Psalm 21

Psalm 21

of David.

1 O LORD, the king rejoices in your strength. How great is his joy in the victories you give!
2 You have granted him the desire of his heart and have not withheld the request of his lips. Selah
3 You welcomed him with rich blessings and placed a crown of pure gold on his head.
4 He asked you for life, and you gave it to him – length of days, forever and ever.
5 Through the victories you gave, his glory is great; you have bestowed on him splendor and majesty.
6 Surely you have granted him eternal blessings and made him glad with the joy of your presence.
7 For the king trusts in the LORD; through the unfailing love of the Most High he will not be shaken.
8 Your hand will lay hold on all your enemies; your right hand will seize your foes.
9 At the time of your appearing you will make them like a fiery furnace. In his wrath the LORD will swallow them up, and his fire will consume them.
10 You will destroy their descendants from the earth, their posterity from mankind.
11 Though they plot evil against you and devise wicked schemes, they cannot succeed;
12 for you will make them turn their backs when you aim at them with drawn bow.
13 Be exalted, O LORD, in your strength; we will sing and praise your might.

 

As I study this psalm, I cannot help but see this as a psalm that refers to David’s reign as well as the coming reign of Christ.  As I read the first six verses, I can picture David’s kingdom as it become one of the most powerful nations on the earth during this period of history.  However, the last seven verses seem to point to a coming King, one who will destroy the enemies of God.  This King is Christ.  In Deuteronomy 17 we are given instructions for a King to follow.  Verses eighteen through twenty reads:

And it shall be, when he sits upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book, out of that which is before the priests the Levites: and it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life; that he may learn to fear Jehovah his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them; that his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left: to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he and his children, in the midst of Israel.

As we study these verses, we realized that knowledge of the law of the Lord and the fear of the Lord are key to how a king rule.

 

As I read verse ten of this Psalm, I must reflect on Peters words concerning the latter days (the times that we are living in today).   Verse ten states “you will destroy their descendants from the earth”.  In studying the scripture, I realized that this had already happened once before in the history of mankind.  The Great Flood of Genesis.  In II Peter chapter three Peter writes about the last days in which men deny that this great flood ever happened.  He gives us two characteristics of the mockers that Christians will face during these times.

 

The first characteristic is they walk after their own lust.  As I reflect on the phrase “walking after one’s own lust” I ask myself “why is this an issue?”. Peter wrote this epistle to stir up the minds on the believers.  He wrote this epistle to remind them of the message of the gospel.  In fact, in verses fifteen and sixteen of chapter three he reminds them that Paul wrote to them in words that were sometimes hard to understand the salvation of the Lord.  As I reflect on Paul’s writings about the gospel, the resurrection of Christ and our future resurrection I gain a new perceptive of the message of the gospel.   Paul states in I Corinthians 15:12-19

Now if Christ is preached that he hath been raised from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?  But if there is no resurrection of the dead, neither hath Christ been raised: and if Christ hath not been raised, then is our preaching vain, your faith also is vain.  Yea, we are found false witnesses of God; because we witnessed of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead are not raised.  For if the dead are not raised, neither hath Christ been raised: and if Christ hath not been raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also that are fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have only hoped in Christ in this life, we are of all men most pitiable.

In other words, if the message of the gospel was just to make the world a better place to live in and that this life we are living really is all there is then I am preaching the wrong message.  If my message does not focus on gaining eternal life with God, but just on how to make the world a better place to live; then why would people give up walking after their own lust?  They would not.  If all I had was hope in this life, then I would be the Lord of my life and live my life for my pleasures only.  So, until a man looks at the eternal value of their life the message of the gospel really has no meaning to him.

 

The second characteristic is they deny the Word of God.  They question the Word and the promises found in the Word.  They deny the creation, the flood, the call of Abraham, the law, the prophets and the ministry of Christ.  What is so sad about questioning God’s Word is that most believers do not even read it.  Yes, it is true that the Word of God is often abused by many and twisted to support their own personal belief system; however, that does not justify holding the Word of God out of your life.  You have the same freedom as others to study the Word.  You have as much access to the Word of God as anyone else.  So, as I look at the second characteristic of the latter days, I must ask the question “what do you think of God’s Word?”.  Do you stand on the Word of God?  And what do you think about God’s son the King (Christ) in relationship to how you live your life?  Read Psalms 22 and study how He suffered for us when he came the first time to earth and then read Psalms 2 to see how he will reign the second time he comes to the earth.

