Becoming Quiet For a Change: Psalm 62:1-4

A Place to Become Quiet

For Jeduthun, the choir director: A psalm of David.

1 “I wait quietly before God,
    for my victory comes from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
    my fortress where I will never be shaken.

So many enemies against one man—
    all of them trying to kill me.
To them I’m just a broken-down wall
    or a tottering fence.
They plan to topple me from my high position.
    They delight in telling lies about me.
They praise me to my face
    but curse me in their hearts.” Interlude

Psalm 62:1-4, NLT

flourish14

David establishes the wonderful need we have, to be quiet– silence. He understands a great deal of things.

  • Who God is, and His heart for me,
  • being in a precarious position,
  • the extent of the conspiracy against him,
  • the deceitfulness of so-called “friends.”

 

Commentary

V. 1, “I wait quietly before God,
    for my victory comes from him.”

The Hebrew word for “wait” is “kawva.” It is a curious word. Its definition is “to bind together, by twisting.” For David, waiting could not be a passive condition. It had a far more active concept, that of “braiding.” When we “wait on the Lord,” we should be pliable, and soft. It is a time for us to be wrapping our hearts and minds with God, and the things of God.

When we think of “waiting” today, it’s pretty much a passive thing. We “wait” to see the doctor. We sit in a “waiting room,” reading old magazines until he (or she) is ready to see us. Very few people like waiting.

The verse also shows a coming “victory.” It is given to us freely and extravagantly. We certainly can do a single thing to be given such an incredible gift.

 

V. 2, “He alone is my rock and my salvation,
    my fortress where I will never be shaken.”

David sees God as a place of safety, security– a castle. I think that David was seeing God properly. Perhaps all of this crisis– over and over, is exactly what the Lord wanted. When crisis initiates a desperate heart, than it is worth it.

 

V. 3, “So many enemies against one man—
    all of them trying to kill me.
To them I’m just a broken-down wall
    or a tottering fence.”

Sobering, isn’t it. This is not a game, in David’s eyes. “So many enemies,” and the phrase, “kill me” is not melodrama. He’s not making this up, and he isn’t paranoid. He is a target for assassination.

I think what David was trying to say (with the last part of the verse), that many see him as vulnerable and weak. Tottering, especially, is an evocative word. It has the idea of being decrepit. In the eyes of his enemies, David is completely defenseless and totally assailable.

 

V. 4, “They plan to topple me from my high position.
    They delight in telling lies about me.
They praise me to my face
    but curse me in their hearts.” 

David understands how “coups” work. He realizes that slander, and lies are just the first step to remove David as king. He doesn’t trust anyone. He finds that those who are flattering him are telling him lies. They intend to deceive, that is their real purpose.

*

ybic, Bryan

 

Advertisements

Despondency and David’s Theology: Psalm 73

For those on the mat wrestling, things can move very fast.  Our adversary is strong, and he knows us too well.  He is counter-intuitive and knows the moves needed to pin us to the floor.  He is dangerous.  And he despises us. I get bewildered and rattled by his attacks.  He knows how to pressure me at just the right time, and he refuses to follow the rules. He is no gentleman, rather you might say that he is both a cheater and a bully.

Of course I am talking about Satan and his dark team of demons.  I will not dispute their reality with you.  There is almost as much scriptural support for his existence as there is for Jesus’.  His hostility is  toward God and His people, and his viciousness cannot be camouflaged.  Evil is real, and believe this– Satan has a terrible, and ugly plan for your life. He wants to impose it on you.

As a mentally ill Christian, my depression quickly morphs into despondency.  When I sink to that level I start to abandon hope.  It’s like I’m in a lifeboat and decide that I should abandon it and tread water on my own.  Despondency is not rational and just a little bit is deadly. David knew all about desperation.

