Monday, January 31, 2011

Psalm 32

PSALM 32

"The Blessedness of Forgiveness"
Helix Nebula in the constellation of Aquarius, as seen through the Hubble telescope
Often called "the eye of God"
We should take to heart what David teaches us in verses 3-5:
When I kept silent, my bones grew old through my groaning all the day long.  For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me . . . I acknowledged my sin to You . . .
My Bible notes:  The confession of David is the experience of everyone.  When he kept silent in resistance to God, the inner struggle of conscience and conviction drained away the very vitality of life.  Have you ever felt the weight of your sin on your conscience?  It's unbearable, isn't it!  When David said, 'I will confess my transgressions,' then God forgave. 

So what should a Christian do about sin?  The believer should never condone or attempt to excuse his sin (or anyone else's!)  There are only TWO things that should be done about sin:
  1. confess it
  2. forsake it
In doing these two things, believers are restored to full fellowship with God.

No sin is too great and no sin is too small - God is able to cleanse us completely from anything that it is inconsistent with His own moral character. 

WHAT CAN I LEARN ABOUT GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
  • The Lord knows my sin - I am grateful that God "sees"
  • It is the Lord who grants forgiveness
  • God is my hiding place
  • God will instruct and teach me
  • Mercy surrounds those who trust in the Lord
 HOW CAN I PRAISE GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
  • I praise the Lord because my sins are forgiven!  'O victory in Jesus!'  My heart praises the Lord for my salvation from my sins.
  • I praise the Lord that He guides me and instructs me - I don't have to find my own way
  • I praise the Lord for His mercy.
 PRAYER:
     Father, I rejoice that You provide forgiveness for my sin!  May my sin always weigh on my heart, so that I am never comfortable with  my wrongdoing.  May You hear my prayer, and always be found by me.  Forever.
    Thank You, O God, that You are my hiding place.  Thank You that You preserve me from trouble.  May I never turn to another.
     Father, how I long for and want Your instruction and Your guidance.  I want to go in the way that You have for me.  May I seek that way only - accompany me on Your path for me, Lord.  I desire Your understanding.
    Thank You for the joy that is found in You, O Lord.  I rejoice and am glad in You.
    I make this prayer in Jesus' name ~ Amen

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Psalm 31

PSALM 31

"Be of Good Courage"

Psalm 31:14-15, "I trust in You, O Lord, I say, "You are my God."  My times are in Your hand . . ."


One of corporate America's most famous advertising taglines is celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, and is proving to be more enduring than ever.  Recently ranked the nation's No.1 advertising slogan by Northwestern University, the Allstate slogan "You're in good hands" was created half a century ago by a company sales executive to demonstrate Allstate's ongoing commitment to customers.  The phrase came to him as the result of a reassuring remark made to his wife about their ailing child. . In the spring of 1950 the youngest daughter of Allstate general sales manager Davis W. Ellis was stricken with hepatitis a few days before she was to graduate from high school.  Arriving home from work one night shortly after she had been hospitalized, a worried Ellis was greeted by reassuring words from his wife, who told him, "The hospital said not to worry.  We're in good hands with the doctor."
    Later that year, Ellis and a marketing team were locked in an all-day brainstorming session to develop a slogan for the company's first major national advertising campaign.  When the group was about to give up for the day, Ellis remembered the reassuring remarks.  It was then and there the slogan was born.
Allstate could have gotten the same slogan from verse 15 of today's Psalm - our times are in His hand.  A perfect reason to have no worry or fear.  Allstate has recently used another slogan in their ad campaign:
Mayhem is everywhere - are you in good hands?
Do you feel like that at times - that mayhem IS everywhere and there is no place to turn?  Christian, know that you are held securely in the palm of His hand.  Jesus said these words:
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them and they follow Me.  And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.  ~John 10:28
WHAT CAN I LEARN ABOUT GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
  • God is my rock, my fortress of defense.  He is able to save me
  • God is my Redeemer, my leader, my guide
  • God is my strength
  • My trust is in God, who knows my adversities and saves me from them
  • God sets my feet in a wide place
  • God's goodness is great.  God's kindness is marvelous
HOW CAN I PRAISE GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
  • I praise God because my times are in His hand - what wonderful security there is found in that truth!
  • I praise God because He makes His face shine upon me.
  • How I praise Him that He preserves the faithful, and that He strengthens my heart
PRAYER:
     Thank You, O Lord, for Your marvelous kindness and Your great goodness!  How I bless You, Father, that Your prepare goodness for those who trust you.  May I always grow in my faith & trust.  Forgive me when I trust You so little.  Why do I do that?  Father, You are worthy, yet I am so weak.  Bear me up, O Lord!  Thank You for the preservation You provide to the faithful.  May I remain faithful and never falter.
     Father, I praise You that my times are in Your hand.  O Lord my God, how I praise You for that wonderful truth, and the security & assurance found in that promise.  Lord, you know how anxious I can be at times . . . what gracious peace I have in YOU.  Thank You, O Lord - in Jesus' name I pray ~ Amen

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Psalm 30

PSALM 30

"Praise for Dramatic Deliverance"

