The Power & Paradox of Perception: The Psalmist


When the wicked seem to be living large and looking strong

There is an interesting narrative in 1 Samuel 17. The story’s headline is well-known. It is a universal metaphor the world over. It is the story of David and the giant Philistine, Goliath. What is relevant to us is not so much David’s actual victory but how he got to the place of representing Israel in the man-to-man, one-on-one combat that took place.

We come to another example that shows the impact of how we see things. It matters so much; influencing our words and actions. It is a paradox, and a very powerful one at that. What and how we see our world determines what we think, influences our emotion and shapes our action.

Psalm 73 is a fascinating Psalm. It begins with an affirmation of the goodness of God to the children of Israel and to those whose hearts are pure. The writer then dedicates a huge amount of space to a litany of complaints; as he looks at the injustice of life, the prosperity of the wicked, the well-being of those who are evil; how they live seemingly long and large with nothing wrong and how in contrast, those who seek to live in a way that pleases God were seemingly poor, wretched lives filled with pain. The Psalmist was conflicted, angry, disturbed and confused. His perception was clearly seriously affecting his relationship with God.

However there came a turning point. We see it in the seventeenth verse. It was the day he went into the sanctuary, or the house of God. He got a fresh perspective on life, of God and himself. He was standing where God stood and could see what God saw. He got a proper view of the destiny of the wicked. This was a pivotal, life-changing moment. It changed his words, it changed his understanding of God and it changed his relationship with God, as he understood the destiny of those that do evil.

The simple truth is where we stand and dare I say who we stand with, will determine what we see. The question is, where are you standing, and who are you standing with?

Copyright Emmanuel Mbakwe 2013©

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