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PASTOR’S CORNER: When in doubt, put trust in God

Whom do you trust to give you good advice when you just don’t know where to turn?

You may have discovered that trustworthiness is a rare trait among humankind, including those who are closest to you. The Israelites of the Old Testament learned that lesson, albeit too late to save them from the Babylonian captivity.

Fortunately for us, the lessons they learned while in captivity were documented and preserved by the psalmist in the first 11 verses of Psalm 115. Their nemesis, the one thing that caused their demise, was their decision to abandon God and embrace gold and silver man-made idols with human features.

During their captivity, Israel finally realized that trusting in idols rather than the true living God was ill-advised and they immediately returned to trusting Him. In our Psalm, the author reminisces of the experiences in Babylon, sharing the lessons learned by the Israelites that caused their changes in attitudes about idols and God. Let’s revisit the Psalm to see what is applicable for today.

In verses 4-7, the psalmist compares the true and living God with man-made idols. His point is that even though God is spirit, He is capable of talking to man, seeing man, hearing man, breathing on man, touching man and walking with man. Dead, inanimate, man-made idols are not capable of such relationships with mankind.

In the following verse, we see the beginning of the contemporary application of this psalm. The psalmist makes the observation that those who make idols and trust in them are like them; that is, they have mouths, eyes, ears and feet, but cannot talk with, see, hear or walk with mankind in the manner of the true and living God, and they have no relationship with Him.

Idolaters, then, are separated from God and do not hear from Him on any vital issue of life. They are thus incapable of receiving divine revelation and giving any Godly advice. They have no spiritual insight; no power of discernment; their counsel is therefore tainted and lacking in relevance, since it is based on personal opinion and not divine revelation.

The psalmist concludes in verses 9-11 with his advice on whom to trust. He advises all of God’s people to “trust in the Lord,” not once, but for emphasis, thrice. He reminds us that God is our help, our protector and our shield, and that we can feel confident in trusting in Him in all of life’s situations.

Since we know that God is trustworthy, it naturally follows that all who fear Him and who are in a personal relationship with Him are likewise trustworthy. The answer to our initial question, then, whom should I trust must be, in priority order, God first; and secondly, for those who choose to seek human counsel, those who fear Him, are connected to Him and worship Him.

Rev. O.L. Johnson, a retired LAPD lieutenant, is an associate pastor in his home church, Greater New Zion Baptist, 501 W. 80th St. in South Los Angeles.Pastor’s Corner is a religious column that looks at the relevancy of scripture in life today. The column will appear monthly in The Wave and on its website, www.wavepublication.com.