Psalm 47

DSC03455Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy. How awesome is the LORD Most High, the great King over all the earth! He subdued nations under us, peoples under our feet. He chose our inheritance for us, the pride of Jacob, whom he loved. Selah God has ascended amid shouts of joy, the LORD amid the sounding of trumpets. Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises. For God is the King of all the earth; sing to him a psalm of praise. God reigns over the nations; God is seated on his holy throne. The nobles of the nations assemble as the people of the God of Abraham, for the kings of the earth belong to God; he is greatly exalted.   NIV

As I read this psalm this morning I stop and reflect about all the influences that have already occurred today in my life.  On my daily commute to work every morning I either listen to the radio or to my CDs on the scriptures.  When I listen to radio it seems that half of the time I am listening to advertising that makes claims on how to improve and make your life better and more productive.  Yet, most of these claim leave out one major compound and that is God.  By reading the psalms daily the reader will soon truly grasp how awesome the Lord really is in heaven and on earth.  When I listen to these claims that promise to give me a great and better life they leave God out.  They usually have one purpose and that is to make the person or company offering them a profit.  When hearing these claims I have to reflect on the very fall of man in the Garden of Eden. Man took the fruit from his wife who had took it from the serpent, who had convinced her that there was more to life than God had provided.  He convinced Eve and she convinced Adam “that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise”.   However after they eat of the fruit their eyes were opened and they saw their own nakedness.

I see the same with all the claims that the world offers us today.  Even the claims of most Christian ministries seem to fall short of meeting the needs and desires of fallen man.  Unless fallen man truly returns to a dependence on God he will perish just like the beast of the field.  As Psalm 49: 20 states ”A man who has riches without understanding is like the beasts that perish”.  However, when we truly get to a point in our life that we trust God and pursue a desire to live a blameless life in the light of his Word, then we will see that he will cloth us in His glory.   How awesome would our lives be if our daily routines in this world would truly reflect our true dependence upon God to manage the affairs of our life?

Psalm 28

Tallapossa 4o you I call, O LORD my Rock; do not turn a deaf ear to me. For if you remain silent, I will be like those who have gone down to the pit.  Hear my cry for mercy as I call to you for help, as I lift up my hands toward your Most Holy Place.  Do not drag me away with the wicked, with those who do evil, who speak cordially with their neighbors but harbor malice in their hearts. Repay them for their deeds and for their evil work; repay them for what their hands have done and bring back upon them what they deserve. Since they show no regard for the works of the LORD and what his hands have done, he will tear them down and never build them up again.  Praise be to the LORD, for he has heard my cry for mercy.  The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song. The LORD is the strength of his people, a fortress of salvation for his anointed one.  Save your people and bless your inheritance; be their shepherd and carry them forever. NIV

As I read this verse today in relationship to Oswald Chamber’s devotion from August fourth I noticed that the Psalmist does not claim to have done anything great in these verses.  This point was also made in Oswald Chamber’s devotion from August 4th in that it is out of our poverty that God uses us for His purpose. As I read this devotion I thought back to II Timothy 2:20-22 “Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some unto honor, and some unto dishonor.  If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, meet for the master’s use, prepared unto every good work. After righteousness, faith, love, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart”.  So as a believer we must present ourselves as a clean vessel for the master’s use.  Remember a vessel is empty, it is God that fills and uses the vessel.  All we must provide for God to use us for his purpose is a vessel of honor.  People who know not God who plot evil in their heart and show no regard for the things of God might not see the true believer as a vessel of God, but God does.  My prayer is for anyone that reads Psalms twenty-eight to see that the way of the wicked (see Psalms one) is the wrong path to travel.  The right path is for those who call on God out of a pure heart.

As I study this psalm today the phase found in verse one “For if you remain silent, I will be like those who have gone down to the pit” revealed how strong my relationship with God must be.  I searched and realized this is the first psalm that uses the word pit to refer to the grave.  Without God in our life we are dead.  If you jump over to Psalm 88 you will read a psalm that is probably one of the hardest psalms to understand.  The reason is that we look for hope when we read the Psalms.  There is no hope in Psalm 88.  This psalm ends with the verse “you have taken my companions and loved ones from me; the darkness is my closest friend.  This I believe was the psalmist greatest fear in his life, a life without God.  Yet how many people do we meet daily who are living in the pit and living the life-style of the wicked.  Verses three and five sums up the characteristic of the wicked “those who do evil, who speak cordially with their neighbors but harbor malice in their hearts, they show no regard for the works of the Lord”, Study the makeup of the pit as the Lord gives it in Luke 16:19-27 and as I believe Psalms 88 portrays it.  Yes there is a hell (the pit where God’s presence cannot be found) as well as a heaven (where the dwelling of God is with men).  The choose of your final resting place depends your answer to one question.  What will you think of Christ?

