May God arise, may his enemies be scattered; may his foes flee before him. May you blow them away like smoke— as wax melts before the fire, may the wicked perish before God. But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful. Sing to God, sing in praise of his name, extol him who rides on the clouds ; rejoice before him—his name is the Lord . A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land. When you, God, went out before your people, when you marched through the wilderness, the earth shook, the heavens poured down rain, before God, the One of Sinai, before God, the God of Israel. You gave abundant showers, O God; you refreshed your weary inheritance. Your people settled in it, and from your bounty, God, you provided for the poor. – Psalm 68:1-10
April showers bring May flowers and abundant showers “refresh the weary inheritance” — God provides abundant showers that bless our lives with the “flowers” of His love. This passage contains both rich water imagery and some amazing truths about who God is and who we are. God rides in the clouds high above yet he is also a father for the fatherless, a defender of widows, and He sets the lonely in families. What an amazing picture of a healer king – the same king who will tenderly wash the feet of those he loves and who love Him (John 13:1-17).
I am reminded of a scene from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Return of the King. After the great last battle for middle earth a wounded and worn Aragorn goes to the houses of healing to heal those wounded in battle. The warrior becomes a doctor and both roles suit him. God is like this. He is both like a mighty warrior king battling spiritual forces on our behalf, and a gentle doctor who heals our wounds, both spiritual and physical.
The psalmist compares and contrasts those who follow God (those who “Sing to God, sing in praise of his name, extol him who rides on the clouds ; rejoice before him”) with those who do not, “the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land”. Some might look at this contrast and conclude that God is punishing the rebellious by withholding water. I suppose that is one way to look at it, but both parties live in a sun-scorched land. The difference lies in where and when we seek water.
If we are constantly thirsty for the living water God offers then we pattern our lives in ways that we are planted near the river, connected to the spring, and sink our roots deep into the one river. The opposite of this would be camping out in dry stream beds hoping for rain — the rebellion that the psalmist talks about. C.S. Lewis provided some interesting perspective on the nature of this rebellion in his book the Problem of Pain:
“The doors of Hell are locked on the inside. I do not mean that the ghosts may not wish to come out of Hell, in the vague fashion wherein an envious man “wishes” to be happy: but they certainly do not will even the first preliminary stages of that self-abandonment through which alone the soul can reach any good. They enjoy forever the horrible freedom they have demanded, and are therefore self-enslaved: just as the blessed, forever submitting to obedience, become through all eternity more and more free.” C.S. Lewis the Problem of Pain
This psalm is also another “remembering”, a standing stone, to remember ways that God has been there for the Israelites in the past. God gave the Israelites abundant rain, but not all the time and not always when they thought they wanted or needed it. This is true for Christians as well. We may be blessed with abundant showers, but that does not mean there will not be times of drought. It is who we are (where we are planted), and what we do (where we look for water) during these times when we feel spiritually dry and craving water that define us and our relationship with God.
Prayer: God thank You for providing abundant showers that bless our lives with the “flowers” of your love.