Enthroned? Abiding and Dwelling: Being With God

May he sit enthroned before God forever.

-Psalm 61:7a
In Psalm 61:7, it says, “May he sit enthroned before God forever”, and this word ‘enthroned’ is used in my HCSB and many other translations, like the ESV, NIV, CEB and the NRSV.  The NLT goes further and has ‘reign’, and the CEV has ‘rule’.  My reasoning is that king David is the author and could there be any influence upon translators from New Testament theology, from Paul, that teaches that we are seated in heavenly places, with Christ (Eph. 2:6)?
Paul also says that believers will judge the world and judge the angels, in 1 Cor. 6:2-3.  These are interesting considerations, but I am going to assume that the translators did not have these New Covenant concepts in mind, when they broke down Psalm 61 into English.  The question really is, “What did David have in mind and how do his words apply to us?”
David’s story is that of a humble shepherd who was the youngest of seven or eight sons.  He became, “A man after God’s own heart”.  He also had a problem on his life’s resume, in that he was conceived in sin (Ps. 51:5).  How did he know this and was he ashamed or was he looked down on for this by his family and community?
When David sinned with Bathsheba and tried to cover it up and killed her husband, he reflected on this secret of his ‘sinful conception’.  I mention this to point out that David did not have a ‘charmed life’ and suffered in dimensions of shame and humiliation.  David is a passionate man and a man’s man who was a great leader and warrior as well as a guy who had a big heart with big brokenness.  
That all boils down to, “He was a man like us”.  He was subject to pride and arrogance, but he also learned humility.  David’s psalms are filled with working out our walk with God, in humility.
All that is to say that I think David was humbled by God’s grace, favor and blessings upon him.  He said something here, that can can be translated several ways, because Hebrew is wider and deeper than English.  The particular Hebrew word here which occurs 32 times, is translated ‘sit’, ‘sits’ or ‘sitteth’, 11 times.  All the other times, it says things like ‘dwell’, ‘abide’, ‘remain’ and ‘live’; and I am only looking at the NASB, KJV and the INT; in my concordance.
I believe that David saw his relationship with God as a bigger deal or far more important than being Israel’s king.
I prefer the words ‘abiding’ and ‘dwelling’, to describe what I want to do with God and what I hear Psalm 61 saying to me.  Abide (“He shall abide” or “He will abide”) is the way that the KJV and the NASB have this line.  ‘Dwell’ is how the Young’s Literal has it, as well as the Geneva Bible and the Wycliffe Bible:

Thou shalt give the King a long life; his years shall be as many ages.
He shall dwell before God forever; prepare mercy and faithfulness, that they may preserve him.
So will I always sing praise unto thy Name, in performing daily my vows.                                                                      -Psalm 61:6-8 (Geneva Bible)

Thou shalt add, either increase, days on[to] the days of the king; his years till into the day of generation and of generation. (Thou shalt add days onto the days of the king; yea, year upon year for many generations.)
He dwelleth [into] without end in the sight of God; who shall seek the mercy and truth of him? (He shall live before God forever; may thy love, and thy faithfulness, preserve, and protect him.)
So I shall say psalm to thy name into the world of world; that I yield my vows from day into day. (And I shall sing songs, or praises, to thy name forever and ever; as I offer my vows each day.)                                                                                                                                                                                         -Psalm 61:6-8 (Wycliffe Bible) (italics from the translators) 

 I love, “He shall dwell before God forever”, and “He dwelleth [into] without end in the sight of God.  (He shall live before God forever.)”

“Abide” is the chosen word, instead of “Enthroned”, in the KJV, NASB and NKJV.  But the one I like and think captures the Hebrew best, combining ‘dwell’, ‘abide’ and ‘live’; and makes great sense as a current translation for the season that we are in, is The Voice (2012) that goes like this:

Extend the king’s life, day after day;
increase his years for many generations.
May he be ever present before God,
attended and guarded by Your loyal love and truth.

So I will never stop singing Your praise;
as long as I live, I will fulfill my promise.                                                                                                             -Psalm 61:6-8 (Voice) 

This is the backstory on my previous post.  Or some of the study I did to come up with what I said that might have been a leap that did not make sense, since I did not quote the context of the text and talk about the other dimensions of this Hebrew word “yê·šeḇ”, יֵשֵׁ֣ב.  I’m not a Hebrew scholar, but just a student.

Yes, get a copy of The Voice or check it out on Bible Gateway.  It is really good.

Mercy season.  Being with God, being in life, living, loving, discovering God’s mercy; having mercy on other people.

Here is a song that captures the feeling I have that relates to being with God today.  I like this video of one of my favorite places to be.  And the toy piano, for me, reflects on childlike living.

My Inheritance of Abiding With God

May he sit enthroned before God forever; appoint faithful love and truth to guard him.

