Thursday, April 28, 2005

Understanding the Lovingkindness of the LORD

Who are the redeemed of the LORD? They are wanderers in the desert, rebels in prison, fools in sickness, and those who are in the greatest peril — any and all who turn and cry out to the Lord. He hears them and delivers them, bringing them into safety, prosperity and health. He causes them to walk with Him in rightness.

You see, there are just two kinds of people in the world: Those who cry out to the Lord, and those who do not. Notice what happens with each.
He turns rivers into a wilderness,
  And the watersprings into dry ground;
A fruitful land into barrenness,
  For the wickedness of those who dwell in it.
(Psalm 107:33-34)
Because of wickedness, rivers and wells run dry. The fruitful become barren. This is not only true of individuals who turn from the Lord, it is also true of the land they inhabit. God does not cause it to be this way, He allows it to be this. He permits is because the wicked permit it, by their words and their ways. You see, God has given them the right to choose, and He honors their choice by allowing them to have real consequences.
He turns a wilderness into pools of water,
  And dry land into watersprings.
There He makes the hungry dwell,
  That they may establish a city for a dwelling place,
And sow fields and plant vineyards,
  That they may yield a fruitful harvest.
He also blesses them, and they multiply greatly;
  And He does not let their cattle decrease.
(Psalm 107:35-38)
When people repent and cry out to the Lord, they are redeemed. Their dry, dusty fields become well-watered pastures, lush and green. They are established — stabilized and positioned for abundance and prosperity. Their harvest is full of all kinds of fruitfulness. Their blessings multiply. Just as wickedness brings curse, even to ecological systems, so does righteousness bring blessing.
When they are diminished and brought low
  Through oppression, affliction and sorrow,
He pours contempt on princes,
  And causes them to wander in the wilderness where there is no way;
(Psalm 107:39-40)
God is righteous and just—that is, He does right and sets things right. When oppression, affliction and sorrow are brought upon the redeemed, God is not silent or still. He visits the perpetrators, and those who sit idly by, with contempt. He laughs as their honor, position and power disintegrate. He hastens their downfall and sets them wandering in the wilderness of their own making.
Yet He sets the poor on high, far from affliction,
  And makes their families like a flock.
The righteous see it and rejoice,
  And all iniquity stops its mouth.
(Psalm 107:41-42)
God’s justice means restoration for the poor, all who look to Him. He sets them high above misery and trouble. He enlarges them and causes them to prosper. He greatly adds to their families and thus causes His inheritance to increase on the earth. For those who do what is right, this is a cause for celebration. Those who do what is wrong are dumbfounded — it is hard to argue with blessing.
Whoever is wise will observe these things,
And they will understand the lovingkindness of the LORD.
(Psalm 107:43)
This brings us back to where we began — the song of the redeemed: Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His love endures forever (Psalm 147:1).

If you seek wisdom, pay close attention to these things and guard them carefully in your heart. Then you will begin to discern the goodness of the Lord, and see His lovingkindness displayed in your life.