Thursday, June 14, 2007

Psalm 51: Emmanuel

You haven't really understood Psalm 51 until you have realized that every word of this penitential psalm cries for Jesus. Every promise embedded in this psalm looks for fulfillment in Jesus. Every need of Psalm 51 reaches out for help in Jesus. Every commitment of Psalm 51 honors Jesus. The sin that's at the heart of this psalm will only ever find its cure in the grace of Jesus.

Yes, Psalm 51 is a prayer of confession. And it's true that Psalm 51 is all about what true repentance produces in the heart and life of a man. Psalm 51 defines how true repentance always produces heartfelt worship. But more than anything else, Psalm 51 is Emmanuel's hymn. The forgiveness of Psalm 51 rests on the shoulders of the One whose name would be Emmanuel. The Jesus who would provide everything that David (and we) need took a glorious name. It is a name whose implications are almost too wonderful to grasp and too lofty to imagine. It's a name that summarizes everything the biblical narrative is about.

Genesis 1 reminds us that people were created for relationship with God. This was to be what separated us from the rest of creation and defined our lives. Genesis 3 chronicles the horror of people stepping out of the fellowship in pursuit of the vaporous hope of autonomy. The covenant promises of the Old Testament are God saying that he'll make a way for that fellowship to be restored. The cloud of glory in the holy place of the temple was a physical manifestation of God's presence with his people. All of these things were steps on a ladder that was leading to Emmanuel. The announcement of the angels to those bewildered shepherds was God's announcement that Emmanuel had come. The promise of the Spirit, fulfilled in the visible flames of Acts, declares that Emmanuel had come to stay. The hope of heaven is only understood when you grasp what it means to dwell in the presence of Emmanuel forever.

What is all of this about for you today? David's hope is your hope because David's confession is your confession. You will only get what God has given you when you understand that you need much more than a system of answers, what you actually need is a Redeemer. Why? Because only a Redeemer can rescue you from you! And so God didn't simply offer you legal forgiveness. Praise him that he did that. But he offered you something much more profound. He offered you himself. He knew that your need was so great that it wouldn't be enough to simply forgive you. He literally needed to unzip you and get inside you or you would never be what you were supposed to be and do what you were supposed to do.

And so the whole redemptive story marches toward Emmanuel, the Redeemer who would destroy sin's dominion in our hearts by making our hearts the place where he, in his power, wisdom, and glory would dwell.

So pray Emmanuel prayers. Sing Emmanuel songs. Exercise Emmanuel faith. Live in Emmanuel obedience. Be motivated by Emmanuel glory. And be glad the hope of hopes has come! Emmanuel is with you now and forever!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Psalm 51: Enough

Enough is the persistent problem this side of eternity. Enough is what we seldom seem to get right. Enough is what trips us up, again and again. Enough is one of our deepest sources of trouble. Enough is what we find such difficulty in being satisfied with. Although the definition is different for each of us, the struggle with our enough is that it tends to keep expanding. And when it does, we never seem to have enough.

It's the thing that slaps you in the face in Psalm 51. How could what David had been given not be enough? Born into a family of faith, anointed by the great prophet Samuel, chosen to be the king of Israel, set apart to be the father of the Son of David, the Lord Jesus Christ! How could it not be enough?

Through David, the promised Messiah would come and provide salvation for the world. David's anointing was much, much more than than a position of leadership in a tiny little Palestinian kingdom. It was much more than the blessing of God's appointment to a certain place and a certain time. No, the reign of David was about a far greater kingdom; the kingdom of God. And yes, that reign was about more than a place and time. In his anointing, God was connecting David to time and eternity; for the Lord of David is the hope of history, the king of eternity, the one with whom the Israel of God would one day dwell.

So, why was all this not enough for David? It wasn't enough because what started out as God's kingdom morphed into David's kingdom. What was to be driven and shaped by the will of God became controlled by the desires of David. What was to be motivated by spiritual vision got kidnapped by physical sight and sexual craving. The plan of God that was to bring life, sadly became a plan of man stained by lust and death. Having lost the war between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of self, David no longer viewed what God had given him as enough.

But don't be too hard on David. His dilemma is your story too. You get angry in traffic; you get irritated at people; you overeat; you fantasize yourself beyond God's boundaries; you get addicted to power, possesions and people precisely because, in your sin, you are not satisfied. What God has given you in the awesome gift of His grace in Christ Jesus is simply not enough. Christ-satisfied hearts live joyfully inside of God's will, while dissatisfied hearts fall prey to all kinds of temptations. Enough is the war that rages inside us everyday.

There will be a day when we will be satisfied. There will be a time when what God has given us will be enough. There will be a moment when we will all be so satiated by the presence and glory of the Lord that we will finally be free from the desire for more.

May each day be a step toward satisfaction. May we grow daily in the experience of being filled and satisfied by Him. As the old Christian chorus says, "May the things of earth grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace." May we say with joy and integrity of heart, "He is enough."