Have you read the Book of Psalms?
I just finished it, on my way through the Bible, and besides the beautiful poetry, the heartfelt yearning for God, both the pain and joy that the different psalmists felt (that’s right- King David wasn’t the only one writing psalms), one thing I am always reminded of when going through these emotional songs is how faithful God has been to his people.
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I am not going to review each and every one of the 150 psalms, but challenge you to go through, picking one out every now and then, and you will psalms that both thank God for his blessings and protection, as well as pleading to God to provide the blessings and protection that he once did.
The psalms take us on a roller-coaster of emotions, from praising God for his protection to pleading for God for protection; from thanking God for his mighty victories to asking God why he no longer goes to battle before his people; from praising God for the love he has shown us to asking God when will his anger against his people ever cease?
The psalms were written by a number of different people, at different times during our history. Many were written by King David, but there are one or two from Solomon, Moses added a couple of his own, Asaf has written many, and we even find some from the sons of Korach. Yes, the very same Korach who rebelled against Moses and Aaron: although Korach and his followers were destroyed by God’s fire coming out from the Tabernacle, it was only the families of Datan and Abiram who were swallowed up by the earth.
The psalms are a historical narrative, as well, with David’s sad songs of betrayal while hiding from Saul or running from Absolem to songs of praise and joy at being placed in the kingship and for the many years of the military superiority he was given by Adonai.
The psalms of Asaf, however, are quite different in that they seem to have been written during those years when the Israelites were in exile. They reflect the sadness of feeling abandoned by God, even though we know that later God did return his chosen people to their land.
What demonstrates the faithfulness of God’s people is that despite their pleas for help, their questioning of why God has abandoned them, and their prayers for him to turn from his anger and redeem them, they always end with the hope and trust that one day God will again be as he once was to them.
And looking back in history, we see God’s faithfulness in that he did answer the prayers for the redemption of the communion his people once had with him. We know that God did relent from his punishment, God did return his people to their land, and he never truly abandoned them, only turned his face from them for the time they needed to be humbled.
In truth, God has never rejected the Jewish people, or for that matter, anyone who truly calls to him. When we, the Jewish people, turned from him, although he said he would hide his face and ignore our prayers, he still saw us and he still heard our prayers. He was just allowing us enough time to become truly humbled and repentant.
God always knows the exact right time to act on our prayers; he knows the difference between false humility and genuine repentance.
God never really abandons us, he just allows us to abandon him until we come back to our senses. And when we do, we will find him there, waiting with outstretched hand, to gather us under his wings, once again.
If you feel like you are abandoned or separated from God, you are probably right but don’t blame God for it: if you want to know why God isn’t with you, look in the mirror for the answer. God always wants to be with us, but when we reject his instructions we reject him, thereby separating ourselves from the blessings and protection of the Lord.
God never abandons us, he allows us to abandon him. And even when we do, he still watches out for us. He is always there, waiting for us to return, and strongly desiring to answer our repentant and heartfelt prayer for forgiveness with a “Yes, you are forgiven, and welcome back into the fold.”
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That’s it for today, so l’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!