In honour of the longest night here are the verses that speak about the darkness and what to do in the night. Essentially there are two ways to respond to the dark. Trust in the one who holds us in the dark, or lighting our own fires. They are verses I come back to at each point when the way seems dark – and therefore I have come back to them repeatedly along life’s way.
Who among you fears the LORD
and obeys the word of his servant?
Let the one who walks in the dark,
who has no light,
trust in the name of the LORD
and rely on their God.
But now, all you who light fires
and provide yourselves with flaming torches,
go, walk in the light of your fires
and of the torches you have set ablaze.
This is what you shall receive from my hand:
You will lie down in torment.
If you read this blog regularly, you will know life is not exactly easy at the moment. This was the Psalm I read in the midst of that this morning; this is the light Yahweh provides in dark places:
May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble!
May the name of the God of Jacob protect you!
May he send you help from the sanctuary
and give you support from Zion!
May he remember all your offerings
and regard with favour your burnt sacrifices! Selah
May he grant you your heart’s desire
and fulfil all your plans!
May we shout for joy over your salvation,
and in the name of our God set up our banners!
May the LORD fulfil all your petitions!
Now I know that the LORD saves his anointed;
he will answer him from his holy heaven
with the saving might of his right hand.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.
They collapse and fall,
but we rise and stand upright.
O Lord, save the king!
May he answer us when we call.
Now, it is possible to take this Psalm in entirely the wrong way, if I think that the “you” at the start is “me”. It isn’t. The prayer is on the lips of a faithful Israelite, speaking on behalf of the nation. The “you” he is referring to is “his (the LORD’s) annointed”. It is a prayer for God to give his annointed King the desires of his heart, to make his plans come to fruition, and to answer all his prayers.
So, how, you may wonder is that good news for me, that some ancient Israelite king was prayed for thousands of years ago?
The answer to that, of course, is very seasonal. We celebrate the birth of the Son of David at Christmas. And the good news is that this King is forever.
And his plans and his desires and his prayers are for us. For our salvation. That is fundamentally good news. It does not depend on me. My plans and desires often end up me centred, and are certianly finite and limited by my tiredness and sinfulness. His are always others centred. He is the eternally giving King.
When we know that he is our King, then we can trust him. For God rolls up his sleeves and goes into action with his mighty right hand. Some might trust in horses and chariots (money and houses), but those who remember God’s mighty acts know that God’s right hand drowned horses and chariots in the Red Sea. He is the One who is in control. So it is in His name we must trust. In Yahweh, the God who is, the God who will be who he will be, the God who comes down to rescue his people. The final prayer is that the King will answer us in the day we call. The Psalm begins with the day of trouble, and finishes on the day we call, and so encourages us to call to our King in the day of trouble.
It may look like night. It may look black, and it may be bleak. Circumstances now, as they have in the past cause me to despair at times. But God is still God. He is still bigger than anything we face, and Jesus is still King, and he still lives to intercede for me. When my intercessions fail, then I have one who stands before the throne of God above, who ever lives and pleads for me.
That is what gives me comfort at this point. That Jesus lived and died, a real flesh and blood existence and that he did it for me, and for you. The darkness is real, and it hurts, but Jesus is more real, and there is a light, that we will one day see in all its fulness when the rising sun dawns on that final glorious day.