Yesterday we discussed how to have success as God defines it by KNOWING His Word and meditating upon it. In my reading this morning, I came upon the following Scripture that I saw with new eyes: “God blesses those who are poor [in spirit] and realize their need for Him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs” (Matt 5:3).
To be “poor in spirit” is the opposite of being self-confident or self-reliant, especially in any spiritual sense. The poor in spirit recognize they are incapable of providing for themselves by their own strength, goodness, or righteousness. They know themselves to be spiritually bankrupt of true goodness. They cannot hope to bargain or earn their way into the kingdom of heaven. Jesus says, though, that they are blessed because the kingdom of heaven is theirs already. In other words, admission that one does not deserve a place in God’s kingdom is a requirement for entrance into that kingdom. This is the opposite of assuming one has earned citizenship by his own merit.
So while thinking upon my need for a savior and the Lord to guide me in how to go, I then came upon a psalm asking for guidance: “Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my meditation. Give heed to the voice of my cry, my King and my God, for to You I will pray. My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning I will direct it to You, and I will look up.” (Ps 5:1-3) This psalm in exactly what Jesus meant when He commanded: “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.” (Matt 6:33)
David goes on to tell the Lord that he knows that the Lord abhors the wicked and prideful, which is in opposition to those who are poor in spirit. “For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness, nor shall evil dwell with You. The boastful shall not stand in Your sight; You hate all workers of iniquity. You shall destroy those who speak falsehood; the Lord abhors the blood-thirsty and deceitful man.” (Ps 5:4-6) Please understand that yes, God is loving, but He abhors sin and those who choose sin over His grace to grant us righteousness by our faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. Without Jesus’s righteous covering, we will receive God’s wrath (Matt 25:46).
We must choose righteousness or sin. “But as for me, I will come into Your house in the multitude of Your mercy; in fear of You I will worship toward Your holy temple. Lead me, O Lord, in Your righteousness because of my enemies; make Your way straight before my face.” (Ps 5:7-8) The other day I read that when we fear the Lord, we are showing Him the reverence that He deserves, and we are purposely careful because we don’t want to offend Him; we want to please Him.
Those who choose sin, choose poorly indeed! “For there is no faithfulness in their mouth; their inward part is destruction; their throat is an open tomb; they flatter with their tongue. Pronounce them guilty, O God! Let them fall by their own counsels; cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions, for they have rebelled against You.” (Ps 5:9-10)
But those who seek the Lord, His counsel and guidance can and should rejoice! “But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; Let those also who love Your name be joyful in You. For You, O Lord, will bless the righteous; with favor You will surround him as with a shield.” (Ps 5:11-12) David calls upon those who love the Lord’s name to exult in Him. The Lord’s “name” represents God’s character and reputation. Knowing that the Lord is holy, gracious, merciful, and faithful to His promises should lead us, too, to exult in Him.
The last verse asks the Lord to cover the righteous person “with favor as with a shield”. The word for “shield” in this verse does not refer to a small, round shield. The word here is tsin’nāh, which refers to a “standing shield”—a massive barrier, like a door, which covered a soldier’s entire body. God’s favor is not small but large. His protection is sufficient to keep believers safe at all times, and according to His will. As the Lord told Paul, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in [your] weakness” (2 Cor 12:9).