O LORD, let me not be put to shame
For I call upon you; Let the wicked be put to shame Let them go silently to Sheol. (Ps. 31: 17)
This year I have officially been a follower of Christ longer than I have not been a Christian. For those of you that don’t know, I was 24 when I came to a saving knowledge and belief in Jesus Christ. For those of you good at math, now you can figure out how old I am 🙂 Anyway,…
During my teenage and early twenties, I had a horrible time with alcohol. I believe I was addicted to it. And, one thing that I remember is how often I would run to alcohol when things got difficult. If I was put in an idle situation in which I didn’t know what to do, or when I started to feel pressure, I would run to alcohol. And, with alcohol, I would usually descend further into cigarettes and drugs.
This is actually one of the symptoms of addiction. You run to your addiction whenever things feel hard or stressful. It becomes a crutch. You rely on your addiction. Essentially, addiction is idolatry with a component of chemical dependency. When I say chemical dependency, keep in mind that addiction does not have to be a substance. You could become addicted to the way your body reacts to things like shopping or technology or anything else.
So, in this area, what I am saying regarding addiction is also true for idolatry. We all have our pet idols that we run to when things get hard.
Whether it is worry, or a person, or a book, or cars, or a hobby, we run to our idols when we feel stressed, insecure and out of control.
For those of you just catching up, we are talking about tribulation. Tribulation in the Bible refers to very difficult times to put it mildly. But, tribulation is not just when you have bad things happen to you. It is also a feeling of being hemmed in, narrow choices, loss of liberty and freedom.
How do we handle tribulation in a way that actually helps us break through to a “broad place’ as David talks about in his Psalms? We are looking at Psalm 31 and are drawing out 4 things that you do.
These things will actually help you break through the pressure of tribulation and get to the other side of it…
It may not remove the evil or wrong that you are facing, but these four things will help you face them completely differently. Basically, these four things will remove the “teeth” of your tribulation.
David was chased for years after he wrote Psalm 31 by Saul, but the chase did not assert the same level of tribulation on David.
This week we are talking about shame. We have had three emails in this series so far and I will put links below…
First, shame in the Bible has to do most generally with putting your confidence in something that lets you down.
When you see shame or ashamed in your Bible, you should always read it through the filter of putting your confidence in something that let’s you down.
The anglicized version of the Ancient Hebrew for Shame is “bosh”.
Hebrew is an amazing language. Words have multiple meanings in Hebrew just like they do in any other language.
However, what is so amazing about Hebrew is, that unlike English, words never lose their layers of meaning. For instance, in English a word can have only one meaning at a time. When you say something like cast, it can mean either cast a lure into the water or a cast around a a broken arm. The meaning is dependent on the context. In Hebrew, cast would not lose its additional meanings. Instead, each of these additional meanings would add additional layers to the meaning of a sentence.
Other languages like Greek have this quality as well, but not to the extent of Hebrew. With that in mind, let’s look at “bosh” in Hebrew, or shame. It can mean utterly dejected, disappointed, confounded, confusion, delayed, become dry, as well as shame or ashamed.
With this in mind, let’s dive into what David is asking God for in verse 17.
Interestingly, the same word used for shame in verse 17 is also used for delay in Exodus 32:1.
This is from the well-known story of the Israelites demanding that Aaron create the Golden Calf in the wilderness during the Exodus from Egypt. Certainly, there is a lot of application that can be drawn from the Exodus of the Israelites to the Promised Land. However, one application is that the story of the Exodus is the story of God teaching the Israelites how to go from slaves in Egypt to free people in the Promised Land.
Idolatry always leads to slavery!
Often, while reading this story, you get vivid views into the slave tendencies worn into the thought patterns of the Israelites. At this point, the Israelites had only been on their journey away from Egypt for a few days.
They were slaves in Egypt and lived in chains and under whips and oppression and forced labor. Yet, while in the wilderness, they often conjured up their memories of this time as if it was a wonderful and joyful time.
When things got tough,…when they felt pressure,…they quickly fell back into their slave tendencies. This is what is being described in Exodus 32:1.
To the shame of the Israelites, when things got a little tough; when they were left alone longer than they expected; they ran back to their shame. They fell back to their idols they loved in Egypt.
David in his prayer recorded in Psalm 31:17 is communicating (my summary).
Oh God! Do not let me fall back to my tendency to worry and cultivate anxiety as I did in the Cave of Adullam. Let me break free of my addiction to worry because greater worry leads to greater tribulation. And, let the reliance of my enemies on worthless things be revealed to be worthless. Please God! Show my confidence and faith and reliance in you to be well-placed. Make it obvious to all those around that they should place their confidence in you as well.
This is my summary of David’s prayer in v. 17 and if you pray in this way, it will lead to a deflation of pressure and a lighting of the load. The promise here is not that whatever evil you are facing will disappear. The promise is that despite the evil, God will bring you to a broad place. The experience will change you for the better.
And this will be seen by all those around…!