Tuesday, January 27, 2009

To You, O Lord, I Fly

I will bless the LORD who has counseled me; Indeed, my mind instructs me in the night. Psalm 16:7

As I was thinking about going to the Lord instead of to other people for counsel, I was reminded of the story of King Asa in II Chronicles. Asa was a king of Judah, and soon after he became king, he and the people built towers, walls and gates around their city. Under Asa’s leadership, the people sought the Lord, and He prospered them on every side. He had a large army – more than half a million strong, and they were valiant warriors. However, they were no match for the Ethiopians who came out against Judah with a million men and 300 chariots. So what did Asa do? He cried out to the Lord.

Then Asa called to the LORD his God and said, "LORD, there is no one besides You to help in the battle between the powerful and those who have no strength; so help us, O LORD our God, for we trust in You, and in Your name have come against this multitude. O LORD, You are our God; let not man prevail against You." II Chron. 14:11

The Lord heard his cry and responded.

So the LORD routed the Ethiopians before Asa and before Judah, and the Ethiopians fled. Asa and the people who were with him pursued them as far as Gerar; and so many Ethiopians fell that they could not recover, for they were shattered before the LORD and before His army. And they carried away very much plunder. They destroyed all the cities around Gerar, for the dread of the LORD had fallen on them; and they despoiled all the cities, for there was much plunder in them. They also struck down those who owned livestock, and they carried away large numbers of sheep and camels. Then they returned to Jerusalem. II Chron. 14:12-15

After this, a prophet came to King Asa and warned him about being committed to the Lord.

Now the Spirit of God came on Azariah the son of Oded, and he went out to meet Asa and said to him, "Listen to me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin: the LORD is with you when you are with Him And if you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you. For many days Israel was without the true God and without a teaching priest and without law. But in their distress they turned to the LORD God of Israel, and they sought Him, and He let them find Him. In those times there was no peace to him who went out or to him who came in, for many disturbances afflicted all the inhabitants of the lands. Nation was crushed by nation, and city by city, for God troubled them with every kind of distress. But you, be strong and do not lose courage, for there is reward for your work." II Chron. 15:1-7

Asa listened to the prophet, and he removed all the idols from Judah. He restored the altar of the Lord, and then he gathered all the people together. They sacrificed to the Lord and then they vowed to serve Him with all their heart and soul.

They entered into the covenant to seek the LORD God of their fathers with all their heart and soul; and whoever would not seek the LORD God of Israel should be put to death, whether small or great, man or woman. Moreover, they made an oath to the LORD with a loud voice, with shouting, with trumpets and with horns. All Judah rejoiced concerning the oath, for they had sworn with their whole heart and had sought Him earnestly, and He let them find Him. So the LORD gave them rest on every side. II Chron. 15:12-15

At this point, things are going well for Asa and his kingdom. He is doing what is right, seeking and serving the Lord, and the Lord is giving them rest, and keeping them from war. But, you guessed it, things are about to turn. For Asa forgets, at least momentarily, how the Lord provided when he was up against the Ethiopians, and he forgets, at least momentarily, the warning of the prophet.

For in the 36th year of Asa’s reign, the King of Israel comes up against King Asa. Asa doesn’t cry out to the Lord as he did when the Ethiopians had approached. Instead, he makes a very different decision. He made a treaty with the King of Aram, asking him to revoke his treaty with the King of Israel, so that Israel’s king would back down. The King of Aram agrees, and the King of Israel backs down. But Asa will pay for that decision.

At that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah and said to him, "Because you have relied on the king of Aram and have not relied on the LORD your God, therefore the army of the king of Aram has escaped out of your hand. Were not the Ethiopians and the Lubim an immense army with very many chariots and horsemen? Yet because you relied on the LORD, He delivered them into your hand. For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His. You have acted foolishly in this. Indeed, from now on you will surely have wars." II Chron. 16:7-9

How often do we do the same thing? We fail to remember what God has done in our past, and instead rely on people around us. We, just like King Asa, have the God of the Universe to call to! He listens and He responds! We must fly to Him and on His help depend. His counsel guides aright. We cannot always say that about the human counsel that we depend on – for humans are sinners, and do not see or know what the Lord knows.

I resolve to keep before me the Lord whom I have proved.

I have set the LORD continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Psalm 16:8

To You, O Lord, I Fly
Words from The Psalter

To You, O Lord, I fly
And on Your help depend;
You are my Lord and King most high;
Great God, my soul defend.
A heritage for me
Jehovah will remain;
My portion rich and full is He,
My right He will maintain.

The lot to me that fell
Is beautiful and fair;
The heritage in which I dwell
Is good beyond compare.
I praise the Lord above
Whose counsel guides aright;
My heart instructs me in His love
In seasons of the night.

I keep before me still
The Lord whom I have proved;
At my right hand He guards from ill,
And I shall not be moved.
Life’s pathway You will show,
To Your right hand will guide,
Where streams of pleasure ever flow,
And boundless joys abide.

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