Tag Archive: presence

there are some lines in this psalm that are not as easy to digest as they used to be and i am not going to focus on that, because i am clearly not exegiting the psalms, but simply pulling out lines and ideas that strike me…

and with psalm 20, it is verse 6 and 7:

‘Surely You have granted him unending blessings and made him glad with the joy of Your presence.’ [verse 6]

i like that phrase ‘the joy of Your presence’ despite being in a place and time where, feelingwise, God feels pretty distant… largely linked to the fact that my wife is sick with a horrible cough and no amount of praying seems to move His hand on that [me and God always seem to have issues on the healing thing – money? no problem, faith for a million bucks… but a simple healing? and just a wall!]… but that is part of my understanding of the concept of joy, i think.

the way i see it, happiness is situation dependent – you give me a chocolate, i am happy – there is nice weather, i am happy – johnny depp is in a new movie, i am happy… whereas joy can be situation irrelevant. so the beautiful Val is sick which does not make me happy, but there is an inner joy linked to a belief in God and in the fact that in the bigger picture everything is taken care of and will be okay again… so for me, joy is kinda like a happiness [similar feeling a lot of the time] but one that runs deeper.

and so ‘the joy of your presence’ is comforting. because i have experienced it to be true, and i imagine i will again. as i like to say [and write], God is bigGER!

‘For the king trusts in the LORD; through the unfailing Love of the Most High, he will not be shaken.’ [verse 7]

what i like about this second verse is the phrase ‘unfailing Love’ which i’ve given a capital ‘L’ to because God’s Love is so much bigger and richer and higher and deeper and effective… and then that because of this Love and being able to trust in it, the king will ‘not be shaken.’

that is powerful. being able to trust in the Love of the God i serve, also helps me not to be shaken. it is something i can cling to. it is something i believe in and it is something i have experienced, both directly and through God’s people, the church. and that is an exciting, transforming thing.

‘Why, LORD, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?’ [vs.1]

that is how this psalm starts and it reminds me of that old – ‘if there is a huge distance between you and God, guess who moved?’ – which in some dimensions might be a cheesy christian car bumper sticker, but actually there is a lot of truth to it and i am reminded of a couple of verses instantly:

‘The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit.’ [psalm 34.18]

‘Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for You are with me, Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.’ [psalm 23.4]

‘Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.” [deuteronomy 31.6, repeated in hebrews 13.5]

and then this conversation between Moses and God in Exodus 33:

‘Moses said to the LORD, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ 13 If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.”

The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. 16 How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?”

And the LORD said to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.”’ [vs. 12-17]

Again, the psalmist is just speaking his heart when he cries [because i get the strong impression it’s a cry or a wail]: ‘Why, LORD, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?’ [vs.1]

Whereas God has promised again and again that He will be there. He won’t necessarily remove bad times [which is why we end up feeling like He is not present] but He has promised to be near when they strike: ‘And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.’ [Romans 8.28]

And once more the psalmist ends at the point of realising this and pointing it out for himself – the undeniable strains of the character of God revealed in ways like this: ‘The LORD is King for ever and ever; the nations will perish from his land. You, LORD, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, so that mere earthly mortals will never again strike terror.’ [psalm 10.16-18]

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