Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Psalm 31

A Psalm of Complaint and of Praise.

That's what the header says above Psalm 31. I love that. Haha so like David. A song of complaining and of praise. I imagine God likes it too, after all it is in the Bible. It really resonates within me though because I often feel like half the time I'm complaining and half the time praising. Why does that bother us so much and make us feel guilty? This doesn't seem to upset or shock God in anyway. In my experience He seems to prefer it when I'm crying out in an honest way then when I'm ignoring Him.

He get's it. He just really does get what we're going through. I've been reading a lot about how Jesus is the ultimate High Priest. He lived and was tempted in every way. He suffered in those temptations and can relate to our suffering. So when we suffer and we call to Him, He has compassion. He sympathizes with our pain and is gracious and merciful. Thank You God!

Back to the psalm. In the Bible study that I'm working on we were asked to look up a couple of scriptures about God's throne on the basis of Hebrews 4:16 where it says Let us come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. 

I found the topic and study of the Throne extremely interesting and so decided to just do a keyword search and look up all the times the word throne is mentioned. I also like to see it in multiple versions. biblegateway.com is really awesome because it lets you pull up a word in all different kinds of versions all at once. You can imagine that I sifted through literally hundreds of verses containing the word throne. Sounds tedious, I suppose, but I really like that sort of thing. I could spend this whole blog post and many more talking about all the different things I picked up from such a shallow look of the Throne. However Psalm 31 really caught my attention. What's interesting about that is the word throne isn't even actually mentioned in that psalm! What happened is I came across a different verse that contained the word throne along with a phrase that read something like this "You protect them with Your presence." I just thought that was so beautifully put. However if you pull the whole chapter and read it in context, which is an absolute must, it didn't mean exactly what I was thinking. So I decided to try another word search and see if there was a scripture anywhere that related to the idea that with just His presence there is protection and safety like an invisible force field. In my mind I had this grand picture of Him. I could imagine myself running from an army of hungry beasts. He appears out of no where and saves me. My protection didn't come from a mighty lightning strike or a sword or weapon. He vanquished the hairy monsters with just His presence. A bit dramatic I know but since I believe that He really is that cool (Chuck Norris and Jack Bauer got nothin' on Him) I thought it would be even better if I could actually find it in scripture. (Alas, to my great disappointment there are no scriptural references to force fields. *sigh*)

With this second word search I came across Psalm 31. Verse 20 says:
You hide them in the secret place of Your presence from the conspiracies of man;
You keep them secretly in a shelter from the strife of tongues. 

Eh. Didn't really perk my interest all that much except that it was really the only one that talked about His presence in the context of which I was searching for. This of course led me to reading the chapter as a whole. After just reading the header I was hooked.

I also think it's interesting how so much of what I've been reading, thinking, and praying about can be wrapped up in one chapter. How does He do that?!

Just for the sake of not having a blog post that goes on for 200 pages I only want to share a few verses that especially brought me great joy.

5 Into Your hand I commit my spirit;
You have ransomed me, O LORD, God of truth.

7 I will rejoice and be glad in Your lovingkindness,
Because You have seen my affliction;
You have known the troubles of my soul,
8 And You have not given me over into the hand of the enemy;
You have set my feet in a large place.  

Even though I don't have any enemies like what David had I do have enemies in the way unbelief and discontentment are enemies of God and of hope. Are you ever plauged by doubt? Fear? Worry? "What if?" questions? Those are all enemies that have a tangible force. They come against you but instead of falling into that path and then complaining about it we can trust Him, knowing that He is compassionate and can sympathize. He has seen our affliction and He's no stranger to our troubled soul.

 19 How great is Your goodness,
Which You have stored up for those who fear You,
Which You have wrought for those who take refuge in You,
Before the sons of men! 

How great is His goodness?! How glad we can be in His lovingkindness! I love the idea of Him "storing up" goodness. Can you imagine? It's like that place that stores all that goodness that we didn't have room enough to contain. All that extra doesn't go away. He's got it stored up and has been storing it up. It's like some great big savings account. Am I the only one excited about that?

23 O love the LORD, all you His godly ones!
The LORD preserves the faithful
And fully recompenses the proud doer.
24 Be strong and let your heart take courage,
All you who hope in the LORD. 

Verse 23 is so interesting to me. He preserves the faithful. I have the tendency to think that those who are faithful don't need any help in persevering because they have so much faith. What if walking out in faith isn't just for those strong ones? What if it's not about how much faith you have after all? What if it has more to do with just loving Him and trusting Him and knowing that you are weak and that you are kind of a terrible person at times but really believing that He never, ever looses hope or gives up on you? What if it has nothing to do with doing something so He'll help you and love you? What if it's loving Him and letting Him do the something in you?

In case you're like me and the last part of 23 confuses you check it in the Message it says this:
  But he pays back in full
      those arrogant enough to go it alone.

Can you say ominous? There's no shame in crying out to Him for help. In fact He'd much rather that then watching you try to arrogantly go it alone.

To wrap this up I have to copy verse 24 again.

24 Be strong and let your heart take courage,
All you who hope in the LORD. 

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