Knowing Christ in Psalm 17

verses 1-2
Hear a just cause, O Yahweh,
Attend to my cry;
Give ear to my prayer which is not from deceitful lips.
Let my vindication come from Your presence;
Let Your eyes look on the things that are upright.

Notice that we address our prayers to Yahweh. We do not speak to the dead in prayer. We do not ask the saints to pray for us. We do not need the grace or attention of Mary. We need Yahweh.

This Yahweh is the Triune God—the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit is Yahweh. So in praying to Yahweh, we are asking the personal God of the universe to hear our cry.

There are no other gods. No allah, no hindu gods, not the false “heavenly father” (and “heavenly mother”) of mormonism, not the anti-father of the jehovah’s witness. These are false/demonic spirits posing as “gods” and receiving false worship.

We pray to Yahweh. No one else.

We come to the Father, in the name and by the mediation of the Son, and by the prompting and power of the Holy Spirit.

Because prayer is to the one true God, we recognize God’s holiness—both the “otherness” and the “purity” of God. His eyes look on things that are upright. He will not hear the wicked mind, the unrepentant heart, or the deceitful lips. But God hears the cry of the upright. His presence vindicates them. How can the presence of a holy God vindicate us? This is only possible in Christ.

The Lord Jesus is the refuge in which we stand in the presence of God.

By upright, it does not mean perfect. Being in Christ, we are upright by his merits, not ours. This just means that we do not “earn” God’s approval. Those in Christ are loved unconditionally. We are vindicated by Immanuel, “God with us”. He is our Savior. He is the only way sinners like us can stand in God’s presence.

However, we must not fall off the other side of the horse and say that we can sin without consequence. I may love my daughter unconditionally, and yet require obedience from her. There is no contradiction.

God loves all who are in Christ. Yet God still hates sin. Yet by His grace He has caused us to be born again (1 Peter 1:3). So we have a renewed mind that loves the Lord, a repentant heart that turns from sin, and lips that have been cleansed by God (Isaiah 6:7).

We do not bring glory with us into His presence. Rather, His glory changes us by His presence (2 Cor. 3:18). We are changed by staring at the face of Christ.

This is not looking at a picture of “Jesus” (or whoever that iconic long-haired white guy is). No, it comes by faith through the Spirit. We behold Christ by faith. Not through conjuring up a mental picture or staring at an icon. This beholding is believing the truth and glory of Christ in the gospel. We behold it in the proclamation of the Word, and the study of the Word, and the mediation on the Word. Not because accumulating knowledge itself is our desire. Rather because “we would see Jesus” (John 12:21), compared to knowing Jesus everything else is crap (Paul said it not me, Philippians 3:8). Knowing the Lord Jesus is seeing God’s glory, character, attributes, and power on display. Do not take it for granted that you believe some middle eastern guy was both God and man, that he died for your sins, was buried, walked out the tomb on the third day, is seated at the right hand of God, and will come again in judgment and glory.

If you believe that, it is because God said “Let there be light in _______’s heart” as it were. He opened your eyes to the magnificent glory of the person and work of the Son of God.

Meditate on that, dear one. Let 2 Corinthians 3-5 seep into your heart.

See Jesus. Toss the icons, low-budget movies, and “I saw Jesus” books.

In Christ, we are the upright. Though our prayers can be hindered by our sin, we turn from that sin in a true cry to the Lord, and we are heard. Those who are on the vine, abide in Christ (John 15:5). Apart from Him, we can do nothing. Not even pray.

In Him we are the vindicated children of the light praying to our Father who is in heaven.

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