Monday, February 6, 2012

poor & needy

For several years now I've had an interest in issues of poverty and have sought to learn more about how God feels about and treats the poor.  To me, it's pretty evident that God has a special place in his heart for the needy, as time and again we can read that He "rescues ... delivers ... protects ... secures justice for ... upholds the cause of ... hears the cry of ... and provides refuge to the poor," and encourages believers on the earth to do the same.
So lately, as I've been reading through the Psalms, something has caught my attention and sparked my interest in a new way.  Throughout David's writings he continually uses a phrase that, in my opinion, is a bit unexpected from the mouth of a king: 

"I am poor and needy."

Unexpected, because - usually - visualizing the poor and needy leads our minds to the financial realm, and we may think of people without shoes or food or a decent house.  But I'm pretty sure that King David didn't lack for material things and was not speaking in material terms.  I believe David was talking about his need for God in his life.
And don't we see a similar theme throughout Scripture, that the LORD loves when we are willing to admit our weakness without Him and run to Him for His strength and love?  The Beatitudes tell us that the 'poor in spirit' are blessed.  The story of the Prodigal Son honors the contrite spirit of the young son, as he trusts enough in his father's love and forgiveness to return home.  In my own life I feel closest to God when I'm willing to be empty before Him.
I believe God wants us to live bold lives for Him...but I think He wants that boldness to come from Him and not from ourselves.  It's easy, especially when things are going well, to claim the power or the intelligence or the skill with which we accomplish success as our own, forgetting that everything Good comes from Him.  No breath we take, thought we think, or deed we do is possible without His sustaining power in our lives.
For Christians, the day of our confession and baptism is a salient point in our lives of surrender of our selves - an admittance that we, indeed, are poor and needy, and that we're nothing without the saving grace of God.  But the further I travel along my journey with Him, the more I realize He wants me to regularly and continually bow before Him in that same humble posture, acknowledging His beautiful glory.  
And His glory - I think - is what it's all about.  In Psalm 109:22, David says, "I am poor and needy," and a few verses later, "Save me in accordance with your love...Let them know that it is your hand...that you, O LORD, have done it."