Just Understanding is OK: Psalm 137

Israelites in Captivity

 1 By the rivers in Babylon we sat and cried 
       when we remembered Jerusalem.
 2 On the poplar trees nearby 
       we hung our harps.
 3 Those who captured us asked us to sing; 
       our enemies wanted happy songs. 
       They said, “Sing us a song about Jerusalem!” 

 4 But we cannot sing songs about the Lord 
       while we are in this foreign country! 
 5 Jerusalem, if I forget you, 
       let my right hand lose its skill.
 6 Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth 
       if I do not remember you, 
    if I do not think about Jerusalem 
       as my greatest joy. 

 7 Lord, remember what the Edomites did 
       on the day Jerusalem fell. 
    They said, “Tear it down! 
       Tear it down to its foundations!” 

 8 People of Babylon, you will be destroyed. 
       The people who pay you back for what you did to us will be happy. 
 9 They will grab your babies 
       and throw them against the rocks.

When you get to this Psalm, you need to grip the idea that there is a revolving link. There is something that makes you swirl back to verse 1. It’s a link that brings us from the end to the beginning. A certain revolution that seems circular. When we get to the end of this psalm, we are shunted back to the beginning. There is a certain connection that takes us into a spiritual connection, and then demands we reconnect and do it all over again.

I suppose that we hate the idea.  We start, and then insist on a conclusion, we like to be tidy, and somehow we think completeness makes us spiritual.  But in 137, we discover we are a loop, in this sense. We read it over and over, but honest believers, but we can’t grip onto a true discipleship.

Commentary

VV. 1-2 establishes certain things. There is a kind of nostalgia here. A powerful sadness is acknowledged. Desperation is the theme of this moment. Memories can be good, and yet be savagely painful. The viciousness of all of this makes us act in strange ways. We hang our harps up on the trees. We don’t want anything to do with life in captivity. There is a bitterness in this new world of slavery.

V. 3,  there will be an awful antagonism, and those who order us about have no idea. Pain is afflicted by ‘their’ falseness. Undoubtedly, this isn’t intentional, and they seem so sincere, but savagely brutal. Perhaps might does make right, in seems so in this case.

V. 4 bring us issues of a self-recognition. What Babylon asks from us, is simply not possible. It is not within us to sing in captivity.

V. 5, is a reasonable declaration. There is an intense connection between a man’s religion and all that he is. What marks us at the start, identifies us at the end. You could say, “we are who we have always been.”

V. 6 is a very certain concept. It has to deal with, of “what could be.” The reader has to keep the orientation right. So much seems “airborne.” Completely in flux. But that’s ok.

V.7, has a residual awareness of a deep wounding that happened in the past. The ugliness and pain will continue to be acknowledged. Whether the past will keep being understood is completely up to us.

V. 8 is actually an understanding of a certain action against what is so evil. Nothing escapes, or can even be rationalized. We take the things that come to us, and there is a certain awareness of a “right & wrong” that simply can’t be diminished or reduced. It is now “locked in.”

V. 9 carries something quite tragic and immensely sad.  I won’t push this too much. The pain of such happenings carries an ugly and vicious sadness. There is far too much grief here. The slaughter of innocents, is brutal and difficult. Perhaps the inclusion of this, has come as a result of all that has happened out of the terrible pain of seeing this happen to themselves. Grief has many funny ways as it is absorbed, but that will never make it easy.

And now we cycle back to verse 1. We are brought through all of this. We start over, and then over again. None of us, will ever get complete answers. But I guess that this is ok.

bry-signat (1)

A Trained Warrior: Psalm 144:1-2

warrior

1 “Praise the Lord, who is my rock.
    He trains my hands for war
    and gives my fingers skill for battle.
He is my loving ally and my fortress,
    my tower of safety, my rescuer.
He is my shield, and I take refuge in him.
    He makes the nations submit to me.”

Psalm 144:1-2, NLT

This is an incredible Psalm. In spite of the many, many centuries, we still should peer into it to gain wisdom. David is writing truth to our souls. We read of his certain issues and concerns. For the Christian believer, this Psalm of David offers us enrichment and strength for us to be faithful in our trials.

Enamored, is David’s heart. It has been captured by God’s intense love and deep care. Dostoevsky once said this, “Once a man accepts Jesus, he has a disease that no one can cure.” His change in our souls is permanent and irrevocable. We simply can’t walk away.

Commentary

V. 1, “Praise the Lord, who is my rock.
    He trains my hands for war
    and gives my fingers skill for battle.”

There is absolutely nothing exceptional in any of us. Yet David becomes a “super-hero” because the Lord has decided on this. David is “trained” and understands that “my fingers are now skilled for battle.” All of this means warfare, and this we have to understand. And we must agree on this, this Psalm is all about “warfare.”

Our battles (in which we fight and sweat) are real. Yet they are first spiritual, and very seldom physical. Nevertheless, they are profoundly real. Ephesians 6 reveals the incredible reality of our spiritual conflict. Sparks fly as we advance forward, (spiritually speaking of course.) But they are no less real, or difficult.

V. 2, “He is my loving ally and my fortress,
    my tower of safety, my rescuer.”

My…my…my…my. The repetition of “my” is profoundly interesting. David has linked himself on the work of God. “My” reveals a sort of possession that David has with God Himself. He sees an “ally, a fortress, a tower and a rescuer.

At least, this is quite astonishing. To have the Almighty taking a deep response is incredibly responsive. God is now our ally– and our fortress– and our tower– and if we need it, a rescuer! What potency, what an incredible effort.

V. 2, “He is my shield, and I take refuge in him.
    He makes the nations submit to me.”

A shield is something that covers, and blocks many vicious arrows. A shield is definitely needed for all those involved in desperate battle. And when it gets a bit “out-of-hand,” we can take shelter in Him, as a “refuge,” a certain place of incredible safety.

