Saturday

03 July 2010

"It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High; to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night." (v.1-2)

Background

After all the doom and gloom of the ever more terrifying prophecies uttered by Amos in our readings this week we end on a more upbeat note. History records that the northern kingdom of Israel, the principal target of Amos' warnings, was indeed squashed by the weight of Assyria in 722 BC, leaving little behind.

But a remnant survived, and rebuilt a community in the area which came to be called Samaria, centred on Mount Gerizim, with their own version of the religion they had inherited, and today they are still known as Samaritan Jews. We should note too that Amos' own southern kingdom of Judah suffered a fate at least as bad as Israel with the captivity in Babylon. But they too survived, and rebuilt their temple and their religion.

So today's psalm is timely and fitting. It is a celebration of the steadfast love of God. God's faithfulness endures even when God's people are unfaithful. Yes, in the view of the psalmist the evil will perish (and this was certainly the fate of many in both Israel and Judah). But God had made a promise to the people, and God always keeps God's word. For those, even a tiny remnant, who will listen and respond there is hope. Always hope. Those who finally do what is right discover that God does the right thing too: "He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him".

This psalm is headed 'Thanksgiving for Vindication'. God cares about God's people, and we remember that in our first reading this week Jesus went to the Samaritans as well as to the Jews. God is more interested in offering people future hope than in reminding them of past failure.

To Ponder

Despite many set-backs, Judaism and Christianity still survive, and even (in places) flourish today. Is that evidence of God's faithfulness, or just the persistence of religious belief?

Do you think that God waits for us to do the right thing before God does the right thing? Is that part of the Christian message? Or do we believe that divine grace is bigger than that?

"God is more interested in offering people future hope than in reminding them of past failure." Are you relieved to hear that?

Bible notes author: Revd David Rhymer

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