Sunday, December 30, 2012

Psalm 13

Psalm 13

How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever?
How long will You hide Your face from me?
How long shall I take counsel in my soul,
Having sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long will my enemy be exalted over me?

Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
Enlighten my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death,
And my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
And my adversaries will rejoice when I am shaken.

But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness;
My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
Because He has dealt bountifully with me.

This Psalm is the Psalm of the great “but” of faith; but I have trusted in Your lovingkindness. No matter what appearances may be, I have trusted in You. No matter what happens to me, I have trusted in You. This “but”, this insistence that I will trust in God, in His character, in His love and grace and mercy regardless of circumstances, regardless of the natural/fleshly outcome of the circumstances…this “but” is a watershed of faith, a continental divide – on one side of the divide the water flows toward “self” while on the other side it flows toward God. On one side of the divide self is the focus, its preservation, its comfort, its agenda; on the other side God is the focus, His glory, His holiness, His love and mercy and justice.

It may seem at times as if God has forgotten us: How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? It may seem as if death is our lot and victory the enemy’s prize; Paul wrote that he and his companions had a sentence of death in themselves, such was the despair they experienced. But Paul wrote in the same breath that this was in order that they should learn not to trust in themselves but in God who raises the dead (see 2 Corinthians Chapter 1).

On the God side of the divide we hear Job saying, “Though He slay me yet will I trust Him.” We witness Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego declaring, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand O king, But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” We read the words of Justin Martyr to the Emperor, “And if you also read these words in a hostile spirit, you can do no more, as I said before, than kill us; which indeed does no harm to us…”

Abraham believes in the God “who gives life to the dead and calls into being what which does not exist” (Rom. 4:17); Paul doesn’t look at the things that are seen but those that are unseen (2 Cor. 4:18); Jesus looks beyond the Cross to the joy that is set before Him (Heb. 12:1-2).

When we cross the great divide from a self-oriented life to a Christ-oriented life we can rejoice in God’s salvation, we can sing to Him because He has dealt bountifully with us – no matter what appearances may be. How has He dealt bountifully with us in the midst of heartache, sorrow, and apparent defeat? By freely showering us with His love and mercy, by forgiving our sins, by dying and rising for us, by bringing us from spiritual death to spiritual life, by securing an eternal future for us with Himself and His saints; and so Paul writes in Romans Chapter 8:

“Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, ‘For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

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