My wife and I are reading through the Psalms in our evening reading and occasionally a nugget of the Psalms jumps out of the page. Don’t you love it when, after years of reading the “Old Book” passages become alive, reinforcing old teachings or simply warming your heart.
This is the book of Psalms, and it is rich.
I pray I can communicate a portion of the blessing we receive from this wonderful book.
13 But I, when they were sick– I wore sackcloth; I afflicted myself with fasting; I prayed with head bowed on my chest.
14 I went about as though I grieved for my friend or my brother; as one who laments his mother, I bowed down in mourning.
David continues, speaking of his actions towards those who rose up against him, toward those who became malicious witnesses against him.
I know of no time when David was brought before a court and had witnesses rise up formally, but I have read where the greater David literally had malicious witnesses in a mock court rise up against Him. David is describing his actions toward his undeserved enemies. How much truer are these descriptions of the Lord Jesus in His determined love towards us?
Sackcloth is typically an outward expression of deep inner grief. Consider Psalm 69, where the psalmist describes another instance of wearing sackcloth.
10 When I wept and humbled my soul with fasting, it became my reproach. 11 When I made sackcloth my clothing, I became a byword to them. – Psa 69:10-11 ESV
His wearing of sackcloth was associated with weeping and the self humbling act of fasting. How can I not refer you to the prophecy of Isaiah, describing the Messiah as a Man of sorrow, acquainted with grief?
3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. – Isa 53:3 ESV
As I mentioned above, sackcloth is often associated with fasting in the Old Testament, and this fasting should be considered in the most basic understanding of denial. When I hear of fasting, it is true that it is often associated with food. To go without food for a period of time.
As a practical application, I have exercised this practice and would recommend it for the sake of meeting with the Lord in the times of denial. I would caution you however, that fasting may become an act of self righteousness if understood incorrectly. You see I fasted twice a week (I know – I sound like a Pharisee I read about somewhere!) In honesty I didn’t inform anyone I was doing this, other than my sweet wife who wanted to feed me. But I often congratulated myself for my pious works, my dedication and faithfulness.
What utter hogwash, for as I was fasting, I would look up fasting passages in the Word to give me strength and support during my fast.
Until I came across Isaiah 58:1-12. This passage tore a hole in my righteous balloon. It is such a passage that if you are concerned about the Lord’s attitude towards fasting, you need to leave this post, find the passage and dwell, meditate, and understand this description of God’s intent of fasting for the believer.
Are we to fast? Yes.
The affliction we are to put ourselves under may be surprising if you consider Isaiah 58. How little I truly practice the correct, proper practice of fasting! How perfectly and righteously the Lord Jesus performed true fasting.
What can I say about prayer that the believer doesn’t already know. I speak as a man who realizes his prayer life is weak. But the intent of this post is not to dwell on myself, which I do too much.
Please realize that the prayer David speaks of is the prayer of one in grief, in sorrow and sadness, of one in confusion and under persecution. In the greater story, it is a description of the Greater David, and of His prayers for His enemies, of the grief He experienced during His passage through His ministry, of His great determination to seek us out and to go through such suffering for His creation, His people, His enemies.
Is this not the summary phrase of the psalmist’s attitude towards his enemies, those who rose up against him?
Is not the Greater David in grief over His enemies sickness, His enemies pain and suffering?
When we consider the great exchange, the transfer of grief for joy, the exchange of poverty for riches, the trade of death for life, how can we not stand in wonder of His great love.
Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.