Striving to be Intimate: Psalms 73

23Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
   you hold my right hand.
24You guide me with your counsel,
   and afterward you will receive me to glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
   And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
   but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Psalms 73,  ESV

Continuity is a medicine for us who are always on the edge of losing control. But the promise is for a continuous presence.  There is no flickering, or no jumping about.  God is steady.  He does not flit or fluctuate.  He is always, and forever, constantly focused with you.

He provides guidance, ‘free of charge’.  We can experience many confusing days.  We make the attempt to walk through them, but we quickly grasp our ineptitude.  It goes very much better when He is speaking into our hearts.  Since He is present with us on a continuous basis anyway, let us turn to Him for direction.

There is a realization in verse 25.  An understanding of who and what is real.  The psalmist has an ‘umbilical cord’ attached to heavenly places.  This feeds him and gives him a radical strength to stand up and ‘to be’.  He is completely over with the things of this earth.  He desires only heavenly things, that which really matters after looking down the long corridors of eternity.

In verse 26 he admits a desperate weakness.  He understands the foolishness of his flesh.  He knows that it is pathetic  and feeble.  There is absolutely nothing he can do about this.  He has tried and tried repeatedly.  His heart is like a colander that drains away all the grace and mercy that comes.  We can hold nothing.  But, there is a profound realization that God is strengthening his heart.  He has done this on an eternal level.  What this means is this:  He has touched me and by that touch has made me eternal, like Him.  “Eternal life…” John 3:16.

 27For behold, those who are far from you shall perish;
   you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you.
28But for me it is good to be near God;
   I have made the Lord GOD my refuge,
   that I may tell of all your works.

Psalm 73

Proximity determines everything.  Some will bounce to the other end of the spectrum.  But being close to Him confers life.  Moving away from Him brings nothing but certain death.  The issue in this Psalm is of ‘unfaithfulness’.  This is a biggie.  Being unfaithful means treachery, and a wagon load of deception, for good cause.  But down deep it implies ‘denial’.  But unfaithfulness is an umbrella word or concept.

The Psalmist again deals with proximity.  The closer we come, the further our unfaithfulness recedes.  (But don’t give up!). The Psalmist applauds his nearness to God.  He realizes that by taking refuge in God there is something that must be ’made’.  There is some effort that must happen.  He makes God his refuge.  The Lord God is now a  bomb shelter or a covering for our souls.  He continues this process with the deep commitment to sharing ‘the works of God’.  We carry that with us– the seeds of our redemption.

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My Lifeguard: Psalm 54

For the choir director: A psalm of David, regarding the time the Ziphites came and said to Saul, “We know where David is hiding.” To be accompanied by stringed instruments.

Come with great power, O God, and rescue me!
    Defend me with your might.
Listen to my prayer, O God.
    Pay attention to my plea.
For strangers are attacking me;
    violent people are trying to kill me.
    They care nothing for God.  Selah

But God is my helper.
    The Lord keeps me alive!
May the evil plans of my enemies be turned against them.
    Do as you promised and put an end to them.

I will sacrifice a voluntary offering to you;
    I will praise your name, O Lord,
    for it is good.
For you have rescued me from my troubles
    and helped me to triumph over my enemies.

Psalm 54, (NLT) 

All of us are facing a considerable, unrelenting assault. It really doesn’t matter if you are a believer, or not. One of my favorite “Far Side” by Gary Larson is two deer talking in the woods. One of them has a humongous target on his chest. The other comments, “Bummer of a birthmark, Larry.”

We are all born marked. We each have something on us we can’t get rid of. Think of it as a  bull’s-eye,  that the enemy has trained his spiritual weaponry upon. This occupied planet, full of deep darkness and black sin, is a dangerous place to live. We are being stalked.

David touches on this in this particular psalm. He knows physically which we can know spiritually. That there is a violence that focuses on me. Something quite wicked that will show me no mercy or pity.

Commentary

V. 1 puts us at a point of dependency in all of this. Martin Luther, in his best hymn wrote,

“A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and pow’r are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.”

This is the very first thing we must assimilate. On our own, Satan will chew us up, and spit us out.

V. 2, having the ear of God is what we should truly covet. We must have His attentive ear. We must be heard! “God! Please listen to me. Look at me, I need you desperately.”

V. 3, this is no fairy tale world full of glee and flowers. David grasps the situation without illusion. People want to kill him, to assassinate him. He isn’t being paranoid or deluded. He has a big target on him. He is hated and despised.

V. 4, “But God is my helper.
    The Lord keeps me alive!”

Praise has an element of boastfulness in it. That is its compelling power. When you stand in this remarkable Grace, you can face down anything. Perhaps David at this moment is remembering his showdown with the giant, Goliath. That was a bold approach then, and now another one is now needed.

V. 5,  “May the evil plans of my enemies be turned against them.
   Do as you promised and put an end to them.”

Not only is our enemy defeated, but his planning and strategies actually work against him. When we were in language school in McAllen, Texas, my young son came down with a terrible fever. Lynn and I were quite anxious, we were completely broke. There was no money for a visit to the ER. Zilch. I went upstairs to his room. I got down on my knees at his bedside, and I began to pray. When I laid my hands on him, he was burning up. So I prayed some more, pleading for God’s intervention. A few minutes later, I laid my hands on him again, and he was completely cool! It was God’s miracle (It certainly wasn’t mine). My faith soared.

V. 6, When joy is present, really there, there is no such thing as a demanding sacrifice. We give, without counting the cost. When I am truly grateful, I will feel no pain, and never consider any issues of value.

V. 7, ” For you have rescued me from my troubles
and helped me to triumph over my enemies.”

Two phrases that connect like puzzle pieces; “rescued me, and helped me.” When I think about this, I think of a lifeguard watching swimmers on a beach. He’s on duty, and on the beach all have his complete focus. Everyone is under His care.

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Full Throttle Praise: Psalm 34:1-3, NLT

1 “I will praise the Lord at all times.
    I will constantly speak his praises.
I will boast only in the Lord;
    let all who are helpless take heart.
Come, let us tell of the Lord’s greatness;
    let us exalt his name together.”

Worship should be something we do all the time–it is a perpetual focus on the Lord God. David refers to a lifetime of continual praise. But what does this “look” like? How is this done? Is this realistic?

