Outcasts

Psa 147:2  The LORD doth build up Jerusalem: he gathereth together the outcasts of Israel.

We are studying India in homeschool and in our Missionary Adventures class at church.  Wednesday, I was trying to give the children an overview of India–how many people live there, how many are Muslim, Hindu, Buddist, Sihk, Jain, and Christian.  They had many questions about the caste system, which though illegal in India today, still exists.

What a different mindset our Lord and our faith has!   I thank God that He doesn’t reject the outcast, but even gathers them together.   How different from their concept of caste, karma (which in my mind is just a hip word for “works”) and reincarnation.  I’m so thankful we don’t have to work our way up any ladder, Christ did it all–for the outcasts too!

There are none of his people so despicable in the eye of man, but they are known and regarded by God. Though they are clouded in the world, yet they are the stars of the world; and shall God number the inanimate stars in the heavens, and make no account of his living stars on the earth? No; wherever they are dispersed, he will not forget them: however they are afflicted, he will not despise them. The stars are so numerous that they are innumerable by man; some are visible and known by men, others lie more hid and undiscovered in a confused light, as those in the milky way; a man cannot see one of them distinctly. God knows all his people. As he can do what is above the power of man to perform, so he understands what is above the skill of man to discover. – Stephen Charhock.

Advertisements

Selfishness makes long prayers, but love makes short prayers, that it may continue longer in praise. – John Pulsford, 1857.

“Praise.” There is one other thing which is a serious embarrassment to praising through the song-service of the Church, and that is, that we have so few hymns of praise. You will be surprised to hear me say so; but you will be more surprised if you take a real specimen of praising and search for hymns of praise. You shall find any number of hymns that talk about praise, and exhort you to praise. There is no lack of hymns that say that God ought to be praised. But of hymns that praise, and say nothing about it, there are very few indeed. And for what there are we are almost wholly indebted to the old churches. Most of them came down to us from the Latin and Greek Churches There is no place in human literature where you can find such praise as there is in the Psalms of David. – Henry Ward Beecher.

I wonder if I agree with Henry Ward Beecher—I think I do.   Why is it that just praising without talking about praising is such an obstacle.  It’s a form of procrastination to go on and on about praise without just getting into the thick of it.   It is easier and requires less commitment  to think about doing something than to go ahead and do it.



Star Numberer, Wound Binder

He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.
He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names.
-Psalm 147:3-4

I like this picture of our Lord, so intimate that He heals our broken places, yet numbers the stars and calls them by name.  He is an exacting and compassion God!

Here is the word “heal” as defined by Strong’s:

râphâ’  râphâh
raw-faw’, raw-faw’
A primitive root; properly to mend (by stitching), that is, (figuratively) to cure: – cure, (cause to) heal, physician, repair, X thoroughly, make whole. See H7503.

What a beautiful picture that makes in my mind, the God who created the universe, who holds our hearts in His hands and lovingly stitches them back together.  And here is the entry for “binds” as in “He binds our wounds…”

châbash
khaw-bash’
A primitive root; to wrap firmly (especially a turban, compress, or saddle); figuratively to stop, to rule: – bind (up), gird about, govern, healer, put, saddle, wrap about.

The greatest Physician of all holds us in His hands.   I like Spurgeon’s fleshing out of wounds here:

As a man that hath a barbed arrow shot into his side, and the arrow is plucked out of the flesh, yet the wound is not presently healed; so sin may be plucked out of the heart, but the scar that was made with plucking it out is not yet cured. The wounds that are yet under cure are the plagues and troubles of conscience, the sighs and groans of a hungering soul after grace, the stinging poison that the serpent’s fang hath left behind it; these are the wounds. -Spurgeon

Commentary from Treasury of David on this:

Mighty encouragement to trust in God. God takes care of the universe; may I not entrust my life, my soul, to him? Where he rules unquestioned there is light and harmony; let me not resist his will in my life. – C. A. D.

kind of like the “lilies of the field” imagery, except here He is the grand Orchestrator of both big and small.   So why is it so hard for us to trust at times?

Another lovely interpretation here:

“I dwell with him who is of a contrite heart.” The more abundantly will he manifest the kindness and the glory of his power, in tenderly carrying it in his bosom, and at last binding up its painful wounds. “He healeth the broken in heart.” “O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires.” Weeping Naomi said, “Call me Mara, for the Lord hath dealt very bitterly with me.” Afterwards, happy Naomi took the child of her own Ruth, and laid it in her bosom, and sweetly found that the days of her mourning were ended.
My dear friend, this new gash of deep sorrow was prepared for you by the Ancient of Days. His Son – and that Son is love – watched over the counsels of old, to keep and to perform them to the minutest circumstance. – John Jameson, 1838.

The two extremes are difficult to accomodate in my mind at the same time—the omnipotent ruler of the universe and the intimate compassion of the Savior.  A contrast?  A fullness?  What a comprehensive God.  I love that last bit….”to keep and to perform them to the minutest circumstance.”  God never sleeps nor slumbers.  He is meticulously loving and just, an exacting force over all of His creation.

*************

Here’s yet another comment on that image—it is striking that the Lord cares for such diverse things, yet they are all His.  I find continual comfort in His providential care of creation:

“O Holy Spirit, with lowly reverence we venture yet to say that never hast Thou collected and put side by side two more exquisite statements than these: “He healeth the broken in heart, and knoweth the number of the stars.”

With His healing hand on a broken heart,
And the other on a star,
Our wonderful God views the miles apart,
And they seem not very far.
—M. P. Ferguson


************************************

I’ve been looking through the cross references on the Treasury of Scriptural Knowledge.  I like this passage from Isaiah on the stars…

Look up into the heavens. Who created all the stars? He brings them out like an army, one after another, calling each by its name. Because of His great power and incomparable strength, not a single one is missing.  -Isaiah 40:26

and David’s great wondering….

“When I look at the night sky and see the work of Your fingers—the moon and the stars You set in place—what are mere mortals that You should think about them, human beings that You should care for them?” -Psalm 8:3-4

Every time I look at the stars for more than a few seconds, I think of this passage from David.  How much more time did he have to meditate and appreciate the stars while tending his sheep?   No city lights to detract, no electronic things to check–just the stars and the earth beneath him.  I envy him that.

This “checking of ourselves” against the stars goes all the way back to Abraham.   The Lord showed Abraham the stars as a way to impress upon him the sheer number of his future descendents.  God’s essential point was “I’m about something big here….bigger than you….bigger than your ability to comprehend it.”   And Abraham found his right position within all of that—he had faith enough to act upon the promise even though he did’n’t (and who could) fully understand it at the time.

“Then the LORD took Abram outside and said to him, “Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. That’s how many descendants you will have!”  And Abram believed the LORD, and the LORD counted him as righteous because of his faith.” -Genesis 15:5

God designed the universe in such a fashion that it prompts us to humble ourselves in light of the grandeur of His creation.  Who has not looked into the night sky and felt very very small?  But God turned that very smallness around by connecting it to Abraham, which connects it to Isaac, Jacob, Judah, and through Christ, ultimately to ourselves.  When we look at the stars, we should remember the Lord’s promise to Abraham, and be humbled, yes…but heartened as well.