Devotional, hymns, Old Testament, Psalms

Psalms for Psome – Ps 29

My wife and I are reading through the Psalms in our evening reading and occasionally a nugget of the Psalms jumps out of the page. Don’t you love it when, after years of reading the “Old Book” passages become alive, reinforcing old teachings or simply warming your heart.

This is the book of Psalms, and it is rich.

I pray I can communicate a portion of the blessing we receive from this wonderful book.

Psalm 29

1 A Psalm of David. Ascribe to the LORD, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
2 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness.
3 The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD, over many waters.
4 The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.
5 The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars; the LORD breaks the cedars of Lebanon.
6 He makes Lebanon to skip like a calf, and Sirion like a young wild ox.
7 The voice of the LORD flashes forth flames of fire.
8 The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness; the LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
9 The voice of the LORD makes the deer give birth and strips the forests bare, and in his temple all cry, “Glory!”
10 The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; the LORD sits enthroned as king forever.
11 May the LORD give strength to his people! May the LORD bless his people with peace!

This psalm of David has him watching a storm and contemplating the LORD above. His comparisons with the lightning and thunder of a storm makes for great comparisons with the voice of the LORD, His power, majesty and glory over all creation.

As many of you know, I am a bit of a technical geek and love to find out information that gives me a relative sense of a topic being described. As mentioned, this psalm is using a thunderstorm to try to describe the power of the voice of the LORD.

I found recently the following information that helps me understand (sort of) the massive power of a typical thunderstorm.

  1. The estimated peak power per lightning stroke is 1,000,000,000,000 (one trillion) watts.
  2. The total energy in a large thunderstorm is thought to be enough to power the whole of the USA for 20 minutes.
  3. A tall thunderstorm cloud can hold over 100,000,000 (one hundred million) volts of potential.

I am sure there are some out there that consider this information to be just so many numbers, and it a way it is, since it is sooo difficult to understand the term ” one trillion watts” or even “one hundred million volts”. I suppose the point is, that this may be the best example David had, though limited, to compare the power of the voice of the LORD to.

David, as he watches the storm in all his travels, had seen the lightning tear apart a massive cedar of Lebanon, and felt the land shake at a crack of thunder. His familiarity with the storms of the land gave him that sense of awe that as “moderns” we so sorely lack at times!

David mixes images by describing the voice of the LORD as sending out fire, that is, lightning bolts of power that nothing stands in the way of.

David speaks of the lightning breaking the massive trees of Lebanon. We can calculate the power it takes to destroy a tree, or create some havoc, but that is not the point in this psalm. David was in awe of the power that the LORD displayed, and used the things of nature (in our opinion) to consider the greatness of our God.

As the rain pours down in the middle of lightning flashes and thunder boomers, David considers the greatest rain event in the history of creation. The flood, with it’s related upheavals of the ground and releasing of the vents, reshaped the earth and controlled all things and everything on the face of the earth!

The LORD sits enthroned over the flood, and is enthroned as the KING forever.

This is the LORD we say we know, and yet even today, I was faltering a bit, confessing my weakness of faith and lack of love to Him. How powerful is His nature and being, and how tender of a Savior to us, in that He bends down to the lowly, seeks out our best, understands our weakness and loves us to the very end.

He is surely the great KING who is the servant of the lowliest, adversary to the proud, lover of sinners and walked amongst us to teach us of His compassion and goodness, to mimic and to follow.

May we learn to be more like Him as we look to Him for strength, wisdom, love and peace.

May the LORD give strength to his people! May the LORD bless his people with peace!


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Devotional, hymns, Old Testament, Psalms

Psalms for Psome – 28

My wife and I are reading through the Psalms in our evening reading and occasionally a nugget of the Psalms jumps out of the page. Don’t you love it when, after years of reading the “Old Book” passages become alive, reinforcing old teachings or simply warming your heart.

This is the book of Psalms, and it is rich.

I pray I can communicate a portion of the blessing we receive from this wonderful book.

Psalm 28:1-9

1 Of David. To you, O LORD, I call; my rock, be not deaf to me, lest, if you be silent to me, I become like those who go down to the pit.

2 Hear the voice of my pleas for mercy, when I cry to you for help, when I lift up my hands toward your most holy sanctuary.

3 Do not drag me off with the wicked, with the workers of evil, who speak peace with their neighbors while evil is in their hearts.

4 Give to them according to their work and according to the evil of their deeds; give to them according to the work of their hands; render them their due reward.

5 Because they do not regard the works of the LORD or the work of his hands, he will tear them down and build them up no more.

6 Blessed be the LORD! For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy.
7 The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.

8 The LORD is the strength of his people; he is the saving refuge of his anointed.

9 Oh, save your people and bless your heritage! Be their shepherd and carry them forever.

Communication.

I struggle with it everyday, seeking to translate my thoughts into noises in order for others to comprehend my questions, needs or warnings. But that is only half the effort of communication. I may elucidate my thoughts perfectly, (in a theoretical world that is!) and if the one(s) I am addressing do not hear, understand and receive the message, it is all for naught.

David is letting us know of the communication between the God of Israel and himself. David is crying out for help, and nothing is happening. After years of open communication between the King and his King, David is calling out to God in some emergency.

The first verse has a bit of ambiguity to it when the ESV coins the phrase  “be not deaf to me”. A few of the other translations translate the phrase as “Do not be silent to me”.

There is a difference in my mind. The end results are the same of course, in that the praying saint seems to find no response from the One who can help. But David’s tone of the psalm changes based on this difference.

If the term is rightly understood to be “be not deaf to me”, David is implying that God isn’t hearing the prayer. God’s willingness (or ability?) to hear David has changed. He is not allowing any prayer to reach His understanding.

If the term is “do not be silent to me”, David is simply reiterating the same truth in the next phrase. The tone of the psalm then becomes that the saint isn’t receiving a response, though God may be hearing of the complaint.

You see, it is a different scenario if one doesn’t hear, and then doesn’t respond, than if one does hear and doesn’t respond. The ESV understands David’s complaint to be twofold. God isn’t hearing his prayer, and He isn’t responding to his prayer.

I think this allows us to see a bit deeper into David’s relationship with his God. He understood when his God heard his prayers, and when his God would answer his prayers. This is incredible, for many believers (my self included) struggle with this assurance and knowledge of God’s hearing and responding to our prayers.

Of course this may be a one-off for David, meaning this may be a specific time when David understood this situation. Therefore, I don’t mean we are to constantly know how and if God is receiving and responding to our prayers. But that is not the main point.

David had the sense, the discernment of knowing God’s attitude toward the prayer he offered up. And based on this knowledge, made his complaint anyway! He would not take no for an answer, and continued with his plea.

David pleads to the One on the throne, claiming that if his God is silent, he will die. God is the only One whom David leans on. If God doesn’t help, David’s life is over.

Get a feel for this situation.

You have spent your life seeking to hear and follow God, (imperfectly of course) and have come to a point when all is against you. At the time when all hangs in the balance, and you seek help from your God, all communication falls silent. No help comes. You are stranded, left to your enemies and the fate of death.

King David had to wait for his rescue, but it came.

Psalm 28:6

Blessed be the LORD! For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy.

David’s voice was heard. The LORD responded and saved his anointed one before he went to the grave.

Psalm 28:8

The LORD is the strength of his people; he is the saving refuge of his anointed.

David’s voice was heard and the grave was avoided. The greater David, our Lord Jesus, his prayers were heard, and yet the grave was not avoided. As a matter of fact, the grave was inevitable. Where David sought rescue from the grave, Jesus sought strength to endure entering to the grave.

Hebrews 5:7

In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.

David’s salvation and Jesus salvation, both men facing the grave, followed different trajectories.

David was saved from the grave. (At least in relation to the current plea!)

Jesus was saved out of the grave, in resurrection power, not only to live forever, but to become the priest of a new creation, bringing many others into the same resurrection life.