"Lifted me up" translates the Hebrew word used to describe pulling a bucket from a well.  It is typical of all that the psalms say of the DELIVERANCE OF THE LORD.
WHAT CAN I LEARN ABOUT GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
  • God lifts me up - delivers me!
  • God is my healer
  • God's anger is but a moment, but His favor extends for lifetime
  • God makes my mountain stand strong
  • God is merciful
  • God is my helper
  • God turns my mourning into dancing

King David dancing before the Lord - II Sam. 6:16

HOW CAN I PRAISE GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
  • There is so much for which to praise God - this entire Psalm contains praise for Him.  I praise Him that He turns my mourning into dancing . . . that weeping doesn't last forever.  I praise God for the joy He brings. 
  • I praise God that He lifts me up, and He holds me there!  It is on His strength that I can rely forever!
  PRAYER:
     Father, I praise You that You lift me up, that my deliverance is from You.  Thank You, O Lord, for the sweetness of Yourself.  You are so many things that I don't understand in Your mysteriousness, but You reveal so much of Yourself to Your children, and You are altogether lovely.  Would you grant to me great understanding of the things You have revealed about Yourself through Your word - I long to know You with the intimacy with which David expresses in his Psalms.
     Thank You for Your mercy.  Thank You that You are my helper.  Thank You that You turn my mourning into dancing in Your perfect time.  Somehow, that is Your promise, even though I admit that I don't see it clearly.  I bless You for that promise and pray that You would bring a time of dancing.
  Thank You that You are EL ROI - the "God who sees" - peer into my heart and reveal my sin.  Cleanse me from all unrighteousness and lead me in the way everlasting.  O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever!
     In Jesus' name I pray ~ Amen

Friday, January 28, 2011

Psalm 29

PSALM 29

"The Powerful Voice of God"

One of my favorite places to be is beside the ocean – because I so strongly feel the power of God there.  The ocean is so powerful, and the hand of my Creator is so evident in its tides and waves, and all the beautiful creatures that inhabit it. 

"The voice of the Lord is over the waters . . . " ~Ps. 29:3
I am always reminded of this verse in the book of Job when I am walking on the beach, with the waves lapping at my feet:
 Who shut in the sea with doors . . . when I fixed My limit for it, and set bars and doors; when I said, “This far you may come, but no farther, and here your proud waves must stop.  ~ Job 38:8-11
Today we don’t “hear” the voice of God audibly as Old Testament believers like Abraham & Moses did, but as Christians we are filled with the Holy Spirit, and He does ‘speak’ to our hearts & minds.  We also “hear” God’s voice through His word.  Often times, when I am trying to figure out a solution to a problem, or counseling a friend with an issue, I will say:  Imagine you are standing before the throne of God – what do you think He would say to you about this? 

We also hear the voice of God through Jesus.  The Bible says that Jesus is God in the flesh.  Therefore, if you want to hear the voice of God, you must study & know the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Another of my favorite prayer-poems by Ruth Harms Calkin:

One of Two Choices
When You speak to me, Lord
I have one of two choices:
I either do what You say
Or I tell You I refuse to obey.
Perhaps that explains
My reluctance at times to listen.
Listening to You
Leaves one choice and an alternate.
And the choice is always mine.

Like nature, may we always obey the voice of the Lord!

WHAT CAN I LEARN ABOUT GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
  • The Lord is worthy of glory & praise
  • The voice of the Lord is powerful, full of majesty
  • The Lord gives strength to His people
  • The Lord blesses His people with peace
HOW CAN I PRAISE GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
  • Do you ever imagine what the throne of God will look like?
    I praise God because His voice is mighty and nature obeys it.  All of nature hears & obeys God’s voice.
  • I praise God because He sits enthroned as King forever, even during calamities where it seems the very foundation of the earth is shaken – God is not moved.
  • I praise God because He is the source of our strength – it is not we ourselves.
  • I praise Him because He blesses His people with peace, and gives us rest unto our souls.

PRAYER:
     Father, may my ears always be opened to Your voice, and may I obey, like all of nature.  Your voice is so powerful and none can stay it.  You have said in Your word that if I love You, I will keep Your commandments.  May I live more obediently day by day, O Lord!
     I praise You, Father, that You sit enthroned and unmoved even when the earth seems so out of control!  What great security we have in that assurance!  Thank You, God, that You are indeed the God of the universe!  How I praise You with a thankful heart to be Your child!
  I love You, Lord – in Jesus’ name I pray ~ Amen

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Psalm 28

PSALM 28

"Rejoice Because of Answered Prayer"
The Rock of Gibraltar
The Rock of Gibraltar is located at the entrance of the Mediterranean Sea.  Despite long sieges it seemed that there was nothing that could destroy the Rock or its people. This history has inspired the saying "solid as the Rock of Gibraltar," which is used to describe a person or situation that cannot be overcome and does not fail.

