Imprecation-Psalm 58

Do you rulers indeed speak justly? Do you judge the people with equity? No, in you heart you devise injustice, and your hands mete out violence on the earth.

Even from birth the wicked go astray; from the womb they are wayward, spreading lies. Their venom is like the venom of the cobra that has stopped its ears, that will not heed the tune of the charmer, however skillful the enchanter may be.

Break the teeth in their mouths, O God; Lord, tear out the fangs of those lions! Let them vanish like water that flows away; when they draw the bow, let their arrows fall short. May they be like a slug that melts away as it moves along, like a stillborn child that never sees the sun.

Before your pots can feel the heat of the thorns-whether they be green or dry-the wicked will be swept away. The righteous will be glad when they are avenged, when they dip their feet in the blood of the wicked. Then people will say, “Surely the righteous still are rewarded; surely there is a God who judges the earth.”

Hermeneutical Categories

Did it work? Did I get you to read my post by using a tricky word like imprecation? I was going to use, “You’ll never believe what happens when this guy calls down God’s Judgment on his neighbors!” but didn’t really feel like I could deliver on that headline. However, I did use imprecation and hermeneutics (see above) so maybe you’re interested, maybe your not, but try to stick around for a minute as I address something that I think that we can all identify with.

'The Sacrifice of Noah', Jacopo Bassano, circa 1574

‘The Sacrifice of Noah’, Jacopo Bassano, circa 1574 Evidence of God’s Judgment

How do you read the Bible? I saw a post recently on Facebook where someone had put up a chart of a particular hermeneutic. Their hermeneutic (interpretation of scripture) was to take an idea or a particular situation in life that they wished were true and then find a way to justify it by what the Bible says, or rather, what they think that the Bible says. The chart concluded that anyone who would read the Bible and still believe that homosexuality is a sin can only fall into the category of bigoted and closed minded.

This person seemed to send the message that they were not open to reading the Bible any differently than the ideas that they had already formulated. From the conclusions that the chart came to, it was evident that if you didn’t agree with them, then you fit into a certain category or type of person. I wanted to respond with, “Wait a minute, is this fair? Where is your evidence? How is this different than the worst of internet memes?” But then I realized that as soon as I say something against this diagram, I fit instantly into the categories that they had created for someone like me. To be fair, I wish that I could talk to this person and find out more before I fit them into a category, which I realize I’m dangerously close to doing.

When we make a practice of fitting people into categories, it’s not surprising that we would do this to God as well. But this isn’t a liberal or conservative problem, it’s a human one. We take what we wish were true about the world based on our desires or the desires of someone close to us and then find a way to put God into a category that agrees with our thinking. This is a terrible hermeneutic, of which I am guilty. God’s word is meant to shape us instead of us shaping God’s word.

But what if it’s a hard passage or what if we disagree with what God is teaching us? Instead of assuming an answer here (since I’ve already assumed the question) it might be helpful to address a posture we ought to pursue before we ever come to the scriptures.

We aren’t God.

You, me, us, we aren’t God. No matter how we feel about the world, no matter how we “wish” things could be (I wish that I could eat a carton of moose tracks without consequence but that’s just not how the universe works) we aren’t God. We don’t get to decide what is right, just, holy, pure, true and what is sinful. God does. The only way that we’re ever to become fully free in our humanity is to become fully bound to our Creator.

Imprecca…what? 

My goal here isn’t to address sexual sin or to debate who is on the right side of the issue of the right to marry. My goal is to help us to see how it is a tragic mistake to make light of God’s word and not take the time or do the homework of understanding what he is communicating to us and how he wants us to live and flourish.

There are passages all over scripture that carry the weight of imprecatory Psalms, or Psalms of judgment. However, it is here in the Psalter that we see explicit sentiments or postures of judgment and cursing. Jesus said to love your enemies and to pray for those who persecute you. How do we reconcile that with prayers of judgment (imprecatory prayer) in the Psalms?

“Break the teeth in their mouth, O God.”

It is unfair to look at a passage like Psalm 58 and simply pass over it quickly or explain it away by claiming that the Old Testament is different than the New. We don’t get to ignore or explain away the parts of scripture that we disagree with. There’s hard work to do.

Where are you going with this?

