Reflections: Identity

Psalm 34:22 “No one who takes refuge in Him will be condemned.”

Some characters from the Bible are difficult to identify with. You may not feel the strongest connection to Samuel, Noah, or Job. But David is the Bible’s everyman. To the poor or the young, he is David the shepherd boy; to the eminent, he is David who celebrated majesty with enormous wealth.

We will follow someone we trust anywhere. Having overcome life struggles, David the psalmist is qualified to lead us into worship of God and through whatever life circumstance we find ourselves in. Interestingly enough, Psalm 34 was written after David feigned insanity to escape from trouble with an adversary; Bible times had awkward moments.

Philip Yancey’s The Bible Jesus Read tells how relevant the Psalms are: they contain almost every human emotion imaginable. Many churches fear tears. Many frown at laughter, expecting pious sufferers. But David, the “man after God’s own heart” is not afraid to expose his emotions to God, the creator of emotion. A person who knows God knows He is close to the broken-hearted as well as being the giver of joy.

David’s psalm sets the bar high with the opening line: “I will exalt the LORD at all times. His praise will always be on my lips.” Is this unrealistic? If we magnify God and focus on Him moment by moment, we will be prevented from focussing so much on our problems. Our perspective will be filled with His greatness and His ability to handle our situations. Consider the author. David went through hellish times and is qualified to provide a living example.

David has a lot to say about identity. Much recurrent pain we experience and require healing from stems from a broken identity. We become new by shedding old identities in metamorphosis.

David writes, “Those who look to God are radiant. Their faces are never covered with shame.” Religion has a tendency to shame us by persuading us that we need to attain perfection. However, God’s message to humanity is diametrically opposite. It’s cheeky and potentially offensive how He calls us His “holy people” and “the righteousness of God” before we have even seen the final work of salvation. It is literally unbelievably good news.

He is the one in whom we find our new identity. We shed past wounds by receiving His love. We escape old habits by making Him our source of strength. As we go, He will provide appropriate “fires” in which we can choose refinement. Sadly, we can also choose to take offense and burn out. That’s why David invites the afflicted to join with him in worship. Our perspective will be changed after we taste God’s goodness.

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