I Must Have Mercy! Psalms 6

A Prayer for Mercy in Troubled Times
For the director of music. With stringed instruments. Upon the sheminith. A psalm of David.

 1 Lord, don’t correct me when you are angry; 
       don’t punish me when you are very angry.
 2 Lord, have mercy on me because I am weak. 
       Heal me, Lord, because my bones ache.
 3 I am very upset. 
       Lord, how long will it be? 

 4 Lord, return and save me; 
       save me because of your kindness. 
 5 Dead people don’t remember you; 
       those in the grave don’t praise you. 

 6 I am tired of crying to you. 
       Every night my bed is wet with tears; 
       my bed is soaked from my crying. 
 7 My eyes are weak from so much crying; 
       they are weak from crying about my enemies. 

 8 Get away from me, all you who do evil, 
       because the Lord has heard my crying. 
 9 The Lord has heard my cry for help; 
       the Lord will answer my prayer.
 10 All my enemies will be ashamed and troubled. 
       They will turn and suddenly leave in shame.

 

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This is the first seven “penitential” psalms written by David. Residing within each psalm the themes of regret, and contriteness, brokenness and self reproach. However, you could say these emotions are the engines that push David’s faith, especially at this particular moment.

Many of us understand these, at least to some degree. These psalms are especially prized by those of us in ‘liturgical services’, with some of these seven read aloud every Sunday. The first few verses of this work contain words like “correction” and “anger.” (The NCV also uses the word “punish.”)

In Hebrews 12, we see that God definitely intervenes into the lives of His own. He corrects, working to adjust us according to His will. The basis of this is relationship between a Father, and a son or daughter. There is harsh correction at times, as we learn how to behave. If He loves you, and you are His son, you will be corrected. Love and discipline are working together, side by side.

 

Commentary

V. 1, Correction and punishment have become very significant issues to David. They begin to engage him and he is aware that things can get quite turbulent.  Anger on any level can warrant our attention. But when God gets angry, it can be lethal.

V. 2, 3 mercy is a very precious commodity at this moment. And it is all that he wants.  Mercy is never deserved, it can’t be earned, it just is given. It is clemency and generosity blended together. David knows this about God, and he “plays the mercy card.” David knows God, he just doesn’t always obey Him.

“How long will it be?” shows a desire to get things on track, and soon.  Waiting for God to decide can be traumatic. Separation from Him is profoundly painful.

“The golden rule for understanding in spiritual matters is not intellect, but obedience.”

    Oswald Chambers

V. 4,  5 these verses fit together like puzzle pieces. David, when faced with his own depraved actions, turns and calls out for deliverance from the consequences. The key word in v. 4 is “kindness.” And this is exactly what he is aiming for.

The obvious meaning is that death and the grave end all possibility of change. The word is “Sheol.” A Hebrew word describing the grave, where the unsaved are placed when they die. Once there, you are “locked in” with no possibility of changing. Ultimately, it is the complete divorce from God’s presence and that without remedy.

V. 6, 7  Crying. Crying. Crying, Crying. It appears that remorse and grief are now the whole of David’s theology. And David is fatigued by it. Grief is exhausting. It is so intense and consuming, it wears you out. Jesus in the NT had much to say about grieving our sin. About brokenness, and mourning. He made it the starting point of a real Christian life.

“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

C.S. Lewis

V.8 is a needful stop in a believer’s life. We must pull into this place. It is here that separation takes place. I leave the world by deliberate choice. I have no intentions of following sinners in their rebellion.  “I see dead people” was a line from the movie, “The Sixth Sense. Sadly, it works well here.

V.  9, 10 we see the use  in verse 9, of the past tense. And I must say that this is a relief. Mercy has been shown, but only when it is appealed to.  There is a deep confidence that is quite opposite of some earlier verses.

David shines a spotlight on the strategies of evil people who have afflicted him. He enjoys the idea of evil being stripped and defeated. Today, I think it is completely appropriate to include your spiritual enemies in this equation, and throughout the psalms when this is mentioned.

*

ybic, Bryan

 

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A Very Long Shadow: Psalm 32:1-5

A Maskil of David.

 1 Oh, what joy for those 
      whose disobedience is forgiven, 
      whose sin is put out of sight! 
 2 Yes, what joy for those 
      whose record the LORD has cleared of guilt,[b] 
      whose lives are lived in complete honesty! 
 3 When I refused to confess my sin, 
      my body wasted away, 
      and I groaned all day long. 
 4 Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me. 
      My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat. 
                         Interlude

 5 Finally, I confessed all my sins to you 
      and stopped trying to hide my guilt. 
   I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the LORD.” 
      And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone. 

Psalm 32:1-5, NCV

What really is your source of joy? We can look and find many possibilities around us. Family, hobbies, work, music or art.  But there is far more than just that.  I believe that our deepest source of joy is the forgiveness of God for our sin. King David enters fully into this experience. I contend that joyful Christians  are those intensely aware of their salvation from sin.

This was St. Augustine’s favorite psalm, and he had it written on the wall next to his death bed, so he could read it over and over. This psalm is a “maskil,” which defined it as a teaching psalm. I think David saw his sins (2 Samuel 11) as something to be learned from. His evil was sufficient to bring him the death penalty, according to levitical law. He became an active teacher of redemption.

This is a companion psalm with Psalm 51. That psalm is a “jack-hammer” and this one is the shovel. There is a sharp breaking in  51. We learn how powerful repentance is really. But in 32 we clean the mess up. David is now our model, and from the nastiness of his past life will come life. Someone once wrote the truth as he saw it:

“We were all whores before Jesus touched and forgave us”

 

Commentary

V.1, communicates a blessing, or having special favor with God. If you don’t want blessing, your nuts! It is one of those things we are all searching for deep down, but now it has a name.  When you have it, nothing else will really matter. The word “joy” is actively used. And so is “disobedience” and “sin.” But the most significant word is “forgiven.”

V. 2, when you repeat yourself it is usually to make a point. It makes what your saying emphatic. There is wagon full of joy here. But it is only for “guilt cleared people.” Once I had a police record, and actually spent a night in jail. Things were put on my record, which was inviolable, I couldn’t change a thing on it.

V. 3-4, there seems to be a deep reluctance and a dark aversion to admitting our true state. We avoid doing this at all costs. We will not be labeled! But there are very clear consequences to this constant posturing. Our lives become hollowed out shells, full of darkness, sickness and grief. This is the price we pay to live a false life.

