Bible That is in the Bible?

That is in the Bible?

Some of what is in the bible is pretty surprising. There are stories that are hard to wrap our minds around, history that is tough swallow, characters that are all too real) that we can all recognize ourselves in them), and rules that seem completely alien from our modern life. And then there’s the Psalms.
In our bible reading plan, we entered into a few Psalms last week. The book of Psalms captures a wide range of situations, human emotions, and responses to God (and others). If you read the Psalms from Saturday, Psalm 13 had to hit you. It hit me. Every time I read Psalm 13, I think to myself,

that, is in the bible?!?”

Take a look for yourself at Psalm 13:

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
    How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I bear pain in my soul
    and have sorrow in my heart all day long?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and answer me, O Lord my God!
    Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death,
and my enemy will say, “I have prevailed”;
    my foes will rejoice because I am shaken.
But I trusted in your steadfast love;
    my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord
    because he has dealt bountifully with me.

The first 2/3 of it is kind of the opposite of what you expect to read in the bible – and yet – here it is. It’s a prayer that so captured the experience of God’s people in relationship to him that they had to include it.

So what do we learn from it?

The first two verses are just out and out complaints against God, doubting God’s presence and provision. The writer, who we assume is David, is clearly in a dark place: bearing pain in his soul and sorrow in his heart all day long. When David prayed this prayer, he was in a kind of “valley of the shadow of death” – in the throes of anxiety and depression. God invites this kind of prayer, this kind of raw emotion, this kind of complaint against him. God can take it, and in fact, he invites us to himself with it. Why else would it be included in scripture? The fact is,

God doesn’t only want us at our best, with our gratitude and joy and praise; he wants all of us, even at our worst, our deepest and darkest.

In the third and fourth verses, David makes a demand of God – or else he’ll die!  He knows how bad of a place he’s in, and he needs God to wake up and remember him and stop hiding and finally answer him. We might not always get our demands answered by God in the way that we want them to, but we are invited to petition him with even the boldest of asks.

It’s in these bold asks – where things are life and death – where we learn to push all of our chips into the center of God’s table.

But the final two verses, in my eyes, are the most surprising…not because of what they say on their own (they’re actually fairly typical Psalm-ish praise). They’re surprising because they come in the same Psalm where, just a few verses earlier, David was complaining about how it seemed God abandoned and forgot him! 

Talk about a swing of emotions, or rather, a swing of faith.

And I love this swing in the Psalm, because it so captures the human experience of faith in God. We are free and invited to come to God out of our darkest depths and doubts, and in the same moment, we can find a depth of trust in him that is even deeper still. Life is like that, we are like that, and God is amazing like that.

As deep as the worst we experience might be, God’s love, salvation, and faithfulness to us is even deeper still.

We have much to learn from the Psalms. As we pop in and out of them this year, I invite you to learn to pray from them, to practice praying alongside them, and bring your heights – and your depths – to God. That’s the kind of relationship with him that God has made us for.

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