Confidence in our God – Psalm 46

This psalm is a confession of confidence in God as our refuge, strength, and fortress in a time of the worst imaginable calamities- the shaking of the natural creation, and the fall of the nation.  He is a stronghold into which we can flee and a source of inner strength by which we can face these troubles.  The psalm is composed of 3 stanzas. As shown below, each stanza has a confessional statement that describes God being for us and with us in times of crises:

  • (:1) God is our (for us) refuge and strength and ever-present help in trouble.
  • (:7) The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
  • (:11) The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
  • And since God is for us and with us, we need not fear any present or future trouble.

God is a refuge that we can run to for comfort and security. There are those who look to their wealth to find security (Prov 18:10 “A rich man’s wealth is his strong city, and like a high wall in his imagination”); but all the wealth in the world cannot help at the time of death or standing before God in judgment. Others trust in national security (Ps 20:7-8) or human relationships, but all of these can be taken away at a moment’s notice or are powerless to deliver. All power belongs to God.  He alone is all sufficient, and His might and grace are equal to all emergencies.    He is ever present with His people. He has been tried and proven to be faithful.  He truly is our help in time of trouble.  He is more present than the trouble itself, to comfort and succor us.  His provision of grace is more than sufficient to meet our every need.  It is like that river that flows from the very throne of God to refresh and gladden our hearts.  The psalm ends by telling us to be still, to stop striving, to quiet our heart, and to know that Jehovah is God–to meditate on the realities of who God is, and what He has done on behalf of His people and what He is going to do in glorifying His name among the nations. Believer, live your life in the conscious reality that the Lord Almighty (Jehovah Sabaoth) is for you in Christ and will one day subdue all the hostile forces and rebellion of man forever, and establish His righteous Kingdom.

Intentional, Faithful, Zealous – Psalm 119:30-32

“I have chosen the way of truth; Your judgments I have laid before me.” Psalm 119:30 (NKJV)

Besides being the longest chapter in the bible, Psalm 119 is a beautiful psalm divided up according to the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. It is meant to be a work of art as well as God’s edifying and comforting Word. Some great people have memorized this whole Psalm and found great blessing in doing so – among them are John Ruskin (19th century British writer), William Wilberforce (19th century British politician), Henry Martyn (19th century pioneer missionary to India), and David Livingstone (19th century missionary to Africa). Luther once professed that he prized this Psalm so highly, that he would not take the whole world in exchange for one leaf of it.

Our focus will be on verses 30-32 which fall into the “Daleth” section from verses 25-32. In this section we have the Word of God speaking to the psalmist’s inner thoughts. The psalmist ends the section by describing three actions that both prescribe and describe his walk in holiness. He says in verse 30, “I have chosen the way of truth. Your judgments I have laid before me.” This is an intentional decision regarding where he is going to find direction. In verse 31, we see the psalmist clinging to God’s testimonies. This is the answer to verse 25, “my soul clings to the dust.” The way you get out of the dust is to cling to the testimonies of the Lord. In verse 32, the psalmist runs the course of his commandments. Does this bring to mind the “race” passages in the New Testament? (Read Philippians 3:12-14, 2 Timothy 4:7-8, Hebrews 12:1-2)

Of course we need to remember what Jesus says in John 15:5 (apart from me you can do nothing). The psalmist says that he will run the course of God’s commandments, when you enlarge my heart. This can also be translated, “for you enlarge my heart.” The point is that the psalmist looks to God’s power and God’s grace and God’s enabling; when his heart is enlarged, then he can run the course.

Question: What would your heart be like if God enlarged it? Do you want to have increased capacity for God? Do you want to have more light shine through to illuminate the blessings and promises of God? The better we know Him, the better we can run the course of His commandments.

The psalmist’s conclusion to his many troubles is to intentionally choose the way of truth, faithfully cling to the testimonies, and zealously purpose in his heart to run the course set before him. And this is only done as the Lord enlarges his heart. Let’s pray this for ourselves, our families, and our church family!

