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.

Psalm 8- Magnified Glory

To the chief Musician upon Gittith, A Psalm of David. O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens.
Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.
When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;
What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?
For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.
Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet:
All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field;
The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas.
O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!
-Psalm 8

I think we can get through this entire chapter in one post!

I had a really rough week recently, and ended up looking ahead at this chapter and finding it really encouraging.  I find as I teach that each kid that I teach has a different background from all the others.  I’ve experienced kids telling me that they don’t want to go to anger management to deal with their problems, or about how they only have one parent raising them and the lack of the other is devastating, but I was not prepared for a kid to threaten with taking his own life 2 weeks ago.  He expressed how tough things were at home, how he felt what he was doing was unnecessary and pointless… my assistant was the one who spoke to him, and I trust she did what was right for the moment, and I notified the school.  But it hit me hard.  I go through my week praising God, thanking Him for each moment I get to spend in His Will changing a child’s life who maybe doesn’t have it all together and just needs some one to tell them they are the best thing since buttered toast.  Then my train is totally derailed and my thoughts are brought back to this reality where I can’t fix anything on my own, especially not those pieces that are missing that take away these kids’ hope for something better.

So this last Thursday, before going to teach the class this boy was in, I sat across the table from my dear friend and read this chapter.  I do my best to not walk around in the brokenness of my life because I believe God is healing me and His Grace is enough, so when a kid keeps coming to me and says something like, ‘My dad is gone and I miss him.’ I try to say something like, ‘I know that is sad, and it hurts, but you are stronger.’ Because if people keep nursing those wounds and feeding that cry for attention, that kid will just stay there.  We can’t accept living out of a broken place if we believe God is capable of healing all our afflictions.  I read this chapter before teaching and I felt this reassurance that where I was weak, God was strong.

David opens this Psalm crying out to ‘Yahweh Adonai’ which is ‘God our judge, director, ruler, and supporter of men.’  He boldly declares, so there is no question, that God’s glory is above the heavens, which to our knowledge is the highest you can go.  God’s strength is even evident in children, and His strength can be used in our weakness to confound the enemy.  Then David looks at everything in God’s creation.  He looks at all the goodness God created, and he knows it is good because God is good, and how amazing he is to have created all of this and still be mindful of us.  He knows what is going on in our lives, what things make us break down and cry, and what things lift us up.  David felt that God not only knew all about us, but that He visited with us.  Notice how in verse 5 that David says we are a little lower than angels, this could also be translated as lower than God because the Blue Letter Bible says the Hebrew here is ‘Elohim’, which is a name for God.  I suppose this would be a way to also say that ‘who are we, that we were created after the likeness of the Creator.’  But either way you look at it here (my Bible says ‘angels’), David is pointing upward.  Not listing all the things we are greater than, but pointing the greater things then us that we are close to.

David does go on to recognize that man was given dominion over the things of the earth, and he echoes a bit of the creation story.  As God carefully crafted each thing, we too should treat all things with such care.  David understood his position in creation, and He praised God for all these things.  As I think about what I am going through, and what that little kid is going through, it comforts me to remember how Great God is and that He is always up to something.  I realized that maybe God didn’t put me in this kid’s life to talk to him about his wish to end his life, but I do get to share God’s love with this kid.  This past week, I got to sit down and just draw with him, helping him smile and hopefully give him something good to cling to for the week.  I realized from these verses and witnessed it in my teaching that there are certain experiences I have had that God brought me from that help me to talk to these kids.  It is foolish of me to think that I would be able to help all these kids with every struggle, that doesn’t feed hope because it is something I cannot do, but God can come into those broken places that I can’t reach into to bring true healing.  The most I can do is just echo the love that He has shown to me.

I hope you enjoyed this psalm as much as I have.  Be blessed, friends.

Psalm 7:10-17 | By Faith

Are you ready to see David’s faith reaction?  I am thoroughly enjoying learning more about how David’s woes and struggles cause him to turn even more into the Father’s arms.

