This week I read through more of Genesis (chapters 20 – 26), Psalms (chapters 20 – 26), Joshua (chapters 20 – 26), and Judges (chapters 1 – 2). Lots stuck out to me this week, particularly as I read through the culmination of the lives of both Abraham and Joshua, two huge pillars of the faith. But one section that hit home deepest was in Psalm 21 (vv 1 – 7) …
How the king rejoices in your strength, O Lord! He shouts with joy because you give him victory. For you have given him his heart’s desire; you have withheld nothing he requested. Interlude. You welcomed him back with success and prosperity. You placed a crown of finest gold on his head. He asked you to preserve his life, and you granted his request. The days of his life stretch on forever. Your victory brings him great honor, and you have clothed him with splendor and majesty. You have endowed him with eternal blessings and given him the joy of your presence. For the king trusts in the Lord. The unfailing love of the Most High will keep him from stumbling.
For a second … close your eyes and think of God. What do you think of when you think of Him? Is it some overbearing, distant deity Who just wants to impose His rules on you … rules that take all the fun away from life? Or, maybe He’s an unknowable, grumpy, vapor of a being that maintains some sort of scale, balancing the good things you do against the bad things, eventually to break some mean-spirited surprise on you when you try to enter His heaven some day?
It probably all sounds ridiculous, but such are the thoughts of many about our God … even to some degree many Christians. Many religious systems propagate these personifications of God for all sorts of disreputable reasons. But none of these points of view accurately portray the God of the Bible.
That’s why I loved David’s writing in Psalm 21. In contrast to the views just described and all too often commonly-held, look at how David describes the Lord. Referring to himself (the king … king David), he reflects on how God “has given him his heart’s desire,” “withheld nothing he requested,” gave him “success and prosperity.” He makes the “days of his life stretch on forever,” “brings him great honor,” and clothes him “with splendor and majesty.” He gives “eternal blessings” and “the joy of [His] presence.” Finally, he talks about how God gives us His “unfailing love.”
Hardly the type of talk that sounds like an angry, judgmental, vicious, impersonal God. Rather, it describes a personal, loving, gracious, and generous Creator who, while He created and knows every atom in the universe, equally knows everything about us and longs to provide our deepest desires and most necessary needs.
What this triggered in me was a reflective attitude. It made me essentially put myself in David’s shoes, basically able to acknowledge the same things that David was praising God for … even though I’m not a king, with the wealth, riches, and possessions that the king of Israel had. I’m every bit as blessed as he was.
And so are you.
Sure, we all have heavy burdens that weigh us down. Worries that we contend with on a daily basis. Stresses that grind away at the very bones in our bodies. Disappointments that can cause us to want to retreat to the darkest reaches of life. But like a longtime friend of ours used to say, “where you stand, depends on where you sit.” That is, it’s all about perspective.
As 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NKJV) says … “no temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you’re able, and with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you will be able to bear it.” Yeah, life is rough and at times things can feel terrible. That’s real. But notwithstanding that, in the bigger picture we’re no less blessed than king David.
So … let’s ask the Lord to help us gain a little perspective.
Take some time this week and prayerfully sit down and write a list of the ways God has blessed you. Give it at least 15 minutes. It’ll probably feel a little awkward at first, but just jot down some thoughts about things in your life that bring you joy, that allow you to experience God’s love and favor in your life. Write down things you think are beautiful, that make you laugh, that you consider gifts. At first, you’ll feel weird and probably worried about not being able to list many things … but as you go on, you’ll be blown away by the huge list you’ve crafted, and how trying to list it all in only 15 minutes is tough. Trust me … give it a try.
Then, read the passage above from Psalm 21 again. Note the way you can relate personally to the very things that David expresses in the Psalm, almost as though he wrote it for you (and me). That’s because God is that good … and He love us ALL, equally.
Take stock this week of the ways God continues to show you love, mercy, grace and generosity. Let that realization change your perspective … and let’s ask Him to allow that change in perspective to pervade all we do, see, and say this week.
In the strong, matchless love of Christ,