Monday, June 20, 2011

Psalms study summary

We did it!  We have spent 171 days in the study and meditation of God's word in the Psalms! 

The Psalms are poetry and the Psalms are prayer. What else did we learn in our Psalms quest?

I.  Psalms is the inspired “prayer guide” for God’s people.  They show us that it’s impossible to live a godly life apart from prayer.  
 It has been said that we don't learn the Psalms until we are praying them.
Prayer is ordained by God to draw us to Him that we can experience His presence, power, and transformation. 

Throughout the Psalms, we have seen a display of every human emotion.  Inter-Varsity Press describes them like this:
We use the Psalms to present ourselves before God as honestly and thoroughly as we are able. 

Everything that anyone can feel or experience in relation to God is in these prayers. You will find them the best place in Scripture to explore all the parts of your life and then to say who you are and what is in you—guilt, anger, salvation, praise—to the God who loves, judges and saves you in Jesus Christ.
Yet, in the end, there was always TRUST in God.  Trust for REDEMPTION and SALVATION. 

II.  The Psalms challenge us to live a GODLY LIFE.  They show the benefits of knowing and obeying God, while at the same time reminding us of the consequence of a wicked lifestyle. 

In a debased culture that has lost its way and everyone is doing “what is right in their own eyes,” it can be difficult to see the emptiness and destructiveness of a wicked life. 

The Psalms show us that a life lived apart from God is a tragedy not only today but for all eternity.  Psalms teaches us again and again that there are only TWO ways – the way of the godly and the way of the ungodly.  A person must make a choice.  He must decide – God’s way or his own way.

In understanding this, did you see how David became a man after God's own heart?  Paul answers this question for us in Acts 13:22:
"And when He had removed him (Saul), He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said,
'I have found David, the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart,
who will do all My will."

 "He will do everything I want him to do." Wow, how simple is that and yet how hard for us to emulate? David was willing to do whatever God asked him to do. As we have seen, David had his faults but God knew his heart. He knew that David loved Him and would do whatever He asked him to do.

If we really want to be men and women after God's own heart, we need to start doing what He asks us to do. It is not always easy, it is not always fun and it is often without human reward or recognition, but we must choose this day whom we will serve - God or man? 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Psalm 150

Praise the Lord!

In Psalm 150, the psalmist shows us:
  • for what God is to be praised (v. 1-2)
  • how God is to be praised (v. 3-5)
  • who must praise the Lord (v. 6)
The word "praise" (or "hallelujah!") is named 13 times in this brief psalm. 

To praise God is to acknowledge the glories of His excellent Person.  It differs somewhat from thanksgiving, which describes what God has done rather than what He is.  As Psalm 150 concludes our study and much of the psalms have dealt in praise of God, below is are some of the facts about praise we've seen:
  • God alone is worthy of our praise (Ps. 18:3, 113:3)
  • It is His will for us that we praise Hm (Ps. 50:23)
  • This praise should be continuous and also public (Ps. 34:1, 71:6, 22:25)
  • We are to praise God for His holiness, grace, goodness, and kindness (Ps. 135:3, Ps. 138:2)
  • All nature praises God ((Ps. 148:7-10)
  • The sun, moon, and stars praise Him (Ps. 19:1, 143:3)
  • The angels praise Him (Ps. 148:2)
  • On occasion God uses even the wrath of men to praise Him (Ps. 76:10)
We've seen that the last 6 psalms each conclude with "Hallelujah!"  Some Bible translations say "Praise the Lord!"  That is because the final 6 psalms are wholly taken up in praising God and there is not a petition in them. 

Praise Him for His mighty acts. ~ Ps. 150:2
In these deeds of power we see Himself. These doings of His omnipotence are always on behalf of truth and righteousness. His works of creation, providence, and redemption all call for praise; they are His acts of might, therefore let Him be praised for them.  (~Spurgeon)

Praise him according to His excellent greatness. ~ Ps. 150:2
His being is unlimited, and His praise should correspond therewith. He possesses a plenitude of greatness, and therefore He should be greatly praised.

