Sunday, December 15, 2013

Pastoral Pings (Plus) ~ The Peace That Comes when God Searches Hearts

          One of my favorite prayers in the Bible goes like this: Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!”[1] What I like about this prayer is that it takes the focus off what I think of myself, off what other people think of me, and puts it on what God thinks of who I am to him, the only view I can trust.

          This prayer concludes a Psalm that contains some of the most beautiful phrases about a person’s dignity and worth in the Lord Jesus Christ. David had written this song to express how God knew everything about him, what he thought, what he felt, what he was doing, and had David’s life written down in a book before he was even born. God was everywhere David could possibly go, and David knew that God’s hand would lead him through whatever he faced in his journey through life.

          David wrote of the wonders of God knowing him while he was being “knit together” as an unborn baby. He praised God for the knowledge that he was “fearfully and wonderfully made.” He spoke of things that present day photography has brought to our vision so beautifully, the way we are “intricately woven” together while hidden away in the safety and warmth of our mother’s wombs.

          David’s conclusion was that the thoughts of God about him were beyond counting, more numerous than the grains of sand. He marvelled that God would have such thoughts for him, and he could not help but sing of such glorious realities.

          However, it is not these things that lead us into the prayer that concludes this song. David has one more thing to say to God before the soul-searching prayer is expressed. He wrote:

Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God! O men of blood, depart from me! They speak against you with malicious intent; your enemies take your name in vain. Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you? I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies.[2]

          What became clear to me this morning, perhaps for the first time, is that David’s beautiful, soul-searching prayer was surrounded by his knowledge of who he was to God as a beloved child,[3] and his knowledge of who he was in the eyes of his enemies. This is a contrast I do not remember noticing before. Perhaps the beauty of all the other phrases had attracted my attention enough that it had not occurred to me that David wrote these things while grieved over the malicious activity of the enemies of God. Or, perhaps God was simply saving this insight for a time when it fits his good, pleasing and perfect will in a distinctively useful way.

          My years have made it clear to me that people struggle with the extremes of thinking too highly of ourselves, or believing excessively negative, hopeless thoughts about who we are. Childhood experiences, with all forms of abuse, can cause people to have a deep, inner belief of utter worthlessness that causes them to compensate with a shallow, outer shell that tries to look much better than we really are. Many of us have enough people telling us the negative messages are true that we stand little hope of ever thinking good things about ourselves.

          And so, God prepared this wonderful garden of delights for us in the midst of the book of Psalms. He made a way for every one of his brokenhearted children to know what we mean to him. We can ask God to search us and know our hearts, because we want our hearts to be cleansed of anything that would make us less than God has designed us to be. We can ask God to try us, test us, and know our thoughts, so that he can show us how our very minds can be purified by the mind of Christ. We can pray that God would check and see if there is any grievous way in ourselves, because we do not want to cause the grief that we see among God’s people by those who speak against you with malicious intent”.[4] And we can pray that God would lead us in the “way everlasting” so that we will always find ourselves in that straight and narrow way, no matter how few are traveling with us.[5]

          The wonderful thing in this is that we can pray this prayer in faith, in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, and trust that he will reprove, rebuke, and exhort” us, both in our personal time alone with God in his word and prayer,[6] and through the ministry of pastors who faithfully preach the word of God to us whether it be “in season or out of season”. [7]

          The bottom line is that David was a man after God’s own heart,[8] and so he would sing this soul-searching prayer in order to make sure that he saw himself accurately the way God’s heart was looking upon him in love. Neither his own pride, nor the wicked attacks of his enemies, would keep him from focusing on what God saw, and what God said. God’s thoughts were so precious to him; why would he want to give any thought to anyone who thought differently, himself included.

          From my heart,


© 2013 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~

Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Psalm 139:23-24
[2] Psalm 139:19-22
[3] Cf Ephesians 5:1 ~ Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.”
[4] Psalm 139:20
[5] 13 Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. (Matthew 7)
[6] Cf II Timothy 3:16-17
[7] II Timothy 4:2
[8] And when he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.’ (Acts 13:22)

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