WORSHIP – The Boasting Instinct.
David was in fear for his life! Hounded by King Saul he had fled for refuge to King Abimelech. Abimilech was minded to kill him and he had escaped only by pretending to be insane. What would we have left like? – depressed?, lonely?, angry?
When he wrote his psalm about it we find instead that he says “I will praise the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be on my lips. My soul will boast in the LORD; let the afflicted hear and rejoice” (psalms 34 v 2-3)
David models and encourages praise in the midst of difficulties He makes a “soul decision” that we would do well to copy –“my soul will boast in the LORD”
Both individually and corporately the people of God need to make the same decision to praise God. – “In God we make our boast all day long, and we will praise your name forever” (Psalm 44v8) In this parallel statement the psalmist gives us a good, and non religious, definition of praise – to boast in our God.
If we are honest there is a part of us that likes to boast! It starts early, with a primary school star for good spelling, or art, and can grow to epidemic proportions as we boast of what we, or later our children, have done or achieved. Fastest, tallest, brightest, strongest, prettiest, richest, highest… you name it and we can boast about it!
The truth is, of course, that we would have nothing to boast about except through the goodness of God – who deserves all the praise, since every good gift comes from him. What do we have that God hasn’t given us? Jeremiah speaks to us when he says “This is what the LORD says, “let not the wise man boast of his wisdom, nor the strong man his strength, or the rich man boast of his riches – but let him who boasts boast about this; that he understands and knows me”
I think the LORD wants to restore and re-use our capacity for boasting!
Firstly, the Holy Spirit can help us live in humility so that we are actually able to boast in our weakness . This is very counter cultural but allows us to be real and God to be glorified. Paul models this for us “If I must boast I will boast of the things that show my weaknesses” (2 Cor 11 v 30) – there is something very attractive about a people who are real with each other. Boasting in weakness also allows more opportunity for God to show his power; “my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 11 v 30 and 12 v 9-10) Paul’s conclusion was that he would “therefore boast all the more about his weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” Let’s be real and expect an increase in his power among us.
Secondly, let’s use this boasting instinct to praise God. “No one may boast before Him … so, as it is written, “let him who boasts boast in the LORD” (1Cor 1 v28-31)
When we boast of ourselves it is inappropriate – the bits that are great are the work of God! But when we boast of the LORD it is entirely appropriate – He is bigger, stronger, larger and longer, wiser, richer, kinder and better than anyone!!
So … the next time you are not sure what to do in a praise time – make a “soul decision” to try some boasting!! – My soul will boast in the LORD!
P.S. (Who knows, “boasting” could even change our definition of evangelism!)