Thursday, December 22, 2016


Psalm 143

"Teach me to do Your will, For You are my God;
Let Your good Spirit lead me on level ground.
For the sake of Your name, O Lord, revive me.
In Your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble.
And in Your lovingkindness, cutoff my enemies
And destroy all those who afflict my soul,
For I am Your servant."
(verses 10-12)

Remember this Psalm is sung in remembrance of David fleeing his own Son, Absalom.  Why would a father write a song about such a terrible time?  Wouldn't he rather forget it, sweep it under the rug? But it wasn't just about a father and son, but a nation was being dragged through the drama.  So David is the bug under the magnifying glass whether he likes it or not.  He still had to rise to the occasion even if he was hiding in a cave, just like old times.  God had brought him out when he was hiding from Saul, so he trusts God to do it again.  One of the most loved songs in our secular and religious culture right now is "Hallelujah," a version about the confused king who still sang "Hallelujah."  Yeah, it's like that in David's life about now.

"Teach me to do Your will..."

God wants a teachable spirit.  The opposite is oppositional defiance.  Hmm.  We have a child who once bore that diagnosis. I always stated that if I said let's go to Disneyland, he would say, "NO!"  Sure enough.  That's what happened.  It wasn't that he did not want to go, but inside of him after all the trauma of his birth parents, from being bathed in adrenaline  in the womb and the violence and upheaval of their lives, his brain was wired for fight or flight, for survival with a ready response, "NO!"  You'd never know that now, as sweet as he is, unless you see him when he forgets to take his meds.  The effects are long lasting.

Maybe Absalom needed meds.  I doubt it.  Maybe a lot more went wrong in his privileged life as the son of the king of the Israelites living in a palace.  We are all born with a willful spirit.  We are only saved when we recognize that and are willing to surrender.  Somehow Absalom's spirit got fed with selfish ambition until he was out of control. 

In a chapter of Isaiah under the title, "Israel's Obstinacy," we read in verse 17...

"Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer,
the Holy One of Israel,
'I am the Lord Your God,
who teaches you to profit,
Who leads you in the way you should go."

How humbling it is to realize that God had to send a baby, who began by speaking baby talk to teach His people.  Even the wisest men on the face of the earth had to be led by God by a star in order to come worship this divine gift of the Holy One of Israel. He came to teach us the way we should go leading us all the way to heaven.  Think of Mary teaching little Jesus how to walk, and then He taught the world how to walk in His footsteps.

So, as I mentioned before, exhibit A is Absalom who overthrew his father's kingdom and in his in-your-face move, went on the rooftop defiling his father's wives in front of God and everyone; and then you have exhibit B, David hiding in a cave brought low.  Who do you think God will bless?  Bingo: the one who trusts God to teach him and lead him in the way he should go. "...May I know Thy will perfectly; in adversity, to submit to it; in prosperity, to do it without pride or presumption." (Adam Clarke)

One translation interprets it to mean, "Teach me to do Thy good pleasure."  God takes pleasure in teaching us to do His will.  He has given us His Holy Spirit, His "good Spirit," to lead us to be able to say, "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." Adam Clarke wrote, "To be found doing the will of God, is the only safe state for man."  His spirit is to be leading from within our hearts, not constraining us willful souls from without. The old Psalter has, "Thf goste gude sal lede me into rygt lande." "Let Your good spirit lead me on level ground."  Adam Clarke calls "'His good Spirit,' The Author of every good desire, and holy purpose."

After David cries out, "revive me, bring my soul out of trouble, if not for me, then do it for Your name's sake."  Then comes the juxtaposition of lovingkindess/cut off and destroy: "And in Thy lovingkindness, cut off my enemies and destroy all those who afflict my soul."  Sometimes we say we want to put something out of its misery, such as putting an injured animal to sleep.  When a wild animal is attacking, it must be either tranquilized or killed.  It's the most loving thing we can do to save someone.  (Think toddler who fell into the gorilla exhibit at the zoo.  The gorilla was shot because the little boy had to be saved.)

And of Thy mercy (lovingkindness),
cut off mine enemies,
and destroy all them that afflict my soul:
for I am Thy servant."

"For God so loved the world,
that He gave His only begotten Son,
that whoever believes  in Him
shall not perish, but have eternal life.
For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world,
but that the world might be saved through Him.
He who believes is not judged;
he who does not believe is has been judged already,
because he has not believed in the name of the
only begotten Son of God."
(John 3:16-18)

So don't reject this baby!

Here, this is talking about the opposite of the Absalom-David problem.  This is talking about God's solution by sending His only begotten Son to the rescue, first by wrapping Him in swaddling clothes and letting Him be laid in a manger.  He was a Son who left His kingdom of heaven, not usurping a kingdom as David's son did.  That's how much He loves this ol'world. God's intent is to save, not condemn, judge and destroy.

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