“Look on me and answer, O LORD my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death.”
Psalm 13:3, NIV
God is the sole developer of light. He creates it and then assigns it to whom ever He chooses. He is the proprietor and the sole creator of its properties. Without Him actively bestowing light on us we would have no access to its power or its benefits . He holds the exclusive patent.
As Adam’s progeny we have experienced a light moratorium. We have been cut off from its many benefits. Illumination, understanding and wisdom are just some of the essences of light. When we have it, we are astounded that we lived without it, and we are amazed at the ignorance of our past days.
“The unfolding of your words gives light;
it gives understanding to the simple.”
Psalm 119:30, NIV
Darkened by our sin, we struggle throughout our blinded lives, unable to understand or grasp what is our real purpose. Meaning completely eludes us. However, we are directed by the Psalmist to open our hearts to the gracious gift of light. It illuminates us, giving us a sense of what is real and how life unfolds. That word “understanding” from our text is critical . No matter how stupid and pathetic we have become, the Word of God penetrates our fog and gives us a sense of what is true, and what is real.
Let it unfold, let it open up in your understanding. Like an umbrella on a foggy and rainy day, when it opens it will cover you. Notice that the source of ‘lit-up’ truth emanates from the “words”. Place yourself in His Word, let it pour over you and let it bring you to the the place of joyful acceptance.
The verse speaks of being “simple”. That actually is a pretty descriptive of our condition, and reveals much of human history and “so-called” progress. The word means “naive”. History opened up shows people to be amazingly compliant and susceptible to dictators and men with power. We seem to follow leaders with sinister and strange purposes and agendas. History shows it over and over. We just can’t grasp what is true and what is real.
Jesus has come as the “Good Shepherd”. He stands at the door, and rings our doorbell. Those of us who are being led into His Grace and Truth are finding light. He is revealing to us a definitive understanding of truth. And we need truth desperately. Let Him lead you, today.
%“Glory in Christ and you can bask in His light forever.” Woodrow Kroll
“If you have only a little ray of light, show out distinctly that you are for Him.” G.V. Wigram
- Christian meditation (eteubom.wordpress.com)
- Lip Service “A malicious man disguises himself with (lifetimecollegestudent.wordpress.com)
- Not presuming on the Lord (biblebase2adaringfaith.wordpress.com)
In our journey from initial conversion to Christ to our last breath on earth, like a seasoned sea captain, we will need wisdom to avoid shipwreck and get our boat safely into harbor. Wisdom will help us be aware of Satan’s strategies and how to respond to them. Scripture will make the simple wise (Psalm 19:7) and Christ the Word will teach us wisdom in our innermost being (Psalm 51:7).
Take the issues of unity and division, for example. A good rule of thumb is this: What Satan wants to divide, God wants to unify; and what Satan wants to unify, God wants to divide. In recent decades, we’ve had more teaching in the Church on the first half of this statement than the second.
We’ve had clarion calls to unity in many different areas of life: marriage, family, work, race relations, between the sexes, Christians within a local church, Christians in different denominations, world religions, nation to nation, etc.. There’s been no shortage of sermons or books on the importance of unity. However, the truth that where Satan wants to unify, God wants to divide, is sometimes overlooked.
For the wise man or woman who is immersed in Scripture and engaged in an intimate relationship with Christ, sometimes God will come to them like a sword or a scalpel and will divide an area of their life that Satan has combined, fused, or unified. Scripture and Christ the Word of God will visit them and be “living and active, sharper than any two–edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
Notice that when Christ visits the Seven Churches in the Book of the Revelation, he has a “sharp two–edged sword in his mouth” (Revelation 1:16). Here are three examples of that sword at work:
One problem I saw frequently in the pastorate was when people fused their view of God with their view of a dysfunctional parent. Put another way, if they had a father who was distant, angry, abusive, vindictive, controlling, manipulative, and/or neglectful, it was easy for them to see God the Father this way. This is right out of Satan’s playbook; he loves to unify a person’s experience of an unhealthy parent with their concept of God.
However, the wise person who is immersed in Scripture and engaged in an intimate relationship with Christ will be able to separate the two. The written Word will come to them as a scalpel and separate God from the parent with passages like this:” But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness” (Psalm 86:15). Christ the Word, who is Love, will also come to them with a sword in his mouth and separate the false union they’ve forged with their parent and God.’
