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  • sonnyholmes

So, I've been gazing at the Atlantic Ocean all week. That's not a complaint. What a blessing to tune out the rest of the world for a few days and just stare at the sea, great and wide (see Psalm 104: 25). Even more than the storm-free calming motion it is a teaching plan about life. When King David wrote the Psalms he often referenced the sea because he saw the physical, emotional, and spiritual lessons God laced into the currents and waves. As Harriet and I have enjoyed our week in our beach front condo, staring at the sea has been devotional time. God's eternal Word in one hand, and his forever sea lashing the coast in front of us, inspiring and challenging moments of Bible study and thought have given spiritual underscore to some time away. Glory. Nice!


Many of King David's Psalms honor God for the masterful work of creation. One of his texts spoke to me early this morning---


Blessed is he whose help in the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord God, who made

heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them, who keeps faith forever...

Psalm 146: 5-6, ESV.


Mr. Quibbler was especially captured by the phrase "...the sea and all that is in them". So, there I am, staring at the Atlantic Ocean wondering at the tenses of this verse..."the sea, and all that is in them". Of course, that was before scientific classification and the numbering of our oceans, seas, and other water systems. The meaning of Psalm 146: 5-6, references the water that covers more than 70% of our earth, the sea, representing all of them. That was a quick quibble. What captured my heart and mind was the simple phrase "...all that is in them...". King David wanted to honor God for the seas, and the creatures he had created to occupy them.


Today, I stared at the sea. Right up front this morning Harriet and I saw dolphin grazing just offshore. Meaning that, there were also smaller aquatic creatures, perhaps fish, in those same waters. On the beach were shells tiny animals called home, beach worms, minnows swimming in the shallows, and a few star fish washed ashore. Now, we know nothing of fish species or the vast array of sea life. We do know flounder, shrimp, scallops, oysters, crabs, and some of the other edibles. Still, it's a mystery world to us, life under the currents and waves.


Scientists estimate more than 1,000,000 species of sea life, mostly invertebrates with no backbone, like jelly fish or shrimp. Common vertebrates are the bristlemouth, a tiny fanged glow-in-the-dark fish. There are Jaws, whales, eels, rays, sea lions, sun fish, and thousands more. Scripture mentions sea monsters like Leviathan (see Job 41:1; Psalm 104: 26, and others for example). But, there is only debate about them.


The point? Staring at the Atlantic this week has given me new appreciation for the lessons King David learned from the sea, His mention of "...all that is in them..." is another wonder of our creator God, the God who thought of everything and prepared his earth for you and I to occupy and govern.


Here is the sea, great and wide, and here am I thankful.

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  • sonnyholmes

The Psalms reveal King David's highs and lows. They resonate with us because our lives are punctuated with question marks and exclamation points too. A profound element of the Psalms is the deep spiritual education David received after times of personal trial. Just knowing that the man after God's own heart could fall so low so often is a reminder of human limits. Like the rest of us, King David was flesh and bones, subject to pain, ailment, mystery, and temptation. Like us, he often allowed circumstances to define life. When challenged by doubt, fear, loneliness, or depression he would usually go deep. In the depths he would discover truth that lifted him above the trying conditions.


In moments of trial and test, he often wondered why God was hiding from him---


How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from

me? 2 How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the

day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

Psalm 13: 1-2, ESV


Why, O Lord, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?

Psalm 10: 1, ESV


Why do you hide your face? Why do you forget our affliction and oppression?

Psalm 44: 24, ESV


Evidently his human nature prevailed when circumstances turned toxic or harsh. There were moments of crisis when his broken spirit felt distant from God.


Thankfully, there was eternal truth to steady and balance David when life had taken difficult turns. Psalm 139 celebrates God's eternal presence even when circumstances are overwhelming. Verses 1-10 are compelling---


O Lord, you have searched me and known me! 2 You know when I sit down and when I

rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. 3 You search out my path and my lying

down and are acquainted with all my ways. 4 Even before a word is on my tongue,

behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. 5 You hem me in, behind and before, and lay

your hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot

attain it.7 Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? 8

If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! 9 If I take

the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 10 even there your

hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.

Psalm 139: 1-10, ESV


So, what is this human motion, the hidden God in one minute, the truth of the ever-present God in the next? It's a spiritual discipline the King confessed often as well, the truth that "...those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you" (Psalm 9: 10, ESV). When circumstances shifted his eyes downward, King David knew to look upward, to seek God.


I'm staring at the sea now. Life is often tossed like those currents and waves. But, even If I am hidden by them, he is there, even when I "dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea".


Glory!

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  • sonnyholmes

King David marveled at God's creation. His numerous references to the sea in so many Psalms is clearly a reminder that the God who formed the universe as a work of his hands is capable of being near to us in moments of hardship. In much the same way, the sea was the King's reminder of God deliverance of Israel from their Egyptian captors. God truly could have delivered his Chosen Nation from Egyptian captivity in many ways. King David found comfort in the truth of Psalm 77, our focal point yesterday, that..."his way was through the sea" (Psalm 77: 19, ESV). This morning, while staring at the Atlantic Ocean the words of Psalm 65 touched me, especially verses 5-8:


By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness, O God of our salvation,

the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas; 6 the one who by his

strength established the mountains, being girded with might; 7 who stills the roaring of

the seas, the roaring of their waves, the tumult of the peoples, 8 so that those who dwell

at the ends of the earth are in awe at your signs. You make the going out of the

morning and the evening to shout for joy.

Psalm 65: 5-8, ESV


King David didn't live in royal isolation. He was aware of the needs of the people around him---family, palace guards, his household, military personnel, priests, and the people of his kingdom. Even more were the threatening challenges of opposing nations, the often violent collision of human sinfulness, the crowds seeking to pursue and fulfill their sinful ways, the masses in turmoil. The King knew that the God who could calm and quiet the stormy seas could just as mightily bring peace to sinful, enraged people.


Yes, they were all his creations---the seas, the winds, the rains, the mountain peaks, and the human creature. David's point in God's stilling the tumult of the people is that the human creature is willfully resistant, sinfully self-absorbed, prone to crowd dynamics and the safety of group plunder. King David saw the sea, great and wide, and it reminded him of human restlessness and uncontrolled movement, the tumult of the people. Our mighty God can quiet the noise of the rampaging seas and the heat of human disobedience.


The truth of that lesson gripped me this morning. You see, we've learned a few things about the tumult of the peoples recently. Storming the White House, clashing in the streets, racial tension, election mysteries, political hype, media sway, viral pandemic, rebellion and uprising in the winds. The evidence of an enraged electorate continues to peek through the seams of our governing documents and the rule of law. King David reveals a truth: human systems cannot remedy the tumult of the peoples. Nor government, nor education, nor civic organizations, not even the contemporary, voiceless church.


King David saw the sea great and wide, and he thought of his glorious God. As he rehearsed God's rule over creation he remembered that only God can still the tumult of the peoples. Right now the people can use a little stilling.

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