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 !

WHAT CAN I LEARN ABOUT GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
  • 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

HOW CAN I PRAISE GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
  • 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
PRAYER:
     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.

WHAT CAN I LEARN ABOUT GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
  • 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
HOW CAN I PRAISE GOD THROUGH HIS PSALM:
  • 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

WHAT CAN I LEARN ABOUT GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
  • 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
HOW CAN I PRAISE GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
  • I praise the Lord as Creator & Sustainer of the universe and all things in it!
PRAYER:
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.
Amen
~ 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.

 
WHAT CAN I LEARN ABOUT GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
  • 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
HOW CAN I PRAISE GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
  • 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

WHAT CAN I LEARN ABOUT GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
  • 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
HOW CAN I PRAISE GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
  • Psalm 146 is an entire psalm of praise, and as we read and meditate on it, may we praise Him through each verse.
 
PRAYER:
     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
WHAT CAN I LEARN ABOUT GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
  • 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
HOW CAN I PRAISE GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
  • By meditating on Psalm 145, like David I can praise God through every verse!
PRAYER:

     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
    
    


Monday, June 13, 2011

Psalm 144

What is Man? 

Psalm 144 is the last of the "imprecatory" ('to call down a curse') psalms.  The psalms that we have studied of this type (Ps. 7, 35, 40, 55, 58-59, 69,79, 109, 137, 144) invoke divine judgment on one's enemies.  If they should seem unreasonably harsh to the reader, consider these things:
  1. they call for divine justice rather than human vengeance
  2. they ask for God to punish the wicked and thus vindicate His righteousness
  3. they condemn sin
  4. even Jesus calls down a curse on several cities and tells His disciples to curse cities that do not receive the gospel (see Matt. 10:14-15)
In these imprecatory psalms, David begs that God will give judgment upon his persecutors in His faithfulness as Judge of right and wrong.  
In Psalm 144:
  • David acknowledges with triumph and thankfulness the great goodness of God to him in advancing him to the government of Israel
  • He prays to God to help against the enemies who threaten him
  • He rejoices in the assurance of victory over them
  • He prays for the prosperity of his own kingdom
As a king & commander of the army, King David praises God
for helping him in those responsibilities.

I love the way in verse 1 that David acknowledges his dependence upon God.  May we follow his example in all things!

Verses 3-4 talk of the brevity of life, which should serve as a reminder to us curb pride and arrogance.  We should also note that, though brief and fragile, our lives are of supreme concern to God.  
Lord, what is man, that You take knowledge of him?
Man is like a breath,
His days are like a passing shadow.
~ Ps. 144:3-4

Happy are the people whose God is the Lord.
~ Ps. 144:15


In verse 15, other Bible translations use the word "blessed" or "joyful." 
Such were His people . . . but they had Jehovah for their God; and in Him had a ceaseless fountain of strength, protection, earthly blessings, and eternal mercies! ~ Clarke

Why not take a minute to pause today and truly meditate on what it means to have God, Yahweh, the God of the Universe, as your Lord! 

John Gill makes this observation regarding God's children:
Yes, happy is that people whose God is the Lord.  Not only their Creator, but as their God in covenant . . .  whom He has loved, chosen, redeemed, adopted, justified, pardoned, regenerated, and sanctified; for all that God has are theirs; all His perfections are on their side and for their good; He is their portion, shield, reward, and their all in all; His covenant, its blessings and promises, are all theirs. 
The Lord takes care of them, sets a guard about them, resents all injuries done them, prevents the designs of their enemies, makes all things work together for their good, provides all things necessary for them for time and eternity, and will be their God and guide even unto death; covenant interest always continues, and therefore such must be ever happy.                ~ John Gill
AMEN and AMEN !!!

WHAT CAN I LEARN ABOUT GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
  • God is my Rock, my lovingkindness, my fortress, my high tower, my shield, my refuge
  • God fights my battles and rescues me from my enemies
  • God is my Lord, and the benefits of being His child fill me with joy
 HOW CAN I PRAISE GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
  • I praise God that my battles, my times, my life, are in His hand
  • I bless God that He is my Lord - of the unspeakable joy that is mine because I am His!
PRAYER:  remember Day 1 of our Psalms study?  We talked about using the Psalms study to improve our prayer life - by praying each day's Psalm - praying God's words - back to Him.  Pastor Bob Hostetler does an excellent job praying Psalm 144 back to the Lord:   

Praise be to You, LORD my Rock,
You are my loving God
and my sure defense,
my castle keep,
and my reinforcement,
my armor and my shield,
in whom I am kept safe.
You lay my enemies low.

