Scripture: Psalm 37
Do not worry because of evildoers, Nor be envious toward wrongdoers; For they will wither quickly like the grass, And fade like the green herb.
Trust [rely on and have confidence] in the Lord and do good;
Dwell in the land and feed [securely] on His faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the Lord, And He will give you the desires and petitions of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord; Trust in Him also and He will do it. He will make your righteousness [your pursuit of right standing with God] like the light, And your judgment like [the shining of] the noonday [sun].
Be still before the Lord; wait patiently for Him and entrust yourself to Him;
Do not fret (whine, agonise) because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes. Cease from anger and abandon wrath;
Do not fret; it leads only to evil. For those who do evil will be cut off, But those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land. (Psalm 37:1-9)
Reading a Psalm like this we can see that are many instructions here as well as promises. When we meditate on scripture as they may have done in ancient times we can discover something of great value for our lives today. There are secrets here that we can learn today to transpose these promises into our times.
We preach and teach with the assumption that those listening and watching are part of the faith that we share, however, this may not be the case, and it is the true that we live in a world that has many different views and different assumptions. When we say the name, God, we can't assume that someone else has that same idea, perhaps our experience has made us think in a certain way or we have made assumptions. We, as Christians value scripture as ancient wisdom, and reveal to us something about the nature and character of God. But as Christians we are always careful to be Christ-centric when we read it. David who wrote this Psalm, was at heart a worshiper and for the most part lived a faithful life towards God.
Today with all the knowledge we have at our fingertips, we want to not just seek knowledge for the sake of it but gain wisdom and understanding on how we can live and love.
When we hear the word God the things that come immediately to our minds influence our reading of scripture and our doctrinal position. The image we have of God in our minds perhaps says more about us than it does God.
Several Eastern religions, philosophers, and scientists claim God is either non– existent, absent, or “dead” in relation to the universe and creation . However Christians, as do some other faiths, believe in God’s absolute presence and that God embraces everything.
The proclamation is that God in Christ is indeed is present in the universe, makes God somehow relatable, yet the divine is also supernatural, supreme; God is the Creator is wholly ‘other’ than creation. There is therefore a balance between the otherness of God, the simplicity and the imminency.
A common reaction to the belief in the divine’s complete ‘otherness’ implies that the Creator is absent and unknowable to creation. Some kind of agnostic view is also common today, differed from deism, a belief that God is there yet unknowable to us as we are not able to understand or confirm the existence of God.
Discussions about God’s presence and absence likewise become complicated because imperfect human language is incapable of explaining God’s ontological distinction.
I believe that what we know and believe about God originates in scripture and flows out into our experience.
The word in the Psalm of David used here Yahweh which we translate as Lord, literally meaning. I am. This can often be followed by Yahweh interactive characteristics, such as I am the lord of heals, who saves, who provides etc.
These additions to the name of Yahweh often describe how God interacts with us, yes God is the ‘I am’ and always have been and I will be what I will be.
Psalm 37 assumes our belief in the otherness and distinction of God. Yet also David seem to have an inside track to some keys to our interaction and therefore by implication David's and consequently our impact on the world.
1. Trust in the Lord (be bold confident, secure) and do good.
2. Dwell in the land and feed on God faithfulness. (herds of sheep feeding non
3. Delight yourself (being soft dainty and delicate)
4. Commit your way (literally to roll with it)
5. Be still (hold peace, quiet self, rest, be silent)
6. Cease from anger and fret (stop being angry, burn, or be displeased, grieve,
be wax hot, be incensed) When Moses wrote God is “slow to anger,” the implications in Hebrew idioms suggest that God's nostrils do not burn quickly.
7. Wait upon the Lord
There are a few words in Hebrew for wait. It is the word used for making
rope. Ever take a close look at a rope. The ancient method of making rope is still used today. Hundreds of thin strands of fabric, each when along can easily be broken, are tightly bound together to form a rope that cannot be broken.
Waiting upon the Lord is just not sitting back, patiently twiddling our thumbs, but it is a process of binding ourselves to God and the more we bind ourselves to God, the stronger we become.
Point 1 - What delights us?
What we spend time doing or who we spend time with shows where our affection lies. Someone once said love is spelt TIME. Jesus said where your treasure is there is your heart.
My topic this morning is delighting ourselves in the Lord or “what delights us.” For some the idea that anything in life can be a delight, especially when times are tough, seems too far fetched. While others too easily have the ability to be delighted with themselves.
