July 30, 2015

Humility needed

2 Samuel 22:1–51, Jude 1:1–16, Psalm 147:1–20

Sometimes I get the notion that living the Christian life is impossible (and it is) and start complaining about my lot in life, unanswered prayer, and anything contrary to what I think God should be doing. The lament psalms confirm that God is big enough to take my general belly-aching, but they also confirm that by telling God my troubles, they soon start to dissolve. That is, they don’t go away, but my crabby and dissatisfied attitude inevitably vanishes.

David had been through much trouble. Not only were the enemies of Israel relentless in trying to bring him down, so had Saul, the king he displaced. Yet when it was over David didn’t complain. Instead, “David spoke to the Lord the words of this song on the day when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul.”

The songs of David became the psalms of Israel and are a huge help for Christians who experience the ups and downs of trying to follow Jesus. When David wrote words like these, I wonder if he had any idea that they would bless people for many generations, and would bless me today . . . .

“The Lord dealt with me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands he rewarded me . . . . With the merciful you show yourself merciful; with the blameless man you show yourself blameless; with the purified you deal purely, and with the crooked you make yourself seem tortuous. You save a humble people, but your eyes are on the haughty to bring them down . . . . 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? This God is my strong refuge and has made my way blameless.” (2 Samuel 22:21, 26-28, 31–33)

David did what God told him to do for most of his life. His sins were forgiven and his eternity was secure, but he gave God the glory for taking him through the trials of life. I need to pay more attention to David and deeply desire the same grace that enabled him to please the Lord; more humility instead of pride. Who do I think I am by telling God He is not doing the right things?

Just an aside: my seminary professors thought that after Bathsheba, David’s life went downhill. I don’t see it that way. He failed that particular test, but God forgave him and used it to humble this man. After it was over, his life became more challenging, but his responses to those challenges showed how he had learned to utterly depend on the Lord. It seems to me that we cannot judge the success of God’s people by any other standard than obedience. How David speaks of the Lord measures the ‘success’ of his life.

The NT reading is interesting. I’ve read Jude dozens of times and never noticed before that it speaks of the saving work of Jesus in the Exodus! “Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.” (Jude 5)

Did David think of the Messiah as one member of the Godhead? He certainly wrote about the saving power of God in a physical sense, but He also spoke of Him who made his way blameless. This is the saving power of Jesus. His way is perfect and He is that shield for all who take refuge in Him.

The psalmist also wrote that pleasing God is never about how powerful I am or that my life has any merit (which it doesn’t). “His delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor his pleasure in the legs of a man, but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.” (Psalm 147:10–11)

God is pleased when I recognize my own helplessness — and instead of complaining about it or thinking I know more than He knows, I simply put my trust in Him.

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