Deep and Challenging Words
Text: Matthew 5 : 1 - 12
As the disciples listened to Jesus, they must have been awed by what they had heard. The words of Jesus were powerful, profound and most thought-provoking! As they listened, they began to comprehend what Jesus was trying to drive at. If they were to be His disciples, if they were to become fishers of men, their lives must be changed! Their characters must be that much more defined. Could they ever make it as His disciples?
MORE CHALLENGING WORDS
Each word that Jesus spoke seemed to be more challenging than the previous one. Their hearts must have been deeply moved as He challenged them to consider the next statement.
“Blessed are the merciful,
For they shall obtain mercy.”
What could these words mean? What does it mean to be merciful?
THE CONTRIBUTION OF THE BOOK OF PSALMS
In the Gospel of Luke, we read this fascinating statement. Luke noted what Jesus said to His Disciples.
“These are the words which I spoke to you
while I was still with you, that all things might
be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses
and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.”
As we study the Beatitudes, we begin to realize and appreciate just how much Jesus must have made use of the psalms to instruct His Disciples.
THE IMPRECATORY PSALMS
One of the most difficult portions of the Scriptures to read are the imprecatory psalms. These psalms contained appeals to God for justice. The appeals were valid, but the words used are difficult to comprehend. They appear to be strident and harsh. Let us consider some of these psalms.
Firstly the psalmist brings his needs to the Lord. We can well understand and appreciate why he cries out to God for mercy and for justice.
“Keep me as the apple of Your eye;
Hide me under the shadow of Your wings,
From the wicked who oppress me,
From my deadly enemies who surround me.
They have closed up their fat hearts;
With their mouths they speak proudly.
They have now surrounded us in our steps;
They have set their eyes, crouching down to the earth,
As a lion is eager to tear his prey,
And like a young lion lurking in secret places.”
The wicked threatened the very lives of their victims. The victims, aware of the grave danger afoot, cried out in desperation to the Lord for His protection. This part of the psalm is not difficult to comprehend.
The next part of the psalm is more complex. The psalmist pours out his innermost feelings.
“Arise, O Lord,
Confront him, cast him down;
Deliver my life from the wicked with Your sword.”
The psalmist appealed to God to “cast down” the enemy. He pleaded with God to raise His sword of justice and deal with the enemy forcefully.
In another psalm we read even more forceful words.
“Break the arm of the wicked and the evil man;
Seek out his wickedness until You find none.”
Were these prayers valid? How do we actually understand these imprecatory elements?
GOING BEYOND THE IMPRECATORY ELEMENTS
When we experience injustice in our lives, and when we feel our very lives threatened, imprecatory elements found in the Psalms are easily comprehended.
1. They are cries from the depths of the heart.
2. They express the pain and fear felt by the petitioner.
3. There is an appeal to God to see that justice is done… and IMMEDIATELY!
What Jesus taught provided a greater alternative. He wanted His disciples to be able to go beyond their natural instincts. Should they feel threatened, should their very lives be in danger, they must choose to be merciful instead!
“With the merciful You will show Yourself merciful;
With a blameless You will show Yourself blameless.”
Jesus desired His disciples to go way beyond the natural desire for justice.