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The High and Low Places of My Soul

Picture of Greg Stier
Greg Stier

“They angered him with their high places; they aroused his jealousy with their idols.” Psalm 78:58

I have been reading through the Old Testament and struck by how many times the term “high places” is used…over sixty times. It doesn’t take much research to understand what these high places actually were. These makeshift, mountain top temples were places where idolatry and prostitution took place throughout Israel. When the Jews began to drive out the Canaanites they failed to completely drive out their idolatrous practices. As a result you see an ongoing battle to finally rid Israel of idolatry throughout the books of Kings and Chronicles.

Some of the most godly kings got rid of the high places (“In the eighth year of his reign, while he was still young, he began to seek the God of his father David. In his twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of high places, Asherah poles, carved idols and cast images” 2 Chronicles 34:3.) The ungodly kings kept the high places rolling (“Jeroboam built shrines on high places and appointed priests from all sorts of people, even though they were not Levites” 1 Kings 12:31.) Some relatively godly kings got rid of idolatry on a macro level but left the high places alone (“Although he did not remove the high places, Asa’s heart was fully committed to the LORD all his life” 1 Kings 15:14.)

It seems like high places were the bain of the Old Testament believers’ spiritual existence. Although idolatry was nothing small it seemed like these high places were the “little” things that some Kings would destroy, others would tolerate and several would unabashedly embrace.

As I read about the high places I can’t help but think about the “high places” of my soul. What makeshift temple of the flesh do I run to when I give way to the sinning mood? What are the “little” sins that I sometimes destroy, sometimes tolerate and at other times embrace? As I scan the mountaintops of my soul I have identified three main “high places” that I struggle with from time to time: lust, anger and selfishness.

Although, like the Israelites, I’ve been called to drive out the sinful practices of the former inhabitants (“my old self” ) too often I entertain some of the old habits of the flesh. Although I’ve been given the promised land of new life in Christ I, like some of the wishy washy kings of Israel, seek to worship the true God but at other times bow the knee to the urges of the false gods of sin.

“Lord, make me like the godly kings of Judah. Teach me to, through Christ, claim every portion of the promised land of my new life in Christ. May I destroy the high places that are really the lowest place of my existence as a believer. Teach me to, like David, destroy idolatry and make the tabernacle of my soul a place of unrestrained worship day and night. Show me how to consistently walk in the victory that Christ’s death and resurrection provided and intended.”

“Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.” Romans 6:12-14

Lord help us all to live in the victory that your Son intended. Help us to fully claim the promised land of new life in Christ and destroy every high place for your glory!

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