Purposeful Problems – Reflection on Psalm 59

Psalm 59:1-17

Jokers to the Left, Clowns to the Right

I don’t like problems. When I have a problem I try to fix it, or get it fixed, as soon as I have. Problems are enemies which work against my goals and agenda.

Imagine my surprise when the psalmist ask God to allow his enemies, who represents threats to his goals and agendas, to hang around! Usually in these psalms, the psalmist asks God to destroy his enemies in no uncertain terms. This time, however, he doesn’t. Even though he wants to be delivered from his enemies, in verse 11, he asks God to not destroy them!
Continue reading “Purposeful Problems – Reflection on Psalm 59”

Morning Reflection 3/06/12 – Psalm 17

Psalm 17

Prayer for Deliverance from Persecutors

A Prayer of David.

1 Hear a just cause, O Lord; attend to my cry;
give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit.
2 From you let my vindication come; let your eyes see the right.
3 If you try my heart, if you visit me by night, if you test me, you will find no wickedness in me; my mouth does not transgress.
4 As for what others do, by the word of your lips I have avoided the ways of the violent.
5 My steps have held fast to your paths; my feet have not slipped.
6 I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God; incline your ear to me, hear my words.
7 Wondrously show your steadfast love, O savior of those who seek refuge from their adversaries at your right hand.
8 Guard me as the apple of the eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings,
9 from the wicked who despoil me, my deadly enemies who surround me.
10 They close their hearts to pity; with their mouths they speak arrogantly.
11 They track me down; now they surround me; they set their eyes to cast me to the ground.
12 They are like a lion eager to tear, like a young lion lurking in ambush.
13 Rise up, O Lord, confront them, overthrow them! By your sword deliver my life from the wicked,
14 from mortals—by your hand, O Lord—from mortals whose portion in life is in this world. May their bellies be filled with what you have stored up for them; may their children have more than enough; may they leave something over to their little ones.
15 As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake I shall be satisfied, beholding your likeness.

via Psalm 17:11 (NRSV) – Biblia.com.

David knew what it was like to have enemies. While he was still, basically, a boy, Samuel came and anointed him as king of Israel. The problem was, Saul was already king. As David grew older, it became apparent that God had chose David to replace Saul, but Saul was not going let go of the kingship without a fight. David knew what it was like to be pursued.  Continue reading “Morning Reflection 3/06/12 – Psalm 17”

Morning Reflection 2/17/12 – Psalm 5

Trust in God for Deliverance from Enemies
To the leader: for the flutes. A Psalm of David.

1    Give ear to my words, O Lord;
give heed to my sighing.
2    Listen to the sound of my cry,
my King and my God,
for to you I pray.
3    O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice;
in the morning I plead my case to you, and watch.

4    For you are not a God who delights in wickedness;
evil will not sojourn with you.
5    The boastful will not stand before your eyes;
you hate all evildoers.
6    You destroy those who speak lies;
the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful.

7    But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love,
will enter your house,
I will bow down toward your holy temple
in awe of you.
8    Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness
because of my enemies;
make your way straight before me.

9    For there is no truth in their mouths;
their hearts are destruction;
their throats are open graves;
they flatter with their tongues.
10    Make them bear their guilt, O God;
let them fall by their own counsels;
because of their many transgressions cast them out,
for they have rebelled against you.

11    But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
let them ever sing for joy.
Spread your protection over them,
so that those who love your name may exult in you.
12    For you bless the righteous, O Lord;
you cover them with favor as with a shield.

One of the things I’ve noticed about the Psalm are how earthy and raw they are. David doesn’t hold anything back, but opens his heart to the One he trusts. He cries out to God to deliver him. He knows that there is no way God can be on the side of the wicked and those who lie, boast, flatter, destroy, and rebel. Continue reading “Morning Reflection 2/17/12 – Psalm 5”

Morning Reflection 2/16/12 – Psalm 4

Confident Plea for Deliverance from Enemies

To the leader: with stringed instruments. A Psalm of David.

 

1 Answer me when I call, O God of my right!

You gave me room when I was in distress.

Be gracious to me, and hear my prayer.

2 How long, you people, shall my honor suffer shame?

How long will you love vain words, and seek after lies? Selah

3 But know that the Lord has set apart the faithful for himself;

the Lord hears when I call to him.

4 When you are disturbed, do not sin;

ponder it on your beds, and be silent. Selah

5 Offer right sacrifices,

and put your trust in the Lord.

6 There are many who say, “O that we might see some good!

Let the light of your face shine on us, O Lord!”

7 You have put gladness in my heart

more than when their grain and wine abound.

8 I will both lie down and sleep in peace;

for you alone, O Lord, make me lie down in safety.

via Psalm 4 (NRSV) – Biblia.com.

::

There is much good to ponder in this Psalm. David knew what it was like to have enemies.  David was also confident that God heard his prayers. He knew that his enemies would not be victorious. Instead, God would answer.

The time between crying out to God, and feeling that God has answered is uneasy. It is easy to fear and fret. It is also easy to try to take matters into our own hands. Notice what David does here. After he prays, he reflects on what his response should be. Here is how I would list this response: Continue reading “Morning Reflection 2/16/12 – Psalm 4”

Morning Reflection 2/15/12–Psalm 3

Psalm 3

1    O Lord, how many are my foes!
Many are rising against me;
2    many are saying to me,
“There is no help for you in God.”     Selah

3    But you, O Lord, are a shield around me,
my glory, and the one who lifts up my head.
4    I cry aloud to the Lord,
and he answers me from his holy hill.     Selah

5    I lie down and sleep;
I wake again, for the Lord sustains me.
6    I am not afraid of ten thousands of people
who have set themselves against me all around.

7    Rise up, O Lord!
Deliver me, O my God!
For you strike all my enemies on the cheek;
you break the teeth of the wicked.

8    Deliverance belongs to the Lord;
may your blessing be on your people!  Selah

::

When I first started reading the Psalms I was surprised at all the talk of enemies. I had a hard time identifying with this because I try to live in peace with others. I don’t want to have enemies, so I try to not make any. So I wasn’t real sure how all of the “enemy talk” of the Psalms applied to my life.

Maybe you don’t have many enemies. Maybe you do. No matter how hard I try, I still have enemies. They might not have a face, but they do have a name and they are enemies. My tendency to criticize others is an enemy. My tendency to be judgmental and jump to conclusions is another enemy. I have an enemy I call selfishness and it shows up even when I’m trying to love selflessly. I have an enemy I call pride. He shows up quite often.

These are the enemies of holiness and will try to convince me that there’s no hope. They tell me that the way I am is the way I am and there’s nothing I can do to change.. The Psalmist reminds me that God is my shield and when I cry out to him, he answers. Lord, I’m crying out to you today!