Monday, December 04, 2006

When the World Shrinks

Psalm 16

Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
I have no good apart from you.”

As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones,
in whom is all my delight.

The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply;
their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out
or take their names on my lips.

The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;
you hold my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.

I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.
I have set the Lord always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
my flesh also dwells secure.
For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
or let your holy one see corruption.

You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Sometimes the idols of our hearts are evidenced by the amount of time we spend thinking about them. For me, my most notable idols are the ones that make my world shrink, and nothing else is worthy of my thoughts but that thing. So when happiness is not achieved from that thing, my entire existence is contained by that shrunken, darkened world. "The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply."

But in that dark night, by God's grace, I begin wondering what happened to the light I used to know. I cling to a vague recollection of joy unfettered and find myself curious as to what the source was. When I read this psalm, David's words remind me where that joy comes from. It is the result of having God where He belongs: "at my right hand." With my Savior at my right hand He instructs my heart and gives me counsel, such that even in darkness I am fed. And there I see my blessed inheritance. My idols darken my soul, but in the presence of my Lord "there is fullness of joy."

"You hold my lot." I have two options here: I can use it to blame God for my situation or I can use it to be comforted in it. Where I go depends on where my God is. If He's at my right hand, I will recognize my blessed inheritance; but if I have replaced Him with some other god, I will be quick to blame Him for my pain. Where is God when the world doesn't make sense? This psalm doesn't so much address that question as it does the question behind it: what joy do we have in that confusion? With God Almighty at our right hand, over our life, we have pleasures forevermore.

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