"For God remembered [God's] holy promise, and Abraham, [God's] servant. So [God] brought [God's] people out with joy, [God's] chosen ones with singing." - Psalm 105:42-43
There are not many things in this life that can match the power of a promise. "I'll try," or "I might," or "Maybe I will" are the sources of endless hesitation and doubt. But when someone says "I promise," there usually follows an expectation that will not be easily swayed. People who fail to keep promises are not easily forgotten or forgiven.
We all know that promises are only as good as the persons who make them, but there is another side to promise-keeping. Those to whom promises are made must keep faith in the promise as well.
Psalm 105 is a dramatic recitation of Israel's history. A history that spanned the generations from Jacob to Joshua. A history that tells of how God brought the Israelites out of Egyptian bondage through the desert sands of Sinai and delivered them into Canaan land. A history that bespoke God's provision in the midst of scarcity, God's direction in the midst of uncertainty and God's presence in the midst of giants.
Then, at the end, the Psalmist declares that the entire epochal history of Israel emanated from a promise that God made to Abraham. To be sure, it was a promise that God took responsibility for keeping, but it was also a promise that the Israelites had the responsibility of not forgetting. The history of Israel is not just about the promise God made. The history of Israel is just as much about the promise that Israel never abandoned; the promise that guided them when they could not see; the promise that comforted them when were weak; the promise that gave them the light of hope in the valleys of their deep despair.
The power of a promise is not only in the person who makes it. The power of a promise is also in the person(s) who believe it and who remain committed to it despite the obstacles to its fulfillment.
America's promise is as strong as those of us who still hold it as a sacred trust. A nuptial promise is as strong as the spouse who will not let any problem overtake it. A parent's promise is as strong as the expectations of a child who will not let the parent forget. And the promises of God are as strong as our determination to hold on to them, come what may from day to day.
Dear God, give us strength today to keep faith in every promise that you have given us. We promise to never forsake your promises. Amen.
Kenneth L. Samuel is Pastor of Victory for the World Church, Stone Mountain, Georgia.