I still remember the moment when I realized that our images of God make a real difference in our spiritual lives. While sitting on an airplane and a moment away from life’s typical distractions, I realized that I had only ever prayed to God as a cosmic authority figure who was harsh and never quite satisfied. So, I had learned to look at myself and others from a harsh and never-quite-satisfied perspective.
I then wondered, what if God was more like my mother than a cosmic judge and authority? What if God is proud of us even before evaluating our merits? What if God wants to sit and chat with us and listen to what matters to us before quizzing us on our Bible knowledge? What if God simply wants to be with you like a loving grandparent?
These royal Psalms always make me cringe a little bit because of how they portray God. God as a king who takes many captives and drives armies away in fear with tens of thousands of chariots is not really a comfortable image of God for me. These aren’t the ways I tend to think about God in my own prayer life.
And then I read this Psalm a little bit closer. God isn’t only a king who defeats anyone who comes against him, but God is also “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows … God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing.” That’s not the behavior I expect from the warrior described in the rest of this Psalm. This isn’t what I expect from any king in our world today, if I’m being honest.
What if God not only defends us with the wrath of a vengeful monarch, but also reaches out to us with the care of an adoptive father? What if God understands our loneliness in these times and connects us into a new family and at the same time liberates prisoners? This is a God that not only expands my spiritual vision of who our God is, but also expands my ideas about what a king could be. This is a God whose example has the power to transform me and our world.
O God, teach us to see you in new ways today. Reveal yourself to us in ways that make us uncomfortable and that puts our souls to rest in your faithfulness toward us. May we embody your character and love to the fatherless, widowed, lonely, and prisoners around us today. Amen.