Psalm 37:39-40 The salvation of the righteous comes from the LORD;
he is their stronghold in time of trouble.
The LORD helps them and delivers them;
he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
because they take refuge in him.
David is here stating a pretty basic principle, but we do well to think about it and not just pass it over. In a sense it is a description of what constitutes a righteous person. Everyone has times of trouble, just as Jesus stated. (John 16:33), but what distinguishes a righteous person is that when they come, instead of seeking human help in one form or another, they turn to the Lord. This comes out in both verses here, where God is their stronghold, and where they take refuge in Him. That’s why God is ready to save them. It is amazing how slow most people are to turn to God. We like to think we can do stuff on our own, and don’t like to acknowledge our dependence on Him. We are indeed to make good use of the resources that He has supplied, but there is a big difference between relying on those resources and relying on the One who provided them. As it says in verse 40, the Lord saves the righteous precisely because they take refuge in Him. I am reminded of the derisive comment about “people who cling to their guns and religion.” Righteous people would cling first to their God (religion), and also to the tools they had been given, which in the US would include guns.
I’ve never owned a firearm, but that is simply because of having lived most of my life in Japan rather than the US. I have been given a wide variety of other tools, however, and I appreciate them. That said, my reliance must first and always be on the Lord, and not on anything else. Abilities, material resources, and all the rest are from God by His grace, and I must acknowledge that and give Him thanks and praise. However, my focus must be on Him, or I will not be able to see and use all of those other things correctly. As a pastor, I deal with people all the time who are in practically every variety of trouble. I am to seek to help them recognize the resources they have been given, but to do that, I must first turn their attention to God. I have encountered a good bit of resistance to that! People think, and say, “but I need a job,” or “but I need money,” or “but I need medical treatment.” All of those things might be true, but what they need first is a right relationship with the God who created them, relying on Him so that they may line up to receive His provision. I am not to be distracted by the seemingly urgent, but understand that for myself and for those to whom I minister, the most urgent need is a right relationship with God.
Father, thank You for how You have worked this truth into me over the years. Thank You for the example I saw in my parents as I was growing up. Thank You for the various tools You have placed in my hands. Help me be a good steward of each one, without placing it even for a moment ahead of You. Help me get through to the many hurting people around me, especially those who are consumed by their troubles, and help them lift their eyes to You and learn to trust You, so that Your plans for them may be fulfilled, for their blessing and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!