Psalm 3: Here Comes Trouble.

But You, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, and the One who lifts up my head.
(Psalm 3:3)

Don’t you just love those days? The kind of days where if its not one thing, its another. If it can get messed up, it will be. For me, these are usually Mondays, especially ones proceeding an amazing, powerful Sunday. I wake up a little too tired, shower a little too long, make my coffee and forget it on the counter, and get out the door just in time to get stuck behind the school bus. Ah, yes. Those days.

I think David wrote Psalm 3 in the midst of one of those days. It seems like everyone is out to get him. Things are looking pretty grim, people are even questioning whether or not God can help the poor guy.

And then? Selah.

Selah. I spent a significant amount of time this week hunting down a meaning for that one little word. After consulting a multitude of pastors, biblical commentaries, and the handy-dandy Google, I’ve come to two conclusions:

  1. No one is really sure what “selah” means.
  2. God ordained it into the Word, so it must be significant.

I’m very fond of how one source defined it as “pause and reflect”. It is also summarized beautifully in this commentary:

…the subject to which the word is attached should be spread out, meditated on, and attentively considered by the reader.

In other words, God is saying, “Mmm, that was juicy. Go ahead and soak that up for a few.”

So David is going through a pretty tough time. He could break down and fall apart. He could react violently. He could throw his hands up and surrender. But what does he do? Selah. He pauses. He reflects. What he says next blows my mind!

“But You, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, and the One who lifts up my head.” David has just considered his circumstance and chose to turn His eyes to the Lord. He doesn’t begin whining to God. He doesn’t start praying for his circumstance to change. He testifies what he knows to be true: God will protect me. He will glorify me. He will restore me.

There is so much that can be unpacked in that statement. He is your shield. He is the one who glorifies you, that He might be glorified. He is the one who lifts your head back up and sets you back on your feet. Selah. Spend some time just thinking about these truths. How would your tough days look different if you responded like David does?

Sometimes our circumstance is more than just a “bad day”. Sometimes its almost impossible to look up because the pain is just too intense. If that is your circumstance, I believe that verse 5 is for you. There were a few days this past autumn where I really disliked my circumstance. I had reached a realization that teaching was challenging and I was not nearly as good at it as I hoped to be. My family was experiencing significant hardship. We were also in the midst of recovery from Hurricane Sandy. My life was not what I thought it would be. I felt like a loser and a failure. Everything I knew was falling apart.

It is on those days were Psalm 3:5 may be all you can do. I lie down and sleep; I wake again because the Lord sustains me. Sometimes our days are a series of merely getting by and then finding the strength to get through the next one. But the Lord does sustain us. He is mighty. He is tireless. He is ruthless.

Regardless of what trouble lies ahead of you, choose to react in praise and know the Lord will sustain you.

Father God, Help us to remember to just ‘selah’ in the moments of trial we face. May we be quick to praise You and trust Your strength. May we rely on Your might to sustain us. Help us to find peace in You through all our storms, Your incredible peace which transcends all understanding. Amen.

Psalm 2: God Laughed.

A wise friend once told me, “If you want to hear God laugh, tell Him your plans.” I can imagine that is a splendid sound – God’s laughter.

Psalm 2 opens in the description of quite the hostile nation. The author, ascribed to be David in Acts 4, openly questions the futile efforts of the rulers. We see that this nation is all puffed up and feeling powerful as they are plotting and planning. This is the face of a people who are seeking freedom.

I recently saw Les Miserables, not once, but twice. Amidst all the heart-wrenching romance, I was surprised that the scene that brought me to tears wasn’t poor Éponine singing of lost love in the rain, but the ballad of the young boys giving their lives for freedom. Twice. Emotionally, I had joined the struggle of these boys, wanting them so badly to find the freedom they were fighting for. I watched as they stood up to a great nation of France, longing to be free. Freedom, a powerful gift to be acquired.

But what is the nation in Psalm 2 seeking freedom from? The Lord.
We all serve someone or something. It is a desire built into us to please and serve a master – the Master. But we perverse that with a longing to serve other masters (money, fame, pleasure). The problem, as seen in Matthew 6:24 is, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.” So we have a choice – serve God or serve the world.

Don’t be deceived, a life serving the world is not a life of freedom. As a fish out of the water or a tree out of the soil is closer to death than freedom, likewise we are helpless when outside the life God calls us to. Let’s be clear: the only way to freedom is through God.

But in verse 4, we see God’s response: laughter. I don’t believe this is a cruel, maniacal laugh. I can imagine the gentle, almost sorrowful laugh of a father watching their child’s fruitless efforts to overpower them in strength or might. Just as a father knows the limitation of his own child, our Father knows our limitations. We cannot overpower the Omnipotent.

So David offers us some advice. He calls us to be wise and serve the Lord with a righteous fear. He tells us to “kiss the Son” (v. 12), a beautiful, symbolic gesture, meaning to fully surrender yourself to Him. The lyrics of a favorite song by Jeremy Riddle, Sweetly Broken, come to mind:

At the cross You beckon me
You draw me gently to my knees, and I am
Lost for words, so lost in love,
I’m sweetly broken, wholly surrendered.

How are you, like the nation of Psalm 2, trying to break away from God for freedom? What things are you fighting to hold on to? Beloved, it is never easy to surrender, but a life in Him is the only life of freedom.

Father God, You are omnipotent. You are the creator of all power, with the right to give it and take it away. Help me to recognize areas in my life where I am fighting You for power. Help me to be sweetly broken, wholly surrendered. Open my ears to Your laughter. Help me to serve You all my days and live a life of freedom. Father, it is only in You that we live and move and have our being. In Your mighty name, Amen.