In keeping with our current theme, I wanted to post something on interpreting the Psalms today. That being said, I am scrambling to get up to the cottage, so I didn’t have time to write something new and thoughtful. But I came across this in my journal from a while ago, and it ‘just happened’ to be a meditation on one of the Psalms I’m reading today.
This is a model, but not an explanation, of one method that I’ve found helpful in interpreting and applying the Psalms to my heart. I pray through the Psalm using the ‘How Much More’ method.
The Psalms are reflections on living life before God under the law. They are offerings of praise and prayer to the God who has revealed himself in the Old Covenant. We, however, worship God in the New Covenant, so our worship–while it is still to the same God–is more informed, because God has been ultimately revealed in Christ. Our praise and prayer, then, must be a reflection of living life under the New Covenant.
The ‘How Much More’ method just finds a place where God has revealed an attribute of himself, or where the psalmist speaks of the deliverance or judgement of God, and says: ‘If this was true for them, how much more have we seen this in the New Covenant, now that Christ has come.’
What follows below is a journal entry. It’s a personal meditation from Psalm 34. Please only take it for what it’s worth. I highly recommend you read the Psalm before reading the prayer below.
The psalmist makes his boast in the Lord and admonishes the humble because he has been humbled. He was delivered by the Lord’s mercy through his humiliation. How could he be proud? How could he boast of delivering himself by his might, worth, or wisdom? Far be it from me to boast of my salvation and my deliverance when I was humbled far beyond him.
David declares that he sought the Lord in his fears–and not without tears–and that God heard him and saved him from all his troubles. What were David’s troubles but earthly concerns and cares for his life? My God, these are dire, but what of my soul? If David should cry and seek with tears, then how much more should I? David was afraid of those who could kill the body, but I am numb to the fear of him who could destroy body and soul.
David found God’s deliverance super-abundant. The Angel of the Lord encamped and delivered him from his greatest needs. Therefore, he admonishes me today to taste and see. What can he mean by this except that I should call on the Lord in my fears and tears, even as he had done? He is confident of this: having tasted, none will be disappointed.
How true have I found this? Millions have called on the Lord in their distress and not been disappointed. The Angel of the Lord–Jesus Christ, God himself–encamps around me, delivering not just my body, but my soul from its greatest enemies: sin and death.
And now, Lord, I pray that in my current need, I would still find that as I taste, I find you good. My God, in your grace, be my delight, be my joy, be my soul’s rest. For you alone are Delight, Joy, and Sabbath. I know this because I have tasted.
To what shall I compare this heart of mine which restlessly seeks its joy? It is like a cup that must be filled by either air or liquid. As the filling of a cup with coffee expels the air, so my desire for you–when it fills my heart–expels every earthly desire. Likewise, if I fill my cup with air, it necessarily means there is no liquid present. My heart cannot be full of you and desires for this world, its toys, and its pleasures.
Or perhaps these things may be compared to a man’s appetite. Lord, I know that the only thing limiting my joy is my capacity for experiencing you. Just as a man at a buffet is limited only by the size of his stomach, so I find that my joy is only limited by my finite capacity for you who are Joy.
How can a man increase his joy in you? Only by experiencing you. As a man increases his appetite over time by eating, so my capacity for joy will only increase as I fill myself continually with you and your joy.
What a marvellous thought! I can taste and see, eat my fill, be completely satisfied in my eating, and all the while find that I am increasing my capacity for the joy I’ll find in you tomorrow. No wonder David says, ‘Taste and see..’.
The discipline of regularly finding my joy in God today is an investment. It secures a supply of joy for tomorrow. What a glorious God!
But then, how tragic to waste today…