Satan also loves to combine real discipleship with false discipleship. Many Christians have experienced churches that are more driven by law than grace. Instead of resting in their identity as loved children of God and having discipleship flow out of that, through self–effort and religious performance they try to earn their identity as loved sons and daughters.
The wise person, who knows both Scripture and Christ, will ultimately escape this toxic union. The Epistle to the Galatians will visit them and separate true discipleship from false with its message of our true identity in Christ. Christ the Word will come to those crushed by the law and speak tenderly to them, “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28, 29).
Satan loves to unify the concept of success with biblical faithfulness. A particular church may be preaching a false gospel of material gain, but since they’re the biggest church in town, the unwise will esteem the leadership of that church to be both successful and faithful. In reality they are successful, but are not faithful to the gospel. Rick Joyner says that God allows these churches to be blessed but he doesn’t inhabit them. Immersion in Scripture and knowing Christ defines the true gospel, separates faithfulness from success, and exposes these impostors for who they really are.
- Psalm 19:7 and 51:6: The Wisdom of the Word, part 1 (psalmslife.com)
- Who are you trusting in? (livingmoreabundantly4christ.com)
- Satan’s Schemes by George Whitefield (bishopmichaelreid.com)
19:7--”The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.”
51:6–”Surely you desire truth in the inner parts;
You teach me wisdom in the inmost place.”
Imagine a scenario that plays out in your life. A new Christian is reading the Bible one morning and comes across Proverbs 3:13–15,where Solomon encourages his audience to acquire as much wisdom as he or she can, because it is more valuable than gold, silver, or rubies. This Christian has become your friend and knows that you have spent more years in the kingdom of God than they have. You see them at church, and, after church at the local diner, they ask you what they need to do to become wise.
I’ve had some of these kind of exchanges with new believers over the years and they haven’t always gone as well as I wanted. Sometimes the problem is you have so much to say that you really don’t know where to start. Another problem is that because you want to avoid clichés and formulaic approaches that often blow up later in the heat of the battle in the real world, you struggle to find words that don’t sound “canned.” A third problem may be that you have made so many mistakes in your life that you don’t feel qualified to weigh in as a wise man or woman.
If you don’t feel like a wise man or wise woman, perhaps it would be easier to start with an example of someone else. For example, in my years as a Christian, I’ve often encountered people in the Body of Christ who had very little formal education but turned out to be some of the wisest people I’ve ever met. They never went to college but had a doctorate in Wisdom. If you put all these people in one room and questioned them, you’d find that they had many things in common, but, because of the lack of space, I will only mention three.
First they have a profound fear or reverence of God and “the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10). They know that, if they are to navigate the tricky waters of this life, they must look to an authority higher than themselves for guidance. Radio talk show host and virtuoso thinker Dennis Prager is on–target when he says that he finds the secular world often to be long on knowledge and short on wisdom.
It’s difficult to accumulate wisdom if you don’t start with the fear of God. Prager said that this became abundantly clear to him when he attended the venerated Ivy League school, Columbia University. Early on, some of his professors asserted that, except for their sexual organs, there really was no difference between men and women. All the other differences were imaginary and socially constructed. Raised in Orthodox Judaism, Prager knew better and would go on to find more foolishness in the halls of academia.
A healthy fear of God will result in at least two things: (1) An immersion in the Word of God (Scripture); and (2) an intimacy with the Word of God (Christ). Both lead to greater wisdom.
Psalm 19:7 says that “the law of the Lord is perfect…making wise the simple”. This sentiment is echoed in the New Testament when the apostle Paul tells Timothy that he, Timothy, has known the holy Scriptures from his infancy that are able to make him wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Being transformed by the renewing of our minds through Scripture can deliver us from the folly that Prager found at Columbia University and many other things that are actively destroying Western civilization: consumerism, materialism, sexual immorality, the breakdown of the family, narcissism, and many other idols described in the Bible.