My defence is of God, which saveth the upright in heart.
God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day.
If he turn not, he will whet his sword; he hath bent his bow, and made it ready.
He hath also prepared for him the instruments of death; he ordaineth his arrows against the persecutors.
Behold, he travaileth with iniquity, and hath conceived mischief, and brought forth falsehood.
He made a pit, and digged it, and is fallen into the ditch which he made.
His mischief shall return upon his own head, and his violent dealing shall come down upon his own pate.
I will praise the LORD according to his righteousness: and will sing praise to the name of the LORD most high.
-Psalm 7:10-17 (KJV)

Verse 10 is a key verse for studying uprightness.  God’s defence is given to those with an upright heart.  We are going to see more about uprightness in the Psalms and there are verses on it in proverbs also.  Uprightness goes along with obedience.  I would not say they are synonyms, I recommend studying both separately.  The upright person is most likely to obediently chose the high path in any situation.  If someone needs admonishment, they give it obediently with love.  When temptation arises, they run from it and into the Father’s arms.  David knows that when he fears the world is closing in, if he closes his eyes and seeks God, God will be there to deliver him.

Righteousness is also good to study along with uprightness and obedience.  God judges the righteous.  And just as God’s mercy is new each day, David knows that God’s anger toward the wicked is too.  Because they do not repent, God stays angry with them day after day.  David believes God prepares His sword and bow to bring down the wicked.  In His anger, God will bring an end to David’s wicked attackers.  David trusts in God’s judgement and divine justice when it comes to overcoming what travails him.  Remember, he feels like Cush is attacking him for no reason, so David feels it is best to let God seek vengeance here since he isn’t entirely sure what he did to insight his enemy.  David’s enemies labor in sin.  It isn’t just a lie here or there, or the occasional slip-of-the-tongue.  These people live to commit sinful acts.  Just as living uprightly, in righteousness and obedience, should be our lifestyle, the wicked have chosen to live a lifestyle around sin and mischief and lies.

I want to pause here for a moment to discuss righteousness, uprightness, and obedience.  I’m not going to do an in-depth study here, but I wanted to bring up something to hopefully set some people free.  There are times when God calls us to leave things behind, we may not have thought these things to be sinful, and perhaps God used that thing to teach you something.  Maybe he even let you have that thing so you could then obediently give it up.  Not that God caused you to sin, but this is a point that God can meet you where you are and use what you have to deliver you.  I have walked a long road removing little distractions from my life- things like video games, TV shows, certain foods.  Anything that was revealed to be a distraction from spending time with God.  When you get rid of such things, you make room for the Spirit to come in and fill you.  But you have to be careful, because the enemy will show up to tease you if you just plug those gaps and don’t let God come in to heal those holes.
I recently had to confront something from my past that the enemy was holding over me- something happened in my past that caused me to believe that marriage would mean I was a failure.  And instead of letting God heal that wound after believing that lie for so long, I decided not getting married was my will.  My will.  Yet Jesus said, “Nevertheless, not my will, but thine, be done.” (Luke 22:42)  And I realized my train of thinking was so wrong.  God knows that I am not wired like others who imagine their wedding day, or who they will marry, or entertain such romantic thoughts, and I am happy to be single, enjoying studying the word of God in my free time. But if it is His will (and it would have to be obvious, He knows that I am not searching for these things!) then I will be obedient.  The enemy used to butt in and say things like, “You’re not worth their time.  If you start this relationship, you’ll be a failure like everyone thinks you to be.”  And instead of replacing those lies with God’s truth, I let the enemy breed fear into my life.  In this I have turned to God.  And let me tell you something; it is harder to give up on believing these lies I was raised with than giving up TV or games.  But if I hadn’t been obedient to do those small things, how could I have been ready to be obedient when God decided it was time to confront this giant lie?

Verse 15 tells us that those who labor in sin snare themselves.  All the evil they seek to cause comes right back to them.  And they are not left unharmed in the harm they seek to cause others.  Especially when any enemy of ours is an enemy of God!  I cannot imagine waking each day to God’s wrath instead of His mercy- even a seemingly good day would be a bad one.  Maybe David couldn’t imagine it either, but he recognizes that it just gives him more reason to praise God.  For God’s righteousness.  David spends a lot of time reflecting on the holy character of God, so I wonder what his picture of God’s righteousness looked like.  I think it is something lost in the church today that makes church people so complacent.  When you don’t recognize just how wicked sin is, you aren’t moved to do anything about it.  It’s not just complacency, it’s a lack of conviction.  David moved because he was convicted.  He was moved to pray and to praise, to bring about correction and guide others.  But what we need to remember in our convictions is to ‘hate the sin, not the sinner’.

I hope to have time this week to make some calligraphy pieces.  I do plenty of traditional things, but it takes a little extra for the digital stuff.

