Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Fear of God, part 4

So what does the fear of God have to do with the journey from bitter to sweet? More than what most people know.

David dealt with this issue and wrote about it in Psalm 73.
In verses 2 & 3 he confessed:

~"But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped. For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked."

He then went on to talk about how the wicked get away with stuff with apparently no repercussions.
Often this is how an abused person feels. Their abuser carries on abuse with no one stepping in to stop them. Not the church. Not God. Not anyone.

The abused who have feared God and tried to do what God wanted in the face of abuse may feel the way David felt when he said in verses 13 &14:

~"Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency. For all day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning."

David could not understand how things could work the way they did. He said in verse 16:

~"When I thought to know (understand) this, it was too painful for me:"

Yet in verses 17-20 he turned to God and things were made clear.

~"Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end. Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction. How they are brought into desolation, as in a moment! they are utterly consumed with terrors. As a dream when one awaketh; so, O Lord, when thou awaketh; thou shalt despise their image."

So, here I have scriptural verification for the experiences I explained in part 2 and part 3 of these Fear of God posts.
David, 1000s of years ago, Betsy, several decades ago, and little ol' me received revelations on the precarious position of the wicked. These were revelations we needed because the situations we witnessed appeared to be unjust. But God, in His mercy and concern for us, made known to us, not to envy the wicked. They have put themselves in a bad place, no matter how it looks.

Here's what all this has to do with bitterness. In verses 21-24 David looks back on the bitterness he felt watching the wicked prosper:

~"Thus my heart was grieved, and I was pricked in my reins. [NAS translated it this way--When my heart was embittered, And I was pierced from within], So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before Thee. Nevertheless I am continually with Thee: Thou hast holden me by my right hand. Thou shalt guide me with Thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory."

This is such a wonderful promise to those who are bitter. God doesn't let go. Even when we are foolish and senseless like an animal in our bitterness, He still holds us by the hand and guides us by His counsel out of the place of bitterness and into the place of glory.

One of the first steps out of bitterness is to understand that the unrepentant wickedness of another will not go unpunished. They must either repent or face the music.

When we get this. When we see that God is just, it is much easier to release the wicked into God's hand and believe that vengeance really does belong to the Lord. We do not have to hold onto bitterness. We can trust the Lord to do what is right.

And hopefully we can take the next step and start praying for the wicked that they will escape judgement by repenting with tears.
It's hard to pray for our oppressors when we are bitter. Our prayers will be more pure and God-like if we can pray from the place of glory God has for us.

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