Bigger Than Our Cravings
Spirit of God, fill my praise, guide my thoughts, change my ways.
Consider: "Grace means love to the unlovely and seemingly unlovable. It has the purpose of making the loved one great and glad. Love to this end, gives, never mind the cost, and rescues those in need, never mind the unworthiness" (James I. Packer). This is the nature of our God!
This psalm is a powerful reminder, both of God's goodness and generosity and of the perversity of human desire. It recites the many reasons why the people of God should be grateful for the mercy and protection God has shown them throughout history, shielding them from harm and enemies (9-12). There were times when the people's awareness and gratitude erupted into deep trust and praise towards God (12), but also times when the shallowness and instability of their faith becomes all-too-evident as the psalmist offers a multitude of examples of their unfaithfulness and idolatry (16-39).
These reminders strike another chilling note: when we crave something other than God, God takes this seriously. When his people persist, God gives them what they think they want (15,36)--but for the people of Israel the consequences were disastrous. Instead of the freedom they chased after, they found themselves in bondage (41,42). And it is not only the ancient people of God who have experienced this: it is true of others (Rom. 1:21-26), and even of the church today. When anyone or anything takes the place of God in our lives, we are dragged down. Idolatry always has its price.
Yet the ultimate message of the psalm is one of hope and reassurance. God's kindness and covenantal love is always greater than human sin. He can act on our behalf, even when those oppressing us seem powerful and unassailable (46). God is not a righteous tyrant, but someone who knows and cares for us. When we struggle with the weight of our own mistakes and obsessions, we can be grateful that God knows us better than we know ourselves and will, even yet, draw us into thanksgiving and praise.
Apply: Are there any tensions in your life where your trust in God is overshadowed by your own desires? Ask God to help you face them and get them in perspective.
Lord God, Your love and kindness is amazing. I bless You for Your love, which can make me good and glad. I give thanks to You Lord, for You are good. Your mercy endures forever.