Today’s Text of Encouragement:
“O (your name here); hope in the Lord! For with the Lord there is mercy and loving-kindness, and with Him is plenteous redemption. And He will redeem (your name here) from all their iniquities.”
Psalm 130: 7, 8
Today’s Study Text:
“Then King David answered and said, ‘Call Bathsheba.’ And she came into the king’s presence, and stood before the king. And the king sware, and said, ‘As the Lord liveth, that hath redeemed my soul out of all distress, even as I sware unto thee by the Lord God of Israel, saying, ‘Assuredly Solomon thy son shall reign after me, and he shall sit upon my throne in my stead;’ even so will I certainly do this day. Then Bathsheba bowed with her face to the earth, and did reverence to the king, and said, ‘Let my lord King David live for ever.’”
1 Kings 1: 28-31
King James Version
“A humble knowledge of yourself is a surer way to God than a deep search after learning.”
Thomas á Kempis
If I were to examine myself, like David, would I recognize the fact that I am incapable of redeeming myself?
At the end of his life, how had David seen God transform him into a “man after God’s heart?”
“What can we gain by sailing to the moon if we are not able to cross the abyss that separates us from ourselves? This is the most important of all voyages of discovery, and without it, all the rest are not only useless, but disastrous.”
“Most of us do not like to look inside ourselves for the same reason we don’t like to open a letter that has bad news.”
Fulton J. Sheen
Psalm 130, in the Bible, is referred to as a “Song of Ascents.” I wanted to get a clearer meaning of what this actually meant so I checked out Webster’s Dictionary where I found this enlightening definition of the word, “ascent”: “The act or process of ascending. And advancement. An upward slope or incline.” I appreciate what the King James Version of the Bible calls Psalm 130, “A Song of Degrees.” As I read this beautiful chapter in the Bible, it became clear as to why this Psalm is called an “ascent.”
Here’s how this touching passage reads in the Amplified Bible:
“Out of the depths have I cried to You, O Lord.
Lord, hear my voice; let Your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications.
If You, Lord, should keep account of and treat us according to our sins, O Lord, who could stand?
But there is forgiveness with You (just what we need), that You may be reverently feared and worshiped.
I wait for the Lord, I expectantly wait, and in His word do I hope. I am looking and waiting for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, I say, more than watchmen for the morning.
O (your name here), hope in the Lord!
For with the Lord there is mercy and loving-kindness, and with Him is plenteous redemption. And He will redeem, (your name here), from all her (or his) iniquities.”
This passage contains simply fantastic news for all of us. In Verse one we find David writes about being down in the depths, in a pit of despair. I liken the beginning of this Psalm to a deep, dark, cold, dank well. Down in the bottom, David, his voice echoing on the rock walls screams out, “Hey, Lord, can You hear me in this hole? Are Your ears picking up my voice?
Have you ever felt in this condition? You were so desperate, you felt no one heard you, least of all God way up in heaven? And just maybe, as verse three conveys, you also feel that if God really looked down deep inside you, your failings couldn’t stand up to His scrutiny.
If anyone had a reason to feel that God’s eye had penetrated the ugly and dirty parts of his life, it surely would be David or me, or maybe you, for we have all fallen short of God’s glory. We’ve all hit bottom once or twice or possibly more.
But in verse four, something dramatic happens in Psalm 130. The “ascent” begins.
Now when I hear the word “ascent,” I think back to a grand old house in Pasadena, California, that housed one of the clients at our company. When you entered the beautifully carved front doors, you almost gasped, for the moment a person walked over the threshold, they were met by a huge marble staircase that curved around the entrance walls and led to the second floor. Believe me, the carved marble steps were worthy of any of the most magnificent mansions in the world. Every time I walked up those stairs, I felt like a regal queen.
Well, guess what, Psalm 130 likens our “ascent” from a pit of despair to the walk up the stairs toward our Father’s glory, beginning in Psalm 130: 4 with His forgiveness. Then as the King James Bible tells us, in “degrees” we progress even higher, one step at a time. Once we experience forgiveness, which is so gracious and undeserved, we climb higher and as we get a glimpse of the light of our Father’s love, we are in reverent awe of our Father. It is this awe which inspires the next progression in our climbing higher for next we come to worship our Father.
