Psalms 31, 40, 56
Pastor Lisa’s Journal
In God, whose word I praise,
in God I trust;
I am not afraid;
what can flesh do to me?
– Psalm 56:4 (NRSV)
We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.- Romans 14:7-8 (NRSV)
It is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be put to shame in any way, but that by my speaking with all boldness, Christ will be exalted now as always in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain.
– Philippians 1:20-21 (NRSV)
Psalm 56 is a scriptural jewel I had forgotten about. The reality of danger and trouble is set against a stronger reality of trust in God.
What can flesh do to me? (vs. 3)
What can mere mortals do to me? (vs. 11)
In God I trust. I am not afraid!
The psalmist is no longer afraid of death. How many of us can say the same?
How many of us strive and struggle and spend to avoid death?
Nadia Bolz Weber notes, “When it comes down to it, all our regrets and fears that rob us of the present moment …all of them when it comes down to it are actually about the fear of death. Whether it’s a conservative Christian mother who fears the loss of her wayward daughter and wishes she’d call more, or a desperate housewife in Orange County who is injecting Botox into her poor forehead. All fear is fear of death.”
The Psalmist is beyond the fear of death. This kind of faith brings great freedom, a freedom that goes beyond circumstance because faith has brought a reality beyond the deepest fear of this world, death. No matter the outcome, the psalmist is victorious.
For you have delivered my soul from death,
and my feet from falling,
so that I may walk before God in the light of life. (vs. 13)
Death is a strong theme throughout the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. (The undead pirates and the curse of the Aztec gold in the first movie, Davy Jones’ undead crew in the second movie, Davy Jones’ surreal locker and the mission to ferry the dead in the third movie, the search for the Fountain of Youth in the fourth movie)
In the second movie, Davy Jones asks those he has taken prisoner a question, the ultimate question, “Do you fear death?” It is evident Jack Sparrow fears death and works very hard to find a path beyond it.
Do we equally struggle and plot and plan in order to somehow cheat death? Or do we take the same path of freedom as the psalmist and Paul and so many other people of faith- Living is Christ and dying is gain.
The freedom and truth of faith is this:
Whether we live or whether we die,
we are the Lord’s and we are safe.
I am tired with my own life and the lives of those after me,
I am dying in my own death and the deaths of those after me.
Let thy servant depart,
Having seen thy salvation.
– T. S. Eliot, closing lines from the poem A Song for Simeon
Praise the Lord of Freedom!
Freedom from fear
Freedom from sin
Freedom from death
What can flesh do to me? I am the Lord’s!
What can mere mortals do to me? I am the Lord’s!
Nothing can separate me from God, not even death!
I am the Lord’s and I am safe, now and forever
Praise the Lord of Freedom!
Praise the Lord of Life!
You are invited to join me on a summer adventure through one of the most beloved books in the Bible, Psalms. To download the Summer in the Psalms reading plan, click here Psalms Reading Plan
As you read, you are encouraged to use the SOAP Method for keeping a spiritual journal, as taught at New Hope Christian Fellowship in Hawaii. For more information on this simple and powerful way of engaging the Word of God, please click here or use the simple instructions provided in the reading plan itself.
I look forward to reading your comments and to all that Jesus will do in you and through you as you seek him this summer. – Lisa <><
PS- For more information on the scripture translation, art and the use of this devotional in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.