  “The nations submit to me,” is a very bold statement. (Quite bold, actually.) But God’s power is never minimized by our personal weakness. He is constantly powerful and  tremendously concerned with us. However, the “nations” are a immense work that is directed against our Father. Rather then direct Himself  specifically, He makes us quite able to stand against this travesty.

This Psalm carries with it many fantastic wonderments. It can add many things to our simple faith. God certainly does this, and more. He brings us into a maturity that we on ourselves would never guess. Until we understand “warfare,” we can never understand faith.

This, dear ones, is a great Psalm. I hope you will read it, and you will take on the blessings that it brings. We certainly do need it.

***

ybic, Bryan

Out of Sight: Psalm 32:1-3

joy

“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,
    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.”

Psalm 32:1-3, NLT

This psalm has a personal contrast. King David has an understanding of the extremes, going from elated joy to deep sorrow. He experienced both first-hand. He describes the joy in plain terms.

“Oh, what joy for those
whose disobedience is forgiven,
whose sin is put out of sight!” (v. 1).

David never denies his sin and guilt. However, he is aware of the mercy God has for him; he is indeed guilty of the sin of a murderous adultery. He has irrevocably harmed several people and that sin will affect his entire life.

And yet, David comes out clean and true. His sins have been forgiven, and forgotten. (Pretty remarkable, isn’t it?)

“Yes, what joy for those
    whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt,
    whose lives are lived in complete honesty!” (v. 2).

Joy is the true response to confessed and forgiven sin.

The guilt may have been great, but there is no sin immense enough to thwart God’s mercy. And their is no transition time; sort of a purgatory where you must prove yourself worthy. Grace is grace; we don’t know why or how it comes, but it brings joy to our souls. That joy of forgiveness fuels our new walk of obedience. That joy is needed to power your new life in Him. joy-of-the-lord

 “When I refused to confess my sin,
    my body wasted away,
    and I groaned all day long.” (v.3).

I encourage you to reread David’s story of his sin in 2 Samuel 11-12. This is a sad and evil act by David; motivated by sexual lust, he betrays everyone close to him. Perhaps he felt like being a king gave him certain rights to bed with Bathsheba, and murders her husband. Verse 3 must be understood as the pressure he endured living with sin unconfessed and unrepented.

We have this beautiful psalm of joy reminding us, that “the joy of the Lord is my strength.”

 

aabryplain

 

 

Praise is How We Grow: Psalm 111:1-3

“Praise the Lord!

I will thank the Lord with all my heart
    as I meet with his godly people.
How amazing are the deeds of the Lord!
    All who delight in him should ponder them.
Everything he does reveals his glory and majesty.
    His righteousness never fails.”

Psalm 111:1-3, NLT

This is a teaching psalm that’s purpose is to instruct or educate. This Psalm is a strict acrostic, with each line having an “ABC…” pattern. The first line (V.1) is the Hebriac phrase, “Hallel-jah” which we use in English, but it means “praise the Lord”.

Psalm 111 was part of a group of hymns sung while celebrating the Jewish feast of Passover. It is very possible that Jesus sang this song with His disciples just before His arrest in Gethsemane.

Because this psalm is constructed so well and so precisely we can safely assume it should have a honor and reverence among both Jews and Christians.

Commentary

V. 1, “Praise the Lord!” I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people.”

Why is praising God so important? Why should we thank Him? I suppose the answer can be found in His worthiness. Our relationship is with a Someone who is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient. In other words, He is all powerful, present everywhere, and all knowing.

Verse 1 also carries the idea of an existing fellowship of the “godly.” When we meet with each other to worship and praise, we activate and fortify each other. The Holy Spirit gives His gifts, and we will find a way to encourage each one.

V. 2, “How amazing are the deeds of the Lord!”
    All who delight in him should ponder them.”

We are cordially invited to wrap our heads and hearts around “the deeds of the Lord.” These are actions that God has done. These are things creative and redemptive. Our past, present and future are full of them. These deeds can be understood by those who delight in God, and ponder what He is doing.

Pondering is not ‘a piece of cake.’ You have to be motivated to ponder, and that takes a certain discipline. This Psalm has praise embedded all through it– so perhaps that is where we must begin.

V. 3, “Everything he does reveals his glory and majesty. His righteousness never fails.”

When we are exhorted by our elders to seek the Lord, that is a good thing. But how do we start? Remember, this Psalm is a teaching psalm. If we only listen to it, very closely, we will understand what we are to do.

The writer explains that we seek God by looking at what God does. (His actions speak louder than words.) He is creative– stars and galaxies, hummingbirds and salmon, snowflakes and monsoons. He created people and culture– Africans and Asians, Eskimos and Puerto Ricans. Indeed the whole earth is filled with the glory of the Lord.

To love Him is to honor His acts. To ponder all that He has done, or is doing, to save us from our sins and free us from our bondage. What He did to free the Hebrew slaves from Egypt is the story of us all. We should be people of joy, set apart to the Glory of God.

ybic, Bryan

Psalm 103, From Out of a Deep Pit

“Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
                                      3who forgives all your iniquity,
                                        who heals all your diseases,
                                      4who redeems your life from the pit.”

Psalm 103:2-4, ESV

Your gratitude is not really an option.

You have been lifted to a place of safety.  He has poured on you extraordinary blessings.  Complete forgiveness, total healing, and a secure redemption–you’ve been purchased off “the slave block.”  So much has happened to you since you met Jesus.

The Psalmist energizes himself. He states truths, and then pulls himself up to them.  He isn’t crazy, and yet he talks to himself.  Perhaps we should do this, much more frequently then we do.  It appears we might have definite advantages if we do.

