God of the New Day
Today is 12th in a series Song of Ascents Psalm 132. This Psalm, according to various commentaries the most convincing argument is that the Psalm was written just after the completion of the exile because of two specific references: God’s promise to David and the struggles David went through during his lifetime.
Throughout scripture, we read of people who have over-come various tragedies, pains, and sorrows to be the man/woman God has in mind for them. Each individual in scripture came to the Lord at different places in their lives. Some, like Samuel, were given to the Lord in their youth and continued to serve all the years of their lives. David, who is mentioned specifically in this psalm, might seem like an anomoly because, he committed sin, murder, and adultry yet, was still loved by God, still considered his son, and was forgiven. Add to the picture, it said of him “he was the greatest king that ever walked the earth”. Yet, when you put all of the pieces of God’s word together, he wasn’t an anomoly afterall, he was a child of God who knew what it was to please God in sin and in righteousness. As I present three points that I believe are crucial to your walk up the steps to the temple of God, my prayer is that you will see your life in God’s holy and righteous plan.
Point 1 – David’s promise (verse 1-5)
In scripture, we read “God’s promises never end and nor does God change his mind about what he promised” (Number 23:19, Heb 13:8, and James 1:17). In the first verse, the writer is asking God to not forget what David went through in life in his service to God nor what he had promised to do. One might ask, “why should God care about what happened in history”? The answer is that, although for us history is past tense, in the Kingdom of God, it is still in play. By that, I mean: while we think that God adapts to our world’s ways “promise something and then conveniently forget it”, his laws are still eternal and will still bless those who bless us and curse those who curse us (Genesis 12:3). When we sin, the same law that was written milleniums ago still holds true today; that has not changed to meet the world’s mentality.
David had promised that he would go to what ever lengths required to build a place for the ark of God’s covenant. David, as you know from reading about him, was a man of his word and he always sought to please God even if his promise would cost him everything. In return for David’s promise, God spoke through Nathan the Prophet a very large, over-flowing, over-abundant promise that would never end (2ndSam 7). Fast forward a little over 500 years when a small group in comparison returned from captivity, the writer is asking God to not forget what David went through in his life time. The intent of the statement was not to tell God “David went through a lot – so you have to honor your word”; it was a way of saying “David did not fail, we did” and accepting personal responsibility for the failure of the nation. This kind of heart is what God found so endearing about David and what connected the family lineage. In the same way, God’s promise to Jesus applies to us. In our failures, we go to the throneroom of God to beg for forgiveness. The words out of our mouth would echo the writer “Remember what Jesus went through and the price he paid; It was not Jesus who failed, it was me! I accept responsibility for my failures. I know that you have greater plans for my life; may your plans be my plans”. God then forgives us for our sin and the blood of Jesus covers the sin. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, people for all generations can come to the cross and claim the promise of God no matter where they are in their life’s journey.
Point 2 – From Brokenness to Healing (verse 6-10)
When you read verses 6-8, you can get the idea that the writer is not speaking of the current condition but, of the desired condition for their life. So, to reverse engineer this section, what God might hear between the lines is “I came from brokenness, my temple destroyed, and all joy is gone. The righteousness that God desired of me I did not do, and my life is in shambles. I heard the truth in Ephratha; I had my sins forgiven over the mercy seat and yet, I walked away. The Priests and the Prophets I chose to listen to are utterly corrupt just as you said they were. My only hope is in you. Please forgive me”! Is God standing with a smirk on his face saying, “I told you so”? by no means. In the same way, even today, when we come to the blood stained cross, he is able to take the little we bring with us and make it into something special; just as the case of the fish and bread (Luke 9:12-15) points out.
God’s desire is and will always be for his children (all of mankind). His promises are not just for the super righteous nor, just for the people in one specific church or denomination. When we turn our hearts to God, he accepts us no matter where we came from or, what we have been through; simply, he receives us like the father in Luke 15. When you consider the journey of Israel from Egypt to the nation of Babylon and back, you can get a picture that for “the chosen people” they were nothing like the God who had chosen them. It is even recorded that God had issued the nation a divorice decree (Jeremiah 3:8); which, could only be issued in case of unfaithfulness. So, is God through with Israel? Absolutely not! In the same way, when we come to repentence and then fall away, our temple gets destroyed. Yet, from the ashes of disaster, God is able to rebuild the broken walls. The Devil will always tell us “you are too far gone, you can’t be healed, and God will not receive you because of ______”. Faith says, “Even if he slays me, yet will I trust him” (Job 13:15).
Point 3 – Blank Slate and Our Opportunity (verses 13-18)
It is amazing to me that, no matter how far we fall, how dark our past is, and/or how deep the hole we find ourselves in, God is still able to put our lives back together. Jerusalem was completely destroyed by the Babylonians. So, when the diaspora returned, there was nothing, but the ground left of the former temple. The years of abuse by the priests were now history; what laid ahead for the diaspora was a land much like what Abraham found. that in the same way, when we sin eventually, we are destroyed first from within then those around us. So, when we come back to the place we left, what we come back to is about the same as the exiles – usually nothing but a blank slate. When I was school, the teacher’s first words after welcoming us to class were “each of you will start off with a clean slate”. Starting with a “clean slate” implies “whatever happened prior (bad grades, missing homework, and tardiness) has no impact on what we do going forward”; we have the opportunity to start over again.
In the book of Ezekiel and again in Revelations, the Spirit of the Lord is directing the Prophet on the dimensions and specifics for rebuilding the Temple (Ezekiel 40:44 – 42 and Revelations 21). The difference between the two is that Ezekiel’s vision is of a physical temple where as Revelations is a spiritual temple (the heart). In both cases, the former was destroyed, the ground cleared, and Babylon is destroyed. When there is nothing left of the former things of our life, we have the courage to dream bigger dreams, see beyond ourself, and walk in the path that God has for us. Consider if you will Rushford, MN which is sprawling town in southern Minnesota about 43 miles from LaCross, WI. About 11 years ago, the town was destroyed by a flood. Once the flood subsided and the rebuilding began, the business owners worked together to rebuild their businesses. Some of the owners buildt new buildings; others, moved them down a block from their location and allowed new businesses to come in. The bank where I work completely rebuildt the drive-up bank and the main bank; when the building was done, one would never know it was destroyed. The point is, before the destruction, the dreams we have for our life are hampered by the existing walls (our will) and we just cannot see past them; once the walls are destroyed, we are able to enact our dreams. So, if your life is being destroyed by whatever forces against you, see it as an opportunity to do things you never dreamed of or, enact dreams that have been lost for years.
From one end of scripture to the other, there is the affirmation that God has great plans for our life. His desire is, and will always be, for us to have the best of what life has to offer. Along the way from the cross to the throne-room, many of us get lost. The pressures of life, work, and spiritual care get weighed down with the cares of this world. If you are dealing with sin in your life that appears to be so over-whelming that it is literally taking your breath away, I want to assure you that you are not alone; you are the not first to fall short of the kingdom of God and, you won’t be the last. When the nation of Israel returned from captivity to rebuild the temple, it was a much smaller number as compared to the number of people who were carted off; in the same way many of us have followed the group into sinful practice(s) only to return alone. Captivity in any form is not the will of God; his desire for your life is that you will be free to walk in the fullness of his glory all of the few days you have on earth (Eccl 11:8). Come walk with me.