Psalm 25

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In Psalm 25, David is in trouble once again. You could probably write a book (maybe someone has) on how you can bet trials and struggles will beset followers of God based on how often the man after God’s own heart found himself in hot water. Regardless, David models for us how one ought to respond to God in moments of strife and struggle. 

“O my God in you I trust; let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me.”

David begins his psalm by turning and addressing God directly. He puts his full trust in the Lord. I tend toward being a problem solver and over-analyzer. All too often, when confronted with a trial, my first move is to try and figure out the next steps, reason why things are the way they are, and then make the “best” decision possible. I either never engage God or do so only after my own efforts have come up empty. David, too, has tried to take care of his problems on his own in the past (v.7), but now he has learned to seek God first. 

“Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.”

David then seeks the Lord for wisdom in what he should do. “Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths”. He so fully trust God to grant his request he doesn’t even say please. David expectantly “waits” for God to make everything right. So often my struggles and fears are more about misplaced hope than anything else.

“For your name’s sake, O Lord, pardon my guilt, for it is great.”

When my children have something go against them, they are prone to fits of “not fair” or “but [insert name of convenient example] didn’t have to do this”. I typically write that off as a childish reaction, but I know my adult heart has felt the same with my own problems. Yet David uses his struggles as a time to examine and reflect on his own sinful condition. Multiple times over in Psalm 25, David affirms God’s forgiveness mercy as well as his goodness and righteousness.

“May integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for you”

David closes his psalm by asking for God to preserve him and redeem Israel. It is an honest plea to the only one whom he knows can provide true help. His struggles were likely more visceral and tangible than what modern Western Christians will typically (though not categorically) face. His problems weren’t metaphorical or solely spiritual. They were real, with physical consequences. And yet, his trust was in a God whose steadfast love and faithfulness would cause him to one day send his Son to redeem us all. Might we too be honest with our Father the next time we endure trials knowing that Jesus himself has already not let us “be put to shame”.

--Chris Reed

Psalm 133

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This simple and short 'song of ascents' invokes the imagery of a community traveling up to Jerusalem, singing together. Despite only having three verses, the application of this psalm is something Christians work on their entire life (and forevermore!). "How good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!", or in the Message, "when brothers and sisters get along!". There is not an assumption here that community will be easy, there is simply the assumption of a community. When you accept God's gift of salvation, you are adopted into a faith family whether you like it or not. Many times in Scripture you will read warnings against isolation, and encouragement to meet regularly with believers, spur one another on, and to love your neighbor as yourself. The challenge for us in this psalm is not if, but how we intend to exist in this faith family. 

The remaining couple verses use imagery to convey the benefits of living in community. The idea of oil represents being made holy, or consecrated (think of how priests were anointed, and interceded on behalf of the community). Essentially, in community we can act in such a way to make those around us holy and bring them closer to God. Then thinking of morning dew, flowing down a mountain to drench an otherwise dry land. Community is life giving, and offers a sense of newness or unexpectedness to our lives. These images may also invoke comparisons in how the Scriptures often speak about God, as we are made holy through him, and his mercies are new every morning. It is clear community is important, with the psalmist concluding so with "the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore" to point to the blessing we have in a faith family for eternity. 

The challenge the psalmist presents is not only to dwell with your community, but to also do so harmoniously. First let's talk about dwelling. At one fifth Sunday at Jeremy's house, he mentioned that the house next door was for sale in case anyone was interested in being neighbors. I told some of my fellow GC members that we should all go in on the house and live together. We had fun imagining what that may look like, but I think I was the only one in the group who was actually semi-serious. Despite my dreams of living in a big house with my GC being crushed, I believe there are other ways to dwell together. The best image for me is thinking about an actual family (what a startling comparison!). Family doesn't have to live in the same house, but there is an understanding that the lives of the members intersect, and what one member does can impact another member. Strong families are ones in regular communication with each other, and who frequently spend time together. Healthy families learn to resolve conflict, may often disagree on issues but maintain respect for one another. There are many more things I could say here, but I bet you get the picture. It's easy to view our relationship with our family/spouse in this way, but how often are we holding our friends to such a high standard? But this is the exact reason we use the term faith family to describe the church/Christian community. We should view our brothers and sisters in Christ with the same innate connection that we view our actual family. With that understanding, we can better prioritize our time to invest in these relationships. 

