Monthly Archives: October 2015

Psalm 34:1-22

1I will bless the Lord at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
let the humble hear and be glad.
Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
and let us exalt his name together!

I sought the Lord, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant,
and their faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
and saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints,
for those who fear him have no lack!
10 The young lions suffer want and hunger;
but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.

11 Come, O children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
12 What man is there who desires life
and loves many days, that he may see good?
13 Keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from speaking deceit.
14 Turn away from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.

15 The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous
and his ears toward their cry.
16 The face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
17 When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears
and delivers them out of all their troubles.
18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit.

19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
but the Lord delivers him out of them all.
20 He keeps all his bones;
not one of them is broken.
21 Affliction will slay the wicked,
and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.
22 The Lord redeems the life of his servants;
none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.

 

 

One of my favorite psalms of all time: a poem written when David faked some crazy behavior in front of Abimelech and was able to escape to safety. He tells us that he sought YHWH, and YHWH answered him and delivered him form all his fears. He will repeat the essence of this phrase in 17 (“[the LORD] delivers them out of all their troubles”) and 19 (“many are the afflictions of the righteous, but he LORD delivers him out of them all”). As in other cases when God had delivered him from danger, he responds with both praise (1-3) and a promise to spread the word about God’s good deeds (11). He describes himself as a poor man who cried out to God and was delivered from his troubles.

 

I remember leaning heavily on this passage of scripture when I was sick. The Lord was in the process of delivering me from all my fears, even when I didn’t know it. He is especially near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit (34).

 

Whatever your trouble today, you can call out to Him. He will answer you, and He will deliver you.

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Psalm 33:1-22

1Shout for joy in the Lord, O you righteous!
Praise befits the upright.
Give thanks to the Lord with the lyre;
make melody to him with the harp of ten strings!
Sing to him a new song;
play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.

For the word of the Lord is upright,
and all his work is done in faithfulness.
He loves righteousness and justice;
the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord.

By the word of the Lord the heavens were made,
and by the breath of his mouth all their host.
He gathers the waters of the sea as a heap;
he puts the deeps in storehouses.

Let all the earth fear the Lord;
let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him!
For he spoke, and it came to be;
he commanded, and it stood firm.

10 The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing;
he frustrates the plans of the peoples.
11 The counsel of the Lord stands forever,
the plans of his heart to all generations.
12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!

13 The Lord looks down from heaven;
he sees all the children of man;
14 from where he sits enthroned he looks out
on all the inhabitants of the earth,
15 he who fashions the hearts of them all
and observes all their deeds.
16 The king is not saved by his great army;
a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.
17 The war horse is a false hope for salvation,
and by its great might it cannot rescue.

18 Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him,
on those who hope in his steadfast love,
19 that he may deliver their soul from death
and keep them alive in famine.

20 Our soul waits for the Lord;
he is our help and our shield.
21 For our heart is glad in him,
because we trust in his holy name.
22 Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us,
even as we hope in you.

 

 

According to the psalmist, praise is perfectly appropriate behavior for the upright. After all, YHWH is ultimately faithful, and His whole creation is full of the evidence of His sovereignty and faithfulness. As in Psalm 8, testimony about God’s celestial might begins with an acknowledgement of the created order: the very earth and sea bespeak the glory of YHWH. He is great, majestic, and powerful….and He is sovereign, looking down on the inhabitants of the earth. None can deliver from Him, and none can penetrate His protection. He cares for those who fear Him, and He delivers souls from death. He provides for His people, and is their help and shield.

 

This is a helpful psalm when dealing with adversity. No financial problem, relationship problem or medical issue can remain prominent in the face of the realization of God’s mighty power. YHWH is still in the delivering business, and is still sovereign over His creation. Our soul still waits for the Lord, and He is still our help and shield. In righteousness we learn to wait faithfully for Him, and we are comforted by His steadfast love. That’s why praise is appropriate behavior—it is an honest response to God’s greatness and faithfulness.

Psalm 32:1-11

[a maskil of David]

1Happy is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sin is covered.

2Happy is the man against whom the LORD does not reckon guilt,

               And in whose spirit is no deceit.

3When I was silent, my bones were worn out through my groaning all day long.