I would suggest that our definition should adjust to broaden “praise and worship.” If you think about it, praise and worship is far more than Sunday morning at your Church. (And yet that is a major part of it.) There must be an eagerness on Monday afternoon and on Tuesday morning.

Commentary

V. 1, “I will praise the Lord at all times.
    I will constantly speak his praises.”

“All times,” “constantly speak,” must elevate our standards of praise. There is a certain fervency, and desire that compels David in his approach to his life. I find it fascinating that he says twice, “I will.”  Sometimes we end up weakening the will seeing it as “bad Christianity.”

Our wills are simply “brothers” to obedience. We dare not extract will from our lives. There is an obedience, subject to faith that will allow us to become “fire Christians.”

V. 2, “I will boast only in the Lord;
    let all who are helpless take heart.”

This is a great verse! When we praise our Lord, do we boast? It is nothing more then “bragging” or “showing off” our God to a watching world. (And it’s entirely biblical!) This bragging in David’s context, belongs to God exclusively.

Being helpless suggests weakness understood. People will dismiss you if your weak and pathetic. David exhorts that those who are feeble and incapable, to take heart–God has not forgotten you, by no means.

V. 3, “Come, let us tell of the Lord’s greatness;
    let us exalt his name together.”

David was a shepherd long before he was a king. He never lost those skills from working out in the pasture. We see him gathering people, of bringing them for a common purpose.

Perhaps our gathering times could be strengthened, by these two vital words– tell and exalt. Both of these are potent words for a heart that is His.

ybic, Bryan

Psalm 51:11-14, The Awful Pain of Sin

11 “Do not cast me from your presence
    or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
    and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
    so that sinners will turn back to you.
14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
    you who are God my Savior,
    and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.”

Psalm 51:11-14, NIV

We now start to read a different ‘David’. His heart has dramatically changed from who he was in verse 1. He is now a different man. We have hoped and waited for this moment, and at this moment we can understand ‘a broken heart redeemed.’

A bumble bee will spread pollen from one flower to the next. In the same way, David spreads God’s goodness from person-to-person. He opens his heart, and we see someone who is quite authentic and real.

Commentary

V.11, Do not cast me from your presence
    or take your Holy Spirit from me.

I have to believe that David is thinking long and hard about Saul. Saul sinned against the Lord, and given repeated warnings to repent. He didn’t. And God left him.

David is remembering the ‘shell of a man’ that Saul became. David is very afraid.

V. 12, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation
    and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”

Psalm 32 was written concurrently with this Psalm. In it we see the common theme regarding joy. Joy goes beyond happiness. It is strength that God gives to those who follow Him. Nehemiah instructed the people of God, “the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

David has tasted this joy, and nothing will ‘neverever’ compare with it. He can’t imagine his life emptied by God. To hold this joy is the greatest achievement a person can experience. David asks for a ‘willingness’ that he may implement this.

V. 13, “Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
    so that sinners will turn back to you.”

I used to think that David said this to manipulate God. A sort of an attempt to influence God with ‘good deeds.’ But now I don’t. This verse is deeper than that. The need for joy and its place in our lives transforms us into real witnesses.

“Catch on fire with enthusiasm and people will come for miles to watch you burn.”

Charles Wesley

V. 14, “Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
    you who are God my Savior,
    and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.”

David ‘knew’ what guilt was. Few people can murder another human being without ‘knowing’ the stain, and feeling the evil. You must be delivered from this, you can’t think that “time heals all wounds.” Time heals nothing, but God must intervene.

I believe the people who sing the best are those who have been forgiven the most.

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ybic, Bryan

Psalm 131: Like A Weaned Child

www.essentialbaby.com.au

1 My heart is not proud, O Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.

2 But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me.

3 O Israel put your hope in the Lord both now and forever more.

The vibrant spiritual life is defined by a relationship with God where we know who God is, who we are, and we know our limitations. He is the Creator, we are the creation. He is in heaven, we are on earth. And, as verse 2 of this psalm emphasizes, he is the parent and we are the weaned child. In verse 1 David says that he humbles himself and does not concern himself with great matters and things that are beyond his understanding. He knew that to do such a thing is the very moment when we begin to move from life to death.

This is what happened to Satan when he decided that being a high–ranking angel was not enough. He wanted to rule and reign like God himself. This is what happened to Adam and Eve when they decided that serving God in Eden wasn’t enough; they wanted to be like gods. This is what happened when Israel decided that God their Bridegroom was not enough; they decided to pursue other lovers (idols).

David saw this up close and personal with Saul. For Saul the simple command of Samuel to utterly destroy the Amalekites was not enough. He had to take things into his own hands, he had to concern himself with things that were beyond his understanding, and disobey Samuel’s command.

In contrast to all these examples of failure, David says that he has stilled and quieted his soul like a weaned child. He rests in the arms of his loving parent. He is dependent on that parent for everything. The child doesn’t try to leave the arms of the parent and concern himself with great matters that are beyond him. He snuggles into the grace and mercy of the parent and accepts his utter helplessness. He puts his complete trust in the parent.

In verse 3 David tells Israel to put their hope in the Lord. In an unspoken way, he was really encouraging them to be like a weaned child. In their history they had been just the opposite. Instead of a weaned child, they had been like a rebellious teenager–sullen, ungrateful, and disobedient. However, for David, it was a new day and he was calling them to a new relationship.

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If you liked this post by Jonathan, you may also like his new book, Letters from Fawn Creek, that is now available at this link:

https://www.tatepublishing.com/bookstore/book.php?w=9781628542035

Tripping Over the Museum: Psalm 25:15–18

14 The Lord is a friend to those who fear him.
    He teaches them his covenant.
15 My eyes are always on the Lord,
    for he rescues me from the traps of my enemies.

16 Turn to me and have mercy,
    for I am alone and in deep distress.
17 My problems go from bad to worse.
    Oh, save me from them all!
18 Feel my pain and see my trouble.
    Forgive all my sins.

Psalm 25:14–18, NLT

These are delicate verses, each one is soaked with salty tears. We slam through them so quickly, and completely disregard the meaning and purpose. It would be like taking a 10 minute tour of the National Gallery in London.

The content of these five verses alone are made sacred by suffering. They seep blood and stink of sweat. Their source is found in a broken and hurting heart (which makes up most of the human race.) Take these four verses, and compare just then with any other religious texts. There is an obvious dearth between the Christian Bible and anything coming out of comparative world religions.

