Monday, September 14, 2015

Longing for Security in the Midst of Insecurity: Learning to Pray Psalm 16

We long for security. It’s part of our humanity. God created us to live in harmony with our Creator, with creation, and with one another (Genesis 1–2). But human sin and disobedience has disrupted God’s creation and sin manifests itself in broken relationships, violence, greed, and injustice. All of these lead to insecurity in our world. News organizations report a constant flow of natural disasters, financial crises, and conflicts.  Yet in the midst of this, as God’s people, we seek to represent hope and serve as agents of blessing for the sake of God’s mission to the nations. Psalm 16 helps us to pray when we experience insecurity. Its words are important as they remind God’s people that true security is found only in the LORD. Others may promise it, but only the LORD delivers.

Psalm 16 divides into two parts: vv. 1–6 and vv. 7–11. Part one opens with a plea and a commitment. The psalmist exclaims his desire to take refuge in the LORD and asks God to provide security.
Verses 2–6 put flesh to the pslamist vow of commitment. The psalmist is not hedging his bet by pursuing simulataneously multiple security options. This is often our tactic in the modern world. We opt for God and [fill in the blank] as the key to making it through the world. For the psalmist, the LORD is the only lord and only source of true goodness (v. 2). In other words, the psalmist is “all in” in terms of commitment. 

In verses 3–6 the psalmist describes his commitment to God as his lord by aligning himself with God’s people (v. 3), proclaiming the futility of trusting in other gods (v. 4), and the already experienced blessing of his relationship with the LORD (vv. 5–6).

The second half of the psalm turns to praise. These verses contain some of the most hopeful and confident statement in the psalter. Verses 7–9 speak of the psalmist’s intention to worship and sing praises to the LORD. The psalmist does this continually and remains in a vital moment–by–moment walk. This is the source of the psalmist’s security. He does not merely turn to God when he encounters trouble. He remains in communion with God and listens attentively.

Peter quotes verses 8–11 during his sermon on the Day of Pentecost as an Old Testament witness to Jesus’ resurrection (Acts 2:25–28). The psalmist’s confidence in God runs so deep that he lives in the security that even death will not prevail over God’s ability to sustain him. This is a faith that we ought to desire for ourselves. The psalmist has his mind made up and has aligned himself fully with the LORD for now and all eternity. This provides him with the strength, hope, and witness to live a life of passionate praise and faithfulness before a watching world. Do you have this security in your life?

How would you live differently if you had the confidence of the psalmist?

What challenges in your life bring you insecurity?

How does this psalm teach you to abide in the LORD’s security?

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