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Posts from the President Vol 9

Since January I have taken to reading a psalm about three days each week, in addition to my normal Bible study. As a devotional exercise, this has been a wonderful experience. This morning I read Psalm 36. The delight of this exercise is that I actually pray these psalms. In 36:5 I read words that have been placed into a worship song, “Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens; Your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains.” If you read this verse alone it is a wonderful expression of praise. But the verse is in a context. The context has to do with wicked, unrighteous enemies. So how do we pray the whole psalm and not just the nice verses?

In the historical context of the psalms, the enemies were first of all other people who opposed God, the psalmist (often said to be David), and God’s people. I don’t have many, if any, real enemies. I don’t really want God to crush and destroy those who might oppose us. I want them to bend to our way of thinking and ultimately to be saved. So how do we pray the whole psalm?

I face opposition every day. Sometimes it comes in the form of people. Sometimes it is nagging depression or a feeling of dread. Sometimes it is the tyranny of time. At Christian educational institutions (and churches) our opposition is often financial. I have found it helpful to personify anything that opposes God’s work in general or at Providence. I have found that I can pray these psalms when what opposes my work is personified as an “enemy.” I can say to God, “This financial need cannot stand up to you, O God. Deliver me from it.” Then I can claim victory and praise God when money comes from unexpected places, like it did today.

The psalms are teaching me to focus on God and God’s might, not me or my own strength. They teach me the art of praise in the midst of difficulty. They teach me who God is.

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