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Commentary

V.14., Golly. The very well-being of this Psalm focuses on this  conspicuous fact. You just might say that our faith also depends on this– being a true friend with God. Indirectly this connects us with Abraham– he was known as “a  friend of God.” He also is brightly tutored into God’s covenant and His ways. (See James 2:23.)

V. 15,  the writer tells us things we must know about himself. There is a settled fact in his mind; he is always looking for the heart of God. He diligently continues to look at his Father’s eyes. I get the sense that this is one of those enduring habits he had decided to do “before” and he has trained his eyes to look. The idea is that there are “traps” just accentuate the urgent need. Traps only intensify the deep urgency of getting it right (and avoiding pain.)

V. 16, is  such a personal prayer to a personal God. (This is what I meant earlier when I talked about the superiority of the Christian writings.) The persistent question must be asked, “How personal is God to your soul?” Can you be this truthful or honest with Allah, or the Buddha? Are you just connecting on a superficial level, or our you in a true intimacy with the true God? Christians will talk about a “personal relationship with Jesus Christ.” This phrase tries very hard to make an intimacy real and authentic.

V. 17, ” My problems go from bad to worse.  Oh, save me from them all!”
Wondering  this will lead you through a lot of twisted theology, and logical anxiety. The stark reality is our faith was never meant to relieve us from the issues of living life. The psalmist seems to think that things may have gotten worse. I’ve read somewhere that birds in a cage will actually sing louder. It strikes me that the purpose of life is not to find your freedom– but your master. (We easily look for “so-called” freedom.)

V. 18, Feel my pain and see my trouble.  Forgive all my sins.”  Most of us would agree. We must put the “best foot forward.” We really try to clean up, and do the right things to be accepted by God. Hide the dirty dishes in the oven, and spray air freshener all over. But, this is pretty much unacceptable.

But acceptance by this (neurotic behavior) is never the basis for His love. It can’t be! We will never do enough good things to outweigh our bad. God has “junked” His scales, you will never see them in His courts. He will never measure the good you’ve done. And the all the bad– well, that has been dropped into the Mariana Trench.

“He will again have compassion on us;
He will tread our iniquities under foot.
Yes, You will cast all their sins
Into the depths of the sea.’

(Micah 7:19)

(“I want the presence of God Himself, or I don’t want anything at all to do with religion… I want all that God has or I don’t want any.” )
― A.W. Tozer

kyrie eleison, Bryan

(Lord, have mercy on us)

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Something All Lit Up: Psalm 42

all-lit-up

“Oh Father, I want us to be swallowed up in this Psalm. Not that it’s a happy place to be. But to learn how to be in an unhappy place is what we need. And this Psalmist does it so well. He is miserable so well. I want You to teach Your people how to be struck down, well. How to be in turmoil, well. How to be downcast, well. How to have waves break over them, well. And the Psalms, and this one in particular, is so well suited to help us. So grant that we would know how to feel and how to think with You in the Psalms. Through Christ I pray. Amen”

~Dr. John Piper, referencing Psalm 42

Psalm 42 is a distillation of a wonderful theology. It is quite profound in the certain ways it understands God.

These 11 verses carry us into presence of God, and these 11 verses put us into His presence. What more could we ever want?

Vv. 1-3, establishes  the incredible hunger (whether or not we see it) we as humans have for God. Hunger and thirst are the particular desires, and these are strong needs. Don’t underestimate them. They’re quite intense.

Vv. 4-7, carries a special awareness of a cluster of memories. They somehow remember of how things once were, a long time ago. Any frustration, or discouragement should never become the very method of living. It’s  just temporary, and never something to lock down on. Too many believers could lose faith at this moment.

V. 8 presses on to us by God’s great love and power. He reacts to us, as we ourselves reacted in v. 1-3. He presses us, just like we insisted earlier.

V. 9-11, we work over the language of earlier verses. So much is simmering here, and so much to consider.  We do indeed to wrestle through so much resistance, but yet, it can be expected, if we are who we say we are.

All together, we see that the complete spectrum is covered. Psalm 42 meets us, in whatever frame of mind/heart we find ourselves. It’s precisely what we need, no matter where we find ourselves. We are His, because He wills us to be. His own love, carries us to His side. )

ybic, Bryan

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The One Important Thing, Psalm 27:4

1thing-seeGod

4 “One thing I ask of the Lord; this I seek: To dwell in the Lord’s house all the days of my life, to gaze on the Lord’s beauty, to visit his temple.”

It’s interesting to compare this passage with other places in Scripture where one thing was emphasized. In Luke 10:41 Jesus tells Martha, who is anxious and worried about many things, that only one thing was necessary and Mary was doing just that: sitting at Christ’s feet and learning of him. In Philippians 3:13 and 14 the apostle Paul declares that he is focused on one thing and that is knowing Christ. All three of these passages have a common theme: they all emphasize the supreme good of pursuing an intimate relationship with God and his Son, Jesus.

Sometimes I don’t envy a new believer who’s entering the life of the church for the first time. Often they hear a cacophony of voices that will try to take them away from the one thing. Here’s a sampling:

(1) Sometimes a relationship with Christ is emphasized but not as an end in itself, but, instead, as a means to some other end. This is like the people in the crowd who followed Jesus around to see a miracle or to get another fill of the loaves and the fishes. They were way more into the gifts than the Giver of the gifts. The message here is “Come to Jesus and he will give you more financial security, a better marriage, and/or more success at work.” It’s not about him but what he can do for you. Christ is utilized but he is not worshipped.

(2) Part of the cacophony of voices a new believer is likely to hear are the many emphases that are trumpeted concerning the Christian life: evangelism, social justice, spiritual warfare, the love of God, tithing, etc.. These are all well and good but can lead one away from the one important thing if they are over–emphasized in an unhealthy manner. This is an error by emphasis.

(3) Anything in the Christian life can become a “religious idol.”  Zealous adherence to a particular doctrine or devotion to a particular church denomination can eclipse our devotion to Christ if we’re not careful. Many people think they are home free when they’ve given up their secular idols (e.g., Money, Sex, and Power), but religious idols can be just as corrosive to our souls.

