I can't count the times that I have found Divine comfort in Psalm 139 through the years. It is an amazing prayer David wrote that glorifies God as the One who created and knew him intimately long before David came to know God. It speaks of God's ingenious original design woven within both the visible and invisible parts of the human being. It speaks to ways in which we are "image bearers" as the crowning touch of God's creative work. Here at the very end of the Psalm David prays this vulnerable prayer that if there are any hurtful ways in him that lie beneath his anxious thoughts, that God would expose and resolve them.
In the first translations I read as a young believer, the "hurtful way" of v. 24 is rendered as "wicked way". I always found this wording to be somewhat out of tune with the spirit of the prayer. Recently, I noticed the literal Hebrew says "way of pain" and my heart exploded with inspiration.
As a pastor and spiritual director of over 40 years now, I have discovered that there are typically unresolved pains deep in the souls of people who are manifesting anxiety, fear, depression, rage, bitterness, addictions, unhealthy relational patterns...and the list goes on. I have also discovered hidden and repressed pains in my own life as the root problems to the visible brokenness in my way of being and style of relating. You have probably heard the expression, "Hurt people hurt people". A friend of mine, Bob Edwards, once told me, "If we do not resolve our pains vertically, they will come out sideways." Wow...that one stuck with me!
Our "ways of pain" may be rooted in injustices done against us, perceived injustices and/or our own trespasses and sinful reactions to circumstances and people. Whatever the case, the evil one is always looking for a personal narrative to twist and exploit and confine us into some kind of spiritual, mental, emotional or relational "prison cell". Often, he accomplishes this significantly through the angst of our childhood. Too often, these matrices of lies...or strongholds (2 Corinthians 10:4)...plague us and drive us well into our adulthood.
However, the beautiful and wonderful Body of Christ is arising now with mighty spiritual weapons for the destruction and resolution of these "ways of pain" that have jerked us and our friends around long enough. We are becoming skilled at accessing and applying the power of the cross and resurrection of Jesus deeply into human hearts by the compassion of Christ, the Spirit's counsel and the power of personal prayer. Let's be like our Master and receive the anointing of the Holy Spirit to "heal the brokenhearted" (Isaiah 61:1) as the first order of business in our ministry to hurting people. God will "rewrite the text of our lives as we open the book of our heart to his eyes." (2 Samuel 22:25 Message.) As my friend, Bob Hartley says, "God is not only the God of 'salvation', but the God of 'solve-ation'". I encourage you to pray through Psalm 139 and the especially "dangerous" prayer of vs. 23-24 and then witness how our Heavenly Father will answer and transform you in the image of Jesus more and more!
A VOICE OF HOPE
Michael Sullivant's Blog
I am a child of God, husband, father, grandfather, spiritual father, author, speaker and hope coach.