Jesus prayers were heard. God the Father’s ears were (and are) always open to the Anointed One. The Fathers answer to the Saviors prayers were greater than any may have imagined, thought or wished for

Hebrews 5:7

In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.

Jesus was heard by the Father. He is alive and praying for us.

Romans 8:34

Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died–more than that, who was raised–who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.

David sought deliverance from the grave. Jesus sought to enter the grave, to go through death in order to be “taken up”.

Luke 9:51

When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.

He is the One to follow, if for no other reason than the incredible bravery and faith He exercised. The single minded focus of His life was to enter the grave, to obey the call of the Father on His life and to prove (ultimately) the great love wherewith He has loved us.

Love. It is the difference.

Let us love one another as the One who loved us has taught us.


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Psalms for Psome – 27

My wife and I are reading through the Psalms in our evening reading and occasionally a nugget of the Psalms jumps out of the page. Don’t you love it when, after years of reading the “Old Book” passages become alive, reinforcing old teachings or simply warming your heart.

This is the book of Psalms, and it is rich.

I pray I can communicate a portion of the blessing we receive from this wonderful book.

Psalm 27

1 Of David. 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?
2 When evildoers assail me to eat up my flesh, my adversaries and foes, it is they who stumble and fall.
3 Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident.
4 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.
5 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.
6 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.
7 Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud; be gracious to me and answer me!
8 You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, LORD, do I seek.”
9 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!

David was in trouble.

When he looked around, all he saw were evildoers, enemies, adversaries and foes. A brief look through this rich Psalm gives us some idea of the condition David found himself in.

David’s Condition

  • His enemies were after him

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.

  • He was removed from the House of the Lord

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.

  • He experienced abandonment by mother and father

For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the LORD will take me in.

  • He was defamed by false witnesses rising up against him

Give me not up to the will of my adversaries; for false witnesses have risen against me, and they breathe out violence.

I don’t recognize a victim mentality coming from David, that I sometimes hear when a believer is under trials. Statements of his condition didn’t fall into that favorite category of mine, which I reserve for times like this, that is of blaming someone for my situation.

In all of his trials, David interspersed this psalm with confidence in God.

David’s Confidence

David’s life is a life of exhibiting confidence in God, when he was is serious trouble. Was David perfect – No, only the Messiah was able to live a life of perfection. But David did exercise confidence in the Lord when the chips were down, and this psalm typifies this character of David.

David’s life was in jeopardy, his kingdom is falling (this psalm was likely written during the insurrection of Absalom), his family was treacherous to him, and the political machine had turned against him.

What I find interesting is that he does not look for revenge directly. He begins with his confidence in the Lord and rhetorically asking of whom he shall be afraid. Everything had turned on David and he looks to the Lord as the stronghold of his life.

What is your stronghold? Family? Finances? Friends?

David had focused his confidence in the Lord through a continual faith. He had confidence since he had proven the Lord to be faithful. So many instances of David in his life seeing the faithfulness of the Lord may be noted, but it may appear to be giving obvious information. Suffice it to say, David’s trust in the Lord over the years had provided him the confidence he was living in during this crisis.

David’s Prayer

As I hinted at above, David does not look for revenge directly. Of course he is looking for a mighty rescue, for the Lord to pull him out of this jam. He doesn’t look for revenge, but looks to the Lord for the solutions. This is amazing in my estimation, since it is the default position to blame someone (usually God) for our troubles, and David sees the Lord as the focus and center of the situation.

Consider the last time you were being persecuted, abandoned or defamed. Did you focus on the condition you were in or on the Lord who is the Savior?

David looked to the Lord for strength.

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.

David states that in the past, his enemies, adversaries and foes stumbled and fell. But David – you are in the midst of the greatest betrayal and fall from grace yourself. But dear reader, this is looking at the situation, and David is looking to the Lord, He comes back to his desire to “dwell in the house of the Lord” and to “gaze upon the beauty of the Lord”

How often have you been told that, in the midst of trials, this thinking is “pie in the sky” thinking, and that you need to plan, execute, do, prepare, analyze, organize, coordinate and designate.

Don’t get me wrong, for even in the time of David’s worst political danger, he executed plans to mitigate and overwhelm the enemy. Hushai was sent by David to that rebellious Absalom, in order to redirect him into a strategic error. David strategized and acted, but this psalm shows David’s source of strength, his priority and focus in life.

As David left his throne, his city and was being chased by his enemies, two truths come blaring out to me

Consider 2 Samuel 15, where we pick up David’s experience of leaving his capital.

But David went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went, barefoot and with his head covered. And all the people who were with him covered their heads, and they went up, weeping as they went.

King David, after being rejected by the nation of Israel, his family and most of his support, climbed the Mount of Olives. This narrative speaks volumes of the Greater David, the Lord Jesus and His confidence in God the Father for His future trial. I have heard it many times that the victory was secured in the Garden. His strength for the torture of the crucifixion was found in the garden. David’s weeping and travail of soul was a picture of the Greater David, of His confidence in our Father God, and show’s us who we are to follow after.

And it was told David, “Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom.” And David said, “O Lord, please turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness.”

David did not send out an assassin for Ahithophel. David, if he was thinking only of his kingdom and of his own survival, may have reverted to taking revenge upon his friend and counsellor Ahithophel. This was not David’s response, but he prayed that the Lord would interfere with Absalom’s understanding. David knew Ahithophel would give excellent advice, but David prayed that the advice would be turned into foolishness.

How that happened was a combination of events. Hushai argued against Ahithophel in front of Absalom in giving “next steps” advice. Hushai wisely saw the subject he was providing advice to and fed Absalom’s arrogance and pride.

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.

The prayer of David was accomplished through the planning of David and the vanity of Absalom.

David’s confidence was again strengthened due his continued trust.

When hard times come, trust Him. Do not seek revenge, but seek to know God’s will and to follow it in your heart, mind and actions.

Romans 12:19

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”

Difficult times train us to stand up, and will produce a confidence in the Lord that prepares us for future struggles. There is a war we are fighting, and as David experienced in the civil war that was erupting before his eyes, the only wise approach is to seek God and his will.

David’s admonition is wise advice

Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!


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Psalms for Psome – 26

My wife and I are reading through the Psalms in our evening reading and occasionally a nugget of the Psalms jumps out of the page. Don’t you love it when, after years of reading the “Old Book” passages become alive, reinforcing old teachings or simply warming your heart.

This is the book of Psalms, and it is rich.

I pray I can communicate a portion of the blessing we receive from this wonderful book.

This psalm naturally divides

Let’s read the first few verses before any comment.

Psalm 26:1-3

Of David. Vindicate me, O LORD, for I have walked in my integrity, and I have trusted in the LORD without wavering.
Prove me, O LORD, and try me; test my heart and my mind.
For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in your faithfulness.

David was bold.

He knew where he stood, and wanted to be tested. He wanted to be proven, tested to ensure he was where the Lord wanted him in his life.

Prove me! (bāḥan)

To prove something is to examine something, to put to a trial and find results.

What are you saying David? You are telling the Lord to test you out? How rare this request is for our modern christianity!

Consider

Proverbs 17:3

The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the LORD tests (bāḥan) hearts.

Try me! (nāsâ)

To test something is to get proof of the validity of the thing. When the Old Testament saint used the word try (nāsâ), the word literally meant “to test by the smell”.

Consider

Exodus 17:2,7

2 Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.” And Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test (nāsâ) the LORD?”
7 And he called the name of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the quarreling of the people of Israel, and because they tested (nāsâ) the LORD by saying, “Is the LORD among us or not?”

Massah nasa. Can you see the similarity between these two words, and the reason Moses called it Massah? It was the place the children of Israel tested (nāsâ) the LORD. (These two words are so homophonic!)

One additional verse needs to be considered in relation to Psalm 26:2

Psalm 95:9

When your fathers put me to the test (nāsâ) and put me to the proof (bāḥan), though they had seen my work.

Amazing contrast, no?