(4) Related to (2) and (3) and  is what some have called “Bible–olatry.” Jesus told the religious leaders of his day that they search the Scriptures to find life but they wouldn’t come to him and sit at his feet as Mary did and find that life. They were lost in the wonders of exegesis or more accurately “exit Jesus.” In all their Bible studies, somehow Jesus had left the building. Bible study should be merely a means to this end: fervent devotion to Christ.

In Revelation 3:20 Jesus says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” What’s sometimes overlooked is that this was addressed to Christians, not unbelievers. May God give us the grace, amidst a cacophony of voices, to eschew both secular and religious idols and open the door to communion with him.

If you like this post by Jonathan, you may also like his new book, Letters from Fawn Creek, that can be purchased at this link:

https://www.tatepublishing.com/bookstore/book.php?w=9781628542035

Letters from Fawn Creek

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ybic, Jonathan

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Facing a Wall: Psalm 18:29

wall-berlin

“In your strength I can crush an army; with my God I can scale any wall.”

Psalm 18:29, NLT

 

“With your help I can attack an army. With God’s help I can jump over a wall.”

Psalm 18:29, NCV

David understood the issues.  He knew instinctively what he was facing.  He would be confronting a spiteful and malevolent troop, that wanted nothing but death.  It was a concentrated hatred, an evil directed right after him.  ‘A troop’ that would try to deny him any victory whatsoever.

There was a sense that God had to be involved.  David was very perceptive.  He fully understood that it was only through God’s active help would he ever advance against the enemy.  As he hurled his armies toward the troop, he knew that any victory was going to have to be God’s victory.

There was absolutely no room for confusion or doubt.  He went forward because God told him to.  God had given him the ability to advance against the enemy.  He adds an interesting personal dimension– ‘with my God I can scale a wall’.

The ultimate defense was the wall.  If it was tall enough– and strong enough– it was the almost perfect barrier against any attack.  David was claiming that God was giving him complete access to the enemies strength.  A wall could be pretty incredible — and quite formidable.  But David was making his faith impenetrable.

“Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.”

Ephesians 6:13, NLT

wall-tinyPsalm 18 pushes us to a place where we honor God by present victories.  You and I advance against satanic darkness.  The Holy Spirit has equipped and protected us against the dark one.  We already have the victory against him.  We must advance by faith, resting in confidence of our God against the prince of darkness.

“You have established a new relationship with the powers of darkness. Whatever you were before you were a Christian… you are now a sworn foe of the legions of hell. Have no delusions about their reality or their hostility, but do not fear them. The God inside you terrifies them. They cannot hurt you, but they can still seduce, and they will try.”

John White

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ybic, Bryan

kyrie elesion.

What Our Blessings Look Like: Psalm 128

A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem.

 1 Happy are those who respect the Lord and obey him.
 2 You will enjoy what you work for, 
       and you will be blessed with good things.
 3 Your wife will give you many children, 
       like a vine that produces much fruit. 
    Your children will bring you much good, 
       like olive branches that produce many olives.
 4 This is how the man who respects the Lord 
       will be blessed.
 5 May the Lord bless you from Mount Zion; 
       may you enjoy the good things of Jerusalem all your life. 
 6 May you see your grandchildren. 

    Let there be peace in Israel.

Psalm 128, NCV

This one of “the Psalms of Ascent” for pilgrims to sing as the travel to Jerusalem for the high hold feasts. They would walk, most from more than 70 miles. They would travel in large groups for safety against robbers and brigands. They would sing in unison, or in “rounds” using these psalms.

For us, we are making a spiritual journey, also from a long distance. And we too, have songs to sing. We travel hopefully, in groups as well. It’s interesting to note that what we sing should be of sound theology and an edifying quality. The experience of singing the truth joyfully would teach and strengthen the whole family in the profound idea of covenant.

Commentary

V. 1, is interesting because joy and fear are both present. Your joy is a result of your fear.You experience them both together. All joy, or all fear, apart from each other will be a disruption for us.  Notice this was to help us follow Him, when the road was challenging.

V.2, If we fear, we will find joy. We will enjoy what we do. There will be fruit which is always a great thing. Not to have it is very miserable, as it will always mean that something is wrong. Usually, that something is from v.1. They link together like train boxcars.

V. 3, has much to do with a single word, “contentment.” A whole lot of problems and sadness come our way because we are no longer content or at peace with ourselves. Obviously, when we are not happy, we no longer enjoy our life. Depression and despondency will take us down and ruin us. (I know this, firsthand.)

Wife, and children all flourish and grow. Perhaps that is a strong indicator of your spiritual health.  Family that is thriving. Sitting at our dinner table is a real treat. I enjoy this greatly and I’m learning to love it more and more.

V. 4 declares that this is the blessing God gives. It is intensely familial. It’s odd, but some of us who are married with children are still single in our hearts, and minds. Often we isolate ourselves, and keep away from our families, and this is wrong. If we persist in this, we lose the deep blessing of God on our lives.

V. 5-6 are like a water faucet you can’t turn off. Cold, fresh water gushes from the spout and doesn’t stop refreshing. And actually, this is not far from the truth. The idea of continuance and constancy may seem improbable to us. But, its very hard to turn God off. He gives and gives; and sometimes getting a drink is like trying to drink from a fire hose.

ybic, Bryan

kyrie elesion.

Loving the Father’s House: Psalm 84

1 How lovely is your dwelling place,
O Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
2 I long, yes, I faint with longing
to enter the courts of the Lord.
With my whole being, body and soul,
I will shout joyfully to the living God.
3 Even the sparrow finds a home,
and the swallow builds her nest and raises her  young at a place near your altar,
O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, my King and my God!
4 What joy for those who can live in your house,
always singing your praises.

 Psalm 84:1-4

There are some things that leave an indelible mark inside, deep on our souls.  For me, one instance I remember staying at Simpson College on Silver Ave. in San Francisco in June, 1986.  The dorms were empty and I had a whole floor to myself.  The campus was gorgeous.  I found a little “mom and pop” corner market nearby which had a awesome deli. Here I could buy cold cuts, cheese, braunschweiger  and fresh sourdough bread.   I returned to my room to build my sandwich.  I remember the windows were open and a beautiful breeze was there.  Good food, warm sun, flowers in bloom and the Holy Spirit are about ready to intersect in my life.

It was simply a moment I captured and savored.  Everything seemed to coincide, it was magical in the best sense of the word.  It was beautiful, that is all I can say.  That time in that dorm room has become a crystalline moment that I will never forget.  Right there, it seemed I fell in love, not with a girl, but with a moment in time and place.