There is nothing little about God, and there is nothing great apart from him. If we were always careful to make our worship fit and appropriate for our great Lord how much better should we sing! How much more reverently should we adore! Such excellent deeds should have excellent praise.
~  Spurgeon, Treasury of David

Verses 3-5 describe a ministry of instrumental music.  How do you do on Sunday mornings at church - do you sing loudly, with a heart of praise?  God is to be praised with trumpet, harp, and cymbals - with brass, strings, and percussion instruments.  
The book of Psalms ends with this verse:
Praise ye the Lord - Hallelu-jah.  ~ Ps. 150:6

Thus, at the end of all the trials, the conflicts, the persecutions, the sorrows, the joys recorded in this book, the psalmist gives utterance to feelings of joy, triumph, transport, rejoicing;

and thus at the end of all - when the affairs of this world shall be closed - when the church shall have passed through all its trials, shall have borne all its persecutions, shall have suffered all that it is appointed to suffer -

when the work of redemption shall be complete, and all the ransomed of the Lord shall have been recovered from sin, and shall be saved - that church, all heaven, the whole universe, shall break forth in one loud, long, triumphant Hallelujah.  ~ Barnes

 H A L L E J A H !

  • God is worthy of the praise of His people - in all things and in all ways
  • God's acts are mighty
  • God's greatness is excellent

  • I praise the Lord for the glories of His excellent Person!
  • I praise God for the book of Psalms and how He has revealed Himself - His nature, His attributes, His glory, His Redemption & love of His people - to us through the writings of this book
     O Lord, hear my voice, accept my praise, receive my love for You.  How my heart is full of gratitude, overwhelmed by Your mercy & lovingkindness towards me.  Thank You for Your Word - that You reveal Yourself to us through it.  The Psalms are a glorious contemplation of Your majesty and all of Your greatness, and I thank You for the spiritual refreshment in my soul through the meditation of all 150 of them.       
      Keep Your word alive and fresh in my mind & memory forever - may I hide Your word in my heart, that I might not sin against You and that I might grow in the grace & knowledge of our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ, in whose name I pray ~ Amen

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Psalm 149

The Lord Takes Pleasure in His People

Matthew Henry states that, while yesterday's Psalm 148 was a hymn of praise to the Creator, this is a hymn to the Redeemer.  It is a praise of triumph in the God of Israel, and over the enemies of Israel.  Some Biblical scholars believe it was penned when David had taken the stronghold of Zion and settled his government there.  But it also looks further to the kingdom of the Messiah, who goes forth conquering and to conquer.

 The chosen people are exhorted to praise God, in view of past favors and also future victories over enemies, of which they are impliedly assured. The tone is exceedingly jubilant and exultant.

Verses 3 & 4 indicate that celebration included not only singing, but dancing to the accompaniment of timbrel and harp.  The sacred dance was a significant element of Israelite worship. 

Let them praise His name with the dance.
~ Ps. 149:3
King David dancing before the Lord

Verse 4 reminds us once again of God's pleasure with the humble.  May we clothe ourselves in humility and live each day as such. 

Some Bible translations use the word "meek" - He will beautify the meek with salvation.

Meekness not only gives great peace of mind, but often adds a lustre to the countenance. We only read of three in Scripture whose faces shone remarkably— Christ, Moses, and Stephen—and they were eminent for meekness.
~Matthew Henry
Spurgeon notes that the Lord's taking pleasure in His people is:
1. A wonderful evidence of His grace
2. The highest honour they can desire
3. Their security for time and eternity

Verse 6, describing a dance featuring swords, anticipated future judgment on the nations and their kings.

