Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Beyond and above

There are lots of metaphors in scripture, oftentimes not appreciated because we don't stop long enough to take time to actually let them sink in.  A metaphor is something used to describe something else.  When we say God is our fortress, we aren't saying he is a stone building erected with stone, mortar, and protective walls.  We are simply giving a word picture of his strength, security, and place of safe-keeping.  Whenever we refer to God as our shield, we are giving a word picture of one who wards off the blows from our enemies and protects our most vulnerable parts.  To many, word pictures speak much - to others, they are simply glossed over as some nice, frilly way to describe something, but they need something much more "concrete" because their brains don't stop to delight in word pictures.  Perhaps this is why God uses both in scripture - the word picture and the direct, to point out the truth. As we explore scripture, getting to know our God as the main point - how this is accomplished is as varied as the various "pictures" we see of him in these pages!

Your love reaches higher than the heavens; your loyalty extends beyond the clouds. May you, my God, be honored above the heavens; may your glory be seen everywhere on earth. (Psalm 57:10-11 CEV)

David is in a cave, surrounded by mighty men of military might.  They had hotly pursued him day and night, in hopes of trapping him so they could end his life.  All this because of the orders of their superior, King Saul.  They were to seek and destroy - because David was a threat to King Saul's continued rule on the throne in Israel.  Interesting how our pride motivates us to some pretty ridiculous actions, isn't it?  We find ourselves acting in ways quite contrary to the way we should and whenever we do, the truth about who and what we really serve is revealed!  The coolness, hardness, and darkness of Saul's heart was being revealed.

Yet in the midst of the coolness and darkness of the cave into which David clamored for protection from the pursuit, David find a song bubbling up from his heart.  Interesting how one person's coldness, hardness, and darkness gives birth to all kinds of evil imaginings and another's gives birth to a greater trust in God and an expression of simple hope.  I wonder what is revealed about our hearts in the midst of the cool and dark places?  Maybe this is another metaphor given to us to reveal just how much God is with us even when the "place" we are in seems to be "hallow", "without escape", and "uncertain".  I don't know about you, but most of the caves I have explored are dark, cold, and a little more confining than I would be comfortable in for a long, long time!

David's heart turns to his Lord.  In response to his depth of trust in the delivering grace of God, he begins to allow his heart to well-up with words of praise and honor to the one he loves so greatly.  He begins with the testimony of God's "bigger than life" love and his faith in God's grace being what will reveal to the world around him the reality of God's goodness and glory.  Higher than the heavens.  I don't have the knowledge to fully grasp that one, but I do know the heavens go on and on and on, kind of without end!  So David's reference to the love of God being higher than the heavens, he is simply saying it is so vastly different from human love that it almost is immeasurable.  Human love is conditional - based on something we do for another.  God's love is unconditional - and as such it is almost immeasurable.

God's loyalty extends beyond the clouds.  The introduction of air travel wasn't even a concept when David penned these words, so perhaps we over-simplify this when we think about it, because we can rise above the clouds in our planes of today.  Yet, as David considered the heavens and the things contained in them, he references God's love and loyalty.  Clouds were a sign of what?  Impending weather change?  Incoming storms?  In those days, I'd have to say it was.  When he says God's loyalty (his intense commitment to keep each and every one of his promises) reached beyond the clouds.  In other words, come what might, God's commitment to keep David secure reached beyond the impending storms of life, and that commitment was not altered by the storm!

We might not sit to ponder the heights of heaven or the extent of God's loyalty toward us very often, but when we do, we might just draw the same conclusions!  Just sayin!

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