Who Follows You? Psalm 145:4

 

Five Generations
Five Generations

4One generation shall commend your works to another,
    and shall declare your mighty acts.”

Psalm 145:4, ESV

The worship continues, as it should. Our last post, vv. 1-3 (http://psalmslife.com/2014/09/14/the-true-king-psalm-145/) has set the pace for us.

But this particular verse has a wonderful slant. It is praise that has been embedded into the framework of family. The idea of this generational dynamic is quite alien to us, living in the West. We stress the individual, with very little thought on our effect on close kin.

Commentary

V. 4, One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.”

As we start to communicate trans-generationally, we find God’s work and activity in our lives passing to our children and grand-children. Our unique experiences with the Holy Spirit, the things we have learned and understood, are not lost– rather stay alive and aware. We give them a heritage, and a narrative of faith that enriches them.

“Life is but one continual course of instruction. The hand of the parent writes on the heart of the child the first faint characters which time deepens into strength so that nothing can efface them.” Unknown

My parents have given me much. Back in the 1970s they acted in faith and became hosts/sponsors of refugees from Cambodia. They took in a family into our little farmhouse. They encountered intense opposition and challenging obstacles. But my dad and mom stayed faithful to the Lord, inspite of daunting issues that dogged them. I learned about God by their life.

A father’s responsibility is not to make the child’s decisions, but to let the child watch him make his.” Ed Cole

Shoulders of Giants

When you communicate your experiences to the ‘church-to-come’ you will leave a legacy that will be a rich source of faith and hope. Because of you, they will stand on the shoulders of giants. The kingdom of our Lord will advance. And they will stand on your shoulders of faith.

Consider these verses–

“You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Deut. 6:7, ESV

“Come, O children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.” Ps. 34:11

“He planted a witness in Jacob,
set his Word firmly in Israel,
Then commanded our parents
to teach it to their children
So the next generation would know,
and all the generations to come—
Know the truth and tell the stories
so their children can trust in God,”  Ps. 78:5-6, MSG

*

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Psalm 46:10, 11: Being Still in a Restless Age

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10 Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.

11 The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Psalm 46:10-11

As I write this my heart goes out to everyone who is struggling to find serenity in an age filled with restlessness. Been there done that. You feel the pressure on all sides. There’s too much month and not enough money. Your marriage is showing signs of fraying around the edges. You have a sullen teenager who doesn’t relate to the biblical Christianity that you have embraced. You have plenty to do but not enough time to do it. Debt seems to be piling up and the house may soon be underwater. Your job feels unsatisfying and your boss plays a big role in that. New health problems have emerged that you didn’t have in the days of your youth. In short, life hasn’t turned out like you thought it would and inner stillness and peace seem elusive.

In speaking from my heart, I just want to begin by saying that God loves you much, much more than you know. You may want inner stillness but he wants to give you that peace infinitely more than you want it. Imagine yourself as his anxious child. He will not forbid the children to come to him. You can crawl up onto his lap and tell him all your problems. Do you see his loving eyes as you’re talking to him? Ask the Holy Spirit to show you Christ’s loving eyes, because if you can see those eyes, it will help you with fear and anxiety, because perfect love casts out all fear according to John the apostle (I John 4:18). If you can’t do this, then think about someone you know who really loves you without any strings attached. Doesn’t God love you at least twice as much as this person? Of course he does and infinitely beyond that. This is the God whose lap you’re sitting on.

Please know that in all your prayers, there’s no guarantee that God will change your circumstances. The struggling business you run may not survive. The unhealthy marriage may not get better and the child with leukemia may not get healed despite your prayers and fasting. God may not change your circumstances, but he will give you the grace to triumph during your time of affliction. He will you give you a supernatural peace that transcends understanding. You will know it didn’t come from you, but, instead, its origin is divine. Guard your heart against offense because many Christians become offended at God when he doesn’t change their circumstances.

