Psalm 10| David Complains

“Why standest thou afar off, O LORD? why hidest thou thyself in times of trouble?
The wicked in his pride doth persecute the poor: let them be taken in the devices that they have imagined.
For the wicked boasteth of his heart’s desire, and blesseth the covetous, whom the LORD abhorreth.
The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.
His ways are always grievous; thy judgments are far above out of his sight: as for all his enemies, he puffeth at them.
He hath said in his heart, I shall not be moved: for I shall never be in adversity.
His mouth is full of cursing and deceit and fraud: under his tongue is mischief and vanity.
He sitteth in the lurking places of the villages: in the secret places doth he murder the innocent: his eyes are privily set against the poor.
He lieth in wait secretly as a lion in his den: he lieth in wait to catch the poor: he doth catch the poor, when he draweth him into his net.
He croucheth, and humbleth himself, that the poor may fall by his strong ones.
He hath said in his heart, God hath forgotten: he hideth his face; he will never see it.
Arise, O LORD; O God, lift up thine hand: forget not the humble.
Wherefore doth the wicked contemn God? he hath said in his heart, Thou wilt not require it.
Thou hast seen it; for thou beholdest mischief and spite, to requite it with thy hand: the poor committeth himself unto thee; thou art the helper of the fatherless.
Break thou the arm of the wicked and the evil man: seek out his wickedness till thou find none.
The LORD is King for ever and ever: the heathen are perished out of his land.
LORD, thou hast heard the desire of the humble: thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear:
To judge the fatherless and the oppressed, that the man of the earth may no more oppress.”
-Psalm 10 (KJV)

David complains.  Of the many songs we’ve read by David, complaining wouldn’t really be a characteristic I pin on David.  I does mention how the wicked grieve him, and he prays passionately for deliverance from them, but complain?  And his first line of complaint is to God about God!  In his suffering, he feels like God is far from him, and he forgets, in his distress, that God is never far away.  But notice how he still prays in honesty and with passion against the wicked.

David’s complaining is turned to the acts of the wicked.  He sees how their pride and boasting hurts the poor.  The wicked do not consider God as part of their lives, their only goal is the destruction of those around them.  And the Lord abhors them for it.  They put down the poor and they build up others in wickedness.  The wicked, knowing that he can defeat those less than him, builds him up, and only makes him more prideful.  They are certain that their way is right and is determined not to change.  David points out the ways you can tell a wicked person- cursing, deceit, fraud, vain, mischievous, prideful, boasting… and David is certain that God will put an end to them.

I can honestly say I have never met or known someone that would be considered wicked by the standards laid out by these verses.  I have met boastful and prideful people, and bear witness that their manner of speaking about themselves is a downfall to those around them.  I have encountered those who have never considered a higher being, such as God, existing, which is always shocking to me.  I can recall instances in some of the classes I teach when a child does something mean, knowing full well what they are doing.  Obviously, for kids, it is more of a cry for attention.  I had one child punch another kid in the back- the whole class saw it (except me) and they all went, “OOOOOOOOoooooooo!  He punched him!”  And I looked at the kid and asked him why, and his response was, “I just don’t have control!”  To which I pointed out that had he been sitting in his seat then it wouldn’t have happened.  But he was honest.  He doesn’t have control, but it was also clear to me from his words that he had been labeled.  Do you know, a lot of things we struggle with are because of labels from others that we have decided to believe?  As soon as I spoke to that child, they were very well behaved, but I didn’t tell him how awful his actions were.  I sat him down and I told him I knew he could control himself, and he never failed to prove himself.  We find so many verses in Proverbs that speak of how careful we need to be with our words.  I’m not much for coddling others, and I tend to be very blunt and straightforward with my speech, but working with children has really made me take time to consider what I want to say to them.  I can’t tell them that the image they created looks nothing like the lesson I taught or that it is worse than the younger students’ drawing next to them!