Be obedient, go in faith. Accept each day as a good day and a blessing, for surely each day we awake is a gift from God.

 

Psalm 7:1-9 David’s innocence

Psalm 7:1-9 David’s innocence

“O LORD my God, in thee do I put my trust: save me from all them that persecute me, and deliver me:
Lest he tear my soul like a lion, rending it in pieces, while there is none to deliver.
O LORD my God, if I have done this; if there be iniquity in my hands;
If I have rewarded evil unto him that was at peace with me; (yea, I have delivered him that without cause is mine enemy:)
Let the enemy persecute my soul, and take it; yea, let him tread down my life upon the earth, and lay mine honour in the dust. Selah.
Arise, O LORD, in thine anger, lift up thyself because of the rage of mine enemies: and awake for me to the judgment that thou hast commanded.
So shall the congregation of the people compass thee about: for their sakes therefore return thou on high.
The LORD shall judge the people: judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness, and according to mine integrity that is in me.
Oh let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end; but establish the just: for the righteous God trieth the hearts and reins.”
-Psalm 7:1-9 (KJV)

David now writes because of a man named Cush who is persecuting him.  Whoever this man was (we aren’t certain), he said some terrible things and committed some awful acts.  David is trusting God in this situation; perhaps he feels like he doesn’t fully understand why he is being persecuted.  But then, what other option to we have when trials befall us but to trust in God.  We read in verse two just how this predicament has made David feel- he feels as though he may be torn to pieces and this adds urgency to his prayer.  He has no one else to turn to and he us under attack.  I get his struggle- having moved out and learning to live on my own, the few friends that I have managed to make in my new location are school bound, and I would not wish to burden them with my struggles.  There are days when I become so overwhelmed that even failing to reciprocate a hug properly will upset me, and physical touch isn’t even my ‘love language’!  On those days all I want to do is get back to my apartment and spend time in communion with God.  Not much more can add such urgency to prayer than when you feel your enemies may shred you to bits like a lion!  David prays for deliverance- and who wouldn’t!  But he prays with confidence, that God will deliver him from this trial he is facing.

David appeals to the heavenly courts for his innocence.  He doesn’t claim to be without sin, but whatever accusations Cush brought up against him to slander him, David claims innocence to those things.  David knew he was innocent in this case, otherwise he wouldn’t have appealed to God on these things (remember last Psalm how we discussed life on the other side of the Cross? David would not have appealed to God if he thought there was any fault against him.)  In the notes to the side of my Bible verses, it says for verse 4 ‘Evil for Good’.  I’m sure you’ve heard it said before ‘No good deed goes unpunished’.  But David had never rendered evil for evil, not even when others told him it was merited.  And he certainly never returned evil for any good done to him by Cush.

David calls on God to step in- he had the presence of mind to, while undergoing serious accusations and being pursued by his enemies, seek God.  And not just seek God, but he requests that God judge them both.  David is so sure of his innocence that he tells God to judge him on these accusations.  He sure prays boldly on this- perhaps also brought on by his fear of being torn to bits.  He tells God to get up and judge him!  Not a prayer I can really say I have ever prayed.  It is a good lesson to learn though.  We ought to be so sure of our standing that we can pray with such boldness and confidence before God as to request that He judge us by our righteousness.  Of course, David continues with his plea for the wicked to cease being wicked, as God tries them and their true character is revealed.

I’m going to compare David to Paul again, because of his boldness.  Paul attributes his boldness to God. (“In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of  him.” -Ephesians 3: 12)  But Paul is on our side of the cross.  David’s boldness is a combination of his knowledge (he knew he was innocent) and the many hours he spent reflecting on the character of God.  Now, both these people were very different- Paul definitely had a knack for turning everything into praising God, everything.  He did his best in his wording for everything to never give himself credit for what he had been taught by God.  David’s psalms don’t have a ‘boldness’ tag in the side margin of my Bible.  He is still a very humble person (as we have learned that his reflections of how Holy God is often brought him lower as he realized how not holy he was in contrast), but he never feels the need to speak of his boldness directly, we just see evidence of it in his songs.  These two represent two different, yet similar, characteristics of boldness, and we can glean a lot from considering them both.

I will leave that study up to you though.  I recommend reading “The Apostle: A Life of Paul” by John Pollock for more insight into what brought Paul to where he was when he wrote his letters.  I think the only ‘book’ I have read concerning David is “David: 90 days with a Heart like His” by Beth Moore when I was in high school.  While I do recommend going through that study (and her other 90 day studies, which are reflective and not necessarily books), I’m sure there are other books out there that aren’t 90 day studies and that give more history and background and insight into David’s life. (feel free to list any books you have read that have been beneficial to you!)

