God is active. We need to understand what that means and what it doesn’t mean. Let’s start with the canon of Scripture. When we say that God is active we mean that he works with the Scriptures to reveal his will to us. We do not mean that he is still offering fresh revelations of his personality, his law and his ways to us. These he has already given us. That God is speaking today is not in question. But how he speaks often is. The authority of the Word of God – the revelation of his divine character and attributes – stands, or else we can be sure of nothing at all about him.
God is active. He is not standing on the sidelines and, as the old pop song goes, “watching us from a distance.” He is acting. He is speaking. He is changing hearts of stone into hearts of flesh. He is working righteousness and yes, making woe.
God is active. Yesterday, here in the United States, we had an election. Today’s Daily Office Lectionary from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer includes this text. But before we can appreciate it, we have to understand that God did not cause these words to be written down around 1000 BC specifically for the US Congress to take note of them. While I do not believe for a second that the United States is now or ever was a type of “New Israel,” the truth in this passage should be read and re-read and digested and acted upon by every civic leader and every elected official in every place at every time. These words were put here as God’s prayer of anointing on new leaders as they assume the mantle of power and upon old leaders as they endure in doing right.
God is active. And rather than cave to the cynicism that our governmental system is so broken that we should “throw all the bums out,” we ought to pray these words, laying figurative hands on our leaders and anointing them for the tasks ahead: judging with righteousness, teaching the people how to tend the land and yield prosperity from it, defending the poor, delivering those in need, ending oppression wherever it exists in a free society, having pity on the weak, causing peace to abound. These are the tasks of government and of those who govern.
God is active. He uses his Word to convict and convince. He uses the prayers of his people to activate his righteous will. In your prayers today will you remember all those (no matter their party affiliation) we elected yesterday, and those who continue in office, and those who lead in other countries, that God may speak these things to them and so cause them to act in righteousness.
Give the king your justice, O God,
and your righteousness to the royal son!
May he judge your people with righteousness,
and your poor with justice!
Let the mountains bear prosperity for the people,
and the hills, in righteousness!
May he defend the cause of the poor of the people,
give deliverance to the children of the needy,
and crush the oppressor!
May they fear you while the sun endures,
and as long as the moon, throughout all generations!
May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass,
like showers that water the earth!
In his days may the righteous flourish,
and peace abound, till the moon be no more!
May he have dominion from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth!
May desert tribes bow down before him,
and his enemies lick the dust!
May the kings of Tarshish and of the coastlands
render him tribute;
may the kings of Sheba and Seba
May all kings fall down before him,
all nations serve him!
For he delivers the needy when he calls,
the poor and him who has no helper.
He has pity on the weak and the needy,
and saves the lives of the needy.
From oppression and violence he redeems their life,
and precious is their blood in his sight.
Long may he live;
may gold of Sheba be given to him!
May prayer be made for him continually,
and blessings invoked for him all the day!
May there be abundance of grain in the land;
on the tops of the mountains may it wave;
may its fruit be like Lebanon;
and may people blossom in the cities
like the grass of the field!
May his name endure forever,
his fame continue as long as the sun!
May people be blessed in him,
all nations call him blessed!
Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel,
who alone does wondrous things.
Blessed be his glorious name forever;
may the whole earth be filled with his glory!
Amen and Amen!
The prayers of David, the son of Jesse, are ended.
(Psalm 72 ESV)