Monday, March 14, 2011

Exile of the Innocent

Psalm 44 presents us with a scary picture, that God would exile and abandon his people, even when they are innocent.
The sons of Korah remind us that it is God, his hand, the light of his face, his favour , that wins the battles for the people of Israel, not their swords or might.
But what about when God fails to turn up?
Usually this would be time for some soul searching, or some idolatry hunting. Who sinned?!
Yet in this Psalm, there is a protest, "it's not as though we broke your covenant".
It seems as though God is asleep, as though he needs to be roused into action for his people.
Though we are in the dust, all we can do is ask God to rise and redeem us, all we can do is trust his faithfulness, his love, his hesed.
Paul picks up this Psalm in Romans 8. It is the same faithfulness and the same love that we wait for, and the same suffering we go through now. This passage is often used in a triumphalist way, "Don't worry, God has everything under control", but that isn't the vibe I get from the Psalm. Instead the Psalm says, "God has everything under control, WAKE UP GOD!!" The absence of Jesus is an exile. Not an exile because we are being punished, but an exile nevertheless. And like the Psalm, it is made worse because we have seen the full extent of what God's power can do, he can raise the dead. In it we share in the sufferings of the innocent Son. Only as we walk with the abandoned one are we actually in the presence of God. God has abandoned us (though gives us his Spirit), but that doesn't mean we are punished, nor should we stop crying out for him to rise and redeem us from the dust.
It is a far cry from "Come and have a close personal relationship with God right now"


Mike Bull said...

Good point about unity with God in exile. "This isn't what I signed up for."

There is also the idea of the Covenant lawsuit, God's man "suing" his Overlord for his promised protection (as kinsman/avenger) under the terms of the Covenant.

Was it Hosea that did this? One of the MPs beginning with H did it. And God showed him His Babylonian strategy.

Matthew said...


PS this if moffitt - too lazy to switch google accounts.