There are two perspectives on this psalm (well probably more than 2, but they are the prominent ones). The first reads this like a prayer for vindication for a person having been wrongfully accused. The second reads this as a psalm of entrance into the temple and the presence of God. However you want to read it there is a clear divide between walking in the way of the Lord / dwelling in his presence and walking in the way of the wicked/ entertaining corrupt and sinful desires.
In the time of the Psalmist and his writings the presence of God dwelt in a location - the temple. There the presence of God dwelt with and among his people. Thus, Israel, would regularly commune with God where he resided. They would orient their lives around the temple. Everything they did was ordered by communing with the God of Israel.
Because of this the very concrete language of 'place' is seen throughout the psalm. In the authors mind the location of the house of the Lord is concrete and tangible. There he is reoriented, tested, and filled with confidence. On the other hand, in other places where the psalmist dwells, there is calamity, hypocrisy, deception, and evil. The contrast is stark.
Here is the really cool thing for us as we read this Psalm. Now the 'place' where God dwells is within the Son and Daughter of God, because of Jesus, by the Spirit. Our dwelling with him is constant. His testing of our hearts is continual. Our confidence and commitment to God and his promises can be renewed moment by moment, day by day, because God is with us.
I once had a dream of being a day trader (stocks). I read a lot about the stock market and spent a lot of time playing with ‘paper money’ in a fake account. I learned a bit about picking good stocks and how to invest. Ultimately I decided that I didn’t have the money needed to play the stock market game well so I stopped reading and quit my fake account. But to be honest, money wasn’t the main reason I quit, it was the reality that the market was in a real interesting downturn (2007-2008) and people told me over and over it was a bad move to get involved because the economy was bad. The funny thing was there were a few people who told me they make all their money in the low parts of the market because they were so confident in the system they had developed and tested over the years. It seemed like the hard turns of the market were the developmental means for really successful day traders. Where most people were getting out they were getting in.
The psalmist in this psalm is in a difficult situation again. His enemies are seeking to devour him. Things look bleak. But it seems like this is the time in which he is choosing to cultivate his confidence in God. Where most of us would be asking questions of doubt or bailing out all together, he is buying in with confidence and putting his trust in the Lord. Every line of this psalm is one that is soaked in confidence. His head is confident in knowledge, his hands are confident in active worship, and his heart is confident in refuge. It is easy to be confident in the Lord when things are good, but we really cultivate our confidence in Him when things seem to be falling apart in every direction.
Where in life might we need to be cultivating our confidence in God? (loneliness, $, control, parenting, missional activity)?
Read through this Psalm again with that particular situation in mind. Does it take on any new meaning for you?
What is one way that you can cultivate confidence and trust in God in the midst of your difficult situations?
What is determining your emotional responses today - your situation or your confidence in God through the Gospel of Jesus?
This is a Psalm of Lament. It is much like Ps 3,4, 5, 6, 7, 10, 12, 13, 14, 17, 22, and 25. We will see many more of these psalms as we continue to study the Psalms. They make up about 1/3 of all the Psalms in this collection. That make a good deal of sense being that most of our prayers and thoughts towards God would probably be laments as well.
Most laments finish with a declaration of confidence in God. As you read this one I want you to think through a situation that you are in that you feel like you would have fear and anguish over. It could be a friend, a child, an addiction, a dark situation, or even just an enemy. Use this short Psalm as a map and express your thoughts. Once you get them written out take time to confess your wrongdoing in the situation and then write a closing of confidence in the Lord knowing that he hears your pleas and cries for help.
The psalmist paints a vivid picture for us of this massive storm blowing in off the waters...much like one we would see as we sat on the beach one sunny day as dark clouds billowed in from the east. The drop in temperature, the violent winds, the flashes of lighting and thunder we have all see before are brought to mind. And for us we are able to read this psalm and connect to it in this way. We know the power these storms can bring.
However, under the text is a separate image that we don't connect with as 21st century citizens. Its an image of God being greater than the god of Baal. He was the storm god in the ancient near east. One that many people worshipped in the day of the psalmist. The places that are referenced (Lebanon, Kadesh, Sirion) are real locations known for the objects that the storm that the voice of God is over. It is a vivid psalm to evoke a holy reverence for the power of God who is enthroned over all things.
So the call is that all heavenly beings and all earthly beings acknowledge to majestic power of God and would be called into awe-filled worship. Not out of fear, but in holy reverence. The ones that come to worship this God can only shout Glory, Glory, Glory.
Whats the result of all of this? Security. This powerful God who sweeps across the land, bringing all into reverent submission is our strength. In him we have security. He is King.
Kristen and I did T25 every day on vacation. I believe this is the longest we have stuck with a workout program in our marriage and to be honest it has actually been kind of fun! Who would have thought. I say that now from my comfy arm chair reflecting on the past 4 weeks of effort. But there are days in the midst of that 4 weeks where I really wasn't all that happy about working out and I suffered for the full 25 minutes. However, I really am glad Kristen keeps waking me up in the morning to workout and we can now sit here 4 weeks later and say it has been a really good thing.
The bigger picture colors the 20 times we have worked out for 25 minutes.
This is how the Christian life works - especially when we talk about the presence of God in our lives. Like the pendulum of an old tic tock clock we watch the psalmist swing from positive, close, joy filled experiences with God to negative, distant, and sorrow filled experiences that are seemingly without God.
How then should this Psalm shape us? How does it help color our day today? Our week?
1. What are the positive things that the Psalmist tells us about? What about the negative?
2. Which one seems to be the longer and more lasting reality?
3. Why do you think this is important for us to spend some time thinking through the two realities?
Whether you are in a rich, joy filled season of life with God or a distant and sorrowful season of life this Psalm is important. It reminds us of the whole in the midst of the part. Trust in God.