Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Psalm 9

Yahweh also will be a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble; and those who know Your name will put their trust in You, for You, O Yahweh, have not forsaken those who seek You, (Psalm 9:9-10).

Psalm 9, as so many Psalms, wrestles with the justice and faithfulness of God in a world where it appears the wicked are having their way. The questions are good, the wrestling is good; evil and oppression and injustice are real, they are substantial, and we have to wonder where God is and how long He will allow these things. Trite answers to these questions trivialize the Gospel; perhaps we see the issue of evil raised again and again in Psalms because there are no simple answers and it is not a tension from which we can escape or should ignore.

Verses 9 and 10 are not always apparent to the observer; there are times when it appears that Yahweh has forsaken those who seek Him. God’s people are persecuted, they are killed, they unjustly lose their jobs, they have no place to live, no food to eat…and sometimes worse. There are times when God’s people think He has forsaken them, it happens, we are but human; joined to the Divine yes, but we are still human, and being human things get the better of us now and then – but thank God that He reminds us who He is and who we are in Him – His beloved children.

The Psalmist writes, “…and those who know Your name will put their trust in You…” There is no other name under heaven by which we can be saved than the name of Jesus (Acts 4:12); the name of the covenant God addressed in this psalm, Yahweh, is the name the Psalmist directly refers to; those who know the Person named Yahweh have a refuge and stronghold; those who know the Person named Jesus (meaning “Yahweh saves”) have a Savior. Yahweh, the name (and Person) of the covenant-keeping God, is the focus of the Old Testament; Jesus, the name (and Person) of the saving God, is the focus of the New Testament. Through Jesus we know Yahweh as our Father. The I AM THAT I AM of the Burning Bush walks with us and talks with us in Jesus; the God who shows Moses a measure of His glory on Sinai is revealed to us in His Son Jesus Christ. The two are one and the one is two, and with the Holy Spirit the three are one and the one is three; the mystery which we term the Trinity is beyond us in comprehension but not in experience because He has condescended to us in His love that we may know Him.     

And so in the midst of injustice and evil those who know the name of Yahweh have a stronghold, a place where they see things clearly, a place of comfort, a place where they know that this world is not all there is, a place that serves as their heavenly observatory from which they see eternity.

Knowing the name of Yahweh is not simply knowing the word “Yahweh”, nor is it listing the characteristics of God, nor is it simply knowing His nature; yes, in the Bible names often speak to us of one’s nature, but God is not a plant or animal that we study to know characteristics or a nature; to know the name of Yahweh is to know Yahweh, and while knowing Yahweh is knowing (in some measure) His nature and His character and attributes it is more than that – it is knowing Him and knowing Him is never ending. How can we write or speak of knowing Him and not be dwarfed and overcome by Him? How can we not fall down to worship Him?

Knowing Him, knowing His name, is so much bigger than I am that I’ll close with Paul’s words in Philippians Chapter 3: More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord…that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings…I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

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