Considering the Cross in The Good Times

25I am laid ____ in the ____;
       ________ my _____ according to your _____.
26I gave an ________ of my _____ and you _________ me;
       ______ me your ________.
27______ me to __________ the ___ of your _________,
       that I may __________ on your ___________ _________.

28My soul is weary with sorrow;
       strengthen me according to your word.
29Keep me from deceitful ways;
       be gracious to me and teach me your law.

30I have chosen the way of faithfulness;
       I have set my heart on your laws.
31I hold fast to your statutes, Lord;
       do not let me be put to shame.
32I run in the path of your commands,
       for you have broadened my understanding.

Today, I am not laid low in the dust. I am enjoying a break far away from home on Florida’s breezy, sandy beaches. I am with a dear godly friend. All seems to be well with the family and friends; no immediate emergencies of any kind. There is room in my mind and heart for rejoicing.

So does this psalm speak to me today?

Christ the Psalmist

As I often repeat in these blogs about Psalm 119, the psalms are both very human and Christ-fulfilled. Christ used these psalms as his own expressions of human experience enmeshed with the pure indwelling of the Holy Spirit of God within him.

My mind and heart are purely mortal. When I rejoice, all devastations and worries are dispersed in the joy of the moment. Those deep concerns and needs are still present, but I can forget them momentarily. And this is part of human life that we do so (momentarily). But with Christ, his entire aim as Intercessor was central to his life experience. I can and must “forget” momentarily in order to partake of the more positive experiences of life; He could not. His goal enwrapped and directed his every move, his every thought–even in the joy of fellowship.

Christ always looked toward the Cross, and viewed our sorry state with such great compassion. How do I know this? The Psalms. They speak for him. They were and still are HIS words. He quoted them when he was with us on earth, and He speaks to me now in my heart as I read them.

There is a point at which I can not honestly repeat these words, or at least not at all times (and even then, only very briefly). There is no human that can truly speak these words for themselves at all times. But in the timeless nature of our Lord, they are ALWAYS His words.

Therefore, I don’t have to be laid low in the dust to appreciate this psalm. Every day, in every state I find myself, God’s Word speaks.

I am to be instructed by Daleth. What did Christ long for when he was laid low and in great sorrow?

  • “preserve my life according to Your Will/Word, Lord”
  • “teach me Your Will/Word, Lord, out of your GRACE to me”
  • “cause me to understand what I learn of You, Lord, so I can absorb Your thoughts into my own” (meditation)
  • “strengthen me in the way you want me strengthened, Lord”
  • “keep me from lying to myself and sinning against You and against others”
  • “keep shame far from me—the shame that comes from disgracing you by self-will”

Jesus, our Savior, of course, never sinned. That does not mean he was not besieged by the enemy of souls! But given that he is God, why would he inspire the Psalmist to write of his “need” for God’s path, and to increase in understanding; why would Christ say he was “laid low” and in need of being “kept” from straying? I know why I would need this psalm, but Christ?

I can answer that by remembering that though Jesus had no sins to be washed clean of, he yet submitted himself for baptism for my sake, so that I could perform that same symbolism of being made clean (“washed”, dead to sin and raised to new life in Christ). I would need this, though he didn’t. So, the Lord walked ahead of me, so that I can “follow” him in every way. He is not aloof and distant from our need. He intimately acquaints himself with us. Christ leads me forward by coming to me, walking with me in my weakness, and modeling the way I should go. I thank him for that.

The psalms are also ours so that we can follow Christ’s own prayers and find words for our own. He goes before us and leads our way.

I am to be reminded of it. I can rejoice (and truly, I CAN and SHOULD!) because Christ bore this grief for my sake. I need to remember this; not to dull my joy, but to deepen it.

There is no greater joy than the birth of a child to a mother, but the joy of that child’s birth is deepened by the experience of birth (or the experience of having waited so long for an adoption). The pain of longing, and indeed great physical pain, makes the joy all the more sweet.

When I consider this psalm and the price Christ paid for me, how He leads me to consider the Father’s Sovereignty and Grace, I am not brought down in the remembering, I am instead lifted up and made glad! My joy has been purchased at a cost and I am grateful.

I am, at the same time, sobered in my joy so that I don’t lose my way and sin in my rejoicing. But this is a relief to me! I don’t want to “forget” and shame my Lord. The prayer asking to not be shamed makes me mindful of this.

Again, joy is made sweet because in my joy, I am not teetering on top of a shaky pedestal, vulnerable to the winds of circumstance, capable of falling into despair. My joy becomes unshakable because it is rooted in the unchanging Eternal One. There is great reason to be truly joyful, regardless of circumstance.

Christ rejoiced in the Father and in the Father’s will as he contemplated the cross before him. I, too, can rejoice in “whatever state I am in”, as Paul said, because of Christ. I can be content and there is no greater joy than the joy of contentment.

Finally,

There is “takeaway” from this prayer.

  • “I gave an account of my ways” (I considered the truth about myself and my situation before you according to God’s Word) (and God “answered”!)
  • “teach me” = “I will learn”
  • “I will meditate on your Will/Word”
  • “cause me to understand” = open mind (God “broadened my understanding“)
  • “I have chosen your way” (God is “faithful”)
  • “I have set my heart on”/”I will hold fast to” Your Will
  • “I run in the path/way of your commands” = I will obey and DO

Christ not only speaks for our heart and our condition to the Lord on our behalf (called “intercession”), he models what we should do in response to God. We are not left ignorant about how we can love God.

The God Who Is There

We are also not left ignorant of God’s responses! In Daleth, we see that “God answered”, God “broadened [the psalmist’s] understanding”, and God is described as “faithful”. This is, above all, the assurance the psalmist prayed for.

We do not serve a religious creed. We do not follow a dead book of man’s writings. We serve a real, true, and living God. Our God tells us the truth so we can respond to Him rightly and find reconciliation with Him through Christ. Then He responds to us moment by moment as we walk with Him and look for Him in every aspect of life. He is faithful. He will do all that we ask when we “seek for him with all our heart.” That is a wonderful reason to rejoice!

So today, I will be playing in the warm-and-cool, clear green waters of the Gulf. As I bask in the wonders of His manifest grace in creation and in my circumstance, I rejoice in Christ my Savior who suffered for me; for I am reminded that He is the aim of my life.

© August 2019 by ReadPsalm119.com

POST SCRIPT – COOPERATIVE PRAYER: Please be in prayer for the Bangor Worldwide Missionary Convention 2019 in Bangor, Northern Ireland. Please pray for the power of Christ to unlock hardened hearts in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, for the staff and coordinators and church fellowships who are sponsoring and working diligently to provide this conference, for the many workers in Christ’s fields who will be coming and sharing/speaking and seeking retreat and restoration and replenishing, for the many throughout the whole world who need the Lord. Lord, bring Your Holy Spirit and move within this body of believers and bring Your Salvation and healing! In the Name of our Lord Jesus, Amen.

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