King David, after going through an intense and intimate experience with God over his sin of adultery described in Psalm 51:7, declared that God taught him wisdom in his innermost being. This truth is confirmed in I Corinthians 1:30 when the apostle Paul says that, for the believer, Christ has become for us wisdom. To partake of him as our “Daily Bread” is to partake of wisdom. He doesn’t have wisdom; he is wisdom. If he is being incarnated in you, that means Wisdom is also being incarnated in you and will help you with making prudential decisions in this life.
10″ Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.”
This may be one of the most profound verses in the Psalms, if not in the entire Bible. In it David is saying that he would rather have the most humble place in the house of God than the highest position among the godless. This proclamation is the exact opposite of what Satan said in John Milton’s epic poem, Paradise Lost, “Better to reign in Hell, than to serve in Heaven.” What makes this passage so weighty is that it encapsulates the greatest temptation of created beings from before the creation of the world to the present day.
What temptation would cause Satan, an exalted angel who dwelled in the presence of the glory of God for eons before his fall from grace, to rebel and inaugurate his own kingdom of darkness? What enticement would cause a significant number of angels (probably one–third; see Revelation 12:4), who also dwelt in the exquisite splendor of God, to follow him in this rebellion? What temptation would provoke Adam and Eve, who lived in Edenic paradise in unbroken communion with God, to disobey God’s clear command and go their own way? What enticement led the nation of Israel, who had amazing, supernatural provision and a special relationship with the Almighty, to reject their Creator and worship other gods?
Satan, the fallen angels, Adam and Eve, and the nation of Israel all succumbed to the same temptation. It goes by different names but I will, for lack of a better word, call it godship. Godship is rooted in pride, the root sin of all sins, and its nature is to make oneself God and to pursue an autonomous existence apart from God and his will. It means taking God off the throne of our hearts, and, in self–exaltation, putting ourselves on that throne.
Satan and the fallen angels did this, and, in the spirit of Milton’s poem, essentially said, “Better to reign in Hell, than to serve in Heaven.” Adam and Eve made their proclamation of godship when they ate the forbidden food because they thought they would become like God, knowing good and evil. Israel’s sin of godship is vividly revealed in Judges 21:25, a passage that describes their entire history:
“In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.”
David’s proclamation in Psalm 84:10 is a watershed moment because he is gazing into the face of the history of fallen creation and is saying, ” I will not join the Rebellion; I will not commit the sin of godship; I would rather have the lowest place in the house of God than rule in the tents of the ungodly.” David would go on to commit egregious sins in his life (adultery, murder, etc.), but he was still a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22), and would not commit the most egregious sin of all: godship.
One reason Roman Catholics venerate Mary is because she also submitted herself to the will of God. She was told by the angel Gabriel that she would give birth to the Savior and said, “I am the Lord’s servant…May it be to me as you have said.”
After fasting for forty days and forty nights, the devil tempted Jesus to commit the sin of godship and live a life autonomous from God and his will. Jesus also stared into the face of the history of fallen creation and said, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only’” (Matthew 4:11). He did this again during his Passion when he said to the Father, “Not my will but your will be done.”
Dear reader, by the grace of God, we can all follow in the footsteps of David, Mary, and especially our Lord. We can get up each morning, look into the mirror, and start our day by saying, ” Dear Lord, thank you for the gift of another day of life. By your grace I choose to be a doorkeeper in your house instead of taking my fate upon myself. I reject the deception of godship and choose to be your servant.”
- Today in 1667, the 59 year old blind and impoverished John Milton sold the copyright of his biblical epic Paradise Lost for £5. Now WE know em (nowweknowem.com)
- Satan Wants You Unhappy and Longing Forever (secretstolife.com)
- Luther Quote: “What Is it to you, Satan?” (iamnotafraidblog.com)
- Satan’s Doom – Op-Ed (promisebook.net)
- Satan Exists (peopleoftheword.wordpress.com)
57 “Lord, you are mine!
I promise to obey your words!
58 With all my heart I want your blessings.
Be merciful as you promised.”
Psalm 119:57-58, NLT
What certainty, and what confidence in these two verses. Within these verses we encounter a faith that excels over all that could disturb it. Verse 57 implies a pronounced boldness, “Lord, you are mine! I promise to obey your words!” Obedience for the Christian, can only settle us. We step into it, very much sure and confident of His love for our souls. “You are mine.” This can only be a distinct work of the Holy Spirit within our hearts.