There is a real sense that God is in on this. It seems that He is concentrating on us, we are God’s target. All His arrows are meant for us, we turn and God is right on our tails. He is taking all the credit for this miserable state we’re in.

V. 5, perhaps this belongs in the special collection of wonderful verses. It is a sponge that is completely saturated with light. “Finally, I confessed…” There are limits to what we can handle. We end up agreeing with God. “Stopped trying to hide.” And we are such good hiders, we can hide so well we end up lost even to our own selves.

There is a profound sense of amazement here. Confession brings it to us. But to be so lost, and than found is staggering. It changes everything. “You forgave me! All my guilt is gone.” Realizing this will bring you incredible peace and joy. You will never, ever find it anywhere else.

 

Escaping Death, Psalms 116

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Thanksgiving for Escaping Death

 1 I love the Lord, 

       because he listens to my prayers for help.
 2 He paid attention to me, 
       so I will call to him for help as long as I live.
 3 The ropes of death bound me, 
       and the fear of the grave took hold of me. 
       I was troubled and sad.
 4 Then I called out the name of the Lord. 
       I said, “Please, Lord, save me!” 

 5 The Lord is kind and does what is right; 
       our God is merciful. 
 6 The Lord watches over the foolish; 
       when I was helpless, he saved me.
 7 I said to myself, “Relax, 
       because the Lord takes care of you.”
 8 Lord, you saved me from death. 
       You stopped my eyes from crying; 
       you kept me from being defeated.
 9 So I will walk with the Lord 
       in the land of the living.
 10 I believed, so I said, 
       “I am completely ruined.”
 11 In my distress I said, 
       “All people are liars.” 

 12 What can I give the Lord 
       for all the good things he has given to me? 
 13 I will lift up the cup of salvation, 
       and I will pray to the Lord.
 14 I will give the Lord what I promised 
       in front of all his people. 

 15 The death of one that belongs to the Lord 
       is precious in his sight. 
 16 Lord, I am your servant; 
       I am your servant and the son of your female servant. 
       You have freed me from my chains.
 17 I will give you an offering to show thanks to you, 
       and I will pray to the Lord.
 18 I will give the Lord what I promised 
       in front of all his people, 
 19 in the Temple courtyards 
       in Jerusalem. 

    Praise the Lord!

Really, no one knows for sure who the writer of Psalm 116 was. Some advance the idea that it was Hezekiah,and others firmly believe it was David. What I see that it was probably the former, but hey– all I know it was a godly man with a holy perspective regarding many things.

This Psalm is quite profound. It also has a deep awareness of things that are significant. We see that the writer has a discernment and awareness to see his heart and the things that are important. Psalm 116 is a masterpiece, the writer “shapes” things that are significant, and then he intends to let us know what he has been processing. And it’s a beauty!

Because of the length of this particular psalm I will simply attempt to think about it in a broader  sense.

Commentary

V.1 is a declaration to the world of his relationship to the Father. Things are quite obvious and exceptionally clear about things that really matter. The psalmist puts tremendous value on an attentive deity.

Vv. 2-4, comes directly at us,  the writer seems to be terribly aware of two things. The first, is the Father’s awareness of his cry. He is sadly desperate and quite aware that everything he calls out for, hinges on the Father’s action on his behalf.

The Father builds within him a confidence and assurance. The writer fully understands the myriad of attack on his soul. He sees cords that are wrapped on him. These cords are quite problematic, and to emphasize this situation he develops a deep and sincere “fear of death and dying.” Many believers, who are aware and sure, “hiccup” at this point. Death can never be handled without faith. But there is a breakthrough of sorts. He pierces his own apathy and finds his voice.  Quivering and quavering his voice is heard in the halls of heaven, “Please, Lord, save me!” 

Vv. 5-7 creates an assurance of the character of God. All that he knows about Him is that He can be trusted, no matter what! The key words are “kind”, “right” and “merciful”. This knowledge does not come to us except by the dealings of God inside our hearts.

V. 8 illuminates the realization that God has intervened, “saved” and “stopped” and “kept”. These are not minor things. They all require an action of God. He is the only one who can intervene. All I can say, is that His active presence changes everything.

V. 9 is the quiet sense of a person who is trusting the Father to be the Father.

V. 10-11 are difficult. They don’t work out smoothly in our New Testament theology of faith. Today, when we read them they are chopped up and rather odd. I suppose we can try to milk “the old cow” but I don’t think we will get much.

V. 12-14 shouts “gratitude”. Somehow the work of the Holy Spirit has done something. The writer jumps into this place where he enters his gratitude and appreciation of everything that has been done for him. He seems eager to show the goodness that has now come his way. There is a sense here of declaring to others the work of God inside his heart. If necessary he will do this publicly.

V. 15, this is indeed a revelation. Many of us wrestle almost continually with the subject of “death.” In hard moments, we struggle quite deeply (and yet subliminally) with dying. It is the dog who can’t stop nibbling at our heels.

V. 16 is nothing less then a declaration. In the mind of the writer, he knows his place. He won’t reach for the “top shelf”. He absolutely understands who he is and isn’t. Such a work is being done that he would never ever dream of being someone he really isn’t.

V. 17 is his declaration that the Father has done an exceptional work inside. The writer knows this, and he just won’t let it slide away. His life becomes deeply saturated with “thanks” and “prayer.” And then I say “whoa!” My own life is quite shallow, and it comes no where close to the psalmist

V. 18, “I will give the Lord what I promised  in front of all his people” Sometimes we , out of necessity, punch out the things which are not only important, but quite significant. “Giving” is a key word. And “promised” is another. (Strange, they are so close to each other, in this verse.) But the writer doesn’t process these issues, he only flows with them.

V. 19 focuses us at whatever might happen. The writer completely understands the importance and the significance of God’s Temple in Jerusalem. In a sense, he solidifies this particular place, as the accurate arena where all of the above is processed and configured. It all ends with a “praise to the Lord.” I suppose that ultimately this is the place we all end up. We are “praiser’s” or we are not.

ybic,

Bryan

 

I Wear Myself Out With Desire: Psalm 119:17-24

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17 Do good to me, your servant, so I can live, 
       so I can obey your word. 
18 Open my eyes to see 
       the miracles in your teachings. 
19 I am a stranger on earth. 
       Do not hide your commands from me. 
20 I wear myself out with desire 
       for your laws all the time. 
21 You scold proud people; 
       those who ignore your commands are cursed. 
22 Don’t let me be insulted and hated 
       because I keep your rules. 
23 Even if princes speak against me, 
       I, your servant, will think about your demands. 
24 Your rules give me pleasure; 
       they give me good advice. 