He had been chased by his enemies, and maneuvered into the most difficult of situations.  To observe him at a distance we would say that “there is no hope for him in God.”  Nothing for him in God’s thinking.  Nothing. In the Book of Life, the angels have used “white-out” to delete the name of David, Son of Jesse. I

t would be so easy to make this judgement.  For David was a moral failure; he was an adulterer and a brazen killer.  David had sinned deeper and more intensely than Saul ever had.  Saul seems to be mentally ill, while David just presumes God will forgive him. Join with the crowd, “There is no hope for him in God!”  No hope, none, nada.

Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.

You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory.

Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. 

–Psalm 73

David defied the theological teachers of his day.  He embraced the Lord God with a desperate passion.  It was not orthodox or logical.  You could say it was disturbing.  But David would not let go of God!  He hung on, and continued to sing in faith, in spite of logic.

I encourage you besieged brother, and embattled sister.  Hold on to Him, even if it defies logic and theology.  Seek His promises with a fervency, open your heart to Him with a passion.  Remember that sin can and will destroy you.  It is part of Satan’s stratagem.  Sing in the cave, and never lose hope. Never.  

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

Jer. 29:11

ybic, Bryan

Psalm 51:3-5, Recognize the Rebel Within

3 “For I recognize my rebellion;
    it haunts me day and night.
Against you, and you alone, have I sinned;
    I have done what is evil in your sight.
You will be proved right in what you say,
    and your judgment against me is just.[a]
For I was born a sinner—
    yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.”

Psalm 51:3-5, NLT

In this life, we must understand our inner rebellion and  sin. We had better accept and agree with God on this basic matter. If we really are going to be truthful people we have to really focus on this fundamental understanding of our own depravity.

This is the first of seven of Psalms we call “penitential.” It is probably the best known of these seven. Psalm 51 can be broken down into subcategories. Of course, the title precisely cues us in the time David met with Nathan in 2 Samuel 12:1-14.

Commentary

V. 3, “ “For I recognize my rebellion;
    it haunts me day and night.”

David doesn’t cling to false platitudes. He is not deceived by creating a new image. He doesn’t care a whit about public relations. It may seem like he is being a little hard on himself. There are some that suggest that David may be too morbid, too moody. But you try to commit adultery, and than murder, then you can judge the entire scene.

But David has looked into a mirror, and he’s stepped away from it. He cannot forget what he saw. He sees his “rebellion” for what it really is– that he is warped and twisted. David can’t shake off this sense of shame and grief. He has committed adultery which has led to murder of one of his best generals.

V. 4, “Against you, and you alone, have I sinned;
    I have done what is evil in your sight. You will be proved right in what you say, and your judgment against me is just.

All of our sins are against God. Failure to see this results in a repentance that is premature, and deficient. This inadequate repentance will not change you, but only makes you feel somewhat better.

There is no doubt that David sinned terribly against Bathsheba, and her husband Uriah. What he did to them was so wrong, on so many levels. But, what about God? David’s selfishness, greed, lust offended God. Perhaps we need to tweak our concepts. The higher in status and power a person is, the greater the offense. All sin is sin against a holy God.

What David believed is that God could say what God wanted about him, and it would be right and true, for God cannot be otherwise. But rather than stubbornly avoiding God, David sees the positive and he chooses to honor God by his authentic repentance.

V. 5,For I was born a sinner—
    yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.”

David is not saying that his mother was immoral. Rather he is recognizing the depth of his own sin. (He knows who he is, he’s got this tattoo, “Born to Sin” on his biceps.)

ybic, Bryan

Endangered Species: Psalm 12:1-4

Lies Concept

For the choir director: A psalm of David, to be accompanied by an eight-stringed instrument.

Help, O Lord, for the godly are fast disappearing!
    The faithful have vanished from the earth!
2 Neighbors lie to each other,
    speaking with flattering lips and deceitful hearts.
3 May the Lord cut off their flattering lips
    and silence their boastful tongues.
4 They say, “We will lie to our hearts’ content.
    Our lips are our own—who can stop us?”

