But here is a man who says: I am a stranger in the earth. I don't feel at home here; this is not my home. This is something the world does not understand at all. The world says: be loyal to mother earth; clean up pollution; improve the environment. This earth is our home--the only one--so let's keep it clean and liveable.
The world has no patience with people like David. Today there are many in the church who donÕt have any use for David s confessions either. A stranger in the earth? That is an old-fashioned and outdated concept. We have outgrown this otherworldly religion with its longing for heaven and eternal bliss. The earth is our home and we are its stewards. We must guard it and improve it through social and political changes so that the kingdom of God may be seen here and now.
The underlying premise is that this world is all there is. Therefore, anyone who says he is a stranger in the earth is considered strange indeed! The Bible, however, says that unless we are strangers and pilgrims looking for Òthat city that has foundation,Ó our religion has no value in God's eyes.
No one is such a stranger and pilgrim by nature. David wasn't either. He became a stranger by the grace and power of God. It is by what God has done in Christ His Son. He came down from heaven to this earth. Although He was at home in heaven, He also loved this earth, because it was His Father's creation. But it had been ruined by sin and had come under the evil influence of Satan. Therefore Christ became man, taking on our flesh and blood.
As the last Adam, Christ did what the first Adam should have done, but failed to do: glorify God and obey His law. In this way He reclaimed the earth for God. Yet Christ met nothing but enmity and opposition. This earth did not want to be reclaimed for God. The world did not welcome Christ. He became an outcast, a stranger. There was no room for Him in the inn and no room for Him in Israel. So His parents had to flee with Him to Egypt. After He returned, He continued to be a social and religious outcast. Israel's leaders rejected Him, saying, away with Him, crucify Him!
But in this way He overcame Satan and won the earth back for His Father. A new kingdom was established on earth: the kingdom of heaven. Every true believer in Christ is a subject of this kingdom. That is why he cannot feel at home in this world anymore. His citizenship is in heaven. There is His Home.
Being a stranger in the earth is an essential mark of a Christian! We donÕt become such strangers without a struggle. Before we will say, I don't feel at home here anymore, a lot has to happen. We have to be weaned from this world and its attractions. We have to lose our appetite for earthly things.
Also God's children fall back into these earthly desires so often. David confesses this in this same Psalm 119. ÒMy soul cleaveth unto the dust" (vs.25). Being a stranger in the earth implies a fierce, long battle with the devil, the world and our own sinful flesh. Only by faith in Christ, the Conqueror over Satan and sin, will we defeat these enemies of our soul.
GodÕs Word is our guide to the Promised Land. David saw his need of such a guide when he prayed: ÒHide not thy commandments from me.Ó Without that guide and map he would still lose the way, and so will we. Therefore, we need to pray: ÒLet Thy commandments point the way to the City that has foundations. Take me and lead me on the narrow road that leads to a better Home. Let me not perish with those who are travelling on the broad way of sin. Ò
We have just entered another year. How we need to ask for divine guidance as we face an unknown future! But what a blessing to trust Him Who promises to be the Guide of all who are strangers in the earth.
We wish all our readers a most blessed and prosperous New Year!