Psalm 113

Psalm 113

Praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord, you his servants;
    praise the name of the Lord.
Let the name of the Lord be praised,
    both now and forevermore.
From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets,
    the name of the Lord is to be praised.

The Lord is exalted over all the nations,
    his glory above the heavens.
Who is like the Lord our God,
    the One who sits enthroned on high,
who stoops down to look
    on the heavens and the earth?

He raises the poor from the dust
    and lifts the needy from the ash heap;
he seats them with princes,
    with the princes of his people.
He settles the childless woman in her home
    as a happy mother of children.

Praise the Lord.
(Psalm 113 NIV)

Join with me today as I read and think about this Psalm.

As I read verses 1 through 4, I imagine a large group of people worshipping the Lord, with men, women, and children from every nation and ethnicity represented, all focused on the Lord and giving Him glory.

As you read verses 5 through 9, can you, in your mind’s eye, see Jesus sitting beside the Father in heaven, as Jesus stands up, steps out of heaven and onto the dusty soil of earth?

Can you see Jesus stoop down to speak with a poor soul who has given up on life, to hear their story, to offer love and hope both now and for eternity?

Can you see Jesus speaking to you in your hard times, listening intently, as He dries your tears, helps you stand, and walks with you?

May you experience God’s favor and sense His presence today.

Blessings,
~kevin

Psalm 29

Psalm 29

A psalm of David.

Ascribe to the Lord, you heavenly beings,
    ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
    worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.

The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
    the God of glory thunders,
    the Lord thunders over the mighty waters.
The voice of the Lord is powerful;
    the voice of the Lord is majestic.
The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars;
    the Lord breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon.
He makes Lebanon leap like a calf,
    Sirion like a young wild ox.
The voice of the Lord strikes
    with flashes of lightning.
The voice of the Lord shakes the desert;
    the Lord shakes the Desert of Kadesh.
The voice of the Lord twists the oaks
    and strips the forests bare.
And in his temple all cry, “Glory!”

10 The Lord sits enthroned over the flood;
    the Lord is enthroned as King forever.
11 The Lord gives strength to his people;
    the Lord blesses his people with peace.
(Psalm 29 NIV)

David uses the experience and imagery of a thunderstorm to capture the glory and majesty of God.

Using our biblically informed imagination, we hear King David call the angels to worship God – for the sole reason of being God, worthy of all honor and glory and praise (vv. 1-2).

David then proceeds to describe God’s voice manifesting His glory, majesty, and power through the thunder, lightning, and rain (vv. 3-9).  He who spoke the world into existence (Genesis chapter 1) now controls all nature, including the weather.

If you are an outdoors person or a storm watcher, it’s easy to understand and envision the picture David is painting.  To this day, I still see a summer thunderstorm as God’s glory on display and am reminded of this psalm.

David concludes that the same Lord who is able to control the weather with the wind, lightning, waves, and thunder is also able to protect and provide for His people and give them peace (vv. 1-11).

Whether your and my storms are actual (like a summer thunderstorm) or situational (as in the storms and trials of life), may we remember this psalm and see God’s glory displayed.

And may we rest and find peace and protection in Him, as a little child curled up in their Daddy’s arms, safe and secure.

Blessings,
~kevin

Psalm 95

Psalm 95

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;
    let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before him with thanksgiving
    and extol him with music and song.

For the Lord is the great God,
    the great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth,
    and the mountain peaks belong to him.
The sea is his, for he made it,
    and his hands formed the dry land.

Come, let us bow down in worship,
    let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;
for he is our God
    and we are the people of his pasture,
    the flock under his care.

Today, if only you would hear his voice,
“Do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah,
    as you did that day at Massah in the wilderness,
where your ancestors tested me;
    they tried me, though they had seen what I did.
10 For forty years I was angry with that generation;
    I said, ‘They are a people whose hearts go astray,
    and they have not known my ways.’
11 So I declared on oath in my anger,
    ‘They shall never enter my rest.’”
(Psalm 95 NIV)

Today’s text has a two-fold purpose – both a call to worship and a warning.

The psalmist begins with an invitation to join together in worship (vv. 1-2).  This is not the worship of a dutiful soul, but of a joyful one.  The psalmist is not worshipping because he has to, or someone expects him to; rather, he is worshipping because he wants to be there, and joyfully invites others to join him.

While verses 1-2 identify the “what” and “how” of worship, verses 3-5 focus on the “why”:  the greatness of God.  Our God is above all other idols (small “g” gods), period.  He is the creator of the heavens and the earth, including the mountains, the depths of the earth, the seas, and everything in between.

So what is our response to the awesomeness of God?  humility – of both heart and body (v. 6-7a).  Remember that the position of the body reflects the attitude of the heart.  Bowing our heads and getting on our knees is not a magic formula, but rather, the full acknowledgment that God is sovereign and we are putting ourselves under Him.

Verses 7b – 9 are the psalmist’s warning to not repeat the sins of their ancestors in the days of Moses.  The psalmist refers specifically to the episode at Rephidim (Exodus 17:1-7).  The Lord was leading His people through the desert using Moses as His spokesperson.  When the Lord had the people stop at Rephidim, there was no fresh water to drink.   Rather than trusting the Lord and asking for His provision, the people argued with Moses and hardened their hearts against the Lord.

