The land you have given me is a pleasant land. What a wonderful inheritance! I will bless the Lord who guides me; even at night my heart instructs me. I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me. No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice. My body rests in safety. For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your holy one to rot in the grave. You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever. - Psalm 16: 6-11 (NLT)
As noted in the first two devotionals in this series, our walk with God can often take turns into the valley. Time when we are simply unsure or unsettled. As much as we are not to be part of the world, the reality is our lives are lived within the context of the world. Even though we are pilgrims we still must walk through the very world we know causes so much heartache and strife. God has provided us however with overflowing encouragement in His Word and the Golden Psalm, number 16, is rich with such encouragement. It is a guide for us when we feel lost. It is a lighthouse in the tempest of this world. It shows us how we are to be in Christ and how to get back to where we need to be. One of the more overlooked errors within the modern church theologies is an over-emphasis on the things of this world as being a source of satisfaction for believers. Nothing should be farther from the truth. Our satisfaction needs to be found in the things of God; not the things of this world. When the church preaches the world as a source for satisfaction it is no wonder that so many Christians lead lives so devoid of any true satisfaction.
So we pick up this Psalm at verse six - the land you have given me is a pleasant land - what a wonderful inheritance! Most commentaries agree this is a reference to when the land of Israel was first settled and land was apportioned to each tribe. If you look at a map of these allotments you will see that they are not even. Some appear much larger than others. Some appear more safer than others when you consider the neighboring countries. We can be assured that some might have been more fertile than others. The bottom line is that if we were to look at these allotments strictly through a worldly lens, one can find plenty of potential reasons to feel slighted. One can see reasons for complaint. This is the first lesson for today. One of the frequent reasons for unhappiness is we are never satisfied with what we have. The world always encourages selfishness and eyeing what everyone else has. Think about it. Covetousness is covered twice in the Ten Commandants! There is another Old Testament story that deals with this as well.
Lot, who was traveling with Abram, had also become very wealthy with flocks of sheep and goats, herds of cattle, and many tents. But the land could not support both Abram and Lot with all their flocks and herds living so close together. So disputes broke out between the herdsmen of Abram and Lot. (At that time Canaanites and Perizzites were also living in the land.) Finally Abram said to Lot, "Let's not allow this conflict to come between us or our herdsmen. After all, we are close relatives! The whole countryside is open to you. Take your choice of any section of the land you want, and we will separate. If you want the land to the left, then I'll take the land on the right. If you prefer the land on the right, then I'll go to the left." - Genesis 13: 5-9 (NLT)
Disputes grew out of plenty! How well does that describe the disagreements we often see in the world. But look at the solution of Abram. He is not concerned about where Lot decides to take his people. He is not concerned about what direction is left for him. Why? Not because he has faith in the land! He has faith in the God that leads him into the land! There clearly was a better choice if we were to look through our temporal eyes:
Lot took a long look at the fertile plains of the Jordan Valley in the direction of Zoar. The whole area was well watered everywhere, like the garden of the Lord or the beautiful land of Egypt. (This was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) Lot chose for himself the whole Jordan Valley to the east of them. He went there with his flocks and servants and parted company with his uncle Abram. So Abram settled in the land of Canaan, and Lot moved his tents to a place near Sodom and settled among the cities of the plain. But the people of this area were extremely wicked and constantly sinned against the Lord . - Genesis 13: 10-13 (NLT)
What the world shows us is rarely as good as it looks. No matter how fertile and promising what the world shows us may look there is always Sodom lurking in the background. You cannot pitch your tents towards sin. The next time we see Lot again he is living in Sodom and is in need of rescuing. Whenever we think we can skirt along the borders of sin, eventually we will find ourselves dwelling in it. When we find ourselves in those difficult times in our lives we must strive to look at things through eternal eyes. Whatever portion God has allotted for us is pleasant. God moves on our behalf in the valley beloved. We cannot be so obsessed with the problem that we lose sight of the Problem Solver!
Verse seven continues to illuminate God's heart for our lives. David decares - I will bless the Lord who guides me; even at night my heart instructs me. There is a bit to unpack here so let's start with how we view the word blessing. The modern church is in the business of selling blessings. They are something we pursue from God constantly. This is going to be your year of unlimited blessings! The Lord wants to constantly bless you! God loves to pour out blessings upon you! Here is a novel idea from the Psalmist however - I will bless the Lord! We often spend so much time pursuing God to bless us that we can easily overlook the fact that this thing called Christianity actually is not about us. It is always all about Him! So when we find ourselves down and out it is a good practice to evaluate our lives and ask what we can do to bless the God who has given us everything already through His Son! How exactly can we bless God?
When you have eaten and are full, then you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land which He has given you. - Deuteronomy 8: 10 (NKJV)
Sing to the Lord , bless His name; Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day. Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples. - Psalm 96: 2-3 (NKJV)