However the Hebrew word here is translated as “delight” (pronounced aw-nag) and means to be delicate or feminine It carries the idea of being flexible or sensitive. In this particular context, it means to be dependent upon God and to derive one’s pleasure from the Lord.
Does this describe us?
Do we rely solely upon God?
Do we derive our greatest pleasure from God?
To determine the answer to this, let me ask us a very simple diagnostic question: what is it that gives us pleasure, what is it that goes beyond mere satisfaction.
The Psalmist calls us to delight ourselves in God. He does more than just make a suggestion here. The verb translated “delight” is an imperative in the Hebrew, meaning this is a command. This is not a helpful suggestion which the Psalmist sets before us... no... this is a command from the pen of the inspired Psalmist to strive to delight completely in God.
This is not an isolated command in Scripture. We see this set forth as the normal experience of believers all throughout Scripture...
Psalm 16:11 (NRSV) - You show me the path of life. In your presence there is fullness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Psalm 27:4 (ESV) – 4 One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.
Psalm 42:1-2 (ESV) – 1 As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?
Psalm 63:1 (ESV) – 1 O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
Philippians 3:8 (ESV) – 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord...
The Apostle Paul states that he is willing to give up “everything” so that he may know Jesus Christ. Delighting in God can be costly... but it is worth it.
Point 2 Our heart's desire is the Lord.
The second part of this scripture is “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”
In Hebrew thought, the heart was primarily the seat of the inner being. It was the source of the will. In other words, the Psalmist tells us that God will honour our delighting in the Lord by graciously giving us what we are asking from the very depths of our being.
Now if we think carefully here... if we are delighting ourselves in God... then what are the desires of our heart?
If we are relying upon God and deriving our primary pleasure in God, then God is the desire of our heart. The promise here is not that God will give us the things of this world if we delight in the Lord... no... the promise is that God will give us the presence of God, if and when we delight ourselves in God.
The greatest blessing which we can ever receive is to know God and bask in God’s glory. Jesus said that eternal life is ultimately all about knowing God and
Jesus Christ, whom He has sent (Jn 17:3.) The greatest blessing imaginable is for God’s face to shine upon us (Num 6:22-27.)
God promises that when we delight in the Lord... and when we are relying on and when we take pleasure in the Lord... then God will give the Spirit to us. The Apostle Paul was willing to give up everything in order to experience this (Phil 3:8.)
How about us?
Does this describe us?
Do we bask in the blessing of knowing God?
If not... then are we truly delighting ourselves in the Lord?
May our prayer be that we will set our affections upon the Lord, first and foremost. May we desire God more than anything else. May we seek earnestly. May we pant after the Lord. May we count all things loss for the sake of knowing God. May we delight ourselves in the Lord... and may God give us the desire of our hearts.
Delight could be the first step we take, getting to know who God is in Christ through scripture is a good place to start. Then by trusting in the Lord, God’s spirit takes action and we begin to experience and intereact with God.
Although distinct, the wholly other Creator freely enters into a loving relationship with creation. These notions of relation and wholly ‘otherness’ parallel, God’s presence expresses nearness, a close presence in the world.
Augustine, one of the church fathers from the 4th-century, claims that God is “more intimately present to me than my innermost being, and higher than the highest peak of my spirit.”
Similarly, Aquinas (13th century) describes God’s presence as intimate, an innermost presence in all things at all times.
It has been said that all of creation continuously experiences divine goodness and presence, which sustains and guides it toward its ultimate purpose.
To speak of God as a mystery is another way of saying that God is ‘personal’” and present; in other words, “God is for us” and with us, even at difficult times when God seems absent. God initiates spiritually intimate encounters with humanity through grace.
The direct involvement of God’s presence occurs as a voluntarily given invitation to faith, which humans freely may reject or accept.
We must have good foundation knowledge of God coupled with the experience of divine presence. This establishes and cultivates the Creator/creation relationship, while the transcendent supernatural ‘otherness’ aspect of God retains a sense of wonder or awe.
Additionally, the incarnation of Jesus Christ provides the appropriate understanding that God remains connected with humanity for us to experience and respond to the divine.
The event places God and humanity in solidarity, in an inseparable, affective unity of love along with an ethical and ontological relation. Through this unequal, but real and loving relationship, the Creator is present to creatures in communion with Christ and the Holy Spirit.
Having established that even the God is ‘other’ God by grace is present how will we respond?
The relationship is key, David knew this as he wrote this Psalm. The interaction David suggested was to delight, feed, commit, trust and don't fret worry or be anxious yet be still and know the presence of this almighty supreme being who by grace (choice) and by our faith interacts with creation.