If your prayer life is almost non–existent, I don’t write this to condemn you. However, if you want inner stillness and serenity, some kind of quiet time with God is a must. Prayer is the context by which we give God our anxiety and he gives us his peace. This is where we cast all our cares on him because he cares for us. It’s a salutary exchange that we can’t live without. The Holy Spirit is a gentle teacher and will lead you into a robust prayer life. Start small and don’t despise small beginnings. 5–10 minutes is okay to begin with for awhile and then add to it as God’s grace increases in your life. If you try to pray for an hour right off the bat, you’re liable to burn out. God is patient with you so be patient with yourself.

ybic,

Jonathan

Living With an If, Psalm 73

if

 

21 Then I realized that my heart was bitter,
    and I was all torn up inside.
22 I was so foolish and ignorant—
    I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you.
23 Yet I still belong to you;
    you hold my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
    leading me to a glorious destiny.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
    I desire you more than anything on earth.
26 My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak,
    but God remains the strength of my heart;
    he is mine forever.

 

Psalm 73:21-26, NLT

 

Our hearts are unstable things. Our spiritual life is often in a turmoil. For many, the yo-yo is not much more than a toy to amuse a child. At any given time, it seems we can be in any given place. Only God truly knows how confused and tumultuous we get. Some intrepid photographer once put a bull in a china shop just to see what would happen. The pics are really funny, as the bull put on a raging show, blasting glass everywhere. The more he broke, the more agitated he became. Sometimes– I think about this.

 

Psalm 73 is like a silver trumpet. It sounds out many things. And when we get toward the end of the psalm we run smack dab into vv. 21-26. The writer has a big dose of self-awareness. Sometimes we can travel a long way with an imperfect faith, without ever realizing what the truth really is. Oh, dear one– these can be very good times. The psalmist realizes his ugly issues. He realizes that he has gotten bitter, and he has become very foolish.

 

For many of us with a strong set of religious principles, we deem this inconsistency as a complete and total failure. We see our stupid behavior and decide that God will never, ever accept that kind of person (whether its you, or someone else.) But, my Bible reads so much different! I’m told that,

 

 “Yet I still belong to you;
    you hold my right hand.” (v. 23)

 

Can a jerk follow Jesus? But more, can a bitter believer be held close, and loved so faithfully? When we begin to “really” see ourselves, we may often condemn what we see. Condemnation is one of the most insidious diseases of the spirit. The Holy Spirit saves his strongest medicine for us who are regularly sickened by this evil.

 

If you take a piece of white chalk, and you dip it into a cup of india ink. The chalk obviously absorbs the ink– it is porous. If you snap the chalk, and examine the inside, you will see that the ink has altered everything, this is how condemnation works. Once affected, we are very vulnerable to bitterness and confusion and guilt. We discover that our life is bracketed by the word, “if.”

 

Verse 23-25 speak loudly of a love that will never let you go. Never. Write down your sin, tally it up, ” Yet I still belong to you; you hold my right hand.” As sinners who have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus, “though our sins be as scarlet; they shall be as white as snow.”

*

ybic, Bryan

 

Transparent Pages, Ps. 31:6-8

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 I hate those who worship worthless idols.
I trust in the Lord.
I will be glad and rejoice in your unfailing love,
for you have seen my troubles,
and you care about the anguish of my soul.
You have not handed me over to my enemies
but have set me in a safe place.

Psalm 31:6-8, NLT

God’s promises are like watching a sunrise. It is beautiful, and they somehow work inside of us. Wise and patient eyes realize they are seeing something amazing, and it’s good. These three verses overlay each other. When I was a boy, I was fascinated by books that had transparent plastic pages. These pages would fold over on each other. I remember seeing the human body. You see the bones, but if you flip one of these pages– you could see the circulatory system imposed over the bones, and you can add the nervous system and see that as well. Pretty heady stuff for an eight year old boy. This was old school anatomy.

David wrote these verses, and they belong together.  “I hate those who worship worthless idols. I trust in the Lord.” This verse deals with the subject of discernment. The ability to distinguish between certain things, is not always seen as a positive. I cannot remove the stigma of this word– “hate.”  In the NT we’re anchored to this idea of love. But in Ps. 139:22,

“Yes, I hate them with total hatred,
    for your enemies are  my enemies.”

Hatred is a dangerous emotion. It’s has a handle, just like a suitcase. It can be controlled by the Holy Spirit, or manipulated by Satan. As believers, we should be aware of this possibility. Hatred has a place. Romans 12:9 is a ready verse, “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good.” We must walk a tightrope here; it will require wisdom and awareness. But I’m also very confident in the Holy Spirit’s ability to assist you in this matter.

The next verse carries with it an intense blessing. It is also a verse that folds into “our picture book.”

