It is a privilege to invite Danielle back to be a part of another blog series. Let’s dig in together as my friend shares valuable insights from Psalm 123.
Danielle is my sweet friend from
Arizona. We did not have nearly enough time to go to tea, pour out our
hearts, and hang out when I lived there, but we keep up online, from
afar. She blogs at Real Life Real God and From Gossip to Goodness. Danielle was born to write. God has given her a gift to
express truth while using real-life analogies; opening her heart, on
paper, in a beautiful way- topped with a bow. Danielle was a guest writer for the Isaiah 40 series and the Love & Marriage series as well, and I am so glad that she is sharing with us again today.
Slave: a person who is the legal property of another and is forced to obey them, or someone who works excessively hard with no appreciation.
Oswald Sanders says, ”Many of us, even Christian workers, see a person whose life is a wreck and pass by on the other side. We seek a ministry more rewarding and worthy of our talents than bearing up the frail side of humanity. But from God’s point of view, it is noble work to reclaim the world’s downtrodden people.”
My kids and I had the privilege of studying American History this year. We were taken in by heart-warming stories of slaves and courage, but upset by slave owners’ cruel treatment. The kids often asked me, “Are you okay mom?” as I read with tears in my eyes or a lump in my throat.
When I read Psalm 123 it took on a whole new meaning, after reading about slavery over the past nine months. I tried to put myself on one of those boats that brought over hundreds of slaves from the shores of Africa; lined-up like sardines. If you made it to this country alive you were then auctioned off, probably separated from your family, bought and sentenced to a life in obedience to a master. The kids and I learned of good, kind-hearted men who cared for their slaves. We also learned of those who mistreated their slaves. Most men, women and children who were sold as slaves faced the inevitable cruel treatment of a harsh master.
One of my favorite heroes of slavery is Harriet Tubman. Her life describes the difficult conditions most slaves were under yet I love her bravery in the face of it. “Harriet Tubman’s early life was full of hardship. Physical violence was a part of daily life for Tubman and her family. The violence she suffered early in life caused permanent physical injuries. Harriet later recounted a particular day when she was lashed five times before breakfast. She carried the scars for the rest of her life. The most severe injury occurred when Tubman was an adolescent. Sent to a dry-goods store for supplies, she encountered a slave who had left the fields without permission. The man’s overseer demanded that Tubman help restrain the runaway. When Harriet refused, the overseer threw a two-pound weight that struck her in the head. Tubman endured seizures, severe headaches and narcoleptic episodes for the rest of her life” (source).
So why did I share all that? Because when I read Psalm 123 all that we read this year came flooding back. “As the eyes of a slave look to the hand of his master, so our eyes look to the Lord our God.” We have quite a different master we are looking to than those who lived in the 1800’s and before. The Bible says, “We do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses” (Heb 4:15) Slavery has always been a part of our history. The Jews were slaves to Egypt. Paul spoke to slaves and masters in the New Testament, and even our country has slavery etched all over its history books. Unfortunately, slavery is still prominent in present day.
But there is another kind of
slavery that has existed from the start of history as well. It is a
slavery to sin and we are all under it. Under it, until a wonderful God
set us free. I love the quote “And what difference is there in the color
of the soul?” – Solomon Northup, Twelve Years a Slave. None, there is no difference. While few of us will taste the pains of physical slavery we are all slaves to sin without Christ.
A slave’s life often included long working hours, separation from family, beatings, and fear. God has this picture in mind when He says, we are slaves to sin. Sin is a harsh slavery, promising freedom, but never able to deliver it. We can plot our escape, but we simply can’t do it. We are all trapped in sin, Romans 3:23 “All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory.” On the opposite side of the sin-serving slave field stands Christ, ready to set us free. Galatians 5:1 “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”
Romans 8:15 “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” Now that is music to any slaves ears.
Romans 6:17-23,“But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Christ has set us free from the yoke (or burden) of slavery We are free! Not because we earned it, worked for it, or slaved over it. We are free by the good master’s mercy. Titus 3:5 “He saved us, not by works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy.” When we realize the price our master paid to free us, we choose out of loving compulsion to serve Him forever.
What would make a slave, that had just been granted freedom, stay? That is crazy! It can only be one thing, the love of the master. They can think of no one else to be with. It is family. He never felt like a slave, he felt like a son. Now when we face hard issues in this life we can run to our Master’s throne. Not like a fearful slave shuddering before his brutal master, but, as a bond slave (a slave by choice) to the Lord, because we can think of no one in this life more worthy to serve.
In history slaves had to buy, serve long enough or earn their freedom. Few received it or lived to see it. Christ on the other hand took our suffering (our slave labor to sin) and set us free! He the master paid the ultimate price that no slave can pay. Unheard of. That is our God whom we can approach. Hebrews 4:16 “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
Mercy: compassion or forgiveness shown towards someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.
When you come to Christ as Savior he now says John 15:15 “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master business. Instead I have called you friends, for everything I have learned from my Father, I have made known to you.”
In our harsh history of slavery we can read of a few admirable masters. Some masters educated their slaves, let them run a business, or treated them like family, even on occasion granted freedom. BUT NONE stands out like Christ. He gave His very life to free us from a life of slavery. We can know with confidence that we are seeking a good master as we approach His throne for mercy.
Do you have a hard situation in your life right now? I hope you are encouraged that you have a good master that you can approach.
Are you still a slave to sin? Christ paid the price for your freedom. You cannot know the joy of being a bondslave until you personally know the love the master has for you.
Freedom is one choice away.
Lovingly a bondslave,
1. Reread Psalm 123 as you reflect on this post.
2. Choose one of two of the verses mentioned throughout this post to meditate on or memorize.
3. Take 5 minutes or so to worship Jesus our Savior as you reflect on the freedom that is found in Him, because of the cross.