Psalm 109 ~ Do Not Remain Silent

image

But you, O Sovereign Lord, deal well with me for your name’s sake; out of the goodness of your love, deliver me.

For I am poor and needy, and my heart is wounded within me. Psalm 109:21-22

May his children be wandering beggars; may they be driven from their ruined homes. vv 10

This, the last of the imprecatory prayers in the psalter, leaves the modern reader troubled. As people of grace prohibited from calling down a curse upon our enemies and called to love them, the verse after verse of God-directed prayer for vengeance seems out of place in the Scriptures. We attempt to minimize it by forming a pseudo-dispensation between the God of the Old Testament (Angry, Wrathful) and the gentle, loving God of the New Testament. But, are we right in doing so?

David pens this psalm as King, with responsibility for his nation and her people. Rather than mete out vengeance himself for the enemy he describes, he trusts in God to pronounce justice as He sees fit. He chooses prayer (v4) rather than might, trusting in the sovereign God to handle the accuser (v26).

The presence of evil and the troubles that we must face in this life are understood by Christians of a mature faith. We remain in an unredeemed world, fallen and filled with the consequences of sin. Our hope is not a leap into darkness however; we have been graciously told the ending and the glory that awaits. Until that moment, we pray for and love our enemies, hoping that God might save some.

Grace and peace to you..

image h. koppdelaney

Advertisements

Searching for Soulprints

imageOn Sunday mornings we strive to blend in with the rest of the scrubbed faces in the chairs in the auditorium. We dress nice, but not too nice so we’re not accused of being flashy. We put a smile on our face, not even hinting that there might be problems in our lives. We blend in, masking our individuality because we’re afraid of what others will say if they discover the real you.

We’re afraid because we don’t know who we are ourselves.

Mark Batterson’s new book Soulprint delves into the process of peeling back the layers of makeup that we’ve applied to make ourselves presentable to the world. Washing them away, Batterson encourages us to stand bare before God and to take our identity cues from the hands that formed us rather than the false messages we get from the world.

Using the victories and failures of King David as cairns around which to center his discussions, Mark encourages us to examine ourselves in light of how absolutely unique we are in God’s creation. Just as the shepherd David was the only giant slayer on the battlefield that fateful day, God has created in each of us a singular personality with a purpose that only we can accomplish.

The examination of David’s humility as he sheds worldly trappings to worship with abandon and zero concern for the opinions of those around him is the highlight of the book. To be so fully devoted to God that the world falls away in importance has always been my prayer, but vestiges of the fallen life remain. They remind me not to lift my hands too high, not to allow my foibles to be known, to keep the happy face required in church.  I long to dance in worship.

Pastor Batterson has done a fine job with this volume. Men’s groups will be especially well served by centering a study around this and the applicable scriptures that tell David’s story. If only a small percentage of men can shed the masks they wear in our communities, the Church and world will never be the same.

I’m grateful to Multnomah books who provided this copy for review.

Psalm 60 You Have Been My Refuge

fortunion21

Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. (v1)

It seems appropriate that the first post of this new year returns our attention to the psalms. This brief entry in the psalter reminds us in the simplest fashion of the consistency and permanence of the God in which we have faith. He was not like the arbitrary and capricious gods of the peoples who surrounded Israel whose demands and favor changed from day to day depending on their mood. Yahweh is today as He was yesterday and will be tomorrow.

From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint;

lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe. (vv 2-3)

In three couplets (2-3,4-5,6-7) the psalmist professes his confidence in the strength and protection of the God he longs to make his abode with. He states his mortal weakness and contrasts it with the eternal strength of God. In his weak state, David asks only that he be allowed a small place at the edge of the shadow of God’s outstretched wings. For this privilege he will respond in eternal praise.

Then will I ever sing praise to your name and fulfill my vows day after day. (v8)

Amen.

Psalm 59 God Will Go Before Me

image Deliver me from my enemies, O God; protect me from those who rise up against me.

Deliver me from evildoers and save me from bloodthirsty men. (vv 1-2)

These have become familiar refrains from David as he implores God to release him from the constant harassment of his enemies. Time after time we hear him turn to God in need of protection, shelter, and safety, describing his enemies in the harshest terms. In this psalm we share David’s apprehension as his home is watched by Saul’s men who are intent on killing him. To place this in historical context, refer to 1 Samuel 19. Does David succumb to the temptation to rid himself of Saul? No, he righteously refuses to touch God’s anointed, a lesson that the modern lesson can learn as member are tempted to attack and destroy a pastor.

God will go before me and will let me gloat over those who slander me.

But do not kill them, O Lord our shield, or my people will forget.

