Rook / Our Righteous Refuge (Psalm 17) – January 17, 2023 (19-20/365)

Hear a just cause, O LORD; attend to my cry!

Give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit!

From your presence let my vindication come!

Let your eyes behold the right!

You have tried my heart, you have visited me by night,

you have tested me, and you will find nothing;

I have purposed that my mouth will not transgress.

With regard to the works of man, by the word of your lips

I have avoided the ways of the violent.

My steps have held fast to your paths;

my feet have not slipped.

Psalms 17:1-5

Oftentimes I speak on how we’ve been set free of the power of sin. And rightly so; For in so doing, yes, we have a picture, a perspective of what it means for us to be saved by Christ. If you’ve been following me for a while you know that I love quoting what Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:21: We’ve been saved by way of being set free from the power of sin, because Christ not only took our sin, but in His being a sacrifice and being a representation for all aspects of our being, He BECAME sin; therefore, He took all the death that sin deserved.

If I’m honest, I’ll never grow tired of proclaiming that. But in my reading through today’s Psalm, I am led to recognize the value of the other side of the coin; That is, the beauty there is in the righteousness that Christ gave to us – Rather, the righteousness we are in Christ, just as Christ became our sin. I’m inclined to have us understand that we are righteous… with the same energy and focus I have when I talk about our freedom from sin. With that said… what does it mean for us to be righteous?

Well, I suppose we can gather something from these first verses from Psalm 17. For us to be righteous means that the Lord not only hears our cries, but He attends to them. We’re starting off with this, and already I’m pretty excited. I mean, we shouldn’t be wondering about God’s attention towards us, much as we shouldn’t be wondering if God is even with us. Sure, it’ll feel like that at times… but our feelings don’t take away the truth that we are never separated from the love of God. Our feelings, and all that the world would bombard at us to make us quote, ‘Are you there, God? It’s me, (state your name here)’; none of this should ever have us completely doubt that the Lord is with us, and not only with us, but as close to us as He could ever be, just as we are so close to Him.

Apparently, again, this doesn’t just mean that we enjoy His presence no matter what… but we’re gathering from the first verse that He is not only with us, but He is for us, by way of hearing us, listening to us, and attending to what cries we may have. Verse two continues, by saying that He does hear us, and He hears our prayers – He reads between the lines, beyond the deviations from the truth that we may or may not be aware of that are present in our words.

The righteousness that Christ paid such a great price for us to have, and to be – It entails that God is always with us, and more than this – He is for us, listening to us; again, reading between the lines, understanding the points we have and loving us no matter how much we beat around the bush, or no matter how we have no words to describe what we’re feeling and/or what we’re going through.

This ought to have us feeling comfortable and safe in His presence, but apparently we ought to recognize that His presence, and His unfailing, undying commitment to us is a indication of the full and complete victory Christ had over the sin and death that once infected everything that we were. God’s presence with us and through us is a celebration of our vindication, and full assurance, so we would know we have been brought to right standing with Him.

The righteousness we have in Christ would have us proclaiming the same thing the Psalmist wrote in verse 3: For because we have been made new creations in Christ, so our hearts have been made new; hearts that have been tested, and are devoid of sin, just as Christ’s blood wiped us clean as snow. Because we have been made new creations in Christ, so our default state of mind, our base being is rooted and grounded in Truth – much so that we find peace in the paths of righteousness, and we have a peace that is with us, even when we are forced into the ways of the violent.

I’m not sure if I’m making any sense there but the point remains that this righteousness that we have in Christ, and because of Christ; it would have us aware – rather, I think it should keep us aware, first and foremost, of the everlasting life we have in Christ by way of His righteousness, more than find relief in the freedom we have from death, because of Christ becoming our sin and dying.

I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God;

incline your ear to me; hear my words.

Wondrously show your steadfast love,

O Savior of those who seek refuge

from their adversaries at your right hand.

Keep me as the apple of your eye;

hide me in the shadow of your wings,

from the wicked who do me violence,

my deadly enemies who surround me.

Psalms 17:6-9

It’s from the righteousness we have in Christ that we are able to pray, and it’s because of Christ that we are able to call out to God, knowing that He hears us and is for us.

