Friday, November 18, 2016

Surrounded with Favor

Psalm 5

"Give ear to my words, O Lord;
consider my sighing.
Listen to my cry for help,
my King and my God,
for to you I pray.
In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my requests before you
and wait in expectation.

You are not a God who takes pleasure in evil;
with you the wicked cannot dwell.
The arrogant cannot stand in your presence;
you hate all who do wrong.
You destroy those who tell lies;
bloodthirsty and deceitful men
the Lord abhors.

But I, by your great mercy,
will come into your house;
in reverence will I bow down
toward your holy temple.
Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness
because of my enemies -
make straight your way before me.

Not a word from their mouth can be trusted; 
their heart is filled with destruction.
Their throat is an open grave;
with their tongue they speak deceit.
Declare them guilty, O God!
Let heir intrigues be their downfall.
Banish them for their many sins,
for they have rebelled against you.

But let all who take refuge in you be glad;
let them ever sing for joy.
Spread your protection over them,
that those who love your name may rejoice in you.
For surely, O Lord, you bless the righteous;
you surround them with your favor as with a shield."

The Psalms are full of such raw emotion and real life. We find David an approachable author who puts words to the honesty we sometimes might feel hesitant to share with God. I love that David sets this example for us in coming honestly to God.

As I read this Psalm recently during my morning quiet time, the very last line jumped out at me. To be surrounded with God's favor - what does that mean to me? What should it mean to me if I would let it?

Let's start with this: what is favor? We are familiar with several uses of this word: party favors anyone? Here it falls in camp with the following definitions {from}

* friendly or well-disposed regard; goodwill
* the state of being approved or held in regard
* excessive kindness or unfair partiality; preferential treatment

It is important to remember that God is laying out the way of the wicked vs. the way of the righteous here. This favor is not a blank check for all who come to Him. The last paragraph of this Psalm remind us that this favor is for those who take refuge in Him. Our surrender to Him brings this kind of protection, love and care.

Do I live my life or even live like I believe that God sees me favorably? That I live in encircled in His favor?

I'll go ahead and answer that for you: no. My natural inclination is to assume that I am a disappointment to God. Perhaps it is that I see His holiness and perfection and correctly understand that I can never be those things apart from Him. Perhaps it is simply a skewed visual of who I really am and a deeper humility than He ever called me to. But maybe, just maybe it is sin. It is wrong thinking about who I am in Christ.

Doesn't it reflect poorly on my belief in Him if I don't take Him at His Word or believe it is meant for me. This is a good opportunity for some truth telling isn't it?

First, a friendly reminder: When God looks at me and I have Christ living in me, God sees His Son Jesus first. It is like a filter over His eye of His perfect, sinless Son covering all the icky things in my life. Yes, He still sees the real me - but through a lens of righteousness. My debt is paid. Even future debt I will not doubt incur because I am still a human being who fails. Many times I live like God sees the real me without that lens or filter and I want to remember the beauty of this truth that yes He does see that real me and He sent His Son to die for that real me and He now sees me through the covering of His Son.

Now, when God sees me this way {through the filter of His Son} I can walk in the truth that when we are given pictures like this in Psalms or in His Word that apply to those who have surrendered to Christ, that they are for me too.

God surrounds me with His favor...

How can I visualize this? Surrounded - no side left unguarded or untouched. I'm perfectly encircled as a cloak or quilt wraps around my shoulders and is gathered in front. Picture that as an encircling of His favor around me.

Over the years, I have laid in bed and prayed that God would protect our home - under, over, around and through. I mentally picture our home and His covering going under our home, over our home, around our home and through our home. This is the sort of encircling that is coming to mind here. It is an over, under, around and through kind of surrounding.

The only things that enter come with His full knowledge. This doesn't mean that no harm will ever come, but it does mean that He has not gone anywhere and will be right there in the midst.

... as with a shield.

When I first tried to picture this - I thought a shield only really covers one side of me. As I thought about it more though, I realize that God is the one holding the shield - so if I am standing with Him behind and around me and the shield of His favor in front of me - I am beautifully covered on all sides.

His favor -

As mentioned above, I frequently struggle with feeling like God is disappointed in me. When I stop and think of God as my Father - I see the parent love that I have for my children and I realize how wrong this is. We delight in doing things our children will enjoy, love or appreciate and so does God! He smiles at us, we are His children. He loves us enough to continue to instruct, discipline and correct us - but we do not live in a place of being disappointers to Him. We delight Him, we glorify Him when we rejoice in His creation and when we live out the true calling of the hearts He put within us.

If you are His, take this thought with you today that you are surrounded with God's favor. When He brings a correction to mind, let us obey with swift and willing hearts. And when we are simply dwelling with Him let us do so with the grace and peace that comes with living as favored in His sight.

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