The Low Door, Pt. II

Daleth. — v.25-32.

Daleth reveals a man who has been laid low. This does not feel good at all! “My soul sticks close to the dust of earth!” (v25a). “My soul melts with the weight of my guilt and sorrow” (v28a).

He cries out in agony of spirit: “Speak to me again and make this dead man live!” (v.25b, 28b).

He is afraid of a distracted mind: “Make me understand your ways, remove deceitful rationalizations and self-justifications from me, take away this shame” (v27, 29, 31).

When we are humbled, we are often overwhelmed by our discomforts and pain. Sometimes when we are lifted up, we are distracted by the comforts and blessings, and the cycle of pride begins again. Distractions keep us from hearing that still, gentle call of God to our hearts to wake and live!

Yet the psalmist knows the way he must go.  It is from this very low position that he has the highest audience with the King of his soul. The King can do for him what he cannot do for himself–bring truth (the diagnosis) and cleansing (the cure).

The Truth

He looks at what he knows of the truth of God and looks toward the good fruit that he is sure of receiving:

You hear me” (v. 26),

“You bring life” (v25),

“Your word is truth”(v.25-32),

Your works are wonders to behold” (v27),

“You strengthen me” (v28),

“Your law is the law of grace” (v29),

“You forgive” (v31),

“You will grow my selfishly small heart to be big like your own large love” (v32).

The Cure

Finally, the psalmist sets his will to follow his Lord in humble obedience according to the hope that God will keep him and give him the power to do so:

“Teach me and I will learn” (v26),

I will tell others of all that you are and have done” (v27),

I choose your truth even when it conflicts with my own desires and the culture of this world” (v30, 31),

I will be quick to obey and not procrastinate, whenyou empower me; which you will, for I cannot do any of this on my own” (v32).

Strengthened

From this we no longer see a man who has stayed at the bottom of life looking up.  Though he remains humble, we see a man with a very strong spirit who foresees active service for his Lord ahead.  He is not weak, he is strong! But his strength is not pride.

His strength is made perfect in his weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9), because he no longer relies on his own mortal abilities; instead, he relies on the truth of God’s Word, who is Jesus Christ, to give him real Life (“…I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and no man comes to the Father, but by me.” John 14:6).

Our psalmist predecessor is not just strengthened to sit back and enjoy the easy life! He is strengthened

to go on serving,

go on giving up self,

go on loving when loving is hard,

go on forgiving when forgiving seems impossible,

go on serving when serving is unnoticed and unappreciated and even maligned,

go on telling others about hope when he feels ill-equipped and embarrassed to step onto holy, private ground in others’ lives.

He is strengthened to remain humbly obedient.

Jesus told the rich man that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of the needle than it is for him to get to heaven.[2]  Why? It is impossible to see God unless I bow low before the King in quiet submission, handing authority to the One who rules my life.

There are many low door events in scripture:

  • Naaman’s healing,
  • Joseph’s life of slavery and exile,
  • Moses at the burning bush,
  • the Israelites being denied iron or horses in the center of culture of war,
  • the woman at the well,
  • the adulteress woman brought to Jesus for trial,
  • Ruth as she knelt below the feet of Boaz,
  • Paul’s Conversion and training experiences, his many persecutions, his “thorn in the flesh”, imprisonment, martyrdom

This list is hardly exhaustive!

But the greatest low door–the greatest pivotal time in history, such that our world’s timeline of history centers upon it–was the cross of Jesus Christ.

We are called to pass through that same door, offering up our own self-consciousness, self-protection, self-righteousness, self-justifications, self-comforts to be put to death in order for true life to raise us up as new creations in Christ’s image.

