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Monday, October 17, 2011

Psalm Seventeen: Hide Me Under the Shadow of Your Wings

I just prayed this Psalm to God, and sat there, struck by it.  There's some deep things in this one.  I'm posting the whole Psalm, but I'm just going to focus on a few lines.

Hear a just cause, O LORD,
         Attend to my cry;
         Give ear to my prayer which is not from deceitful lips.
Let my vindication come from Your presence;
         Let Your eyes look on the things that are upright.
      
"Let my vindication come from Your presence": What a line!
I do think we are transformed by being in God's presence.  We are laid bare before Him. And if we've accepted Christ, He washes us clean. When we confess our sins, therefore exposing them to the light, He washes us clean. His very presence just transforms us from the inside out. It's amazing!

You have tested my heart;
         You have visited me in the night;
         You have tried me and have found nothing;
         I have purposed that my mouth shall not transgress.
Concerning the works of men,
         By the word of Your lips,
         I have kept away from the paths of the destroyer.
Uphold my steps in Your paths,
         That my footsteps may not slip.
      
 "I have kept away from the paths of the destroyer" I wish I could say that.
But I fear that all to often, I slip right into the destroyer's path. Luckily, my God is swift to rescue me. I try to stay away from these horrible paths, but I slip off the 'narrow way' all too often... but by the grace of God, I always come back!

I have called upon You, for You will hear me, O God;
         Incline Your ear to me, and hear my speech.
Show Your marvelous lovingkindness by Your right hand,
         O You who save those who trust in You
         From those who rise up against them.
Keep me as the apple of Your eye;
         Hide me under the shadow of Your wings,
From the wicked who oppress me,
         From my deadly enemies who surround me.
      
 Oh this whole verse! I just pray this over and over to you, Lord!

They have closed up their fat hearts;
         With their mouths they speak proudly.
They have now surrounded us in our steps;
         They have set their eyes, crouching down to the earth,
As a lion is eager to tear his prey,
         And like a young lion lurking in secret places.
      
 This reference to "a lion...eager to tear his pray" makes me think of the enemy...

Arise, O LORD,
         Confront him, cast him down;
         Deliver my life from the wicked with Your sword,
With Your hand from men, O LORD,
         From men of the world who have their portion in this life,
         And whose belly You fill with Your hidden treasure.
         They are satisfied with children,
         And leave the rest of their possession for their babes.
      
 Especially when paired with this verse! The psalmist says "cast him down" (emphasis added). 

Then I reflected on the latter part.  It doesn't sound that bad, does it? To have a portion in this life, a full belly, children, and possessions you can leave to your children? And yet...

As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness;
         I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness.

I think that the psalmist is saying as good as that is, he doesn't want his portion in this life. Instead, he's holding out for something better: to see God's face and be awake in His likeness!

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