-Psalm 61:7
Abiding with God, being guarded by faithful love and trueness is my inheritance.  Sitting enthroned before God is all about God’s love and not about me.  God has dealt kindly and truly with me.
God has appointed or assigned to me his faithful love and his true blue faithfulness.  God is forever loving and true to me.  And my inheritance is to abide with God forever.
The desire to abide with, before and in God is not a hope for the distant future, but a declaration of what I want now and forever.  Abiding with God is living in and before God.  Abiding is hiding, but in plain sight.
I abide in God as I live, as I go and as I live my life.  When I cry out, “Take me away, so I can be with You”, this is not an expression of a desire for escapism or isolation, but rather a desire to have intimate fellowship with God as I face everything in my life.

I do desire and I do long for and I do look forward to every chance I get to be alone with God and focus all my senses and all my energy on Him.  And I face life, having been in and remaining in God’s presence.  The only way to live the life is to abide in Him, remain in Him and face God as I face living my life.

My inheritance is not like a mountain cabin, that I want to get away to.  My inheritance is what He has given me to live in today and into all of the future.  It is what he has given me in my heart.

God’s gift is portable and helps me through everything in my life.  Abiding in God is amplified gloriously when I am alone with Him, but the awesomeness or versatility of my possession is that it is mine to take with me wherever I go.

Everywhere I go and in every situation I am a part of, God is there.  God is big, almighty, to be revered and His love for me is steadfast and He is true.  God is ‘true blue’, truy always and deals with always truly.
God appoints or assigns His steadfast, faithful lovingkindness and His true faithfulness to guard, watch over and protect me.  As I endeavor to abide in God through my life, God appoints His steadfast love and faithful truth as the legs that hold my life up.  God’s faithful love and truthfulness are the walls that protect my desire to abide, sit or dwell in His presence.

Living Today In My Future House With God Forever

I will live in Your tent forever and take refuge under the shelter of Your wings.  Selah

-Psalm 61:4
Living forever with God, beginning now.  Being sheltered under Gods care.  This is what I need.  And this is my ambition.
This is what I desire.  This is the one thing.  This is my request.  I want to abide in God.  
I want to dwell where God lives.  I want to go there and live there.  That is where my home is.
God’s dwelling place is my refuge.  God’s house is my safe-house.  His place is my bomb-shelter.
God’s house is sanctuary for me.  That is where I always want to Go.  
God’s house is my north-star.  His presence and place is where I am always wanting to go.
Wherever I am on earth, I point myself toward where God is.
My trust is in God.  God’s care of me.  God watching over me.
I am protected from everything by God.  I trust in the secret place of God’s wings.
God hides me and I am hidden in God.  I am under God’s protective care.
In my misfortune, in my time of banishment, I ask God to let me live in the house of God.
People have rejected me.  People have not noticed me.  But God sees me.
I ask God to let me live in the house of God, now and forever.
In this forlorn place, this dry place, this desert place; I set my will to live with God now and forever.
I am making my loss into gain by declaring that living with God is my goal in life.
My desire is to find God’s house, in my life time.  I want to go to God’s living place and visit.  This is the journey that I am on.
My purpose in life is to find God and be protected by Him.  
I desire to worship God, with other people and by myself.  I desire to worship God inside a structure I can see and also in God’s invisible structure.  
I desire to be a worshiper wherever I am.  
I will be restored to worship and prayer with people, in visible structures.  But today, in this distant, obscure and hidden place; I worship God.  I wholeheartedly commit my life to God, seeing my future in God’s house forever.

The Heritage

God, You have heard my vows; You have given a heritage to those who fear Your name.
-Psalm 61:5

God hears our vows, the promises we make to Him in prayer.  God gives us rewards, possessions, prosperity, land, and blessings.  We pray this way, because we honor, are loyal to, and have reverential fear towards God.

In a believer’s life making vows or promises to God is optional: you don’t have to, but also natural: you want to, because as you discover God’s goodness, you naturally want to make promises and vows to Him.

God is the prototypical, the first and foremost generous person.  Giving is God’s nature.  God gives a heritage to those who honor Him.

A heritage is something that is handed down, inherited, or reserved for us.  We individually have rewards, we collectively take part in the reward, and we are given to one another as a reward.

I believe that the heritage is “the whole package”, meaning and abundant life in and with God and people.  The main gift, possession, blessing, or reward that we receive is God himself.  We can and do say, “Lord, You are my portion in this life”.

It is not about getting things, but about getting God and God gives each one of us things.  This message is portable to the poorest and richest cultures, because God gives each one a place and a space, in Him, no matter where they are.  This message could have great meaning to someone in prison, for example.

We who are believers at this time, get to take part in the blessing that God has offered and given in every generation.  Walking with God, making promises to Him, and honoring God results in a richly rewarding life at any time and in any place.

God has an inheritance for each of His children.  You might say, “when will I receive it?”, and the answer is that you are already receiving it.  Look around and see it, hear it, know it.