The Psalms run the full spectrum of human emotions. They are filled with worship and praise, joy and celebration as well as tears, death, sadness and submission. They are the book of worship that Jesus was intimately familiar with and from which he quoted more than any other. The Psalms are necessary today for Christian worship. They are to be understood communally within the people of God and they teach us all of the beauty of the mercy, love and judgment of our God. As with all of Scripture we don’t get to ignore these prayers, we don’t get to re-translate them, we don’t get to dismiss them as hateful and not from God, we don’t get to deny their inspiration and they’re not to be read in contrast to a New Testament ethic.

Can we live a dedicated Christian life of love and mercy and prayer for our enemies AND pray the Psalms with understanding that God has judged and will judge sin? Over the next few posts I want to explore the beauty of worship found in imprecations against the wicked, what kind of posture the Christian should have when we pray these prayers and how imprecatory Psalms fit beautifully into God’s story of love for his people.

Soli Deo Gloria

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Antinomy-Psalm 53

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, and vile; there is no one who does good. God looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. Everyone has turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one. Do all these evildoers know nothing? They devour my people as though eating bread; they never call on God. But there they are, overwhelmed with dread, where there was nothing to dread. God scattered the bones of those who attacked you; you put them to shame, for God despised them. Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion! When God restores his people, let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad!

Antinomy Are you ok with contradiction? Actually, let me put it this way, are you ok with a life that can’t seem to escape contradiction? I can remember when I used to think (my early version of Christianity when I was a whipper-snapper) that life was black and white and that being a Christian meant being good (not-a-sinner) unnamed-3while being a sinner meant, well, just that, being a sinner. But as I grow and understand God’s story better I now see that the problem for many of us is not that the world isn’t black and white but that we can’t fit ourselves into finished categories of what we wish we were or could potentially be. Typically, we don’t like contradiction. We don’t like to think about what we wish we were and then act another way. We don’t like the fact that we would love to do what our hearts love to do, but at the same time make our hearts want what we know that we should do (ummm, ok, if you got that then just wink twice and move on). When I look at a donut, I want it! But what I would love is to make my heart not want it so that I don’t actually eat it. But alas, I eat it. Again and again and again. Confession As I grow to understand Hebrews 10:14 better, “For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” I am thankful for the antinomy, the seemingly contradictions of life. As Paul says in Romans 7, “I don’t do what I so desperately want to do!” Ever feel this way? Grasping the gospel is being ok with confession. Grasping the gospel is being ok with not being ok. That doesn’t mean that we get to act like the fool who says, “there is no God.” but it does mean that we are thankful that the essence of grace is that we are given what we so desperately can’t get on our own. For there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus! Salvation for a Reason In verse 6 here in Psalm 53 we are reminded that we are saved for a reason. “Oh that salvation for Israel would come from Zion! When God restores his people…” We are both, made perfect and are being made perfect. Our salvation is a gift which restores us to God, by the blood of Christ and this gift of life also works to perfect us even now as we are in the body. We grow and learn and understand that there are times of desperation and unbelief and there are times of great joy and obedience knowing that salvation has come from Zion! We are not overwhelmed with dread because, though yet we are fools, and turn from God, corrupt and vile, we are restored! What grace and beauty comes from this gospel of salvation for those who are in Christ! We don’t have to look at our lives as if we are accepted by God one day and then not the next. The contradiction we feel is good because what it means is that we care about and confess our unbelief and rebellion. As we live in the body, what we do in the body matters and has consequences, but we remember that Christ has redeemed us! Salvation has come from Zion and we are restored and are being restored. We are faithless, yet full of faith. We are broken, yet not broke. We are sinners but not lost to sin. Where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more. We are free, but are learning to live in this freedom. In the meantime… Let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad! Salvation has come from Zion! soli deo gloria

Just Stop Moving-Psalm 46

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, Kingdoms fail; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Come and see what the Lord has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire. He says, Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The Lord Almighty is with us; The God of Jacob is our fortress.

“Just stop moving!”IMG_0947

A few years ago (ok probably about 6 now) some friends and I went to the river to fish. That doesn’t sound strange, and since I live in Montana now it is a regular event. But in Arkansas our adventures to go fishing in streams of cool water for trout were fewer and farther between.

On this particular adventure we chose to fish the calmer flows of the North Fork river. Calmer waters or not, river fishing involves wading through waters that can sometimes become unexpectedly deep with rocks that are slipperier than Arkansas roads after a half inch of snow.

