Synopsis Psalms 69:1-25 11/24/2021
King David expressed anguish. In that moment, he felt stuck in a deep mire. He was overwhelmed because his enemies had ganged up on him.
At this moment, he acknowledged his own failings and sins. However, even his laments, fastings and self-abasement were used by his adversaries to shame him. As a result, he felt cut off even from his own family.
Even so, David prayed to God. He did not give up petitioning God until God gave an answer. Despite the evil and mockery that others did to him, he waited for God’s help.
David and Shame
David recognized the power of shame. He understood that shameful feelings can break a relationship. But he determined not to let this happen. No matter how ashamed and unworthy others made him feel, he looked to God for his sense of identity and acceptance.
Shame, Identity and Acceptance
Shame is a powerful phenomenon. So powerful in fact, I hesitate to describe it as a mere emotion. In the way that checkmate is related to the game of chess, shame is closely related to the power of original sin.
I feel ashamed that I am not as powerful as God. And I feel ashamed for even thinking such a thought. And though these two different kinds of shame work differently in my psyche, they both force my soul away from right relationship with God.
Together, they block my ability to believe that God accepts me as I am. As a result, they shade my ability to see myself as a child of God.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” 1 Peter 1:3
Synopsis Psalms 68:12-38 11/23/2021
King David celebrated God’s history of faithfulness to Israel. And as he meditated in this way, he asked God to once again favor Israel with power and glory.
We Remember Jesus
In the same way as David, we invoke the memory of Christ and the saints. And the memorial is a participation.
“For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.” 1Cor 11:23-26
Synopsis Psalms 66:12-68:11 11/22/2021
At some point in Israelite history, a psalmist wrote rejoicing over the harvest. In it, he celebrated God’s goodness in the ordinary things of life. He especially celebrated the manner by which God provides food to his people through the agricultural cycle of life.
Israelite Gifts and Dependence
God’s Blessings come in such a steady and predictable way, that it is easy to take them for granted. However, the psalmist made a point to recognize God’s mercy and provision in something as mundane as the harvest of food.
Gifts and Dependence
In this time, most of us are totally unaware when the harvest takes place. We simply take it for granted.
And working as a farmer doesn’t necessarily change that spiritual reality. The science of harvest yields through genetic modification makes the harvest far more predictable than any time in history.
But regardless of my occupation, the important moment of remembrance is recognizing that God is before every harvest. And He is before every science used to optimize the earth and its blessings. He is, in fact, the source of every good thing.
And I am happily and entirely dependent on Him.
“I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.” John 15:5
Synopsis Psalms 64:9-66:11 11/3/2021
King David believed that God’s chosen people owed Him praise. For him, it was a matter of indebtedness. All have sinned. And only God can pardon sins.
God answers repentance with good things that bless the entire earth. In particular, God makes the earth fertile with blessings of rain and sun that produce flocks and grain.
And so, the psalmist expressed this same joy. He recognized awe and wonder in the presence of God.
David looked at the same evidence available to all the people of his time. But he interpreted what he saw in a uniquely different way. Specifically, David allowed himself to be awed by God.
I walk through my days like the only thing that matters is my to-do list. This is dangerous.
It’s not the to-do list. It’s my attitude.
“Confess the power of God, whose majesty protects Israel, whose power is in the sky. Awesome is God in his holy place, the God of Israel, who gives power and strength to his people. Blessed be God!” Psalm 68:35
Synopsis Psalms 62:6-64:8 11/2/2021
King David proclaimed that God was the only God. And he described how he longed to be in the presence of God. Furthermore, he pledged to bless and praise God at all times.
And he contrasted his response with his adversaries. Knowing that God loved him, David anticipated the demise of those who contended against him.
King David’s Side
David was confident that God loved and supported him. And so, it only made sense that God would vanquish all of his adversaries.
God On My Side
Is God on my side?
In Psalm 37, it said, “find your delight in the Lord who will give you your heart’s desire.”
So maybe the real question is: Am I on God’s side?
“And we have this confidence in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” 1John 5:14
Synopsis Psalms 58:2-59:14 10/27/2021
King David mocked false gods. He recognized that wickedness begins before birth. And evildoers engage in any practice that is against true good.
For this reason, he cried out that God might destroy evil from the earth.
Because he often felt threatened by evil, he cried out to God for rescue. And he asked God to punish the nations that pursue the evil of false gods. In this way, he asked God to always go before him, just as God had gone before the Israelites in the wilderness in the time of Moses.
David Behind God
David wanted to be led by God. This is key to every aspect of his success.
Being Behind God
I suspect the best way to make this idea more obvious is by its opposite. So, instead of wanting to be behind God, I usually want to take the lead.
