Today’s Scripture Lesson: Psalms 37, 38
Today, we continue our study in the Book of Psalms with the 37th and 38th Psalms. As always I hope you’ll take the time on your own to read these two chapters.
Although the material is usually pretty straightforward, reading the Psalms can be a challenge. This is most often the case for me when God lays one simple question on my heart, “Do you believe that?” From there, things can go many directions.
Like many of the Psalms, the 37th Psalm includes the “promises” of God revealed by David. Allow me to list just a few:
- the arms of the wicked will be broken
- the Lord sustains the righteous
- the wicked will perish
- those blessed by Him will inherit the land
- those cursed by Him will be cut off
- He will exalt you to inherit the land
I can’t tell you the number of times I see social media posts that include one short Scripture. Sometimes it’s a little figurine with a verse of the day. It isn’t uncommon that the verse of the day or short Scripture reveals one of the promises of God from the Psalms. They are, after all, encouraging and typically serve as good motivation for the day.
The Context of God’s Promises Matters
Don’t misunderstand me. I do believe that “all Scripture is inspired by God and profitable.” But, I also believe the rest of that verse, too, as well as the next verse. Scripture is “for teaching, for correction, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
Do you see the difference between reading something in context and reading it out of context? When we read the “promises” of God, are we reading them in context? There is a danger in failing to do so.
When we fail to read in context, we begin to ask questions like:
- Where’s my inheritance, God?
- When are You going to exalt me, God?
- When are You going to cut off my enemies, God?
- When are the arms of my enemy going to be broken, God?
These questions are very often preceded by, “look at everything I’ve done and gone through, God. Look at what I’ve done for You, God.”
We attempt to establish a position where we can leverage God into doing our bidding. Leveraging God essentially says, “by following the rules and being good by our standards, God owes us something.”
When we ask those questions, we’re feeding a cycle of doubt. I’m not saying you shouldn’t pray about and confess the questions and doubts you have, but by dwelling on those questions, you’re actually making matters worse.
Doubt has a negative effect on our perspective and our ability to discern God’s context. It is very difficult to find the Psalms uplifting and encouraging when you’re in the cycle of doubt.
What is the Focus of Your Fulfillment?
Psalm 38 offers one of the greatest lines I’ve ever read. It’s a fascinating line because if you read it out of context, the line is simply uplifting and encouraging for the moment. The line comes from verse 9, “Lord, all my desire is before You; and my sighing is not hidden from you.” It sounds like God knows what you want and He’s going to give it to you. Yay, God! I’m getting that jet ski I always wanted.
But, what happens when we read it in the context of Jesus being the true promise of the Old Testament? What happens when we read it in the context that Jesus is our inheritance, that He defeated the enemy, that He is our exaltation? Reading, “Lord, all my desire is before You; and my sighing is not hidden from you” is no longer a matter of having hope that I’m going to get all the stuff I want. Now, it presents a question which has an answer that isn’t hidden from God, “where are you going in order to find fulfillment?” When the answer isn’t Jesus and it isn’t God the Father, the moment is convicting.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 tells us, “…He has also set eternity in their heart…” In other words, God has set a deep desire for eternity with Him upon our hearts. We may seek fulfillment elsewhere, but we’re merely attempting to fill a God-sized spiritual void by physical means.
Time and time again in the Psalms, God tells us He plans to give us the desire of our hearts. That’s why Psalms 38:9 is so fascinating. When you read it in the context of a babe lying in a manger, in the context of the New Covenant, in the context of the man upon the cross, or in the context of a risen Savior – it isn’t just convicting, it is exultant throughout eternity.
So, What’s the Play Call?
Go into the quiet place and ask God to reveal the deepest desires of your heart. Ask Him to reveal all the ways you’ve been attempting to fill that void. And, I pray that the “Promise” fulfilled in Jesus Christ will be your fulfillment all the days of your life.