In Psalm 26, the psalmist is requesting the test, to be proven by the Lord. This is the heart of the mature believer, one who seeks to be used by God and will submit to a testing to ensure it!

In Psalm 95, the people are demanding proof of God’s presence. They are not walking in faith, seeking to know God’s will for their lives, but they are seeking their own desires and wants, their own goals and purposes. These folk are continually and without pause, desiring to put God to the test, to demand their rights, to question His goodness and wisdom.

How often have you heard one say that God is not fair, that He must not care for His creation, or His people. If He cared he would stop all disease and hunger, and provide quails for all!

But alas, this is the spirit of a fallen people.

Test me! (ṣārap̄)

The literal meaning of this word is “to melt”, as in to smelt a metal. Heat is implied in this verb, and the Psalmist is demanding this from his Lord.

What audacity! What guts! What confidence in his Master.

My friend, the Lord Himself is a kind and loving Father, One who seeks our best. The monkey wrench in the plan is our lack of desire to be involved in His work.

David sought to be tested, to be melted down and purified. We so often sing of our desire to be purified, and rightly so, but if we are to mimic the saints of old, we need to realize what this means from their standpoint.

This is not to be entered lightly, and is a sobering request of the saint to his Father. Early into my Christian faith, I saw this teaching throughout the Old Testament and sought to follow after their example.

Trials have come, and trials have continued.

Looking back, some of them were simply my immaturity and ignorance of God’s ways, and the results of making poor decisions on my part. He has always brought about good things out of the most painful circumstances.

Some of them were the result of loved ones making bad decisions and my faith was tested. Being out of my control (as if I had much control!), made this testing even more difficult, but He has been so kind and brought about good things out of the bad. But tests such as these are difficult, and can be very painful.

Finally, some trials may have come directly from the hand of the Lord, and not necessarily through an intermediary, or through my own foolishness. These tests, in my opinion have been the most personnel and have caused me to understand my reason for being. These test have also begun to teach my heart and mind of the Lord Himself. He has been so kind to me in my stunted growth, my wanderings and my questionings.

The tests have brought about good things in my life and the lives of those I love. We have great hope based on His constant past care for His loved ones, and we trust that God will bring about a settled faith in future trials.

But let it be clearly stated that the circumstances within and beyond the trials have also been very painful.

Consider when you ask for purification that you are willing to stay under the trial, and have the dross burned off.

It takes time!


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Psalms for Psome – 25 Part 2

My wife and I are reading through the Psalms in our evening reading and occasionally a nugget of the Psalms jumps out of the page. Don’t you love it when, after years of reading the “Old Book” passages become alive, reinforcing old teachings or simply warming your heart.

This is the book of Psalms, and it is rich.

I pray I can communicate a portion of the blessing we receive from this wonderful book.

This psalm naturally divides in two portions, and I would like to consider verses 12 – 23 for this blog post

Let’s read it before any comment.

Psalm 25:12-23

Who is the man who fears the LORD? Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose.
His soul shall abide in well-being, and his offspring shall inherit the land.
The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant.
My eyes are ever toward the LORD, for he will pluck my feet out of the net.
Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.
The troubles of my heart are enlarged; bring me out of my distresses.
Consider my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins.
Consider how many are my foes, and with what violent hatred they hate me.
Oh, guard my soul, and deliver me! Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.
May integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for you.
Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles.

The psalmist, in the last half of the psalm is speaking of two topics. The depth of his need and his utter dependency on the LORD.

One verse, amongst the many that speak to me, of relationship with the One who is All, is verse 16

Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.

The verse before, the psalmist speaks of his eyes always being toward the LORD, that he seeks the favor of God continually. But something is wrong. The LORD is not looking to the psalmist. You see, when the psalmist states “Turn to me”, it implies that the LORD had turned away from him.

Now, I don’t understand too much about the Old Testament saints related to the LORD, and this particular saint, being David, definitely had a relationship with his LORD that compared in many ways with our condition today.

For believers, after the LORD provided His Son for our rescue, to consider Him to be turned away seems to be beyond the pale. (Consider Romans 8:32 as an example of our Father’s attitude to us)

Where is the application for us in this passage?

It may feel like He has turned on us at times in our life, and a couple of thoughts come to mind.

First off, sin breaks fellowship, and unconfessed sin pulls us away from His loving care. Confess the sin, and repent of it, four hundred and ninety times if you have to.

Secondly, the feeling of abandonment may be just that – a feeling. Now don’t get me wrong, feelings are powerful and intended to be a blessing from God, but they can be used to detract us from our goals in life.

There have been times in my life when I have been very low, struggling to maintain a faith, to not give up. Times of loneliness and affliction that were drawn out for months, even years, and were very difficult!

Every believer goes through times such as these. It should drive us to the promises that have been given, that His love is extreme and He seeks the best for us in all our trials. He is seeking to conform us to the image of His Son, and this is a gargantuan effort from my point of view!

Hold on to the promises of God, in the depths of your loneliness and affliction, for He has promised.

And remember, He was truly abandoned in order that we may never be.

Praise Him for His many many mercies.


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Psalms for Psome – 25 Part 1

My wife and I are reading through the Psalms in our evening reading and occasionally a nugget of the Psalms jumps out of the page. Don’t you love it when, after years of reading the “Old Book” passages become alive, reinforcing old teachings or simply warming your heart.

This is the book of Psalms, and it is rich.

I pray I can communicate a portion of the blessing we receive from this wonderful book.

This psalm naturally divides in two portions, and I would like to consider verses 1 – 11 for this blog post, since it has caught my attention.

Let’s read it before any comment.

Psalm 25:1-11

Of David. To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul.
O my God, in you I trust; let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me.
Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame; they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.
Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.
Remember your mercy, O LORD, and your steadfast love, for they have been from of old.
Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O LORD!
Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.
All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.
For your name’s sake, O LORD, pardon my guilt, for it is great.

The psalmist speaks of his failings, of the potential shame he may experience, of his transgression of his youth, of his sinfulness. He is a man humbled, and in the humility of his experience, he is seeing that God teaches and leads the sinner. This man is looking to God for His ways, His paths, and His ways. He is tired of his own ways, and the resultant shame that is the result of depending on his own understanding.

The psalmist also recognizes that God is good and upright, full of stedfast love and mercy. He can’t seem to say it enough, that He is mercy, He is good, He is a teacher (of sinners, no less), He is the One who brings salvation, He is faithful.

One is sinful. One is not.

One departs through pride. One invites through love and mercy

One is to be humble. One is a capable teacher.

How are you in the Lord?

Check your walk with Him and consider verse 10, asking yourself if your ways are being led by the Lord, for

All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.

Steadfast love and faithfulness – a characteristic of one who is led of the Lord into His paths.


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Psalms for Psome – 24 – Part 2

My wife and I are reading through the Psalms in our evening reading and occasionally a nugget of the Psalms jumps out of the page. Don’t you love it when, after years of reading the “Old Book” passages become alive, reinforcing old teachings or simply warming your heart.

This is the book of Psalms, and it is rich.

I pray I can communicate a portion of the blessing we receive from this wonderful book. Lets read it before we consider the message the psalmist is communicating

Psalm 24:1-10

1 A Psalm of David. The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein,
2 for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers.
3 Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place?
4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully.
5 He will receive blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
6 Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah
7 Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.
8 Who is this King of glory? The LORD, strong and mighty, the LORD, mighty in battle!
9 Lift up your heads, O gates! And lift them up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.
10 Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory! Selah

Such a rich psalm. Our last post touched on the first verse and the ownership of the LORD, His extent of ownership, His far reaching possessions.

As I mentioned in that post, my original intention was to address verses 3 – 6, which I will attempt with this post. So lets take a few minutes to consider.

I settled (eventually) on these verses since one of my favorite psalms is Psalm 15, and the similarities between these verses and Psalm 15 are so obvious. (If you recently found this blog, consider reading Psalms for Psome – 15)

The psalmist is questioning the believers ability to “ascend the hill of the LORD”. He is speaking to the populace and stating – You people of God – there are requirements to meet if you seek to enter the temple, to share in His company.