 

As I read this Psalm this morning, I thought of King David and his son Solomon.  David walk in life was before the Lord and on the integrity of heart and walking in a righteous manner before man.  However, we see in Ecclesiastes that Solomon gave his heart to seek and search out wisdom concerning all things that all under heaven.  Two kings, a father and a son, however two different walks.  A young shepherd that learned of God at an early age, who seek to know the way of God and not to stray from this way.  A young prince of one of the greatest kingdoms on earth at his time who focus was really on himself.  Read Ecclesiastes and circle all the Is in the Book.  As I read the account of Solomon’s turn from God in I Kings 11:1-13 I see how God offered his mercy to Solomon, but Solomon refused to turn back to God.  Unlike David his father who repented and turned back to God after the prophet Nathan stated to David “Thou art the man”, Solomon in all his wisdom decided to go the way of the world and not God’s way.  Why are I writing this paragraph?  Because someone who use to be very close to me wrote me to state that peace could not be found in this world and that religion did not have the answer.  Like Solomon he was searching everywhere for answers but refused to consider the right way (God’s way).  The shepherd king of Israel found God by finding God’s Word in his heart.  This was David’s true foundation believing in the Word of God.  This is the secret of my faith and the peace I have every day.  Believing this first that God can be found only in his Word.  This is the preaching of the Cross that Paul strived daily to achieve and may all who see me also see my Savior life in me.  Salvation can come by no other means than by believing on the message of the death, burial, and the resurrection on Christ.

 

Psalm 20

Psalm 20
David.


1 May the LORD answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.
2 May he send you help from the sanctuary and grant you support from Zion.
3 May he remember all your sacrifices and accept your burnt offerings. Selah
4 May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.
5 We will shout for joy when you are victorious and will lift up our banners in the name of our God. May the LORD grant all your requests.
6 Now I know that the LORD saves his anointed; he answers him from his holy heaven with the saving power of his right hand.
7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.
8 They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm.
9 O LORD, save the king! Answer us when we call!

Webster defines prayer as: an address (as a petition) to God or a god in word or thought, or an earnest request or wish. In this Psalm David makes seven requests for Israel:
May the LORD answer you when you are in distress.
May the name of the God of Jacob protect you.
May he send you help from the sanctuary and grant you support from Zion.
May he remember all your sacrifices and accept your burnt offerings.
May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.
May the LORD grant all your requests.
Answer us when we call.
He is praying but he is also trusting in the Lord’s name.
Verse four “may he give you the desire of your heart” is a verse that is difficult to understand. Reflect upon these questions:
What are your heart’s desires?
Are my desires good for me?
Are my desires godly desires?
Does God pick and choose the desires I receive?

Psalm 19

Psalm 19
of David.
1 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
2 Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.
3 There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.
4 Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun,
5 which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
6 It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat.
7 The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul.
The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple.
8 The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.
9 The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous.
10 They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb.
11 By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
12 Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults.
13 Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression.
14 May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

This psalm gives to us the ways that we can know God. First there is nature (natural Revelation) that declares God to us. The heavens declare his glory, the skies proclaim his work, night after night they display knowledge and by this knowledge, we can know God in an impersonal way. However, just observing the world around us scream that there must be a creator, one vastly greater than men. But we also have his written Word (law, statutes, precepts, commands, and ordinances) which to the seeker of God is more precious than gold and sweeter than honey. As I study this psalm, I realized the importance of staying in God’s word daily. His word revives my soul, it gives me wisdom, it gives me a joy and peace beyond understanding, and gives me light and direction for my daily life. By keeping them and meditating on them one can keep himself blameless, and innocent of great transgression. Yes, as we continue our journey in this life we will sometime slip and fall as we follow Christ, but as long as we stay in his word, we will not commit great transgressions.

