Chosen

The psalm this morning, part of 119, included this verse (54):

Your statutes have been like songs to me wherever I have lived as a stranger.

Which got me thinking about how one function of the Law, particularly things like circumcision and food laws, was to mark Israel as different from the surrounding peoples — the chosen people, God’s own people. When in exile, or just traveling in a foreign culture, it can be comforting to run into reminders of your own culture, especially anything that you particularly value about your own culture, and/or that seems particularly righteous or good or true or beautiful. So here we have a Law that is righteous in itself, and that also comfortingly reminds the sojourner of his status as one of God’s chosen.

(What it means to not be chosen is a subject for another time; for now I’ll just say that Israel’s chosenness is to involve mission — it is not supposed to be insular.)

I also liked this verse (68):

You are good and you bring forth good; instruct me in your statutes.

What is certain (ha ha — of course this belief is subject to doubt and fear as well) is God’s fruitful, redeeming goodness. What is less certain is our understanding of him, of his law and grace and salvation and justice and mercy, of ourselves and of others, of time and history, and of everything else — but we don’t need to figure it all out before we are counted faithful or welcomed into the covenant family. Let us persist in bringing our requests — including requests for understanding — earnestly and honestly before God.

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