Is God the LOrd of our Nation?

Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people he chose for his inheritance. From heaven the LORD looks down and sees all mankind; from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth— he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do. No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength. A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save. But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine.

We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD, even as we put our hope in you.

Psalm 33:12-22

There was a time in the US when a preponderance of the population believed that God had, indeed, chosen the US to be a special nation, a nation where God’s gift of freedom to every human being was celebrated and protected. Today more and more public figures reject any reference to the work of God in the founding of the nation. This Psalm addresses Israel at some time when Israel felt tempted to believe that the nation was taking care of itself. The Bible describes the founding of the nation of Israel, and the psalm writer speaks as if he himself treasures that history. Yet all around him people reject God and think they don’t need him. This psalm is message to all of them, and it is a message to the people of the USA as well.

After reminding readers that a nation that chooses God is blessed, the psalmist takes us to the heavenly throne room described in the book of Revelation. From that lofty place, God looks down on the earth, and he sees everything. He sees what people do, and he sees into their hearts. God knows not only their deeds but the reasons they tell themselves for their deeds. He is not fooled. God knows that people engage in crafty wickedness and think they can deceive one another as well as God, but he also sees when the deceptions fall apart. God sees how people scheme and manipulate to achieve what may look like a victory for a time, and God sees when the arrogance of a nation causes it to implode.

The psalmist reminds everyone that when things are falling apart, it isn’t the national leader, who may be a complete fool, who will save the nation. If the nation is saved, it is God’s work. If a soldier engages in battle and lives to tell the story, it isn’t a credit to his strength; it is God’s work. Neither a horse nor a tank nor a drone can save the day unless God acts. It is God who works in the midst of chaos, never abandoning those who love him and serve him. He goes with them through the murder and mayhem. They can count on him.

This psalm is an eye-opening prayer for people who wonder if things will ever get better. The psalmist says that sometimes things don’t get better, but if they do, it isn’t because humans have become cleverer or stronger; it is always God’s work.

The psalm reminds us that when we face situations that might drive us to despair, we must hope only in God. There is no other hope for us. We don’t simply engage in wishful thinking. We put our hope in the one whose work is always so good and righteous that even the worst outcome we can imagine is still the best if it is God’s outcome. We are reminded that God’s perspective on everything is different from ours. He views all our concerns from the perspective of his eternal and infinite love.

Everyone faces bad situations. There are a lot of things to be afraid of if we read the daily news. Psalm 33 reminds us that the perspective expressed by headlines in newspapers or online is not God’s perspective. Rather than succumb to hopelessness and despair, the psalmist chooses to trust God and God’s unfailing love. Rather than doubt God and become despondent, the psalmist remembers that God’s ways are not our ways and trusts him completely. We must pray the same prayer, confident that even if our nation is destroyed, we can and must hope in God.

We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD, even as we put our hope in you.

Psalm 33:20-22