Thursday, January 29, 2015

the hand of God has turned the tide...

For the past few weeks I've been reading through the Psalms...something I haven't done in full before.  The book of Psalms is located pretty much in the smack-dab-middle of the Bible, and they are known to bring comfort to the weary soul.  I bet we could agree that in the smack-dab-middle of this life, and in the midst of the worries and struggles it brings, we could all use a little comfort.

I didn't cover much ground today in my morning reading.  I hovered over chapter 118 for some time, looking at various translations and reading commentaries to deepen my understanding.

Throughout the 117 chapters prior, David cries out to God in his distress and danger as enemies surround him and threaten to take his life.  A few jewels were uncovered in chapter 118 today.  Let's take a look:

"In my anguish I cried out to the LORD, and He answered me by setting me free.  The LORD is with me (on my side); I will not be afraid...The LORD is with me; He is my helper.  I will look in triumph on my enemies.  It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man...All the nations surround me, but in the name of the LORD I cut them off.  They surrounded me on every side, but in the name of the LORD I cut them off.  They swarmed around me like bees, but they died out as quickly as burning thorns; in the name of the LORD I cut them off."
Psalm 118:5-12

I love how David reminds us that God is our helper and is on our side.  He encourages us to trust in the LORD and to call out to Him in times of trouble and distress.  For, despite the odds that rise up against us, it is IN HIS NAME that we find our victory.  

David goes on to proclaim:

"Shouts of joy and victory resound in the tents (and private dwellings) of the righteous:  The LORD's right hand has done mighty things!  The LORD's right hand is lifted high; 
the LORD's right hand has done mighty things."
Psalm 118:15-16

I love how The Message translates this last verse:

"The hand of God has turned the tide."

The Bible is chocked full of stories in which God has turned the tide on people's lives and has done mighty things to lead His people to deliverance.  He continues to do the same today.  In the midst of our struggles, sometimes it is hard to believe in (and tell of) God's goodness and to give Him thanks.  We'd rather wait till we are "out of the woods" before doing so.  David's example is one we are wise to follow.

Matthew Henry's commentary explains, "People must all own God's goodness, and all join in the thankful song.  David celebrates God's mercy, and calls upon others to acknowledge it, from their own experience of it.  David had, in this time, waded through a great deal of difficulty, which gave him great experience of God's goodness to him.  There are many who, when they are lifted up, care not for hearing or speaking of their former depressions, but David takes all occasions to remember his low estate and calls upon others to confess God's mercy, and to encourage themselves to trust in Him."

Furthermore, "Satan is the great enemy that thrusts solely at us by his temptations (to lose faith and hope), to cast us down from our excellency, that we may fall from our God and from our comfort in Him.  Men thrust at David for his destruction; God chastened him for his instruction.  They thrust at him with the malice of enemies; God chastened him with the love and tenderness of a Father.  This trouble, which God authored, was designed for David's profit.  What men intend for the greatest mischief, God intends for the greatest good, and it is easy to say whose counsel shall stand."

I wonder what you are struggling with today?  Whatever it may be, I encourage you to call out to your Helper, tell Him what is troubling you, and to claim a mighty, "but in the name of the LORD," victory over it.  Trust in God's mercy and believe that He will use your trials for your own instruction and good...that these troubles will be used to profit you and to magnify God's goodness.  (And don't be afraid to share your story and tell of the goodness you have received.)

Perhaps enemies do not encamp around you threatening to take your life, but the troubles of this world may seem like they are rushing in on a wave that wants to take you under.  In these moments, join in the thankful song.  Whatever waves are coming up against you,  remember that we have a God, a Comforter, who can turn the tide with one easy and effortless stroke of His mighty hand.

God is good all the time.
All the time, God is good.

Do not fall from Him or your comfort in Him.  Let every trouble serve to magnify His goodness in our lives, so that we may profit from it, tell of His hand that has turned the tide, and call others to join in the thankful song.

Owning God's goodness today,