God is a God involved. Look for clues of Him everywhere in your day.
As I read Psalm 71 I see that our God is a living God. When the psalmist talks about God's wondrous "deeds of salvation" (v.15), there is a sense that he is talking from experience, and not reaching back to the mists of Israel's history. When he says, "I still proclaim your wondrous deeds" (v.17) and "your might" and "your power" (v.18), our impression is of firsthand knowledge. He says, "You who have done great things" (v.19) in the same breath as talking about his personal "troubles and calamites" from which God "will revive me again" (v.20).
The speaker has been privy to many personal deliverances. In particular, he has been rescued time and again from scurrilous verbal attacks (v.10). We are appalled to see that his attackers are not unbelievers but religious people, fellow believers in God (v.11).
Of all the sufferings in a Christian's life, this is the worst, I think-the contempt of a fellow believer. If it were the heathen who maligned him, what should he care? Why be ruffled by the opinions of those who dwell in deep darkness? No, it is the sting of a brother that hurts most. This is God's advanced class in suffering.
I have until now read psalms about God's "mighty deeds" as if they referred back to the signature acts of Creation and the Exodus and Joshua's battles, etc. And surely those key moments of Israel's history are partly in view, but the deeds the writer is speaking of are hard to read as anything but interwoven with the trials going on in his life. To attempt to disentangle the persecutions and the deliverances is to tear the psalm apart at the seams.
It would seem, judging from this speaker's testimony, that the more numerous and acute the afflictions in one's life, the more numerous and noteworthy are God's rescues. Perhaps those who never see the hand of God are those who never put themselves in persecution's way. Why would they see it? What do they have to be saved from? If one lives in a constant sphere of self-protection, why would he need God's protection?
A spiritual principle emerges: If you would know more of God's presence in acts of personal salvation (the psalmist says in verse 15: ". . . your deeds of salvation all the day"), then you must live in such a way as to be vulnerable to the ridicule of others. Nor do you have to chase after persecution; persecution readily comes after anyone who would live in integrity and boldness. (As Paul writes in 2 Timothy 3:12: "Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.") But that's OK. As the author of Hebrews says in 13:13, "Let us then go to him outside the camp" (13:13). For many live in their camps and double-bolt the door, but God's grace is outside the camp.
Another principle is that of verbal praise as a power-releasing weapon of spiritual warfare. This man praises God continually-and out loud. His is no private religiosity, such as we see in many people who consider their Christianity a strictly private affair. Our sense of this psalmist is that everyone who meets him gets a dose of his ardor for God: "My praise is continually of you" (v.6); "My mouth is filled with your praises, and your glory all the day" (v.8); "I will . . . praise you yet more and more" (v.14); "My tongue will talk of your righteous help all the day long" (v.24).
The psalmist is happy to have discovered this principle. He knows that praising God, both silently and out loud, is the way to please Him. (As he writes in Psalm 69:30-31: "I will praise the name of God with a song. I will magnify his with thanksgiving. This will please the LORD more than an ox.") Our praises release God's power into our lives in ways appropriate to the situation. It is not as if we manipulate the Almighty, but rather we align ourselves with his will.
Our God is a God involved. Praise him.
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