Thursday, March 31, 2011

Psalm 90

Teach Us to Number our Days

Incredibly, this psalm was penned by Moses!  Bible scholars conclude that this psalm was probably penned upon the occasion of the sentence passed on Israel, where they were deemed to wander in the wilderness for 40 years for their unbelief, murmuring, and rebellion. 
It is believed Moses penned this prayer to be used daily by the people in their tents, and by the priests in the tabernacle service of worship in the wilderness.  

As Matthew Henry notes, the summary of Moses' prayer is this:
  • He comforts himself and the people with the eternity of God
  • He humbles himself and the people with consideration of the frailty of man
  • He submits himself and the people to the righteous sentence of God passed upon them
  • He submits himself and the people to God, praying for His divine mercy & grace and the return of His favor
Above all, Psalm 90 is a wonderful reminder of the frailty of human life: 
Lord, teach us to number our days
That we may gain a heart of wisdom. 
~Ps. 90:12

Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us,
And establish the work of our hands.
~Ps. 90:17



My Bible makes this note concerning verse 17:

Just as God's work will endure, so His blessings on our works will cause them to endure.  Though our days are few, they can be lived in God and thus take on eternal significance.



WHAT CAN I LEARN ABOUT GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
 
  • God is from everlasting to everlasting
  • God knows my secret sins
  • Ours is a God of compassion - He is full of mercy
  • The Lord will establish the work of our hands
HOW CAN I PRAISE GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
  • I praise the Lord that He IS from everlasting to everlasting - that He is God, and I am not.  That, because He is God, my small brain can't contain Him
  • I praise the Lord for His compassion & mercy - that even though His anger is for a moment, He will not turn His face away from His people forever
  • I bless God that this brief life on earth is not all there is - that I have eternal life through His Son Jesus Christ
PRAYER:
    Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.  O Lord, my heart rejoices over this truth - even though my small brain can't fully comprehend the eternal thought of it.
     I bless You that this frail, brief life is not all that You have planned for Your children - that some day we will see You face to face, that we shall behold You in all Your glory, and live forever with you in eternity.  How I praise You!
     Lord, I pray that You will establish the work of my hands - may I live for You all of my days.  In Jesus' name I pray ~ Amen

The angels shall sound the shout of His coming,
The sleeping shall rise from their slumbering place.
And those who remain shall be changed in a moment,
And we shall behold Him then face to face.
     ~ Dottie Rambo 




Psalm 89

Claiming God's Promises in Affliction

This psalm is a contemplation of Ethan the Ezrahite, a wise man of Israel who lived in the time of King Solomon.  The foundation of Psalm 89 is the promise of a throne for David's dynasty forever.  This is especially relevant because, at the time the psalm is penned, the family of David (and the state of Israel) is in a deplorable condition.

Nevertheless, the psalmist begins with songs of praise.  During times of trial may we, like Ethan, allow our complaints to be turned into thanksgiving.

Sarah Young expresses this similar thought in her book Jesus Calling:
Expect to encounter adversity in your life, remembering that you live in a deeply fallen world.  Stop trying to find a way that circumvents difficulties.  The main problem with an easy life is that it masks your need for Me.
 
When you see armies of problems marching towards you, cry out to Me!  Allow Me to fight for you.  Watch Me working on your behalf, as you rest in the shadow of My Almighty Presence.
The psalmist remembers God's might:
O Lord God of hosts,
Who is mighty like You, O Lord?
Your faithfulness also surrounds You. 
~ Ps. 88:8

This is another psalm in which the time of difficulty seems long and without end, and that God seems to have forgotten His people.  But even without an end in sight, the psalmist concludes his thoughts with praise for the Lord.  He corrects his complaints, and thus his mindset, ending with what he knows to be true about God in spite of the present circumstances.   He trusts in the facts, not his feelings.
I will make known Your faithfulness to all generations. 
~ Ps.  88:1
WHAT CAN I LEARN ABOUT GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
  • God is merciful, faithful, almighty, truthful, righteous, and just
  • He is a covenant-keeping God
  • God is greatly to be feared
  • The earth, the heavens, the world & all its fullness, are God's. 
  • My shield belongs to God
  • He is the rock of my salvation
  • God is lovingly kind
HOW CAN I PRAISE GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
  • I praise the Lord that He can be trusted at all times. 
  • I praise God that He is the blessed Controller of the universe
PRAYER:
     Today's prayer is penned by Ruth Myers in 31 Days of Praise:
O Lord Most High, I praise You for Your sovereignty over the broad events of my life and over the details.  With You, nothing is accidental, nothing is incidental, and no experience is wasted.  You hold in Your own power my breath of life and all my destiny.  And every trial that You allow to happen is a platform on which You reveal Yourself, showing Your love and power, both to me and to others looking on. 

