Monday: Psalms 31-32 & Hebrews 12.18-29

From Jonathan Bailes

Psalm 31: In a time of immanent danger and of rejection by friend and foe alike (vv 11-13), the psalmist, identified by the title as David, turns to God as his only source of hope: "In you, O LORD, do I take refuge...in your righteousness, deliver me!" But while this petition may strike us as the cry of a desperate man, the psalm actually reflects a confident trust in God.  The psalmist is confident that God will take care of those who call on him (vv 23-24), because of how God has delivered him in the past (v 22) and because of God's faithfulness to his own character (v 1).  Jesus prayed this psalm at the moment of his death (Luke 23:46) and, as we know, the same God who delivered David from the valley of the shadow of death brought his Son from the grave to the joy of new life.  Regardless of what may come this day, we too can say with great confidence: "Into your hand I commit my spirit."  

Psalm 32: True happiness ("blessedness") is found, according to this psalm, only when we confess our sins.  When the psalmist ignored his sin and failed to acknowledge his guilt, his conscience ate away at him and his strength was sapped (vv 3-4).  But confession brings healing, and when the psalmist acknowledged his fault to God, he found gladness and joy (v 11).  Confession is not something that our culture prizes (perhaps best illustrated in the candid acknowledgment by a leading presidential candidate to having never asked God for forgiveness), but for Christians it is not optional.  Each Sunday we pray "forgive us our trespasses" and in our morning and evening prayer liturgies we confess that we have "erred and strayed from your ways like lost sheep." But this daily habit, to offer our prayer of confession in a day when God may be found, is one that the psalmist exhorts us to cultivate and one he promises to bring us blessing.

 Hebrews 12.18-29: Many people, from the second century heretic Marcion to the modern-day skeptic Richard Dawkins, find the God of the Old Testament troubling, a God who does more to inspire fear than love.  Sometimes we might be inclined to agree.  After all, Jesus taught us that God is love.  Why bother with the God who shrouds himself in darkness on Mt Sinai and thunders warnings at any who would approach?  But as this passage in Hebrews teaches us, we worship the same God who manifested himself in fire and whose presence on earth brought a sense of fear even to his own people.  The kingdom that we have become a part of is not a kingdom of this earth that will pass away, and for that we can give thanks (v 28).  But when we give thanks and when we worship, we should do so with reverence, because "our God is a consuming fire."