Psalm 119:17-24, NCV

Perhaps we wear ourselves out too quickly, as we advance on something good and true. We do try to step up, but we find a need for endurance. Our culture seems to ‘spoon feed’ us, we are sorely lacking in anything that requires any kind of spiritual stamina. From this mindset we simply can’t ever come up with anything fresh or certain. So we just let it slide. We bring it out without any kind of personal adjustments or demands.

I’m convinced we can face Him without any deceitfulness. But somehow we still can’t seem to grasp truth as we should. We seem to live in a ‘bubble’ of our own making. This is a profound sadness, and an incredible loss. We really can’t work tethered to the unreal. As I consider all of this, I must escape this unreality and turn to His sweet goodness into a certain faith.

Sometimes it seems we separate ‘grace’ from effort. But the psalmist suggests we work, “wearing ourselves out with desire.” Perhaps this is asking too much from this generation? What ‘value’ do we put on apprehending the Word? Yes, we are saved by grace– yet is there room for seeking His Word passionately?

 

Psalm 34:4-7, Of Tailors and Cobblers

Prayer of the Abandoned Man
© Matthew Fitzke
http://www.matthewfitzke.com

4 I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me.     He freed me from all my fears. Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy;     no shadow of shame will darken their faces. In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened;     he saved me from all my troubles. For the angel of the Lord is a guard;     he surrounds and defends all who fear him.”

Psalm 34:4-7, New Living Translation

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“As is the business of tailors to make clothes and cobblers to make shoes, so it is the business of Christians to pray.” —  Martin Luther

Our lives as Christians should be our occupations, and the work that we do should be prayer. A farmer has a craft or a vocation, a welder has his profession. We, as people of faith are to be laborers of prayer.

“To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.” — Martin Luther

Within these four verses we hear David (ringing like a brass bell) calling us to pray. He extensively lists the benefits of coming into the presence of the Lord. They are quite extensive and completely attainable.

Commentary

V. 4,  I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears.”

Fear (of whatever, or whomever) can only be overcome by prayer. Perhaps fear is allowed so we start praying. My life has been threatened several times. A few of those times I really sought the Lord. The result was a supernatural gift of peace, joy and freedom which made no sense at all on a natural level.

V. 5, “Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces.”

Radiance is a fine word. Often it comes wrapped in trouble, threats and difficulties. It is delivered to our door by special couriers, and it comes by God. When it arrives we find out exactly how human we are. Every Gethsemane will have an angel to minister to us.

Dark faces are the opposite of radiant ones. Shame is the opposite of joy. If we think about this, we realize that our faces are truly the “barometer” of our hearts. We are more readable than we think.

V. 6, “In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened; he saved me from all my troubles.”

David never really strays far from this theme of desperation does he? The word implies despair and lostness. Perhaps only desperate people find God? If you can’t admit you are quite lost, you can’t really be found.

“Troubles.” I wish they they didn’t exist. I have protested to the Lord regarding the excessive quota I have received. It hardly seems equitable in my mind. Job once wrote, “Man is born for trouble.”

V. 7,  For the angel of the Lord is a guard; he surrounds and defends all who fear him.”

Aren’t angels great? They are like God’s “Secret Service.” They have many duties to perform, and one of them is protecting you and I. The ESV uses the phrase, “encamps around.” The implication is of a perimeter guard around the believer. Your protection is assured. And they are there for a reason. I suppose they’re guarding something God considers quite valuable.

ybic, Bryan

 

We Have Done Wrong: Psalm 106

6 We have sinned just as our ancestors did. 
       We have done wrong; we have done evil. 
 7 Our ancestors in Egypt 
       did not learn from your miracles. 
    They did not remember all your kindnesses, 
       so they turned against you at the Red Sea.
 8 But the Lord saved them for his own sake, 
       to show his great power.
 9 He commanded the Red Sea, and it dried up. 
       He led them through the deep sea as if it were a desert.
 10 He saved them from those who hated them. 
       He saved them from their enemies,
 11 and the water covered their foes. 
       Not one of them escaped. 
 12 Then the people believed what the Lord said, 
       and they sang praises to him. 

Psalm 106:6-12

This particular Psalm resists any kind of easy exegesis. We come and face this part of scripture, but it seems far too bulky. There are way too many verses that we have to deal with. But, there are segments residing within this psalm. But for the most part, they seems to be vaguely repetitious. A pattern develops– a situation is presented, the people take it, and then the people fall. This is repeated, over and over. But consistency can never be achieved, and this is the theme of 106. However— obedience should. We should want to obey in the specific area God is dealing with us on.

Our Father God is not to blame when we sin, He has pulled for us and given us all that He can. But you and I can become quite foolish, and when we do, we sabotage His grace, and short-circuit His power to work. We can be quite ignorant when we do this. We can do this intentionally if sin becomes alluringly close.

Verses 6-7, are “recognition” verses. There are certain things that must be understood before we can ever venture forward. Even our “repentance” needs to be examined closely. The infection of evil will even reach this particular point. The enemy spreads his disease, even without our knowledge.

Verse 8, explains very much. It seems that God is pushing His reputation ahead. What He does with this is profound. He absorbs all of the ugliness, and pain and darkness. He is a sponge. He absorbs all the dark and sinister things that fix themselves on our heart and soul. V. 8 explains to us what has just happened.

Verse 9, takes us into a powerful triumph over darkness. But focus, He is responsible for this! Verses 10-11 are important. The overriding issue here is “salvation”. Everything God does is designed to bring us to this point. Any first-year seminary student knows what “salvation” is. Being saved means we are ushered into safety, love and complete security. We pass through destruction, and arrive through it amazingly complete and whole.

Verse 11, completes the thought. Our deepest enemy is completely saturated with disaster. He is now nullified.  

Verse 12, Worship is one of those things which is first to come, and the last to leave. There is a certain awareness and realization that starts to develop. Very often we insist on knowing the “whys and wheres” before we face down the evil and darkness. But, if it doesn’t end up in worship, no one is going anywhere.

ybic, Bryan

Psalm 108:5-6: Wearing the Holy Spirits Vision

Benjamin Franklin’s Original Bifocals

Here are two versions of the same reference from Psalms 108. The first is from the English Standard Version (or ESV.) The second from the Contemporary English Version (or CEV.)

5 “Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!
    Let your glory be over all the earth!
That your beloved ones may be delivered,
    give salvation by your right hand and answer me!”

