Devout Realists

Wicked behavior is detestable to kings, since a throne is established through righteousness.Proverbs 16:12

The confession and acknowledgement of God’s goodness is evident when we consider the time when the Israelites first settled in Canaan—the period of the judges—and the monarchy. Throughout these years the same pattern repeated itself over and over again—disobedience led to warnings, repentance, and appeals to God for mercy. The words “You” and “them” draw attention to the interaction between God and His people in Nehemiah 9:31: “You did not destroy them or abandon them.”

This review of their national history provides every one of the Jews listening with encouraging evidences of what God has done in the past, the awesome consequences of ingratitude, and the inevitability of punishment if sin goes unconfessed. But most important of all, there is hope for the future. And that hope is based on the unchanging character of God. They see in the present a product of the past and the seed of the future. Their anticipation now is that the knowledge of past events will help them avoid the evil and follow the good, which is Paul’s message in 1 Corinthians 10:6 and 11.

One person has said: “We have no light to illuminate the pathway of the future save that which falls over our shoulder from the past.” Reflecting on what God has done for us in the past enables us to have a clearer perspective on the present and the future. A biblical approach to history makes us neither wide-eyed optimists nor downhearted pessimists. We become devout realists, for we see God at work in all things and triumphing over everything.

Prayer

O God, help me build into my life times for reflection on the way in which Your goodness has been with me in the past. For I see that by contemplating this I draw hope and encouragement for the future. Answer my prayer. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Further Study

Ps 23:1-6; Lk 22:35-38; Neh 9:26-31

As you read the psalm, reflect on God’s dealings with you.

How will devout realists react to different situations?

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