How Will You Respond?
by Zack Howard
When something big happens in our lives, we respond to it. Maybe it’s a diagnosis of illness. Maybe it’s a promotion at work. We may respond with anger or sadness, with joy or excitement. Reactions can be intense, or they can be subdued. So what happens when we see God in our life, answering prayers and caring for his people? Psalm 97 details God’s sovereignty and foundation for his reign, and begs the question: How do we respond to his authority?
Are We Ashamed?
When God’s power is shown, there are bound to be some sorrowful reactions. Verse 7 reads, “7 All worshipers of images are put to shame, who make their boast in worthless idols; worship him, all you gods!” As this psalm says, those who boast in worthless idols are put to shame. The shame comes from recognizing that God is the only one who can answer prayers and the man-made creation cannot. It comes from seeing God care for his people, guiding them and blessing them for their obedience, while the idol is worthlessly sitting still.
Today, we have different idols. We focus on scholars and academia, asking them to solve our problems and answer any difficult question of our lives. We focus on wealth, putting our hope in monetary happiness. We focus on technology, believing that it will open up doors for us that have never been opened. Our idols look different than those in biblical times, but they still elicit the same reaction when God’s power is seen: shame.
Shame comes when we recognize how useless our idols are compared to God. Shame comes from realizing our trust has been in all the wrong places. Will we be ashamed?
Are We Joyful?
While some are ashamed, others react joyfully. Verses 6 and 8 Read, “6 The heavens proclaim his righteousness, and all the peoples see his glory…8 Zion hears and is glad, and the daughters of Judah rejoice, because of your judgments, O Lord.” When those who have been waiting for God see his ability to answer prayers and how he works in the lives of man, they react with joy and praise.
Think of the happiness that comes to us when our illness is cured; think of the joy we feel when God guides us to a job that suits our needs and cares for our family. Joy is a natural response to good things, and God is so good. Not only do people praise God for his kingdom and power, but his creation itself praises the handiwork of the creator: “4 His lightnings light up the world; the earth sees and trembles. 5 The mountains melt like wax before the Lord, before the Lord of all the earth.” So if the creation reacts with praise and joy, then we should too.
We should proclaim God’s righteousness when we see how he deals with those in sin, but also when he rewards those who live a faithful and obedient life. We should rejoice when we see how he answers prayers and guides his people. We should glorify him for his everlasting kingdom. We should exalt him.
So how will we respond? As Christians, our response needs to be a joyful, obedient response.