As I reviewed news from the G20 summit this past week, I read about protests outside the conference and controversy concerning relationships among leaders of powerful nations. I read a tweet by the first Lady of the United States about how wonderful it is when world leaders work together, a sentiment that resembles the theme of Psalm 133: “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” It struck me that her tweet and the message from various news agencies seemed to clash.
When I read the prayer of Psalm 138 today, it reminded me of about the power of God as compared to the rulers of nations. The psalmist thanks God for his faithful love, faithfulness demonstrated by Gods exalting of his name and his word. He prays concerning the “kings of the earth.” Although he knows their power, he realizes that God provides for the lowly. God evaluates using a different standard than that used by many of us. We may fret when a leader of a powerful nation is rude to another leader. We may fear the consequences of a snub by a long-time national ally. But this person prays,
“Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand delivers me. The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands” (Psalm138:7-8).
The psalmist prays confidently with faith that God hears: “On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased” (verse 3). He predicts that all the kings will someday overcome their haughtiness and bow down humbly to “sing of the ways of the LORD” (verses 4-5). He believes that God has a purpose for his life, lowly though he may seem to himself and others, and that God will fulfill that purpose (verse 8). His prayer foreshadows New Testament passages like Philippians 2 (“every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father”) and Ephesians 2:10 (”we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand…”). News headlines may frighten us and changing government policies may challenge freedoms we had begun to take for granted. We still can pray, as did the writer of Psalm 138, with assurance that God still reigns and he will fulfill his purposes.
God, you see the unrest that envelops our globe and you understand the motives that initiate violence. We can only guess what causes people to delight in harm to others. We wonder why some use falsehood to destroy others’ reputations. You call us to seek peace; you have made us ministers of reconciliation. Help us to remember that that reconciliation is to your will and not a call to compromise with culture. Give us wisdom that we may honor leaders and show them respect while also calling for them to pursue a higher standard – the speaking of truth, adherence to ethical thinking, and compassion for the vulnerable. May we remember, in moments when life seems to crumble, that you love us and that you have a dream that we can make a reality through faith. In Jesus’ name, amen.