A blog by Celia Jolley, a daily devotion with scripture of the day applied to a woman's life, with quotes, poetry, and stories about savoring the beauty of life, family, and how to worship the Lord. Occasional original short stories sneak in now and then, just for fun fiction.
Sunday, February 28, 2016
A Snippet from a Long Song: PSALM 37 continued...
Boy, David sure had his troubles against the wicked. It is in psalm after psalm. Some seasons of life are like that. But it is never without a happy ending because God is there.
I may be repeating myself, but I had an encounter with the wicked the first week we moved to a pastorate in Yreka, California. My husband left early in the morning to go deer hunting with a friend. Later, I got up and began scrambling eggs for my two little ones. Standing there in my robe I heard a loud snore.
Sure enough, a young man, a complete stranger, was passed out in our guest room off the kitchen. Driedblood was all over his face. Then I remembered that I had heard the sound of fighting in the apartments behind our fence during the past night. Evidently he crashed on our couch.
My husband had taken the car, but I found the church van keys, grabbed my two preschool kids and a play rifle made out of a real gun stock to use as a club if needed. We drove down the block to a hall where people were setting up for a wedding. Since this was the days before a cell phone, I called the police from there.
I waited out by the street in the van while the police rousted the man from my house. But they waved me over. I had to come over, still in my robe, and the officer said, "Tell him." I asked, "Tell him what?" This long haired hippie type guy with a criminal record and known to the police was glaring murder at me as if I was the one with the problem. The policeman said, "Tell him he's under arrest." They made me do a citizens arrest. I had to say the words, "You're under arrest."
I guess they thought it funny that the new pastor's wife arrested a man for breaking and entering so they put it in the paper. They all thought it was pretty funny down at the police department too. I was the brunt of the joke. Well, somehow it hit the AP wires and went all over California and beyond. Friends began calling from all over the country asking what happened. Well, for goodness sakes, have you ever done a citizens arrest while standing in your bathrobe facing the wicked?
He looked very much like this.
"The wicked plots against the righteous
And gnashed at him with his teeth
(yes, that's what he was doing).
The Lord laughs at him
For He sees his day is coming."
I guess God got a kick out of it too and laughed right in his face. I would guess that he was none too happy to be arrested by a twenty-something woman in a bathrobe.
I like living on the edge, the edge of the country: lush fields, blooming trees, herds of cows, snow topped mountains in the distance, a broad view of the always changing sky. This morning one jack rabbit and one cow got the whole herd moving; a jack rabbit stampeding cows? Who knows what's in the mind of a bovine, but when one starts running, not with the wolves or bulls, but with the jack rabbit the whole herd joins in the race. Get along little doggies! Yeehaw! Moving, moving, moving, keep those doggies moving, rawhide! This was our morning entertainment.
"Don't FRET because of evildoers,
Be not envious toward wrongdoers.
For they will wither quickly like the grass
And fade like the green herb.
Trust in the Lords and do good;
Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness
(feed securely or feed on His faithfulness)...
Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him
(Be still in the Lord and wait longingly for Him.)
Do not FRET because of him who prospers in his way...
Cease from anger and forsake wrath;
Do not FRET; it leads only to evil doing...
But those who wait for the Lord,
they will inherit the land...
But the humble will inherit the land
And will delight themselves in abundant prosperity...
(verses 1-3, 7-11)
Do not FRET.
Don't be fooled and chased by silly jack rabbits.
Dwell, cultivate, rest, wait patiently, be still, wait longingly, delight in abundance.
That's a harvest of words that will not wither or fade.
"Rest in the Lord"
'Be silent, be dumb'
Do not find fault with thy Maker:
He does all things well for others;
He will do all things well for thee.
"and wait patiently for him"
'set thyself to expect Him';
and be determined to expect,
or wait for Him."
We've come up against wickedness a few times.
Somehow old memories have been dredged up recently
of all the times we've been threatened...
There was the time that a young man called, the son of one of our sweet board member, and asked my husband to visit him, he urgently needed to talk with him. He was such a likable young man. My husband married him and his wife. Then drugs happened. My man found him in his motel room. Once inside the young man became angry, barricading my husband in the room and was threatening him with a knife. He displayed his suitcase full of drugs. Finally, my man talked him down and was able to leave. Yes, he turned him in, but the young man had no memory of that incident in the motel room. Once out from under the influence, he was once again that nice young man loved by his mother. Evil is on the doorstep. But don't FRET.
Smack dab in the middle of those verses comes a very beloved passage...
"Delight yourself in the Lord;
And He will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him,
and He will do it.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light
And your judgment as the noonday."
"Delight yourself in the Lord"
Expect all thy happiness from Him and seek it in Him.
