"If you’ve raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in thickets by the Jordan?" (Jeremiah 12:5). Our journey is intended to be more than simply "stumbling" through the days while the world "wears us out.” We are made to experience the thrill of "running with horses” and to navigate life amongst the "thickets." The RWH blog focuses on both the spiritual race of which Jeremiah speaks, and the physical act of running that I absolutely love. In short, it's where "the miles meet the Message" to provide insight, perspective & encouragement that might enable you & I to successfully run either of the races set before us. May our course be purposeful and may we be passionate in our pursuit of the abundant life He desires for us.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Psalm 62 - ROCC SG Wk 5

We have reached the halfway point of our spring study; Drawing Near: Spiritual Renewal Through the Psalms. Below are my notes for this week's passage in Psalm 62. Unless noted, I have not added any additional commentary to what I provide small group leaders. And as always, you can follow the link to River Oaks Sunday Sermons to further your study on this passage.

Psalm 62 – Waiting for God alone
(full psalm provided below commentary)

The title, “for Jeduthun” or “according to Jeduthun.”  In 1 Chronicles 16:42 & 25:1, we are introduced to Jeduthun, likely the one referenced here.  He is said to be one of the honored singers and primary musical leaders of the Levitical musicians, as organized in 1 Chronicles 15 & 16.  In short, David’s appointed praise and worship leader; the Wes Tuttle of Jerusalem. 1 Chronicles 15:16 says they were to “play loudly on musical instruments, on harps and lyres and cymbals, to raise sounds of joy.”  Again, as in David's response to adversity in Psalm 57 this past week, we find his emphasis on singing praises to our Lord – we can’t sing out too often or too loud!  There are four psalms dedicated to Jeduthun; 39 (similar to 62), 62, 77 and 89.
 
A few of the themes within this psalm which provide good discussion for personal application:
  • Under attack (v3-4), David expresses confidence in God’s protection, while his (David’s) soul  “waits” for God’s deliverance. Not only does he wait on God, it is in “God alone” that he waits.  Once again, faced with an adverse situation, David focuses his efforts and energy on the fact that “God alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.”  (v2, v6).  Yes, easier said than done, but the more we meditate on this response and practice this level of confidence, the more instinctive it will become.
  • Interesting that David twice says that he will “wait in silence” (v1, v5). Brings to mind Psalm 46:10, “be still and know that I am God,” which begins in 46:1 with “God is my refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble.”
Once David establishes that it is God “alone” that he trusts, he then provides a warning on placing our confidence elsewhere.
  1. First, he speaks to placing our trust in others. When it comes to matters of salvation and deliverance, “those of low estate are but a breath; those of high estate are a delusion” (v9).  In other words, regardless of social standing, ALL men are mere mortals, incapable of truly delivering us as God can. Some translations use the terms “vanity” or “lie”, when referring to those of low and high standing. In our humanity (the fall of man), we are vain in our sin, dishonest in our motives, and foolish in our actions. To further demonstrate this, the final line in verse 9 is a reference to the commercial scales that would have been used in the early marketplace. In general, the heavier an item weighed on the scales, the more valuable it would be. So to say, “in the balances they go up; they are together lighter than a breath” is further indication of our inability to save ourselves, or others, when compared to God’s saving power. Even those that the world sees as powerful, or in high standing, are but a vapor upon the scale.
  2. Next, David speaks about our turning to wealth and material possessions as our source of deliverance (v 10). Most clearly, David warns of illegal pursuits of wealth—extortion, robbery, deceit, oppression—to ease our troubles. It always easier to say, “well others are doing it and it seems to work out for them.”  But, David reminds us that when we truly place our trust in God, we should not exhibit the same desires, or behaviors, of those that are not fully trusting in God. The final line in verse 10 is, “if riches increase, set not your heart on them.”  Here David appears to be talking about riches that have come honestly, yet still risk being the “center of our life” (NLT). Recall that it is not money, but the love of money (1 Timothy 6:10) that is the root of all evil. Especially in troubled times, we can view money as our savior. It can afford us the ability to run from our situation, buy our way out and even console us. But it is to God that our “steadfast love belongs,” (v 11) not wealth or anything it can purchase.
Finally, one of the more interesting observations about this psalm is that not once does David ask for anything. This is not a prayer of petition, but of worship and the acknowledgment of his confidence in God. Dr. H.C. Leupold (Early 20th Century Old Testament Scholar and Lutheran Pastor) wrote, “There is scarcely another psalm that reveals such an absolute and undisturbed peace, in which confidence in God is so completely unshaken, and in which assurance is so strong, that not even one single petition is voiced throughout the psalm.”  Certainly, David offers up prayers and petitions often, and God desires to hear of our dependency on Him, but the idea of worship without petition, even in our darkest days, is a great lesson that we would do well to remember. I sort of think of it like this; as parents, it's always nice to be needed and to provide for our children. However, on occasion, it's also nice to hear of your child's admiration, respect or gratitude for you, without strings attached. Especially nice when you know they are struggling in other areas and just want you to know that they love you.

Psalm 62

English Standard Version (ESV)

My Soul Waits for God Alone

To the choirmaster: according to Jeduthun. A Psalm of David.

62 For God alone my soul waits in silence;
    from him comes my salvation.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
    my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.
How long will all of you attack a man
    to batter him,
    like a leaning wall, a tottering fence?
They only plan to thrust him down from his high position.
    They take pleasure in falsehood.
They bless with their mouths,
    but inwardly they curse. Selah
For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
    for my hope is from him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
    my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
On God rests my salvation and my glory;
    my mighty rock, my refuge is God.
Trust in him at all times, O people;
    pour out your heart before him;
    God is a refuge for us. Selah
Those of low estate are but a breath;
    those of high estate are a delusion;
in the balances they go up;
    they are together lighter than a breath.
10 Put no trust in extortion;
    set no vain hopes on robbery;
    if riches increase, set not your heart on them.
11 Once God has spoken;
    twice have I heard this:
that power belongs to God,
12     and that to you, O Lord, belongs steadfast love.
For you will render to a man
    according to his work.

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