In the midst of a prayer for deliverance, after expressing fear, a man of faith exclaims in Psalm 70, “May all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you! May those who love your salvation say evermore, ‘God is great!’
His next words reveal that he does not find it easy to rejoice: “But I am poor and needy; hasten to me, O God!” We too sometimes find it hard to rejoice in God. Too many distractions erupt in our lives to permit enjoying our Creator’s world and his care for us. We have bills to pay, and may fret about whether we can pay them. A neighbor may tax our patience with loud music, yard work at odd times of the day and night, or with a pesky habit of cutting our decorative shrubbery to the ground without warning (The last happened to me the day before the closing meeting for a house I was selling.). Some may question whether we should rejoice in God rather than fear him.
The Bible tells us that we should both rejoice in and fear God. This passage in Psalm 70 yearns for all God’s people to rejoice in him, but also recognizes the pain that awaits those that ignore God’s sense of justice.
How do we balance rejoicing and fear? Loving our salvation includes what Paul urges when he calls for Christians to let God’s word work in their lives (1 Thessalonians 2:13) and to seek justice and to live righteously before God. It includes loving other Christians and praying for them. Our spiritual balance improves when we pray, when we slow our pace so that we can both hear God’s message in his Word, and reply with words of praise and petition. When people take harsh actions against us for reasons we do not understand, we shriek (if only in our thoughts) in anguish. We crave justice and may wish they will hurt as they have caused us to hurt. It requires effort to remember that God is our source of help when all else goes awry. Psalm 70 ends with these words, “You are my help and my deliverer; O LORD, do not delay!”
We can rejoice in God when we seek joy and see what is good in his world. I encourage you to open your Bible and read Philippians 4:8 slowly, then put its principles into practice. That verse gives us a strategy to follow when seeking to rejoice in God and love our salvation. The English Standard Version of the verse says,
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Thank God for the good that surrounds us.
O God who surrounds us with beauty and warmth, open our eyes to see that beauty. Enhance our senses’ ability to feel that warmth of friendship, of love, of possibility. When a neighbor speaks, help us to note the positive, but also help us to identify wounds that you can help us heal. Our own pain clouds our perception; our disappointment darkens our interpretation of what happens around us. Restore our joy! Open our ears to hear the music of your world. You provide for us. You are our help and our deliverer. Give us the courage and the common sense to reach out and grasp the hand that you extend to us.In Jesus’s name, Amen.