The king rejoices in your strength, Lord.
How great is his joy in the victories you give! Be exalted in your strength, Lord we will sing and praise your might.
(Psalm 21:1, 13)
It’s All About Him!
Christmas is always a special time for me—a time for giving and receiving gifts, for spending time with family and friends, for feasting and singing, for remembering the past and looking toward the future. But most of all, of course, the season of Christmas is about…Christ. Even as I write that last line I am syaing to myself, “How corny. Like they’ve never heard that one before!” And yet, it bears constant reminding that Christmas isn’t first and foremost about the things we give and get; it isn’t about the stuff we do or even the people we do stuff with. In fact, Christmas isn’t about us at all. Christmas is about Christ.
Christmas is about the Father’s love for us, even before it is about our need for Him; it is about the Son’s willingness to give, long before it is about our decision to receive; it’s about the Spirit’s revelation of God, before it is about our belief in Him. It’s all about Him. Everything I might do—every gift, every praise, every celebration, every joy—is simply my feeble attempt to respond in gratitude to the amazing thing God has already done. That’s what Christmas is about.
But these Thirsty Thursdays are a walk through the psalms. So, what does any of this Christmas talk have to do with the psalms?
It strikes me that our psalm this week gets it right. Psalm 21 is a song of victory, likely written to celebrate a specific military triumph by Israel’s army. It is actually a companion piece to Psalm 20, which is a prayer for blessing on the king before the battle. Apparently, that battle was won and there is cause for great celebration. But the author of the song doesn’t talk about the battle, he doesn’t praise the heroic efforts of the army or the brilliance of its generals, he doesn’t even shower flattering words on the king. Instead, before he considers anything else he directs all of the praise to God. “The king rejoices in YOUR strength, Lord…we will sing and praise YOUR might.” The songwriter praises God for answered prayers, long life and unending blessings. He praises God for what God has done and what God will do. The Lord fights the battle for us, and the Lord invites us into the joy of victory, but God alone is worthy to receive the glory and honor and praise. It’s all about Him.
During this holiday season, I want to remember that it’s all about Jesus. Jesus didn’t come to earth and dwell among us because we asked for it or deserved it; he didn’t come because he had to or because he needed to settle some cosmic score. He came because of his own love for us—even though we didn’t love him back. He is the One who comes, the One who cares, the One who loves. And when he came, he changed everything. Because of Jesus I have hope for the future, even if I can’t see it; because of him I can know what peace is, even when all around me is chaos; because of him I can share the joy of the victory he has given; because of his love I can receive and offer love, even to people who may not love me back.
It’s all about Jesus. He’s done all the work, and I get to enjoy his victory and his blessing. Jesus is in the center of the Christmas story. Make him the center of your own story. Stay thirsty for him!