That nostalgia is thick on the shoulders of the writer of Psalm 84.  He remembers and savors the memories of his visit to the temple.  He was given something in that particular moment that  would haunt him for the rest of his life.  In his thinking, the beauty of the temple could never ever be the same again.  The beauty of that experience was inviolable and true and could never be duplicated.  But it was his, and he would never forget.

God gives us moments, wrapped in wonder and awe.  His presence is very likely the ‘tipping point’ in these.  When He is present, a connecting link is made and we receive grace.  We will longingly look back on these moments when grace was so close.  The psalmist has the same hunger.  These moments in the temple which so blessed have also in a way, ruined him.   Special times of God’s presence have resulted in a sanctified dissatisfaction with the present.

When we finally make our way to Jesus, life takes on a curious wonder.  When the rain finally comes to the barren desert, an explosion of life bursts out.  In the exact same way, our lives get very green and lush.  This is in contrast to our dry and desperate life without His presence.

I am hungry for His presence.  I want to be in the center of wherever He is at.  I admit that His grace and love has spoiled me.  But the love of Jesus does this.  Normal life seems to be in ‘black & white,’ He turns it into a vibrant color.  The psalmist begs to be returned to the temple.  He wants to be there, with you, more then anything.

*

ybic, Bryan

God Never Plays “Hide & Seek”: Psalm 102:1-2

Come out, come out. Wherever you are!
Come out, come out. Wherever you are!

Do Not Hide Your Face from Me

A Prayer of one afflicted, when he is faint and pours out his complaint before the Lord.

102 “Hear my prayer, O Lord;
let my cry come to you!
Do not hide your face from me
    in the day of my distress!

Incline your ear to me;
    answer me speedily in the day when I call!”

Psalm 102:1-2, NLT

Affliction is the most common experience we will share. It seems that it is our natural environment, because we can be found there most of the time. Afflictions vary in intensity– from the casual, day-to-day stuff to the catastrophic. It’s good to be reminded of our common situation. It helps, a little.

I chose this psalm because of content and ‘heart.’ A quick read will reveal issues not normally discussed or pondered. It’s sort of like ‘super-gluing” your hand to the horn of an enraged rhino. You’re not sure where he’s going, but you’re going to get there very shortly.

Bible study is like that for me. The text I happen to be thinking about has incredible power. I sense it and I handle it, and I pray. Once I attach myself to the text, anything can happen. Responding to the Word can be exhilarating.

Commentary

V. 1, “Hear my prayer, O Lord;
let my cry come to you!”

Someone once said that just as breathing is to our physical bodies, prayer is the same to our spiritual ones. We must breathe. As a kid I remember having “breathing contests.” We would hold our breath for as long as it took to win. Weird, huh?

There is a definite need, as sure as anything, for each of us to fellowship with “the God of all comfort”.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

2 Corinthians 1:3-4, NKJV

There is a heart-cry that comes out of the spirit of the believer. The Hebrew word chosen in verse 1 is one of the most intense found. It’s not just “whimpering”, but it goes far beyond that. This “cry” is strenuous and strong. It is the cry of a broken heart.

The psalmist does not intend to waste his sorrows. The pain he is feeling may just rip him into two; but he knows and believes that it has eternal value and everlasting purpose. (He knows this because he has faith).

Our faith was never meant to be spiritual medals and ribbons for decoration. Rather faith is a life boat we are swimming to reach. It is what I call, “the desperation factor”.

V. 2,  “Do not hide your face from me in the day of my distress!

Incline your ear to me; answer me speedily in the day when I call!”

God does not play “hide and seek” with our hearts and souls. He absolutely loves it when His children are desperately looking for Him. He does not play tricks on us. We may have to walk in the dark, and have to listen through the cacophony of competing voices. But He is so close, “His eye is on the sparrow’.

There are often “time factors” that He uses. We will learn to wait. But waiting is first– never “passive.” We don’t need to go into a “spiritual hibernation” because things are quiet. Second– waiting does not mean “abandonment”.

The three Hebrew children stood in the furnace. This is the way they did executions back then. They stood in faith of a God who heard their prayers. They might as well have been standing in their bathrooms, as the fire couldn’t even singe them. The were so ‘insulated’ they didn’t even smell smokey.

But the king, peering through the walls of the furnace, could see a fourth man. The Lord God was quite present, even in this place of death.

*

ybic, Bryan

An Innate Sense of God Almighty: Psalm 4:6-8

There are many who say, “Who will show us some good?
     Lift up the light of your face upon us, O Lord!”
You have put more joy in my heart
    than they have when their grain and wine abound.

In peace I will both lie down and sleep;
    for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.

Psalm 4:6-8, ESV

Overall, I would suggest that quite a few people have an innate sense of God. They will posture and be dramatically opposed to Him, but this is mostly a magnificently constructed ‘smoke-screen.’ Take it deep down however, and they almost believe.

We desperately want God’s favor, but things don’t go beyond that. We know we need shelter, but not at the expense of our “freedom.” We have a vague understanding of His love, but we insist on our own autonomy.  It seems that we can never ‘relax’ but we are always being judged. This is not the environment for faith to grow.

Commentary

V. 6, “There are many who say, “Who will show us some good?
     Lift up the light of your face upon us, O Lord!”

The “many” is  certainly good news. But it seldom translates into something life changing. Seeking Him is never a hobby, or a possible move toward respectability. What we are dealing with is a superficial faith that is barren and infertile.

Men love the idea of God. And there is considerable effort to accommodate His presence  (but almost  never His call ‘to be holy.’) We desperately want to be good, but never really godly.  We take what we want, and avoid the rest.

V. 7  “You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.”

Joy is really the outcome of a surrendered life. Joy must start from God, and it then flourishes in our hearts. David is making a comparison here.  He understands the excited joy over the exceptional harvest. It is indescribable, the thrill of having a super abundance, within the character of God.

Joy is a wonderful place, it is a very deep sense of happiness, mixed with obedience. We must understand, that God is really the only one who can bring us joy. He is the exclusive source and purveyor of joy. We must meet His terms if we are to experience it.

