Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Does God really keep His promises?

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Psalm 89:30-52

TO CHEW ON: "Nevertheless My lovingkindnesses I will not utterly take from him
Nor allow My faithfulnesses to fail ...

But you have cast off and abhorred.
You have been furious with Your anointed.
You have renounced the covenant of Your servant
You have profaned his crown by casting it to the ground." Psalm 89:34, 38-39.

Ethan the Ezrahite closes his meditation on God's promises to David by expressing something that's really bothering him: the fact that God's promises and what's happening don't seem to agree.

The promise was: "His seed shall endure forever, his throne as the sun... established forever like the moon" Psalm 89:36,37.

But David's kingly line runs into problems. Ethan (a Levite, worship leader, and contemporary of Solomon - 1 Kings 4:30-31) sees that, and in this psalm brings to God's attention the way He is seemingly going back on His promise to David. Whether Ethan knew the extent of the demise of David's kingly line is unclear. But what he saw concerned him.

Did God lie to David? Or is there another fulfillment that Ethan couldn't see?

I believe there is. A footnote in my Bible draws our attention to it:
"This is a messianic psalm reaffirming the Davidic covenant in which his Seed shall reign. It shows that God is able to rescue His promise from the depths of the grave, if necessary, to fulfill it" - New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 755.

I believe that it wasn't quite as dicey as our commenter makes it sound. God wasn't stymied for a minute. He knew, from before creation, what would happen and didn't engineer an emergency "rescue" but executed His plan of establishing David's line through Jesus with the cool precision of foreknowledge.

This psalm underlines the fact that we can trust God's promises even when it appears He has gone back on them. To doubt God's faithfulness on the basis of what we see with our limited vision and understanding reminds me of another truth about God's ways:

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts" − Isaiah 55:8,9

When we're tempted to doubt God, let's review His promised faithfulness (e.g. 1 Kings 8:56; Romans 4:21; 2 Corinthians 1:20). Then, no matter what it looks like, let's carry on trusting in what God has said and praising the Lord, as Ethan does, even when we don't see:

"Blessed be the Lord forevermore!
Amen and Amen" - Psalm 89:52.

PRAYER: Dear God, even as I trust Your promise of salvation and eternal life, help me to depend on all Your other promises. Amen.

MORE: The importance of God's unchangeableness

"...if we stop for a moment to imagine what it would be like of God could change, the importance of this doctrine becomes more clear. For example, if God could change (in his being, perfections, purposes, or promises), then any change would be either for the better or for the worse.


But if God changed for the better, then he was not the best possible being when we first trusted him. And how could we be sure that he is the best possible being now?


But if God could change for the worse (in his very being), then what kind of God might he become? Might he become, for instance, a little bit evil rather than wholly good? And if he could become a little bit evil, then how do we know he could not change to become largely evil—or wholly evil?


...if God could change in regard to his promises, then how could we trust him completely for eternal life? Or for anything else the Bible says? ...


A little reflection like this shows how absolutely important the doctrine of God's unchangeableness is. If God is not unchanging, then the whole basis of our faith begins to fall apart, and our understanding of the universe begins to unravel. This is because our faith and hope and knowledge all ultimately depend on a person who is infinitely worthy of trust—because he is absolutely and eternally unchanging in his being, perfections, purposes, and promises" - Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, p. 168 (paragraphing added to make it easier to read; emphasis as in the original text).

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