Scripture: from verse 15
…he who leaves evil becomes a target.
Observation: The first part of this passage is a depressing-but-accurate description of the world as it tends to be: everyone sins, most people delight in sin, and the people who aren’t as ruthless as possible become targets. We see it in the schoolyard, we see it in the corporate world, it’s everywhere.
The passage goes on to say that this angers God and He arms Himself and wreaks vengeance on those who delighted in doing wrong. Which is all well and good, but not always comforting for people who are trying to find ways of doing what is right without being victims. Despite the promises of eventual reward, I can’t say I’m finding this passage all that comforting.
Which probably means that I’m not seeing right. God sees things differently, somehow. His perspectives on time and suffering are different, and not in a large-scale, it’s-not-that-bad, He-doesn’t-care way. He’s aware of a larger truth that somehow makes it all fit together. He knows that someday, we’ll be laughing too.
Application: Hold on to hope. He’s on His way.
Prayer: Lord, I praise you because you can see the purpose and the intricate integrity of everything that happens to me,even when I can’t. I praise you because you can help me laugh at trouble. Help me to trust you. Amen.
Scripture: from verse 1
For the righteous man is taken away from calamity; he enters into peace…
Observation: Yesterday at the ladies’ Bible study, one of the ladies was questioning why God allows people to die young despite our prayers. One of the other women responded that maybe God was taking them away from a future that would be worse. I didn’t like that answer at the time, but this verse seems to be saying the same thing. When a righteous person perishes, he or she enters into peace and avoids the calamity that is coming.
I have no idea if that’s always true, and I’m not sure whether it’s an especially comforting thing to say, but it does remind us that God doesn’t see things the way we see them. God’s views of life and death and strength and weakness are all different and weird to us. Which is probably just as well, given how hopeless our perceptions tend to be.
Application: Believe God, even when His words don’t seem to make sense. Ask for His perspective instead.
Prayer: Lord, I praise you because you are the one who sees reality as it is. You are the one who can see both sides of the coin and the other 90% of the iceberg and all the colors not in the rainbow. Thank you for rescuing me and keeping me safe. Help me to see what you see. Amen.
Scripture: from verse 10
My covenant of peace shall not be removed
Observation: The phrase “covenant of peace” is only used a few other times in the Bible. In Numbers 25, God gave His covenant of peace to a priest named Phineas, in recognition of His dedication to preserving the righteousness of God’s people. (Admittedly that dedication took the rather unusual form of killing two people while they were having sex, but that’s a discussion for another day.) Phineas’ family would have a perpetual priesthood, because of the covenant of peace. Israel is promised a covenant of peace in Ezekiel (chapters 34 and 37), which means that God will protect them in their land and they will live securely. They will have peace with God, peace with the surrounding nations, and peace with their environment – even the wild animals will be kept back from them.
The Hebrew word for peace is shalom, and it encompasses much more than simple peace. It includes health and wholeness and safety and friendship and restoration. God has entered a covenant to give us those things, and His promise will not be shaken.
God recently gave me a new piece of shalom – He healed an old hurt I only recently realized existed. The effects have been fascinating. It might not appear dramatic, but I can tell that I’m more whole and better integrated than I was. Yesterday I picked up a dozen things without feeling stressed or worried or compelled to keep working. Today I made a phone call to customer service without worrying that I would say the wrong thing. It wasn’t momentous, either – I can just do it now. God wove the torn neural patterns back together.
Application: Ask God to fix what isn’t whole
Prayer: Lord, I praise you because you can see the whole of creation and you know how it is supposed to fit together. I praise you because you can integrate all things seamlessly into your plan. Thank you for giving us shalom. Help me to come to you for help when I need it. Amen.