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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Psalm 57

Thinking about the opening verses of Psalm 57, penned nearly three millenia ago:
Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me,
for in you my soul takes refuge;
in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge,
till the storms of destruction pass by.

I cry out to God Most High,
to God who fulfills his purpose for me.
He will send from heaven and save me...
Here is David, crouching in a cave, fearing for his life; and here am I, sitting in a coffee shop, working on my second cup of joe.

We seem so far apart, he and I, and yet somehow, miraculously perhaps, our lives are still connected, intertwined. The sons of men are fiery beasts (v 4) - they were then, they are still today. David's story is my story. His foes are my foes.

This is encouraging yet terrifying, both at the same time, for if God was willing to comfort the Man-Who-Stole-His-Heart by smiting him, by making him walk through the valley of the death shadow, what might lie in store for me?

It's interesting to note that David doesn't ask this question. He doesn't focus on the "why's"? He doesn't pull a Job and go looking for reasons. Maybe that's because someone in his shoes needs help more than he needs explanations. His response is interesting in several ways.

First, David knows he needs mercy: don't give me what I deserve, God! Why not? Because I am making you my refuge. I am clinging to you. Hiding in you. Counting on you. I am making you my cave. Don't let me down!

David stakes his claim not in what he has (or hasn't) done, but rather in who he is - a simple man making God his refuge.

At the same time, David knows that it's not all about him: God has a purpose, a plan. He lifts some up, he puts others down - the Lord gives, the Lord takes away. He is in control. He does what he pleases. He answers to no one. David is but dust.

And yet, and yet... God has also promised. He has promised David a throne; he promises us a kingdom, with hearts like David's. He has bound himself, by himself. That's where David's hope lies: a) I'm trusting you, b) you promised... c) now come down here and save me!

That's the good news of the gospel, isn't it? That the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is for us, that he is not far away. That he is a refuge for those who seek him. That he HAS come down to rescue us, that he is alive and well and working among us, working to fulfill all his promises to us.

This is why Paul can say that all the promises of God find their yes in Christ Jesus (2 Cor 1:20). Because he is the answer to David's prayer. He is the one sent from heaven to rescue him, and to rescue us.

Just as God has answered specifically, so too we must respond specifically - a generic hope in some generic goodness of God is no longer enough. We need a specific response (both personal and corporate), to a specific God (the God of the Bible), in regards to a specific answer (the crucified-and-resurrected God-man, Jesus Christ).

Nothing less will suffice.

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