Scratching the Surface of the Psalms
“Protection Prompts Praise”
Truth is nobody knows everything.
Dr. Wolfgang Lowe really put me in my place while studying in Heidelberg.
I kept asking question after question after question during one class and, finally, exasperated, he groaned, “Unfortunately, Herr Kopp, we are not all omniscient.”
Truth is we’re all scratching the surface of our relationship with Jesus even if we’ve just finished eighth grade or just come home from our freshman year in college or just passed the bar or just been ordained or just…
You know what I mean.
Nobody likes a know-it-all because nobody knows it all but One.
Only God is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient.
And that, my friends, while never releasing us from the personal responsibility of our choices, explains predestination.
That’s part of being, uh, God the Father Almighty.
I’m reminded of the professor at one of my schools that was lecturing on the paradox of being predestined by God while still having free will to mess up things for ourselves.
Again, if that paradox keeps Advil in business for you, let it go, let God, and realize there are things about God that are bigger and better and unknown to the created until, as Paul promised in 1 Corinthians 13, we’ll get it all. Yeah, read down past the love stuff to the lines about knowing now dimly and then knowing completely.
Anyway, the professor catches someone sleeping, slams his hand on the young seminarian’s desk, and demands, “Well, what do you think?”
The startled fellah blurts, “I knew yesterday but forgot.”
The professor said with a smile, “Such a pity! The only man who knew and he forgot!”
Sometimes the most intelligent answer is, “I don’t know.”
Pero if we are, at least, scratching the surface of our relationship with Jesus, we know some things.
We know He will take care of us in time and after time according to His gracious love for us through faith in Jesus.
We know He will enable us to keep keepin’ on if we worship Him regularly, wrap our souls around His Word in Jesus according to the book, allow the winds of His Holy Spirit to sustain and support us, and declare our independence from the worldly in total dependence upon Him.
Or as our American coins pray as well as proclaim, “In God We Trust.”
When Matthew broke his foot in June 2019 before his senior year after a stellar junior season of football at Coe College, I wrote to him and directed my son to his Father, Savior, and Holy Spirit.
I don’t know much, but I know God takes care of those who love Him; or as Paul said, “God works for good in all things with those that love Him and are called according to His purpose.”
The immediate moment of crisis may be a total bummer; yet God always works through those moments to His something better in mind if we hang with Him, keep the faith, and declare our dependence upon Him in total trust.
Even in death.
Remember, death to time is a nano-second from permanent paradise.
Well, I told Matt to read Psalm 37:25: “I am old but was young; and in all of my time, I’ve never seen God abandon those who really love Him.”
I told him to read Psalm 91 which, in essence, says God will always save those that really love Him and never fudge on fidelity to Him.
Then I texted, “Those psalms, especially the last verses, have been my certain and sustaining trust through every shadowy detour in life…You surpassed every goal and won every award last year and, as you pledged personally with determination, ‘showed’ everyone…God, as he has done for everyone with David’s heart, notably and including your brother, has something spectacular in store for you around the corner…Trust Him more than ever…Believe in His best graces for you that are coming…I love you, son, and I am so proud of what you have accomplished and look forward to what He will be accomplishing in/through/for you…My prayers are passionately victorious…You have seen His hand on Dan from disappointment to triumph…Your turn!...Now read Psalm 23 and Philippians.”
I don’t know much but I know God protects the faithful and prompts their praise even before His fresh graces arrive.
Psalm 59 comes to mind.
David was always aware of God’s enemies being his enemies and his enemies being God’s enemies.
He also knew God protects the faithful.
So in the midst of another assault from Saul or one of his many other enemies, David prayed for protection: “Deliver me from my enemies…Protect me from those who rise up against me…Deliver me from those that love to sin, insult You and injure Your people…They are sneaky ambushers. liars, and rage against me and everyone that loves You.”
Then, David quickly praises God in advance for the protection that God will provide. He trusts God’s protection and praises God for it even before it happens because God always comes through for the faithful sooner or later, usually sooner than later, and definitely in the end: “But I will sing of Your strength and shout joyfully of Your faithful love from morning til night…You save!...Great is Your faithfulness!”
We worship God because God is to be worshipped.
We are so respectfully grateful for every blessing in time, His Holy Spirit that helps us to endure and overcome the challenges in time, and the amazing grace through faith in Jesus after time in heaven.
That’s why, as Eugene Peterson often said, “You don’t have to motivate Christians. Christians are already motivated!”
Christians know who He is and what He has done for the faithful here and now and forever by grace through faith in Jesus.
So when worship is down and support for the body of Christ aka the Church is down, it exposes people that don’t get it/Him. They don’t know why they should be praising Him.
I think of the pastor who was told by an elder, “You better start asking people for more money or we’re not going to be around much longer.”
The pastor said, “Well, as you know, I’m called to address spiritual problems in the church. I suggest you take this financial problem to the trustees and finance committee and get on it.”
Well, things got much worse and the elder returned: “Pastor, you really need to get on this. We can’t pay our bills and we’re going to have to start cutting back on staff and maybe even your salary.”
“Oh,” said the pastor, “I didn’t realize it’s that serious; but as you know, I’m called to address spiritual problems in the church. So you better take this financial problem to the trustees and finance committee.”
“Pastor,” said the elder, “I don’t think you understand. We have a spiritual problem in our church.”
There are no financial problems in the church.
There are no relational problems in the church.
There are no lack of worship attendance problems in the church.
There are no problems with parents and grandparents not keeping their baptismal promises.
There are no…
There are only spiritual problems in churches that aren’t getting along and keeping on with worship, service, evangelism, baptismal promises, and all of the other signs of salvation aka fruit of the Holy Spirit like grace, mercy, and forgiveness wrapped in love.
We don’t know everything.
Nobody but God does.
Yet knowing God protects the faithful from here to eternity prompts praise reflected in behaviors modeled by Jesus and explained in Holy Scripture.
While I may be wrong but don’t think so or I wouldn’t say it, I believe that’s enough to know now and then and in the end.