We might ask if there is a formula, that if we make vows or promises, that we will get possessions or inheritances from God.  God is not like our earthly parents or grandparents, as He gives His children their inheritances.  God is the, “before you call, I will answer”, God; and God gives gifts to all his children, in an unmerited fashion.

God does not give to us because we make vows or promises, but we make vows and promises because of God’s generosity.  We possess our inheritances because we are paying attention to God.  Our rewards, special possessions, lands, monies, benefits, and unclaimed promotions are awaiting us, as we journey with and into God.

Prayers For Today

I praise You seven times a day for Your righteous judgments.

-Psalm 119:164
Seven prayers, or scripture meditations for prayer, for today:
  1. Psalm 61:1-4
  2. Psalm 84:1-4
  3. Hosea 2
  4. Isaiah 49
  5. Habakkuk 3
  6. Daniel 7:9-10
  7. John 17:6

One 

God, hear my cry; pay attention to my prayer.
I call to You from the ends of the earth when my heart is without strength.
Lead me to a rock that is high above me, for You have been a refuge for me,
a strong tower in the face of the enemy.
I will live in Your tent forever and take refuge under the shelter of Your wings.

Selah
-Psalm 61:1-4

Two

How lovely is Your dwelling place, Lord of Hosts.
I long and yearn for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh cry out for the living God.

Even a sparrow finds a home, and a swallow, a nest for herself where she places her young—
near Your altars, Lord of Hosts, my King and my God.
How happy are those who reside in Your house, who praise You continually.

Selah
-Psalm 84:1-4

Three

Call your brothers: My People and your sisters: Compassion.

Rebuke your mother; rebuke her.
For she is not My wife and I am not her husband.
Let her remove the promiscuous look from her face and her adultery from between her breasts.
Otherwise, I will strip her naked and expose her as she was on the day of her birth.
I will make her like a desert and like a parched land, and I will let her die of thirst.
I will have no compassion on her children because they are the children of promiscuity.
Yes, their mother is promiscuous; she conceived them and acted shamefully.
For she thought, “I will go after my lovers, the men who give me my food and water, my wool and flax, my oil and drink.”
Therefore, this is what I will do: I will block her way with thorns;
I will enclose her with a wall, so that she cannot find her paths.
She will pursue her lovers but not catch them; she will seek them but not find them.
Then she will think, “I will go back to my former husband,
for then it was better for me than now.”
She does not recognize that it is I who gave her the grain, the new wine, and the oil.
I lavished silver and gold on her, which they used for Baal.
Therefore, I will take back My grain in its time and My new wine in its season;
I will take away My wool and linen, which were to cover her nakedness.
Now I will expose her shame in the sight of her lovers, and no one will rescue her from My hands.
I will put an end to all her celebrations: her feasts, New Moons, and Sabbaths—all her festivals.
I will devastate her vines and fig trees.
She thinks that these are her wages that her lovers have given her.
I will turn them into a thicket, and the wild animals will eat them.
And I will punish her for the days of the Baals when she burned incense to them, put on her rings and jewelry, and went after her lovers, but forgot Me.
This is the Lord’s declaration.

Therefore, I am going to persuade her, lead her to the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her.
There I will give her vineyards back to her and make the Valley of Achor into a gateway of hope.
There she will respond as she did in the days of her youth, as in the day she came out of the land of Egypt.
In that day—this is the Lord’s declaration—you will call Me, “My husband,” and no longer call Me, “My Baal.”
For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth; they will no longer be remembered by their names.
On that day I will make a covenant for them with the wild animals, the birds of the sky, and the creatures that crawl on the ground.
I will shatter bow, sword, and weapons of war in the land and will enable the people to rest securely.
I will take you to be My wife forever.
I will take you to be My wife in righteousness, justice, love, and compassion.
I will take you to be My wife in faithfulness, and you will know Yahweh.
On that day I will respond—this is the Lord’s declaration.
I will respond to the sky, and it will respond to the earth.
The earth will respond to the grain, the new wine, and the oil, and they will respond to Jezreel.
I will sow her in the land for Myself, and I will have compassion on No Compassion;
I will say to Not My People: You are My people, and he will say, “You are My God.”

-Hosea 2

Four

Coastlands, listen to me; distant peoples, pay attention.
The Lord called me before I was born.
He named me while I was in my mother’s womb.
He made my words like a sharp sword;
He hid me in the shadow of His hand.
He made me like a sharpened arrow;
He hid me in His quiver.
He said to me, “You are My Servant, Israel;
I will be glorified in him.”

But I myself said: I have labored in vain,
I have spent my strength for nothing and futility;
yet my vindication is with the Lord, and my reward is with my God.
And now, says the Lord, who formed me from the womb to be His Servant,
to bring Jacob back to Him so that Israel might be gathered to Him;
for I am honored in the sight of the Lord, and my God is my strength—
He says, “It is not enough for you to be My Servant raising up the tribes of Jacob and restoring the protected ones of Israel.
I will also make you a light for the nations, to be My salvation to the ends of the earth.”
This is what the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel, his Holy One, says to one who is despised,
to one abhorred by people, to a servant of rulers:
“Kings will see and stand up, and princes will bow down, because of the Lord, who is faithful,
the Holy One of Israel—and He has chosen you.”

