Monday, September 4, 2017

Death Thou Shalt Die!

Surely, this God is our God forever and ever.
He will lead us through death (Psalm 48:14).

Psalm 48 is a national anthem praising Jerusalem, Judah’s capitol city. Jerusalem was a safe place, isolated on a mountain plateau, protected on three sides by steep ravines, enclosed and guarded by massive walls, towers and ramparts. 

But note well: The strength of the city was not in her defense systems, but in the knowledge that God was “in the city” (48:1). New York City is known for her buildings, Seattle for her Sound. Jerusalem was known for the fact that God was there. Israel’s enemies looked at Jerusalem, saw God, panicked and ran away! (48:4-7). 

The poet invites us to tour the city and take note of her strength and beauty: “Walk about Zion, go around her, number her towers, consider well her ramparts, that you may tell the next generation the story of God” (48:12,13).

And what is "the story of God"? "Surely, this God is our God forever and ever. He will lead us through death” (48:14).

What a strange conclusion to an otherwise straightforward poem about Jerusalem, but not when we understand that we are the citadel in which the eternal God dwells and will, in the end, deliver us from death, our last enemy. One glance at Him and death is shattered (48:4-7).

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow
Die not. Poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill (us)…
One short sleep past, we wake eternally
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die! 

—John Donne

David Roper

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