In God We Trust
(H) A Song of Ascents. (1) Those who trust in Yahweh are like Mount Zion which cannot be shaken but stands firm forever. (2) As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so Yahweh surrounds his people both now and forever, (3) for the scepter of wickedness shall not rest on the land allotted to the righteous lest the righteous extend their hands (to do) evil. (4) Do good, Yahweh, to those who are good and to those who are upright in their hearts. (5) But those who turn aside to their crooked ways Yahweh will lead away with evildoers. Peace (be) upon Israel!
This psalm opens and closes with the psalmist referring to contrasting groups. First, he speaks of “those who trust in Yahweh,” comparing them to Mount Zion which stands firm forever (vs.1). Later, he concludes with “those who turn aside” from the way of Yahweh to pursue lives of wickedness (vs. 5). In between we find three repeated words which emphasize Yahweh’s care and protection for his own: “surround” (vs. 2), “the righteous” (vs. 3), and “good” (vs. 4).
I. Those who trust in Yahweh stand firm like Mount Zion. (1-4)
II. Those who turn from Yahweh will be led away with evildoers. (5)
Choosing to trust in Yahweh rather than turning away from him ensures that we will experience the fullness of his grace.
In 1956, the United States Congress officially adopted the phrase, “In God we trust,” as the official motto of the United States. It now appears on every coin and piece of currency in circulation. While this phrase may reflect the opinion of the majority, many object to this national expression of faith in God. They consider it either outdated or an outright violation of what they believe to be the intent of the United States Constitution to maintain a “wall of separation between church and state.” In Old Testament Israel, there was never any question regarding the appropriateness of such a phrase.
Just before he died, Joshua, who had replaced Moses as Israel’s ruler, gathered Israel’s leaders to meet with him at Shechem. This included all military chiefs, elders, judges, and other officials. There he challenged them to obey Yahweh with these stirring words: “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the river, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve Yahweh” (Josh. 24:15). At that historic moment, the rulers of Israel reaffirmed their covenant with Yahweh with these words: “We will serve Yahweh our God and obey him” (Josh. 24:24).
This same truth holds true for believers today just as it did for Israel over three thousand years ago. Yahweh stands ready to protect and provide for those who put their trust in him. The pilgrims who chanted the words of this psalm on their journey to Jerusalem were simply restating the same commitment their forefathers had made earlier. This is a pledge each of us should regularly reaffirm in our walk with God.