At the moment, where I live, we have had the coldest June and now we are having the wettest July for about the last two decades. As some wise person has said, “Winter is the reason we appreciate summer so much!”
Contrasts are useful in art [see photo – courtesy of livvardyart.com.au ] and literature as well. As we have seen before, Wisdom Literature in the Bible uses contrasts all the time as do other parts of the Bible, including our Psalm for today.
Consider the contrast in verses 8-15
8 But you, Lord, are forever exalted.
9 For surely your enemies, Lord,
surely your enemies will perish;
all evildoers will be scattered.
10 You have exalted my hornlike that of a wild ox;
fine oils have been poured on me.
11 My eyes have seen the defeat of my adversaries;
my ears have heard the rout of my wicked foes.
12 The righteous will flourish like a palm tree,
they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;
13 planted in the house of the Lord,
they will flourish in the courts of our God.
14 They will still bear fruit in old age,
they will stay fresh and green,
15 proclaiming, “The Lord is upright;
he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.”
So here we have this contrast between those the Bible calls God’s enemies and then those called the righteous. A contrast between those who, sadly, reject God and his teaching about life and blessing and those who seek to love God and obey his teaching. A contrast between the implications of hating or loving God i.e., your enemies will perish; all evildoers will be scattered, as compared to the righteous [who] will flourish like a palm tree… They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green.
I don’t know what stage of life you are at – maybe you have a long life ahead of you, maybe not? But whatever your situation, I trust you will choose well into your future so that you will bear fruit in old age and stay fresh and green!
In his old age, one of Moses last words to the people of Israel was when he endeavoured to challenge them to make the right choices in life and warned them of the consequences of making the wrong choices. Speaking on God’s behalf he said:
11 Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. 12 It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” 13 Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” 14 No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.
15 See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. 16 For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.
17 But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, 18 I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.
19 This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live 20 and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. (Deuteronomy 30:11-20)
That same choice is before each one of us this day – life or death, blessing or cursing – may we choose life!
Again, using contrast to get his message over, the Apostle John writes:
5 This is the message we have heard from him [Jesus] and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. (1 John 1:5-7)
Father, teach us to walk in the light of your truth today, moment by moment conscious of choosing You and your ways above the desires of our selfish hearts and the things that the world deceitfully tries to convince us are “real life”. Amen.