Monday, September 14, 2020

Reflections on Psalm 73 & 74

 Psalms 73:26-28 (ESV)

[26] My flesh and my heart may fail,

but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

[27] For behold, those who are far from you shall perish;

you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you.

[28] But for me it is good to be near God;

I have made the Lord GOD my refuge,

that I may tell of all your works.

 

I recently watched a television show that demonstrated the ability of people to push past their physical limits and do incredible things, but it also demonstrated that truth that people do have limits. We get sick. We get old. We are subjected to viruses like Covid-19, and diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s. We are even affected physically by things like hopeless and loneliness. As indomitable as we like to think of ourselves, our flesh and our heart fail us as Psalm 73 says.

 

In this Psalm it is not disease that had stricken the Psalmist, it is was the feeling that he had given himself to something that turned out to be pointless. “All in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence” (Ps 73:13). He had done all the right things, yet those doing all the wrong things prospered.

 

I find myself reading the Psalms differently these days. Psalms of grieving, lamentation, and confusion are more real. I have been through some dark times in my life and ministry, but today I see a world I no longer recognize. Psalms 74:7 says, “They set your sanctuary on fire; they profaned the dwelling place of your name, bringing it down to the ground.” Verse 8 goes on, “They said to themselves, ‘We will utterly subdue them;’ they burned all the meeting places of God in the land.”

 

In my youth I was drawn to the nature psalms, the passages that celebrated the greatness and grandeur of God as demonstrated in the created world. Today I find these psalms of lament coming alive. Our world seems to be on fire both literally and figuratively. Between wild fires threatening thousands, riots, looting and destruction, politics gone mad, wars and rumors of wars, stories of Christians slaughtered and churches burned in China and elsewhere, our world seems to be on fire. In the midst of all that Psalm 73:26 takes on a whole new meaning for me. “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

 

As indomitable as we like to think of ourselves, our flesh and our heart fail us. We need to learn to find our strength in God. It is his strength that will survive the dark times in life. It is his strength that will strengthen us when we have no strength. It is his wisdom that will guide us when we have no wisdom. It is his promises that sustain us when life feels hopeless. Our hope is not in this world. It will one day all burn. We serve here, but look beyond here for our hope and expectation. When our world is on fire we must embrace the truth that as indomitable as we like to think of ourselves, our flesh and our heart fail us. God never will. I encourage you to take a fresh look at the psalms of lament. You just might see God in places you never saw him before.

 

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