I don't know why you care for me,
why you give me a thought.
Like all men, my life is here today,
gone tomorrow.
My whole life span is not even a blink
of eternity's eye.

But you do care for me, Lord,
you do take thought of me.
So come, O LORD, come down.
Rip open the skies and come down;
stand on the mountains, so that they smoke.
Throw your lightning bolts
and scatter all who attack and oppress your people.

Reach down your hand from on high;
lift me out of the flooding waters
and save me from all who lie
and do evil.

Give me yet another new song to sing to you, God;
add one more praise song to my repertoire,
one more victory chant to praise you with.

Continue to build up my son
and make him a mighty oak;
continue to make my daughters
like a marble pillar in righteousness.

Empty me and mine,
to make room for your provision.
Teach me to give freely
out of all you have given to me.
Make my church a tithing church, Lord.
Make me and mine a people of faith
and generosity
and sacrifice
and joy.

Let there be no disunity
or deception
or disobedience
in our midst.

Give us the gift of Instant Obedience, Lord.
Grant that we may do what you say
the moment you say it.

Blessed are the people of whom this is true;
blessed are the people whose God is the Lord!


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Psalm 143

Teach Me to Do Your Will

 

 
Psalm 143 is the last of the INDIVIDUAL LAMENT PSALMS.  Directly addressed to God, these psalms petition Him to rescue and defend an individual.  Psalm 143 is a prayer of David, full of lament of his distress and the danger he was in.  He prays earnestly that God would
  • hear him (v. 1-7)
  • that He would not deal with him according to his sins (v. 2)
  • that He would not hide His face from him (v. 7)
  • that He would manifest His favor towards him (v. 8)
  • that He would guide & direct him in the way he should go & quicken him in it (v. 8, 10)
  • that He would deliver him from his troubles (v. 9, 11)
  • that He would, in due time, reckon with his persecutors (v. 12)
Psalm 143 is also the 7th and last of the "Penitential Psalms" - these psalms have served as a special source of prayer and reflection during Lent for centuries.  Our struggles, our sins, our "enemies" - and the ways we describe them - may be different, but these psalms can draw us into coming before our God, as sinners, with real needs.  They can help us come to know God's love and mercy.

 
ever wonder which way to turn? 
Hide Psalm 143:8 in your heart
May we, like David, lift our souls up to the Lord,
for He will show us the way!


 
Have you ever thought, "I would do God's will, if I just knew what it was!"

There are 3 meanings to the "will of God:"
(a) Sovereign decretive will, the will by which God brings to pass
whatsoever He decrees. This is hidden to us until it happens.
(b) Preceptive (revealed) will is God's revealed law or commandments, which we have the power but not the right to break.
(c) Will of disposition describes God's attitude or disposition. It reveals what is pleasing to Him.

We can't know everything about God and what He wills, but we can know His revealed will - those things He has made known to us.  This is also known as God's preceptive will because it contains commands or precepts by which we are to structure our lives.  When we sin, we act contrary to God's will of precept. 

So what's the best way to know His revealed will?  Read His Word!!  Find out what it says, get to know the precepts God has given us, then act on those things!

