1 By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion. 2 There on the poplars we hung our harps, 3 for there ourcaptors asked us for songs, ourtormentors demanded songs of joy; they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!” 4 How can we sing the songs of the LORD while in a foreign land? 5 If I forget you, O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill. 6 May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy. 7 Remember, O LORD, what the Edomites did on the day Jerusalem fell. “Tear it down,” they cried, “tear it down to its foundations!” 8 O Daughter of Babylon, doomed to destruction, happy is he who repays you for what you have done to us 9 he who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.
Read Isaiah chapter 13 and 14 to fully understand this psalm.
As I read verse three “for there ourcaptors asked us for songs, ourtormentors demanded songs of joy; they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!” it reminds me of the scene in the movie The Return of the Kings where Pippin is ask to sing a song of his homeland. He reply that that we do not have songs for great halls and evil times. The seventy years that Judah spent in captivity were times that gave three generations time to reflect on their relation with God. They were living in a land that was not their home. They also knew God will redeem them and destroy Babylon.
As believers we are also in the same place as Israel was in Babylon. We are not of this world, yet we live in this world. We are looking forward to the new heaven and the new earth. The songs we sing are those that speak of our redemption. These songs of the Blessed Assurance that we have found inn Christ.
1 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever. 2 Give thanks to the God of gods. His love endures forever. 3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords: His love endures forever. 4 to him who alone does great wonders, His love endures forever. 5who by his understanding made the heavens, His love endures forever. 6who spread out the earth upon the waters, His love endures forever. 7who made the great lights His love endures forever. 8 the sun to govern the day, His love endures forever. 9 the moon and stars to govern the night; His love endures forever. 10 to him who struck down the firstborn of EgyptHis love endures forever. 11 and brought Israel out from among themHis love endures forever. 12 with a mighty hand and outstretched arm; His love endures forever. 13 to him who divided the Red Sea asunder His love endures forever. 14 and brought Israel through the midst of it, His love endures forever. 15 but swept Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea; His love endures forever. 16 to him who led his people through the desert, His love endures forever. 17who struck down great kings, His love endures forever.
18 and killed mighty kingsHis love endures forever. 19Sihon king of the AmoritesHis love endures forever. 20 and Og king of BashanHis love endures forever. 21 and gave their land as an inheritance,His love endures forever. 22 an inheritance to hisservantIsrael; His love endures forever. 23 to the Onewho remembered us in our low estate His love endures forever. 24 and freed us from ourenemies, His love endures forever. 25 and who gives food to every creature. His love endures forever. 26 Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever.
This psalm could be titled His Love Endures Forever. But the question that comes up very frequently in conversations is how can a God that loves us so much let so much evil exists in his world. As I meditate on this question, I recall the opening words from the Lord’s prayer found in Matthew chapter six. These words “Our Father who is in heaven holy be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” helps me realize that God will in the kingdom in heaven is complete; but his will on the kingdom which is on earth must not be complete. Trying to comprehend the question of how can a God that loves us so much let so much evil exist in his world is difficult to man because the first step in this process is to grasp an understanding of the true nature and attributes of God. This process of grasping the nature and attributes is something that is really impossible for man who is just another creation of God.
In the first three verses the psalmist describes God as good, the God of gods, and the Lord of lords. What command are we given in this psalm? Give thanks. The reason for our thanks is simply “His love endures forever”. The next six verses give us the reasons why His love endures forever by describing His creative acts. . Verse four states that He alone does great wonders and verse five adds the phase, who by his understanding made the heavens set the stage that He is beyond our understanding. Men prides himself on his great creations. This pride can be seen in the simple sandcastle built by a young child to great cities as well as the social structures that are built through the combined forces of a nation. However, the concept of building something out of nothing is beyond my understanding as well as the understanding of all mankind. How can I or mankind as a whole grasp the nature of the creator when we cannot even grasp an understand of how the heavens, the earth, and everything on the earth was created?
Verse ten through twenty-five gives us illustrations of how God intervenes in the history of man. These illustrations deal mainly with Israel. Why Israel? Because of God’s promises to Adam and then to Abraham, and then to David. However, in verse twenty-five the psalmist also God’s involvement on earth to include the giving food every creature. Paul summaries God’s dealing with man in his sermon on Mar’s Hill to the Athenians in Acts chapter seventeen.