Clean Hands

The believer, in order to approach the LORD, is to have clean hands. His actions are to be right, observing the moral standards set down by the King. Not simply performance to the standards set by the culture, or by legal precedence of a population, but by the moral standards of the King who gave His law.

The King has given us “the law” to live by. This law is the outworking of the commandments, and is described in the beatitudes. Check it out.

Consider 2 Timothy 2:19

But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”

Clean hands – Departing from iniquity.

A Pure Heart

Again, my mind takes me to the apostle Paul when he wrote to the young Timothy.

1 Timothy 1:5

The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

Sometimes it is truly amazing that the New Testament is so dependent on the Old Testament, that the faith described in the Old is so in line with the New.

To be in possession of a pure heart, a clean heart, is a gift of God through our faith, that is to be maintained in fellowship with the Savior. Confession of sins to the Lord, and to those we offend or sin against, seeking restitution with our brothers, pursuing peace with all and exercising love towards them that breathe. A pure heart is a gift, and it is also a responsibility.

Who does not lift up his soul to what is false

To lift up, in the hebrew is the term nāśā’, and refers to directing our mind or soul to something or someone. The one who would ascend the hill of the Lord, will direct his mind and soul to the true and righteous God, the only One who is worthy of our attention.

To the false, the one who ascends will not direct his mind or soul. It is an affront to consider a falsehood for the believer.

Does not swear deceitfully

The topic of truth comes to the fore front again, yet this time it is not referring to our object of worship, but of the message that pours from our mouth, even our faithfulness in keeping oaths and our word to others. It is the believers responsibility to keep his word to his neighbor if he is to ascend the hill of the Lord.

As believers, we are to consider approaching God, through our Lord Jesus, as a high privilege that is granted to those who consider it so, acting on the requirements of the King. True He has opened the veil for us to enter, but the cost was His blood, His very life.

When I ponder this, it is a sobering thought, and the psalmist reminds me that there is a price to pay to ascend that hill.


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Psalms for Psome – 24 – Part 1

My wife and I are reading through the Psalms in our evening reading and occasionally a nugget of the Psalms jumps out of the page. Don’t you love it when, after years of reading the “Old Book” passages become alive, reinforcing old teachings or simply warming your heart.

This is the book of Psalms, and it is rich.

I pray I can communicate a portion of the blessing we receive from this wonderful book. Lets read it before we consider the message the psalmist is communicating

Psalm 24:1-10

1 A Psalm of David. The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein,
2 for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers.
3 Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place?
4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully.
5 He will receive blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
6 Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah
7 Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.
8 Who is this King of glory? The LORD, strong and mighty, the LORD, mighty in battle!
9 Lift up your heads, O gates! And lift them up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.
10 Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory! Selah

Such a rich psalm.

This psalm speaks of the Lord’s ownership the earth/land, of all things on/in the earth/land , and all that dwell in the world.

I start off with these either/or statements since it is not clear (at least to me) what exactly the psalmist is referring to in the first verse.

The hebrew word (‘ereṣ) translated earth could be translated two different ways, that is “earth” or “land”. As a matter of fact, ereṣ is translated as “land” twice as many times as “earth” in the Old Testament. I know that proves nothing, but it was surprising when I first found this out.

If the term is to be understood as land, does that imply that the Lord only owns the “land” of Israel, which would be understood by the ancients? Not at all, since the psalmist, within the very first verse qualifies the extent of the LORD’s ownership, by stating He owns “the world” and all that dwell therein.

So, if my understanding is correct, the psalmist is telling me…

The land of Israel is the LORD’s, and all that is therein, but not only that, He owns the entire world, and every body/soul on it!

He is not a simple or tiny god that oversees a nation, or a people group, but He is the LORD who owns His people, and even those who know him not.

This psalm is so rich, that when I first sat down to consider this passage, my eyes were drawn to verses 3 – 6 to discuss. Alas, this portion will have to await for my next blog, since I have found a blessing in the first verse that I would like to dwell on for the day.

Hope you also, in considering this passage, experience a fleeting glimpse of the LORD and the extent of His possessions. The implications can be life changing!


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Psalms for Psome – 23

My wife and I are reading through the Psalms in our evening reading and occasionally a nugget of the Psalms jumps out of the page. Don’t you love it when, after years of reading the “Old Book” passages become alive, reinforcing old teachings or simply warming your heart.

This is the book of Psalms, and it is rich.

I pray I can communicate a portion of the blessing we receive from this wonderful book.

This is the big one. This psalm has been studied, meditated on, inspected, investigated, perused, researched, examined, analyzed, sung, recited, and memorized more than any other psalm I can think of. At least in my lifetime.

But you know, I can’t find any verse of Psalm 23 in the New Testament. It is such a beautiful heartfelt psalm, I can’t think of the Lord and His apostles not dwelling on the intimacy the psalmist was expressing about His Lord.

Yet it isn’t in the New Testament – Amazing.

Nevertheless, although it is so wildly popular in our day and time, it would be good to consider it one more time. Read with me as we consider Psalm 23

Psalm 23:

1 – A Psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 – He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.
3 – He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
4 – Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
5 – You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
6 – Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

I will not spend more than a few moments with you in this blog, and if you see fit to read the psalm one more time instead of my ruminations, I think you may have made the better decision.

Yet the last verse is where I want to settle.

You see, mercy and goodness have followed me all the days of my life. I have a life of unbounded blessings, and it is in spite of me and my pride, my obstinance and my stubborn will.

He has dealt bountifully toward me.

The goodness and mercy that follows me, could be understood as actually pursuing me, chasing me, actively running after me, almost to the point of harassment. The old Hebrew word translated as “follow” can be understood such.

And yet I seek out the bad, the sorry, the sad, and am unthankful, disrespectful and hating. My friends, the grace of God is seeking you and I. He is pursuing us, and we so often flee from the goodness and mercy of God Himself.

Oh for the day when our obstinate nature is released.

Brothers and sisters, be thankful. Turn around and pay attention to the good things that God provides. Do not dwell on the fears, dangers, suspicions, and lies that swirl about our feet. Look up and praise the One who is always seeking our best.

Surely goodness and mercy is chasing us. Let Him catch you!


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Psalms for Psome – 22

My wife and I are reading through the Psalms in our evening reading and occasionally a nugget of the Psalms jumps out of the page. Don’t you love it when, after years of reading the “Old Book” passages become alive, reinforcing old teachings or simply warming your heart.

This is the book of Psalms, and it is rich.

I pray I can communicate a portion of the blessing we receive from this wonderful book. A while back, I realized this massively important psalm was coming up for our reading and, as is typical, worried about all the truth that is included in this chapter.

I am a kinda half glass empty type of guy, looking at a blessing and seeing something negative. (So unchristian!)

With this confession, I will simply delve into one portion for the present time.

Psalm 22:7-8

All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;
“He trusts in the LORD; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”

Sneering.

To sneer or to show scorn or contempt for the subject. A curled lip, an attitude of judgement. Ridicule and insulting pouring from the people upon the subject. To have derision towards the subject. To consider the subject a joke, a farce and not worthy of any consideration.

Mockery

All the people who see him mock him. The tide had turned and any surface popularity that may have existed has vanished. The people simply view the subject and wag their heads, jeering him as the look on. He had become, in the peoples eyes, a laughing stock, fair game for sarcasm and scoffing.

But let’s consider why all the people were acting thus. Why were the people mocking and sneering the subject? Upon what topic was the subject being mocked, and subjected to scorn?

His trust in the Lord.

David suffered due to his trust in the Lord many times, whether it be when hunted by Saul, or running from his own son, Absalom, as he was about to loose his kingdom. Many times David did not have his best life now, due to his trust in the Lord above, but he hung on to the promises and when sin came into the picture, relied on the character of God, his loving mercy and patient care of the people of God.