4For day and night, Your hand was heavy upon me;

               my strength was dried up as the heat of the summer. Selah!

5I acknowledged my sin to You, and did not cover my guilt.

               I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and You forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah!

6Therefore let everyone who is faithful pray to You at a time when You may be found,

               Surely in the rush of great flood waters, they will not reach him.

7You are a hiding place to me;

You preserve me from trouble and surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah!

8I will instruct you and teach you in the way that you should go;

               I will guide you with My eye upon you.

9Do not be like the horse or the mule which do not have understanding,

               And must be curbed with the bit and bridle or they will not come to you.

10Many are the sorrows of the wicked,

but the one who trusts in the LORD will be surrounded by loyal love.

11Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, you righteous!

               Shout for joy, all you upright in heart!

 

The psalmist writes of his sin, and how he deals with it before his Maker. He has confesses it, and has not hidden it or attempted to justify himself of it. He has not tried to cover it up, but the merciful Lord has done exactly that…He has covered the sin and no longer reckons it against him. When he failed to wrestle with his sin, and kept silent, his conscience weighed heavily on him. But when he acknowledged that transgression, the Lord forgave him. He then turns thematically to a syllogism: therefore let everyone who is faithful pray to the Lord while the praying can be done. God is a hiding place for him, and preserves him from all trouble. The psalmist also acknowledges that the human is special to God; he is not a mere animal that must be trained with a bit and bridle, but he has understanding…and can therefore learn. Life is full of sorrows, but those who trust in the Lord are surrounded by His love.

 

It never ceases to amaze me how many grown people have given up on learning. “I’m just not a people person.” “I’ve just never been a person who’s on time.” “I just don’t know to be a good friend.” “That’s just the way I am.” These are the sorts of things that a person thinks and says when he is charge of his own life—or, more accurately, when he thinks he’s in charge of his own life. When we trust ourselves, we are pierced through with many sorrows—trouble after trouble piles upon us, and there seems to be no end in sight. The basic human pride that doesn’t allow us to entertain the possibility that the problem could be US is the greatest relationship-killer ever. It kills our relationship with God, and it kills our relationships with each other.

 

Are you capable of learning today? You must first be capable of humility and confession. You must reckon with your own pride and sin so that it won’t be reckoned against you….acknowledge and confess it to the Lord, and He will surround you with shouts of deliverance.

 

Psalm 30:1-12

[a psalm of David: a song at the dedication of the house]

1I will exalt You, OLORD, for You have drawn me up;

               You have not let my enemies rejoice over me.

2O LORD my God, I cried to You for help, and You healed me.

3O LORD, You have brought up my soul from Sheol,

               And have restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit.

4Sing praises to the LORD, loyal ones.

               Praise His holy memory.

5For His anger is for a moment, but in His favor is life.

               Weeping spends the night, but joy comes in the morning.

6As for me, I said in my ease, “I will not be moved forever.”

7By Your favor, O LORD, You have made my mountain to stand;

               You hid Your face, and I became panicked.

8To You, O LORD, I cry, and to the Lord I seek favor.

9What profit is my blood, if I go down to the pit?

               Will the dust praise You? Will it tell of Your reliability?

10Hear, O LORD, and be gracious to me.

               O LORD, be a help to me.

11You have turned for me my mourning to dancing,

               You have loosed my sackcloth, and clothed me with joy,

12So that my glory will sing Your praise and not be silent.

               O LORD my God, I will praise You forever.

 

Although this song was apparently written and presented at the dedication of a house (some inscriptions say “temple,” though the actual Hebrew is merely translated “house”), this psalm was one of my favorites when I was sick 10 years ago. It was one that held out hope that the Lord was hearing my daily cries for mercy and healing. I camped out in the Psalms in those days, and the Lord gave me great encouragement. It’s easy to see how.

 

David knows how to draw a contrast between the destiny that God has designed for him—which seems, at times, to be far off—and the reality in which he is living. He lives in the tension of the “now”—“what profit is there in my blood, if I go down to the pit?”—and the ultimate rescue of YHWH—“you have brought up my soul from Sheol.” David’s use of the Hebrew “Sheol” is often translated “hell,” for it was the Jewish afterlife. Sheol was a bi-chambered “place of the grave” that was either darkness or (as we have seen before with this author) presence with God. David’s life had apparently been on the line, and YHWH had saved it. He cries out to God to hear him and be merciful to him—to be a help to him. YHWH did exactly that—He turned the psalmist’s mourning into dancing.

