Nahum 1:9-15

Whatever they plot against the Lord
    he will bring to an end;
    trouble will not come a second time.
10 They will be entangled among thorns
    and drunk from their wine;
    they will be consumed like dry stubble.
11 From you, Nineveh, has one come forth
    who plots evil against the Lord
    and devises wicked plans.

12 This is what the Lord says:

“Although they have allies and are numerous,
    they will be destroyed and pass away.
Although I have afflicted you, Judah,
    I will afflict you no more.
13 Now I will break their yoke from your neck
    and tear your shackles away.”

14 The Lord has given a command concerning you, Nineveh:
    “You will have no descendants to bear your name.
I will destroy the images and idols
    that are in the temple of your gods.
I will prepare your grave,
    for you are vile.”

15 Look, there on the mountains,
    the feet of one who brings good news,
    who proclaims peace!
Celebrate your festivals, Judah,
    and fulfill your vows.
No more will the wicked invade you;
    they will be completely destroyed.
(Nahum 1:9-15 NIV)

As we review from our last time together, the prophet Nahum had written about God’s wrath against sin – in particular, Nineveh’s sin.  In the midst of God’s wrath, however, He promised to be a refuge to those who obey Him.  God promised to not sweep away the righteous with the wicked.

Picking up today’s text, we see the Lord continuing His thoughts from verse 8.  The Lord is intervening – He will stop those who plot evil against the Lord and His people (vv. 9-12a).

In verses 12b – 13, the Lord gives words of comfort to Judah.  Yes, the Lord has used the Assyrians to discipline His children, the Jewish people.  God’s people had turned their backs on Him and were worshipping other gods.  The Lord had warned them in His Word as well as through many prophets that there would be consequences for their willful sin, but the people of Judah continued down their selfish paths anyway.  Now the Lord was telling His children that the discipline was over – the Assyrians were about to be forced to release their hold on God’s people.

In verse 14, the Lord pronounces the end of Nineveh.  The Lord has decreed that the Ninevites will be no more – including their descendants.  The Lord is preparing their grave (in this case, a watery one, v. 8).  Not only will the city be wiped out, but also the people and their gods and idols.  Their deities of wood and stone are no match for the Living God.

Verse 15 is another reminder of God’s loving kindness toward His people.  Repeating the thought in verses 12b-13, the Lord reassures the people of Judah that He will not sweep them away with wicked Nineveh, but will rescue and restore them to worship Him once more.

Notice that the emphasis is on the messenger’s feet and message (v. 15).  The Lord is calling out the urgency of the messenger – likely running to proclaim the good news of Judah’s release from Assyrian captivity.  This wasn’t just a casual conversation to be had when the messenger had some spare time – this was freedom!

This emphasis was not on the defeat of the Assyrians, but rather, on the victory of the Lord freeing His children from tyranny and oppression.  Only God could deliver His people in such a huge way!

The Gospel is God’s good news to us – Jesus died for our sins, to break the penalty of sin over us.  His resurrection broke the power of death forever and paved the way for us to have eternal life with God.  God offers us the gift of salvation – it is nothing that we can earn or buy or demand.  We must humbly accept His gift as payment for our sins, placing our trust in Him for eternal life.

Blessings,
~kevin

Nahum 1:1-8

A prophecy concerning Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite.

The Lord is a jealous and avenging God;
    the Lord takes vengeance and is filled with wrath.
The Lord takes vengeance on his foes
    and vents his wrath against his enemies.
The Lord is slow to anger but great in power;
    the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished.
His way is in the whirlwind and the storm,
    and clouds are the dust of his feet.
He rebukes the sea and dries it up;
    he makes all the rivers run dry.
Bashan and Carmel wither
    and the blossoms of Lebanon fade.
The mountains quake before him
    and the hills melt away.
The earth trembles at his presence,
    the world and all who live in it.
Who can withstand his indignation?
    Who can endure his fierce anger?
His wrath is poured out like fire;
    the rocks are shattered before him.

The Lord is good,
    a refuge in times of trouble.
He cares for those who trust in him,
    but with an overwhelming flood
he will make an end of Nineveh;
    he will pursue his foes into the realm of darkness.
(Nahum 1:1-8 NIV)

As we begin our journey through the book of Nahum, we see Nahum introduce himself, his message, and the intended audience (v. 1).  Nahum is a prophet sent from God, and his message from the Lord is about the Assyrian capital of Nineveh.

