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Singing Psalm 76 to calm your restless heart

restless ocean

Singing Psalm 76 to calm your restless heart about the future

“God is truly known in Judah;

   Great his name in Israel.“ ~ Psalm 76:1

What does God know about you and all things? All.

What do you know about God? You cherish those moments walking in nature and looking up as you hear the birds singing praises to God. You feel the cool breeze on your skin and you are captivated by the beauty all around you. For those few moments, you get a taste of what it might feel like when all is right with the world. Yet the Lord says we ain’t seen nothin’ yet!

But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”— 1 Corinthians 2:9 referring back to Isaiah 64:4 and 65:17

This frees your restless heart to enjoy whatever it is you have and get to do here and removes all envy and fear of missing out on whatever it is you don’t get to do here. The new heavens and the new earth will be such that you cannot even imagine the adventures and exploits you will be engaged in there. You don’t need a bucket list! 

What do you look forward to? If it has to do with loving somebody, you’re on the right track to knowing God. He helps you love that person even when they have something you want. How can you look forward to things yet not be devastated if what you are looking forward to doesn’t pan out as you envisioned?

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  ~ 1 John 4:4, 7

When you stand before a judge, you or someone pleads your case, but the judge has the final say. When you are in that position, you are at the judge’s mercy. How amazing and wonderful when that judge is compassionate and wise beyond searching, beyond measure. The earth is still before him in awe.

The Lord knows the amount of “hard” that each of us need. We often wish for it easier than it is, until we think about the fact that if it could be any other way than the way God ordained it, it would be worse since he hands-down knows best. Thankfully, we cannot mess up what he has foreordained to be. He helps you calm your restless heart about the future by surrendering the hard things to him.

It’s one thing to have someone rooting for you out there and wanting the best for you. It’s a completely different thing to have someone who’s been there, experiencing life with you, holding your hand, walking you through the dark and painful path providing comfort and encouragement that keeps you going until you reach your destination. And when you reach it, Jesus won’t leave you alone even then but will celebrate your journey since you were in his presence all along. He won’t miss one nuance of pain that led both of you to a menagerie of ceaseless blossoming joy as you recount each battle won behind the scenes that, looking on the surface, you seemed to have lost. What stories will be told of his hidden military exploits, how he faithfully fought for you against your unseen enemies, and how they glorified him against their own will!

Singing Psalm 76, what can you learn about how God is known? 

  • He’s known truly in Judah.

  • His name is great in Israel.

  • His tent is pitched in Salem.

  • His house stands on Zion’s hill.

  • He’s known as more glorious and majestic than the mountains filled with prey (or our modern food industries)

  • He’s known to plunder the brave and valiant (or the best troops of any military who oppose him)

  • He’s known to rebuke.

  • He is awe-inspiring in his might.

  • His anger has been kindled. 

  • No one can stand before his sight.

  • He speaks his verdict from heaven.

  • The earth is as if still in fear of him.

  • He saves all the earth’s afflicted.

  • He arises to do his will.

  • He’s girded with what’s left from wrath.

  • Human wrath will praise him.

  • He is to receive your promise and sincere vows.

  • He is worthy to have tribute brought to him.

  • He is to be revered.

  • He brings low the pride of princes.

  • The kings of earth fear him.

Does trusting God with what he has chosen to give you at this moment and the outcome of whatever you endeavor alter how you look forward at all, a little, or a lot?

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” ~ Matthew 6:34

Lord, please calm our restless hearts to trust that you love us perfectly. Help us to know you, that you are giving us precisely what we have that makes us so loved knowing that if we had any more or any less or if it was in any way different, you would not be loving us best. Make your people open channels that whatever you reveal to them from your word that comes from your mouth, whatever resonates with us, that you would open our mouths to feed on it, be satisfied from it, and humbly defend your word to us. Would you provide opportunities for us to disseminate to others of your people who can benefit from those particular revelations from your word, and also to benefit those whom you are calling, who are not yet your people but who will be? Would you please take our eyes off of what others have and get to do and divert them onto your plentiful, bountiful, never ending fountain of goodness that flows over us so that we can sense it if not outright see it by faith?

