When Needy is A Good Thing

David presents an interesting character study. In many ways, he seems so much like he had his act together.

He was a man of great courage and stood up to the giant Goliath. He was a man of great influence. He gathered other men around him and led them to feats of glory. He was a man with great willpower, able to endure extreme hardship and difficulty as he was chased by King Saul.

Yet, when we read David’s inner thoughts in the Psalms, we also see that he was a man with many fears. He was a leader constantly worried and wondering about losing the upper hand over his enemies. He considered himself weak-willed. And he certainly could be. The story of his downfall sin with Bathsheba is one of the foremost cautionary tales in all of the Bible about a lack of willpower.

The more one gets to know David, the more we come to understand that whatever courage, influence or willpower he possessed did not originate with him. They originated with God, and by faith, were God’s gift to him.

David declares himself needy. Then he bursts out in thanksgiving and worship, because his life has taught him that God is extremely close to the needy — he stands immediately at their right hand.

The more I get to know myself (or perhaps, it’s the more honest and real I get with myself), the more I come to understand that whatever courage, influence or willpower I have all comes from God. It’s his gift to me. And that goes along with whatever peace, or whatever joy, or whatever contentment, or whatever love, or whatever… all that I have and all that I am comes from God.

Put simply, I am a person in need. Without God, I really have nothing. But he is always at my right hand to provide for me, to save my life from danger, and to give me the grace I need to overcome the condemnation I deserve.

That’s the way David saw it. And that’s the way I see it too. Without Jesus, I will never have my act together. But with Jesus, my act comes together very nicely.

You see, needy can be a good thing if, by needy, we really mean humility.

“With my mouth I will greatly extol the Lordin the great throng of worshipers I will praise him. For he stands at the right hand of the needy, to save their lives from those who would condemn them” (Psalm 109:30-31, NIV).

Lord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You’re the One that guides my heart

Where sin runs deep Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
And where You are, Lord, I am free
Holiness is Christ in me

Teach my song to rise to You
When temptation comes my way
And when I cannot stand I’ll fall on You
Jesus, You’re my hope and stay

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You (“Lord, I Need You”, By Matt Maher).

Our Bible reading for Tuesday, September 22, is Isaiah 51:17 – 54:17, Ephesians 1:1-23 and Psalm 109:21-31.

Header image based on "Bruce Nauman: Human/Need/Desire" by Ed Schipul, CC By-SA 2.0

It’s Good To Be Near God

Sustained grief and bitterness can have a corrosive effect on our faith. Not that grief in itself is always a bad thing. Sometimes it’s the appropriate emotional response to facing a loss in our lives. Even Jesus cried when his good friend Lazarus died.

But when grief is not allowed to heal, or if we “grieve as those who have no hope,” and especially whenever this devolves into a embittered heart, the effects on our faith will be quite serious.

Asaph knew. This man of faith and skillful worship leader had gone there. There had been deep grief and bitterness in his heart. He went through a season when he was confused, doubting God, and deeply troubled in his heart.

But eventually he climbed out of that dark pit. He returned — like an Old Testament version of the Prodigal Son — to his Heavenly Father.

And how did that return occur? It occurred when Asaph became convinced that through it all, his loving God had been with him. The LORD had been guiding him the entire time!

How did he become convinced of this? In Psalm 73:16-17 he says, “It troubled me greatly till I entered the sanctuary of God.” In other words, it was when Asaph came back to church that he realized God’s continual presence in his life.

In the verse below, he goes on to say, “You guide me with your counsel.” This is really the same thing. When we stay connected to church, and to the word and the sacraments, the Holy Spirit has the opportunity to connect (or re-connect) with our hearts.

That’s why Asaph nails it. Once he reconnected with God’s grace and mercy, he realized there is no one else he needs but God. That thing he thought was a tremendous loss? In the end, the LORD alone is the one who can bring him hope, comfort, steady love, and peace of mind.

It’s so true! It is good to be near God!

“When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you. Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you. But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds” (Psalm 73:21-28, NIV).

Our Bible reading for Sunday, June 14, is 2 Samuel 22:1 – 23:7, Acts 9:1-31 and Psalm 73:15-28.

Lord, I sometimes get lost in my sadness, my grief, my soul’s bitterness, and my heart wanders from you. This is a very dark place to be. Jesus, you became a human to show that you are not afraid to be in the pit with us. Guide my heart to your word and sacraments that I may always be reminded, as Asaph was, that you are with me always!

Header image based on "Depressed" by Sander van der Wel, CC By-SA 2.0