Psalm 33 is full of joy and promise, and verse 12 is the pivotal statement:
Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; the people whom He has chosen as His heritage!
God’s favor rests on His people. God delivers His own from famine, and our souls from death. The people that God has chosen to be His heritage, these are the ones for whom He is a help and a shield. He gives us love everlasting and eternal hope.
These words are extraordinary from David, who was an earthly king. No-one knew better the power and skill of a warrior. No-one knew better the sweet taste of victory and the effectiveness of military strategy. No-one knew better the blessings of prosperity. Yet David, who had every reason to have confidence in his own physical strength, his own military might and genius, and his own ability to produce wealth, this David was convinced that everything came from the LORD. Nothing he had, nothing he had achieved, no victory that he had won was in any way his own doing. In David’s mind, and in His theology, everything came from God. All of his success and prosperity and even his kingship were gifts of Almighty God. David was a man after God’s own heart because He knew about God’s sovereignty over all things. David knew how to stand in the presence of God, he knew how to pray. And all of his prayers, even the ones of repentance and the pleas for help in hard times, all of these praise God for His steadfast love and faithfulness.
As we celebrate Independence Day, we reflect on these words for our own nation. Are we as wise as David? Do we recognize that God is sovereign and powerful over all our nation? Do we know that the counsel of our president, our senators, our congressmen, and our judiciary are all subject to the counsel of God? Do we know that our military might, the most powerful and best equipped army in the modern world, is not able to rescue or save us? Do we know that all our prosperity and wellbeing is a direct result of God’s favor on us? The original signers of the Declaration of Independence knew it. They dared to defy England, the greatest colonial empire of its day with the largest and best equipped standing army of its time. The framers of our constitution knew it. They purposely did not make this country a monarchy. They left room for God. The very first amendment of the constitution gives freedom of religion and of conscience and of speech. “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or restricting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, or to petition their government for a redress of grievances.” This follows the articles of government that provide for a balance of power between the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government, but make no provision for a king. They made no king, because God is the only One Who can be a perfect King. Once Christ came, earthly kings are only vain attempts to do God’s job. Jesus came preaching that the Kingdom of God had come. Once that happened, there is one and only one King, King Jesus. In these United States, our ultimate allegiance is left open, so that we may worship. It is not incompatible to be a Christian and an American. In fact, our whole Constitution declares the Scriptural truths of our freedom in Christ: our human equality, our divine mandate to take dominion, our establishment of government to allow the peaceful productive pursuit of prosperity and security for ourselves and our posterity. It is not a vague undertone of Christian principles, but one that recognizes the divine spark in every human soul. It rings with the declaration that we have worth in God’s eyes, and are therefore worth every protection and support a human government can afford, under the watchful eye and sovereign power of the Godhead.
Our nation is not perfect, no country on earth can claim that. Our history is replete with great successes and woeful failures, good progress and unfortunate missteps. Yet our government makes room for faith, for an acknowledgement that there is a Creator who endows us with every blessing we have. Such freedom is not to be taken lightly, so let us use it to do the highest work of which we are capable: worshiping our gracious God with thanksgiving and praise.