Years ago, with the dawn of the computer age, the buzz was that future generations would only need to work half as hard to accomplish the same amount of work. They were wrong! Life has not become simpler or easier; rather, it has rather become more demanding and complex. I have so many codes and passwords to get into programs that I need an assistant just to keep me updated. If I turn away for five minutes from a program, it punishes me by making me re-enter my username and password all over again. When this happens a few times in the space of an hour, all I want to do is add my computer to the Missoula landfill.
There are days I read Scriptural promises and they seem as unattainable and out of step with everyday life as the predictions of the cyber technocrats. There are some things promised for believers that don’t seem to be experienced by any modern-day believers I know. In Psalm 92, for example, God’s poet says, “You have made me as strong as a wild ox and have anointed me with fresh oil” (v. 10). I know way too many believers, whose experience is not that of a wild ox; more accurately, they have the look of being run over or even gored by that wild bovine.
The psalm goes on to promise life as a flourishing palm tree and growing like a cedar and bearing fruit in old age. Again, these promises appear so distant and beyond the reality of many believers. The only thing many experience about bearing fruit in old age is the old age itself. The vibrancy promised in Psalm 92 is as elusive as the promises made by the cyber pundits decades ago, or so it seems.
All joking aside, life and ministry will run us over. Flourishing like a palm tree is a wonderful thought, but the real deal can be more like “…a shrub in the desert” … that walks around in “…parched places in the wilderness” (Jer. 17:6). I believe it was Spurgeon who answered someone’s question, when asked why he so often talked about being filled with the Holy Spirit, with the statement, “Because I leak.” Whether he actually said that or not, the principle is true! Daily life has a way of sucking us dry and we leak like sieves.
Interestingly, Psalm 92 was originally set to music and established as—are you ready for this—”a song for the Sabbath day.” Sabbath days, from the very first mention in Scripture, had to do with rest and reflection on the six previous days. The Sabbath, for us, can be the coming to an end of any specific period of time: six days of good, or six years of difficulty and trial. The instruction of this “song for the Sabbath day” has great merit, especially to any of us that feel like the wild ox has mowed us down and not strengthened us.
It is the only statement like that in all of Scripture. We learn from this Sabbath song what is necessary to experience the strength of a wild ox, the anointing of fresh oil, the flourishing like a palm tree. The first few verses of this “song for the Sabbath day” are telling the worshippers to declare His lovingkindness in the morning and His faithfulness in the evening. We are made glad through the greatness of His work and the triumph of His hands (vs. 4-5).
The low blow comes when the psalmist refers to the senseless man and the fool who don’t get this (v.6). Oops! I suspect he refers to the one who doesn’t get the purpose of the Sabbath and lives in violation of the same. The weary one who feels trampled by the wild ox and dried out instead of anointed with fresh oil is the one who is driven by the works of his own hands, instead of resting in the triumph of His hands. Where, oh where, has this Sabbath song been hiding?
Join me in this prayer: “Lord Jesus, we desperately need to be vibrant and flourishing. Forgive our presumption and lack of Sabbath rest evidenced by our ‘works.’ In Your name, Amen.”
Would you allow the intended purpose of this Sabbath song to set the stage for every new week and season? There remains a rest for the people of God—and we don’t want to wait until heaven to enter into it.
By: Mike McGovern, supervisor Great Northern District