Basket of Figs

Published 2001-03

Bud Powell

Trinity Covenant RCUS, Colorado Springs


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Regarding Not His Hands


Because they regard not the works of the Lord, nor the operation of his hands, he shall destroy them, and not build them up.  –Psalm 28:5


What a heritage to leave behind!  Shortly before Timothy McVey was executed for bombing the Federal Building in Oklahoma City, he distributed a copy of Invictus, a poem by a minor American author, William Ernest Henley.  It is short, but packed with arrogance and blasphemy.

Out of the night that covers me,

Black as the Pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be

For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance

I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeonings of chance

My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears

Looms but the Horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years

Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,

How charged with punishments the scroll,

I am the master of my fate:

I am the captain of my soul.   1875


The poem, wicked though it is, pretty much captures the thinking of a great many Americans.  It is often commended in school literature classes as the work of a liberated soul.  Instead, it is a work of a soul in bondage to sin.  How do teachers live with themselves, when their students follow the logical consequences of their teaching?


Henley knew about Christ’s teaching regarding the “strait gate,” and he knew that the Bible [the scroll] was charged with warnings against the wicked.  But he chose to defy all of these in terms of his “unconquerable soul.”  Neither he nor McVey conquered death, however.  [See Romans 5:14]


It is impossible to be neutral.  This must be so if God is the Creator and Sustainer of all things.  The fault here is a simple one:  the wicked do not regard “the works of the Lord, nor the operation of His hands.”  The penalty is severe and spiritual, because God is a Spirit, and His most severe punishments are spiritual ones.


Men resist the idea of a God who rules all things because they want to leave some wiggle room for themselves.  They are willing to debase God in order to exalt themselves, and they reserve their worst invective against those who point out the lie.  They do not want to deal with such a God, for such a concept requires that salvation be of grace and man wants to believe the fiction that he is “master of his fate.”


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