“I will be glad and rejoice in your unfailing love,
for you have seen my troubles,
and you care about the anguish of my soul.”

Being truly glad is the waiting room for believers. It is an active state of a humbled heart. David is thrilled. He is quite aware of having God’s focus– he knows that he is incredibly loved. God has taken on the trials and burdens of David. David’s personal anguishes are taken up by the Lord.

“You have not handed me over to my enemies
but have set me in a safe place.”

David truly believes this. He thinks that this is a truly blessed state to be in. The deep realities of “what could have been” are factored into this awareness. God could have easily sent David to his doom. David is aware of what might have been.

These three verses, (vv. 6-8) snuggle together, like those “Russian nestling dolls.” One inside of the other, inside another. Or like our original metaphor–  multiple transparencies coming together to give us a clear view of David’s real truth.

^

ybic, Bryan

Like Anointed Oxen: Psalm 92

anointed-with-oil

Psalm 92:8-11, New Living Translation

But you, O Lord, will be exalted forever.
Your enemies, Lord, will surely perish;
    all evildoers will be scattered.
10 But you have made me as strong as a wild ox.
    You have anointed me with the finest oil.
11 My eyes have seen the downfall of my enemies;
    my ears have heard the defeat of my wicked opponents.

Strengthening and weakening. The world, as we know it is being shuffled and sorted. The very things that we think are wonderful, and praiseworthy, mean nothing at all to God. Enemies fall down, and can’t get up. Ultimately they’re defeated by their own wickedness.

The psalmist has dedicated this entire psalm to be read every Sabbath day. (Remember this fact, as it helps us understand what we are reading.) There were two services–morning and evening. I believe this would of been read publicly at both. The Sabbath accomplished three things– a public gathering of the faithful, an opportunity to pray, and a chance to worship Jehovah.

Commentary

V. 8, “But you, O Lord, will be exalted forever.”

This is not a self-confidence– it is a confidence in God. There is a humongous difference. As believers, we are to function from this awareness of God’s majesty and glory. They say that if you want to go places, just hook yourself to a ‘shooting star.’ And then you can go anywhere. In grace He pulls us to travel with Him.

Exalted forever! It buries in our hearts a profound sense of worship and hope, which endures without any end at all. It just keeps going, and going, with neverending joy. Our faith is not equipped with a ‘pause button’ so we can take a break, and get away from it all.

V. 9, “Your enemies, Lord, will surely perish;
    all evildoers will be scattered.”

Cemented into place is a real awareness of what happens to the active ‘haters of God.’ It’s interesting that no names are mentioned; after all that isn’t the writer’s place. But that doesn’t nullify any awareness of how things are working out. Evildoers will certainly end up in a very bad place.

V. 10, “But you have made me as strong as a wild ox.
    You have anointed me with the finest oil.”

Comparisons are made. On one hand we observe the wicked perishing–and on the other is the enriched place of verse 10.

Strong as an ox! Able to carry much, and plow as well. A strong ox was a great thing to have, and it’s likely a good ox would double the value of the farm. In a way, the modern equivalent would be a brand new tractor.

Anointed with the finest! Very few people would merit this ‘beauty treatment of the soul.’ Anointing sealed a person, and set them apart for life. In a weird way it was like inferring a title– baron, a duke, a lady or a knight. But it also was like a rabbit’s foot (that actually worked). But anointing wasn’t magic. It was divine favor. (Which is much better!)

“The Lord keeps you from all harm
    and watches over your life.
The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go,
    both now and forever.”

Psalm 121:7-8

V. 11, “My eyes have seen the downfall of my enemies;
    my ears have heard the defeat of my wicked opponents.”

Obliquely I would say v. 1o, makes v. 11 possible. Did you see the shift? It’s now “my enemies” and “my wicked opponents.” That subtle change between your enemies and my enemies has powerful implications.

This shift is also seen in “my ears” and “my eyes.” It seems in a sense the lines are being blurred a little; the boundaries are not as distinct. I can only conclude that the anointing that preceded this changed everything. Perhaps, maybe, the baptism of the Holy Spirit changes a person forever?

&

ybic, Bryan

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Faded Jeans: Psalm 102:26-28

worn-jeans

26 “They will perish, but you remain forever;
    they will wear out like old clothing.
You will change them like a garment
    and discard them.
27 But you are always the same;
    you will live forever.
28 The children of your people
    will live in security.
Their children’s children
    will thrive in your presence.”

