Psalm 108 – Ways to Win the Warfare

We were playing a board game. I wasn’t doing so well, but being the peace loving and peace making sort that I am, I merely proclaimed that I would vanquish them all anyway because God was on my side. Obviously in the light of such bold proclamations I finished up in last place. 

The Bible has violence and has a stream of military and conflict language throughout. It is unavoidable. The man after God’s own heart was a man marked by military exploits. It’s no surprise then that there’s a Psalm that goes from the place of praise to the place of conflict. Unsurprisingly, some will jump on this as corroboration for a bloodthirsty God. Others will cling to this as reason to claim is on their side in their own conflict – and it does not have to be military at all. 

What’s often missing in these thoughts and proclamation is the relationship that underpins everything. Hearing what God has to say on a matter is pivotal in this Psalm. Knowing this Word in the context of His plans for His people I’d critical. Understanding His heart in these affairs is the engine driving the action. 

By the time we reach the exultant climax of the piece, this is not reason for us to hope that God will get rid of a boss we don’t like or help us in warfare against another country. This is about what God wants triumphing over all who oppose it. That should lead us to wonder what God really wants. That should prompt us to explore a relationship with Him to really know Him, love Him for His beauty, wonder, holiness and righteousness. 

That way we  can flow from the place of praise to the purpose He has for us to see His Kingdom come and will done on earth as it is in heaven. A purpose that sees His enemies conquered even as they were on the cross, in the grave, in the empty tomb and in an exalted Saviour at the right hand of the Father. 

It will also stop us from thinking it will give us the win in a board game. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

Psalm 54 – When Stuck Between A Rock and A Hard Place 

In tricky times it is understandable to turn to something you trust to help you. When experience witters away the things we can trust as they prove insufficient, so we find it becomes less about looking for something that can help us get over the issue and more about coping mechanisms in the situation. Sometimes those very coping mechanisms actually keep us entrenched in the situation. 

When you come across something trustworthy and it can help you actually deal with the situation at hand, this can change your very complexion. The Psalmist evidently knew who he could trust in during this very difficult time. 

1 Samuel 23 recounts the circumstances that inspired the Psalm. During his days as a fugitive, David sought to escape the clutches of King Saul. Many acknowledged that Saul’s pursuit was ridiculous, however there were also a number who wanted to keep in the good graces of the King. In doing so they opposed the fugitive David in his bid to lay low. This was the case in the episode that inspired the Psalm, because it looked like the guy was stuck between a rock and a hard place. 

That he had the wherewithal to call to his God says much about him, made all the more remarkable because he was a young man up against the full force of the system. Yet he put his trust in the King that could overrule any earthly authority. It’s worth noting that the Psalmist makes his petition and expression of trust before the resolution of the situation. His confidence is expressed before the rescue mission takes place. 

It’s another reason to appreciate Psalms like these when we likewise may feel as though we are being cornered by various opposition. It doesn’t stop you feeling anxious and nervous at times, it reassures you however to remember where your trust can remain even in the middle of the tough times. He is someone who can be trusted to see us through. He can be trusted not as a coping mechanism, but as the one who will rescue us and give us victory over the enemy. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

Psalm 52 – You Know Where You Can Go … 

Among the many reasons to enjoy the Psalms is how they put lyrics to situations we face in life so vividly well. 

Here, there is this particular individual who has taken it upon himself to behave in a way even his own colleagues found distasteful. The preamble giving the reason behind why this Psalm was written points to an episode of David before he had been made King. In fact it was in his time on the run from King Saul. The thing about being on  the run is to ensure no one finds you and reports you. Most saw Saul’s hunting of David as bizarre, but one over zealous and obnoxious ‘loyalist’ took it upon himself to show he was on Saul’s side, not just by informing the King of where the fugitive was hiding out, but even going so far as to slaughtering a town of priests for being complicit in harbouring the fugitive. 

Put in that perspective, some of the invective David gives about the unscrupulous character are remarkably restrained. The essence of the piece, however, is clear. Such reprehensible behaviour should be dealt with and such characters know where they will go with all that. 

