Location: Greensboro, NC, United States

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Meditation on Psalm 139

I was looking at Psalm 139, and a good portion of it seems to be divisible according to the incommunicable attributes of God:  vss. 1-6, omniscience; vss. 7-12, omnipresence; vss. 13-16, omnipotence.  Vss. 17-18 turn back to God's omniscience, and the last line of vs. 18 God's omnipresence.  The Psalmist's meditation on these things aren't a consideration of God's attributes as if they were an abstraction, or divorced from history.  God is not distant to the psalmist, but His attributes have personal impact on the psalmist's life.  The reality of who God is is a source of comfort and worshipful contemplation for the psalmist.  God is one who acts in history, in the lives of the people He has created, and He acts savingly for those who trust Him.

But then the psalmist turns a direction we tend to be uncomfortable with - he identifies with God against His enemies.  Singing a melody common throughout the Psalms, the antithesis between the wicked and the righteous, he not only identifies with God, but expresses his desire that God might slay His enemies for their opposition to Him.  But it is on the basis of what comes before, the psalmist's whole-hearted identification with God, that he sets himself against the wicked.  Those who truly identify with God, and delight in Him, will hate the wicked, so long as this age continues.  To have the heart of God is to hate evil and those who do it.

Lastly, the psalmist further expresses his trust in God by opening himself to God's examination, and expressing the willingness to change those things in himself that aren't right.  The Christian life is one of life-long, ongoing repentance.  Contrary to those who think that radical grace means one can live his life however he wants, the true believer understands that identifying with God means conformity to the thoughts of God (vs. 17), even to the person of God.  Trust means openness and, not just any sort of change, but specifically change accordingly to the will and character of the one a person is drawing near to, is open toward.  Repentance, and therefore sanctification, is conformity to the character of God, to His communicable attributes.

It is worth noting, as well, that we see here that humility is not contradictory to hating the wicked.  We seem to often have the notion that the humble man will, rather than acknowledging the wickedness of the wicked, turn the attention quickly back to himself instead.  But this Psalm, as the rest of Scripture, shows this to be a false humility.  A righteous man will hate the wicked and their deeds, while at the same time keeping himself in constant check, lest he himself follow in their ways and so depart from the God he loves.


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