Psalms 7 starts like this:
A shiggaion of David, which he sang to the LORD concerning the words of Cush, a Benjamite.
Which of course started me down the bunny trail of "Who is Cush, the Benjaminite?" Having looked it up in several places, I found that there were four possibilities. One was that it was just what it said- some guy named Cush. This guy apparently had it in for David because of his problems with Saul, who was himself a Benjaminite. Which led to possibility #2- "Cush", which basically means black or dark, was a code word for Saul himself. That would go a long way to explaining what words we were talking about. Even more so was the third choice, Shimei, the dude that stood cursing and throwing rocks at David during his flight from Absalom in 2 Samuel 16. There you have the actual words- "you bloodthirsty man!" Fourth, and quite close to this story, is Hushai the Archite, a friend of David who wormed his way into Absalom's camp and fed him bad strategies. That one I found on a Jewish studies blog, along with a question I had overlooked, that became in fact more important: What is a shiggaion?
Now I missed it at first because MY Bible translated it as "meditation", which rather fits the story. But if you look at the structure of the REST of the Psalm, you'll get another posited meaning. In Psalm 7, you have the first 2 verses setting things up: David's in distress and needs the Lord's help against his enemies.
BUT THEN- from v3-5, David shifts course a little bit, and asks the Lord, "If this is MY fault, then let my enemy trample me." The remaining 12 verses, though, proclaim David's righteousness, and call the wrath of God down on his foes. So this blogger I found explained that some Rabbis translated shiggaion as a "mistaken prayer"- one that should never been prayed. It hinted that the mistake was ever considering the problem was David's fault, and that he never should have called curses down upon himself. The blogger didn't buy that reasoning, and neither did I. But there was something about the whole thing that was nagging at me, and I was still wondering about Cush and what I was supposed to learn from him the next day.
That day was one stressful mess at work, which if I am not grounded usually leads to me having a debate with God over something in the structure of His universe I am not quite grasping. And today, it was the thought: "What is up with God's fascination with pain? " The life on earth is nothing but pain- and it's scant comfort that a lot better Christians that I have to suffer with a lot worse pain. EVERYbody must suffer, everybody must feel pain for some unknown reason. Even His Own Son He made to feel pain. WHY?
(Note: I know that this thoughtline has a million ways to be shot through. But hang on and let me arrive at the way I got there.)
Now arguing with God has lost a LOT of its luster for me (since one always loses, and usually ends up looking stupid), so I just tried NOT to try and understand, just give the whole thing to Him. But Satan is a determined foe, and wasn't going to let me off so easy. Recently, tithing has become a thing for me (be prepared on a post about that someday soon), and as usual, not three weeks after I started REALLY trying to tithe we get a problem- rent going up yet again, and the company is no longer interested in giving longtime tenants a break- followed by what seems to be God's "solution"- a buttload of OT, including "2 Saturdays on, one off" for a while. So of course, the argument I am trying to avoid becomes "Why does this crap happen EVERY time I try to be faithful- and why does God use OT as a solution for EVERY financial woe? Isn't there a point where he can go to the Glick Company and say, "Hey, stop being so darn greedy!"?
Moments later, a pastor I was listening to told the story: A believing wife felt convicted to tithe; unbelieving husband did not. She says nothing, and eventually Hubby accepts Christ and then questions HER on why she didn't force the tithing issue. Asked what he would have counselled, the pastor said, "In this case, the money is not so important to God as the RELATIONSHIP." So the wife was in the right all along. What does this have to do with the story? That my being tested after renewing the tithe didn't constitute a "test" from God on tithing- the test was growing our relationship. And that brought me just about to full circle.
Because I was still frustrated, still questioning, and still felt awful. And then I thought about the rabbis and "mistaken prayer"- and began to see it was not a mistake in the least. I tried again, starting the prayer with, "If this is on ME, help me to see MY problem. And then..."
And that's what it took. Not that it was on me, but I got my answer to the pain problem. Which, by the way, went like this:
GOD: Pain is part of the death man inherited from Adam. Part and parcel of the mortal world. I didn't choose it, man did.
CHRIS: And what about Jesus?
GOD: He was born into the world of man- and that pain became part of HIS heritage, as well. It became a world of pain at Adam's sin, and anyone born on this world will deal with it.
See, now that makes sense to me- and just like that, my anxiety was gone. God is perfect and is trying to make MORE perfection in us. But just like diamonds are broken from a matrix of rock, and has to be cut, chiseled to draw away imperfection, our souls- God's raw material- are trapped in this physical rubble we call flesh. If not for Adam, we might have been BORN diamonds.
And the actual moral of this story- it is NOT a mistake, when you are in distress, to ask God how much of it YOU yourself are causing. That reflection is humbling, and God rewards a humble spirit- which I didn't have when I was "handing the problem to God" by flinging it on the floor in frustration.
Think maybe I'm on to something here? One thing I always taught kids in my Sunday School is that God has a way of reinforcing His point. And just before I started typing this out, I got Chuck Swindoll's daily devotional, which read:
There are numerous riddles in life that remain wrapped in mystery and shrouded inside an enigma.
The sea, for example, is an unexplainable phenomenon. Who can fathom its tide affected strangely by the moon . . . ? We manage to continue on, though brilliant scientists have been trying to solve and/or explain life's mysteries for years . . . .But when God leaves us with a mystery that isn't solved in a week or two, most of us go through desperate struggles believing that He is good or fair. I mean, after all, if we're going to trust a good God, He should do only good things, right? No fair doing mysterious stuff!
The Bible that I read simply doesn't present that as the way life is. Yet the world I live in seems to expect that. And that's certainly the cynic's line: "You mean to tell me you are going to trust a God who treats you like that?"
When will we ever learn that cynics have no capacity to understand the profound and unfathomable ways of God?