This is what the Lord says:
I will answer you in a time of favor, and I will help you in the day of salvation.
I will keep you, and I will appoint you to be a covenant for the people, to restore the land,
to make them possess the desolate inheritances, saying to the prisoners: 

Come out, and to those who are in darkness: Show yourselves.
They will feed along the pathways, and their pastures will be on all the barren heights.
They will not hunger or thirst, the scorching heat or sun will not strike them;
for their compassionate One will guide them, and lead them to springs of water.
I will make all My mountains into a road, and My highways will be raised up.
See, these will come from far away, from the north and from the west, and from the land of Sinim.

Shout for joy, you heavens!
Earth, rejoice!
Mountains break into joyful shouts!
For the Lord has comforted His people,
and will have compassion on His afflicted ones.

Zion says, “The Lord has abandoned me;
The Lord has forgotten me!”
“Can a woman forget her nursing child, or lack compassion for the child of her womb?
Even if these forget, yet I will not forget you.
Look, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; your walls are continually before Me.
Your builders hurry; those who destroy and devastate you will leave you.
Look up, and look around.
They all gather together; they come to you.
As I live”—
this is the Lord’s declaration—
“you will wear all your children as jewelry, and put them on as a bride does.
For your waste and desolate places and your land marked by ruins—will now be indeed too small for the inhabitants, and those who swallowed you up will be far away.
Yet as you listen, the children that you have been deprived of will say, ‘This place is too small for me;
make room for me so that I may settle.’
Then you will say within yourself, ‘Who fathered these for me?
I was deprived of my children and unable to conceive, exiled and wandering—
but who brought them up?
See, I was left by myself—but these, where did they come from?’”

This is what the Lord God says:

Look, I will lift up My hand to the nations, and raise My banner to the peoples.
They will bring your sons in their arms, and your daughters will be carried on their shoulders.
Kings will be your foster fathers, and their queens your nursing mothers.
They will bow down to you with their faces to the ground, and lick the dust at your feet.
Then you will know that I am Yahweh; those who put their hope in Me will not be put to shame.

Can the prey be taken from the mighty,or the captives of the righteous be delivered?
For this is what the Lord says: “Even the captives of a mighty man will be taken,
and the prey of a tyrant will be delivered;
I will contend with the one who contends with you, and I will save your children.
I will make your oppressors eat their own flesh, 

and they will be drunk with their own blood as with sweet wine.
Then all flesh will know that I, Yahweh, am your Savior,
and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.”
-Isaiah 49

Five

A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet. According to Shigionoth.

Lord, I have heard the report about You; Lord, I stand in awe of Your deeds.
Revive Your work in these years; make it known in these years.
In Your wrath remember mercy!

God comes from Teman, the Holy One from Mount Paran.

Selah
His splendor covers the heavens, and the earth is full of His praise.
His brilliance is like light; rays are flashing from His hand.
This is where His power is hidden.
Plague goes before Him, and pestilence follows in His steps.
He stands and shakes the earth; He looks and startles the nations.
The age-old mountains break apart; the ancient hills sink down.
His pathways are ancient.
I see the tents of Cushan in distress; the tent curtains of the land of Midian tremble.
Are You angry at the rivers, Lord?
Is Your wrath against the rivers?
Or is Your rage against the sea when You ride on Your horses, Your victorious chariot?
You took the sheath from Your bow; the arrows are ready to be used with an oath.
Selah
You split the earth with rivers.
The mountains see You and shudder; a downpour of water sweeps by.
The deep roars with its voice and lifts its waves high.
Sun and moon stand still in their lofty residence, at the flash of Your flying arrows, at the brightness of Your shining spear.
You march across the earth with indignation; You trample down the nations in wrath.
You come out to save Your people, to save Your anointed.
You crush the leader of the house of the wicked and strip him from foot to neck.
Selah
You pierce his head with his own spears; his warriors storm out to scatter us,
gloating as if ready to secretly devour the weak.
You tread the sea with Your horses, stirring up the great waters.

I heard, and I trembled within; my lips quivered at the sound.
Rottenness entered my bones; I trembled where I stood.
Now I must quietly wait for the day of distress to come against the people invading us.
Though the fig tree does not bud and there is no fruit on the vines, though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will triumph in Yahweh; I will rejoice in the God of my salvation!
Yahweh my Lord is my strength; He makes my feet like those of a deer and enables me to walk on mountain heights!

-Habakkkuk 3

Six

“As I kept watching, thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took His seat.
His clothing was white like snow, and the hair of His head like whitest wool.
His throne was flaming fire; its wheels were blazing fire.
A river of fire was flowing, coming out from His presence.
Thousands upon thousands served Him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him.
The court was convened, and the books were opened.

