Friday, March 22, 2013

For Granted



Contend, O Lord, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me!  Take hold of shield and buckler, and rise up to help me!  Draw the spear and javelin
    against my pursuers; say to my soul, “I am your salvation.” – Psalm 35: 1-3

I read this Psalm this week.  It spoke to me honestly.  It’s a prayer from David.  It could be a prayer from many of us these days.  I’m not going to be one of those that emphasizes the poetry and deemphasizes the personification of an active God.  I don’t care if I say without hesitation that our cause is God’s cause.  Does that sound childish?  Excellent!  You’ve got time to log off and do something more constructive and adult-like on the internet, like checking your blessed NCAA bracket, than to read this childish dribble. Count this as a mature warning.

Great God, as you take your place as a mighty warrior for my sake and for the sake of the cause you’ve birthed in me, speak to my soul, “I am your salvation.”

Biblical history shows when God speaks things are created, change, or arise.  As David prays, he strongly desires Yahweh to speak and for circumstances to change.  Then, of course, what does David want God to say to his innermost being?

This passage reminded me of the story in the beginning of John 5.  The invalids, blind and paralyzed gathered at the pool of Bethzatha/Bethesda/Bethsaida (whatever) in Jerusalem waiting for the water to be stirred by an angel. The first one in after the stirring was made well (this could have always been a hit gameshow, if there was T.V. back then).  The really lame darlings would never make it, but hope was obviously springing up.

Jesus spoke to one man who’d been there a long time and asked him if he wanted to be well.  A conversation ensued which led to Jesus healing him.  The religious asked the man why he was carrying his mat on the sabboth.  The guy said that the man who healed him told him to carry it, and he couldn’t tell the religious who healed him.  Jesus found him later to remind him who it was that healed him.  It was Jesus.  It was this guy’s important role to remember and testify who it was that healed him.   

Great God, as you take your place as a mighty warrior for my sake and for the sake of the cause you’ve birthed in me, speak to my soul, “I am your salvation.”

Jesus’ name in Hebrew is yesh·ü'·ä.  It’s interpreted as I am your salvation, or simply salvation.  This is the word that’s used in Psalm 35:3 – “say to me, ‘I am your salvation.’”  I like the idea that David prayed for God to say to his soul, “Jesus,” to bring assurance to David as God stands as his defender. 

The healed man in John 5 didn’t know who healed him.  David knew from whence his help would come. 

In John 6, Jesus said he was the bread of life; “whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh. (John 6:51)” This encouraged many to leave Jesus because this revelation was too hard to stomach.  The miracle of feeding thousands was cool and awe-inspiring earlier in John 6, but if this was suppose to lead the blessed to crave Jesus (I am your salvation) more than their next meal, that’s foolish. 

Great God, as you take your place as a mighty warrior for my sake and for the sake of the cause you’ve birthed in me, speak to my soul, “I am your salvation.”

Isn’t it the miracle we need?  Isn’t it the wellness and peace and defense we need first?  Isn’t it the full plate and sober spouse what’s most important?  And what is most true in the western church, isn’t it the work we do to show our faithfulness that’s most significant?  

If the defense comes as God promised and healing is manifested after your friends prayed for you or your church grows to mega-proportions, but you easily live your life apart from what is whispered in your soul and you take the Name for granted for any number of reasons.  Revelation may very well come to you that is rich with the Spirit, but you’ll find it too hard to swallow and you simply walk away from it all ‘cause it’s just too hard.

We must stop taking the name of Jesus for granted after we get what we want or need – however it comes.  Surprising to some (if not all), when the Name and the related attributes are an afterthought, this is evidence that we remain on the throne.

David closes out Psalm 35 with this.  Let those who desire my vindication shout for joy and be glad, and say evermore, “Great is the Lord, who delights in the welfare of his servant.”  Then my tongue shall tell of your righteousness and of your praise all day long  (verses 27-28).

Great God, as you take your place as a mighty warrior for the sake of your children and for the sake of the cause you’ve birthed in us, speak to our souls, “I am your salvation.”

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