Psalm 47: Heritage

From time to time I read a Psalm and one line will jump out to me as if I’ve never read it before. That’s exactly what happened when I read Psalm 47 this week, there was one statement that seemed like it was in bold type when I got to it, it was something I knew but didn’t really know if that makes any sense, something that was in my head but needed to get into my heart. I’m praying that the few words I share will point you to the depth, breadth and necessity of the words that God wrote through the Sons of Korah.

The Psalm begins as a call to worship, to praise, “Clap your hands, all peoples!” The beauty of that statement is that while the Sons of Korah were the worship leaders of Israel, as the Spirit led them, they were calling for worship from all nations, from all race, from every family of the earth. For many if not most of us, that sounds like a given, God created all, He desires all, He loves all, but those are statements we know in mind much more than we know them in heart, they are our theology but often they are not our reality.

The psalmists called for worship from all nations but then began to sing about God’s care for Israel. Our worship is often birthed from our experience. We know God because of how He has made Himself known to us, God doesn’t change, but we are all different by His design and so He reveals Himself to us differently. Jesus is the only way, but there are many ways to Jesus. Just in the gospels we see people come to Jesus through His call to discipleship, through the pain of illness, through the disappointment of loss, through the oppression of leadership, through the possession of demons, through the beauty of His words and through the power of His miracles. We come to Jesus just as we are because no matter how we got here we need Jesus just as He is. He created all. He desires all. He is the way for all, because all fit into His heart, His plan and His kingdom.

In verse 4 there is the bold-faced type statement that I mentioned earlier, “He chose our heritage for us.” The Hebrew word that is translated as “heritage” in the English Standard Version and “inheritance” in most other translations means “possession, property, inheritance, heritage”. The passage is usually understood to be referring to the Promised Land, but I believe that it is saying so much more than God chose which plot of land to present to Israel. The Holy Spirit was singing through the Sons of Korah that God Himself given to us, chosen for us everything about us. Our inheritance is not just the things we have or the property we own. From my father and mother, I received an inheritance of character, of personality traits, of experiences and mindsets. From my parents I received an inheritance of nationality, race, familial traditions and connections and genetic disposition. The Sons of Korah are saying that this inheritance didn’t come from our parents, but it was chosen for us by God. Our race, our location, our gender, our family background, our talents and abilities, our disposition and complexion are all from God, by God and for God. We are who God created us to be.

That might be common knowledge, but it has an uncommon application, if it’s true for me then it’s true for you and if it’s true for you it’s true for everyone. This truth makes any form of prejudice or racism utter foolishness, it makes the idea of superiority in one people group or inferiority in another complete ignorance. How can we take pride in something we had no part in? How could we stand in judgement of something that was chosen by God? This should change our ideas of nationalism and patriotism, a shift from being proud of who we are to being thankful for how God has made all and a longing to see how we all fit together. Our diversity is not what sin did to us it is how God created us, “He chose our heritage for us.” This is why Paul wrote “there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” We didn’t lose our race; we were called to lose our racial divisions. We didn’t lose our differences in status, wealth or even purpose; but we were commanded to lose the divisions according to class, culture or economics. We didn’t lose our most basic differences in gender, but we were taught to remove the divisions based upon sex.

Jesus came to restore all things, one of the most important places of restoration that we have been so slow in allowing is in how we see those different from us. The Sons of Korah tell us that restoration doesn’t look like sameness and restoration will not be when we all look the same, sound the same or even believe the same; Restoration will be when we can believe that our differences are from God and then if we will walk in the character of God we were created in and created for those differences will unites us in greater strength than we have ever walked in divided. I don’t want to stand on a soapbox, but today, I feel the need to say a few things out loud: the color of your skin and the color of your neighbors skin was chosen for you both by God. One is not greater than the other which means that one is not lesser than the other, but both belong to each other, need each other and improve each other when joined to each other. As the Body of Christ, our differences are allowed but our divisions need to be condemned. We are not the same, we were not meant to be. God has given us the gift of difference to show that He Himself is in all things, that all things were created by Him, for Him and through Him. Be yourself, you were chosen by God to be who you are. Celebrate those different from you, they were chosen by God to be who they are. Let’s be thankful for who we are and where we are, not because any of it’s better than anyone or any place else, but because it’s what God has chosen for us. This way, we can also be thankful for every other person and place knowing, believing and practicing the truth that God has chosen heritage for each of us and for all of us.   


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