But you see, as David wrote this psalm, he may have considered his own shortcomings and failures. He had a heart for God, but in the midst of that heart, a weakness resided, a tendency to want his will instead of the Lord’s.

Not so with the Greater David, the One who was mocked by the very ones who needed His grace and forgiveness. His trust in the Lord survived when the entire populace turned on Him, when the popular culture became opposed to His life.

My friends, as we see our modern culture dropping the façade of righteousness, and we are standing with less popular opinion, standing against a tide of rising opposition, remember Him who trusted in the promises, and the character of the Father in Heaven.

Jesus was mocked and sneered at. He stood strong, when everything around Him was against Him, when everyone around Him was yelling for His death, when politicians crumbled to popular opinion, when all seems lost, hang onto the One who is True, to the One who has provided us all things for life and godliness.

To the One who has went before us and suffered more, much more than we will.

His name is Jesus, and there will be no more mocking and sneering soon enough.


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Psalms for Psome – 21

My wife and I are reading through the Psalms in our evening reading and occasionally a nugget of the Psalms jumps out of the page. Don’t you love it when, after years of reading the “Old Book” passages become alive, reinforcing old teachings or simply warming your heart.

This is the book of Psalms, and it is rich.

I pray I can communicate a portion of the blessing we receive from this wonderful book.

Psalm 21

1 – To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. O LORD, in your strength the king rejoices, and in your salvation how greatly he exults!
2 – You have given him his heart’s desire and have not withheld the request of his lips. Selah
3 – For you meet him with rich blessings; you set a crown of fine gold upon his head.
4 – He asked life of you; you gave it to him, length of days forever and ever.
5 – His glory is great through your salvation; splendor and majesty you bestow on him.
6 – For you make him most blessed forever; you make him glad with the joy of your presence.
7 – For the king trusts in the LORD, and through the steadfast love of the Most High he shall not be moved.
8 – Your hand will find out all your enemies; your right hand will find out those who hate you.
9 – You will make them as a blazing oven when you appear. The LORD will swallow them up in his wrath, and fire will consume them.
10 – You will destroy their descendants from the earth, and their offspring from among the children of man.
11 – Though they plan evil against you, though they devise mischief, they will not succeed.
12 – For you will put them to flight; you will aim at their faces with your bows.
13 – Be exalted, O LORD, in your strength! We will sing and praise your power.

The psalm was written by David upon a victory over an enemy. The specific details at this time are unimportant, since the only message I see in the psalm is a description of the true King, and His joy.

Consider vs 3

For you meet him with rich blessings; you set a crown of fine gold upon his head.

Did not the Father crown our Lord Jesus with authority and power (Revelation 14:14)

Or vs 4

He asked life of you; you gave it to him, length of days forever and ever.

The Lord Jesus “received” life, not only directly from the Father (John 5:26), but also in the ultimate sense of resurrection life, eternal and incorruptible.

Or take a minute to consider vs 6

For you make him most blessed forever; you make him glad with the joy of your presence.

There is a time when we will experience the great joy of the Father and Son as we are presented blameless before His presence. (Jude 1:24 ) This joy is the great joy Jesus has with the Father continually, being eternally glad before His God.

And lastly Vs 7

For the king trusts in the LORD, and through the steadfast love of the Most High he shall not be moved.

When the Master prayed in the garden, His trust in the Lord was evident when He gave of His own will, surrendering to the will of the Father. Suffering, shame, darkness, abandonment and horrors awaited the Son, and He trusted the Father to deliver Him out of the crucible of death. His miracles of raising the dead were astounding, yet His cost in performing the miracles upon another did not compare with the sacrifice of His own suffering, and death.

I am leaving a few verses without comment since I would love to hear from you on how you see the King of Glory reflected in the remaining verses. I am tempted to look at verse 9, but I will recant in order to offer my readers an opportunity to consider it.

It really is a great verse to consider how it relates to the King. But I will stop for now.

Hope to hear from y’all, and thanks for sharing a few minutes with me in my time in the psalms.


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Psalms for Psome – 20

My wife and I are reading through the Psalms in our evening reading and occasionally a nugget of the Psalms jumps out of the page. Don’t you love it when, after years of reading the “Old Book” passages become alive, reinforcing old teachings or simply warming your heart.

This is the book of Psalms, and it is rich.

I pray I can communicate a portion of the blessing we receive from this wonderful book.

Occasionally we will be reading through the Psalms and a passage will open up a wee bit for us. This happened last night as we were slowly reading through this psalm of prayer. Lets take a moment to read Psalm 20

Psalm 20

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble! May the name of the God of Jacob protect you!
May he send you help from the sanctuary and give you support from Zion!
May he remember all your offerings and regard with favor your burnt sacrifices! Selah
May he grant you your heart’s desire and fulfill all your plans!
May we shout for joy over your salvation, and in the name of our God set up our banners! May the LORD fulfill all your petitions!
Now I know that the LORD saves his anointed; he will answer him from his holy heaven with the saving might of his right hand.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.
They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand upright.
O LORD, save the king! May he answer us when we call.

David recorded the prayers of the congregation for the King, asking that David’s prayers be answered, and all his petitions be fulfilled. The congregation capped of their initial requests to God with an overarching request to God that all of David’s petitions be granted by the Lord

May the Lord fulfill all your petitions

What jarred us last light was the term “anointed” in verse 6. In David’s time, history tells us that the Lord rescued him in the day of battle. David was triumphal in his battles, not only saving David from defeat, but providing great victory. The anointed King David’s petitions were fulfilled.

Now I know that the LORD saves his anointed;

But as we considered this verse, it occurred to me that anointed is the same term as Christ.

As the Savior read the Scriptures, pondering on them, how would he initially relate to verse 6, reading that the LORD saves His anointed. When did He understand that the salvation David experienced would not be the same as the salvation He would experience?

It becomes obvious as we read through the gospels, that the salvation Jesus would experience was the salvation of the resurrected life, that He would have to enter the battlefield of sufferings and death to gain the victory.

He entered a battle field all alone, eventually being abandoned by the Father. All appearances of victory were demolished, and certain defeat was apparent. His suffering appeared to be for naught, the death of an itinerant rabbi that had simply crossed the lines of a jealous leadership.

Place yourself at the foot of the cross. Your hope in the Master completely crushed. Your shock at such a hateful mob, cursing the One who just days earlier was being praised by the crowds. The horror of the sight, of the One whom you had spent three years with, learning from and coming to love, being exposed shamefully for all to gape at. The teasing and the taunting, the fear of association with this movement.

And the disappointment. How could God save Him? He was doomed to an ugly death.

And yet on this side of the cross, we know of the result. He is victorious.

He is Jesus, for His very name means “The Lord is Salvation”.

Trust Him in the darkness, for He is ever faithful. Hang onto the promise, for He will supply a salvation that is greater than you expect.

But know that the darkness is very real.

Trust Him.


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Psalms for Psome – 19

My wife and I are reading through the Psalms in our evening reading and occasionally a nugget of the Psalms jumps out of the page. Don’t you love it when, after years of reading the “Old Book” passages become alive, reinforcing old teachings or simply warming your heart.

This is the book of Psalms, and it is rich.

I pray I can communicate a portion of the blessing we receive from this wonderful book.

It seems that every Psalm I come across is too full. Too full to address sufficiently in the arena of the blogosphere.

This particular Psalm is again an experiential psalm, a psalm to reflect Davids reviving’s, joys, desires, warnings and rewards. A Psalm that is to be shared with one another in our experiential relation with the God of the Universe and His Word.

Psalm 19

1 – To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
2 – Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.
3 – There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard.
4 – Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for the sun,
5 – which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
6 – Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat.
7 – The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;
8 – the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes;
9 – the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether.
10 – More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.
11 – Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
12 – Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults.
13 – Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.
14 – Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.

His Word. The psalm describes His Word as

  • The Law of the LORD
  • The Testimony of the LORD
  • The Precepts of the LORD
  • The Commandments of the LORD
  • The Fear of the LORD
  • The Rules of the LORD

Four of these descriptors of the Word has its resultant effect on the trusting believer. The last two are statements of fact, referring to the eternality, truthfulness and righteousness of the Word. Of Jesus.

