PSALM 27:1, 4-9

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
    of whom shall I be afraid?

One thing I asked of the Lord,
    that will I seek after:
to live in the house of the Lord
    all the days of my life,
to behold the beauty of the Lord,
    and to inquire in his temple.

For he will hide me in his shelter
    in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
    he will set me high on a rock.

Now my head is lifted up
    above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent
    sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the Lord.

Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud,
    be gracious to me and answer me!
“Come,” my heart says, “seek his face!”
    Your face, Lord, do I seek.
    Do not hide your face from me.

Do not turn your servant away in anger,
    you who have been my help.
Do not cast me off, do not forsake me,
    O God of my salvation!

Before Jesus came with his revelation, the conventional idea of God was that he is somewhat arbitrary, temperamental, and unpredictable. And while these qualities might have originated around the fundamental discovery of freedom as inherent to existence itself (distinctive to the Bible), their effect in the personification of God was to make him seem rather unstable.

For any reason, which the devotee may or may not have awareness of, God might withdraw his protection, his mercy, or even his presence. Clearly seen was the benefit to be enjoyed in the favor of God, but the shadow side of such bliss was an anxiety over whether it all might be suddenly and without forewarning taken away.

Protestantism would much later try to mitigate this anxiety with the doctrine predestination: the belief that once God chooses you for salvation, you’re in for good. The underlying issue of an arbitrary God was not therewith resolved, only covered over. The psalmist’s desperate petition not to be cast off from God gives us a glimpse into this shadow of anxiety in theistic religion.

Jesus rejected the entire notion of the fickle God and taught instead that God is forgiving (always loving), steadfast (inherently reliable), and universally provident. All anxiety can be released in the knowledge that God seems nothing but your salvation and well-being. God won’t turn from you, even though you may turn from God. In unfailing love, God reaches out and invites you to authentic life and joy.


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