V.8, “In peace I will both lie down and sleep;
    for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”

We have considered joy, now we must consider peace. For me, coming to the point of having ‘peace with God’ was very powerful. After many years of warfare and conflict against God, I arrived at a place where peace was waiting. We signed the treaty, and peace now ruled.

When we ‘sleep’ we are quite vulnerable. We curl up in a ball, and we lose consciousness  and awareness. We become quite vulnerable. But we are assured that we will be safe and secure, even in this vulnerable and sensitive place. His definite peace will be a real and substantial guard for us, and over us.

***

ybic, Bryan

Fortress Thinking: Psalm 27:1-2

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
    so why should I be afraid?
The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger,
    so why should I tremble?
When evil people come to devour me,
    when my enemies and foes attack me,
    they will stumble and fall.

Psalm 27:1-2

I remember seeing a “Maypole” when I was a wee one. I was mesmerized by it. The girls in their brightly colored lacy dresses, walking around the pole. They wound the ribbons as they walked.  And its funny, but in many ways this formulated my thinking about the Church of Jesus.

We are all tethered to one center point, and we follow each other (as we follow Christ.) There is a certain beauty present, a wonderful rhythm of grace. Each participant is involved, and responsible to a large degree to keep a smooth and even pace. Each of us should have a connection to God. And He is our center. We are on the periphery.

Commentary

V. 1, “The Lord is my light and my salvation—
    so why should I be afraid?”

Please note the repeated phrase in vv. 1-2, “So why.” First this establishes who God is to us  (“my light and salvation”.) And second, how will I respond to what’s happening to us. So why should I get scared and upset?

We need to have a spiritual ballast, especially today. If you have the weight in your boat, it won’t be as effected by the waves and wind.

“The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger,
    so why should I tremble?”

One of the most formidable aspects of defensive warfare is the “fortress.” It provides security, supplies and protection behind very thick and high walls. ‘So why should I freak out and panic? I’m completely surrounded by His light and love.

V. 2, “When evil people come to devour me,
    when my enemies and foes attack me,
    they will stumble and fall.”

Such assurance! A ebullient confidence in all that God is doing (and will be doing.) This may seem arrogant and haughty, but faith is none of this.

“Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.”

Hebrews 11:1, NLT

 Evil enemies sole purpose is to destroy God and His people. If it seems like all of hell is presently attacking you, only faith will carry the day. A faith we have in His power and love.

“That darkness you’re experiencing now, oh that’s more than earth darkness. It is from an enemy who cannot stand resistance, but who is rendered powerless by the blood of Jesus Christ. So, make sure that you’re fighting the right enemy and you’re using the right weapons.” Ron Hutchcraft

ybic, Bryan

Teaching the World to Sing: Psalm 67:1-4

Art by Lynda Finch

For the choir director: A song. A psalm, to be accompanied by stringed instruments.

May God be merciful and bless us.
    May his face smile with favor on us.  Interlude

May your ways be known throughout the earth,
    your saving power among people everywhere.
May the nations praise you, O God.
    Yes, may all the nations praise you.
Let the whole world sing for joy,
    because you govern the nations with justice
    and guide the people of the whole world.  Interlude

This very liturgical psalm was part of the temple ceremony. Within it we learn much about entering the presence of God, after all that is its exclusive purpose. When we learn to read this way, we are tutored on how to behave in the presence of royalty.

This psalm was meant to be sung. It carries all those unique attributes that sets it apart. Most of Jewish temple singing was almost exclusively “antiphony.” What this means is the choir would alternate verses, each taking the lead from the other. They would also step up the temple stairs, while singing. All of it was done from memory. Often a musician would lead with a lyre, or what ever stringed instrument they had.

Commentary

V. 1, “May God be merciful and bless us.
    May his face smile with favor on us.  Interlude”

If you recognize this verse it’s because it is the High Priest’s blessing of Numbers 6:24-26. This prayer invokes God’s blessing on His people.

24‘May the Lord bless you
and protect you.
25 May the Lord smile on you
and be gracious to you.
26 May the Lord show you his favor
and give you his peace.’

Invocation is a powerful way of communicating God’s grace and kindness. It bestows prosperity and goodness, to worship God as good, to receive his goodness and announce it to others. The theme of “blessing,” saturates this definition.

However, it is not “magical,” but it is “covenant.” Our God is intensely committed to us through this mechanism. We celebrate His faithfulness, by our obedience to Him through His Word.

V. 2, “ May your ways be known throughout the earth,
    your saving power among people everywhere.”

Reading the blessing in V. 1, we find ourselves asking what our next step is to be.  Simply put, we are blessed so we can be a blessing. We really shouldn’t see ourselves as the “reason” God’s favor is given to us. V.2 is best understood as our prayer on behalf  of God for “people everywhere.” Many blaspheme God, because believers give out sin and darkness, instead of light.

V. 3, “May the nations praise you, O God.
    Yes, may all the nations praise you.”

This is the Christian worldview. And it is the nations that belong to Him. God doesn’t share the nations. I recently read an article that suggested that Haiti had satanic connections, and was therefore cursed. I find that very hard to believe. God loves people, He loves Haitians. God loves the culture of Haiti.

V. 4, “Let the whole world sing for joy,
    because you govern the nations with justice
    and guide the people of the whole world.  Interlude”

This is the direction we are heading. The countries have a certain destiny to fulfill. It’s ironic, but everyone is to sing. What started on the steps of the temple is meant to reverberate through to the nations. We are meant to sing.

ybic, Bryan

Art Courtesy of Linda Finch

http://lyndafinchart.com/index.html

Worship Always: Psalm 34:1-2

I will bless the LORD at all times;

His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul shall make its boast in the LORD;
The humble shall hear of it and be glad.  

–Psalm 34:1-2

This Psalm manuevers us to face the uncomfortable position of a mute discipleship.  This particular Psalm is written by David himself when he had to act insane before Abimelech, in order to escape the Philistine king.  However David writes of “blessing the Lord at all times”.

“All times” praise is a characteristic that is rare in this generation of men.  It appears that “all-times-worship” is contrary to the normal Christian experience.  You see, it’s easy to rejoice when things are good.  We worship well when the sun is shining, and birds are singing.  Our hearts dance in the springtime when we pick the first bouquet of wild flowers.

But it can get dark, the thunderstorms roll in, things just seem gritty and grimy.  We resort to play-acting (like David did) and covering up.  I think what ultimately saved David was his ability to praise “at all times”.  No matter how ugly things turned, David would be found with “His praise continually in my mouth” (v. 2).

