Saturday: Psalm 52-54 & Romans 8.1-8

From Ryan Ruffing

Psalm 52: This psalm states clearly what is affirmed again and again in scripture – that God will bring low the arrogant who trust in their own strength, and flourish those who are humble and trust in Him.   Jesus put it this way: “whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted” (Matt 23:13).  And James, alluding to Proverbs 3:34, says “God opposes the proud but favors the humble” (4:6).

Psalm 53: The psalmist denounces the folly of those who say in their heart – “there is no God” (vs. 1).  For them, oppressing the people of God and doing evil has become as common as eating (vs. 4).  Strangely, while claiming they have nothing to fear from God’s judgment they are, nonetheless, “overwhelmed with dread, where there is nothing to dread” (vs. 5).  This statement strongly echoes Proverbs 28:1 – “the wicked flee when no one pursues.”  The proverb and the psalmist point to an irony in the life of those who flee from God – they live in fear while saying “there is nothing to fear.”  In contrast to this fear, the proverb tells us that “the righteous are bold as a lion.”

Psalm 54: This is a simple and faithful cry for help.  The psalm expresses faith in God’s ability to save, and in the midst of trouble already speaks of God’s deliverance as if it were already accomplished – “you have delivered me from all my troubles” (vs. 7).

Romans 8.1-8: Paul transitions from discussing the slavery of sin (chapter 7) to freedom in Christ.  This section in some ways expounds upon his exclamation that it is Christ who delivers us from this body of death (7:24-25).  Paul makes the straightforward claim that through the Spirit we are made “free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death” (8:2-3).  What is important to note here is that Paul is not talking about freedom from judgment primarily, but freedom from disobedience.  “For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.  For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot” (8:6-7).  It is not God’s intention to give us grace that we may keep on sinning, but rather that his grace and love, through the power of his Spirit might bring us to a restored life in obedience to his ways.  Bonhoeffer, discussing the idea of costly grace said this: “such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ.”