The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’ “Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man. “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”
In studying Paul’s ministry, it is interesting that here at Athens the great city of learning that the impact of the gospel had very little effect on the people that heard this message. Paul ended his sermon with a warning that God is now dealing to all people to repent because he has fixed a day in which he will judge the world.
The psalmist closes this psalm in verse twenty-six with the phase “give thanks to the God of Heaven”. As I consider the question of “how can a God that loves us so much let so much evil exist in his world?” I must consider Paul’s warning to the Athenians that God is now dealing to all people to repent because he has fixed a day in which he will judge the world. After considering this psalm and Paul’s sermon on Mar’s Hill a more pressing question needs to be asked. Why does man reject such a great salvation (the gospel or good news) that is presented to him in God’s Word? Those who do give thanks to the God of heaven are those who have not rejected this great salvation and truly realize that His love endures forever.
Psalm 135 1 Praise the LORD. Praise the name of the LORD; praise him, you servants of the LORD, 2you who minister in the house of the LORD, in the courts of the house of ourGod. 3 Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good; sing praise to his name, for that is pleasant. 4 For the LORD has chosen Jacob to be hisown, Israel to be his treasured possession. 5I know that the LORD is great, that our Lord is greater than all gods. 6The LORD does whatever pleases him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths. 7He makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth; he sends lightning with the rain and brings out the wind from his storehouses. 8He struck down the firstborn of Egypt, the firstborn of men and animals. 9He sent his signs and wonders into your midst, O Egypt, against Pharaoh and all his servants. 10 He struck down many nations and killed mighty kings 11Sihon king of the Amorites, Og king of Bashan and all the kings of Canaan 12 and he gave their land as an inheritance, an inheritance to hispeopleIsrael. 13Your name, O LORD, endures forever, your renown, O LORD, through all generations. 14 For the LORD will vindicate hispeople and have compassion on hisservants. 15 The idols of the nations are silver and gold, made by the hands of men. 16They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but they cannot see; 17they have ears, but cannot hear, nor is there breath in their mouths. 18Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them. 19 O house of Israel, praise the LORD; O house of Aaron, praise the LORD; 20 O house of Levi, praise the LORD; you who fearhim, praise the LORD. 21 Praise be to the LORD from Zion, to him who dwells in Jerusalem. Praise the LORD.
The key to understanding this psalm is found in verse 6 “The LORD does whatever pleases him, in the heavens and on the earth”. As one recalls the Lords’ prayer in Matthew chapter six “Thy kingdom come Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven”. This Psalm is similar to Psalm 115. Verse six of this Psalm “The LORD does whatever pleases him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths.” compares to verse three of psalm 115 “Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him.” Verse fifteen through eighteen of this psalm compares to verses four through eight of Psalm 115. Finally, reference is made in both psalms to the house of Israel, the house of Aaron, and those who fear the Lord.
These psalms help us understand how God uses the nation of Israel. It is not because of the greatness of Israel as a nation that God uses this nation, but to the glory of God. It is because of God’s promises to Adam, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, and many others that God uses the nation of Israel be bring Him glory. His dealings with Israel throughout history give the nations of this world examples of God’s love and faithfulness. It gives the nations of the world a view of God in action. Yet it leaves an open door for all to have a relationship with Him. This psalm speaks of praising him, whereas Psalms 115 speaks of trusting Him. But both Psalms include the phase “those who fear the Lord”.
As I read this psalm, I cannot help but focus on the word praise. Praise should be a very easy task for us in our relationship with the Lord; however, I believe because of the effects of “the cares of this world” on our life we lose our focus on the relationship we are to have with the Lord. We become so wrapped up in the everyday activities that we seem to forget the most important relationship we have is with the Lord. Praise is wonderful. Our relationship with our spouse is also an important relationship we have on this earth. I have come to realize how important praise is in this relationship. The simple, yet meaningful words such as my lovely beautiful, sweet, lovely young lady before I start a conversation can set the stage for a wonderful conversation. This is the type of praise we need to come before the Lord within our conversation. Once we have set in place who God really is than why would we ever question the path he has prepared for us each day. So, as you start this day out start it out by praising the One who will lead you in paths of righteousness through the green pastures and still waters, and if by chance you happen to have to go through the valley shadow of death He will also be there.
