May 2, 2014

Don’t think God is like me

The Lord is my shepherd . . .  (Psalm 23:1)

David wrote the 23rd and other psalms as a response to situations in his life. Many times the Lord rescued him from his enemies, including Saul who often tried to kill him. Psalm 18, like Psalm 23, is an offering of praise for those times of protection. 

I love you, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies (1-3) . . .  He rescued me from my strong enemy and from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me. They confronted me in the day of my calamity, but the Lord was my support. He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me, because he delighted in me. (17–19) . . .  This God—his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him. For who is God, but the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God? (30–31) . . . The Lord lives, and blessed be my rock, and exalted be the God of my salvation— the God who gave me vengeance and subdued peoples under me, who delivered me from my enemies; yes, you exalted me above those who rose against me; you rescued me from the man of violence (46–48).

As I read, modern songs based on these words came to mind. With David, God’s people continue to praise God for being our Rock and Fortress, our Shield and Deliverer. He continues to support us in our troubles and rescue us from our enemies.

David said, “This God – His way is perfect . . .” and I thought on the words, “This God . . .” and wondered about those who worship not “this God” but a God of their own invention. It is the tendency of humans to think God is like us rather than we are made in His image. Because of these ideas, these verses popped out . . .

With the merciful you show yourself merciful; with the blameless man you show yourself blameless; with the purified you show yourself pure; and with the crooked you make yourself seem tortuous. For you save a humble people, but the haughty eyes you bring down. (Psalm 18:25–27)

My dad used to say, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” which can hints that what beholders see might not actually be there. Sadly, beholders can also invent what God is like, and according to David, base it on their own character and qualities. That is, those who are merciful understand God to be merciful, but those who are crooked think that God is like that too. The verses say that God even reveals only that what we think about Him, rather than all there is to know about Him. This gives me much to think about.

It certainly shows me something about my understanding of God. While I would not say this aloud or teach it, I’ve often inwardly viewed Him as one who does not say much or communicate freely. This is not what the Bible says about Him, but deep inside I’ve supposed that He really would rather talk to someone else than me, or not speak at all.

However, when I look in the mirror, I can say that about myself. Much of the time I don’t like talking. These verses shout at me that while this is true about me, but is not true about God. I see Him that way because, according to David’s line of thinking, I do not freely express my own heart. Therefore, God shows Himself to me as one who also does not freely express Himself to me either.

After two months of studying prayer, today’s message is loud and clear. Open up. Talk. Speak to my Shepherd with greater freedom. Stop assuming He will be silence and stop shutting Him out with my silence. Stop mulling over things as if I cannot tell Him all about it. He lives in my heart, and obviously already knows all about everything anyway.

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