I mean, I know that I’ve been speaking a huge deal about the movement we would be making this year; And in my speaking out about it, I also shared we’d be moving forward, pointing out that we are able to move forward without fear, even with the mountains and the giants taunting us and intimidating us… but apparently, in light of all that’s in front of me, I don’t see myself stepping forward as easily as I want to emphasize to others.

These verses remind me that I am not alone in facing the giants, and looking at the mountains. I may move forth in perfect love that Christ has poured out upon me; I can think about that, and understand that perfect love casts out all fear. However, in these moments that I don’t feel as confident as I claim to be, I can, indeed, cry out to the Lord. I could bring my heart and mind to remembering His goodness.

For, indeed, I have been made righteous by Christ, and my eyes and ears have been opened to His goodness – He hears me, He inclines His ear to me, and understands all of my words. And even in the times that I am speechless and incoherent, behold, by Christ we have seen that God loves us with a steadfast love.

It’s because of this love that we don’t necessarily have to go forth and fight each and every time; In fact, I believe we give God the respect and glory He deserves when we recognize Him just as the Psalmist did – that He is our Savior, just as He is the Savior of all who seek refuge. Indeed, He keeps me – He upholds me with His righteous right hand, and I am safe from those who would call themselves my adversaries.

See, that’s the thing – when I began to move, as I encouraged others to move, that’s where I had no choice but to see the sheer weight of the mountains before me. That’s where I realized just how great of adversaries I may have – not necessarily in the form of other people, but surely as situations and circumstances that I do need to face.

Yes, I talk a big game about the goodness of God and how I am set free to live. But apparently, I may say I’m not afraid to die, but apparently, I’m not so hasty to say I’m not afraid to live. And it’s during these times that I find comfort, knowing that even the Psalmist had some words, that I could also cry out to God from my own lips:

Keep me as the apple of your eye;

hide me in the shadow of your wings,

from the wicked who do me violence,

my deadly enemies who surround me.

All this just reminds me that God is my refuge and fortress; He is my safety, just as much as I proclaim He is the power behind what I want to happen, and the peace that keeps me together in spite of what happens to me. In moments of uncertainty, and moments where fear reveals its ugly head and tries to keep me down, I can take that time to remember, that when I lose focus, the Truth of the matter is He does not lose focus of me; Of course, we are all favored in the body of Christ, but it does help for us to remember and take into heart that this God, this Creator of all things – He looks at each and every one of us personally, and values us so much that we are all the apple of His eye.

It’s from the comfort we get from our understanding how God values us, that we consequently gain the confidence – sometimes, to face our problems head on, but also to be bold enough to run to Him, and to hide behind Him. We certainly have wicked, violent, and deadly enemies. And sure, they may surround us, but again, we have a God who is not only for us, but He fights for us as well.

They close their hearts to pity;

with their mouths they speak arrogantly.

They have now surrounded our steps;

they set their eyes to cast us to the ground.

He is like a lion eager to tear,

as a young lion lurking in ambush.

Arise, O LORD! Confront him, subdue him!

Deliver my soul from the wicked by your sword,

from men by your hand, O LORD,

from men of the world whose portion is in this life.

You fill their womb with treasure;

they are satisfied with children,

and they leave their abundance to their infants.

As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness;

when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness.

Psalms 17:10-15

Earlier this week a friend asked me – now that we’re living in the victory that Christ won for us, what should our reality be? Should we go forth, living ‘victorious’ even in the battles we’re bound to face, or do we still pray for victory when the time comes? To this, I just simply told him, ‘why not both?’ However it plays, whether we are confident in His victory, or we find ourselves intimidated, let us always remember – beyond the feelings we may have in every circumstance, and regardless of what we do or don’t do – Christ has guaranteed, by His birth, death, resurrection, and ascension, that we have been made righteous, and therefore, we are always the apple of God’s eye, and He is more than willing to hide us in the shadow of His wings.

If anything else, we go back to giving thanks to God, for His unfailing and unwavering presence with us, no matter what we’re feeling, or no matter what’s going on.

Indeed, in everything, we give thanks, for this is the will of God for us in Christ Jesus; After all, it’s because of Christ Jesus that we’ve been made righteous, and it’s because of this righteousness that we can run to God.

Thank You, Jesus. Thank You, Father. Thank You, Holy Spirit. You will always be stronger than the giants, and greater than the mountains we face.

Until the next post, God bless you.

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