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that I might know you as you are, and manifest the image of Christ in this world,
and the world to come. Amen.
Today’s Psalm seems pretty straightforward — David is tempted to fear, but encourages himself by remembering the Lord is his light, strength, and salvation. Despite the fact his reasons for fear quite real and tangible:
When the wicked, [even] mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell.Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this [will] I [be] confident.
No idle promise here! David may or may not be speaking metaphorically (shudder), but he surely had violent enemies, and needed a strong God to save him. What’s surprising, though, is how he pursues that God:
He doesn’t make a promise to serve God by bringing him plunder and glory. Rather, David emphasizes his abiding love for God, and adoration of His beauty, and submission to his wisdom. Moreover, he makes a point of doing this in advance of trouble:
With a sure result:
And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the LORD.
It is an interesting progression: worship God beforehand, then thank him afterwards. I suspect there is a connection between the two, even if I’m not sure exactly what. Perhaps it is the connection between “crying out to” and “seeking” God:
Hear, O LORD, [when] I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me.
[When thou saidst], Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek.
The King James renders this as dialogue, though the NIV has it as David speaking to himself. Either way, though, there’s an intimate connection between legitimately crying for help from God’s “hand” and seeking God’s “face” with our heart. For it is only if He shows His face that we can expect His hand:
Hide not thy face [far] from me; put not thy servant away in anger: thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation. When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up.
And what does it mean to seek God’s face?
Teach me thy way, O LORD, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies… Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on
If I, in modern day America, knew I was being threatened by violent enemies, I would go to the police or FBI, and wait on them until they took my problem seriously and told me what to do. And you can bet I would be very careful to obey everything they said — since this is their area of expertise, not mine. In particular, if it was a problem they had faced before and knew how to solve, I would be greatly encouraged!
So why don’t we have the same faith in God? Going back a verse:
[I had fainted], unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.
What strikes me most about David is not just his devotion to God (as impressive as that is!) but his deep understanding of God. He really hungers to know more of God, and that hunger has not been in vain: as he learns more of God, he can confidently pronounce that he is dwelling with God, and that God will protect him in this manner. It is not arrogance, any more than it is arrogant for a child lost in a store to trust that her parents will come back for her. It is simply a justified belief, based on the sure knowledge of the unchanging character of her parents.
Do we know God that well?
God, my heart says to me “seek His face”, but my head gets so distracted with many things — when only one thing is needed. Lord, teach me to hunger and thirst for you, and dwell in your presence always, that in the day of trouble I not be found far from your face. For I know that if I seek you, I will find you; and the one who rests in the shelter of your arms will never be moved. And have no fear. For I know that you will always hear me when I pray, as I do now, in Jesus name. Amen.
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