SOAP Journal – 21 March 2019 (Psalm 13)

But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness;
My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.
I will sing to the LORD,
Because He has dealt bountifully with me.

Psalm 13:5-6

This psalm seems to divide neatly into three phases.

The first is in verses 1-2 and that is the questioning phase. David finds himself in a time of difficulty and asks God how long He (God) will delay taking action to help him (David). And it sometimes feels as if God is standing back from the difficulties in my life, too. This is not to say that God actually is standing back from the difficulties or delaying taking action any more than is absolutely necessary.

Last night, my daughter and I read the story of John the Baptist and my daughter asked why God did not give Zechariah and Elizabeth a baby when they wanted one so badly. The answer that I found myself giving is that God wanted to give them a baby and He wanted their baby and how he came to them to be extra special; that oftentimes the greatest blessings take the longest time to arrive — they just require more preparation time. That is an answer born of reading the scriptures and learning that God is not slow concerning His promises. It is also an answer born of experiencing God fulfilling the good desires of my heart in good time.

The second phase — verses 3-4 — is the consequence if God does not intervene. The consequence will be that David will sleep the [sleep of] death and his enemies rejoice when [he is] shaken. In essence, David’s adversaries will be victorious and will trumpet that victory. And this has not changed. Human nature is what it has always been: selfish. These adversaries do not think of the cost to David or to the kingdom he rules over or anything else. They think only of their issue with David and their desire to overcome him. If they succeed, then they will not be content with merely succeeding, but will tell everyone what they think they have accomplished.

We are not all that different now. We often make goals without considering their impact on others and loudly proclaim our success when we have accomplished those goals, ignoring those we have hurt or destroyed along the way to our objective.

In the third and last phase of this psalm — verses 5-6 — David transitions to peace and praise. He has laid his requests before God and the peace of God now guards his heart and mind. David can now trust in God’s lovingkindness (mercy), rejoice in God’s salvation, and sing to the LORD. David knows that his own failure or fall is a possibility and that his adversaries may triumph. David also knows God and God’s character. And that is where David finds his comfort. He does not take comfort in knowing that God will act. He does not take comfort in knowing that his adversaries will be thwarted. He takes comfort in God’s mercy and salvation. And, thus comforted, he sings to the LORD.

This psalm reads a bit like a poetic example of Paul’s instruction to the Philippians. Paul instructed them to not be anxious, but to make their requests known to God and promised that the peace of God — which is not always understandable — would guard their hearts and minds. That is David’s progression in this psalm. And this psalm elaborates a bit on the peace. The peace does not stem from knowing that God will do what I ask Him to, but from knowing that God is merciful and has saved me and will continue to save me until I am ushered into His presence.

Which phase am I in this morning? Am I praying at all? If no, then I need to take my cares, concerns, and worries to God.; all of my questions and concerns about what will happen if God does not move. Then I need to rest in His mercy and salvation.

Father, thank You for this reminder of what Paul writes elsewhere. It is good to see the same instruction presented in different ways. Please etch this into my character that I would take my difficulties, with all of my concerns and questions, to You  and then rest in Who You are.

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All the Things (Jeremiah 27:22)

“‘They will be carried to Babylon and they will be there until the day I visit them,’ declares the LORD. ‘Then I will bring them back and restore them to this place.’”

Jeremiah 27:22

As I was reading through judgment after judgment and dire warning after dire warning, this verse caught my attention. In context, it is God saying that the utensils of the temple that had not already been carried off into Babylon would be carried off and that they would not return to Jerusalem until God said so. Having read through The Bible more than a couple times, I know that the utensils will not return to Jerusalem until after Babylon has fallen to the Medes and Persians.

What does that have to do with my walk with God today? Not much, at a glance. But, if I consider what is being said and what happens, I am reminded of the certainty of God’s statements and the dependability of His promises. What is more, I am reminded that He cares about even the minutiae; even the details that another might overlook.

God, through Jeremiah, announces that the utensils used in worship will go into Babylon. This is crazy important on a certain level, because those utensils are necessary for worship to continue. If I were to skip ahead to the book of Daniel, I would find that worship of God continued in Babylon without the utensils. Daniel, Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael (the trio better known as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego … or Abendigo if you count the way most folks say it) refuse to worship idols and prefer to stick to a stricter dietary standard and pray to God despite laws to the contrary. The worship of God went to Babylon. I get two takeaways from this realization. First, I am reminded that what God says is what happens, no matter how much anyone might wish it otherwise. Second, I am reminded that God often sends His worshipers into places where He is not worshiped in order to bring worship of the True and Living God to those places.

But those utensils are minutiae. They are things that could be replaced; had been replaced more than once, if memory serves. The only things vital to worship are the God ho is worshiped and the person who worships. That is it. But God cares enough about the details to tell the people in Jerusalem that the utensils used in worship will be sent to Babylon and will come back when God is ready for them. He is so aware of and concerned with the details that He can promise that the utensils will be right where He wants them when He wants them. I cannot even say that about my own cell. I can rather frequently be found wandering around looking lost while trying to remember where I left it. God is not so. God is never confused or wondering where He left something. God knows the details and is concerned about the details and will take care of the details.

My takeaways this morning are as follows. First, what God says is what will happen. I can bank on that; depend on that. Second, God may send me into places where He is not worshiped so that those who do not worship Him may see Him worshiped by me and turn and worship Him. Worshipers beget worshipers and God will send me where He wants me to be in order to be fruitful. Third and last, God knows and is concerned with the details. He knows all about that thing that is causing me to fret. Not only does He know about it, but He knows where all the things are. All the things.