“You’re more glorious and majestic

    Than the mountains filled with prey.” ~ Psalm 76:4

Singing Psalm 76 to calm your restless heart about the present

“There He broke the flaming arrows,

    There war’s shield and sword made still. ~ Psalm 76:3

You would do anything to spare those you love from living through the difficult things you went through. You want to get out your toy sword to slay the mighty dragon. Yet you desire to listen for what God is doing in his providence and not get in the way. Every wall you build to keep the enemy out, the Lord fortifies. Every bridge you build to draw someone in so they know it’s safe to cross it over and that they belong, the Lord reinforces. On my own, the walls are easily toppled, the burning bridges rickety and unsafe. Ask the Lord for the discernment to distinguish and make a right judgment when any human bids you to go anywhere. Whether you refuse to go or confidently join him depends on you verifying from God’s word if he bids you from his own authority or from God‘s authority. If you want to build a house yet refuse to use tools that work but insist on using your bare hands or broken tools, the house will not be built. Reading God‘s word or singing the psalms with ambiguous callings in mind provide a perfect opportunity for you to sort through your thoughts and line them up next to God’s thoughts on the matter so that you build with quality on a solid foundation. Here is an ambiguous calling that invites you to mull it over and personalize how you take its challenge:

“Empower yourself by strengthening your ability to tolerate uncertainty and change. Instead of clinging to how you want things to be or how you think they are ‘supposed’ to be, learn how to be present, lean into what is, adapt, and overcome.” ~ Justin Su’a

Singing Psalm 76 convinces you to tuck your sword safely in its sheath in the toy box. You calm your restless heart when you hide under the wings of the warrior king whose anger and weapons are sure to prevail against his and your formidable foe. You lean into Jesus to find what is real, adapt your mind to that reality, and overcome false realities and expectations that weren’t promised. God is presently freeing your restless heart. You lean into the Lord your God and overcome the enemies within, entrusting him as you wait to defeat both those on the inside of you and the ones on the outside.

“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” ~ 1 John 4:4

“The one who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat with My Father on His throne.” ~ Revelation 3:21

“Saving all the earth’s afflicted,

    God arose to do his will.” ~ Psalm 76:9

It’s only when you begin to know how great God is that you start to get a grasp of how ordinary and small you are. Although you are weak and unexceptional, because he is great as well as compassionate, he stoops down to make you great. And after he does, you calm your restless heart when you thank him and give him the glory for it.

Imagine, God uses the very thing that the Israelites feared, the waters of the Red Sea, the very thing that they thought would destroy them, he uses that thing to save them from their enemies who sought to slaughter them. Instead, because these enemies didn’t believe there is a personal God who fights for his people, they thought the walls of the Red Sea would stay fixed for them to pass through for them to do their evil. Once they realized that the God of Israel fought for his people, it was too late. The walls of the Red Sea collapsed, swallowing up the threat of the enemies of God’s people, and they were seen no more. 

The Egyptians worshiped gods that the 10 plagues the true God sent rendered impotent. God proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that those gods are useless at best. Truly they are false realities, fantasies that people made up out of their own heads, false sources of hope, mere idols, untrue gods, and nonexistent. And so it therefore follows that they are, of course, unable to defend themselves never mind save anyone. It stands to reason that gods that don't exist ought not to be relied upon. Pharaoh’s foolish, stubborn lies and willful disobedience only served to highlight God’s strength and majesty to the praise of his glory. 

On the contrary, Jesus chose not to save himself in order to save every last one of his lost and straying sheep. Then he rose from the death they deserved so that they could follow him into resurrection life forever. He will not lose even one of them.

“Brave and valiant ones You plundered, 

    Now they slumber in the grave; 

Though they once were mighty warriors, 

    None can lift his hands to save. 

Horse and rider both lie sleeping, 

    Cast down into death’s dark night. 

You rebuked them, God, of Jacob —

    Awe inspiring in Your might!

Once Your anger has been kindled,

    Who can stand before Your sight?

With what’s left from wrath You’re girded;

    Human wrath will praise You still.“ ~ Psalm 76:5-7, 10

Whenever you see obstacles that you fear will undo you, look to God to use those very obstacles to bless you. Because I know he takes care of countless things that are beyond my ability to grasp, I know he is taking care of me and the people and circumstances that concern me. Though the devil does all he can to make us forget God's care, to fear one that great, that transcendent, and that merciful is to do all we can to please and obey him.