-Daniel 7:9-10

Seven

I have revealed Your name to the men You gave Me from the world.
They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word.

-John 17:6

Keeping Our Promises To God

Then I will continually sing of Your name, fulfilling my vows day by day.

-Psalm 61:8

I want to ask you a question:  What are you going to do?  I mean, what have you told God you are going to do and are you doing it?  What I am talking about is that when you love someone who loves you, you spontaneously make promises to them out of your love.

How do you choose to live?  Our lives are filled with responding to what God has done, becoming aware of what God is doing, and asking God to do things.  There are many facets of the God side, but there is also the you side: “what are you going to do?”

In the ‘you doing’ are you keeping your promises to God, whatever they are?  Are you doing that?  How are your life’s choices impacted or governed by your promises to God?

To have communion, to share life, between you and God; is a key dynamic of your life.

Sharing life with God is the life that we live.  We have communion with God on a daily basis through God’s gift and love mediated through Christ.  We enjoy God and live in a life of worship and keep our promises to God through Christ and in love.

We are day by day singing to God and fulfilling our vows, because we have God in our lives by faith.  Fulfilling our vows means keeping our promises.

In the relationship we have with God, we have recognized God’s love and come into salvation, saying “I do”, as a bride says, “I do”.  As a bride, we are betrothed through unconditional love.  But we make promises or vows back to our bridegroom, to God, to Christ, out of our love for him.  And we live daily, keeping the promises we have made, communing with God in our living out our vows.

When we interact with God, it is natural to ask God questions or make requests of God.  And it is also natural to tell God what you want to do in relation to him.  You have questions and requests, and that is fine and good, but what do you say that you will do?

There is no perfect or correct answer to my question.  Our lives are made up of what God has done and is doing, and what we decide to do.  We don’t just live in the big wow of discovering what God has done, but we also live with God in the decisions we make in regards to God.

Life is filled with challenges.  Success and failure, prosperity and set-backs, favor and loneliness, times of building and times of being attacked; all these times challenge us.  In these times, especially when we have a problem, we call out to God.

And God sometimes feels distant when we are having a problem.  It is like the problem is separating us from God.  The problem becomes the center thing and we call out to God.

I know stories of people promising things to God, when they were in a fix and I have done that in my life, but that is not what I am talking about.  I am talking about the promises that we make to God when we are in love with God.  I imagine that if you are a believer, you became one because you got touched by God and know God’s love and you love him back.

When we love someone and receive their love, we naturally love them back.  We make a commitment to them and in love, we make promises to them.  It’s like we say that in the light of your love and all that you have done and promise to do, here is what I want to do, will do, or promise to do for you.

You have probably heard a saying about married life that goes something like, “a wedding does not a marriage make”.  In other words, whatever kind of wedding you have, it does not guarantee a healthy marriage.  Because a healthy marriage depends on what you do, day by day, in your marriage.

In the same way, a healthy or fulfilling relationship with God depends on what you decide to do, day by day.  The happiness or fulfilling life all depends on you.  You are as whole, have as much joy, have as much peace, and have the amount of love that you choose.

I watched a romantic drama last weekend, where a couple ended up getting married.  At the wedding, the man pulled out some papers and recited vows to his bride.  This was a surprise to her.

She thought that they were just going to get married, and then work out their love life together.  But the man surprised her and told her from the moment he met her, he began writing out the vows he would make to her at their wedding.  He went above and beyond her expectations.

The groom in this story, did something that is optional.  Today, some people do traditional vows, some people like the man in my movie write their own vows, and others have no vows.  It is the same way in our relationship with God: the vows are optional and we can write our own, saying what we have heard others say, or make our own vows.

The word vow is a little bit old fashioned.  A more up to date word is promise.  The wedding vows are promises.  At weddings today, we usually hear, “I promise”.

We can and it is natural to make promises to God.  Lovers make promises to one another and it is the true lover that keeps their promises.  Keeping promises is a day by day thing.

It is natural to make promises to someone you love and then live in the keeping of those promises.  This is the way that loving, covenant relationships work.  Marriage is a covenant and our relationship to God is a covenant.  Out of love, we make promises to our spouse or to God and then we live in the keeping of those promises.

Do not think that anything you do earns the love of your beloved.  We do not pay for or earn our salvation from God through our chosen promises that we make and keep.  But we are paying back or returning the favor.

God does do all sorts of things that we want to praise him for and return the favor so to speak.  But paying back and payment for services rendered are two totally different things.  The more that you return the favor or pay God back, the more you will be blessed.

But this has nothing to do with merit or your elevation or your earning salvation.  It is like a child that chooses to come to grandpa and get hugs.  The child who chooses the coloring book over getting hugs and kisses is not bad, but the child who chooses his grandpa’s embrace and thereby gets hugs and kisses, gets that tangible, relational blessing that the coloring book can not give.