 

I can recall the dire news I was receiving from doctors during this week 10 years ago. It was a tough time, and the only good news was that which I gleaned from my reading of the Psalms. In and out of the hospital, and stayed glued to the words of this man who had faced a similar sentence of death, only to be rescued by a God Who doesn’t give us what we deserve. He cried out to his Savior, and received his reprieve. He articulated the suffering and darkness and gloom of the “before”—“weeping may spend the night, but joy comes in the morning”—and the exaltation—“by Your favor You made my mountain strong.”

 

Are you struggling today? Are you contending with a dire diagnosis, or a serious financial crisis? Is your relationship under water? Do you need a divine rescue from the Lord? This psalm is among the most encouraging you can read, because it tells the truth about a deeply personal God Who cares very much about your suffering and is in the rescuing business. Be encouraged and camp out in these words today.

Psalm 29:1-11

[a psalm of David]

1Ascribe to the LORD, O son of the mighty;

               Ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.

2Ascribe to the LORD the glory that is due His name;

               Bow down to the LORD in holy adornment.

3The voice of the LORD is upon the waters;

               The God of glory thunders.

               The LORD is over many waters.

4The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is majestic.

5The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars;

               Yes, the LORD shatters the cedars of Lebanon.

6He makes Lebanon skip like a calf;

               Sirion like a young wild ox.

7The voice of the LORD hews out the flames of fire.

8The voice of the LORD causes the desert to tremble;

               The LORD causes the desert of Kadesh to tremble.

9The voice of the LORD makes the deer to calve;

               He strips bare the forest;

               In His temple all say, “Glory!”

10The LORD sat at the Flood;

               The LORD sits as King forever.

11The LORD gives to His people strength;

               The LORD will bless His people forever.

 

Here the psalmist describes a great storm: the words “water” and “flood” dominate the imagery of the setting. The storm is mighty and terrible, to the extent that cedars are broken and deserts tremble. It is YHWH’s voice in the storm. His is a voice so mighty that the majestic Lebanese cedars are humbled. His voice is so full of strength that all of nature bows to it—from the deer calving to the majestic forest laid bare. YHWH is described as having a voice that is powerful and majestic. He is the one Who sat at the head of the Flood so many years ago, and sits as King forever. And this Mighty One is the one Who gives strength to His people. He blesses them forever.

 

This poem of praise compares God’s greatness to many of the awe-inspiring wonders of the ancient world. A terrible storm, a mysterious flood of dark waters, the beautiful majesty of the cedars of Lebanon, the cycle of nature—all sing the praise of their Creator in their own ways. One is struck by both the power and beauty of this King in this work; the psalmist wants you to be reminded that He is both all-powerful and all-beautiful.

 

Regardless of your circumstances, this is the One Who strengthens you. He blesses you, and gives you refuge. He is God, the only God, and the glory that is due to His name transcends all these passing troubles with which we wrestle today. Take a moment to acknowledge His beauty, His majesty, His power, His undefeatable strength. He gives you that strength to live today, and wants you to exist in the overwhelming confidence that comes from serving Him. He is the King forever, and all of us—from the lowest creatures of nature to the top of the food chain—say “Glory!”

Psalm 28:1-9

[of David]

1To You, O LORD, I cry: my Rock, be not deaf to me.

               Lest You be silent to me, and I be like those who go down to the Pit.

2Hear the voice of my entreaty, when I cry for help to You;

               When I lift up my hands to Your holy sanctuary.

3Do not drag me away with the wicked, with the doers of evil

               Who speak peace to their friends, but have evil in their hearts.

4Give to them according to their works, according to their evil deeds;

               According to the work of their hands give to them; bring recompense to them.

5Because they do not notice the deeds of the LORD, or the work of His hands,

               He will tear them down and not build them up.

6Blessed is the LORD, because He has heard the voice of my entreaty.

7The LORD is my refuge and shield; in Him my heart trusts,

               And I am helped…my heart rejoices, and with my song I praise Him.

8The LORD is the refuge of His people; He is the salvation stronghold for His anointed.