Seeing David’s brush with death should create within us a confidence that we too can overcome.  When we worship “at all times”, we realize a victory that is already won for us.  We begin to praise and mysteriously there are protective walls that surround us.  It’s like we walk into a spiritual sheath of love and grace.

A drastic and enveloping glory stands before us.  It may come as a shock but our Father God treasures us, and we are of considerable spiritual value to Him.  He sent out His Son into the night to find us and retrieve us when we were so lost.  Our enemies, who anticipated torturing and destroying our souls, are struck down by the fact that our hearts & mouths are full of praise and worship. This is simply contrary to reason.

No matter what happens; no matter what the struggle– worship, a continuous stream of praise, becomes part of our make-up, our character.  Yet when we worship at these devilish moments that come, we display the Glory and Power of God to the world.  Let us consider this– we were created to worship our Father.

ybic, Bryan

 

 

God Inspired Holiness: Psalm 141:1—4, ESV

“O Lord, I call upon you; hasten to me!
 Give ear to my voice when I call to you!
Let my prayer be counted as incense before you,
    and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice!

Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth;
     keep watch over the door of my lips!
Do not let my heart incline to any evil,
    to busy myself with wicked deeds
in company with men who work iniquity,
    and let me not eat of their delicacies!”

Psalm 141:1—4, ESV

I’ve gotten feedback, which is great, but it has been suggested that my posts are too long, and that maybe true. But I have decided to cut down the selection of verses handled to make it a bit easier on you. Teachers have a strong tendency to overwork their mules. LOL.

This is one of David’s.  We will just consider a couple of verses in this post.  There is a potency in these first verses. They are like “Miracle Grow” for our hearts and souls. After working it in the soil, everything gets very green, very fast.

Commentary

V. 1, I suppose “call” is the prominent word in this verse. When we decide to intiate contact with the Lord, we think it is we who start the dialogue. (There is a doctrine of Christian theology that teaches the doctrine of prevenient grace, which briefly stated means this, that very often before a man can seek God, God must first have sought the man.)

We are being sought, like a pesky salesman at our door, our Father is incredibly persistent. He wants in, and keeps ringing our bell, and won’t go away. He calls us, before we call Him. Continually throughout scripture, we are commanded to “seek the Lord.” But we are only responding to His efforts to reach us. God is always first.

V. 2,  Let my prayer be counted as incense before you,
    and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice!”

David equates his prayer with what was going on in the temple. Incense and  the sacrifice had a curious equivalence. Also, this would link his prayer life to the very essence of the priesthood. Prayer should be understood in this framework, but quite often we don’t acknowledge this reality. Offer a calf, or say a prayer, it is pretty much the same thing.

V. 3, Perhaps this is a weak point in his life. He is seeking help for guarding his heart and his mouth (don’t we all?)  and He goes directly into the presence of God for help. Quite often we need direct intervention on our tongue. The Almighty has to step in to restrain and guide our words.

V. 4, “Do not let my heart incline to any evil,
    to busy myself with wicked deeds
in company with men who work iniquity,
    and let me not eat of their delicacies!”

Some believers make their own personal holiness there primary life issue. They live to be holy, however this misses the mark. Now don’t get me wrong, holiness of life should be sought, but there is much more. The psalmist realizes that God must take quite a bit of responsibility. He is the active element in v. 4. He is doing the “heavy lifting” here. The desire that David has, all that he wants to happen is God’s action and grace. He works very hard to enable us to get through sin.

ybic, Bryan

Precious and Weighty: Psalm 139:17-18

17 “How precious are your thoughts about me,[b] O God.
    They cannot be numbered!
18 I can’t even count them;
    they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up,
    you are still with me!”

Psalm 139:17-18, NLT

David continues to sing to God. I consider it a definite privilege to read these lyrics of love, between a man and His God. It is profoundly intimate and should be read with that awareness. There are veins of precious ores infused inside. I honestly think we have just a tad (and a small one at that) of what the implications really are.

When we read it should be 1) physically, pick up the book and start reading. 2) Read with your intellect, and think. 3) Emotionally, strip away everything and enter into the emotional sense that is almost always there. 4) And of course spiritually. Learn to see the hidden realities that are laying there waiting for you. These four things really should be present.

Commentary

V. 17,  “How precious and weighty also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them!” (AMP)

We are dropping in on David’s awe filled realization. But it’s much more then that. Have you ever had one of those “aha! moments? The lights start flashing, and it’s suddenly and profoundly clear. The Bible uses the word, revelation or epiphany. It is when the words jump off the page right at you. The Holy Spirit does this for all of God’s dear ones.

“Precious and weighty” is a great choice of words both of quality and quantity. God is thinking such gentle and special thoughts toward us. There will never be any thoughts that are ugly, evil or hurtful. Only precious thoughts. There is also a sense of weight, or mass, (bulk,I suppose?) The thoughts are not “tinker-toy” but “super-sized”, and there is a real immensity and strength in them.

When the Spirit ignites in Davids heart, and this revelation comes busting in, David staggers under the reality. We see the quality and quantity of God’s thoughts about us, and we see  they are extensive. (And it’s revelation time!)

V. 18, “If I could count them, they would be more in number than the sand. When I awoke, [could I count to the end] I would still be with You.” (AMP)

It seems David had been to the beach, as he uses the metaphor of the seashore. Nature often helps explain God truth. It is probably the best way. But David sees the sand, and he imagines all of the sand on all of the beaches of this world. And he connects the natural with the spiritual and he instantly understands what God is like.

This observation can be compared to when Elijah built his altar on Mt. Carmel. (1 Kings 18). He stacked the stones, piled on the wood and then offered up the sacrifice. He then waited. God came down and fire ignited it all. I think this wonderfully illustrates this process of His revelation. You must build, but then you must pray and wait. You must wait for the fire!

That is pretty close to what happens when the natural comes in contact with the supernatural. “Fire!”

ybic, Bryan

Night Vision: Psalm 139:13-16, NLT

But even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
Darkness and light are the same to you.

13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16 You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.

Psalm 139:13-16, NLT

The known (and unknown) universe is thoroughly known by Jehovah God. After all He is the Architectural and Contractor of vast galaxies we have yet to discover. And there are billions.

