The first Tim Keller sermon cassettes (that’s right, cassettes) I owned belonged to a series on the Psalms called “Modern Problems & Ancient Solutions.” Yes, I realize I sound ancient myself speaking of the yellow sports tape player upon which I played those tapes. At the time, most of the words ran in one ear and out the other as I ran around my small college town; however, as the Spirit is prone to do, He steadily brings them out of storage for practical use even today, some twenty years later.
While the beginning of the series title might be changed to postmodern problems or even postChristian problems, the solution needs no tweaking. I say that to remind myself and others that, while the presenting issues may have changed, the biblical solutions to those issues remain rock steady.
Lately, I have been overwhelmed by the state of our world. I barely read the news, but when I do, I literally feel a burden in my throat and my tummy. Listening to our new Burmese friends speak of what their families in Myanmar are experiencing, seeing pictures of Gaza being blown to pieces by rocket fire, watching churches rip each other to shreds over modern solutions to racism. We don’t have to go looking for these things to find them in our faces.
As a mother, I tremble as I pray for our boys who are entering their teenage years. While those years are already fraught with identity struggles, our boys are literally being assaulted with worldly “wisdom” at the deepest levels of identity and sexuality. It all feels so impossibly upside-down. I feel paralyzed by postmodern problems.
This morning, as I sat down to study Psalm 18, I heard David singing a similar tune.
The cords of death encompassed me; the torrents of destruction assailed me; the cords of Sheol entangled me; the snares of death confronted me (Psalm 18:4-5).
Listen to the imagery David uses here. Cords of death surrounding and suffocating him. Floods of destruction coming suddenly upon. Entangled by evil. In fact, the Hebrew word qadam translated “confronted me” might be translated into modern vernacular as “got all up in my face.”
David’s ancient phrases perfectly describe how I feel about our modern problems. Suffocating, sudden, and all up in our face.
The verse immediately following David’s lament, while it sounds simple, struck me as deeply profound this morning.
In my distress, I called upon the Lord; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears (Psalm 18:6).
David’s solution to the stultifying and suffocating ancient problems which surrounded him was to cry out to God. The Ageless One who stands outside of time, readied Himself to come to the aid of His people.
He bowed the heavens and came down (Psalm 18:9)
David writes in imagery what we know as history though the Incarnation of Christ. Only, when our Christ bowed the heavens and came down, He came in gentleness and meekness. He allowed Himself to be encompassed by death. He did not need to be held by cords, as He willingly gave Himself to the ignoble death of a criminal. The flood of the consequences of our sin surrounded Him. God turned away from His cries so that He could turn to hear ours.
So we cry out to our God. When the sexual ethic shifts all around our children, we cry out to God. When people continue to turn against people, we cry out to God. When the evil within our own hearts leaves us shocked and paralyzed, we cry out to God.
And our cries fall upon open ears. And the One who enabled such cries to be heard prays for us (Hebrews 7:25).
Oh, that our Ancient Solution would be freshly brought to bear on our modern problems, beginning with a fresh reapplication to our own hearts and homes.