Burden (Psalm 68:19)

Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden,
The God [who] is our salvation. Selah.

Psalm 68:19

The psalm told me to stop and think about this (selah), so I did.

Yesterday morning, as I was talking with God on my way into work, God reminded me of some things that I had lost sight of. This verse reinforces those reminders and encourages me.

I was raised in the church. Most of my earliest memories are of going to Sunday school. There are a few others mixed in, but few is the operative word there. I was taught right and wrong according to God’s rule book pretty much from the beginning. This means I bear a terrible responsibility, but it also means that a massive amount of preaching confuses me. When pastors talk about the time before we came to know God and how we lived during that time, I’m never sure that I know what they’re talking about. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t know God on some level.

What God was explaining to me is how the pieces of things He had shown me over a dozen years or more fit together. He has, in His great mercy, allowed me to catch glimpses of what my character is like apart from His Spirit living in me. What I see is terrifying to me. There are attributes of who I am that people accept as part and parcel of my character, but I find that they are the result of the Holy Spirit living within me. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). I have, for many years, been a fairly gentle person. This is excellent, because I am neither a small person or a weak person. But that gentleness is not inherent in me, myself, but is rather a fruit of the Holy Spirit’s residence within me. I’ve been given more than one glimpse at the violent core that makes up my innate character. That’s the only fruit I’m going to explore here, but it is sufficient to recall that none of the fruit of the Spirit that folks may attribute to my character are my own, but are conferred on me by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

This relates back to this morning’s verse in that the verse says that God daily bears our burden. The burden that each and every one of us bears is the burden of our sinfulness; the burden of our fallenness (spell check tells me it’s not a word … it is now).  We are all of us burdened with the weight of a nature that has desires contrary to the heart of God. It is that nature that Christ took to the cross and that Paul tells me was crucified (Romans 6:6). God bears the burden of that daily because the death of the old nature is tied to my obedience. As I obey, I help move the old nature’s death toward finality. As I disobey, I give new life to the old nature. This side of Heaven, I will always have the old nature to contend with; I will always have sin mucking things up (Paul wrote as much in Romans 7), but God will daily bear the burden of dragging that old nature, kicking and screaming, back to the cross.

If I remove the comment about God bearing my burdens (which the commas would imply I can), then I have another thought to consider: Blessed be the Lord, The God [who] is our salvation. God is to be blessed. He is my salvation, both from the penalty of my sins and the tyranny of my sinful nature. He will also be my salvation from the very presence of sin. Here and now; this moment, God is my salvation from the penalty and the tyranny of sin and for that, if for nothing else (and there is much else for which to bless Him), He is to be blessed.

This morning’s application is less of an “I need to do something.” and more of an “I need to remember of something.” I need to remember that God daily picks up the weight of who I would be without His Spirit indwelling me and He carries that. The glimpses I’ve had of me in all my me-ness over the years have been enough to leave me in terror of what I would be without Him. But He will never leave me or forsake me. Let me remember that I am a wretched, horrible thing without Him. Let me remember as well that He is my salvation and in Him being my salvation, I become His poem.

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