Thursday, August 05, 2010

Kingdom Context

I love it when you come across a “plaque verse” that you’ve known all your life and rediscover it again for the very first time in its proper place in the context of Scripture. But more than that discovery, I love it when that verse comes to mean so much more because of that context which was previously stripped from its meaning. I love it when you have that realization, that “AhHa” moment when you see that there is more truth, more richness, more depth lent that commonly heard verse because the uncommonly heard verses surrounding.

“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!” (Psalm 34:8)

Sometimes when Christian kitch stores want to be able to have one plaque for families to hang in their kitchen they’ll only make a plaque out of the first part of the verse. But when they want to be able to have one plaque for saints going through a rough time in life they’ll add the latter half to the former:

“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!”

But wait, there are other plaque verses contained within the twenty-two verses of Psalm 34. Do you need a verse for your Scripture memory program that will remind you to keep your mind ever focused on the Lord? Well then try:

“I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.” (v. 1)

How about a verse that reminds you to praise His name even when you don’t feel like it:

“Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together!” (v. 3)

Or what about a verse that reminds you to not gossip:

“Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit.” (v. 13)

Or what if you are in desperate need of a rescue verse, a reminder that God’s going to make everything better and get you out of this hard time:

“When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.” (v. 17)

I don’t know about you, but each of those verses, standing alone, only afford me a little comfort, a small reminder, a minor hope. A comfort, remembrance, and hope that is real, to be sure, but one that lacks enough depth to keep me grounded when the hard times come, lacks enough substance to keep me vigilant when my heart runs low on praise. But together, with every verse in its proper place from 1 to 22 this Psalm does more than offer depth and substance.

Samuel 21:10-22:2 affords us an even clearer context for this particular Psalm of David:

“And David rose and fled that day from Saul and went to Achish the king of Gath. And the servants of Achish said to him, “Is not this David the king of the land? Did they not sing to one another of him in dances,

‘Saul has struck down his thousands,
and David his ten thousands’?”


And David took these words to heart and was much afraid of Achish the king of Gath. So he changed his behavior before them and pretended to be insane in their hands and made marks on the doors of the gate and let his spittle run down his beard. Then Achish said to his servants, “Behold, you see the man is mad. Why then have you brought him to me? Do I lack madmen, that you have brought this fellow to behave as a madman in my presence? Shall this fellow come into my house?”

David departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam. And when his brothers and all his father's house heard it, they went down there to him. And everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul, gathered to him. And he became captain over them. And there were with him about four hundred men.”

Wait, after all this David’s first words in Psalm 34 are, “I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.”?

Wait, this is the context for verse 3 when he says, “Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together!”? With an exclamation point and all?

Ok, so the refuge part I get in verse 8, but he’s really still calling the Lord good?

Wait, wait, wait, wait, verses 13 and 14…he’s not really talking to himself, is he:

"Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it."

How could anyone, especially David, slip up and say or do something they shouldn’t have when they’re the one getting pursued by kings, running for their lives, having to act like a loony case out of fear, and being exiled to a dark damp cave? Surely David’s not, I don’t know, calling his own heart, through the gracious leading of the Spirit, to repentance in the midst of all this craziness, is he? Why would he do that?

“When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.” (v. 17)

But surely David’s not expecting God to take him out of this hard spot instantly, right?

“The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” (v. 18)

If the Lord is near, if He cares enough about crushed spirits then no matter how many afflictions over how long a period of time, there is more than just rescue, right?

“The LORD redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.” (v. 22)

“And everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul, gathered to him. And he became captain over them. And there were with him about four hundred men.” (Samuel 22:2)

Kingdom context: Herein is comfort. Herein is remembrance. Herein is hope.

Psalm 34

Of David, when he changed his behavior before Abimelech,
so that he drove him out, and he went away.

1 I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
2 My soul makes its boast in the LORD;
let the humble hear and be glad.
3 Oh, magnify the LORD with me,
and let us exalt his name together!
4 I sought the LORD, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
5 Those who look to him are radiant,
and their faces shall never be ashamed.
6 This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him
and saved him out of all his troubles.
7 The angel of the LORD encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.
8 Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
9 Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints,
for those who fear him have no lack!
10 The young lions suffer want and hunger;
but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.
11 Come, O children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
12 What man is there who desires life
and loves many days, that he may see good?
13 Keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from speaking deceit.
14 Turn away from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.
15 The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous
and his ears toward their cry.
16 The face of the LORD is against those who do evil,
to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
17 When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears
and delivers them out of all their troubles.
18 The LORD is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit.
19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
but the LORD delivers him out of them all.
20 He keeps all his bones;
not one of them is broken.
21 Affliction will slay the wicked,
and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.
22 The LORD redeems the life of his servants;
none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.

1 comment:

George Grant said...

Meesh: "Herein is comfort. Herein is remembrance. Herein is hope." Indeed. Thank you for this "homegrown fruit." Very sweet, succulent, and satisfying.