TODAY’S READING: Psalm 43–45, 49, 84–85, 87
The very poor memory of man (despite God’s constant effort at reminding us) combined with the very constant rebellion against what we do remember repeatedly leads us to disaster. Repeatedly, God offers us the joy of His presence. The Most High God pursues us. He desires to be our God and all that He asks is that we be His holy faithful bride. If we will be His, He will live with us, bless us with His presence, power, and provision, and use us to bless all the peoples of earth. The folly in man fixates on the provisions, forgets the provider, and abandons the purpose, and the result is we lose both the provision and the protection. The cries in the psalms [such as: “Plead my cause against an ungodly nation… Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” (Psalm 43:1–2)] result from this plight, for to abandon the purposes of God to selfishly focus on His pleasures is to lose His presence. And that is to lose all.
When God’s people selfishly withdraw from blessing the nations, God responds by scattering them to the nations. Psalm 44 laments: “You have given us up like sheep intended for food, and have scattered us among the nations. You sell your people for next to nothing, and are not enriched by selling them. You make us a reproach to our neighbors, a scorn and a derision to those all around us. You make us a byword among the nations, a shaking of the head among the peoples. My dishonor is continually before me, and the shame of my face has covered me” (vv. 11–15). Crassly, when we do not bring glory to God among all the peoples of earth, we are so useless to Him that He doesn’t even want to sell us, we are so disappointing that He just wants to give us away.
God will use us to reveal His glory among the nations, either through prosperity because we in holiness have been faithful, or through pain because we in selfishness have been false. “Shame accompanies the experience of defeat and applies even to those who are not personally responsible for what happened.” As a collective body we were commissioned to lift up Jesus among all peoples. If this is not happening, we together bear shame. We are all responsible for aborted babies in our nation. We are all responsible for prayerlessness in our churches. We are all responsible for unreached peoples who receive no gospel witness. We are all responsible to repent and to work together “that glory may dwell in our land [and] mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed” (85:9–10). For then surely His salvation is near. And if we don’t collectively repent, we will collectively be punished.
All is not lost, however, for in His improbable mercy, God still woos us. He is fairer than the sons of men and from that beauty the peoples fall under Him and are won to His heart (45:2–6, 9–10). He responds with the affirmation: “The Lord loves the gates of Zion… Glorious things are spoken of you, O city of God! ‘I will make mention of Rahab and Babylon… Behold, O Philistia and Tyre, with Ethiopia (Sudan): “This one was born there.”’ …The Lord will record, when He registers the peoples: ‘This one was born there’” (87:2–6). In the expansive heart of God, His intention is that “Zion will become a multinational community of people from many nations, all of whom will belong to YHWH, and therefore they will be rightly counted as belonging to Israel. God Himself will dwell in the midst of ‘you’, Zion of the nations… The identity and membership of Israel have thus been radically redrawn by YHWH himself. It is no longer Zion and the nations but Zion inclusive of the nations.”
The psalms are not just songs—they are missionary anthems. These anthems remind us, warn us, encourage us, and inspire us. As we sit on the doorstep of God’s house (84:10) humming to ourselves, hearts swell and eyes mist as we remember that it’s not us and them, it’s not Zion and the nations. The Zion of God is us, the redeemed of all the nations. We look with eyes of faith at a South Asian Hindu family we befriend in the Congo, and we sing by faith over them: “These ones were born in Zion!”
 The Chronological Study Bible. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2008. 438.
 Christopher J. H. Wright. The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2006. 498.