Thou, O Lord

Thou, O Lord

Generated by the writing of the current 40-day Devotional, This Is Eternal Life, I have begun going through the Scriptures, verse by verse from Genesis to Revelation, to record what they say about God, since it is in His Word that God reveals to us who He is. As long-time believers, it is easy to feel we know all there is to know about what the Bible says about God. We can rattle off quite a list of His nature and attributes. We’ve read through the Scriptures, heard countless sermons and Sunday school lessons, and have read plenty of books; of what possible benefit could an exercise of this sort be?

Let me tell you, it has been a journey of delight and worship. It’s a vastly different experience reading the Bible from the perspective of “what does this tell me about God?” versus, “what does this teach me, and how can I apply it to myself?” as we so often do. Day after day, the Lord reinforces what He says is important for us to know about Him. What emerges in those times that He repeats Himself, chapter after chapter, book after book, is what He wants us to know—really know—about who He is in Himself, and in relation to us, His creation and beloved people.

Early on in my journaling I switched from the phrasing, “God is…” to “You are…” Thus, I shifted my focus from merely an intellectual understanding of what God was revealing about Himself, to one of personal worship, appreciating His amazing character and Being. It truly turns Bible reading into deeper worship, and a sense of His presence. It is enriching my ability to praise Him, as well.

When I came to contemplating today’s anthem, what struck me immediately was that the title and many of the lyrics were cut out of the same cloth as my discoveries on my current spiritual journey. Looking at Psalm 3 through the perspective of this anthem, we see our problems through the lens of who God is—and that is the perspective that changes everything!

David is writing this psalm as he flees his own son, Absalom (ironically, his name means father of peace). Not only has his own son risen up against him, not merely wanting to depose him but kill him, but many of those in David’s inner circle of courtiers and counselors are part of the coup. The army arrayed against David could easily have overwhelmed the small, but loyal band with him, had they followed Ahithophel’s (the turncoat counselor) advice to strike immediately while David was weak and demoralized. It is no wonder David would lament about “Many are they increased that troubled me. Many are they who rise up against me.” His troubles were overwhelming by any standard.

But not only was his circumstance dire in fact, David was also being plagued with the barbs coming at him spiritually and psychologically, as people discouraged him by questioning where God was in his time of need: “Many are they which say of my soul, there is no help for him in God.” It is one thing to be in difficult circumstances, but another entirely to be there and not sense God’s presence with us.

Fortunately, by that time David had a long history with God. Even though this is from a psalm that comes early in the book, it is from deep into David’s life, and he has learned to look past his problems to the God who is sovereign over them. It is a lesson he must have learned very young in life, because we see this characteristic in David when he fought Goliath, back when he was just a boy. Goliath was big and scary, but God was vastly bigger. David knew that not only did God care for him personally, but God had made promises to him about his dynasty, and his role in the coming Messiah. So, David continued to trust in God’s character and covenant promises to him.

But God—or as our anthem puts it: But Thou, O Lord—That is the crux of the issue! God is the factor in any situation that turns everything on its head. David upends the dynamics against him, and the aspersions cast against God’s watchful care over him by falling back on what he knows about God: He is David’s shield, his glory, and the lifter of his head. David knows that if he cries to God, He will answer him. He knows that God will sustain him, and that because of God’s watchcare he can lay down and sleep in peace, knowing that he need not fear the thousands encamped against him. David sees his circumstances, but he knows His God!

What a difference it makes when we know who God is, and especially who He is to us, personally. He is mighty, and He is mighty for us, His beloved. He has promised to be with us, to never leave nor forsake us, to love us with an everlasting love… What we know about who God is, and His promises to us makes all the difference to how we face the many (enemies, troubles, whatever) that rise up against us. This is why we must know who He is and what He has promised, then we can meet our situations with the understanding, “But Thou, O Lord…” and have confidence in Him. Do we know our God well enough to have David’s confidence in Him?