Psalm 18

Psalm 18


1 I love you, O LORD, my strength.
2 The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
3 I call to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies.
4 The cords of death entangled me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.
5 The cords of the grave coiled around me; the snares of death confronted me.
6 In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.
7 The earth trembled and quaked, and the foundations of the mountains shook; they trembled because he was angry.
8 Smoke rose from his nostrils; consuming fire came from his mouth, burning coals blazed out of it.
9 He parted the heavens and came down; dark clouds were under his feet.
10 He mounted the cherubim and flew; he soared on the wings of the wind.
11 He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him the dark rain clouds of the sky.
12 Out of the brightness of his presence clouds advanced, with hailstones and bolts of lightning.
13 The LORD thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded.
14 He shot his arrows and scattered the enemies, great bolts of lightning and routed them.
15 The valleys of the sea were exposed and the foundations of the earth laid bare at your rebuke, O LORD, at the blast of breath from your nostrils.
16 He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters.
17 He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me.
18 They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the LORD was my support.
19 He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.
20 The LORD has dealt with me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands he has rewarded me.
21 For I have kept the ways of the LORD; I have not done evil by turning from my God.
22 All his laws are before me; I have not turned away from his decrees.
23 I have been blameless before him and have kept myself from sin.
24 The LORD has rewarded me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight.
25 To the faithful you show yourself faithful, to the blameless you show yourself blameless,
26 to the pure you show yourself pure, but to the crooked you show yourself shrewd.
27 You save the humble but bring low those whose eyes are haughty.
28 You, O LORD, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.
29 With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall.
30 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.
31 For who is God besides the LORD? And who is the Rock except our God?
32 It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.
33 He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights.
34 He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
35 You give me your shield of victory, and your right hand sustains me; you stoop down to make me great.
36 You broaden the path beneath me, so that my ankles do not turn.
37 I pursued my enemies and overtook them; I did not turn back till they were destroyed.
38 I crushed them so that they could not rise; they fell beneath my feet.
39 You armed me with strength for battle; you made my adversaries bow at my feet.
40 You made my enemies turn their backs in flight, and I destroyed my foes.
41 They cried for help, but there was no one to save them – to the LORD, but he did not answer.
42 I beat them as fine as dust borne on the wind; I poured them out like mud in the streets.
43 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.
44 As soon as they hear me, they obey me; foreigners cringe before me.
45 They all lose heart; they come trembling from their strongholds.
46 The LORD lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be God my Savior!
47 He is the God who avenges me, who subdues nations under me,
48 who saves me from my enemies. You exalted me above my foes; from violent men you rescued me.
49 Therefore I will praise you among the nations, O LORD; I will sing praises to your name.
50 He gives his king great victories; he shows unfailing kindness to his anointed, to David and his descendants forever.

As 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 17

Psalm 17

A prayer of David.
1 Hear, O LORD, my righteous plea; listen to my cry. Give ear to my prayer – it does not rise from deceitful lips.
2 May my vindication come from you; may your eyes see what is right.
3 Though you probe my heart and examine me at night, though you test me, you will find nothing; I have resolved that my mouth will not sin.
4 As for the deeds of men – by the word of your lips I have kept myself from the ways of the violent.
5 My steps have held to your paths; my feet have not slipped.
6 I call on you, O God, for you will answer me; give ear to me and hear my prayer.
7 Show the wonder of your great love, you who save by your right hand those who take refuge in you from their foes.
8 Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings
9 from the wicked who assail me, from my mortal enemies who surround me.
10 They close up their callous hearts, and their mouths speak with arrogance.
11 They have tracked me down, they now surround me, with eyes alert, to throw me to the ground.
12 They are like a lion hungry for prey, like a great lion crouching in cover.
13 Rise up, O LORD, confront them, bring them down; rescue me from the wicked by your sword.
14 LORD, by your hand save me from such men, from men of this world whose reward is in this life. You still the hunger of those you cherish; their sons have plenty, and they store up wealth for their children.
15 And I in righteousness I will see your face; when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness.

