Walking with the Psalmist

Psalm 13 is a song of David, and a prayer for help in trouble. What I love about the psalms of David are the parallels to my own emotional ups and downs. Let's dive in.

1 How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever?
How long will You hide Your face from me?
2 How long shall I take counsel in my soul,
Having sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long will my enemy be exalted over me?
— Psalm 13:1-2 (NASB)
Pixabay

Pixabay

Do you ever feel like David? Do you ever wonder where God is? Does it seem as though He has forgotten you or is hiding His face from you? Have you ever felt like you are the only person you can trust? Do you ever have days where all you can feel is sorrow, or maybe you feel nothing at all, simply numb? Have you felt as though a very real, but unseen enemy is out to get you? Or maybe your enemy is something or someone real, like cancer, a hard nosed boss or a bully. 

I have felt this way. The truth is, I think most of us have felt pretty much alone at some point or other in our lives. Sometimes, we carry burdens that we cannot share, which make us feel very alone and like the psalmist we cry out to God, "Where are you?"

3 Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
Enlighten my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death,
4 And my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
And my adversaries will rejoice when I am shaken.
— Psalm 13:3-4 (NASB)
Pixabay

Pixabay

The psalmist asks God to consider his situation. David spent a good portion of his adult life running and hiding from his enemies. I'm pretty sure this song was born out of the frustration and exhaustion of not being able to live a normal life. 

You are probably familiar with the phrase, the new normal. Most often this phrase is used by someone who has encountered a major life change, either a job loss, loss of a loved one, physical limitation or other difficulty that makes life different than it used to be. I used to be able to eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. I can't do that anymore. Now life is made up of looking at food labels, cutting my food in half so I don't eat too much and cutting out things I used to enjoy like donuts and ice cream. This is the new normal. 

I do not see anything wrong with asking God to consider us. We are His creation. Consider these verses:

Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds!
— Luke 12:24 (NASB)
Pixabay

Pixabay

Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.
— Luke 12:27 (NASB)
Photo credit  Rebecca Trumbull

Photo credit Rebecca Trumbull

The one who has every hair on our heads numbered can most certainly be bothered to consider us, when we cry out to Him. 

I think the psalmist was also praying for wisdom, or maybe he was just asking God to help him stay awake and keep vigilant watch for his enemies, lest they overcome him and he sleep the sleep of death. Either way we can ask God for help, whether it be for wisdom, or for physical strength. 

1 I will lift up my eyes to the mountains;
From where shall my help come?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.
— Psalm 121:1-2 (NASB)
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
— Philippians 4:13 (NASB)
But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him
— James 1:5 (NASB)

The last section of Psalm 13 is the upward swing.

5 But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness;
My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.
6 I will sing to the Lord,
Because He has dealt bountifully with me.
— Psalm 13:5-6
Pixabay

Pixabay

There are four actions the psalmist does at the end of this song.

1. He remembers. He is speaking in the past tense, remembering other times the Lord has been faithful.

2. He trusts. He trusted in the Lord's lovingkindness in the past, and no doubt, will do so again. 

3. He rejoices. His heart rejoices in the Lord's salvation. We can derive from this statement, the psalmist has seen the Lord's salvation before. 

4. He sings. What a beautiful ending to a song that starts out at a rather low point. He can sing, because the Lord has dealt bountifully with him. 

What does this mean for you and I? First, I believe it is okay to ask God the tough questions. Where are you, God? How long will you keep quiet and not answer me? How long am I going to have to suffer? When will your deliverance come? God knows our frame. He also knows we don't see the whole picture, so I truly believe He understands and has compassion when we come to Him with our ceaseless questioning. Think about the many times your children or grandchildren come to you asking, why or when? Do you yell at them and tell them to be quiet? (Well, maybe once in a while, ha, ha). More often we answer with kindness and love. 

Secondly, I believe it is also alright to let God know we are at the end of ourselves. Consider and answer me, Lord, is a cry for help and reassurance, not a fist raised in defiance. God knows we hurt, sometimes in the deepest places of our being. There are people who suffer physically with pain we can't even imagine. There are people who hurt mentally or emotionally because of what others have done to them or to their family members. God knows our innermost hurts and struggles. 

Finally, I think the key is to follow the psalmist's example and not stay in that mindset of discouragement. Like him we need to choose to remember what God has done for us. We need to trust in the God whose lovingkindness is everlasting. We can rejoice in His salvation. Not only has He saved us from sin through His son Jesus Christ, but He has saved us from difficulties we cannot begin to imagine. Lastly, sing! Sing like no one is listening. Sing to bring the house down. If it is an age old hymn sing it with gusto. If it is singing along to your favorite Christian band, turn up the volume. 