Read Ephesians 1:15-23 for a good New Testament application of our psalmist’s prayer. Paul prays that the church in Ephesus will get the knowledge of God in a more profound way than they ever had it before. There is great power and greatness towards us! This is not just theoretical power, but the power that brought us from death to life, working in us now to sanctify us. This is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead and seated Him at the right hand in heavenly places.

Psalm 28 – Suppliant

Hear the voice of my pleas for mercy, when I cry to you for help, when I lift up my hands toward your most holy sanctuary. Psalm 28:2

Depending on where it is used in a sentence, the word suppliant, may be a noun or adjective describing a person who, or action in which one, makes a humble plea to an authority. More than a merely a petition, a suppliant offers supplication – the plea of a needy beggar coming with empty hands to one who is in power. This is the posture of David in Psalm 28. In deep despair, he comes to God with open and empty hands beseeching a favor (see vss. 1-2). The fact that his supplication is heard becomes clear in verses 6-7, where David exults, “Blessed be the Lord! For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy. The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped;
my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.”

In the New Testament Gospel of Luke chapter 18, Jesus tells the story of two men who offer two distinct prayers to God – one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee’s prayer went like this: “God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.” But the other man, we are told, bowed his head and beat his breast (signs of humility), and prayed, “God, be merciful to me a sinner.” You can read the parable for yourself in Luke 18:10-14. Which of these two men was suppliant? Which of the two did God hear and answer? Why was only one man heard? What does this reveal about effective prayer? How about in your prayer life – are you the suppliant or do you boast about how a particular sin will never touch you?

Today, we who are in Christ know many things that were unknown to David about the nature and method of prayer. We understand that effective prayers are only those offered boldly at the throne of grace of mercy based upon the merit of Christ’s blood. While these details were unknown to David, today we yet suffer with many of the same problems that David dealt with; and like David, we too must cry unto the Lord and present our supplications to Him with the same suppliant nature. Such prayers have been common to the people of God in every age. So if you labor and are heavy laden, come to Christ; bow at His feet and ask of Him, as one who is suppliant.

Ultimately, more than anything, we see Jesus Christ in this Psalm. Christ always went to His Father in His own time of need. Though He was in very nature Almighty God, He became the weak suppliant. Hebrews 5:7 says, “in the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.” Even to this day, Jesus, as our great High Priest, continues to offer prayers or intercession for His people as the perfect suppliant. Let us likewise take on the posture of the suppliant, as we continually recognize our neediness and reliance upon our God.

Light and Salvation – Psalm 27

The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? Ps:27:1

The Bible opens in the book of Genesis with the creation of a formless dark world into which God speaks, “Let there be light.” The very first thing created by God, after the heaven and earth, is light. Light is an important theme in Scripture, always associated with blessing and joy, and contrasted to the darkness of evil and God’s judgment. Light is inseparable from salvation from the darkness of judgment. Read the following verses in order to gain an appreciation of the many aspects of light in the Scripture. Isaiah 9:2, Micah 7:8-9, Matt 4:16, 5:14-16, Mark 4:22, John 1:1-5,9, 8:12, Acts 13:47, 1 Timothy 6:16, 1 John 1:5, Rev 21:23-24

Individuals often identify themselves as “seekers,” because they are seeking after some sort of “light.” They have a sense of darkness in their lives, so they go on a quest for light, looking for it in nature, or philosophy, or institution, or creed or religion. Many get caught up in a “new age” philosophy where they believe they discover light. But have they really? “Salvation,” on the other hand, presents quite another story. There are no “seekers” of salvation, in that there are none who recognize their lost and hopeless condition and desperate need to be saved. People generally deny the reality of judgment and hell in the afterlife; and even when they accept it, they usually think they have lived a good enough life to evade hell. God’s indictment of mankind in Romans 3:11 is that there are, “none who seek after God.” The Bible teaches that all men are dead in trespasses and sin; we are lost creatures who God sought out to save. This is the theme of the whole Bible. But what about these supposed “seekers” of light? Can anyone find light apart from salvation?

