“Answer me when I call to you,
O my righteous God.
Give me relief from my distress;
Be merciful to me and hear my prayer…
Know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself;
The Lord will hear when I call to him.”
One of the things that I do not understand fully about the Psalms is how many times that David calls down curses on his enemies in the name of God. Maybe I do not understand God’s justice. I have a hard time satisfying the conflict I see between God loving every single person and dying so they might know Him and His entering like a roaring lion to rescue His loved ones. Maybe I have not yet seen the depths of depravity, and in many ways I hope that I never do. I have a distinct feeling that someday I will. However, I still at this point in my life have a hard time resolving Jesus’ command to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us and David’s prayer for God to destroy his enemies so that they might be put to shame.
I know that David is known for his honesty, and there comes a point when we need to be able to truly be angry about the injustices that we experience and see all around us. When Jesus was on the cross, He prayed that God might forgive those who were crucifying Him because they did not know what they were doing. Does God’s justice begin when we know what we are doing and choose to crucify Him anyway? Or does God’s justice begin at the base of truth, that there is a clear line in the sand between right and wrong and someday because of God’s holiness all must be made right?
At any rate, the truth of this Psalm rings clear: God hears our prayers. Through the pain and the turmoil of our lives, God hears and will answer in His perfect time and way.
“In your anger do not sin;
When you are on your beds,
Search your hearts and be silent.
Offer right sacrifices
And trust in the Lord.”
This almost seems like it should be in Proverbs, doesn’t it? It seems like this Psalm completely switches gears. However, I think that it is all related. I believe that David is keeping himself in check in his anger, focusing on a pure heart attitude before God. We often cannot help when we become angry. Anger is an emotion and in and of itself is not sin. However, how we choose to react to this emotion and allow ourselves to respond to the circumstances are either sin or a blessing that gives glory to God. It is always a good practice to search our hearts daily, to see that we stand blameless before God. He has made it clear that He desires a pure heart over any sacrifice or offering that we could give Him. Psalm 40:6a says: “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but my ears you have pierced.” We must learn to listen. We must learn to trust.
“Many are asking, ‘Who can show us any good?’
Let the light of your face shine upon us, O Lord.
You have filled my heart with greater joy
Than when their grain and new wine abound.
I will lie down and sleep in peace,
For you alone, O Lord,
Make me dwell in safety.”
It is so easy to become discouraged about the world and how messed up it is. It seems that there is hardly any good left. If David was saying that how many thousands of years ago, then we aren’t much better. However, in the great darkness of the world and the evil that is all around us, there shines a light from Jesus’ face. When we turn our faces toward heaven, our God fills us with greater joy than we could have ever imagined. It is a joy unexplainable, and is in direct contrast to everything that is happening all around us. It doesn’t make sense that in such a dangerous place that is never safe we can lie down and sleep in peace because our God has the final say in everything that happens to us. There is a life that He has given us that no man or circumstance can ever take away. Death does not even rob us of it; in fact death is the ultimate victory when our labors cease and we can dwell with God in His house. Our total safety lies in the security of our hearts in Christ. Though the world is crashing down around us, there is a level of eternity that God has allowed for us to taste. This joy is one of God’s greatest gifts to His children. Relish in this today!