Love Came Down with Clear-eyed Focus

tree of life in desertPsalm 106 recalls Israel’s history of reaching and then denying God. Often, Israel reaped bitter consequences for their disobedience. Constantly, God stooped down in mercy to their cries or repentance. Knowing the human default is doubt instead of steadfast faith, the psalmist petitions:

Remember me, O Lord, with the favor You have toward Your people.

Oh, visit me with Your salvation,

That I may see the benefit of Your chosen ones,

That I may rejoice in the gladness of Your nation,

That I may glory with Your inheritance.(Psalm 106: 4-5 NKJV)

“Visit me God, with your salvation, that I may see the benefit of being Yours.”, the worshiper cries. I wonder, how often do we stand in the embrace of the King of nations, yet live forsaken, as if God can’t hear though He stands right before us, if only we had eyes to see?

Only a heart of gratitude can perceive the benefits of being God’s beloved kids. When life gets tough, complaint, voiced or silent, can lodge in our hearts.  Then the serpent sneers a suggestion, whispered and repeated since the Garden, that God just isn’t that good. This insidious lie has reaped confusion and pain for the generations.  If not confronted, it’s first crop is resistance. From resistance, sprouts unbelief. Once unbelief forms its double-minded head, our heart connect with God seizes up.  Finally, our faith is framed in restless wandering, as we doubt and resist the One who Loves, reaping more pain than a bed full of cacti on a cold desert floor until we cry for mercy and God moves us back to the safety of our covenant relationship once more.

Psalm 106 recounts this historic struggle of the Israelites to move in independence when trials came, then doubt and resistance to God quickly grew to disobedience and iniquity:

We have sinned with our fathers,

We have committed iniquity,

We have done wickedly.

Our fathers in Egypt did not understand Your wonders;

They did not remember the multitude of Your mercies,

But rebelled by the sea—the Red Sea (106:6-7).

The psalmist outlines how the heart of a nation could turn against God:

They soon forgot His works;

They did not wait for His counsel,

But lusted exceedingly in the wilderness,

And tested God in the desert (106:13-14).

rock and treesAs the Israelites quit God within and doubted Him without, they minimized God’s greatness, worshiped their own counsel and shouted a national anthem of “Prove Yourself!”  Desperate and angry, the Israeli nation forsook God and then blamed Him for every sorrow when they walked away.

Imagine God’s heartbreak, as He tenderly lead His nation toward their land of His promise yet instead of worship, the million plus former slaves queued at Moses’ intake desk, arms folded, singing “You don’t impress me much!” as they insisted God meet their desert demands with heartbreaking attitude:

Then they despised the pleasant land;

They did not believe His word,

But complained in their tents,

And did not heed the voice of the Lord (106:24-25).

They despised God’s Word.  In consequence, God came out from behind the complaint desk and gave the nation what they were begging for, “And He gave them their request, but sent leanness into their soul”.

Quail, water, women, all suddenly arrived without the help of the Brown or FedEx. With it, also came rzown, Hebrew for “leanness”, translated as the state of wasting away through total consumption. Fornication, child sacrifice, rebellion and dissent were just some of the sins which abounded in the wilderness.  Plagues hit the camp, snakes bit the children and fires broke out. Chaos ensued and thousands died as they gave up on the God of their inheritance and reaped their choices to go it alone.

Historically, we know Israel made it to the Promised Land of Canaan.  Yet Psalm 106 illustrates how Israel missed the glory of their covenant with God through resistence, disobedience, idolatry and sin.   Conquering armies continually assaulted this nation for centuries; battles wage even today as Iraq rattles its nuclear sabres and the Palestinians govern a key piece of Jerusalem.  Peaceless, the nation of Israel continues to accept God only on their terms and miss the joy of sonship completely.

rocks in desertGod hasn’t changed His plan for Israel as His Chosen people. The mercies of God are incredible. In fact, the nation of Israel, with more grace, economic growth and patents than ever, is proof of God’s longsuffering love for Israel:

Many times He delivered them;

But they rebelled in their counsel,

And were brought low for their iniquity.

Nevertheless He regarded their affliction,

When He heard their cry;

And for their sake He remembered His covenant,

And relented according to the multitude of His mercies.(Psalm 106:43-45)

So what does this psalm mean to us?

If we are not Jewish, is this psalm be relevant to our lives?

What is the antidote to doubt when disappointment afflicts the heart?

Encounter with the deep enduring love of God through Christ shifts us into peace and propels us into obedience and submission to His Word and His principle transforms us into kingdom enforcers, not a nation of rebels.

Paul prayed intensely for the church to grasp the revelation of God’s deep love as an anchor to our faith:

“that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at the right hand in heavenly places” (Ephesians 1:17-20).

2014-10-14 16.15.01In Colossians, we hear this cry as Paul prays, “that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him,being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light” (1:9-12).

Paul knew the goodness of God, despite his trials by rods and stonings, national persecution, shipwrecks and imprisonments.  Nevertheless, Paul clung to God, to His power, to relationship, to seeing the wisdom of God and living a life of worship.

Daily, Paul faced trial without complaint, for he counted on a greater reality, the goodness of God and his covenant relationship with his Father through Christ.

Today, let’s take inventory of the state of our heart.

Are we secretly despising God for not meeting a need we expected or for failing to protect us in the way we expected?

Do we worship or complain in our times with God?

Do we reach for His perspective in trials or stumble into bitter protest?

How are we led? Is Holy Spirit leading us, as Counselor, or are we firmly cutting our own trek across the wilderness?

Can we understand our lives have generational impact or are we insisting on day-to-day satisfaction?

Are we short-sighted, blinded by the log jamb of life’s disappointments or can we see the greatness of life in Christ?

Do we live thankful for the glory of the adventure of life in Christ?

Do we savour the remarkable gift to live in fellowship with same God Who is breathing stars into existence by His breath on the far edge of the universe and still stoops down in love to hear our cries?

Do we remember who we are and Whose we are?

grand canyonLet’s Pray:  Lord God,  we cry, give us sight to see Your goodness!  Help us to remember Your mercies!  O Father God, may we consider the greatness of Your ways every day.  May we receive the joy of Your embrace today as we walk in Your love for us, Your children.  May we receive Your salvation and deliverance and healing and freedom this day with thankful, grateful hearts.  May we worship You in the beauty of Your Holiness all of Your days. Father God, Bless Israel, the Holy land of Your longing.  May her walls be strong and her enemies vanquished forever.  May Your people know their Messiah has come; His Name is Jesus.   We cry out to You, O Lord, save us from our blinded hearts! Shine Your Light and hold it steady, Lord God Almighty, until we see what You want us to see. We ask this is the mighty name of Jesus, King of nations, Lord of our lives.  Amen.

This Week’s Reading:  Psalms 92-120

Next Week’s Reading:  Psalm 121 – 150

Study Questions:

1. Take the inventory. As the Holy Spirit to lead you into repentance where needed.

2. Take a look at what God is doing in your life. Worship Him in any way that is meaningful to you and Him.

3. Take a look back, like the psalmist did. Write your own psalm of thansgiving to God, that His love endures forever in your life.

4.  Sometimes the Lord gives me songs to sing.  Here is one that has deep meaning for my life.  Read and reflect what gifts the Lord has given to you.

I sing a song of deliverance. I’ve come to woo my Bride.

I’ve come to sing My love over you.  Come be by My Side.

Can you hear Me?

I’m murmuring, whispering, laughing, singing, My love over you.

Words of healing, deliverance, salvation, freedom –

They’re My gifts to you.