Stout­hearted pro­claima­tion


The Covington News - - Religion -

“I will praise you, O Lord, with all my heart; be­fore the ‘gods’ I will sing your praise. I will bow down to­ward your holy tem­ple and will praise your name for your love and your faith­ful­ness, for you have ex­alted above all things your name and your word. When I called, you an­swered me; you made me bold and stout­hearted” (Psalm 138:1-3, NIV).

This is an in­ter­est­ing psalm, with a twist we might miss. Some of the newer trans­la­tions sub­sti­tute angels for the word gods in verse 1. This is a very poor trans­la­tion in­deed. Nowhere in all of scrip­ture are angels re­ferred to as ‘gods’ (The He­brew here is elo­him).

What then is the psalmist sug­gest­ing? Is he in fact sug­gest­ing that there might be other gods above whom Yah­weh reigns supreme? No. What is in view in this Psalm and in this par­tic­u­lar verse is the courage to praise the God of Heaven de­spite the pres­sure of the non-be­liev­ers to re­main si­lent on the sub­ject.

False re­li­gions al­ways try to si­lence true praise. Per­sia tried it when Dar­ius de­clared that any­one who prayed to any god or man other then him­self for the pe­riod of one month should be put to death (Daniel 6). Ne­buchad­nez­zar tried to force wor­ship of him­self with the erect­ing of his statue, ef­fec­tively try­ing to sup­press wor­ship of any other god or gods (Daniel 3). Per­haps David wrote th­ese words while in ex­ile in Philis­tia, where the God of Is­rael was anath­ema.

To­day, a sim­i­lar thing can be ob­served in com­mu­nist China, or the Is­lamic world where pro­fes­sion of Christ is for­bid­den. Even as I write this thought, the Or­ga­ni­za­tion of the Is­lamic Con­fer­ence, one of the largest lob­by­ing groups at the U.N., is push­ing a danger­ous res­o­lu­tion. They are try­ing to make speak­ing out against Is­lam, which in­cludes in their def­i­ni­tion any procla­ma­tion of Chris­tian­ity, an in­ter­na­tional crime that would bring se­ri­ous penal­ties upon any­one con­victed of break­ing that law, ac­cord­ing to Jay Seku­low of the Amer­i­can Cen­ter for Law and Jus­tice.

What we have ex­pressed then in verse one of this psalm is the psalmist’s fear­less stance for truth in the face of the false gods and the dec­la­ra­tion of rulers who deny the God of scrip­ture. Though the world tells him in ef­fect, “sit down, shut up, you can’t men­tion God in this lo­ca­tion,” still he stands and praises God coura­geously and boldly.

Do you have that type of com­mit­ment? Are you will­ing to stand boldly for him or have you al­lowed the pres­sures of the false gods of this world to force you into a quiet com­pro­mise of si­lence?

What was the psalmist’s se­cret for bold­ness? Look at verse 3: “When I called, you an­swered me; you made me bold and stout­hearted.” The strength of con­vic­tion be­gins on bent knees. The rea­son we lack con­vic­tion to­day is be­cause we are not con­vinced of the ef­fi­cacy of prayer. The road to coura­geous con­vic­tion that re­fuses com­pro­mise be­gins with con­tin­u­ous com­mu­ni­ca­tion with the Fa­ther.

Dr. John Pearrell is pas­tor of Gate­way Com­mu­nity Church. Write him in care of the church at 11677 Brown Bridge Road Cov­ing­ton, GA 30016. Or e-mail him at john. pearrell@gate­way­commu­nity. org. For more in­for­ma­tion visit the Gate­way Web site at www. gate­way­commu­

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