35. Joyful Presence

God in the Psalms No.35   – God of joyful presence

Psa 21:6 Surely you have granted him eternal blessings and made him glad with the joy of your presence.

There are two bad attitudes expressed within the human race. The first is to deny the existence of the Lord (that’s the atheist), and the second is to attribute to Him wrong or bad attributes. It is the latter one we want to deal with here. There are many people, and this really does include Christians, who have a negative view of God. They see Him as a hard God (Lk 19:21) or a harsh God (Mal 3:13). They are contemptuous about God (Mal 1:6) by the way they live, indicating they believe He is an absent Lord, and they’re glad.

Wrong understanding of God is very common and it may be that we have such attitudes because of the things that happened to us before we came to know Him, things that harmed or hurt us, things that came from a fallen world, or things that came through our own sinful foolishness, and because of that sinful foolishness, we never (then) turned to the Lord for help. Thus we had a bad view of life and subsequently (and subconsciously) of God. We even attribute the way we think to the way we think God thinks. We are not charitable and so we cannot understand God being charitable. We are not forgiving so we find it difficult to believe that God is forgiving. We expect people to work to achieve acceptance, so we believe God wants us to work to achieve His acceptance. In all these ways, we have wrong ideas!

The truth is displayed here by David and it needs thinking about. First of all he says, Surely you have granted him eternal blessings, referring to himself. Eternal blessings? Yes, things from heaven that are unlimited in their life. If we give a Christmas present it normally has a limited life and may be broken or thrown away within months or years. The good things that God gives, do not have a ‘shelf life’, they go on and on and on and on. They are eternal because they come from an eternal God.  Because of who they were, Israel were automatically blessed as God’s covenant people (Deut 33:29 & Psa 33:12). Blessing, goodness from God, was part of the package of their relationship with the Lord. Many times in the Old and New Testaments we come across the words, Blessed is the man who….” e.g. Psa 89:15 – Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence”. To be blessed means to have received all the goodness of God, and that comes over in Scripture many times as we just said. Many times the Bible tells us we can receive this goodness that makes us happy, and the Psa 85 quote tells us that we will be really happy when we walk in the light of God’s presence, and that has echoes of our verse above – glad with the joy of your presence.

These verses tell us that it is a wonderful thing to be in the Lord’s presence, a joyful thing. We sometimes use C.S.Lewis’s book ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ to illustrate spiritual truths, with Aslan the Lion picturing Jesus. When three of the children first hear Aslan’s name mentioned, they each have lovely thoughts and feelings, even though they don’t know who he is yet. Lewis understood this truth we see in this verse, that actually knowing God, being in His presence, even thinking about His presence when you have a right understanding, is a most wonderfully joyful thing. Why? Because He is love, He is utterly good, and so it’s a lovely thing to be in the presence of such a Being – well it is if you have turned your heart to love and goodness and towards Him – then it will be THE most wonderful thing possible – this ‘being in His presence’!

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