There is a fact of human reality which is impossible to overcome-no one can be two places at one time. The limits of our human existence include the inability to be in more than one location at any given time. If you have the need to avoid or be hidden from another person, you may be grateful for this reality since it may help you to escape detection. The flip side of this truth is that when we have a need or desire to be in two different locales at the same time, we must choose because this is impossible for us.
Due to the spiritual nature of God, the human limits of time and place do not apply. God can, and is, everywhere at all times. The psalmist states this in today’s verses. The psalmist affirms that there is nowhere which a person can go, or be, that the Lord is not present.
Realizing that the observation in this psalm is absolutely true carries a mixed dynamic for us. If we feel a need to hide from the Lord (which Adam and Eve once did), we cannot be successful. Our God will be present wherever we may go. The other portion of this dynamic is comforting because for us it means the Lord is always present. We are never alone in facing any aspect of life. God is there, always desiring to provide whatever we may need in the time and place of our existence.
This portion of the ancient song gives us two truths to incorporate in our lives:
Strive always to never have the need to hide from God.
Remember that you are never alone because the Lord is always with you.
There are people who relish quiet. Other people become uneasy when there is prolonged silence. A majority of individuals fall somewhere in the middle when it comes to a comfort level with quietness. I have discovered that time has changed my desires for silence. As I have aged, I covet quiet much more frequently than I did in my younger years.
Wherever you may currently fall in the quietness spectrum, there is a need to have mindful quiet time in our relationship with the Lord. During periods of silence we are given an opportunity of hearing the voice of our God. We have the chance to consider the magnitude of the One who created us.
Today’s passage is a message for us in our busy and noise-filled lives. We are invited by the words of the psalmist to be still and quiet. In this period of noise-free inactivity, we may come to know more of the nature of the Lord. We can be reminded of the love of the One who is in control.
Take time to deliberately be still and know that God is God.
One of the most misunderstood words in the Bible is the word fear. Anyone who has studied the ancient languages of Hebrew and Greek realize that English translations of words from these two are challenging at best. Hebrew words require can understanding of the culture from which they derive. While it may be argued that this fact is true in regard to any language, it seems even more so when it comes to Hebrew because Hebrew words are emotive and convey different understandings based on the emotion being expressed at the time. It can be said that few English words accurately express what is actually being said in Hebrew. Culture and context must be considered when choosing an English equivalent but even then the true meaning is seldom captured.
This brings us back to our dilemma with the word fear. Often when this word is heard in English, the hearer understands it to mean an emotion which arises because someone or something is dangerous and may cause harm. Clearly this is the intent when we encounter this English word translated from some of the Greek on Hebrew passages. However, there exist times when this would be a misunderstanding of the original ancient word. The verse from Psalm 103 is one of many places in Scripture where this confusion can easily be demonstrated. This verse speaks of God’s compassion. Compassion usually is not associated with an emotion arising from a perceived danger. God does not show compassion on those who are concerned about God being harmful toward them. So how are we to understand this word?
In this instance we have to look at the original Hebrew word. When we do so, we must realize that in their culture God is seen as extremely powerful and deserving of great reverence. The God which has given so much to and done so much for the Israelites is one who is deserving of all devotion, love and praise. Coming from this viewpoint, the Hebrew word here is better understood as worshiping or revering. This is not totally foreign to the English word fear, Webster lists as one definition of the word, “Extreme reverence or awe.”
The proper message being conveyed by the psalmist is that we experience great compassion from the God we have revered and stood in awe before.
We were created to be independent and capable. When God envisioned humanity, humans were intended to be on a level in which a compatible relationship could be established between God and humanity. There is a built-in dependency between us and our Creator. Humans have attempted to live independent of God since shortly after creation. Each attempt results in some level of failure. When we break down and admit our need for the Lord, we do not find rejection but forgiveness and the grace of love.
Chris Tomlin puts our prayer into words and music…
Anticipating a trip to a new locale can be exciting but uneasy at the same time. Being able to explore and experience new sites generates excitement. The unknown and questions cause uneasiness. What will it be like? How will I feel and respond? Am I properly prepared? The new often prompts these two reactions within us.
The psalmist speaks of a longing for the time when she/he is standing in the presence of the Lord. There is an anticipation of this coming time. As I read these verses today, I heard the words of a contemporary group of psalmists, Mercy Me.
A few months ago we moved to a new state, a new city, a new neighborhood, and a new house. We are fortunate to live in a quiet portion of our city. The sounds which usually can be heard after dinner are the sounds of nature. Our new house has a spacious deck on the back for which we recently purchased some new outdoor furniture. This has led to a new, favorite pastime of sitting on our deck quietly while listening to the sounds of nature. Our neighborhood is full of trees so the sounds of birds, later to be joined by sounds of frogs, make a beautiful melody. Nature reminds us of the wonder and power of the Lord.