In a situation just like this, my friend Topher realized (as I have many times myself) that rather than try to tackle the slippery rocks head on sometimes the best advice, (as shouted from Mike nearby on the shore) is to just stop moving!

My Way or God’s Way

The rocks of the North Fork river or the green of the Gallatin here in Montana don’t have an agenda. They’re just there, waiting for unsuspecting feet to try to find footing on their round vegetated surfaces. As any experienced fisherman may know, it’s futile to move too fast or to keep going when the best course of action is to stop, assess and in many cases, go back or find another way.

The Psalmist here in Psalm 46 reminds us that to push forward, to seek to do it our own way without submitting to God, only ends in fear and destruction. In order to understand Psalm 46 it helps to go back and read Numbers 16. Psalm 46 was written by the Sons of Korah. The Sons of Korah were descendants of Levi, a priestly nation given the special task of carrying holy items as the Israelites moved through the wilderness.

In Numbers 16 a dispute breaks out. The ancestors of the Sons of Korah from Psalm 46 make a tragic mistake. They begin to believe that they are due honor and glory that they aren’t given from God. They complain to Moses and tell him that they don’t like being subordinate to anyone. They threaten a coup and so God decides to remind them who is in charge.

I won’t give the story away but just to say this, the earth does gives way, the waters roar and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea. It’s quite possible that the author of Psalm 46 is reminded of this rebellion and the mistake that his ancestors made. In an attempt to lead God’s people in worship he reminds them and us to, “just stop moving!” “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted in the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Submitting

It’s hard to submit, and I find myself desperately wanting to complain and tell God what the Kohathites told Moses in Numbers 16 that “you, God, have gone too far! Life is too difficult and I want to do it my way now!” But slippery rocks are a dangerous way to cross a river. I confess of my arrogance in thinking that I know the best way and that I want to be God.

The command to “be still” doesn’t simply mean to stop moving. To be still, in the way that the Psalmist means it, is to stop going the way that we think is best. Stop doing it our way. We’re not in charge and until we submit to God’s plan and will we won’t know what it means to find God as a refuge and strength.

Verse 4 reminds us that, “there is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy places where the Most High dwells.” Jesus, when ministering to the woman at the well in John 4 reveals 2 things about the Kingdom of God. 1. The Kingdom of God has perfect standards for admission. 2. Anyone of drinks from the water of life is included. We can keep moving, believing that we are in charge and that our way is best or we can, be still, and know that He is God.

“Come and see what the Lord has done! The Lord almighty is with us, the God of Jacob is our fortress!”

Soli Deo Gloria

Waiting and Trusting-Psalm 40

I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in Him.

Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods. Many, Lord my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us. None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare.

Sacrifice and offering you did not desire-but my ears you have opened-burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require. Then I said, “Here I am, I have come-it is written about me in the scroll. I desire to do your will, my God; your law is within my heart.”

It’s hard to wait.

When we go hiking as a family mom and dad often find ourselves waiting. What are we waiting for? Most of the time it’s for short legs to catch up to our long ones! Many times we have to intervene and end up either holding hands or hoisting up tired feet onto shoulders. But I can imagine that there is more waiting on their part than ours. The waiting that I am speaking of is the desire for change. The desire to get bigger and to be able to tackle the mountainAub and Daddy the way that mom and dad do. Many of us have desires and things that we wish would happen. We all like to have that sense of completion and the fulfillment of accomplishment.

The last time that I hiked up Bridger Peak (not to the top mind you) I asked a weary traveler heading down, “How much farther is it?” to which he replied, “Well that depends, how far are you going?” my response, “not too much farther.” His answer was spot on and revealed the ridiculousness of my question when he answered, “Well then I guess you’re almost there.”

I’m impatient and my impatience reveals the heart of a child who so desperately wishes to have things figured out.

Waiting and Trusting

David brings us into the heart of worship when he talks about waiting on the Lord here in Psalm 40. Waiting and trusting are difficult because what it requires is dying to self. Waiting and trusting require putting aside our agendas and looking to the will of God. But David reminds us that there are blessings in waiting and trusting in God. The one who waits sings a new song and decides that the idolatry in our hearts is not equal to the reward of trusting in the Lord.