But there’s more as Psalm 130: 5 takes us even higher up in our “ascent.” When we recognize how awesome our God is and how worthy to be worshipped He is, this builds our faith and trust in Him and we not only wait for His guidance, but the next step takes us to a life of expectancy where we are able to rise higher to a place of continual hope in our Father’s blessings.
But Psalm 130: 6 really is the topper in more than one way. In this text we find that we are looking and waiting for the Lord like watchmen. In order to get a more complete comprehension of what a watchmen did and how they did their work, I did a little research and found that in ancient times, especially in agricultural societies, large watchtowers were placed overlooking the fields, as well as nearby villages. Watchmen also mounted the city walls in times of stress so they could monitor anyone approaching the city. If a threat appeared, an alarm was sounded which alerted the dwellers and forces in the city
Obviously, the vantage point that watchmen ascended had to be at the highest point possible. As to underscore this fact, in Psalm 130: 6, the phrase, “more than watchmen for the morning,” is repeated twice! Once wasn’t good enough for David. He wanted to highlight the fact that as he climbed higher and higher toward his Father, the ascent by degrees took him to a pinnacle where the view was spectacular. How do we know this? From our text today in 1 Kings 1: 28-31 where at the very end of his life, David declared with a sure, clear voice, “As the Lord liveth who redeemed my soul out of all distress” (1 Kings 1: 29). From the pit to the palace and then on higher to the pinnacle – into the arms of His forgiving Father’s love, David – the changed man declared to Bathsheba, whose own life had been turned upside down by David’s fall, that step-by-step God had changed him. Make no mistake, David’s self-knowledge of his fall into a pit led him to declare that not one ounce of credit for his transformed life was his. Not at all. Instead, he gave God every bit of praise because He was the “One” who redeemed David.
No wonder David gave God all the honor and in response Bathsheba showed reverence and bowed. In the presence of their Father’s love, these two flawed individuals, parents of Solomon, awaited the ascent of their own child to the throne of Israel where he was chosen by God to build a Temple which was filled with the glory of their Father, who had done so much to restore them from a pit of despair and lift them to the light of the rising morning sun!
I love these beautiful words penned by Christina Rossetti in her poem “Uphill”:
“Does the road wind uphill all the way?
Yes, to the very end.
Will the day’s journey take the whole long day?
From morn to night, my friend.”
The story of God’s love in the lives of David and Bathsheba is one that encourages us to keep climbing higher, step-by-step, degree-by-degree. Oh yes, the way may be steep, and at times our walk may be slow, but don’t worry. At the end, the “ascent” will be worth it when you catch the first glimpse of the morning light and the “Son of Righteousness,” our Redeemer.
Our affirmation today is a poem written by Phineas Fletcher, an English poet who lived from 1582-1650 and became a chaplain to Henry Willoughby, who presented him in 1621 at the rectory of Hilgay in Norfolk.
The Divine Lover
“Me, Lord? Canst thou mispend
One word, misplace one look on me?
Call’st me thy Love, thy Friend?
Can this poor soul the object be
Of these love-glances, those life-kindling eyes?
What? I the centre of thy arms’ embraces?
Of all thy labour I the prize?
Love never mocks, truth never lies.
Oh how I quake: hope fear, fear hope displaces:
I would, but cannot hope: such wondrous love amazes.
See, I am black as night,
See, I am darkness: dark as hell.
Lord, thou more fair than light;
Heaven’s sun thy shadow: suns can dwell
With shades? ‘twixt light and darkness what commerce?
True: thou art darkness, I thy Light: my ray
Thy mists and hellish fogs shall pierce.
With me, black soul, with me converse;
I make the foul December flowery May.
Turn thou thy night to me; I’ll turn thy night to day.
See, Lord, see I am dead:
Tombed in myself: myself my grave.
A drudge: so born, so bred:
Myself even to myself a slave.
Thou freedom, life: can life and liberty
Love bondage, death? Thy freedom I: I tied
To loose thy bonds: be bound to me:
My yoke shall ease, my bonds shall free.
Dead soul, thy spring of life; my dying side:
There die with me to live: to live in thee I died.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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