“But let all who take refuge in You be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread Your protection over them, that those who love Your name may rejoice in you 12 Surely, Lord, You bless the righteous; You surround them with Your favor as with a shield.”
God is good and all good things come from Him; I believe that to be true with all of my heart. Why then do we experience hurt, pain and loss? We live in a fallen world where bad choices are made by ourselves and others which result in bad and at times, horrific circumstances; nobody is immune to the possibility of hurt, pain or loss. According to this verse it seems that if you love God, you will be glad, blessed and shielded. I know from experience and observation that this is not truth; all we have to do is look at ourselves, around us and the news. It is also not a promise that those who love God will have a pain free life.
So what does this verse say? When I look closely it is not a promise from God, but a prayer to the Lord by David. There is truth about God’s character as David knew Him well and relied on him for his very life. God wants to be our protector, but we need to come to Him and lay down what is going on in our lives. If we imagine laying down the heavy things we carry, it opens us to be filled with gladness and God’s joy. Nowhere in these verses, or anywhere else in God’s Word, does it say ‘God will protect you from the loss of loved ones, hurt, pain, job-loss, financial difficulties, poor health… if you love Him”. But with all the bad things that can happen to us, God does promise to be our Comforter if we allow Him. What are blessings you have in your life because of God? He is the Creator, so I can thank Him for my breath every day I wake up in the morning. All good things come from Him and He is good all the time even if our circumstances are not. He promises to be our refuge.
“Fill my heart with joy…”
I don’t know about you, but it’s reassuring to me that David asks God to ‘fill his heart with joy’. By asking he indicates that ‘the man after God’s own heart’ wasn’t always joy-filled. I’m a happy person, but not naturally joyful. I wish I was; it sounds so exciting to live a joy filled life. As I’ve moved through the different seasons of my life whether I was on the top of the mountain or in the pit of the valley, I would appear happy to others. You see, I can show happiness even if I’m not.
Joy is an interesting trait that is difficult to explain and understand. You can be on the top of the world with everything going right and not have joy and you can be in the darkest of valleys and have joy. Joy is a divine matter of heart. It doesn’t come and go based on external circumstances. It can’t be simplified to being an emotion like happiness or excitement; it is much more complex than that. It is a God given gift when we put ourselves in a place where God can fill our hearts with joy. Is it possible to have joy apart from God? Not for me, I can’t make myself joyful; only God can. I can produce happiness even if I’m not; put a smile on my face, but I can’t create joy. So I pray like David, ‘Lord, fill my heart with joy’.
Psalm 3: 3-4
“But You, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the one who lifts my head high. I call out to the Lord, and He answers me from His holy mountain.”
Who does David say the Lord is? ‘He is a shield, his glory and the One who lifts his head high”. David was talking about who the Lord was when his circumstances gave many reasons to be fearful. He had many people against him, fled from his own son Absalom and was being told ‘God will not deliver you’ (vs. 2). When his world was crumbling down, he responded with how the Lord takes care of him.
When my circumstances are hard and painful, do I go to the Lord to be my shield and allow Him to lift my head high with His gentle loving hands or do I go only to others for comfort or my own power or retreat into myself or pretend that everything is good in my life?
David knew God’s character and that He was the only one who could ‘ lift his head high’ and the same is true for us. The Lord doesn’t just lift his head; He lifts it high. I have the image of God’s loving hand under my chin gently lifting my head to meet His eyes filled with empathy then He wraps His arms around me with understanding and comfort.
Who do you go to when your circumstances are hard, painful, defeating, debilitating, hurtful, lonely, scary or out of your control (fill in your own circumstances)? I encourage you to spend time with the only One who understands your circumstances, holds, protects, and restores you.
“Serve the Lord with fear, and celebrate His rule with trembling. Kiss His Son or He will be angry and your way will lead to your destruction, for His wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in Him.”
These two verses feel like a rollercoaster of emotions for us and God: serve with fear, celebrate with trembling, anger, destruction, wrath and blessing. It’s easy for me to think about the loving grace and mercy of God, but Scripture gives account of God’s anger and wrath as well. What do I do with that? Do I simplify Him to just a loving God or His complexity described in His Word? If I am going to truly know Him, I must understand who He is according to Scripture. He isn’t only my loving friend, but He is the mighty God who created the world and everything in it with His spoken Word. He is the God I separate myself from because of my sin and He gets angry. Throughout the Old Testament it tells of God’s deep love for the Israelites and His wrath and anger when they put idols before Him and denied Him. Do I revere God with fear and trembling? Am I in the presence of a holy, perfect, mighty and powerful God or am I just hanging out with my friend Jesus, who forgives whatever I do? Let’s put it to the kiss test…
I’m drawn to verse 12 where it says, “Kiss His Son or He will be angry and your way will lead to destruction”. Have you ever heard or used the saying, “Do you kiss your mom with that mouth?” Is it a kiss, display of love, to Jesus when I have a mouth that complains, gossips, is hurtful, unkind, unloving, and full of pride(all of which lead to destruction and anger God)? What are some things that come out of your heart through your mouth? What would be a kiss to His Son? Could it be when we are worshiping Him, speaking of His blessings, love, mercy, grace, forgiveness, meditating on His Word, serving Him and loving others? Yes! How blessed are we to be able to take refuge in Him. That honors His mighty power and allows Him to use us for His purposes.
“His delight is in the Law of the Lord, and on His Law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.” Psalm 1:2-3.
In this part of scripture, David vividly paints a picture of what a person looks like when he meditates on God’s Word by comparing him to a well hydrated tree. I imagine an apple tree with green leaves and red fruit abundantly covering the tree. It’s available for people to be blessed by the perfectly ripe fruit.
These verses had me asking myself, “Do I feel hydrated?” Am I planted in God’s Word? If I’m not filled with the Living Water of God’s Word, how am I moving through the mundane parts of my day? Are my interactions with others prospering for God or are they like withering leaves that dry up and blow away? When I speak with someone that God puts in my path, are they words that bless them or am I too absorbed in what I am doing that I miss out on how God has given me the opportunity to show love.