A pit has been dug to trap you.  If you fall into it, you won’t be able to escape. It does its work, grimly and exceptionally.  Falling into it should be most complete. But there are so many living who reside in this pit.  It is most evil and desperate, and fully destructive to the souls of men.

In the light of this “atrocity of the pit,” deliverance is monumental.  When we are lifted out of it, we have a freedom that was nothing more than a fantasy– a really horrid dream.  This alone should generate an overflowing heart. If you will only walk in understanding, you will start to find victory!

Forgiveness, healing and redemption.  This triumvirate bores into our heart.  These three words create salvation deep inside us.  Each concept shapes us into ways that could never happen unless the Father wanted it.  He lifts us out of that wicked trap. He wants to free us!

Our simple response must be only to worship.  For many of us, it will take time and practice.  Worship needs to be learned, we simply don’t do it naturally.  But, thats ok.  Simply put, we need to start, and not forget all that He has done.  Please, don’t forget.  But remember all that He has done for you!  Psalm 103 will teach you, and bring you to a special place.

ybic, Bryan

Psalm 103:7: On the Outside Looking In?

11-23-11iStock_000017828185 (1)
Moving toward Him, and home

7 “He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel.”  Psalm 103:7

A person can have a generous grandfather who lives in a different country and never really get to know them. The grandparent sends money and gifts for their birthday, Christmas, and high school graduation. They may even get a sweater from the grandparent during winter and a fishing pole during summer and have a brief phone conversation once a year because long distance phone rates are high. After a lifetime of this, it becomes apparent that the grandchild knows the deeds of generosity of the grandfather but doesn’t really know him personally. There’s no intimacy; the grandchild merely knows him “from the outside looking in.”

This analogy is fitting when comparing Moses’ relationship with God and the vast majority of the children of Israel after they left Egypt. Moses’ heart is revealed in Exodus 33:13 when he asks God:

“If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so that I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.”

The heart of the vast majority of Israelites was revealed when they left Egypt. When life did not live up to their expectations, they complained to Moses and wanted to return to Egypt, where they would get their fill of fish, cucumbers, melons, leeks, garlic, and onions.

These two stories highlight the difference between Moses and the children of Israel: Moses sought an intimate relationship with God as an end–in–itself  while, for most of the Israelites, God was a means to an end. The latter were very similar to the crowds who followed Jesus around because they wanted to get their fill of the loaves and fishes. They knew the acts of God but not his ways. They were into the gifts but not the Giver.

Matthew 7:21–23 is a breathtaking passage because it talks about people who cast out demons and performed miracles in Christ’s name, but Jesus said he did not know them and called them evildoers. Many during the time of Moses saw the acts of God and didn’t know God personally; Jesus predicted that there would be people who would perform the acts of God and not know him.

These are all sobering passages that drive one to take a searching moral and spiritual inventory of one’s soul. However, this should all be counterbalanced with the truth that God’s grace is amazing and that his mercies endure forever. To a lukewarm church (Laodicea) that did many things that Christ found offensive, he still reached out to them with an invitation of intimate fellowship:

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20).

What’s sometimes overlooked is that this invitation was extended in this passage not to secular people but to church–going Christians. The same opportunity is offered to us every day: to not only know God’s acts but to know his ways, to be on the inside looking out and not on the outside looking in.

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

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

Letters from Fawn Creek

Just Give Me Jesus: Psalm 42:1-6

Wishing to Be Near God

For the director of music. A maskil of the sons of Korah.

 1 As a deer thirsts for streams of water, 
       so I thirst for you, God. 
 2 I thirst for the living God. 
       When can I go to meet with him?
 3 Day and night, my tears have been my food. 
    People are always saying, 
       “Where is your God?”
 4 When I remember these things, 
       I speak with a broken heart. 
    I used to walk with the crowd 
       and lead them to God’s Temple 
       with songs of praise. 

 5 Why am I so sad? 
       Why am I so upset? 
    I should put my hope in God 
       and keep praising him, 
       my Savior and 6 my God. 

    I am very sad. 
       So I remember you where the Jordan River begins, 
    near the peaks of Hermon and Mount Mizar.

These verses ask that we truly understand a “seeking heart.” Unless we are in this specific frame of mind we will never understand. This has to be the precursor of all that follows. And only an adoring heart can enter these private chambers. These rooms can only be opened with a special key– humility blended with worship.

Have you ever been really thirsty? I mean  bone-dry, parched, dehydrated. It seems that all you think about is a big glass of sweet tea, with ice cubes! Psalms 42 is a very accurate description of a heart that only wants God. There is nothing on this planet that draws a desperately thirsty heart like His presence.

Commentary

V. 1, 2  David compares himself to a desperate deer, that is driven to the clear streams of water. Funny, but deer are very reliant on a water source, much more than other animals. They will stay close to their water. David described his need for God in these terms. Are you thirsty? The living God is your soul’s real source.

V. 3, there is a profound sadness in David’s words. There are far too many people who will mock and discourage his deep need for God. Tears are David’s only response. Lots of tears. They cynically demand to know, “where is your God?” There will always be resistance, no matter what. What it works in us though is rich and true.

V. 4, is an active memory of things– the way they used to be. However it is only heart-broken nostalgia set ablaze. The enemy, he pushes us into an amnesia. We no longer think clearly about things. But David remembers his response, of travelling into His presence. What he remembered was glorious, he sang and danced as he led God’s dear people. But there is a caveat; we can only truly worship what we love and respect.

V.  5, David processes things as he looks inside. He asks himself certain questions. He doesn’t ask real questions. As he knows true answers. He talks about “sadness.” And a grief that can’t be assuaged.  He makes comments that will never be understood apart from “trial.”