It is this mindset that David refers to when he describes God as his "Rock" in v. 1:
To You I will cry, O Lord my Rock 
WHAT CAN I LEARN ABOUT GOD:
  • God is my Rock
  • God hears me
  • God is to be blessed
  • The Lord is my strength & my shield
  • The Lord is my helper
  • God is trustworthy
  • God is the saving refuge of His anointed
  • The Lord is my Shepherd
  • The Lord bears me up forever
HOW CAN I PRAISE GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
There are so many ways for which to praise the Lord through this Psalm. 
  • I praise God that He is the Shepherd and bears me up forever!  In His goodness, lovingkindness, and mercy, He does not grow weary of bearing me up. 
  • I praise Him that He is my strength and my shield, my helper & my trust!
A prayer-poem by Ruth Harms Calkin:
THE "YOU" MEANS ME

O my Father, my Father!
At this crisis time in my life
When I feel trampled and battered
I know it is imperative
For me to remember
That the nature of my problem
Is not the significant thing.
The significant thing
Is the nature of You.
My refuge.  My rock.
My high tower.
There is no situation
Anytime, or anywhere
Of which I cannot confidently say
"For this I have Him."
But I am so quick to forget
And so prone to neglect.
Lord, may I get it settled
Once and for all
That when You say
"My peace I give unto you"
The "you" means "me!"

 PRAYER:
     O Great Shepherd of the sheep - Thank You that You have made me one of Your flock.  May I always hear Your voice and follow You.
     Thank You, Lord, that You are my strength & my shield - that I never have to rely on myself or my own abilities.  Your hand richly provides, and my heart is filled with gratitude.
     Thank You, Father, that You are my saving refuge.  My Rock. May I never look to another.  Thank You, O God, that You bear me up forever.  How I praise You for Your refuge and strength.  Thank You, Lord, that my  heart can safely and continually trust in You - and that You are my helper.  How secure I am in You, O God!  Please forgive me when my faith waivers and is so small.  You know, O Lord, how frail I am.
     My heart greatly rejoices, and with a song in my heart I praise You!
     In Jesus' name I pray ~ Amen 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Psalm 27

PSALM 27

"Trust in the Lord and Be Not Afraid"

You know those scenes in movies and TV dramas when the good guy is surrounded by the bad guys?  You know he doesn’t stand a chance . . . he is overpowered and outmanned.  I think David must have felt like that many times - when we look at the life of David, one thing stands out: David was constantly being chased through the mountains as A fugitive and an enemy of the state. He was betrayed by his friend, and chased again by his own son through the mountains after he was made king.  But he knew the Lord was his strength:
Though an army may encamp against me, my heart shall not fear.  ~Ps. 27:3

David said "in this I will be CONFIDENT."  His confidence was in the Lord his God . . . is mine?

David mentions this in verse 5:
In the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; In the secret place of His tabernacle, He shall hide me.

The Holy of Holies in The Tabernacle
What is God's pavilion?  Where is His secret place?  It has been said that, for today's Christian, the essence of prayer is entering God's pavilion. 
Karen Clark-Sheard penned this chorus in her song The Secret Place:

A place of peace,
where love abides,
where justice reigns
and God resides,
there is a place,
a secret place,
a place where i can go

For you shall hide me in your tabernacle
from the rain and storm
and even when my enemies pursue me
you'll keep me safe from harm

there is safety, in your tabernacle
there is protection, in your tabernacle
there is security, in your tabernacle
there is sanctuary, in your tabernacle
Lord take me, to your tabernacle
I wanna go, to your tabernacle
Lord take me, to your tabernacle
Lord there you'll reign
hide me-safely-in your-dwelling-place


David also makes a great statement in v. 8:
When You said,  "Seek My face,"
My heart said to You, "Your face, Lord, I will seek."
David Wilkerson makes this note on that verse:  
God was instructing David, “Learn of me. Search my Word and pray for understanding through the Spirit, so you can be like Me. I want your life to reflect My beauty to the world.”   This was not merely a call to prayer; this call from God was to hunger for a lifestyle that totally reflects who He is.

 WHAT CAN I LEARN ABOUT GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
·         The Lord is my light & my salvation - I have no need to fear
·         The Lord is my strength
·         The Lord is beautiful
·         In time of trouble, God is all I need
·         When I cry to Him, the Lord hears and answers me
·         God merciful
·         God is my caretaker
·         The Lord strengthens my heart

HOW CAN I PRAISE GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
·         It's amazing to recognize that because I am God's child there is no need to fear. 
·         God knows I am frail and His strength is sufficient for me
·         I praise God that He puts my feet in an even place
·         I praise God that He is my Redeemer
·         I praise God that He hears me and answers me in His mercy
·         I praise God that He will take care of me!
·         I praise the Lord that He strengthens my heart

PRAYER:
     Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice.  Have mercy on  me and answer me.  Teach me Your way, O Lord,, and lead me in a smooth place.  Strengthen my heart and help me to learn to wait on You.
     Forgive me, Father, when I fear man, and thank You that - because You are my light and my salvation - I need never to fear a thing!  My faith is so small, Father, and I want it to be SO big!  Thank You that, because of Your Son Jesus Christ and the salvation provided through Him, I will dwell in Your house all the days of my life and behold the beauty of the Lord - what a blessing and a privilege!
     In times of trouble, O God, thank You that shelter is found in You.  Hide me during those times in Your pavillion, and in the secret place of Your tabernacle, and set me high upon a rock where no one can reach me but You.
     Thank You, O Lord, that You do not require from me what You do not provide - my heart is grateful for the sufficiency of Yourself.  May I have the faith to wait on You when I can't see the way - may my heart not fear, and like David, may I be confident in the battle.
     Thank You, Lord, that You will take care of me always.  In Jesus' name I pray ~ Amen




Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Psalm 26

PSALM 26

"Examine Me, O Lord, and Prove Me"

Have you ever slipped on ice?  It’s an instantaneous horrible feeling of being out of control and not knowing what the outcome will be!  Last year, my husband was walking our yellow lab & our son's black lab at the same time and his feet hit a patch of ice – he fell hard, breaking his ankle and his thumb!  This winter, he is very wary of walking on the ice! 