Psalm 108:5-6, ESV

5″Our God, may you be honored above the heavens;
    may your glory be seen everywhere on earth.
Answer my prayers and use your powerful arm
    to give us victory. Then the people you love
   will be safe.”

Psalm 108:5-6, CEV

I’m wearing bifocals now. And false teeth are probably in my future fairly soon. (I’m debating the pros and cons of “denture glue.”) If I had known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.

Bifocals though are great, just to be able to see close up, and then far away. Two lenses give me just what I need. I don’t see double, or two different objects. But it is seamless and unified.

We have put on bifocals for Psalmslife today. Now we need to use them.

Commentary

V. 5, Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!
    Let your glory be over all the earth!”

This is David’s heart. He asks God to exalt Himself. He seems to have a strong concern for God’s reputation. If God exalts Himself, than (and only then) are we are blessed.

Our God, may you be honored above the heavens;
    may your glory be seen everywhere on earth.” 

To be concerned about God’s honor only strengthens the Church. We not only want Him to look good, but to do good. He is a good God, and we want everyone to know it. Wherever people go on this planet, they will be able to see the Glory of God. After all, it’s all about Him, isn’t it?

“For the earth will be filled
    with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord
    as the waters cover the sea.”

Habakkuk 2:14, ESV

V. 6,That your beloved ones may be delivered,give salvation by your right hand and answer me!” 

The ‘beloved ones’ speak of the Church– the saints whom God strongly loves. In David’s heart, the glory is the cradle of deliverance. When God is loved supremely, we commence a walk of freedom.

“Answer my prayers and use your powerful arm
    to give us victory. Then the people you love
   will be safe.” (CEV)

A prayer life is not about me; it effects every believer. The power of my prayer is that it touches God, who touches everyone. “Then the people you love will be safe.”

One should learn soon on how to accept “prayer assignments” from the Lord. He is recruiting an army that will step into vital places of the Spirit. People– neighbors, towns, states and even entire nations can be touched by God from your prayer closet. Just as a cobbler fixes shoes, and the carpenter builds a chair, so it is the work of every Christian to pray.

*

ybic, Bryan

A King On the Run: Psalms 141

1 Lord, I call to you. Come quickly. 
       Listen to me when I call to you.
 2 Let my prayer be like incense placed before you, 
       and my praise like the evening sacrifice. 

 3 Lord, help me control my tongue; 
       help me be careful about what I say. 
 4 Take away my desire to do evil 
       or to join others in doing wrong. 
    Don’t let me eat tasty food 
       with those who do evil. 

 5 If a good person punished me, that would be kind. 
       If he corrected me, that would be like perfumed oil on my head. 
       I shouldn’t refuse it. 
    But I pray against those who do evil. 
 6 Let their leaders be thrown down the cliffs. 
       Then people will know that I have spoken correctly: 
 7 “The ground is plowed and broken up. 
       In the same way, our bones have been scattered at the grave.” 

 8 God, I look to you for help. 
       I trust in you, Lord. Don’t let me die. 
 9 Protect me from the traps they set for me 
       and from the net that evil people have spread.
 10 Let the wicked fall into their own nets, 
       but let me pass by safely.

Psalm 141, NCV

There are several themes coursing through this Psalm of David. Having some awareness of his “ups and downs” really helps. As a young man, he faced the giant Goliath, which was a very bold thing to do. He then also went on a killing spree that raised him to the rank of general. He was pretty much registered as a lethal weapon. But very suddenly, King Saul got very paranoid, and David had to get out of town, really fast.

Commentary

V. 1 comes as an urgent cry. Often desperation will make us believers, and I think that instead of avoiding pain we should be embracing that which forces us to get on our knees.

V. 2 is a lesson. David knew he couldn’t return. He was in a wilderness. And yet he deeply wanted to replace his past worship with the best he could do out in the “boondocks.”

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Kings on the run

V. 5 is really about the role of the Church. It’s one thing to rebuke or exhort another, but what about the recipient? We need that hungry eagerness for correction, and love the wealth that comes to us as we grab a hold of a hard word.   To be in this place, can be hard, and yet wonderful.  (see Prov. 29:1; 1Tim. 5:20)

Vv. 6-7 are hard verses. The verses in the beginning are clear and thoughtful. The commentaries I looked at don’t agree. But they are “imprecatory” in nature. That means they pronounce judgement. And I suppose since the Psalms are “songs, prayers and spiritual songs” they are composed of metaphor, figurative language, and simile. It can be a harrowing experience trying to read in a literal/logical way.

Vv. 8-10 shows us sincere poetic sense. David realizes that there are traps and nets, and these could be real I suppose, but my thinking is they are figurative. Today, we might think, booby traps or land mines, but these are not literal, but they are quite real. The enemy certainly can harm us in a figurative sense, but he insists that we face him in other ways.

This Psalm is a true beauty among all other psalms. It is authentic and heart-focused. I invite you to read and learn why the Holy Spirit has decided to keep it just for you. I’m very sure it will be quite amazing.

ybic, Bryan

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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You Made Me Strong and Brave: Psalm 138

A psalm of David.

 1 Lord, I will thank you with all my heart; 
       I will sing to you before the gods.
 2 I will bow down facing your holy Temple, 
       and I will thank you for your love and loyalty. 
    You have made your name and your word 
       greater than anything.
 3 On the day I called to you, you answered me. 
       You made me strong and brave. 

 4 Lord, let all the kings of the earth praise you 
       when they hear the words you speak. 
 5 They will sing about what the Lord has done, 
       because the Lord’s glory is great. 

 6 Though the Lord is supreme, 
       he takes care of those who are humble, 
       but he stays away from the proud. 
 7 Lord, even when I have trouble all around me, 
       you will keep me alive. 
    When my enemies are angry, 
       you will reach down and save me by your power.
 8 Lord, you do everything for me. 
       Lord, your love continues forever. 
       Do not leave us, whom you made.

The themes in this Psalm are like ripe plums on a tree. These eight verses combine to provide us with a myriad of reasons why we should worship God with thanksgiving.

Commentary

Verses 1-3, David is very thankful. This energizes his heart to truly worship. This thanksgiving is the backbone of real worship. Sometimes we can go to church, and we haven’t really reflected on the deep goodness of God. There needs to be “a first work”, a preliminary effort that prepares us to “bow down facing your holy Temple”. People can cry out “legalism!” But it really isn’t if our hearts are full already.

I do like verse 3, very much! There is a quickness, and an alacrity pulsating within the deep heart of God. He jumps right up to come to your heart. David talks about being “strong and brave”. As a warrior he would value both greatly. If you haven’t known this yet, you will. God is the “great instiller.”

