True Humility

Psalm 72: 8 – 9

May he also rule from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth. Let the nomads of the desert bow before him, and his enemies lick the dust.

You will undoubtedly sense a change of tone in this psalm. David didn’t write this one. It is written by his son, Solomon. The kingdom falls apart after Solomon, the kingdom that God gave to David for eternity. You begin to see the unravelling even here. Compare this psalm with the one’s David wrote.  Here, we find Solomon praying for himself, not about rescue from enemies, but increasing his holdings.

This is another example where one must really read the entire psalm to get the flavor. Solomon was concerned about his ability to rule the kingdom. At first glance his importuning of God for the wisdom to rule the country appears as humility, and at one level I believe it to be so. At a higher level, though, Solomon mirrors our prayers and feelings. Compared with the prayers and the songs of David, we see that humility is often a cloak for the real underlying demon – pride.

David didn’t have confidence in his ability to rule the kingdom either. He did, however, have confidence in the Father, and David trusted his friend and strong right hand to be with him and to rule through him. It may be a subtle shift, but this micron of perspective shift makes all the difference in the world. Solomon was overwhelmed with by the responsibility of leading the kingdom. The reason, though, is because his eyes were fixed on himself.

We can all become overwhelmed by what God has called us to do, but if we do it is because we are looking at our own abilities. We become focused on ourselves rather than on the Father. David told Goliath that he came in the name of the Lord and that the God of Israel would deliver the Philistine giant into his hands. David was looking for God to do something. If he had considered himself responsible for the victory, we would not have this great story to admire. He either would have been defeated, or, more likely, he would never have faced the giant. We know we cannot succeed in our own strength so we think God will anoint us with his strength and then we will prevail. In our spirits we know this is not quite right. The victory is not ours, but the Lord’s.

So, David spent less time in prayers like these and much more time praising the Lord and declaring His greatness. He focused his attention on the righteous kindness of God and His delivering power. He glorified God in song and in deed. Go back and look at the construction of David’s prayers. There is a real secret here. Our words show where we are in our walk with God. Solomon’s show that his eyes were on himself. He lacked confidence because he was looking at himself rather than at God. He prayed for God to make him a great king with much land. Perhaps, those breaths would have been better spent praising the real King.

Structural Integrity

Psalm 69: 31 – 33

For I know, Yahweh, that my praises mean more to you than all my gifts and sacrifices. All who seek you will see God do this for them, and they’ll overflow with gladness. Let this revive your hearts, all you lovers of God! For Yahweh does listen to the poor and needy and will not abandon his prisoners of love.

There is a lot of good news in this passage. David was tormented when he wrote this psalm, but he resolved into praise and praise boosted his confidence that Yahweh would, indeed, rescue him from his then present peril.

No matter how troublesome our present we, too, can have confidence that our God will never abandon us for we are bound to Him by His love for us. Though we may feel alone and that our prayers fall upon deaf ears, David confirms that Yahweh listens to us. Father hears our every whisper, every cry. His heart hears our prayers.

However, there is an important lesson we can learn from David. David might spend some time whining and even more complaining but when you read his psalm you discover that he never remains in the moaning stage. His victory is found in praise. He reminds himself of God’s love and might. When one combines the love of God with the power of God the only possible outcome is victory.

Our problem is that the construction of our prayers often fails to follow David’s. Sometimes you need to complain and grumble a little just to expunge your soul of despair. That is fine but it is not final. Eventually prayer needs to move to stage 2. Praise, then stage 3 confident statements about God’s grace for every situation.

I would encourage you to read this entire psalm and see for yourself the transition from despair to confidence. God continually showed up in David’s life and I believe his prayer composition is, at least, part of the reason why. Praise and confident expressions in the faith and loyalty of our God bring out the victory that is laying still within us.

Placement

Psalm 16:8

I have set the Lord continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

Did you know you have a choice in where God exists in your life? David was the one who set the Lord before Him and at His right hand. Where do you want God? David put God where He was always in sight. That was how he combatted the fear which could have so easily overwhelmed him. It is how he had the confidence and faith that his enemies would be vanquished. Every day, he saw problems in the light of God with him. He saw God every time he looked up and the enormity of his God made his problems shrink.

The beauty of this is that you can put God wherever you want. You choose! Is He in His throne room? Is He hovering over the earth on a cosmic cloud? Or do you decide to have Him seated right next to you? David said that because God was at his right hand, he could not be shaken. Sometimes it pays to keep Yahweh close to you. It’s good to have His power right beside you. It’s good just having His presence there because His presence reminds you of all that He is. It boosts your confidence. His presence with you reminds you of who you are in Him.

