You have shaken the land and torn it open; mend its fractures, for it is quaking. (vv 1-2)
Those who read the Psalms devotionally or at random often fail to notice exactly how much of the Psalter is composed of pleas for restoration and paeans to God’s faithfulness in doing so, ‘one more time.’ In verse after verse the psalmist is hemmed in by his enemies and threatened with destruction. He raises his eyes and voice to the heavens and asks God where he is in this time of travail. In every instance, the same answer comes back: “I am here.”
Our lessons in coming to this observation are twofold. The most difficult of the two is to come to the realization that God will turn away from us during different seasons of our lives. The duration may be brief or endure for a long time but the scriptures clearly demonstrate that we risk the the turning of His Face.
You have shown your people desperate times; you have given us wine that makes us stagger. (v3)
Whether the purpose be our redemption through repentance and the subsequent restoration or to enable a larger purpose in His plan, God may cause us to suffer. Do we trust Him in this struggle? Are we willing to be sacrificed for the larger purpose of an eternal plan. To God, our lifetime is but a second; to us it is an eternity of testing. Surely He knows this but can we learn this lesson and shift our perspective into eternity, lifting our eyes from the rocky ground in front of our feet?
The second of the lessons enables us to endure the first. We can trust in God completely. We can dismiss worry and erase our doubts knowing that He is perfectly good and that whatever state we find ourselves in perfectly aligns with His eternal course for history.
But for those who fear you, you have raised a banner to be unfurled against the bow. (v4)
We can unfurl the banner of the gospel, swath ourselves in the good news, and march forward. If our rejection is brought about our own behaviors we can turn from them and seek the restoration that God willingly extends. If our separation is a part of the larger purpose we can be faithful, knowing the ultimate good will come of it. As the Psalmist shouts,
With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies. (v12)
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