Throughout the Psalms, David makes several references to walking / his feet, and that it is the Lord who gives him sure footing.  We saw this last week in Psalm 18:

He made my feet like the feet of a deer and set me secure on the heights.  ~ Ps. 18:33.
This verse reminds me of the Alpine Ibex, who often scale the Cingnino Dam in Italy – have you seen them? 

It is the way God designed their hooves that make this feat possible:  the hard hoofwall can grasp tiny footholds in vertical cliffs, while the soft rubber-like interior works like a stopper when it is pushed forward with each step on steep inclines.  Ibex hooves can also spread farther apart than those of any other cloven-hoofed mammal.

Do you fear heights?  I do!  It can be terrifying & dizzying.  David reminds us throughout the Psalms that our “spiritual” footing is held sure by the Lord . . . we see his reference again today in verse 1 of “walking without slipping.”

Today in Psalm 26 David is once again referring to his integrity, yet we know he was a sinner .  Remember back in Psalm 18 when we discussed David's heart-righteousness?  It is that to which he is referring again today.  My Bible makes this note:
The integrity that David professed in v. 1 is his way of life, but he does not depend on it in lieu of redemption & mercy.  Based on these, he can testify, "My foot stands in an even place."  The Old Testament believer often describes his salvation in terms of God giving him a flat place to stand where his feet will not slip. 
WHAT CAN I LEARN ABOUT GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
  • The Lord vindicates
  • The Lord is trustworthy
  • The Lord knows my mind & heart
  • The Lord is full of lovingkindness & truth
  • The Lord's works are wondrous
  • God is merciful
  • God is my Redeemer
HOW CAN I PRAISE GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
  • I bless the Lord for His vindication!  I praise God that He does examine my mind & heart and that my sin is revealed.  And I bless God that He makes provision for forgiveness of my sins through His Son, Jesus Christ. 
  • I praise God that my feet do not slip, and that He puts them in an "even" place.
 PRAYER:
     Father, I praise You that You are my Redeemer.  I was in complete depravation and You saw.  And You saved.  Bless You, O Lord~
     I praise You that You examine my mind & my heart.  You know - and in truth, I want You to know - even when I am desperately ashamed of my wickedness in thoughts & attitudes.  I want Your Holy Spirit to bring conviction where needed so that I can turn.  Repent.  I do find security in knowing You will not allow me to continue in sin for very long before You draw me back to Yourself with Your rod of chastening.
     Enable me, Father, to walk in integrity.  May it please You to redeem me and be merciful to me, and set my foot in an even place.
     In Jesus' name I pray ~ Amen


  

Monday, January 24, 2011

Psalm 25

PSALM 25

"Acrostic Prayer of Instruction"

David wrote this psalm as an "acrostic" - each verse begins with a succeeding letter of the Hebrew alphabet. 

Spiritual life is more than the initial experience of trust in God - we must learn to walk in His ways.  To do this, we must know what they are . . . we must read His word.  We must fellowship in churches where the word of God is proclaimed from the pulpits.

 Verb, 1. blot out - make undecipherable or imperceptible by obscuring or concealing.

The sun "blotting out" the moon during a lunar eclipse
As Christians, we are "hidden" in Christ.  Colossians 3:3 says this:
For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.
Just as the sun blots out or "hides" the moon during a lunar eclipse, so our sins are hidden by the righteousness of Christ.   
I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for My own sake, and remembers your sins no more~ Is. 43:25
WHAT CAN I LEARN ABOUT GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
  • Good & upright is the Lord - He teaches sinners & the humble in the way
  • God's secret is with those who fear Him
  • God is our Redeemer
The Mercy Seat was the covering above
the Ark of the Covenant.
The Mercy Seat was where God
met man in the Holy of Holies.
  • The Lord blots out my transgressions
  • God's paths are mercy & truth
  • God is merciful & good
  • The Lord is the keeper of my soul
  • To wait on God is to live in utter dependence on Him
 HOW CAN I PRAISE GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
  • I praise God that He is merciful & good, upright and full of integrity.
  • I praise God that He forgives my sin and does not remember the sins of my youth!
  • I praise God that He guides me and teaches me in His way.  May I be humble & submissive to follow.  I want to know the "secret" of the Lord, and I want to keep my eyes on Him.
  • I praise the Lord that He brings me out of snares & traps & nets that entangle my feet.
 PRAYER:
      Father, thank You that You have chosen me to be Your child.  How I needed You then, O Lord, and how I need You now.
     You are sufficient, O God.  You are the lover of my soul, and I am so thankful that You have revealed Yourself to me.  I pray that You will continue to illuminate my mind and my heart, more and more to a deeper understanding of You.  Your ways are mysterious to man, and I want to know and think rightly of You.   Remove any misconceptions or wrong ideas that I have of You.
Turn Yourself and have mercy on me.  Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait on You.  Keep my soul, and deliver me.  Let me not be ashamed, for I put my trust in You.  Show me Your ways, O Lord!  Teach me Your paths!  Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; On You I wait all the day long (but I admit that I don't like this very much!)
Turn Yourself to me, and have mercy on me! 
For Your Name's sake, O Lord, pardon my integrity, for it is great.  And I praise You with my whole heart that there is pardon through Your Son, Jesus Christ !  Bless You, O Lord, for making a way for Your children. 
As David cried for Israel, redeem America, O God, out of all their troubles!  Please do not turn Your face from us, and return us once again to "one nation, under God" and make of us a nation "in God we trust."
     In Jesus' name I pray ~ Amen

