What Glories are You Failing to See?

Dry Stone Wall

There are portions of Scripture that are almost never preached, read, meditated upon, or memorized. They are almost completely ignored. Eyes might roll over them in some year-long reading plan, but that’s it. Their truths are left packed away, unappreciated, and unrecognized, like pieces of luggage we carry around but never open.

I suspect that Psalm 76 is one of those passages.

The images are foreign to the mostly therapeutic bent of most Christians and the way they (we) read the Bible. Too many Christians (me too sometimes) in America read their Bibles for daily inspiration, like a spiritual vitamin pill that they can take to start their day on a happy note. They read to get a spiritual snack. Nothing substantial, just a nibble at the tree of life. Just a swallow at the river of life. They read as a discipline or as a legalistic exercise but not as a life giving, necessary part of their spiritual, emotional and physical and eternal existence.

They rarely read as if their very life depended on what they read.

But that’s how the God of the Universe wants us to read His word. He wants us to read and meditate on the word of God as if our lives depend upon it. That is the sense of Deuteronomy 8:3 in the Old Testament and Matthew 4:4 in the New.

“Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” 

Psalm 76 is not for the snackers. It is not for the nibblers. 

Psalm 76 is for the worshipper who wants to worship in “spirit and truth;” (John 4:24) who wants to worship the God revealed in Scripture rather than the false God of our imagination.  Psalm 76 is for the spiritual seekers who desire the reality of a God who discloses Himself in His word. Psalm 76 is NOT for those who dream of a God that fulfills all of their wishes on their time schedule according to their value system.

Psalm 76 like so many other psalms, (psalm 94 is another that comes to mind), that rock our sensibilities and challenge our self-absorbed arrogance. God is different than we expect. More mysterious than we imagined. Less predictable than we think. Holier than we can possibly conceive. 

Modern song writers and worship leaders with few exceptions (Andrew Peterson, Rich Mullins, Michael Card, The Getty’s, the people associated with Indelible Grace come to mind), rarely explore the darker textures and colors of God’s wrath, vengeance, judgment, and the overwhelming fearfulness of the magnesium flash of His complete untarnished holiness. Why is that? 

It can’t be because they don’t see it in Scripture because it is everywhere. It might be because they either consciously or unconsciously avoid it.* Not so for Asaph. He wrote a song for the choir director so that the congregation of Israel would sing these textures as a part of worship of the God who reveals Himself in just this way.

Psalm 76   (NASB)
For the choir director, on stringed instruments. 
A Psalm of Asaph, a Song

 God is known in Judah;
           His name is great in Israel.
His tabernacle is in Salem;
           His dwelling place also is in Zion.
There He broke the flaming arrows,
           The shield and the sword and the weapons of war.    Selah.

You are resplendent,
More majestic than the mountains of prey.
The stouthearted were plundered,
They sank into sleep;
And none of the warriors could use his hands.
At Your rebuke, O God of Jacob,
Both rider and horse were cast into a dead sleep.
You, even You, are to be feared;
And who may stand in Your presence when once You are angry?
You caused judgment to be heard from heaven;
The earth feared and was still
When God arose to judgment,
To save all the humble of the earth.                                Selah.
10 For the wrath of man shall praise You;
With a remnant of wrath You will gird Yourself.

11 Make vows to the Lord your God and fulfill them;
Let all who are around Him bring gifts to Him who is to be feared.
12 He will cut off the spirit of princes;
He is feared by the kings of the earth.

I will have to brood over this text some more and teach on it soon.

Footnote:
* I just checked my own files related to psalms 76 and 94. Both were completely empty. What that means is that I have never studied these psalms in depth and I have never heard anyone else preach or teach on them in 45 years of ministry. Astounding!

3 thoughts on “What Glories are You Failing to See?

  1. Marty, Here are three meditations from Ps 76. They are included in my meditations on the Psalms, Voices Together, Vol 2 I know, not a sermon, but VT is my daily pulpit I’ll send you the Ps 94 later. I’m about to get a dinner call.

    Thursday, 7 May 2009
    Psalm 76:1-3
    To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. A Psalm of Asaph. A Song.
    In Judah God is known; his name is great in Israel. His abode has been established in Salem, his dwelling place in Zion. There he broke the flashing arrows, the shield, the sword, and the weapons of war. Selah

    How great is Your Name in all the earth, in how many ways is it revealed? Through the Creation, by Your Word, in the Cross, in the Resurrection, as You stand at the Father’s right hand to administer justice and righteousness, in my transformed life.

    Great is Your Name in all the earth. And in me, the Temple of the Living God. In me, the flashing arrows, the shield, the sword and all the weapons of war, those marks and signs of the evil one have been broken and defeated. I am a new man in Christ Jesus. I am being restored and being made fit for the work of the Kingdom.

    Great is Your Name in all the earth.