We declare our love by our obedience. They are chained together like inmates on a Georgia prison farm. Love, and obedience should move as one.
There are two who are making promises. The psalmist promises to obey God’s words in v.57. And God in an active act will respond–a promise of a living mercy. Now all vows, or promises are part of any relationship of significance we have. We call this “devotion,” God devotes Himself first, and we in turn dedicate our lives in obedience.
The idea of ‘blessings’ must be worked into all of this wonder– “With all my heart I want your blessings.” Now if you feel you can skip this special touch, you may do so, but at your own personal loss. The Lord is quite patient, but both sin and Satan are quite aggressive. And the world will fight you ‘tooth-and-nail.” There is no such thing as uncontested territories. It’s not mere hyperbole when we say this. It is our opportunity to leave unreality for good–forever.
“Lord, whatever you want, wherever you want it, and whenever you want it, that’s what I want.” Richard Baxter
“Unless he obeys, a man cannot believe. ” Dietrich Bonhoeffer
A few years ago a friend of mine told me about a man in his town who had been arrested for embezzling both from his workplace and at his church. If turning back in the day of battle is defined as a breakdown of character in a time of adversity, then this man would be Exhibit A in any discussion on that topic. I don’t know all the details and can only use my imagination. Perhaps his personal finances were in shambles and this created fertile soil for a temptation to skim off the top and hope no one would notice.
Throughout the Psalms, David talks about the importance of trusting in God’s unfailing love (e.g., Ps. 13:5). Years ago I heard a Christian minister who God used in facilitating emotional and physical healing in people’s lives say, “More and more I run into Christians who believe that God can heal them but are not sure that he wants to heal them. They doubt God’s love for them for whatever reason.”
This reminds me when Moses told the children of Israel that they rebelled against the command of the Lord and grumbled in their tents and said, “The Lord hates us so he brought us out of Egypt to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us” (Deut.1:27). Perhaps the man who did all the embezzling, like the children of Israel, doubted God’s unfailing love and decided to take things into his own hands.
A second reason (and there are many) people turn back in the day of battle is because they have too narrow a definition of God’s unfailing love. In Daniel 3 Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego were thrown into the fiery furnace by Nebuchadnezzar. It’s evident from 3:16–18 that they knew that if God decided to deliver them, then his love was unfailing; and they also knew that if he didn’t decide to deliver them, his love was also unfailing.
Many Christians understand the former but not the latter. God may not heal our child who has a terminal disease, save our floundering marriage, or rescue our drowning finances, but his love is still unfailing. Many Christians go through something traumatic, doubt God’s unfailing love, become offended at God, and then turn back in the day of battle. They expected life to be “X”, and when it turned out to be “Y”, they became scandalized and decided to take things into their own hands. God give us a trusting heart like Job who said, “Though he [God] slay me, yet will I hope in him…” (Job 13:15).
9 The men of Ephraim, though armed with bows, turned back on the day of battle;
10 they did not keep God’s covenants and refused to live by his law.
11 They forgot what he had done, the wonders he had shown them.
In reading this passage I’m reminded of pithy sayings I’ve heard over the years such as, “Adversity not only builds character in a person; it reveals character.” The same has also been said about involvement in sports. I’d like to add a third to the collection: “Experiencing signs and wonders can change a person’s heart but it can also reveal what’s in a person’s heart.” We’ve all heard stories of agnostics, atheists, and lukewarm Christians who became devout followers of Christ after witnessing a miracle or a healing. However, sometimes hearts were left unchanged or a change occurred that didn’t bear lasting fruit.
As a young Christian I was mystified by the behavior of the children of Israel in the years that followed their deliverance from Egypt. They saw the Ten Plagues, the Red Sea divided, the manna from heaven, the pillar of fire at night, the cloud of protection by day, and water coming from the cleft rock. And yet with all these signs and wonders, they did not enter God’s rest in the Promised Land and remained a stubborn and rebellious people.
Jesus ran into a similar problem in his ministry and condemned entire towns because of it: “Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than you” (Luke 10:13,14). Korazin, Bethsaida, and not to mention Capernaum, followed in the footsteps of the children of Israel.