Thank You that I can move into the future nondefensively, with hands outstretched to whatever lies ahead, for You hold the future and You will always be with me, even to my old age  . . . and through all eternity.

In Jesus' name I pray ~ Amen



Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Psalm 88

Crying from Deepest Affliction

Psalm 88 is known as a contemplation of Heman the Ezrahite, a leader of the guild of Korah.  This psalm is generally recognized as the saddest of the entire book of psalms.  It does not conclude, as usually the melancholy psalms do, with any kind of comfort, joy, or praise.  Rather, from first to last, it is mourning and woe. 
In the morning my prayer comes before You.  ~ Ps. 88:13
Sunrise on the Sea of Galilee

The implied answer to the questions in verses 10 - 12 is no; however, we know that other passages in the Old Testament as well as the New Testament doctrine of the resurrection show that the redeemed will praise God after death.

Ten to One
                                     ~ Ruth Harms Calkin

Lord, I ask more questions
Than You ask.
The ratio, I would suppose,
Is ten to one.

I ask:
Why do You permit this anguish?
How long can I endure it?
What possible purpose does it serve?
Have You forgotten to be gracious?
Have I wearied You?
Have I offended You?
Have You cast me off?
Where did I miss Your guidance?
When did I lose the way??
Do You see my utter despair?

You ask:
Are you trusting Me?

When we are in times of despair & difficulty, in trials & tribulation, may we remember this question in Ruth Harms Calkins' prayer-poem above:  What is its purpose? 

Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you. . . but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.  ~ I Peter 4:12

WHAT CAN I LEARN ABOUT GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
  • In our times of trial, God is our hope
  • God allows difficulties in our lives - we will experience tribulation on this earth
  • God is my salvation
HOW CAN I PRAISE GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
  • I praise the Lord that He is my salvation, even in the fiercest of trials. 
  • I praise God that I call cry out to Him daily
PRAYER:
     O Lord, I praise You that You are the God of my salvation, that my hope rests in You.  May I trust You in times of trial, may I seek the purposes You have in permitting them in my life.  May I rest in You in those times.  As I pray in the words of the psalmist - let my prayer come before You; incline Your ear to my cry.    ~ Amen






Monday, March 28, 2011

Psalm 87

Glorious Zion, City of God

View of the Temple
photo taken from the Mt. of Olives  
Jerusalem     March, 2011
Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
To the house of the God of Jacob;
He will teach us His ways,
And we shall walk in His paths.
For out of Zion shall go forth the law,
And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.  ~ Is. 2:3

Psalm 87 is a song about Zion, establishing Jerusalem's preeminence over all the great cities of the world.  The Temple was built on Mount Moriah, the mount where Abraham offered Isaac to the Lord.


Actual steps to the original Temple
In the upper left corner was where one of the Temple gates was located
Jerusalem    March, 2011





The Lord loves the gates of Zion
More than all the dwellings of Jacob. 
 ~ Ps. 87:2





  


My Bible commentators note that city gates were the centers of economic and judicial activities and, as such, represent the whole city.  God loves Zion more than any other Israelite sanctuary.

Matthew Henry notes that, in this psalm, Zion is compared with other places and preferred before them; the church of Christ is more glorious and excellent than the nations of the earth. 
In Hebrews, Mount Zion is referred to as "the city of the living God."  May we go into His presence daily, as sojourners to the Temple did 2000 years ago. 

