Saturday, November 10, 2007

"Until I find a place for the Lord" (Psalm 132)

A Song of Ascents

Remember, O Lord, on David's behalf, all his affliction;
How he swore to the Lord, and vowed to the Mighty One of Jacob,
"Surely I will not enter my house, nor lie on my bed;
I will not give sleep to my eyes or slumber to my eyelids;
Until I find a place for the Lord,
Dwelling places for the Mighty One of Jacob."

Behold, we heard of it in Ephrathah;
We found it in the field of the wood.
Let us go into his dwelling places; let us worship at his footstool.
Arise, O Lord, to your resting place, you and the ark of your strength.
Let your priests be clothed with righteousness,
And let your godly ones sing for joy.
For the sake of David your servant, do not turn away the face of your anointed..
The Lord has sworn to David, a truth from which he will not turn back:
"Of the fruit of your body I will set upon your throne.
If your sons will keep my covenant, and my testimony which I will teach them,
Their sons also shall sit upon your throne forever."

For the Lord has chosen Zion; He has desired it for his habitation.
"This is my resting place forever; here I will dwell, for I have desired it.
I will abundantly bless her provision; I will satisfy her needy with bread.
Her priests also I will clothe with salvation; and her godly ones will sing aloud for joy.
There I will cause the horn of David to spring forth;
I have prepared a lamp for my anointed.
His enemies I will clothe with shame; but upon himself his crown shall shine."

- Psalm 132

It's been impossible for me to write about this one with any integrity, because I've needed to be busted by the Lord for having no real interest in finding a place for the Lord and giving him rest. As I walked and talked with him last week, I saw myself an idolater. I've looked for rest in my own victory, my own success, my own accomplishment - hoping in these to escape my futility, incompetence, and uselessness.

In fact, to find a resting place for the Lord is not about being so sweet that I just care about God and not about myself. I really can't stand that sort of religious sentimentality, which wrecks the life of everyone I've known that indulges it. No real human being can afford it for long, and God evidently hates that pretentiousness, too, since he calls himself the God of Jacob. You don't see a lot of that stuff in Jacob. Jacob talks like this (Genesis 28:20-22):

If God will be with me and keep me on this journey that I go on, and will give me bread to eat and garments to wear, and if I return to my father's house in peace, then the Lord will be my God.

This kind of practical talk makes the hemorroids of religious people twitch, but it's how Jacob talked because it is the whole truth of what human beings need out of their God, and this Jacob is who God is not ashamed to call himself the God of, because he is the God of Truth, and truth is what Jacob spoke here. It's pretty conceited to assume lightly that we can be better than our father Jacob - and it simply isn't true.

Considered from this viewpoint, David made sense when he vowed not to give rest to his body until he found a resting place for God. We learn immediately that this can't be about making him a building, although David did intend to have a place built to worship God, because sleep can't be put off more than a few days at most. David's point is that he needed to find rest for God every day before he could find rest for himself.

The letter to Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-22) shows us how that happens. We find a resting place for God when we hear him knocking and let him in by receiving the truth, especially what he needs to show us about ourselves. It's not a problem to be miserable and wretched and blind and poor and naked. All that is provided for - eyesalve, white garments, and the true gold are promised and available. But to be wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked and not to know it because we won't let it be made known to us, that's trouble.

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