Commitment: Thoughts on Psalm 101

psalm 101.jpg
psalm 101.jpg

What does it really mean to have a relationship with God? A “relationship” can be such undefined terminology. I have a relationship with chocolate. We see each other often. Daily, usually.

What puts my interactions with God on a different plane than that?

Obviously it makes a difference that God loves me back. But just try to tell my taste buds that chocolate isn’t filled with affection for me. The feeling sure seems mutual.

One distinction that comes to mind about what a relationship with God can and should mean is something we don’t often talk about.

Commitment.

God is committed to us. His love never lets go.

What does it look like for us to be committed to Him?

I wonder if it looks something like Psalm 101.

Because when I read the “I will…” followed by “I will…” followed by “I will…,” I can’t help but think of wedding vows.

And though I might have chosen different vows than the ones made by David, that doesn’t throw me off too much. After all, we live in different countries and cultures thousands of years apart from one another. And, have very different roles. He was a king after all, and I am not a queen of anything but clumsiness.

But, I hear his commitment and I respect it. He is making promises to God about how He will live.

If this is a contract kind of situation, which is how I have sometimes read it, this doesn’t feel very loving. If David is committing to do these things because of what he will get in return, or out of fear of what will happen if he doesn’t do them, then this Psalm feels like shallow religion.

But what if it is more like wedding vows? What if they are a voicing of David’s desire to please the One he loves? What if David is fully aware that he will fail at some of these things, but wants to try anyway? What if David knows these promises might not be the 100% correct theology, but is more worried about the heart than the accuracy?

I will sing of your love and justice; to you, LORD, I will sing praise. I will be careful to lead a blameless life— when will you come to me? I will conduct the affairs of my house with a blameless heart. I will not look with approval on anything that is vile. - Psalm 101:1-3

If I read this Psalm as wedding vows, I can see something in it for me. I can find inspiration to speak my commitment to God, and hear His commitment to me.

We are in this together, God and I. I am committed to Him, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish as long as I shall live.

This will be my last post for a few weeks.I am taking a blogging break. After making it to 100 Psalms (yeah!) I realized that I have been burning myself out on content-creation, and need some space to work on some brewing projects in other areas of my life. Please join back with me for Psalms series and other posts in early June.

Link up with your own reflection on Psalm 101 below.

// <![CDATA[ document.write('<scr' + 'ipt type="text/javascript" src="http://www.inlinkz.com/cs.php?id=405177&' + new Date().getTime() + '"><\/script>'); // ]]</p></div>

Is there a God of the Old Testament?

  Old Testament - New TestamentWe have this bad habit of creating a hard line of division between the Old and the New Testament.

 

I have even heard people (maybe even me at some points of my journey) talk about “the God of the Old Testament,” as if the birth of Jesus fundamentally changed the kind of God we worship. Though it is true the incarnation brought something new and incomprehensibly beautiful, and though it is true Jesus offers a depth of redemption during this life that was not available before, it is also true that our God is the same God He has always been.

 

God has been writing His deliverance story since sin first entered this world. The birth and life and death and resurrection of Jesus was not a new book, it was a new chapter. The New Testament is the climax of the book, to be sure. Over and over, the Old Testament points to His coming, and looks forward to the day the Messiah would come and save God’s people once and for all.

 

Jesus was the rescuer and bringer of restored relationship promised in Genesis 3. But that doesn’t mean relationship didn’t exist between Genesis 3 and Matthew 1.

 

Part of the misunderstanding comes with how we view the sacrificial system and the law. We look at the New Testament and see grace, and look at the Old Testament and see works. Sacrifices seem to be some sort of standard that the people had to meet in order to appease God’s wrath.

 

In reality, the law and sacrifices existed to turn the hearts of the people towards their loving God. They often misunderstood this, too, and over and over, He corrects them.

 

That kind of correction is the message of Psalm 50.

 

God reminds the people that He created the universe. He crafted plants and knit together animals in the first place. It’s not like He somehow needs the sacrifices of the people to feed a hunger He can’t satisfy on His own.

 

It is not about the action. It is about the heart behind the action.

 

Sacrifices were about attitude: repentance for wrongs, thankfulness for blessings, recognition that God was greater and He was the One with the power to save.

 

And they were also about relationship.

 

In the correction offered in Psalm 50, God highlights the importance one sacrifice in particular: the thank offering.