Psalm 12:1-4, NLT

Entire cultures can be evaluated in this way. How does our society measure its health? What are the things that are necessary to a people? David evaluates his nation by the presence of godly people. He is disturbed by a “holiness shortage.” The faithful people have become an endangered species, and you walk down the street and into the marketplaces and everyone you meet has an evil agenda.

We’re not used to seeing our communities in this way. Some would suggest that it isn’t right for us to judge in this way. It seems coarse and rude. The discernment that is used seems just a touch insensitive to other people’s lifestyles. However, David does make a clear distinction. He does think this through.

He is stricken by the shortage of “people of faith.” In verse 2 we read of people who are liars, who only flatter, and trick their neighbors. The neighborhood has become dangerous, and truth and faith can’t be found anywhere. This is disturbing to David, who pleads to God with a solid awareness of the effect on his society.

I can only suggest that verse 3 is hyperbole– and yet as desperate as the literal. But note, it is not David’s place to deal with the liars. This is the Lord’s place and His prerogative alone.  Rather than mount a crusade, he simply prays. David has the discernment to see his kingdom heading to the sewer, but he refuses to get medieval on these evil people. He prays and rests on God’s perfect judgement. And that is a peaceful wisdom to have.

“Godliness makes a nation great,
    but sin is a disgrace to any people.”

Proverbs 14:34, NLT

 

ybic, Bryan

It’s Getting Noisy Down Here, Psalm 83:1-3

noise-speakerss

“O God, do not be silent!
Do not be deaf.
Do not be quiet, O God.
2 Don’t you hear the uproar of your enemies?
Don’t you see that your arrogant enemies are rising up?
3 They devise crafty schemes against your people;
they conspire against your precious ones.”

Psalm 83:1-3, NLT

Someday, someone is going to invent a tactile/sensory function for the Psalms. I’m thinking of a whole audiovisual experience that you could download. You could reach out and feel the dampness of a cave, or smell the incense burning at the Temple Mount. That would be pretty cool. But I suppose in a way, God has given us an imagination for these things. We just need to practice, and learn to use it.

V. 1, Right out of the chute, this Psalm starts us off. We hear someone stepping forward before the Lord. And it sounds like this person has a real issue with God. Or at least His silence. But it really, truly does trouble the Psalmist, enough so is that he defies religious protocol and etiquette, steps up and unloads. The speaker is quite disturbed by how quiet God seems to be, the silence itself is disturbing. Is He deaf? Why don’t you say something? Anytime Lord– we are waiting!

When you “mash” these three verses together, I get the distinct feeling that the Psalmist wants God to “go nuclear.” (I don’t think the speaker would object in the slightest.) In v.2, the writer moves from making direct statements (v. 1), to asking serious questions (v. 2). But these questions are those that are “leading” in nature. They are asked with the idea that the answer is very obvious. (Its like asking a five-year old if he wants chocolate ice cream– of course he does!)

The words, “uproar,” “arrogant” and “uprising” are some pretty inflammatory words. But these are on the “front burner” for the Psalmist, and he uses them to persuade God to act. As I think of this one’s boldness, I think I would distance myself from him. I would be scared of the lightning strike that would be inbound any moment. (Or maybe the “ground opening up and swallowing trick.”) But I suppose the lesson would be for us always to come forward step up, and speak out. “Always speak the truth, even if your voice shakes.”

V. 3, “They devise crafty schemes against your people; they conspire against your precious ones.” God’s own people have always been attacked by evil, crafty people. It started when Cain slew Abel, then came Noah, Lot, and then Joseph got his turn. Evil and wickedness has always tried to destroy every godly soul. One of the key words is “conspire.” My dictionary tells me that the verb form is “to agree together, especially secretly, to do something wrong, evil, or illegal.” It is always evil, (although I suppose one might be a “conspirator of good,” but I think that might be pushing it.)

