“Truly”

Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him. 
Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I shall never be shaken. 
Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. 
Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I shall not be shaken. 
My salvation and my honour depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. 
Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.
Psalms‬ ‭62:1-2, 5-8‬ ‭NIVUK‬‬

Truly isn’t a word in everyday usage. You don’t hear someone say, “Truly, that car is a lovely colour”, or, “Truly, the weather was good this morning”. But there is something about the word that underpins some great sentiments in this Davidic Psalm. “Truly, my soul finds rest in God” builds a picture of a place of safety, a warm place of love and peace. Many would perhaps wonder if such a place exists, but that was the very point of David’s choice of the word “Truly”. What he was describing was completely and totally true. His experience of, and relationship with, God Himself was true. And he goes on to describe a dependable God. One who is his salvation. A God who provides safety and a solid foundation in an impregnable place. He uses words such as “Fortress” and “Refuge”. “Hope”, “Rest” and “Salvation”. 

The place David was talking about was, to him, very real and true. Of course he was not referring to a physical place. He was in a spiritual place, where his soul was safe from destruction. A place where enemies and circumstances could not reach him. It was a place where the presence of God was so real and strong to him that, truly, he was in a different world. And the amazing thing was that he was unshakeable – there was nothing in the physical world around him that would destroy his trust and hope in God.

How do we think God thought about David? After all, he had a spectacular moral meltdown over his adultery with Bathsheba, and the attempted cover up that followed. Surely that was enough to separate David from God forever. The truly amazing thing is that God considered David as being a man after His own heart (1 Samuel 13:14). You see, it is only unconfessed sins that block God’s love and grace. David put his heart right with God – we can read about the conversation he had with Him in Psalm 51.

Finally, in verse 8, David, from his position of unshakeable strength, appeals to those around him to join him in this place, the fortress and refuge, built on the Rock that is God Himself. He implores the people to “Trust in Him at all times“. That’s a problem for many of us because although we find it possible to trust God in the good times, we don’t find it so easy when times are hard. When a sick loved one is knocking on Heaven’s door. When an unexpected bill hits the doormat. But that is exactly the time when we need to be with God, in His presence. Is David’s invitation possible to accept? Jesus told the parable of the Marriage Feast – we can read it in Matthew 22 – and He finished up with the comment, “For many are invited, but few are chosen.” Let us be counted among the “few”, chosen to be part of the ultimate refuge.

Love

I love you, Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
Psalm 18:1-2

When did you last tell someone you loved them? Hmmm. That’s a hard question. I must confess that expressing my emotions in that way is hard for me. Not that I don’t mean it. It’s not that I don’t do it, because the sentiments are there inside me, but somehow those early conditioning years discouraged me speaking out anything emotional. I’m sure I’m not alone. 

But what did the Psalmist, David, mean with the use of his word “love”? It implied not just a feeling, though that may be part of it, but mainly an attitude of heart, confirming and affirming that David was deeply interested in, and aware of, God, His Heavenly Father. That he was grateful for all His wonderful works and provisions, in fact all that he needed for life. And it involved the reciprocation for all the love God poured out on him, His son. Many years later, Jesus, in answer to a question from a Jewish religious lawyer, said that the first and most important commandment was, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.” (Luke 10:27 NIV). It doesn’t get more complete than that! And that was the kind of love David was implying right at the start of this Psalm.

David associated the love of his Lord with His strength, using words such as “rock”, “fortress”, “deliverer”, “salvation” and “stronghold” to describe the way he felt about God. To David, God was utterly dependable. But how do we view God? In 21st Century Western society? Can we apply the same words David used in his day to our own relationships with God in our day? Or do we have God put in a box, with limits to what we think He can do. A box full of Sunday hymns and nice feelings but without any particular substance to help us, or a relationship to be lived out. It doesn’t matter where we live or what we do or think. Somewhere along the way, in our pilgrimage through life, we will come up against a problem. Will it overcome us, or will we rise up and declare, as David did, that God is our strength and our salvation? But one thing is for sure. God is always there for us. We may stumble and fall from time to time, but he will help us up and dust us off. And set our feet back on the Rock, ready and equipped for the next time something comes against us. Remember – God is the Lord of all.

Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him. And Peter finally responded in a way that shaped the rest of his life. What would we say if Jesus asked us three times if we loved Him? Would we evade the question or embrace our wonderful Saviour with a resounding “Yes Lord, we love You!” A question to mull over in the day ahead.

The River

“There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.” Psalms‬ ‭46:4-5‬ ‭NIVUK‬‬

Psalm 46 continues in the “God is our refuge” theme, and with verses 4-5 we can build a picture of an impregnable city where God lives and where a river of His grace and mercy sustains the joyful occupants. And the allusion to the “break of day” implies a continuing infallibility in His protection.

But where does God live in our lives? Do we live in an impregnable spiritual fortress, our own spiritual “city of God”, impervious to the cut and thrust of human life here on Planet Earth? Or do we grow faint with worry when the enemy appears on the horizon, our walls crumbling at his first attack? Or even get anxious when reading a news story? As Christians we live in a continuum of two kingdoms – the kingdom of the world and the Kingdom of God. But because of our physical presence on Planet Earth, we are susceptible to enemy action, our satanic opponent always looking for a chink in the walls of our God-sustained fortresses. However, we would do well to remember that God’s kingdom contains all the resources we need to sustain us in our earthly existence.‬‬

But what about this river? This resource in God’s kingdom that contains an unlimited supply of everything we spiritually need? Do we allow it to flow elsewhere while choosing to live in a desert of our own making? Our wonderful Heavenly Father knows what His children need and He puts on our tables the richest of foods, the most refreshing of drinks. So sad that many choose rather to go out and find their own food and drink, putting up with products and experiences that never satisfy. Jesus said in John 4, referring to the water drawn from a well, “…Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” That’s the water I want to drink.