The Psalmists' Search
Throughout the Psalms, we read beautiful poetry that uncovers truth about God and about our relationship to God. Some of these Psalms are written from places of gratitude and thankfulness. Others are written with the hope of God’s promises being fulfilled. And still yet more are written from places of hurt, crying out to God and seeking him in the midst of pain and loss.
And across these different genres of Psalms, the Psalmists all describe a yearning for God–a seeking after and searching for God. The Psalmists desire God’s presence and activity in their life.
Take a look at a few examples:
Psalm 25 (attributed to David) says, “Make your ways known to me, Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth–teach it to me–because you are the God who saves me. I put my hope in you all day long.”
Psalm 38: “Don’t leave me all alone, Lord! Please, my God, don’t be far from me! Come quickly and help me, my Lord, my salvation!”
Psalm 42: “Just like a deer that craves streams of water, my whole being craves you, God.”
Psalm 63: “My whole being clings to you; your strong hand upholds me.”
Psalm 116: “I love the Lord because he hears my requests for mercy. I’ll call out to him as long as I live because he listens closely to me.”
These few examples remind me of the ongoing search that each Psalmist has for God. Through it all, these Psalmists put their trust and faith in God. When God listens and feels close, the Psalmist praises God and calls out to God. When enemies are surrounding, the Psalmist cries out to God asking God to show up. When there is no hope, the Psalmist still seeks God. And when the tragedy has come and gone, and the Psalmist is trying to understand what life looks like on the other side of the valley of the shadow of death, still the Psalmist pleads for God’s presence.
Over the past several weeks, we have been in a church-wide discussion about the nature of love. What does divine love look like? How do we as followers of Jesus live in such a way to be known by love? What is the difference between love and tolerance; truth and acceptance?
Today, I would contend that as I read these Psalms, the yearning for God that we see these Psalmists share is vital to a life of love–especially Christian love. And not just a desire to love, but a desire to love as God loves.
Think about some of our New Testament friends, especially Paul. So much of what they write points toward this idea too, this yearning for God and a desire to love as God loves.
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 2:16, “We have the mind of Christ.”
In Philippians 2:5, “Adopt the attitude that was in Christ Jesus.”
In 2 Corinthians 5:17, “If anyone is in Christ, that person is part of the new creation. The old things have gone away, and look, new things have arrived!”
All throughout the New Testament, we begin to read of this new community of people who yearn for God in a wholly new way. But really the yearning for God is not new; it’s old. The expression of that yearning might be new, but the early church tapped into something that had been present among God’s people all along. They desired God, and to desire God means not only to want God but to be like God.
In so many ways, this is the story that is played out throughout all of Scripture, from creation all the way through the Bible. The question asked of Adam and Eve, and every generation since is, “What kind of person will you be?” Will you be the kind of person who honors and trusts God? Will you go your own way?
And as Scripture progresses, we see and read about a God who has unfailing love and forgiveness for a people who consistently choose to go their own way rather than choosing to live into what they were created to be and do.
And so, we get to the person of Jesus, and we finally see what it looks like to honor and trust God with our lives–to be and do what we were created to be and do. And so much of what we call that is love.
Love for God. Love for other created beings. Love for the creation itself. The kind of love that restores and brings goodness instead of division and destruction. The kind of love that heals instead of rending apart. The kind of love that the Psalmists are searching for; love that seeks for God’s presence in any and all situations in life.
And it starts with a yearning for God. Allow yourself to yearn for God this week. Your yearning need not be perfect, for God will draw you into an ever-increasing growing into the perfect love that we see in Jesus. We must start somewhere, and so start today by yearning for God in all things.