Proven and True

2 Samuel 22: 31

God’s way is perfect! The promise of the Lord has proven to be true. He is a shield to all those who take refuge in him.

I really like when the Father starts showing me verse upon verse which combine to illuminate His teaching. Every verse this week has built upon the previous one. It began with “Blessing the Lord” in which we learned that believing God’s promises blesses Him. Today we arrive at a word of assurance.

We have been looking at a model for prayer. This model is dependent upon God’s Word and His promises. What if His promises are not meaningful or have expired? What if they are not full of God’s intent? If so, then the prayer model doesn’t work, and we have to go back to begging God to do something.

We needn’t worry though. God’s promises are tried and true. That have been tested and proven. That’s good news. I think, in this verse, we can also hear that His Word and His promises are places of refuge for us. We can rest securely in the promises of God. They are a shield but the key to the verse is that we must take refuge in Him. We must make God our place of refuge. We don’t run to the world for answers to our problems. We run to Him.

God is perfect but more importantly, His way is perfect, and His Word leads us to the perfect way. In Him and in His Word, we find the answers we need, and those answers lead us on the level and secure path. His promises never fail so we need only to retreat into those promises. Your Bible is a mighty weapon and a shield of faith and protection. It is the light burning in the sanctuary. All of His promises are, “Yes,” so renew yourself in His Word and find the strength, faith and refuge you need.

Brotherly Love

Psalm 55: 16 – 18

As for me, I shall call upon God, And the Lord will save me. Evening and morning and at noon, I will complain and murmur, And He will hear my voice. He will redeem my soul in peace from the battle which is against me.

This is a psalm of David and at once tragic, sad and victorious. David’s lament was not solely that his life was pursued relentlessly but rather that his life was sought by one he loved. The enemy was not a Philistine, as it were, but rather Saul whom he loved as a Father and revered wholly as his king. His devotion to Saul was absolute but, as is so often the case, the demon in Saul’s soul, the jealousy and emotional scars, set upon the innocent David.

Being pursued across the land, your very life in mortal peril night and day, was tortuous for David, as it would be for any of us. The greater tragedy though, is when your enemy is your brother. How, do you fight an enemy whom you love? How do you even defend yourself against your attacker when that attacker is a “friend”? Jesus actually had an answer for this dilemma. He said to pray for them. Since Jesus came, we have a clear mandate that we are supposed to love everyone. That means every enemy is one we are to love. Then how do we fight? We are not supposed to cause harm. So, Dad has us pray for them and in that simple act is our release and our victory.

David’s landing spot is very reminiscent of the 23rd Psalm. In Psalm 23, verse 4, David wrote, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me.” Do you see the similarity with “He will redeem my soul in peace from the battle which is against me?” In the midst of battle, even when surrounded by foes, your soul can rest in peace because of God is the keeper of your soul.

I would point out one other thing about this passage. There is, perhaps, a better way to think of communicating our need to our Father than complaining and mourning though we will give those words their space. The Passion Translation translates that language as, “Every evening I will explain my need to him. Every morning I will move my soul toward him.” I quite like that, and I believe it almost visually depicts the reality that David lived. We emotionally, spiritually and mentally move ourselves towards God and in that, we receive the peace our souls long for.

The truth of life is that those who attack you are most often friends or loved ones. This reality makes the challenge harder and the pain more intense. None the less, our Father says to us that even in the midst of battle, or more to the point, when attacked, stand and be delivered. Your Father is knowledgeable and attentive. He knows your pain, you situation and the limitations you are under. Let Him be your refuge. Let Him rescue you. It really is the only viable plan. Move your heart closer to Him and let Him comfort and keep you.  Call upon God.

Stirred, not Shaken

Psalm 46: 1 – 2

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in times of trouble. That is why we are not afraid even when the earth quakes or the mountains topple into the depths of the sea.

Imagine, for a moment, standing on a bluff. Beneath your feet you feel the earth quaking as if shivering from a sudden chill. In the near distance you see a mountain as large as any mountain you have ever seen. While you look upon it, it crumbles like cheese, and the whole mountain tumbles into the sea. Where once stood a mountain, there is now nothing. Imagine, as you stand there, the earth still moving beneath your feet, that you feel no fear. Picture yourself standing there and see the confidence portrayed on your face. You have nothing to fear because your God is a strong refuge, a very real and very present help in the time of trouble.

You may never witness a cataclysmic event like described above, but then again, you may. There are places in the world where one could be exposed to seismic activity on this scale. All of us face those times, though, when our world is crumbling around us. The strong people and institutions we have relied upon fall into the sea, never to be seen again. It is in those times that we are best served if we have thought about, nay meditated on, this verse until its encouragement is integrated into the very fiber of our being. We need this assurance in that day.

Psalm 62: 6 reads, “He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be shaken.” Can you currently say that with conviction? Maybe you believe it, intellectually, but it is not buried in the soil of your heart. Perhaps, it has not yet taken root. In that day when our world is shaken, we need the kind of assurance these scriptures boast of. One only acquires this level of confidence in one of two ways; either you have experienced standing on the rock and know the truth of this statement or you have meditated on it enough that your spirit is convinced.

These psalms are written by people who saw the strong tower, the mighty refuge of God. They not only boast of the Lord in song but also their songs are an attempt to transfer their experience, wisdom and conviction to the rest of us. You will never go wrong by basking in the Psalms. They are great encouragement and I hope (& pray) that you find encouragement in today’s excerpt from Psalm 46.

Run? I Think Not!

Psalm 11: 1

I have taken refuge in the Lord. How can you say to me: “Flee to your mountain like a bird?

I am happy to be back in a psalm of David. Not that the others are bad but there is a richness in his writing. I think what I like most is his authenticity and intimacy with the Lord.