After several years of being a Christian, my experiences with people and their responses to the supernatural agreed with the biblical narrative. While living in Minnesota, I met a couple whose youngest son was healed of a rare disease through a Christian ministry and it changed the whole family from having a tepid faith to whole-hearted devotion. And yet, in other cases, I’ve known people who, despite experiencing the supernatural, displayed a heart similar to the men of Ephraim. What they saw did not have long-term benefits for them and they faltered in the day of testing. The faith of some has even been shipwrecked.
In my time as a Christian, I have seen another group emerge that I believe is especially dear to Jesus: they have seen very little or no dramatic supernatural activity and remain devoted to and in love with Jesus all their lives. Thomas doubted the resurrection of Christ until he saw his Lord in the flesh. Jesus said,“Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29).
We should all strive to be in this group of disciples, because, unlike the men of Ephraim, they will not turn back in the day of battle. We may feel like we will never belong to this group, but we can always ask Jesus, like the father of the boy possessed by an evil spirit, “Help me overcome my unbelief” (Mark 9:24). He will not deny us. He will not give us a snake when we ask for a loaf of bread.
5 “Who can be compared with the Lord our God,
who is enthroned on high?
6 He stoops to look down
on heaven and on earth.
7 He lifts the poor from the dust
and the needy from the garbage dump.”
We often make comparisons. And I honestly think it is a good thing. When we compare one thing to another, we almost always choose the better over the inferior. Will it be Chinese or Mexican tonight? That depends. Do we attend this church or another? God lead me. Wear a sweater or a coat? Maybe a raincoat? Choices will often define us, whether they are small or large. We make 100s of them everyday.
The psalmist wants us to make a comparison. In his mind there is no one around that can come close to Yahweh, that sits on the throne supreme. But the psalmist asks the question anyway. He assumes that we will agree, and settle ourselves in this truth aware.
The question gets asked in verse 5. And the verses that follow (v.v. 6-9) are a true and accurate descriptions of our incredible God. Reading these will give God shape. These are profoundly remarkable, in scope and merit. He is an excellent God. He stoops and lifts the poor and needy. Most Sovereigns try to protect their thrones, and maintain an image of power and control. They clearly avoid any unscripted spontaneous contact with their “unwashed” multitudes.
Our Heavenly Father does not do this. Actually, He does the opposite. Truly remarkable.
“Lord who has mercy upon all, take away from me my sins,
and mercifully kindle in me the fire of the Holy Spirit.
Take away from me the heart of stone, and give me the heart of flesh,
a heart to love and adore you, a heart to delight in you,
to follow and enjoy you. For Christ’s sake. Amen.”
Wishing to Be Near God
For the director of music. A maskil of the sons of Korah.
1 As a deer thirsts for streams of water,
so I thirst for you, God.
2 I thirst for the living God.
When can I go to meet with him?
3 Day and night, my tears have been my food.
People are always saying,
“Where is your God?”
4 When I remember these things,
I speak with a broken heart.
I used to walk with the crowd
and lead them to God’s Temple
with songs of praise.
5 Why am I so sad?
Why am I so upset?
I should put my hope in God
and keep praising him,
my Savior and 6 my God.
I am very sad.
So I remember you where the Jordan River begins,
near the peaks of Hermon and Mount Mizar.
These verses ask that we truly understand a “seeking heart.” Unless we are in this specific frame of mind we will never understand. This has to be the precursor of all that follows. And only an adoring heart can enter these private chambers. These rooms can only be opened with a special key– humility blended with worship.
Have you ever been really thirsty? I mean bone-dry, parched, dehydrated. It seems that all you think about is a big glass of sweet tea, with ice cubes! Psalms 42 is a very accurate description of a heart that only wants God. There is nothing on this planet that draws a desperately thirsty heart like His presence.
V. 1, 2 David compares himself to a desperate deer, that is driven to the clear streams of water. Funny, but deer are very reliant on a water source, much more than other animals. They will stay close to their water. David described his need for God in these terms. Are you thirsty? The living God is your soul’s real source.
V. 3, there is a profound sadness in David’s words. There are far too many people who will mock and discourage his deep need for God. Tears are David’s only response. Lots of tears. They cynically demand to know, “where is your God?” There will always be resistance, no matter what. What it works in us though is rich and true.