As I study this psalm I noticed that verse three starts out with the phase “Do not drag me away with the wicked with those who do evil” and verse seven ends with the phrase “he has heard my cry for mercy”.  This is the message of the gospel.  We are all guilty before God, but he does extends to us mercy.   As I read Oswald Chambers devotional for November 5 he brings out the role of Jesus in our life.  He illustrated how Mary believed that Jesus had a special intimacy with God, and that whatever He asked of God, God would do. However, he brought out the point that Mary realized that she needed a closer personal intimacy with Jesus.  In verse two we see that this is also what David wanted.  His desire was to have a closer personal intimacy to God.  This Psalm contains the gospel message of God.  We are all guilty before God, however God does extends his mercy to us.  Once this happens we are changed and see the old wicked way in which we walked for what it was and turn from that way.  We then find our strength in the Lord and our desire than focus on become more like God.

Psalm 23

Little RiverThe LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.  NIV

This is one of the first psalms that many young people memorizes and place in their heart.  It is a simple psalm yet rich in meaning.  The relationships are simple.  The Lord is the shepherd, and we are his sheep.  He leads and we follow.  He takes care of us and we enjoy the life he gives us.  Our companions are goodness and love and they will be with us along the entire journey.  Our dwelling will be in the house of the Lord forever.

I could go deeper with this psalm as many other writers have in the past.  However, this is a personal psalm, a psalm of a personal relationship between the Lord (shepherd) and the believer (sheep).  Once you know the Lord and walk with Him then these words will have a special meaning to you.  You will recall times in your past walks that he gave you rest, times in the past that he had to restore you, times in the past when everything seem too far gone to be save and yet he rescued you, times that he blessed you as your enemies were watching and observing how great God rewarded you, times when the peace of God that passes all understanding came over you and finally you truly realized that this world is not your home but heaven is and you enjoy your life on this as a journey with friends and family.  If you don’t know the Lord and you are going about this journey on earth alone, then you are missing the most precious relationship that you could have on this earth.

Psalm 18

DSC03460As you read this psalm it refers to David and his descendants.  Of course the last descendant we know from the Bible is Christ.  A form of this Psalm is also found in II Samuel chapter twenty-two.  This Psalm reveals David’s understanding of God’s way.  Read each phase and see if your understanding of God’s way matches David’s understanding of God’s way.

I love you

I take refuge in the Lord

I call to the LORD

I am saved from my enemies.

The cords of death entangled me the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me the cords of the grave coiled around me the snares of death confronted me.  In my distress I called to the LORD I cried to my God for help.

The Lord heard my voice

my cry came before him  The Lord reached down from on high and took hold of me

he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy

from my foes, who were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the LORD was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place

he rescued me because he delighted in me. The LORD has dealt with me according to my righteousness

according to the cleanness of my hands he has rewarded me. For I have kept the ways of the LORD

I have not done evil by turning from my God. All his laws are before me

I have not turned away from his decrees. I have been blameless before him

I have kept myself from sin. The LORD has rewarded me according to my righteousness according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight. To the faithful you show yourself faithful

to the blameless you show yourself blameless, to the pure you show yourself pure

but to the crooked you show yourself shrewd. You save the humble but bring low those whose eyes are haughty. You, O LORD, keep my lamp burning

my God turns my darkness into light. With your help I can advance against a troop

with my God I can scale a wall. As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him. For who is God besides the LORD? And who is the Rock except our God? It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights. He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You give me your shield of victory, and your right hand sustains me; you stoop down to make me great. You broaden the path beneath me, so that my ankles do not turn. I pursued my enemies and overtook them; I did not turn back till they were destroyed. I crushed them so that they could not rise; they fell beneath my feet. You armed me with strength for battle

you made my adversaries bow at my feet. You made my enemies turn their backs in flight, and I destroyed my foes. They cried for help, but there was no one to save them – to the LORD, but he did not answer. I beat them as fine as dust borne on the wind; I poured them out like mud in the streets. You have delivered me from the attacks of the people

you have made me the head of nations; people I did not know are subject to me.

As soon as they hear me, they obey me; foreigners cringe before me. They all lose heart; they come trembling from their strongholds. The LORD lives!

Praise be to my Rock!

Exalted be God my Savior! He is the God who avenges me,

who subdues nations under me, who saves me from my enemies.

You exalted me above my foes

from violent men you rescued me. Therefore I will praise you among the nations, O LORD

I will sing praises to your name. He gives his king great victories

he shows unfailing kindness to his anointed to David and his descendants forever.

