Numerous authors wrote many different types of Psalms over long periods of time. So, it’s less like a “book” and more like a collection. And there are a lot of ways we could approach this collection of 150 different pieces. The Psalms deal with this idea in 3 ways:
a. Praise, thanksgiving, who God is, how God provided
a. We don’t pretend the world is other than it really is
b. Demands we don’t withhold anything from God
c. Requires a God who is present in the “dark times” of life
d. No matter how raw, always directed to God
a. Starts with dislocation/disorientation – lament, change (ever heard of the book Who Moved My Cheese?)
b. New place, new understanding
c. God brings about transformation
Often the Psalms will journey through some or all of these ideas in the same Psalm. And we can feel these at the beginning of a new year.
Knowing your TRUE location (your pinpoint position) is really important, even if it’s not a pretty picture. If we aren’t honest about our location, things will come apart.
When we figure out our location, whether with GPS, or just us, it’s always about other things. That’s how navigation works. But it’s what you do when you’re in a room or are finding your way around a new place. So first, you establish some reference points that you work from.
That’s why when it’s completely pitch black, you’re lost. Think of when you walk into a room in your house, and the lights are off. You know it well enough that you feel your way around, establish reference points, and go from there.
We see this in the Psalms.
At the beginning of a new year, it’s really important we know where we’re located as people. Not where we think we are, where we hope we are, or where other people have told us we are, but where we actually are.
Worship, this thing we do for a few songs every Sunday, but more importantly, do with our lives, is all about location.
1. We sing good things about God. That’s locating God. It’s defines who He is, what He’s capable of, what He stands for, and what He’s done. That’s a good start, but it’s not the whole picture.
2. We sing about how God affects us, how we feel, or what we’ll do in our lives. That’s a good start to locating us, but it’s not the whole picture.
More completely, worship is 3 things
This first part locates God.
Have you seen a winter sunset? It’s the most majestic thing you could imagine. Nature is one of the places we can go to see God clearly. The original text says, “above the heavens.” So think of the most majestic thing you can, and top it!
But then David goes to the opposite.
“Children and infants” are a picture of weakness. Yet, out of this weakness, simplicity, God builds a tower of strength.
That’s really good news for how some of our lives feel right now! It’s not about us powering up enough that God notices. It’s actually the opposite.
So, in light of all the vastness of the universe, the power, the bigness, why would God even NOTICE humanity?
But David isn’t asking IF God notices. He’s marveling that he’s MINDFUL. We are on God’s mind. He pays attention to us. You’re on His mind. He’s paying attention to you.
That’s a really uncomfortable idea for some of us.
It makes some of us want to hide. We don’t want God to see what we see in us. Some of us really struggle with this idea of God being anything but distant.
The English translation loses verse 4 a bit – it’s saying that God sees our humanity, our frailty, our weakness, and is drawn to it, and drawn to a relationship with us!
A Holy, perfect God who created endless stars, galaxies, planets, and all creatures and creation. We’ve caught His attention, and He moves in our direction – not to crush or condemn us, but because it catches His heart.
Remember how worship – a psalm like this – is about location. It’s locating God, locating us, and knowing how the distance is covered between us.
That’s what Jesus does.
It’s not that our shortcomings, our sins, are missed or ignored. On the contrary, they’re covered by the work of Jesus on the cross.
This is the place where we so often need to be relocated. To know where we truly are.
One of the problems with many preachers and worship songs is that they portray a view of us that we are slime and that God is really ticked off. That’s not what David is saying in this Psalm, and it’s not what we discover about God.
David is saying we’ve been given a place of honor. We’re NOT God, but we’re valuable. We’ve been crowned with glory and honor and given responsibility in the world. Worship isn’t just singing, it’s when we LIVE those realities out in the world.
So, what can we do?
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