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“The Lord is my strength and my shield;
In him my heart trusts, and I am helped;
my heart exults,
and with my song, I give thanks to him.” Psalm 28:7, ESV
So often, the sentiment begins, “The Lord is my strength and my shield… whom shall I fear?” But in this sentiment, a second word follows: “In him my heart trusts… and I am helped.” We do not always know how the Lord helps, but as we press closer to him, as we draw nearer to him, we sense the Lord’s help. We believe, and we are helped. Yes, the Lord is our strength and our shield.
The pronoun “my” is employed throughout: the Lord is my strength, my shield, and my heart trusts, and with my song, I praise him. The psalmist strikes a possessive tone: this is his part, his only part, the whole. He is completely in him and no part of him is elsewhere else. There is no other place to be, no sure place, no place of safety.
In this place, his heart exults, and he offers his sacrifice: a song — “and with my song, I give thanks to him” — and in this instance, it is not “and I will give thanks to him,” but, this present moment, this present place, under these present circumstances, the here and now. Thus wells up a word of praise and a word of hope.
A personal reformation
“I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me” (Psalm 131:2). A personal reformation of the soul is the calming and quieting of one’s self before the Lord. We are an anxious people, ready at any moment to answer the call of this thing or that thing; but, the Lord is eternal, not waiting or anticipating the next thing, but dwelling in the eternal eighth day of rest. He beckons and calls us to himself. Who can resist him?
The psalmist presents himself as a child weaned from his mother’s breast, yet he is still a child. But now he waits, calm and quieted, knowing that the Lord sustains him. He seeks his next meal from the Lord, for he is very hungry and in need.
“Hear me, O God! How wicked are the sins of men! Men say this and you pity them, because you made man, but you did not make sin in him” (Confessions, Bk. 1, chpt. 7). God made man to serve him, but from the onset of life there is sin and turmoil. A man is not at rest, but he yearns for the next thing (that is, his sin). How pitiable is such a man! But praise be to God! He delivers us from sin and death! Jesus Christ is our righteousness, who calls us “to taste and see.” Called in Christ, we are beckoned by the Spirit and drawn by His power: a man cannot resist the Lord. With clay of humble origin, God remakes man, cast again in His image. “No one but you can do these things, because you are the one and only mould in which all things are cast and the perfect form which shapes all things, and everything takes its place according to your law” (ibid.).
“For a people shall dwell in Zion, in Jerusalem; you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it, he answers you. And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left. Then you will defile your carved idols overlaid with silver and your gold-plated metal images. You will scatter them as unclean things. You will say to them, ‘Be gone!’” (Isaiah 30:19-22).
God’s word is a command; it cannot be resisted. God’s word is ever before a man, stirring new feelings and affections. The man who does not yield struggles against the One who cannot be overcome. Such a man, who resists God, can never find rest, he is always troubled. This man does not know that he is already defeated. And after he has eaten “the bread of adversity” and after he has drunken “the water of affliction,” God reveals himself. All along that man will know that he has been called from eternal ages, and that a state of grace lies before him. “This is the way, walk in it…”, says the Lord. A new man will emerge who says of his sin, “Be gone!”
The apostle Paul wrote Timothy: “If anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, read for every good work” (2 Timothy 2:21).
In all the ages of the church, there is a call to reformation, a call to restoration, a call to salvation. It comes from the Lord. He is calling all men and all women — all young, all old — to “honorable use.” We, each of us, are called to calmness and quietness, thus passing from birth, to life, to death, and life again in Christ. Such is a personal reformation of the soul.
The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the Lord
“In that day the deaf shall hear the words of a book, and out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind shall see. The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the Lord, and the poor among mankind shall exult in the Holy One of Israel.” – Isaiah 29:18-19 (ESV)
The Apostles Creed is among the most ancient creeds of the church, expressing the fundamental beliefs of Christianity. Implicit in the creed is the Trinity, “I believe in God, the Father… Jesus Christ… the Holy Spirit,” which establishes a relational dimension of divinity that corresponds also to humanity.
Asked what I believe, I note that I embrace the values of historical Christianity, that God is real and that he exists. For, “without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Heb. 11:6, ESV). Thus, God is calling all people to approach him in the holiness of Christ, that belief might manifest as faith.
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
* Capatilized, “catholic” generally means the Roman Catholic Church; uncapitalized, “catholic” indicates the church at large, the “universal” church, i.e. the Body of Christ