He is the Word

He is the Law, Testimony, Precept, Commandment, Fear and Rule of the LORD, that we are to look to. He is the Eternal, Righteous Truth.

Let’s consider one of these phrases – that is

The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul.

But David – don’t we know that the law brings wrath?

Romans 4:15

For the law brings wrath…

David saw behind the rules and into the spirit of the law. The truth of the law is evident, and to those without faith, the law does brings wrath and condemnation.

Yet as a believer, the law of God, fully realized and expressed in the life of the Son of God, is the source and end of all life and blessing for the believer. He truly revives the soul, continually feeds the soul, directs the soul, guides the soul, loves the soul.

Need I go on?

To those who know the Messiah, I am “singing to the choir”. To those who do not know Him, wrath is the only thing the law brings, and it is evident that no-one wants to face judgement.

My friend – You may run from the Law, but it is eternal (and you are not!) Running will simply avoid the inevitable.

Unless – you change your mind about sin & rebellion against the God of the Bible (repent of your sin) and accept that the God of the Bible is the source of all truth, that He is a loving and gracious God who sacrifices Himself for His enemies (Trust/Believe in Him).

Follow His ways, for He is good.

Yes, He revives the soul. Without Him, there is no life. With Him, life, peace and joy.


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Psalms for Psome – 18

My wife and I are reading through the Psalms in our evening reading and occasionally a nugget of the Psalms jumps out of the page. Don’t you love it when, after years of reading the “Old Book” passages become alive, reinforcing old teachings or simply warming your heart.

This is the book of Psalms, and it is rich.

I pray I can communicate a portion of the blessing we receive from this wonderful book.

Psalm 18 is a wonderful Psalm and David praises the Lord through out the Psalm, speaking of the deliverance afforded him by God.

There are a few verses that are special to me that I would like to bring to your attention.

Psalm 18

2 The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

In David’s deliverance, he cannot stop in his ascribing different aspects of the Lord’s provision to his life.

Rock, Fortress, Deliverer, God, Rock (again), Shield, Horn of my Salvation, Stronghold.

Each of these descriptors are possessions of the author. God is described as David’s God, David’s rock.

This is not a psalm where the nation is addressed, where the bulk of humanity is spoken of in relation to God. This is a personal, intimate experience we are entering into with David as he writes of his relation to God.

But as you might expect, this is also a view of the more intimate relationship between the Messiah and His Father. David’s relationship, though real and far superior to many during his time, pales in relation to the Messiah’s.

Psalm 18

3 I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.

4 The cords of death encompassed me; the torrents of destruction assailed me;

5 the cords of Sheol entangled me; the snares of death confronted me.

Both David and Jesus experienced this salvation from enemies, but as we know the enemies are somewhat different. David was saved from death, whereas Jesus was saved through death. His victory was over death, not from death. Lightyears different, yet the Psalm expresses praise for the God who saves.

Psalm 18

6 In my distress I called upon the LORD; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears.

Both David and Jesus cried out to God. Both David and Jesus had their prayers heard, yet the greater Son had the faith to enter death to receive His answer. What faith, and trust in the Father, in the midst of such contradiction and confusion.

Psalm 18

30 This God–his way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.

After the deliverance is granted, and the struggle is complete, the Psalmist concludes, at least at the interim in the Psalm, that His way is perfect. This term is often translated as “without blemish”, or “entire”, “without spot” or “in accord with truth”.

This is a verse I ruminate on often, trusting that in all the struggles we go through, there is purpose and reason and that as we seek to serve Him, He is performing His good work in us. Paul may have been thinking of this verse, or at least the concept, when he penned the following.

Romans 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Take refuge in Him.

His way is perfect.


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Devotional, hymns, Old Testament, Psalms

Psalms for Psome – 17

My wife and I are reading through the Psalms in our evening reading and occasionally a nugget of the Psalms jumps out of the page. Don’t you love it when, after years of reading the “Old Book” passages become alive, reinforcing old teachings or simply warming your heart.

This is the book of Psalms, and it is rich.

I pray I can communicate a portion of the blessing we receive from this wonderful book. Let’s take a few minutes in Psalm 17

Psalm 17:1-15

1 – A Prayer of David. Hear a just cause, O LORD; attend to my cry! Give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit!
2 – From your presence let my vindication come! Let your eyes behold the right!
3 – You have tried my heart, you have visited me by night, you have tested me, and you will find nothing; I have purposed that my mouth will not transgress.
4 – With regard to the works of man, by the word of your lips I have avoided the ways of the violent.
5 – My steps have held fast to your paths; my feet have not slipped.
6 – I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God; incline your ear to me; hear my words.
7 – Wondrously show your steadfast love, O Savior of those who seek refuge from their adversaries at your right hand.
8 – Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings,
9 – from the wicked who do me violence, my deadly enemies who surround me.
10 – They close their hearts to pity; with their mouths they speak arrogantly.
11 – They have now surrounded our steps; they set their eyes to cast us to the ground.
12 – He is like a lion eager to tear, as a young lion lurking in ambush.
13 – Arise, O LORD! Confront him, subdue him! Deliver my soul from the wicked by your sword,
14 – from men by your hand, O LORD, from men of the world whose portion is in this life. You fill their womb with treasure; they are satisfied with children, and they leave their abundance to their infants.
15 – As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness.

It is truly amazing that David could say the things he did, but for the fact that he was prophesizing of the Messiah. Consider verses 3- 5, where he declares his life as blameless and righteous, his heart clean, his speech without transgression and his actions pure.

Verses 7-9 speak of David’s (and even more so, the Messiah’s) confidence in answered prayer, and the protection for the One who is the apple of God’s eye.

10-12 speaks of the authors enemies and their hardened hearts, arrogant speech, evil walk and jealous vision. So unlike the King.

13-14 is the request for defense against the enemies, of deliverance from his enemies. David received deliverance physically. Not so with the Messiah, and yet both could claim the same promise of verse 15.

Satisfaction.

In this world of advertising and one-upmanship, I wonder if we, as believers understand the concept of satisfaction. Of true contentment.

I think the Rolling Stones stated a general truth when they sing about satisfaction, and the elusiveness of it. Of course I don’t refer to the Stones for truth, for that is some shaky ground, but a broken clock is correct twice a day!

So it is with the general message of this song. While we are on this earthen ball, satisfaction is an elusive friend, and the world system does all in her power to keep us unsatisfied.

But for one secret.

Verse 15, this verse describes the ultimate victory of the Messiah (in the midst of a seeming contradiction of verses 8 and 9,) this verse speaks of satisfaction, but after death.

My question to the reader – Is there satisfaction for the Christian in this life? Is there any promise on this side of the grave for the Christian to be truly satisfied?

I’m not speaking of that satisfaction when I get what I want, or when my needs are relieved, or when the satisfaction depends on my circumstances, environment or feelings. No that is not what I’m trying to get at.

Satisfaction that is not dependent on me, that is not a result of my actions or work, or effort, or lifestyle, or purchases, or….

Consider my question, and let me know your thoughts, or better yet, your experience in any struggle for satisfaction.

Your thoughts and comments are always appreciated.


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Psalms for Psome – 16

My wife and I are reading through the Psalms in our evening reading and occasionally a nugget of the Psalms jumps out of the page. Don’t you love it when, after years of reading the “Old Book” passages become alive, reinforcing old teachings or simply warming your heart.

This is the book of Psalms, and it is rich.

I pray I can communicate a portion of the blessing we receive from this wonderful book.

Psalm 16 – A psalm full of amazing truth. I can only promise that I will fail at even scratching the surface of this Psalm, but let us not keep from reading this psalm simply because it has so much to absorb.