In fact, Moses gave two names to this place – “Meribah” (quarreling) and Massah (testing).   Both of these names reflected sins against the Lord; testing God (Massah) and arguing with the Lord’s anointed servant Moses (quarreling) were both ultimately reflecting on the hardness of their hearts toward God.

The writer of Hebrews provides clear commentary and application of this psalm:

Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest. He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. “Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house,” bearing witness to what would be spoken by God in the future. But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.

So, as the Holy Spirit says:

“Today, if you hear his voice,
    do not harden your hearts
as you did in the rebellion,
    during the time of testing in the wilderness,
where your ancestors tested and tried me,
    though for forty years they saw what I did.
10 That is why I was angry with that generation;
    I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray,
    and they have not known my ways.’
11 So I declared on oath in my anger,
    ‘They shall never enter my rest.’ ”

12 See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. 14 We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end.15 As has just been said:

“Today, if you hear his voice,
    do not harden your hearts
    as you did in the rebellion.”

16 Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? 17 And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies perished in the wilderness?18 And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? 19 So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.
(Hebrews chapter 3 NIV, underlines mine)

Amen… time to check my heart and my attitude first.

May you and I offer gentle words of encouragement to other Christ-followers as well.

Blessings,
~kevin

Psalm 98

Psalm 98

A psalm.

Sing to the Lord a new song,
    for he has done marvelous things;
his right hand and his holy arm
    have worked salvation for him.
The Lord has made his salvation known
    and revealed his righteousness to the nations.
He has remembered his love
    and his faithfulness to Israel;
all the ends of the earth have seen
    the salvation of our God.

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth,
    burst into jubilant song with music;
make music to the Lord with the harp,
    with the harp and the sound of singing,
with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn—
    shout for joy before the Lord, the King.

Let the sea resound, and everything in it,
    the world, and all who live in it.
Let the rivers clap their hands,
    let the mountains sing together for joy;
let them sing before the Lord,
    for he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
    and the peoples with equity.
(Psalm 98 NIV)

As you look back on your week, where have you seen the Lord working?

And what has been your response to His love, faithfulness, and goodness?

While the psalmist does not identify a certain event or occasion that triggers this psalm, it is clear that something has ignited this exuberance and joy.

The psalmist invites fellow Israelites to join in the celebration, with music and instruments (vv. 4-6).

The psalmist also paints a picture of nature (sea, rivers, mountains) all participating in this joyful orchestra and chorus praising the Lord.

The psalmist sees God’s sovereignty and righteousness, not as a cruel dictator, but as a loving Father who watches over and blesses His children (v. 9).

May you choose joy today, allowing the Lord to fill you up.

May the overflow of His joy in your life spill over to others around you.

Blessings,
~kevin

Psalm 138

Psalm 138

Of David.

I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart;
    before the “gods” I will sing your praise.
I will bow down toward your holy temple
    and will praise your name
    for your unfailing love and your faithfulness,
for you have so exalted your solemn decree
    that it surpasses your fame.
When I called, you answered me;
    you greatly emboldened me.

May all the kings of the earth praise you, Lord,
    when they hear what you have decreed.
May they sing of the ways of the Lord,
    for the glory of the Lord is great.

Though the Lord is exalted, he looks kindly on the lowly;
    though lofty, he sees them from afar.
Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
    you preserve my life.
You stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes;
    with your right hand you save me.
The Lord will vindicate me;
    your love, Lord, endures forever—
    do not abandon the works of your hands.
(Psalm 138 NIV)

Psalm 138 is King David taking the time to contemplate God’s goodness in the past and trust in God’s sovereignty in the future.

David begins by choosing God over all the other idols (“gods”) that are known (v. 1).  David makes this choice and gives thanks to God for God’s love and faithfulness (v. 2a).  David takes the time to thank God that His Word is true, that God keeps His promises (v. 2b).

David remembers God’s protection and empowerment when he called out to the Lord for help (v. 3).  Based on those memories of God’s hand in his life, David desires that all of his peers (other kings and rulers) will also learn about God’s Word and ways and find the same peace and joy that David has found in the Lord (vv. 4-5).

Although David praises God from his current position as king, he remembers that God also knows the obscure and unknown (likely from his days as a shepherd boy in the back country, tending sheep).  God also knows the proud and sees them coming from a long distance (probably from his days serving his predecessor, King Saul) (v. 6).

Based on God’s goodness, provision, and protection in the past, David knows that he can trust the Lord in his present difficulties, even when his enemies are pursuing him (v. 7).

Looking to the future, David is confident that God will complete what He started in David’s life.  David remembers that God created him for a purpose.  God will not abandon him, either now or in eternity – God’s love and mercy endure forever (v. 8).

As we look at this psalm, how might we live this out in our lives and in our day?