Self-examination by studying God’s word and letting his word speak to us is a process that all believers must go through. It is the process by which we realized the holiness of God and our sinfulness. It is by the process of studying his word daily that we realize that our walk is reflective of one of two paths given to us from God. These two paths reflect either the way of the righteous or the way of the wicked. This theme is developed for us in Psalms one and is expanded on throughout the remainder of the psalms. As we read this psalm reflect on Psalm one and the way in which we should walk. The ways outline in Psalm one is simple, you can choose to go the way of Cain or the way of Abel.
This psalm starts out with a prayer for vindication. However, it is a prayer that does not come from a deceitful heart, but it is a prayer for God to take action. Notice it is not a prayer for God to give the psalmist the knowledge or power to react back to the ones that are assailing him. Notice that the psalmist is stating I resolved not to sin with my mouth or walk in the ways of the wicked. We must not fall into the trap that we can do wrong in order that right may prevail. This is the same message that Paul tells us in Romans 3:5-6 “But if our unrighteousness brings out God’s righteousness more clearly, what shall we say? That God is unjust in bringing his wrath on us? (I am using a human argument.) Certainly not! If that were so, how could God judge the world?” Righteousness is impossible for man to attain, but with God all things are possible. As Paul states in Romans 8:1 “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” the same message that David writes in verse 15 “And I in righteousness I will see your face; when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness.” So, our vindication rest in God’s hand. As we watch the news, or if we are ever involved in our court system, we soon realize that it is not the truth and doing what is right that is the goal of the verdict but winning and winning at all cost. It is usually a matter of who has the best lawyer, the best attack and the most money to win the fight. However, for the believer we must seek after what is right even if we must suffer for a season. However, this season will soon give way to eternally, where the Righteous Judge will rule in truth and in righteousness and the deeds of the wicked will no longer exist.
As I was studying Luke this morning, I could not help but dwell on the words of the two companions after they had been with Christ on their way to Emmaus. Christ had address them as foolish men and slow of heart to believe the writing of all the prophets. He then interpreted to them all the scriptures which concern him. It only after Christ had revealed himself to them and then vanished that the words, he had spoken came alive to them. On the road to Emmaus Christ educated them and gave them knowledge which caused their hearts to burn; but it was only after the Savior was revealed to them that they were able to put this knowledge together and grasp an understanding of the gospel. I have seen this truth come alive in last several years as I study the psalms daily.
The key to understanding the psalms is the gain an understanding of David, yet the more I study David the more I see how his life reflects the life of Christ during his earthly ministry. The same struggles and issues that Christ faced where like those of David, as well as the struggles that believers face in the world today. The more we study the life of Christ the more we can see how to walk in God’s way. An example of how this psalm portraits Christ can be found by comparing verse to of this psalm to Matthew 27:12-15:
And when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing.
Then said Pilate unto him, hears thou not how many things they witness against thee?
And he gave him no answer, not even to one word: insomuch that the governor marveled greatly.
Christ waited on his vindication to come from God. So, as you read this psalm relate it to the events in Christ’s earthly ministry, David’s life as revealed in the scriptures and to the personal struggles that you are facing in your daily walk. Then the Holy Spirit will give you a better understanding of the way of righteous and just as the two companions on their way to Emmaus had their eyes open you too will gain a better understanding of the psalms.

Psalm 16

Psalm 16

David.
1 Keep me safe, O God, for in you I take refuge.
2 I said to the LORD, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.”
3 As for the saints who are in the land, they are the glorious ones in whom is all my delight.
4 The sorrows of those will increase who run after other gods. I will not pour out their libations of blood or take up their names on my lips.
5 LORD, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure.
6 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.
7 I will praise the LORD, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.
8 I have set the LORD always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
9 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure,
10 because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.
11 You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

 

As I look at verse five, I cannot help but look back to the Luke 22: 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done”. Are we able to pray the same prayer as our Lord prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane? We can, once we realized that God has made our lot secure. As I travel this journey that the Lord has prepared for me, I must look to these verses as coming from the heart and life of King David. For as he wrote of Christ in his psalms, he also wrote words that can help us develop a closer walk with God.

 

This psalm helps us realized that God is our refuge and our delight. He does assign to us our portion in life and the cup we are to bear. Again, we are warned in this psalm not to follow after other Gods, or those who seek fellowship with those who follow other gods. God counsels us and instructs us day and night. As long as we seek him in his word, we will know he will lead us in the right path. Surely the grave is not our destiny but being in his presence with eternal pleasures.

 

As you read this psalm take a look at your epistemology. Ask yourself this question “What is knowledge?”. Verse eleven points out the fact that the psalmist realized that his knowledge came from God and it is God who has made known to him the path of life. This is the knowledge that the psalmist describes in Psalm One. When one start studying epistemology the first two questions that must be answered are: what knowledge is and how is knowledge acquired. To the psalmist (as we will see in Psalm nineteen) knowledge is the work of God’s hand. By studying nature knowledge is revealed to us. However, to acquire knowledge God has given to us his written Word (law, statutes, precepts, commands, and ordinances) to understand his creation.

 

Verse ten “because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay” was used by Peter in Act 2:27 in his message on the day of Pentecost as verses that David referred to the suffering and resurrection of Christ.

 

In verse eleven David writes “You have made known to me the path of life”. As I grow in my faith daily, I realize that it is God who seeks after me and not me seeking God. We have a way of wanting to stray away from God, but in his loving kindness he brings us back to him. As we travel along on our journey here on earth, we like the Psalmist must realize that God is the shepherd that guides us along this path of life. As we walk along this path, we can have joy, but this joy is in knowing that God’s presence is with us. This psalm illustrates our walk on earth with God. Let each verse speak to you as it did to David. Remember each person’s walk with God is unique, however they all share the characteristics of the walk that this psalm describes.

