April 2, 2019

by Del Holley


Psalm 53


David begins Psalm 53 with a statement familiar to us: “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’”  The Hebrew word nabal, translated “fool” in this verse, carries a meaning deeper than what we might call “theological atheism” – that is, mere belief that God does not exist.  Nabal means a wicked or vile person.  David is painting a picture for us of “militant atheism” – a person at war with God who will not rest until all are convinced that God does not exist.  Then as David looks around at those who deny God’s existence, he says, “They are corrupt, doing abominable iniquity; there is none who does good.”  Surely God would have no care or concern for those who have chosen to go to battle against the very idea of God’s existence.  What good could possibly come from extending love, grace, and mercy to them? 
But then: “God looks down from heaven on the children of man to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God.”  God does care; God does love, even them.  It reminds me of Paul’s word to the Romans, “[B]ut God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Romans 5:8 (ESV).  Here in the midst of the Old Testament, we see evidence of God’s prevenient grace – pursuing and longing to be in relationship with human beings in spite of the fact that they do not know who God is, or that God exists, or, maybe, that they are actively fighting against the very idea of God. 

Lent is a time for us to reflect upon God’s love for us and our unworthiness to be offered such a gift.  It is a time for us to consider that we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God; yet God, knowing that very fact, had a plan for our redemption.  Lent provides us an opportunity to ask how we can be faithful disciples of Jesus Christ and re-commit ourselves to intentional efforts to hear and respond to God’s call on our lives. 

David ends this Psalm with a word of hope we need to hear in this season: “Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!  When God restores the fortunes of his people, let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad.”  Did you catch it?  When God restores . . . not if God restores. 

As Christians, we probably do not find ourselves actively fighting against God and denying God’s existence, but have you ever asked, “God, where are you?”  Or, “God, why haven’t you answered my prayer?”  In those times of searching and waiting, do you allow seeds of doubt to be sown in the soil God is trying to prepare to receive the precious Word of life and light? 
When God restores . . .
During this season of Lent, as you allow God to prepare you to more fully celebrate the miracle of Easter, never lose sight of God’s restoration power, redemptive plan, and prevenient grace.
May the One who truly loves us make it so, to the glory and honor of God! 

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Lent photo by Kameleon007