I’ve decided that you can learn a lot if you’re willing to pay attention to detail. Especially in the Bible. Recently, I read through Psalm 40. It’s an amazing Psalm, but I noticed something this time that I’d never noticed before. There’s an order in how it is written. Specifically throughout verses 6-13, as we see David’s heart poured out before God.
“Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt-offering and sin-offering hast thou not required. Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God; yea, thy law is within my heart.” (Psalms 40:6-8)
Surrender: It is almost impossible for God to do anything with someone who isn’t surrendered to do His will. David knew this. God didn’t want Sacrifice and burn-offerings. He didn’t even want sin-offerings. He wanted complete surrender. God is not a tyrant. He won’t force Himself upon you. Does He allow things in our lives to get our attention? Absolutely. He lovingly draws all men. But forced love is not love at all. Forced obedience is not service, but slavery. The surrender of our wills to His lordship is not something He demands…but something He asks. It is given. And when we get real with God, when we humble ourselves, when we repent before Him, when we realize just who we are and who He is, we can say like David, “Lo, I come…and…”I delight to thy will“.
After the first nuclear bombing on Japan, near the end of World War II, Japan sought for “conditional surrender”. However, these terms were not accepted and the United States of America insisted upon “unconditional surrender” or further destruction. This was proven by the 2nd nuclear bomb that hit Japan, for which afterward, Japan unconditionally surrendered. I think sometimes this is like us with God. The Bible says that we cannot serve two masters. But we try to. We come to God with “conditional surrender”. (Lord, I surrender, but _________.) But conditions with surrender are not acceptable terms to God. He desires “unconditional surrender”.
Obedience: To say that we are surrendered to God, and yet, we do nothing that He says… means, in fact, we truly aren’t surrendered to God. We are most certainly lying. We may not know that we are lying…but in truth, we are. The book of James makes this very clear. We may very well be self-deceived. This is why it is important to ask God to search our hearts continually.
And after David came in surrender to Christ, after he told the Lord that he delighted to his will… God took him up on it. And what do we see?
“I have preached righteousness in the great congregation: lo, I have not refrained my lips, O LORD, thou knowest. I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation.” (Psalm 40:9-10)
I am amazed by the things David declares in these verses. He preached righteousness. (As woman, we aren’t given the liberty to “preach” exactly, but proclaiming righteousness isn’t necessarily just seen through what we might consider “traditional preaching”, but also through our actions and daily lives.) David refrained not his lips. He spoke out. He witnessed. He was bold in proclaiming truth. He declared the faithfulness of God. He declared the salvation of God. He concealed not the Lord’s lovingkindness. In other words, he loved people. David also said that he had not “hid the Lord’s righteousness within [his] heart.” He extended it to others. This really stood out to me. A lot of Christians today are content to keep God for themselves. They “hide Him”, if you would, within their own comfort-ability and houses. But not David. And this is all said of the person God said before, was a “man after his own heart“. This is all said, right after David surrendered to do the Lord’s will.
“Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O LORD: let thy lovingkindness and thy truth continually preserve me. For innumerable evils have compassed me about: mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of mine head: therefore my heart faileth me. Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me: O LORD, make haste to help me.” (Psalm 40:11-13)
When you submit yourself to God. When you set out to do His will. When you are serious about righteousness. When you set out to actively obey Him. Be sure of it. You WILL be attacked. Sometimes, it takes us by surprise…but it shouldn’t. Satan is a deceitful and ruthless enemy. He sets out to destroy. He isn’t interested in playing games. He isn’t okay with you being a light in darkness. He isn’t happy about sincere and real Christianity. But, this shouldn’t stop us. We shouldn’t allow it to discourage us! God is so much greater!
I’ve never experienced more spiritual attack in my whole life than I have this past year. It is a very REAL thing and it can take many different forms. David describes some of them here in these verses. Innumerable evils. Iniquities (sins), to the point that he isn’t even able to look up to God. This one is the most subtle and shocking when it comes. Also known as, condemnation. I’ve seen over and over again, when you step out in obedience to serve God, your past sin creeps in to haunt you, to condemn you, to discourage you. Sometimes, it is just seeing your flesh for what it truly is (wretched) …and allowing it to make you feel worthless and hopeless and unable to be of any use to God. This isn’t the spirit of Christ. God already KNEW who you were before you suddenly became aware of it yourself. Your sin isn’t shocking to Him. He knew. He knows. But sometimes it is shocking to us. Maybe because we are self-deceived into thinking that we really weren’t as bad as the Bible made us out to be. But your sin isn’t the biggest problem to God. He already paid for it on the cross of Calvary. He has already forgiven you, if you accept that forgiveness. But Satan loves to back us into a corner that cripples us to any action. He wants you to give up. He wants you to feel worthless. He wants to, as he subtly did to Eve, get us to doubt that God really loves us and has the best in store for us. Satan, in any way he can, wants to distract you from looking towards God. If he can simply get you to take your eyes off Christ and place them on yourself…he’s won a victory. Because it’s when we look at ourselves, we either become proud or discouraged and are therefore hindered in our work for God. David knew what it was to have your heart fail you. And it came after he set out in obedience to God. Don’t be surprised when the enemy sneaks in to attack you in any way he can. Instead, be ready. Seek God. Through submission and resistance, he will flee. David said, “make haste to help me“. If we are on God’s side…than it stands true that He is on our side too.
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;“ (Psalm 46:1 and 2)
I’m learning to be encouraged, instead of discouraged, when attack comes beating down. Because, it means God is doing something. That Satan has a reason to be afraid. And God certainly won’t leave you alone. He wants you to submit to His good will. He wants to use you for His kingdom, more than you know.