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Friday, April 8, 2016

PSALM 56
 
Okay, this one's another winner.  
If this were an American Idol competition of song lyrics,
this psalm/song might make the top ten.

 
"It seems by this, and many other psalms, that even in times of the greatest trouble and distress David never hung up his harp upon the willow trees, but that when his dangers and fears were greatest he was still in tune for singing God's praises."
(Matthew Henry)


 
It's heading is to Jonath-elem-recho-kim, this interpreted to mean, "the silent dove afar off."  Or, in Adam Clarke, "To the conqueror, concerning the dumb dove in foreign places: a golden Psalm of David." or "For the people who were afar off from holy things." or "To the tune of a dove, in the remote woods." 

 
Jesus told us to be as wise as serpents,
and harmless as doves.

 
Most think this is written when David was captured by the Philistine, the king of Gath,  He was "a dove, because of its being so defenceless, and often becoming the prey of ravenous birds." (Adam Clarke)  David escaped by faking insanity.  The king said, "Behold, you see the man behaving as a madman.  Why do you bring him to me?  Do I lack madmen, that you have brought this one to act the madman in my presence?" (I Samuel 21:14ff)
 
 Remember the last Psalm 55 when David wished he had wings of a dove?  David was forced to wander far off and seek shelter in distant countries; "there he was like the doves of the valleys, mourning and melancholy; but silent, neither murmuring against God nor railing..." (Matthew Henry)  When he was captured like a caged bird, he still trusted in God for his escape.  David is like Paul and Silas singing in jail.


 
"Men think God does not meddle with little things: he knew otherwise. 
Thou tellest...my wanderings.  Thou puttest my tears into thy bottle."
(Adam Clarke)
 
"Thou hast taken account of my wanderings."
(verse 8) 
 
"Be gracious to me, O God, for man has trampled upon me all day long,
For they are many who fight proudly against me.
When I am afraid,
I will put my trust in Thee.
In God, whose word I praise,
In God I have put my trust;
I shall not be afraid.
What can mere man do to me?


 
Then he goes on as if to say,
"How do they hate me?  Let me count the ways"...
They distort my words,
all their thoughts are against me for evil,
They attack,
they lurk,
they watch my steps,
waiting to take my life.
(Even cause me to act insane, to let drool drip down my beard to escape!)


 
"BUT THIS I KNOW,
THAT GOD IS FOR ME.
In God, whose word I praise,
In the Lord, whose word I praise,
In God I have put my trust,
I shall not be afraid.
What can man do to me?"
(verses 9-11)
 
But in the middle of  it all comes these cherished, mysterious, beautiful words:
 
"Put my tears in Thy bottle;
Are they not in Thy book?"
(verse 8)

 
When all is said and done, we want our suffering to have significance.  We don't want it ignored as if it  is for nothing.  If no one else can understand, God does.  Not one tear is wasted, but collected into his vile, his bottle.  Hmm.  How full do you think your bottle is?  Some of you have filled yours to overflowing with just cause of grief.  Has God been writing it all down, as if there is a diary with your name on it keeping track of your tears? 


 
My crying has gone in spurts over the years, like when I was pregnant.  I would cry because I was starving, but too tired to get up and get something to eat.  Yep, I was a crying fool..  I cried because I ate seven tacos at Taco Bell and was still hungry and embarrassed to ask to order more.  Hmm.  You never did that? 
 
For over a year I almost cried daily over my church, my denomination, for the way they were heading in the wrong direction.  As soon as we found a new church home, my tears were gone, dried up, zip, zap, not one more salty drip.
 
Then I was diagnosed with sjogrens.  One of the symptoms is dry eyes.  I no longer had tears.  I used to be moved to tears by heartache as well as beauty, but for awhile there, I had no tears, none whatsoever  It was plain weird.
 
Now, I'm back to being one with our family heritage, of whom some are called the weeping prophets.  My mother's cousin Reuben, our college chaplain, could hardly preach without tears. I remember my grandmother crying, moved by the Spirit, yet talking through it while she was crying to share a truth straight from God.  It wasn't a one time event.  It was who she was, someone moved easily by the deep things of God.  It is a precious memory.  Now I cry even at commercials.  I'm sappy.  I dare not go to a movie without taking Kleenex.  I often laugh until I cry.  It embarrasses my kids when that happens.  They are embarrassed a lot.  My daughter Robin was passed down this "gift" of crying, being easily moved to tears by having her heart strings tugged.  She is well known for it and "hates it."  However, I truly believe it is a gift.
 
I wrote a poem about this and have shared it before, but I'll repeat it for you once again...


 
"Wet, coursing tears of joy
Appear the same
As those that annoy
When grief's to blame.
 
Love is peculiar.
It makes us weep.
To love is to suffer;
Love goes that deep.
 
Yet, it's better if one
Laughs till he cries
And sees tears as merely
Sparkles in eyes.
 
For it is hope that remains,
Distilled; pure love.
Might too, tears of joy fill
Thy bottle above?




 
Anyway, "God is for me."  He cares no matter how beat up I get in the battles of this world.  No matter how many tears wet my face, they are not ignored by God.  I wonder what scientific name is given for one who collects tears?  It was an ancient custom among Greeks and Roman to put the tears shed for the death of any person into small phials, called lachrymatories, made of glass, pottery, agate, etc.    God is a "Tear-Collector-Tear-Diarist."


 
"Thy vows are binding upon me, O God;
I will render thank offerings to thee.
For Thou hast delivered my soul from death..."
(verses 12-13)




 
"Reader, what hast thou vowed to God?  To renounce the devil and all his works, the pomps and vanities of this wicked world, and all the sinful desires of the flesh; to keep God's holy word and commandment, and to walk before him all the days of thy life."
(Adam Clarke)  
 
It comes back to Jesus weeping over Jerusalem, over those who refused to be under His wing.  There is a little bitty bit to weep over, in the church (lukewarm Christian spittle), in the world (lost sinners.)  Don't make Jesus cry.  Keep your vows to God.
 
 
 
 
 
 

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