  • God is worthy of my highest praise
  • God is my Maker
  • The Lord takes pleasure in His people
  • The Lord will beautify the humble with salvation
  • God will judge the wicked
  • I praise God for Who He is and for what He has done - throughout history and today in my own life! 
PRAYER: a beautiful prayer of praise by Ruth Myers:
     O Lord, I exult in the free, confident access You have provided, so that I can come into Your Presence for warm fellowship, for refreshment, for mercy when I've failed, for grace when I'm in need.  What a joy to know that I can draw near to You at any moment, wherever I may be . . . that I can come boldly to Your throne of grace, assured of Your glad welcome - not because I'm worthy or because I've served You, but because You're a God of grace, a God of unmerited, unlimited favor.  I'm so glad that You welcome me just as I am, simply because Jesus is my risen Savior, and I am alive with His life and righteous with His righteousness!
     Thank You that I can praise and adore You and offer my requests in detail, with thanksgiving . . . that I can pour out my heart before You, being honest with You about my feelings and my mistakes and my sins. 
     Thank You that I can "be still" and know that You are God . . . that You are in control. . . and that I can restfully depend upon You and absorb Your strength and joy and peace.  To think that You not only permit me to come before You but You actually desire my fellowship, my worship, my prayers and my eternal presence!  Your desire is for me!  Such is almost too much for my understanding - thank You !
Amen and amen!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Psalm 148

All Creation Praises the Lord
This psalm is a most solemn and earnest call to all creatures, according to their capacity, to praise their Creator and to show form His eternal power and Godhead - the invisible things of which are manifested in the things that are seen.  The psalmist does this by:
  1. calling upon the creatures that are placed in the upper world to praise the Lord
  2. calling upon the creatures of the lower world (on earth) to praise the Lord
Those who were created by command are under command to adore their Creator. The voice which said "Let them be", now saith "Let them praise."
~ Spurgeon
Praise Him, all you starts of light!
Praise Him, you heavens of heavens!
~ Ps. 148:3

Praise the Lord . . . you great sea creatures and all the depths!
~ Ps. 148:7

My Bible notes that all that depend on God's care are charged to praise Him.  This list of those called moves from nature to humankind - young & old, male & female, and all levels of society from top to bottom. 

Kings of the earth and all peoples . . .
Both young men and maidens;
Old men and children.
Let them praise the name of the Lord,
For His name alone is exalted.
~ Ps. 148:11-13

Every time I return to a home football game at my Alma mater, The University of Tennessee, I am amazed at the sight outside the stadium prior to game time - it is a throng of people!  O, that people would praise the Lord with the fervency with which we cheer on our favorite football team!

I could wish that all our lives might end like this book of Psalms, in blessing and praising Almighty God.
Thomas Cheshire, in "A Sermon preached, in Saint Paule's Church," 1641

  • God is worthy of my praise
  • God is Creator & Sustainer of all things
  • God's decrees shall never pass away
  • God's glory is above the earth and heaven
  • God's name alone is exalted
  • I praise the Lord as Creator & Sustainer of the universe and all things in it!
O God, You have given me all that I have,
all that I am,
and I surrender all to Your divine will
that You dispose of me.
Give me only Your love and Your grace,
With this I am rich enough
and I have no more to ask.
~ Ignatius of Loyola

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Psalm 147

God Heals the Brokenhearted


Psalm 147 and Psalm 148 (tomorrow's study) are the last of the THANKSGIVING PSALMS.  These psalms remind us that every prayer we utter should include the element of thanksgiving.  These psalms make us aware of God's blessings and lead us to express our thanks with feeling and conviction.  The God of Israel -  what He has done, what He does, what He can do—this is the "Hallelujah" note of His song.
There is no place in human literature where you can find such praise as there is in the Psalms of David.   ~ Henry Ward Beecher
Psalm 147 is comprised of 3 hymns:
  1. the first concerns God's care of the returning Israelite exiles
  2. the second stresses God's provisions for creation 
  3. the third notes God's dealings with Israel & Jerusalem through His word 
He counts the number of the stars;
He calls them all by name.
Great is our Lord, and mighty in power,
His understanding is infinite.
~ Ps. 147:4-5
Regarding these verses above, God's knowledge of the stars suggests that He is more than equal to the problems of humankind.  His power and understanding far surpass any other resource from which we may draw.

