Monday, November 7, 2016

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Psalm 45: Bridal Beauty

This describes a royal wedding. The king is humble yet majestic, gracious yet terrible, but the language runs to shocking extremes. In verses 6–7 the king is called God. The book of Hebrews (1:8–9) says this is Christ himself, the ultimate King, infinitely high yet humble (verse 4). And in verse 7 we have a glimpse of the ascension, when Jesus, after accomplishing our salvation, is given the throne of the world by the Father, to rule and direct all things until evil and suffering are destroyed (Ephesians 1:20–23; 1 Corinthians 15:25). We should be as smitten with his beauty as a new spouse—for that is what we are (Ephesians 5:25–32).

The bride is led to the king (verses 10–15). If the king is Jesus, we are his spouse. He is enthralled with us (verse 11), but Ephesians 5:25–27 teaches that he doesn’t love us because we are lovely but in order to make us so, by grace. On the last day we will be united with him, as will all others, in love forever. Christian marriages can display a small bit of the joy that awaits us in heaven. But idolatry is a temptation. We must let our marriages reveal Christ, not replace Christ. And if we are not married but wish to be, we should remember that we already have the only spousal love that will truly fulfill.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Psalm 42: Desiring God

The psalmist has lost not belief in God but the experience of meeting with the living God (verse 2). Human beings need the sense of God’s presence and love as much as the body pants after water (verse 1). His first response to this dryness is to simply remind himself that it will not last (verse 5). “This too shall pass” is a fact about any condition in this changeful world. While often painful, the truth can be used for comfort too. Though our good things will inevitably be shaken, a believer’s difficult times will always end as well. Only when we are safe in heaven, surrounded forever by love unshakable, will all fear of change be gone. Hope in God, for we shall again praise him. 

As the psalm proceeds we see that the phrase “I will yet praise him” (verses 5 and 11; Psalm 43:5) is not a mere prediction of change but an active exercise. When we are discouraged, we listen to the fearful speculations of our hearts. “What if this happens?” “Maybe it’s because of that!” Here instead we see the psalmist not merely listening to his troubled heart but addressing it, taking his soul in hand, saying, “Remember this, O soul!” He reminds his heart of the loving things God has done (verse 6–8). He also tells his heart that God is working within the troubles—the waves sweeping over him are “your” waves (verse 7). This self-communion is a vital spiritual discipline.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Psalm 38: The Painfulness of Pain

Here there is guilt (verse 4) as well as sickness (verse 5). The illness is linked to the psalmist’s sin in some way, either as the physical effects of a tortured conscience or as the result of some foolish behavior or as a messenger sent to humble the psalmist and bring him to his senses about the way he is living. This illness in turn has isolated him from friends and given his opponents an opportunity to move against him (see verses 11–12). So he is suffering from guilt, bodily pain, and injustice. Suffering often comes in such overwhelmingly complex compounds that the only solution is to simply call out to God himself to forgive, protect, and heal.

David does not merely admit his sin but is troubled by it (verse 18). If we only confess but do not also find the sin repellent—for how it grieves and dishonors God and destroys others—the sin will retain its power over us. We will find ourselves doing it again. Also, he seeks not just legal pardon but the restoration of loving fellowship with God (verses 21–22). This is possible because this God is “my God”—the God of covenant grace who is committed to him (Exodus 6:6–7). The depths of that commitment were seen fully only in the one who cried, “My God, my God” and was forsaken so we could be pardoned and brought in.