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Exploring the Psalms
Exploring the Psalms (cont'd)
Seven times a day I praise Thee, because of Thy righteous ordinances. Ps. 119:164
After completing a cycle through the Psalms, what will I do the next time through, you may be asking. I believe it is not until you have dug through a Psalm and then come back to it in a new period of your life that you will really begin to understand the unfathomable riches of His Word. After thoroughly mining a Psalm and uncovering shining nuggets of insight that the Spirit applies to your life, you are tempted to think you have found ‘the’ truth it contains, and that you won’t see much more if you look at it again. Does God ever have a surprise waiting for you! You will find that your life circumstance, your view of God, your need and your way of thinking all change, and the Spirit has fresh revelation waiting for you to uncover, truth that you need right now! I can share my experiences with just the first few Psalms I encountered on my second time through.
Father, I wait before You, silent…
Father, I wait before You, silent….
Father, I hear Your softly-spoken word…
It has become abundantly clear to me that I had better learn how God intends for me to wait, because waiting for Him to move, act or reveal the next part of His plan seems to occupy most of my life! And I know I am not alone. We wait for high school to end so we can become more independent. We wait for college to end so we can start “life.” We wait for that special someone to appear in our lives, we wait for that first child, that big promotion… As believers, we know at some level that God’s plan will unfold at His pace and in His way, but the waiting chafes at us. If only God would get things moving! I am reminded of a quote from some unknown source, who after some period of waiting for God to act, commented, “God may not be late, but He’s sure missing lots of opportunities to be early!” God simply hasn’t chosen to reveal His timetable to us, and for that we should be thankful. The kind of deepening trust He is in the process of developing requires us to live “in the dark” about the future, that our dependence on Him might become complete.
O God, You are my God, yet…
all my being I seek more of You.
O God, You are my God!
How do I find my refuge in Him
Lord, it’s all about You!
May I praise You with songs and shouts of joy as well!
As these examples show, the possibilities are really endless. The approach that fits my need may be entirely unsuitable to you, yet the same Holy Spirit is waiting to speak to each of us as we open our minds and hearts before His inspired Word. He is waiting to meet us at every turn in our road, waiting with fresh revelations of the wonders of Who He is and the perfect adequacy of His care for that moment, that set of circumstances, that unsolvable problem, that new phase of our lives that we never imagined would come to be.
While it is valuable to read through personal paraphrases you have previously written, they can become somewhat of a crutch if you rely on them as the sole illumination as you read through the Psalms again. To eliminate that possibility, I suggest that at some point you “begin again” by going back to the Psalms with nothing but a blank notebook page (and a hungry heart, of course). As noted above, passage of time means that your needs and struggles will have changed, so don’t expect your previous paraphrases to speak as strongly as they originally did.
Starting Over Afresh
When we approach any scripture, how easy – and natural – it is to simply let our minds run along the same tracks they did the last time we read that passage, because of notes written in our Bibles, recollection of what some teacher said about this passage, or even the insights we gained on our own in past readings. As orthodox and truthful as these past insights might be, they should not be allowed to serve as substitutes for the voice of the Holy Spirit. How can we prevent that from happening? In my experience, the only way is to force myself to grapple with the basic meaning of the passage by creating a new paraphrase, without looking at what I or others have written before.
Let’s purposefully give the Holy Spirit free rein to bring new truth from His treasure store. While I realize that takes a discipline and determination many do not have, I write this hoping you are one of the few. If you have read this far, it is probably because you have a deep hunger for more of God and realize it is only as you dig deep into His vein of gold that you will unearth the greatest treasures He has for you. Only as you recognize the true worth of His treasure and cast aside all lesser things that you might posses it – sell all that you have, as we see in Matthew 12:46 – only then will you become all He intends you to be.