The Fortieth

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I waited patiently for the Lord;
    he inclined to me and heard my cry.
He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
    out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
    making my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth,
    a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
    and put their trust in the Lord.

If you are one of those people for whom the term God is a poorly defined, nebulous, impersonal energy, or a generic term which may or may not refer to any particular deity, then this Psalm will be lost on you. I don’t say that to be insulting. I recognize that many of you have been completely abused by religion and the term God is a trigger word. It’s only a trigger word because the term connects you to fallen humanity and not to Yahweh, whom David knows as the one true God. Ultimate Truth. Ultimate Reality.

An energy force has no mind, no will, and no specificity to its power. This is what annoys me about so many so-called “spiritual” conversations. People drift from one form of energy into talking about conscious energy which clear does have a mind behind it, but then we are actually back to talking about God, not energy. This distinction is important because David wants us to come in close, to experience precisely how personal his relationship is with God. The Hebrew text reads:

“He (God) is stretching out to me and He is hearing, imploring of me.

Yahweh is more than a good listener. This text says He is “bringing up, raising up, establishing, progressing, and giving in Davids mouth” a “new song to Elohim,” the LIVING GOD. For David, and for many of us, the aliveness of Divine union goes beyond our best meditation, beyond the nicest sermon, or brilliant bit of doctrine or some tonic note. Only a LIVING GOD give us a (shir chdsh) new song.

Blessed is the man who makes
    the Lord his trust,
who does not turn to the proud,
    to those who go astray after a lie!
You have multiplied, O Lord my God,
    your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us;
    none can compare with you!
I will proclaim and tell of them,
    yet they are more than can be told.

If Yahweh is perfect Truth, than any deviation from God is less than truth and ultimately un-true. The “audacious swerve” toward the pseudo, the false, the deficient, the lie. Again, if we don’t experience the intimacy of God in this way, every thing in life is a less-than by comparison. David and all those who believe and experience God like David do not have to prove the existence of God, the unbelieving world doesn’t dismay any of us from proclaiming the unmeasurable truth.

In sacrifice and offering you have not delighted,
    but you have given me an open ear.
Burnt offering and sin offering
    you have not required.
Then I said, “Behold, I have come;
    in the scroll of the book it is written of me:
I delight to do your will, O my God;
    your law is within my heart.”

For David, the Living God isn’t about religion. This isn’t about a ritual, a prayer, or a doctrine. David shows us that Yahweh hears us without any of that pomp and formula. David knows, just as so many of you do, that knowing God like this, IS knowing who we truly are in God, we are the beloved, we are written in God’s book of Life, and his Law is inscribed in our bowels, our depth.

I have told the glad news of deliverance
    in the great congregation;
behold, I have not restrained my lips,
    as you know, O Lord.
10 I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart;
    I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation;
I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness
    from the great congregation.

For David, there is no hiding this experience and love for the LIVING GOD. He’s not concerned with offending anyone, triggering anyone, or converting anyone for that matter. He speaks the Truth to all who will listen, to all who gather, he doesn’t keep it in his kidneys. For David, the Living God belongs equally on the outside. God isn’t relegated to the sphere of personal preference. Yahweh is not a neutered puppy that must be kept in hiding nor is God a term we need to dance around for risk of offending anyone. David has no fear of what anyone will say. He doesn’t care. And for those who say they possess the love of God within their hearts, we would do well to ask ourselves why we care so much about offending someone with God. David would pity most of us.

As for you, O Lord, you will not restrain
    your mercy from me;
your steadfast love and your faithfulness will
    ever preserve me!
12 For evils have encompassed me
    beyond number;
my iniquities have overtaken me,
    and I cannot see;
they are more than the hairs of my head;
    my heart fails me.

David’s intimacy with God has revealed two important realities. First that the love of God and his mercy toward us is unswerving. Second that our lives which are marred with sin, failure, and evil are preserved despite the immeasurable darkness of which we are capable of transmitting. To know God so closely, that we do not need to hide our most awful thoughts or actions is one thing, but to live in the conscious realization that such iniquity is not held against us is the epicenter of a liberated life.

Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me!
    O Lord, make haste to help me!
14 Let those be put to shame and disappointed altogether
    who seek to snatch away my life;
let those be turned back and brought to dishonor
    who delight in my hurt!
15 Let those be appalled because of their shame
    who say to me, “Aha, Aha!”

David also knows that not everyone shares his devotion, his perspective, nor his experience. Just as in our modern world, this kind of faith is sneered at, and punished with social, economic and even physical death. The Living God who picked David up out of the miry bog and set him on solid ground is the same God who he asks to defend him agains the naysayers. Even David seemed to miss the fact that the tenacious love and mercy of the Living God extended to his enemies as well, or else these kinds of prayers would be often answered in our world.

But may all who seek you
    rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who love your salvation
    say continually, “Great is the Lord!”
17 As for me, I am poor and needy,
    but the Lord takes thought for me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
    do not delay, O my God!

In a divided world, David invites all who have experienced a real God, not just a vague energy, but the ultimate in love and mercy, and the best in restoration, to rejoice and be elated you are a part God’s Salvation. To miss this is to miss the pinnacle of life, and those who experience must continually be saying in concert how Great is the Lord. And David brings this amazing Psalm to an end my reframing everything through the lens of humility. Humanity is not high and lofty and to be exalted. The Living God is. We are dependents, not independents, and as such the Lord is mindful of us. That’s extremely personal. God is thinking of you. God is thinking of me.

May we truly learn what that means, and may we all experience the Living God’s help and deliverance.