I do believe such wicked people exist in our world.  Certainly we’ve all heard those who speak curses, only saying negative things, guilt-tripping and manipulating those around them.  And it would be foolish for us to believe that we have not hurt some one using similar tactics at some point in our lives.  Whether we intended to do it or not.  But have you ever been in a place where someone said or did something without intending for it to hurt you, but it got to you anyway?  Jesus knew that as we, Christians, would grow into Him, more would rise up against us to destroy us, so He gave us the verses in 1 Peter 4- “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:
But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.”
It’s tough to rejoice when someone has hurt you, but know that God hasn’t hurt you; and that the other person may not have intended it the way they said it.  Know that being offended is a choice you have.  And begin to look for the strings of lies and deceit the enemy is trying to slip into your relationship so you can promptly cut free from them with the truth.  Remember, David lived on the other side of the cross, so he prays for the ‘smite button’ on his enemies.  God still sees the acts of the wicked and will deal with them in time, so our command is more like ‘kill them with kindness’.  When it seems like all your coworkers do is take down to you and each other, be the person who builds them up in kindness.

Though David feels far from God, he knows that God has heard the cries against the wicked.  David clearly has a heart for the persecuted and those who are oppressed by the wicked.  It shows in each of his songs.  It’s reflected in his cries to God for deliverance.  We’ve heard it over and over again.  It isn’t wrong to bring your complaints to the Lord, it isn’t wrong to pour out your heart and even confess that you feel God is far from you.  God hears those passionate prayers, and more of who He is making us into is revealed in the things He puts on our hearts to pray about.

Sorry if this post seems to jump around, I am a bit congested, trying to keep my lungs where they belong.

Be blessed, friends.

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Psalm 9: 11-20 | Everyone Praise

Psalm 9: 11-20 | Everyone Praise

“Sing praises to the LORD, which dwelleth in Zion: declare among the people his doings.
When he maketh inquisition for blood, he remembereth them: he forgetteth not the cry of the humble.
Have mercy upon me, O LORD; consider my trouble which I suffer of them that hate me, thou that liftest me up from the gates of death:
That I may shew forth all thy praise in the gates of the daughter of Zion: I will rejoice in thy salvation.
The heathen are sunk down in the pit that they made: in the net which they hid is their own foot taken.
The LORD is known by the judgment which he executeth: the wicked is snared in the work of his own hands. Higgaion. Selah.
The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.
For the needy shall not alway be forgotten: the expectation of the poor shall not perish for ever.
Arise, O LORD; let not man prevail: let the heathen be judged in thy sight.
Put them in fear, O LORD: that the nations may know themselves to be but men. Selah.”
Psalm 9: 11-20

What a great reminder!  I know I started this blog as a way to really encourage myself to learn more hymns and sing them out-loud whether in public, at home, when happy, or when sad, and it has been working!  These past few weeks my spirit has felt low, not really for any particular reason, I think it is just the stress of my upcoming trip in addition to my daily struggles on top of the things God is working on with me.  I tend to snowball when just one thing upsets me, and I blame myself for any little thing that goes wrong and talk down about myself, and this all results in me seeking to destroy the friendships I have because I don’t feel worth it and I don’t want to bring others down so I decide being alone is for the best…but I’m always proven wrong.  I struggled to keep a song on my lips this week, and just that one thing got to me (I’m going to be honest, it usually has to do with communication, as much as I try to be honest and very upfront, I’m not the most eloquent.) and I snowballed so quick.  At the beginning of the year I wrote something to myself- “When I am tempted to think less of myself, I need to find my validation in the cross and not in others.”  I’m quickly learning that, yes, God gave us friends, they are gifts!  Not to be thought of as something we have worked hard to earn or anything we deserved by our own merit, but a really good friend who stands by you in your darkest hour is a real gift. (Much like the beloved disciple at the foot of the cross on the day of the crucifixion.)  And friends can help us focus back on God when we have gotten off track, we don’t get to suddenly determine that the friends God has clearly given can’t handle the reasons He gave them to us.  But God also calls us to look to him in our times of trouble.  We need to be certain that our joy comes from the cross and doesn’t rely on day-to-day moments of joy.  Blessings are great!  They remind us that in small moments and big that God is God of all and He is watching out for us- but our greatest joy is know that what happened on the cross was the greatest act of love we could ever experience.

