I love the Psalms. Over the years, their very faithful human response to God in all aspects and emotions of life have instilled hope in me. Hope that God simply wants us to come before Him, recognizing and faithfully submitting our circumstances. We don't need to have it all together. We don't have to put on a happy face, but if we are happy we don't have to hide that either. We can dance wildly in the open, or tear our clothes and lament, just as David did. The Psalms give us insights into the very human embrace of God that moves beyond mere religion to the internal conviction of those whose entire existence is oriented upon God.
One of the amazing aspects of this is that it speaks and is alive. The Psalms continue to resonate, and in fact may be prophetic voices worthy of reflection in our current circumstances. I know individually there have been times when certain Psalm became hugely influential as I worked through a struggle in my life. Sometimes I needed to be reminded of the provision and care of God (Psalm 23) while other times I found it out to cry out asking where is God's face in the midst of trial (Psalm 22).
Other times, the expression of Israel in the Psalms points beyond the individual to the society and the people of God. Israel was God's chosen people, blessed to be a blessing to the entire world, and even in the midst of this the human aspect of greed, power, jealousy, and envy messed things up. David's own son rebelled against Him! Turmoil existed and the psalmists give us a record of faithful submission to God in the midst of those times.
Faithfulness to God required relationship and an understanding of what the will or purpose of God was (and is!). In each aspect, we see how the love of God, his merciful justice and power, are acknowledged. Often, as you read through a lament or thanksgiving psalm there is a repentance that demonstrates the reorientation of the author to God. They don't understand their circumstances or can see how they are broken, and yet in their appeal to God they also see their own need to change their ways. (Dare I say repent - OK, it is repentance.)
Leading me to today. This morning I read Psalm 12 and it was a prophetic word into my life as to the situation raging on around us in America these days. There are lots of voices claiming victory if only we'll all listen to them, arguing profits or economics or even justice, yet ignoring the needs of all humanity. Depravity is praised, injustice allowed or idealized. I am cautioned against harboring deception in my heart, and rather be solely and wholly about God's work in the world. Which is not capitalism, nor socialism, and when either system is elevated "practically" in our church or society we have created idols. I pray that they are broken down. Am I reading too much into this Psalm? I think not...but I also know I cannot improve upon their poetic, beautiful, convicting imagery. Without further ado:
Help, LORD, because the Godly are all gone;
the faithful have completely disappeared from the human race!
Everyone tells lies to everyone else;
they talk with slick speech and divided hearts.
Let the LORD cut off all slick-talking lips
and every tongue that brags and brags,
that says, "We're unbeatable with our tongues!
Who could get the best of us with lips like ours?"
But the LORD says,
"Because the poor are oppressed,
because of the groans of the needy,
I'm not standing up.
I will provide the help they are gasping for.
The LORD's promises are pure,
like silver that's been refined in an oven,
purified seven times over!
You, LORD, will keep us,
protecting us from this generation forever.
The wicked roam all over the place,
while depravity is praised by human beings.
(Psalm 12, Common English Bible translation)
Lord, may I listen.
Lord, may I serve.
Lord, may your church return to your will and serve.
Lord, fix the duplicity of our minds and lives.