The Foundation

The Foundation

Psalm 62

In your vulnerability, rely on God’s stability

There are times when life reminds us we aren’t as bulletproof as we think. Some weeks ago, I sneezed and something in my back protested.  I found myself on my knees in excruciating pain. The Nobel Prize-winning poet Czeslaw Milosz once wrote a three-sentence poem, “Learning”: To believe you are magnificent. And gradually to discover that you are not magnificent. Enough labor for one lifetime.

As I slide into middle age, I can relate. It’s been a long, slow learning curve to discover that I am not indomitable. The knee pain after a run is a gentle reminder.
 
This pandemic may be teaching us a similar lesson: we are not near as untouchable as we imagined living in the most powerful nation in the world. What do you do when you learn that your health, your dreams, your relationships, or your nation and world are more fragile than you ever imagined; that a disease can shake the very foundation you thought you could stand on?
A shaken David wrote Psalm 62 addressing these very questions after a crisis. In the midst of life’s unpredictability, what can you count on? 
 

God Is Our Foundation

David starts by telling us his personal conclusion to those questions. Verse 1: “For God alone, my soul rests in silence. From him comes my salvation.” Silence in this verse doesn’t mean the absence of noise but inner clarity. David is saying, “I’ve gotten clear at the center of my being. God alone is my salvation; God alone is my foundation.”

This wasn’t an easy lesson for him to learn. David leaves clues about a great struggle that forced him to see life’s fragility. Throughout this psalm, he weaves two themes: human vulnerability and true stability. 

 

Human Vulnerability

David tells us relationships and life are vulnerable. People can wound us. This is the essence of verses 3-4. David knows the pain of betrayal firsthand. Many of us know this pain as well.

How long will you assault me?
    Would all of you throw me down—
    this leaning wall, this tottering fence?
Surely they intend to topple me
    from my lofty place;
    they take delight in lies.
With their mouths they bless,
    but in their hearts they curse. 

 Then it’s not just relationships. Life itself is fragile: verses 9 and 10:

9 Surely the lowborn are but a breath,
    the highborn are but a lie.
If weighed on a balance, they are nothing;
    together they are only a breath.
10 Do not trust in extortion
    or put vain hope in stolen goods;
though your riches increase,
    do not set your heart on them.

Who are the “lowborn”?  Throughout the Bible, God notices the way the marginalized get mistreated. Refugees, unborn children, orphans, victims of exploitation and trafficking, people who cannot afford to practice social distancing—they are the lowborn. These are the people who will be hit the hardest by the coronavirus. They are deeply loved by God, but still, they are “but a breath.”

What about the “highborn?” They are the powerful, the more privileged, and better-resourced. They can absorb and ride through this coronavirus. But verse 9 indicates they are a delusion because they think that they are invincible, immune.  This is me, perhaps you. In our affluence, we think we can control our lives and our world. 

Paul says in Romans 8: “The whole creation has been groaning in the pains of childbirth until now.” Something is off with creation. So followers of Jesus look at a world with disease, and death and say, “This isn’t the way it’s supposed to be.” And this isn’t the way it is going to be. But this is the way it is—broken, off-kilter, out-of-whack. And they groan because we long for something better—a world redeemed and healed by the power of Jesus’ resurrection.

Notice where this thinking leads at the end of verse 9. It doesn’t matter who you are, how important you think you are, your life is vulnerable. We see that this virus is no respecter of persons – actors, athletes, politicians, and princes are all prone. 

Also, our money is vulnerable. Romans 10: “If riches increase set not your heart on them.” Riches aren’t bad. Some of you are doing amazing good deeds with your wealth. But whether you have a little money or a lot of money, it’s all vulnerable. Don’t make it your salvation. David is saying don’t live and die by the Dow. 

That’s the bad news in Psalm 62, paraphrasing Milosz, “We’re not All-Around Awesome.”

 

True Stability

The good news woven into this psalm is that God is our salvation, our rock, our refuge. When it comes to the foundation for your life in vulnerable times there is only one winner: God. We’re all looking for a rock to stand on. We’re all looking for a fortress to run into for shelter. Well, ultimately there’s only one. And David says I’ve gotten silent about this. There isn’t any noise inside my head. And notice what he says—“I shall not be shaken.”

David’s song of trust in the Living God is actually growing larger? Verses 5-7 expand and deepen the song that started in verses 1-2. He becomes more honest, more raw about how fragile life is. But at the same time, his song of trust in God grows richer and deeper. May that happen to you and me as well!

Then notice verse 8 in this Psalm of David. The song of trust grows even louder and deeper. In verse 8 he’s not just preaching to himself; he’s preaching to all of us. And what does he say? Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.” 

How do you act when you’re troubled, sad, confused, or scared but you’re in the presence of someone who knows the worst things about you but still loves you? You don’t worry about finding the right words. You may not even need words. You say whatever is on your mind. You are pouring out your heart: “Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.”

David is not the only one speaking in this psalm. Yes, David is speaking, sharing his life story. But there is someone else speaking here. Who is it? It is the Lord Jesus himself. He is the one calling us to make him our salvation, our rock, our refuge.

If that is true, then this psalm is truly amazing. Because think about Jesus. Think about his life. Who is he? In the words of an ancient Christian creed, he is “God from God, light from light, True God from true God.” But what did he do for us? What do we remember every Christmas? That he became flesh. He became a human being.

In other words, in Jesus, God became vulnerable. He became one of those “lowborn” people. Poor. A refugee. Woundable. And as a matter of fact, he was wounded. He was crucified as a common criminal, a victim of injustice. As the Bible says, “Jesus was pierced for our sins. He was wounded for us and for our salvation.” How amazing is that? You can trust a God like that!

 

Conclusion

Here are two things we know for sure during these uncertain times: you have a foundation, a salvation. It’s either a good one or a bad one. And your life will be shaken. The coronavirus may not shake you but life will shake you. Relationships will shake you. The world’s brokenness will shake you. Growing old will probably shake you. Death will shake you. The judgment of a holy God will shake you. But you and I can say with David, with Jesus, I will not be shaken: “For God alone, my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation.”

Many years ago, a great leader named King David made a decision and settled it in his heart. How about you? Maybe the coronavirus is a wakeup call. Maybe something else is waking you up—some other pain, or perhaps some unexpected grace or beauty, or a deep longing for what the Bible calls shalom, wholeness out of brokenness. 

What can you do today? Get silent. Get clear. Pray,  “Lord Jesus, I want to make you my salvation. I want to choose you as my rock and my fortress. I have made something else into my salvation—maybe even something good. But today I want to center or re-center my life on you.”

 

 

I can’t wait to see you “incarnated” – whenever that is, together as a family.

The peace of Christ be with you,
 

Pastor Phil

 


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