Tag Archives: Work

Singing with the King (83) – Identity

O Lord, I am your servant; yes, I am your servant, born into your household; you have freed me from my chains. (Psalm 116:16)

vanity-plateSo I’m driving along the other day, and a guy in a BMW pulls up alongside me, and I notice his license plate: iPhone1. Interesting license plate. Also, my wife and I have been watching The Voice lately, and there was an artist who shared that he was gay, but also a singer. Then there are Harley owners. Bikes, gear, leathers, everything—it’s all about the brand.

This license plate, and these disparate identities got me to thinking. What’s your identity? Is it in your sexual orientation? Your stock with Apple? The size of your V-Twin? The size of your house? Your socioeconomic status? False gods? For many of us men, our identity is wrapped up in our work. With whom or what do you identify? Where do you get your identity? What do you need to be freed from?

You can probably tell from the verse above, where this is going. We must get our identity from the LORD. In this case, the psalm writer tells us that he is the LORD’s servant. This psalm doesn’t tell us whether or not it was written by King David, but if it was, it’s kind of remarkable statement for a king to say that he’s a servant. And yet, time and time again, in the headings of many of the Psalms that David wrote, he did confess that he was the LORD’s servant.

Hmm. King… Servant. Tough call. David did not get hung up in what he did. Rather, he was committed to Whom he belonged. Now if being a servant seems a little tough, consider these roles, or relationships we have with the LORD.

“And I will be a father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” says the Lord Almighty. (2 Corinthians 6:18)

The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. (Romans 8:16-17)

Children, heirs, fellow-heirs. But remember it’s not about title, it’s the relationship. Because when you identify with Him, then you will be made like Him:

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son. (Romans 8:29)

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter1:14-16)

God has called us to be conformed to His Son, and not with things in this world that will pass away. Shouldn’t you desire to have an identity that is eternal and everlasting; not something that will rust away and be gone—forever?

Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be. (Matthew 6:19-21)

The most amazing thing however, is that your relationship with The Most High God is not just that we are identified with Him; but rather, He is willing to be identified with us.

Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)

Don’t get sidetracked or distracted. Find your freedom and identity in Christ alone—then live it!

 

Singing with the King (54) – The Work of Man’s Hands

Their idols are silver and gold, the work of man’s hands. They have mouths, but they cannot speak… They cannot make a sound with their throat. (Psalm 115:4,5)

In the context of this Psalm, we have a radical turn, which changes the focus from the eternal, unchanging, transcendent, and living LORD God, to that of idols. This perhaps is the greatest of contrasts one can make. Their idols are silver and gold, the work of man’s hands.

goldencalfWhen the Psalmist speaks of “Their”, he is speaking about the nations. And these nations had tangible, visible idols. These so-called gods were obviously important to them, because they were made of gold and silver; precious metals for precious gods. But as is often the case with mankind who has not been exposed to the principles and teachings of the Most High God, we get it wrong. Or in this case we get a completely backwards. Note that it says, The work of man’s hands. God is not the work of our hands; we are the work of His hands.

They have mouths, but they cannot speak. The Hebrew word for mouth not only refers to the physical mouth, but also the things that come out of the mouth including commands. The Hebrew word for speak is most translated as speak. But it also can be translated as promise or command; and yet this mouth can do none of those things—it cannot speak. No promises, no commands—nothing.

… they cannot make a sound with their throat. The Hebrew word for make a sound primarily means to meditate, ponder, and devise. It also means to make an utterance or a moan or growl.

So, these idols have mouths, but they cannot speak, command or promise. They have a throat, but they cannot make a sound, or meditate, ponder or devise. Why is that? Well, the answer is obvious. Idols do not have life. In fact we see the truth in that statement from the very first verse that enumerates the idols characteristics: The work of man’s hands.

Now the work of man’s hands can do many things: it can inspire, enrage, cause joy and sorrow, lift up and tear down, instruct and belittle. The work of man’s hands can do many things to enhance or detract from life, but it cannot give life. Nor is it something to worship.

Do the Nations miss the irony here? They devote all this time, taking up much of their lives and creativity for building something that is dead. Then don’t forget all the acts of worship; the pedagogy of that particular god; the accompanying temples, rules and observances; the personnel, such as priests and priestesses, prostitutes and whatnot; the maintenance team and the artists. And let’s not forget the spiritual enforcement team—a.k.a. the military. They have to encourage veneration, worship, giving, and sacrifice. The care and feeding of a false god, takes a lot of time, not to mention the construction, coercion, and deception. And it takes a lot of energy to maintain the lie.

BullIdols are pretty much no longer silver and gold, but they still are that which are either made by man’s hands or by his imagination. Idols are things which you pursue, instead of One True God. But, we are told: Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men. (Colossians 3:23) To do otherwise is a dangerous pursuit. More about that next week.