…Whatever you’ve brought with you to this time of worship in your mind and heart–be it fear or rage or confusion or compassion or hurt or confidence or anxiety–you’re meeting with God who gave you life and who knows you better than anyone else knows you and even better than you know yourself. He’s the only one who loves you enough to work in you to give you a peace that passes all understanding.
Let’s turn today to the truth of God’s word in Psalm 25, which begins with these words:
To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul; in you I trust, O my God. Do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me. No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame, but they will be put to shame who are treacherous without excuse.
When treachery stares you in the face, what do you do?…. Tuesday morning my wife and I were in my daughter’s school cafeteria for a meeting when someone came in and said, “A plane has hit the World Trade Center.” The conversation around our table stopped for a moment, then continued, and I thought to myself: that must mean a small airplane accidentally clipped the building. This couldn’t possibly be an intentional act of violence. That is unthinkable. Unthinkable.
The unthinkable has happened.
This is hardly the first time the unthinkable has happened. One day Jesus left the temple in Jerusalem and was walking away when his disciples came up to him, drawing his attention to the impressive buildings around them. The disciples, who were Galilean country folk, probably swiveled their heads around whenever they were in the great city of Jerusalem. Look at those buildings! Look at the temple! Clean, flat stones rising up in beautiful symmetry. Magnificent doors, great courtyard. A building more important than any other. The symbol of national pride. A house for God’s own purposes. They looked up with much more pride and fascination than any of us who have walked the streets of New York City and have admired the Empire State Building, and the World Trade Center–when it still stood.
Then Jesus said to them: “Do you see all these things? I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down” (Matthew 24:2).
What did he say? That couldn’t be. Unthinkable. Unspeakable.
Yet about 40 years later, that’s exactly what happened. A Roman army rolled across Judea. It struck at and struck down these most important symbols of national identity. The shining temple became a pile of rubble on that flat hill that had originally been the threshing floor of Araunah a thousand years earlier in King David’s time. The lesson of that treacherous day was that when we see the most familiar things around us come crashing down we need a Savior for our souls. And we still do.
David knew about treachery. He was terrorized by his enemies, and wrote Psalm 25, a prayer that any of us who are in pain and anguish today could pray:
To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul; in you I trust, O my God…. No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame, but they will be put to shame who are treacherous without excuse.
We too have seen “treachery without excuse.” But how can we respond?
The first thing we can do now that we have come face to face with this treachery that has incinerated human lives and seared our consciousness is to refuse to be ashamed or defeated. We can assert a firm moral clarity and say of those who have wantonly destroyed innocent people: shame on you! Shame on you! “They will be put to shame who are treacherous without excuse.”
The most important thing for us to do is to turn to God. We pray “To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul” because there is no one else to whom we can lift up our souls. There is no one else who is “good and upright” as it says in verse 8, “loving and faithful” (verse 10).” Only God can “rescue”; he is our only “refuge” (verse 20).
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In Psalm 25 there are three things David asked of God: God, please guide me, please forgive me, and please protect me.
We must ask God to guide us. Verse 5 says “guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” And verse 9 says “He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.” We desperately need God’s guidance to help us know how to respond wisely. Treachery is not just an issue of international conflicts and terrorist attacks. Treachery happens in our own streets every day. It happens behind the closed doors of homes that seem peaceful, but are the scenes of unreported crimes and other cruelties.
…This is a time to face treachery wherever we find it.
If ever there was a time to say, “I resolve to stand against treachery in the streets of my city,” it is now.
If ever there was a time to say, “I resolve to advocate civil justice, and to be a citizen of principle,” it is now.
If ever there was a time to say, “I resolve to be an honest and loving spouse and parent,” it is now.
If ever there was a time to say, “I resolve to watch out for my neighbor,” it is now.
If ever there was a time to say, “I resolve to be more impassioned to give than to take,” it is now.
If ever there was a time to say, “I resolve to seek God with all my heart,” it is now.
If ever there was a time to say, “I need to find a deeper and true faith in God,” it is now…. “We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true – even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life” (1 John 5:20).
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