Psalms 34:15-19 ESV
“The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous
and his ears toward their cry.
The face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears
and delivers them out of all their troubles.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit.
Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
but the Lord delivers him out of them all.”
We read in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV:
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
So, we can learn something from all Scripture, even if it wasn’t written for us specifically, but we must be careful in how we apply it to our lives so that we don’t apply something to our lives that was not meant for us specifically. So, we have to look at who it is addressed to, and we may have to consider the history behind it or what was going on during this time in history. And if it is a promise, we need to look at who the promise is for and we need to look at all the conditions and stipulations for those promises to be fulfilled.
But we also have to read the Old Testament in light of the teachings of the New Testament and under the New Covenant. For we are not under the Old Covenant relationship that God had with his people of old. And so we also need to see if what is being taught in the Old Testament is repeated for us in the New Testament, under the New Covenant, though perhaps not word for word, but so that we do not wrongfully apply something to our lives today. And then context is very critical to correct biblical interpretation.
Okay, so with that said, I read a meme on social media today which quoted only verse 18 here: “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” But is that true of all people who are brokenhearted and who are crushed in spirit? Like right now a large number of people are grieving over the deaths at that Christian school in Nashville. So I am certain there are a lot of brokenhearted people right now. But are they all the righteous in the eyes of God? And could some of them be evildoers?
I see this a lot, where Scriptures are taught out of context, and where promises of God are applied broadly to anyone who wants to apply them, because they do not quote those promises in context, and with the conditions for them to be fulfilled, and to whom they are to apply. But it is very clear here that this promise is not just for the brokenhearted and the crushed in spirit, but this applies to the righteous who are crying out to God for help, and the righteous are all those who are living righteously.
And I am not using this example of what happened in Nashville without true compassion for what these families and community are going through right now. In fact, I have great compassion for them which is why I am saying what I am saying about this meme. For when we quote the promises of God out of context we are doing a disservice to those who are going to think the promise is for them when it may not be, and therefore we may be guilty of giving them a false hope, and a willful false hope is not kind at all.
Now one last thing about this passage of Scripture, if compared to the teachings under the New Covenant, we also cannot assure ourselves that God is going to deliver us out of all our troubles and afflictions in a physical sense, even if we are among the righteous. For he promises us that we are going to suffer for righteousness’ sake and that we are going to have hardships and heartaches and trials and tribulations, and that we are going to be hated and persecuted and even put to death for our faith in Christ.
So, the Lord doesn’t always deliver us physically from our trials and our tribulations and our afflictions, but he delivers us through them by filling us with his peace and his joy when we learn to rest in him and to not worry. He will give us peace and joy even in the midst of great heartaches, and even when we have enemies fiercely coming against us. For when we trust in God’s sovereignty, and we trust him in all of our circumstances, he delivers us from the weight and the burden of our trials, and he gives us peace.
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It Is Well with My Soul
Lyrics by H. G. Spafford, 1873
Music by Philip P. Bliss, 1876
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
It is well; it is well with my soul.
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed his own blood for my soul.
My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
And, Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.
It is well with my soul,
It is well; it is well with my soul.
2 thoughts on “When the Righteous Cry”
True. I feel the same way when I read memes or quoted Bible verses on social media that are used out of context.
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Deborah, thank you for sharing that. Yes, we have to be discerning and to test what we read and hear to make certain it is the truth. For there are many distortions of truth out there.