Friday, April 21, 2023

Our Safe Place

Friday, April 21, 2023

I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.  Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. This poor man called, and the LORD heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. (Psalm 34 4-7)

Our Safe Place

David wrote Psalm 34 on the heels of an episode of escape from a Philistine king who was trying to kill him. It is actually an acrostic poem in which the first ten verses constitute a personal testimony. Then verses 11-22 deliver an exhortation to others in Israel based on the king’s experience. The key to everything in the psalm is found in the verses for today from Psalm 34:4-7.

There is a remarkable principle enunciated here that is easy to miss because of preconceptions we bring to the Bible. Let me illustrate by asking you a question: Whom does God hear, save, and bless?  Chances are your immediate answer would be something like this:  Good people. People who do right.  People who obey the Lord, stay out of trouble, and do good deeds.

Now please don’t miss the point here. We all should be "good people." We should all "do right." And, of course, we should "obey the Lord, stay out of trouble, and do good deeds." In fact, we should be doing lots of things most of us aren’t!  After all, why are we in trouble in the first place? 

Most of David’s troubles were all rooted in David’s sins.  So are most of mine.  So are most of yours.  So let’s go back to the text and try the question again: Whom does God hear, save, and bless? The answer in this poem celebrates the wonderful truth that He comes to the aid of people who are in trouble because they’ve messed up and are in jeopardy because of their own foolishness.  God’s solidarity is not with "good" people but with people who know they are helpless, have nowhere else to go, and run to him.

·      He shows mercy to the brokenhearted. 
·      He gives strength to the exhausted. 
·      He gives salvation to the sinner. 
·      He reflects his personal glory off the tear-stained, dirty, even angry faces that turn to him for help. 

Contrary to our experience and expectation, God does not side with the folks who already have everything but with those who are so bankrupt that they know they have nothing!  Here is the New Testament version of this psalm and its message:

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.  Romans 5:6-11

Is this not “Good News?”  That which we cannot earn, purchase or secure is provided to us from a gracious God so we can live in peace and security.  To rest in the knowledge of His gift is to experience the Safe Place - a place where nothing else can touch it or take it away.

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