September 22, 2011
Sitting at my computer and listening to some of the 9/11 memorial service, I heard a strange voice reading scripture. The voice I heard was a familiar one, as was the passage, but for some odd reason the two didn’t seem to go together. It was akin to a barking cat or a meowing dog. I turned around and saw President Obama reading Psalm 46 from a Christian Bible, and a text that distinctly referred to the God of “Jacob.”
Don’t get me wrong, I was glad to hear the exaltation of my Lord from the podium of a President whose practices and policies usually conflict with rather than confirm what the Bible has to say, but it was hard to imagine President Obama taking such a specific and exclusive stand knowingly. It just seemed out of character for one who has already proudly declared our nation neither Christian, Jewish, nor Muslim to read a passage, as the head of state, at a government funded event, from a distinctly Judeo-Christian book, and with a distinct reference to none other than the God of “Jacob.” This God of “Jacob,” by the way, isn't your ordinary, run-of-the-mill, or generic God to whom the world willingly pays homage, but, again, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and then, “Jacob.”
I know I keep mentioning the fact that the President’s choice passage referred to the God of “Jacob,” but it is a well-known name to those the least bit familiar with biblical history. It is a significant name, in fact, because this same God was the one who changed Jacob’s name to, hold to your seats here, Israel (Genesis 32:28).
Has the President joined the religious right?
I know what Psalm 46 says and implies, but I’m not so sure that the President has the slightest knowledge of either. The Psalm, in fact, invites the reader to “Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations he hath made in the earth: (Psalm 46:8). The invitation and the adulation emerge because “He (the God to whom the Psalmist refers) maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire.” He is the one who will, in the resurrected Jesus, return, judge the nations, and rule from the throne of David for a thousand years – thus fulfilling his promise to the people to whom Psalm 46 was written in the first place – Israel.
Since the president was so brave as to declare the God of Psalm 46 supreme, then perhaps some things will really change. Perhaps he will reverse his opinion that Israel should revert to the pre-1967 borders, or be willing to defend marriage as a union between a man and a woman as the very God to whom he referred on the morning of 9/11/11 established it. Maybe, and I’m assuming some semblance of sincerity here, just maybe, he would be willing to declare the unborn, from conception on, to be the bona fide human beings that they really are. I’m just saying.
Then again, perhaps it’s just more political “business as usual,” - the coddling of a particular voting constituency - in this case the religious right or the Jewish community itself - in an attempt to corral as many votes as possible.
Now, before you get excited over my suspicion of political posturing, just remember that Obama’s supporters actually beat me to the punch. As Wendell Griffin noted, “Obama chose experts in political and commercial expediency rather than prophets for justice as his closest advisor…” (http://jeremiahwright.com/2011/08/the-unprophetic-president/), and as Wright himself said after then presidential candidate, Obama, distanced himself from his controversial pastor. “He’s a politician, I’m a pastor. He says what he has to say as a politician….He does what politicians do…” (PBS). If the President’s staunchest followers hold him suspect, I am perfectly justified in doing so.
Was Obama sincere in his reading? Only he and the God of Psalm 46 know for sure, but be assured, the same God, the God of the Bible, will ultimately bring glory and honor to himself, with or without Presidential cooperation – sincere or not.