The Heart of Christ

As we consider where we struggle to wait and trust in God, David points to the beauty of the blessing of our waiting. And as we wrestle to give up that which we are trusting in instead of God we can wrestle with hope because as David reminds us in verse 8 of Psalm 40, we hear the words of Christ from Hebrews 10:7, “Here I am-it is written about me in the scroll-I have come to do your will, my God.”

The patient heart of our Savior has always been to do the will of the Father. Where our hearts are frail and sinful, his is strong and faithful. His perfect sacrifice of love, justifies and purifies us and by faith we wait and trust knowing that no matter what, we’ll never be separated from our Father. Our verdict is secure, we are loved and adored. This frees us to let go of what we think we need to do to prove ourselves worthy. It frees us to be rescued, lifted from the muck and mire onto the shoulders of our loving father and what better place to wait and trust.

Soli Deo Gloria

Taste and See-Psalm 34:8

Psalms and God’s Presence562563_10150775597772962_1566758683_n

As I continue to mediate and think through what the Psalms have to offer us today in our worship practices, I have been reading this book by Tremper Longman. Here are a few thoughts on what it looks like to soak in these wonderful liturgical reminders of the character and nature of God.

God is present in every corner of his creation. He is with us whether or not we are at work or at home, shopping or studying, in the city or the country, at sea or on land. He is everywhere and with us no matter what we do.

Nonetheless, the Scriptures make it clear that though God’s presence permeates the world, he chooses to dwell in a special way in certain places and to make his presence known at certain times. For instance, the Lord dwelt on Mount Sinai (Exodus 19-20) in a special way at the time that Moses received the law. His presence was manifested and experienced in a way that was not repeated on any other mountain until he chose to dwell on Mount Zion in the time of Solomon.

These special places of God’s presence are places of intimate and at times fearful encounters with the God of the universe. The are places which demand human response; they demand worshipful prayer. 

As we read the Psalms, we are entering into the sanctuary, the place where God meets men and women in a special way. We will see that the conversation between God and his people is direct, intense, intimate and, above all else honest. 

Thus the Psalms are a kind of literary sanctuary in the Scripture. The place where God meets his people in a special way, where his people may address him with their praise and lament.

Who’s in Charge?

The Psalms challenge us to think through who is in charge. When our children demand something from us because of discomfort, boredom or hunger (among other reasons) we remind them that they have forgotten who is in charge. The Psalms make us pause, and back up for a minute to consider how our presumptuous living lacks sobriety. We are reminded in the Psalms that all of our existence comes from God. All of creation is sustained by his hand and all or our steps are directed by the Creator of the Universe.

This ought to affect our hearts and remind us of who we are. The Psalms encourage us to dig deep into the humanity of our spirituality and work us over in such a way that we either fall to our knees in adoration and worship of God or we fall to or knees in repentance and lament. Either way, we cannot walk away from them unchanged.

A thought from John Calvin on the Psalms.

What various and resplendent riches are contained in this treasury (Psalms), it were difficult to find words to describe…I have been wont to call this book not inappropriately, an anatomy of all parts of the soul; for there is not an emotion of which any one can be conscious that is not here represented as in a mirror.

Incarnational Intersection

Calvin paints a wonderful picture of how the Psalms speak to every part of our soul. They hold up a mirror and incite in our hearts the eager longing to connect where we once thought we were isolated. Consider Psalm 35:22-23 where the Psalmist pleads for God’s intervention in his life in the midst of suffering at the hands of others, “Lord, you have seen this; do not be silent. Do not be far from me, Lord. Awake, and rise to my defense! Contend for me, my God and Lord!”

The prayers offered in these verses reflect a desire for the incarnation of God. “Do not be far from me!” Draw near to me, the Psalmist cries out! As these words pour from the lips of the poet, who among us has not felt this same way? This mirror that Calvin speaks of is impossible to ignore once we see how physical these spiritual prayers are.

Not only do these Psalms speak of how God and man intersect they unceasingly point to the realized incarnation in Christ. For the Christian we not only read the Psalms with eyes to see the worship of God and ears to hear of his mighty hand, we also see the beauty of Christ and the redemption that we, by faith, eat and drink in his incarnation.

Consider the words of N.T. Wright here on Christ and the Psalms.

I am suggesting that the entire worldview that the Psalms are inculcating was to do with that intersection of our time, space, and matter with God’s, (time, space and matter) which Christians believe happen uniquely and dramatically in Jesus.

