Saturday, November 17, 2012
Psalm 17, Giving Thanks
As I try to think through what I’ve learned this week in my study of this psalm, I am reminded of Job and I conclude that what we have here is a nicely condensed version of the 42 chapters of that book into just these 15 verses. Not exactly all, but nearly so.
In the first few verses, we see David proclaiming the innocence of Job and being able to speak boldly with the Lord because of his innocence. Likewise, Abraham and Moses were able to say the most shocking things to the Lord – without reprisals. The lesson here is to live in such a way that we too can pour our hearts out to the Lord. How awkward to find ourselves knocking on the door to His throne with an urgent matter and realize it has been months or years since we’ve communed in prayer.
Do you have a friend who is so near and dear that you can speak plainly to them and never fear being judged? Even nearer and dearer should be your Lord, Jesus Christ. Is your spouse your closest friend, the one you confide in all day long and enjoy the sweetness of pillow talk each evening? The Church is the Bride of Christ – confide in Him all day long and speak with Him as you fall asleep each night. When you have such a relationship with your Lord, then you too can speak boldly as did Abraham, Moses, and David.
Next we see David bringing to God his many troubles – calamities were befalling him. For Job, it was in the form of various loses and for David here it is being surrounded by various enemies. But both men had their calamities and knew to take them to the Lord in prayer.
The ALL-Mighty Lord has ALL-Power to fix whatever our problems may be, but there’s a catch. We must bring our problems into the throne room of the Lord and leave them there. Unpack our woe-filled backpack and leave with it still empty. But many of us make the mistake of putting each and every problem back into our packs and taking them home with us.
This is like taking our broken watch to the master clock-smith and describing in great detail how the second hand won’t advance past the number 2. The clock-smith says, “No problem, I will have it fixed for you by Friday.” You then leave his shop with the watch still on your arm! How foolish you sound on Friday when you enter his shop and complain that the watch is still broken.
In a similar way, God has to have possession of our problems in order to set them right for us. It is not that our Father in heaven is not powerful enough or caring enough to fix the situation, far from it. Instead, He is waiting for us to mature, for as long as we keep our backpacks over-flowing with our troubles, we show we haven’t fully entrusted them to the Lord. Bring your worries and cares to the Lord’s feet and leave them there.
The last verse of this psalm is simply amazing in its simplicity and its depth. Here we see David turning from worldly full bellies and progeny as his joy and looking ONLY to the Lord – to see His face is all he wants. As Job similarly proclaimed, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21)
Here in the United States, we celebrate Thanksgiving this week. As we sit down to a table over-flowing with delightful food and surrounded by the happy faces of loved ones, we can be tempted to take joy in a full belly and progeny. And while God certainly gives us these good gifts to enjoy, we must remember to always keep our hearts turned towards heaven.
Every child of God needs to learn this important lesson. It doesn’t matter what has befallen you – the loss of people or possessions or the gain of deadly enemies! No matter what this life offers – be it deep sorrows or full bellies and progeny – our everlasting joy, indeed our only joy, is to be looking toward the Master, to see His face, dimly lit now, and full and glorious in heaven.