Friday, March 14, 2008

My daily summit with the living, triune God: the face of God

Today in my daily summit with the Living, Triune God I came across psalm 80. As usual I had to ask the Holy Spirit how this applies to me in my journey upward toward the summit of God's holy mountain.

Here's what I came up with.

Psalm 80
For the choir director: A psalm of Asaph, to be sung to the tune “Lilies of the Covenant.”

1 Please listen, O Shepherd of Israel,
you who lead Joseph’s descendants like a flock.
O God, enthroned above the cherubim,
display your radiant glory
2 to Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh.
Show us your mighty power.
Come to rescue us!
3 Turn us again to yourself, O God.

Make your face shine down upon us.
Only then will we be saved.
4 O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies,
how long will you be angry with our prayers?
5 You have fed us with sorrow
and made us drink tears by the bucketful.
6 You have made us the scorn of neighboring nations.
Our enemies treat us as a joke.
7 Turn us again to yourself, O God of Heaven’s Armies.

Make your face shine down upon us.
Only then will we be saved.
8 You brought us from Egypt like a grapevine;
you drove away the pagan nations and transplanted us into your land.
9 You cleared the ground for us,
and we took root and filled the land.
10 Our shade covered the mountains;
our branches covered the mighty cedars.
11 We spread our branches west to the Mediterranean Sea;
our shoots spread east to the Euphrates River.
12 But now, why have you broken down our walls
so that all who pass by may steal our fruit?
13 The wild boar from the forest devours it,
and the wild animals feed on it.
14 Come back, we beg you, O God of Heaven’s Armies.

Look down from heaven and see our plight.
Take care of this grapevine
15 that you yourself have planted,
this son you have raised for yourself.
16 For we are chopped up and burned by our enemies.
May they perish at the sight of your frown.
17 Strengthen the man you love,
the son of your choice.
18 Then we will never abandon you again.
Revive us so we can call on your name once more.
19 Turn us again to yourself, O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies.

Make your face shine down upon us.
Only then will we be saved.

Israel had gone through a state of rebellion against God and, as a result, God removed His hand of blessing from them, allowing strangers to plunder the produce of their land. God's hedge of protection had been removed as well, leaving Israel open and vulnerable to the attacks of their enemies, leading in destruction and defeat of Israel's armies.

Asaph is praying for the salvation (rescue) of his nation. In Psalm 80, vv.3, 7, and 19, Asaph asks God to shine His face upon them and cause the nation of Israel to repent and turn back to Him. Israel had experienced numerous periods of rebellion, judgement, repentance, rescue and restoration before God.

Our own lives parrallel that of the Israelites. We experience the results of sin and rebellion in our own lives as we do our own thing separate from God, walking in our own lusts and desires instead of walking with God. As a result our lives become open and exposed to the influences of our enemy, the devil, who seeks to destroy those who seek after God and to walk in His ways.

God asks for pure and utter devotion to Him so that He can guide our lives and protect and defend us as He leads us to eternal, abundant, joy filled life in His holy city, Zion.

Turn us again to yourself, O God.
Make your face shine down upon us.
Only then will we be saved.

God's face turned away is the result of our own rebellion towards Him, as we slide into sin and break fellowship with Him. This leads to us walking in darkness, chaos, defeat, suffering and anguish.

God's face shining on us = walking in His light as He guides and directs our lives. The results are victory over our enemies and God's grace and strengh in the midst of our trials and struggles. We still experience conflict and affliction in our lives but how we face them and get through them is dependent upon where God is in our lives. Is He at the center or on the sidelines? Is His face shining on you or turned away?

Ask God to turn you again to Himself and cause His face to shine on you and He will rescue you.