As we learned in the Introduction last time, Jonah reluctantly went to Nineveh and preached repentance.  The people of Nineveh, even the rulers, repented and turned to the Lord.  Fast forward about a hundred years later, and Nahum arrives on the scene.  Assyria and Nineveh have reverted back to their old ways, and God has not forgotten His promise of judgment for their evil when they turn their back on Him.

Nahum opens his message with an unmistakable picture of God as being jealous, of executing vengeance, and of wrath.  This is an in-your-face confrontation of our mental image of God as a doting grandfather, isn’t it?

God is jealous because the people of Nineveh have turned their backs on Him, the true and living God, to worship their idols of wood and stone.  God is executing vengeance because of the Assyrian’s brutal treatment of God’s people.  Remember that the Assyrians captured the northern kingdom of Israel, and constantly bullied and made life miserable for the southern kingdom of Judah.  God is ready to pour out His wrath on Nineveh because of the people’s sin.  A holy God cannot tolerate sin, especially unrepentant, deliberate in-your-face sin which the people of Nineveh were engaged in.

In verse 3, Nahum reminds God’s people that He will judge the wicked, but He will not sweep away the righteous with the wicked.  The Jewish people under Nineveh’s rule probably wondered what was going to happen to them as Nahum proclaimed His message from the Lord.  Nahum’s name (“comfort”) rang true for those who repented of their sins and turned their hearts back to the Lord.

Verses 4 – 5 show the power of God, even over nature.  The seas, the mountains, even the trees respond to God’s Power and Presence.  The seas evaporate like the morning dew; the mountains melt like butter before Him.  The natural world and the people living there all tremble at His power.

Verse 6 asks two rhetorical questions – and answers them in the same verse.  Who can withstand God’s indignation and endure His fierce anger?  No one, and nothing.  Even the rocks, impervious to everything, shatter before His very Presence.

Verses 7 – 8 are a contrast – God’s love and mercy toward those who love and revere and obey Him, vs. God’s judgment against Nineveh, who made themselves God’s enemy and are practicing willful disobedience toward Him.  God promises to care for and to protect those who trust in Him – again, a comfort to the Jewish people that would hear Nahum’s words.

Remember how the Lord delivered Jonah from the water (more specifically, using a creature in the water to take Jonah from the water to dry land)?  Now the Lord says that He will use water to destroy Nineveh via a flood.  And as history records, that is exactly what happened – God “hid” the city of Nineveh for nearly 2,500 years.

We love to tell about all of God’s attributes that are to our liking, don’t we?  His love, his comfort, His justice, etc.  But God’s equal attributes of holiness, wrath, and jealousy – do we like them?  Not so much, because they remind us of our sin and our need to obey and follow Him vs. do life on our own.

Here is a great perspective on God’s attributes of holiness and wrath:

“In human affairs we rightly value justice and the “wrath” of the judicial system, for they protect us. If by chance we ourselves run afoul of the law, there is always the chance that we can cop a plea, escape on a technicality or plead guilty to some lesser offense and be excused for it. But we cannot do that with God. With him we deal not with the imperfections of human justice but with the perfections of divine justice. We deal with the one to whom not only actions but also thoughts and intentions are visible. Who can escape such justice? Who can stand before such an unwielding judge? No one. Sensing this truth we therefore resent God’s justice and deny its reality in every way we can.”
(Dr,. James Montgomery Boice, FOUNDATIONS OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH, p. 252)

 

May we remember that Jesus stood in our place to take God’s wrath that was meant for us so that we can experience life and peace with God, both now and in eternity.

This is God’s gift to us – we can’t buy it, earn it, or demand it – we must simply and humbly receive it from His good and gracious hand.

Blessings,

~kevin

Introduction to Nahum

Today we begin our journey through the Old Testament book of Nahum.

Nahum is a prophetic book, a minor prophet because of its size, not because of its message.

Nahum is the “sequel”, if you will, to the book of Jonah.  If you’ll remember the story of the book of Jonah, God calls Jonah, a prophet, to go preach to the Assyrian capital of Ninevah.  Jonah refuses to go, as Ninevah and the Assyrians are evil archenemies of God and of Israel.  God chases Jonah down and Jonah then reluctantly obeys.  Much to Jonah’s displeasure, the entire city of Ninevah repents, and God spares His wrath against the city.