Meanwhile it is for us to view these things and not get bitter about it, but to continue to work out in all the heartbreak of the situation what can be done to treasure what is right, fair and glorious. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

You Ever Come Across That Psalm …

Hey, why didn’t you tell me about it?

There are 150 chapters in the book of Psalms. That’s a lot of chapters.

For all that, it is still quite something to come across a Psalm and be truly dazzled by it. One way to relate is a scenario I’m sure you’re very familiar with. You read a great book that you haven’t come across and you go and rave to a friend about the book that you never came across before. Then that friend turns around and say they’ve read it and you’re like, ‘How can you have read that and not told me about it? What’s that all about? I thought we were friends! What was that for?’

It’s like someone should have told me about Psalm 86. At least Psalms should have told me about Psalm 86, but it’s as if no one told me about it. Then recently I come across it, I read it and it’s like, ‘wowsers, how long has that beauty been there and I haven’t noticed?’. It’s the sort of psalm that you could read again and again and not get bored. The part of David’s struggle, the part of remembering God’s greatness, the plea to God for help, the desire to be taught the way of the Lord.

It’s that area which struck out to me as the Psalmist asked God to unite his heart so he would fear the Lord. The NIV talks about an undivided heart and I was just blown away by that concept. Lord help me to have that heart that is not about divided loyalties – loving you in the hype and dissing you in the tripe. Hailing you in the win and ignoring you in the sin. Praising you for a favour and hazing you when I get out. That cry for an undivided heart where my best hours, my best minutes, my best seconds as well as my worst and everything in between all belongs to God because He has my complete allegiance. Wowsers. That is quite the call by David and it is quite the request for me, but it is one that I make nevertheless.

Jesus was spot on, again, when He said that we cannot serve two masters – we will love the one and despise the other. Wholehearted love to God has no room for divided loyalties. It shouldn’t take much to claim that loyalty and complete devotion when we consider His loving and merciful character as well as the great list of past greatness that He has shown all those who love Him. Rescuing me from the depths and the very domain of death should be enough to merit my lifelong gratitude. Seeing His wonder in rescuing me from other tight spots is incredible. To see all that and think about giving my best elsewhere really misses the whole point of who God is.

A very dear friend of mine said that God has not changed – He is the same God. How He was faithful and kind to David, He remains faithful and kind now. That is not to assume everything is rosy, neither is it to neglect the love that should flow and manifest in good deeds for others. It is to stop and just glimpse at Him in His greatness and marvellous character and be so thankful to Him.

You talk about a psalm to meditate on – Psalm 86 is such a one. Why didn’t you tell me about it?

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

The Kings 02 – King Solomon Established 

​So Solomon sat on the throne of his father David, and his rule was firmly established. (1 Kings 2:12 NIV) 

Before David left this mortal coil, he saw the need to give his successor some important words. Here was the man after God’s heart telling his son how to have a good reign. Yet some of those instructions are remarkably brutal. See Joab? Kill him. See Shimei? Kill him. David couches it in terms that appeals to the wisdom he knows his son has, but the message is clear – to settle some old scores and establish the throne there were some who needed to be permanently dealt with. 

Solomon goes about establishing the throne, however, with a swiftswift piece of punishment for a significant perceived insult from his brother who had sought the throne before. The request for their father’s concubine was seen as a move on the throne again and Solomon put an end to that. On a roll, he then kicked out the priest he saw as a part of the revolt against him. It’s intriguing how Joab gets windwind of these moves and knows his number’s up. 

The real kicker is how he deals with Shimei. Here is a guy that cursed his dad and pelted him when he was on the run from Absalom. David had said he wouldn’t kill him, but David did not forget and neither did his son on the throne. The house arrest that Solomon put Shimei in was a play for the long game that Absalom would have admired. It was as if Solomon knew no matter how long it took, there would be one time when Shimei would slip.  Years later, lo and behold the circumstances presented themselves and Solomon fulfilled his father’s instructions ensuring Shimei’sShimei’s gray head went down to the grave in blood. 

