Lead Me, LORD, In Your Righteousness

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1 CHRONICLES 4:5-5:17 | ACTS 25:1-27 | PSALM 5:1-12 | PROVERBS 18:19

There’s plenty more of those genealogical records where the last came from.  The book of Chronicles is quite thorough in listing out in considerable detail the many generations of each of the tribes of Jacob, also known as Israel.

Turning to our story of the false charges against Paul and his unjust imprisonment, we see how Felix has washed his hands off the case and has turned it over to his successor, Festus, another Roman governor.  And so, Paul says to Festus, “I have done nothing wrong against the Jewish law or against the temple or against Caesar.”

But Festus wishes to argue with him and asks if he is prepared to stand trial on the existing charges in a Roman court of law in Jerusalem.  To this, Paul replies, “I am now standing before Caesar’s court, where I ought to be tried. I have not done any wrong to the Jews, as you yourself know very well. 11 If, however, I am guilty of doing anything deserving death, I do not refuse to die. But if the charges brought against me by these Jews are not true, no one has the right to hand me over to them. I appeal to Caesar!”

Paul’s appeal to Caesar means he must be shipped off to Rome, but before Festus can do that, King Agrippa, one of the regional kings appointed probably by Caesar himself is passing through Caesarea and is a guest of Festus. 

Festus discusses Paul’s case with Agrippa by telling him this:  18 When his accusers got up to speak, they did not charge him with any of the crimes I had expected. 19 Instead, they had some points of dispute with him about their own religion and about a dead man named Jesus who Paul claimed was alive. 20 I was at a loss how to investigate such matters; so I asked if he would be willing to go to Jerusalem and stand trial there on these charges. 21 But when Paul made his appeal to be held over for the Emperor’s decision, I ordered him held until I could send him to Caesar.”

Agrippa wishes to hear Paul’s case himself, and the next day, Festus presents Paul to Agrippa, and offers this introduction:  “King Agrippa, and all who are present with us, you see this man! The whole Jewish community has petitioned me about him in Jerusalem and here in Caesarea, shouting that he ought not to live any longer. 25 I found he had done nothing deserving of death, but because he made his appeal to the Emperor I decided to send him to Rome. 26 But I have nothing definite to write to His Majesty about him. Therefore I have brought him before all of you, and especially before you, King Agrippa, so that as a result of this investigation I may have something to write. 27 For I think it is unreasonable to send a prisoner on to Rome without specifying the charges against him.”

It is to be seen what, if anything, may come of this.

Turning now to our reading of the Psalms, we find one that is penned in the style typical of David’s heartfelt cries to God.  This is a man who believes in a personal relationship with the Lord of the universe.  This is not some impersonal deity that David is addressing.  It is Yahweh himself, whom he knows is as close to him as a brother. 

David’s words are ones that even we can utter today, and it is with the same level of confidence that we also can exercise faith in knowing that God is listening to each word that escapes from our lips, and that this is a God who will undertake whatever is necessary for the good of his people.  David says:

1 Listen to my words, LORD,
consider my lament.
2 Hear my cry for help,
my King and my God,
for to you I pray.

3 In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my requests before you
and wait expectantly.

7 But I, by your great love,
can come into your house;
in reverence I bow down
toward your holy temple.

8 Lead me, LORD, in your righteousness
   because of my enemies—
make your way straight before me.

11 But let all who take refuge in you be glad;
let them ever sing for joy.
Spread your protection over them,
that those who love your name may rejoice in you.

12 Surely, LORD, you bless the righteous;
you surround them with your favor as with a shield.

Finally, a verse from the book of Proverbs that speaks to the great trust and bond that is to exist between brothers, and if and when it is broken, it is likened to this:

19 A brother wronged is more unyielding than a fortified city;
disputes are like the barred gates of a citadel.

3 thoughts on “Lead Me, LORD, In Your Righteousness

  1. I’m intrigued by how Paul’s experience parallels and somewhat contrasts with John the Baptist’s and Jesus’ in their interactions with the Roman and Jewish authorities. As a Roman citizen, Paul had the most “rights” in these situations and exercised them in his articulate defense speeches. It’s also disturbing how much corruption and debauchery there was among the Roman leaders and the Herods. It rivals the worst days of the Roman emperors.

    1. Again, very good observations; thank you for bringing them to the fore.

      One thing that I find interesting is the equal attention given to the many details surrounding Paul’s travels and especially his interactions with the law. Luke took time to record everything surrounding the life of Paul, not just his preachings. Perhaps it is to make the point that we are not above the confines of the laws of the land and must do what we can to abide by it.

      This new “Way” isn’t a magic touchstone that will take care of matters all on its own. The Way is for more weightier matters than this terrestrial life. But while on this earth, we must use our intelligence to navigate and negotiate our environments and the laws that bind us.

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