There is an illustration from the life of Maurice, a Roman emperor, who found comfort from Psalm 119:137 in an unbelievable crisis. In the preaching moment last night, I passed right by this illustration. And by the time I recognized it, I was too far ahead to go back to get it. But I have been enriched and encouraged by this story and want to share it anyway.
During the 20 years he ruled the Roman Empire, he had shown virtues, marking him out to succeed Tiberius II. But the army turned against him and in 602 he fled, wit his wife and children, to Chalcedon, to escape the fury of the deformed and disfigured Phoeas. But Maurice did not long remain in safely for by order of Phoeas, he and his 5 sons were seized and executed. He was the last to die. As, one by one, the boys were murdered before his eyes, the noble father cried aloud, with each stroke of the sword, “Righteous art Thou, O Lord, and true is Thy judgment.” – Herbert Lockyer, Psalms: A Devotional Commentary, p. 596
What a story! Maurice did not accuse God of wrong or deny the truthfulness of God’s word, as he watched his sons die. Rather, he endured these tragic moments by reminding himself from Psalm 119:137 that at that very moment, God was still righteous and his word was still true. And so it is with whatever challenge or crisis you may face today.
The Most Important Commandment
And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this:‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions. – Mark 12:28-34 Armies win…