Many people in contemporary society, sometimes even in contemporary churches, have a problem with the imagery used in this psalm, that of a servant looking to the master, as a fitting picture of our relationship to God. Many people prefer to think of themselves as strong, independent and self-sufficient. To think of oneself as a servant seems demeaning.
But in this psalm, as in much of Scripture, there is a clear distinction between the proud and arrogant, who are the enemies of God, and the humble and lowly, who receive God’s grace.
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
Scriptures describing the day of the Lord use a variety of images, since after all the subject is so full of mystery for us that we need some way to relate it to our own lives. Paul alludes to Jesus’ own statements about the day coming like a thief in the night, as well as using the metaphor of labor pains to describe something that comes on suddenly.
He also uses the contrasting images of light vs darkness, sobriety vs drunkenness, alertness vs sleepiness, and deliverance vs wrath, to help the Thessalonians more thoroughly grasp their identity in Christ and live according to it.
When we realize that one talent represented twenty years wages for the average worker, it’s easier to see why one servant was afraid to take risks with such a large sum of money. In burying it, he was following the normal practice of the day for keeping treasure safe, just as today we would deposit it in the bank for safekeeping.
He was, however, failing to fulfill the responsibilities he had been given. Someone today who asked a stockbroker to invest one million dollars, only to find out much later that nothing had been done, would be upset and consider this failure, not achieving the expected gains, as a significant loss.
Our service to God will naturally vary according to the different abilities and gifts He has given us. But He expects faithfulness in what He calls us to do for Him.