John Carter – December 28, 2013 – Psalm 4 – 5 Books of Psalms
Placing my Trust in your Security
MTT – Musica Theologica Bible Translation
Where do you place your trust? Every day we effectively place our trust in things, people, or even institutions. Consider the trust needed when riding in the car with another driver. We lock ourselves in with the safety restraint, but do we actually consider the danger that is associated with driving in a multi-ton moving piece of metal? Or the thousands of other moving objects passing by at their chosen rate of speed? When we step into the vehicle with another driver we are acting on an unspoken contract in which we are agreeing to trust our life in the hands of the driver and the driver is agreeing to honor and respect that trust. We are also assuming that every other driver on the road is respecting that trust as well.
I use this simple picture of placing our trust in the driver of vehicles to expose that every day we are placing our trust in other people, things and institutions. So again I ask, ‘where do you place your trust?’
The words written by David (circa 1000 BCE) found in his melody often called Psalm 4 form a conversation where this topic of trust is treated with delicate clarity. In his first stanza we hear the words of a man who calls out to his God begging for intervention. Destitute and impoverished we hear a man who was dead and in need of medicine. So he calls out to his God with an eager expectation. An expectation that his God won’t only hear his plea for grace but will also act upon this call for intervention.
When life presents us with difficulties we consider who/what we will trust in. Like a child who has just fallen off his bike that is followed by a plea for help from his parent. Or like the victim of a crime who calls 9-1-1 to seek the help of the local authorities. This trust is not unwarranted or unexpected. In fact we would think it odd if a plea was not made, or sad if the child or victim had no one in their life to call on to seek help. So to have David call out to his God only goes to show the humanity of the situation. A man in need seeks a source of authority in which he can place his trust.
However, David’s plea for his God’s intervention is not the normal course of action for all of humanity. Instead people have a habit of seeking anything or anyone other than God for a resolution to their immediate needs. David knows this and takes a verse of his melody to speak in the voice of YHWH to ask a simple question, ‘how long will my glory be insulted?’ This seems like a harsh question for YHWH to ask. It what ways has humanity sought to insult YHWH? People love empty things – we love to seek to be deceived: Food, Alcohol, Sex, Entertainment, Shopping, Exercise. Seeking these things above YHWH tells him in an explicit fashion that his power and grace is insufficient to resolve the impoverishing situations of our life. Think about the picture of driving in the car again; what if there was an accident. Would the paramedics and firefighters seeking your welfare be honored or insulted by you seeking help from a hamburger instead of them? Or what instead of a hamburger you ask for a treadmill?
The first responders would be rightfully insulted that you are rejecting their help for something that has no redeeming value. How much more so is the creator of the universe insulted when we seek help from people, things, and institutions instead of him? From the creators standpoint every dilemma we have should be immediately brought to him for a solutions instead of our, ‘we got this’ mentality. Because no, we don’t ‘got this’.
We should know that YHWH has separated apart those who are his. And YHWH hears (acts on) what he hears when those who are his call on him. Do the people, things, and institutions that you call on respond to and act on your call? Do you have a God who hears you when you call? Because YHWH does. Not with a passive interest, but he listens with a vested interest.
The easy rebuttal may be, ‘hey I cried out to God and there was no response.’ Okay, the first question I ask is, are you his? Because YHWH hears those who are his. The second question I ask is, did he not respond, or did he not respond in the way you wanted him to? David didn’t say that YHWH does whatever he wants as if YHWH is a cosmic slave. Instead YHWH hears and acts his on glory. There is a difference. Back to the driving in the car picture. The driver can faithfully act on our requests without following our requests. We may ask to be taken to the store, that doesn’t mean we will end up at the store we want, or that we will even take the route that we are most familiar with. Does that make the driver harsh, insensitive, inattentive, and careless. No way! Instead it means the driver did what we asked in the way he or she best saw fit.
Just because you and I ask for YHWH to intervene doesn’t mean we are his, or if we are his there is no guarantee that he will respond in the way we have considered most appropriate. In fact, when we come before YHWH we should do so with trembling rooted in fear. Fear that we are prone to miss the mark. Fear that we are not righteousness unless we are redeemed by the grace of God. Grace that was publicly displayed on the cross, where Jesus of Nazareth bore our sins (our missing the mark).