V. 4, is an active memory of things– the way they used to be. However it is only heart-broken nostalgia set ablaze. The enemy, he pushes us into an amnesia. We no longer think clearly about things. But David remembers his response, of travelling into His presence. What he remembered was glorious, he sang and danced as he led God’s dear people. But there is a caveat; we can only truly worship what we love and respect.
V. 5, David processes things as he looks inside. He asks himself certain questions. He doesn’t ask real questions. As he knows true answers. He talks about “sadness.” And a grief that can’t be assuaged. He makes comments that will never be understood apart from “trial.”
V. 6. only develops things that would be “sadness.” Our grief would only irrigate this understanding. David truly understands sadness, and everything he embraces is full of sadness and woe. But David penetrates past his deep grief, and God’s presence meets him on the way. All that we see at this point is sadness. We must accept all that we can. We can only take the things that come too us.
“God blesses those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.”
Matthew 5:4, NLT
14 Save me from bloodguilt, O God,
the God who saves me,
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness
15 O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise
16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
Both Psalms 32 and 51 are about David’s sorrow and repentance because of his adultery with Bathsheba and subsequent murder of her husband, Uriah the Hittite, who David purposely placed on the front lines of military battle, where he would surely die. In verses 14 and 15 he asks God for forgiveness for the murder (“bloodguilt”) so that he can sing of God’s righteousness and offer him praise. Derek Kidner, in his commentary on the Psalms, is helpful here in suggesting that David wants to extol God for his righteousness because he (David) sees God’s crowning achievement being making an egregious sinner like David righteous!
In verses 16 and 17 it’s obvious that King David has learned from his predecessor King Saul’s mistakes. This insight is often overlooked in sermons and commentaries. Saul was given clear instructions by God through the prophet Samuel to utterly destroy the Amalekites and he disobeyed these instructions. He spared Agag, king of the Amalekites, and the best of the livestock so he could offer sacrifices to the Lord. Samuel’s rebuke of Saul essentially said, “Don’t think these sacrifices impress God. Obedience is better than sacrifice. Your disobedience is similar to witchcraft and idolatry. Sacrifice is good but it means nothing if your heart isn’t right.”
The parallels to our present age are legion. Anytime someone is involved in religious activities–i.e. “sacrifices”–but their heart is wrong, they are following in the footsteps of Saul. One thinks of the Pharisees, both in the time of Jesus and now, who were/are more engaged in religious activities than anyone, but their hearts were full of pride and self–righteousness.
As a Roman Catholic, I often hear complaints from fellow parishioners about “cradle Catholics,” who were born into the faith, and do many of the right Catholic things–”sacrifices”–but their hearts are not humble and contrite and they are far from an intimate relationship with Christ. This is a kind of empty “cultural Christianity” that exists in every denomination.
Movements come and go within Christendom. Some local churches emerge to ride the next big thing. They become the most fashionable place to be involved. Sometimes the reason some of the members give their time, talent and treasure–”sacrifices”–to these churches is not to advance the kingdom of God; no, it’s because their involvement makes them feel hip and a part of a special group in comparison to all those boring, generic suburban Christians. And they get to rebel against their un–hip parents, who they are angry with, as part of a package deal!
What does David mean in verse 17 by saying that God wants a broken and contrite heart? Because Christ is the Bridegroom and we are the Bride (Matthew 25:1–13), sometimes it helps to understand biblical principles through the marriage relationship. When a husband has sinned against his wife and knows it, often he will engage in a flurry of activities–”sacrifices”– in order to extricate himself from the doghouse. Suddenly he’s bringing home flowers and candy and is doing home–improvement projects that she wanted done several months ago. However, what she really wants is not a whirlwind of goodwill gestures; no, what she really wants is an apology marked by humility and sorrow for what he did. She needs to know that he is truly sorry, not because his carelessness put him in the doghouse, but because what he did hurt, and was a sin against, her.
It’s never too late for the Pharisee, the “cultural Christian” or the “Christian hipster.” Or me, for that matter. We can still offer sacrifices that God will delight in if we come to him with a broken and contrite heart for the many ways we have offended him. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4).
- Psalm 15: The True Israelite, # 2 (psalmslife.com)
- Psalm 51 (chesedhproject.wordpress.com)
- Psalms 51 – The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit (graceofourlord.com)
“The Lord sustains them on their sickbed
and restores them from their bed of illness.”
