Reading Through The Bible in 2011, Part 34

What I Read Today: Psalms 13-19.

What Stood Out About What I Read Today: There isn’t really one unifying theme in all these, so I’ll highlight several random thoughts.

Random Thoughts About What I Read Today:

From Psalm 13: 3 & 6, “Look at me! Answer me, O Lord my God! Revive me, or else I will die! …But I trust in your faithfulness. May I rejoice because of your deliverance! I will sing praises to the Lord when he vindicates me.”

It’s usually at these looks at David’s life that I question my own ability to “be a man after God’s own heart.” I mean, that’s how David is described…and here we see how desperate he is to have God answer his pleas. I have no idea about the origins of this Psalm or what David was going through, but I rarely (if ever) have times where I shake my fist at God and beg him to Look/answer/revive me or else I will die. And, frankly, if I’m ever in moments like that, well, let’s just say that I’m not really the kind of person who rejoices in advance of my deliverance. I have this innate ability to decide to push through whatever lack of answers I’m getting from God and mumble to myself that I’ll just keep waiting on God. Make me wonder about how I’m wired both emotionally and spiritually when I read stuff like this from David.

From Psalm 14: 4 & 5, “All those who behave wickedly do not understand–those who devour my people as if they were eating bread, and do not call out to the Lord. They are absolutely terrified, for God defends the godly.”

I get this idea: God defends the godly. But it rarely seems to happen at the time frame it needs to happen. What I’m saying is that I see with human eyes. You know, stuff like pastors in Africa just having a church service on a Sunday morning. Thugs come in and shoot everyone…and torture the pastor in front of his family before killing them all. Granted, that’s an extreme example. But my guess is that I rarely have any idea what oppression is really like or rarely have any idea what God’s definition of “defense” is. Like the psalmist, I pretty much wish deliverance would come from Zion…because often-times I’m more confused by the events around me than I am seeing the godly defended. Weird.

From Psalm 15: 4, “…He makes firm commitments and does not renege on his promise.” I had a seminary professor give a piece of advice to the class, “Say ‘no’ to something good every day, just to stay in practice.” He knew that, in professional ministry, there’s a lot of good things out there to do for and with people…and it was easy to say ‘yes’ because, the things being asked are important to the people doing the asking. But it’s also probable that, at some point, you wind up telling people ‘yes’ and making promises that you’ll eventually have to break. One of my friend used the analogy that you should spend a lot of time making deposits into your “Credibility Account” and rarely make withdrawals. Good advice on both counts.

From Psalm 16: 5-7, “Lord, you give me stability and prosperity; you make my future secure. It is as if I have been given fertile fields or received a beautiful tract of land. I will praise the Lord who guides me; yes, during the night I reflect and learn.” This section actually is translated better in the NASB…but I often feel like I’ve been given the “breaks” by my heritage. I mean, I was born to college graduates, one from an entrepreneur/blue collar background & the other from a more white collar world (well, by the time I came into the picture, anyway). I’ve had lots of advantages that others never get. I’ve had healthy children and a good marriage. I’ve had jobs that paid the bills (well, one job for 14 years that did…the others not so much) even if there was more month than money at the end of it. I have little to complain about, really.

(As an aside, growing up in the suburban Deep South certainly gave me plenty of baggage to overcome…so I’m not saying my heritage is unspoiled. Just the overall reality is that I’ve caught most every break along the way…and God has given me all of that)

But it all pails in comparison to the portion of my inheritance that He WILL give me, which is what this entire Psalm is really about. We will not be abandoned and as we reflect and learn, well, let’s not focus too much on our past and a lot more about what our future in Him will be. And that includes the reality that some of our pasts are more difficult than others.

From Psalm 17: 7-8, “Wonderously show Your lovingkindness, O Savior of those who take refuge at Your right hand from those who rise up against them. Keep me as the apple of your eye; Hide me in the shadow of Your wing…” I remember walking along a street in Amsterdam and I saw a guy with a t-shirt that read, “God loves everybody…but I’m His favorite.” I laughed out loud at first…but then I realized that it was theologically accurate no matter how many people owned the shirt. See, it’s really true when you think about it. And I love how David asks God to keep him as the “apple of his eye” and to protect him. Sometimes, I forget to ask God to show me His loyal love in wonderous ways…because I’m his favorite. You are, too.

From Psalm 18: Again…David’s in trouble, but this time it’s more specific. He’s on the run from Saul–the King. And the King, of all people, wants to kill David. Never mind that David likely remembers that night at his father’s house when Samuel the prophet anointed him to be king (never mind over his own older brothers, but over Saul. Wow!). I love the reminder in verses 30-31, when we question the order of things. I mean, sure, David knew he was going to be king. And I’m sure when he moved into the palace and played music for the current king that seemed like a natural progression of things. But I don’t think David could see that his preparation for the throne would involve living as a fugitive for over a decade, on the run from the king who wanted to kill him ever since that fateful day he killed Goliath. He lived in caves, taking odd jobs protecting flocks and all that…probably wondering, “What the heck is God doing? This just doesn’t look right.” Then, like we all should do, is focus on the reality that God is God and we aren’t Him, and that He knows best for us no matter what we think: “As for God, His was is blameless; The word of the Lord is tried; He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him. For who is God, but the Lord? And who is our rock, except our God…?”

From Psalm 19: 7-10. “The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether. They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; Sweeter than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.” Look at the descripters and benefits in this passage

The Law: Perfect. Restores the soul.
The Testimony: Sure. Makes the simple wise.
The precepts: Right. Makes the heart rejoice.
The Commandment: Clean. Endures forever.
The Judgment: True. Right through and through.

So, if I read this right, everything God says and does is perfect, sure, right, clean and true. And the benefits are that my soul will be restored, my simpleness made wise, my heart glad, knowing that it will be thus forever and ever and from top to bottom they are intrinsically “right.”

Then why is it that, most of the time, I don’t desire it more than gold…yes, than much fine gold? Why don’t they seem sweeter than honey and the drippings off the comb? My guess is because I really don’t trust God enough. Add to that my own heart is deceptive, and the reality that I always think I know better than God does, and well, you have a potent mix to have an unrestored soul that stays unwise and sad, settling for the temporary and intrinsically incorrect. Ugh. Sometimes I really don’t like myself.

(Tomorrow’s Reading: Psalms 20-26)