Be blessed, pray with boldness, and challenge yourself to give sacrificially this week!

Psalm 6- A cry in Sickness

“O LORD, rebuke me not in thine anger, neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure.
Have mercy upon me, O LORD; for I am weak: O LORD, heal me; for my bones are vexed.
My soul is also sore vexed: but thou, O LORD, how long?
Return, O LORD, deliver my soul: oh save me for thy mercies’ sake.
For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?
I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears.
Mine eye is consumed because of grief; it waxeth old because of all mine enemies.
Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity; for the LORD hath heard the voice of my weeping.
The LORD hath heard my supplication; the LORD will receive my prayer.
Let all mine enemies be ashamed and sore vexed: let them return and be ashamed suddenly.”
-Psalm 6 (KJV)

I don’t know about you, but this has been a rough week for me- with an anxiety attack and a nasty migraine.  So I am determined to dig deep into this entire chapter to milk it for all it’s worth!  Let’s look at David’s plea in his sickness.

Being sick is certainly never fun, and it gets less fun as you get older- no parents around to nurse you back to health, no cabinets full of medicines that you don’t even know what half are really for, and no time to really rest because you have a list of things that need to get done!  We can gather from these 10 verses that David is very sick.  And that he believes his sickness is a result of some sin he committed.  Based on the past few psalms written by David, I imagine any sin he might commit he would consider the worst offense he could commit.  We don’t know what the sin was- it could have been a small lie to protect some people, or he didn’t wake up and immediately begin praying, or maybe it was something bigger.  Either way, we see the magnitude of David’s perspective of who God is and his fear of God.  He begins his song by asking God to lessen the blow.  He feels like he is being rebuked- in all his singing of the wicked and how much he despises them, now he has done something that has him under God’s rebuke, and he is sorrowful.  Perhaps he feels the disapproval of God in each cough or sneeze.

David also speaks of being chastened.  The verse also says that God did these things out of anger and hot displeasure.  We have to remember that David lived on the other side of the cross.  At the cross, God’s anger toward man was poured out on Jesus, so we live in a time where chastening from God comes out of love and not anger.  Hebrews 12:7 tells us “If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?”  Chastening is a mark of adoption.  I have several friends who have experienced awful illnesses and a few who have terminal illnesses, and those who have faith have at some point questioned if it is from God for something they did in the past.  But we live under the cross!  While David had every reason to question his standing with God and assume that his sickness was a result of something he had done which merited his complaining and asking ‘why me?’, we who live on the side of the cross where Jesus was hung up high for our sins and His blood spelt for our forgiveness, the question we should be asking is ‘Why not me?’.

You know that soreness you get all over your body when you are getting really sick?  I usually experience it before I get the flu, though most recently (because, thank God, I haven’t caught the flu in a while!) was when I had some really bad pain in my abdomen that made me think I had the flu.  After pushing through a full day at work, I made it home (I walked a mile to and from work to my house during this time) and laid down hoping it would pass, only to get up a few hours later to realize the pain was so severe, and definitely not the flu, because I could not stand up straight.  I could also tell it was an internal problem, a skill I developed from having gallstones and pancreatitis a few years ago- I can distinguish ‘surface’ pain from internal malfunctions.  If you have never had internal pain like this, just trust me, there is a huge difference, and I have high pain tolerance.  My roommate wanted to take me to the ER that night, but I refused and said I would go to urgent care if it didn’t go away overnight.  The pain was worse overnight and left me tossing and turning in a fever.  She took me to urgent care and they discovered I have ‘ulcerative colitis’, they gave me some pills and sent me on my way.  Whether David felt a ‘surface’ pain or serious internal pain is uncertain, but he knew exactly who to turn to in his agony.  He recognizes his physical weakness and pain and asks God for healing.  And in his spiritual weakness and pain he asked God for mercy.

