Morning everyone! I’ve landed on Yvonne’s favourite Psalm today – I wonder if anyone can guess which one it is?
For those not familiar with Yvonne’s impish sense of humour, we’re looking at Psalm 56, which starts (in the NIV) with “Be merciful to me, O God, for men hotly pursue me.” A problem I’m sure we all relate to! (Well, maybe not John). However, I’m looking at the Psalm in the NLT and it starts rather less excitingly, “O God have mercy on me, for people are hounding me.” You might want to have a read now.
For those who haven’t been following all the Zeph@10am sessions, I am working through the Psalms in my chronological Bible. It means they are interspersed appropriately throughout the story of David. In part, I’m doing it as a way of becoming more familiar with a Biblical character that I have only been acquainted with up until now, if I’m honest.
You know what it’s like with acquaintances. You know their name, who else they’re friends with, maybe what they do as a job. You might know some of the significant events of their lives. For example, anyone acquainted with me probably picks up quite quickly that I have a son. You may have an impression of their character – either from what you’ve seen or things other people have said.
I’m reminded of the passage in Sense and Sensibility where Mrs Dashwood asks Sir John what Mr Willoughby is like. He responds, “As good a kind of fellow as ever lived, I assure you. A very decent shot, and there is not a bolder rider in England.” Pushed further on the subject, with Marianne trying to gauge Willoughby’s manners, “pursuits, his talents, and genius”, Sir John responds, “Upon my soul, I do not know much about him as to all that.”
Until now, I think I knew as much about David as Sir John knew about Willoughby. He was certainly a very decent shot!
However, now I’m getting to know him better, both through the stories of his life and through his psalms, I’m not sure that I like him. There are too many inconsistencies in his character. He lies – and on one occasion those lies led to a priest and his entire extended family and livestock, save one son, being murdered. David was sorry, but it doesn’t stop him lying again later. He has two opportunities to kill Saul (who has been trying to kill him) but claims the moral high ground refusing to do so. Yet when someone he’d previously helped refuses to provide him with supplies, he sets out with 400 men to kill the man and all his family, and is only stopped from doing so when the wife intercedes. I’m trying to remember the cultural context in which he lived, but the inconsistencies in his character still rankle. The Psalms too, as Yvonne mentioned in one of her comments a few weeks ago, all start on a similar theme…. ‘O woe is me!’…… ‘People are being mean to me, telling lies about me!’….. and so on.
No matter how much I may currently not be warming to David as a person, there is no doubt of one thing that shines out of the stories and his psalms. He knows that he is special to God.
You can see this clearly in the second part of Psalm 56 – after he’s got over his standard ‘woe is me’ rant.
The verse that spoke to me most this morning was verse 8, “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book”.
I think one mark of whether someone is just an acquaintance, or is truly a friend, is how much their suffering hurts you. We feel sympathy with people when they are going through tough times, but when someone is close to you – when they are someone who you really know and love – then you really share in their suffering. It becomes your suffering too.
God loves us so much that our suffering doesn’t just hurt Him too. He goes further. He chooses to actively remember it, to store our tears, and record our pain. It seemed a little odd to me, because even as a parent, I don’t note down all the times Thomas got hurt, or upset. Once the situation has passed, then its forgotten.
But then I got to thinking a bit more. I do remember the important hurts in Thomas’s life – the things that caused significant pain or upset – because they are the events that have shaped the person that he is. They are the things that will influence how he will react in different situations, and how he will cope as life changes. The memory of them become part of my toolbox for helping him as he grows up.
God remembers all the hurts we have suffered, and all the joys we have experienced too, because we are the sum of those experiences. The tears that I wept last night – God will remember those because the thoughts and the pain behind them will influence how I think and behave in future situations. He has collected them in his tear bottle. He’s added it to his toolbox of ‘things that will help Jenny’.
That toolbox, knowing all that about us, is how God will keep our ‘feet from slipping’ and keep us walking in his presence, and his ‘life-giving light’ (Verse 13).
Have a listen to John’s words. And as you do, thank God that He has a toolbox for helping you, and no matter who you are, and how inconsistent your character, you are still special to him.
I don’t know how you are feeling today – whether happy, sad or somewhere in between. What I do know is that God is taking note, He’s remembering, because you’re special to Him and He wants to keep you walking in His light.
Have a good day!