Psalm 16:1-10

A Miktam of David. Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.”
As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight.
The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply; their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out or take their names on my lips.
The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.
I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me.
I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure.
For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption.
You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Peter preaches the resurrection, giving Old Testament sourcing of Psalm 16 in his reference to the grave. I understand the Jewish rabbinic literature, written prior to the appearance of our Lord on the earth, also stated this Psalm to be Messianic.

There is so much in this Psalm, yet the reference to “the lines have fallen” grabs my attention in this reading.

During the establishment of the newly formed nation of Israel, upon entering the land of their inheritance, each tribe was assigned a portion of the land by way of “lots”. David is referring to this historical event and applying it to his life. He has indeed a beautiful inheritance, a wonderful situation, in which the Lord took a poor shepherd boy and exalted him to be Israel’s greatest earthly King.

Yet, this psalm is Messianic. It is a picture of the Christ and of His Passion, His life and death, and resurrection.

Let’s pull back and get a 30,000′ foot view of the psalm. Take a moment to read the Psalm once more.

Would you not consider the author to be expressing great joy, confidence and trust in the Lord? His general attitude of this psalm is of victory. Such victory that this psalm includes victory over the greatest enemy, death and the passage through it unto life.

Back to my focus verse. The lines have fallen (for the Messiah) in a pleasant place.

How can that be said?

Pain and terror await the Messiah on the cross, and during His ministry, He was rejected by the very people He came to save. His few disciples didn’t get the message, and He is described as a Man of sorrows, One who was acquainted with grief.

The psalm itself holds the key, for in Psalm 16, the psalmist directs us to the Messiah’s ability to enter each trial and challenge with joy.

Consider the Psalmists inner life.

vs 5 – The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot

vs 7 – I bless the LORD who gives me counsel;

vs 8 – I have set the LORD always before me;

On a personal note, I have often fallen into the miry slough of self pity and self examination, which drives me into comparisons with others and finally a deep sadness of experience. As I look back on my travels with the Lord, I find I looked to myself for strength, for knowledge and for joy. My accomplishments would provide me my worth, and my holiness would show my devotion.

This is folly. My only strength, wisdom and love is to focus on the One who claimed me so long ago, that suffered the cross, looking to the joy that was ahead. He is to be the focus of my affection, the One whom I bless, and the One whom I need to keep before me, in front of me.

As I look to Him, verse 9 becomes real in my life, a fruit of the Spirit.

 Psalm 16:9

Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure.

Brother / sister – where is the Lord Jesus? Is He ever before you?


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Psalms for Psome – 15

My wife and I are reading through the Psalms in our evening reading and occasionally a nugget of the Psalms jumps out of the page. Don’t you love it when, after years of reading the “Old Book” passages become alive, reinforcing old teachings or simply warming your heart.

This is the book of Psalms, and it is rich.

I pray I can communicate a portion of the blessing we receive from this wonderful book.

We have come to a psalm that I avoided for years and now look to it for encouragement, for a challenge and for a check on my spirit. Lets read this awesome psalm

Psalm 15:1-5

A Psalm of David. O LORD, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill?
He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart;
who does not slander with his tongue and does no evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his friend;
in whose eyes a vile person is despised, but who honors those who fear the LORD; who swears to his own hurt and does not change;
who does not put out his money at interest and does not take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be moved.

As many of you who have followed this blog may remember, I spent an extended period of time in a teaching that minimized the Old Testament, and the Ten Commandments. Oh, of course it would reach into the OT for a verse here or there to support its teaching (or was it me that wanted to avoid the Law of God?)

Nevertheless, once the Lord opened my eyes to some of the contradictions I was allowing my self to believe, I avoided the Decalogue and therefore the tremendous dependency of the OT on His law. How foolish. (Consider the influence the commandments have on the NT – check out my series of posts Commandments for Christians – Introduction and Jesus on the Sabbath – Introduction)

Psalm 15 is a stellar example of how the law of God is the heartbeat of the believer. David got the New Testament life if you ask me!

A couple of points that occur to me as I sit and ruminate on this precious psalm.

To Walk Blamelessly.

I am thankful that the term is not “sinlessly”, for I know I am unable to maintain a sinless life. But when I sin, (and who doesn’t?) I am responsible for making amends, correcting the error if possible, and communicating with any offended or hurt brother of my repentance and request for forgiveness.

Speaks Truth in his Heart

Do we sometimes seek to speak the truth, or at least to avoid lying, in order to “woodenly” obey the 9th commandment. One looking to the commandments can seek to “do the minimum” or do as this man of God desires, and that is to speak the truth “in his heart”, where no one but God can see. To speak the truth in our heart is a safeguard against deceiving ourselves, a very dangerous condition per many New Testament admonitions. But again, David was describing his positive pursuit of truth, even in his own heart, where lies have no competition in the race for capturing the man’s life. He is not simply doing the minimum, but seeing the depth of the commandment, the all encompassing effect it is intended to have on the follower.

Speaking truth in his heart. A challenge and a blessing for the believer, but alas, we need to know the truth, the absolute truth found in the Word of God, and more tentatively, that subjective truth that each of us experience with our relationship with the Lord Himself. And this is where love comes in, for we must not slander another believers subjective experience, but I am getting ahead of myself!

Does not Slander with his Tongue

How often have I slandered a brother whose experience is different than mine, and yet it is obvious he is seeking to know the Word of God for his life. Too often I fear, and it can be too easily justified by my claiming I was fighting for the purity of the gospel, when in reality my heart was dark and my intentions were evil. To slander, or to backbite is a tell tale sign in my life that I am NOT acting as a believer. The red bells should flash in your head and the sirens should blare in your heart, when you catch yourself devouring your neighbor, especially a believer for whom Christ died!

Who Swears to His Own Hurt and Does Not Change

For myself, this is the big one, the one phrase that got stuck in my “craw” when I first sought to internalize this chapter. This believer is not simply keeping his word, that is had made a promise but found out later that it may not turn out as he expected, but this follower makes a pact “To His Own Hurt”

How much more Christlike could the believer be by being self sacrificing, by following through and performing his oath, knowing from the start, from before making the promise, that it would cause pain for himself.

I said earlier that David understood the New Testament life. I want to clarify that statement.

David knew his Lord.


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Psalms for Psome – 14

My wife and I are reading through the Psalms in our evening reading and occasionally a nugget of the Psalms jumps out of the page. Don’t you love it when, after years of reading the “Old Book” passages become alive, reinforcing old teachings or simply warming your heart.

This is the book of Psalms, and it is rich.

I pray I can communicate a portion of the blessing we receive from this wonderful book.

Let’s take a few moments out of our day to consider Psalm 14.

Psalm 14:1 -7

To the choirmaster. Of David. The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds; there is none who does good.
The LORD looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God.
They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.
Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers who eat up my people as they eat bread and do not call upon the LORD?
There they are in great terror, for God is with the generation of the righteous.
You would shame the plans of the poor, but the LORD is his refuge.
Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion! When the LORD restores the fortunes of his people, let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad.

This is a rich psalm, and is referred to in the New Testament to define the fallenness of the sinner. It is interesting that the pronouns used in the third chapter of Romans is indefinite, and that by reference back to this Psalm, we find they are describing the fool.

The fool says in his heart “No God!”

Per the reading of the Old Testament, it is important to remember that when a fool is referred to, it is not describing the person’s intellectual ability, as so often we think of in todays culture. No – back then, to be termed a fool was a description of a person in moral failure. David begins this psalm with the central claim of a fool.

“No God”

Most translations usually have the phrase as “There is no God”, and that may be the intent of the passage, but there is an alternate intent. The fool has said “No God”, as in – I refuse to confess You, I refuse to acknowledge You, I refuse to obey You. It is not simply a matter of claiming there is no God, but that the fool rejects God. To reject something implies a knowledge of that something being rejected.

Does this fool have knowledge of the God of the universe and yet says “NO” to God in his heart?

Much may be said about the results of this rejection of God, and David spells it out in the next few verses. Corruption, doing evil and not doing good (which are two different things!)