It’s wonderful to visit the Lord in His throne room. I highly recommend it but don’t lock Him up in there. His plan was to be with you. You are His temple, remember. He wants to walk every step with you. Today.

Battle Strategy

Psalm 59: 16 – 17

But as for me, I shall sing of Your strength; yes, I shall joyfully sing of Your lovingkindness in the morning, for You have been my stronghold and a refuge in the day of my distress. O my strength, I will sing praises to You; for God is my stronghold, the God who shows me lovingkindness.

You may need to read the beginning of this psalm to get the full thrust of these last two verses. The backstory is familiar. Saul was in relentless pursuit of David. Saul’s men surrounded, besieged and attacked David and his men. Day and night, there were spies, sneak attacks and ambushes. David tells of the trials and persecutions through the first fifteen verses. At the end he says, “but as for me . . ..” In these last two verses, David reveals his battle plan.

No matter what the enemy’s tactics were; regardless of being outnumbered, trapped or under siege, the battle plan David employed was praise and complete confidence in our Lord. David’s confidence wasn’t just something he held in his breast, though. His faith in the Father was boldly declared from his lips. That is one thing which distinguished him from every other. Perhaps other people thought God was a stronghold and deliverer, but David made a career of proclaiming it.

How about you? Are your words like David’s? Perhaps we too can turn the tide with our words. You know the end of the story. God removed Saul from the throne and installed David in his place. As I have studied David’s life, I noted his continual boasting in the Lord. I think his success was tied to his proclamation. While others count their soldiers and array their weaponry, David installed his stronghold. His plan involved the power of the Almighty, his strategy relying on the promises of his Lord.

It seems, then, that David didn’t have anything we don’t have. That is what makes his story so attractive. We can do what he did. We can love the Lord and trust in His prowess as David did and enjoy the same success. The strategy that prevailed for David will work for us too. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and soul. Lean on Him and His understanding. Make joyful praise to the Lord and let His power arise in your battles.

Confident Heart

Psalm 57: 7 – 10       NLT

My heart is confident in you, O God; my heart is confident. No wonder I can sing your praises! Wake up, my heart! Wake up, O lyre and harp! I will wake the dawn with my song. I will thank you, Lord, among all the people. I will sing your praises among the nations. For your unfailing love is as high as the heavens. Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.

Again I find myself understanding why God said David was a man after His own heart. We might say, “He touches my heart,” and how could the Father’s heart not be touched from such an outpouring of love and gratitude?

Personally, I am stirred by David’s confidence. Continually the trust that David had in God appears in his songs. This confidence, or trust, was very real for David. He hung his life on that confidence. Even as a youth, David believed God and His word over the circumstances in the world. That was evident when he faced Goliath for he said to King Saul, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine,” (1 Samuel 17: 37).

It also seems that David’s confident trust goes hand in hand with praise. Which came first, I wonder. Did praise strengthen his heart? How does one grow into the depth of faith David had in God’s faithfulness? He wrote that his confidence inspired praise, but from where did the confidence originate. One might say, “David was able to exhibit confidence in facing Goliath because he had overcome both bears and lions,” but where did he get the confidence to face a lion?

David was the youngest of all his brothers. His older brothers were experienced, strong soldiers while he was still tending sheep and yet he had the faith of a giant. When he faced Goliath, he wasn’t tall or strong, he wasn’t arrayed in the finest battle armor. Instead, he said, “You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts.” Now that is some confidence!

I find myself envious of that depth of faith and my soul yearns to stand as tall as that young shepherd boy. Not only did he shame the Philistine army but imagine the reaction of the army of Israel? His own brothers were part of that force, a force that was afraid to march out against Goliath and his cohorts. Were they inspired by David’s heroism? Were they ashamed of their lack of faith in the mighty hand of the Lord? Let us hope that most of them took inspiration from his confidence in God’s unfailing deliverance. What of us? Can we look at this lad and from his faith and actions draw strength into our own spirits? Are we bolstered by his praises and confidence?

If one young shepherd boy can rise from oblivion to the throne, overcoming titanic obstacles along the way, then what can we do, we who have not only the throne of God as our backstop but also the faith of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit? What prevents us from being the mighty warriors of our age? I hope you, like me, feel that longing in the pit of your stomach. I hope you find a voice of praise which rivals even that of David because I believe we will find strength, trust, confidence and might in those praises. Lift your eyes, lift your voices and be strengthened in the innermost parts of your being.

The Believers’ Rest

Hebrews 4: 1

Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it.