Verses 4-5 David is thinking about other kings, but he has a sense that Jehovah God is no mere tribal deity. Worship can’t just be an Israel thing. Not hardly, for Kings of the whole earth are invited. David does not confine God to a little role affecting Jerusalem only.

In verse 5, David does realize that worship starts with God blessing people; not people blessing God to get more from Him. The pagan gods had to be appeased first. Our God gives first (with no appeasement necessary.)

Verses 6-8 stipulate what God does for people. We see that He thinks a whole lot about us. The primary key is humility. On my right to God, all powerful and supreme– on my left are simple, humble ones. It seems to me that things really start cooking (spiritually) when both are in their proper places.

V. 6, “but he stays away from the proud.” Pride is such a loathsome thing. I don’t think we really understand this. It is universal and saturates everything. And it stinks.

V. 7 I do love this. I have been such a twisted and dark person. And yet the impossible has happened! God has intervened, and will intervene to help me stand up. I know all about “trouble.” And quite a bit about the hatred of “my enemies”. Satan’s anger at me, has been superseded by God’s delight in me.

The last verse, v. 8. “Lord, you do everything for me. Lord, your love continues forever. Do not leave us, whom you made.” Doing–Loving–Abiding. And actually considering the deep scope of these three words, we would be hard-pressed to find any loopholes.

*

kyrie elesion, Bryan

(Lord, have mercy on us.)
 
 

When The Fear Gets Too Much: Psalms 143

Psalm 143:

A Prayer Not to Be Killed, or Something Worse

A psalm of David.

1 Lord, hear my prayerlisten to my cry for mercy. Answer me because you are loyal and good.

The writer stresses the truth that God listens.  A listening God is a God of wonder.  Elijah on Mt. Carmel had focused the people on a hearing God who was the real God.  The writer then reveals his trust in the inherent goodness of God.   He listens, He never ever puts His phone on call forwarding. We will reach Him, 24/7 everyday.

2 Don’t judge me, your servant, because no one alive is right before you.

We are all in the same predicament, we are sinners.  The writer doesn’t need to be convinced of this.  All he can do is appeal to God. He knows his place though–a servant of the Lord.  He understands that he is what he is.  He accepts what is real, and doesn’t try to pretend otherwise.

3 My enemies are chasing me; they crushed me to the ground. They made me live in darkness like those long dead.   4 I am afraid; my courage is gone.

We all have enemies.  They are the satanic evil spirits that are the wholesalers of evil and its devices and they mean to harm us.  David feels the pursuit, and his paranoia must have doubled.  These sinister antagonists get close enough to strike at him.  He confesses fear.   His life has been far too influenced by their dark ministry.  He is being pressed to the point of being overwhelmed.

5 I remember what happened long ago; I consider everything you have done. I think about all you have made.   6 I lift my hands to you in prayer. As a dry land needs rain, I thirst for you.  Selah

The psalmist has a spiritual history to ponder.  He thinks of all the past events and draws out his strength.  He “remembers” in the truest sense of the word.  It is good if we can just remember all of the issues and battles that we have already faced. Verse 6 declares his proper response to v. 5.  The hands go up, and he imagines himself to be a desert–dry and desolate.  He thirsts (desires) not for rain, or an oasis, but for the Lord God.  

7 Lord, answer me quickly, because I am getting weak. Don’t turn away from me, or I will be like those who are dead.

The writer has evaluated his situation, he is weak and he is dying. His spiritual pulse is “weak and thready.”  This seems to be a deteriorating condition.  He is discerning enough however to draw conclusions.  Doctors tell us that hearing is the last faculty to depart a dying man.  Perhaps to a spiritual man, discernment is the last to go?  Somehow we know what the truth is until we are completely senile (spiritually, that is).

8 Tell me in the morning about your love, because I trust you. Show me what I should do, because my prayers go up to you.

The writer affirms his personal connections to the Lord.  Love should be an intimate word, saturated with hope and a future.  This love comes as a result of trust/faith (the word, “because” is key).  The psalmist requests help for his particular situation.  He sees his prayers, like arrows reaching heaven.

9 Lord, save me from my enemies; I hide in you. 10 Teach me to do what you want, because you are my God. Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground. Save me…teach me…lead me.

A “triune” aspect of the Spirit’s work.  Each believer can realize this ministry.  He is like a bodyguard, a tutor, and a professional guide to each of us.  Verse 10…”level ground”; nothing is harder on a tired soldier then marching on hilly terrain.  Flat and level is the best, and its not wrong to ask for an easier path.   Sometimes we stumble because we haven’t asked for level ground.

11 Lord, let me live so people will praise you. In your goodness save me from my troubles. 12 In your love defeat my enemies.Destroy all those who trouble me, because I am your servant.

This should be the cry of the Christian heart–let me be an example that will lead others to worship.  Let me be a reason to them to sing, and give you glory.  Notice that God’s goodness is specifically pointed out to be the starting point for salvation. “Since He is good, I will be saved”.  In verse 12 we are reminded that out of that matrix of love, God can conquer.  “God so loved the world”…John 3:16.  Love is the reason, and not just a vague, general sense of love but a love that rolls up its sleeves and jumps in and pounds my enemies.

flourish-small Text taken from New Century Version (NCV) The Holy Bible, New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. If this post has been a blessing to you, and you would like me to do more of this, won’t you let me know.  Thanks!

ybic, Bryan

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.

Broken Bones

Broken Arm
Broken Arm

“Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.”

Psalm 51:8, KJV

“Make me hear sounds of joy and gladness;
    let the bones you crushed be happy again.”

Psalm 51:8, NCV

When I was five years old, I made a grand effort to fly. Jumping off the top bunk, I went one direction– down! Landing on my arm, it really hurt. Going to the E.R. they did a x-ray, and they couldn’t find anything wrong. The doctor told us that it was just bruised.

After a miserable three days, with my mom “exercising” my arm like the doctor suggested, it got worse. Back to the E.R. and after another x-ray, the doctor returned to tell us that the arm was indeed broken. Evidently it wasn’t spotted until then. I got a plaster cast, and a sling.

King David spoke about broken bones. For him, they were not physical. It was much worse. It was spiritual. He essentially collapsed with the torturous Bathsheba decision. The bones were snapped, and it left him in considerable pain. The whole affair came within inches of completely destroying him.

The chastening hand of God often settles on us. Rarely is the pain physical, it is worse. We seldom cope with this kind of discipline.

