Are you grappling with a difficult verse in the Bible? And are you looking for a short, easy-to-read answer that really makes sense without explaining away the verse? Visit this page for a daily excerpt from IVP's Hard Saying series.
One wonders where the psalmist has been all his life if he has never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. David must surely have seen good people in great difficulties!
But this misses the psalmist's point. He did not question that the righteous may be temporarily forsaken, needy and poor. Rather, he observed that nowhere can it be shown that the righteous have experienced continued desertion and destitution.
David himself had plenty of opportunity to complain that God had forgotten him. For example, he had to beg rich Nabal for bread. Therefore, it is important to note that David carefully sets his statement in the context of life's long haul, for he had been young and now he was much older.
Thus, what looks like desertion to those taking a short view of life is actually only a passing phase. A full trust in God will prove the reverse when life has been viewed from his perspective.
This acrostic psalm was designed to meet the very temptation assailing anyone in such dire circumstances. It contrasts what ultimately endures with the transitory. However, this does not mean God has not also provided, in some measure, relief even in this pres- ent life. As our Lord would later teach, those who seek first the kingdom of God will have all other things given to them according to their needs.
In fact, our Lord taught us to ask for our daily bread. Thus what is a command is also a promise. He invites us to pray for that which he wishes to give to us.
God does not abandon his people; he cares for them and provides for them. For those who have lived long enough in this world to see that God does finally right wrongs and avenge gross injustice, the psalmist's declarations ring true even if the short term offers many temporary exceptions.
If we are sure that God's watch-care includes his concern for even the small sparrows, should we think he will allow his children to go unloved and uncared for in this present age? While some may experience a temporary sense of being forsaken, that cannot and will not be their continued experience.
If it be objected, as I have already conceded, that some wrongs and deprivations never appear to be righted in this life, two further points must be made. First, the truth expressed here is proverbial in form. Proverbs gather up the largest amount of experience that fits the case without pausing to speak to the exceptions or to nuance the general teaching with the fewer, but real, objections. Such is the very nature of proverbs and the way we must understand them. If we press contemporary or biblical proverbs into being exhaustive treatments of every topic they comment on, our teaching and practice will become simplistic and reductionistic.
Second, the psalmist deliberately mentions the second generation as being the recipients of God's blessing. Thus, while some Third World peoples struggle with poverty, famine and starvation, out of the ashes of such real sorrow and pain often comes a whole new opportunity for the children who survive. The point is this: in the long haul, God does not forsake his own whether they have little or much; their children will be blessed!