“Lift up your eyes and look about you: All assemble and come to you; your sons come from afar, and your daughters are carried on the hip.
Then you will look and be radiant, your heart will throb and swell with joy; the wealth on the seas will be brought to you, to you the riches of the nations will come.
Herds of camels will cover your land, young camels of Midian and Ephah. And all from Sheba will come, bearing gold and incense and proclaiming the praise of the Lord.
In this passage, Zion, the people of God, are told to lift their eyes and see that the whole world has turned towards them and seeking to gain their favour by bringing gifts to them.
Zion will go from being an outcast in the world to being the center of the world's attention as wealth from the sea, riches from the nations, camels from Midian and from Sheba, gold and incense are brought before Her
The Lord planted a shoot that blossomed to display the Lord's splendor when each citizen of Zion is given great authority as Isaiah chapter 60 verse 22 says;
The least of you will become a thousand the smallest a mighty nation.
For our offenses are many in your sight, and our sins testify against us.
Our offenses are ever with us, and we acknowledge our iniquities: rebellion and treachery against the Lord, turning our backs on our God, inciting revolt and oppression, uttering lies our hearts have conceived.
This passage represents a sincere confession of wrong-doing by God's people.
They tell the Lord of their many sins and how they rebelled against Him and stirred others to revolt against Him as well as how they traded in deception.
They reveal that the consequences of their deeds have caught up with them and now righteousness and justice cannot be found in their midst. There is no stable platform for truth among them and honesty cannot exist.
In their society, any attempt to avoid evil is punished as verse 15 says;
Truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey.
The conditions in this degraded culture have deteriorated so far that the judgement of the Lord lines up against the people.
However, the people who repent are spared by the arrival of the redeemer as verse 20 says;
“The Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who repent of their sins,” declares the Lord.
Those who humbly acknowledge their iniquities are given an eternal covenant with the Lord. Verse 21 says it this way;
“As for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the Lord. “My Spirit, who is on you, will not depart from you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will always be on your lips, on the lips of your children and on the lips of their descendants—fromq as this time on and forever,” says the Lord.
Isaiah 47 verses 3 - 4, speaking of the Babylonian kingdom, says this;
Your nakedness will be exposed and your shame uncovered.
I will take vengeance; I will spare no one.”
Our Redeemer—the Lord Almighty is his name— is the Holy One of Israel.
This passage reveals the fierce anger the Lord had against Babylon because of their arrogant harshness they metted out to the Lord's people.
The Lord had been angry with his children and handed them over to the Babylonians for judgment but the Babylonians went too far and acted cruelly towards God's people.
Isaiah chapter 47 verses 6 - 7 records it this way;
I was angry with my people and desecrated my inheritance;
I gave them into your hand, and you showed them no mercy.
Even on the aged you laid a very heavy yoke.
You said, ‘I am forever—the eternal queen!’ But you did not consider these things or reflect on what might happen.
This passage reveals that even those tasked by the Lord to bring judgment on His people must use caution and due care so that they do not function without mercy and without restraint towards those over whom they have been given power.
This overreach on the part of the Babylonians would bring down such judgment upon them that even their sorcerers, astrologers and star gazers would not be able to ward off the calamities and catastrophes that would visit them.
The Lord judges those who act unjustly and cruelly towards others while pridefully believing that their exalted stations and security are eternal.
Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy. For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to people but to God. Indeed, no one understands them; they utter mysteries by the Spirit.
In this passage, the Apostle Paul encourages believers to follow the way of love which is the way of;
Absence of envy
While cultivating these attitudes of love, Paul tells us to eagerly desire the gifts of the Spirit. We have and should exercise the gift of tongues but this gift is mainly for communication between us and God and is not decipherable to others because things that are deliberately kept as mysteries are transmitted through these languages.
However, the other gifts of the Spirit, when used with love, are gifts that can bring tremendous edification to the body of Christ and to individuals.
These gifts of the Spirit that Paul calls us to eagerly desire are;
The word of wisdom
The word of knowledge
The Distinguishing or discerning of spirits
The Interpretation of tongues
The manifestation of these gifts among congregations stir up reverence and gratitude towards the Lord. In the case of the gift of the interpretation of tongues, the listeners may be blessed by having the mysteries of things uttered in tongues being made plain to understand.
Let us actively desire and seek these gifts from the Lord so that we may bring honor to Him through their power.
