Singing As We Plant #3
Take time to read the entire Psalm 3:1-8, and then come back and read the following verse again.
Arise, O Lord!
Save me, O my God!
For you strike all my enemies on the cheek;
you break the teeth of the wicked.
– Psalm 3:7
I haven’t heard this part of Psalm 3 taught on all that much. I certainly haven’t heard it quoted in a prayer meeting or a worship event. So I got to thinking; why is Psalm 3 even in the Bible? Isn’t it offensive to pray to God for him to physically assault someone? Maybe it is in there because God wants to show us that he is okay with it being in there.
In our weird western view of a very much Middle-Eastern religious tradition, we have made our prayer and worship responses into a mono-emotional event. We like to wrap things up in a nice bow and make sure that it resolves. There is very little tension and angst. There is a water-tight doctrinal argument for everything under the heavens and that should always satisfy us. Or should it?
We have made our prayer and worship responses into a mono-emotional event.
In this Psalm, David was at a major low. His son, Absalom, had stolen his kingdom from him and was pursuing him in order to kill him. David was full of angst, anger, doubt, anxiety and a desire for revenge, all mixed up with the fact that he still loved his son, and God let him pray that way and then let that be put in the Bible for all of us to see. It would seem that maybe there is space for some tension and raw humanity in our worship. Maybe there is space for struggle in our prayer. God seems big enough and secure enough in himself to allow us space to respectfully rant every now and then. The Bible seems to suggest that we don’t always need to be ‘fine’, or ‘okay’. It’s no good to stay mad, but it seems to be okay to get mad now and then.
So what are you really feeling beneath your ‘churchy’, ‘I’m fine’ exterior? Do you have doubts, struggles, fears? Why not take them to God? I think you will find him loving and compassionate, and like David in Psalm 3, you may feel released enough to sleep easy and not fear as a result.
Singing as we plant
Instead of lashing out yourself, pray your anger & leave judgement in the wise & just hands of God.
This Psalm is a dangerous one for church-planters! We have to recognize David’s unique position as God’s anointed king. We are not the Messiah! God is not as concerned with our reputation as he is about his anointed King (Psalm 2)! But we are God’s appointed servants, shepherds of his flock and God does care about our reputations as such. And so we will be confronted with similar situations and similar emotions as David. We will be betrayed, or feel betrayed from within. We will be opposed, or feel opposed from without. And David’s response is exemplary – instead of lashing out himself, he prays his anger and leaves whatever lashing out there is, if any, in the wise and just hands of God.
Great David’s greater Son was betrayed and opposed in ways David himself could scarcely have imagined. He proved his greatness at the time by praying that his Father forgive them, and he will prove his greatness again when he judges for eternity those who reject his forgiveness. Our emotions live in the tension of all of these things, and whatever they are we are safe to pray them to God.
Our Father, we confess that there are many things in our lives and in this world that confuse and even anger us. We know without a doubt that you remain in control and we believe that you are working all things for our good and your glory, but on some days our circumstances can get the better of us. Teach us Lord to be more open and honest with you and with others, and increase our faith so that we trust you and live without fear. In Jesus’ mighty name we pray.