A magnificent psalm of praise that turns on a “but…” “I will sing of the greatness of the Lord, but what has happened to it lately?” You KNOW the answer.
I LOVE how this psalm starts out. Singing the praises of God. As it moves along it speaks more of Jesus’ reign than David’s. But then it turns a distinct corner. That corner moves it from praise to pleas. “Why is this happening to us? Have You forgotten Your promises? How much longer will this go on?”
Our psalmist answers his own question, or at least the important part of it; “Why is this happening to us?” “If his children forsake My law and do not walk according to My rules, if they violate My statutes and do not keep my commandments, then I will punish their transgressions with the rod and their iniquities with stirpes” (verses 30-32).
Israel KNEW the conditions of the covenant when they entered into it. God didn’t hide this part in the small print. He spelled it out quite clearly from the beginning. He was merciful and abounding in grace for a LONG time and didn’t fully enforce the ‘disobedience clause’ for a long time. At some point though, He HAD to keep His word regarding their sin. If God failed to keep ALL parts of His promises then NONE of His promises would be trustworthy. In other words, His promises regarding punishment and discipline were as important to keep as His promises concerning blessings.
When my children were younger and I had to discipline them for something I had told them not to do, I likened it to a ‘payment’. I told them they had ‘paid’ me for their punishment and I had no right to withhold it. I could soften the degree but couldn’t withhold it all together or they couldn’t trust me in anything. My word would have meant nothing. This reminds me of a cartoon I saw once with a mother and child exiting a store. The child is laughing and says to his mother; “I almost thought you really meant it the last time you said ‘no’.”
God’s “Yes” means yes and His “No” means no! His “Don’t do that or else…” means EXACTLY what He said. His “or else…” HAS to be enforced at some point or all of His words are suspect.
This being said, His GREATEST words come on the heels of this promise of discipline. “But I will NOT remove from him My steadfast love or be false to My faithfulness. I will NOT violate My covenant or alter the word that went forth from My lips. Once for all I have sworn by My holiness; I will not lie to David. His offspring SAHLL endure forever, his throne as long as the sun before Me” (verses 33-36, emphasis added). That promise was fulfilled in Jesus. God has established David’s throne through his offspring forever in the body of Jesus. Of His Kingdom there will be NO end.
Jesus’ Kingdom is not limited to just those of the bloodline of Israel. It is complete ONLY with the Spiritual bloodline of faith. And, YES, His promises are ALL still in effect. His clauses regarding blessings and curses were part of the Law but there are STILL consequences for sin, as well as forgiveness. The penalty has been paid in full but the natural consequences and ‘lesson requirements’ still enter our lives. For the same reason today as they were thousands of years ago; ALL of God’s words are TRUE.
I would tell our psalmist the same thing I’m telling myself. Don’t just sing in the good times because we see God’s blessings. Sing in the ‘lesson times’ too because we see His faithfulness to His word. SING because God only disciplines those He loves! And His discipline only lasts for a short time and works out lessons in our lives that last a lifetime, when we allow them to. The “mercies of the Lord” include NOT giving us the FULL measure of correction/lessons/punishment that we deserve. Keep singing oh my soul!!!
Father God, this ‘lesson’ is SO MUCH EASIER to hear on this side of correction. It is hardest to hear when in the middle of it. Yesterday I was ‘having a bad day’ because several things went wrong. The doctor wasn’t returning my phone calls, the lawn tractor wouldn’t start, and my bathroom sink showed me it was leaking. I was busy trying to resolve these issues for quite a while and was lamenting my situation. But then Your Spirit spoke something to me. My tractor was still under extended warranty. My floor showed NO water damage and I was able to repair the leak myself. The doctor still hasn’t called back but I can physically go to the doctor on Monday and get my questions answered. ALL my concerns were solvable. Looking at the blessings contained in the problems lightened my heart. THANK YOU for ALL those blessings! My day wasn’t so bad after all. And it’s because YOU gave me another way to look at it. Help me always see the blessings, even in the middle of the storms. THANK YOU that You NEVER take Your steadfast love from me!!!
Maybe this should be, “But I Will Sing” instead.