While I was checking out at a 7-11 the other day, a man frantically came in and cut in line. Without an acknowledgment, he began to ask the cashier if he had seen a bank envelope with money in it. The clerk replied, curtly, without feeling or concern, and with an eye avoidance that at least made me suspicious, “No. No envelope.”
The frantic man went quickly away, probably to the next place he had been after the bank, and my mind went to work.
I’ve been there.
Cash your check. Lose the envelope. Two week’s pay gone.
How will you live?
And if you find the money? What rejoicing!
Psalm 66 tells the story of a community going through tough times. Now on the other side and looking back, one of their number calls for rejoicing and the worship of God. He sees the difficulties as a test from God, but a test God brought them through.
The Psalmist went through the trial with the community, but also as an individual and as an individual, in his suffering, he offered God deals (vows) for deliverance. Now delivered, the Psalmist, as an individual “pays up,” and while the deliverance was for the entire community, the writer praises God as an individual and calls on the community – and the world – to join in his rejoicing.
Is it appropriate to “make a deal” with God (“If you will help me I will __________)? The Psalmists certainly do.
Does it sway God?
You cannot buy one who already owns everything.
I tend to think the “deal” is a human way of responding to God and getting His attention. It’s not a matter of “right” or “wrong,” it’s just what we do in desperate times. But when God responds in the way we have asked, it should increase our dependence on Him and appreciation for Him, and cause us to tell of His work to others, bring them into our rejoicing.