Psalm 13

sc pier1How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever?  How long will you hide your face from me?   How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart?  How long will my enemy triumph over me?   Look on me and answer, O LORD my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death; my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall.  But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.  I will sing to the LORD, for he has been good to me.   NIV

As I read this psalm it reminds me of a time in my live where a “Great Sadness” almost as great as the one in the book “The Shack” came upon my life.  As I study David’s life I can see this happening twice in his life; the first time when he was fleeing and hiding from Saul and the second time fleeing from his own son Absalom.  The reason that a ”Great Sadness” is difficult for us to handle is that we must grasp an understanding of it through God’s eyes.  The words of verse two “How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day sorrow in my heart?  How long will my enemy triumph over me?” should not be taken lightly.  David was probably running and hiding from Saul for about seven years.  During this time he was also separated from his family including Micah his wife who loved him but, who was also the daughter of Saul the very person who was pursuing him.  By studying David’s life during this time we can see how the great hero of Israel became an enemy of Israel.  The national hero became a criminal of the state.  Yet at the same time we can get a glimpse of how a believer should wait on the Lord and trust God in times of trials.

So if you are in a time of “Great Sadness” read this psalm and realize that this is a time that only God can provide the answer.  Wrestle with your thoughts even when you cannot see God around you.  However, never let your faith and trust in Him lapse.  Stay in His Word and trust in His unfailing love.  Just as David went through these times and in the process developed a much closer relationship with God, so will you if you search your heart and seek after Him.   Having had a “Great Sadness” in my own personal life and realizing how the Lord gave me a wonderful peace about it; I now know that whatever lies ahead of me in the future that God will be there and will deliver once again.

As I reflect back on the events of my “Great Sadness” I realized that once I gave it all to the Lord and surrender my desires and wishes to him my life had a new direction.  However, this has happen more than once in my life.  This is what happen to Joseph in the first crisis that he faced after he was sold as a slave to the Egyptians.  He accepted the situation that the Lord had placed him in and the Lord was with him and he prospered becoming the master of Potiphar’s household.  Everything in his life was on the right track when the second crisis came when Potiphar’s wife accused him of improper behavior.  He again accepted the situation that the Lord had placed him in and the Lord showed his kindness to him and gave him favor with the keeper of the prison.  This crisis however lead to his being placed before Pharaoh and interpreting his dreams.  This then lead to Joseph being make second only to Pharaoh.  Joseph could not have planned this as his lifelong pursuit, only God could.  So when the crisis in your life seem like those that David and Joseph face then remember verse five “but I will trust in your unfailing love: my heart rejoices in your salvation.  Heed not on your understanding but trust in God and He will cause great things to happen in your life.

Psalm 8

DSC03443O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! Who hast set thy glory above the heavens.  Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightiest still the enemy and the avenger.  When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; what is man, that thou art mindful of him? And the son of man, that thou visitest him?  For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honor.  Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet:  All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; the fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas.  O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!   KJV

This was one of the first psalms I memorized as a child.  I focus on three characters: the Lord, man, and the avenger.  In the King James Version verse two reads: “Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightiest still the enemy and the avenger.”  How can I apply these words to my daily living?  By living my life and making Christ the Lord of my life every moment of the day.  The words from the devotion My Utmost for His Highest for March 9, 2009 Oswald Chambers writes “All that is required is to live a natural life of absolute dependence on Jesus Christ.  Showing no concern for the uncertainties that lie ahead is the secret of walking with Jesus.”

As I was studying Hebrews chapter two I realized how much we separate your religious beliefs from our daily living.  Verse one starts out with a very bold statement “You have set your glory above the heavens”.  I believe that this glory is explained in Hebrews 2:9 “But we behold him who hath been made a little lower that the angels, even Jesus because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor that by the grace of God he should taste of death for every man”.  By looking at this psalm in relationship to Hebrews chapter two we realize that our Lord is Christ.  How then do we live our daily life apart from our Lord?  The answer for mankind is simple.  One day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord.

As you read this Psalm I reflect upon what Christ said about this Psalm found Matthew 21:15-17.  This reply came after Christ’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, his driving out the money changers from the temple area, and his healing of the blind and lame.  As the children were shouting in the temple area “Hosanna to the Son of David” the chief priest and the teachers of the law became indignant.   In his reply to them Christ stated “have you never read ‘From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise'”  From Christ reply to the teachers of the Law from this simple Psalm we find answers to some of the great questions of philosophy.  In his book PSICANICA: A Spiritual Philosophy Thomas Michael Powell writes “Since the beginning of thought, man has sought to understand the universe and his own existence. He has sought to explain them through myths, superstitions, and religions on one hand; and through science and philosophy on the other.”  In his book he has put forth ten great questions of Philosophy:

  1. What is the nature of the universe?
  2. Is there a Supreme Being?
  3. What is the place of man in the universe?
  4. What is reality?
  5. What determines the fate of each individual?
  6. What is good and what is bad or evil?
  7. Why are things the way they are?
  8. What is the ideal relation between the individual and the state?
  9. What is education?
  10. What happens at death?

