Saturday, 26 September 2020.
Baker or Milkman?
By: Ong Hwee Soo (翁辉赐)

Psalm 68: 4-6 (ESV) 4 Sing to God, sing praises to his name; lift up a song to him who rides through the deserts; his name is the LORD; exult him! 5 Father of the fatherless and protector of the widows is God in his holy habitation. 6 God settles the solitary in a home; He leads out the prisoners to prosperity.

On 30 August 2020, arising from my devotion on Psalm 146:6-10, entitled “Quartet of the Vulnerable”, I received two immediate responses that Sunday itself. One was from a couple leading a Care Group (CG) and the other were from two sisters. Both requested for more information on vulnerable people who they could consider helping.

I immediately furnish them a list of nine needy individuals or families. It’s really amazing how these two groups responded separately and promptly, and, unbeknown to each other, decided to support three single-mother families named in the list.

Since both groups shared the same burden for single-mothers, I connected them for discussion. Arising from their discussion both the CG and the sisters decided to pool their resources together to ‘adopt’ the three single-mother families for a year.

As these ‘first responders’ have a heart for the fatherless, it prompted me to write a second devotion that reflects our Heavenly Father’s heart as “Father of the fatherless”.

Psalm 68 is one of the most magnificent songs of triumph in the whole Old Testament, which makes it an outstanding portion of the Psalm. It is possible that King David composed and sang it when he triumphantly brought the Ark of God into Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6). Thereafter, it was used to celebrate the annual commemoration of this great procession wherein God’s kingship would be portrayed and praised.

At the outset of this exuberant Psalm (which includes prayer, praise, thanksgiving and historical narration), the psalmist points us to the compassionate heart of God. Verse 4 exhorts us to “Sing to God, sing praises to his name” and immediately pinpoints “his name is the LORD”.

’LORD’ rendered in capital letters in the Bible refers to the original Hebrew word ‘Jehovah’ (Eternal, Self-existing God). This Psalm also parades other names of God to portray His attributes. Verse 1 begins with ’God’ – ‘Elohim’ (Sovereign, Creator). Verse 11 and 20 point to ’Lord God’ – ‘Adonai’ (Master-Ruler-Owner). Verse 14 names ‘the Almighty’-‘El Shaddai’ (All powerful), and Verse 18 directs us to ’Yahweh God’.

In exhibiting His names and concomitant characteristics, the Psalmist expresses a pride in Jehovah God for His care over His people and His majesty over the nations. In exhorting the faithful to sing praises to God, the Psalmist hastens to show in the next two verses the reason for the praises, that is, God has shown Himself kind and compassionate, especially to the helpless: orphans, widows, the lonely and prisoners.

This is exactly what we have seen in Psalm 146:6-10, where the reason to “Praise the LORD” is that the Almighty Creator uses His power to “execute justice for the oppressed, gives food to the hungry, sets the prisoner free” (v7), and “upholds the widow and the fatherless” (v9).

Another Psalm which highlights this heart of God is Psalm 10: “the helper of the fatherless” (v14) who “hear the desire of the afflicted” (v17), to “do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed” (v18).

I reckon most have read about George Mueller (1805–1898), the Christian Evangelist/Missionary who founded the Ashley Down Orphanage in Bristol, England. He cared for 10,024 orphans in his lifetime. Many times, he received unsolicited food donations only hours before they were needed to feed the children. One well-documented story is as follows:

“Three hundred hungry children were dressed and seated for breakfast and a prayer offered for the food. But there was no food on the table. Situations like this was not unusual for the orphanage founder/director. Here was another opportunity to see how God would provide.

Within minutes of Mueller’s prayer, a baker who couldn’t sleep the night before showed up at the door with sufficient bread to feed everyone. Shortly afterwards, the town milkman appeared. His cart had broken down right in front of the orphanage. Not wanting to let the milk go spoilt he offered it to the orphanage.”

The Bible has many direct injunctions (both in the Old Testament and New Testament) for us to take care of this marginalised, underprivileged group. To quote just two: Isaiah 1:27, “Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.” and James 1:27: “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows…”

Not everyone would have the Georg Mueller vision to start an orphanage ministry, but each one of us could the ‘baker’ or ‘milkman’ and be an answer to the prayer of the needy.

Helping one person or family might not change the world, but it could change the world for that one person or family.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, we praise you with the Psalmist today for You are the Father of the fatherless and protector of the widow. Lord, as we look around us, helps us discern the needs of the disadvantaged and help us realise how You have uniquely prepared each of us to help and care for others. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

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