Just as we don't choose our family, we also don't choose our Christian brother and sisters. There are members of my GC who I absolutely love, but have often said things to them like "I don't think we would have been friends in high school". Basically, we don't have a lot in common. This is why I love the Message version of this psalm, blatantly stating the importance of our faith family "getting along". Not having similar interests is likely not causing intense arguments, however I imagine contention to come from feelings of disproportion concerning input and output. No family is healthy if one member is always giving, and never receiving; or vice versa. This might be a good time for you to reflect on your role in the Christ City faith family. Is it one where you feel strung out with how much you are contributing, but feel as if your needs are not being met? Or maybe you are encouraged by how many blessings you are receiving from this family, but realize you have not taken the opportunity to minister to your other family members. As stated at the start, there is no guarantee community will be easy, and in reality it is actually very difficult. Just like in any normal family, life together requires communication, sacrifice, and grace to dwell in unity. 

My challenge here is to think about any expectations you may unknowingly be placing on the members of this faith family, or on yourself. Community is something that always sounds good, and "living life together" is a fun Christian phrase we love to say, but is it something we are actually pursuing/prioritizing? How can we be like the flowing of anointed oil, encouraging those in our DNA and making them holy through our faithfulness? The Lord gives us a common mission towards glorifying Him, just as the Israelites would sing this song together on the way to worship in Jerusalem. We are all on the same path towards God, and that journey is made easier when we work and grow together. Take time to thank the Lord for the community He has provided you, and reflect on how to continue to cultivate growth in this faith family.

—Christine Luter

Psalm 140

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“I say to the Lord, You are my God; give ear to the voice of my pleas for mercy, O Lord!” - Psalm‬ ‭140:6‬ ‭ESV‬‬

King David was in a real battle, fighting for his life. His need for rescue and protection must have been an immediate and dreadful reality. He pleaded to his God, the God of his fathers, for mercy. He knew his God and was certain of the rescue.

In the world I experience daily, the battle is often subdued, raging behind the scenes. It may be hardly noticeable. I may not notice when the enemy gains ground.

Psalm 140 reminds me that I am in a real battle. Regardless of what I can see in the moment or am willing to admit, my life is in danger and I need to be rescued. When I look and listen carefully, I can see and hear it. I see images and hear whispers of lies:

  • the only way to win is to grind out a few more hours of work

  • a good dad would have been there for dinner time

  • are you really sharing the gospel? Do you really work for the Lord?

  • Half naked people on billboards and in social media videos is not a big deal

  • Rest and sleep are simply not productive, much productivity is needed

  • I have so much to prove as a man, husband, dad, son, friend, etc.

The enemy uses these lies to attack my faith. The enemy attempts to break down my sure place as a son of the one true God.

These attacks hurt and cause me harm. I feel the sting of sin when I do not reject them for what they are and claim the name of Jesus. But thanks be to my God that the Holy Spirit reminds me that Christ is Lord. Our church family reminds me that I am a son of Our Father. The same God who rescued David created me, knows me, and calls me son. There is no way my Father will leave his son’s life, my life, to be consumed by these lies. He will rescue me and bring me into His loving presence. I do not have anything to prove. With great freedom, I can pursue Jesus and do my best to be a loving, faithful son. Jesus lives, and His grace is all around!

“I know that the Lord will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and will execute justice for the needy. Surely the righteous shall give thanks to your name; the upright shall dwell in your presence.” - Psalm‬ ‭140:12-13‬ ‭ESV‬‬

—Ryan Kernes