“But You, O God my Lord, deal on my behalf for your name’s sake. Because your steadfast love is good, deliver me!–for I am poor and needy and my heart is stricken within me. I am gone like a shadow at evening; I am shaken off like a locust…May my accusers be wrapped in their own shame as in a cloak! With my mouth I will give great thanks to the Lord; I will praise him in the midst of the throng. Ps 109:21-23; v29-30.
The Psalmist cries out to God. He cries for deliverance. His heart is pounding in sorrow, in anguish. Why? He is being accused from his point of view wrongly. Does the Psalmist have a case? Is this something he should do? What can I take away from this?
This passage struck me today. I was just confronted with a family situation that has my heart pounding and my mind is roiling around what to do about it. I am on the verge of tears one minute and raging the next-emotions are rampant within me going back and forth as on a pendulum. All the written descriptions of the Psalmist’s emotions I can identify with. This isn’t a woe is me passage, this is the Word of God identifying and presenting the reality of a person’s heart.
The Psalms are good for drawing out and putting thoughts and feelings into words. The Psalms deal with recognition of God’s goodness as well as the everyday stuff man encounters-like conflicts-and depression-and other stuff, good and not so good.
Does the Psalmist have a case that he is right and the “others” are wrong? Beat’s me; I read it very carefully and the Psalmist is not real clear about himself-but he thinks he is “in the right.” The response, however, is unclouded with trying to figure it out for himself-he submits it to God and asks for work on his behalf. So what is wrong with trying to figure it out for myself?
A slippery slope follows and it involves God’s Sovereignty and Human Responsibility. We are to act (and think and speak and feel, etc.) but leaning on the Holy Spirit at all times. This takes practice. What is it called “not leaning on the Holy Spirit?” One description could be “self-sufficiency.” This is the “Me do it” attitude that got Adam and Eve tossed out of the Garden. This one is especially hard to define and requires me actively approaching God to examine my heart and let me know “if there is any wayward heart in me.” My logic and arguments don’t cut the mustard here. I know my heart is “deceitful” and left to itself would lead me into sin and away from righteousness.
How then do I respond? Same way you get to Carnegie Hall: Practice, practice, practice. But what do I practice? 1) Being transparent. Transparency has to break through self-defense. 2) Being candid in prayer. It is not enough to say to ourselves “God sees my heart.” Healing comes from confession. God wants to hear our prayer, not practice telepathy. 3) Give thanks and praise in every situation-stuff that works out well and stuff that doesn’t seem to work out at all. Take a look at Job chapter 1 and 2. Also 1st Thes 5:21-23-after all, giving thanks in ALL things is the will of God in Christ Jesus for me.
Lord, this one wasn’t easy to write. I want to pound on my chest and say “phooey” on those that are hurting me right now; to rail at the injustice of the situation; to moan and wail against the immediate loss. This is the “sacrifice of praise” You say. This is where You capture my tears. This is the place where You comfort me, counsel me, or correct me. For sure You love me as Your child and discipline me for my good. Doesn’t mean what ails me is wrong; it does mean that You O God are not giving up on Your intention to make me in the image of Your Son, my Lord. Oh, year: Deliver me and make my opponents come to shame. AMEN.