Monday, April 02, 2007
Scripture: Psalm 42:1-2a As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
There is an old saying that goes “Familiarity breeds contempt.” I would like to suggest that familiarity also breeds assumptions, and that the unfulfilled expectations that come from the assumptions is what cause the contempt.
Please don’t turn away from reading the rest of this. I know it’s a Monday morning and what I just presented may be too deep to consider this early in the week. But I think the Holy Spirit would like to teach us something about assumptions.
The 42nd Psalm is very familiar. In fact, when you read the first verse, you probably start singing the song in your mind.
“As the deer panteth for the water so my soul longeth after you.”
Our familiarity with this verse may have caused us to make an assumption about what it means, which in turn may lead us to resenting the unfulfilled expectations it seems to imply. You see, we probably think this verse describes the positive attitude of a person in right relationship with God. Preachers have challenged us to make this verse the description of our hunger for God. We have been set up to believe that unless we have this kind of passion and thirst for the Living God we are somehow failing. Well I think those assumptions are wrong…dead wrong.
The spiritual condition of the person writing this Psalm is not healthy. They are in a place of feeling isolated from God. In verse 2 they ask the question, “When shall I come and appear before God?” They are spending sleepless nights crying about the hurtful words of others who question the reality of their relationship with God (verse 3). The author looks back at the past why his relationship with God can’t what it once was. (verse 4) Then twice he describes himself as downcast and in turmoil. (verses 5 and 11) That doesn’t sound like the kind of spiritual attitude that should be set up as our standard of excellence.
Now, let me say that when we do get in those places of discouragement and despair, and we all do, our thirst for God is the only hope we have. We will talk more about that tomorrow when we look at Psalm 43, which continues in the same line of thinking as Psalm 42. But for today, it would be wise for us to consider how much of our discouragement is based on unfulfilled expectations because we have made false assumptions about what the Bible really says.
For example, we are probably very familiar with the verse from Psalm 118 that says, “This is the day that the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” In fact, I have that verse decaled on the wall of my house. However, our familiarity with it has led us to make an assumption that today, and every day, is the day the Lord has made. As a result, we have an expectation that we should be rejoicing about today and all of its activities and events. Then, when things go bad with today, and we get discouraged about the deteriorating circumstances of life, we feel like spiritual failures. All because we made a false assumption about a Bible verse.
Now, while other verses is Scripture tell us that when we walk by the Spirit of God in faith we can rejoice even in the middle of trying circumstances, the verse in Psalm 118:24 specifically refers to THE DAY – THE ONE DAY – when the stone the builders rejected was made the Chief Cornerstone: the day Jesus died on the cross for our sins. That ONE DAY is the day the Lord has made and the day in which we are to rejoice. Then, and only then, will we avoid the discouragement of daily trials because our focus is on the irreversible redemption of God paid for once-and-for-all by Jesus Christ.
So, the challenge is to truly study God’s Holy Word, and not let familiarity breed assumptions, which breed unrealistic expectations, which breed contempt. No matter how many times you’ve read a verse or heard teaching on it – study it like it’s the first time and let the Holy Spirit teach you its truth.