In Isaiah 50:10, the Lord says, “Who is among you that fears the LORD, that obeys the voice of His servant, that walks in darkness and has no light? Let him trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God.”

Light and Salvation are inseparable because in their essence, they both belong to a single Person. In Psalm 27:1, David understands this fact, as he boldly declares, “the LORD is my light and my salvation!” David found his light and his salvation in a Person, who is none other than God Himself. Those who do not know God through the Person of Christ are unsaved and dwell in darkness. While they may gain a sense of their personal despair, they do not even know they are in darkness. Jesus said in John 12:35, “The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going.” We see from this that the one in darkness is going somewhere, but he does not know where. Men grope around in darkness trying to grasp for something they presume will bring them light, but because they have not experienced the true light they have no idea what it is they are looking for.

But those who have come to the Light of the world, Jesus Christ, no longer walk in darkness, and as a result all of the fears associated with groping in darkness are assuaged. Stop groping in darkness and truly embrace the One True Light – not a philosophy, not a religion, not a creed, not an institution, but Jesus Christ Himself, who said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

Devotion – Psalm 26

I wash my hands in innocence and go around your altar, O Lord, proclaiming thanksgiving aloud, and telling all your wondrous deeds. O Lord, I love the habitation of your house and the place where your glory dwells. Psalm 26:6-8

Commentator Derek Kidner calls Psalm 26, “Pure Devotion.” He writes: “An absorbed delight in the presence and house of God makes the core of this Psalm (verses 6-8) a personal confession that shames our ‘faint desires.’ “

Many of David’s Psalms reveal him as the man after God’s heart, as one who lived a life devoted to God, His people and His house. We often find David panting after, and thirsting for, God, enjoying His courts, shouting for joy, and singing to the Lord. We find his praise to be most vociferous when he is in the presence of God’s people (see Psalm 27:6, 42:4, 68:24-26). This kind of devotion required that David forsake those wicked people who would lead him into falsehood and hypocrisy. Instead, he spiritually aligned himself with those who were publicly singing around the altar in the temple courts. His choice to hate the company of evil doers and in turn love God’s people, reveals where David’s heart is. Rather than surrounding himself with those who might be a stumbling block, David chose to fellowship with the ‘great assembly,’ where he experiences the sure footing a level ground (v. 12). David understood that he was on safest ground when his conduct was on open display before God’s people. He knew that there was no better place on earth for him to join in the triumphant proclamation of the glorious works of God than in the assembly of the saints.

Like David, we all face choices when it comes to the company we keep. When we first become a Christian, chances are that most, if not all, of our friends are unbelievers. But that changes over time as we realize how little we share in common with our old friends, and how much we have in common with God’s church. Much can be said of our own heart by the company we desire to keep. No matter how spiritual we might think we are, we deceive ourselves if we think that we can live a life devoted to God and yet have no care for the fellowship of His people. True love for Christ necessitates love for His body, the church; and in the absence of the latter, the former needs to be called into serious question. On the other hand, he or she who is in regular company with the saints of God, and is thus accountable to his or her church community, is more apt to have a stable walk. The “church hopper” or the one who thinks he can worship God on the golf course on Sunday morning is on shaky ground spiritually. If we are going to live a truly devoted life – communion with Christ, meditation on the Word, and fellowship with His people are all equally prerequisites.

This week measure your devotion to Christ by the barometer of your love for His church. Where that may be lacking, repent and purpose to devote yourself to the love of the brethren in your church.

Appeal – Psalm 17

Psalm 17 bears the simple title, “A prayer of David.” Charles H. Spurgeon wrote, “David would never have been a man after God’s own heart if he had not been a man of prayer. He was a master in the sacred art of supplication.” Psalm 17 is a prototypical supplication or appeal to God.