As I was reading this week The Faith of George W. Bush by Stephen Mansfield, I could not help but see verse eleven play out in his life. Stephen Mansfield gives us the great foundations of George W Bush’s faith by devoting the first two chapters on the faith of his parents and grandparents. Just as Paul praises the unfeigned faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and then in your mother Eunice Stephen Mansfield gives the same praise to George W Bush’s parents and grandparents. Yet his way of living his faith was different. His statement at the end of chapter two about how George W Bush’s faith was acquired reveals a lot about how he lives out his faith.

“But the day will come when all of the faith that has been planted in him – from childhood prayers to Presbyterian creeds, from small-town Christian culture to the Christ known in an Episcopal service – will flower to become the ruling principle of his life. But it is the desert he will know before this flowering that will make it all the sweeter when it comes.”

As we study the psalms as well as the lives of the great heroes of faith both from the Bible and those that have lived from early church history to the present, we can see a common thread that they all have shared. That thread is a desert experience, a time when their faith was tested, and God did not seem to be present. It is in times like these that all believers must pray a psalm like this psalm to give us strength to get through our desert experience.

 

Psalm 15

Psalm 15

of David.
1 LORD, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill?
2 He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart
3 and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellowman,
4 who despises a vile man but honors those who fear the LORD, who keeps his oath even when it hurts,
5 who lends his money without usury and does not accept a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things will never be shaken.

 

This psalm asks two simple questions: who may dwell in your sanctuary and who may live on your holy hill? The answer is simple also:

He whose

  • walk is blameless
  • does what is righteous
  • who speaks the truth from his heart
  • has no slander on his tongue
  • does his neighbor no wrong
  • casts no slur on his fellowman
  • despises a vile man
  • honors those who fear the LORD
  • keeps his oath even when it hurts
  • lends his money without usury
  • does not accept a bribe against the innocentThis psalm summaries the reading found in the five psalms today. The question for the day was “who is God to you?”. As you read the five psalms today I pray that you realize that God is really the one that controls the events in our life if we walk in his ways. A crisis for the righteous then is just a turning point in our life that God uses to take us in a new direction. If I accept this realization than how should I live when facing a crisis? This psalm answer this with giving us several principles to live by and to make the focus of our desires to see God’s face. Proverbs 3:5 simply states this life as one that trust in the Lord with all your heart and lead not on our understanding. One of the truths that I try teaching my children was the only thing they could give me were hugs and kisses since these truly came from hearts and are theirs to give away. These are precious to me since everything else I needed; I could provide for myself. This truth can also be seen in our relationship to God. He does not need anything from us since everything belongs to him already. However, our worship of our heavenly Father could be compared to the way that our kids give hugs and kisses to their earthly father. With this truth in mind, how can I worship God? The answer is simple. Follow the principles in this psalm and then give God the worship He desires, hugs and kisses from the heart from a child. Then God can make the same statement in the courts of Heaven about you as he did about Job. Job 1:8 “Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that fears God, and eschewed evil?”
  • Proverb chapter three provides a wonderful conclusion for today’s reading. As you read this Proverb remember that it was written to a son, an individual, about the real purpose of life. The purpose of this Proverb is not a “how to success in life”, but a “how to live a life pleasing to God”. Sometimes we forget that when we practice God’s way, we face opposition from the ungodly. We see this example in the first family with the death of Abel by the hands of Cain. As we study the scriptures and the issues that we face in life we realize that there is a battle between the way of God and the ways of the ungodly or the wicked. So, the decision my son is simple. Do you walk in the way of God, or follow the ways of the wicked?
  • As I was studying God’s Word and reflecting on his nature and the relationship that we have to him the phase “your heavenly father” kept coming to mind. It is amazing as we travel the path that God has for us on this earth how the view we have about our earthly father and our heavenly father both changes as we mature. As I look at how the child’s view of their father changes as they mature, I see these steps. First, he is daddy the strong arms that support you, the smiling face that looks upon you as you look at him. However, he soon becomes the one that tries to keep a child from going in the wrong direction when the child beings the process of exploring the world around him and starts the process of refusing to heed the father’s direction. This discipline from God is sometimes hard to understand and is something we might try to resist, just as a child resist an earthly father’s discipline. This is one of the first changes we go through in the way we view our earthly as well as our heavenly father as we mature. These views change with the circumstances that develop as we mature and take on new roles in life. As we mature, we in the right relationship with our earthly father we can look back and see how our life was shaped by his involvement in our life. At the same time our relationship to our father changes with these circumstances and new relationships. The one thing that does stay constant is this: we are the child and he is the father.
  • He who does these things will never be shaken