V. 6. only develops things that would be “sadness.” Our grief would only irrigate this understanding. David truly understands sadness, and everything he embraces is full of sadness and woe. But David penetrates past his deep grief, and God’s presence meets him on the way. All that we see at this point is sadness. We must accept all that we can. We can only take the things that come too us.

“God blesses those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.”

Matthew 5:4, NLT

ybic, Bryan

Your Face is Shining on Me: Psalm 67

For the director of music. With stringed instruments. A psalm. A song.  “Make Your Face Shine Upon Us”

 1 May God be gracious to us and bless us 
   and make his face to shine upon us, 
                         Selah

2 that your way may be known on earth, 
   your saving power among all nations. 
3 Let the peoples praise you, O God; 
   let all the peoples praise you!

 4 Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, 
   for you judge the peoples with equity 
   and guide the nations upon earth. 
                         Selah

5 Let the peoples praise you, O God; 
   let all the peoples praise you!

 6 The earth has yielded its increase; 
   God, our God, shall bless us. 
7 God shall bless us; 
   let all the ends of the earth fear him!

This dear one, is what we call a “liturgical” song, it’s a classic. The author was most likely a Levite, one of the priest’s assistants, but he had a gift for this. The song had been created for Israel, for the profound purpose of bringing and guiding God’s covenant people into a special place. I suppose we all could use the help in this.

Two “Selahs”. I believe this is our first contact with this term in our study. We don’t grasp the meaning, but a Hebrew psalmist would. Actually almost every school boy would understand this. But it keeps everyone aware that we are reading songs (but you don’t read them, you sing them!)  These are lyrics, people. You got to sing them, even if you annoy your neighbors. And so singing is perhaps what we should being doing, and less reading. 

Our lives don’t do that, we would vastly prefer reading or studying. The musical part of us, is to a large degree, atrophied and crippled.  Back in the day, I was a student in a small Bible college. One class was something fiendishly called “Music Conducting.” Now I’m tone-deaf, and furthermore have the musical rhythmic acumen of a tree sloth. I passed the class due to the incredible kindness of my instructor, who understood my calling to someday be a pastor; and she couldn’t bear to be the one to fail me.

Commentary

V.1, and bring out the howitzers! No one does this better and more intensely than writer of Ps. 67. Key words are “graciousness and blessing.” If we wake up tomorrow without these two graces,  we would definitely know it. The writer uses the phrase, “make his face to shine upon us”. This is taken from the Priest’s Prayer we find in Numbers 6:24-26, I’m using the Message Bible here.

24 God bless you and keep you, 
25 God smile on you and gift you, 
26 God look you full in the face 
           –and make you prosper.

Blessing, and then keeping: Smiling, and then gifting: Caring, and then making you prosper. Additionally the word for “God” is “Jehovah.”  That was the name He chose to use with His own people. The Levitical Blessing was a wonderful place to pray (or sing!) like this.

V. 2-3 places the deep-seated need to take God on a “world tour.”  However v. 1 tells us that this special friendship between God and His people needs to be genuinely figured out first. But the vision is universal– for everyone, everywhere. The joy just oozes out, like a very saturated and soggy sponge.

V. 4 doesn’t seem to have the charismatic personality of its brother in v.1. But neither is it to be trifled with. It places everything God wants to do, with all that He intends. My brother John Piper, has used v. 4 as the title of his book on World Missions, “Let the Nations Be Glad.” Great book, see DesiringGod.org.

V. 5 repeats v.3. It doesn’t compete with it, or supersede it in anyway. Maybe I need two feet to be mobile– a right and a left? Perhaps it made sense lyrically, or even musically?

V. 6 is well done as you would appreciate living in an agrarian society like Israel. It’s often seems like these guys are from Iowa, they know what a manure spreader looks like (and how it smells). Everything in terms of surviving or feasting was from the land. God’s presence, His name, and His deep care was a measurable and tangible blessing. Theology is reduced and perhaps, most appreciated by the poor farmer watching a tornado bypass his property.

V.7, is as sure of itself you could ever get. Boldness, without cockiness. Confidence, without arrogance. Steady, like a rock.

*

ybic, Bryan

God’s Night Shift: Psalm 134

temple-etching

Temple Guards, Praise the Lord

A song for going up to worship.

134 Praise the Lord, all you servants of the Lord,
    you who serve at night in the Temple of the Lord.
Raise your hands in the Temple
    and praise the Lord.

May the Lord bless you from Mount Zion,
    he who made heaven and earth.

Psalm 134, NCV

This remarkable Psalm is part of an elite group known as “the Psalms of Ascent.” These 15 were sung as the congregation of Israel went up the steps of the temple in Jerusalem. They would sing each in “rounds” with each other. As you can well imagine, this made the ascent slow, but meaningful.

As you read the three verses, I get a picture of worshippers turning back and blessing the Levites. This takes place at the very end of the day. The Levites, and other godly ones who lived in the Temple, (remember Anna and Simeon, in Luke 2?)

Commentary

V. 1, “Praise the Lord, all you servants of the Lord,
you who serve at night in the Temple of the Lord.”

The first significant thought is “Lord” mentioned three times. The word is the recognition of someone’s status and standing. We call Him Lord, because He is that (and more).

The second has to deal with the Levitical “night-shift.” They served and guarded the Temple during the wee hours of the night. They probably cleaned, stacked wood, sharpened knives and maintained the Holy Place with its needs.

There was no real glory working the night shift. There were no people to serve. The crowds were for the day shift. (Here’s a weird thought– think “Disneyland at 2:00 a.m.”) There was also a contingent of non-Levite people ministering to the Lord as well. They had no duties, and only the priests could serve through their work.

V. 2 “Raise your hands in the Temple
and praise the Lord.”

I’ve worked nights before. It’s a real adjustment. You never feel like you’ve had enough sleep, and it is really hard to be positive and cheerful.  I could get pretty grouchy at times.