Our lives, as adults are just like that.  God’s embrace is available and God’s ear is open, but we have to choose to go into God’s embrace or to talk to God.  People who choose something else over God’s embrace are not necessarily bad, but they are just missing out on hugs and kisses.

Here is a song that describes what I am talking about.
My Lord, My God; by Darren Clarke

Weakness and Rest

I call to You from the ends of the earth when my heart is without strength.
Lead me to a rock that is high above me.

I am at rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him.

-Psalm 61:2 & 62:1
I just got back to work from a week of vacation.  When we have a vacation, we rest from or normal work, but some of us do other work or even make recreation into work.  Have you ever gone on a trip, that was supposed to be fun and enjoyable, only to feel more tired than when went you left?
I am still learning to rest.  When I have time-off from my normal work schedule, there are many things I want to do.  I think that is a good thing, but I just have to rest after I do them.
For me, physical tiredness affects my mental state.  It is not well with my soul, when I am exhausted.  When I am tired, I am vulnerable to being grouchy and seeing the world through grey glasses.
I remember being at a Saturday leadership meeting and there was a man there who led a significant ministry in California, and he was dozing off.  He had the grace to fall asleep in the meeting.  I was discipled right there, by this older gentleman’s example.
Many of the rest of us hit exhaustion while we are going, performing, or driving; with bad results.
Be a life-long-learner.  I have been learning about rest and the need for it, for a long time.  I think it is an essential.
Do you recall a radio program called “Haven“?  They sang a song that went, “I’ve anchored my soul in the haven of rest”.  Heard it many times and I didn’t fully get it, but I do now.
Fact: we get tired and we need rest.  Our hearts get tired.  We are weak creatures.  We have limits.
Rest is a posture.  I think we are always in need and always need to be resting in the Lord.  And we especially need to turn into and onto God when we are tired.  That includes feeling faint, heavy-hearted (weighted down heaviness), and just plain overwhelmed.
If you are a productive person, you need to learn the rhythm of rest.
We are weak, frail creatures who need rest.  And the best rest is found in God.  We practice God’s presence all the time, when we do stuff, when we are out and about; and we rest in God.
Wouldn’t it be great to always rest in God, as in being while doing.  Manifestation is different than hiddeness, but in both places we abide; which to me is resting.
There’s a paradox where God puts us in charge of things, saying, “Go, do it”, but we never stop abiding or resting in him.  So when we do, he does.  And I think what God is after is for us to be like gloves with his hand inside.
We are dependent completely, but we must do it.  And when we do it, we want to have him in us doing it through us.  And this is resting in him and seeing salvation come from him through our lives.
We both “stand still and see the salvation of the Lord”, and, “Take thee thy rod and strike it”.  You should do the right thing and repent when you mess up and you should also hear God say, “I’ve got this”, and then participate in God doing something very special.  We are neither robots nor orphans.
We are children, child-like adults, if you are past puberty; who are being given responsibility and freedom into wide spaces to explore and discover, with God, in Christ and by the Spirit.  We are prone to weakness, we get tired and we rest in the Lord always and especially when we are exhausted from the times of a full life.  
Praise God, from whom all blessings flow and we receive comfort and sustaining grace when we suffer.

Admitting Weakness

I call to You from the ends of the earth when my heart is without strength. Lead me to a rock that is high above me.

-Psalm 61:2
I read this scripture and was challenged by it.  The challenge was that my heart is also weak or without strength.  I had a revelation that I need more.

My Bible that I usually read first, is the CEB, the Common English Bible.  So when I first read this verse, the other morning, I read, “When my heart is weak”.  I was challenged by those words.  “Is my heart weak?”  “Yes, my heart is weak.”

Here is the HCSB and the CEB, side by side; Psalm 61, verses 1 to 4:

  1. God, hear my cry; pay attention to my prayer.  God, listen to my cry; pay attention to my prayer!
  2. I call to You from the ends of the earth when my heart is without strength.  Lead me to the rock that is high above me,  When my heart is weak, I cry out to you from the very ends of the earth.  lead me to the rock that is higher than I am
  3. for You have been a refuge for me, a strong tower in the face of the enemy.  because you have been my refuge, a tower of strength in the face of the enemy.  
  4. I will live in Your tent forever and take refuge under the shelter of Your wings.  Selah  Please let me live in your tent forever!  Please let me take refuge in the shelter of your wings!  Selah
I noticed that verse two leads off with “When my heart is weak”, in the CEB, preceding, “from the ends of the earth”.  But, in every other translation I can find, it says something like, “From the ends of the earth I call to You, when my heart grows faint.”  I don’t know why the CEB scholars flip it, but I suspect that they believe that the Hebrew gives them license to.
So, when I first read this verse, the other morning, I first read, “When my heart is weak”, and that got emphasized to me.  That part of the verse, Psalm 61:2, challenged me; which is the story I want to tell.
I just read something yesterday about the danger of interpreting scripture too subjectively and then applying it to others, and I understand that.  This is an instance of my sharing about the text applied to me.  But I also am looking at the original author’s intent and how it applies to all believers from then until now.
I think there are two good ways for preachers and teachers to share, preach, teach, or encourage others with a text, and one not so good way.  One, is to share the text, applied to me, and then say, “this might apply to you”.  The second way, is to share the text as applying to we or us, and say, “this is for us”.  The third way, that is weaker and not as good, is to share a text, and say, “this is for you”.
Some preachers and teachers unfortunately have a style, where the third way is their way.  They talk at the people, they talk down, they scold, they rebuke, they judge, they spank people and rake them over the coals with their messages.  What is strange and unhealthy is when this is not the exception, done in lowliness, tearful love; but the weekly rule, done in anger, and applauded.
These same three ways also apply to bloggers and Christian writers.  
My goal is always to communicate the first or second way.  I originally titled my blog my “notes”, because these are notes from what I am learning with things sprinkled in that I am re-learning.  The notes are for myself and for whomever may read them and benefit, and to the glory of the Lord.