OUR FATHER WHO IS DRAWING BACK HIS PRODIGAL CHILDREN
Isaiah chapter 57 verse 14 says this;
And it will be said: “Build up, build up, prepare the road! Remove the obstacles out of the way of my people.”
This verse is speaking of the prodigal children of God who went their own way and pursued their own lives and purposes and engaged in sinful actions.
The Lord commands that building be done for them. Roads must be prepared for them and obstacles removed from their paths as they return home.
Those returning with contrite hearts and are lowly in spirit will be invited to live with the Lord on His holy mountain as it says in verse 15;
“I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit,
The Lord said that even though He was angry at His people for leaving Him to chase their sinful greed, He would not stay angry at them forever.
Even though the Lord punished them and hid His face from them, He resolved to heal His people and to guide them. He promised to create praise on their lips and He offered them real peace however far they were returning from.
As Isaiah chapter 56 verse 18 and 19 says;
I have seen their ways, but I will heal them; I will guide them and restore comfort to Israel’s mourners, creating praise on their lips. Peace, peace, to those far and near,” says the Lord. “And I will heal them.”
The Lord is bringing back His prodigal children who are contrite before Him.
Let roads be prepared and obstacles be removed from their paths.
OUR FATHER WHO IS STRONGER THAN ANY WHO OPPRESS HIS PEOPLE
Isaiah chapter 51 verse 13 adjures God's people not to fear their human oppressors to such a degree;
that you forget the Lord your Maker, who stretches out the heavens and who lays the foundations of the earth, that you live in constant terror every day because of the wrath of the oppressor, who is bent on destruction?
For where is the wrath of the oppressor?
The terror of mere humans who torment them causes God's people to forget the might and power of their God who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth.
Verse 14 speaks of the desperation of the captives as they rush around so that they might appease the wrath of their captors so that they may be loosed from their chains or so that they won't be thrown into a pit to die or so that they won't be deprived of food.
They live in terror of these things but as verse 16 and 17 tell us;
But I am the Lord your God, Who divided the sea whose waves roared—The Lord of hosts is His name.
And I have put My words in your mouth; I have covered you with the shadow of My hand, That I may plant the heavens, Lay the foundations of the earth, And say to Zion, ‘You are My people.’ ”
The Lord takes His people into His care and covers them in the shadow of His hand.
My heart, O God, is steadfast; I will sing and make music with all my soul.
Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn.
I will praise you, Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples.
For great is your love, higher than the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth.
Save us and help us with your right hand, that those you love may be delivered.
Here, David, the author of this Psalm, proclaims the steadfastness of his heart and indicates that the evidence of this is that he sings and makes music with all his soul and rises early in the morning to sing and play musical instruments in honor of the Lord.
David broadcasts praise among the nations and to the people to tell of the Lord's great love and his faithfulness.
David exalts the Lord and asks the Lord to let the earth be filled with His glory and he then asks the Lord to save his people and deliver them by His right hand.
David then hears a word from the Lord in verse 7 saying;
God has spoken from his sanctuary:
“In triumph I will parcel out Shechem and measure off the Valley of Sukkoth.
Gilead is mine, Manasseh is mine;
Ephraim is my helmet, Judah is my scepter.
Moab is my washbasin, on Edom I toss my sandal; over Philistia I shout in triumph.”
This enigmatic passage records the Lord pronouncing his intention to do four things when He is triumphant;
Parcel out Schechem
Measure off the Valley of Sukkoth
Toss His sandal on Edom
Shout over Philistia
The Lord then claims ownership over five places;
Ephraim (as His helmet)
Judah (as His scepter)
Moab (as His washbasin)
The psalmist, in verse 11 - 13, says to the Lord that these places can't be accessed because the Lord has declined to go out with the armies of His people.
Who will bring me to the fortified city? Who will lead me to Edom?
Is it not you, God, you who have rejected us and no longer go out with our armies?
Give us aid against the enemy, for human help is worthless.
With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies.
David asks the Lord for help in fighting their foes because any help they receive from human allies fails.
If the Lord helps them, they will vanquish their enemies and capture territory.
“Sing, barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labor; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband,” says the Lord.
“Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes.
For you will spread out to the right and to the left; your descendants will dispossess nations and settle in their desolate cities.
“Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated. You will forget the shame of your youth and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood.
For your Maker is your husband—the Lord Almighty is his name—the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth.