Psalm 14

Psalm 14

Of David.
1 The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.
2 The LORD looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.
3 All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.
4 Will evildoers never learn those who devour my people as men eat bread and who do not call on the LORD?
5 There they are, overwhelmed with dread, for God is present in the company of the righteous.
6 You evildoers frustrate the plans of the poor, but the LORD is their refuge.
7 Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion! When the LORD restores the fortunes of his people, let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad!

 

This is from a chain letter email I received recently.

Verse one makes the same statement as Romans chapter one does, and that the person described in these two sets of verses have one thing in common and that there is no God to them, which means that they are no longer accountable to God. They deny that all things were created by him and for him.

Subject: God vs. Science

>

> —–A science professor begins his school year with a lecture to the students; “Let me explain the problem science has with religion.” The atheist professor of philosophy pauses before his class and then asks one of his new students to stand.

>

> “You’re a Christian, aren’t you, son?”

> “Yes sir,” the student says.

>

> “So, you believe in God?”

> “Absolutely.”

>

> “Is God good?”

> “Sure! God’s good.”

>

> “Is God all-powerful? Can God do anything?”

> “Yes.”

>

> “Are you good or evil?”

> “The Bible says I’m evil.”

>

> The professor grins knowingly. “Aha! The Bible!” He considers for a moment. “Here’s one for you. Let’s say there’s a sick person over here and you can cure him. You can do it. Would you help him? Would you try?”

>

> “Yes sir, I would.”

>

> “So, you’re good…!”

> “I wouldn’t say that.”

>

> “But why not say that? You’d help a sick and maimed person if you could. Most of us would if we could. But God doesn’t.”

>

> The student does not answer, so the professor continues. “He doesn’t, does he? My brother was a Christian who died of cancer, even though he prayed to Jesus to heal him. How is this Jesus good? Hmmm? Can you answer that one?”

>

> The student remains silent.

>

> “No, you can’t, can you?” the professor says. He takes a sip of water from a glass on his desk to give the student time to relax.

>

> “Let’s start again, young fellow. Is God good?”

> “Err…yes,” the student says.

>

> “Is Satan good?”

> The student doesn’t hesitate on this one. “No.”

>

> “Then where does Satan come from?”

> The student falters. “From God”

>

> “That’s right. God made Satan, didn’t he? Tell me, son. Is there evil in this world?”

> “Yes, sir.”

>

> “Evil’s everywhere, isn’t it? And God did make everything, correct?”

>

> “Yes.”

>

> “So, who created evil?” The professor continued, “If God created everything, then God created evil, since evil exists, and according to the principle that our works define who we are, then God is evil.”

>

> Again, the student has no answer. “Is there sickness? Immorality? Hatred? Ugliness? All these terrible things, do they exist in this world?”

>

> The student squirms on his feet. “Yes.”

>

> “So, who created them?”

>

> The student does not answer again, so the professor repeats his question. “Who created them?” There is still no answer. Suddenly the lecturer breaks away to pace in front of the classroom. The class is mesmerized. “Tell me,” he continues onto another student. “Do you believe in Jesus Christ, son?”

>

> The student’s voice betrays him and cracks. “Yes, professor, I do.”

>

> The old man stops pacing. “Science says you have five senses you use to identify and observe the world around you. Have you ever seen Jesus?”

>

> “No sir. I’ve never seen Him.”

>

> “Then tell us if you’ve ever heard your Jesus?”

> “No, sir, I have not.”

>

> “Have you ever felt your Jesus, tasted your Jesus or smelt your Jesus? Have you ever had any sensory perception of Jesus Christ, or God for that matter?”

>

> “No, sir, I’m afraid I haven’t.”

> “Yet you still believe in him?”

> “Yes.”

>

> “According to the rules of empirical, testable, demonstrable protocol, science says your God doesn’t exist. What do you say to that, son?”

>

> “Nothing,” the student replies. “I only have my faith.”

> “Yes, faith,” the professor repeats. “And that is the problem science has with God. There is no evidence, only faith.”