This is the last psalm of the fifteen Song of Ascents psalms
1 Praise the LORD, all you servants of the LORDwho minister by night in the house of the LORD. 2 Lift up your hands in the sanctuary and praise the LORD. 3 May the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth, bless you from Zion
What are the duties of the servant of the Lord? In these verses we are to minister and praise the Lord. The root definition means the act of serving. It is used to describe the work of one that serves. One section of scriptures that all saints need to know is Philippians chapter two. The importance of these verses from Paul describes the walk that we should have in this world “Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, existing in the form of God, counted not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men”. This walk should be modeled after the ministry of Christ.
So, praise the Lord and learn more of the walk of Christ. Learn more about Him and you will learn more about being a servant of the Lord.
This is the 14th psalm of the fifteen Song of Ascents psalms
1 How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! 2 It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down upon the collar of his robes. 3 It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the LORD bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.
As I read verse one, I reflect on Paul’s many verses from his introductions found in his many epistles. An example of this is found in I Thessalonians chapter one. In these verses he refers to them as an example to all that believe. How does brothers live in unity? This is not an easy task. Just consider the examples of brothers given to us in the scriptures. There is the example of the first set of brothers Cain and Abel. Other examples given in the scriptures: Jacob and Esau, Joseph and his brothers, as well as David and his brothers. As we look at these relationships, they all have one thing in common. This common theme is jealousy. Why jealousy? Because jealousy is a result of wanting something that someone does not have but desires. But what happens when two brothers have no jealousy? David found this type of relationship in Jonathan the son of Saul and David’s brother-in- law. Read I Samuel chapter twenty to see the full example of this love.
As you read and study the psalms simple truths that we know exist just appear as common knowledge to the writers of these verses. Verse three “For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.” should help the believer along in the everyday aspect of living their life on earth. As we age and our bodies limits the activities that we use to do our minds should look forwarded to the new body that the Lord is preparing for us. Just as a young girl dream of becoming a beauty model, or a young boy dream of growing into that mighty major league baseball player who hits the game winning home run, we should in our old age dream of the body that we will receive then Christ returns. Do you live your daily life on this earth that reflects this simple truth “God has bestowed this blessing on your life and that this blessing is life forevermore? From this day forward let me reflect this truth to those around me that I have life forevermore and therefore I am content with the limitations placed on me by my earthly tabernacle at this time.
This is the 13th psalm of the fifteen Song of Ascents psalms
1 O LORD, remember David and all the hardships he endured. 2He swore an oath to the LORD and made a vow to the Mighty One of Jacob: 3 “I will not enter my house or go to my bed
4I will allow no sleep to my eyes, no slumber to my eyelids, 5 till I find a place for the LORD, a dwelling for the Mighty One of Jacob.” 6We heard it in Ephrathah, we came upon it in the fields of Jaar: 7 “Let us go to his dwelling place; let us worship at hisfootstool 8 arise, O LORD, and come to your resting place, you and the ark of your might. 9 May your priests be clothed with righteousness; may your saints sing for joy.” 10 For the sake of Davidyourservant, do not reject youranointed one. 11 The LORDswore an oath to David, a sure oath that he will not revoke: “One of your own descendantsI will place on your throne 12 if your sons keep my covenant and the statutes Iteach them, then their sons will sit on your throne for ever and ever.” 13 For the LORD has chosen Zion, hehas desired it for his dwelling: 14 “This is my resting place for ever and ever; here I will sit enthroned, for I have desired it 15I will bless herwith abundant provisions; herpoor will Isatisfy with food. 16Iwill clothe her priests with salvation, and her saints will ever sing for joy. 17 “Here I will make a horn grow for David and set up a lamp for myanointed one. 18I will clothe his enemies with shame, but the crown on his head will be resplendent.”
Verse 5 of this Psalm gives the focus point of what should be one of a believer’s greatest desires (till I find a place for the LORD).
Verse 11 is an interesting verse when studying the generations of Christ presented in Matthew chapter one and Luke chapter three. This verse states, “The LORD swore an oath to David, a sure oath that he will not revoke: “One of your own descendants I will place on your throne”. However, in Jeremiah 22:30 the Lord placed a curse on Jechoniah that none of his seed would set on the throne of David ruling Judah. That is the difference in the generations in Matthew and Luke. Matthew traces the generations through David’s son Solomon whereas Luke traces the generations through Solomon’s brother Nathan.