Fast forward a century later, Ninevah and Assyria have reverted back to their old ways.  They have long forgotten Jonah’s words, and are evil through and through.  God has not forgotten His promise to bring His righteous judgment against the Assyrians and against Ninevah its capital if the Assyrians do not change their evil ways.  The Ninevites’ repentance a century earlier was a stay of execution as long as they honored God.

So what do we know about the author of this book?  Not much.  The author is Nahum, as indicated in the introduction.  Ironically, Nahum’s name means “comfort”, quite the opposite of the message God told Nahum to tell the Ninevites.  The “comfort” in Nahum’s name would possibly apply to Judah, God’s people, as they hear the good news that one of their great oppressors has been humbled and destroyed (Nahum 1:15).

Nahum introduces himself as being from Elkosh.   Scholars have no precise location for this city or village.  Elkosh could be a village in northern Iraq (where some of the exiles might have been taken, and where he was born); Elkosh could have been a small village in Galilee, or even Capernaum (translated, meaning “town of Nahum”).  The location of Elkosh is not of any significance to the meaning and message of the book.

The timeframe of this writing was likely between 642 and 622 BC.  Scholars estimate this timeframe because the book refers to the earlier fall of Thebes in 664 BC (see Nahum 3:8).  Also, historians clearly record that Ninevah fell in 612 BC, so Nahum’s prophesy was before that timeframe.

Nahum was writing as a prophet, with his time overlapping with the end of King Manasseh’s reign and the beginning of King Josiah’s reign.  The reign of the evil Assyrian empire was about to come to an end at the hand of the Medes and Persians, and its capital of Ninevah would be destroyed.  In fact, God’s promise that the city of Ninevah would go into hiding (see Nahum 3:11) was true – it was not rediscovered until 1842 AD!

The book of Nahum has three simple sections that follow the chapter divisions:

  1. God’s goodness toward Judah and wrath toward Assyria and Ninevah (chapter 1)
  2. God’s preparation for battle (chapter 2)
  3. Assyria’s overthrow and Ninevah’s ruin (chapter 3)

 

So what can we learn from this quick summary of the book of Nahum?

  • God is righteous and good to those that follow Him and judges evil and brings justice to a broken world.
  • God’s timeframe is not our timeframe – God holds nations accountable for long periods of time (roughly a century, in the case of Assyria and Ninevah).
  • If God can overthrow the dominant world power in that day and hide its capital city for almost 2,500 years, He can surely help me with my small problems today.

Blessings,
~kevin

Psalm 40

Psalm 40

For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.

I waited patiently for the Lord;
    he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
    out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
    and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
    a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
    and put their trust in him.

Blessed is the one
    who trusts in the Lord,
who does not look to the proud,
    to those who turn aside to false gods.
Many, Lord my God,
    are the wonders you have done,
    the things you planned for us.
None can compare with you;
    were I to speak and tell of your deeds,
    they would be too many to declare.

Sacrifice and offering you did not desire—
    but my ears you have opened—
    burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require.
Then I said, “Here I am, I have come—
    it is written about me in the scroll.
I desire to do your will, my God;
    your law is within my heart.”

I proclaim your saving acts in the great assembly;
    I do not seal my lips, Lord,
    as you know.
10 I do not hide your righteousness in my heart;
    I speak of your faithfulness and your saving help.
I do not conceal your love and your faithfulness
    from the great assembly.

11 Do not withhold your mercy from me, Lord;
    may your love and faithfulness always protect me.
12 For troubles without number surround me;
    my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see.
They are more than the hairs of my head,
    and my heart fails within me.
13 Be pleased to save me, Lord;
    come quickly, Lord, to help me.

14 May all who want to take my life
    be put to shame and confusion;
may all who desire my ruin
    be turned back in disgrace.
15 May those who say to me, “Aha! Aha!”
    be appalled at their own shame.
16 But may all who seek you
    rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who long for your saving help always say,
    “The Lord is great!”

17 But as for me, I am poor and needy;
    may the Lord think of me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
    you are my God, do not delay.
(Psalm 40:1-17 NIV)

Today’s psalm was written by David, as David rejoices in what God has done for him.  Many psalms begin with the psalmist crying out to God for help, recognizing God’s goodness and love, and then worshipping for who God is and what He does.  Today’s psalm basically reverses that order, and begins with David’s recognition and worship for what God has already done, and ends with David’s original plea for God’s help to which God had already responded.

 

So what do we see in this psalm?