The truth is that “light and night” are serious factors. They are locked with each other. We think we can stand aside, relax and avoid the carnage, but all of a sudden we realize, “Hey, this is about me; at least, it seems like it, and the Book of Ephesians. But in chapter 6, we clearly see a serious war, and the armor necessary to survive. Wow, maybe my heart is at the center of this mess?” The answer is obvious, “You better believe it.”

“A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 12 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.”

Ephesians 6:10-12, NLT

&

kyrie elesion, Bryan

(Lord, have mercy on me.)

Psalm 14:1: The Heart of a Fool

atheist-thought

1 “The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.”

Polls indicate that 90–92% of Americans still believe in God. Over 2,500 years ago, David said you were a fool if you didn’t believe. Recently as I looked at evidence for a finely tuned universe, I had to conclude that to not believe today, in light of this evidence, makes you more of a fool than in David’s day. The factors and the constants in the universe have to be incomprehensibly precise to support life. This points to an Intelligent Designer who created the universe.

For example, if the moon was just a little bit closer to the earth, the tides would sweep over the continents; if it was just a little bit further away, the tides would be so weak that they would not flush out the tidal estuaries that are so vital to fish breeding areas.

Gravitational force and electromagnetic force are finely tuned. If they were changed just one part in 10 to the 40th power, both biological life and the existence of stars would end.

If there’s even the tiniest of deviations in the earth’s gravity, axial tilt, rotation period, magnetic field, crust thickness, oxygen/nitrogen ratio, carbon dioxide, water vapor, or ozone level, life would not be possible.

This led former atheist and legendary scientist Sir Fred Hoyle to say, “…commonsense interpretation of the facts is that a super-intelligence has monkeyed with physics, as well as chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces in nature.”

There seems to be a blindness in modern atheism that denies the obvious. Perhaps Thomas Aquinas, the greatest theologian of the Catholic Church, was summing up atheism for all times and seasons when he said, “To one who has faith no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.” 

It’s interesting that David followed his declaration of the foolishness of atheism by saying, “They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one that does good.” I know atheists and agnostics who are ethical people, and, sadly, sometimes more ethical than some Christians I’ve known. At the same time, the bloodiest regimes of the 20th century–Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot– that accounted for the deaths of approximately 100 million people, were atheistic. They are now on the scrap heap of history and their foolishness is exposed for all to see.

To sustain the belief that there is no God, atheism has to demonstrate infinite knowledge, which is tantamount to saying, “I have infinite knowledge that there is no being in existence with infinite knowledge.”  Ravi Zacharias

 

Blessings, Jonathan

*

The Verdict is In– Psalm 14:1-3

Verdict

Psalm 14

For the choir director: A psalm of David.

Only fools say in their hearts,
    “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, and their actions are evil;
    not one of them does good!

The Lord looks down from heaven
    on the entire human race;
he looks to see if anyone is truly wise,
    if anyone seeks God.
But no, all have turned away;
    all have become corrupt.
No one does good,
    not a single one!

Psalm 14:1-3, NLT

I remember it clearly. I was a student at Alaska Bible Institute, and got enmeshed in one of those “bull sessions” that periodically arise when there is far too much time, pizza and root beer.

The conversation rolled and we got on the subject of the depravity of man. Essentially, it is the doctrine that states that we are at best, evil and fallen into a sinful state. We are living in darkness and iniquity without hope. Only Jesus’ death and resurrection can save us and deliver us.

Commentary

V. 1, “Only fools say in their hearts,
    “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, and their actions are evil;
    not one of them does good!”

David is speaking directly to people who claim they are “atheists.” Within this belief system, there is an aggressive disbelief in any faith in an unseen God. There are also “agnostics” who are not sure that God can be known or understood.

This psalm states that all who state their unbelief are “fools.” There’s no ‘soft’ take here. A verse this bold gives us no real room for any compromise. Deep down we want to be pleasant, and make allowances– but that simply isn’t possible.

“The atheist can’t find God for the same reason that a thief can’t find a police officer.”

In Mathematics there is something called “the lowest common denominator.” What it is is the smallest positive integer that is a multiple of the denominators. According to David, the atheist is a complete fool at his core level.

