But for me it is good to be near God;
I have made the Lord God my refuge,
to tell all your works.
Isaiah is speaking to a people who have been overrun and devastated--vindication and salvation is coming. Jerusalem needs saving, and not only for its own sake. The salvation of Jerusalem will be a lesson for all who see it. The world we live in is not quite perfect even yet. We still need to sing of salvation and to look forward to it, as well.
As God has acted graciously on our behalf, so we too should act graciously, particularly when doing so does not seem reasonable. Radical love is what is called for. God's love is a relational love that calls forth love in return.
Now read chapter 65. After they returned home after exile, they gave mixed responses. Some gratitude, yes, but also some complaints. According to the New interpreter's Study Bible, scholars assert that God is speaking not to the returning exiles but to the ones who never left.
Of course, they had complaints too.
God is addressing these complaints.
We can infer that they are blaming God for their troubles, asking "Why didn't you do something sooner?"
God's response, "I was ready to come and to help even those who didn't bother to ask. When I held my hand out, you were too busy doing other things to notice me. How can I help anyone who doesn't accept my offer?"
Then, more ominously, God says,"I have been paying attention to you, and you will reap the consequences for your lapses."
But, even then, God holds out hope. Total destruction may have been deserved, but instead, God is promising continuing survival and relationship.
Thus says the Lord: As the wine is found in the cluster, and they say "do not destroy it, for there is a blessing in it" so I will do for my servants' sake (8).
This do-over after the exile allows these people to live in the land given to them by the Lord and in the way that the Lord has devised. They had messed up the first time, but now the Lord has given them another chance.
This isn't just history. It's a reminder to us as we acknowledge our failings and look to God for renewal and continued support.
Paul warns the Philippians as he had the Galatians to beware those Christian missionaries that he terms dogs and evil workers.
God is good to the upright--and to the rest of us, as well.
My child, eat honey, for it is good,
and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste.
Know that wisdom is such to your soul;
if you find it, you will find a future,
and your hope will not be cut off.
Prayer for Today: O God, you are always ready to hear us. You are always ready to be found when we seek you. Turn our attention now to you, to speak to you, to seek you always. Amen.