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Pandemic Ponderings - Pillars
Pandemic Ponderings - Pillars
Steve Hardy
Monday, March 23, 2020

When the earth totters, 

and all its inhabitants, 

it is I who keep steady its pillars.

Psalm 75:3

Both the Psalmist and Samuel's mother Hannah recognized the significant reality that God established and now sustains the earth.  It is Hannah who acknowledges God as the Creator, in her prayer dedicating her son Samuel to the service of the LORD in 1 Samuel 2--

For the pillars of the earth are the LORD's,

 and on them he has set the world.

1 Samuel 2:8

In her mind, the work of God in Creation leads to the implication that he is in truth sovereign over all.  By him the mighty are broken, and by him the feeble bind on strength.  He is the author of life or death, and determines both poor and rich, humility or exaltation.  This brings a statement of confidence for those trusting in him, v. 9--

He will guard the feet of his faithful ones, 

but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness, 

for not by might shall a man prevail.

Indeed, it is only by the intervention of the LORD Hannah has this child to present to him for service, and what she has personally experienced of the LORD's favor leads her to this great prayer acknowledging his sovereign rule over all.  In a similar expression of truth about God's sovereign power, the Psalmist expresses in Psalm 75:3 that the pillars are kept steady by God.  That is, he created and also sustains the earth and all its inhabitants.  It is not mere happenstance that leads to deliverance or "lifting up" (75:6), but it is from the LORD who holds both the wicked and the righteous in his handthe one to judge ("cut off") and the other to save ("lifted up", 75:10).

Two points of application are made by both authors. The first is that all boasting from arrogant men should be silenced, in the humility which is our only appropriate stance before our mighty God, Creator and Sustainer of the world (1 Samuel 2:3; Psalm 75:4).  Will mankind be saved from anything present or eternal by his own power?  Will we on our own in our brilliance discover the vaccine or treatment that will stop the COVID 19 plague?  The answer is an obvious no.  Any answers we gain through research and experimentation will result from God's enablement as he equips those who are desperate to help the perishing and the threatened.  People of faith ought to pray, not in fear but in recognition of God, who is the sustainer and the one who grants wisdom and insight.

The second point of application is thankful rejoicing in God who is also the deliverer!  Hannah is overwhelmed with the goodness of God in answering her prayer, 1 Samuel 2:1--

My heart exults in the LORD;

my horn is exalted in the LORD.

My mouth derides my enemies,

because I rejoice in your salvation.

The Psalmist likewise turns to the LORD with praise, 75:1--

We give thanks to you, O God;

we give thanks, for your name is near.

We recount your wondrous deeds.

I hope you recognize it is the Lord who steadies the "pillars of the earth", and that whether it is a virus or global climate change or something else that threatens, our only appropriate position is to humble ourselves before him.  Even as we wisely practice "social distancing", or work to steward earth's resources well, we need to be prayerfully and confidently taking to him our needs and the needs of those around us, and anticipate being "lifted up" by him.  Our trust in God can steady us, even as he steadies the pillars.  If the earth totters, we are truly powerless to steady it on our own.  It is God's work, and his alone.

But being "lifted up" from any illness or dire circumstance on earth will only be temporary at best.  Our focus and confidence rest in this:  Our Creator and the one who sustains has worked to save us through his Son Jesus Christ (John 3:16).  Our faith is in him for our ultimate salvation unto life eternal.