  • May we hit the “pause” button on our life, notice where we are, what’s going on in and around us at this time, in this moment.
  • May we then pay attention to what we may have missed while we were caught up in the busyness and drama of life.
  • May we then inquire about what’s going on:
    • What am I thinking and believing about my situation right now?
    • What am I thinking and believing about me right now?
    • Are these beliefs and feelings about my situation and about myself really true?
  • May we then choose to let go of any false beliefs and feelings that don’t line up with God’s Word and character.  May we learn to lean on what God says about us and about our situation, seeing ourselves from God’s viewpoint and envisioning Him standing with us in our situation.

When we step into David’s practice of contemplation and apply it to our life as above, how does that change our perspective?

As you practice this new way of living, may you experience God’s grace and His smile upon you today.

Blessings,
~kevin

Psalm 62

Psalm 62

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

Truly my soul finds rest in God;
    my salvation comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
    he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.

How long will you assault me?
    Would all of you throw me down—
    this leaning wall, this tottering fence?
Surely they intend to topple me
    from my lofty place;
    they take delight in lies.
With their mouths they bless,
    but in their hearts they curse.

Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
    my hope comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
    he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God;
    he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in him at all times, you people;
    pour out your hearts to him,
    for God is our refuge.

Surely the lowborn are but a breath,
    the highborn are but a lie.
If weighed on a balance, they are nothing;
    together they are only a breath.
10 Do not trust in extortion
    or put vain hope in stolen goods;
though your riches increase,
    do not set your heart on them.

11 One thing God has spoken,
    two things I have heard:
“Power belongs to you, God,
12     and with you, Lord, is unfailing love”;
and, “You reward everyone
    according to what they have done.”
(Psalm 62, NIV)

Let’s take some time to listen as King David pours out his heart to the Lord:

  • Quiet confidence – in Him
  • Rest (v. 1) – in Him
  • Protection (fortress, v. 2, 6) – in Him
  • Hope (v. 5) – in Him
  • Trust (v. 8) – in Him
  • Our confidante, our “listening ear” (we can pour out our hearts, v. 8) – in HIm
  • Power to set things right (v. 11) – in Him
  • Love (v. 12) – in HIm
  • Blessing (reward, v. 12) – in Him

David wrote about a God he knew but had never seen.

We see all of David’s references to God fulfilled in God made flesh among us – Jesus Christ.

Take some time to re-read this psalm, seeing all references to God in Jesus, and making this your own prayer.

May verse 8 be your watchword, your “carry-with-you” verse for the day:

I trust in Jesus at all times;
    I pour out my heart to Jesus,
    for Jesus is my refuge.

Blessings,
~kevin

Psalm 21

Psalm 21

For the director of music. A psalm of David.

The king rejoices in your strength, Lord.
    How great is his joy in the victories you give!

You have granted him his heart’s desire
    and have not withheld the request of his lips.
You came to greet him with rich blessings
    and placed a crown of pure gold on his head.
He asked you for life, and you gave it to him—
    length of days, for ever and ever.
Through the victories you gave, his glory is great;
    you have bestowed on him splendor and majesty.
Surely you have granted him unending blessings
    and made him glad with the joy of your presence.
For the king trusts in the Lord;
    through the unfailing love of the Most High
    he will not be shaken.

Your hand will lay hold on all your enemies;
    your right hand will seize your foes.
When you appear for battle,
    you will burn them up as in a blazing furnace.
The Lord will swallow them up in his wrath,
    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 You will make them turn their backs
    when you aim at them with drawn bow.

13 Be exalted in your strength, Lord;
    we will sing and praise your might.
(Psalm 21 NIV)

Today’s text (Psalm 21) is the thankful response to yesterday’s prayer (Psalm 20).  King David cried out to the Lord for help and protection against his enemies; the Lord answered and David rejoiced!

When we pray earnestly and expectantly, and the Lord answers fearlessly and forcefully, what is our response?  Do we remember to thank God at all?  Or do we say a quick “thank you Lord” and move on with our day?

King David personally takes the time to record his meditations and praise to the Lord for answered prayers.  David recognizes God’s hand of protection and blessing and gives God the glory for all that He has done on behalf of His people and himself.

In Psalm 20:7, David put his trust in the Lord and not in his armies or others.  In Psalm 21:7, David reiterates his trust in the Lord alone, citing God’s unfailing love in the past as his assurance of God’s continuing watch-care over them in the present and the future.

In verses 8 – 13, David speaks of the Lord’s dominance over His enemies.  David recognizes that these people may be coming after him and his kingdom, but in the larger scheme of things, they are God’s enemies.

These enemies may think they are pursuing David and the Israelites, but when they arrive for battle, God shows up to defend His people.  David uses strong imagery to portray the fate of God’s enemies:

  • God will grab hold of them so they can’t get away (v. 8)
  • The anger of God’s enemies is nothing compared to God’s righteous wrath against them (v. 9)
  • God will stop their families from perpetuating further evil against Him (v. 10)
  • God will frustrate and stop the enemies’ evil plots and wicked schemes (v. 11)
  • When the enemies show up and realize God has them in His crosshairs and is ready to fire on them, they will turn their backs and run away in fear (v. 12)

Take some extended time today to worship and thank God for His provision and protection, for His strength and His might in watching over us as His followers (v. 12).

Blessings,
~kevin