Have you ever experienced the cold judgment in this statement? “Oh. You’re one of those.”
The Sons of Korah knew what it was like to be maligned as descendants of a disgraced ancestor.
In Psalm 43, they plead for vindication. They have been falsely accused. They know what it is like to be misunderstood. When others rejected them, particularly people who carried religious authority, they may have felt that God rejected them too. When it happens often enough, the subjects of dismissal may start to question their own perceptions. Sometimes they may doubt their value and place in society. At other times they protest their innocence. It’s confusing. They need clarity on their journey to the place of worship. They write:
Plead for me; clear my name, O God. Prove me innocent
before immoral people;
Save me from their lies,
their unjust thoughts and deeds.
You are the True God—my shelter, my protector, the one whom I lean on.
Why have You turned away from me? Rejected me?
Why must I go around, overwrought, mourning,
suffering under the weight of my enemies?
O my God, shine Your light and truth
to help me see clearly,
To lead me to Your holy mountain,
to Your home.
Psalm43:1-3 The Voice
I wonder if this is why one of the first people to whom Jesus revealed his true identity as Messiah was a shamed, rejected woman from an ethnic group held in contempt by Jews – the Samaritan woman at the well. He told her that soon the place of worship would not be a physical location, but in spirit and in truth. What a difference that encounter made in the way she saw herself! That joyful moment instantly transformed her into a bold missionary. “Come and see!” she urged neighbours back in the town. She was no longer avoiding anyone.
Hiding is a characteristic of people who carry shame. It’s hard to be yourself among those who would judge you for your associations. Worship that is pure and holy requires a level of trusting candour. It makes us uncomfortably aware that others have said they don’t consider members of a shamed tribe as acceptable. It’s easy to subconsciously wear their judgment after years of disrespect.
Our mothers taught us as very young children that to be polite and considerate we need to keep some parts of ourselves hidden in good company. I am in no way advocating public nudity! I’m just saying there is no point to wearing metaphorical masks or costumes in God’s presence. It’s not as if he doesn’t know everything already. In a sense honest, humble prayer means praying naked (metaphorically!).
When we invite God to shine his pure clarifying light on our lives, it will expose things we need to acknowledge, confess and allow the Lord to clean up. It shows us how to change direction. That purifying light will also expose lies we have believed. It reveals the difference between false identity and true identity. We are not who the accuser says we are. We are who our Heavenly Father says we are. We have nothing to hide. This is freedom. It is a freedom the Sons of Korah long for. Verse 4:
Then I will go to God’s altar with nothing to hide.
I will go to God, my rapture;
I will sing praises to You and play my strings,
unloading my cares, unleashing my joys, to You, God, my God.
Psalm 43 ends with the same declaration as Psalm 42. I’ll leave verse 5 here in The Voice paraphrase.
O my soul, why are you so overwrought?
Why are you so disturbed?
Why can’t I just hope in God? Despite all my emotions, I will hope in God again.
I will believe and praise the One
who saves me and is my life,
My Savior and my God.
The journey continues.