RC. Sproul makes this great observation: 
God sets certain parameters, but within these boundaries there are often many godly paths we can take. If we have earnestly studied Scripture, we can choose among many solid options without worrying about transgressing His will.
  • The true mark of spirituality is seen in those seeking to know the will of God that is revealed in His preceptive will. It is the godly person who meditates on God's law day and night.
  • While we seek to be "led" by the Holy Spirit, it is vital to remember that the Holy Spirit  is primarily leading us into righteousness.
  • We are called to live our lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. It is His revealed will that is our business, indeed, the chief business of our lives.
WHAT CAN I LEARN ABOUT GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
  • God hears & answers my prayers in His faithfulness
  • In God's sight, no one living is righteous
  • God has revealed His preceptive will to children through His word
  • God is my Deliverer and my shelter
  • God's Spirit is good
  • God is lovingly kind and merciful to His children
HOW CAN I PRAISE GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
  • I praise God that He hears and answers my prayers according to His faithfulness, lovingkindness and mercy
  • I praise God for the sacrifice of His Son, that only through Him am righteous before God
  • I bless God for His Word and how He has revealed Himself to His children - that He doesn't leave us to flounder but has shown us His will and His way for us
  • I praise God that He is my Deliverer, and that His Spirit is good
PRAYER:
     Hear my prayer, O Lord - give ear to my supplications!  How I bless You for Your faithfulness & righteousness to me.
    As David, I pray that You will not enter into judgment with me - I know that I am all unrighteousness, and my heart is filled with praise & gratitude for the gift of Your Son and His sacrifice for me, that I am now covered in His righteousness.  I plead Christ and Christ alone before You. 
     Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God.  May Your Spirit hide Your word in my heart forever, that it would be a light unto my feet and a light unto my path, and I would walk according to Your ways.  Lead me in the land of uprightness.  In Jesus' name I pray ~ Amen

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Psalm 142

No One Cares for My Soul
Attend to my cry,
For I am brought very low.
~ Ps. 142:6
Have you ever felt like that in this title - that no one cares about you?  No one cares about your sorrows or your troubling circumstances?  Clearly David was in distress when he penned Psalm 142.  My Bible notes that this is a "prayer when he was in the cave."  Possibly either Engedi, Adullam, or some other lone cavern where he could conceal himself from Saul and his blood hounds.

Psalm 142 is a 'Maschil," or psalm of instruction.  David is teaching us the lessons he learned in the cave, learned on his knees - of how to order our prayers in times of distress.  Spurgeon tell us such instruction is among the most needful, practical, and effectual parts of our spiritual education. He who has learned how to pray has been taught the most useful of the arts and sciences.
 
Spurgeon notes there can be little doubt that this song dates from the days when Saul was sorely persecuting David, and David himself was in soul trouble.  His fortunes were evidently at their lowest, and, what was worse, his repute had fearfully fallen; yet he displayed a true faith in God, to whom he made known his pressing sorrows.
When my spirit was overwhelmed with me,
Then You knew my path.
~ Ps. 142:3
A truth to remember when we are overwhelmed:  God knows our path - the situations we face.

Matthew Henry notes:
When our spirits are overwhelmed by distress and filled with discouragement; when we see snares laid for us on every side while we walk in His way, we may reflect with comfort that the Lord knows our path. Those who in sincerity take the Lord for their God find Him all-sufficient, as a Refuge and as a Portion.

There can be no situation so distressing or dangerous, in which faith will not get comfort from God by prayer.

Divine help is most given when most needed. A refuge and a portion when all others fail.
Man has many friends in prosperity, one only in adversity.G.R.

David concludes his prayer with faith in his God to deliver him - for which he shall praise God's name.  He believed in God's word and promise to deal bountifully with him. 

Good men live by prayer. He who gets to the throne of grace is covered by the cloud of glory, through which no sun can smite by day, nor moon by night.
William Swan Plumer

WHAT CAN I LEARN ABOUT GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
  • God hears my cry
  • God knows my 'path' - each of my situations and circumstances
  • God is my refuge and my portion
  • As David, I am totally dependent upon the Lord
  • God deals bountifully with His children
 HOW CAN I PRAISE GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
  • I praise God that He hears my cry, even from the depths of my soul
  • I bless God that He is my refuge and my portion when it seems as though no one cares for my soul
  • I bless God that He is worthy of my trust, the One on whom I can completely depend
  • I bless the Lord that He dealt bountifully with His servant David . . . and deals bountifully with me today!
 PRAYER: by pastor Bob Hostetler 
Lord, my soul is in turmoil.
I am stricken with grief.
I have no answers,
only sadness
and unrest.

But, as Henri Nouwen once wrote,
"in the midst of much inner turmoil and restlessness,
there is a consoling thought:
maybe you are working in me
in a way I cannot yet feel, experience, or understand."

I know that's true.
I don't much like it, but I know it.
So in faith I cling to you.
I know that you are God.
I know you are not sleeping.
I know that you see into my heart,
and that you do some of your best work
in darkness.

