I’ve never read that phrase from scripture the way I read it last week. Psalms 118:8-9: It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.
In the context of this passage, the Psalmist clearly is speaking about his own anguish, reminding himself as he penned these words that only God is faithful. He needed to remember God’s faithfulness in the face of terrible human opposition. He was crying out for deliverance.
I am so independent and self-confident. I may be (am often) tempted to rely on myself and my own resourcefulness to solve my [perceived] problems, rather than relying on the Lord. This is how I’ve been admonished by these words in the past. But I live in American and face nothing close to what the Psalmist would have experienced in his day in regard to opposition. And add to that, I’m generally a political conservative. I certainly might depend on my own resources and “good ole’ American ingenuity” to meet MY OWN needs and solve MY OWN problems. Heaven forbid that I rely on princes [read – the government or outside organization] to take care of me. That is welfare, right?
This week God worked on my heart through this passage. I think that I and we in the American evangelical church HAVE been relying on princes, not with regard to our needs but rather with regard to our RESPONSIBILITIES. How often do we see those in need and “rely on princes” simply by our unwillingness to actually jump into the fray. In our churches, we sometimes “rely on princes,” the church organization, to be responsible for the real dirty ministry – that’s why we giver our tithe, right?
Through the lens of my conviction, Psalms 118:8-9 reads this way: It is better to serve others as our Lord did than to trust in man to care for them. It is better to help my neighbor as the Lord commands than to rely on princes to help them.
I think that my admonishment from this passage comes in part from watching people in Swaziland who get this. In a country that has an abundance of resources available from international funding, NGO’s and compassionate westerners, my friends from Shiselweni Home-Based Care (http://www.swazimission.co.za/) and the Rotary Club of Matshapa have simply decided not to wait for these “princes.” Their sleeves are rolled up and their hands are dirty. They give their time and from their own limited resources to help their hurting neighbor. Oh that I can someday learn to serve like these sisters and brothers.
What do you think? Too much liberty taking from scripture (that's not what the Psalmist or the Holy Spirit intended)? Am I off base in my thoughts about how often we abdicate our responsibility to "princes?" I'd like to know your thoughts.
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