I find this language interesting. Why should there be any fear related to God’s rest? Verse 3 reveals that God was angry and in His anger He swore that “they” would not enter into His rest. Look at verse three from the Passion Translation, “For those of us who believe, faith activates the promise and we experience the realm of confident rest! For he has said, ‘I was grieved with them and made a solemn oath, ‘They will never enter into the calming rest of my Spirit.’”

Rest comes by faith. God was angry at the disobedient ones (Hebrews 3: 18). The Tree of Life version of Hebrews 4: 1 illuminates the disobedience. It says, “For we who have trusted are entering into that rest.” Their disobedience, then, was that they did not trust God and that is what angered Him. Selah – pause and consider that.

Rest is a matter of faith and trust. People who believe, enter into the promise of rest that the Father gave, and they do so with confident trust. They are persuaded that God will not let them down. Failing or refusing to enter into God’s rest is a slap in His face. It says that we do not trust Him. Instead, we trust our own abilities. We are focused on all we need to do and thus, abandon the idea of a partnership with the Divine.

The Holy Spirit was sent to be our “go along.” His intent is to walk with us, side by side, go along with us everywhere we go, assisting us in all we do. Actually, he is supposed to be our guide. He wants to stand shoulder to shoulder but lead us from that position. That is why I call it a partnership. He wants to intertwine with us in every activity rather than run over us or dominate us. And he will gently step aside if we do not choose to partner with him. However, we cannot enter God’s rest if we do not receive the aid of the Spirit. God grieves when we fail to enter into “the calming rest of my [His]Spirit.” His anger is kindled when we try to do everything in our might. “Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience,” (Hebrews 4: 11). Our job is to enter into His rest. Our task is to seek His face. He has people for all of the “work” but there is only one person who can spend time with God for you. Guess who!

Let this sink in today. Ponder these verses and ideas. Can you find the way to let God do the heavy lifting for you at your job? What about all those tasks on your list, can He somehow help those to get done more efficiently? I think you will find the time you spend with Him, seeking His advice and guidance, will more than pay for itself. Find your place of rest. I will give you a hint. It’s in Him.

Anticipation

Ephesians 1: 18             Amplified

And [I pray] that the eyes of your heart [the very center and core of your being] may be enlightened [flooded with light by the Holy Spirit], so that you will know and cherish the hope [the divine guarantee, the confident expectation] to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints (God’s people).

I love the expression “confident expectation.” It is the image of us leaning forward, fully assured of God’s continuous attendance to our needs and desires.

When we hear this odd language like “eyes of your heart” it kinda makes sense but not completely. Perhaps the Amplified version provides some clarity. I would like to offer an additional way to think of it. You know how sometimes your sensitivity is heightened and you pick up on things better than at other times? Or, sometimes you know something but you aren’t sure what you perceived. We say, “In my gut, I just knew.” You see, your internal mechanism is operating all the time. Some of us are better at listening to it than others of us, but even the most unreceptive of us have those times when our perceptions are heightened. You pick up a little something in a person’s tone or your mind takes note of a word they used when there was a friendlier synonym. Perhaps you pick up on body language or a cast of the eyes. A plethora of data is flying by you at an enormous rate and you take in more of it than you know. Down in your core, in the very center of your being this data is processed and for those who listen to it, there comes revelation. It is a matter of listening to your inner you. That is what Paul was praying for, that the Holy Spirit would flood your inner being with his light to shine upon that information which available but undiscovered.

The Father is speaking with us continually. The Holy Spirit is whispering into our spiritual ears. Paul prayed that our sensitivity to these things would be improved so we would discern the blessing which is constantly flowing to us from the Trinity. Paul knew that when we allow the Holy Spirit to tune us into the Divine frequency, we receive hope of a kind that has us not only leaning forward but jumping out of bed in the morning. We receive such encouragement from the light of the Spirit that we are absorbed in confident expectation.

Isn’t that exciting? This hope that Paul wants for us is what we are called to. You may have known that you are called, well, this is your calling. Father is calling you to be immersed in the assurance of the rich inheritance which is yours, right now, as a child of God.

Your inheritance is for today. You don’t have to wait for God to die to receive your inheritance. He made it available at Jesus’ death. Father has called you to the confident expectation of your glorious inheritance which is yours in Christ Jesus, our Lord and savior. All of the dying has been done. Now is the time of light and life. Pray this simple prayer with me: Father, I receive all you have for me. Open my eyes and ears that I hear you daily and I see your loving hand everywhere I look. Lead me, Holy Spirit, into this confident expectation of my inheritance through Christ. Father I thank you as I receive this, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

It’s yours. En-joy!