Advent

Personal Promises

Psalm 40

1 I waited patiently for the Lord;
    he inclined to me and heard my cry.
He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
    out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
    making my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth,
    a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
    and put their trust in the Lord.

Blessed is the man who makes
    the Lord his trust,
who does not turn to the proud,
    to those who go astray after a lie!
You have multiplied, O Lord my God,
    your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us;
    none can compare with you!
I will proclaim and tell of them,
    yet they are more than can be told.

In sacrifice and offering you have not delighted,
    but you have given me an open ear.
Burnt offering and sin offering
    you have not required.
Then I said, “Behold, I have come;
    in the scroll of the book it is written of me:
I delight to do your will, O my God;
    your law is within my heart.”

I have told the glad news of deliverance
    in the great congregation;
behold, I have not restrained my lips,
    as you know, O Lord.
10 I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart;
    I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation;
I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness
    from the great congregation.

11 As for you, O Lord, you will not restrain
    your mercy from me;
your steadfast love and your faithfulness will
    ever preserve me!
12 For evils have encompassed me
    beyond number;
my iniquities have overtaken me,
    and I cannot see;
they are more than the hairs of my head;
    my heart fails me.

13 Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me!
    Lord, make haste to help me!
14 Let those be put to shame and disappointed altogether
    who seek to snatch away my life;
let those be turned back and brought to dishonor
    who delight in my hurt!
15 Let those be appalled because of their shame
    who say to me, “Aha, Aha!”

16 But may all who seek you
    rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who love your salvation
    say continually, “Great is the Lord!”
17 As for me, I am poor and needy,
    but the Lord takes thought for me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
    do not delay, O my God!

(Psalm 40, ESV)

…in the scroll of the book it is written of me.

I was doing a spin class lately, and the instructor was a great cheerleader. It was just a canned video to motivate me, but it worked. One of the funny turns of phrase she kept saying, as my legs were cramping and my lungs were wheezing, was “you’re a boss, you’ve got this.” Funny how words work, even when it’s just a video script for an exercise class. It did the job. I don’t even know who the woman is who’s leading the spin class, but I was encouraged and driven to get up that next hill. Time will tell if this will keep motivating me to get the body my wife wishes I had.

No words work like the words “in the scroll of the book” of scripture – which is what David is talking about. His Bible would have basically been the first six books in the Old Testament, Genesis through Joshua, maybe Judges. Maybe Job too, because of how old it is. Where in that truncated Bible did it ever talk about David? Somehow he owns it. He sees words about himself! How does he see it? There’s a trust here, a simple reliance and dependence which is beautiful. He’s owning every promise of God’s word as personal, as specifically for him. And it isn’t narcissism, because it isn’t really about David. It’s about God’s glory and work in David, and that’s how David claims it. A few lines before he says to God, “You gave me an open ear.”

This opens it all up to us. Think about it. David can see and hear the words are about him because God let him hear it. It is God’s work! This is the Spirit’s power. Advent becomes real to us personally, in our hearts and lives and experience, as God opens us to His own power. It always comes back to this – our rescue is all Christ. We come again and again and ask Him to be the Sovereign God – the King – and to make us His choice. And we’re asking His choice to be this: that our ears hear Him, our eyes see Him, and our feet follow Him. Then the Bible opens to us. We see ourselves in the stories and promises of our Father. We begin to claim ancient promises with fresh joy, and the thrill of His life becomes vivid personal words of love. Then we will startle people by saying odd things too, things like “I was reading in Numbers the other day, and I found one of God’s little love notes to me!” Spirit, open our ears! Amen.