But an exhortation is given, a shout and a blessing as the crowds leave. “Raise up your hands– and praise Him!” It is as the work, although necessary, would be secondary. The worship however, was primary. We need to hear that.

V. 3, “May the Lord bless you from Mount Zion,
he who made heaven and earth.”

To be blessed (made “lucky”) by our Creator and Lord is pretty profound. As a kid who read a lot, I think of “fairy dust.” I know better now, but to be blessed by God is deeply significant.

To summarize, I believe this Psalm is speaking of those in the church who are doing “hidden service.” No one sees them really. They go about there duties quietly, and purposefully. The only recognition is from God– who sees all.

I must encourage you to keep on. There are more than you think who see your hidden ministry to the Father.

*

ybic, Bryan

The Flourish: the Finish

The conclusion of Psalm 92, NLT.

12 But the godly will flourish like palm trees and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon.

13 For they are transplanted to the Lord’s own house.     They flourish in the courts of our God.

14 Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green.

15 They will declare, “The Lord is just! He is my rock!     There is no evil in him!”

What an ending. I do confess, I do like watching good movies– and the final scenes can make, or break a good movie. Is it believable, does it flow into the plot, does it carry us beyond the moment?

The very way this Psalm ends intrigues me. The perfect summary for this is found in verses 1-11, which we have already covered. Verses 12-15 is our ending point. We arrive here if we will just follow the conditions of the first 11 verses.

*

Commentary

V. 12, “But the godly will flourish like palm trees and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon.”

What audacity, what boldness! We must recognize that there is a certain place for these ‘flourishers.’ They just explode with a core central growth. We see them, but we are not intimidated. Instead they push us to a higher love.

The strength of us is that we can grow strong all the way through. That is just the way it works, and we take anything that we can get. Envision for a moment, the tallest cedars. I remember seeing for the first time the California Redwoods. It was astonishing, and I got a crook in my neck looking up all the time.

V. 13, “For they are transplanted to the Lord’s own house.     They flourish in the courts of our God.”

No matter where we are, the Father will bring us closer to Himself. We may think we are “out-of-the-loop”. But He sees it all. He does “transplant,” but only within our true calling. And a “flourishing” is part of the package.

How do we process this? We are brought out of a senseless and desperate life, directly into a full life of intimacy with the Lord Jesus. In this place, we start to grow branches, and new buds. Life is not just a great idea–but it starts to flow through our very being.

V. 14, “ Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green.”

Old age seems close to us. We age, and we determine that it works out to us in obsolescence and defeat. When we hit 60, we determine it is all over, and finished. God promises that as believers we will be green, and fresh–even in this crazy margin of age. But as it works out, we are incredibly “vital.”

I suppose that the truth of this can transform the way we see ourselves, and the way we live out our lives, Old-agedness can never be an excuse to backing out of a true and real spirituality.

V. 15, “ They will declare, “The Lord is just! He is my rock!     There is no evil in him!”

Much of what I have shared with you is solid, but simple. We all end up at this verse though. From here we start to focus directly on all that is plain and level. After all, He is the rock and as we start to focus on this, we are ‘pulled’ into His presence.

We can see no evil in this, and yes it may seem we are in a kind of “pinball machine.” We are bound to voices that try to direct us into its version of deceit. We could be pulled even into “denial” of our faith. But never, or ever is there the slightest sense of evil that comes to us from God.

*

ybic, Bryan

Is Your Worship Worthy? Psalm 92

Born to Worship
Born to Worship

Psalm 92

A psalm. A song to be sung on the Sabbath Day.

1 “It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
    to sing praises to the Most High.
It is good to proclaim your unfailing love in the morning,
    your faithfulness in the evening,
accompanied by the ten-stringed harp
    and the melody of the lyre.”

This particular psalm was used on ‘Shabbet’, or the Sabbath. It contains the elements needed for a congregation to enter into corporate worship. When we come together– we should celebrate in such a manner that pleases the Lord God.

Corporate worship is significant. It knits us together in places we never considered connecting with another. The Bible really advances, in quite a few places, a mutual blending of voice and instruments. But, it is something we must be taught. It is hardly automatic. But it is necessary.

Commentary

V. 1, “It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
    to sing praises to the Most High.”

This verse plainly states the core benefit of “goodness”. We are to weld this to “giving thanks”. Believe or not, but God is recruiting people who want to be worshippers. The word, “good” carries within itself, the idea of health, healthiness, and salvation.

Many things are corrected as we worship. We come forward to sing praises, and suddenly we are healed from many things inside of us. In a sense, we are recalibrated when we worship. And some of it, has to be on a corporate level.

There is no room to negotiate this. The psalmist says it is good– I think we should take him at his word. It seems if you really want to be “good”, you must learn to worship. This is a transformational thought; try to dilute it and you end up all wrong.

V. 2, “It is good to proclaim your unfailing love in the morning,
    your faithfulness in the evening,”

There is such an intelligence embedded here. Again the psalmist has us to reiterate what we have learned in v. 1.

It is good. Whether you know it or not, each of us need to proclaim things from the spiritual realm. You may have a quiet, or a brash personality. It doesn’t matter. The word, “proclaim” means “to announce, exhibit or declare.” These words, like cogs in a machine, mesh with God’s love. It would seem we are to declare His unfailing love (and faithfulness) in the morning when the sun rises– and in the evening when it sets.

V. 3, “accompanied by the ten-stringed harp
    and the melody of the lyre.”

The musical instruments listed are not known to us. I personally like a Strat and drums and piano. A bass and cello are great.

But this leads us back to the idea of corporate worship. I can’t play an instrument. I can’t really sing worth a ‘plug-nickel’. The key word here in verse 3 is “accompanied.” That means more than one– corporate.

