“Greatly have they afflicted me from my youth”—
let Israel now say— “Greatly have they afflicted me from my youth,
yet they have not prevailed against me. The plowers plowed upon my back;
they made long their furrows.” The Lord is righteous;
he has cut the cords of the wicked. May all who hate Zion
be put to shame and turned backward! Let them be like the grass on the housetops,
which withers before it grows up, with which the reaper does not fill his hand
nor the binder of sheaves his arms, nor do those who pass by say,
“The blessing of the Lord be upon you!
We bless you in the name of the Lord!”
It is so important to see this Psalm in the context and position within the Psalms of Ascent. This Psalm is NOT at the beginning of the journey- this is a song that is being sung as the pilgrims have attained some altitude. There is distance now from the valley and progress, though hard and wearying, is in clear view.
I sense a completely different tone in this Psalm than I do in the anger and hurt of Psalm 120.
The truth has not changed in the journey, but our attitude and perspective changes.
Sin is not less sinful and consequences are still a reality- but the Christian who has suffered mistreatment looks back in time and has a strength and resolve to remain patient and trust in God for his timing and process.
What are some differences that show up when we add the perspective of time and experience?
- LESS PERSONAL, MORE COMMUNAL
Once we realize that we live in a community of faith and have all shared in these types of situations, we see the bigger picture of this being, not about us, but about two kingdoms in conflict. Often, in reviewing these cases, we realize that our attack is nothing compared to what others have had to endure in the name of the Lord.
That is why the admonition in vs 1 "Let Israel now say"- in other words, don't react too personally when these things happen. It has less to do with you and more about rebels of the flesh and of the spirit who are at war with the Father.
Don't misunderstand me, it hurts. "The plowers have made long furrows on my back"! But we can endure the circumstance knowing what it is really about and help one another as we go in and out of these types of events.
- RECOGNITION OF OUR SIN AND INCONSISTENCIES
The gospel is about our failures. It is the story of our rebellion. And sadly, we participate in the pain by way too often ADDING to it. Though I know better.... I sometimes gossip or make a wrong assumption. I have had times in my life where others suffered under my selfishness or apathy. I have withheld good, born a grudge, or improperly rejoiced in the stumble of others.
If I truly understand the depth of God's forgiveness toward me, it helps me extend that same reach toward others. It helps me to sometimes say, "People are not the enemy". My enemies are sin, Satan, and his kingdom of twisted lies and idolatry.
Again, I have to be careful here- there will be evildoers who experience all the fury of God's wrath- but it is in His hands and I will not question Him in His decision to wait and worship Him in His decisions of mercy.
He is not fair.... If He were fair, I would be signed, sealed, and delivered to the dungeon of doom- but He is good and merciful- His justice being assuaged by the blood of His own Son.
This gospel realization allows me to endure the frustrating actions and sin of others.
- PEACE AND WILLINGNESS TO WAIT
Mileage on the road of discipleship allows me to understand that God operates on His own time clock- it is slow, methodical, purposeful, and inevitable.
I stopped wearing a wristwatch about 2 years ago. It was a reaction to a quote I read- "Westerners have wristwatches, Africans have time" meaning that we tend to be a slave to clock. Of course, I still need to know time- it is on my phone, computer, etc- but I am less frantic than I used to be.
- CONFIDENCE IN FUTURE AND FINAL VICTORY
In waiting, however, never be fooled into thinking that God will not act. The Bible is full of the enemies of God mocking Him for His delay. They get fooled into believing that no sudden punishment means they beat the rap.
There is not a statute of limitation on individual sin. The only escape is an eternal pardon in the mercy of God's grace paid in full on the cross. Without that, the sinners in hell will eternally wish that they had sinned even 1 sin less, though the violation be 200,000 years old.
There will be a day where the Lord will say, "No more delay". Faith will become sight and the door of mercy will be closed. Very few can doubt that it seems more close than far away.
Never forget what Peter said in 2 Peter 3
We need to be patient as God is patient- taking advantage of the age of grace to share God's love and forgiveness. Part of that patience is suffering the persecution of others.
8 But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and ta thousand years as one day. 9 uThe Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise vas some count slowness, but wis patient toward you,1 xnot wishing that any should perish, but ythat all should reach repentance.10 But zthe day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then athe heavens will pass away with a roar, and bthe heavenly bodies2 will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.311 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, cwhat sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12 dwaiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and ethe heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! 13 But according to his promise we are waiting for fnew heavens and a new earth gin which righteousness dwells.
By the way- the Scriptures seem to indicate that it will get worse before the final curtain falls. There will be an intense time where Satan is unleashed and it looks like we are on the losing side.
I blogged on one of these passages recently: End Time Stew, Is it Ready?- Zechariah 12
There will be a day when all of the world will be gathered (in God's providence) under the direction of Satanic power to finally wipe Israel off the face of the earth. It will be a bloody war and 2/3 will not survive.
But just as this global assault looks like it will win, even pushing into Jerusalem... The Lord Himself will show up and cause Israel to be victorious.So briefly review this Psalm- I like how Peterson translated it in the message:
I find it fascinating that He will cause confusion and 'blindness' of the horses. If I am just to make a guess, the highly technical weapons will fail and there will rise up an army of God inspired warriors who fight like King David and wins. They will be like a blazing pot in the fire (strong and withstands the heat), a flaming torch burning up the sheaves, and a 'rock' that the world will be injured by trying to lift, and a bowl of wrath that will cause the invading army to be reeling. Don't mess with Israel.
“They’ve kicked me around ever since I was young” —this is how Israel tells it—“They’ve kicked me around ever since I was young, but they never could keep me down.
This is NOT the song of a green, soft, immature person of faith who is on the ground SHOCKED that someone was mean to them.
NO- this is a mature believer who understands that evil is real, but God is in control. He knows that though Satan may win battles, he has lost the war. He doesn't hesitate to get back up, put dirt on his wound, and keep walking upward.
This is a warrior song of an undefeatable champion of the King.
Where are we in this journey?