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13 I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living!
14 Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord!
Psalm 27 finds David in the darkness of hardship. He’s being pursued and is afraid, betrayed and abandoned. But in the midst of the turmoil, he keeps turning to God as his provider and protector…to God to hide and protect him; to lift him up high.
Where do you turn when you are in the darkness? This Psalm can feel like just sappy placating; an effort to just try to make me feel better. But what if it’s true? What if God my Father really does hide me and lift me up? What does that look like and what do I do?
Despite being surrounded by the storm, David looked on the dark horizon for the sunrise, and was assured that he would once again “look upon” the God’s goodness. When I’m in my darkness, my head it pointed down and my hope is absent because I can’t “see it”. David’s first word to me is simple: Wait.
I hate that. I want the sun to rise right now. I want to see my hope. But often I can’t. So David’s next word is this: Be Strong. We aren’t called to a simple passive couch-waiting. We are called to actively wait. To dig deep and believe that the sun will rise. A great example of this is seen in Jesus’ followers. They stared at darkness for 3 days, seemingly losing hope in the promised revolution. An even greater example is Jesus himself. He was literally dead, the ultimate darkness. And he had to wait. Three days. We don’t know hardly anything about this period of time (did he descend to hell or not?), but we know that the end result was the ultimate sunrise (insert cheesy church “sonrise” here). And now, because of his perseverance we now have a living hope to get us through our darkness. Because he was strong, we can admit our weakness and receive his strength.
And this living hope leads to the next word David gives us: “Be Encouraged”. We can’t be strong enough in and of ourselves no matter what talk shows and self-help books tell you. We simply cannot grit our teeth enough and push our way through. We need the Holy Spirit using other people, His Word and miraculously Himself to infuse courage into us where we are weak and afraid.
When I was a kid growing up in Austin (before it was Austin) there were actually empty lots and freedom to be a ridiculous kid. And I was.
Across from my house along a creek my friends and I made a sweet tree-fort. Three stories tall with a secret entrance so that all the bad guys couldn’t get to us. It was glorious. I loved making forts in trees or out of blankets in my bedroom or whatever.
I still love making forts, but they look different now. I make protective forts out of things like reputation, money, morality, health, looks and family.
So what is a fort? A fort for me is something I build to bring me personal heart-safety. It’s where I try create and secure my identity and hope. Something that will protect me from insecurity and pain. The problem is that forts don’t work. The enemy of pain keeps sneaking in and stealing my value and hope. But I keep making them, thinking that maybe this next one will do the trick.
King David did the same, and he faced some nasty enemies. He tried making forts out of armies, riches and reputation, but they repeatedly failed him. But he also moved into The Fort that alone could offer shelter. He writes about it a lot, but let’s look at Psalm 18:1-3 where he realized what REALLY brought him deliverance.
1 I love you, O Lord, my strength.
2 The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
3 I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,
and I am saved from my enemies.
It is the same but different for us. Our “enemies” are likely not bad people seeking to do us harm but ourselves and the sin that is so pervasive…or the nasty enemies of this life like death and disease. God in his infinite glory, power and sacrificial love sent Jesus to fully “save” us from the Greatest Enemy we will ever face: Sin. And in so doing he has set HIMSELF up as our fortress. By no means does this mean that our lives will now be sappy and happy. Quite the contrary. But our hope is no longer is comfort and ease (which are unattainable), but in HIM (who is perfectly attainable). And HE cannot be taken away, nor can we be taken away from him. When our “enemies” attack, we are not alone. When we are in despair, we hurt but are joined by the Great Comforter, the Holy Spirit.
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
And all the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!”
How do you resemble your parents? Do you have her nose or his hair? Her artistic ability or his gifting for math? Her quick temper or his greed?
What do you hope to inherit one day? Her jewelry or his classic car?
Matthew 27:25 is an incredibly ironic verse. This verse comes right after Jesus’ illegal trial where the people were asked if they’d rather free Jesus or Barabbas. Of course they chose Barabbas. But still Pilate couldn’t rationalize sentencing Jesus to death, so he “washed his hands” and told to riotous crowds to do as they pleased. And they said these unbelievable words “His blood be on us and on our children.”
And here is the irony. In one sentence they declared the essence of the Gospel.
On the one hand they all, and we all, are guilty of His bloodshed. Like inheriting your dad’s bad habits, we have inherited the guilt and penalty of sin. We are just as fully responsible for the death of Jesus if we were the ones to literally nail his hands to the cross. So the GUILT of his blood is truly on us and our children.
But on the other hand, we are also offered the HOPE of his blood. The very act that brought Guilt also brings Life; what they intended for evil, God intended for God, and the salvation for all who believe.
And this is my prayer for myself and my children…and for you too. That we would admit our guilt in his blood while also receiving the forgiveness that his blood offers. You can’t have one without the other.