Thursday, January 21, 2010

Ps 18:16-36 for Jan 21

Unmercifully chopped by the One Year Bible, to stop reading Psalm 18 at verse 15 yesterday was to miss the point! To get to David in 18:16, 18:6-15 was what He did. But such are the "requirements" of the fifteen minutes a day goal. Enough said about that.

The Psalm has the greatest and hardest parts of religion embedded in it. It's truly embarassing to be stuck. It's life-threatening for a warrior, like David, to be stuck. It's like being able to take a mountain in a single leap (18:33) when a warrior sees himself rescued by his God.

And that's not even seeing it from the 18:6-15 perspective!

To depend on God is to be out on a limb, but there's the post-event, after you see it, and you notice, "my feet have not slipped" (18:36); you notice, "He trains my hands for battle" (18:34); you notice the lawn where you're able to relax now, and say "He brought me forth into a broad place" (18:19).

So that's some of the greatest parts of religion, that God rescues David the individual. What are some of the hardest parts, besides the embarassment of actually depending on God?

What does the skeptic often say: "if you really think God answers prayers, why don't we set up a controlled experiment? In one room, we'll have people praying for God to prevent sugar from being added to the water by people in the next room. If God prevents the people in the next room from adding sugar to the water, which we told them to do, we have our proof." (We did read about Jesus comment to such things a few days ago in the One Year Bible, Mt 12:38-39).

It's not hard to refute such talk. What's harder for the individual is to figure out our own contributions to the war. "He delivered me" (18:17), yes, but "He trains my hands" (18:34) -- for battle! So, passivity is completely out. When there are two agents trying to accomplish something, there is a coordination issue, no?

One part of the answer is certainly that both work together: "He makes my feet like hinds' feet" (18:33); i.e., the feet that jump are something I certainly didn't create. "You enlarge my steps" (18:36), i.e., my efforts get me farther than they would otherwise.

And part of the answer certainly must be 18:20-24. But that's the hardest part, I think! Can we see our own work in a piecemeal way, as David does here, and not take total credit for it, as religion does when it goes bad?

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