In you might make them wander about, and bring them down. (v 11)

Rather than see them destroyed, David wishes that they might simple lose their way. Possibly he hopes that they will realize how far astray they have gone in hunting down God’s chosen king. He follows with a plea that their pride might be realized and they might turn back. We can be thankful that our intercessor please for one more minute for us to repent despite our manifold sins, even though they are injurious to Him. Ultimately, the redemption of a horrific sinner such as myself brings more glory to the King than my immediate destruction, though it would be well deserved.

Then it will be known to the ends of the earth that God rules over Jacob. (v 13b)

Image saibotregeel

Psalm 56 I May Walk In the Light of Life

image

In God, whose word I praise, in the Lord, whose word I praise – in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? (vv 10-11)

Each passing day seems to chip away at our trust as we succumb to the temptation to rely upon ourselves rather than God. We trust him for the eternal protection of our soul but our personal safety seems to be regarded as our domain, not His. Think about David’s words at the end of verse 11; ‘What can man do to me?’ If you were to take just a few moments you could probably come up with quite a list of offenses that could be visited upon you.

Now, take that list and ask the same question of each offense. What difference will it make in eternity? Is my current safety and security going to affect my eternal life? Eternal life depends completely on the grace of God and your acceptance of His mercy. When our trust begins to shift back toward God we worry less about what man can do to us and we become bolder as Saints. There is much to learn from King David in this grouping of prayers. Meditate on them and be strengthened.

Image mysza831

Psalm 55 As for Me, I Trust in You

image

Confuse the wicked, O Lord, confound their speech, for I see violence and strife in the city.

Day and night they prowl about on its walls; malice and abuse are within it.

Destructive forces are at work in the city; threats and lies never leave its streets. (vv 9-11)

David again pleads to the Lord for deliverance from an enemy that seeks to destroy him. So persistent is this foe that even the king would entertain desires to flee from the situation rather than facing it head on. This strikes the reader on the oblique; here is King David, a man deeply vested in the will of God and secure in His protection and yet he toys with the idea of running away.

I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest –I would flee far away and stay in the desert; I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and the storm.” (vv 6-8)

What attacker could generate such a willingness to retreat in the mighty king? It is the intimacy of his attacker that sets this foe apart. David envisions a city in chaos, a place in which no peace can be found. A similar sentiment was voice by the prophets Jeremiah (Jer 9:2-9) and Micah (Mic 7:1-6) of being surrounded by sin (cf. Micah – the people are able to sin with both hands) without relief. Worse yet, the enemy in view is one who is close to David, a friend once perhaps. This closeness makes the attack personal and therefore the cuts are deeper.

If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were raising himself against me, I could hide from him.

But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once  enjoyed sweet fellowship as we walked with the throng at the house of God. (vv 12-14)

We know these struggles well. Our environment is threatening at every turn. Our friends turn against us when we least expect it. We ponder why; why has God placed us in these situations? Perhaps it is to strengthen our trust. We are allowed to momentarily fantasize about running away from the problems, to avoid them altogether but, only for a moment. Those who trust in Him, trust in Him all the time and in all things, good and bad. Ultimately, our travails play a role in our Father’s ultimate glory. For this, we are grateful participants.

Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall. (v 22)

image anjan58

Psalm 52 In Your Name I Will Hope

image

Why do you boast of evil, you mighty man? Why do you boast all day long, you who are a disgrace in the eyes of God? (v1)

The worshipper looks aghast at the wicked man boasting of his deeds. He knows there is going to be vengeance and that the retribution is not always going to come from the hands of man. He remembers the stones heaped on Achan and the burning sulfur that had rained down on Sodom. Those who had previously shaken their fists at God and continued in their evil had paid the price and he was confident that the price would ultimately be paid by all evildoers as well.

The Psalmist recounts over many verses the evil that men do and the price that will be paid. He saves his fiercest condemnation for the end of his rant:

Here now is the man who did not make God his stronghold but trusted in his great wealth and grew strong by destroying others! (v7)

Though our corrupted hearts never cease to imagine new ways of visiting evil on one another, there is no greater failure than to not recognize that one cannot be a god unto himself. Despite your health, wealth, and status, God will always be God and you will not. He demands our obedience and worship and craves our love and to not deliver these things to the king is our ultimate corrupt act.

David leaves a final image of the upright man who is eternal in life and righteous in character. He know his place and his God.

But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever.

I will praise you forever for what you have done; in your name I will hope, for your name is good.

I will praise you in the presence of your saints. (vv 8-9)

I too will praise you Lord, alone and in the presence of your saints…

Image lincolnblue