Today’s reading helps us understand some of the several aspects of God. This is a crucial piece of knowledge for the believer, especially in today’s world. Despite the fact that we know ourselves to be rather complex beings — a mixture of intellect, emotion, playfulness, seriousness, sexuality, spirituality, and so much more — many of our day inexplicably see God to be unidimensional, love. Perhaps it’s because that’s what kind of God we want, just love. Sorry — it’s just not so, and we do well to try comprehend Him as completely as possible, since it is the real God that will show up in judgment someday, not the God that we’d irrationally like. And today, the aspects that we see are sufferer, shepherd, and King of Glory!
Psalm 22 is a well known Messianic psalm predicting the sufferings of the Christ hundreds of years before the fact. Consider: “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?”, the reference to sneers and head wagging, the taunts to let God rescue Him, the pierced hands and feet, the division and casting of lots for His clothing, and the victory at the end. While the predictive nature of this psalm is impressive, I’m also impressed by the fact that our Lord is clearly not a God who is content to stand aloof from our human sufferings, but participates in them, too. We can never accuse the Lord of not understanding our pains and agonies in this life. Like Isaiah 53 reminds us “Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God and afflicted” (v.4). God does understand our sufferings, not just in some abstract or intellectual way, but intimately and personally. Remember that next time you bring your broken heart before His throne in prayer; He’s the God who understands suffering.
Psalm 23 shows the LORD as our great Shepherd. This psalm has been a standard passage for comfort to those sick or dying or grieving for centuries, and for good reason. When we’re feeling so weak and helpless we appreciate acutely the gentle hand of Good Shepherd as at no other time. Sheep are indeed weak and helpless. They’re not bred for survival; they’re bred for their wool, and have few or no defensive moves apart from the general herd defense — which essentially boils down to hoping that a predator will choose someone else besides me. Some defense! Unless you have a shepherd, one who lead to green pastures and refreshing waters, one who will guide to right paths, who will protect even in dire circumstances, who will both beat off predators and rescue me from my stupid decisions, and who will take me to His own house to dwell forever. How blessed are the sheep of this flock. Are you one of them?
The words of the latter half of Psalm 24 provide some of the lyrics for Handel’s majestic oratorio “Messiah”. “Who is the King of Glory?” It’s not David or Solomon. It’s not Alexander or Caesar. It’s not Napolean or any Pharaoh or any other glorious king. The true King of Glory truly owns the earth and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it! The King of Glory is the LORD of hosts. There has never been one greater and never will be — He is God. Let our tongues ever have only praise for Him. Then let our lives LIVE the praise.
See you tomorrow, Lord willing.