Wisdom for an Election Year – Devotional Series
Psalm 146 – Wisdom for an Election Year
These have been monumental months: Covid-19 and Black Lives Matter, raising concerns, confusion, and consciousness, are changing the world. In the middle of these events, in fewer than 100 days, we in the United States will participate in a national election.
Psalm 146 provides us with Wisdom for an Election Year. Let’s hear God’s counsel from that Psalm. First, and most fundamentally, it instructs …
Praise God throughout your life.
“Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord, my soul. I will praise the Lord all my life: I will sing praise to my God as long as I live” (1-2 NIV).
The Revised Standard Version is more concrete: “Sing praises to God TILL LIFE’S LAST BREATH.” Our job is to praise God. This is our lifelong priority. Till we draw … our … Last. Breath. So, at any time, in any year, including an election year, don’t neglect your main job. Praise God throughout your life!
Now, we know God has created us in the divine image. And that means, among other things, that we are to be stewards of what he has created – we are to take care of and cultivate nature and culture – required contexts for human flourishing. So, of course, in an election year, we want to do our part. To do so, we must wisely assess the issues and candidates and, then, vote. However, the Lord reminds us in this Psalm that we must …
Hope ultimately in God alone.
“Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save. When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing. Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God. He is the maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them – he remains forever faithful” (3-6 NIV).
Oh, yes. In an election year, we will choose our candidate. We are God’s image bearers with the task of partnering with God in the governance of the good creation. As citizens in a democracy, that task expresses itself in part through our voting. However, even good women and men will falter. God alone – the Creator of all who is always faithful – can be absolutely trusted. Therefore, God’s kingdom – God’s rule alone – deserves absolute loyalty. Especially in an election year, as God’s people, we must remember to give our ultimate loyalty to God’s kingdom, to God’s rule. Hope ultimately in God alone.
But, again, as stewards of God’s good creation who live in a democracy, we have the privilege and responsibility of voting for a candidate who will be president – a fellow image bearer. In this Psalm (and throughout the Bible), God outlines the issues that should determine our vote. Therefore …
Follow God in your personal practice and politics.
“He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets prisoners free, the Lord gives sight to the blind, the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down, the Lord loves the righteous. The Lord watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked” (7-9 NIV).
In this Psalm (and in hundreds of other passages throughout the Bible!), God – the One we are to praise until we draw our last breath and who alone we should ultimately trust – is known for his justice and care for the oppressed, the hungry, the prisoners, the blind, the bowed down, the righteous (those who, like God, work for justice), the foreigner, the fatherless, the widow. The one true God has a reputation. He is an ally of these and other groups who many in the larger world despise, mistreat, and ignore. So what about us? What about the people of God? What about the Christian community? What are we known for? Who are we allies of? What causes does the world identify us with? What kind of reputation do we have? Along these very lines, there is much formative wisdom for us in this Psalm. Throughout life and particularly in this election year as you prepare to select your candidate and, then, as you vote, follow God in your personal practice and politics. Be an ally of those God is an ally with.
This matter of the reputation of the Christian community impacts our evangelism. Listen to what Esau McCaulley, Assistant Professor of New Testament at Wheaton College in Illinois, says about this: “The work of justice, when understood as direct testimony to God’s kingdom, is evangelistic from start to finish. It is part (not the whole) of God’s work of reconciling all things to himself.” So, as an essential aspect of your testimony to Jesus as Savior and Lord, Follow God in your personal practice and politics.
When all is said and done, the most exciting Wisdom for an Election Year the Lord shares with us in this Psalm is …
Eagerly wait for God’s reign.
“The Lord reigns forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations. Praise the Lord” (10).
Even as we carry forward our responsibility as image bearers, partnering with the Creator in governing this good creation (in part, by voting), we pray for the day when God’s kingdom will come and God’s will is done on earth as in heaven. In the meantime, we bear witness with integrity to that longing prayer by following God in our personal practice and politics. Nevertheless, only when Jesus comes will the kingdom – God’s rule – be established in its fullness. We long for that day, when we can celebrate: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah” (Revelation 11:15). In this election year, eagerly wait for God’s reign!
Lord, in the face of much concern, confusion and raising of consciousness, in Psalm 146 you give us wisdom for our lives and, particularly, for this election year. Please give us the strength in your Spirit to walk in your way. Amen
a sermon shared by Gordon Sparks, on July 12, 2020