Genesis 24, Psalm 17
Ronald Poppo, the guy that had his face eaten off by a drug-inspired naked man, is doing very well after a series of skin graft surgeries. He’ll never look like he did before the attack. However, according to an article I read recently, he is in a perfectly happy mood despite his permanently disfigured state.
He is 65 years old, homeless, has no way of paying for the inevitably massive hospital bills, and recognizes his decrepit position, but he walks around the hospital and smiles for everyone he encounters.
I don’t know what inspires him to maintain an optimistic attitude (delusion? media attention? or, if I want to be less cynical, even faith?), but it’s a characteristic we should be quick to mimic. He’s old, but he’s recognizing it’s not too late.
By the time Genesis 24 rolls around, Abraham is old — at least 137. He has deceived two different kings, had difficulty following through with a command from God, has sex with another woman besides his wife to have a child despite God’s promise that he’d eventually have one of his own, sends the illegitimate child away, undergoes a grueling test of faith involving Isaac, and most recently, loses his wife. He is burdened by his mistakes, and he is weathered by the whirlwind of life.
Meanwhile, his son Isaac, probably in his 30s at this point, is looking for a wife. Abraham sends a servant to help him out (v. 3-4). But there is a special condition: Abraham does not want Isaac to marry a foreign woman, but one among the same tribe.
If this seems racist, it is — the Jews, at least the good, practicing ones, were especially careful not to intermingle with other nations, with the simple premise of preserving their own people.
Beat up by the hard road of his life, Abraham could have been apathetic and allowed Isaac to marry whomever, but he didn’t. Instead, he directly intervened to make sure Isaac started out right. This is integrity at its finest.
You work with people that cut corners, that double talk and brown nose to win and make things easy at the expense of yourself or the company. Family can be snide and inject turmoil into your life. It makes you angry — and that’s great. But when it breeds bitterness, we can become indifferent and we have the capability of spreading the disease to those around us. This is not easy.
But with the Lord’s help, we are able to master it.
In Psalm 17, when dealing with some jerks, David cries out to God. Rather than being terrified and subsequently hostile, he turns to the Lord and asks for direct intervention in three different ways: revelation, protection, and action.
Revelation: David asks God to show him His “marvelous lovingkindness” (v. 7) — and if there is anything reassuring on this earth, it is the realization that someone greater than ourselves loves us tremendously. He then asks God to keep him as the apple of His eye (which is where we get that phrase today).
Protection: Also in verse 8, He asks God to hide him under the shadow of His wings. This majestic image reminds us of God’s greatness and strength — there isn’t much to be afraid of if you imagine a bunch of rocks coming at you with the Lord standing in the way to protect you.
Looks like someone did the work to illustrate this already.
Action: The Lord is not a passive guy. David asks God to intervene with His very hand to save him from wickedness (v. 13-14). Unfortunately, many of us like our sin, so we won’t bother asking God to help us. But He’ll do it if we want Him to.
I don’t know where you’ve been, what situation you were born into, how many crimes you’ve committed, how many drugs you’ve tried, how many friends you’ve lost because you lied one too many times, how many weeks or months or years you’ve decided to skip church, how many different girls you’ve had sex with, how many guys you’ve cheated on, or what vices you simply can’t seem to let go of. It’s not too late to make the adjustment.
Ask God to show you something. Sometimes that prayer will be all it takes.
Ask God to remind you of His protection over your life. If you woke up this morning, gratefulness for such should follow.
Ask God to save you. That might be a financial situation, a habit, or your soul that you need Him to grip and hold onto tightly.
As Simple Minds wrote in their 1985 hit single, “Don’t You (Forget About Me)”, “As you walk on by / will you call my name?”
It’s about a girl, but all the same. Use it. And then let the song get stuck in your head. Again.
It’s not too late.