Taylor Halverson LDS MissionCast

VIDEO: Finding God’s Love in the Psalms (Come, Follow Me: Psalms 49-86)


Finding God’s Love in the Psalms (Come, Follow Me: Psalms 49-86) – powered by Happy Scribe

Today we’ll discuss Psalm 51, Psalm 61, Psalm 62, and Psalm 63.

The first Psalm is heart-wrenching in some ways, but also encourages us with more faith and trust in God’s mercy. The context is David feeling this wrenching crushing of his soul as he reflects on the fact that he had committed adultery of Bathsheba. And listen to the things that he says begins have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness, according under the multitude of thy tender mercies, blot out my transgressions.

Several important things going on here.

First, there’s an unfortunate false view that the God of the Old Testament is an angry, vengeful God, and that the New Testament is this loving, merciful God. And it’s a false view. It turns out that the majority view of what we have in the Old Testament is god is loving and kind and patient and compassionate and forgiving and merciful. And David knows this, which is why he calls upon the Lord. And if you look at the covenant of context, when God made covenants to Abraham and then to Abraham seed, to Moses and his people, and even to David, these covenants actually were built in around God’s enduring and everlasting compassion that God wanted to make available his lovingkindness for all time.

Those blessings, that loving kindness is available to anybody who turns to God and seeks it. That is part of his covenant of nature, that he is obligated to provide loving kindness to anybody who asks for it. David knows that. It’s also important to note here in the ancient context, adultery was a capital fence. You could be executed for such a thing.

We might also note that David had killed a guy, actually multiple men, uriah and others. Now, as the military commander, you might have a legal case to say that David was within his right to send men to battle who ended up dying. But definitely with the adultery, David could have been executed. And in the ancient Israelite world there wasn’t really a way that you could atone on your own for that sin. There’s no number of animals that you could put on the altar that would overcome or cover up that sin.

Only God himself could really give full forgiveness. And this is what we hear David doing. First three I acknowledge my transgressions and my sin as ever before me against Thee. The only have I sinned and done this evil in thy sight, that thou mightst be justified when thou speakest, to be clear when thou judgest. David realizes he’s fully at the mercy of God’s judgment at this point, but he calls upon God to be merciful.

David recognizes his grievous error and is working to be completely loyal to God and to stay firm to God, even though he had made a tremendous mistake. And verse 1617 this relates to what I was saying before, how really no amount of sacrifice on the altar could really atone for what David had done. But there is one thing that could make a difference. Verse 16. Thou for thou desirest not sacrifices I would give it.

Thou delightest not in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart, o God, that will not despise. David realizes no amount of sacrifices on the altar will get him right with God. It’s ultimately what he’s done in his heart that he has to choose to sacrifice his heart and his spirit to the cause of God, which is what he does. Really beautiful example that all of us could follow.

But no matter what we’ve done in our lives, we also, like David, can seek to have a broken heart, contrived spirit and plead to God for his loving and everlasting mercy and kindness that is always available to those who turn to God. Now let’s take a look at Psalm 61. Psalm 61 is interesting because there’s these symbols of someone being at the edge of death when it talks about going to the boundaries of the earth. In the ancient Middle East, it was believed that the earth was essentially a flat disk with a dome over top with water on top of that dome. That’s where the heavens were.

And underneath was the ocean and Sheaw, or the realm of the dead. And the way to get to the realm of the dead was to travel to the edge of that flat disk. The ancient Israelites didn’t realize the earth was a globe. And you get to the edge of the world where there are mountains, and that was the gate down into the underworld. And you have this in verse two.

From the end of the earth will I cry into thee when my heart is overwhelmed? Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. So this is a symbol that the psalm is dealing with, like I’m close to death and I need to be David from death by you, whether it’s spiritual or physical. Verse four is significant. I will buy the night tabernacle forever.

I will trust in the covert of thy wings. The Tabernacle, of course, was the ancient Tabernacle, where the sacrificial system occurred for ancient Israel. And later Solomon built a temple. So the tabernacle is a place of safety and peace and spirituality and a place where you encounter God. So this psalm is all about how do I find God in my life when I’m at death door or when I’m suffering or struggling or I feel like I’m going to be sucked under and not be able to survive.

Beautiful psalm. Psalms 62 and 63 seem to be written during a time when David was under deep distress, perhaps being hounded by his enemies. We’ll just share a couple of verses from each. Psalm 62, verse one. Truly my soul waiteth upon God, from him cometh my salvation.

He only is my rock and my salvation. He is my defense. I shall not be greatly moved. In an ancient Middle Eastern environment, rocks, particularly mountains, were seen as these immovable objects that could be trusted. They would always be there, and you could build a firm foundation.

And so David calls upon that symbol to help us think about the characteristics of God that he, too, is like a strong fortress that we can turn to in our distress when we were hounded by enemies. Or take a look at Psalm 63. This one, I think, is symbolically beautiful because David was out in the Judean wilderness. If you look at a map, it turns out there’s a rain shadow where the rains from the Mediterranean come and rain on the western slopes of the mountains, but on the eastern side is extremely dry. And listen to what David says when he’s in this land.

Oh, God. This is verse one. Oh, God. Thou art my God. Early will I seek thee My soul thirsty for Thee and my flesh longest for Thee.

In a dry and thirsty land where no water is. I find that beautiful that David understands that our physical thirst simply can symbolize our deep spiritual desire to have God fill us with his delight, the water of life, through his words. So I encourage you, as you read Psalms, learn more about the characteristics of God. Find yourself calling unto him in praise and supplication as the ancient psalmist did as well. And we too, like the ancient psalmist, will find God’s respite his glory and his love.

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