How are you doing with all this soul searching and talk in the Psalms when they “look inwards” at problems, suffering, failure, sin and pain, but also “look outwards” at enemies, deception and false accusations? Maybe you are over it and can’t wait for a bright, happy, positive Psalm like number 47 which begins “Clap your hands all you nations, shout to God with cries of joy. How awesome is the Lord most High, the great King over all the earth.” (vv. 1-2)
Well, sorry to disappoint, but there are just a few more Psalms to check out before then. So hang in there if you are able.
On the subject of soul-searching, I read an interesting thing recently. It was by Larry Crabb who wrote, “Perhaps no single book has more powerfully communicated the importance of looking deep into your own soul and revealing what you find to others than Augustine’s Confessions. Before A.D. 401, the year Augustine published his memoirs, no one other than biblical writers had so honestly told his or her story…No one except biblical writers like David and Paul had ever written like that before.” But, unlike many “narratives of failure and pain” told today, these authors told their stories “within a larger narrative of grace” [i.e. God’s undeserved kindness]. (# 44)
And so, in Psalm 41 David tells his story. He begins in verses 1-3 with the “larger narrative of [God’s] grace”,followed in verses 4-9 by his “narrative of pain and failure” and opposition by enemies. Then in verses 10-12 he prays for mercy and deliverance, concluding in verse 13 with praise to God.
Read David’s words slowly and reflectively endeavouring to “put yourself in his shoes”.
1 Blessed are those who have regard for the weak;
the Lord delivers them in times of trouble.
2 The Lord protects and preserves them—
they are counted among the blessed in the land—
he does not give them over to the desire of their foes.
3 The Lord sustains them on their sickbed
and restores them from their bed of illness.
4 I said, “Have mercy on me, Lord;
heal me, for I have sinned against you.”
5 My enemies say of me in malice,
“When will he die and his name perish?”
6 When one of them comes to see me,
he speaks falsely, while his heart gathers slander;
then he goes out and spreads it around.
7 All my enemies whisper together against me;
they imagine the worst for me, saying,
8 “A vile disease has afflicted him;
he will never get up from the place where he lies.”
9 Even my close friend,
someone I trusted,
one who shared my bread,
has turned against me.
10 But may you have mercy on me, Lord;
raise me up, that I may repay them.
11 I know that you are pleased with me,
for my enemy does not triumph over me.
12 Because of my integrity you uphold me
and set me in your presence forever.
13 Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting.
Amen and Amen.
So, what’s your story and how does it fit into His-story?
Father, thank you for the Psalms, for their honesty and openness. Teach us to tell our stories, not as victims, not bragging, not seeking our own glory but just tell it as it is and always “within a larger narrative of [your] grace” which is sufficient for all our needs. Amen.