Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Psalm 16 Part Four

3. GOD INSPIRES (a-trust/joy now, b-hope in life to come)

The meaning of life for David was found in the God who provides and directs.  But David’s God also inspired. One of the things I like so much about the Psalms is that they are a reflection of total honesty before God. They represent what I believe is to be an example of the overarching life of worship and prayer for the believer.  Read through the book and you’ll find people who rejoice in God, but who also cry out when they feel abandoned and alone; you’ll see prayers of praise and trust as well as prayers that question; there are psalms that celebrate God’s mercy and that beg for God to act in righteous judgment; there are declarations of walking in God’s way and there are confessions and pleas for forgiveness when one has stepped from God’s path.  But throughout all of them you’ll pick up on a recurring theme – regardless of the situation, regardless of the psalmist’s present frame of mind, there’s always something in the psalm that speaks of God’s goodness and faithfulness.  And such faithfulness inspires a trust and a sense of peace for this present life.

Look at vs. 6.  (Psalm 16:6 - The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; I have a goodly heritage.)  Boundary lines, heritage – this is the language of a man who understood his relationship to God as being part of the Mosaic Covenant.  God had chosen them as a people and had promised them a land flowing with milk and honey.  They eventually inherited that promise and David reigned as king in that land.  Today our heritage isn’t so much about a land promised to our forefathers, but we can still relate to the idea David’s communicating here.  When we choose to walk in the way of God the boundary lines of life fall in pleasant places.  No, it doesn’t mean that the path will never be unpleasant.  Sometimes God does lead even through the valley of the shadow of death.  But walking in God’s way protects us from so much – the consequences of bad choices, the influence of evil, and ultimately eternal death.  You know, I can easily imagine that if David ever stopped and considered how his life might have been had he not followed God, then those times when he did have to walk through unpleasant parts of the journey may have seemed a little easier to bear.  And I know, from the text here, that he’d learned to trust in God despite his circumstances.

David’s God not only inspired trust but also joy.  Let’s refer to vs. 9-10.  (Read Psalm 16:9-10 and make note about “therefore” - that should always make you think something like, for this reason – [Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices; my body also rests secure.  For you do not give me up to Sheol, or let your faithful one see the Pit.])  

First notice that David’s entire being is involved here – heart is glad, soul rejoices, body rests secure – he’s not talking about something that goes on simply in his mind, or something that just involves his emotions.  This affects every part, every facet of his existence.  And this sense of joy isn’t something David experiences only in his present life – it also points to a promise for the future.

Again, some other translations do a little better job in communicating David’s idea here, but Sheol refers to the place of the dead, or what we would tend to think of as the grave.  To “see the Pit” implies corruption or decay, but this isn’t so much the concept of a physical decay.  We know that eventually David died and was buried, and if you could go and dig up his grave you’d find that his remains had indeed decayed.  This passage was, one, a metaphor that communicated David’s expectation that he would not experience total isolation or abandonment from God’s presence, even in death.  Secondly it points forward to the hope of the resurrection. This is something David, who even though he lived before Christ, understood.  Yet, it should be all the more inspiring for us who live after the Christ event.  Both Peter and Paul, in Acts, make reference to these verses in speaking of how Christ was resurrected and his body knew no corruption, and because of Christ’s victory over death in resurrection those who walk in his way will also be resurrected.  There’s certainly plenty of room for speculation and opinions over how the Lord will return some day, but be assured of this – scripture is clear that believers will have resurrected bodies like unto Christ’s body.  And that should inspire hope.

David pretty much sums up his thoughts in the final verse.  You show me the path of life.  David’s relationship was with a God in the business of revealing – a God who revealed his self and the way of life in which to walk. In your presence there is fullness of joy.  The full truth of this verse is something I don’t think can ever be adequately communicated in words, something that can’t quite be understood until, like David, you actually spend time in God’s presence.  

There’s a song that never fails to minister to me, entitled “You Raise Me Up” by Josh Groban.  It’s the second verse that always gets me:

There is no life - no life without its hunger;
Each restless heart beats so imperfectly;
But when you come and I am filled with wonder,
Sometimes I think I glimpse eternity.

In God’s presence there is fullness of joy.  And, in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.  The joy, the goodness that God inspires goes on and on forever.

How do you make sense of life?  Have you found provision in that which gives refuge in time of trouble; that sustains you, body and soul; that offers fellowship of the most blessed kind?  Does the meaning of your life provide direction, giving you counsel of the right way to go and enabling you to say, no matter what happens, I won’t be moved or shaken?  Is what gives your life purpose something that inspires – inspires a sense of trust regardless of circumstance; inspires joy that is so full and real you can’t even describe it; inspires hope for all eternity?

In God's presence there is fullness of joy.  We have witnessed that this week with the addition of Mackenzie to our family.  How many times can you thank God for the wonders that occur in your life?  For me, I can not say thank you enough.

May God bless you many times over.  God loves each and every one of you and so do I.

Pastor Jim

Friday, April 8, 2011

Psalm 16 Part Three

2. GOD DIRECTS (a-counsels, b-enables)

a – God counsels

So David’s idea of the meaning of life is tied in with the God who provides.  But this is also a God who directs. (Read vs. 7 - I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me.)  Have you ever been going through a difficult time, or facing an important decision, and you go to someone in your life you who trust to get their advice?  And you know how much of a help it is – even if the advice itself may not lead to a solution – just to be able to talk to that person and seek their counsel?  David says, ‘you know who I go to for counsel?’  The LORD (Jehovah) – the one true God, the great I AM who reveals himself to his people. Better yet, David says the Lord gives me counsel.  And apparently David and the Lord had an amazing thing going on here because it sounds like the spirit of David and the Spirit of God were so used to communicating to each other, were so wrapped up in the other’s business, that even during the night David’s heart received instruction.  Just think, the one who creates your life can also counsel you in every way of your life, even at the level of the most inner meditations of your heart.

b – God enables

And yet, as amazing as it is to think that the Lord directs by giving counsel, he also directs by enabling his followers.  Consider vs. 8.  (Read vs. 8 - I keep the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.)  David has made a choice that he will walk in obedience, keeping the Lord always before him.  Now I think it’s most likely that David had to make this choice on a regular basis, in both good times and bad.  He had to continually decide, yes, I will keep the Lord before me – I will continually pattern my life according to God’s way.  Now guess what?  David could only do that because he’d also sought the Lord’s counsel, and because he’d trusted in the Lord’s provision.  In other words, it was a choice of faith – but a faith made confident because of what he’d already experienced with the Lord.  Thus he could also claim that his Lord was at his right hand.  Every time I see a reference to the right hand in scripture it makes me stop and take notice, because it can refer to the idea of strength, or a place of honor, or even at times to Christ himself.  In this context we hear David saying, God is by my side, I can trust him to help me fight my battles, I can rely on him no matter what comes our way.  Is it any wonder then that David declares,

I shall not be moved.

I will finish Psalm 16 early next week.  God loves each and every one of you and so do I.  Many blessings to you.  Please pray for Angela and I as we prepare for the entry of our daughter into the world.  She should be arriving soon.

Pastor Jim