There is a moral and spiritual decay that results in this foolishness. They are “corrupt,” and “evil,” and no good.

V. 2, “The Lord looks down from heaven
    on the entire human race;
he looks to see if anyone is truly wise,
    if anyone seeks God.”

I believe that we are in a constant state of evaluation. The entire 7 billion humans alive today go under the microscope. This close examination is not intrusive or invasive. God simply knows. He is completely aware of His created beings.

The Lord is seeking wisdom in the hearts of people. Wisdom, in my thinking is completely underrated. We think something else will substitute. I see wisdom as a mix of discernment, and comprehension, with a smattering of foresight and balance.

But– there is no one! This is where the doctrine of the depravity of man makes its entrance.

V. 3, “ But no, all have turned away;
    all have become corrupt.
No one does good,
    not a single one!”

The verdict isn’t good. We are slaves to sin, serving Satan with wild abandon. Most likely, we are not conscious of this arrangement. And even if we were it would change us very little. Sin is what we want, but it is certainly not what we need.

The good news is that He loves us. Jesus Christ lived, died and was raised from the dead. The Old Testament ingrained the deep sense of what is holy. But it also instilled an awareness of the sacrificial. Lambs died for the sins of people. And Jesus “the Lamb of God” substituted Himself in our place.

*

ybic, Bryan

Tunnel to the Light: Psalm 35:26-28– the Conclusion

26 “May those who rejoice at my troubles
    be humiliated and disgraced.
May those who triumph over me
    be covered with shame and dishonor.
27 But give great joy to those who came to my defense.
    Let them continually say, “Great is the Lord,
    who delights in blessing his servant with peace!”
28 Then I will proclaim your justice,
    and I will praise you all day long.”

Psalm 35:26-28, NLT

Finally, we reach the end of Psalm 35. Reviewing is recommended, but certainly not mandated. (You will get no ‘brownie points’ however. But you’ll be missing so much.)

These last three verses seem to stamp in themes that have already been worked over pretty well. I suppose they are a solid summary of all that we examined thoroughly before.

  • David is in deep ‘doo-doo,’ way far beyond anything he can handle. He is completely overwhelmed.
  • He is hated so much, by so many, that people just want to see him gone. (David is like the ‘Richard Nixon’ of his day.)
  • David pleads for a ‘reversal’ of grace and cursing. Those who usurp David’s authority must be overturned and defeated. Grace must become fully orthodox and ‘the only way to go.’
  • There is a true fellowship of the joyful, as they reach out in David’s support and well-being.
  • There is a presumption of intention that David intends to ‘live for God.’ All that he has learned, propels him into a special grace.

Commentary

V. 26, “May those who rejoice at my troubles
be humiliated and disgraced.
May those who triumph over me
be covered with shame and dishonor.”

I suppose the intention here is that ‘the rejoicers’ get wrecked. Those who are so glad David is suffering would be now become “disgraced.” The reversal fully flips. The voices become nullified– zeroed out and come to a certain shame.

There is a tentative boldness in David’s ‘declaration,’ it is sure, but it will require some patience. The overthrow of evil will sometimes take incremental steps. But it is certain. It will happen.

V. 27, “But give great joy to those who came to my defense.
Let them continually say, “Great is the Lord,
who delights in blessing his servant with peace!”

The issues of joy run down the lane of obedience. Defending those who are godly is the certain call of joy for it’s leadership. The steady mantra of those in the place of joy is aspirational. It aspires to fully exalt God, and also to acknowledge David’s need for peace. But the key word here maybe, is “delights.” Quite frankly, God delights to make this happen.

V. 28, “Then I will proclaim your justice,
and I will praise you all day long.”

There are obvious prerequisites to put this into ‘play.’ This verse pivots around this idea of ‘proclamation of justice.” And that dear one, is a hard truth for us to grasp. Will we do this– to make this announcement, we believe that there is a definite sense of what is right.

