Up Against the Wall
When there is a clear, safe path in front of me, I trust the Lord and sing his praise. When my back is against the wall, my enemies are gaining ground and it looks like there is no way ahead, I easily slip into doubt, fear, and murmuring against the Lord.
The writer of Psalm 106 has faced the Babylonian Captivity, one of Israel’s most devastating calamities. He realizes that soon the Lord will allow his people to return from Babylon, and he wants to be sure that he doesn’t miss the celebration. So he reminds himself and his readers about the lessons they should have learned from Israel’s past. He begins with the most powerful deliverance in the Old Testament – the Exodus and the dry path through the Sea. We can read the story in Exodus 12-15.
After the Passover and their expulsion from Egypt, God didn’t allow His people to take the direct route along the coast to Canaan. Instead He made them turn right out into the desert, led them to the water’s edge, and then stiffened Pharaoh’s heart so that he harnessed his chariots and pursued his former slaves. He believed they were trapped. He would quickly gather them up and bring them back to Egypt in chains. The irony of the story is that the Israelites agreed with him. Terrified, they let Moses have it, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die?” (Exodus 14:11) The Psalmist reminds us of this act of rebellion in Psalm 106:7.
“When our fathers were in Egypt, they did not consider your powerful acts (the plagues that set them free). They did not remember your faithful love. Instead they contentiously rebelled against you by the sea, the Red Sea.”
The Lord didn’t answer their request to return to Egypt. Instead His mighty wind parted the waters, dried up the moisture, and from 2:00-6:00 AM allowed his people to escape to safety. Then he drowned those who hated them under tons of water. The Israelites then believed him and danced his praise.
Lord, when I’m standing safe on the other side, it’s easy to trust and praise. It’s much tougher when I can’t see the way ahead. This week, help me not to doubt, fear, and rebel. Help me to believe and confidently anticipate the paths you will open up.
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