Monday, 10 August 2009

Hope in the Psalms

The Psalms are full of the hope to be found in Yahweh, our Lord God:

a) From our very birth, our hope is in Him: “For you have been my hope, O Sovereign Lord, my confidence since my youth. From my birth I have relied on you; you brought me forth from my mother’s womb. I will ever praise you.” (Ps 71:5-6). From our birth onwards, we are completely helpless and dependent upon the One who gives us life, who sustains our life, who determines the very days of our life.

b) That same Psalm states the believer’s hope for our whole life: “But as for me, I shall always have hope; I will praise you more and more. My mouth will tell of your righteousness, of your salvation all day long.” (Ps 71:14-15). Our experience of the provision of the Lord throughout our lives and our hope for the future should lead us to speak of who He is and what He has done.

c) Psalm 119 states that our hope is in the word of the Lord:
"May those who fear you rejoice when they see me, for I have put my hope in your word(v74)
My soul faints with longing for your salvation, but I have put my hope in your word (v81)
You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word (v114)
I rise before dawn and cry for help; I have put my hope in your word” (v147)

This is fulfilled specifically in the life of the Christian, for we have indeed put our hope in the Word of the Lord, Jesus Christ Himself. When we meet with other believers, there should be a common rejoicing in that we all share a common hope in Christ. We long for salvation - this is accomplished by Christ. He is our refuge and our shield. We should acknowledge our dependence on Him by calling out to Him in prayer each day.

d) Promises are made to those whose hope is in Yahweh:
i) Yahweh Himself looks on those who hope in Him:
“But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him,
on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,
to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine.
We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and shield.
In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.
May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you”.
(Ps 33:18-22). The hope here concerns this present world, and the ability of the Lord to provide for His people. As Jesus reminds us in the New Testament, we should not worry about we will eat and drink, or what we will wear, instead we should "seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well" (Matthew 6:33). Another important principle is also taught, that of waiting in hope for the Lord – He will be faithful, we need to trust in Him for His timing, and not turn elsewhere in impatience.

ii) Those who hope in Yahweh are blessed:
“Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God,
The Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them –
The Lord, who remains faithful for ever.”
(Ps 146:5-6). We can hope in the Lord, because we know He is utterly faithful to His word and His promises. What more blessed state can there be?

iii) Yahweh delights in those who hope in him:
“The Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love” (Ps 147:11). It is not a contradiction here to both fear God, and yet hope in Him. Our fear of God, our knowledge of who He is, is the very reason we can hope in Him. For the Christian, the truth that before a Holy Awesome God we are wretched sinners, helpless and in need of a saviour gives our hope much more strength because we know it does not depend upon us and our righteousness, but only upon the righteousness that comes from God, which is therefore certain and sure.

e) Yahweh is our only source of hope: “Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; My hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I shall not be shaken. My salvation and my honour depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.” (Ps 62:5-8). What solid ground is provided for our hope here! With this mighty rock to depend upon, surely our hope will not be shaken. With this mighty rock to depend upon, what folly it is to try to put our hope in anything else.

f) We can exhort ourselves to hope in God: “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God.” (Ps 42:5). Many times we can get caught up in the worries of this life, and become downhearted. If we can only remind ourselves at these times of all the hope stored up for us in Christ Jesus, we will be in a much stronger position to endure these troubles for we know we are awaiting an eternity with Him.

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