August 7, 2016

Psalm 132:9 May your priests be clothed with righteousness;
may your saints sing for joy.

This is a very interesting prayer. It seems entirely reasonable that the Psalmist would ask that God’s people sing for joy, since he himself would logically be included in that number. However, the request that the priests be clothed in righteousness should make us think. Throughout Israel’s history there were good, faithful priests and there were those who were not so. It would seem that too often, priests treated their office as just another job, or perhaps as a sinecure, a cushy job/title that didn’t require much. Such priests were certainly not pleasing to God, and weren’t much use to the people, either. This Psalm is right in line with various New Testament exhortations to pray for leadership. If you want good leaders, pray for them! That includes praying that good people will become leaders, just as in the upcoming US election, but it also includes praying for those who currently are leaders, whether they seem good at the moment or not. This Psalm doesn’t insist that the priests be righteous to begin with, however desirable that might be, but rather that they “wrap righteousness around them as a garment” (which is how the Japanese puts it.). When God gave a vision to the prophet Zechariah of the High Priest Joshua, He spoke of removing Joshua’s filthy, sinful clothes and replacing them with garments of purity. (Zechariah 3:3-5) We should pray for our leaders that this would happen to them, whatever they might have done in the past. After all, no one is righteous before God; we all need the cleansing blood of Jesus. We need to pray that leaders in general, and especially church leaders, would replace their humanistic, sinful attitudes and behaviors with the righteousness of God. That, after all, is God’s promise in Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

As a pastor, I certainly need to be clothed in righteousness! I am as human as anyone, however much some people seem to forget that and expect that I never make any mistakes. I certainly need people praying for me! That is particularly true since I minister in Japan, because for whatever reasons, the devil seems particularly dug in here, releasing people into God’s kingdom only with the greatest reluctance. When we first came to Omura in 1981 there was a church that prayed regularly for us, but after a few years that church disbanded because the pastor failed to clothe himself in righteousness. We didn’t think about the impact on us at the time, though we grieved for the church, but over the next several years my sense of purpose essentially went out the window. I was still going through the motions with the church, but it was more like it was a hobby, something on the side, rather than the reason I was here. (It wasn’t, and still isn’t, my livelihood, but that’s beside the point.) It wasn’t until we got adopted by one of the home fellowships of a church in the Seattle area that things turned around, because we had people praying for us again. Since then that church too has disbanded (and most of the people on that home fellowship have died of old age) but thanks to the Internet we now have people praying for us in various places around the world. I am deeply grateful! I too am to pray for others in ministry, that together we may indeed be a righteous cohort, serving the Body of Christ without shame, for His glory.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for Your righteousness that is mine in Christ. Help me indeed wear it all the time, and wear it well, so that those who see me may be drawn to You, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!


About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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