&

ybic, Bryan

He Looked Down: Psalm 102:19-22

Crowd in the rain
Crowd in the rain

19 Tell them the Lord looked down
    from his heavenly sanctuary.
   He looked down to earth from heaven
20     to hear the groans of the prisoners,
    to release those condemned to die.
21 And so the Lord’s fame will be celebrated in Zion,
    his praises in Jerusalem,
22 when multitudes gather together
    and kingdoms come to worship the Lord.

Psalm 102:19-22, NLT

The movie “Roots” is on the tube. I have never seen it before, and it is quite provocative. The scenes on the slave ship, and the slave market where Africans were auctioned off are brutal and vicious. It didn’t seem possible for such evil being afflicted on a people.

I also have been reading this psalm and thinking about God’s certain awareness of both the condemned, and the prisoner. I know His heart is breaking as He watches every mean and wicked action against these sufferers.

There are 7 billion people alive on planet Earth today. Slavery, and prostitution are rampant. Drug addiction and crime seethes into every corner– corrupting and confusing. In fact, if we could weigh all the sin in the world committed in the last five minutes it would bury us.

This thought fits, but may need work to make it real. Bob Pierce, who wrote, “Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God.”

And, it is something that Mother Teresa once said, “May God break my heart so completely that the whole world falls in.” – Mother Teresa

Commentary

V. 19, “Tell them the Lord looked down
    from his heavenly sanctuary.
   He looked down to earth from heaven.”

God is always on alert, watching and looking. He is all-seeing, from a sweat shop in China, to the homosexual in Miami. No dark corner in an alley in Rio can block what He sees. He sees 24/7, and never takes a nap.

His HQ is what we call a “sanctuary”– that is, a position of perfect peace and serenity. But this doesn’t infer to isolate. Rather it seems the very opposite is true, as He looks, and grieves over it all.

V. 20, “to hear the groans of the prisoners,
    to release those condemned to die.”

Have you ever groaned? I went to Dictionary.com and quickly looked it up. The noun form of groan is, “a low, mournful sound uttered in pain or grief: the groans of dying soldiers.

Prisoners groan–a sob, a cry, a whimper. But people being people, one must adapt and become inured to the dull pain that confinement brings. You adapt to stay alive, even when life gets difficult.

The last phrase in this verse, “to release those condemned to die.”  This explains the effort of God to see people liberated. He loves to parole those who will turn to Him. We think this release is physical. But I’m reasonably sure it is a spiritual release as well. If you find Christ, “you are free indeed.”

V. 21, “And so the Lord’s fame will be celebrated in Zion,
    his praises in Jerusalem,”

There is nothing quite like praise of one who has been “scraped off the bottom” and given life. I love worshiping with scoundrels and misfits. They are authentic, they understand being held in dark bondage. They know “a jumping kind of joy.” They party in the Presence of their Redeemer.

V. 22, “when multitudes gather together
    and kingdoms come to worship the Lord.”

You know, I think worship is what our life is all about. In this verse we witness the discovery of a common mission. A young believer in New Delhi, and the quiet elder of a church in Cornwall, have little in common. But worship. Worship is the “true coin of the realm” which we all share.

This verse speaks of both “multitudes” and “kingdoms.” Jesus redeems us one by one–but we all gather to worship together.

*

ybic, Bryan

Life is Hard, But God is Really Good: Psalm 145:8-10

8 “The Lord is merciful and compassionate,
    slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
The Lord is good to everyone.
    He showers compassion on all his creation.
10 All of your works will thank you, Lord,
    and your faithful followers will praise you.”

Psalm 145:8-10, NLT

Such optimism. And a sweet enthusiasm that just rolls through these words.

The Lord is pretty much the exclusive subject. And David seems to exhaust the human vocabulary trying to offer praise to God. He uses every venue he has to make God look good. And this just isn’t a vacuous publicity stunt. The Lord is truly all these things– and more.

There are those who attempt to disparage God. Lies and foolishness are at the core of their objections. The inane absurdities that they cling to are really nothing more than fig-leaves.

Commentary

V. 8, “The Lord is merciful and compassionate,
    slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.”

Each adjective opens up something quite huge. Even believers will skim these words, without ever letting them sink in. Yet, the Lord God is these things (and more). I’m think that I could preach six months on just this singular verse.

Men and women, are none of these things. We would like to be more noble, and maybe a tad more faithful. But the very best of us is really never enough. We start out poorly and end up badly. Even at our most pristine we are still a sewer.

V. 9, “The Lord is good to everyone.
    He showers compassion on all his creation.”

It’s all-inclusive– “everyone,” and “all.” And “goodness” and “compassion” are true-hearted mules. It is these two which carry the bulk of David’s praise and worship.

Can you imagine someone who is good to everyone they meet? Not just nice or friendly, but someone who engages a passerby and reaches out with a true desire to bless.

And this showering compassion bit. Who do you know who drenches everyone they meet with love? I know of no one who can do this. At our very best we are proud and inconsistent, and our worst we are devilish and harmful.

Is it any wonder that David latches on to the Lord?

V. 10, “All of your works will thank you, Lord,
    and your faithful followers will praise you.”

God’s unchanging character becomes the basis of a grateful people. Somehow I cannot imagine serving a God that is often ill-tempered and nasty; angry and grudge-holding. Or, for that matter– aloof and depressed.

It gets easier to worship when we see the true character and personality of our God of compassion. Purify your vision of Him and you will supercharge your praise.

$

ybic, Bryan

God Has Really Big Feet: Psalm 108:10-13

10Who will bring me to the fortified city?
    Who will lead me to Edom?
11 Have you not rejected us, O God?
    You do not go out, O God, with our armies.
12 Oh grant us help against the foe,
    for vain is the salvation of man!
13 With God we shall do valiantly;
    it is he who will tread down our foes.”