Taste and See…

When Time, Space and Matter collide the witnesses to this event are never the same. God came down. We see this incarnation played out fully in the Gospels but this incarnation was foreshadowed in the Psalms. Not only was Christ foreshadowed in the Psalms but It was through these practices, prayers and postures presented in the Psalms that [was] the “hymnbook that Jesus and his followers would have known by heart.” (N.T. Wright).

Allow the beauty of these Scriptural treasures to wash over you and your family. Take a moment and chew on the incarnational truth that the Psalms have to offer. Practicing this daily, for the believer who does so in faith, changes, shapes and moulds our hearts to be more like Christ’s.

Psalm 34:8 “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.

The command to taste and see is an incarnational call to know God in our humanity. This call to taste and see points us to the incarnational meal that God himself, in Christ shared with his disciples and with us with these words, “This is my body, given for you” and “This is the blood of the covenant, poured out for the many for the forgiveness of sins.” Taste and see that the Lord is good.

Soli Deo Gloria

Forgiveness-Psalm 32

Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against them and in whose spirit there is no deceit. When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night you hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin. Therefore let all the faithful pray to you while you may be found; surely the rising of the mighty waters will not reach them. You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with the songs of deliverance. I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. Do not be like the horse or the mule who have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you. Many are the woes of the wicked, but the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the one who trusts in him. Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart.

Fear of Exposure

Growing up I was always afraid that I was lukewarm in my faith in Jesus (enter spitting sound…now). He gave himself for me and I don’t even want to sing the hymns at church! Well, It was true, I was 574447_10151482366557962_655928704_nlukewarm. But worse than not liking to sing the church hymns, (I’d rather have sung Bon Jovi…hey Bon Jovi even lived on a prayer…am I right?…ok I’ll stop) I didn’t feel like God liked me. I knew that I had sin, but I just couldn’t get it right! Wasn’t that the point of being a Christian? Getting it right so that God would now at least like me?

The affect that this belief had on my heart was that when I did sin I certainly couldn’t tell anyone. Fear of exposure became my worst nightmare. Fearing that we are alone in our sin and struggles leaves us abandoned to isolation, or as the Psalmist puts it “day and night your hand was heavy on me…” And Jesus’ words in John 9:41 remind us that our guilt remains if we claim that we don’t have sin. Truly, confession is still incredibly difficult. I don’t want to, but need to come clean. Confession of sin and exposure to the Lord, and sometimes to friends, what is going on in my heart is essential for growth in Christ.

2 Truths and A Promise

These 2 things are true about sin in scripture, 1. all have sinned (Romans 3:23) and 2. everyone needs forgiveness (Hebrews 9:22). I don’t like to confess sin. I don’t like to go to God over and over again with the same struggles. It’s not fun. But when I read Psalm 32 I’m reminded of the Grace of God found in Christ.

Blessed is the one (man in the Hebrew) whose sins are forgiven! What happens to this man if he keeps his sin to himself? The crusting weight of his isolation is too much for him. He has to tell someone. He has to tell his Lord what he has done. But in confessing his sin, he demonstrates faith in who God says he is. And with each demonstration of weakness, his faith grows.

I remember when Brady (our now 9 year-old) came to me one day with tears in his eyes. He had scratched the “treasured” minivan (not this minivan) and just couldn’t live without telling us about it. I can remember times when the guilt and conviction of sin against another person was so strong that there was no activity that I could engage in until I told them what I had done.

We practice a weekly corporate confession of sin in our worship service. It is a message to those who believe that we must take sin seriously. But this time of confession is always followed up with a wonderful promise of forgiveness. This time of confession is also for the unbeliever in our midst. It is a time for them to consider whether or not they believe that there is sin in their lives and whether they have faith to trust in Christ.

The Apostle John reminds us of this promise of forgiveness. “For if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and to cleans us form all unrighteousness.” John is repeating what the Psalmist is saying here. But from John and from Psalm 32 we are reminded of how essential it is to acknowledge our sin and then to talk to God about it.

No Blood No Forgiveness

The author of Hebrews expounds on the Old Testament laws and comments on their sacrificial practices. Hebrews reminds us that sin brings death and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness for sins. No matter what we do, or give up, or try to accomplish, we cannot provide for that sacrifice. The Old Testament sacrifices pointed to the One who would be sacrificed for us. We have that sacrifice in Jesus Christ, our Great High Priest.