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Psalm 24

PSALM 24

Psalm of the King of Glory


"The Lord of Hosts" (armies) comes from "Yahweh Sabaoth."  We'll see David refer to God with this title throughout the Psalms, and again in Ps.46:7 with this verse:
"The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our fortress."  ~ Ps. 46:7
The Lord is hosts is a phrase that refers to God's almighty power.  God is the Lord of all earthly and heavenly forces, Israel's invisible Leader fighting for His people. 

WHAT CAN I LEARN ABOUT GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
  • The Earth is the Lord's
  • God's presence requires clean hands and a pure heart
  • The Lord is strong & mighty in battle
  • The Lord is the King of glory
HOW CAN I PRAISE GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
  • There is so much comfort in knowing that the earth is the Lord's - and all who dwell therein.
  • I bless the Lord that He makes the way for me to be pure, and He makes the way for my salvation.
  • I praise God because He is the King of Glory, the Lord of Hosts!
  • I praise the Lord that He is strong and mighty.  Remember the line in the childhood song Jesus Loves Me - "little ones to Him belong, they are weak but He is strong!"
So simple, yet so profound!

PRAYER:
     Father, may I be one who ascends into the hill of the Lord!  May I stand in Your holy place, clothed in the robe of Christ's righteousness.
     Impart to me clean hands and a pure heart, O God - I desire them, but my heart is desperately wicked and I can't change myself.  Do a beautiful work in me through Your Holy Spirit.  May my family & I receive blessings from Your hand all of our days. 
    Thank You, O Lord that You are Yahweh Sabaoth - You are almighty!  Each day, it seems that the events of the earth are truly spinning out of control.  Thank You for the reminder of this Psalm that the earth indeed belongs to You.  May I turn over to You everything that causes anxiety in my spirit, trusting You as the Lord of hosts.  Increase my faith, O Lord!
     In Jesus' name I pray ~ Amen

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Psalm 23

PSALM 23

"Psalm of the Divine Shepherd"

We come to Psalm 23 – perhaps the most famous of the Psalms!  Can you recite it by memory?  I think it may be one of the first Biblical verses / passages I memorized as a child. 

Maybe you’ve had the opportunity to read the book A Shepherd looks at Psalm 23 by Phillip Keller.  He spent many years as a sheep rancher.  He makes this note:
 To a great extent the Bible is a collection of books written by men of humble origin, who penned under the guidance of God’s Spirit.  Much of its teaching & terminology is couched in rural language, dealing with outdoor subjects and natural phenomena.  The audience to whom these writings were originally addressed was for the most part themselves simple, nomadic folk familiar with nature and the outdoor life the countryside about them.
David was known as the Shepherd King.  He served as a lowly shepherd of his father’s sheep before God anointed him as future king of Israel.  This Psalm shows David's understanding of a shepherd's care of the sheep, as he relates it to God's care for His children. 