In the narrative of this passage, the Lord tells His bride that even though she considered herself barren, her time of rejoicing is coming and she will need to prepare by enlarging her tent to fit all her children.
She is advised to stretch the fabric of her tent, to lengthen her tent cords, and to strengthen her tent pegs because those that are her's will overflow her capacity to house them.
Her descendants will be numerous and powerful and they will disperse in all directions. They will displace nations and inhabit their abandoned cities.
The Lord's bride will not be ashamed nor will she be disgraced. She will forget the shame and reproach of her widowhood.
The One to whom she is betrothed is the Lord Almighty who made her and redeemed her from a distant country.
OUR FATHER TOWARDS WHOM WE SHOULD BE SINCERELY GRATEFUL
Psalm 107 verses 3 - 5, speaking of the redeemed of the Lord, says this;
those he gathered from the lands, from east and west, from north and south.
Some wandered in desert wastelands, finding no way to a city where they could settle.
They were hungry and thirsty, and their lives ebbed away.
This passage speaks of some of those that the Lord had saved who wandered in the wilderness unable to connect to a civilization into which they could settle.
In this wandering state, the redeemed were malnourished and their lives faded as their spirits weakened.
This was when they cried out to God in their trouble and the Lord heard them and relieved their anguish as Psalm 107 verses 6 - 9 says;
Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.
He led them by a straight way to a city where they could settle.
Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.
The Lord, hearing the cries of His redeemed in the wilderness, led them to His civilization where they were revived and sustained and they became a people full of gratitude towards the Lord having seen His lovingkindness intervene in their lives.
This story is mirrored in the story of the ten lepers whom Jesus healed in Luke chapter 17 verses 12 - 19 which reads this way;
As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”
When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.
One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.
Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”
The lepers cried out to the Lord and he healed them and told them to go to the priests to show themselves and they were cleansed from leprosy as they went.
One of the ten men, seeing that he was cleansed, returned praising God and fell down before Jesus because he recognized the profound importance of what Jesus had done for him.
Jesus asked, "Where are the other nine?"
This question brings home the point that ingratitude for the Lord's salvation will keep us from finding our way to God and we will miss His call to us to rise and go forward on our journey of faith.
Without that, we may wander in the wilderness till we finally cry out to the Lord to deliver us.
Let us always be sincerely thankful towards our Lord who is our redeemer and who paid so great a price to save us.
OUR FATHER'S GOOD NEWS OF HIS KINGDOM WAS FIRST PROCLAIMED AMONG THE POOR
Luke chapter 7 verse 19, speaking of John the baptist who was in prison for challenging King Herod for his immoral behaviour, says this;
he sent them to the Lord to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”
In this verse, we see John is trying to come to terms with what was happening to him and to the nation of Israel. He had been given the call to be a forerunner for the Messiah and then to baptize him and announce Jesus to His generation as the awaited Saviour.
He had done these things he was called to do and had the expectation that the Lord he had introduced would ascend to the rulership of Israel displacing king Herod, sit on the throne of David as the scriptures had prophesied and a glorious reign of justice and righteousness would be ushered in
From John's perspective, these things had not happened and this prompted his concern. Herod was still the king over Israel and in fact was the one who had imprisoned him. There was no righteousness because Herod was defiantly acting immorally while he was king of Israel and there was no justice because he, a stringently righteous man of God, was sitting in prison.
To clarify the situation for his own peace of mind, John, from his prison cell, sent two followers to ask the Lord Jesus if he had correctly identified Him as the Messiah at the Jordan river when he baptized Him or if he had made a mistake and should wait for the arrival of the correct Messiah.
When John's message reached the Lord, He was performing many miracles of healing and he told the messengers in Luke chapter 7 verse 22, to report back to John what they had witnessed;
So he replied to the messengers, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.
The Lord was letting John know that he had indeed heralded the Messiah but that his expectations were premature. The sign that the true Messiah had come would be the appearance of miraculous healings, the dead being raised and the good news being preached to the poor.
The glorious kingdom of justice and righteousness would surely follow.
OUR FATHER WHOSE WORD IS A WEAPON AGAINST TEMPTATION
After the Lord Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, He was led out into the wilderness where he fasted for 40 days and then the devil came to tempt Him.
First, the devil tried to induce the Lord Jesus to turn stones into bread as proof that He was the Son of God. He then tried to pursuade Jesus to worship him in exchange for all the kingdoms in the world.
