Praising God in the Midst of Plenty
by Michael Fewson
When I felt secure, I said,
“I will never be shaken.”
O LORD, when you favored me,
you made my mountain stand firm;
but when you hid your face,
I was dismayed.
—Psalm 30:6-7, New International Version
When a believer is found to be in the midst of adversity, it is natural to call out to Jesus for deliverance. Throughout the Psalms, many inspired calls for help can be found; laments in the midst of calamity and rejoicing when deliverance comes.
Psalm 30 is no different. “I will exalt you, O Lord, for you lifted me out of the depths” (v1) “O Lord my God, I called to you for help and you healed me” (v2). However, it is not the need for help that stands out in this Psalm but the reason the Psalmist found himself in need of help.
In verse 6, he declares, “When I felt secure, I said, I will never be shaken.” In his time of prosperity, security, health and wellbeing he did not acknowledge God’s divine favour but rather arrogantly, boastfully commended himself. In hindsight he laments, when YOU favoured me, YOU made me secure; it was not the result of my ability but of your divine favour.
When he boasted in his own strength, neglecting to give God the honour due to His name, God hid his face. Calamity struck leaving the writer destitute in the absence of God’s presence.
The Garden of Eden is representative of God’s favour, security and provision for Adam and Eve as they dwelt in the glorious presence of God. In taking the forbidden fruit they showed dissatisfaction with God’s blessing. I can have more, I can be like God, I can be the master of my own destiny and secure my own future. The result of what has now become the ‘natural’ human condition was the removal of God’s presence and thus His favour. Adam and Eve were expelled from the garden with a sword-wielding angel preventing their return.
This human condition is expressed in Romans 1:18-32 as God’s wrath being revealed from heaven. It is summed up as the human heart refusing to honour God even though His divine nature is evident in creation. Therefore God ‘hides his face’ by handing men over to their own evil desires—that is, to be the masters of their own destiny, which leads to inevitable destruction.
Through Jesus we have been brought back into His divine favour and blessing. In Christ, we have access to the throne of God’s grace (Heb 4:14-16) and subsequently abide in His eternal presence having been blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ (Eph 1:3).
In Christ, we will experience times of abundance and times of need (Phil 4:12,13), but have we learned to be ‘content in all things”? We know how to petition in times of need, but have we learned how to live in God’s blessing? The Psalmist lost sight of God’s sovereign majesty; have we—particularly in the west—lost sight of His glorious presence?
Do we see God’s prosperity as a means to promote the spirit of the Kingdom of God, which is righteousness, joy and peace, or as an act of God’s personal approval? Is the provision of God for me or am I simply a vessel of the Kingdom through which His blessing may flow to others?
If we cannot honour God with all that we have then our prosperity will not be a blessing but a curse, because God will ‘hide His face’.
Better is one day in your courts
than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
the LORD bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold
from those whose walk is blameless.
O LORD Almighty,
blessed is the man who trusts in you.