WHAT CAN I LEARN ABOUT GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
Gleaning from an actual sheep rancher’s knowledge of sheep, we can learn these things from Phillip Keller and his book on the 6 verses of this Psalm:
  • v. 1:  The Lord is my shepherd. The Lord, the Great God Jehovah – is my owner, my manager.  I exchange the fickle fortune of living life by sheer whimsy for the more productive and satisfying adventure of being guided by God.
  •  I shall not want.  I shall not lack the expert care and management of my Master.  CONTENTMENT SHOULD BE THE HALLMARK OF THE MAN OR WOMAN WHO HAS PUT HIS OR HER AFFAIRS IN THE HANDS OF GOD.  Isn’t that a great statement!!!
  • v.  2:  He makes me to lie down in green pastures.:  because of their very make-up, sheep are unable to lie down unless 4 requirements are met:
          a.  because they are so timid, sheep must be free from all fear
          b.  sheep will not lie down unless they are free from friction with others of their kind
          c.  Only when free of the torment of pests & parasites can sheep lie down and relax.
          d.  Sheep will only lie down when free from hunger.
Thus, a flock that is restless, discontented, always agitated and disturbed never does well. 
As Christians, David is teaching me that our Shepherd’s desire is to see my best interests served.                                His concern for my care is beyond my comprehension, really.  All I can do is enjoy and revel in what He has brought into effect.
  • He leads me beside still waters.  Our Good Shepherd makes it clear that thirsty souls of men & women can only be fully satisfied when their capacity & thirst for spiritual life is fully quenched by drawing on Himself. 
  • v. 3:  He restores my soul.  David, who was much loved of God, know what it was to be cast down & dejected.  He had tasted defeat in his life and felt the frustration of having fallen under temptation.  David was acquainted with the bitterness of feeling hopeless and without strength in himself.  The toughness it takes to face life and the formidable reverses which it brings to us can come only through the discipline of endurance and hardship.  In His mercy and love, our Master makes this a part of our program.  If He is the Good Shepherd, we can rest assured that He knows what He is doing.  This in and of itself should be sufficient to continually refresh and restore my soul.  “God knows what He is doing with me!”
  •  He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.  Keller notes that a flock of sheep needs to stay on the move.  Staying in one place causes infestation of parasites, poor food supply, land erosion, loss of fertility and devastation to the flock.  A good shepherd must have a pre-determined plan of action – a deliberate planned rotation from one grazing ground to another.  This is precisely the sort of action and idea David had in mind when he spoke of being led in paths of righteousness. How well do I follow God?  Am I a stubborn, self-willed, proud, self-sufficient sheep?  Am I willful, wayward, self-interested and indifferent to God’s leading?  God wants us to walk with Him.
  • v. 4: Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for You are with me..  Keller notes that never did a shepherd take his flock where he had not already been – always he had gone ahead to look over the country with care.  All the dangers of rampaging rivers in flood, avalanches, rock slides, poisonous plants, the ravages of predators that raid the flock or the awesome storms of sleet, hail and snow were familiar to him.  He handled his sheep and managed them with care under all these adverse conditions.  Nothing took him by surprise.  He was fully prepared to safeguard his flock and tend them with skill under every circumstance.

  • Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. The staff was a long crooked stick. Always the shepherd walked with it in his hand, and, when a sheep showed signs of straying, he would stretch out and pull it back with the crook. He carried the rod at his belt. It was a stout piece of wood, perhaps three feet long, with a lump of wood the size of an orange at one end of it. With this the shepherd fought the battles of the flock, using it to drive off wild beasts and to defend the flock against the robbers who would steal the sheep.  David is teaching us that God’s protection is all-powerful and is our comfort.
  • v. 5:  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.  It is not always apparent to us what tremendous personal cost it has been for Christ to prepare the table for his own.  Just as the lonely personal privation of the sheepman who prepares the summer range for his flock entails a sacrifice, so the lonely agony of Gethsemane, of Pilate’s hall, of Calvary, have cost my Master much.  At best we can only grasp feebly the incredible concept of a perfect person, a sinless one being willing actually to be made sin so that we who are so full of faults, selfish self-assertion and suspicion might be set free from sin and self to live a new, free, fresh, abundant life of righteous.
  • You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.  Those associated with livestock are well-aware of the serious problem for animals presented by insects in the summer.  Sheep are especially troubled by the nose or “nasal” fly.  These flies buzz around the sheep’s head and lay their eggs on the damp mucous membranes of the sheep’s nose.  The eggs hatch, and the larvae work their way up the nasal passages into the sheep’s head, where they burrow into the flesh and cause severe inflammation.  At the very first sign of flies among the flock, the shepherd will smear an oil balm over the sheep’s nose to protect them.  David is teaching us that our Shepherd is alert to every approaching disaster that threatens His people.  We need a daily anointing of God’s gracious Spirit upon our minds.  God alone can form in us the mind of Christ.  The Holy Spirit alone can give us the attitudes of Christ. 
  • v. 6: Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.  David has been teaching us about the care of an attentive shepherd to his flock.  We see all the benefits enjoyed by a flock under skilled & loving shepherding.  Now David shows us that the Lord is our Shepherd – all the care, all the work, all the alert watchfulness, all the skill, all the concern, all the self-sacrifice are born of His love – the love of One who loves His sheep, loves His work, loves His role as a Shepherd.  My trust is in His love for me as His own. 
  • I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.  God is conscious of every circumstance I encounter.  He attends me with care & concern because I belong to Him.  And this will continue throughout eternity. As a child of God, what blessed assurance!
Keller sums up with these questions:
  1. Do I really belong to Him?
  2. Do I really recognize His right to me?
  3. Do I respond to His authority and acknowledge His ownership?
  4. Do I find freedom and complete fulfillment in this arrangement?
  5. Do I sense a purpose and deep contentment because I am under His direction?
  6. Do I know rest and repose, besides a definite sense of exciting adventure, in belonging to Him?
If so, then with genuine gratitude & exaltation I can exclaim proudly, just as David did, “The Lord is my Shepherd!” and I’m thrilled to belong to Him, for it is thus that I shall flourish & thrive no matter what life may bring me.