The fool appears to have all the power, and no conscience. They destroy the people of God, as if they are nothing. Yet the LORD is his refuge, the refuge of the generation of the righteous, those who are described as poor. Yet a few verses later, David speaks of the fortunes of the Lords people. The future is bright for the people of God. As darkness may descend, remember, dear brother, dear sister, that Salvation has come out of Zion, redeeming us from this evil world.

Look to the One who gave Himself for your foolishness.


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Psalms for Psome – 13

My wife and I are reading through the Psalms in our evening reading and occasionally a nugget of the Psalms jumps out of the page. Don’t you love it when, after years of reading the “Old Book” passages become alive, reinforcing old teachings or simply warming your heart.

This is the book of Psalms, and it is rich.

I pray I can communicate a portion of the blessing we receive from this wonderful book.

Let us take a few moments and consider Psalm 13

Psalm 13: 1-6

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.

How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?

How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

Consider and answer me, O LORD my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,

lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,” lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.

But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.

I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me.

As a believer, I have forgotten His mercies and grace too many times to recount. During my hectic day and to my shame, I find little time to think on His goodness. He is a constant Savior, even a Brother, that treats me better than I deserve, and because of that, I yearn to be of that character. The character of Christ, who exhibited a self sacrificial life, forgives me as I repent of my wrong thinking/doing and is constantly drawing me into fellowship.

As I consider His goodness, grace and kindness, I tend to hear the niggling doubts, the faraway thoughts that remind me of my fears and struggles, the enemies that are so real. And yet these two thoughts seem to be at war with one another.

It has been years since I learned that fear and faith cannot live together. Why can I not maintain this truth in my experience? Why must I be reminded of it so often?

It appears that the psalmist is going through the very same struggle that so many of us can identify with.

At one point in the first verse the psalmist states that God is ignoring him, forgotten His child, ceased from caring for His child. He claims that God has hid His face from him, a term that signifies absence. The Father is no longer available to the child.

Have you experienced this? Have dark times enveloped you, where the love of God is completely absent from your life, where the enemy is seemingly victorious, and that you have no helper, no resource, no experience with the Father?

I do not intend to minimize this, as I have in the past experienced very dark times of solitude, of living in fear and feeling abandoned. As many of my readers may know, I have known the Lord for over 40 years, and during that time have struggled with many battles.

If I were to admit to one battle that I seem to have recurring failure at is that of addressing my fear. My fear of rejection, my fear of loss, my fear of failure, my fear of shame…. Need I go on?

The psalmist had physical enemies that were growling about his life, that were nipping at his heals. The victory of the enemy seemed inevitable.

Our fear seems justifiable in the appearance of the circumstance!

The believer is to rest in the steadfast love of God, in the constant truth of the salvation found in the Messiah. Does this resolve all specific aspects of all the circumstances being faced by the saint?

NO.

Circumstances do not necessarily change because of trust. (They may of course, due to His mercy, but that is not the point of this post!)

The psalmist states a fact, that is that he has trusted in the steadfast love of God. The circumstances are what they are, and yet in the past, the saint has trusted. The saint is trusting now, and this is obvious, since his heart is in rejoice mode. Fear is fleeing, and the rejoicing heart is victorious over it. (Consider 1 John 4:18!)

To trust is not to have all the answers, or to be experiencing “your best life now”. As a matter of fact, trust implies that there are issues that are fighting against our decision to trust.

Consider the concept Paul refers to in Romans 8:24-25

For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

What we see with our physical eyes is often a distraction for our spirits eyes.

As you consider this, remember that the life of faith is truly a battle.

The turning point for the psalmist was his remembrance of the steadfast love of the Lord. Do not abandon your trust by concentrating on the appearance of life.

It is either faith or fear.

These two do not exist together.

Remember the steadfast love of God when the enemy rears its head and tells you to be afraid!


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Psalms for Psome – 12

My wife and I are reading through the Psalms in our evening reading and occasionally a nugget of the Psalms jumps out of the page. Don’t you love it when, after years of reading the “Old Book” passages become alive, reinforcing old teachings or simply warming your heart.

This is the book of Psalms, and it is rich.

I pray I can communicate a portion of the blessing we receive from this wonderful book.

Let’s read this short Psalm in it’s entirety

Psalm 12:1-8

To the choirmaster: according to The Sheminith. A Psalm of David. Save, O LORD, for the godly one is gone; for the faithful have vanished from among the children of man.

Everyone utters lies to his neighbor; with flattering lips and a double heart they speak.

May the LORD cut off all flattering lips, the tongue that makes great boasts,

those who say, “With our tongue we will prevail, our lips are with us; who is master over us?”

“Because the poor are plundered, because the needy groan, I will now arise,” says the LORD; “I will place him in the safety for which he longs.”

The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times.

You, O LORD, will keep them; you will guard us from this generation forever.
On every side the wicked prowl, as vileness is exalted among the children of man.

The Psalmist is bemoaning the loss of the faithful man, the righteous and good man who spoke truth, who could be relied upon to provide wisdom and understanding. He cries out to the Lord for justice, for His justice to prevail upon those who lie, boast and flatter.

These boasters speak of thier ultimate power over everyone, since they boast of prevailing , and even question who is the master over them. Little do they know, they are the slaves to their own deception, they have no power over their own speech. These men are being led by the ring in thier nose to thier destruction

As I think of the New Testament teaching on the tongue, one passage comes to mind.

James 3:2

…And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.

James uses the tongue as the ultimate test of perfection in the saint. Imagine, the implication is that the tongue is the greatest of our foes.

James 3:8

…but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

James continues, stating that the tongue is the master of the man, the ruler of the body that is full of deadly poison. This counsel is for the believer, who has been forgiven of his sins, and provided the Spirit of God to empower godly living. And yet the tongue is a formidable enemy for the saint. How much more so for the poor sinner who is captive to its wiles.

The tongue plunders those who are supposedly weak. The tongue is a destroyer, the enemy of those who are in humble conditions, who are needy and are easily taken advantage of. Great swelling words seek to dominate those who are susceptible to the lies and deceptions of the proud and arrogant, godless man.

Where can we find a man who can be trusted? Where is there any hope of knowing a faithful witness, a brother who will speak faithfully?

Psalm 12:6

The words of the LORD are pure words,
like silver refined in a furnace on the ground,
purified seven times.

His words are pure.

This purity speaks of an article or material as being unalloyed, such as gold. It is common to think in our modern world of some precious metals as being 99.99% pure. This is a standard that is used within the metals industry. The concept of a percentage of purity was not considered in the Old Testament to this degree. When purity is spoken of, it is to an absolute.

Habakkuk speaks of the Lord’s eyes as being pure

Habakkuk 1:13

You who are of purer eyes than to see evil
and cannot look at wrong,
why do you idly look at traitors
and remain silent when the wicked swallows up
the man more righteous than he?

James speaks to us again, informing us that purity is the first characteristic of the wisdom from above.

James 3:17

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.

His words are pure.

John 17:17

Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.

It seems obvious to me that the words of the wicked draw them to the trap, to a destruction they do not expect, and shall swiftly fall upon them. Those who look to the word of Jesus, find a Brother who is worth listening to, a Friend who speaks the truth, (hard as it is to hear at times!), and a Savior Who is ever present to give direction and encouragement for those very folks who may be under the influence of the boasting liars all about us.

The psalmist closes this psalm, speaking of the wicked prowling about Peter also reminds the believer of an enemy prowling about

1 Peter 5:8 …Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

Be sober, be vigilant, be aware of your circumstance and your resources. The Lord has not left us helpless.

It is common knowledge that the lion will devour the weakest of the prey. Do not be fodder for the adversary, by being the weakest of the body of believers. Much strength may be found in the words of God, pure words that are given for our edification and exhortation. For the building up of the saint, to increase our knowledge, understanding and wisdom.

His words are pure. Read them, memorize them, study them, treasure them and work them out in your life. Without them, you will only have one source of information. Let me tell you – that source of information is definitely not pure!


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