As we consider our passage today, I wanted to share a couple of verses which came just ahead of our passage. First, David reminds us no king succeeds by his own doing. Big armies and lots of loyal servants does not make one successful - indeed, it gives an "appearance" of success, but it is nothing compared to the glory of being anointed by the Most High God. Second, he points out the futility of thinking a warrior's strength is his own. This is often a struggle for us because we see out "strength" as something we possess - instead, it is something we are "granted". Last, he lays out the silliness of thinking having more "horsepower" or "brute strength" will win battles. When we "count on" the wrong stuff, we often don't really "win" the battles!
Watch this: God's eye is on those who respect him, the ones who are looking for his love. He's ready to come to their rescue in bad times; in lean times he keeps body and soul together. We're depending on God; he's everything we need. What's more, our hearts brim with joy since we've taken for our own his holy name. Love us, God, with all you've got—that's what we're depending on. (Psalm 33:18-22 The Message)
As I speak with many of my friends these days, I hear one common theme - the battle is tough! The struggles with life-debilitating disease processes almost overwhelms. The constant changing environments within work, home, and community seem to be pulling them in all directions - stretched beyond capacity. Grief doesn't seem to pass, despite the passage of time. In short, the outlook just doesn't seem to "clear up" - it continues to be a little more than challenging!
Looking at how our passage is structured, we see some interesting ideas:
1. Watch this! This is a call to pay attention to what David is going to lay out. He has a hold on something which has been able to take him through some of these tough times and he is calling us to attention. Wouldn't it be a shame to have the answer to our "need" right there in front of us and miss it totally?
2. God's eye is on us! The condition for being under his watchful care is twofold - respect him and look for his love. Now, don't get this wrong - respect is more than just holding God in "high regard". It is giving him the foremost part of our being - our attention focused on him above all else. Too many times, we think we can be "casual" with God - just holding him in "high esteem", but his instruction is clear - have no other god before him. When he has the right focus in our lives, it is natural for us to look for his love. We begin to "count on" his love. What excites me most about this passage is the "face-to-face" contact we have with the one we honor! His back is not to us - it is his face! You cannot "eyeball" someone with your back toward them! When seeking God, holding him in the focus, we are in his! Woohoo!
3. He is ready! God doesn't delay - although we may think the answer is slow coming! Bad times and lean times come - there is never any assurance in scripture of these being totally avoided by service to the King of Kings. Too many times I think we have a little bit of warped belief here. I think we believe God should "keep us from" these bad and lean times. I challenge this. In the lean times, I have come to appreciate how little I have and how much I need what he has! In bad times, I have drawn closer to his heart - just to hear it beat a little faster when I draw near! Going back to what David said about God's eye being on us - his hands are also ready to intervene for us. Look at the outcome - body and soul are kept together. In the bad times, doesn't it feel like we are being "ripped apart" by the struggles we are in? This is another word picture to show us how much God is the "cement" which holds us together even in the midst of forces who'd like nothing more than to see us "undone"!
4. We can depend on him! The instruction here is not one of living "independent" of God - it is one of relinquishing our control and giving it to him. In the times of challenge - don't we always want to "fix" whatever we can first, then ask God to help us with the rest? Or is this just my struggle? I think I am in good company here - we try the best we can to "fix" the leanness or change the outcomes of the bad stuff. When we just can't get it done - then we turn to God. Oh, what a warped sense of importance we give ourselves! We try to live independent of God - all the while he is saying he is the one we can depend upon!
I associate with David - he wanted nothing more than to serve his God well. He struggled with the "real stuff" and each time, he found God faithful in his life. He leaves us with this thought - "God, love us with all you've got!" Now, isn't it interesting - he doesn't close with, "So, God I am going to love you with all I've got!" Instead, he brings us back to what brings us through the challenges unscathed - God loving us with all he's got! It is good to keep the right perspective! We "make it through" or we are "brought through" - which would you prefer? Quite honestly, I'd prefer the latter!