Even David experienced spiritual weakness in his physical weakness.  I don’t remember how my spiritual state was when I was in so much pain from the ulcerative colitis, but I promise my spiritual state was already pretty low because that happened a year after moving to my new home and I was not on solid ground.  But stress causes a similar feeling in most people, though it may be easier to remedy.  When I am stressed, I tend to talk down more on myself, which makes me more sorrowful and just gives the enemy that clutch which I am unwilling to take back in my weakened state usually.  Oh, it is so bad sometimes!  Then I have dear friends in school who each handle that stress differently- one takes things said to them more personally and causes more pain for themselves, one just shuts down and tries to handle it alone, another will fall behind and cause themselves emotional stress on top of it all.  I’m sure all of us can relate to David on this in some level.  And like him, I’m sure we have all questioned ‘How long?’.  Maybe that sounds like David is asking God in some way to take this away from him, but I believe he is just asking God to shorten his chastening.  He is resigned to being chastened because he knows that there is gain to be had from undergoing such a trial.  But remember that David is experiencing this because of God’s anger, which we may not understand fully because we won’t experience that in its fullness, however, I am certain we would be asking for relief from such a grievance if we were in David’s place too.

David asks God to deliver him.  His wording is so important as we study the incredible faith that David possessed. He says, “Return, O Lord, deliver my soul: Oh save me for thy mercies’ sake.”  David says ‘Return’, he felt distant from God in his sickness.  He wants back what he had before with God.  Part of his trial would have been this feeling.  Up until this point, his psalms have reflected his closeness to God, his righteousness, and how different he lived from the wicked.  He asks for mercy, his confession, he feels he doesn’t deserve the requests he has made, but he prays by faith.  In recent times I have learned that I am blunt, and that my bluntness does not always come across as lovingly as I intend it to, thus it usually gets me in trouble.  Well, for better or worse, this gives my friends many opportunities to show mercy to me, and each time I go to them for their mercy and forgiveness, I feel what David felt to some extent.  I don’t deserve it, it comes from a place of being humbled, and from having people, and a God, who understands that I am in process.  In art, we call it a ‘work in process’ (WIP).  I am so grateful for these people who reflect God’s character like this, and I’m sure David is glad that God understands too.

Verse 5 may seem strange, but again, we must remember that David lives on the other side of the cross, and his understanding of what comes after death is an uncertainty.  He doesn’t know what comes after death, and so we can gather two things from his words here:  Most importantly would be that he has decided that while he is still alive, he is going to praise God.  So long as he still has breath, he will lift his voice up and speak to God, because he doesn’t know if he will have that chance should he die.  The other thing we can gather from this is that David is in enough pain that he believes he may die.  I remember when I woke at 1am thinking I was dying- I went downstairs after suffering for 3 hours alone in pain and asked one of my parents to sit with me while I died.  They didn’t take it seriously, because what dying person gets up and looks for company, but I truly thought it was the end for me.  I ended up going to work that day, only to be sent to urgent care, and a month later found out I had gallstones.  But it was only at the surgery to remove my gallbladder that we learned that my gallbladder was so close to bursting, it may have killed me. (Remember, I do have a high pain tolerance.  They said I had had stones for years, but I managed to ignore the attacks and dismiss them until this point.)  David must have had some truly awful pain to believe he may be dying, and in his fear that death would be the end with no way for him to praise God in the afterlife, he cries out to Him!

We gather how distraught David is over his sickness that has brought distance between him and God.  David was not able to sleep, he felt far from God, and he felt God was angry with him.  David is weary and his bed is soaked with his tears.  Where before he was encouraged all the more to live uprightly by the wicked around him, now he is feeling defeated and not provoked to grab victory in his lowness.  Then David declares “Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity”.  Perhaps he had people around him who were not encouraging.  It reminds me of Job, whose friends came around and question why he still believed in God when all manner of awful things were allowed to befall him.  Not encouraging at all!  David knows God has heard his weeping, has heard his prayer, and that his prayer will be accepted of God.  David is not afraid to show emotion before God- God is impressed by a passionate heart, though we think of such displays of emotion as weakness.  We should learn from David in this, for the God who created us is not ashamed of how we express ourselves for the passions He has given us!

I think we can gather this pattern in David’s life- when edification didn’t come from his peers or when he was truly low, David sought to spend time alone with God.  He probably knew himself well enough to know that his character changed drastically when God was teaching him something, and that it was better for him to focus on God during these times instead of falling short of glorifying God in some way.  David knows that trouble will come to his enemies when God hears his prayer.  His temporary sufferings are nothing compared to the permanent suffering that while befall his enemies.

That turned out to be a very long post, but I hope you found it to be encouraging and not tedious in any way.  Be blessed and encouraged friends.