So here is David, praising God and encouraging others to do it too.  Because he at least has this sense that praising God is the right thing to do.  Not just sing, but share a testimony of His goodness for you specifically.  It is nice to have some hymns memorized to praise God at any time, but what about the song God is writing for your own life?  You may not feel like it is singable, but how has God shown His faithfulness to you in a way that you can share it with others?  When I start snowballing, and I seek validation from others and I’m sure my testimony in those moments doesn’t look very good.  David’s not saying to cry out for a pity party.  But when you have gone through that long trial and you come out in the end having learned something new and you clearly see how God used what you went through to work for His plan in your life, then you share.

I was reading some books recently, and they were wonderful books, don’t get me wrong, I bought them because I wanted something they offered.  But as I read them, I realized that we talk about brokenness like it is a final diagnoses.  Sometimes labeling things is detrimental to spiritual growth and healing.  And even though I know this, I still label myself with lies from my past.  Reading those books, and studying their language, I realized that what I didn’t need was a book on how broken I am, but a book that taught about living like a new creation and leaving all that baggage behind.  It’s not about living a good life through your broken past, but about leaving that stuff behind and declaring that your new beginning has nothing to do with those lies.  And I got so frustrated at those books, determining that I didn’t need them…then a dear friend sent me ‘Gold by Moonlight’ by Amy Carmichael, and the letter they sent reminded me that maybe I am not reading those books for myself or being healed just for myself, but so God can use me in someone else’s pain to help them.  My life is not for me as a new creation to determine what God can and can’t use in the song He is writing in my life.

I like observing certain wording choices of the Bible.  We see in verse 12 that David says, “…he remembereth them: he forgetteth not…”  A testament of God’s faithfulness.  Though David had some really low points of desperation, he recalls how God lifted him up and he makes sure to include this in his testimony.  So that he can praise and rejoice.  We know, because we have the gospels, that often times what Jesus taught was difficult for people to swallow.  But He didn’t sugar-coat the truth, and His lessons were powerful; simple enough for those who truly sought the Father, but confounding to those who just sought to gain for themselves.  Don’t leave out that human struggle when you share your testimony.  Let others see the healing that has taken place, don’t deny the struggle that God let you experience to bring you to the place you are now.  Remember what it took for Jesus to die for your sins; He didn’t skip the cross, He lived His life intentionally for that purpose so we could look at His story and know that He understands our sufferings.  David didn’t know all that we know now, but He knew He would praise God in the toughest of times, and share the troubles he went through that shaped his praise.

David remembers the bad with the good.  The end of the wicked that God executed at his judgement was part of David’s testimony.  He had witnessed time and again how God delivered him from those who sought to destroy him.  He also recalls how in His time of need, God did not forget him and He uses it in verse 18 to bring hope to others.  And David ends off this song calling out for deliverance.  This weekend I really hit that point where I was so exhausted from the battle I was in I found myself praying for the second coming!  Tired of fighting with myself, trying to remind myself of truths, feeling like I had failed to meet expectations… In a way, I felt like the beloved disciple, looking up at the One whom I had chosen to follow who now hung on a cross.  Stuck facing the hard truth that it was my sin that stuck Him there and I was helpless to do anything.  And I was still stuck struggling with the things He was dying to deliver me from.  LITERALLY. It is nice to remember God’s love, especially around Easter when we tend to focus on that empty grave, but remember the pain that brought Jesus to the cross.  Not just His pain of hanging there, but the pain that you feel when you are tempted to think less of yourself than what God created you to be.  All that stuff was nailed to the cross, so leave it there.  Don’t forget what put Him there, what He endured.  Our joy is not determined by what people say around us, or the acts they do for us, but in the knowledge that Christ died for everything we suffer through so our freedom would be in Him and not in validation we receive from others that has a temporary effect.

