The majority have been a part of this cycle. For example, a good coach prepares his team to win before a game. Through numerous devices the coach convinces the team that they can and will win. The team is full of confidence before the contest beginsthey are convinced they cannot lose! After the contest begins, the game becomes a genuine struggle as key players sustain injuries. Suddenly, everyone collectively realizes, The other team is as determined to win as we are! Winning will not be as simple as we thought! Then, only a confident faith that is mixed with the reality of the situation can win! Victory does not ignore reality, but confronts reality with a confident determination!
The Psalm began with a declaration of total confidence in God. The declaration was neither insincere nor just a bragging statement. The statement was not improper or thoughtlessly made. Perhaps it was more a declaration of unstressed confidence then a declaration of insincerity. The psalmist made the statement in a realization of Gods adequacy in every circumstance. (The problem never lies in Gods adequacy, but in our ability to trust Gods adequacy.)
He said that because of the Lord he did not need to be afraid of anyone. (True!) God was his light. In a world with feeble (at best) artificial lighting, he did not need to fear the darknessGod could see in darkness as well as sunlight. God could save him from any form of danger! He had no need to dread anything! The worst of enemies could attack, and God was more than equal to the challenge. God was bigger than numbers! Because of God, he had the right to be confident even if war broke out against him.
Everything he said about God was true! He had every right to feel confident in God! It was true that God (a) could preserve him and (b) could be superior to any adverse situation.
As an example, it is one thing to be motivated as a righteous person in a congregation of likeminded people when everyone is focused on the adequacy of God. It is quite another to maintain that focus and motivation when you are all alone in an evangelistic situation where no one understands you and most people regard you to be an enemy.
In verse 4 he was totally focused on Gods adequacy. The one thing that mattered the most to him was maintaining and sustaining relationship with God. He wanted to be close to the temple and be impressed with God. If the situation became truly dire, God would conceal and hide him. God would place him above his enemies in a secure circumstance where he could not be attacked. In the face of frustrated enemies, he would delight in offering sacrifices to God and singing praises to God.
Then the situation demanded his struggle. Perhaps things were not going as he previously anticipated. Now he had to face himself. The issue was no longer Gods adequacy, but his adequacy. In the reality of struggle, he became acutely aware that the problem in the struggle confronting him lay with his sinfulness, not with Gods adequacy. God was adequate; he knew God was adequate; but did he have the strength to place his confidence in Gods adequacy? How was his sinfulness affecting his ability to put his confidence in Gods adequacy?
Note that the problem IS NOT the adequacy of God, but IS his inadequacy. His confidence in his ability to trust Gods adequacy was falling fast. He was pleading with God to listen to him and answer. He was as determined as ever to seek Gods face, but now he feared God would hide His face. Now he feared his sinfulness so offended God that God would respond in anger or abandonment.
His feelings confused him. How can he think of his Helper and the One who rescued him in terms of anger or abandonment? Even if his parents deserted him (unthinkable), God would not! Suddenly the one who was so confident in God understood he needed for God to teach him Gods ways. Knowing Gods ways would be the difference between falling to his enemies and surviving the attack.
As all looked dark and gloomy, he realized God was and had been active, giving him help all the time. Had it not been for Gods goodness, he would have been consumed by his despair. The need was for patience. Only if he waited for the Lord would he discover strength and courage.
In the beginning of the Psalm, God was the light that saved. God was the light, but he had to look for the light instead of staring at the darkness.
Perhaps the question for us is this: Do we look for the light, or do we stare at the darkness?
For Thought and Discussion
1. What cycle did the Psalm use? Illustrate the cycle.
2. How did the Psalm begin? Explain unstressed confidence.
3. What did he say about God? Discuss the truth of his attitude toward God.
4. Verse 4 was totally focused on what?
5. What was most important to him?
6. Discuss the fact that the situation demanded his struggle.
7. The problem was not what? The problem was what?
8. Why did his feelings confuse him?
9. What did he realize?
10. Perhaps the question for us is what?
Link to Teacher's Guide Lesson 11
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