My wife is in a study group that is focused on the Psalms of Ascent (120-134). We have talked about that study and those psalms on several occasions so I tried to pay special attention as I was reading through that section the past few days. They reminded me that often my heart is far from praising God. My soul languishes in fear and a sense of loathing my own sin and rebellion to God. The darkness that seems to surround me is not able to let the light of the LORD’s steadfast love penetrate and do its work. Getting a handle on my spiritual thermometer let me see the temperature of my own pitiful nature. Then, as I was reading Psalm 131, I was impressed with this thought, what if I looked at it from the condition of the writer that prompted the words, no so much the result of his restoration? So that is what I did. I reversed the Psalm:
O LORD, my heart is lifted up and proud; my eyes are too full of self; I allow my mind and heart to overwhelmed by things that are too great for me and too marvelous – things beyond my understanding and comprehension. I find it almost impossible to quiet my soul, to ease the hunger pangs that want to drive me back to dependence on others and childish things instead of finding sufficient strength to stand in the maturity that comes from your presence.
Let me learn from this and seek to hope in you from this time forth and forevermore.
It’s sort of a where I am now and where I want to be approach. A confession and plea. An admission of weakness and a call for strength, attitudes that are reflected often in the Psalms. However, on many occasions I push those attitudes on the nation and not the individual. I know the end from the beginning. I know the history that serves as a backdrop and the history that is yet to be written. In this particular psalm, its just me and God. Pages scribbled with the life of a troubled soul followed by blank pages yet to be penned. I like that.
There is much to gain from reading the psalms. Settling into those monologues of praise, exaltation, and yes, calls for revenge can stimulate the soul. There are strong notes of history in those pages: Observations about God’s involvement in History, Israel’s history and personal history. Each carry their own level of power and a chance for personal application. It is at that level that I need to sit down beside the writer and learn.