When you know a friend who is struggling with something, be that friend who is there for them.  Will to be awkward, sing to them, sing for them, help them praise God even thought it hurts sometimes.  Pray with them and uplift them.  I’ve learned through many things that I can not say I understand what some one else is going through, because everyone is different, but I can be there for them.  But also be able to recognize when your friend is relying on you instead of on God and be willing to cut them off and direct them toward the cross.  You are still helping them, let them know that, but let them know, too, that you cannot meet their expectations the way they want you to. (Trust me, you can’t.  You can’t be a crutch or the solution to the pain they haven’t nailed to the cross.)  I thought I had nailed all my baggage to the cross, but these past few weeks, God has been showing me that I am carrying some of it still.  Songbird pointed out that my burden is heavy, “Alternatively, the yoke of Christ is easy though, and His burden is light.  You shouldn’t have to bear both.”  And Curly Joy came in to visit me and shared much encouragement and many hugs, and a song returned to my heart~  Don’t think you are meant to go through trials alone, just learn when you need to lean on God and when you need to let the friend’s He has given you use what He gave them to lift you up.

Be blessed, friends!  Reflect back and write out a testimony from something new that has happened in your life.  I’d love to hear about it if you feel led to share!

Psalm 9: 1-10 Praise God

Psalm 9: 1-10 Praise God

“I will praise thee, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvellous works.
I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High.
When mine enemies are turned back, they shall fall and perish at thy presence.
For thou hast maintained my right and my cause; thou satest in the throne judging right.
Thou hast rebuked the heathen, thou hast destroyed the wicked, thou hast put out their name for ever and ever.
O thou enemy, destructions are come to a perpetual end: and thou hast destroyed cities; their memorial is perished with them.
But the LORD shall endure for ever: he hath prepared his throne for judgment.
And he shall judge the world in righteousness, he shall minister judgment to the people in uprightness.
The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.
And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.”
-Psalm 9:1-10 (KJV)

I read this one way in advance this week.  It is amazing how God always provides just what we need, even if it is a reminder that no matter what is going on that we still have reason to praise Him.

David declares right away that he will praise God.  ‘Yehovah’- the Existing One.  Every part of him will praise God.  And David doesn’t just want something on the surface, he desires that his praises will be part of his testimony- that it would flow throughout him into the world.  He knows that his faith and belief in God is worth sharing and should be something that is evident to people who meet him or hear of him.  This second verse really helped me this past week.  So many things were getting me down, and I really felt trapped in this terrible cycle of self-hate and unworthiness to be around people- I really didn’t think I could get out of that place of misery, and I warred with myself over this because I knew that I should be praising God and not staying miserable.  It took a lot of prayer and focus on God for me to reach the place that David is at in verse two when he says, “I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High.” (emphasis added)  I have had moments when I was about to lose a friendship that was clearly given by God and decided very quickly that the enemy wasn’t going to win it away from me- that was easier then the struggle of deciding I was worth it on my own.