WHAT CAN I LEARN ABOUT GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
  • God loves the gates of Zion, His heavenly city
  • God is faithful to His prophetic promises
  • God's presence is with His people
  • Ours is a living God
 HOW CAN I PRAISE GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
  • I praise the Lord that I am able to go into His presence through prayer.  I can approach His throne of grace, much as the High Priest did in the days of God's temple in Jerusalem. 
  • 2,000 years ago, God required His people to bring a sacrifice to the Temple to offer for their atonement.  I praise the Lord that He offered His Son as a sacrifice for my sins, and that through His atoning blood, I am washed whiter than snow!
 Zion of God, thou home of the free,
Washed in the blood, I’m dwelling in thee;
Glorious home, oh, gather us there,
Church of the Firstborn, thou art so fair.
 ~ Barney E. Warren

PRAYER:
     O Lord, I bless You that Your foundation is sure and shall never be shaken.  I bless You that the things You establish are established forever.  May I desire to enter into Your presence as surely as Your people who traveled to Your temple 2,000 years ago.  How my heart rejoices that You have made a way for me to approach You through prayer, and that I am worthy to enter Your holy presence through the atoning work of Your Son Jesus Christ, in whose name I pray ~ Amen
     

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Psalm 86

Teach Me Your Way, O Lord

This psalm is entitled "A Prayer of David," probably it was a prayer he often used himself and recommended to others for their use, especially in a day of affliction.  Mark this psalm in your Bibles as one to pray "back to the Lord" often. 

A united heart is one totally committed to God's will.

You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious,
Longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth.  ~ Ps. 86:15
WHAT CAN I LEARN ABOUT GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:  there are so many attributes of God named in this psalm!
  • God hears me
  • God preserves my life
  • God is merciful
  • God is good
  • God is ready to forgive - may I always be ready to repent!
  • God answers me in the day of trouble
  • There is none like God
  • All nations shall worship before Him
  • God is great
  • God does wondrous things
  • God's way is truth
  • God's mercy is great toward me
  • God is full of compassion, gracious, longsuffering, abundant in mercy & truth
  • God is my helper and comforter
HOW CAN I PRAISE GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
  • Wow - I praise the Lord for all His wonderful attributes - and that His mercy is great towards me!
  • I praise God that He is my helper & comforter
PRAYER:
     Bow down Your ear, O Lord, and hear me - for I am poor and needy.  I bless You that You are my God.  Be merciful to me, O Lord.  I lift up my soul to You, and bless You that You are good, ready to forgive, and abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You.
     There is none like You, O Lord - for You are great and do wondrous things.  You alone are God.
     Teach me Your way, O Lord - that I will walk in Your truth and unite my heart to fear Your name.  May I live a life of total commitment to You, and seek Your will.
     I will praise You, O Lord my God, with all my heart, and I bless You that I will glorify Your name forevermore  - that my salvation is sure because my sins have been paid for by Your Son Jesus Christ.  How great is Your  mercy towards me - thank You, Father!
     You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth. 
     Thank You, O God, that mercy and comfort are found in You.  I bless You that You are my helper.  Thank You for Your servant David, who penned these words, that I may know more of You so many ages later.  May I pray them to You often, and may Your Holy Spirit continue to reveal Yourself to me.  In Jesus' name I pray ~ Amen 

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Psalm 85

Prayer for Revival

What a perfect illustration of this wonderful concept!
Interpreters generally hold the opinion that this psalm was penned after the return of the Jews out of their captivity in Babylon, when they still remained under some tokens of God’s displeasure. 

In verses 1-7, the people of God – in a very low and weak condition – are taught how to address themselves to God.
  • They are to acknowledge with thankfulness the great things God had done for them
  • They are taught to pray to God for grace and mercy
  • They are taught to express with humility their laments to God regarding their present distress
In verses 8-13, we see the answer to the prayers:
  • Generally, God sends His peace
  • God’s blessings of prosperity when His children gain a settlement again in their own land.
  • God’s help at hand
  • The return of God’s favor – when a people return to God, he will return to them and abide with them in a way of mercy
  • God’s plenteous provision
  • God’s guidance in the sure way
 
Revive us again;
Fill each heart with Thy love;
May each soul be rekindled
With fire from above.
Hallelujah! Thine the glory.
Hallelujah! Amen.
Hallelujah! Thine the glory.
Revive us again.
                                            ~  William Mackay

Righteousness shall go before Him, and shall make His footsteps our pathway.  ~ Ps. 85:13
 Matthew Henry makes this comment:
Surely God's salvation is nigh, whatever our difficulties and distresses are.  For His sake, all good things, especially His Holy Spirit, are given to those who ask Him.

