Thursday, October 23, 2014

Psalm 5: groans, enemies and grace

"O  Lord , hear me as I pray; pay attention to my groaning. Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for I pray to no one but you. Listen to my voice in the morning,  lord . Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly. "

It is easy to pray when I am in pain, when the waves look like mountains and my problems surround me like a gang of bullies getting ready to beat me down; or just afterwards when I lack even the strength to stand back up.  When that happens prayers come out as groans. Face down in the dirt, I don't even know what to ask you for Lord. All I can do is groan and hope you listen. At those times I'm not even sure it is me groaning. Perhaps it is the Holy Spirit groaning in me (Romans 8:26). Sometimes my groaning isn't for me, but for a loved one I wish I could help. They need you, but they don't acknowledge their need. They can't see how lost they are, and they don't have the faith to cry out to you. Today my groaning is for them, my King and my God. Listen to me. Listen to me. Listen to me as I wait expectantly for you. 

"O God, you take no pleasure in wickedness; you cannot tolerate the sins of the wicked. Therefore, the proud may not stand in your presence, for you hate all who do evil. You will destroy those who tell lies. The  lord  detests murderers and deceivers. "
"Some of you were once like that ..." 1 Cor 6:11 I was like that, Lord. I was totally UNqualified to even think of coming into your presence. I was like the man standing far off from the temple, not even daring to go near, beating my breast and praying "Lord be merciful to me, THE sinner." Lord you are holy, perfectly good. There is no shadow in you, so how can I know you? How can I approach you?
"Because of your unfailing love, I can enter your house; I will worship at your Temple with deepest awe. Lead me in the right path, O   lord , or my enemies will conquer me. Make your way plain for me to follow."
Grace - grace is my only hope. "Unfailing love" - because of your grace demonstrated in Jesus my Lord, I can enter your house. I can worship in your temple with awe.  Because Jesus died for me, I have the right to enter your presence. That's awesome, Lord!

"Lead me in the right path. Make your way plain for me to follow." I'm not the brightest lightbulb in the pack, Father. I can be easily misled and deceived. I need you to lead me, to make your path easy to find and follow. Show me the way Lord. I will follow you.

 "My enemies cannot speak a truthful word. Their deepest desire is to destroy others. Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave. Their tongues are filled with flattery. O God, declare them guilty. Let them be caught in their own traps. Drive them away because of their many sins, for they have rebelled against you."
 Lord, I don't have a lot of enemies. When I read the Psalms I have a hard time understanding all the talk of enemies. I know David had a lot of enemies, but my enemies are within. I know their names: lust, envy, self-hate, fear. They also tell me lies, deceive me and seek to destroy me and those around me. I long for the day when you have banished them forever and all that is left is the new man, the new creation. 

"But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them sing joyful praises forever. Spread your protection over them, that all who love your name may be filled with joy. For you bless the godly, O   lord ; you surround them with your shield of love."  
This is a good conclusion to a prayer that begins with groaning. Lord, may my loved ones take refuge in you. Give them the gift of faith. Help them to run to you for help and safety. Spread your protection over them. Lord you know their names. I can't write them down here, but they are written on my heart and on your heart. Fill them with the joy of the forgiven, the joy of the children of God. May they join the rank of the family of God, those who wear white because they are washed clean by the death of Jesus. Surround them with love. Love as a shield - what an odd thought, what a powerful shield. What can penetrate the love of God surrounding me, surrounding us? What can separate us from that love? (Romans 8:31ff.) I run to you, Lord.