Jesus, having parried the first two temptations, faced the temptation described in Luke chapter 4 verses 9 - 10 which reads this way;
The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully;
Here, the devil again tried to make the Lord Jesus explicitly prove that He was the Son of God as was being said of Him.
After taking Jesus to a high point of the temple, the devil quoted Psalm 91 verse 11;
For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;
The devil said to Jesus that because of this promise in the scripture, He could throw himself down from the height and the angels of God would guard Him and thus He would be prevented from striking the ground.
This attempt to get Jesus to prove that He was the Son of God was met with an irrefutable rebuttal also from scripture found in Deutronomy chapter 8 verse 3 that says;
Do not put the LORD your God to the test as you did at Massah.
To deliberately set up a situation to try to force God's hand to intervene is a test on the Lord and it is forbidden to do so and thus Jesus refused to throw himself down.
The devil, hearing this response, left Jesus to wait for a better time to try again to influence Him.
OUR FATHER WHO IS MIGHTY IN JUDGEMENT AND REDEMPTION
Isaiah chapter 63 verses 4 - 5 says this;
It was for me the day of vengeance; the year for me to redeem had come. I looked, but there was no one to help,
I was appalled that no one gave support; so my own arm achieved salvation for me, and my own wrath sustained me.
The day of the Lord's wrath brought judgement upon the nations of the earth as a winepress, crushing grapes, pours out their juice, so did blood pour out of the nations. The Lord's apparel was stained crimson.
This day of vengeance, bringing judgement as it did, also marked the year of the Lord's redemption of His people.
The Lord, looking for any to Him bring judgement to the nations, was appalled that there was none who could join Him, so He resolved to accomplish His own salvation and to bring the wrath of judgement upon the nations by the power of His own fury.
The Lord is great in judgement against ungodliness and is also mighty to save His redeemed.
The carpenter measures with a line and makes an outline with a marker; he roughs it out with chisels and marks it with compasses.
He shapes it in human form, human form in all its glory, that it may dwell in a shrine.
This verse describes the process that a carpenter goes through to create an idol out of wood.
He outlines his design using compasses and markers so that it will look like the human form and then he chisels out the shape he wants.
He plans for it to be gloriously shaped like a human and suitable to be placed in a shrine. The human shape is a shape designed by God and so giving this shape to idols is a usurpation of the form of God after whom men were shaped.
Every aspect of the idol needs a person to plan for it for it can do nothing on its own. Its material, shape and dwelling place are all completed by the carpenter.
In contrast, the God of Israel, the eternal self-existing One, asks any other god to declare himself and proclaim his existence. He calls on such a god to demonstrate that he knows what transpired since He, the God of Israel, established His people and to demonstrate that he knows what is to come. Isaiah chapter 44 verse 7 says it this way;
Who then is like me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and lay out before me what has happened since I established my ancient people, Aand what is yet to come—yes, let them foretell what will come.
The Lord, in view of these ironsmiths and carpenters making gods by their own hands, declares that there is no other God beside Him because He does not know of any. This is recorded in Isaiah chapter 44 verse 8;
Do not tremble, do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago?
You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.”
A parable given to the prophet Ezekiel by the Lord told of two sisters named Oholah, who was older, and Oholibah.
Ohola represented Samaria which was the central region of Israel which had fallen away from the Lord and into dealings with the Assyrians.
Oholibah represented Jerusalem which later, also fell way from the Lord by entwining herself with the Assyrians first and then with the Babylonians.
Oholah, having angered the Lord by her prostitutions, was given over into the hands of those she lusted after and Ezekiel chapter 23 verses 9 - 10 says this;
“Therefore I delivered her into the hands of her lovers, the Assyrians, for whom she lusted. They stripped her naked, took away her sons and daughters and killed her with the sword. She became a byword among women, and punishment was inflicted on her.
This passage details what happened to Oholah which represents how the Assyrians tore Samaria apart, took her peoples away into slavery and left behind a destroyed kingdom.
That which we lust after is often what we are delivered over to as a consequence for our infidelities.
We may look longingly at carefree or loud subcultures and erroneously conclude that we would be satiated and thrive in them but they end up enslaving and destroying us.
Our destinies are in the Lord and straying from Him can lead us into the derailment of our lives.