It was for something silly enough that I don’t remember- it was a disagreement or perhaps a decision to take offense at something not intended as offensive…   And it was with a very dear friend with whom any conversation I have ever had, and continue to have with them to this day, had always kept my focus on God and strengthened my faith.  And then something happened…and it took me less then 24 hours to realize that the enemy was trying to wreck what we had because it was so strong, and I told my friend that wasn’t going to happen and that I wanted to apologize.  It didn’t take me long, because I love my friend and I could see how God was using that relationship for good.  But when this week hit me hard, and I started excusing my self-hate as something that kept me humble and meek, and every action I took to not be in fellowship so I could continue on the downward slope I was on….I could not get to the place where I thought I was worth anyone’s time so as to be lifted up by them.  I was too much of a burden.  Too much baggage.  No one could handle everything that I was experiencing.  I started believing all these lies.  Lies that came from my past, and some new ones.  I fought it.  I did. I asked what God wanted me to learn right now through all this.  I tried to spend my alone time thinking I wasn’t starving my love language by not being in fellowship, but drawing nearer to God. (I wasn’t.  I was beating myself up.)  I really worked hard for a whole week trying to put my focus on the cross.  There were some things that happened during the week that brought me happiness, but they were temporary.  I was looking for some compassion, someone to be a ‘crutch’ that I could cry to and they just check on my every hour to see if I’m doing better (By the way, this does not help the healing process in the slightest, and I was disgusted with myself when I recognized I was doing this.).  I was determined that my eternal happiness really needed to come from the cross.  And this is true!  But it doesn’t need to happen alone.  It took me a week…to get to the place where I suddenly remembered ‘everything happens for a reason’ and knew that all that I was going through had a purpose.  And I agreed to breakfast with my good friend who was worried, and had done everything right and tried to help, and maybe could tell I just needed to talk.  They pointed out that I had lots to be happy about from some things that had happened during the week, and I explained that I felt like God wanted me to know for certain that my happiness was really secured in Christ’s death on the cross, and all those things that bring joy during the week are reasons to praise Him.  I hadn’t done that.  There was no song in my heart, I wasn’t hoping in the cross, I was hoping in any person to just pity me.  It took a week to get to the place where I determined I will be joyful, I will praise God, I will look up.  Happiness is as much a decision you make each day as being stuck in a broken place.  Choose to get up and go. (John 14:31)

The wicked shall fall by the judgement of God.  We often skip over the bad, thinking that only the positive bits of scripture really apply to us.  But had I not realized the sin going on in my life, I probably wouldn’t have gotten to where I did at the end of the week.  Self-hate shouldn’t fuel anything that I keep in my life.  It shouldn’t even be there.  And I shouldn’t see myself as so worthless that I don’t ask friends for a little quality time in fellowship when I feel down.  Isaiah 45:9 “Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker!  Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth.  Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands?”  The enemy found that weakness in my armor where I wasn’t seeking my worth from God.  And he found it in a ridiculous way- some guys had walked up to me and started hitting on me, but I was to ignorant to recognize this!  I thought we were talking about faith!  The next thing I knew, one of them was asking after me…I wasn’t even flattered.  I just felt stupid, and I felt like, in my ignorance, I had led them on and sinned in this.  And I let it get me down.  I wasn’t sure enough in my own actions, so I didn’t think that God had allowed that conversation to happen, which led me to experience all these new things.  I continued to be unable to get the message to this guy that I wasn’t interested and it only fueled the enemy.  But you know what?  The enemy can only destroy the material things of this world- he can’t take away our salvation!  God has the final say.  My heart was so guarded in that conversation, looking back at it now, I know I wasn’t at fault for anything I said, but it was something they were drawn to about me.  After sitting down to talk with them, I can say that it’s a good quality (not physical) that led to a discussion about faith (he is not a Christ follower), and that he is just the type to think about the future where I do not do such things.

It doesn’t mean there aren’t things I don’t need to address.  One of the best things one of my friends said to me while I was struggling was “you are free in Christ”.  It was immediately liberating.  Because that I am sure of.  David says in verse 9 “The Lord will also be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.”  Then I felt like I lived in the next verse.  I know that I am free in Christ, I know that how I was treating myself and excusing negative traits was bad and I needed to escape that, and I know that I can always run to God.  Just a few words of truth spoken by a friend put me over the edge into trusting God and pulled me from that negative cycle so that healing could begin.  In my days being a mentor, I have witnessed that even if someone is seeking help with something, it is really up to them when that healing starts.  You have to let go of those chains.  It’s not instant, it takes time.  Change will come.  Focus on God and let him direct your paths.