Of course, this is another way of saying I don’t want to be led. Instead, I want to lead.
But my attempts to lead God have historically looked a lot like my amateur attempts to surf large waves. It just doesn’t work very well. And occasionally it has been really painful.
“Thus says the LORD: Stand by the earliest roads, ask the pathways of old, “Which is the way to good?” and walk it; thus you will find rest for yourselves.But they said, “We will not walk it.” Jer 6:16
Synopsis Psalms 56:1-58:1 10/26/2021
In his early life, King David often fought against foes who deliberately sought him out to destroy him. And so, he appealed to God for help by praying for mercy. And he reminded God of his fidelity.
David lamented these frustrations. But he acknowledged that God was greater than the circumstances. And even though he sometimes felt like he was surrounded by vicious, wild animals, he knew that God would protect him. Not only this, but he believed that God would cause David’s enemies to fall into the traps they laid against him.
And so, David praised God for his glory and power.
David Under Pressure
When David experienced pressure, he reminded himself to praise God. The pressure of his situation consumed his attention. But for him, this was a trigger. And so, he reminded himself to praise by commanding himself to wake-up.
When I’m under pressure, I know that something must change. So, when pressure consumes all of my attention, I know that it’s time to put everything else down. That is the moment to praise God.
Pressure signals the time to wake up to God
“Arise! Shine, for your light has come, the glory of the LORD has dawned upon you.” Isaiah 60:1
Synopsis Psalms 54:5-55:24 10/15/2021
King David asked God to help him with grief and trauma. At this point in his life, he reported feelings of anxiety because he was overwhelmed with adversity.
So, he asked God to stop the violent men who opposed him. He especially felt discouraged because his adversary was formerly a close friend.
In the end, David encouraged himself by recounting God’s faithfulness, even though he doubted his adversaries would ever repent.
David was a king over ancient Israel. Despite the fact that he was the most successful and faithful of all the Israelite kings, he suffered the affliction of all kings. He felt uncertainty. Specifically, because he was so powerful, he could never completely trust in the intentions of other men.
Uncertainty produces anxiety. At least it does when I’m not looking to God to provide for me needs and help me solve my problems.
So, perhaps a better distinction is to point out that uncertainty produces anxiety if I won’t let go of my own agenda.
However, if I trust whatever comes as though it comes from the very hand of God, then uncertainty is just an opportunity to see a miracle.
“Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil 4:6-7
Synopsis Psalms 51:19-54:4 10/14/2021
King David wrote concerning the nature of evil. In his writings, he observed that evil people are filled with envy. As a result, they love to do things that destroy the value created by others.
In contrast, King David described himself in metaphorical terms. Specifically, he thought of himself as an olive tree planted in the courtyard of God. As a resulted, he received everything he needed from God. What’s more, he produced for God.
David also observed that there are very few people who seek God and want to live righteously. For this reason, he pined for the day when Israel would be delivered from all evil through the temple on Mount Zion.
David’s Tree of Life
In the midst of a world filled with destructive forces, David found the sole remedy to evil was to live continually in the presence of God.
Tree of Life
Yes, as a Christian, Jesus is with me. And He’s even in me. But I experience God in these ways as an intuition.
However, in beholding the Eucharist, He is with me intersubjectively – two persons in relationship.
And in consuming the sacrament, I experience Him even more intimately than any other lover.
“Blessed are they who wash their robes so as to have the right to the tree of life and enter the city through its gates.” Rev 22:14
Synopsis Psalms 50:13-51:18 10/13/2021
Asaph wrote encouraging others to offer the sacrifice of praise. And he conveyed God’s promise for those who are faithful to praise. God promised that He will take care of those who praise.
However, in the same writing, God commanded wicked men. Do not do evil and then invoke the terms of my covenant. Otherwise, I will destroy you.
By virtue of the psalms order, David’s next psalm seems almost a direct response to Asaph. David scandalized the nation with Bethsheba. At this time, David was confronted by Nathan. And Nathan publicly exposed David’s sin.
So, David confessed His sin and begged for forgiveness. And God forgave Him.
David’s Prayer: A Clean Heart
David committed adultery with Bethsheba. And to cover-up his illicit affair, he conspired to murder her husband. And then, he took her as his wife because she was pregnant.
After Nathan exposed David’s sin, David repented. He begged God to heal his heart from wickedness. And God forgave him.
A Clean Heart
A young monk once admitted that he had deliberately pushed another, 90-year-old monk, out of the way in order to get the last chocolate ice cream offered at the evening meal. Afterwards, he felt remorse and repented from his sinful attitude.
The reality is living in community forces my sinful dispositions to the surface. And once they are exposed, I can begin dealing with them.
It’s a brilliant system – as long as I don’t justify my moral failings.