Sunday, 30 August 2020
Title: “Quartet of the Vulnerable”
By: Ong Hwee Soo 翁辉赐

Psalm 146:6 -10 (ESV)

6 who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, who keeps faith forever;
7 who executes justice for the oppressed, who gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets the prisoner free;
8 the LORD opens the eyes of the blind. The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down; the LORD loves the righteous.
9 The LORD watches over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.
10 The LORD will reign, your God, O Zion, to all generations. Praise the LORD!

Pastor Soong’s devotion on 11 July was on the first five verses of Psalm 146, entitled “How to be Happy”.

My devotion today is on the next five verses of the Psalm. Briefly, Psalm 146 is the first of the five concluding psalms in the Psalter. It begins and ends with “Praise the LORD!” – typical of all the concluding psalms (146-150).

Verse 6 introduces this “LORD” who the Psalmist praises. He is the Creator God “who made heaven and earth…” This Almighty Creator who the Psalmist shows us is one “who remains faithful forever” (NIV). Immediately following that, the Psalmist reveals what this faithful God does – “who executes justice” (v.7).

The Hebrew word for “justice” is “mishpat”, which occurs 200 times in the Old Testament (OT), emphasising the importance of justice in community life. The terms “mishpat” means “to give people their due”. Negatively, it means to stop and punish wrong (v.9b) whereas positively, it means to give people what they need (vv.7b, 8, 9a). Hence, justice is understood as being the same word as ‘righteousness’. It’s like two sides of the same coin.

Psalm 97:2 highlights that “righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne”.

The pagan gods used their powers to help the pagan kings, but the “Maker of heaven and earth” (NIV) uses His almighty power to “execute justice for the oppressed”, “give food to the hungry” and “set the prisoner free” (v.7). Furthermore, the LORD “opens the eyes of the blind” and “lifts up those who are bowed down” (v.8) as well as “watches over the sojourners” and “uphold the widow and the fatherless” (v.9a).

In his classic book, ‘Justice’, Nicolas Woltenstorff, a renowned Christian philosopher, coined the quotable phrase “Quartet of the Vulnerable” to highlight the OT concern of caring and seeking justice for the vulnerable, namely, the poor, the foreigner, the orphan and the widow.

The “Quartet” is mentioned in different ways in various parts of the OT, but one passage where the whole quartet appears is in Zechariah 7:9 (NIV), “This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor.” Repeatedly, this ‘mishpat’ in the OT describes taking up the care and cause of widows, orphans, immigrants and the poor.

Psalm 146:6-10 points to, and more so by Prophet Isaiah to Jesus’ earthly ministry. In Jesus’ very first sermon, He quoted from Isaiah 61:1-3, “The Spirit of the LORD GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” (Luke 4:8-19 ESV). Jesus modelled how to love and care for the marginalised.

This vulnerable group is portrayed repeatedly in the OT and NT as needy people whom God loves, protects and calls us to do the same.

Today, this ‘Quartet’ is expanded into an ‘Octet’, to encompass the refugees, the migrant workers, the homeless, the single parents and the aged. With all the massive needs around us, who does God call us to serve in our community and city?

Pastor Soong concluded his devotion on Psalm 146:1-5 by quoting Richard DeHaan’s “Ten Rules for Happier Living”. Remarkably, the first rule is to “Give something away” and the second is “Do a kindness”. While living a happy life is important, living out God’s rule is far more important. No matter how difficult the circumstances might be, life is good when you are happy but much better when others are happy because of you.

In Micah 6:8, the minor prophet asks a major question, “O man, what is good and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God?”

To reiterate, justice is defined as caring for, supporting, uplifting and restoring the vulnerable. The poet in Psalm 146 praises God for His justice which he sees as the way God supports the disadvantaged. Are we using our power and resources for the benefit of the ‘quartet or octet of the vulnerable’ in our community? As you look around you, ask God to show you where His place for you is amongst the vulnerable.

During the MCO, my CG was led by the Lord to ‘adopt’ a refugee family – a single mother with 5 children, whom we will continue to support in the foreseeable future. They are like a “Quartet” within the family. If any of you or your CG wish to support a refugee or a family, I do have some of their profiles for you to prayerfully consider ‘adopting’ or helping.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, we echo the praise of the Psalmist that You are the “Father of the fatherless and protector of the widows” (Psalm 68:5). As we see around us, the plight of the oppressed, disadvantaged, under-privileged and marginalised, show us, O Lord, how we could help and support these who are vulnerable; as a church, as a CG or as individuals. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

每日灵粮
星期日, 2020年8月30日
题目:脆弱者的四重奏
作者:翁辉赐
翻译:杨仕涵

诗篇146:6-10
6耶和华造天、地、海和其中的万物,祂守诚实直到永远。
7祂为受屈的申冤,赐食物于饥饿的。耶和华释放被囚的,
8 耶和华开了瞎子的眼睛,耶和华扶起被压下的人,耶和华喜爱义人。
9 耶和华保护寄居的,扶持孤儿和寡妇,却使恶人的道路弯曲。
10 耶和华要做王直到永远,锡安哪,你的神要做王直到万代。你们要赞美耶和华!

