In a world marked by ongoing conflicts, including those in Israel, Palestine, Ukraine, Russia, Burkina Faso, and Cameroon, there is a collective yearning for peace and a longing to understand how to contribute to it. Psalm 147:12-14 offers insight.
12 Extol the Lord, Jerusalem; praise your God, Zion.13 He strengthens the bars of your gates and blesses your people within you. 14 He grants peace to your borders and satisfies you with the finest of wheat.
Martin Luther’s interpretation of this text emphasizes that the term “bars” encompasses not only physical barriers but also the elements that safeguard a society, including good governance, sound city ordinances, and wise leadership. These, he asserts, are divine gifts. (From Every Good Endeavor, by Tim Keller)
Luther delves into how God secures a city’s safety. He concludes that while God’s sovereign hand plays an unperceivable role in this, He also works through human agents, such as lawmakers, police officers, and government officials, who become extensions of His protection. Hence, every diligent police officer, in donning their uniform to safeguard the city, is, in essence, doing God’s work.
This perspective yields two vital conclusions.
Firstly, all ethical and purposeful work that promotes human flourishing and the responsible stewardship of the environment is an extension of God’s role in sustaining and caring for His creation.
Secondly, when we excel in our vocations, we serve the people who benefit from our efforts.
By performing our work with a commitment to honor God, it becomes a tangible expression of love for our neighbors.
This understanding aligns with Jesus’ instruction to love our neighbors, emphasizing that our daily endeavors are opportunities for community care and service.
Ultimately, these insights resonate with the Lord’s Prayer, which calls for daily sustenance and prays for the realization of God’s kingdom and His will on Earth. They remind us that our work, when carried out with diligence and integrity, can be a part of bringing God’s peace and provision to our communities and our world.
May God continue to use us to join Him in strengthening the bars of our gates, reminding us that we are blessed to be a blessing.