God and His People (Part One)

Psalm 30:1-3

I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up and have not let my foes rejoice over me. O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me. O Lord, you have brought up my soul from Sheol; you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit (ESV).

What should we think of the relationship between God and his people? Do you experience God interacting with you? Do you think that God gets involved in your life? Do you get involved with God? How does this happen? The exact occasion of this psalm cannot be determined. Even the heading of the psalm can be read in various ways (compare the NIV footnote). But this psalm does show the interaction between God and his people during his people’s difficulties. This psalm discloses the boldness of a saint (that is, a true believer) before his covenant God. We should learn how God’s children should approach him during troubles with the pure confidence that agrees with the saint’s position by grace before the Lord.

Consider the desire of a rescued person. I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up (30:1). The person whom God has delivered from difficulties desires to make known the truth that God is great and glorious. This desire is the response of gratitude. For example, a student who has been helped by a teacher will defend that teacher though other students despise him or her, if there is gratitude in that student’s heart.

This desire is evangelistic in spirit. The rescued person wants others to praise the God who saves (30:4). When people have been helped by someone (like a doctor) or by something (like medicine), they do tell others. The deeper the sense of help, the more fervent desire to tell others. The woman at the well went back into the city to tell everyone she met that she had found the Messiah (John 4). Here is the church’s purpose of evangelism. How are we doing in fulfilling this purpose?

This desire is determined in this course of action (cf. 30:12b). David has one goal—to always praise the Lord (cf. Psalm 27:4-6). We live during a time of distraction rather than focused action. People see too many things to do, and so they endlessly flit from one thing to another. But a sense of what is truly worthy of our lives leads us to life goals, like we see in this verse.

The person whom God has delivered rejoices in exalting his Lord (cf. 30:11). David is careful to point out that God’s deliverance ended in joy for him. It is like David is saying, “Yes, my God did correct me during this time of my life, but he meant it for my good (cf. Gen 50:20; Rm 8:28). For this reason, the product was his joy in God. When we travel through a “long dark tunnel” of our life’s journey, we can lose sight of this much too easily. Then we must believe that God will work for our ultimate joy. Someone might ask, “How can I do this?” You need to think and meditate on God’s holy character and then rest on him. There is no substitute for humble faith in the Holy God.

David was stirred deeply in the inner person of the heart. Notice his repeated “O Lord” throughout this psalm. True spiritual experience of the Lord and his grace overflows into an intense verbal expression like “O”. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation (Romans 5:11 ESV). Let us draw near to the Lord our God. In him we find restoration and refreshment for our souls.

Grace and peace, David

Intensity

IMG_0909Psalm 5:1-3

O Lord, hear me as I pray; pay attention to my groaning. Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for I pray to no one but you. Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly (NLT).

I think Psalm 5 is a neglected psalm. Over many years among many Christians, I have never heard anyone refer to it. In a way, this does not surprise me, since most believers run in narrow streets when it comes to the passages of Scripture they read, especially when they feel troubled, and the few hymns or praise songs they sing in their churches. I like the modern hymn “In Christ Alone”, but I don’t want to hear it every week. Romans eight is a great chapter, but others are just as valuable. I’m not sure why most Christians don’t refer to Psalm 5; perhaps the neglect can be traced to their pastors and teachers. However, this is not our topic today.

This Psalm, which is also by David, shows a man with spiritual intensity. David clearly was a man of strong desires and concentration. He was able to lead a band of unruly men for many years, while being godly. This is a rare combination. David’s passionate nature carried over into his friendship with the living God. He was not reluctant to use bold words and to tell God plainly what he thought about his circumstances and his opponents and about sin and its effects.

  • David’s intensity appears in his repeated requests for God to listen to him. Picture someone waving their arms as they strive for attention, or perhaps the endless sending of texts and emails. Throughout his life, David had enemies, who were also the Lord’s enemies, who wanted to destroy him. David knew his desperate situation and kept on asking, seeking, and knocking (cf. Matthew 7:7-8). Christians today would rather moan and groan to each other than pour out their heart’s concerns to their Father in heaven. Attendance at prayer meetings or involvement in prayer times in small groups lays bare the apathy of many. David gives us a better example. Call out to the Lord and ask him to hear.
  • David’s intensity led him to express how he felt. Believers in our time are too formal and socially obsessed. To cry or to groan in prayer…? Can’t do that; what might someone think? He wrote about groaning. This word is related to the word for mediate, and so we can think of a groaning meditation. To meditate is not to seek a feeling of passivity but of engagement with God and his truth. David sang about crying out to God for help. If you softly say help to people, I doubt that anyone will notice. Surely, God knows all our words before we speak them (Psalm 139:4). But that is not the issue. The Lord wants us to share our lives with him, and this involves making our desires, fears, and perplexities known to him.
  • David’s intensity caused him to focus on the Lord. He confessed his total and sole dependence on the Lord. He did not pray to anyone else. He also prayed in the morning. He started the day in fellowship with his God. This strengthened his commitment to the Lord. We can pray anytime of the day we wish. Sharon and I usually pray together at night. Praying in the morning is not a command, but it might be a helpful example to build our spiritual intensity.

I boldly suggest that we all think though the words of our text. Perhaps we need to read them out loud before we pray, yes, even when we pray with others. The Lord wants our hearts (Matthew 22:37). We can start by praying from our hearts instead of merely by reading our requests off prayer lists that are so common in churches. David the king was a man after God’s own heart. Let’s learn from the words of this song.

Grace and peace, David