宋牧师7月11日的灵修分享(每日灵粮)题目:“蒙福的途径”,使用了诗篇146的前5节。

我今天的灵修分享使用诗篇146的后5节。简单地说,诗篇146篇是诗篇最后5篇(诗篇的结语)的第一篇。这篇诗篇(同诗篇146~150)都以“你们要赞美耶和华!”开始和结束。

第6节介绍诗人赞美的这一位“耶和华”。祂是造物主“造天、地”,诗人所表示的这位全能造物主是“守诚实直到永远”的。紧接着,诗人揭示了这位信实的上帝工作-“祂…伸冤”(7节)。

希伯来语中的“公平”一词是“mishpat”,在旧约圣经中出现了200次,强调了平义在社区生活中的重要性。“mishpat”一词的意思是“给人们应有的待遇”。负面看,它意味着停止和惩罚错误(9下节),而正面看,它意味着满足人的需要(7下、8、9上节)。 因此,公平能被理解为”公义”。就象一枚硬币的两面。

诗篇97:2提出“公义和公平是祂宝座的根基”。

异教的神明使用能力来帮助异教的国王,但”造天、地、海和其中的万物的耶和华”使用祂的全能力量”为受屈的申冤”、”赐食物于饥饿的”和”释放被囚的”(7节)。 此外,耶和华”开了瞎子的眼睛”,”扶起被压下的人”(8节),以及“保护寄居的”和“扶持孤儿和寡妇” (9上节)。

在一位著名的基督徒哲学家 – 尼古拉斯•沃爾特斯托夫(Nicholas Wolterstorff)经典的书《公正》(Justice: Rights and Wrongs)中,写了这一句话:“脆弱者的四重奏”,来表示旧约圣经主要保护和伸冤的脆弱/受屈人士:贫穷人、寄居的、孤儿和寡妇。

这”四重奏”可在旧约圣经的不同地方找到并以不同的方式写出,但完整的四重奏出现在撒迦利亚书7:9-10:“万军之耶和华曾对你们的列祖如此说:‘要按至理判断,各人以慈爱怜悯弟兄。不可欺压寡妇、孤儿、寄居的和贫穷人,谁都不可心里谋害弟兄”。旧约的“mishpat”反复说明对寡妇、孤儿、寄居的和贫穷人的看顾。

诗篇146:6-10和先知以赛亚指的就是耶稣在世上的事工。耶稣第一次的讲道中,他就引用了以赛亚61:1-3的话: “主的灵在我身上,因为他用膏膏我,叫我传福音给贫穷的人,差遣我报告被掳的得释放、瞎眼的得看见,叫那受压制的得自由, 19 报告神悦纳人的禧年。”(路加4:18~19)。 耶稣模范如何爱护边缘人群。

这群“脆弱”的人在旧约和新约圣经反复地被描述为上帝所爱、保护和指示我们去爱和保护的缺乏人群。

如今,这个”四重奏”已扩展为“八重奏”,为涵盖难民、移民工人、无家者、单亲父母和老年人。我们周围有许多的缺乏人群需要我们帮助,上帝感动我们在社区和城市里为谁服务?

宋牧师在他诗篇146:1-5的灵修分享以理查德 • 德汉 (Richard DeHaan)的“幸福生活的十个准则”结束。值得注意的是,第一条准则是“赠送一些东西”,第二条规则是“做一件善事”。虽然过上一个幸福的生活很重要,但是遵守上帝的规则要重要得多。无论环境多么艰难,喜乐能使生活美好,但当别人因你而喜乐时,生活将更加美好。

弥迦先知在弥迦书写了一个重要的一段话:“世人哪!耶和华已指示你何为善。祂向你所要的是什么呢?只要你行公义,好怜悯,存谦卑的心,与你的神同行。”

重申,公义的定义是照顾、支持、扶起和恢复弱势人群。诗人在诗篇146赞美耶和华上帝的公义,他看见上帝如何扶持弱势群体。我们有否利用我们的能力和资源,帮助我们社区中的”脆弱者的四重或八重奏”呢?当你环顾四周,请求上帝向你展示,祂为你在这些弱势肢体中预备的作用。

在行动管制令(MCO)期间,上帝感动我的小组“供养”一个难民家庭(单生母亲和5个孩子),我们将继续支援他们。他们一家就像个“四重奏”。你们或你们的小组如果有感动也要支援一些难民家庭,我有一些相关的资料能让你祷告并考虑“供养”或协助。

祷告:

天父,我们同诗人赞美祢,因祢是“孤儿的父,寡妇的申冤者”(诗篇68:5)。 当我们看我们周围的人,被欺压、弱势和边缘人群的困境时,主求祢告诉我们,作为教会、小组或个人,如何来帮助和支持这些弱势肢体。奉主耶稣的名祷告。阿门。

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