    Friday, 8 May 2009
    Psalm 76:4-9
    Glorious are you, more majestic than the mountains of prey. The stouthearted were stripped of their spoil; they sank into sleep; all the men of war were unable to use their hands. At your rebuke, O God of Jacob, both rider and horse lay stunned. But you, you are to be feared! Who can stand before you when once your anger is roused? From the heavens you uttered judgment; the earth feared and was still, when God arose to establish judgment, to save all the humble of the earth. Selah

    It is hard to remember, in these times of trial and turmoil, that You are Supreme, that You are on the throne and that all things are under Your control. I find myself despondent and filled with anxiety, I have taken my eyes off You and let them focus on the attacks of the Evil One. But You allow and forbid, all is at Your beck and call.

    Your anger, LORD, is an irresistible force, Your judgments are immutable, there are none who can stand against the righteousness of Your anger and judgments. All creation fears You and Your majesty.

    Saturday, 9 May 2009
    Psalm 76:10-12
    Surely the wrath of man shall praise you; the remnant of wrath you will put on like a belt. Make your vows to the LORD your God and perform them; let all around him bring gifts to him who is to be feared, who cuts off the spirit of princes, who is to be feared by the kings of the earth.

    Lord, I come before You in humility and repentance, seeking Your face, knowing that the gift You desire from me more than any other is my obedience to Your word. This is my living sacrifice, my act of spiritual worship, a sacrifice holy and acceptable to You.

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  2. Marty, Here’s the meditations on Ps 94

    Psalm 94:1-3
    O LORD, God of vengeance, O God of vengeance, shine forth! Rise up, O judge of the earth; repay to the proud what they deserve! O LORD, how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked exult?
    Lord, how long will You allow the daily slayings of the unborn? How long before Your wrath pours out upon these lands? How long will You let the worship of Moloch destroy life that You have created? How long, O Lord, how long? How long will You allow those who take Your Name, to claim Your Name and remain silent? When will the stones cry out?

    Voices Together for Thursday, 27 August 2009
    Psalm 94:4- 7
    They pour out their arrogant words; all the evildoers boast. They crush Your people, O LORD, and afflict Your heritage. They kill the widow and the sojourner, and murder the fatherless; and they say, “The LORD does not see; the God of Jacob does not perceive.”
    But You do perceive! You do see! You do hear! You do remember and will hold accountable! Those who deliberately and with malice aforethought, will be held to the absolute standard of Your word, You the Holy God, the God who hates evil.

    Voices Together for Friday, 28 August 2009
    Psalm 94:8-11 Understand, O dullest of the people! Fools, when will You be wise? He who planted the ear, does He not hear? He who formed the eye, does He not see? He who disciplines the nations, does He not rebuke? He who teaches man knowledge–the LORD–knows the thoughts of man, that they are but a breath.

    Let Your justice reign; make those who choose to ignore Your words, live by Your word. “Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts concerning the prophets: “Behold, I will feed them with bitter food and give them poisoned water to drink, for from the prophets of Jerusalem ungodliness has gone out into all the land.” Jeremiah 23:15

    Voices Together for Monday, 31 August 2009
    Psalm 94:12-15 Blessed is the man whom You discipline, O LORD, and whom You teach out of Your law, to give him rest from days of trouble, until a pit is dug for the wicked. For the LORD will not forsake his people; he will not abandon his heritage; for justice will return to the righteous, and all the upright in heart will follow it.

    How difficult it is, Lord, to ask for discipline and to see that as a source of blessing. But if I truly want to know You in the very depths of my heart and to learn to follow You with all my heart, soul, mind and strength, discipline is the gift that I must plead for. And the practice that I must faithfully seek.
    Those two aspects of discipline, those that You use to teach me and those that I use to train me. Lord, instruct the Holy Spirit to agitate me with both. And to give me the ears of the heart to hear and the will to follow.

    Voices Together for Tuesday, 1 September 2009
    Psalm 94:16-19 Who rises up for me against the wicked? Who stands up for me against evildoers? If the LORD had not been my help, my soul would soon have lived in the land of silence. When I thought, “My foot slips,” Your steadfast love, O LORD, held me up. When the cares of my heart are many, Your consolations cheer my soul.

    How are You sending me? Where will You put me to speak against these detestable crimes? Today!

    Voices Together for Wednesday, 2 September 2009
    Psalm 94:20-23 Can wicked rulers be allied with You, those who frame injustice by statute? They band together against the life of the righteous and condemn the innocent to death. But the LORD has become my stronghold, and my God the rock of my refuge. He will bring back on them their iniquity and wipe them out for their wickedness; the LORD our God will wipe them out.

    Lord, if I am truly trusting in You and in Your justice, if I am following Your word to carry the message of grace and mercy to a lost and broken world, then I can be confident that Your justice will prevail and all will be as You have ordained.

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