Here, this quote from Adam Clarke is so right on...
"The desires of thine heart"
"THE GODLY MAN NEVER INDULGES A DESIRE
WHICH HE CANNOT FORM INTO A PRAYER TO GOD."
In other words, this is not about finding a bottle to rub with a Genie appearing to grant all your wishes. Rather, let God give you all the right desires in your heart. HE WILL GIVE, not all wildest self-centered dreams to come true, but the right desires to fill your being after you've delighted yourself in the Lord. "Then commit and trust. Then God will do it. He will work for Thee."
Our righteousness is not something we create, but He will bring it forth as light, bright as the noonday. "As God said in the beginning, 'Let there be light and there was light'; so He shall say, 'Let thy innocence appear', and it will appear as suddenly and as evident as the light was at the beginning."
This "commit your way" literally means "roll thy way upon the Lord: probably a metaphor taken from the camel, who lies down till his load be rolled upon him. God will be our beast of burden?
Here refuge is offered, and the very pleasures of Eden
in food and drink.
"How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God!
And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings."
"How precious is Your lovingkindness..."
"No gem or pearl can ever equal."
How valuable, how excellent, how precious
His lovingkindness is not comparable to any riches anywhere.
"refuge in the shadow of Your wings"
This also has a reference to Ruth 2:12, 20
Boaz, the kinsman-redeemer said,
"May the Lord reward your work, and your wages be full from the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge..."
"Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, 'May he be blessed of the Lord who has not withdrawn his kindness to the living and to the dead.' Again Naomi said to her, 'The man is our relative, he is one of our closest relatives (redeemer).'"
Some believe these wings of refuge from our redeemer also mean,
"Under whose wings thou art come to trust, under the covert of the temple,
the wings of the cherubim, they were to shelter...
overshadowing the mercy seat which covered the ark.
We heard a sermon recently from Luke 13:3-34 that has both a fox and a hen in the passage,
ye old fox in the henhouse imagery. This is from the red words of Jesus in Scripture.
"Just at that time some Pharisees (Joseph of Arimathea?) approached, saying to Him,
'Go away, leave here, for Herod wants to kill you.'
And He said to them, 'Go tell that FOX,
'Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow,
and the third day I reach My goal...'
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to her!
How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a HEN gathers her brood
under her wings, and you would not have it!"
"Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadows of Thy wings...
the Lord overshadows His people as a hen protects her brood or as an eagle covers its young;
and we as the little ones run under the blessed shelter and feel at rest.
To cower under the wings of God is so sweet...for we nestle in under the Lord's wings."
Do you ever feel the need to cower, to nestle, to be gathered, to seek refuge under His wings?
Sometimes the shadow of the predator hawk flies over the barnyard. How silly some are to run away as prey rather than to seek shelter in the shadow of His wings.
Living in Oregon when we made treks to the ocean, the road would meander along a river. The closer we got to the ocean, the larger, more massive became the waterway as all the little tributaries fed it along the way. So shall our life be as we receive more and more of the river that never shall run dry from which He gives us "to drink of the river of Your delights."
"They drink their fill of the abundance of your house;
And You give them to drink of the river of Your delights.
For with You is the fountain of life... O continue Your lovingkindness
to those who know You,
And Your righteousness to the upright in heart."
These rivers of delights, rivers of pleasures root is the word Eden, the Paradise of God.
"We find in sacred worship the richest spiritual food...sumptuous danties of the gospel--
nothing can so completely fill the soul...As they have the fruits of Eden to feed on,
so shall they have the river of Paradise to drink from...
and not hanker after the world's homely fare.
Our heavenly Fatherdoth not keep so starveling a house
that the world's scraps should go down with us."
Yet as a heroic man Jeronius Segerson and his wife Lysken who were imprisoned for their faith in 1550 in Antwerp, wrote that all that was promised above is not dependent upon circumstances, but he found them to be true in his very cell, in his very soul...
As an artist I have been taught that in a line drawing, contrast is what can set it apart. Without the dark shadings, against the light, the quality is not distinguished. So as this Psalm 36 begins, the dark is examined in what some have called "the perfect sinner."
"Transgression speaks to the ungodly within his heart;
There is no fear of God before his eyes.
For it flatters him in his own eyes
Concerning the discovery of his iniquity and the hatred of it.
The words of his mouth are wickedness and deceit;
He has ceased to be wise and to do good.
He plans wickedness upon his bed;
He sets himself on a path that is not good;
He does not despise evil."(verses 1-4)
Condense this to "There is no fear of God before his eyes...He does not despise evil."
"...when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin." (James 1:15)
"Some think that the words should be understood,
'He smootheth over in his own eyes, with respect to the finding out of his own iniquity, to hate it.
