Sometimes the Psalms can seem a little off to those who don’t understand. Jesus said to love your enemies; but some of the Psalms are calling for vengeance on their enemies. To some extent this may be explained by the fact that they did not have the full revelation of Jesus their Messiah and His teachings. There is still more to consider. Even today, though we have Jesus’ teachings, we still fall far short of the ideal He wishes for us. Sometimes we may become frustrated, angry, and depressed, and we may furiously ask the Lord to destroy those we see as being our enemies. Then later in prayer and reflection we can be sorry. We may pray something like, “Lord, I’m sorry. I don’t really want my enemies destroyed. I just wish we could all learn to live together in peace and not be enemies. Lord, I know my enemies aren’t perfect, but I also know that I myself am not perfect either. Lord, I know that if we could all strive to be more perfect, we could all come so much closer to that perfect love where we would no longer be enemies. Lord, please help us all to search for You with all of our hearts and learn to come much closer to that perfect love.”
David is described as a man after God’s own heart. Yet he acknowledged his own shortcomings. Below is a portion of a prayer made by David after he had committed sin with Bathsheba.
Psalm 51:6 You desire truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.
7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have crushed rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit.
13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you. (NRSV)
Notice that David didn’t ask God to give him back salvation, rather to give back the joy that he had when he was encompassed with the fullness of that salvation. David had committed adultery with another man’s wife, and then had her husband murdered. Isn’t it tragic how the pulls of this earthly life can pull one to such great depths. David didn’t lose God’s salvation, but he did accept the full measure of God’s punishment knowing that he had brought it upon himself. Paul taught that when we were going through God’s chastening for our sins to bear it patiently and with gratitude, knowing that it was a gift from a loving Father Who wished to instill in us the knowledge that life wasn’t meant to live in sin. Anytime one feels he can live his life as he wishes without consequences, it is a sign that he doesn’t know his Heavenly Father and he doesn’t realize that his sins will be revealed and dealt with. If he doesn’t deal with sin in this life, it will certainly be too late for him to find forgiveness once this life is over. Let us pray for our Father to open our inner beings and reveal to us where we fall short and be thankful for His correction.
Psalm 51:15 O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 For you have no delight in sacrifice; if I were to give a burnt offering, you would not be pleased.
17 The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. (NRSV)
David realized that God didn’t want us to sin and feel like we could just come to church and take out our wallets and put something in the offering plate and say, “Now, I’m all paid up for my sins, so I can go out next week and get drunk, and live loosely, and live as I wish.” What God desires is for us to have an in depth sorrowfulness for our shortcomings that would cause us to live better.
Jeremiah 14:10 Thus says the LORD concerning this people: Truly they have loved to wander, they have not restrained their feet; therefore the LORD does not accept them, now he will remember their iniquity and punish their sins. 11 The LORD said to me: Do not pray for the welfare of this people. (NRSV)
Jeremiah lived some time after David. Then the people had become so accustomed to going their own way, they literally shunned the way of the Lord. The Lord told Jeremiah not to even bother praying for this people. They had become so obstinate that the Lord would have to deal with their sins Himself, and they had brought their own calamities on themselves.
Do we need to look more closely at ourselves? How many church-pew-sitters seem to think that they can go out and live as they choose, and then go to church on Sunday and say, “Lord, I’m sorry. Please help me have all I need and want.” and then go back the next week and live as they did before? Does the Lord not see that they are showing Him that all He is worth to them is what they can get out of Him? Does He not feel that the people who call His name are simply trying to use Him for their own ends?
Jeremiah 14:13 Then I said: "Ah, Lord GOD! Here are the prophets saying to them, 'You shall not see the sword, nor shall you have famine, but I will give you true peace in this place.'" 14 And the LORD said to me: The prophets are prophesying lies in my name; I did not send them, nor did I command them or speak to them. They are prophesying to you a lying vision, worthless divination, and the deceit of their own minds. 15 Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the prophets who prophesy in my name though I did not send them, and who say, "Sword and famine shall not come on this land": By sword and famine those prophets shall be consumed. (NRSV)
I’m afraid there are many preachers who are standing before their congregations and telling people what they want to hear, rather than what the Bible teaches. I fear that it is soon to be revealed to the world the disintegration of the churches and those who call themselves God’s people will truly discover whether they are God’s people or not.
Revelation 3:20 Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me. (NRSV)
Revelation 22:17 The Spirit and the bride say, "Come." And let everyone who hears say, "Come." And let everyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift. (NRSV)