Thursday, December 2, 2010

Longing for Light

LORD, lift up the light of Your countenance upon us. (Psalm 4:6)
David cries out to God.
He is in distress.
Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness!
You have relieved me in my distress;
Have mercy on me, and hear my prayer.
(Psalm 4:1)
God has brought him relief before in times of distress. Now he needs divine relief again. “Hear me … have mercy on me … hear my prayer,” he petitions. Here is what troubles him now:
How long, O you sons of men,
Will you turn my glory to shame?
How long will you love worthlessness
And seek falsehood? (v. 2)
David is beset by people who take everything that is good and turn it into shame, who love and attribute value to what is worthless and honor what is false. “How long?” he asks. Here, he addresses his opponents directly. Elsewhere in the Psalms, though, he directs the question to God. “How long, O LORD?” (Psalm 6:3; 13:1-2; 35:17; 74:10; 89:46; 94:3-4).

Not to make a pun here, but David is longing. That is one of the things that captures me in this psalm during this Advent season. Advent is not only a time of waiting and preparing, it is a season of yearning. Yet, though David longs, he is not in despair. Though he yearns, he is not without hope. Indeed, he is drawn by the expectation that God will free him from his afflictions once again. “The LORD will hear when I call to Him” (v. 3) is his confidence.

David is not the only going through this, his people are experiencing the same troubles. “Who will show us any good?” they ask (v. 6). David gives the answer in the second half of the verse as he turns their question into prayer: “LORD, lift up the light of Your countenance upon us.”

This is the other thing that captures my Advent imagination: Light. The light that comes from God. Though the darkness seems to be closing in all around, David knows who the source of light is: Yahweh, the God with whom David and his people are in covenant.
You have put gladness in my heart,
More than in the season that their grain and wine increased.
I will both lie down in peace, and sleep;
For You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety. (vv. 7-8)
David began in distress but now he is glad, lighthearted. He has turned it over to God and is longing toward the Lord, longing for the light of God. The answer has not yet turned up but he knows that it will. He rests in the peace, the shalom, the wholeness that comes from God. His trust is in Yahweh, who alone settles him in safety.

Longing and light. As we sit in the Advent shadows, surrounded by many distressing things that threaten our world, we watch, we wait, we yearn for the light that comes from the Lord alone. Only He can make us dwell in safety — and He will.



Let Earth Receive Her King
Let Earth Receive Her King
Advent, Christmas and the Kingdom of God
by Jeff Doles

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Available in paperback and Kindle (Amazon), epub (Google and iTunes) and PDF.