When we proclaim justice, it can only strengthen our praise and worship. (I suppose that scripturally they are a sort of siamese twins, they are “linked at the hip.” ‘Announcing justice’ and a ‘continual praise.’ go together, like ‘ham and eggs.’

*

ybic, Bryan

Loving the Unlovely: Psalm 35:14-16

14 “I behaved as if grieving for my friend or my brother; I bowed down in sorrow, as one who bewails his mother.

15 But in my stumbling and limping they rejoiced and gathered together [against me]; the smiters (slanderers and revilers) gathered against me, and I knew them not; they ceased not to slander and revile me.

16 Like profane mockers at feasts [making sport for the price of a cake] they gnashed at me with their teeth.”

Psalm 35:14-16, Amplified

For today’s reading, I march out the Amplified Version (AMP.) It has a pretty dynamic history, and fills a niche of a translation that reveals shades and nuances of the original languages. (It can seem a “bit wordy” though for everyday reading.) It was built off the work of the ASV (1901) and its first edition came out in 1965. Since then, it has had over 30 printings.

The AMP handles these three verses quite adroitly and delivers much to strengthen our understanding.

David is a deeply troubled man. It seems he treats his enemies like dear friends. And his friends are sometimes overlooked. His love ‘kicks-off’ his vulnerabilities. I will use the term “idealistic” (but not ‘spacy’ or crazy.) You could say that he loves too much, and he refuses to call his old friends as the enemies they have become.

A love like this is truly astounding. It is called “agape” love in the New Testament. It is a special word that means that it loves its enemies in spite of being mistreated, ignored or slandered. It is a “Jesus style” of love, that His followers must share.

Commentary 

V. 14, I behaved as if grieving for my friend or my brother; I bowed down in sorrow, as one who bewails his mother.”

I suppose it would be useful to read my previous post from PL, The Dark Pain of Slander: Psalm 35:11-13 

David describes his painful grief over his enemies illness. This isn’t what people normally do. But David isn’t normal– he is supernatural as he grieves deep down. David taps into a vein of understanding that Jesus would declare centuries later. From Matthew 5,

“God blesses those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.” (v.4)

“God blesses those who are humble,
    for they will inherit the whole earth.” (v.5)

“God blesses those who are merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.” (v.7)

V. 15, “But in my stumbling and limping they rejoiced and gathered together [against me]; the smiters (slanderers and revilers) gathered against me, and I knew them not; they ceased not to slander and revile me.

David has now become a magnet for haters. They watch him stumble, and see him limp. They are drawn together to mock and slander. They have joy over seeing King David the Buffoon stumbling about.

Evil has its special way of organizing itself for evil purposes. Just as the Godly have special gifts and ministries, the evil ones have their specialties as well. Some will be liars, others will be murderers, adulterers, abusers and thieves. You could say that Satan has “gifted” them to do his work.

“These teachers oppose the truth just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses. They have depraved minds and a counterfeit faith. But they won’t get away with this for long. Someday everyone will recognize what fools they are, just as with Jannes and Jambres.”

2 Timothy 3:8-9

Just as Paul had been gifted, he encountered others as gifted, but to do evil. This should make a young pastor or missionary aware and careful of these evil counterparts. But Paul tells Timothy that this charade will not last long.

ybic, Bryan

The Dark Pain of Slander: Psalm 35:11-13

Norman Rockwell, “Gossip,” 1948

11 “Malicious witnesses testify against me.
    They accuse me of crimes I know nothing about.
12 They repay me evil for good.
    I am sick with despair.
13 Yet when they were ill, I grieved for them.
    I denied myself by fasting for them,
    but my prayers returned unanswered.”

Psalm 35:11-13, NLT

“Slander is worse than cannibalism,” St. Chyrosostom

It is so frustrating when you are misjudged. For the most part, we find ourselves on a discouraging treadmill to try to regain your reputation. It is one of the hardest things you will ever have to do. Proverbs 18:19, NLT,

“An offended friend is harder to win back than a fortified city.
    Arguments separate friends like a gate locked with bars.”

