Recently I was visiting with a new friend, that I have found to be the most delightful and strong woman, and as we were chatting she made a comment, “Write from a position of joy rather than pain.”
What she said has stuck with me in several ways. No matter what I do or read, I wonder how I can change my perspective to a position of joy.
Previously, when I would read in the Old Testament, I admit that it was with the perspective that God is pronouncing judgment. This week I decided to ask myself, “How does God reveal His love in the Old Testament?” before studying Psalm 68.
I can’t say that I had learned anything from this passage in the past. I never read it in context or sought to understand what was happening in this psalm. I had no idea that asking one simple question, “How does God reveal His love?”, would result in a flood of revelation. I’m still chewing on it all, but I thought I would share a few things God showed me.
(Instead of re-typing the entire passage here, I’d love for you to open up your Bible, read Psalm 68: 1-9, then re-read it after finishing this post.)
GOD CAME TO RESCUE, NOT JUDGE
As I read Ps. 68 the other day, it occurred to me that God’s primary purpose is redemption. Here He is riding out to save/protect those who love Him from those that do not. He is not riding out to judgment. Judgment is a by-product of not wanting His redemption/salvation. Reject His redemption, even here in the Old Testament, and you will be driven out of His presence and find yourself in a “parched land.”
I think many of us perceive God as always wanting to judge us and get us to fall back in line. In the New Testament, we can see His grace and love much easier when we look at Jesus – or so I thought. What I see here is a God who isn’t angry, but a God who WANTS to rescue.
“Let God arise, let His enemies be scattered; and let those who hate Him flee before Him.”
I envision God dressed in His armor, standing taller than the mountains, and everyone that has no love for him is fleeing like ants simply because He is there. Those that belong to God are jumping up and down, shouting and singing! (Do we ever get that excited about His presence?) Here they were prisoners, but now God stepped in and not only set them free but led them into prosperity.
WHEREVER GOD GOES, THERE IS ABUNDANCE
“Only the rebellious dwell in a parched land.”
I’m still meditating on this verse; it is so full of lessons, I believe. As I read this verse I had to stop. I have been studying many different topics the last few months and one involves the idea of “parched,” “dry,” and “no water.” A parched land is a place without water. I asked myself where is the one place that the Bible describes as “parched” or lacking any water? ….. Hell. Based on what understanding I do have of the Word of God, I know that:
- Lacking water – dry – parched = rebellion, without God’s presence, hell
- Rain – water – life = obedience, provision, blessing, God’s presence
Verse 8: “The heavens also dropped rain at the presence of God;”
Verse 9: “Thou didst shed abroad a plentiful rain, O God;”
God led the prisoners out of the desert and into prosperity and rained on them! “Shed abroad”(nûwph in Hebrew) means to sprinkle, moisten, wave, shake. I have this image of God, hose in hand, with a spray nozzle, shooting out water as far as He can! Reminds me of summer as a kid, playing in the grass, running around in our swimsuits with friends or cousins, and see how far we can spray the hose at each other. What a great picture of God’s provision and the JOY He has in showering us with His provision!
God is NOT DRIVING YOU AWAY!
When I used to read this psalm, I supposed he was talking about driving everyone away, including me. I wasn’t reading and understanding. Instead, this story is about how He leads those who love Him (you!) – showering, soaking you with His provision. Wow. That is such a good word.
If you refuse His love, then yes, you are choosing to remove yourself from His presence and the only thing there for you is lack, dryness, parched land. BUT….if you love God He is riding out into the wilderness, leading you in prosperity where you can rest in His presence and receive plentiful rain. (Note that He leads, like sheep, not drives, like cattle. Big difference.)
Have you ever wondered how they ended up in the wilderness? If God has to come to the desert to rescue because He loves us and wants us to live under His rain and in His provision – well, then, why were they in the wilderness to begin with? If God loves us and doesn’t want us in the desert, how can we be there in the first place? ==> Rebellion. Disobedience.
Think about this. When we rebel and disobey, we end up in parched land. Continue in that rebellion and we make ourselves His enemies, YET…He keeps riding in to rescue those who want it – from their rebellion! Stop here. Think about this for awhile. Wowee.
BE FILLED WITH GRATITUDE
We can not skip over verses 3 and 4. At the sight of their Rescuer, before they left the wilderness, the righteous were filled with gratitude, rejoicing, and singing. Gratitude, gratitude, gratitude….oh, we have so much to learn. I told a friend yesterday that even though I keep trying to be thankful and grateful for everything, I realize that 95% of the time there is whining and complaining still coming out of my mouth – and it’s not intentional. What a great reminder to be deliberate in my gratitude so that I leave no room for complaining.
I hope this encourages you to see that God’s purposes are never to destroy, punish, and judge. He always comes offering freedom and redemption. He leads us out of the wilderness and dry land (oh, hey, sounds like Psalm 23) and rains blessings on us when we are in His presence. Remember, it is when we choose to reject His love and provision, resulting in rebellion, that leaves us in a parched land.
May your day be filled with Plentiful Rain!