Hovering over Psalm 66 this morning. Funny how the psalms have a particular connection in stressful times. Funny, too, how encountering a reference to testing seems to be a beacon that, in this current season, seems to say, “Listen up, here!”
For You, O God, have tested us; You have tried us as silver is tried. You brought us into the net; You laid a crushing burden on our backs; You let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water . . .
(Psalm 66:10-12a ESV)
Pretty descriptive. Kind of paints a picture. Brought into a net. A crushing burden on their backs. Men riding over their heads. Trying to endure the flames of fire only to then try and keep their heads above water. Ouch!
And who has allowed all this? Where does the buck stop for bad things happening to God’s people or, as the case might be, to all people? God, You have permitted this, says the songwriter, You have tested us. Passing us “like silver through refining fires” (MSG).
But here’s the thing about this song, Psalm 66 isn’t a song of lament. It’s actually a song of praise.
Shout for joy to God, all the earth; sing the glory of His name; give to Him glorious praise! . . . Come and see what God has done: He is awesome in His deeds toward the children of man.
(Psalm 66:1-2, 5 ESV)
While we might be tempted, at times, to want to retreat into a corner, cover our ears and close our eyes, now’s the time to “come and see” what God’s doing. Time to tune in. It’s in the context of testing, and refining, and exposing flimsy foundations, where God shows Himself always true, unshakably reliable, and the firmest of all foundations.
And, while not wanting to be trite or appearing to minimize the gravity of the current situation, isn’t the principle at play that, after a wilderness wandering, there’s inevitably a promised land (or, at the least, you’re getting closer and more ready for the promised land)? And that, my friends, is reason to rejoice. That’s why the songwriter calls God’s people to praise. Because, after the desert, there’s a place of abundance.
You let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; yet You have brought us out to a place of abundance.
(Psalm 66:12 ESV)
I’ve got enough to deal with for today, but thinking it’s worth pausing to remember that there’s hope for tomorrow. To take a deep breath, be still, and know afresh there’s a place of abundance.
Right here, right now, because our God in heaven is near, our flesh on earth can dwell secure (Ps. 16:8-9). That is a place of abundance.
Increasingly feeling confined to our homes (not just feeling), yet mindful that, our ability to abide in Him, and abide with Him, is unaffected. That’s also a place of abundance.
Knowing that this temporary time of wilderness wandering is only beginning, we call to mind the unceasing, steadfast love of the Lord as the source for the daily sustaining realities of a faithful God whose mercies are new every morning (Lam. 3:21-23). Abundance . . . even in this place. Right here, right now.
And, not to forget, the place promised to me on that Day, “and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2Tim. 4:8). That place where being absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2Cor. 5:4-8). An eternal place of abundance!
A song of praise on our lips, though we bear burdens on our backs, because we know there is right now, and there always will be, a place of abundance.
And because of that, it is well with my soul. And that, my friends, is an awesome deed, indeed!
Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what He has done for my soul.
(Psalm 66:16 ESV)
Reason to rejoice. Power for praise. Worthy of our worship.
By His grace. For His glory.