But whoever sacrifices a bull is like one who kills a person, and whoever offers a lamb is like one who breaks a dog’s neck; whoever makes a grain offering is like one who presents pig’s blood, and whoever burns memorial incense is like one who worships an idol. They have chosen their own ways, and they delight in their abominations;
This verse captures the deleterious effect of the people of God choosing to go their own way. They have the knowledge of the things required by the Lord but they only do things on their own terms and they are delighted by things which displease God.
When they do undertake to carry out ceremonial sacrifices out of religious tradition, their actions translate into the spiritual realm in a sinister way and register as insults instead of sacrifices.
For example, if people who live unconstrained by the Lord sacrifice a bull to Him, it resonates the same as murdering a person would.
Or, if they make an offering of grain, it is as though they were presenting pig's blood to Him.
Such is the effect of trying to uphold religious traditions while being beholden to our own agenda and to carnality.
Let us be sincere before the Lord that our offerings to the Lord are always acceptable.
OUR FATHER WHOSE PLAN OF SALVATION COULD NOT BE THWARTED
Ezekiel chapter 19 verses 4 - 5 says this;
The nations also heard of him; He was trapped in their pit, And they brought him with chains to the land of Egypt.
‘When she saw that she waited, that her hope was lost, She took another of her cubs and made him a young lion.
This passage reveals a rare window into the super-structure of nations where spiritual powers wrestle for advantage in order to maintain the dominion of darkness over the entire human race. This is often done by targeting the people who are potential threats to their rulership over mankind and rendering them helpless.
The person in question here is Joseph the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham whom the council in heaven began to prepare for a destiny related to the formation of a nation that would ultimately play a part in the plan for salvsalvation for mankind.
However, adversarial nations detected a potential in him to play a part in the plan of the salvation of mankind and so to counter it, they orchestrated the sale of Joseph by his brothers to slave traders by spiritually manipulating his brothers through their envy of Joseph.
This resulted in the enslavement and imprisonment of Joseph in Egypt where he remained for many years.
The princes of Israel, seeing that the person they had hoped in was lost to the prisons of Egypt, began to form another plan for the future but in the meantime, the person they thought their enemies had neutralized in Egypt, ended up rising and being a fulcrum in the unfolding story of salvation.
Unwittingly, the spiritual nations, when acting to block the plan of salvation, laid down conditions that made God's salvation more sure.
In the case of Joseph, the powers of this world believed that he was a likely route by which salvation would come and they had him imprisoned in Egypt but they did not understand that salvation would come through all the sons of Jacob and that Joseph, through their own machinations, was actually being sent ahead to Egypt to preserve the family through a coming drought because he would ultimately be elevated to prime minister in charge of preserving families through droughts.
This then made it possible for the whole family to move to Egypt and grow into a large nation. Over time, the children of Israel were enslaved by the Egyptians and so finally, they had to be saved from bondage in Egypt to return to their homeland in a great metaphoric narrative of the coming salvation of men
Thus the spiritual nations' schemes to thwart the plan of God's salvation for mankind were themselves woven into the great plan of the salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ.
The book of Ezekiel chapter 10 verses 4 - 5 says this;
Then the glory of the Lord went up from the cherub, and paused over the threshold of the temple; and the house was filled with the cloud, and the court was full of the brightness of the Lord’s glory. And the sound of the wings of the cherubim was heard even in the outer court, like the voice of Almighty God when He speaks.
The prophet Ezekiel saw a vision and beheld an astonishing scene at the temple in Jerusalem.
Ezekiel witnessed the bright glory of God leaving the cherub that was in the most holy place of the temple. As the glory of God departed, it temporarily stopped at the entrance way between the most holy place and the main temple area called the great hall.
The refulgent glory of the Lord and the cloud of the Lord's presence filled the temple building and the light even brilliantly illuminated the inner court.
The cherubim's wings made a sound that could be heard even to the outer court of the temple and it sounded like the voice of the Almighty.
Such was the majesty and glory of the Lord at the temple that the prophet Ezekiel saw in a vision.
OUR FATHER FROM WHOM WE CAN REQUEST MERCY IN THE MIDST OF JUDGEMENT
Psalm 79 verses 1 - 3 says this;
O God, the nations have invaded your inheritance; they have defiled your holy temple, they have reduced Jerusalem to rubble.
They have left the dead bodies of your servants as food for the birds of the sky the flesh of your own people for the animals of the wild.