This Psalm promises us a King who will reign from Zion. This King is Christ. I was questioned the other day about my faith in this King. When I told someone, I was opposed to the government trying to take care of the problems we face in society because I had faith that God would provide for me, I was told that this type of faith was not real. He told me that he had seem others who believed that God would cure them, and God did not, and they had to fall by on the government to take care of them. Then I stated that I knew God will take care of me, and that the others he referred to must had have little or no faith, he looked at me and stated, “Are you telling me that your faith is stronger than the faith of others?”. My reply was yes. For you see Christ refers to our faith with these words: o ye of little faith, ye have no faith, I have not found so great faith not in Israel, according to your faith be it unto you, thy faith has made thee whole, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, but I prayed for thee, that thy faith fails not. I told him to look and read the pages that I had wrote and put on the internet on my website, I do serve a risen Savior who is in the world today. This is the same Savior that this Psalm refers to as God’s anointed one. Remember the most important faith to question is that of our faith. You do not have to get in a game of comparing faith, just make sure your faith is for real.
This is the 12th psalm of the fifteen Song of Ascents psalms
1My heart is not proud, O LORD, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. 2 But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me. 3 O Israel, put your hope in the LORD both now and forevermore.
It is amazing how a short psalm like Psalm 131 can ease our mind. The beauty of God’s Word is how the truth found in each verse can touch the heart of those who are not proud, who have quieted themselves so that the Spirit of God can renew that individual relationship between them and God.
How often do we try to put ourselves or others on a pedestal only to see how easy it is to fall off that pedestal? How often do we seem to have all the answers and then realize that the path we have charted is taking us in the wrong direction? How often do we let our thought become express words without going through the filtering system that we have developed during our experiences on this earth? Yet the opening verse of this Psalm gives us the advice that we need to avoid all these issues. The definition of pride found in the dictionary is: a high or inordinate opinion of one’s own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing, conduct, etc. Synonyms for being proud include pride, conceit, self-esteem, egotism, and vanity can imply an elevated idea of the way we appear to others. The advantages, achievements, as well as the position that we attain in this life, often lead us to develop characteristics that creates an environment in which self-admiration takes over in our life. I recall one of my favorites saying in the days of my youth as “when you are good you are good, but when you are great you are like me!”. However, age can sometimes have a way of adjusting our attitudes, and where pride exist a fall is close behind.
Sooner or later we arrive at the place in our life after the fall from pride, that we realize that there are matters that we can’t handle and things that are now greater than your abilities to comprehend and explain. It is during these time that we either return again to the folly of starting over and doing things my way again, or finally stops and wait on God to make things happen. We daily face the challenge of doing it my way or waiting on God. There is a lot of pride in doing things my way, however, there is no rest. As I study the ministry of Christ, I realize that this psalm reflects the yoke that Christ refers to in Matthew chapter 11 verses twenty-five through thirty:
At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure. “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Yes, to the wise and learned the hidden things of God are hidden. It is only when we realized that our hope is not the power that we have but that this hope awaits those that wait on God. So, if you are weary and burden with the issues of life then take Christ offer and take his yoke and learn from Him.
This is the 11th psalm of the fifteen Song of Ascents psalms
1 Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD; 2 O Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy. 3 If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? 4 But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared. 5I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. 6Mysoul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning. 7 O Israel, put your hope in the LORD, for with the LORD is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. 8He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.
And not only did he redeemed Israel from all their sins, but also all who believe in Christ.
As I was studying A.W. Tozer’s book Knowledge Of The HolyI was impressed by his last chapter The Open Secret. The open secret that he discusses in this chapter is how can the Christian bring back the departed glory that is missing in the church today. I believe he starts in the right direction with the statement “Any forward step in the Church must begin with the individual.” The open secret is simple “acquaint thyself with God”. He has given us the realm of nature which we can experience his created power; however, as we see from Psalm nineteen the knowledge that man receives from the nature (natural revelation) only points him to God. Only by studying his Word daily can we experience the true fellowship with God that our spiritual nature seeks. Do not allow the things and the events of this world take away time from his Word. Open the scriptures and acquaint thyself with God. This is the best self-help book available. Heed the advice that Paul gave Timothy in II Timothy three:
But abide thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them. And that from a babe thou hast known the sacred writings which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness. That the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work.
