Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Psalm 115 - Trusting God

I wrote this before today, and was just drawn back to it because I am ever so aware of how much I need to trust God right now...these are tough times, but not too tough for the Lord if we will seek Him...and trust. I thought I might share it with you all (I hope it's not too long for you all...I tried to shorten it.):

Historically, Psalm 115 was written as a song of trust in God. This particular psalm pulls in every aspect one needs to know about trusting in God. It guides, teaches, and portrays a historical paradigm of trust. One major literary feature is its element of worship which was captured in a musical refrain reminding them that “he is their help and shield” (v 9-11). Today we are faced with idols and lack of trust just as in the days of old. Our minds are bombarded with every worldly ritual imaginable. May this psalm find its way into the hearts and minds of individuals that hunger and thirst for truth; for God is truth, there is nothing that compares with His greatness, and this psalm is crying out for us to lay aside all that holds us back and trust once again.
This psalm of trust was David’s cry to Israel to turn back to God from what they were worshiping. At the time of Exile from Egypt, God had showed Himself mighty and merciful among the Israelites. This psalm begins with acknowledgement and praise of God who has never left them or even ceased to love them. The Israelites were God’s chosen people regardless of their many attempts to stray from Him. However, when Moses had gone to the mountain to converse with God, the people panicked and believed they needed a god to serve, and there erected an image that they believed would go to God for them. Idolatry kept them from receiving the Promised Land until the original generation had passed on. The Israelites were aware of the destruction that idol worship brings, and in this psalm, David speaks of the things the others love about their god and questions their taunting. It wasn’t just being made fun of that was upsetting, though no one appreciated that even when they are confident of their ways; it was that God was excluded from the lives of people in idolatry. Essentially, all their god had to offer them was something they could touch. He speaks of their worthless features, the powerlessness, and the inability those idols have to help the people; however, this wasn’t a contest about whose god was bigger than the other because it was obvious that God had showed himself strong, personal, and ever present. What could he do but to again praise God for His greatness and power and life?
David stated that God was a God to trust and called out for each “house” of Israel to trust him, even those who were not a part of a specific Israelite group “[y]ou who fear him, trust in the Lord – he is their help and shield” (v 11 NIV). There was no bias, anyone who feared God was called to again trust in Him rather than the ways of man which were ever present. There was a promise that David was aware of, that when their trust was placed in the Lord, there would be blessings on everyone, “small and great.” David knew that those who may have been looked upon with fewer honors than royalty were no less than royalty in the eyes of God, which was and still is additional proof of a steadfast and loving God.
The literary features of this psalm are a paradigm, taking the reader through an active act of trust by informing the reader how, what, and why they should trust. David’s plea was that the Israelites would be more God-like. In order for that to happen, David created steps through his example and through the words of this song. In verse 1 David gave Glory to God erasing himself from any thought of pride, claiming God as the one he trusts. He then called the other houses to join him in that worship. In this portion of the psalm, worship was captured in the musical refrain “he is their help and shield,” uplifting them as he drew them in. The psalm then sings blessings over them that fear the Lord, “The Lord remembers us and will bless us; He will bless the house of Israel, he will bless the house of Aaron, he will bless those who fear the Lord – small and great alike.” (v 12) He then brings them to pledge to praise and trust in God forever, and closes with “Praise the Lord.” (v.18)
Idols are as prominent today, if not more than biblical times. The extent of idolatry today rests in the fact that so many people are deceived into believing that they are “few and far between” in our society simply because we are not building “gods” and passing them around for people to worship. Today, many don’t understand what idolatry is. Merriam-Webster defines idolatry as “1: the worship of a physical object as a god; 2: immoderate attachment or devotion to something.” Statues of “has been” gods are defined as art, and the food offerings laid at their feet are expressions of tradition. Television is ritualistically watched on football evenings, sick drama mamas and reality TV are all conversation can hold the next day at work. There seems to be no regard to the lives around desiring true fellowship or intimacy. Family time is a movie night, that lacks in deep conversation if any conversation at all. There are far too many idols in this day to list. To call on our true and loving and merciful God today would be met with jeering as well. Christian endeavors are overlooked and mocked, and the Christians themselves are labeled “intolerant.” People flock to know God when tragedy strikes, but are easily sucked back into what is comfortable to them, something they can touch for immediate reassurance; a god of gold that when spent calms the anxieties within for but a moment.
Trust is so lacking today. Most can’t recall ever having seen God bring them through, and have been too busy to listen to their grandparents stories. God’s faithfulness has always been passed down from generation to generation with respect and regard to all He has done; very few know of that faithfulness. Words in the Bible are just stories heard in Sunday school classes with as much value to them as the flannel they are recited with. The lack is in knowing a God of love and mercy experientially. Testimony time in church would always involve a story of how God brought someone through. Grandmother didn’t have groceries and opened her door one morning to find not only what she needed, but also extras for the kids. That’s the point when God's provision, while appreciated, created a sense of pride in individuals to do everything in their power to never have to rely on God or man to take care of them. Women became men, providing for themselves, men raced for power and wealth, and God was forgotten. Society says everyone is to look out for oneself, and trust in the accomplishments made along the way, making sure there will always be a cushion on which to fall back. Society needs to trust in God again. One can’t determine the course of each day or even if the sunlight will peer through their bedroom window to greet the new day, only God can. One can’t bless himself either; there has to be understanding that trust in God brings about blessings like joy, peace, and love. To catch this idea would potentially remove blinders from eyes and give a new Red Sea and Jericho experience that would be the highlight for the next generation.
As David trusted in God and left a legacy for all to follow in remembering what God has brought us through, so we need to trust in God knowing that He is the same yesterday, today and forever. We have reasons to look to God rather than looking to that which is comfortable to us, sometimes even idolatrous to us. We have a call, as in the days of old, to trust God, forget what lies behind and press forward, because in that pressing is blessing that no man can provide, only God. As David said, so I say also . . . Praise the Lord!


Nadine said...

Nicely said Kate. Trust in the Lord in this day is no different than in the days of the Old Testament. It's easy to turn to Him in times of trouble, yet some don't even do that. He's loyal to us, we need to be loyal to Him and trust that His word is true. I really enjoyed reading this.

GratefulinGA said...

ewww-right to the heart of Kate.
a very good word!