HOW CAN I PRAISE GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
  • I praise the Lord that He is my Shepherd – for His watchcare over me.
  • I praise the Lord for His comfort & His restoration when I am in distress
  • I praise the Lord for the anointing of His Holy Spirit in my life
  • I praise the Lord that His goodness & mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.
  • I praise the Lord that I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever!
PRAYER:
O Lord, what a beautiful & glorious prayer of David, the shepherd king!  Thank You for Your word, for this sweet Psalm that I have known since childhood, and for the heart of Your servant David who teaches me more and more of You.  How to love You fully.  How to walk with You closely.  How to trust You totally.  May contentment be the hallmark of my life, as I recognize the glorious truth that “God knows what He is doing with me!”  Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name!
Amen and amen!


Psalm 22

PSALM 22

"Psalm of the Cross"
also, "The Suffering Servant"

This Psalm of David testifies to the sufferings of Christ and the glory that would follow.  Incredible to see David pen the very words that Christ would utter on the cross!

Upon reading this Psalm, it seems that it is in 2 parts:  Verses 22:1-21 are a most pitiful cry for help, and verses 22-31 indicate a most precious foretaste of deliverance.

WHAT CAN I LEARN ABOUT GOD:
  • God is holy
  • God is trustworthy
  • God is our Deliverer
  • God is our strength
  • The kingdom is the Lord's and He rules over the nations
HOW CAN I PRAISE GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
  • There are no adequate words to use to praise God for the cross.  My mind still grapples with the horror of it, and yet it is a glory as well.  Whenever I read accounts of the crucifixion, I am so sad and mortified at the wretchedness of humanity and the inhumane way we treat fellow human beings.
  • My heart praises God that He made way for my salvation through the perfect life of Jesus Christ and His work upon the cross. 
  • I praise Him that He chose me!
PRAYER:
     Father, my heart is so sad when I read accounts of the cross because it was so cruel, yet I know that in it is the most glorious work ever accomplished.  I am so sorry (how trite!) that it was my sin that made the cross necessary, and I praise You that You provided a way - THE way - for my salvation through Your Son!  Thank You for opening my eyes to my need for a Savior.  Thank You that You always provide for my needs - that they never escape You.  Thank You that I never escape Your gaze.
     I love You, Lord, and pray all this through the wonderful name of Jesus Christ ~ Amen

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Psalm 21

PSALM 21

"Triumph of the King"

Along with yesterday's Psalm 20, this is a prayer of King David - that God would protect and prosper him.  It is also a prayer of thanksgiving for the success with which God has blessed David.

F.B. Meyer penned this prayer:
May I not think too little or too much of myself, but soberly and rightly; and may I give to the world whatever You purposed for me when You created me.
A great mindset - doesn't it sound like something King David would say!

As king, David was the most powerful man in Israel.  His courage and might were known throughout the lands.  He was a mighty warrior.  He slew the giant Goliath.  He ruled a nation.  A nation of people were subject to him.  Yet he never gloried in himself nor his position of power.   He recognized that it was God who prospered him!  David was humble before the Lord - his heart was never puffed up nor did he ever take credit for who he was or the successes he enjoyed.  May we walk before God like that!
Statue of King David
Rome, Italy

WHAT CAN I LEARN ABOUT GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
  • Our joy is in God's strength!
  • The Lord knows our heart's desires and grants them according to His perfect will
  • The Lord meets us with blessings of goodness
  • It is God who gives life and eternal life
  • The Lord is trustworthy
  • Through the Lord's mercy, we shall not be moved
  • God's right hand will find all His enemies, and they will be swallowed up in God's wrath
  • The Lord is to be exalted for His strength and power
 HOW CAN I PRAISE GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
  • The Lord is to be praised because He is the One on whom I can depend for strength.  I don't need some great resource within myself on which to rely.
  • It is the Lord who is able to grant the desires of my heart
  • My heart is filled with praise for the blessings God has bestowed in my life - they are so many!  There are so many sweet things for which my heart praises God, the Giver!
  • I praise God that I, like David,, have life - "length of days forever and ever" - eternal life through Jesus Christ.
  • I praise the Lord that He is never moved.
  • I praise the Lord that He will find His enemies.  When the evil of this world seems too much, it is comforting to know that God sees.  He will evetually swallow His enemies up in His wrath.
  • I praise and exalt the Lord for His strength and power
 PRAYER:
     Father, how I have joy in Your strength!  How my heart praises You that I never have to rely on myself or anyone else - any other human being - for strength!  You are my source and I am grateful that You have revealed Yourself to me.  There is so much I don't understand, and You know my times of doubt.  Forgive me when I doubt, O Lord - may I rest in what I do know and am sure of so that what I don't know and understand about You doesn't trouble me.
     Father, my heart is eternally grateful for the blessings of goodness which You have bestowed in my life.  You know my heart's desire - and Your lovingkindess has been abundant.  You are so gracious to me!  May I be a good wife to Dave and good mother to my sons for the rest of my days.  May You protect them and guide them all of their days.  May our family dwell in the house of the Lord forever!
     Father, I long to be exceedingly glad in Your presence, as David speaks of in this Psalm.  There is much security in knowing that through Your mercy I will never be moved!  How I praise You that You are on Your throne forever!
     Father, man is so wretched and there is much evil on the face of the earth.  Protect and bless Your people - turn Your face towards Your people and never be far from us.  I make this prayer in the name of Jesus, my Savior ~ Amen

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Psalm 20

PSALM 20

"Trust Not in Chariots and Horses but in God"

Remember Linus and his "security blanket?"  Are you like Linus - is there something material or worldly in which you place your trust?  Something material that gives you a sense of 'security'?  It might not be a thing - it could be a relationship, a position, a job, etc. 

