Blessed is he who considers the poor;We've been meditating on calling out the image of the Son of God in the people we love and serve. In the previous post, the Beatitudes have opened a door for us to understand how God has already been on mission to bless the wounded since before we ever dreamed up a mission ourselves. He shares a heart with the elemental struggles of everyday living to bring about what is good on earth.
The LORD will deliver him in time of trouble.
The LORD will preserve him and keep him alive,
And he will be blessed on the earth;
You will not deliver him to the will of his enemies.
The LORD will strengthen him on his bed of illness;
You will sustain him on his sickbed.
|A broken and contrite heart God will not despise - Ps 51:17|
A not-yet-believer could really feel oneness with God through hearing the Beatitudes. So then: is it supposed to be different for a Christian to read that passage? We Christians are blessed, right? Are we cured of our wounds because we are in fellowship with God? Not always.
The Psalmist's Emotions
The Psalms are a blend of two intense meditations: the introspection of attuning in to one's own plight, and praise and faith in the character and promises of God. So if these are written as part of the infallible Word of God why do Christians sometimes feel guilty for attending carefully to their emotional needs?
How does God feel about the emotional person? Do emotions play an important role in your relationship with God and others? While they should not overtake truth as God's Word depicts, God's Word depicts the centrality of emotions in the relationship we have with God and with others. Right after discussing the blessing of caring for the poor, the Psalmist turns inward to his own state. Ps. 41:4-8,
I said, "Lord, be merciful on me;He admits he sins and asks for healing. Then he immediately pivots to describe the choices of others around him. Sometimes the Psalms tattle to God about the sins of others. More frequently it is even more elemental, issues of exclusion, for example. Yes, God cares for so small a thing as exclusion. It is a word Jesus used in the Beatitudes in the Gospel of Luke to describe persecution for which we should leap for joy.
Heal my soul for I have sinned against You."
My enemies speak evil of me:
"When will he die, and his name perish?"
And if he comes to see me, he speaks lies;
His heart gathers iniquity to itself;
When he goes out, he tells it.
All who hate me whisper together against me;
Against me they devise my hurt.
'An evil disease,' they say, 'clings to him.
And now that he lies down, he will rise up no more.'"
The more I read the Psalms, the more elementary I think about God's vengeance and the need for Body unity, and I fear the LORD. It did not take anything more than crossing the Psalmist's (a righteous man in Godly pursuits) emotions for God to comfort him with promises to battle against these who otherwise might have gone on their way. Ps. 56:8-9,
You number my wanderings;How Quickly Does God Heal?
Put my tears into Your bottle;
Are they not in your book?
When I cry out to You,
Then my enemies will turn back;
This I know because God is for me.
Romans 8:18-28 teaches us that in Christ we can expect a "firstfruits of the Spirit" - which means instantaneous healing and redemption in our life. It then teaches that we are nevertheless subjected to this system of futility to be "saved in this hope" for some part we do not have yet. We will not have complete redemption and healing till the next dispensation. That means that God sovereignly chooses to heal some things right now and will not heal other parts, till later. I believe that it is always right to pray, for all kinds of healings and restorations, because we do not know what God will choose to honor now - and whatever requests we have to wait to see be answered in the next life - these are our treasures stored up in heaven. We know that from the perspective of eternity, He answers every good thing we ask.
The Psalmist's Wound
Psalm 42 begins with a most famous verse "as the deer pants for water, so my soul pants for you O God." But I don't think we often notice the context. Thirst according to the Beatitudes has to do with longing to see righteousness in the community. This is the context for his requests to be granted before God. Verse 4,
When I remember these things,He isn't included at this time, probably out of God's slow developments and others noticing. "Where is your God?" This is a similar question to the enemy asking, "Where is your husband?" It is a challenge to the presence and headship and provision and wisdom the Saint has been given. It claims that if God were truly vested in the cause of the Psalmist, God ought to have healed and restored it all instantaneously. But, God does not restore everything instantaneously. All the wounds described in the Beatitudes could stand more than prayer to God to resolve; a picture of health includes the scope of the community to settle in an organic manner through intimate corporate discipleship.
I pour out my soul within me.
For I used to go with the multitude,
I went with them to the house of God
With the voice of joy and praise
But the Psalmist doesn't have community as an option for healing. Ironically his bodily "evil disease" seems to be the reproaches of others. Ps. 42:10,
As with a breaking of my bones,The Lament Psalms are categorically about misuse of language and distrust and deceit in relationships with others. Ps. 56:5,
My enemies reproach me,
While they keep saying to me all day long,
"Where is your God?"
All day they twist my words;He seems to understand his own fallen contribution to the situation -- he does confess his sins. But it doesn't help clear up the matter and that is why it has become a wound. Ps. 55:20-21,
All their thoughts are against me for evil.
He has put forth his hands against those who were at peace with him;When Your Hope Is In God Alone
He has broken his covenant.
The words of his mouth were smoother than butter,
But war was in his heart;
His words were softer than oil,
Yet they were drawn swords.
Continue to seek good on the earth. Know that God's reputation is also on the line. Psalm 50:23,
And to him who orders his conduct aright I will show the salvation of God.The Psalmist did not trust in himself but in God alone to act through a desperate situation. God's objective is to show His glory and power so that all may fear Him. Ps. 40:2-3,
He also brought me up out of a horrible pit,Dear Christian, what is your story? Did you lose a loved one? Are you suffering from the tragic effects of divorce? Have you never known job security and a decent paycheck? Or are you like the Psalmist in the Lament Psalms? Do you know your own story, and can you tell it to God?
Out of the miry clay,
And set my feet upon a rock,
And established my steps.
He has put a new song in my mouth--
Praise to our God;
Many will see it and fear,
And will trust in the LORD.
Ephesians 5:19 tells us to speak to one another "in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord...". How seriously should we take that?
What good could possibly come from speaking and singing Lament Psalms to members of the Body of Christ? I hope your answer will be to continually identify with the Beatitude sort of man. The kind of man who is more like the not-yet-believer-in-Jesus than we could ever understand. If, in your position of woundedness you need God like the not-yet-believer, you just might lead a person to the fountain of living waters to drink eternal life for the first time. Give yourself permission to make much about your own emotional condition and also much about God's life.
"Blessed is he who considers the poor" - it will require that you meditate carefully and identify emotionally with such a state. May the LORD grant you the joy of suffering for the sake of His gospel.