Stay in God’s Word daily and you will find that your life will become complete.
This is the 10th psalm of the fifteen Song of Ascents psalms
1They have greatly oppressed me from my youth let Israel say 2they have greatly oppressed me from my youth, but they have not gained the victory over me. 3Plowmen have plowed my back and made their furrows long. 4 But the LORD is righteous; he has cut me free from the cords of the wicked. 5 May all who hate Zion be turned back in shame. 6 May they be like grass on the roof, which withers before it can grow; 7 with it the reaper cannot fill his hands, nor the one who gathers fill his arms. 8 May those who pass by not say, “The blessing of the LORD be upon you; we blessyou in the name of the LORD.”
Sometimes we seem to forget verse four, “but the LORD is righteous” when we look at the events around us. As Psalm 128 explains we need to have the fear of the Lord and be walking in his ways to be blessed; here the psalmist warns against making this saying “The blessing of the LORD be upon you; we blessyou in the name of the LORD.” to those who oppress Israel and hate Zion. To fear God is to acknowledge God’s love and future desires for Israel. Therefore, keep your eyes on Israel because that is the nation that God in using to determine the Second Coming of his Son.
Belief in the Jesus as your Lord and Savior can present problems for some individuals around the world. Must of the time I believe most Christians only have concerns and prayers that center around their social unit. In large portions of the world Christians are not only looked down upon but are also persecuted for their beliefs. We must also realize that the doctrines and belief system different greatly even within the circles of Christianity. The one truth that we do share is Jesus is our Lord and Savior, and we build the foundation of our belief system on Him. So, as you read this psalm realize that other believers in the world are greatly oppressed and this psalm offers them the assurance that the Lord is watching over them.
This is the 9th psalm of the fifteen Song of Ascents psalms
1 Blessed are all who fear the LORD, who walk in his ways. 2You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours. 3Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your sons will be like olive shoots around your table. 4 Thus is the man blessed who fears the LORD. 5 May the LORD bless you from Zion all the days of your life; may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem, 6 and may you live to see yourchildren’s children. Peace be upon Israel.
Verse, one points back to Psalm one and focus on our walk with God which I believe is the main theme of the Book of Psalms. To determine whether your walk is “the way of righteous or the way of the wicked” ask yourself these two simple questions: do I fear the Lord, and do I desire to walk in his ways? The first question “do I fear the Lord” really cannot be answered until you define what this phase means to you. One of the ways I have found helpful in defining this phase is looking at how it is used in the scriptures. To fear the Lord means to walk in his ways. How do we walk in his ways? Paul tells Timothy to study to show thyself approved unto God a workman that needs not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. So, the first step involves studying. The second step in serving the Lord is to serve him. By performing a word search on the “fear of God” in the Bible and studying the scriptures associated with the “fear of God” you will soon realize that this phase is also tied to the phase “and walk in his ways”. The third step in fearing the Lord is to shun or stay away from evil.
In Proverbs the fear of the Lord is associated with:
the beginning of wisdom and knowledge
those who shun and hates, evil behavior, pride, arrogance and perverse speech
adds length to life
a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death.
teaches a man humility
being kept safe from evil.
One of the greatest blessings that one can have in live is to live and see your children’s children. I have grown to learn that your grandchildren can be one of the greatest blessings you can enjoy in your old age. Just as I am typing these words I am listening to the playful noises of my grandchildren playing downstairs. Yes I live for the Lord, and yet in my retirement years I am blessed to have many grandchildren to live for and enjoy.
Even when families break apart there can be wonderful blessings for those who stay faithful in their walk with God. I love Psalm 119: 96 “I have seen a limit to all perfection, but thy commandment is exceedingly broad”. Sometimes we get very disappoint were the things and issues that surround us are not as perfect as we desire. We need to be careful that we do not strive to take corrective actions to make these things or issues perfect when they are no longer in our hands. But when we walk in the commandment of the Lord seems to restore the brokenness into something beautiful.