Psalm 62 I Find Rest in God Alone

The Solid Rock

The framing of Psalm 62 serves us well in our prayer life. When we consider the forces that array against us and take them to God in petition, our faith should remind us that all is well in control, that we have placed our trust in an unmovable Rock.

My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken. (vv 1-2)

One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard:
that you, O God, are strong, and that you, O Lord, are loving.
Surely you will reward each person according to what he has done. (vv 11-12)

The psalmist wonders aloud how long the evil will attempt to topple him. If David is writing, he may be at an advanced age or suffering from another ailment. Some suggest that this prayer fits the period in which Saul is attempting to destroy him. In either case he contrasts the two-faced nature of these men with the steadfast security of God. While they may have his mortal life held under siege, constantly on the edge of death, the Psalmist proclaims that the soul rests on the strong foundation of God. Nothing can shake it.

Lowborn men are but a breath, the highborn are but a lie;
if weighed on a balance, they are nothing; together they are only a breath. (v9)

Take the long view my friends. Our current struggles are but a wisp of wind. They will pass away in the eternal scope of our glorification. We need not dwell on those who come against us. In fact, we would be justified in being please at being chosen to bear these travails. That discussion, however, is for another day. Today we raise our hands and hearts and give thanks for the solid foundation on which our lives are lived.

image by t2o8m2005

Psalm 42 Have Mercy On Me

image The first collection of prayer poetry in the Psalter closes with David’s repeated plea for healing from a serious illness. He does not wait until the healing is complete before effusively praising Yahweh.

But you, O Lord, have mercy on me; raise me up, that I may repay them.

I know that you are pleased with me, for my enemy does not triumph over me.

In my integrity you uphold me and set me in your presence forever.

Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting.

Amen and Amen. (vv 10-13)

David has walked over this ground many times, penning a prayer for relief from whatever ailment was causing his distress. The preceding handful of psalms were similar pleas for mercy while acknowledging that his illness was directly related to his sin. Stepping outside of himself, he looks in through the eyes of those who are enjoying his travail.

I said, “O Lord, have mercy on me; heal me, for I have sinned against you.”

My enemies say of me in malice, “When will he die and his name perish?” (vv 4-5)

To whom are we going to give our attention? It is all too easy to allow the feelings and actions of others to influence our relationship with God. Their malice may even convince us that God has given up, that he has turned his eyes away from us. When we are in the midst of our battles, when our pit of despair seems to grow deeper by the day, when we may even feel as though all is lost…we must praise. We must flip to this psalm and raise our voices to the heavens and declare that despite current circumstance, we say “Praise to the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting.”

Amen and Amen.


Image Gio

Psalm 33 ~ May Your Unfailing Love Rest Upon Us


Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people he chose for his inheritance.

From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind; from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth —

he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do. (vv 12-15)

A praise psalm for everyone.

The psalmist insists that praise should ring out for the Lord from all, from the nations to the individual hearts of those in the nations. God does not see us in the collective, his eyes roam the planet in search of you and me. Following psalm 32 which described the joy of the person who has confessed his or her sin and has been restored. To unroll the scroll and speak the words of this psalm to life is a reaction sourced deep in the heart of the forgiven.

No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength.

A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save.

But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine. (vv 16 – 19)

The psalmist helps us to arrange our thinking properly. We praise God less for his actions such as delivering us from our enemies ( which can cause us moments of unease when He doesn’t ) and more for his God’s attributes. If we recognize the source of the deliverance as being rooted in His unfailing love, moments of question are quickly dismissed. Even if we face temporary setbacks, God’s unfailing love is unfolding all around us and we see that even our struggles can be a sign of His love.

Photo by David Ohmer

Digg This

Gideon Grows Weaker Still

Gideon was surely puzzled at God’s move to weaken his army, the band of men who were going to save Israel. Yahweh instructed Gideon to diminish his force by sending all those who were trembling in fear to go home, leaving the army twenty-two thousand men lighter. As he watched the men file away, Gideon surely thought that God would be satisfied until the word came from Yahweh, “There are still too many men.”


