Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Lifting up my soul to God
Today I'm sharing this older post (actually a combination of two older posts) concerning lifting up our souls to God. This little study was a great encouragement to me. I hope these thoughts will encourage others, as well:
This morning as I began my prayer time, the phrase "I lift up my soul unto Thee" came to my mind. I felt in a very real way that I was lifting my soul up to God in prayer. I could not recall for sure what psalm these words are from, so I quickly looked them up in the concordance at the back of the Ryrie Study Bible I happened to be using. I found three verses with similar phrasing, though there may well be more. After I finished my quiet time, I decided to look at these verses in Spurgeon's Treasury of David. Here is the first one.
"Unto Thee, O LORD, do I lift up my soul." (Psalm 25:1)
Spurgeon wrote: "See how the holy soul flies to its God like a dove to its cote. When the storm winds are out, the Lord's vessels put about and make for their well-remembered harbor of refuge."
I love both of the images that he uses -- the soul being lifted to God as a dove flies to its place of shelter, and a vessel fleeing from the storm to a familiar harbor. That is exactly how I feel.
Spurgeon continues: "It is but mockery to uplift the hands and the eyes unless we also bring our souls into our devotions. True prayer may be described as the soul rising from earth to have fellowship with heaven; it is taking a journey upon Jacob's ladder, leaving our cares and fears at the foot, and meeting with a covenant God at the top. Very often the soul cannot rise, she has lost her wings, and is heavy and earth-bound; more like a burrowing mole than a soaring eagle. At such dull seasons, we must not give over prayer, but must, by God's assistance, exert all our power to lift up our hearts."
Robert Mossom wrote in 1657: "Unto Thee in the fulness of Thy merits, unto Thee in the riches of Thy grace; unto Thee in the embraces of Thy love and comforts of Thy Spirit."
Originally, I took two posts to share the other verses and insights I found on lifting our souls up to the Lord. I decided to add the second post to this one now (September 2011) to make it simpler. Truly, as I pray each morning, I do lift my soul up to Him in praise, adoration, confession, petition, and intercession.
The second verse I found was this one:
"Rejoice the soul of Thy servant; for unto Thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul." (Psalm 86:4)
Charles Spurgeon, in The Treasury of David, wrote: "I look for all my happiness in Thee only, and therefore, 'unto Thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.'
"I know that the nearer I am to Thee the greater is my joy, therefore be pleased to draw me nearer while I am laboring to draw near. It is not easy to lift a soul at all; it needs a strong shoulder at the wheel when a heart sticks in the miry clay of despondency... but the Lord will take the will for the deed, and come in with a hand of almighty grace to raise His poor servant out of the earth and up to heaven."
Those of you familiar with The Treasury of David know that not all the writings in it are those of Spurgeon himself. Following his commentary on each psalm, he also has a section called "Explanatory Notes and Quaint Sayings" which quote other Bible scholars, pastors, etc. of his time and before. It is worth reading what these godly people wrote.
In the "Explanatory Notes and Quaint Sayings" for Psalm 86, Spurgeon quotes John Gill concerning verse 4:
"It [the phrase 'I lift up my soul'] denotes the devotion, fervency, heartiness, and sincerity of his prayer: the doing of it with a true heart, the lifting up of the heart with the hands unto God."
Isn't that wonderfully put? It was a blessing to me.
The third verse I found was this one:
"Cause me to hear Thy lovingkindness in the morning: for in Thee do I trust. Cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto Thee." (Psalm 143:8)
This, I know now, was actually the verse that came to my mind during my prayer time this week. It is a verse that I have memorized. I love this verse! It says so much about the Christian life in only 33 words. Someone has said (and I agree with them) that this verse could be the theme verse for every believer. Can you imagine how different things would be if every believer lived out this verse?
Concerning this verse, Spurgeon wrote: "When David was in any difficulty as to his way he lifted his soul towards God Himself, and then he knew that he could not go very far wrong. If the soul will not rise of itself we must lift it, lift it up to God.... Let us attend to David's example, and when our heart is low, let us heartily endeavor to lift it up... to the Lord Himself."
Let us be doing just that!