Saturday, January 31, 2015

Psalm 31 - Planned Ahead

For You are the fountain
of life, the Light by which
we see.
1O LORD, I have come to You for protection;
don’t let me be disgraced.
Save me, for You do what is right.
2Turn Your ear to listen to me;
rescue me quickly.
Be my rock of protection,
a fortress where I will be safe.
3You are my rock and my fortress.
For the honor of Your name, lead me out of this danger.
4Pull me from the trap my enemies set for me,
for I find protection in You alone.
5I entrust my spirit into Your hand.
Rescue me, LORD, for You are a faithful God.
6I hate those who worship worthless idols.
I trust in the LORD.
7I will be glad and rejoice in Your unfailing love,
for You have seen my troubles,
and You care about the anguish of my soul.
8You have not handed me over to my enemies
but have set me in a safe place.
9Have mercy on me, LORD, for I am in distress.
Tears blur my eyes.
My body and soul are withering away.
10I am dying from grief;
my years are shortened by sadness.
Sin has drained my strength;
I am wasting away from within.
11I am scorned by all my enemies
and despised by my neighbors—
even my friends are afraid to come near me.
When they see me on the street,
they run the other way.
12I am ignored as if I were dead,
as if I were a broken pot.
13I have heard the many rumors about me,
and I am surrounded by terror.
My enemies conspire against me,
plotting to take my life.
14But I am trusting You, O LORD,
saying, “You are my God!”
15My future is in Your hands.
Rescue me from those who hunt me down relentlessly.
16Let Your favor shine on your servant.
In Your unfailing love, rescue me.
17Don’t let me be disgraced, O LORD,
for I call out to You for help.
Let the wicked be disgraced;
let them lie silent in the grave.a
18Silence their lying lips—
those proud and arrogant lips that accuse the godly.
19How great is the goodness
You have stored up for those who fear You.
You lavish it on those who come to You for protection,
blessing them before the watching world.
20You hide them in the shelter of Your presence,
safe from those who conspire against them.
You shelter them in Your presence,
far from accusing tongues.
21Praise the LORD,
for He has shown me the wonders of His unfailing love.
He kept me safe when my city was under attack.
22In panic I cried out,
“I am cut off from the LORD!”
But You heard my cry for mercy
and answered my call for help.
23Love the LORD, all you godly ones!
For the LORD protects those who are loyal to Him,
but He harshly punishes the arrogant.
24So be strong and courageous,
            all You who put Your hope in the LORD!

Psalm 31 is one of those “whole story” psalms—including a crisis, prayer, deliverance by God, and subsequent praise. When I am in the crisis, when I find it hard to pray, when I am awaiting God’s deliverance, it helps to realize that I am part of His larger story for my life. I am not governed by chance or luck.

There is nothing left to chance. Events happen not by dumb luck, which has no order or purpose in it.  Chance is a non-believer's idea of happenstance where the Word of God is disregarded. Charles Surgeon wrote "Blessed is that man who is done with chance, who never speaks of luck; but believes that, from the least even to the greatest, all things are ordained of the Lord...There is no place for chance, since God orders all things"

"My future is in Your hands" is an assurance that puts an end to the grim idea of luck or chance compelling my future. The notion that fate grinds like an enormous wheel, ruthlessly crushing everything that lies in its way, not pausing for pity, nor turning aside for mercy . 

If I would compare Providence to a wheel, it must be a wheel full of eyes. Its every revolution is in wisdom and goodness. God's eye leaves nothing to blind luck but orders all things with sight. God works all things according to His purpose for He is the "I AM", Creator in total control. There is a vast difference between the calculations of fixed fate, and the presence of a gracious, loving Spirit ruling all things. 

"Listen to me, O family of Jacob, Israel my chosen one! I alone am God, the First and the Last. It was My hand that laid the foundations of the earth, My right hand that spread out the heavens above. When I call out the stars, they all appear in order.” (Isaiah 48:12-13)

God has all heaven to worship Him, and all worlds to govern; and yet "my future"—the future of such an inconsiderable and unworthy person as I am—is in His hand. Wonder of wonders, that God should not only think of me, but should make my concerns His concerns, and take my matters into His hand! 

He has the stars in his hand, and yet He puts me there. God planned for my salvation long before I took breath. "For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was His plan from before the beginning of time--to show us His grace through Christ Jesus." (2 Timothy 1:9)

Charles Spurgeon put it so well:

Beloved, God is near his people with all His attributes; His wisdom, His power, His faithfulness, His immutability; and these are under oath to work for the good of those who put their trust in Him. "All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." 

Yes, God considers our times, and thinks them over; with His heart and soul planning to do us good. That august mind, out of which all things spring, bows itself to us; and those eternal wings, which cover the universe, also brood over us and our household, and our daily wants and woes. Our God sits not still as a listless spectator of our griefs, suffering us to be drifted like waifs upon the waters of circumstance; but is busily occupying Himself at all times for the defense and perfecting of His children. He leads us that He may bring us home to the place where His flock shall rest for ever.

What a bliss this is! Our times, in all their needs and aspects, are in God's hand, and therefore God is always caring for us. How near it brings God to us, and us to God! Child of God, go not thou tomorrow into the field, lamenting that God is not there! He will bless thy going out. Come not home to thy chamber, crying, "Oh, that I knew where I might find him!" He will bless thy coming in. Go not to thy bed, dreaming that thou art left an orphan; neither wake up in the morning with a sense of loneliness upon thee: thou art not alone, for the Father is with thee.

Things happen as God plans them; He Himself is there to moderate, and guide, and secure results. My wonderful joy is not, "My future is in the wheel of fate" "but I am trusting You, O LORD, saying, “You are my God!” My future is in Your hands."  With a living, loving, saving God to govern every detail in His creation, I feel myself at home, resting near my Father's heart.