Have you ever prayed the Psalms? I mean, not just read them like “reading Scripture,” but prayed them as if they are your own prayers? If you do or have, you have likely come across some interesting passages. Interesting as in, not very comfortable to pray out of your own heart/mind/mouth. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about…
Though the proud may utterly deride me
I keep to your law.
I remember your decrees of old
and these, Lord, console me.
I am seized with indignation at the wicked
who forsake your law.
Your commands have become my song
in the land of exile.
Sounds good enough, right? Praying that, though, as myself, makes me feel a bit uncomfortable. I certainly do not always keep His law (even the new Law of Love). I’m not so perfectly good that I sit around being angry at all the wicked folks around me. Uhm, David, you may need to chill.
I think we fairly often take too much of Scripture like this as prescriptive, as something we should emulate, simply because it’s “in the Bible.” Sometimes, we are reading thoughts and prayers of those who are thinking and praying out of brokenness, out of sinful self-absorption. In other words, David (or whomever wrote whatever Psalm we may be reading/praying) may be writing/saying things that aren’t necessarily good – that aren’t things we need to think or pray.
Sure, we should read them as part of the purposeful message of God to us. We should understand them as something God wanted us to see, to take in, in the context of everything else. But we can’t always be seeing everything that is written as a positive example for our own internal direction.
So, read the Psalms, please. Pray them – I would encourage you to do this. Let the prayers become yours, as you are able. But understand them as they were written. Get that David was pretty messed up a decent bit of the time. He was scrambling for God like we all do, and he didn’t always get it right. He may well have thought too highly of himself from time to time. Mostly, though, we see that other side balancing things out – the humble side – the yearning for God as the deer pants for running water side. This, I believe, is what we should allow ourselves to be drawn to.