It is interesting that he places religion in the group of superstition and myth and not with science and philosophy.  He states that “Religion proffer answers to many of these questions, but based on alleged divine revelation as interpreted by ecclesiastical “authorities”, and expressed in dogmatic —and often irrational— belief systems. Science and Philosophy eschew dogmatic belief and seek to answer them by reason and logic or through experience.”  However, as I study the Psalms all the answers to these questions are made simple.  Yes Religion (manmade system for understanding the relationship between man and God “yes man seems to always want to be first”) does a poor job of answering these ten questions.  But then man strives to understand these questions in the light of God’s Word as the Spirit reveals truth to him then he learn to praise God.  Yes the more we learn about the nature of man, the nature of the enemy, and the nature of God the more we want to praise God.

This Psalm sets the foundation for our understanding.  It does not start out trying to establish God, instead it starts out with the establish fact that God is and it is His glory that fills the heavens and the earth.  So as I look at the ten questions above question one and two are answered in verse one of this Psalm.  Yes there is a supreme being and the nature of the universe is his creation.  Question three and seven are also answer in this Psalm.  Man is a little lower than the angels made by God and cared by Him.  He has made mankind the ruler over the works of His hands and to praise Him.  Question nine can be answered in the phrase “when I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars which you have set in place” as the reference point for learning.  Everything beings with God.  Take God out of education and then your education becomes godless and the results of your studies flawed.  So as babes and children trust in the parents that care for them so must we return to this simple truth that it is God who watches over us and cares for us and our faith should always be in him.

Psalm 3

day beginnning 1A psalm of David. When he fled from his son Absalom. O LORD, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me! Many are saying of me, “God will not deliver him.” Selah But you are a shield around me, O LORD; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head. To the LORD I cry aloud, and he answers me from his holy hill. Selah I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the LORD sustains me. I will not fear the tens of thousands drawn up against me on every side. Arise, O LORD! Deliver me, O my God! Strike all my enemies on the jaw; break the teeth of the wicked. From the LORD comes deliverance. May your blessing be on your people. Selah (NIV)

As I read this psalm I recall the verses that recount the story of David and Absalom. I am not one that fills in the blanks so I will not try to determine the relationship that David had with his son Absalom. Absalom was David’s third son (2 Samuel 3:3) and the half brother to Amnon who was David’s oldest son but whom also had raped Tamar Absalom’s sister. Read the story in II Samuel 13:1 – 19:43 to get a full account of the story that leads to this psalm. However, until you have one of your own children rebel against you to the point of wanting to destroy you and go against the truth; you can never fully understand how David felt here. David waited on the Lord. This is different from the approach that many take today. The belief that God takes care of those who take care of themselves is a belief that carries over to almost every aspect of our life. We are living in an age where we must make it happen, and when it does it must be God’s will; yet I believe we have really have forgotten the art of waiting on the Lord. As you read these verses look at David’s response to the trial he is going through. He is trusting in God as his shield and the one that gives glory. He will rest and lie down because the Lord sustains him. He will not fear because from the Lord will comes deliverance. David knew how to trust God and that when we measures the battles we fight in the fleeing moments of this life they are nothing compare to the victories we will have with him for eternality.

May your blessing be on your people reminds us to walk in the way of the Lord. Remember there is only one way and he is the way, the truth, and the life, so walk in this way and be bless.

Here we see David the father of Absalom running from his our son. When studying David’s life the main theme I have realized is his personal relationship with the Lord and how this relationship changed David. In I Kings 15:3-5 David’s character is described as having a heart that was wholly devoted to his God. The only blemish on David’s life was the case of Uriah the Hittite. David’s examples of how he lived his life reflect a man who was truly a man after God’s own heart. He was not a man who was searching for God, but a man who walked in the way of God who waited on God’s transforming power to make his heart like God’s heart. This is reflected in the way he handled himself at the death of his son Absalom. He wept. Joab and Israel could not understand this weeping, just as the world today cannot understand the love and patience of God as Peter writes about in II Peter 3:9. Just as the thought that David had in his heart as he walked in his chamber “O my son Absalom, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you.” is the same love God has for us his children. In fact that is why Christ died on the cross for us. With his death and resurrection he made a way to restore the broken relationship between God and man. So when you study the psalms as well as all scripture wait on God to open up his Word to you. Then you will start to see God’s transforming work in your heart as he makes you into a child of God. Stop searching for God in your our way and start walking and growing in his way by studying his Word and letting it speak to you. Let your walk be characterized as a man or women who is walking with the Lord and enjoying sweet communion with Him. Let your communion with Him be a candle that sheds light to those who are searching for God.