Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Psalm 55 – When God Gets Our Attention

I love it how I can read a passage of Scripture and immediately have an image of my past or a possible future thrust there as a plate to devour before my willing eyes. God not only gets our attention in these ways (through the supernatural miracle of divine revelation) he also captures our rabid interest when we’re shoved headlong into the chasm of forced growth—an opportunity to either run with or hide.

I recall one such time when I’d clearly had well enough of the prolonged steep learning curve and wanted to bail. It was a tormenting and wearying time and I can distinctly hear the echo of my moaning of this fact to my supervising pastor. What he said in response I didn’t so much welcome at the time.

But as I read now, I can see part of the experience of Psalm 55 (betrayal by friends)[1] in this time. I guess I was starting to feel betrayed by God—that he wasn’t really on my side—that ‘his plan’ for me was a veneer fabrication.

Let’s get one thing straight. This type of thinking—when factored by a clear, reasonable, logical mind—is simply a barb of the enemy, yet we’ll believe it in a flash because we want relief more than anything; even more than we want God.

We don’t want to acknowledge that our bending compromise is revealing the weakness of spiritual immaturity in us—especially when we could just as easily plead our weakness to God and then begin to draw on his strength and the great gospel truth.

The psalmist’s very personal lament is festooned in a way of utter disbelief that a best friend could be behind this betrayal. We’ve all perhaps known this feeling; and Jesus identifies... heard of a guy named, Judas?—one from Jesus’ inner circle.

But what I love most about the vast majority of lament psalms is how they finish; promising faithfulness to God or noting God’s faithfulness as the lamenter waits patiently.

“Pile your troubles on God’s shoulders—

he’ll carry your load, he’ll help you out.

He’ll never let good people

topple into ruin.”

Psalm 55:22-23 (Msg).

In our day and age, and certainly in Western culture, the likely enemy or betrayal of a best friend is going to come in the form of unrequited plans and harsh timelines, and perhaps as I experienced, wearying seasons of growth. It’s not always a person attacking us—yet we still feel attacked.

Life in some ways may not be quite as simple as it used to be in David’s day (though at least most of us don’t have to deal with the threat of physical death from warring as much as those back then) but we do have complexities in life that they would never have experienced.

The times may’ve changed but God hasn’t; he is entirely faithful and he will do the thing to deliver you—he’s done it before, he does it now, and he’ll keep doing it.

Let’s just never get into trying to blackmail God. Remember, God’s always on the side of the humble:

“‘God opposes the proud

but shows favor to the humble and oppressed.’ [Proverbs 3:34]

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

—1 Peter 5:5b-7 (TNIV).

Let us not be swayed by the Devil’s attacks on our thinking, bringing us to doubt the goodness of God. Let us instead rest unswervingly and humbly on the promise of God’s faithfulness in delivering us at the appropriate time.

© S. J. Wickham, 2009.

[1] James L. Mays, Psalms – Interpretation Series (Louisville, Kentucky: John Knox Press, 1994), p. 207. I like it how Mays titles the crux of each psalm.

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