When my heart is weak

I wrestled with this text and with what God was and is saying to me.

The challenge was, am I going to let the text speak to me, or resist it and say, “I’m good”?

If I do not say, “my heart is weak”, when it indeed is, then I don’t get the grace I need for my heart’s activities in life, which includes my relationship to God, to myself, and to others.

Sometimes we won’t admit our weakness, but we ask for leading, and wonder why we don’t get led by God.  I don’t have trouble admitting that I need help, as in guidance and leading.  But I do have trouble admitting that I am weak.  God gives grace to the humble.  God resists pride.

When I read this psalm again, it was a challenge to me.  I read, in my Bible, “When my heart is weak”.  The text challenged me or confronted me, saying, “Your heart is weak“.

No need to be offended, because the diagnosis is for healing.  The call is to get, ask for, a strengthening of my heart.  I suddenly realized that when and if I do not ask for this, I will not get it, and then I will interact in life – with God, with myself, and with others, from a weak heart.

There are all sorts of ramifications and disadvantages to having a weak heart.  For one thing, having a weak heart means that I have not been led up to the rock that is higher than I.  It is like not taking a promotion or an upgrade.

It is amazing that the door to going higher and receiving strengthening is the humility to admit weakness.

I looked up what other translations have in Psalm 61:2, for this description of the heart that is proclaimed:

  • when my heart is overwhelmed
  • when my heart is weak
  • when my heart is faint
  • when my heart grows faint
  • when my heart is without strength
  • in my despair
  • in the agitation of my heart
  • when my heart fainteth
  • when my heart was in anguish
  • in the feebleness of my heart
  • when my heart is in heaviness
  • in my weariness of spirit
  • with a sinking heart

It struck me that if I do not recognize my weakness, that my heart is weary, sinking, in anguish, or faint; then I will interact with my world – God, myself, others, and my and other’s circumstances; from the place of my heart that is weak and weary, perhaps broken.  I will end up giving limited, not as hopeful and not that heavenly, counsel to myself and others; because it is out of the heart that the heart speaks.

And my sick heart also will inform my thoughts, which will be discouraged and less hopeful and less encouraged.

The path or doorway to going higher, up and onto the rock, is the humility to say that my heart needs help.

I catch myself thinking through my weary heart.  There is a verse that says, “hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life” (Prov. 13:12).  Heart sickness is easy to get, if you have hopes, promises, or desires that you are waiting for.

The antidote for a weakened heart is to cry out to God.  That cry is, “lead me to the rock that is higher than I”.

I also have to have some self-awareness and the humility to realize that I need help.  One of the terrible things about pride is that pride is not  teachable.  Don’t get caught in the pride trap.

I am really struct my the fact that my circumstances, each and every stressor and difficulty; is an opportunity for the goodness of God to manifest.  The message of this verse, Psalm 61:2, or this part of this verse that says, “When my heart is weak, or without strength”, is to admit or confess my weakness, so that I can rely on God’s strength.

He does strengthen me, but that is not really the message here.  The message is that God is available to be my rock and my refuge and my fortress, my hiding place, and my place of rest – always.  Every circumstance is a challenge to God’s goodness, God’s grace, and God’s faithfulness.

The door that leads to God’s provision for me is admitting my weakness.  I am a son and a slave.  I have a life, with responsibilities and obligations, relationships, and aspirations.  But I am never self-sufficient or alone or the power.

He is strong and I am weak.  It is a huge insight and something I aspire to live in, that the Lord is my strength.  It is a continual practice to live by and through the Lord.

If I admit my weakness, there is the rock of his steady foundation offered to me to stand on and dwell on.  But if I refuse to admit my weakness, there is struggle, pain, exhaustion, confusion, and my own choosing,  and a life of  not seeing the way to the peace on the rock offered to me every day.

The word to me is to admit my weakness, confess it, make it a prayer.  Laments are the most honest and real prayers.