Psalm 102:26-28

It is definitely a matter of perspective– but even more so. Perhaps the biggest step we will ever make, is to face the fact that we are not god. Quite a few still have never grasped this fact, and they continue in their folly. But the simple and discerning have embraced the truth that they are mere mortals. This is alone is a  bigger step than you realize.

Allowing the truth to seep in is one of the ways we start to build our faith. There is as well a messianic verse in v. 26. The writer of Hebrews uses it to signify Jesus’ work (Heb. 1:10-12). All of the Old Testament that gets used in the New Testament carries a double anointing– these verses are special, and perhaps we should look at them expecting a double blessing.

Commentary

V. 26, They will perish, but you remain forever;
    they will wear out like old clothing.
You will change them like a garment
    and discard them.”

The psalmist begins to show us the contrast between “perish” and “remaining forever.” It is also key to the writer’s art that he is speaking to God. Actually, these three verses all are directed to the Lord– a prayer, I guess.

A deep distinction is being made between the lost, and the saved, and of God Himself. Three very different states of being can be seen. (And they never will overlap). We must accept a certain a certain winnowing– God indeed makes a way of escape for us.

The writer introduces this idea of garments. Things that wear out. I have socks awaiting mending, and tee-shirts that are far gone. Some of my favorite denims are soon to be destined for “rags” or patches. I suppose what the Holy Spirit is teaching us is the fleeting and passing nature of our lives.

V. 27, “But you are always the same;
    you will live forever.”

We are mere transients, but He is permanent and perpetual. (And I for one am glad of it). We might wish for more, but what comes is what matters.

A key thought that the psalmist advances is “always the same” and “you will live forever”. Both phrases certainly build the case (especially in contrast with man) for a settledness or a stability from the Lord.

We will never wake up to find that God has somehow altered Himself. Or, somehow, He is in a bad mood this morning. His love for you is quite fixed, and we should rest in His solidness and rock-steady, “til the end of time” kind of love.

V. 28, “ The children of your people
    will live in security.
Their children’s children
    will thrive in your presence.”

It seems that God likes to use the family unit as a good way of touching hearts. For me it was my Aunt Gloria, and the Father did His work on me through her example and testimony. Looking back, she never preached, or slipped me Bible verses. She was just a simple believer who only trusted in you.

We should not feel disturbed by the lack of response towards us and our message. I’m willing to bet that practically every person has someone that stands for Christ in our family. It could be a nephew or cousin, an aunt or a grandchild. The connection to family has a profound effect.

*

ybic, Bryan

Enjoy the Glory: Psalm 145:11

11 They will speak of the glory of your kingdom;
    they will give examples of your power.

Psalm 145:11, NLT

Provocative, isn’t it? This is a loaded verse, and there can be minerals in various rocks, but within these verses is ore so concentrated, so evident– far much more than fine gold.

The Church has a part to play in glorifying the Lord. We really aren’t to be passive observers just waiting for the curtain to fall on this world’s stage. We are called to be vocal, to speak out. We are to think ourselves as examples of grace to share with the spiritually ignorant.

Commentary

V. 11, “They will speak of the glory of your kingdom;
    they will give examples of your power.”

There is a most interesting sentence structure to this verse, as well as certain specific words. I suppose that “glory” is the most intangible. We really can’t interpret this amazing word into English. We just don’t have nothing comparable to it.

Glory is a multiple kind of word. There is a blend of “weight” and “power” and ‘reputation.’ It also has elements of ‘control’ and ‘magnificence with unequaled  beauty.’ It is a wealthy expression, saturated with nuances and definitions and understanding. (I love this word!)

But glory is not the full story. Yes, it lights up the kingdom. I lived in a small town in Mexico for a few years. We had no running water and no electricity. It was a challenge. But glory is like that– it is the “electricity of the kingdom.” It lights everything up! It makes things run. Sure you can live without this power, but who would want this?

The last part is not the least. God’s glory can be seen in our lives. Each one of us are a testimonial to His power of salvation. We are all ‘show-and-tell’ examples. You can point to the obvious ‘divine interventions’ that have made up your life. (And there will be more to come.)