>

> The student stands quietly for a moment, before asking a question of

> His own. “Professor, is there such thing as heat?”

>

> “Yes,” the professor replies. “There’s heat.”

>

> “And is there such a thing as cold?”

> “Yes, son, there’s cold too.”

> “No sir, there isn’t.”

>

> The professor turns to face the student, obviously interested. The room suddenly becomes very quiet. The student begins to explain. “You can have lots of heat, even more heat, super-heat, mega-heat, unlimited heat, white heat, a little heat or no heat, but we don’t have anything called ‘cold’. We can hit up to 458 degrees below zero, which is no heat, but we can’t go any further after that. There is no such thing as cold; otherwise we would be able to go colder than the lowest -458 degrees.”

>

> “Everybody or object is susceptible to study when it has or transmits energy, and heat is what makes a body or matter have or transmit energy. Absolute zero (-458 F) is the total absence of heat. You see, sir, cold is only a word we use to describe the absence of heat. We cannot measure cold. Heat we can measure in thermal units because heat is energy. Cold is not the opposite of heat, sir, just the absence of it.”

>

> Silence across the room. A pen drops somewhere in the classroom,

> sounding like a hammer.

>

> “What about darkness, professor. Is there such a thing as darkness?”

>

> “Yes,” the professor replies without hesitation. “What is night if it isn’t darkness?”

>

> “You’re wrong again, sir. Darkness is not something; it is the absence of something. You can have low light, normal light, bright light, flashing light, but if you have no light constantly you have nothing and it’s called darkness, isn’t it? That’s the meaning we use to define the word.”

>

> “In reality, darkness isn’t. If it were, you would be able to make darkness darker, wouldn’t you?”

>

> The professor begins to smile at the student in front of him. This will be a good semester. “So what point are you making, young man?”

>

> “Yes, professor. My point is, your philosophical premise is flawed to start with, and so your conclusion must also be flawed.”

>

> The professor’s face cannot hide his surprise this time. “Flawed? Can you explain how?”

>

> “You are working on the premise of duality,” the student explains. “You argue that there is life and then there’s death; a good God and a bad God. You are viewing the concept of God as something finite, something we can measure. Sir, science can’t even explain a thought.” “It uses electricity and magnetism, but has never seen, much less fully understood either one. To view death as the opposite of life is to be ignorant of the fact that death cannot exist as a substantive thing. Death is not the opposite of life, just the absence of it.”

>

> “Now tell me, professor. Do you teach your students that they evolved from a monkey?”

>

> “If you are referring to the natural evolutionary process, young man, yes, of course I do.”

>

> “Have you ever observed evolution with your own eyes, sir?”

>

> The professor begins to shake his head, still smiling, as he realizes where the argument is going. A very good semester, indeed.

>

> “Since no one has ever observed the process of evolution at work and cannot even prove that this process is an on-going endeavor, are you not teaching your opinion, sir? Are you now not a scientist, but a preacher?”

>

> The class is in uproar. The student remains silent until the commotion

> has subsided.

>

> “To continue the point, you were making earlier to the other student, let me give you an example of what I mean.”

>

> The student looks around the room. “Is there anyone in the class who has ever seen the professor’s brain?”

The class breaks out into laughter.

>

> “Is there anyone here who has ever heard the professor’s brain, felt the professor’s brain, touched or smelt the professor’s brain? No one appears to have done so. So, according to the established rules of empirical, stable, demonstrable protocol, science says that you have no brain, with all due respect, sir.”

>

> “So, if science says you have no brain, how can we trust your lectures, sir?”

>

> Now the room is silent. The professor just stares at the student, his face unreadable.

>

> Finally, after what seems an eternity, the old man answers. “I guess you’ll have to take them on faith.”

>

> “Now, you accept that there is faith, and, in fact, faith exists with life,” the student continues. “Now, sir, is there such a thing as evil?”

>

>

> Now uncertain, the professor responds, “Of course, there is. We see it every day. It is in the daily example of man’s inhumanity to man. It is in the multitude of crime and violence everywhere in the world. These manifestations are nothing else but evil.”

>

> To this the student replied, “Evil does not exist sir, or at least it does not exist unto itself. Evil is simply the absence of God. It is just like darkness and cold, a word that man has created to describe the absence of God. God did not create evil. Evil is the result of what happens when man does not have God’s love present in his heart. It’s like the cold that comes when there is no heat or the darkness that comes when there is no light.”

