Deal Not Foolishly
But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another.
Psalm 75: 4-7
4 I said unto the fools, Deal not foolishly: and to the wicked, Lift not up the horn:
5 Lift not up your horn on high: speak not with a stiff neck.
6 For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south.
7 But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another.
Recently, I completed a course with the United Methodist Church, on Lay Servant Ministries, Leading Worship. As our final assignment, I had to develop and complete worship service from Entrance to Sending Forth.
I won’t get into the weeds about all the parts of a service. Today I want to focus on just a portion of the larger Scriptural reading. The full reading is Psalm 75:1-10. Here I just want to focus on verses 4-7.
As I began working on my final assignment for the course, the weekend was full of violence across the United States. There were more than a couple shooting events, with many injured and a few dead. In my frustration between being a supporter of the Second Amendment, and knowing there are many violent and mentally ill people in the world who should never own or have access to a weapon, I plopped my Bible on the couch and it fell open to Psalm 75. It is a Psalm of Thanksgiving for God’s Righteous Judgment.
I read through the 10 verses more than a couple times, stunned at how they fit exactly the moment. I was upset at the violence happening across my country. The senseless slaughter born of hate, and the twisting of vague information to suit political goals. Through the Holy Spirit, God was providing me the perfect Scripture to meditate on.
4. “I said unto the fools, Deal not foolishly: and to the wicked, Lift not up the horn:
5. Lift not up your horn on high: speak not with a stiff neck.”
Here, foolish is pretty obvious, but what about the horn? Well, that reflects back to pagan rituals. Some eastern women would wear an ornament, a horn, on their heads after they gave birth to a son. Since sons were preferred it became a symbol of pride. So this verse basically means do not do foolish things or become prideful.
6. For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south.
Promotion, or lifting up, doesn’t come from ourselves (south) or those around us (east/west). It is sometimes called an echo chamber. When what you think is validated by those around you, but no one else. For example, you say the sun is green. Everyone around you agrees that the sun is green! You are awesome! You are wise! You have all the answers! Back-in-the-day it was called being surrounded by “Yes men.”
Did you notice the direction that was missing? The north. North is not mentioned here because our promotion, our lifting up, comes from the Lord. It comes from above, or “north.”
7. But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another.
Always remember the final judgment will come from God. No matter what we think should happen, God will make the decision. We may never know what the outcome is, but God will. We may think someone gets away with some terrible action or behavior. God knows when the judgement will fall.
We must pray for wisdom in our responses to the terrible things happening in the world. We must show compassion for everyone, yes even the guilty. While we see the results, we do not know the true cause.
Compassion does not absolve guilt on earth, nor the consequences of the action. We have no way of knowing how God will use the terrible things to bring about his plan. We are called on to love one another. Full stop.
Here in these 10 verses, God is reminding the reader that He is the Judge. He puts down one, and exalts another.