Saturday, June 22, 2013

May the Lord Answer You - Psalm 20, Part 1

Here is yet another example of a psalm that actually makes me nervous to think about, much less reflect on and write about.  For some reason, the beginning of this psalm leaves me feeling intimidated.  I'm not sure I can even explain what it is that leaves me feeling like anything I could say would be inadequate, but I think it all boils down to one word: shame.

Let me attempt to explain.  You see, I have been a Christian for a very long time.  I grew up in a Christian home with Christian values and have never doubted God's power.  So it shames me to be honest and say that I have been struggling for a while now with the perceived lack of God's power in my life.

Maybe I need to explain my explanation.  I know in my head that God is all-powerful and I believe that to be true whole-heartedly.  However, I have, at times, doubted whether God will use that power in my life in tangible ways.  It has never been an issue of could God, but rather would God.  Many times it has seemed, at least, that the answer is that God would not, leading to a vague sense of bitterness on my part.

So, when I read Psalm 20 and see a list of things that God is fully capable, I am conflicted because I believe my God can accomplish all that and more, but I don't have as much confidence that he will do that in my life right now.  And what does it say about my faith that I lack that confidence?

Verses 1 through 5 are framed by two very similar sentiments:

  • May the Lord answer you when you are in distress.
  • May the Lord grant all your requests.
In between though, may start to help me process through some of the bitterness I have felt.

Following the opening line, "May the Lord answer you when you are in distress," there is a list of requests.  May God:
  • protect you
  • send help
  • grant support
  • remember your sacrifices
  • accept your offerings
  • give you your desires
  • make your plans succeed
Without transition, this is followed by what the response to those answered prayers would be: shouts of joy and lifting high the banner of God.  Basically, this means a lot of loud and obvious praising of God for bringing victory and answering prayer.  

Then comes the reminder that God hasn't yet answered the prayers, "May the Lord grant all your requests."  The psalmist, David in this case, has listed his requests in confidence fully believing that God could do all of that and more.  I wonder if he felt any shame over doubting whether God would answer.  

I tend to think that there wasn't any shame because the very next line boldly states, "Now this I know." There is no room for doubt in that confident, faith-filled statement.  Makes you wonder what would have David so confident if his prayers hadn't been answered yet.  

Well, here it is: "The Lord gives victory to his anointed.  He answers from his heavenly sanctuary..."  Again, no room for doubt or shame in that statement.  God may not have answered yet, but David had faith that he would.  

Like I said before, I have never doubted the power of God.  Maybe it's time for me to start trusting in that power a little more.  Then maybe I will share a little bit of David's confidence.

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