When your own life is not going well, it is easy to get frustrated with people who are bubbling over and going on and on about how amazing God is and how He is providing for their every need. Another Christian woman whose blog I follow recently was sharing how even going on Facebook can be used by Satan against her because of all the smiling happy faces proclaiming good news happening in their lives, while she just made it through another day. Living in a new country is a source of unrelenting stress, our MTI training told us, and it is true. We are just surviving many days, and thriving seems far off.
But David, here is not in the midst of a great and amazing stress free life. As we have seen, he has enemies that should have been friends, betrayal and those out for his head follow him wherever he goes. And yet he continues to take note of the enemies God is handling, the amazingness of God, and put his faith in Him. Once again, do we do this? Do we give thanks to God with our whole hearts, or do we hold back part of our heart that is still hurt, not wanting God to heal us until we see our enemies suffer? Do we tell people of the awesome things God has done in our lives, the lives of others, and throughout history? Or do we ask for prayer and moan over our search for God?
I have always been the one who will answer the question, “How are you?” with my heart on my sleeve, honestly and often emotionally. We hear sermons about this all the time, and I have talked about what we do if someone answers us honestly and we ignore their pain. In the same way, we must pursue the God we believe in wholeheartedly. In the midst of great trial we must respond as David, and praise the Lord, clinging to the hope he offers! This is not coming from a source of someone who does this well. I am the complainer, but I am seeing this in myself and now want to push through to the joy that is within us as Christians whether or not life is turning out as we would like.
David begins with praise, thanks God for judging his enemies, and then widens his thanks to God for rebuking the nations and the world. David proclaims the justice of God, and that those who are oppressed or in times of trouble have this just God to run to. Not only does David talk of God’s justice, but also his relationship with us, that he is mindful of us, knows our cry. Finally, we realize David is not sitting high and mighty now with all fixed. He is praising God for these things while still afflicted by those who hate him, still hunted down to be slaughtered by his enemy.
David again comments on the pit that the wicked dig for themselves, and that God will make sure their work is their undoing. David raises up those who trust in God, the needy, and the poor to the level that we are cared about immensely and must stand in awe and humility with the realization that God loves us. He lowers the wicked to “but men!” that will be forgotten.
David, the Lord, my whole heart, my enemies, the nations, the wicked, the world, the people, the oppressed, those who know His name, those who seek Him, the afflicted, the daughter of Zion, the needy, the poor, mankind.
Verse 4 “For you have maintained my just cause; you have sat on the throne, giving righteous judgment.”
To me this is a key verse because it comes in the context that David’s enemies are still afflicting him. Yet he states this as happened. We should be making the same bold claim in the midst of our sufferings.
Psalm 140:12 “I know the Lord will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and will execute justice for the needy.”
Psalm 29:10 “The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord sits enthroned as king forever.”
There come many times in our lives where we must decide if we really believe that God is good. If he truly is good, then He is not doing this to us, but rather he knows the end of the story, and he cries along with us through the pain of the trials until we get to the other side. Take the opportunity today to thank Him. To praise Him because of the truths You know. That cross reference to Psalm 140, for example, is a truth that we believe as Christians, and if I know that, then I can thank God for maintaining the cause of the afflicted even if at this moment in time I don’t see the evidence in a specific situation.
Cling to truths that we know, not because they feel good today, but because they are true. This can be an amazing testimony to others about the reality of Christ in our lives.
I Challenge You:
In the beginning of this study I wrote a blog entry about how I spend my quiet time in the morning. This included my Joys and Thanksgivings. At MTI we were challenged to write 5 things each day we were thankful for. We carried a little notebook with us for this purpose. It was a great habit to start, and has become a big part of my quiet time with God to make sure that I am thankful for the things happening in my life. I challenge you to also keep this for at least 21 days, build a real habit of thanking our Lord for all the amazing things he has done.
Jesus in the Psalm
Jesus is the “flesh-and-blood reality”* of this Psalm. “For Christ is both a lion and a lamb (Rev. 5:5-6). He is both supremely powerful (2 Thess. 1:7-10) and supremely gentle (Mat. 11:29). He is a strong refuge and a tender friend. In Jesus, we see concretely the God of Psalm 9. Jesus is “a stronghold for the oppressed” (Ps. 9:9). He came to preach good news to the poor (v. 18; Luke 4:18).”*
Revelation 5:5-6 “And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain…”
2 Thessalonians 1:5-10 “This is the evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering—since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.”
Matthew 11:29 “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
Luke 4:18 “”The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed,”
Dear Lord, please teach us to praise You in all circumstances to truly give our whole heart to You. I pray thanks that we have Your word and Your Spirit to comfort us in our times of strife, struggle, and pain. I know that You feel with us, that none of our struggles happen apart from You, for nothing can separate us from You. Continue to heal the brokenhearted and bring hope and joy to Your people in their struggles.
Tomorrow: Psalm 10
*Note: I am using the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible for the Jesus in the Psalm section, so these are paraphrases of the commentary with my own ideas sprinkled in.
Thank you for reading. I am excited to hear your key verses, observations, and thoughts! Please leave a comment to share them with us. Feel free to share those things You are thankful for, too, it can be a great encouragement to the rest of us.
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