The blessing that the Psalmist speaks of in Psalm 32 is the freedom that we have when we are bold enough to stop hiding. Every opportunity to confess what sin does to us if a equal reminder to consider what Christ has done for us.

There is no greater freedom than to be in right standing with our Creator. There is no greater freedom to know that someone fully knows us and that God our Father has forgiven our sins. Do not be the horse or the mule who gets pulled here and there acting as if nothing is wrong.

Remember that the…”Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the one who trusts in him. Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart” Taste and see that the Lord is good!

Glory-Psalm 24

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it;
the world, and all who live in it;
for he founded it on the seas
and established it on the waters.
Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord?
Who may stand in his holy place?
The one who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not trust in and idol or swear by a false god.
They will receive blessing from the Lord
and vindication from God their Savior.
Such is the generation of those who seek him,
who seek your face, God of Jacob.
Lift up your heads, you gates;
be lifted up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord strong and mighty,
the Lord mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, you gates;
lift them up you ancient doors.
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is he, this King of glory?
The Lord Almighty-He is the King of glory.

כָּבוֹד The Battle For Glory

I’m not much of a sports guy, but I do find that at times I am jealous for those who are. I wish I had a “team” or a “player” that I loved to follow. Whether you’re a fan or not it’s not hard to argue the case that all pro sports have their glory hounds. An article published in The Bleacher Report a few years ago highlights a struggle for athletes who are good at their craft.  In the article, the author presents the 20 most self-centered athletes in the world. This is of course subjective but nonetheless it leaves the reader with 20 opportunities to judge those who make more money than we do. In this short article we see 20 people scrutinized for their attempt to make much of themselves.

In Psalm 24 David uses the Hebrew word כָּבוֹד kavowd to describe God’s glory. The definition is complex and can be defined in a few ways but the overall idea is evidence of greatness, or wonder and amazement at the power and prominence of someone’s performance. Whew…that’s kind of wordy but we all understand what it boils down to. Glory means that someone get’s the credit.

But someone has to get credit right? If we play basketball against LeBron James and lose we can’t say that it was because we had an off day. LeBron wins every time. He gets the glory. Making much of ourselves has never been a problem for only pro athletes. One of the  greatest struggle in humanity is our battle for the glory that is due to God and God alone. Pastor and counselor Paul Tripp puts it well when he says,

“human beings are glory junkies…Whether you like to admit to it or not, you’re addicted to glory. Glory junkies talk about themselves a lot. Their story is the most important and their interests are better than anyone else’s. This may seem harsh, but be honest – you and I often see people as a waste of time. When we’re overly confident and independent, people become an irritating and unhelpful interruption of what we could accomplish on our own.”

Glory Comes From Sacrifice

Psalm 24 gives us a glimpse of The Kingdom of God. In a kingdom it’s only the King who gets the glory. David starts with a reminder of our condition in verses 1-3, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it…” Glory is rooted in ownership. As kids we would taunt each other on the court with phrases like, “I own you!” Our intent was to gain glory by ousting the other. This is fun when it’s sports and it’s done for humor, but it’s sin when done to gain glory for ourselves. David is painting a picture to remind us of who owns what.

In verse 3 we are exhorted by way of the rhetorical question, “who may stand in God’s holy place?” There is a 2 fold answer: 1. No body (see Psalm 14) unless they are 2. Clean. But how can we possibly be clean? In verse 4 we see a picture of Christ, holy, perfect and clean. His glory was revealed in his service to us making us pure and clean. Paul says in Romans 1:4 that Christ was vindicated as the Son of God by his defeating death! This was done so that we might be able to “ascend God’s holy hill” and “stand in his holy place.” We serve a king who first served us. God get’s the credit; He wins every time.

The king Submits to The King

When we see how Christ offered himself for us and how his offering enables fellowship with God it changes us. Psalm 24 wasn’t just written to encourage us to look to Christ, because even King David only saw types and shadows of what was to come. We are called to seek righteousness and holiness. It’s a wonderful reminder that here we have a king (little k) writing of his desire to serve a King (big K). David understood what it meant to seek to bring God the glory and for a king to submit to The King.

In God’s Kingdom there is a reversal of values. At some point Christians should wrestle with the temptation to seek a life that glorifies self or one that gives Glory to God. The way up is the way down. Who is this King of Glory? The Lord Almighty-He is the King of Glory!