Psalm 116:7 “Return O my soul, to your rest, for the LORD HAS DEALT BOUNTIFULLY with you.”
David had many times in his life when he could have easily been able to say, “The Lord has NOT dealt bountifully with me!” But, in Psalm 116:5-7 he is making the conscious choice to remember the goodness and greatness of God. And as he does, he recognizes that is where he will find rest.
David spoke of this rest often. It was the place he would go in his mind, in his thinking, where he would find refuge. (Ps 18:2) He talked about a place that he could go where he would be safe from his enemies, a rock, where they could not touch him (Ps 61:1-2). Except, for David, this was not a physical place. When he wrote the words of Psalm 61 I don’t think he was experiencing complete safety and freedom from his enemies physically. it was a place where he went in his thinking.
In Psalm 27:4 David declared his life pursuit. “This one thing I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.” David was pursuing the practice of living in the presence of God. This is, I believe, is the same concept that Jesus tells us to do in John 15:5; “Abide in Christ.” That is where we will find peace and rest. This is not necessarily rest from trials, or rest from the hardships of life, etc. No, this is a rest from anxiety and the endless pursuit to try and keep things under our control. This is a rest from worry. Abiding in Christ is choosing to dwell with my mind set on the truths of what God has said, and the presence of God.
It’s interesting that for Israel, as long as they were “abiding” in God’s presence, they found rest from their enemies. When they followed God, obeyed his laws, and pursued him, he gave them rest. But, after their time of rest, they often became apathetic, and walked away from him. They would not be “abiding.” They would be living for themselves. So, God would have to send trials by way of conquering enemies, to bring them back to their senses, and remind them they needed him. As soon as they would repent, and turn back to God, and start “abiding” again, they would find rest again!
I think the same is true with us. When we forget Him, sometimes He puts things in our lives to help us remember.. as he did with Israel. The topic of remembrance has come up several times over the last couple months. It’s amazing how many things God told Israel to put into their lives for the purpose of helping them to remember His Works, and His Words! Here’s a few things from my writings the last couple months:
- Numbers 15:39-40 They were to tie tassels on the hem of their clothes The tassels will help you remember that you must obey all my commands and be holy to your God
- Deut 4:34-40 “Has any god ever attempted to go and take a nation for himself from the midst of another nation… by great deeds of terror, all of which the Lord did for you in Egypt, BEFORE YOUR EYES. He did that for you, that you might know that the Lord is God, there is no other besides him. God’s elaborate delivery plan was to do something so outrageous that hopefully they would never forget it!
- Deut 6:5-9 and Deut 11:18-25 God commanded the people love God with all their heart. He wanted them so consumed with how much He loved them, and all He did for them, he command them to teach them to their children, and talk about them when they sat down, and as they walk along the way, and when they lie down to go to sleep at night, and the first thing they talk about when they get up in the morning. But, just in case they weren’t talking about it enough, he told them to post reminders everywhere their eyes would turn. They were to bind them as a sign on their hands, they were to write them on a head band that would hang as frontlets between their eyes. They they were to write on the doorposts of their house and on their gates!
- In Deut 16:1-15 we learn that the whole reason why God institute the feasts and the “holidays” for Israel were elaborate ceremonies all designed to remind them of the outrageous events that God had done in rescuing them and securing them to be His very own people.
While we haven’t experienced God’s outrageous physical deliverance out of Egypt like Israel did, God has delivered us from an even greater foe! He has delivered us from the power of sin and death! (Rom 6:5-11) It would behoove us to put some systems in place in our lives to help us remember how much he loves us, so that we are highly motivated to live attractive live that make those who witness our lives hungry for what we have in Christ.
- God’s love for me is so incredible, it should overwhelm my heart with gladness. If it doesn’t, it means I either don’t understand it, or I am not meditating on it enough to motivate my behavior.
- Abiding in Christ is living with my thinking focused on God’s love for me (Is 52:14-15). Abiding produces actions that imitate and reflect the one who has saved and delivered us. It’s a mindset, focused on and set on the lover of my soul.
- As I reflect on God’s love, his goodness, and his incredible forgiveness, and deliverance, it should produce an excitement to live for him.