Following David in his pattern of questioning, admitting and rejoicing we will be able to overcome. 

Walking with the Psalmist

I have always loved the book of Psalms in the Old Testament. Perhaps it is my love of the written word, and poetry and songs are no exception. Of the 150 Psalms, David wrote 73, Asaph wrote 12, the Sons of Korah wrote 11, Solomon wrote 2, Ethan and Moses wrote 1 and the 50 remaining have no recorded author. The Psalms are divided into 5 books. 

Over the next few months I would like to occasionally look at a Psalm. I want to look at the Psalms, not only from a theological perspective, but from a more human and emotional perspective. After all we are emotional beings. We are created in God's image and the Creator gave us emotions.

Take a look at Psalm 1. This week we'll look at verses 1-3 and next week we'll look at 4-5. 

1 How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
3 He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers.
4 The wicked are not so,
But they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
6 For the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
But the way of the wicked will perish.
— Psalm 1 (NASB)

While we do not know who the author of this Psalm was we can derive a few things from its inclusion in the canon of scripture. First, we can conclude that it is important. The content of this short psalm starts off the entirety of the book of Psalms. It has something to say and we would be wise to listen. Second, the fact that it was included might infer that God thought it important to include as well. Isn't God the one who inspired the words penned by the authors of scripture? Third, the fact that it ended up on the first page of the first book of the five books of Psalms might mean that it is setting a foundation for all the other Psalms to follow. 

This psalm compares two men (or women). The first described in verses 1-3, is a righteous man. The word righteous refers to one who acts in accordance with the divine or moral law. The second, described in verses 4-5, is an unrighteous man or one who is not following the moral law.

Looking at verses 1-3 we can learn 10 things about the righteous man. 

1. He is happy. The word blessed in this particular passage is referring to the idea of being happy or content. 

Pixabay

Pixabay

2. He does not walk in the counsel of the wicked. In other words, he is careful who he gets advice from. 

3. He does not stand in the path of sinners. He's careful where he hangs out. You probably won't find this guy at the strip club or the casino. 

Pixabay

Pixabay

4. He does not sit in the seat of scoffers. What is a scoffer? One who expresses scorn, derision or contempt. It doesn't sound like a person any of us would want to have sitting at our dinner table, but some of us, not only have them at our tables, we are them! This man, does not linger with these types of people. 

5. His delight is in the law of the Lord. Wow! Did you catch that? His delight! What do you delight in? Your spouse, your children, your job, your pets, your chocolate? It doesn't say this man delighted in any of those things. He delights in God's word. 

6. He meditates day and night in God's law. Wow, again! To meditate means to think on, ruminate on, much like a cow chews its cud. It just keeps coming back around over and over, to think on, day and night. I don't know about you, but I'm doing good if God's word comes to my mind once a day. 

7. He is like a tree, firmly planted by streams of water.  From this single sentence we can see that this man is rooted and he is provided for. The stream of water, which I would say could be compared to the Holy Spirit, is always near by, for him to swim in, rest by and drink from. I also love that the word firmly is included to describe how this tree is planted. This tree is not about to be toppled by the first storm that comes along.

Pixabay - trees by water

8. He bears fruit in its season. This man is useful to God. He allows God to use Him as He will to produce fruit in his life. This fruit can be harvested when it is the right season. This fruit is a direct result of his investment and delight in God's law. 

9. His fruit and leaves will not wither. It doesn't mean this man won't age. It means that as long as he is delighting in God's law, he will always be a productive part of God's kingdom. Sure, he will have bad days, but it will be temporary and the result will bring him closer to His creator. 

10. He prospers. It is good to be wise when we start talking about prosperity. Prosperity doesn't always mean financial gain. This man may prosper as a friend, or as a worker, or in his marriage, or other aspects of his family life. Or it may be that his relationship with the Savior is the only thing that prospers. 

When I start looking at these verses, I realize I have a long way to go to be like this righteous man. I am not always happy. I get it, life is difficult, but the things that I so often seek to make me happy are only temporary. This man fully understands that the thing that will make him happy is delighting in God and His law. It is this delight that not only gives him happiness, but roots him deeply and firmly near the source of life-giving water, the Lord Jesus Christ. 

This quick look at the first 3 verses of Psalm 1 are only a slight dig into the rich fertile soil of God' word and the meaning it has for our lives. Perhaps on your own you can do a little deeper excavating and discover more truth. 

Next week we'll take a look at the second man represented in this passage and ask the hard question, Is this who I am?

Check back tomorrow for another installment on my fashion page on Layering Love.