A Pattern For Reconciliation
Psalm 78 is a song attributed to Asaph. He was a musician appointed by king David. There are 12 psalms attributed to Asaph or the sons of Asaph. Compared to most of the other psalms, this one is somewhat lengthy. It recounts Israel's history with God as they traveled from Egypt to the Promised Land. The psalm rehearses God's continued faithfulness and Israel's repeated infidelities. Despite Israel's disregard for God's instructions, God offered the opportunity for reconciliation. He was willing to restore the relationship that He desired and designed for them to have with Him.
There are two verses in Psalm 78 that detail the Pattern of Reconciliation.
Verse 38 (KJV) But He, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity; and destroyed them not: yea, many a time turned He His anger away, and did not stir up all His wrath.
Verse 39 (KJV) For He remembered that they were but flesh; a wind that passeth away, and cometh not again.
These verses reveal six steps of reconciliation. Six is the number of man or humanity. God knows the supreme importance of reconciliation for mankind. He sent His Son Jesus to reconcile the world back to Himself. In doing that, He shows us the gravity and the necessity of wholeness. Separation and fragmentation are enemies of fullness and completion. God wants us whole in our relationship with Him and with each other.
The first component of reconciliation is Compassion. The short definition of compassion is to recognize a need and take action. Many times in the New Testament the Bible records that Jesus had compassion on the people and healed them. He knew their needs and took action to remedy their discomfort. One of those verses is Matthew 14:14. A more extensive definition of compassion is this: to bear with a person according to their ignorance (what they don't know), their weakness and/or their circumstance. To pity, to feel for and excuse as far as possible, to be willing to pardon and when punishment is required to administer it with gentleness. (Dakes Annotated Bible, p. 247 in part)
The same degree of compassion we want given to us, is the measure we ought to offer to others. We want the maximum shown to us. In like manner, we ought to carry that same degree of compassion in our hearts and minds for others.
The second component is also found in verse 38. It is Forgiveness. Matthew 6:14-15 reminds us that forgiveness is something we have to give in order to receive the benefit of it for our own lives. Not forgiving restricts the Father from forgiving us. We are to let it go. Set people free in our minds and hearts. Refuse to hold them hostage based on offences levied against you or someone you care about.
God could have destroyed Israel but didn't. The third component of reconciliation is this: Don't seek revenge. Don't wish evil on the offender. Do not plan to get even. Do not carry out a plan of destruction. These kinds of plots, fueled by anger and hurt, often backfire. Keep your heart, mind and hands clear and clean of destructive thoughts and behavior.
The fourth component is to refuse to allow anger to build up in you. Refuse and resist anger and all the negative thoughts it will try to plant in your mind and heart. Keep in mind that anger carried in the bosom harms the house in which it resides. Anger sets a person on fire from the inside out. Anger will have a person seething on the inside while the one they are angry with is going on with their life.
The fifth component of reconciliation, also found in verse 38, is not to keep rehearsing the offense. Rehearsal keeps the wound fresh and sensitive. Rehearsing the wrong resists healing and erects a wall against peace and tranquility. Being receptive to reconciliation nurtures healing, peace and wholeness.
God could have released on Israel what they deserved according to the measure of their disobedience. But He didn't.
The sixth component of reconciliation is recorded in the first part of verse 39. We are to remember that all humans have faults, failures and weaknesses. Humanity is frail and subject to many types of errors. Errors in judgment which result in unwise choices. Errors in decisions and actions that result from those decisions. Possibly the most frequent are errors in speech. James 3:5 tells us that the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. The KJV says in James 3:6 that the tongue is a fire. Meaning that it can ignite a great flame and cause much damage. Matthew 12:36-37 reminds us that whatever words we release, we will meet those words again. It is wise to speak in such a way that we rejoice when we meet those words again and not sorrow,
The last part of Psalm 78:39 says "...a wind that passes away and comes not again." That emphasizes the frailty of this earthly existence. It is fragile, it is temporary and there are no do-overs.
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