Monday, November 14, 2022

The Sway of Persecution (Psalm 129)

"The LORD is righteous; He has cut in pieces the cords of the wicked" (Ps. 129:4).

God, for His own glory, often subjects His church to severe persecutions. Irenaeus in the second century said, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” While many Christians today have not encountered such opposition, some in pagan countries can testify to such attacks and persecution from those who hate the church of Christ. Others face this onslaught against Christianity in much more subtle forms from co-workers, fellow students, and even friends and family. Such persecution can be weary and trying to the saint who longs to maintain a good testimony in the midst of persecution.

Psalm 129 teaches that God allows these trials for a purpose—to show His people that He is their defender and deliverer. The nation of Israel had been reduced to a state of extreme distress, and the psalmist writes of this to remind the people of Israel how wonderfully God preserved them even in the most difficult circumstances. God intends for this reminder to speak to the church in all parts of the world that our hope is in heaven. If God chooses to let us undergo persecution for a time, know that it is for spiritual refining and growth, that we may depend more fully on Him. Knowing this can help to keep our hope fixed on Christ.

“Consider the trial of the church in ancient times, from which it may be gathered, that the people of God have never been exempted from bearing the cross, and yet the various afflictions by which they have been tried have always had a happy issue,” Calvin wrote. We can also find consolation that God never permits the enemies of the church to do more than He allows. They never have and never will prevail in overthrowing God’s people because the Sovereign Lord of the universe has set their boundaries for His own purposes.

The psalmist also reminds us that God will not allow the wicked to go unpunished. They may persecute you now and slander the church of God, but ultimately He will bring judgment upon their ungodly souls in the end. He compares them to grass that grows on the house-tops, which have no solid root. Those who belong to the body of Christ need not fear His enemies, for although they may flourish and have a great outward show for a time, yet they are but barren grass, on which the curse of heaven rests.

How do you respond to persecution? Do you show grace and long-suffering when family and friends turn on you because of your belief in Jesus Christ? Strive to commit such situations to God in prayer, asking that He be glorified not only in the outcome but also in your behavior?