  • God’s response to David’s pleas for help (vv. 1-3)
  • David worshipping the Lord for God’s help (vv. 4-5)
  • God’s expectations of relationship and not religion (vv. 6-8)
  • David’s worship and public proclamation of God (vv. 9-10)
  • David’s confession of sin before a righteous and holy God (vv. 11-12)
  • David’s original plea for God’s help (vv. 13-17)

 

So what does this psalm tell us about God?

  • God hears us and listens to us when we call out to Him
  • God is both able and willing to help us when we humbly ask Him
  • God wants heart and soul connection (relationship) with us, not detached duty
  • God longs to forgive us and reconcile our relationship to Himself when we ask
  • God’s attributes that He extends to us:
    • Righteousness
    • Salvation
    • Faithfulness
    • Love
    • Truth
    • Compassion (mercy)

 

So how should we respond to the Lord?

  • In humility – carrying our troubles (things outside our control) to the Lord
  • In repentance – confessing our sins to the Lord
  • In relationship – focusing on our heart and soul connection to the Lord
  • In faith – trusting that the Lord knows what is best for us and will redeem our hurts
  • In worship – thankful to the Lord for His character and His redemption
  • In justice – trusting the Lord to deal with the evil that threatens us
  • In partnership – proclaiming God’s truth and character to all who will listen

 

May we carry these truths in our hearts and souls, not as facts, but as Living Reality.

Blessings,
~kevin

Psalm 28

Psalm 28

Of David.

To you, Lord, I call;
    you are my Rock,
    do not turn a deaf ear to me.
For if you remain silent,
    I will be like those who go 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 on them what they deserve.

Because they have no regard for the deeds 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 he helps me.
My heart leaps for joy,
    and with my song I praise him.

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.
(Psalm 28:1-9 NIV)

King David begins this psalm with a heartfelt cry to the Lord for help.  David’s psalm splits into two parts:

  • Petition – Asking God for help (vv. 1-5)
  • Praise – Thanking God for His answer (vv. 6-9)

David begins by calling to God for help.  When David refers to “the pit”, that speaks of death.  David was not afraid of someone trying to kill him.  Rather, David was concerned with spiritually dying by being disconnected in his relationship with the Lord.  When a branch is cut from its vine, it will die.  David’s life centered on his abiding connection with the Lord.  Anything or anyone that threatened to sever that relationship between David and the Lord felt like death to David (v. 1).

As David begged God to hear his requests, David was not outside the Temple looking in, wishing he was inside God’s dwelling place among His people.  Rather, David was already inside the Temple, crying out to God, lifting his hands and voice toward God’s residence inside the Temple, the Holy of Holies.  David was a close as he could be to where God resided on earth (v. 2).

David sought to be authentic in all his relationships – he knows that God sees the heart and judges based on what is inside a person rather than what they present on the outside.  David knows God’s justice and asks God to see him for who he is on the inside, as that is what distinguishes him from the wicked (v. 3).

David relies on God to bring justice, to judge rightly (vv. 4 – 5).  David does not seek revenge or retribution or try to bring justice himself.  He is the king, and yet he relies on God to take care of the wicked in God’s way and timing.

Starting in verse 6, David praises the Lord, as the Lord has heard his prayers.  Notice that is enough for David that God has simply heard his prayers (v. 6).  David knows God’s heart, and trusts in God to be his protector and provider (v. 7).  As David reaffirms his trust in the Lord, this leads David to worship God.

David then extends this confidence in God’s promise and ability to care for all who follow the Lord.  While David wrote this psalm for God’s people Israel, we know from many New Testament scriptures that God offers that same protection and provision to us in our day and time and to future generations forever (vv. 8-9).

Like David, we know that we live in a broken world.  Like David, we can place our trust in the Lord with our families, our reputations, and our lives.

Jesus is enough.

May we abide and rest and work and live in His reality today.

Blessings,
~kevin

Psalm 75

Psalm 75

For the director of music. To the tune of “Do Not Destroy.”
A psalm of Asaph. A song.

We praise you, God,
    we praise you, for your Name is near;
    people tell of your wonderful deeds.

You say, “I choose the appointed time;
    it is I who judge with equity.
When the earth and all its people quake,
    it is I who hold its pillars firm.
To the arrogant I say, ‘Boast no more,’
    and to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up your horns.
Do not lift your horns against heaven;
    do not speak so defiantly.’”

No one from the east or the west
    or from the desert can exalt themselves.
It is God who judges:
    He brings one down, he exalts another.
In the hand of the Lord is a cup
    full of foaming wine mixed with spices;
he pours it out, and all the wicked of the earth
    drink it down to its very dregs.

