I sought the LORD, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
(Psalm 34:4 ESV)
Have you ever looked at a verse and considered calling God or the Bible a liar because your experience doesn’t line up?
If you say, “no”, then I think you are either lying to me or lying to yourself.
This morning, I was tempted to do exactly that when I was praying through Psalm 34. As I stopped and dwelt on verse 4, my initial thought was, “what a great promise!” followed by, “but sometimes the Lord doesn’t seem to answer me.”
As I paused to meditation on the verse a bit longer, it struck me that I was reading the verse all wrong. I was reading it, “I sought an answer from the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all of my fears.”
I had attached a filter upon my reading based upon an assumption that if the Lord “answered” it must be in response to a specific request or question that I had asked of Him. Based upon my filter, the verse could become quite frustrating because it doesn’t always feel like the Lord answers me in a way that quells my fears, or even seems to answer directly at all sometimes. The good news was that I discovered that my filter was skewing the verse.
The reality is that the verse is “I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.” The psalmist was seeking the person of the Lord, not an answer (or a specific answer) to a specific request or question. The Lord responded to the seeking of Him. It would make sense that the “answer” the psalmist received from seeking the Lord Himself, was the presence of the Lord Himself. Once in the presence of the Lord, the great Deliverer, all of his fears were put into perspective and he was able to find true peace.
So often we (myself included) get so caught up in asking questions or requests of God in the midst of our fears that we forget to simply seek Him. Yes, the Lord does give answers, but the reality is that his answers are not the best for us…not when compared to his very presence.
I wonder if sometimes the Lord withholds an answer to our inquiries so that we will learn to seek Him first and become satisfied with His presence. Will we be satisfied with Him, the one who delivered us through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, or will we place our desire for “answers” above Him? If we do the latter, are we not making idols out of “answers from God”? Do those answers we seek truly satisfy our souls and quell our fears; especially when compared to the option of being in the presence of the One who embodies our greatest deliverance and who holds all the answers we will ever need within his very Person?
I am not saying we should not ask God questions nor make requests of Him (the Bible has verses that tell us to do those very things). What I am proposing is that we do not elevate the desire for answers above God Himself and that we seek Him first, even in the midst of requests and questions.