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Part of the FBCS 2010 Read Through the Bible Project: Enter the Story. Join the Song.

Please God

1 Thessalonians 2:1-16   Isaiah 14-16   Psalm 113

“But the Lord will have compassion on Jacob” (Isaiah 14:1). Compassion. The word Isaiah uses may also be translated as “show mercy” or “love.” And this is the thread that weaves its way through each of this day’s scripture texts, leading the psalmist to bless and praise the Lord (Psalm 113) and guiding Paul and his companions in their ministry to the Thessalonians. Compassion. Consider it . . .

“He raises the poor from the dust” (Psalm 113:7).  And this, even while being gloriously “seated on high” (v.5). Even the when the Lord “has broken the staff of the wicked” (Isaiah 14:5), it is an act of compassion on behalf of the oppressed with a clear and compassionate goal: that the whole earth will be at rest and filled with song (v.7). God is a God of compassion. Particularly and passionately on behalf of the poor and needy, that they might “find refuge” (Isaiah 14:32). And those who do find refuge respond with praise to the Lord “from the rising of the sun to its setting” (Psalm 113:3). Such praise involves singing, to be sure . . . And, as Paul models, it infuses all of life with a singular desire:

“To please God who tests our hearts” (1 Thessalonians 2:4). To please God. With heart and hands and voices. To please God by emulating God’s character. Particularly God’s compassion toward the poor and needy. Note with care that manner in which Paul and his companions ministered to the Thessalonians: “We were gentle among you . . . urging and encouraging you and pleading that you lead a life worthy of God . . .” (verses 7 and 12). And this, even in the wake of mistreatment and in the context of great opposition. Well. How does one please God? By exhibiting God’s own compassion, mercy, and love toward those who most need it. In truth, this is the meaning of praising God from the rising of the sun to its setting. “We were gentle among you.” May we hear the word of the Lord. And please God. Amen.

Blessed be the name of the Lord
from this time on and forevermore.
From the rising of the sun
to its setting
the name of the Lord is to be praised.”
— Psalm 113:3

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