Have you ever wondered what you can possibly do to please God?  How your life can be one that is pleasing to the Lord?  Verse 11 tells us:

The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him,
In those who hope in His mercy.
~ Ps. 147:10

A sincere Christian is known by both these; a fear of God, or a constant obedience to His commands, and an affiance, trust, and dependence upon His mercies.
~ Thomas Manton

I love verses 15 - 18 which declare God's mighty acts in nature!  Here again the Psalmist sees God directly and personally at work.  In verses 19-20, God's creative word becomes His redeeming Word for Israel.

  • God loves & blesses Jerusalem and His children
  • God is great and His works are awesome
  • God heals the brokenhearted
  • God is Creator - He knows the stars by name, and all of nature obeys His voice!
  • God is worthy of my praise
  • God takes pleasure in those who fear Him
  • I praise the Lord that He binds up my broken heart
  • I praise God for the majesty of His works in nature and creation, and how He reveals His power & might through them
  • I praise God for His redeeming Word
 PRAYER: a beautiful psalm of praise by Ruth Myers:

     I magnify You, O Lord, I exalt Your name, for You are great and highly to be praised.  I praise You for the glorious splendor of Your majesty and the power of Your awe-inspiring acts.  Your power is unlimited . . . absolute . . . beyond imagining.  You are able to do immeasurably more than we can ask or dream of.  Who is like You, 'majestic in holiness, awesome in praises, working wonders?'
     O Lord Most High, Your rule over the heavens and the earth, for You made all things by Your great power, and You keep them existing and working by Your mighty word.  You are exalted high above every star and galaxy in the entire cosmos . . . yet You are also "the God of all mankind," the great, personally present, personally involved God who loves, rescues, and takes care of all who trust You.  You exercise Your gracious authority over all nations - and over each individual in all the world.  There is none like You, the true God, the living God, the everlasting King.  
     Praise the Lord!  Amen and amen!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Psalm 146

Do Not Put Your Trust in Princes
Psalms 146 & 147 are the last of the Descriptive Praise Psalms - these psalms praise God for His attributes and acts.  Psalm 146 and the remainder of the psalms begin and end with "Hallelujah!"  Some Bible translations read "Praise the Lord!"  In Psalm 146, the psalmist:
  • engages himself to praise God (v. 1-2)
  • engages other to trust in Him, which is one way of praising Him
  • he shows why we shouldn't trust in men (v. 3-4)
  • he shows why we should trust in God (v. 5 - 10)
Do not put your trust in princes,
nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help.
~ Ps. 146:3

In verse 3, David tells us of the folly of putting our trust in men; man is fallible and mortal. 

For one man to put confidence in another, is as if one beggar should ask an alms of another, or one cripple should carry another, or the blind lead the blind.
Anthony Farindon

To trust man is to lean not on a pillar but on a little heap of dust.
Johannes Paulus Palanterius

We should trust in God alone, and as in Psalm 144, we are reminded again in verse 5 that a happy (blessed) person is one whose hope is in the Lord.  
Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help,
Whose hope is in the Lord his God.
~ Ps. 146:5
The God of Jacob is a famous and significant description of God.  As the true God is the God of Jacob, so the God of Jacob is the true God. He is God alone, and there is no other besides him.  Christopher Wordsworth further comments regarding Psalm 146 and the remainder:
The office of these Psalms is to declare to the universe that Jehovah, and He alone, is Elohim; and to invite all to worship Him as such, by their oft repeated Hallelujah.

We must hope in the providence of God for all we need as to this life,
and in the grace of God for that which is to come.
~M. Henry