God, hear my cry; pay attention to my prayer.
I call to You from the ends of the earth when my heart is without strength.
Lead me to a rock that is high above me, for You have been a refuge for me, a strong tower in the face of the enemy.
I will live in Your tent forever and take refuge under the shelter of Your wings.  Selah

God, You have heard my vows; You have given a heritage to those who fear Your name.
Add days to the king’s life; may his years span many generations.
May he sit enthroned before God forever; appoint faithful love and truth to guard him.
Then I will continually sing of Your name, fulfilling my vows day by day.

Prayers in a Time of Suffering

The Deluge, John Martin [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer.

From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.  For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe.

I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.  For you, God, have heard my vows; you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.

Increase the days of the king’s life, his years for many generations.  May he be enthroned in God’s presence forever; appoint your love and faithfulness to protect him.

Then I will ever sing in praise of your name and fulfill my vows day after day.

-Psalm 61
There are times of loss and suffering when we feel distant from God.  We feel like we are in a place, on earth, that is one of the furthest from God.  That is how is feels, because we are suffering.  We are tired and our heart is faint.
In that time, our prayer is, “Lead me to the rock that is higher than I”.  We want to be grounded on that rock that gives us solid stability.  We feel wobbly and want to feel steady again.

Feeling like you are distant from God and faint of heart is real.  David probably went through those kinds of times and later reflected about it, writing this psalm.  When we are suffering, we don’t always think straight or have theological insight.

 If you feel far from God, that is normal and temporary.  If you feel fainthearted, that is normal too.  Our humanity gets tired and has limits.

Notice that, “I feel like I am at the end of the earth”, and “I am fainthearted”, are not followed by, “And please forgive me.”  We are human.  We get stressed out, tired, disappointed, sad, angry, confused, devastated, grieved, and even suicidal.  This is called ‘the human condition’.

What we do when we are there is what David’s word’s are admonishing us to.  We’re going through suffering, warfare, a bad day, a bad week, setbacks, losses, and impossible times.  Cry out.  Pray, even when you feel like God is far off and your heart is weak.

When you are in that place, you probably will not have faith-filled, beautiful, crafted-prayers.  My prayers, when I am in that place, are whimpers and whispers, as from a person who is simply out of breath and low on energy.  My heart was faint and I felt far away from God.

God heard.

I Pray, God Hears, I am Blessed

I call to You from the ends of the earth when my heart is without strength.
Lead me to a rock that is high above me.

God, You have heard my vows; You have given a heritage to those who fear Your name.

-Psalm 61:2 & 5
We might think that when we are at the end of our rope, at our wit’s end, exhausted, discouraged, or weak; that the prayers we pray are not very effective or valuable.  But they are.  
We are never instructed to wait till we have it together, to pray.  
We are supposed to pray when we are in need, in trouble, empty, bewildered, lonely, or afraid.  We can call to God from the lonely place, from the barren place, or from the empty place.  
When we feel unstable, we pray for God’s stability.
Then we feel fragmented, we need the rock of God.  “Lead me”, means “take me there” because life has taken its toll on me and I am feeling wobbly.
When we pray or walk in worship, we make vows to God.  Vows are promises.  There is a healthy, loving way to make vows, and an unhealthy way.
At a wedding, the couple makes public vows to each other.  In their married life, it is natural and healthy to continue to make vows.  We make these promises as an expression of our ongoing and growing love for our spouse. 
It is the same way in our relationship with God.  It is good and healthy to tell God how committed we are to him.  We say it and do it.  We fulfill our vows:

Then I will continually sing of Your name, fulfilling my vows day by day.
-Psalm 61:8

Vows are an expression of love and commitment that must be attempted to be followed through on.  It is foolish to make vows that you are not going to keep.  A vow is a promise and when we do not keep or even try to keep a promise, it breaks the relationship.

It is good to promise God, make commitments or vows to God.  We just need to be careful what we promise, because lying or blowing hot air in prayer is not good.

We all want answered prayer.  What if the main answer to prayer is to know God heard me?    
Sit with that thought.  God heard your prayers.  I have understood that there is a Hebrew idea culled from the OT, that when God hears, he answers.  Something to ponder.
God hears and answers, but it may be a very different answer than we expect.
We have to remember that God made man in his image.  When we make God robotic or like a machine or even a magnificent person who designed a blueprint or wrote a script that he is bound to carry out, we are making God in our image.  
God is a person who cares and listens and wants to know me and my most intimate questions, thoughts and desires or requests.
When I realize or know that he hears, it makes me want to pray more and listen more and be with him more.  Spending time with God is never futile.  It is always an investment, a healthy choice.  There is a blessing for those who call out to God and make promises to him that they intend to keep.  
The reward for praying to God, the creator, the Father of Jesus; is God.  You get to relate to God and have God relate to you.  You get to be filled with God and be connected to God, bearing God’s fruit in your life.  You get peace that the world does not have.
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The artwork about is by James Michael Smith, found here.

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