How the Psalms Reflect our Heart Desires
As geeks, we are often very inward-focused, imaginative, creative types of people.
We wonder and we stew. We contemplate and agonize over all kinds of thoughts.
Because of this, I’ve really come to value the Psalms. This biblical book of songs and poetry was written by contemplative, agonizing, creative people. Their passionate thoughts of anger, praise, despair, and joy were all given God’s stamp of approval. The psalmists get real, and God both welcomes and invites this realism.
Some psalms stand out to me as being especially applicable to geeks, given our strengths, weaknesses, and temperaments.
The first of those that comes to mind is Psalm 16. I thought I’d walk us through part of it here. Along the way, I’ll offer some reactions and observations that will hopefully be useful.
Psalm 16:1–2: “Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge. I say to the LORD, ‘You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.’”
When the imaginative thoughts of my internal “worry machine” are at work every day, I have to constantly recommit to trusting God (not my worry-fueled plans) to be my refuge. After all, he is good and worth trusting. In fact, all the good I have—both temporary pleasures like geek entertainment, and eternal gifts like forgiveness as well as future immortality—are all mine because of God.
This psalm reminds and challenges me to constantly associate the things I enjoy with God, rather than thinking of them as merely things in the world with no origination in God.
Verse 3: “As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight.”
Sure, I can be an introverted geek and content to be a “hermit Christian.” This verse, however, reminds me that there is delight and inspiration to be found through growing in faith alongside other Christians.
Verse 4: “The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply; their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out or take their names on my lips.”
I’m never tempted to worship another god. But the modern equivalents of false gods can be found in countless broken, self-destructive ways of thinking, perpetuated by marketing campaigns and entertainment media. As the psalmist saw in his time, we see sorrows multiply among those who embrace broken views of themselves and the world.
All around us, people normalize and joke with a shrug about materialism, lust, and selfishness. And we can find ourselves chiming in or going with the flow of those sentiments. But instead, like the psalmist, we should aim to commit our hearts and minds to being influenced only by what God reveals in his word, pursuing only what God says is valuable in its intended proportion.
Verses 5–6: “The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.”
The psalmist contrasts these gifts with things the world pursues—the worship of other gods. Instead, the psalmist says that Yahweh himself is his reward. God is not only the ultimate source of all we enjoy, he is also the source of all we will enjoy in the eternal future he has promised us.
I’m challenged by the psalmist’s estimation of God compared to what the world around him is pursuing. He compares his eternal inheritance with property lines drawn out favorably for him. In essence he says, “I’m getting an amazing deal here!”
My mind so easily gravitates toward (and gets stuck in) the here and now. So I struggle to see the rich wealth God has promised me. I fail to contemplate and remember the wealth of who God is. But by example, the psalmist shows us that the deeper we know who God is, and the more we ponder, hope, and fixate on God instead of the countless fading pleasures in the world, the more contentment we will experience in this life as we reflect on our promised inheritance of him.
What say you?