Superman. The wicked shoot guns at the righteous but the bullets simply fall down. Knives don’t cut the child of God and the weapons of evil doers are rendered useless in their presence. Such a world does not seem real to our minds. It doesn’t seem to make sense when we look at the history of the martyrs and it doesn’t make sense in light of the Bible which lets us know that we will suffer persecution. (2 Timothy 3:12)

So if that is not what “no weapon” means. What does it mean? Some would say, well, it means that we may be hit with bullets, but we will not fully face the full pain that those who are not in the Lord will face. This is certainly a nice idea. The Bible does say “perfect love casts out all fear.” (1 John 4:18) But the reality of human living remind us that doubt can and does creep into our experience. John the Baptist questioned whether Jesus was truly the messiah (Matthew 11:3), Elijah the prophet ran away from Jezebel in fear for his life (1 Kings 19:1-14), and even Jesus Christ himself yelled “My God My God, Why hast thou forsaken me (Matthew 27:46). No it is not that we don’t face the fear in light of the uncertainty that being human brings. We do have fear when standing in front of the weapon of our enemy.

God’s Future Vision

Simply put, the writer of our text seems to be giving a vision of another time. The writer is speaking of the future when God’s kingdom will be fully realized. And the writer is using imagery that simply says that our weapons of today will not prosper against you. The same chapter says “Afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted, I will rebuild you.” (Isaiah 54:11) When God’s city is rebuilt, then no weapon formed against you shall prosper. In that day “Tyranny will be far from you; you will have nothing to fear. Terror will be far removed; it will not come near you.” (Isaiah 54:14)

Yes today weapons may overtake us. Yes today weapons may hurt us. Yes today you are hurt. And Lord help us, even killed by weapons. But this vision of the future lets us know that that is not God’s ultimate intention. This text lets us know that a day is coming when the “wicked shall cease from troubling and the weary shall be at rest.” And when God’s ultimate intention is fully realized, “we will study war no more.”

God’s Gonna Turn It Around

In short, the day is coming when weapons will not prosper against us. And now we can take comfort in the fact that even though I may have to face what these weapons can do to my mortal body, ultimately God will destroy their power. And as the Bible writer says in 1 Corinthians, death itself is subdued and killed by the mighty power of our God. (1 Corinthians 15:55)

So yes, a weapon may kill you, but God will reverse that. This is not removing the fact that you were killed, it is just making it so that you have overcome it. And more important is that promise later in the same chapter that God’s people will be vindicated. (Isaiah 54:17)