>

> The professor sat down.

Psalm 13

Psalm 13

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

 

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 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 everyday 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 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 happened 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 leads to his being placed before Pharaoh and interpreting his dreams. This then led to Joseph being made 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 12

Psalm 12

of David.
1 Help, LORD, for the godly are no more; the faithful have vanished from among men.
2 Everyone lies to his neighbor; their flattering lips speak with deception.
3 May the LORD cut off all flattering lips and every boastful tongue
4 that says, “We will triumph with our tongues; we own our lips who is our master?”
5 “Because of the oppression of the weak and the groaning of the needy, I will now arise,” says the LORD. “I will protect them from those who malign them.”
6 And the words of the LORD are flawless, like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times.
7 O LORD, you will keep us safe and protect us from such people forever.
8 The wicked freely strut about when what is vile is honored among men.

As we faced another election year and the debate about who is right and best for the position, we must consider verse eight of this psalm “the wicked freely strut about when what is vile is honored among men”. As we look at the value system that is in place today, we see a system that is very corrupt. In verse two David writes that everyone lies to his neighbor and their flattering lips speak with deception. This too seems to be present in our political and business world today. In II Timothy 3:1-5 Paul warns Timothy about times like David was facing “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God having a form of godliness but denying its power”. As I study David’s life, I even see this deception happening in his own life as he tries to get Uriah to sleep with Bathsheba so that his child could seem to be Uriah’s son to cover up David’s sin. However when this did not work David arrange for Uriah’s death on the battlefield. Then, when Nathan confronted David with his sin and said to David “You are the man! David realized that he was guilty of the very principles that he tried to uphold. David’s repentance (see Psalm 51 and Psalm 32) is an example of the type of true repentance that we as believers must follow when we are confronted with our sin. However, today I believe we have departed from true repentance and are living in a culture were the wicked proudly strut about knowing that their actions are really honored in this society.

When studying the seven churches in Revelation two and three repentance plays an important part in the believer’s walk. These examples:

  • To the church of Ephesus – Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.
  • To the church of Pergamum – Nevertheless, I have a few things against you. Repent therefore!
  • To the church in Thyatira – Nevertheless, I have this against you I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling; so I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways.
  • To the church of Sardis – I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent.
  • To the church of Laodicea – I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Is there a difference between knowing God’s way and living in God’s way? Does living a righteous lifestyle before God guarantee a wonderful and bless life? Is living life and following God’s way simply a matter of if you do this then this will happen? As I study the Psalms and the life of David, I have come to realize that the answers to life’s tough questions are not simple. This Psalm deals with living in an environment where the godly are no more. It is an environment where everyone lies to his neighbor, is deceitful, where what is vile and wicked is honored among men. As I study I Kings chapter twenty one I see a picture of Israel that reminds me of this type of an environment. To summarize this chapter, we see four main characters: Naboth, Ahab, Jezebel, and Elijah. Ahab wanted Naboth’s vineyard to make himself a vegetable garden. Naboth told him no, this is my inheritance from my father, and I will not sell it to you. So, Ahab went home sad and angry. When Jezebel found out about this, she took matters in her own hands and set Naboth up with made-up charges and had him killed. She then gave his land to Ahab. When Ahab went to see his new possession, Elijah met him and proclaim God’s Word to him. Surprising Ahab humbled himself before God (something Jezebel would never do). To this God had mercy on him and did not bring the promise disaster during his lifetime. As I read this story the issues, we face today in our society are similar to the issues that Elijah faced during his time on this earth.
  • How then does this story answer the question “Is living life and following God’s way simply a matter of if you do this then this will happen?”? The answer can be found in reading I Peter. According to I Peter 5: 8-9 we are to be “self-controlled and alert”. Why? Because our enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. How do we react to the devil? Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because we know that our brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. So, in evil times is your goal living a wonderful and bless life, or living a blameless lifestyle as a witness of God’s working in your life? Knowing that the evil in this world will take advantage of our living a blameless life before God.
  • However, there are two churches that were not ask to repent: Smyrna “I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich!” and Philadelphia – “I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name”. It is interest that II Samuel 11:1 starts out with these words “In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem.” This verse set the stage for David’s fall. David was not doing what he was supposed to be doing but left it to others. The churches of Smyrna and Philadelphia gives us examples what the church should be doing today. So, as we take a look at the value system of nation we should look and study the seven churches of Revelation. Is our value system that of Smyrna and Philadelphia or is it like the value of the other five churches?