We are mixed-up in all of this because of their personal rancor or hostility. They imagine offences where none exist. In Psalm 59:3, David declares his frustration,

“They have set an ambush for me.
    Fierce enemies are out there waiting, Lord,
    though I have not sinned or offended them.”

Commentary

V.11,Malicious witnesses testify against me.
    They accuse me of crimes I know nothing about.

David becomes a ‘lightning rod’ for all kinds of malicious slander and gossip. His claiming that he has done nothing to merit such hatefulness. It maybe David was taken to court over some of these things: the words “witness,” “testify,” “accuse,” “crimes.” These all are words used in a criminal court.

“Malicious” is such a unhappy word; it means to be spiteful, noxious, nasty and vicious. These are strong words, and each one adds another layer of hatefulness, which David can’t do a thing about.

V. 12, “They repay me evil for good.
    I am sick with despair.”

What a hard place to be. People that you have been good to in all your dealings to them, turn on you. In times of apostasy, this kind of meanness will become the expected normal. Jeremiah 9:3-6,

“My people bend their tongues like bows
    to shoot out lies.
They refuse to stand up for the truth.
    They only go from bad to worse.
They do not know me,”
    says the Lord.

“Beware of your neighbor!
    Don’t even trust your brother!
For brother takes advantage of brother,
    and friend slanders friend.
They all fool and defraud each other;
    no one tells the truth.
With practiced tongues they tell lies;
    they wear themselves out with all their sinning.
They pile lie upon lie
    and utterly refuse to acknowledge me,”
    says the Lord.'”

One more thought. David said he was sick with despair. Often emotionally ill people are not considered sick by our standards. But they should be. And they should be helped.

V. 13, “Yet when they were ill, I grieved for them.
    I denied myself by fasting for them,
    but my prayers returned unanswered.”

David reveals the character of the Lord Jesus. When vilified, he blessed. When hurt by his enemies, David loves them. The natural man would consider that they were getting what was coming to them.

“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. 44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!”

Matthew 5:43-44

“If your enemies are hungry, feed them.
    If they are thirsty, give them something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap
    burning coals of shame on their heads.”

Romans 12:20

One more thought. The Last Days are described as the most challenging in the history of mankind. One of its marks will be unloving, uncaring and ungodly people. David is one who loved even when he was mocked. Jesus prayed for His murderers from the cross.

 “I am warning you ahead of time, dear friends. Be on guard so that you will not be carried away by the errors of these wicked people and lose your own secure footing. 18 Rather, you must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

2 Peter 3:17

ybic, Bryan

The Pit and the Trap: Psalm 35:7-8

7 “I did them no wrong, but they laid a trap for me.
    I did them no wrong, but they dug a pit to catch me.
So let sudden ruin come upon them!
    Let them be caught in the trap they set for me!
    Let them be destroyed in the pit they dug for me.”

Psalm 35:7-8, NLT

Innocence is often like a magnet– it attracts both good, and bad. I can only believe that David’s enemies are profoundly frustrated. It seems as David would navigate every trap and snare set to catch him. It was more than a “knack” for survival. It was his faith in a God who protects, loves, and shields.

That faith is remarkable. Sometimes, I catch myself wondering how it can endure such wickedness. But God preserves each one of His. The baby Jesus faced a complexity of hidden snares. Each time God brought Him through. And the deliverance always came at the right time.

 “After the wise men were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up! Flee to Egypt with the child and his mother,” the angel said. “Stay there until I tell you to return, because Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” (Matthew 2:13)

Commentary

V. 7, I did them no wrong, but they laid a trap for me.
    I did them no wrong, but they dug a pit to catch me.”

Maybe I’m reading into this verse, but I really believe that David is incredulous by their actions. He is simply amazed at his persecutor’s hatred. The phrase that is most significant is “I did them no wrong, but they…” Some people use a mousetrap to kill their mice. David is no mouse, but they are setting traps to destroy him.

