Monday, February 8, 2016

"To You, O Lord,
I lift up my soul."

If I never get past verse one, I think it sums it all up.  I have this visual image of wobbling weak hands holding up a quivering heart, a vulnerable offering of our very being, a valentine of sorts. 
Do you remember preparing for Valentine's Day in elementary school, getting the scissors out, the construction paper, maybe a little glue and not just making the hearts, but the box to receive them in?
There was always the quaking doubt, the what if I don't get any, the what if they don't like mine, the fear of rejection.

The dictionary describes our soul as the immaterial essence of a person, the spiritual principle embodied in human beings, the moral and emotional nature, an intense sensitivity.  Our essence is lifted up, to You, O Lord, as if it comes with the question, how much do You truly care?  It is that intense sensitivity that is laid bare before Him.

Truly the ultimate valentine was when Jesus was lifted up on the cross, and He cried out with a loud voice, "Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit," (Luke 23:46)  He lifted His soul up beyond the suffering in His body and spirit, in spite of the shame and hatred forced upon His innocence.

Don't let me be ashamed.  The word "ashamed is used three times in verses 2 and 3 as well as several times in the rest of the chapter.  Isn't this the fear of rejection, rejection in front of others.  Even more so, it is shame that is well earned.  By lifting up our soul, we are asking God to take away our shame in front of others because of His great compassion and lovingkindness spoken of in verse 6. 

"Make me know ;Your ways, O Lord; Teach me Your paths. 
Lead me in Your truth and teach me,
For You are the God of my salvation;
For You I wait all the day."" 
(verse 4-5) 
 "All the paths of the Lord are lovingkindness and truth 
To those who keep His covenant and His testimonies.
(verse 10) 
These paths are tracks or ruts like those made by the wheels of wagons which pass over the same ground.  "Mercy and truth are the paths in which God constantly walks frequently does He shew them mercy, and so frequently does He fulfil His truth that His paths are easily discerned.  How frequent, how deeply indented, and how multiplied, are those tracks to every family and individual!  Wherever we go, we see that God's mercy and truth have been there by the deep tracks they have left behind them."  Sometimes being in the same old rut is a good thing!

"Remember, O Lord, Your compassion and Your lovingkindnesses,
For they have been from of old.
Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
According to Your lovingkindness remember me,
For Your goodness' sake, O Lord."
(verses 6-7) 
Remember...Do not remember, for goodness sake!  O thank you God for not remembering the sins of my youth!  These are "those  which I have committed through inconsiderateness, and heat of passion."  These are those which bring the heat of shame to the cheeks, the shame spoken of earlier. These are those of which we seek pardon. This is repeated in verse 11,
"For Your name's sake, O Lord,
Pardon my iniquity, for it is great."
This is only possible because God is good and upright (verse 8)  Because of this we learn what happens to that soul which we lifted up in verse one. 

"His soul will abide in prosperity,
And his descendants will inherit the land. 
 The secret (intimacy) of the Lord is for those who fear Him
And He will make them know His covenant."
(verses 13-14)
Literally, "His soul will abide in good." 
 Ahh, that is better than a memory foam mattress, because He will wipe away those indentations of painful places we've been and make it possible for our very soul to dwell, abide, live, rest in the good.
But now we get to the heart of the matter, the lonely hearts club...

"For I am lonely and afflicted.
The troubles of my heart are enlarged.
(Relieve the troubles of my heart.)
Bring me out of my distresses.
Look upon my affliction and my trouble,
And forgive my sins."
(verses 16-18)
This is what that lifting up of our soul was all about.    In spite of affliction, trouble, enemies with their violent hatred, even our own sin, the Psalmist speaks for us when he says...
"Guard my soul and deliver me;
Do not let me be ashamed, for I take refuge in You. 
Let integrity and uprightness preserve Me, For I wait for You."
(verses 20-21)

"I wish to have a perfect heart, and an upright life."
God can take that quivering mass of our tender intense feelings, our very soul, and relieve it, guard it, keep it, letting it abide in Him, cleansing it from our shame and sin, turning it into a perfect heart in His love.  Now that's a good Valentine's Day.  Our little paper cuts, our elementary artistic endeavors with scissors, paper, and paste have been accepted, embraced in the goodness and lovingkindness of God.  He smiles and says, "I love it!"  Suddenly we don't feel so lonely anymore because He has said,
"Be Mine!"


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