Through Christ, the pardoned sinner becomes fruitful in good works, and by looking to and trusting in the Saviour's righteousness, finds his feet set in the way of His steps. 

Righteousness is a sure guide, both in meeting God and in following Him.

WHAT CAN I LEARN ABOUT GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
  • God is a God of restoration
  • God is favorable towards His people
  • God chastises His own
  • Salvation is near to those who fear God
  • God is merciful
  • The Lord will give what is good
HOW CAN I PRAISE GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
·         I praise the Lord that He has made a way for me to be restored in fellowship to Him - through His Son Jesus Christ
·         I praise the Lord that He has forgiven my sin, and that the blood of Christ has covered my iniquity
·         I bless the Lord that He will give what is good

PRAYER:
          How I pray for spiritual revival, O Lord - in my own country, and in my own heart.  Thank You, Father, that You have covered all my sin with the precious blood of Christ, and that You have forgiven my iniquities for they are many. 
          Give me ears to hear Your voice, and may I walk in righteousness all the days of my life.  In Jesus' name I pray ~ Amen

Friday, March 25, 2011

Psalm 84

The Joy of Dwelling with God

 ~ Isaiah 55:6

Some Biblical scholars believe David penned  this psalm when he was forced by son Absalom’s rebellion to flee his city – and he greatly lamented this absence because it was the holy city.  It is also believed that Psalm 84 was fitly looked upon as a psalm or song for the Sabbath. 

  
How lovely is Your tabernacle, O Lord of hosts!
My soul longs, yes, even faints
For the courts of the Lord;
My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.  ~ Ps. 84:1-2

In the actual temple in Jerusalem, all the people had access to the outer court called the “great court.”  The inner court was reserved for the priests.  In Psalm 84, we see the true object of the pilgrim’s longing is not so much the physical courts of the temple as it is a Person, the living God.

Blessed is the man whose strength is in You,
Whose heart is set on pilgrimage.  ~ Ps. 84:5
The pilgrimage to the temple could be arduous, but seeking God is always worth the effort – and God supplies the needed strength. 

Below is an artwork rendering of a pilgrimage to the temple -
may we seek God today as fervently as the faithful Old Testament children of God. 

I have been in Israel this past week - what a blessing to walk the same ground as some of these faithful ones of old!

WHAT CAN I LEARN ABOUT GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
  • God hears my prayer
  • God is my strength and shield
  • God delights in giving good gifts to His children
  • God is trustworthy
 HOW CAN I PRAISE GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
  • I praise the Lord that He is found when I seek Him
  • I praise the Lord that He is the Living God
  • I praise God that He is my sun and shield - He is my power source and my protection
  • I praise the Lord for His blessings

Sunlight is the Earth's primary source of energy
PRAYER:
     Like King David, my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God!  Thank You, my King and my God, that You are found when I seek You.  May my heart always be set on that 'pilgrimage' of seeking You above all things.  
     Would You look upon me with Your favor, O Lord?  I pray that You would give ear to my prayer; that You would be my sun and shield.  Father, I pray that You will also grant grace to me, and not withhold any good thing but pour out Your richest blessings in my life and the lives of those I love.  I pray that my heart and those of my loved ones would be steadfast, that we would walk uprightly before You.  I know that it is only through Your strength that anyone would be able to do this - would You fill me and those in my family with Your Holy Spirit and grant us victorious life over the sins of our flesh?  May we not dwell in the tents of wickedness but desire the courts of the Lord. 
     Your words says that those who trust in You are blessed - may I be such a one, O Lord!  In Jesus' name I pray ~ Amen


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Psalm 83

Pleas for God to Destroy Israel's Enemies

This psalm is the last of the psalms to go under the name of Asaph.  Some Biblical scholars believe it was penned upon the occasion of a descent/attack upon Judah by the Moabites & Ammonites (the children of Lot) in the time of Jehoshaphat's reign.  Others believe it was written with a reference to a coalition formed against Israel by 10 neighboring nations.    

