Summer Daily Devotional - Psalm 92
Don't Write Yourself in Too Soon
We all love to write ourselves in. Whether it's a movie, show, or book, we are always looking for a character to identify with. We want to write ourselves into the story. We do this with the Bible, too. And this is not a bad thing...as long as our timing is right. But one of the most common mistakes we make when reading the Bible is that we often jump the gun. We write ourselves into the story too soon.
Psalm 92 is about you, but it's not immediately about you, nor is it primarily about you, and this actually works out better for you, in the end.
The Psalm begins in verses 1-4 by praising God, and in verse 4, we discover that this praise is coming from a singular person.
For you, O LORD, have made me glad by your work;
at the works of your hands I sing for joy.
When you read that verse, you think, "I agree! Here I am in the Psalm. This must be me." And of course, it's good for each one of us to praise God for the works of His hands. But don't write yourself in too soon.
Verses 5-9 describe the inevitable destruction of the wicked, those who are enemies of God. And just like that, as quickly as we love to write ourselves into the story, we are even quicker to write ourselves out of the story...because no one wants to identify with the part of the story that says, "...they are doomed to destruction forever" (v. 7).
Verses 10-11 return to the perspective of the person who was praising God in the beginning. He declares that God has anointed him and that he has witnessed the downfall of his enemies, who are presumably the same wicked people from the previous section of verses. And once again, you and I are prone to think in our enlightened morning devotional state, "Ah yes, the anointed one of God whose enemies are decimated...surely this must be me!" But remember, don't write yourself in too soon.
The final section of verses is the key that unlocks the entire Psalm. The New American Standard Bible (NASB) has the best translation of verse 12 that I can find. It says this:
The righteous person will flourish like the palm tree,
He will grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
A lot of English translations make this verse sound like there are many righteous people and that they all grow like a tree. But the language is singular, indicating ONE righteous Man. This verse does not have the word "they". They do not, in fact, grow like a tree...rather, HE grows like a tree. So who is the one righteous person? Who is this "HE" who grows like a cedar of Lebanon?
Don't write yourself in too soon.
And then all of sudden, there's a jolting change from singular to plural. In verses 13-15, THEY are planted...THEY flourish...THEY bear fruit in old age. And that, friends, is our cue. Now you can write yourself in. The singular character speaking in this Psalm, who praises God the Father, who pronounces judgment against the enemies of God, who Himself is anointed by the Father and victorious over His enemies, and who is Himself the tree of righteousness (see also Psalm 1), is only, and can only be Jesus Christ. There is no other tree of righteousness. There is no other anointed King of kings and Lord of lords. Jesus is the singular Man. We in fact were those enemies of God doomed to eternal destruction, but thanks be to God, the one Man who is like a tree of righteousness died on a tree to bear the punishment of our sin and to give us His righteousness.
And this is why there is an abrupt change from singular to plural at the end of Psalm 92. THEY who are in HIM get all of the Father's blessings, earned for them by the one righteous Man, Jesus Christ. Don't write yourself in too soon, but don't write yourself out of the story altogether. God has made a way for you. All who repent of their sin and trust Him get their names written into His story through the death and resurrection of His Son. His righteousness is your righteousness. His reward is your reward.
What does this ignite in the heart of the Christian? It ignites a passion to reread the story, and to live all of life through the lens of the reality that it is all about Jesus, and not immediately or primarily about us...and this, of course, ends up being far better for us in the end.