Psalm 41:3, NIV
“The moment an ill can be patiently handled, it is disarmed of its poison, though not of its pain.”
Henry Ward Beecher
It is a general rule, that when you are sick– you become very vulnerable. I can attest to this having had more than my share of medical issues. And today, I’m smack dab in the middle of another one. It’s odd when one issue can open the door to another.
Ps. 41:3 is interesting. Especially for us who find themselves very sick. It is the “bedside promise” of our Lord’s presence. He is a visitor who comes to see us, to comfort and encourage us when we are flat on our backs. We are not alone, for He is truly our best companion. Typically our issues are disbelief and discouragement. We maybe in considerable pain, but for the most part that pain is a secondary issue. I can deal with the pain. My greater issues are this sense of intense abandonment. For the sincere believer, this can be frightening.
The choice of words here is perfect– “sustains and restores.” The Spirit’s ministry to us exceeds any antibiotic or surgical procedure. At my bedside, I will receive a spiritual treatment, that is administered by the wisest and greatest doctor who is present 24/7. He braces and bolsters me, effectively putting supports around me. He really does hold me in place. But He also restores. I have heard quite a few who have been ‘fixed up’ by their time in sickness or affliction. Some will look back fondly on their time of trial, because the Lord was restoring them.
My prayer for you dear one, is not that you are kept from affliction and sickness, but rather in your issues you discover a new sense of His amazing presence. This verse is one you can trust, and one you will need.
A psalm of David, regarding the time David fled from his son Absalom.
1 O LORD, I have so many enemies;
so many are against me.
2 So many are saying,
“God will never rescue him!”
3 But you, O LORD, are a shield around me;
you are my glory, the one who holds my head high.
4 I cried out to the LORD,
and he answered me from his holy mountain.
5 I lay down and slept,
yet I woke up in safety,
for the LORD was watching over me.
6 I am not afraid of ten thousand enemies
who surround me on every side.
7 Arise, O LORD!
Rescue me, my God!
Slap all my enemies in the face!
Shatter the teeth of the wicked!
8 Victory comes from you, O LORD.
May you bless your people.
8 Victory comes from you, O LORD.
Psalm 3:2 Hebrew Selah. The meaning of this word is uncertain, though it is probably a musical or literary term. It is rendered Interlude throughout the Psalms.
At the end though, the God of David does triumph. And since David trails so close behind, he too will understand victory. But none of this is easy, it certainly is not a “given.” David has to work through this “patch” of awful darkness, in order to get into the light.
V. 1, remember this, King David is being truly persecuted, and he isn’t paranoid. He understands being ostracized, and mocked as he walked down the street. There is as well, an idea of being hated by a whole lot of people. The word “many” is mentioned 3x in two verses. David is realizing the scope of all that he must endure. The slander, and mockery are intense. He seems to have become the ‘Richard Nixon’ of 1000 B.C.
V. 2, The people felt that David was beyond salvation. That he had simply sinned too much, and Absalom’s rebellion was just a reaping of what David had sown. He didn’t belong anymore in the “covenant of faith.” He was outside God’s love. This what the majority of people thought.
V. 3, 4, Pressed to the wall by this deep resentment, David makes his faith known. He declares that it is God who protects him, like a “shield.” He also pronounces that God is responsive to him; that God listens, and reacts to him. It seems that King David, who is mocked and villified by everyone, still has God’s ear!
V. 5, 6 There is peace, something special which is working through David’s life. This example of “sleeping” while people (10,000 enemies) encircle him is remarkable. Many of us would lose sleep if just one person is offended by us. But the masses David faced could have incapacitated him.
“I am not afraid.” This is an incredible declaration in the light of so much intense hatred. It is something bold, and confident, and perhaps a tad outrageous. But that is what grace is like to a watching world.
V. 7, 8, I suppose that this is a desire for justice. We agree that there is a right and a wrong. When we are “sinned against” we deep down want things to be restored. No one wants to live being hated and mocked. There is a profound sense, (it’s deep down ) and something innate. On several occasions I have experienced unjust situations, and am very much bothered to this day by those issues that have not been resolved.