Discover His heart: He is merciful because of His unfailing love
I loved to visit the neighborhood park playground when I was little. I would run to the swing set and swing what seemed like hours, back and forth, getting as high as I could. This fun always came to an end when a train came flying past in front of me and I would get sick – the double motion got me every time. Then I’d find a friend and run to the teeter totter, the up and down seesaw, and I’d feel like I was flying myself. The seesaw, however, was the most fickle of all the equipment on the playground because when I sat dangling high in the air, my safety was at the mercy of my friend. On more than one occasion through the years, a distracted playmate left her seat and sent me crashing to the ground. Somehow I lived through this. David’s struggle in our reading today reminded me of the seesaw, where mercy or judgment takes the other seat.
@ Psalm 6
We don’t know David’s sin on this occasion, but we recognize a cry for mercy when we see one, “O Lord, don’t rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your rage. Have compassion on me, Lord, for I am weak. Heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony. I am sick at heart. How long, O Lord, until you restore me? Return, O Lord, and rescue me. Save me because of your unfailing love.” (6:1-4) David sat dangling, staring judgment in the face; but he asked for mercy to take the other seat. My heart’s cry every day is for mercy, don’t give me what I deserve – give me mercy.
@ Psalm 7
Now the tables are turned as David’s accusing enemies have risen up and are dangling high because they have touched God’s anointed. Because revenge always seems to be so sweet at the time of our pain, David may have desired to slip right off the seat and send his enemies crashing, but instead, David called on God to bring justice. “Arise, O Lord, in anger! Stand up against the fury of my enemies! Wake up, my God, and bring justice! Declare me righteous, O Lord, for I am innocent, O Most High! End the evil of those who are wicked, and defend the righteous.” (6,8-9) When we ask God to avenge us rather than to take matters into our own hands, we place Him at the center, the fulcrum of the seesaw and ask him to determine the outcome.
“Wake up, my God?” Did David actually think that God was dozing? Probably not, but we often think God has taken too long to bring about justice to those who have caused us pain. His hesitancy to bring judgment to all of us, for which I am thankful, comes because of what David himself said, “You look deep within the mind and heart, O righteous God.” (9) He isn’t asleep; He sees man’s heart and He is merciful.
“If a person does not repent, God will sharpen his sword; he will bend and string his bow. He will prepare his deadly weapons and shoot his flaming arrows.” (12) Our merciful God waits for repentance, longs for the contrite heart of David to fill the hearts of our enemies so that He can seat mercy rather than judgment. But without repentance, the evil deeds of our enemies fall on their own heads. (16)
In the natural, because of our nature, we would never extend this mercy, but when we allow God to sit at the fulcrum of our hearts, our enemies just may repent. Regardless, when it’s all said and done, God will rule with justice, “I will thank the Lord because He is just; I will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High.”(17) Sometimes it’s rough out there on the playground of life, and it may feel safer to withdraw and stay inside. But we need to remember that we have Someone watching over us, observing all that is happening, Someone who is just and plays fair. Come on, I’ll race you to the slide!
Moving Forward: I’ve determined that in the situations I face today, I will allow God’s justice to rule.
Tomorrow @ Job 5-6