Heavenly Father and my Lord, Jesus Christ, I remember these low doors in my life when you taught me hard lessons so graciously and so kindly. You raised me up   in love and not shame.  You took my burdens that I hardly realized were weighing me down and you freed me from myself.  You remade me into a joyful spouse and parent and friend. Remake me again as I embrace the humility that you first showed to me at Calvary.  Let me serve you by being in obedience to your word.  I have all I need in your Word to instruct me in the way I should go, and strength through the power of your Holy Spirit to stay in it. Because of you, I can give and give and lean on your strength to give again without counting the discomforts, inconveniences, embarrassments, and even pain. I can look back and see how faithful you have been in my life and how you have enlarged my heart and kept my life from sinking.  You have kept all the gold that I have given back to you, and burned all that was dross in it.  Because of you I can and I will share these humbling moments with others, in order to tell of your wonderous works that you have done.I lift up to you, Lord, those who are right now reading this that you will speak to their heart, encourage them in truth and in love, and guide and help them to stoop low and walk through the door that opens them ups to Life and holiness in You.  In the name of Christ my Lord, Amen.

© 2018 by http://www.readpsalm119.com; last revised Feb 7, 2019.

Note: This is the second part of a two-part series; see The Low Door, Pt. I.

____________________________

FOOTNOTES:

[1]Glory in the truth of this by reading a collection of relevant scriptures that tell of the significance of Christ’s work and glorification for us.  He lives to intercede for us! Let this be an exercise of worship today!

[2]According to most major commentaries, this was a common Jewish hyperbole and it literally means an eye of a sewing or medical needle (but don’t think of modern-day needles!), and not a “cable” or thread, or a narrow doorway in Jerusalem as tour guides would lead one to believe. 

The truth is the same, that what looks to man as impossible–the rich man giving up his riches–is possible with God.  God could have empowered the rich man to keep the commands of God to the uttermost, but the man declared his loyalty to himself and broke the first commandment to love God first.  He broke the second commandment when he made earthly wealth into an idol.  And by saying he had kept the commandments, but hadn’t–he had broken the third commandment and had blasphemed (dishonored) the Name of the Lord God. When we make ourselves first, we also break the first three commandments.  It is no wonder, then, that we move on to break the other seven!

________________________

FURTHER RESOURCES

I need thee every hour, by Fernando Ortega” [YouTube; 3:05 min.], uploaded by lindsaygillespie, Dec 3, 2009. Words by Annie S. Hawks (1872), refrain tune by Robert Lowry (1872). 

The words given below are from The Christian Sunday School Hymnal: a compilation of choice hymns and tunes for Sunday schools #33 from hymnary.org (printable music score in PDF and MusicXML available on the site).

I Need Thee Every Hour

1

I need thee every hour,

Most gracious Lord;

No tender voice like thine

Can peace afford.

Refrain:

I need thee, O I need thee,

Every hour I need thee;

O bless me now, my Savior,

I come to thee!

2

I need thee every hour,

Stay thou near by;

Temptations lose their power

When thou art nigh.

3

I need thee every hour,

In joy or pain;

Come quickly and abide,

Or life is vain.

4

I need thee every hour,

Teach me thy will;

And thy rich promises

In me fulfill.

5

I need thee every hour,

Most holy One;

O make me thine indeed,

Thou blessed Son!

Jesus Declares Himself the True Shepherd of Men“, Explore the Ideal Shepherd, http://www.stepintothestory.ca  The graphic of the shepherd’s gate on this page provides a link to this excellent article (click on the photo or the link in this footnote) and explains the passage in John 10 illustrating Jesus as the Door and Jesus as the Great Shepherd. I would add that the porter or shepherd that slept at the door did so at cost, laying down his own life for the sheep.  The idea of the lack of humility lay behind the charge of Christ against the Pharisees.

A great debt of gratitude is given to Dr. David Powlison at CCEF.org School of Biblical Counseling (“Dynamics of Biblical Change”), and Dr. Tim Lane and Dr. Paul David Tripp (“Counseling in the Local Church”) for showing me the structure inherent in the Word of God for the process of change and the significance of the first three commandments in their book how people change (2008 second ed., New Growth Press, Greensboro, NC, http://www.newgrowthpress.com).  

Also to the late pastor and Westminster Theological Seminary professor of practical theology, C. John Miller, for the most memorable lessons in humility found in this collection of pastoral letters, The Heart of a Servant Leader: Letters from Jack Miller (P&R Publishing, http://www.prpbooks.com).

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