If you've ever successfully been through a drug abuse program or known someone who has, you have experienced or witnessed what is probably the closest thing to heavenly joy in this life. One man likened his recovery from alcohol abuse to emerging from a dark cave in which he had spent decades. He especially loved Psalm 142. He said that David was singing "his song".
In that psalm, we are told that David is hiding in a cave while a jealous Saul is pursuing him. Both my friend and David sought refuge from harm and pain by escaping from it. But the Lord did not abandon the men, and brought them both to cry out to Him.
The first two verses of Psalm 142 begin where we all should--and do it daily: "With my voice I cry out to the LORD; with my voice I plead for mercy to the LORD. I pour out my complaint before Him; I tell my trouble before Him."
We should do it daily because we struggle every day against sin and its consequences. We too often look at ourselves as victims of others' sins and can more quickly identify their sins more than our own. Some look down upon others who battle with addictions, whether it be food, drugs (including alcohol), or unhealthy relationships. But we all use things and other people to console ourselves as we are physically separated from our Lord in this life.
As we enter into the last week of the traditional church year, we focus on the return of Christ, when He completes the recovery of a world lost without Him. He will bring a "new heaven and a new earth" (Revelation 21), and on that new earth, we will live what true love is. No more will we be watching for or be predators, relationships will not be business deals, no more striking or hiding out in fear. The One seated at the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." Verse 5 of Psalm 142 indicates that David understood the promise of deliverance when he wrote, "I cry to you, O LORD; I say, "You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living."
One theologian and authority on the Old Testament describes the Book of Psalms as the "Hebrew Hymnal". What we have today is 150 sets of song lyrics, and while the music is long lost, we see a brother in suffering in David. Although he lived more than 3,000 years ago, he sings our songs of abuse (as in Psalm 69); pain (38); shame (25); guilt (51); fear (55); rejection (13); sickness (41); and death (6).
But more importantly, all of the Psalms place us before the Lord, who will deliver us from sin and death. Do not listen to those who say that we Christians spend too much time thinking about the next life. It isn't wishful thinking, but the future is our joyful referent for living today. The promise of life everlasting in the new earth with a renewed relationship with the Lord gives us a new song to sing. Serving Suggestion for your Thanksgiving feast: Psalm 107. "Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever!" Gloria Deo--Glory to God
Rev. Timothy Matthew
of Redeemer Lutheran