this is a super great psalm and just one of those where virtually every verse can be looked at and appreciated and spoken into – for that reason i want to encourage you to go and read the whole psalm and then come back here and share what stood out for you. i am just going to be looking at two specific sections that stood out for me:
8 Praise our God, all peoples,
let the sound of his praise be heard;
9 he has preserved our lives
and kept our feet from slipping.
10 For you, God, tested us;
you refined us like silver.
11 You brought us into prison
and laid burdens on our backs.
12 You let people ride over our heads;
we went through fire and water,
but you brought us to a place of abundance.
what i loved about this first piece is the idea of the vocalisation, or declaration of the praise of God – let’s say it so people can hear it and let’s do it collectively – this speaks into the whole concept and need of church, the gathering of God’s people to lift His name up.
but then also the fact that it speaks into God being a presence in times of trouble as opposed to a protector from trouble or remover of it. phrases like ‘preserved our lives’ and ‘kept our feet from slipping’ indicate that the going has not been easy, but God has been there and His hand has been active and He has kept us from being overwhelmed by the life situations we faced which were not all comfortable and easy.
being refined like silver is a painful and uncomfortable process, but one that yields incredible and beautiful results.
and then God is even described as the One who was responsible for some of the trouble [an imagine none of us like to rush to or even consider at all sometimes?] – ‘You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs.’
i really love the realness this psalm exudes – we give God praise because He is so worth it – while at the same time the acknowledgement that it has not all been easy, but perhaps it has all been good?
the second passage that grabbed my attention was this one:
16 Come and hear, all you who fear God;
let me tell you what he has done for me.
17 I cried out to him with my mouth;
his praise was on my tongue.
18 If I had cherished sin in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened;
19 but God has surely listened
and has heard my prayer.
20 Praise be to God,
who has not rejected my prayer
or withheld his love from me!
again it starts with giving God praise and lifting His name up and i love the simple phrases ‘with my mouth’ and ‘on my tongue’ and all they convey…
but what really stands out for me here is the phrase ‘If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.’
great note to get us to stop for a moment and examine our lives and ask if there is actually any sin we are cherishing right now – not fighting against or wrestling with or trying to overcome, but actively being ok with? it made sense to the psalm writer that if that was the case, then we could naturally expect God to remain silent in the answering of our prayers.
is there any sin in your life right now that you have been justifying using phrases like, ‘It’s only…’ or ‘Everyone is doing it’ or ‘It’s not that bad’?
if God is seeming to be particularly silent , then maybe that is a good place to start.
but the psalmist here is confident that there is no cherished sin going on in his life and as a result of that he is able to once more raise some praise to the God ‘who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!’