God shall arise, his enemies shall be scattered;
and those who hate him shall flee before him!
As smoke is driven away, so you shall drive them away;
as wax melts before fire,
so the wicked shall perish before God!
But the righteous shall be glad;
they shall exult before God;
they shall be jubilant with joy!
Sing to God, sing praises to his name;
lift up a song to him who rides through the deserts;
his name is the Lord;
exult before him!
Father of the fatherless and protector of widows
is God in his holy habitation.
God settles the solitary in a home;
he leads out the prisoners to prosperity,
but the rebellious dwell in a parched land.
O God, when you went out before your people,
when you marched through the wilderness, Selah
the earth quaked, the heavens poured down rain,
before God, the One of Sinai,
before God, the God of Israel.
Rain in abundance, O God, you shed abroad;
you restored your inheritance as it languished;
your flock found a dwelling in it;
in your goodness, O God, you provided for the needy.
In the Good and In the Bad
Most days, we just want to show the world our best: our success stories, our perfect pictures, our straight A’s, our joy-filled lives.
Those things are good! It feels good to celebrate. It is awesome to praise God for His goodness in our lives.
But if we stop there, and we only talk about the successes we have, we do two things: we are not being fully real (with ourselves or with others). Perhaps even more than that, we are not believing in a Real. Present. God.
Our Real. Present. God. is God in the good and in the bad, in the best and in the worst, in the abundance and in the scarcity, in the happy and in the sad.
In Psalm 68, we hear a beautiful song of praise to God. We hear of His power, His justice, and His provision. However, let’s not be too quick to move past the human experience in this psalm, because there it becomes Real–our God shows His reality in the midst of the struggles of humanity.
Do you see the real people in this psalm? The children without fathers, the women whose husbands have died, the ones who are lonely, the ones who have been in prison, the people who are languishing, the ones best described as needy, even the enemies who are totally against God–these are the real people this song talks about. These people all have stories that are far from “success” as the world defines it. Nothing on this list would likely be posted on Instagram. But here it is, posted in this psalm. Why?
It is posted to display the grace of our Real. Present. God.
Yes, there are stories of struggle and stories of failure behind the lines of this psalm, but the resounding theme is not the failure of people, but of the grace of God to deliver even in the midst of failure.
When enemies are unjust, God’s grace delivers.
When the lonely are without family, God’s grace delivers.
When the parched are needy, God’s grace delivers.
Because of Jesus’ life, lived long after this psalm and long before our lives, we know the delivering work of God, too. When the sinners of this world were without hope, God’s grace delivered (John 3:16). Perhaps our song could go something like this:
When I was lonely for a true friend, Jesus spoke to the inner parts of my heart.
When I was doubting the truth of God, Jesus showed Himself to be real.
When I was stuck in an unhealthy habit, Jesus gave me a way out.
When I worshiped the things of this world, Jesus showed me that He alone is worthy of my worship.
When I had nowhere to turn, Jesus turned my face towards His.
In the real stories of our lives, let us point to the real goodness and grace of our Real. Present. God.
- What is a story of struggle and failure from this past year?
- How did the grace of God meet you in the midst of it?
Jesus, thank You for meeting me in my successes and in my failures. Help me point others to Your goodness when I see You at work in my life.