They have poured out blood like water all around Jerusalem, and there is no one to bury the dead.
The psalmist starts with a solemn status report to God informing Him of the atrocities the invaders from surrounding nations had done to their country.
The Lord's inheritance had been invaded; The holy temple had been desecrated; Jerusalem, their capital city, had been destroyed; the Lord's own servants had been slain and left for the vultures and wild animals to eat; and so many people had been killed that blood ran like water in the streets of Jerusalem and there was no one left to bury them.
Such were the terrible conditions the people faced and the Psalmist implored the Lord not to be angry with His people forever. He asked the Lord not to hold His people's sins against them and he requested mercy upon them for sake of the name of the Lord.
In Psalm 79 verse 11, he asked the Lord to hear the groans of the prisoners so that He might know the extent of the suffering His people were experiencing.
May the groans of the prisoners come before you; with your strong arm preserve those condemned to die.
The people having sinned against God, incurred the Lord's anger and the judgement of being invaded by hostile nations was released upon them. In the midst of their suffering, they asked the Lord to relent and turn and save them.
At the end of this Psalm in verse 13, the author made a promise to the Lord that if the Lord forgave His people and brought retribution to their enemies, His people would praise Him forever.
Then we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will praise you forever; from generation to generation we will proclaim your praise.
OUR FATHER WHOM WE MUST ALWAYS TRUST EVEN WHEN HE DOES NOT SEEM NEAR
Psalm 414 44 verse 9 says this;
But now you have rejected and humbled us; you no longer go out with our armies.
This verse marks a change in the psalm where the the author goes from remembering the good works of the Lord towards his ancestors. He recalled the stories told of how the Lord had helped his people overcome their adversaries and how they had boasted in the Lord.
The verse then changes tone and observes that the Lord had rejected them and left them to fend for themselves.
The author tries to rationalize what had caused the Lord to retreat from them. He considered that they had not strayed from the Lord as captured in Psalm 44 verses 17 - 18
All this came upon us, though we had not forgotten you; we had not been false to your covenant.
Our hearts had not turned back; our feet had not strayed from your path.
The psalmist is distressed because the Lord seems to have turned His back on them even though they have been faithful to Him. He cries out to the Lord with this lament in Psalm chapter 44 verses 23 -26;
Awake, Lord! Why do you sleep? Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever.
Why do you hide your face and forget our misery and oppression?
We are brought down to the dust; our bodies cling to the ground. Rise up and help us; rescue us because of your unfailing love.
OUR FATHER WHO RESPONDS TO US WHEN WE PREOCCUPY OURSELVES WITH THE PLIGHT OF THE POOR AND OPPRESSED
Isaiah chapter 58 verses 3 - 4, which records the Lord's response to the people of Israel's inquiry, says this;
‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?’
“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers. Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high.
The people of Israel were asking why they were fasting and the Lord had not seen it and why the Lord did not notice when they humbled themselves.
The Lord, through His prophet Isaiah, answered the people of Israel telling them that even though they were carrying out the actions of seeking God by fasting and inquiring of Him, they were following their own desires as well as exploiting their workers. Further to that, they were given to strife and violence.
The Lord informed them that fasting while conducting themselves in such ways negated the chance of their concerns being heard in heaven.
Giving them guidance on what conduct needed to accompany fasting, the Lord gave the people these instructions in Isaiah chapter 58 verses 6 - 7;
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
If the people did these things as the backdrop to their fasting, the Lord said to them in Isaiah chapter 58 verses 8 - 10;
Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.
Israel’s watchmen are blind, they all lack knowledge; they are all mute dogs, they cannot bark; they lie around and dream, they love to sleep.
This verse reads like a rebuke against the watchmen who slept while enemies came into the territory and sowed tares on the land that had been sown with wheat in a parable told by the Lord Jesus in Matthew chapter 13 verses 24 - 25;
Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way.
Of the people who were given the responsibility of watching but slept and left the fields vulnerable, Isaiah chapter 56 verse 11 says this;
They are dogs with mighty appetites; they never have enough. They are shepherds who lack understanding; they all turn to their own way, they seek their own gain.
They are distracted by the pursuits of their own benefit and abandon their charge and great harm is done to the kingdom of God by the implanting of evil seeds among the harvest of righteousness.
However, the Lord is able to redeem his field from the work of the enemy as described in Matthew chapter 13 verses 28 - 30;
He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.” ’ ”