Let me rephrase today’s verse just so you get the full flavor of it, “How can you say to me: ‘Flee to your mountain like a bird?’ I have taken refuge in the Lord.” Does it make better sense like that? I love the incredulity in David’s voice. “How dare you advise me, in your worldly wisdom, to flee. My sanctuary is the Lord!” I love his bold confidence in our God and his complete unwillingness to live below God’s covenant promises.

Why should we flee to the mountains? Why should we hide out in caves? Our hiding place is God Almighty! We reside in the palm of His hand. We little Christians are scurrying around all over the planet looking for help, looking for shelter. Fear and worry harangue our every move. It feels as though our enemy is as close as our shadow. That wasn’t David’s view though.

Listen to the words of King David as revealed from the Passion translation. He said, “Lord, don’t you hear what my well-meaning friends keep saying to me?” David’s reaction was,  “But don’t they know, Lord, that I have made you my only hiding place? Don’t they know that I always trust in you?” How could they advise David? They could not because they could not see from his perspective. In verse 5 we see David’s confidence because God is on His throne. All is under His eyes. Because of this, David knew all would be well.

Do you see why I love David so? I look forward to meeting him. I will tell him how his songs blessed me but even more how his faith in God and his absolute trust in the Almighty impacted my life. I hope you will let a little of David rub off on you as well.

Blessed Refuge

Psalm 5: 11 – 12

Let all who take refuge in you rejoice. Let them sing with joy forever. Protect them, and let those who love your name triumph in you. You bless righteous people, O Lord. Like a large shield, you surround them with your favor.

I hope you are enjoying this sojourn through the psalms. David reminds us, today, that there is blessing, success, victory, protection, joy and favor for those who take refuge in the Lord.

David found his respite in the Lord.  He had a way of intertwining his existence with that of God and that was an uncommon space for the Old Testament believer. I love reading David for this reason. He had an enviable relationship with the Lord. We get to peer into this relationship through the songs written by David. Can’t you almost hear his heart soar as he sings, “Let them sing with joy forever.” As he wrote these words, I believe he was basking in the presence of the Lord. You can hear the praise and reverence in David’s lyrics but you also sense the deep intimacy he had with Yahweh.

As you read this psalm, you hear about the favor of God surrounding you. You may even rejoice at the simple acceptance that God blesses us, His righteousness. Most of all, though, today I hope that you will not only hear the substance of David’s song but even more so the tone of his conversation with the Lord. I hope that through these words, you will glimpse the heart and passion of David seeing the inspiration of his affection for the Lord. I think if we will take our time with these words, we will find our own hearts stirred. Maybe we will raise our voices or pen a beautiful lyric of our own. Maybe you can write a love song to the Lord. If you do, I hope you will share it with the rest of us.

Have a blessed day in the Lord. Rejoice in Him.

Hideaway

Psalm 18: 2

The Lord is my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

This is not an unfamiliar scripture to you nor is the concept foreign. What we may not have considered, though, is the practical application involved and implied in this verse. One of the things I am doing these days which is bringing enlightenment to my thinking is that I am reading verses from a very pragmatic perspective. Beyond the poetic verse, and the almost ethereal ideals, there must be a practical application in order for these verses to have gravity in my very present life. “Thanks, David, for showing us your relationship and interaction with the Father but how do I apply that to my here and now?” That is the continual question I endeavor to answer on a daily basis.

I like to think that the Lord is our refuge and fortress as well but when David wrote, “in whom I take refuge” what do you suppose he actually did? Was this just a figure of speech or was there something affirmative he did? I think for us to run into the refuge of our hiding place we must actually engage in some kind of intentional act. Perhaps that act is prayer or meditation. I do not think that accepting the concept of God as our rock, shield and stronghold is the same as taking refuge in Him. I perceive from David’s words that when the pressure was on, he stopped looking to himself as the source of strength and instead went to the Lord in his spirit, in his mind and in his prayers. I think his retreat into the Lord was so real that it was all but a physical sequestration.

There is a level of surrender and release in this escape into the fortress of the Lord. It calls on God to be the strong savior while we rest in the shadow of His presence. We can, quite literally, I believe, hide ourselves away in who God is.

This taking these verses literally instead of figuratively is where the revelation begins to pour out like a summer rain and we begin to see real world application for what otherwise might be mere poetry to others. In all these high ideals there is the real world and God is one for real effects. What seems like a purely spiritual idea is really a God idea that is effectuated through the Spirit but with real impact on real lives. We, therefore, can read the Bible with that in mind and thus find the means for it to change our lives forever.

So Precious

Psalm 36: 5 – 12                God’s Word

O Lord, your mercy reaches to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the skies.
Your righteousness is like the mountains of God,
your judgments like the deep ocean.
You save people and animals, O Lord.
Your mercy is so precious, O God,
that Adam’s descendants take refuge
in the shadow of your wings.
They are refreshed with the rich foods in your house,
and you make them drink from the river of your pleasure.
Indeed, the fountain of life is with you.
In your light we see light.
Continue to show your mercy to those who know you
and your righteousness to those whose motives are decent.
Do not let the feet of arrogant people step on me
or the hands of wicked people push me away.
Look at the troublemakers who have fallen.
They have been pushed down and are unable to stand up again.

I would rather you read this psalm again rather than words from me today. It is so beautiful. Which statement is your favorite? It is very hard to say, isn’t it? What about “Your mercy is so precious, O God” or “you make them drink from the river of your pleasure?” In these verses we see God’s heart towards us. He wants to bring us under his wings to protect and provide for us. He wants us to soak up His goodness and light. If you pause and quiet yourself down for a moment, can you feel His abundant love and compassion for you? Let Him whisper in your ear today.