What a fool believes he sees

Often when I encounter in scripture talk about the foolish and the wise, a song by the Doobie Brothers plays in my head.  It did so this morning as I read from today’s Epistle selection Paul’s letter to the Romans, which ended in this verse:

22Claiming to be wise, they became fools; 23and they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human being or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles.

What a fool believes, he sees…that is how the lyrics go.  It doesn’t really matter that the  song tells the story of yet another unrequited love; the line and subsequent verse is bigger than the little love story told.

Lyrics that point to something bigger than the particular story in which they are momentarily anchored stick with me.  Lyrics that make me think.

The Holy Spirit is the greatest lyricist of all, in my book.  Scripture is always pointing to something bigger than the particular story in which it is momentarily anchored – like today’s reading from the Psalter.

Psalm 78 recounts the history of God’s people with God – the ever-fluid in and out relationship which Walter Brueggemann in his book The Message of the Psalms, describes as Orientation, Disorientation, and Reorientation.  In the midst of the almost clinical retelling, emerges this “lyric”:

18 They tested God in their heart
   by demanding the food they craved.

I love that.  Big ‘ol idea here that the Holy Spirit points me to asking, can people of faith really test God in their hearts?  How does a person of faith demand something from God?  Does it go like this, “If you give me provision, I will be faithful to you, God?” or “If you, God, will just get me through xyz safely, then I will trust you, believe in you, follow you.”  Is this a faithful prayer?

If-then, conditional prayers;  prayers that demand something or attempts to bargain with God – is there such thing?

I don’t think so.  Rather a foolish thought, if you ask me.

But what a fool believes he sees
No wise man has the power to reason away
What seems to be
Is always better than nothing
There’s nothing at all
But what a fool believes he sees…

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