"When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, 'The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”” ~ Matthew 9:36-38

What does it look like for God to be truly known by his people? When his people move from restless, harassed, and helpless and not knowing whose voice to hone in on among the many voices out there, to all sounds muted except his gentle whisper that woos them still and restful in him.

And after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.” ~ 1 Kings 9:12

“You from heaven spoke Your verdict,

    And the earth in fear was still.” ~ Psalm 76:8

Singing Psalm 76 to calm your restless heart about the past

Consider Solomon in First Kings 10 and 11. Seeing all that God gave to him in wisdom, wealth, and wife, appeared to him twice, including a reputation as the greatest, and then seeing how he turned his restless heart away from God to build high places for foreign wives he subsequently acquired who made offerings and sacrificed to their gods, I am sickened and my thoughts turn personal. How have I been like that? How easily has my heart been lured to other things after all that the Lord has given to me? What useless idols have sought to steal my attention away from the true and living God who saves me?

As you ask him to protect your heart from turning from him, he gives you a sweet affection for him that chases away from your soul all suspicion and wrong thinking about God and how he might view your past. 

“A sweet affection to God is a powerful indication of success.” ~ Samuel Lee 

Whenever you seem to be in an unresolvable conflict, you can lay that conflict before him and calm your restless heart because you know that God sees. He helps you truly know him as he is and to know that everything that comes from him has resulted, results, or will result in good.

Solomon's life is a loud proclamation that having wisdom without the Spirit of Jesus will not sustain the heart.

Which is better to ask for? Give me wisdom? -or- Give me Jesus? Do you want wisdom caged or boxed? Or would you rather have wisdom walking with you everywhere you go in the flesh?

Come to Jesus for rest or remain restless. You will calm your restless heart in him alone.

“For when dreams increase and words grow many, there is vanity; but God is the one you must fear.” ~ Ecclesiastes 5:7

Who do you allow to influence you? How do you discern who you will trust? What criteria do you use to determine if someone’s words are worth paying attention to?

To know God’s ways from his word, to know his story and where he is taking his creation, you can line up what someone is saying or doing next to that and judge whether or not to be influenced. When your allegiance is to God, you make sure to be influenced by him and others when they point you to him. You seek to love others by pointing them to God directly and by seeking their welfare in any way possible. But only God has carte blanche influence over you. He knows your past and knows your frame. When others have strayed from God, you want to love and influence without being influenced where the direction of your life is concerned. They might mistrust you for that, but you calm your restless heart when you are clear about where you stand and by that show yourself to be trustworthy nevertheless. You thank the Lord for the help he provides through people who have been cords of human kindness from him and ask that he keep you from straying, leading you and his straying sheep safely into his fold.

"We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it." ~ 1 Corinthians 10:9-13

Since we are all tempted in ways that are common to man, we are on a level playing field and come alongside one another, not from on high. Just as the cross was the thing that Satan would use to put an end to Jesus’ goal to save his people and glorify the Father, it was that very thing that brought God praise from men and angels on how Jesus saved his people by becoming their sin, killing it on the cross, and giving them his righteousness in its stead. A couple of Old Testament examples pointing to this culmination of praise from wrath are God’s using the evil of Joseph’s brothers to bring about good, and Haman hanging on the gallows that he had built for Mordecai, both situations resulting in the saving of many lives to God's glory.

The Lord uses his servants his way to bring low the pride of princes:

“And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome, but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.” ~ 2 Timothy 2:24-26

You can calm your restless heart about the past because neither the past nor anyone who recurrently beats you over the head with it or throws it in your face can stop God from changing your present and future. God has freed your restless heart from the past – there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8). Singing Psalm 76, you watch God provide lasting hope in Christ who fulfills every promise in love like a clock which keeps on going even when faith and hope are needed no more.

“Give the LORD your God, your promise,

    And fulfill your vows sincere.

Let all those around bring tribute

    To the One to be revered.

He brings low the pride of princes,

    And by kings of earth is feared.” ~ Psalm 76:11-12

June 28 - July 5, 2024


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