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2011/12/universe-size/

Commentary

V. 12, invisibility will never be the lot of the believer. Even the blackest night is like a bright spotlight that easily penetrates the gloom of midnight. “Darkness and light are the same to you.” God will never be hampered by the loss of visibility or dullness of perception. He even catches the tiniest of details. .

V. 13, carries the bulk of scripture on personal creation. Each of are very exclusive, “one-of-a-kind” creatures. As a fetus in your mother’s womb, God knit you together. He actually crocheted you. Your brain, spine, and your hands and eyes, this is amazing!

V. 14, “Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.”

The idea of complexity really throws us as humans. As ideas and thoughts grow in intricacy we are forced to find outside help. My laptop that I’m writing on right now is incredibly smart. It does thousands of hard things very fast. David uses two words of interest– wonderful and marvelous.

V. 15, He is watching, seeing the little details of fetal development. Recently much has been made of babies being born in a test tube. The principle is alien to my thinking. But I also know that medical advances can take on a strange cast. I think about x-rays, blood transfusions and penicillin and how amazing it all seemed in its day. I suppose if it has “life” then God is involved.

V. 16, “You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.”

There a sense of details being set up in advance, so a schedule is planned. God has given us an itinerary to follow.

1) There is an intimacy involved. 2) There is a book of records. 3) Things come in days– sequential and chronological. 4) This all has been a long time ago, by a God who loves us.

Ybic,

Bryan

His Dear Spirit: Psalm 139:7-12

7 Where can I go to get away from your Spirit? 
       Where can I run from you? 
 8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there. 
       If I lie down in the grave, you are there.
 9 If I rise with the sun in the east 
       and settle in the west beyond the sea,
 10 even there you would guide me. 
       With your right hand you would hold me. 

 11 I could say, “The darkness will hide me. 
       Let the light around me turn into night.” 
 12 But even the darkness is not dark to you. 
       The night is as light as the day; 
       darkness and light are the same to you. 

Psalm 139:7-12, NCV

 Living with someone who has answers for everything is quite frustrating. “The-know-it-alls” can be very bothersome, especially when they are on a roll. They are compelled to share everything they know on any subject they can think of.

Our heavenly Father knows and comprehends everything. He is fully observant and exceptionally aware . Nothing catches Him by surprise. And this remarkable God is now thinking and focusing on you. In the light of this– what can we say?

Commentary

V.7, the psalmist is curious, he elevates God (and never reduces Him). The very fact that God is so active is something quite profound. He completely understands you. Perfectly.

V.8, focuses on the range of His understanding. He sees all and is quite focused on us. No matter where we go, He has already proceeded us. He moves ahead of us, and we have no comprehension. (And if we do, it is fully in His mercy.)

V.9-10,  “ If I rise with the sun in the east 
       and settle in the west beyond the sea,
 10 even there you would guide me. 
       With your right hand you would hold me. “

“Compass talk.”  What is the circumference of love? We find ourselves wrapped in a solid kindness. God is quite active in our hearts. His close presence challenges us directly. Thinking through this particular verse, we do realize that He does rule over us.

 V. 11-12, “I could say, “The darkness will hide me.
Let the light around me turn into night.”
12 But even the darkness is not dark to you.
The night is as light as the day;
darkness and light are the same to you. I could say, “The darkness will hide me. 

       Let the light around me turn into night.” 
 12 But even the darkness is not dark to you. 
       The night is as light as the day; 
       darkness and light are the same to you. “

There is a definite sense of God engaging us. He simply doesn’t resort to moving  us into His presence. Any darkness we have is not from Him. All that we consider a blessing has a deep work inside of us. The dark and the light are significant to us. We advance by a brutal kind of excellence.

“Darkness and light are the same to you,” Simply put, we comtain a profound presence in all that He desires. We focus on what He gives. We determine His dear and special grace. And we are blessed.

Turn to the Light: Psalms 32:6–11

6 Therefore let everyone who is godly 
   offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found; 
surely in the rush of great waters, 
   they shall not reach him. 
7 You are a hiding place for me; 
   you preserve me from trouble; 
   you surround me with shouts of deliverance. 
                         Selah

 8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; 
   I will counsel you with my eye upon you. 
9 Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, 
   which must be curbed with bit and bridle, 
   or it will not stay near you.

 10 Many are the sorrows of the wicked, 
   but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the LORD.
11 Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous, 
   and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!

Psalms 32:6–11, ESV

The second part of Psalms 32 carries a significant weight for the Christian. What we read also defines us as believers. In the first part of our examination we discovered the joy that comes when we repent and confess, and are forgiven.

 (You can read the first part at http://psalmslife.com/2012/02/08/alongshadowps-32/.)
 

This half of the Psalm continues the deep theme of forgiveness. David has much to say and teach us. We are given a gift of incredible worth, as these verses are impregnated with truth and insights. What this gives you can’t be minimized, as you read with understanding, you are given something profound. This is really and truly not anything you have seen before.

Commentary

V. 6, this is “high ground.” Here in Alaska we have signs posted that guide us to safety in the event of a tsunami. David understands that prayer is essential at this point. When things seem to be getting wet, you can be “high and dry.”

V. 7, this is a loud proclamation of a confident faith. David, just a few verses ago is a real skunk, just declares that God pays him protection. Notice the “you” is repeated. This kind of safety can only be found in a person, “preserved” and “surrounded.”

V. 8–9, this describes the life of individual guidance. This is critical in this day of misplaced signposts and flawed compasses. The words “instruct” and “counsel” are used purposely. But, we definitely need this level of direction. He has a special eye for you. I think that is pretty cool.

Dumb horses or mules usually require bits and bridles, as they are not fully domesticated. They still have a “wild streak” deep down. I suppose it is a trifle demeaning to be labeled this way. But that is clearly God’s words to describe our condition in a way that we can grasp. The idea of proximity and closeness is floated out there. Intimacy or nearness to God are special graces given to obedient people.

V. 10,  a verse of contrast, the wicked and the godly. We see pain, and we see the person enveloped in a “steadfast love.” Being surrounded is usually a bad thing, but for the believer it is the best thing to happen to us.

V. 11, we are returning to the  “joy idea” first encountered in the first verses. But it’s far more than an idea, it is real. Joy is the exclusive bonus of the Christian. It is part of what the Father gives us. If you don’t believe me, just start singing to the Lord.