(October 27, 2014)
It is hard to wrap our minds around the utter futility of temporal means. The Lord has provided us with a perfect test – one in which we can believe that we can accomplish things temporally (that the king can be saved by a host or the mighty man delivered by strength) because that seems to be the way things work according to our outward view. The first thought is to believe that David is speaking metaphorically – the king is not saved (from death and sin) by a host – but I think David of all people (considering his history) recognizes that his statement is both figuratively and literally true.
There is the old joke that the winning football team always gives credit to God but the losing team never blames God for making them fumble – the assumption being that neither side really believes that God had a say in the outcome. The typical religious response is that God doesn’t care who wins a particular football game, and just stays out of it. But I don’t believe that either, as the Lord of Hosts who notes the fall of a sparrow would seem to notice a couple million people gathering around the television in early February.
No, I think that each and every temporal or spiritual success we have is not creditable to our strength or weakness – it is solely the Lord’s doing. The Lord, in order to make our mortal probation meaningful, often brings about the result that is consistent with the strongest and fastest winning, but that temporal success by temporal means is merely an illusion to give value to our choices to align our will with God in spite of the difficulties on the path of discipleship.
My other thought was David’s words concerning the many afflictions of the righteous. David’s life (and these words) clearly dispute the belief that so many people have that the righteous should not suffer, and if they do suffer something is going wrong. We don’t teach the Gospel of prosperity (but rather the Gospel of discipleship), and it is to be expected that our road back to the Father will be difficult and painful. The difference is not that we undergo such pain and difficulty – the differences is that those who trust God receive deliverances from their pain and difficulty.