“We do not enjoy being disciplined. It is painful at the time, but later, after we have learned from it, we have peace, because we start living in the right way.”

Hebrews 12:11, NCV

Pretty much the entirety of Hebrews 12 will press us into a deeper understanding of truth. I encourage you to read it. Perhaps though, the most important thing is to realize that His love is always behind His discipline. Yes, He breaks bones. But He also mends those bones that have been broken.

“We may feel God’s hand as a Father upon us when He strikes us as well as when He strokes us. We often learn more of God under the rod that strikes us than under the staff that comforts us.”

Unknown Puritan

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ybic, Bryan

O Lord, The Battle is Far Too Fierce: Psalm 70

For the director of music. A psalm of David. To help people remember.

 1 God, come quickly and save me. 
       LORD, hurry to help me.
 2 Let those who are trying to kill me 
       be ashamed and disgraced. 
    Let those who want to hurt me 
       run away in disgrace.
 3 Let those who make fun of me 
       stop because of their shame.
 4 But let all those who worship you 
       rejoice and be glad. 
    Let those who love your salvation 
       always say, “Praise the greatness of God.” 
 5 I am poor and helpless; 
       God, hurry to me. 
    You help me and save me.” 
       Lord, do not wait.

Psalm 70:1-5, NCV

“As in all warfare, the two essential elements in victory are knowing your enemy and knowing your resources.”

Sinclair B. Ferguson

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Welcome to the war! It’s very seldom that a new convert realizes what we are all up against. Not to put too fine a point on it, but you have become a target for hell to shoot their arrows at. What was never an issue before, now becomes an universal adjudication.

There is a nasty viciousness about Satan’s attacks. We look into his kingdom and see such hostility and spite that it takes your breath away. David saw it also. He was able to write cogently and forcefully about what he had experienced. What we have here in Psalm 70 is nothing less then a “first person” account of a war that’s going on for David’s very soul.

Commentary

V. 1, there is a plea of desperate alacrity in this verse. There is a deep earnestness to David’s words. Figuratively, he has been pinned down by the enemy, and is making an urgent call for help. It’s typical for a soldier under a withering assault will cry out to be saved.

V. 2, Sometimes we start viewing the darkness as a kind of foggy philosophy of ‘anti-god’ protoplasm. But David won’t do that. His enemies are real, and they possess solid identities. They can be forced to be backed down. And yet David can’t push these bullies away, and so we see him on the radio to HQ for divine intervention.

V. 3, I can just imagine God hearing these words from David. I can see the hint of a smile that the Father has for such audacity and zeal. I can hear Him say, “Now that’s my boy!” The Father releases His power on those who are desperate.

V. 4, Now David doesn’t remain in this same place. We see him getting up and advancing directly into worship. (I always wanted to get a tattoo, “Born to Worship.”) David finds his footing enough to exhort and encourage his brothers and sisters. Warfare does that to you, David understood where everything was leading to.

V. 5, This verse always struck me as being out of sequence. V. 4 after all seems to be the pinnacle. This arrangement though creates a real sense of the cyclical nature of spiritual warfare. In a certain sense we will never see a final battle in our lifetimes. There will always be high places to tear down, and towering giants to kill. But our Helper is just a prayer away. Thank God.

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Kyrie Eleison.

ybic, Bryan

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Something Way Beyond Worship: Psalm 59

But I will sing about your strength. 
       In the morning I will sing about your love. 
    You are my defender, 
       my place of safety in times of trouble. 
God, my strength, I will sing praises to you. 
       God, my defender, you are the God who loves me.

Psalm 59:16-17, NCV

I’ve always considered singing as strange. Leave it to me to try to understand music on any level. But to me, to vocalize with music as a bit bizarre. The dictionary really doesn’t clarify it for me at all, but it makes it even stranger,

“to utter words or sounds in succession with musical modulations of the voice; vocalize melodically.”

And yet from this strangeness, David can find a solid reason to sing. At this time in David’s life, things are quite tense. Saul has been focused on him, and has come very close to pinning David down (literally). I’m sure David is struggling with anxiety, doubt and despair. And yet, it is from these considerable issues that David starts singing.

A precedent has been set. Singing when you are in deep water. This particular Psalm has a definite theme and direction. David sings about God. He sings about His strength, and love, and protection. I suppose if you are walking through an evil mob– it is really good to be watched over, and to be securely protected is very much appreciated.

When evil is immense and active, our first response should be to sing! When we direct ourselves toward the Lord, and begin to sing to Him, the enemy scrambles for cover. Worship scares him. Satan is confused and frightened when we start to praise our God. (I tend to think he has an ‘allergy’ to our simple worship.)

I consider myself to be pragmatic and logical. There are things I see right through. Pyramid schemes, Nigerian banking plans, and multilevel marketing are things that are discernible to me. But this particular Psalm punches through, and I confess I have come to understand this extraordinary power of worship. When I decide to worship, all heaven goes crazy!

Often, I think, we “candy-coat” worship, we dip it in chocolate, and make it for ‘feeling good.’ If we ‘catch a buzz’ it was good worship. But then we come into His presence, it is a joy and there is peace for us. And this is terrific. But we should reformat our thinking.

But worship is warfare. As we stand and praise Him, the kingdom of Satan is substantially degraded and minimized. Worship does this and more.

Satan fully hopes that we will forget, or at least trivialize this idea of worship, he strategically works his way against it. It frightens him when we start to understand. The worship of the True God drains Satan of his power and authority. I think perhaps, when we do worship, we start to truly become ‘kings and queens’, but only when we praise our God.

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ybic, Bryan

Related articles

The Real Mystery of His Face: Psalm 131

Childlike Trust in the Lord

 A song for going up to worship at Jerusalem. A psalm of David.

Lord, my heart is not proud;
    my eyes are not haughty.
I don’t concern myself with matters too great
    or too awesome for me to grasp.
Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself,
    like a weaned child who no longer cries for its mother’s milk.
    Yes, like a weaned child is my soul within me.

O Israel, put your hope in the Lord—
    now and always.

Psalm 131, NLT

The Christian, the struggler, and the mentally ill should become avid and fanatical readers of the Psalms.  Some of us will need to take meds, that is true.  But the Psalms are pretty much required as well.  We diligently need to take a physical dose of our daily medication.  For believers, Psalm 131 is a spiritual dose that is just as mandatory, and just as necessary.

