11 I know all the birds of the air,*
and all that moves in the field is mine.
The first verses of Psalm 50 attest to the all-knowing, sovereign God. The litany of what God knows, what God made is of course, exhaustive. And after reading just yesterday about the demise of more bird species in my local area due to carbon emissions, I thought my God’s heart was, is, and has been breaking for such a long time. It is really so sad what we humans have done to God’s creation – to the earth and to ourselves.
The psalm continues this way – from the sovereignty of God in Creation to unfolding the brokenness Creation – of the earth and the brokenness of humanity. What was created and given in perfect love, has been squandered, misused, not cared for. Not loved.
The psalmist calls out the people for false living. Those who presume to live by the Word – the Law – and yet persist in deceit, envy, pride. And again my heart felt a pang of pain – sort of broke for God – at these verses:
0 You sit and speak against your kin;
you slander your own mother’s child.
21 These things you have done and I have been silent;
you thought that I was one just like yourself.
Cuts right to the quick, doesn’t it? What a heartache for a mother and our Lord, God. Can you imagine? Perhaps when the children are underfoot not getting along with a sibling is pretty standard, but once into their adult lives and if they are people of God, the heartache of seeing one judge, slander, speak against the other and ‘in the name of God.’ That must sting.
The bible has many stories of dysfunctional families – broken families – wherein one son is pitted against another (The Prodigal Son), or where mother and one son (often the youngest) stand on one side and father and other son (usually the oldest) on the other, and brothers against brother. In those stories, God’s glory is revealed. It is not hard to see God at work in those highly dysfunctional and broken human relationships.
But this little story as told in just these few verses…it breaks my heart for the mother of whomever one son is slandering. There’s no biblical hero or prophet destined to come out of this psalm – no story that will be turned to God’s glory. How could it?
Perhaps it is the context that makes a difference. Who these people are. They are the people of God and they know better. Yet, they judge all the way into their family of origin, deep into the heart of the matter. And in this case, it is a self-righteous judgment of the other that is ushered in by the simple and sadly common act of forgetting God. Acting like God, as judge. Presuming that because we follow Him, we know.
22 ‘Mark this, then, you who forget God,
or I will tear you apart, and there will be no one to deliver.
23 Those who bring thanksgiving as their sacrifice honour me;
to those who go the right way*
I will show the salvation of God.’
Thanksgiving isn’t only for what we identify as ‘blessings.’ Thanksgiving is for all that surrounds us, that has been given to us to love and care for. The birds. Our mother’s children.
How careless we people of God can become. We take for granted so much of what the Lord, God has given us. We act too often like we are God, like we know best for the earth and others. We forget God too easily.
And it breaks my heart to think of how God’s heart breaks every time He sees us live into our own brokenness and not into Him – into love.