This is not a chapter for the squeamish, neither is it a great advert for those who think that being after God’s heart is all pleasant and cheerful. It does highlight, however, the pattern that appears often in God’s dealings with His peoplepeople. To establish the right, you sometimes have to be clinical in dealing with wrong. Being established in the light means getting rid of the dark. Sometimes it’s our acceptance and tolerance of the wrong that will compromise, undermine and eventually corrupt whatever good we hope to achieve. 

Solomon started his reign well by paying heed to his father’s instructions in being ruthless in dealing with the wrong. May that standard be noted by those who follow the Father today. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

The Kings 01 – Who’s Next? 

​My Lord the king, the eyes of all Israel are on you, to learn from you who will sit on the throne of my Lord the king after him. (1 Kings 1:20 NIV) 

The book of Kings continues the saga of the life of the nation of Israel from 2 Samuel. The main character in that book – David – is the key continuity character bridging both books. 

He has reached the final days of his reign, but his inability to discipline his sons as was evident in Amnon and Absalom has come to the forefront again with his son Adonijah. On the one hand as the guy next in line after Absalom, Adonijah might have felt justified to feel the time was ripe to stake his claim to the throne. On the other hand, he made some serious errors of judgment. 

First was to make a bid for the throne without his father’s permission and prior knowledge. It is not clever looking to be King when there’s already a king on the throne. Second he deliberately excluded some key personnel from his presumptuous crowning party – the critical guy he snubbed was Nathan. Of all the people to ignore, the man who knew what God had to say on the issue of succession was a major blunder. This proved to be the case when Nathan became aware of the plot. 

The speed with which Nathan managed the situation is remarkable. While Adonijah was having his party, Nathan got Solomon’s Mum, Bathsheba, to get to David. While she made her plea to David, Nathan followed it in a brilliant pincer movement. David recognised what he needed to do and seeing the key role he had to play, he swiftly set up Solomon to rightly taketake his place on the throne of father with the consent of David. 

The scene where Adonijah is partying away when the noise of Solomon’s anointing reaches him is slightly humorous. Completely oblivious to what was going on, Adonijah greeted Jonathan the priest’s son, as though it was good news. You can imagine the blood draining from his face when he heard the news Jonathan had to give on what was going on. 

It goes to show the truth and wisdom in the saying that if you exalt yourself you will soon be humbled – maybe even humiliated. It pays to stay humble so that in God’s time, in God’s way, He can exalt you. It’s a sound word to bear in mind when so many look to vaunted their outer beauty, intellect or position as reason to exalt self. 
For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

Sam’s 2nd Epic 24 – Learning from a Senseless Census

The book of Samuel concludes with an episode in which David sins before God. It’s fascinating that David pressed on with the census despite good advice telling him not to do so. It’s just as fascinating that David’s conscience hits when he recognises what he’s done. 

There is much to learn from this episode. It’s good to know that  no matter how well you know God, you cancan still be susceptible to ignoring good advice and make bad decisions. That’s good to know because it is humbling to never think of ourselves as above sin. We are to be consciously aware of how we can be trapped by it. 

It’s good to know that our conscience can convict us so we can acknowledge the wrong that we have done. On a previous occasion, David had to be arrested by a prophet for the wrong he did. On this occasion, he knew it himself and was alert to respond in the light of that. Being convicted of wrong should motivate us to see what we can do right. 

It’s good to know that God is sensitive to our remorse and our repentance. David’s anguish over the suffering of his people reflects his desire to do what is right in God’s sight. 

It’s good to know that these episodes of wrongdoing can be platform for repentance, worship and monuments to God’s righteousness and mercy. The altar that David built, based on sacrifice and not just accepting a gift, is a monument of devotion to the God who hears and answers prayers. This monument is a significant memory of trusting in God alone and not our own way, and in doing so He responds. 

This episode has been written for us to learn from it. To learn so wewe can prevent such things happening to us as well to learn if and when such things happen to us. We can avoid wrongdoing if we remain humble and completely trust in God. Yet even when we don’t, God does not cut us off and as we are sensitive to Him, so He will make a way of restoration for us by His mercy. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden