Thursday, April 24, 2008

Psalm 5

Psalm 5 seems to me to be a contrast between 2 kinds of people. First there are the "wicked" people. They are "arrogant," they "do wrong," they "tell lies," and they are "bloodthirsty and deceitful." Then there are those who "take refuge" in God, "love [His] name," and are "righteous" (all terms from NIV).

The psalmist affirms that God is not on the side of the wicked and then prays that God will pronounce them guilty and bring swift judgment on them. The basis of his plea seems to be his persistence in prayer, his humility in the way he bows to the temple, and God's great mercy.

It's hard for me to read the psalm and say for certain that I am one of the "righteous" whom God has sworn to protect. Am I ever "arrogant"? Yes. Have I "told lies"? Yes. Do I otherwise "do wrong"? Certainly. On the other hand, I am certain that the psalmist had done these things too, yet he confidently affirmed that he was righteous and that his enemies were wicked. Perhaps the basis for this confidence was his appeal to God's mercy and his recognition of God's greatness.

What does it look like to "take refuge" in the Lord? What does it mean to "love the name" of the Lord? Is it simply intellectual assent to the propositions in the Book of Romans, or is it more than that? When I say that I have "faith," what do I mean? What is faith? Tough question.

"Father, I acknowledge that You are the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. I confess that there are no other gods besides You. I believe that Jesus died for my sins and that He rose from the dead. And yet, Father, I wonder. I wonder if we haven't missed the point. Are we kidding ourselves? Is the life of Christ far more radical that any of us in America have imagined? I don't want to be counted among the 'wicked.' But, God, looking at the life of Christ and the example to which we have been called, I have to confess that I anticipate my failure. Further, I can't say that I have met anyone who comes close to the pattern that Jesus left for us. Are we all failing? Is this a reminder that ultimately, we need to cry for your mercy? I don't know.

Father, I confess that You are good. I confess that You care for all humanity, including me. I confess that ultimately, salvation is a work of grace. While I pray that you would continue to mold me into the image of Christ, I confess that only He is righteous. Amen."

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