My first drive-in movie was in 1967. They were showing “Swiss Family Robinson” on the big screen.  It was about a family of colonists that find themselves on a deserted island. By the time they are well situated, fanatical pirates show up. They planned on this, and set-up a lot of “booby traps.” One of them involves a deeply dug pit, covered with branches. Oh, and to make things more interesting, at the bottom  of the pit, was a fierce tiger. (I loved this movie!)

Pits are being dug deep. Efficient traps are being set. And David is impeccable. He has not done a thing to attract such hostility and hatred.

V. 8, “So let sudden ruin come upon them!
    Let them be caught in the trap they set for me!
    Let them be destroyed in the pit they dug for me.”

Keep in mind, this is David’s plea and prayer to God. Perhaps the key word in this verse is “them.” David knows that God knows who are “them.” I’ve been in many sticky situations, and I didn’t know who my ‘enemies’ were. I had no idea what ambushes were being made. Years later, I can see them now. But at the time I never saw them coming.

David is praying for a wonderful reversal to happen. The very things that were intended to destroy him would destroy “them.” This really requires an act of God to make it happen.

ybic, Bryan

Accused! Psalm 4:1-2

For the choir director: A psalm of David, to be accompanied by stringed instruments.

Answer me when I call to you,
O God who declares me innocent.
Free me from my troubles.
Have mercy on me and hear my prayer.

How long will you people ruin my reputation?
How long will you make groundless accusations?
How long will you continue your lies? Interlude

Psalm 4:1-2, NLT

Most of us have a history. We accumulate experiences and go through hard times. But it is important to remember the good times as well. But as we age, we draw from that reservoir of experience pretty much seamlessly. It is something fluid.

To understand your experiences puts you ‘smack-dab’ in the best place to start siphoning wisdom into your soul.  The Holy Spirit has volunteered to supervise your education. In 1 John 2:27 we’re told,

“But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know.”

We gain much from the Church. The elders predominently help us work through all of this. I’ve become convinced they are in place precisely to help you in life.

“If you young fellows were wise, the devil couldn’t do anything to you, but since you aren’t wise, you need us who are old.”

 Martin Luther

Commentary

V. 1, “Answer me when I call to you,
O God who declares me innocent.
Free me from my troubles.
Have mercy on me and hear my prayer.”

A couple of things I would like to emphasize.

  1. I don’t think David is attempting to instruct God, and help Him by this reminder. I believe David is reminding himself of all that God has done for him.
  2. To be declared innocent is a blessing. To be aware of it is quite profound and life altering.
  3. When it comes to your troubles, the Lord is really the only One who can bring you freedom inside.
  4. We never will outgrow ‘plain old’ mercy. We need it, He’s got it, we can have it.

David is amazing, it’s like he has this ‘built-in homing device’ that keeps him straight and true. Is he perfect? Hardly. But he is loved, and he is forgiven. David is asking for a “future grace” for what is just ahead. He bases his request on all the “past grace” he has received.

V. 2, “How long will you people ruin my reputation?
How long will you make groundless accusations?
How long will you continue your lies? Selah”

David is having to transit a minefield of antagonism and doubting hearts. There are those close to him that can’t get past David’s sin. So they accuse him, and believe the lies of the “dark one.” David’s sin of adultery and murder can never be forgotten in the minds of these people.

I admit that our ‘spectacular’ sins are a grievous thing. When we publicly choose sin we create a tremendous conflict in people’s hearts. For some inexplicable reason many “freeze you” into that place. It’s like you’ve been branded, or forced to wear a “scarlet letter” on your shirt for the rest of your life.

We can make it through times like this, if we refuse to defend or vindicate ourselves. A preacher long ago made this comment to his accusers, “I’m really not as bad as you think I am. Actually, I’m much worse.” I suppose a statement like that will put you in a good place.

ybic, Bryan