What is known for sure is that the Israelites were in danger and great distress, and the psalmist is making an appeal to God on their behalf.  He appeals to God's knowledge and His justice.

Yes, let them be put to shame and perish,
That they may know that You, whose name alone is the Lord,
Are the Most High over all the earth.  ~ Ps. 83:17-18


El Elyon is the name given to God that means the Most High.  This name designates God as the sovereign ruler of the universe.  We saw this reference to God back in Psalm 78:
Then they remembered that God was their rock,
And the Most High God their Redeemer.  ~ Ps. 78:35
It was the Most High God who was and is the Redeemer of Israel, and it is the Most High God who rules today over the affairs of men.  ~ Kay Arthur

WHAT CAN I LEARN ABOUT GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
  • God is El Elyon, the Most High over all the earth

I am the Lord, and there is no other, the One forming light and creating darkness, causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the Lord who does all these. ~ Is. 45:6-7

HOW CAN I PRAISE GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
  • I praise God for His sovereignty - that He is Ruler over all, and that nothing can happen without the ultimate sanction or permission of God
The Lord of hosts has sworn saying, "Surely, just as I have intended so it has happened, and just as I have planned, so it will stand . . . for the Lord of hosts has planned, and who can frustrate it?  As as for His stretched-out hand, who can turn it back?  ~ Isaiah 14:24, 27

PRAYER:
     You, O Lord, are El Elyon, Most High over all the earth.  How I bless You that You have made Yourself known to Your people, that You have made Yourself known to me.  Thank You that Your plans cannot be thwarted by evil - that what You have planned will come to pass.  I pray for deliverance from my enemies and from those things that strive against me, causing me to fret and feel anxious and diminishing my trust.  May I put my full weight on You, Father - would you bear me up in my weaknesses and complete Your perfect plan for me?  In Jesus' name I pray ~ Amen 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Psalm 82

Rebuke of Israel's Unjust Judges

Do you remember how the first "judicial system" of the Israelites was established?  It was Moses' father-in-law Jethro who saw that Moses was overcome with judging God's people. 
Jethro said, "The thing that you do is not good.  Both you and these people who are with you will surely wear yourselves out.  For this thing is too much for you . . . . moreover, you shall select from all people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them to be rulers of thousands, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens.  And let them judge the people at all times. 
Then it will be that every great matter they shall bring to you, but ever small matter they themselves shall judge.  So it will be easier for you, for they will bear the burden with you.  ~ Exodus 18:17-22
Moses judging God's people
Do you see the qualifications of Israel's first judges - men who FEAR GOD, men of TRUTH, hating covetousness!  Clearly in Psalm 82, the sin of the people have taken them far from this model of upright judges and courts of truth.

Do you recognize a resemblance of our Supreme Court system in the model Jethro & Moses established for Israel?

Psalm 82 is a psalm of Asaph.  It has been penned for courts of justice in Israel as well as other nations to:
instruct the judges of the earth
  • To tell them their duty
  • To tell them of their faults
Verse 1 reminds us of God's supreme presidency and power in all councils and courts.   Genesis 18:25 is one of my favorite Bible verses:

Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?  ~ Gen. 18:25
In this verse in Genesis, Abraham knew he could count on God to do the right thing.  We can have that same faith in God's justice.  He will judge rightly.

Where to go for truth & justice?
So many courts & legal systems are corrupt.
In Psalm 82, Asaph instructs the judges of the earth to do their job righteously.

Verse 2 tells us of God's exhausted patience with judges who have not executed justice among the people.  Asaph then defines good judgment:
Defend the poor and fatherless;
Do justice to the afflicted and needy.
Deliver the poor and need;y
Free them from the and of the wicked.  ~ Ps. 82:3
Matthew Henry comments:
They judge unjustly, contrary to the rules of equity and the dictates of their consciences. 
To do unjustly is bad, but to judge unjustly is much worse, because it is doing wrong under the colour of right. 