That is, that he sets such a fine gloss in his own eyes upon his worst actions,
that he never finds out the blackness of his iniquity;
which, were it perceived by him, would be hateful even to himself...
He fixes his purpose to do what is bad, and he does it without any checks of conscience,
or abhorrence of evil. He is bent only on mischief, and lost to all sense of God and goodness."
This is very dark indeed. It is the contrast upon which we see the glory of the next verses.
"Your lovingkindness, O Lord,
extends to the heavens,
Your faithfulness reaches to the skies.
Your righteousness is like
the ( mighty) mountains of God;
Your judgments are like a great deep (the rolling tide)...
How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God!"
Aren't you glad this has been put to music in a familiar chorus that is singing in our souls?
"God is good to all; which is seen in His bountifulness, fidelity, justice; and in His preservation of all things. Thy mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens...Thy faithfulness is in the clouds (blessings from the heavens)...Thy righteousness is immoveable. Thy judgments are a great deep (the great abyss; as incomprehensible as the great chaos, or first matter of all things which God created in the beginning --Genesis 1:2.). Unsearchable..."
"The Old Psalter, in paraphrasing the mountains of God, says 'Thf rightwisnes, that es, ryghtwisemen, er gastly hilles of God; for thai er hee in contemplacioun, and soner resayves the light of Crist.' Here is a metaphor taken from the tops of the mountains and high hills first catching the rays of the rising son. 'Righteous men are spiritual hills of God; for they are high in contemplation, and sooner receive the light of Christ.'
Now jump down to verse 9,
"In thy light, we see light."
"No man can illuminate his own soul...
So when God speaks light into the dark heart of man,
he not only beholds his own deformity and need of the salvation of God,
but he beholds the light of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."
Now do you see the contrast between the first four verses down to verse 9.
I once read that football could be described as "all get up, all fall down." Eating popcorn while sitting on the blanket on the Camaile Hill while my father watched K.U. football games with his binoculars was part of my childhood in Lawrence, Kansas. Certainly from that vantage point this saying was true of the game: all get up, all fall down...
Umm, back in the day, there weren't any fancy-pancy tents,
just families seating on picnic cloths. And did I really watch any games
from this vantage point? Ahh, no, to be honest.
I was just a kid eating popcorn and running around.
Later, I enjoyed going to high school football games, college games, and playing flag football. I even watched this last Super Bowl game with a flicker of passion I didn't know still existed for the sport. But sometimes the Psalms are a play by play description of "all get up, all fall down," for David's team. He was the quarterback. God's still the coach.
Yeah, we have a little family rivalry here as I was from Lawrence, Kansas, K.U.
a certified Jayhawker vs my husband from Manhattan, Kansas, K. State.
Cheers like, "Push 'em back, push 'em back, way back!" or "Fight, fight, fight!" could be shouted. Here it is...
"Contend, O Lord,
with those who contend with me;
fight against those who fight against me."
See what I mean? Football. The battle cries of David. I may not yell these verses in the quiet of my home, but I have read them in fervent prayer against those who would be enemies in my life and in His church, against those who line up against me, against my family. I'm crouched down ready to hit them with my shoulder pads. What? You've never had the experience of being out on a field where all get up, all fall down?
"Take hold of buckler and shield and rise up for my help.
Draw also the spear and the battle-axe to meet those who pursue me;
Say to my soul, 'I am your salvation.'"
I do know that we need equipment before going out there on the line. I wouldn't want to go face the opposing team as just a leather head (That's what they called the earliest players whose leather helmets offered little to no protection in the game.) I do know that the object is to be able to play offense more than defense. The object is to gain yardage. The object is to score. To win. To get over the goal line. And yes, wimpy as I am, one of my goals is to not be carried off the field on a stretcher.
"Malicious witnesses", "smitters", "they slandered me without ceasing, like godless jesters at a feast," "they repay me evil for good, to the bereavement of my soul." "I went about as though it were my friend or brother; I bowed down mourning, as one who sorrows for a mother." Can't you just hear the clashing of the helmets? Umm, yes, I've felt them. I might even have lingering damage from concussions. There have been interceptions, incomplete passes, lost yardage, penalties. It's the third down, with only minutes to go. It's time to kick a field goal.
"Lord, how long will You look on? Rescue my soul from the ravishes...Do not be silent; Stir up Yourself, and awake to my right and to my cause, my God and my lord...Do not let them rejoice over me. Do not let them say in their heart, 'Aha, our desire! Do not let them say, 'We have swallowed him up!' Sometimes it just looks like we are being creamed, whether personally, in Christendom, in our nation, in our world. But the game is not over. Watch the ball soar through the goal posts. The crowd roars!