Butt Dust, Wasted Lives, Bad Habits and A Patient God
Psalm 78:33–41 33 Therefore their days did he consume in vanity, And their years in trouble. 34 When he slew them, then they sought him: And they returned and inquired early after God. 35 And they remembered that God was their rock, And the high God their redeemer. 36 Nevertheless they did flatter him with their mouth, And they lied unto him with their tongues. 37 For their heart was not right with him, Neither were they stedfast in his covenant. 38 But he, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not: Yea, many a time turned he his anger away, And did not stir up all his wrath. 39 For he remembered that they were but flesh; A wind that passeth away, and cometh not again. 40 How oft did they provoke him in the wilderness, And grieve him in the desert! 41 Yea, they turned back and tempted God, And limited the Holy One of Israel.
Have you ever heard about that little girl who was questioned in her Sunday school class about what ingredient God used to make man? The teacher asked expecting the girl to say the dust of the ground (Gen. 2:7) but she had been reading the Bible herself, from another passage. She proudly proclaimed that God had used butt dust and ashes to make man because Abraham had said it was so.
Genesis 18:27 And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes:
Ok, she may have added a "t" and got things wrong...
...or did she?
Three things stand out to me from today’s reading from the Psalms; wasted lives, bad habits and a patient God. Let me explain.
1. Wasted Lives
The psalmist had recounted the failures of God’s people in the wilderness. He explained how they were unthankful and unbelieving despite all of God’s provision. Because they persisted in these great sins, he punishes them but notice how he does it.
Psalm 78:33 Therefore their days did he consume in vanity, And their years in trouble.
He sentenced them to a life of vanity, forty years of wandering aimlessly in the wilderness. They spent those years unable to build or accomplish anything for which they could have a sense of pride. Their constant troubles made them relentlessly travel leaving behind any evidence of their labor.
Unbelief, ingratitude and disobedience robs a life of meaning.
Can you hear the Lord call out to you today, “life is short, don’t waste it in the wilderness”?
2. Bad Habits
The Psalmist shows us a sad repetitious cycle for Israel.
Because their days were not filled with purpose, they stuffed their boring days full of sin. Their idle minds and hands became the Devil’s workshop bringing down God’s chastening hand.
Psalm 78:34 When he slew them, then they sought him: And they returned and inquired early after God.
This Psalm reads like the movie Groundhog Day because seem stuck, living and repeating the same mistakes.
Rebellion would bring retribution resulting in reformation until they started the process again. Why? Why did they run this same gauntlet of self-destructive behavior?
Psalm 78:37 For their heart was not right with him, Neither were they stedfast in his covenant.
Their problem was of the heart and without an internal change outer reformation won’t last. An unchanged heart is doomed to repeat the same mistakes and sins!
Is there a dear reader frustrated with failed attempts at change?
I encourage you that all is not hopeless, God offers a new heart and a changed life!
3. A Patient God
In one of my favorite verses in the Psalms we discover why God endures so much from his people.
Psalm 78:39 For he remembered that they were but flesh; A wind that passeth away, and cometh not again.
God recognizes the frailty of his followers and factors that into his plan. He remembers that we are but flesh, we forget. My failures often surprise me but never him.
Knowing that we would fail, God made provision by sending his Son who would accomplish what we could not and suffer on our behalf.
Has it ever occurred to you that since God remembers and factors in the frailty of his people that perhaps we should too? We are after all butt dust!
Just a man, just a woman, just a member of the human race, consider the fall of us all and see if that helps us show grace.
Let’s refuse to be satisfied with a meaningless existence.
Let’s seek the change of heart needed to change our behavior.
Let’s understand our weakness and seek the Lord’s help.
Let's factor in the frailty of others so we can extend the mercy we want for ourselves.
Let’s thank God that he considered our faults and chose to love us anyway!
Is it a deal?
Readings for 7/1/20
Readings for 7/2/20