Deuteronomy 31:30–32:52, 2 Corinthians 8:8–15, Psalm 45:1–17
One of my professors said that when emotions overwhelm us, it is helpful to say aloud the character and attributes of God, remembering who He is and what He has done. Lately, I’ve had some of those overwhelming emotions, unfortunately not joy but sadness, emptiness, and a few of their negative friends. Taking the professors advice is helpful. No child of God can stay in a negative place while praising Him.
Today, while reading these passages, the Lord reminded me of Himself, and as He did, my mood changed. The first one is from the beginning of “the Song of Moses,” a song that he wrote and taught to the people so they would remember it, even if they strayed from God.
“For I will proclaim the name of the Lord; ascribe greatness to our God! The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he. They have dealt corruptly with him; they are no longer his children because they are blemished; they are a crooked and twisted generation. Do you thus repay the Lord, you foolish and senseless people? Is not he your father, who created you, who made you and established you?” (Deuteronomy 32:3-6)
In just a few words, praise is established by proclaiming God’s greatness. He is solid, like a rock, dependable and firm. His work is perfect and His ways are fair and just. He is faithful, sinless, just, and upright. If I were not His child but a blemished, crooked, twisted, foolish, and senseless soul, I could still call Him my Creator, but because I am His child, I can also say that He established me. My feet are on the Rock and He has cleansed me from my sin. If that does not change a nasty mood to joy, then I should take my pulse.
After the song ends, Moses says this: “For it is no empty word for you, but your very life, and by this word you shall live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess.” (Deuteronomy 32:47)
He is right. Praise is never empty words. It is my very life, certainly my emotional life, but also my life in Christ. I cannot live in the “promised land” of unity with the Spirit of God without Him. Even the fact that I can praise God as Moses did gives evidence to His grace and saving power. Again, if that cannot change a negative mood, then my heart is deaf and dumb.
The NT reading is more of the same. Paul is talking to the church at Corinth about an offering they have been collecting to send to Jerusalem. However, these words apply to any effort given to serve God . . .
“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. And in this matter I give my judgment: this benefits you, who a year ago started not only to do this work but also to desire to do it. So now finish doing it as well, so that your readiness in desiring it may be matched by your completing it out of what you have. For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have.” (2 Corinthians 8:9–12)
Jesus gave up everything that I might be rich with incredible blessings. He is my Lord and Savior. He gives me the desire to serve, the ability to do it and to finish it. He also matches His demands according to what I have, not expecting things of me that He has not equipped me to do. Even though I often feel ‘stretched beyond my limits,’ God alone knows more about my potential than I do. He brings out the best in His people. That fact also changes a negative mood into confidence and joy.
Today’s psalm also says something that I hear very personally. It is like what Paul said about Jesus, only in this case, the riches he considers relate to the glory Jesus relinquished so that His people might be glorified. In these verses, “daughter” is used, and I am His daughter, the daughter of the King of kings. He says I can look forward to that day when I am led into His palace in robes interwoven with gold . . .
“Hear, O daughter, and consider, and incline your ear: forget your people and your father’s house, and the king will desire your beauty. Since he is your lord, bow to him. The people of Tyre will seek your favor with gifts, the richest of the people. All glorious is the princess in her chamber, with robes interwoven with gold. In many-colored robes she is led to the king, with her virgin companions following behind her. With joy and gladness they are led along as they enter the palace of the king. In place of your fathers shall be your sons; you will make them princes in all the earth. I will cause your name to be remembered in all generations; therefore nations will praise you forever and ever.” (Psalm 45:10–17)
Most of this I understand and am overwhelmed with delight, but that last line has to go beyond the daughters of the King. Does it not refer to Jesus, the One whose name will be remembered and praised by all nations? It seems so to me, but whatever it means, it lifts my heart in joyful praise to the One who mercifully calls me His child so that I can share in His glory.