So work, Lord.
Lead me.
Teach me.
Soften me.
Mold me.
Break me and put me back together,
as you wish.

I will do my best to submit,
to listen,
obey,
and glorify you,
by your grace.

I will not give up on you,
I will not stop praying,
I will not hold back in worship,
I will not blame,
I will not lash out...
by your grace.

Let this little death
I am experiencing now
be for me (as it was for Jesus)
a path to resurrection life,
in whose name I pray, amen.



Friday, June 10, 2011

Psalm 141

Set a Guard, O Lord, over My Mouth!

 

 

 
Again, David was in distress when he penned this psalm.  He prays for
  • God's favorable acceptance (v. 1-2)
  • For His powerful assistance (v. 3-4)
  • That others might be instruments of good to his soul, as he hoped to be to the souls of others (v. 5-6)
  • For God to graciously appear for his relief and rescue (v. 7-10)
David was a man of prayer, and he opens Psalm 141 with a plea before God that his prayers might be heard and answered. 
Verse 3 is a prayer that we should all probably pray before we get out of bed every day!
Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth;
Keep watch over the door of my lips,
Do not incline my heart to any evil thing.
~ Ps. 141:3
When Jehovah sets the watch the city is well guarded: when the Lord becomes the guard of our mouth the whole man is well garrisoned
 ~ Spurgeon
Nature made my lips to be a door to my words, let grace keep that door, that no word may be suffered to go out which may any way tend to the dishonour of God, or the hurt of others.
~ Matthew Henry.

 
In verse 5, David teaches us to receive the reproofs of the righteous & wise.  Perhaps he is remembering the time the prophet Nathan came to him after his sin with Bathsheba that resulted in the physical deaths of two people:  Bathsheba's husband Uriah and the newborn son born to Bathsheba & David. 
Let the righteous strike me;
It shall be a kindness.
And let him rebuke me;
It shall be as excellent oil;
Let my head not refuse it.
~ Ps. 141:5
Then the Lord sent Nathan to David . . .
Nathan said to David, 'You are the man!'
So David said to Nathan, 'I have sinned against the Lord.'
~ II Sam 12
Let me never fall under that dreadful judgment of being let alone in sin!  Henry

 
Has God placed righteous friends & loved ones in your life?  Verse 5 is a great one to meditate on and keep in our hearts - how well do we receive reproofs from righteous people in our lives?  May we respond like David and allow those reproofs & rebukes to lead us to repentance and a restored relationship with God.  My Bible notes that God's person is willing to accept discipline from good people!

 
As iron sharpens iron,
So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.~ Prov. 27:17

 

 
Christians sharpen one another's graces, or stir up each other to the exercise of them, and the gifts which are bestowed on them, and to love and to good works.  ~ John Gill

 
WHAT CAN I LEARN ABOUT GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
  • God hears my prayer
  • Keeping our eyes fixed upon God and His word is our guard against sin
  • God places righteous people in our lives for accountability & encouragement in our Christian walk 
  • God is my refuge and protector from evil
HOW CAN I PRAISE GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
  • I praise the Lord that He hears my prayer . . . such an overwhelming truth to grasp that my voice reaches the ear of the God of the universe!
  • I bless the Lord for the God-fearing people in my life with whom I can share accountability and the things of God 
  • I praise God that He is my refuge and will not leave my soul destitute
PRAYER:
     Lord, I cry out to You, make haste to hear me!  Give ear to my voice when I cry out to You, and how my heart praises You that You do hear.  May my prayers be as an offering to You, made in supplication of my heart's desires, but bending and yielding to Your will.
     Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.  May grace rule my tongue, that no words uttered shall dishonor You or harm others.  Do not incline my heart to any evil thing.  I am so full of wickedness and pray that each day I will be molded more and more into the image of Jesus Christ, walking before You and others in righteousness.
     Father, I praise You for the Christian friends & family members in my life - what a blessing they are to me, and such a sweet kindness from Your hand!  Use them to stretch me, as You did Nathan in the life of David.  May we be instruments of iron to each other, sharpening and honing our knowledge of You and obedience to Your word.
     My eyes are upon You, O God the Lord, in You I take refuge.  Do not leave my soul destitute, but be to me a place of safety in a world of evil.  In Jesus' name I pray ~ Amen