Mere Mortals

“O Lord, what are human beings 
that You should notice them, 
mere mortals that You should think about them? 
For they are like a breath of air; 
their days are like a passing shadow.
Psalms‬ ‭144:3-4‬ ‭NLT‬‬

We try and get our minds around many questions in life. Scientific and technical advances have given us many answers to life’s questions, and where there is no answer, “learned” people stand up and provide their opinion as though it was fact. We human beings like to know all the answers. But there are some questions that, no matter how hard people try, we have no answers for. Like “Why am I here on this planet?” Or, “How many days do I have left in this life?” Philosophical questions that have no answers. Not even from our “learned” elite. We have a tendency to put aside such questions and blank them out of our thinking. This is especially true when our thoughts turn to God. We have no truly definitive answers to questions such as, “Who is God?” Or even “Is there a God?” And as a result, many choose to deny that God even exists. If there is no God then there are no questions, and no need for any answers.

David, the Psalmist in today’s verses, asks the question, “Why should God be even bothered about mankind?” After all, human beings are born, they die, and pass through life “like a breath of air”. But his thoughts are just transient, because we see from the rest of the Psalm, that there is no doubt about God’s existence, at least as far as he is concerned. Just a few verses on, he writes, “I will sing a new song to you, O God! I will sing your praises with a ten-stringed harp.” He already knows the answer to his question. He knows that all he can do is praise his Creator, because God loves him. David’s relationship with God was so personal and powerful, that he had no doubts. But in asking the question in today’s verses, he took a moment to meditate in wonder that his amazing Creator God intimately cares for him. I can just imagine him shaking his head in disbelief.

The question still hangs over us in 21st Century society today. Why should God care about us? In spite of all our sins, our bad behaviour, our rebellion. Our denial, our failures. Why? Thankfully, we don’t need to let that question hang over us – the answer is provided in the Bible. This Book is the story of God’s pursuit after human beings, His creation. God yearns for a loving relationship with His creation. To include all the relevant Bible verses in this blog is beyond WordPress’s storage capabilities. But let’s consider just one. John 3:16, “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” We may not understand the why, but we know the facts. God loves everyone, past, present and future, who have lived and will live on this planet, and He demonstrated that love for us by sending His Son, Jesus, to engage with His creation, His people, and ultimately to die for them so that their sins would be forgiven. An eternal act by our eternal Heavenly Father. All we can do is shake our heads in amazement. In disbelief. And respond as David did, with a deeply thankful heart, full of praise to our amazing God.

Difficult Questions

The Lord says to my Lord: 
‘Sit at my right hand 
until I make your enemies 
a footstool for your feet.’”
Psalms‬ ‭110:1‬ ‭NIVUK‬‬

Psalm 110 is another Davidic Psalm, full of prophetic and apocryphal language. The verse I’ve chosen today was quoted by Jesus during one of His conversations with the Pharisees; He used it to ask a difficult question of the religious leaders of His day, one that they couldn’t answer. The details of the conversation were recorded in Matthew 22. 

I read this Psalm, and find myself at a loss to understand at first how it will help the modern day pilgrim, in his or her journey through this life. There is obviously a time coming, prophetically laid out, of when Jesus, the Son of God, will rule and reign one day in the future. It will be a time of judgement, of battle, of triumph, of defeat of the forces that will be arraigned against Him. It’s encouraging to know the contents of a future chapter in the book of this world’s history. As I scan the verses in this Psalm, some nuggets of truth emerge. About God’s unchanging promise that His enemies will one day be defeated, by His Son Jesus ruling at the head of an army of His troops. About His priestly role, leading the spiritual future of His people. About judgement bringing about the justice God’s people can only dream of today. It is these thoughts that will sustain us when our lives are difficult and challenging. 

The Bible contains difficult questions, like the one Jesus asked of the Pharisees when He quoted this Psalm. And in some places the Biblical records and accounts can be interpreted in different ways. So how do we handle challenging Biblical and theological questions when asked by those around us? I’m sure some people lay awake at night trying to dream up traps to undermine us. A genuine seeker after truth should be answered and carefully helped to understand the answer to their difficulties; if necessary we must go away and research the answer with the help of the Holy Spirit; if we don’t know the answer we should say so. And we thank God for the apologists who interface the Bible truths to everyday life, and provide light in dark corners; such people we can refer our questioners to if necessary. 

In our everyday lives, we too can have questions about difficult-to-understand passages in the Bible. At such times, we keep close to our Heavenly Father, trusting Him to provide all the answers we need for our journeys. And we need to take our life-steps, with the faith that God knows what is best for us. Perhaps Proverbs 3:6 is a good go-to place today: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Sometimes we don’t need answers to difficult questions – we just need God.

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