Oklahoma Speaker of the House T.W. Shannon brought lessons from Psalm 27 to OBU students during a weekly chapel service Wednesday, Feb. 20. Despite inclement weather, Shannon traveled to Shawnee from the Capitol to speak on Bison Hill.
Shannon's message, continuing OBU's chapel theme of "The Psalms," took lessons from the writer, King David, and applied the truths to daily life.
In the first portion of the psalm, David proclaims that despite being pursued by his foes, his strength and confidence rests in God. The same principles hold true today, Shannon said, including in his political work.
"There is a saying: 'In politics, friends come and go, but enemies accumulate,'" Shannon said. "As we think about all of the challenges our nation is facing right now, all of the gridlock we see in D.C., we see that to be true. But one of the reasons I chose this psalm to really speak of, and one of the reasons it's my favorite, is because I like verse 11 where David says, 'Lord, grant me a plain path.'"
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"I appreciate David, with all of his gifts and all of his talents, just acknowledging, 'Lord, make it plain for me,'" Shannon said. "Make it plain as I try to make the decisions that are best for me, for my family, as I try to make the decisions that are best for this state. Show me a plain path that I might see it and not have to wonder, 'Is this the direction you would have me to go?'"
The psalm gives insight into the person David was, Shannon said. The verses reveal that David understood God had a purpose for his life. Despite the many challenges David faced -- his temptations, his struggles in humanity -- Shannon noted God prepared David throughout his life to be ready when God's call came to slay Goliath and to fulfill his other roles in life.
David, in his devotion to God, recognized his life belonged to God, Shannon said. Just as God's life assignments for David varied from moments of grandeur to humility, God's purpose and life assignments for each person also may vary today. However, the psalmist notes God also promises to faithfully remain alongside his people.
"We are all given different assignments in life," Shannon said. "Yes, we want an assignment of peace and we want an assignment of prosperity, and we want an assignment of good health and a great family and wealth -- we all want that assignment. But the truth is, sometimes God gives us an assignment that isn't as glamorous as we might want."
"As we think about our assignment for Christ, like David had an assignment, let's always recognize that assignment isn't always going to be just of good fortune and good health, sometimes it's an assignment of struggle, sometimes it's an assignment of pain, but it's so we can be an example to others," he said.
The psalm also reveals that David recognized the power of God, Shannon said. Just as a person with a large family knows fully that someone always "has his back," Shannon said David was confident in the ability of God to sustain him.
"The thing that made David someone after God's own heart, I believe, is that David believed his God was the most powerful father between heaven and in earth," Shannon said. "He always recognized that no matter what the challenge was, no matter what he was facing, his God is bigger than the challenge. He believed in the power of God."
Shannon noted his favorite part of the Scripture is verse 14: "Wait for the Lord; be courageous and let your heart be strong. Wait for the Lord" (HCSB). Whether a person is waiting for God's divine intervention or waiting for God's answers to prayer, the verse says to wait on the Lord. Yet Christian believers have an uncanny knack for doubting God, even though he has proven himself faithful in the past, Shannon said.
Recently, his 7-year-old daughter wanted to spend the night at a sleepover, but Shannon and his wife felt it was safer for their daughter to sleep at home. In struggling to explain their decision to his distraught daughter, he asked her, "Do you believe your parents love you? I need you to trust me that we want the best for you." Even as he spoke the words, he said he felt convicted that God often has to provide a similar reminder for Christians.
"As our faith is tested, as we learn to wait on the Lord as David has called us to do, I think we can be reminded that God's power, his presence, is always with us," Shannon said.
As students complete their education and move into adult life, Shannon encouraged them to also remember that they should share the love of God with everyone they meet. In his daily work in politics, he said he begins by praying that his peers - even those who oppose him -- will recognize that he has love for them.
If students ever feel discouraged that in this contemporary culture they do not see others acknowledging the truths of God as indicated in Psalm 27, Shannon reported that, as he travels across the state, he encounters people daily who seek to follow God. He urged the students to also remain faithful in following and trusting God.