*y

ybic, Bryan

Just Another Passing Shadow: Psalm 144:3-4

3″ O Lord, what are human beings that you should notice them,
    mere mortals that you should think about them?
For they are like a breath of air;
    their days are like a passing shadow.”

Psalm 144:3-4, NLT

First of all, getting a handle on ‘humanness’ is necessary. And secondly, it really is a Work of the Holy Spirit. Throughout the whole of  history there has been so many that have tried to explain ‘the role, purpose and meaning’ of human beings; some think we are basically evolved animals. Others would suggest we are really ‘ascending masters.’ (There may be a sliver of logical truth in both, but this and everything in between is ‘horse manure.’)

The psalmist had questions as well. He opens them up in verse 3, and amplifies them in verse 4.

  • First, there is a Creator.
  • Second, He cares about us.
  • Third, He thinks about us.
  • Fourth, the transitory presence of man alters none of the above.

Commentary

V. 3, O Lord, what are human beings that you should notice them, mere mortals that you should think about them?”

What an intriguing question. (And questions are permissible.) Human beings are the topic here, their existence and their significance.

It always amazes me to see the elegance and carefulness of scripture truth. If you’re going to become a theologian, I would suggest working as a “tightrope walker” for a summer or two. There is a delicateness, a mindfulness, a cautiousness that is necessary for those who would study all the ways of God.

As human beings we have the right (and perhaps ‘duty’) to ask this question. “Who am I? And God, who are You?” The psalmist has no duplicity, or hidden agenda. As a matter of fact, the question is infused with worship. Worship is now a reason for the question.

V. 4, For they are like a breath of air;
    their days are like a passing shadow.”

There exists here an understanding of the limited nature of people. And what we would like to be permanent is now astonishingly temporary. And that scares us. In fact, if we put it to a vote, we would choose to live forever and never die.

But to recognize, and to accept our fleeting existence is a real source of strength for us. We settle down with the idea and it solves a lot of issues. I think we will live differently, and worship better.

ybic, Bryan

It’s Not Easy Being Green: Psalm 142:1-4

“With my voice I cry out to the Lord;
    with my voice I plead for mercy to the Lord.
I pour out my complaint before him;
    I tell my trouble before him.

When my spirit faints within me,
    you know my way!
In the path where I walk
    they have hidden a trap for me.
Look to the right and see:
     there is none who takes notice of me;
no refuge remains to me;
    no one cares for my soul.”

Psalm 142:1-4,  ESV

I have learned this, that quite often “desperation is the mother of deliverance.” The issue though is becoming desperate, and then responding properly when we are hurting. It seems to me, that Satan is using “the frog in the boiling water” strategy. You know, turning up the heat gradually (as not to alarm the little froggie.) And, it works. You can cook him and he will not jump out.

When our backs are against the wall, what will we do? When ‘dark forces’ push do you get confused? Perhaps your bewilderment should be a signal to “shout out” to the Lord for intervention. If you get desperate you will be delivered, it is your promise as a Christian. Of course, all this is contingent upon being His child.

Commentary

V. 1-2, “With my voice I cry out to the Lord;
    with my voice I plead for mercy to the Lord.
I pour out my complaint before him;
    I tell my trouble before him.

This cry, this plea, is what our soul wants to say to the Lord. There are many who just don’t get it. They may admit it in theory, and even give the sentiment a noble nod. But few get desperate enough to do it. The word, “I” is used in each line of verses 1-2. This suggests that I must take the initiative, while God provides the power.

I think that the Lord has a “complaint department.” It is a holy place of grace where we can bring our troubles, pleas, and laments and He will listen. Only troubled people ever go there (many others won’t.)

V. 3, “When my spirit faints within me,
    you know my way!
   In the path where I walk
    they have hidden a trap for me.”

God superintends our moments. He watches and surveys our steps closely. Recall the title of this psalm, “A Maskil of David, when he was in the cave. A Prayer.” Some thoughts I’ve had…

  • David wrote this to instruct others who are getting desperate (a “maskil” was a teaching method.) Someone else can learn from your ordeal.
  • David was hiding in a cave, underground. Caves are great places to disappear for a while. They provide shelter and concealment. But they can get very difficult to live in it permanently.
  • This was first and foremost “prayer.” Funny, but I have never met a Christian yet who was satisfied with their personal prayer life. (Maybe we haven’t been “squeezed” enough?)