The fearful, hesitant Gideon is faced again with the challenge to trust Yahweh in his weakness. He is far from the bold warrior of legend, being dragged against his will into this leadership, God has diminished the force that has followed him and now, Yahweh demands further attrition from his forces. While thoughts of turning and running back to Ophrah must have coursed through his mind, the Judge follows the Lord’s lead and invites his men to the spring for a drink. It is here that Yahweh will sift them out for him.

Yahweh will sort out the fighters based on the way they drink; some like dogs, plunging their face into the water and others, lifting the water to their vigilant faces and drinking from their cupped hands. Does God favor one method over the other? Contrary to many who have interpreted the scriptures through the centuries, the text does not give us this option. Yahweh’s method and choice of the warriors is purely his arbitrary choice and we must respect it. Certainly, Gideon does. In the arbitrary nature of the decision is the secret that God wants to convey; the 300 are not a sign of Israel’s strength, they are a sign of her weakness in the face of Yahweh, the one who can truly save.

This episode in the Gideon cycle explains so much in our own lives. How many times have we followed the leading of God only to find Him putting up barriers in our way, weakening us? Probably more than we would like. In some cases, we find that after we have accepted one barrier or humbling we find another one put in our way. We question whether or not we are truly following the proper leading. Perhaps the question should be, are we thoroughly dependent on God? Are we still hoarding some of the glory for ourselves?

Gideon’s Call from Weakness II

Even the most devout among Christian believers will have moments of struggle and doubt. While our minds may fully grasp the promise that God does indeed hear our prayers, we are challenged by the silences that we encounter from time to time. There may be longer periods – ‘seasons’ is the popular way to refer to them – where we perceive God to be silent on all things. We feel overwhelmed by life and its inherent  challenges and wonder why God doesn’t step in and alleviate some or all of them. In extreme moments of despair, we may look around and consider the possibility that God has abandoned us. Such was the fuel for Gideon’s doubt and his question to the Lord, “…why has all this happened to us?”

Israel had devolved into an apostasy of previously unheard of depths explaining God’s distance from His people. The cycles in Judges of apostasy and repentance are demonstrated by the repeated chastening that God allows to be visited upon the land. True to human nature, the Israelites fail to consider their personal contributions to the times of silence and simply point out that maybe, perhaps, God has just given up on them despite the Covenant. Being able to consider the scriptures from our distance of time, the source of their troubles is obvious but to the Israelites living in the middle of it, not so much.

The problem with apostasy is one of degree, as we see with the Gideon cycle. Where brief periods of separation bring us to repentance, longer periods bring on bigger problems. Israel’s apostasy in the Gideon cycle is so deep and prolonged that even the proper method of worship has been forgotten. Gideon demands a sign as proof of the legitimacy of his calling and he will prepare an offering to see if it is accepted in a divine fashion. Gideon’s struggle with proportion makes its first appearance as he goes about preparing his test offering.

Forgetting the proper forms of worship offering spelled out in the Law, Gideon’s preparations are based solely on his own evaluation of what is appropriate. He prepares bread, for example, from nearly a bushel of wheat. He brings this and a goat to the Lord as his offering to which God shows patience. This could have gone two ways as we look at it now. God could have refused the flawed, human oriented offering or He could do as He did and sanctify the offering but creating an altar for it’s proper presentation. The consuming fire convinces Gideon of exactly who stands before him.

We talk much about proper worship today, perhaps banking on the fact that God will accept just about anything as a form of worship. I wonder if our own apostasy leads us to believe this and stretch the boundaries of worship further and further from God and closer to ourselves. We trust in God to know what’s in our hearts and ignore the outer trappings that we bring Him as worship. Gideon certainly did and God demonstrated patience with him. Is there a point where we take it too far?