9Help Your people, and bless Your inheritance;

               Be their shepherd, and carry them forever.

 

In this poem, the speaker employs the phrase “voice of my entreaty” twice—emphasizing a plea for mercy that he is crying before YHWH. He is concerned that YHWH not be deaf to that entreaty; the Hebrew תֶּחֱרַ֪שׁ is actually “deaf from me,” or “silent to me,” indicating a total lack of responsiveness and a complete inattention to those pleas. Unlike the wicked, the speaker has regarded (or “taken notice”) of the deeds of YHWH, and trusts in Him. He does not want to be swept away with them or treated categorically like them. YHWH is his refuge (or hiding place) and shield, and the complete object of his trust. The speaker claims by faith that he is helped, and rejoices in YHWH with song. He calls God the “salvation” (יְשׁוּעֹ֖ות) stronghold for His “anointed” (מְשִׁיחֹ֣ו). This last word is typically rendered “Messiah”—Anointed One. In this context, it could simply mean one that God has anointed or set apart for service, rather than THE Anointed One. The psalmist asks that YHWH help his people and bless them, carrying them like a shepherd forever.

 

Life does not stop happening around us when we start trusting God. In fact, in many cases, the pace seems to pick up a little bit. Adversity doesn’t stop happening, but if the Lord is our refuge and shield we can weather such storms. We cry out to God and sometimes feel as if He is deaf to us—inattentive and unresponsive to our cries. But this is an illusion of the emotion; those who take notice of God and His deeds trust in Him and are helped. He is the fortified stronghold of salvation for those folks. He carries them forever.

 

Maybe it doesn’t feel like it right now, but He’s carrying you. He is a fort in which you are hidden and kept safe. He is your shield, and you are helped. Take notice of Him today, and His deeds. He hears your cry—your plea for mercy and help. He hears them and helps you. Trust Him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Psalm 27:1-14

1The 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?

When evildoers assail me
to eat up my flesh,
my adversaries and foes,
it is they who stumble and fall.

Though an army encamp against me,
my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me,
yet I will be confident.

One thing have I asked of the Lord,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
and to inquire in his temple.

For he will hide me in his shelter
in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
he will lift me high upon a rock.

And now my head shall be lifted up
above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent
sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the Lord.

Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud;
be gracious to me and answer me!
You have said, “Seek my face.”
My heart says to you,
“Your face, Lord, do I seek.”
    Hide not your face from me.
Turn not your servant away in anger,
O you who have been my help.
Cast me not off; forsake me not,
O God of my salvation!
10 For my father and my mother have forsaken me,
but the Lord will take me in.

11 Teach me your way, O Lord,
and lead me on a level path
because of my enemies.
12 Give me not up to the will of my adversaries;
for false witnesses have risen against me,
and they breathe out violence.

13 I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living!
14 Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord!

 

 

In this poem, David expresses his great trust in YHWH in the midst of any circumstance. He describes YHWH as his “light,” “salvation,” and “stronghold.” He acknowledges that no enemy can instill fear in him because he is under the protection of the Almighty. Even when surrounded, he knows Who’s in charge. His deepest desire is to “gaze upon the beauty of the LORD,” which speaks to a rich aesthetic that may be absent from our evangelical theology—the ability to love beauty. The speaker desires to meditate in YHWH’s temple, and more or less spend all of his time with the Lord. He asks that YHWH teach him and lead on level paths, and he expresses his trust that he will live and appreciate the goodness of YHWH. He closes with a word of encouragement for others in similar predicaments: “wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD.” In this regard, “being strong” means “waiting for the Lord.”

 

It is easy to get our eyes off the Author and Finisher of our faith and onto our circumstances. Money problems, health diagnoses, relationship issues—these can be overwhelming and can lead to fear instead of trust. But though we get surrounded by adversity, yet are we still upheld by God. He hides us in His shelter, and lifts us up high above destruction. He is our teacher, and places our feet on level paths (second psalm in a row in which he mentions being placed on a level place). Because of our trust in Him, the best advice anyone can give is to wait for the Lord. We can take our strength from that trust….not fixing it ourselves, but waiting for His provision, which always comes in due time.

 

Wait for Him today, and trust in His provision. He has not forgotten you.