King David - with his mighty army and valiant soldiers - knew that his security was not in their ability to protect him and that his battles were ultimately the Lord's.  We would do well to glean from David and recognize that our security does not lie in the "things" that we rely on in error.

WHAT CAN I LEARN ABOUT GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
  • The Lord answers in the day of trouble
  • The God of Jacob is our defender
  • The Lord knows my heart's desires - He has the power to accomplish my purpose
  • The Lord saves His anointed
  • The Lord will answer us when we call on Him
 HOW CAN I PRAISE GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
  • It is wondrous to know that the Lord answers me in the day of trouble!  He is my defense - He is the one who strengthens me.
  • The Lord knows my heart, and it is He who is able to grant the desires of my heart.  I can trust in the Lord for guidance when my desires are wrong for me, or not in accordance with God's will.
  • The Lord fulfills my petitions, and this is a wonderful mystery to me.  I know that everything I want doesn't always "come true" or happen, and that God is not some great wish-granter in the sky!  I even find safety in that because I know sometimes I want things that are not for my ultimate good or even in my best interest.  I am grateful that my God knows all things and has my good at His loving heart!  And that He is working all these things together for my good . . .
  • It is a wonderful thing to know that we don't have to trust in our horses or chariots - that our power is in the name of the Lord!   
  • I praise the Lord that my salvation rests in Him, and that He answers when I call.  What a wonderful God!
PRAYER:
     O Lord, may You answer me in the day of trouble!  May Your ear never be deaf to my cries, and may You always answer me when I call.  Thank You that You bend Your ear to my voice - what an unspeakable privilege to have Your audience. 
     Father, I praise You that You are my defender.  May I never fear man!  Forgive me when I make man too big and You too small.
     O Lord, may You grant according to my heart's desire.  May my heart desire those things which are pleasing to You and are in accordance with Your word.  May You fulfill my purpose, and may my purpose be one which advances Your kingdom.
     Father, I never want to misplace my trust.  I never want to trust in "horses or chariots" or things of this world to save me or defend me, but only in You.  May my eyes never behold things or people as more powerful or 'safe' than You.  Be my harbor, O Lord - for me and my family.  May we always remember the name of the Lord our God!
   In Jesus' name I pray, with a thankful heart ~ Amen

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Psalm 19

PSALM 19

"The Works and Words of God"

Psalm 19:1 is one of my favorite verses: 
The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork.
Isn't this SO true!!  Don't you see it every time you look up at the endless stars in the huge sky, when the seasons start to change, when you see a glorious sunset or rolling thunderstorm?  I actually took all of the photos in this post . . . beautiful scenes of nature where God's glory and handiwork are evident and glorious!

WHAT CAN I LEARN ABOUT GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
  • His law is perfect
  • His testimony is sure
  • His statutes are right
  • His commandments are pure and enlightening
  • The fear of the Lord is forever
  • His jugments are true and righteous
  • God declares His glory to the end of the world through His creation
  • The Lord sees my heart and can cleanse me from secret faults
  • The Lord can hold me back from presumptuous sins
  • The Lord is my strength and my Redeemer
HOW CAN I PRAISE GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
  • I praise the Lord because He has declared Himself to the ends of the earth - He does not hide Himself from His people.  He is to be found!
  • I praise the Lord for the surety of His testimony, and that it makes the wise simple.
  • I praise the Lord that I can rest in knowing that His statutes are right, and that His commandments are pure and bring enlightening to my eyes.
  • I praise the Lord that He is altogether righteous.
  • I praise the Lord that forgiveness from even secret faults is mine through Him.
  • I praise the Lord that He is my strength and Redeemer!


PRAYER:
     Father, how my heart is full of praise of You!  You know how much I love Your creation; how much I love to see a full moon rising, and to be outside on a hot summer day as well as a crisp fall morning!  Your heavens do indeed declare Your glory!  I praise You for the handiwork of Your creation! 
     Father, I also praise You for Your attributes that are always perfect,
sure, right , pure, clean, eternal, true and righteous altogether.  You are to be desired, and I pray that I will desire You with all my heart.  I pray that You will cleanse me from my secret faults, and that You will protect me from sins.  O, that I would never sin again - yet I know this is impossible until I am justified with you in Heaven.  But most of all, thank You that there is forgiveness for my sins through Your Son, Jesus Christ!  I do not want sin to have dominion over my life!  I have many regrets, O Lord.  You know them all.  Bad choices that I made, even after my salvation, when I had access to Your word and to a "way of escape."  But I loved sin more at times and am deeply sorry for the way I have grieved Your Holy Spirit over my life.  May You find great delight in me, Lord ~ may I become a woman of God who brings honor to You.
     I pray that the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart will be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord my strength and my Redeemer!  Thank You that You are those things for me - that I do not ever have to rely on my own strength or ability.  O Father!  You are a gracious and loving God, and I do not deserve Your kindnesses, but crave them and am grateful for them!
     I pray all of these things in Jesus' name ~ Amen