Pastor's Pondering


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Context Changes Everything

by Duane Mabee on September 22, 2022

Context changes everything.  Years ago, there was a popular Christian worship song that included the lines:


I will give thanks to Thee, O Lord, among the people.

I will sing praises to Thee among the nations.

For Thy steadfast love is great, is great to the heavens;

And Thy faithfulness, Thy faithfulness to the clouds.


Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;

Let Thy glory be over all the earth.

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;

Let Thy glory be over all the earth.


Those words come from Psalm 57, and you might assume they follow a meditation on how good life is and how much God has blessed, but they don’t.  They follow David’s anguished complaints about being hunted by Saul. 


David cries out to God for mercy while he takes refuge in God “till the storms of destruction pass by.”  He complains that he is surrounded by “lions and fiery beasts – people whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords.”  Yet in the middle of his complaint, David prays, “Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!  Let Your glory be over all the earth.”  Then he returns to one more round of complaints before writing the words quoted above – “I will give thanks to Thee, I will sing praises to Thee, For Your steadfast love is great…” 


Context changes our viewpoint.  Without the context, David looks like he is on top of the world, but he isn’t.  He, along with many of the other biblical authors, are open and honest about the realities of life.  We often aren’t. 


Church can feel like a very unsafe place to openly deal with the difficulties of life.  Church people usually appear to have it altogether because we are not willing to be real.  That makes it unsafe for others to be real. 


The message of Psalm 57 is that God is OK hearing about our broken and anxious hearts.  He is not put off by our honesty, but He is worthy of worship in the midst of our pain.  It glorifies Him even more than when we worship while everything is going our way, because it declares God’s ultimate worth.


If God is OK with us being real about our brokenness, the church should be, too.  How can we bear each other’s burdens (Gal. 6:2) if we’re acting like no one has any?  Let’s let David teach us that it is good to be open about our struggles, while we recognize that God is still worthy to be worshipped.