WHAT CAN I LEARN ABOUT GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
  • God is an upright judge
  • God shall judge the earth
HOW CAN I PRAISE GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
  • I praise God that He is faithful and true - that I can depend on Him to judge rightly
  • I praise God there is no injustice with Him
Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father -
There is no shadow of turning with Thee . . .
Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not,
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me.
Great is Thy Faithfulness
~ Thomas Obediah Chisholm
PRAYER:
     O Lord, how I praise You that You can be trusted - that we can confidently say with Abraham, "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right!" I can know that You will do right - that there is no shadow of turning with You.  Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!  I bless You, Lord, and thank You that I am indeed a child of the Most High.  In Jesus' name I pray ~ Amen


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Psalm 81

God’s Plea for Israel’s Obedience

You called in trouble, and I delivered you . . . ~ Ps. 81:6
Moses leading God's people out of Egypt

I am the Lord Your God,
Who brought you out of the land of Egypt.  ~Ps. 81:10

King David introduced the singing of psalms into the temple service.  This psalm was intended for that purpose.  The two great intentions of religious assemblies are answered in this psalm:
  1. to give God glory
  2. to receive instruction from God
This psalm
  1. praises God for what He is to His people
  2. Teaches and admonishes one another concerning our obligations to God
  3. Reminds us of the benefits we enjoy if we keep close to God
In verses 8-16, God speaks to His people through the psalmist.  His message is six-fold:
  1. He demands their diligent and serious attention
  2. He reminds them that He is their God & Redeemer
  3. He reminds them of His precepts & promises
  4. He charges them with high contempt of His authority
  5. He justifies the spiritual judgments He had brought upon them
  6. He testifies of His goodwill to them
It is sin that makes the Israelites’ troubles long and their salvation slow!

I love this hymn by Cecil Frances Alexander:
Jesus Callls Us
Jesus call us o’er the tumult
Of our life’s wild, restless sea –
Day by day, His clear voice soundeth saying,
“Christian, follow Me!”

Jesus calls us, by Thy mercies
Savior, may we hear Thy call –
Give our hearts to Thine obedience,
Serve and love Thee best of all.
                                                                     ~ Cecil Frances Alexander

WHAT CAN I LEARN ABOUT GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
  • God is my strength
  • God is the deliverer of His people
  • God is faithful
  • God will punish my sin / disobedience
  • God is my provider
HOW CAN I PRAISE GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
  • I praise God that He is long-suffering
  • I praise God for His kind provision
  • I praise the Lord that the same faithfulness He showed to the Israelites He will show to me!
 PRAYER:
    Dear Lord, O that I would listen to You and walk in Your ways!  I find myself too often like Paul – I do the things I shouldn’t do, and don’t do the things I should!  Over and over again.  I bless You for Your long-suffering with me, Father, and desire to walk with You, faithfully observing Your precepts and obeying Your commands.  You know I am as dust . . . bear me up in my weakness!  May I love You more than my sin . . . may I give my heart to Thine obedience . . . serve and love Thee best of all!  In Jesus’ name ~ Amen
    

Monday, March 21, 2011

Psalm 80

Israel’s Plea for God’s Mercy

Some Biblical scholars believe this psalm was penned upon the occasion of the desolation and captivity of the ten tribes.  Due to their sins & adulteries, many were the distresses of God’s people.  The psalmist begs for God’s presence with them and favor towards them, and concludes with a prayer to God for mercy towards His people. 
You who dwell between the cherubim,
Shine forth!  ~ Ps. 80:1

On the Ark of the Covenant, the mercy seat was located between the cherubim.  It is here that God met with His people.  How fitting that is the "mercy seat" - how we need / crave God's mercy!
Restore us, O God;
Cause Your face to shine,
And we shall be saved!  ~ Ps. 80:3

Return, we beseech You, O God of hosts;
Look down from Heaven and see . . .  ~Ps. 80:14

In verse 1, Asaph refers to God as “O Shepherd of Israel” – this particular phrase appears only here in the Old Testament. 