Psalm 108:10-13, ESV

As believers we all have expectations.  In this Psalm, the mind of David is clear and aware– and it is essentially focusing on whether God will be present (or not?). David has seen a lot in his life. And after our life is all sifted, we should be asking, “how close was God to me?”

“With God we shall do valiantly” is most certainly a profound statement. It is pretty much saturated by an intense faith. It declares that we are now enabled to face anything life decides to throw at us.

Commentary

V. 10, “Who will bring me to the fortified city?
    Who will lead me to Edom?”

David’s question has been cloaked in the metaphors of his day. Today we need to break out our study books to define things for us. But the contemporaries of David would have instantly understood the question.

The “fortified city,” or Edom was the very place of concentrated evil. It was always a source of disruption and pain for Jerusalem. I suppose we could make the comparison between Iran and the USA.

Terrorism and dealing with advanced weaponry are just two of the issues. There are also real religious and social incompatibilities. We face core ideas where we are diametrically and irreconcilable opposed to each other.

The question is this– how do we oppose a fortified city? Or take on the greatest threat to our nation’s prosperity and well-being?

V. 11, “ Have you not rejected us, O God?
    You do not go out, O God, with our armies.”

This statement clarifies King David’s greatest fear. The absence of God in the heart of his nation terrifies him. It is a nightmare when God withdraws His presence from His people.

Yes…Israel does have an army. And I’m sure it was the equal (more or less) with any other kingdom’s army. It would be good to remember that as a boy David faced Goliath. There was something quite solid inserted in his thinking. It had to do with a faithful God acting on Israel’s behalf.

V. 12, “ Oh grant us help against the foe,
     for vain is the salvation of man!”

David refuses to stay in verse 11. He pushes into v. 12. He refuses to accept the false “alternate reality” of an absent God, but instead he forges out this cry for divine help.

This man David was the boy who faced Goliath, the giant. Obviously, Goliath was the superior warrior. He was experienced after many encounters in combat. Never defeated, he was ‘the human wood-chipper.’ And when David defeated him, it was a victory of monumental proportions. And David would never, ever be the same.

I’m reasonably certain that Israel had generals trained in their version of “West Point.” I’m reasonably sure they had a diplomatic presence reaching out for alliances and treaties. But in all these gyrations and preparations, King David refused to put any confidence in them.

V. 13, “With God we shall do valiantly;
    it is he who will tread down our foes.”

A most remarkable verse. It has a definite value far beyond David’s situation, it chisels out a principle that has as much, (or more) significance today.

“With God.” “Do valiantly.” There is something quite heroic about any person that chooses to “walk by faith, and not by sight.” Valiant ones are not necessarily stronger or smarter, rather they know they are weaker. They have relinquished anything that keep them following their Father into victory.

“Tread down” can be understood as ‘trampling or stomping.’ It is the ultimate act of victory, with the enemy under our feet. It reveals the sense of total victory over them. And we must see, it is God’s feet doing the crushing.

“When we pray for the Spirit’s help … we will simply fall down at the Lord’s feet in our weakness. There we will find the victory and power that comes from His love. ”  

Andrew Murray

&

ybic, Bryan

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Tunnel to the Light: Psalm 35:26-28– the Conclusion

26 “May those who rejoice at my troubles
    be humiliated and disgraced.
May those who triumph over me
    be covered with shame and dishonor.
27 But give great joy to those who came to my defense.
    Let them continually say, “Great is the Lord,
    who delights in blessing his servant with peace!”
28 Then I will proclaim your justice,
    and I will praise you all day long.”

Psalm 35:26-28, NLT

Finally, we reach the end of Psalm 35. Reviewing is recommended, but certainly not mandated. (You will get no ‘brownie points’ however. But you’ll be missing so much.)

These last three verses seem to stamp in themes that have already been worked over pretty well. I suppose they are a solid summary of all that we examined thoroughly before.

  • David is in deep ‘doo-doo,’ way far beyond anything he can handle. He is completely overwhelmed.
  • He is hated so much, by so many, that people just want to see him gone. (David is like the ‘Richard Nixon’ of his day.)
  • David pleads for a ‘reversal’ of grace and cursing. Those who usurp David’s authority must be overturned and defeated. Grace must become fully orthodox and ‘the only way to go.’
  • There is a true fellowship of the joyful, as they reach out in David’s support and well-being.
  • There is a presumption of intention that David intends to ‘live for God.’ All that he has learned, propels him into a special grace.

Commentary

V. 26, “May those who rejoice at my troubles
be humiliated and disgraced.
May those who triumph over me
be covered with shame and dishonor.”

I suppose the intention here is that ‘the rejoicers’ get wrecked. Those who are so glad David is suffering would be now become “disgraced.” The reversal fully flips. The voices become nullified– zeroed out and come to a certain shame.

There is a tentative boldness in David’s ‘declaration,’ it is sure, but it will require some patience. The overthrow of evil will sometimes take incremental steps. But it is certain. It will happen.

V. 27, “But give great joy to those who came to my defense.
Let them continually say, “Great is the Lord,
who delights in blessing his servant with peace!”

The issues of joy run down the lane of obedience. Defending those who are godly is the certain call of joy for it’s leadership. The steady mantra of those in the place of joy is aspirational. It aspires to fully exalt God, and also to acknowledge David’s need for peace. But the key word here maybe, is “delights.” Quite frankly, God delights to make this happen.

V. 28, “Then I will proclaim your justice,
and I will praise you all day long.”

There are obvious prerequisites to put this into ‘play.’ This verse pivots around this idea of ‘proclamation of justice.” And that dear one, is a hard truth for us to grasp. Will we do this– to make this announcement, we believe that there is a definite sense of what is right.

