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Posted: October 13, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Stouthearted proclaimation

"I will praise you, O Lord, with all my heart; before the ‘gods’ I will sing your praise. I will bow down toward your holy temple and will praise your name for your love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word. When I called, you answered me; you made me bold and stouthearted" (Psalm 138:1-3, NIV).

This is an interesting psalm, with a twist we might miss. Some of the newer translations substitute angels for the word gods in verse 1. This is a very poor translation indeed. Nowhere in all of scripture are angels referred to as ‘gods’ (The Hebrew here is elohim).

 What then is the psalmist suggesting? Is he in fact suggesting that there might be other gods above whom Yahweh reigns supreme? No. What is in view in this Psalm and in this particular verse is the courage to praise the God of Heaven despite the pressure of the non-believers to remain silent on the subject.

False religions always try to silence true praise. Persia tried it when Darius declared that anyone who prayed to any god or man other then himself for the period of one month should be put to death (Daniel 6). Nebuchadnezzar tried to force worship of himself with the erecting of his statue, effectively trying to suppress worship of any other god or gods (Daniel 3). Perhaps David wrote these words while in exile in Philistia, where the God of Israel was anathema.

Today, a similar thing can be observed in communist China, or the Islamic world where profession of Christ is forbidden. Even as I write this thought, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, one of the largest lobbying groups at the U.N., is pushing a dangerous resolution. They are trying to make speaking out against Islam, which includes in their definition any proclamation of Christianity, an international crime that would bring serious penalties upon anyone convicted of breaking that law, according to Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice.

What we have expressed then in verse one of this psalm is the psalmist’s fearless stance for truth in the face of the false gods and the declaration of rulers who deny the God of scripture. Though the world tells him in effect, "sit down, shut up, you can’t mention God in this location," still he stands and praises God courageously and boldly.

Do you have that type of commitment? Are you willing to stand boldly for him or have you allowed the pressures of the false gods of this world to force you into a quiet compromise of silence?

What was the psalmist’s secret for boldness? Look at verse 3: "When I called, you answered me; you made me bold and stouthearted." The strength of conviction begins on bent knees. The reason we lack conviction today is because we are not convinced of the efficacy of prayer. The road to courageous conviction that refuses compromise begins with continuous communication with the Father.

 

Dr. John Pearrell is pastor of Gateway Community Church. Write him in care of the church at 11677 Brown Bridge Road Covington, GA 30016. Or e-mail him at john.pearrell@gatewaycommunity.org. For more information visit the Gateway Web site at www.gatewaycommunity.org

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