Thursday, February 23, 2012

Yahweh, Who Lifts Up My Head

But You, O LORD … the One who lifts up my head. (Psalm 3:3)

David was in quite a spot. His enemies were multiplying quickly and now they were coming against him. “Not even God can help him,” was the word being spoken over him. David might have let that bow him down, humiliated and without hope. He might have spoken in agreement with what was being said about him. But he took the opposite direction. Instead of agreeing with the pronouncement of the enemy, David pushed deeper into his covenant relationship with God and declared, “But you, O LORD, are a shield for me, my glory and the One who lifts up my head.”

In Psalm 27, David finds himself in a similar situation. But his confidence is in the LORD. All he seeks, all he needs, all he wants, is to dwell in the house of Yahweh and gaze upon His beauty. His faith is such that he declares how this situation will end: “And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me” (Psalm 27:6).

Sometimes it is the shame of sin or unfaithfulness that bows our heads, as when Ezra fell on his knees and spread out his hands to God, saying, “Oh my God, I am too ashamed and humiliated to lift up my face to You, my God; for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has grown up to the heavens” (Ezra 9:6). Or when David prayed, in his penitence, “I am troubled, I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day” (Psalm 38:6).

Sometimes it is depression that brings one down, such as in Psalm 42 and 43, where the refrain throughout is, “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance” (Psalm 42:5).

But where there is victory, where there is deliverance, where there is forgiveness, where there is hope, there is looking up. David’s daily habit was to bring his prayer and praise before God every morning. “My voice you shall hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning I will direct it to You, and I will look up” (Psalm 5:3)

Psalm 110, a messianic psalm, portrays the divine King, refreshing Himself after battle and lifting His head up in victory: “He shall drink of the brook by the wayside; therefore He shall lift up the head” (Psalm 110:7). Jesus, God’s anointed King, has indeed won the victory for us, but it did not look like victory at the time because His head was crowned with thorns and bowed down.
Then the soldiers led Him away into the hall called Praetorium, and they called together the whole garrison. And they clothed Him with purple; and they twisted a crown of thorns, put it on His head, and began to salute Him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” Then they struck Him on the head with a reed and spat on Him; and bowing the knee, they worshiped Him. And when they had mocked Him, they took the purple off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him out to crucify Him. (Mark 15:16-19)

So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit. (John 19:30).
This did not look like victory on that terrible afternoon, but it was victory nonetheless because Jesus took on all the principalities and powers of the world and three days later was raised up by God from the dead. Now He is exalted at the right hand of the Father, far above every principality and power (Ephesians 1:19-21), and God has given Him the name that is above every name (Philippians 2:9). God has also raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenlies (Ephesians 2:4-6). His victory has become our victory — over sin, death, depression and all the powers that stood against us. Jesus’ head was bowed down that ours may be lifted up, and He is exalted that we may be exalted with Him and share in His glory.