Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Psalm 7 - Separating My Praise from My Struggle

I know I've done this with nearly every entry, but I am once again going to divide this psalm into sections because that seems to be an easy way for me to make it more personal.

  • David asks for refuge (verses 1-2)
  • David claims he is innocent (verses 3-5)
  • David appeals to God for justice and vindication (verses 6-9)
  • David proclaims confidence that God will reply (verses 10-13)
  • David asserts that the evil with suffer (verses 14-16)
  • David praises God (verse 17)
I mentioned before that I started reading through the Psalms in January, quit, and then began again with the blog to hold me accountable.  Ever since I first read Psalm 5 on February 17, I have clung to the word "refuge" and David uses the word once again in Psalm 7:1.  I'm not going to focus on it right now, but have an insight to share when I post about Psalm 11.  That insight is something that started a major shift in my thinking, but I digress.

David points out that he did nothing that could make himself guilty, and that if he had done evil, he would feel as if he deserved what was happening in his life.  

I understand this feeling.  In many ways, I feel like I did nothing to deserve some of the burdens I've faced in the past and recently - the burdens that have ultimately pushed me farther from God than I ever have been in my life.  In fact, the struggles recently have seemed to be because I followed God's direction.  If I hadn't done what I felt God was calling me to do in becoming a foster parent, I never would have dealt with many of my recent struggles.  Please don't take this to mean that I regret any of the placements we have accepted so far, just that they come with an understandable amount of added stress.  That stress is compounded because I have felt like God has abandoned me at the most difficult moments.

David once again makes demands of God, telling God to rise up against the wicked and bring an end to their evil.  He demands that God also make the righteous secure.

I have trouble sometimes seeing God as a "just" God based on my own experiences and things I've witnessed.  So, when I struggle so much because I follow God, I don't understand why it seems like God's wrath is focused on me instead of the evil around me.  From my perspective, it's not fair, and as a human, I equate fairness with justice.  I have so many questions for God on this topic, but I don't think now is the time for me to dive into searching for answers on that particular topic.  We'll see what the rest of the Psalms bring for me in that area.

David knows that God is his shield and will save him.  He also knows that he will defend him from evil and let loose his wrath on the wicked.

I know these things also, but only on an intellectual level.  I know God will protect me and will bring wrath against wickedness, but it's all in my head.  Where did David's confidence come from?  Was it just something he believed intellectually, but didn't really feel in the moment?  Is intellectual belief enough to be called faith?

When you read this, I know a lot of you are experiencing the urge to answer those questions or say something to defend God in this area.  Trust me, I think all those things too, even as I'm honestly writing what is in my heart.  I know the textbook "churchy" answers, but, as mentioned before, this is my chance to be sincere about what I'm dealing with, and I have faith that God can handle my questioning and even appreciates that I'm seeking.  So, please, if you want to give me something else to ponder, that would be awesome.  Just don't expect neatly packaged answers to be earth-shattering to me at the moment.

David uses common sense and modern wisdom to reinforce his earlier confidence.  It's almost like he is giving himself a little pep-talk so that he can keep his earlier confidence.

This leads me to believe that maybe David's confidence in the earlier section really was intellectually based. Otherwise, why would he need this section of verses to bolster his earlier claims?  So, maybe my problem has been that when my trust and confidence in God is merely intellectual, I automatically assume that means my faith is weak and sometimes give up.  Perhaps there is significance to a faith that is based on clinging to truths you know about God even when you can't feel them.

David ends by saying he will give thanks and praise God because of God's righteousness.  It's almost like he's convincing himself that he will still thank and praise God, even though things are falling apart.  He also says he will do this because of God's righteousness.   

It's interesting that he picks this one attribute of God to focus on.  It's almost like it was one thing he was able to agree with intellectually, so he focused his praise on that.  It wouldn't make sense to praise God for refuge at this time, so he doesn't.  Instead, he asks for refuge and deliverance, but praises God for righteousness.  That way, his praise and thanksgiving remain honest and sincere.  He's not having to lie to himself or to God.

This gives me hope as I have been finding it hard to praise God without feeling insincere.  I beat myself up at church for singing words that don't seem to honestly reflect the state of my heart, just because that's what I'm supposed to do on Sunday.  Looking at Psalm 7 leads me to the conclusion that it's okay to separate your requests from your praise.  I can ask for what I need, be honest about my struggle, and still praise God for what I know to be true.  Sincerity doesn't demand that I can't praise God unless my faith is perfectly unshaken or radiating freely from my heart; it just means that I might be praising him for the beauty of his creation while I am begging for refuge that doesn't seem forthcoming.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Katie! Let me just say that I think it is so, so good that you are pursuing God despite the fact that you feel he is far away from you. I have known other people, with similar struggles, who just gave up on God and completely turned from him. I think this journey you are on is a sign of the STRENGTH of your faith and like David you are confident that this is the path God would have you take. It is so refreshing to see you turn towards God, instead of to other things. It is obvious to me that God is already working in your heart and life...otherwise you wouldn't be doing this! As I've been reading your posts, I've been wondering if you would clarify what circumstances in your life have made you feel abandoned by God (and in this post you even use the phrase "wrath of God") For example, during your recent struggles with foster-parenting, what was it about that situation that made you feel like God had abandoned you? I realize that these circumstances might be too personal to share, but it's just a question that has come up for me and I thought understanding it on a deeper level, might help me connect with you more. But, overall, this is so good and you're on an amazing path!