Our reading for Thursday, February 7, 2019 is Psalm 18:16-26
16 He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. 17 He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. 18 They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the Lord was my support. 19 He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me. 20 The Lord has dealt with me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands he has rewarded me. 21 For I have kept the ways of the Lord; I have not done evil by turning from my God. 22 All his laws are before me; I have not turned away from his decrees. 23 I have been blameless before him and have kept myself from sin. 24 The Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight. 25 To the faithful you show yourself faithful, to the blameless you show yourself blameless, 26 to the pure you show yourself pure, but to the crooked you show yourself shrewd. NIV
Where does your confidence come from? Some would say they lack confidence in themselves and that is good because when we are confident in ourselves we are relying upon a limited supply of resource and capability. Of course some are cocky and mistakenly believe they are strong and capable to handle any challenge. It is nice to have confidence but there is a difference between confidence and arrogance. There is always some challenge or trial we might face that would exhaust the limits of our capability and the only reason some might have this cocky spirit is due to the fact their faith in themselves has not yet been tested to the limit of their ability.
There are others of us who know their limitations and perhaps because they underestimate their capability never challenge the limits of their faith in themselves. Of course, our confidence should ultimately rest in God’s unlimited capability and humility comes from the recognition that any capability we possess is only due to the God’s gifting to us. We each possess differing capabilities which is the reason we are so much more sufficient when working together as a faith fellowship.
Many followers of Christ lack confidence in themselves which translates into a lack of confidence in God. This is not due to their believing God is not capable but in their assurance that God will help them in their time of need actually by providing deliverance from their circumstance or the guidance and power to persevere through trial. In other words they lack courage.
Where does this courage come from? It is derived from the assurance that God delights in us as the psalmist declared was the reason for his deliverance. Now we believe God always loves us but that does not mean he always delights in us. God delights in us when we put forth our best to live holy and righteous lives. For those who truly love God it is our primary desire to please the one we love.
The psalmist describes at length his righteousness and claims he has “kept the ways of the Lord.” He professes he has lived blameless before the Lord (vs. 23) which we can easily question. We know that none of us is perfect as God would like to see us be and we have no reason for boasting except for as the apostle Paul states “in the Lord” by who’s grace we are able to be pure in God’s eyes. Clearly the Word of God state that: “all our righteousness is as filthy rags” (Isa. 64.6).
I do not believe the psalmist is claiming to be completely without sin, however, in the economy of human capability he has measured up comparatively righteous in the face of the threats of his foes. How we respond to relational conflicts becomes a matter of our personal righteousness and source of confidence. Between verse 6 where we ended yesterday in our reading and verse 16 where we pick it up for today we find the psalmist describes the power of God revealed in nature as though he has just weather a tremendous storm, and he may well have just come through a personal storm.
It was remaining steadfast in his faith and faithfulness amidst his storm that provides him with confidence. We too can come through the storm of personal trial holding our heads up high when we maintain faithful to the revealed principles and values of God. When we fail to live up to our best with God’s help amidst our personal storms we will feel defeated inwardly even after the storm is past because we know we did nothing for which God or we ourselves could delight in. Confidence comes from trust in God and the knowledge of our faithfulness to him in every situation to the best we can give with the Lord’s help. From prior success we face future storms with greater confidence.