Voce mea ad Dominum

Random thoughts from an amateur theologist.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

The poor in spirit and the eternal Rock

Trust in the LORD forever!
For the LORD is an eternal Rock.
He humbles those in high places,
and the lofty city he brings down;
He tumbles it to the ground,
levels it with the dust.
It is trampled underfoot by the needy,
by the footsteps of the poor. - Isaiah 26:4-6

Have you ever contemplated why the poor seem to be in the Lord's favor more than the rich? Is it because God doesn't like the rich? Are all poor people pleasant people and all rich people horrible wretches? The answer to this question is actually found in the above verses of scripture taken from the prophet Isaiah, and the key is in the first 2 lines.

The rich and the poor that the scriptures so often discuss are not those who are full or lacking in material goods. The scriptures are describing spiritual states rather than material states. The poor are those who are aware of their lowliness and complete reliance on God. The rich are those who are puffed up with their own importance and so express it either through their own assurance of divine favor or their unbelief in God period. Interestingly, these spiritual conditions quite often will spill over into the material, for people who have little materially will not be as likely to be distracted by the things of this world and be more open to hearing the voice of the Lord, however that is not to say that having great material wealth is incompatible with being open to the voice of the Lord, but we need to keep in mind that the rich and the poor of which the scriptures speak are largely spiritual entities.

So, what do these verses say? It would seem that the poor will trample over the rich, but I don't think it is a matter of the poor triumphing as it is the rich being humbled. Those who understand their complete reliance on God and his mercy will be exalted, while those who are puffed up with pride will be brought low. Why is this? Because according to Jesus, in God's eyes, we are all on a level playing field. God, who is love, wills all of us to be. He holds each of us in his hand and each of us is at his mercy since we all are sinners. Those who are aware of this, the poor in spirit, will be more attuned to their need for this mercy and deeply appreciate it, while those who are rich will simply take it for granted or reject it altogether.

We all know the result. Those who rely on themselves quite often lose their way, while those who trust in the Lord, the eternal rock, will never be led astray. The greatest in the Kingdom are those who are humble like Mary, the Mother of God, the poorest in spirit yet the richest in grace.


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