In verses 8-11, God’s relationship to Israel  is compared to that which exists between the vinedresser and the vine that he plants & cares for. 
Abide in Me and I in you . . . I am the vine, you are the branches.  He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.  ~ John 15:4-5
WHAT CAN I LEARN ABOUT GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
  • God’s Presence is with His people
  • God chastises those He loves
  • Ours is a God of restoration
  • God is my Vinedresser
  • God will punish sin
HOW CAN I PRAISE GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
  • I praise God that, even in the midst of His chastisement, He is still my God
  • I praise God that – because of the righteousness of Jesus Christ as my Savior - I don’t have to fear His wrath
 PRAYER:
     Thank You, O Lord, that You dwell among Your people.  Even today, Father, Your Holy Spirit resides in those who are Your children.  As our Heavenly Vinedresser, You abide in me, and I abide in You.  May I live this victorious life of abiding in You daily. 
     May I welcome Your chastisement as a sign of Your love for me, and may my heart always be soft to Your molding & shaping me into the image of Your son – in whose name I pray ~ Amen

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Psalm 79

Avenge the Defilement of Jerusalem

This psalm of Asaph most probably refers to the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple.  It is set to the same tune as the lamentations of the weeping prophet Jeremiah, and Jeremiah himself borrows 2 verses from it:  verses 6 & 7.

Whatever the occasion for the writing of this psalm, we can know this:
  • Psalm 79 is a representation of the very deplorable condition of God’s people
  • It is a petition to God for succor and relief, that their sins might be pardoned and that God would look upon them again with favor
Because of the sins of His people, God has allowed the enemies of Israel to lay waste Jerusalem and the Temple of God. 
Throughout our Psalms study, we have seen the phrase” for Your name’s sake” repeated.  Sake” means “for the reason of” or “because of.”  What does David continue to use that plea?

Remember when God first told His name to Moses?  In Exodus 3:14, He said:
And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.  And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, “I AM sent me to you.”
My Bible makes this note: 

YHWH is a form of the verb ‘to be.’ The significance of this name is ‘the present One, He who is.”
Matthew Henry comments this:
YHWH signifies that He is self-existent, He has His being of Himself.  Being self-existent, He cannot but be self-sufficient, and therefore all sufficient, and the inexhaustible fountain of being and bliss.

Kenneth Hancock has noted the meaning of this phrase in the Psalms verses below:
For Your name’s sake, O Lord, pardon my iniquity for it is great.”  ~ Ps. 25:11
cries David in Psalm 25:11.  I am a sinner, he is saying, and my sin is great- so for Your name’s sake, because the meaning of Your very name declares that You, Yah, are the Savior and do save, I ask You to save me from this wretched state that I am in.

Every time the phrase “for thy name’s sake” is used, the people of Yahweh are fervently longing for a great salvation.  We saw another example is in Psalm 31:3-4. 
My enemies, David is saying, are about to catch me in a net, but You are the Savior, and You can save me and deliver me out of the net and snare they have set for me.  So, please save me because of Your name’s meaning, for Your name’s sakeThis process is “calling upon the name of Yahweh”—what some would refer to as “calling on the name of the LORD.” 

For Your name’s sake lead me, and guide me.  Pull me out of the net that they have secretly laid for me, for You are my strength.  ~ Ps. 31:3-4

In Psalm 79:9 the psalmist comes right out and says that it is sin that the Savior will take away because of God’s name and what it means. 
     Thank You, Father, that You poured Your wrath out on the cross so that I am saved.  What can wash away my sin - nothing but the blood of Jesus!  How I praise You for that sacrifice of Yourself, and thank You for opening my eyes to my need for a Savior.
     Lord, even in Your judgment, You are a loving God.  May I learn to embrace the chastisement of God, using it to turn to holy living and a pursuit of righteousness.  How I bless You for Your tender mercies that come speedily to meet me.
     Thank You, O Great Shepherd of the sheep, that You have made me one of Your flock.  I will give You thanks forever.  May I show forth Your praise to my children, and the generations to follow.  In Jesus' name I pray ~ Amen
Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of thy name: and deliver us, and purge away our sins, for thy name’s sake.  ~ Ps. 79:9 
There it is.  Because of the very meaning of Your name, because Your name declares that You are the Savior and because of the glory of Your name in that You alone do save, take away our sins. 