This particular Psalm is unique, and deeply insightful.  It begins its work in us right at the start; the superscription.  “A song for going up to worship,” and it strikes me that a work must happen inside of my heart.  It is a preparation that will take me higher, and help me see God more clearly. I need to worship. That is viewed by some as an option. We know it is critical. We must worship.

Verse 1 states the certain issue we have; it is called ‘pride.’  What David says seems to be a very arrogant and audacious thing to say.  There is a truism that you think you’re humble, you’re not.

A church once gave an elder a medal for humility.  But they had to take it away, because he wore it everywhere. To claim you are suddenly liberated from pride, knowing ears perk up.  It is almost always a sign of danger. Perhaps it might happen, but don’t hold your breath.

Take it at face value, King David states that he has a real contentment with limitations and weakness.  It appears that he has been freed from the vicious cycle of needing to be the center of everything, ‘in the mix,’ and a quite a very significant person.  But he admits his ignorance, and something quite significant works its way into us through this psalm.

There exists a definite place where we must renounce “ambition.”  Are you content to be the simple servant now, and delay the accolades and praise until you get to heaven?

Some make themselves, literally sick by the deep dark quest to be important.  In verse 2, we connect with some astonishing imagery.  A baby!  I am like a little baby being held by my mom. It’s not an issue of sophistication, but simplicity.  Of having limits, but never any applause. How can this be?!

The word in Hebrew, isn’t “baby,” (as in newborn) but baby, but more like a small toddler.  A “weaned” child more is a better translation.  A weaned child no longer needs his mom’s milk. You can guess that it makes the child more content.  He doesn’t fuss, or nuzzle his mothers breast, demanding his food.  The child no longer receives his nourishment this way.  There is a contentment, a simple desire just to be with mom, just because he wants to. This is a significant step into maturity.

To me, verse 2 is the centerpiece of Psalm 131.  OK, let’s apply this spiritually.  There was a time when it was necessary for me to have my mother’s milk. I screamed and would throw a terrible tantrum if she didn’t feed me from her breast.  I would starve if she didn’t give me her milk. For all practical purposes, it seems we use God to get what we need.  But we grow, and move into this new maturity.

David is saying that we need to emulate his example.  Now we come into God’s presence– just to be with Him.  That’s all.  So simple.  As a child, we just want to be where He is at.  We have no ulterior motives, there is no manipulation.  We seek His face, and not what is in His hands.

If we connect the dots, we find that we land right back to the opening superscription.  This is an amazing concept of worship– the real kind.  As a struggler, a rascal and mentally disabled, I must start at the beginning– again and again and again.  I have to worship. And I can only do this until I become a little boy again.  I finally realize I must throw ambition and pride overboard. And at this point, I must rest in Him.

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ybic, Bryan

Having 20/20 Vision: Psalm 25:8-14

“The Lord is good and right; 
       he points sinners to the right way. 
 9 He shows those who are humble how to do right, 
       and he teaches them his ways.
 10 All the Lord’s ways are loving and true 
       for those who follow the demands of his agreement.
 11 For the sake of your name, Lord, 
       forgive my many sins.
 12 Are there those who respect the Lord? 
       He will point them to the best way.
 13 They will enjoy a good life, 
       and their children will inherit the land.
 14 The Lord tells his secrets to those who respect him; 
       he tells them about his agreement.”

Psalm 25:8-14, NCV

Our views of God shape our daily living. If God is nothing more than a celestial judge, we will be shaped by that personal theology, and be angry and rigid people.  (Often, we won’t even realize it. But others will.) And if our theology says that God really does love me, I will become a person of kindness. What we decide about the Lord, and ourselves, is incredibly significant.

This psalm has the power to come alongside and “sculpt” our faith. Often I think of God as impassive or neutral when it comes to me. It’s like He’s this evaluator or auditor. He is inspecting me to see if I measure up.  He is cold-blooded, and emotionless as He monitors what I do with my faith in His Son.

Commentary

V. 8,  “Good and right” are actually pretty rare qualities. But if your God possesses them, you should be in pretty fine shape. God excels in goodness, and He outshines everyone in doing things right.

And v. 8 continues, “he points sinners to the right way. “ This is an active, roll up your sleeves kind of commitment. He isn’t confined to the sidelines, or the judge’s table. “What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?” Romans 8:31, (NLT) . Two words, two very different positions, now linked by an “is for”:

  1. God, creator and sustainer of everything. Completely full of compassion, power, goodness and justice.
  2. Us. Sinful, and depraved. “Missing the mark.”

We are now irrevocably linked. God and us. God and us, now forever connected.

V.  9, Note the phrases- “He shows” and “He teaches.” Will we let Him do what He wants? After all, He is a passionate teacher that loves to illustrate and instruct in His ways. But the word “humble” declares the status that is prerequisite or mandatory.  God loves humble people  (I mean He really, really loves them!)

V. 10, the NCV uses the word, “agreement.” Most versions use the better word, “covenant”. It does have the idea of agreement, or a contract, but one much more formal. It is between two parties instilling a permanent relationship. It was serious enough that blood had to be shed to validate it.

This is exactly what Jesus did. His sacrifice has the power to bring us into a covenant. Those of us who come to Him through this covenant will find an exclusive source of love and truth.

V. 11,  This is an direct appeal to God’s honor and reputation.  Father, “forgive my many, many sins.” We maybe tempted to hide some of them. But only full disclosure will bring full deliverance. Whatever is not brought into the light will go on to infest your life. Trust me, you will regret it.

V.12, to respect or to fear the Lord entails an active action or response. But there is another dimension. Celebrities will often hire a “life coach,” or someone to come alongside to guide them in their decisions and choices.

V. 13, what an incentive! It is a tangible and significant pursuit. Godliness is always profitable, and not just materially. Its essence is the blessing of the Lord, and an intimacy with Him. Also, there is an idea here, of my own obedience effecting my children’s future and destiny.

V. 14, “The LORD is a friend to those who fear him.  He teaches them his covenant” (NLT). To have the Almighty as a personal friend is an amazing thing, it sets you apart from any other claim or status. God choose to become your personal tutor, teaching you of such things that thinkers and philosophers have wanted to see into throughout the history of the world.

The Personality of God: Psalm 86:1-7

A Cry for Help

A prayer of David.

 1 Lord, listen to me and answer me. 
       I am poor and helpless.
 2 Protect me, because I worship you. 
       My God, save me, your servant who trusts in you.
 3 Lord, have mercy on me, 
       because I have called to you all day.
 4 Give happiness to me, your servant, 
       because I give my life to you, Lord.
 5 Lord, you are kind and forgiving 
       and have great love for those who call to you.
 6 Lord, hear my prayer, 
       and listen when I ask for mercy.
 7 I call to you in times of trouble, 
       because you will answer me. 