When we proclaim justice, it can only strengthen our praise and worship. (I suppose that scripturally they are a sort of siamese twins, they are “linked at the hip.” ‘Announcing justice’ and a ‘continual praise.’ go together, like ‘ham and eggs.’

*

ybic, Bryan

Use the Handle: Psalm 67:5-7

 “May the nations praise you, O God.
    Yes, may all the nations praise you.
Then the earth will yield its harvests,
    and God, our God, will richly bless us.
Yes, God will bless us,
    and people all over the world will fear him.”

Psalm 67:5-7, NLT

It seems to me that there is five groups of people, both different and both pretty significant. We can list them-

    1. ‘the nations’ (repeated twice, in v. 5 )-
    2. ‘the earth’-
    3. ‘God’-
    4. ‘us’-
    5. and the world’s people.

These should be thought through. Identifying them opens these last verses of Psalm 67 for us. Each of the five has an identity, or a position that is distinct from the others. If we take a minute, we will flow through these verses, collecting wisdom and insight.

Our List

The nations- are the world’s organized governments. Political countries with a common economy, society and military. They gather around a flag, and a constitution.

The earth- or the land. Physical and consists of mountains, forests, rivers and natural resources. Basically everything God has created.

God- there is just one, who created all we see. Everything is His, and He sustains it all by His power and might. He is the starting point of truth, but God has always existed and will forever exist. He needs to be understood as a “trinity of three,” yet one.

Us- you and me. We are rebels and God’s enemies before our salvation. He has made us a new and distinct group, called the church. We are learning all about God, through His “family.” We’re connected to each other through the power and energy of the Holy Spirit. And we have a destiny or future.

The world’s people- are those under Satan’s rule. They are ‘contested.’ They don’t really understand until they are “born-again.” And even then it is still takes a dump truck of truth to open their eyes. “But God so loved the world, He sent His only Son…” (John 3:16)

I hope this isn’t rigid or dull. I hope it does organize in a flexible and thoughtful manner.

ybic, Bryan

Check out the first part, http://psalmslife.com/2012/06/16/teaching-the-world-to-sing-psalm-671-4/

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

Art by Lynda Finch

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

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

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

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

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

Commentary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ybic, Bryan

Art Courtesy of Linda Finch

http://lyndafinchart.com/index.html

Worship Always: Psalm 34:1-2

I will bless the LORD at all times;

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

–Psalm 34:1-2

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

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

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

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

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

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

ybic, Bryan

 

 

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

 

Turn to the Light: Psalms 32:6–11

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

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

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

Psalms 32:6–11, ESV

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

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

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

Commentary

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

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

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

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

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

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


Praise Him More: Psalm 113

1 Praise the Lord
    Praise him, you servants of the Lord; 
       praise the name of the Lord.
 2 The Lord’s name should be praised 
       now and forever.
 3 The Lord’s name should be praised 
       from where the sun rises to where it sets.
 4 The Lord is supreme over all the nations; 
       his glory reaches to the skies. 

 5 No one is like the Lord our God, 
       who rules from heaven, 
 6 who bends down to look 
       at the skies and the earth.
 7 The Lord lifts the poor from the dirt 
       and takes the helpless from the ashes.
 8 He seats them with princes, 
       the princes of his people. 
 9 He gives children to the woman who has none 
       and makes her a happy mother. 

Praise the Lord!

Psalm 113, NCV

This particular Psalm simply sizzles. It has within it, an inherent sense of God’s majesty, and glory. When we read it, we shouldn’t really read as much as we should be worshipping. The word “praise” is mentioned and indirectly on a dozen occasions. When we actually start praising Him, so much can happen. We have no idea.

One of the very essential issues is the need for humility. Servanthood    really does become a certain factor, we see the humble rushed up to take a deeply significant place. As we gaze on these dear ones, we should be challenged, and look toward the very possibility of absorbing some of their contagion.

The Psalmist is a deep worshipper. He posits the question through out his declarations– who is like our God? Vv. 2-3.

 “The Lord’s name should be praised 
       now and forever.
 3 The Lord’s name should be praised 
       from where the sun rises to where it sets.”

He basically realizes that “praising” God has got to be paramount among His creation. We must praise, “or else the rocks will cry out.” God has a reputation, and we can diminish it, or extol it. We have the choice, and a decisive opinion. Perhaps this is the vitality that the “heavenly realms” represents.

Vv. 4-6 truly comes with weight. These verses are obese, and we read them with the “fat” they come with. The Father is pursuing us, and pronouncing His reality– which is glory! His glory revealed is like explaining electricity to an Amazonian tribesman. They simply can’t comprehend what you are talking about. Until they are zapped!

Vv. 7-8 takes us quite deep into the behavior of the Lord God. The poor are lifted up into a place that is exceptional. We just might suggest the “people of the dirt” will become “people of the glory”. Imagine this quantum leap– dirty people are now full of His glory!

Vv. 8-9, to be made into this place is both outrageous and unreal. We move out of the filth and dirt, and given beautiful clothes, (Luke 15). We are suddenly and astonishingly recreated into truth and beauty. We are irrevocably ugly, and now made into people of beauty. We are now “seated with princes.” We really can’t reason through this.

V. 9 carries a gentleness and intimacy with it, and as we absorb it we can deeply understand the deep, deep heart of God. His very nature is now displayed. He loves to bless. To give to her who has no children, a child. This is amazingly rich, and our Father has a deep delight in making impossibilities very possible.

Psalm 113 carries with it a deep density of revealed truth. As we approach it, we find that it approaches us. When we read it, and think (and pray) it through, we discover many things. And perhaps the biggest is our new desire to worship Him. “Praise the Lord.”