In a song of praise to God, the writer of this psalm proclaims the greatness of the Lord demonstrated in nature. The proclamation which nature makes is not by using flowing words but instead through the greatness of its display. The wonder of the cycles of nature, the vastness of the sky, and the feelings generated in the life of the observer, puts before us the magnificence of the One who created and maintains all of nature.
As I sit on my deck in the evening, experiencing the sights, sounds, and smells of God’s creation around me, awe overwhelms me. My soul joins in the chorus of praise sung by nature and the psalmist. It is important for each of us to take the time to truly experience the wonderment of what the Lord has created. Soon, you will be moved to join in the praise song for our God.
If you happen to watch many crime and drama shows, you know that the ultimate goal of the police investigators is to get the perpetrators of a crime to confess. Depending on the show, the tactics used to elicit such a confession varies. If a confession is extracted legally, the wheels of justice can then begin to move forward. Watching such shows, you also know anyone who has committed a crime is usually not eager to confess. People do not wish to take ownership of their wrongs because they fear the punishments which may be forthcoming.
As believers in God, we know the importance of confessing our wrongdoings. The author of Psalm 51 demonstrated the need to confess. Confession is an important step for us as we seek forgiveness and cleansing. The confession in this psalm acknowledges the need for God. Only God is able to wipe clean the negative impact of our sin. God alone is the one who can restore us to our created nature.
As we are currently in the season of Lent, we experience a stronger focus on the value of confession. Perhaps as a spiritual practice for the next week, you may choose to read the words of these verses every day during your prayer time. Pause to consider what you are saying as you read the words outloud or in your thoughts.
Anyone who has studied the human body must be amazed by it. All of the parts work and interact in a way which creates such synchronicity. Whether we examine how the body moves, the way food is digested for energy and cell building, or how the brain serves to make life possible while creating all levels of thought, there is nothing haphazard about the creation of the body. The human body should cause each of us awe whenever we consider it.
The psalmist raises our awareness of this awe in the wards of Psalm 139. Credit for the creation of a human being is given to God. Not only the physical aspects of the human but the mental and spiritual components of the person are acknowledged as being made by God. The psalmist names the creation of the person as wonderful, made in a way that leaves an observer awestruck (fearful).
I encourage you to consider what it means to have been perfectly made in every detail. This perfection is not how humanity might define perfect but instead here meant there is purpose and meaning in every little detail of what and who we have been created to be. Ponder the truth that you have been “fearfully and wonderfully made” by the Almighty One. What you may see as imperfections and unworthiness are viewed by your Creator as exactly what should be for you to be you. God has been purposeful in making you just as you are. God deeply loves who you are.
There are times when our path in life can seem difficult to see. We may be going through a dark time when no light is shining on our path. The problems and concerns around us may be like overgrown vines, weeds and brambles which hide our way from us. When we find ourselves in such a time in life, Scripture can provide a special type of guidance. Spending time studying God’s Word and listening can shine a light upon our life path which overcomes darkness and overgrowth.
The psalmist included this wisdom in the song we know as Psalm 119. Army Grant used this wisdom in the song which she made famous. Listen now and consider how the words may speak to you when you feel lost.
Many of us carry burdens unnecessarily. There are times we are not even aware that we have accepted a burden; other times we willingly take it up. When these burdens are pointed out to us, we may even choose to continue carrying them instead of laying them down. There can be a strange comfort in holding on to our burden because it is familiar.
In the portion of today’s psalm, a burden is mentioned. This burden, familiar to all of us, is sin. The psalm begins by admitting what a blessing it is to be forgiven. The psalmist continues by saying that while carrying the burden, instead of confessing it, there were negative results which caused torment and weariness. The change took place when the sin was acknowledged out loud and no longer hidden. Forgiveness was given and the burden was removed.
Each of us have reasons why we choose to continuously carry our sin. Fear may drive us, the fear that the sin is unforgivable. We may decide that we deserve to have to carry this load. Our thought could be that if we keep the sin hidden, we can maintain the proper public image. All of these reasons are just excuses which prevent us from experiencing a full life. Carrying the burden of sin destroys our life from the inside out. Our health, self-image, spirit, and mental wellness are negatively impacted by the carrying of our sin.
Confession of our sin to the Lord, and when necessary to others, allows this burden to be laid down. Jesus reminds us endlessly that in him all sin can be forgiven. By laying this burden at the foot of the cross we can experience the fullness of life. We will see improvements in health, spirit and our minds.
Lay down your burden and receive the blessing of forgiveness.