The phrase "for Your name's sake" also indicates a defense of God’s “reputation.”  The world knew that Israel was His land, His people.  For them to be taken captive and Jerusalem & God’s temple destroyed gave the nations cause to mock Israel’s God and His ability to save them.  
Why should the nations say, ‘where is their God?’  ~ Ps. 79:10
The proud and oppressive Babylonians delight to add to the sorrows of the exiles by reproaching the name of their God, and by saying that He was unable to defend them and their city from ruin.
So we, Your people and the sheep of Your pasture,
Will give You thanks forever;
We will show forth Your praise to all generations.
 ~ Ps. 79:13
 
WHAT CAN I LEARN ABOUT GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
  • God judges sin . . . and He forgives sin
  • He is a God of wrath
  • God's mercies are tender towards His people
  • God’s power is great
  • God is our Shepherd
  • God will be praised
HOW CAN I PRAISE GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
  • I praise God that He is as loving as He is just
  • I praise God that His judgment is perfect
  • I praise God that He is long-suffering even in His judgment
  • I praise God that I am a sheep of His flock
PRAYER:
 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Psalm 78:37-72

God’s Continued Guidance in Spite of Unbelief

As we read yesterday, this psalm is a Biblical history of Israel from Moses to David.  When we left off yesterday, we saw how the Israelites affronted God with their idolatries once they came into Canaan, and were slack in their repentance.  In verse 37 today, we see that their repentance was hasty and superficial, and only a passing ‘mood’ that quickly disappeared.

Verse 38 tells us of God’s compassion for His people in their weakness.  I love the description in verse 39:
For He remembered that they were but flesh,
A breath that passes away and does not come again.  ~ Ps. 78:39

In today’s passage, we see what great mercies God had bestowed upon Israel, how provoking they had been, what judgments He had brought upon them for their sins and yet, how even in judgment, He remembered mercy at last.

Verses 43-51 give a recount of the plagues God brought upon Egypt (except the flies, boils, and darkness).

In verses 67-72, we see that God rejected the northern kingdom represented here by the tripe of Ephraim and He chose Judah as the tribe and Mount Zion as the place where His sanctuary should be located.

After the reign of David's son Solomon, the kingdom of Israel split in two: 
Israel was the northern kingdom, Judah became the southern kingdom
The psalm ends with God choosing David to be king of Israel.  Matthew Henry makes this note:
He set a good government over them, a monarchy, and a monarch after His own heart.  David was not bred a scholar nor a soldier, but a shepherd, as Moses was - for God delights to put honor upon the humble and diligent.  David, having so great a trust put into his hands, obtained the mercy of the Lord to be found both skillful and faithful in the discharge of it. 

He fed God’s people, he ruled them and taught them, guided and protected them, according to the integrity of his heart, aimed a nothing but the glory of God and the good of the people committed to his charge.  With good reason does the psalmist make this the finishing crowning instance of God’s favor to Israel, for David was a type of Christ, the Great and good Shepherd. 
WHAT CAN I LEARN ABOUT GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
  • God is long-suffering with His people,  but He will not be silent against sin
  • God is a righteous Judge
  • God provides for His people, even in His judgment of their sin.  This is most prevalent in our need for a Savior - what God requires of His people, He provides for them! 
HOW CAN I PRAISE GOD THROUGH THIS PSALM:
  • I praise the Lord for this Biblical account of His faithfulness – that is has been told through the generations ‘so that I might set my hope in God.’
  • I praise God that He remembers that I am but flesh (weak)
  • I praise God that He made a way of forgiveness for the sins of His people through His Son Jesus Christ
PRAYER:
     O Lord, thank You for this great psalm and the account of Your faithfulness to Your people throughout the generations.  How often I find myself like the Israelites . . . I am weak in my flesh.  I sin against You continually.  I forget You, I turn  my back on You, I create for myself idols of other things . . . and yet You continue to show Yourself faithful to me.  Thank You, Father, for Your lovingkindness and Your mercy to me and my family.  Please forgive me for my sins against You . . . I say with King David, 'Against You only have I sinned.' 
     Thank You that the righteousness that was my great need You provided through Your Son Jesus Christ, and that You brought me to saving faith in Him.  I pray the same for each member of my family - In Jesus' name ~ Amen