 

“Sacrifice thank offerings to God,     fulfill your vows to the Most High, and call on me in the day of trouble;     I will deliver you, and you will honor me.”– Psalm 50:14-15

 

The sacrifice of thanksgiving was one type of peace offering. According to the ESV study Bible, peace offerings were “the only kind of sacrifice in which the worshiper ate some of the sacrificial animal; its primary function was to eat a meal, in company with the sacrificer’s family and the needy, with God as the host.”

 

God wants to have His people over for dinner. He wants to sit around the table and hear about their days. He wants to join people of different statuses around the same meal, the rich helping provide food for the poor, both helping provide friendship for one another.

 

God calls his people, rich and poor, priests and common folk, to join together in gratefulness, relationship, and worship. He also reminds them that if they call on Him when they need help, they can trust He will deliver them.

 

Doesn’t sound too different than how the church is described in the New Testament, does it?

 

These similarities do not downplay the importance of what Jesus did for us. But maybe they can help us see that God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He is consistently good, consistently loving, and consistently focused on the posture of our hearts.

 

Have you ever struggled with the connection between the Old and New Testament? What connections do you see?

 

Today marks the 1/3 mark in my Psalm series! 50 Psalms down, only 100 more to go… It is exciting to reach this milestone. even though it is intimidating to see how much is left. Stay tuned for an announcement next week about how something new will be happening for the next part of the journey. I am excited to fill you in!

 

walk through the psalmsWalk through the Psalms is a series working its way through the book of Psalms, one Psalm a week, one post a week, in order. It is grounded in the belief that as Psalms swirl through prayers of pain and praise, they paint a portrait of a life of faith. And, as with any walk, it is better with company; all are welcome to join. To learn more, read this.

 

What do we really want?

“Can I have some candy, Mommy?” This is a question I hear plenty in my day. And, really, I don’t mind it much if it’s asked directly. If my son and I can have a conversation about what’s been eaten so far and whether now is a good time for a treat.

what do we really wantBut sometimes, the question gets under my skin.

Because sometimes, it starts with a cuddle. Or an “I love you.” Or a “You’re the best, Mommy.” But I see that his eye is on the candy the whole time.

Knowing that my son is coming to me only because he wants something cheapens his display of affection.

I know it’s just part of parenting and of childhood. And we are working on it. But the ”I love you’s” spoken out of desire for candy leave me feeling frustrated, not loved.

When I feel most loved is when my son cuddles me for no reason. Or says “I love you” spontaneously. Or comes to play in the room where I am sitting in order to be near me.

I feel loved when I know his desire is for my presence, and not for what I can do for him.

In the beginning of John 6, Jesus feeds a crowd of 5000 people with a boy’s lunch. Then He crosses the lake. When He gets to the other side, a crowd is looking for Him. Why?

Jesus knows. And He calls them out. He says,

“Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.” –John 6:26

The people were seeking Jesus because they wanted what they could get from Him, not because they wanted HIM.

Even so, Jesus tells them they can be satisfied. Just not in the way they expect.

I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” – John 6:35

The crowd was seeking Him because He could give physical bread. Jesus says the bread they seek will spoil. And even if they ate from it every day, they would still die. The bread of earth, and the life it provides, does not last.

Jesus says He has something bigger to offer. He explains it in another way later.

“I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” – John 6:51

Now honestly, this is kind of a weird and freaky thing for Jesus to say. In fact, the crowd was confused, and many turned away. They may have been wondering if Jesus was calling them to some sort of religious cannibalism. But, we have the beauty of reading this statement from the future. And understanding what an amazing offer it is.

We know that, in the end of this book of John, Jesus dies on our behalf, the consequences of sin upon His shoulders. Belief in Jesus’ work on the cross and His victory over death is all that is required. When we believe, we “eat His flesh.” We accept that His death meant something and we choose to partake in its benefits.

When we eat from the bread of Jesus, we will live forever.

But this is not some individual eternity on a cloud. When we believe in Jesus, we are joined with Him, just as eating joins us to our food. Jesus is promising not only eternal life, but eternal relationship.

An eternal relationship with Jesus. That’s a pretty astounding gift.

Which leaves me wondering how often I am like the crowd. Or like a young child saying I love you only so I can get candy.

Am I seeking what I can get from Jesus, or am I seeking Him? Do I recognize the depth of love it took for Him to give His body? Do I show Him a no-strings-attached, I just want to be in your presence kind of love in return?

Maybe the next time I pray, there should be less asking and more thanking. Less talking and more listening. Less complaining and more loving.

Thank you, Jesus, for Your bread of life.

That is what Jesus saying "I am the bread of life." reveals to me. What does it reveal to you?

Read the post before this one in the series, What does it mean to be gentle and humble, anyway?