Monday, November 26, 2012

A Song for the Climb- Devotion 14


Remember, O Lord, in David's favor,
all the hardships he endured,
  how he swore to the Lord and vowed to the Mighty One of Jacob, “I will not enter my house
or get into my bed,
  I will not give sleep to my eyes
or slumber to my eyelids,
  until I find a place for the Lord,
a dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob.”
 Behold, we heard of it in Ephrathah;
we found it in the fields of Jaar.
“Let us go to his dwelling place;
let us worship at his footstool!”
 Arise, O Lord, and go to your resting place,
you and the ark of your might.
  Let your priests be clothed with righteousness,
and let your saints shout for joy.
  For the sake of your servant David,
do not turn away the face of your anointed one.
 The Lord swore to David a sure oath
from which he will not turn back.
“One of the sons of your body
I will set on your throne.
  If your sons keep my covenant
and my testimonies that I shall teach them,
their sons also forever
shall sit on your throne.”
 For the Lord has chosen Zion;
he has desired it for his dwelling place:
 “This is my resting place forever;
here I will dwell,  for I have desired it.
  I will abundantly bless her provisions;
I will satisfy her poor with bread.
  Her priests I will clothe with salvation,
and her saints will shout for joy.
  There I will make a horn to sprout for David;
I have prepared a lamp for my anointed.
  His enemies I will clothe with shame,
but on him his crown will shine.”

The pilgrims who made the journey to Jerusalem did it on more than one occasion every year. Some made it for every festival, thus creating a pattern of duty and delight. I liken it a little bit like those who travel on Saturdays in the fall to tailgate and keep going to basketball and baseball games as well. It is quite a commitment of time, energy, and finances for those types of fans.

At some point, it all becomes routine. You know the road, you know how to pack, you know the resting places- it is old and new at the same time.

The first time you do it, there is a level of anxiety. But after a while, you can do it in your sleep.

The perplexity of normalization though is a trend toward monotony. When you were unsure and it was new- you were filled with the adrenaline of adventure. Now that you know the road, and the routine doesn't create the same excitement. What a tough predicament! You want to accomplish and experience, but doing the routine over and over creates ritualism, fatigue, and boredom.

This Psalm probes the solution to this quandary. How can I capture David's passion? What gave him the driving resolution to pursue the return of the Ark and the building of the Temple is such a way that the fire never died?

Here are a few important points of note:

Passion is not about activity- it is the power of personal relationships: Yes, we go on the same road- but the variety in the experience is the people we intimately share it with. Even if it is the same people, people are variations within themselves.

Go ahead and run with the routine, embrace day to day discipline: If we keep up the pace, we will run into 'freshenings' and the slow addition of time builds stability and endurance. Most of the godly men in Scripture walked in obedience even though their face to face with encounter had ended 20 years previous. Some people chase the wind, others wait and know that it will come back to them if they are patient.

The power of the promise resides in God, not in men: This Psalm is Solomon's tribute to the ultimate fountain of blessing- David's passion meeting God's promise in providential perfection of space, time, and history. In the end, it was God who held the power to do as He had already promised. The Davidic Covenant was secure in God's promise- the beauty of it was that it shone brilliant in David's passionate response! God already knew it was going to be His Son who would pay the penalty of the broken covenant. He alone had taken on the terms of the contract (or bond in blood, sovereignly sealed as O. Palmer Robertson called it), He alone was to bear its penalty. Even David fell short in his ability to fulfill his promise. He broke God's law and was not allowed to build the temple.

Realize that it is never clean or easy: I think that idealists and perfectionists are always facing sad circumstances. A word that rises out of the page is 'resting place'- a longing that we have, but one that will never become an ultimate reality until the new Jerusalem is established.

But we can find rest in this realm if we are willing to see it and wait for it.

I love the parallel perspective:

No sleep for David- he had a life long passionate pursuit.
No rest for men- weighed down by the persistent patterns in life

Prayers/Desire in vs 9 Let your priests be clothed with righteousness,
and let your saints shout for joy.

Promise/Hope is vs 16 Her priests I will clothe with salvation,
and her saints will shout for joy.

Yes, God is omni-present- but this Psalm is WHY the journey and WHY the ark and WHY the temple- it all represents a meeting of man and his Creator.

The Psalm is asking for God to GO to Jerusalem, a cry to "Meet us there in provision and peace" and so we climb because "Where He is, we want to be as well". It is the ultimate culmination of life itself.

In God there is the union of accomplishment AND relationship, passion and steady purpose, a hope that will never be in vain.

Until then, it is the tension of the NOW AND NOT YET. Faith and not sight.


Christ is always present in The Davidic Covenant:

vs. 6- Reference to Bethlehem (Ephrathah)
vs. 7- Footstool is reference to Christ as King
vs. 10- Anointed one in the line of David
vs. 12- a son of David will sit on the throne forever
vs. 17- the horn of David
vs. 18- the lamp for the Anointed One
vs. 19- enemies subdued by the King of Glory

Can we stay on this journey without wearing down or wearing out or pulled into distractions?
Can we focus on the prize and not get lost in the journey?
Can we take time to enjoy the journey?
When the Son of Man returns, will He find faith on the earth?

Summing it up: This Psalm is a cry to God to continue His kingdom based on His covenant promise keeping in the past, the evidence of His blessing in the present, and His covenant promise and reward in the future.

"Psalm 132 develops a strong sense of continuity with the past and a surging sense of exploration into the future. It is the kind of thing we sing to stay normal without becoming dull, to walk upright in the middle of the road without getting stuck in a long rut of mediocrity. Its words prod us to reach into the future without losing touch with the daily reality. Its rhythms stimulate us to new adventures in the Spirit without making us lunatics. For Christian living demands that we keep our feet on the ground; it also asks us to make a leap of faith. A Christian who stays put is no better than a statue. A person who leaps about constantly is under suspicion of being not a man but a jumping jack. What we require is obedience—the strength to stand and the willingness to leap, and the sense to know when to do which. Which is exactly what we get when an accurate memory of Gods ways is combined with a lively hope in his promises."- Eugene Peterson
So, I keep asking the Lord- HELP! Don't let me lose my passion for you. Keep me walking on that steady climb with joy and endurance! Don't let me get bogged down in empty ritual or routine- keep blowing that wind of renewal and power to obey. And thank-you for the grace to recover when I fail.

"Lord, the feelings are not the same. I guess I'm older. I guess I've changed. And how I wish it had been explained, that as you're growing, you must remember- that nothing lasts, except the grace of God, by which I stand- and Jesus, my whole life would surely fall away- except the grace, by which I'm saved." Hear Keith Green sing it below:

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