As for me, I will declare this forever;
    I will sing praise to the God of Jacob,
10 who says, “I will cut off the horns of all the wicked,
    but the horns of the righteous will be lifted up.”
(Psalm 75:1-10 NIV)

This is another psalm written by Asaph, or possibly one of his descendants.  Since Psalm 73 was written by Asaph, and Psalm 74 speaks of the Babylonian destruction of the Temple (many generations after King David’s life), and Psalm 75 comes after Psalm 74, this may have been one of Asaph’s family members that were assigned as musicians during King David’s reign (1 Chronicles 15:16-19).  In fact, 2 Chronicles 35:15 speaks of the descendants of Asaph still serving the Lord as musicians, so this psalm being written by one of Asaph’s descendants is quite plausible.

Verse 1 begins by the psalmist leading the congregation in corporate worship of the Lord.  When the psalmist says “Your name is near”, he is referring to the Lord’s presence with the congregation.  The psalmist is sensing Immanuel (“God with us”) as they worship Him.

Verses 2 – 5 are God speaking to them in the first person.  The “I” is God speaking, not the psalmist.  God is proclaiming Himself as judge over the nations (v.2) and is the creator and sustainer of the earth (v. 3).  God also sets boundaries on the pride and wickedness of individuals and of nations (v. 4 – 5).  God was warning both individuals and nations not to arrogantly defy Him.

The psalmist uses the metaphor of a horn in verses 4- 5 and also in verse 10.  In the Old Testament, the horn referred to a picture of pride and strength, like the horns of a deer or a bull.  To “lift up your horns” was to act pridefully in one’s own strength.

And if people and nations arrogantly defy God, what will happen?  In verses 6 – 8, the psalmist tells us that God will judge them (v. 6).  The psalmist reminds us that God may not appear fair, as He brings down one and exalts another, but God brings justice in the end (v. 7).

And what does God’s justice look like?  The psalmist uses word pictures similar to what the Lord told Jeremiah to say to defiant Judah: they had to drink the cup of God’s wrath for their defiance and disobedience.  The reference to foaming wine means that other ingredients were added to the wine, not to enhance the wine, but to, as the old saying goes, give them a taste of their own medicine.

Other passages (such as Jeremiah 25:15-28 and Isaiah 51:17-22) use this word picture of mixed wine as a poison or drink to incapacitate them.  God was not tricking them, slipping something into their drinks behind their backs – this was the Lord forcing them to deal with their sin.  The nations were not to just take a sip from the cup; they had to drink it down to the dregs in the bottom of the cup (v. 8).  This reference to the cup of God’s wrath is another indicator of this psalm being written by one of Asaph’s descendants, not Asaph himself.

The psalmist ends by speaking personally – not for the congregation, but for himself.  He humbly states with the full affirmation of his innermost self that he is choosing to follow the Lord and worship Him alone (v. 9).  The psalmist also rests in God’s justice, knowing that God will deal with the wicked in due time.  The wicked and proud might be having their day right now, but the psalmist can trust that the Lord will hold the ungodly accountable one day, and will raise up the righteous ones who choose to follow Him (v. 10).

May we choose to follow the Lord and worship Him alone as the psalmist did.

May we also not fear the wicked, but trust God to bring them to justice in His time.

Blessings,
~kevin

Psalm 73

Psalm 73

A psalm of Asaph.

Surely God is good to Israel,
    to those who are pure in heart.

But as for me, my feet had almost slipped;
    I had nearly lost my foothold.
For I envied the arrogant
    when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

They have no struggles;
    their bodies are healthy and strong.
They are free from common human burdens;
    they are not plagued by human ills.
Therefore pride is their necklace;
    they clothe themselves with violence.
From their callous hearts comes iniquity;
    their evil imaginations have no limits.
They scoff, and speak with malice;
    with arrogance they threaten oppression.
Their mouths lay claim to heaven,
    and their tongues take possession of the earth.
10 Therefore their people turn to them
    and drink up waters in abundance.
11 They say, “How would God know?
    Does the Most High know anything?”

12 This is what the wicked are like—
    always free of care, they go on amassing wealth.

13 Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure
    and have washed my hands in innocence.
14 All day long I have been afflicted,
    and every morning brings new punishments.

15 If I had spoken out like that,
    I would have betrayed your children.
16 When I tried to understand all this,
    it troubled me deeply
17 till I entered the sanctuary of God;
    then I understood their final destiny.