When I was a boy I was chopping down some tall grass in a field with a hand scythe. All was well until I accidently tried to amputate my left index finger. I bled profusely, gushing blood all over. I almost fainted, everything got ‘swirly’ and confused. I staunched the bleeding with my tee shirt and staggered 1/2 mile to the house. (That was 40 years ago, and I still have a magnificent scar on my hand.)

King David admits his spirit was ‘fainting.’ He sensed he was on the verge of passing out spiritually.  And oh, so many believers are passing out. The enemy has placed thousands of traps to catch you, and harm you. Your path (seen and known by God) crosses some dangerous territory.

V. 4, “Look to the right and see:
     there is none who takes notice of me;
  no refuge remains to me;
    no one cares for my soul.”

David surveys the ground around him. There is no human help to be had. No one cares for his soul. He has no one. David knows deep down that even the cave he has been hiding, offers no real refuge. He has been stripped of everything (and all this, God has allowed.)

Sometimes, all we really need is ‘a God with skin on.’ We are tremendously comforted by someone, a companion.

The Son of God took on skin for us. Jesus Christ came looking for you, and He was fully human, and fully God at the same time. He loves you more fiercely and deeply than any love you have ever known. He has sent the Holy Spirit with specific instructions to watch over you directly.

Come out of your cave, jump out of the pot. Meet Him, and all will be well.

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

Set Apart for Certain: Psalm 4:3-5

3 “You can be sure of this:
    The Lord set apart the godly for himself.
    The Lord will answer when I call to him.

Don’t sin by letting anger control you.
    Think about it overnight and remain silent.   Interlude
Offer sacrifices in the right spirit,
    and trust the Lord.”

Psalm 4:3-5, NLT

‘Certainty’ is seldom the realm of the theologian. I have talked with these guys, and read their books (and listened to their podcasts.) They hardly ever offer solid, concrete answers. It seems that the more they study the deeper the vagueness gets. The more educated they are the more ambiguity it seems we hear.

Granted, the deep nature of Christianity demands ‘faith.’  We are saved by faith. We are told to walk by faith. We understand God by our faith. St. Augustine on this, wrote,

“Faith is to believe what we do not see, and the reward of this faith is to see what we believe. Seek not to understand that you may believe, but believe that you may understand.”

Commentary

V. 3,  “You can be sure of this:
    The Lord set apart the godly for himself.
    The Lord will answer when I call to him.”

David declares that there are two things of that which we can be certain. A claim to knowing a “sure thing.” They both deal with our relationship with Him. First, we are special and chosen. Something amazing has happened! We have discovered that God has selected us. Because we understand that this is a fact, we can (and must) live differently.

The second certainty is found in our Father’s responsiveness to our cry. Since we are now His own, we are not to anxiously fret about anything. We make our needs known, and we can rest that He will do something for us.

So much in our world is shifting sand in a blowing wind. But in this one verse we are given concrete specifics that aren’t going to blow away. They are true and they are permanent.

V. 4, “Don’t sin by letting anger control you.
    Think about it overnight and remain silent.   Interlude”

(The ESV translates this verse as: “Be angry, and do not sin;
ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent.   Selah”) 

Anger can be seen as a flashing light on the dashboard, warning us and revealing to us of danger. I’ve been told that “anger is danger with just one small letter.”

“A man that does not know how to be angry does not know how to be good.”
*
Every person thinks their anger is justified. This is a link that pride can creep in, and we are of the opinion that we have the right to being angry.
A solution is presented here as well. When our kids are acting up, we give them a “time out.” Perhaps as believers, we need to take a self-imposed time away from a escalating situation.
*

V. 5, “Offer sacrifices in the right spirit, and trust the Lord.”

It is very possible that David was thinking of his son Absalom. Absalom was rebelling, and to bolster his own cause started offering empty sacrifices.

“And while Absalom was offering the sacrifices, he sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite, David’s counselor, from his city Giloh. And the conspiracy grew strong, and the people with Absalom kept increasing.”

2 Samuel 15:12

What Absalom was doing was to use these sacrifices to draw people to join his conspiracy. There was nothing contrite about them. Absalom was going through the motions, it was hollow and empty. I suppose as a father, David sees the real danger in his son’s attitude.

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ybic, Bryan