  • God is worthy of my praise
  • God is my help and worthy of my trust
  • God is Creator
  • God is Judge
  • God is my provider
  • The Lord loves the righteous
  • God defeats the wicked
  • God shall reign forever
  • Psalm 146 is an entire psalm of praise, and as we read and meditate on it, may we praise Him through each verse.
     Praise the Lord, O my soul!  While I live I will praise the Lord; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
     How I bless You, Father, that You are worthy of my whole trust.  May I turn from placing my trust in any person, pastor, situation, or government - and place all of my hope in the Lord my God alone
     How I thank You for Your provision in my life - that You have opened my spiritually blind eyes and lifted my head bowed low with sin.  How I bless You, O God, for my family and my children, for my physical needs, for my spiritual needs, for the countless many blessings You have bestowed in my life - none of which I deserve.  Your kindness and goodness to me have been exceedingly abundantly above anything I could ever ask or think.  Thank You for knowing the things I need more than I do!  Forgive me when I ask amiss, and tune my heart & prayers to Your will.  May I trust You more and more each day.
     I praise You, O Lord - and make this prayer in Jesus' name ~ Amen

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Psalm 145

Testify to God's Great Acts

What a beautiful psalm of praise!  Psalm 145 is also the last of the acrostic psalms - psalms in which the first verse or line begins with the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, the next begins with the second, and so on.

The content of Psalm 145 and all the remaining psalms is that of praise.  Matthew Henry notes this:
That the book of Psalms concludes with psalms of praise - all praise - for praise is the conclusion of the whole matter; it is that in which all the psalms center. 
Psalm 145 has been entitled "A Praise of David," and the title is appropriated to it, because this wholly consists of praise; it was not thanks, but altogether praise, and wholly praise (~Thomas Goodwin). It is also the last psalm in the book ascribed to David's authorship. In this psalm, David
  • Engages himself and others to praise God
  • fastens upon those things that are proper matter for praise:
  •      God's greatness
  •      His goodness
  •      the kingdom of Providence
  •      the kingdom of Grace
  • He concludes with a resolution to continue praising God
One generation shall praise Your works to another,
And shall declare Your mighty acts.
~Ps. 145:4
Verse 4 reminds us of the most important thing we can do for our children and the generations that follow us:  praise God's works to the next generation, and declare God's mighty acts!  Throughout the Bible we see the importance of this:
"In days to come, when your son asks you, 'What does this mean?' say to him, 'With a mighty hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery." ~ Ex. 13:8

The Lord is near to all who call on Him,
to all who call on Him in truth.
He fulfills the desires of those who fear Him;
He hears their cry and saves them.
~ Ps. 145:18-19

We are reminded in verses 18 - 19 to call upon the Lord with the desires of our hearts.  We've discussed in previous psalms that our God is not a great "genie in the sky" who grants all our wishes - but rather our prayers are means by which the desires of our hearts become molded and shaped into the desires of God's heart.  Robert Leighton says it well:

‎"True prayer never comes weeping home: I shall get either what I ask, or what I ought to have asked."
~ Robert Leighton

The notes in my Bible list 2 key verses in the Book of Psalms - one is Psalm 145:21:
My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord,
And all flesh shall bless His holy name
Forever and ever.
~ Ps. 145:21
  • The Lord is great, and greatly to be praised
  • God's greatness is unsearchable
  • The Lord is gracious and full of compassion
  • The Lord is slow to anger and great in mercy
  • God's tender mercies are over all His works
  • God's kingdom is everlasting
  • The Lord upholds those who fall
  • God is righteous in all His ways
  • God fulfills the desires of those who fear Him
  • God hears my cry
  • The Lord preserves all who love Him
  • By meditating on Psalm 145, like David I can praise God through every verse!

     I will extol You, my God, O King; and I will bless Your name forever and ever.  May I bless You every day, and praise Your name forever.  You are great, O Lord, and greatly to be praised.  My heart is full of praise for Your unsearchable greatness.
     Father, I pray that my children will trust and love You all of their lives; that our family will praise Your works one generation to another.  
     When I see Your creation may I pause to meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty and on Your wondrous works. 
     How I bless You, Father, that You are gracious and full of compassion towards Your children, slow to anger and great in mercy.  Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and Your dominion endures throughout all generations.
     O Lord, my eyes look expectantly to You for Your provision, and I bless You for upholding me when I fall. Thank You for being near when I call upon You.  Thank You that You hear my cry, and have saved me through Your Son Jesus Christ.  May my mouth speak of the praise of the Lord and bless Your holy name forever ~ Amen