18 Surely you place them on slippery ground;
    you cast them down to ruin.
19 How suddenly are they destroyed,
    completely swept away by terrors!
20 They are like a dream when one awakes;
    when you arise, Lord,
    you will despise them as fantasies.

21 When my heart was grieved
    and my spirit embittered,
22 I was senseless and ignorant;
    I was a brute beast before you.

23 Yet I am always with you;
    you hold me by my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
    and afterward you will take me into glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
    And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
    but God is the strength of my heart
    and my portion forever.

27 Those who are far from you will perish;
    you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.
28 But as for me, it is good to be near God.
    I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge;
    I will tell of all your deeds.
(Psalm 71:1-28 NIV)

Today’s psalm is written by Asaph.  We know that Asaph was appointed by David to be one of the Temple musicians (1 Chronicles 15:16-19).  This context also gives us the approximate era when Asaph lived as a contemporary of King David.

Verse 1 begins with Asaph proclaiming the goodness of God.  As we’ll see in a bit, Asaph also ends with this same proclamation – God is good.

In between, though, Asaph is struggling.  Verses 2 – 3 summarize his struggle – the “easy life” of the ungodly seems so enticing.

The temptation is real, isn’t it!  It’s very easy to be envious of the “good life” that others seem to have, to think that the “grass is always greener” in their yard than in our own.

Asaph outlines all the benefits of the seemingly good life in verses 4-12.  On the surface, their life looks pretty good.

In verses 13 – 14, Asaph has some temporary regrets about trying to live the righteous life, to live the life that God calls him to.  In Asaph’s mind, it seems like all this has been a total waste of time and energy when he could have been enjoying all the good things in life instead of denying himself worldly pleasures and following God.

But all those false images of the seemingly “good life” come crashing down when Asaph enters God’s Temple.  He now sees life from God’s perspective (vv. 15 – 17).

What triggered Asaph’s sudden change of heart?  Was it the building, being in the Temple?  Maybe – there were probably reminders of God’s goodness to past generations all around.  Was it being among God’s people and receiving encouragement?  Maybe – that is often helpful.

The biggest and most influential factor of changing Asaph’s mind was likely worship.  As Asaph stopped and set aside all his cares and concerns to worship God, he saw God for who He is, and his temptations and troubles as small in comparison.

Asaph now understands that God’s justice and righteousness prevail (vv. 18 – 20).

When Asaph sees God for who and what He is, then he confesses his sins of envy, bitterness, selfishness, and pride (vv. 21 – 22).  When Asaph was in his pity party, he confessed to the Lord that he was acting irrationally, like a wild beast.

And so we need to stop and take note of Asaph’s confession and draw a life principle from his words.

The principle is this:  Hurting people hurt other people.

When we’re hurting, we lash out at others – we say things and do things that we would never think of doing if we were in a healthy state of mind.

Does our hurt justify our sin?  Absolutely not.  It does, however, give us a warning light that there is a problem in our souls that needs attention.  We need to take that warning light seriously, go before the Lord, and deal with the issue.

What about others that hurt us?  Should we rationalize away their sin, telling ourselves that they are hurting?  No.  Should we get up in their faces about their sin, telling them to repent and get right with the Lord?  That’s one approach, but it will probably generate more hurt and conflict than help.  James 1:20 tells us that human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.

So what should we do?  The best thing, if the person is willing, is to simply hear what’s going on inside them.  Often, hurting people simply need a friend to talk to.  They don’t need “fixed” or told what to do – they just want someone to listen.  God uses that time to speak into the hurting person’s life, and we’re just along for the ride.

Having confessed his sin, Asaph now has a new outlook on life.  Asaph no longer thinks that he needs God plus an easy life plus wealth and power plus all the other things that the ungodly have and he formerly coveted.

Asaph now sees and confesses that God alone is sufficient (vv. 23 – 26).

Asaph ends as he began – seeing and proclaiming the goodness of God (vv. 27 – 28).  Asaph had seen the enticements of the world and the ungodly and had seen their ultimate fate and God’s justice and righteousness.

In the final analysis, Asaph said, “I choose God.”

Just like Asaph, so we are faced with a choice each day.  Will we pursue all these other things, or will we choose God and Him alone?

May we choose wisely, and walk in faith even when it feels foolish and a waste of time to do so.

May we learn from Asaph sharing his story with us today.

Blessings,

~kevin