I’ve been listening to how people describe themselves. I’m noticing how I describe myself too. In different contexts this week, I’ve been grateful and exhausted, nervous, excited, fearful, irritated, and hopeful. I haven’t once described myself as confident.
Maybe that’s because I’m a woman who isn’t supposed to be. Or maybe, as a Christian, I don’t want to sound arrogant. Or maybe it’s because I’m an ethnic minority, an immigrant, or just insecure. Or perhaps it has something to do with my faith.
There is a boldness to the Christian walk and boasting in our faith. A confident assurance that’ll have us selling all we own (Matthew 13:44), ditching lucrative careers (Mark 2:14), and knowing the impossible is possible with God (Luke 1:37).
Are you a biblical boaster? We should be.
But those who wish to boast should boast in this alone: that they truly know me and understand that I am the LORD who demonstrates unfailing love and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth and that I delight in these things. I, the LORD, have spoken! (Jeremiah 9:24)
The prophet is writing, but it’s God speaking.
Don’t boast in your wisdom, wise man. And you mighty man, don’t boast in your strength. Rich man—don’t you dare boast of your wealth. Boasting is good; only when you boast of me that you understand and know who I Am. And who am I? I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness on the earth, for I delight in these things.
But you might say, boast has such an ugly connotation in the English language. It means praising oneself extravagantly in speech and speaking of oneself with excessive pride.
Yes, it’s icky if you or I boast in ourselves, but is there any language on the planet, any words in any language adequate to express the wonder and mysteries of our God? Not only do our lips struggle to boast of God, but language itself buckles under the glorious weight of his name.
But God still wants us to give it a try.
“Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth. For I am God, and there is none besides me. ‘Only in Yahweh,’ one shall say to me, ‘are righteousness and strength.’ In Yahweh, all the offspring of Israel shall be in the right, and they shall boast.” (Isaiah 45:22, 24-25)
I went to Psalm 27 for the ending—because I wanted to remind myself that I would see the goodness of the Lord in my life—but I stopped at the beginning because David said the words I couldn’t.
Yet, I will be confident. (Psalm 27:3)
Boasting and confidence are linked. Intimacy with God is the basis for our biblical boast. But we can’t boast about a God we don’t know. So boasting is also linked to faith and, ultimately, the regenerating work of God’s Spirit, who calls us to an awareness of glory.
Before we can boast in the Lord, we must know him. Know him. Not know of him or cool facts about him, but actually know him. And as we grow in this holy relationship, our boasting will increase. We’ll hear it in our prayers and see it reflected in our lives.
This is how I determined my lack of confidence in the Lord isn’t mainly due to my baggage but a lack of faith. When I know who he is, my mouth will open in praise. Intimacy with God makes me brave.
Confidence in Action
It’s the David of Goliath fame who’s writing Psalm 27. He’s past his glory days as a child giant-slayer and has been slain a few times by his sin. Testing and affliction have come to him as fire to burn away arrogance and confidence in personal wisdom, might, and wealth. And so, he takes ink to scroll and boasts in the LORD.
The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1)
Who are these adversaries that don’t frighten King David because the LORD is his light and salvation? They are flesh-eating evildoers (27:2). An enemy army encamped around him, set on bringing trouble (27:3, 5).
David isn’t using hyperbole or speaking romantically. He’s acknowledging real evil. Armies determined to bring war and death have surrounded him. The predator is waiting, planning. In David’s day, this spoke of enemy nations of the earth and demonic antagonists working behind the scenes. Evil is physical and spiritual.
For David, a time of trouble was a time to boast in the LORD. According to the New Bible Commentary, this psalm shows faith is sufficient when enemies become armies and enmity, open warfare.
But to boast like that about God, we’ve got to take the time to know him deeply. With the grace extended to us from on high, we’ve got to do the soul work. We’ve got to get in the Word and let the Word get in us. We’ve got to listen to the still, small voice of God’s Spirit and walk by faith. We should feel the conviction of personal sin (not merely judging others for theirs) and move to repentance. We need to talk with God and listen to God in prayer. We’ve got to love the world with the love of God.
As Christians, we can pray what’s on our hearts but let our prayers move from soggy suitcases of doubt, insecurity, and demands to tactical rucksacks designed to survive the apocalypse.
Learn who God is by reading his Word (the Bible) and getting near his people (the Church). Pray big. Pray boldly. Wait. Weep. Lament. Repent. Be silent. But please, stop whining. This world isn’t Disneyland, and prayers aren’t wishes. They are powerful, source-direct words by faith that transport us beyond the confines of earth and into the heavenly throne room of a gracious God.
Learn who he is. Accept by faith who you are in him. Boast about that. And you will say, like David, when darkness encircles you, “yet, I will be confident.”
"Lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily entangles and run with endurance the race set before you. "