On our bed we should loudly declare to God what is in our heart— yet we should do so silently. Our demeanor of calling out to God should be a healthy mixture of trembling with fear, bubbling happiness, and a very vocal silence. This is where our minds should be directed to the animal sacrifices of ancient Israel. A time in Israel’s history when they worshiped YHWH by sacrificing their animals to seek forgiveness and to worship him. This all of course was a shadow of what was to be fulfilled by Jesus of Nazareth on the cross. A sacrifice is something that costs the giver. It is a gift to give a friend the left over spot on a cruise without cost. But it is a sacrifice to give up your spot on the cruise without cost.
David says that we should sacrifice (give up what costs us) ‘sacrifices of righteousness’. In other words we should trust YHWH. Jesus of Nazareth says that those who want to follow him must first count the cost. It costs to trust him. It costs to trust YHWH. If we turn our trust away from things that are natural for us to trust in and towards YHWH then we are effectively abdicating our privileges to make our own decisions about how we are going to handle various situations in our life. It can be nerve-wracking not being in control. Which is why we often do not allow others to have control. Think about the last time you sat at the doctors. Even in your own clothes you feel vulnerable and exposed, much more so when you are asked to wear the ominous patient gown.
When we declare in our hearts on our bed to trust in YHWH we are making a sacrifice. We are giving up our privilege to make our own decisions. Instead of taking our own course of action we submit ourselves to the will of YHWH. The process and the outcome are not subject to our approval. We even give up the privilege to complain about the situation. You can complain about what is forced upon you, but you can’t complain about what you chose.
When we turn to YHWH we are in effect asking him to pour goodness into our life and to lift up the light of his goodness on our life and our situation. In our misery we don’t ask for more misery. We ask for relief. We want to go back to that time when we were happier. Or we want to finally be happy. This is why we put our trust in people, things, and institutions. Because they bring some sort of happiness into our life. But for how long?
David make it clear that with an abundance of food and plenty of fresh wine people are happy. There is no denial that these things bring joy. When we turn our trust towards people, things, and institutions we will find a fading happiness. But when we intentionally place our trust in YHWH we not only find lasting happiness but we also are made happy. Not by things that fade but by the eternal creator who never changes or fades. As a follower of Christ I would be stupid to dismiss the happiness that can be found outside of YHWH. But as for those who don’t call YHWH their own it would be stupid to believe there is any permanent happiness found outside the presence YHWH.
In the midst of the frustrating moments of life are you able to find peace? David placed his trust in YHWH he was able to declare that he can both lie down and sleep in peace. But even more astonishing is how David changes his language of choosing to trust in YHWH to being made secure in him. What have you ever placed your trust in that has ever caused you to be secure to the point of peace? Especially in the midst of the difficult moments we each face?
Please don’t misunderstand my polemic to trust in YHWH for a message of a problem free life. What I am espousing is of a most difficult nature. There is no one in the History of mankind and even eternity who has trusted in YHWH more than Jesus of Nazareth – the Son of God. And this trust cost him his life. There was a man called Augustine of Hippo (354-430 CE) who alluded to this sacrifice that was necessary to trust YHWH. Augustine says of Jesus of Nazareth:
Man’s maker was made man
that He, Ruler of the stars, might nurse at His mother’s breast;
that the Bread might hunger,
the fountain thirst,
the Light sleep,
the Way be tired on its journey;
that Truth might be accused of false witness,
the Teacher be beaten with whips,
the foundation be suspended on wood;
that Strength might grow weak;
that the healer might be wounded;
that Life might die.
If trusting YHWH cost the Son of God his very life what will it cost you and me? The cost to trust Jesus of Nazareth is not cheap, nor should we cheapen it. Instead we must carefully examine what is expected of those who chose to trust YHWH. The cost and the benefit. And with all the sincerity and gravitas necessary for such a request I ask that you take the whole of your life (not the bits and pieces but the whole) and turn it over to Jesus of Nazareth, my Master and my King, and trust in him fully without hesitation.