Psalm 86:1-7, NCV

We should never try to acquire knowledge to put a notch on our Bibles, but to understand Him. When we skim these verses in a general way we can only see it as a prayer.  The best kind of prayer is typically generated by any kind of deep crisis. King David is in trouble, and things are desperate.

These verses reveal a harried and hard-pressed man, who understands God. He also understands himself. And both are necessary to become intimate with the Lord God. I want to emphasize this. You need to discern both God’s heart, and than your place.

“We are at this moment as close to God as we really choose to be. True, there are times when we would like to know a deeper intimacy, but when it comes to the point, we are not prepared to pay the price involved.” 

J. Oswald Sanders

Commentary

V. 1, there is a deep sense of spiritual poverty, and awareness of our weakness. Once this is established we will find our authentic voice. And our prayers become supercharged, and can enter His throne room. Our weakness is a good thing, if it leads you to God.

V. 2, protection in a very dangerous world is a good thing. I need to know deep down that He has focused on me, and completely briefed on my situation. He is aware to the utmost of my needs.

V. 3, David had a consistent reliance on mercy. He knew it and called on the Lord through it.

V. 4, there is a sort of a barter transaction here. I give Him my life, and I can find the happiness waiting for me. This really fulfills life for me. It is not merchandising spirituality, rather it enhances it.

V. 5, these qualities are a triad  in which God’s deep presence flows to me. Kindness, forgiveness and the love that He possesses are the three ways in which we can relate to God.

V. 6,  perhaps this knowledge revealed to David has given him a hunger for prayer. And a desire for authentic prayer. If you had the ability to email the President of the United States, and you knew he read everyone you sent, wouldn’t that give you a boldness?

V. 7, there is that confidence here. There will always be “times of trouble.” Don’t let anyone tell you different. When a child is frightened of something scary, she runs to her father. The father reaches for his little one. This is the way discipleship is supposed to work itself out.

***

“To fall in love with God is the greatest of all romances; To seek Him, the greatest adventure; To find him, the greatest human achievement.”

Augustine

 

Looking for Something True: Psalm 42:7-11

7 Troubles have come again and again, sounding like waterfalls. 
       Your waves are crashing all around me.
 8 The Lord shows his true love every day. 
       At night I have a song, 
       and I pray to my living God.
 9 I say to God, my Rock, 
       “Why have you forgotten me? 
    Why am I sad 
       and troubled by my enemies?”
 10 My enemies’ insults make me feel 
       as if my bones were broken. 
    They are always saying, 
       “Where is your God?” 

 11 Why am I so sad? 
       Why am I so upset? 
    I should put my hope in God 
       and keep praising him, 
       my Savior and my God.

Psalm 42:7-11, NCV

The remainder of Psalm 42 is fascinating. It continues to carry us through many issues, that could be regarded as a challenge. I must admit, I really like this psalm.  It has good things embedded into it, like God’s chocolate chip cookie, lol.

When we come to it, there should be a reverence and a willingness to obey what we are reading. A disobedient heart will immediately short circuit this psalm. It would be better to have never read this, than to have read it, with a disobedient heart. We would do well, if we would settle certain issues, right at the start.

Commentary  (continued)

V. 7, this verse will stretch your imagination. David uses a word picture that makes us scramble as we try to catch up. It’s not the troubles part, but the waterfalls. David had this in his mind as he penned these verses. He remembers hearing the roar of the water, in his ears. He “saw” the turbulence, the whirlpool and he understood something. It worked through his thoughts. He felt as if he were a target, and the raging and roaring was a real effort to bring him down.

V. 8, “The Lord shows his true love every day. At night I have a song, and I pray to my living God.” This is a sponge that is over full, you can’t  add a drop. When you barely touch it, it leaks all over the place. There is God’s desire to bless us, and than there is a powerful response of worship and prayer. At night David would sing, and he would pray. He wanted to connect with God’s sweet presence, more than sleep.

V. 9, just because you know God, you think you are immune to certain things. This is not one of them. David has a deep sense that God is not listening to him. His darkest enemy seems more aware than God. David carries a significant sadness, he can’t seem to shake it. He is quite vulnerable, as the enemy has complete access to his heart and mind.

V. 10, David has a sense that he has just been beaten up. At least, it feels that way. He has the sensation of having his bones broken. The pain verges on the horrific. Too much pain. The enemy insults, there is a mocking tone in his voice. He insults, and mocks at will. He tries to damage us through his viciousness.

V.11, this is self assessment time. As David writes he processes all that concerns him. “Why am I so sad?” He is bewildered by his own heart, and David seems to struggle at this point. It’s funny, but reading our own hearts is extremely difficult.  But there is aspiration yet. David understands what he needs and requires. It is God’s presence, first and foremost.

God, Come Quickly: Psalms 70

For the director of music. A psalm of David. To help people remember.

 1 God, come quickly and save me. 
       LORD, hurry to help me.
 2 Let those who are trying to kill me 
       be ashamed and disgraced. 
    Let those who want to hurt me 
       run away in disgrace.
 3 Let those who make fun of me 
       stop because of their shame.
 4 But let all those who worship you 
       rejoice and be glad. 
    Let those who love your salvation 
       always say, “Praise the greatness of God.” 
 5 I am poor and helpless; 
       God, hurry to me. 
    You help me and save me. 
       Lord, do not wait.

This psalm of David has a built-in urgency. David is in a corner, and from that hemmed in place he sings this song. And it is a fine one.

V. 1 we learn of his urgency, as he is quite direct and forthcoming. This is a lesson for us. Our issues often get glossed over, as we try to maintain a certain “holy” demeanor. But, it’s not real and it certainly isn’t true.

V. 2 David is processing this idea that there are others who want to kill him. Can we really grip this? Just imagine there exists a group of people that intends to murder you. Understand the anxiety and the fear.

V. 3 presses a statement of a rugged spirituality. David asks God to step into the lies and alter things. This just might seem excessive or vindictive.

V. 4 intends that we rest in the joy that worship brings us. Verbs used will reveal much, there is a worship which leads to love. We enter into the cycle, and our worship is quite significant. It is perhaps the most vital and purposeful thing we could do.

V. 5 is a contrast to what we read in V. 4. There is a over-arching awareness of our position. Deep down, David is aware of exactly who he is. He is operating from a certain humility and a definite need. He looks to God alone who can rescue him and shield all that is taking place in his heart.