The seventeenth Psalm has been the departing song of many Christian martyrs upon their unjust death. In 1685, this Psalm was the final song of Covenanter Daniel McMichael and later Alexander McRobin, who was said to have died, “in much composure and cheerfulness.” A couple of years later, another Covenanter, John Gibson was permitted to pray before he was shot – he sang part of Psalm 17. He reported to his family how it was the joyfullest day of his life; “the rest were shot without being allowed to pray separately,” he wrote. You cannot kill men with faith like this; they know they have eternal life. This Psalm has undoubtedly been the source of great encouragement to many a persecuted Christian through the ages, who, notwithstanding their chains, may enter the Lord’s presence at any time with a simple cry out.

In the Psalm, after first inviting God’s vigilant scrutiny in verses 1-5, from the position of personal righteousness, David appeals on the basis of his innocence, for God’s protection in verses 6-9.

I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God;
incline your ear to me; hear my words.
Wondrously show your steadfast love,
O Savior of those who seek refuge
from their adversaries at your right hand.
Keep me as the apple of your eye;
hide me in the shadow of your wings

Few Psalms exhibit the closeness that David experienced with God, as this Psalm does. Take note of how the language of his appeal is founded in God’s loving care for him. He appeals to God not as a judge but as a close friend. He speaks confidently; “you will answer me, O God;” leaving no room for doubt. Even though we see him quite clearly in the midst of enemies (vss. 9-12), he has confidence because he knows his God is near to him. Few words capture God’s nearness as those in verse 8, “keep me as the apple of your eye;” this is David’s appeal to God to keep him right before His presence. To accomplish that, David’s eyes must likewise be fastened upon God.

How about you? Are you enjoying your privilege in Christ of nearness and access to the Father? Are you experiencing confidence in prayer that come comes from knowing the immediacy of His presence? Are you confident in your appeals, knowing that they are based on the perfect righteous merit of Christ? Through Christ, by one Spirit, you can know the realized presence of God standing before His very throne of grace.

A Mother’s Psalm – Psalm 113

He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children (Psalm 113:9)

Psalm 113 is the first of six of what are called the “Egyptian Hallel” psalms (113-118). It is a call for God’s people to praise the Lord, and was typically sung in Israel at the opening of the Passover liturgy. It is a call to praise God for both His sovereign majesty (vss. 4-6) and for His acts of deliverance (v. 7-9); specifically, it calls His people to praise God for His intervention for the poor and needy who were outcasts from society, and His raising of them up to prominence. He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with princes (vss. 7-8). These words were also sung by Hannah in 1 Samuel 2:8, and similar phrases are found in Mary the mother of Jesus’ Magnificat in Luke 1:52.

Another act of deliverance for which God is praised in Psalm 113 is for His liberation of oppressed women. In the ancient Middle-East, and in Israel in particular, motherhood was the crowning achievement of any woman. A woman without children was considered a social outcast (Gen 16:2, 20:18, 1 Sam 1:6, Luke 1:25). God’s people sensed His mandate in creation to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” (Genesis 1:28), and when they could not do so, they sensed the disfavor of God on their lives. But God’s people often found themselves released from the curse and blessed with children (Ps 115:14, Isaiah 48:19, 54:1-3). Barren women were often redeemed in Scripture; we see a pattern where God often chooses and calls barren women to give birth to a significant heir through miraculous and inexplicable circumstances. Finally, the ultimate “barren” woman – a virgin – Mary, gave birth to the Messiah in what was the most miraculous conception.

The coming of Christ into the world changed everything with respect to our outlook on children and infertility. No longer are God’s children called “barren.” Being without a child is never mentioned in the New Testament as a curse; in fact, the New Testament actually praises the unmarried state (1 Cor 7:6-8). Read Mark 3:34-35, Matthew 10:35-37 to discover Jesus’ teaching on family and children. In texts such as these we see what the creation mandate to “be fruitful and multiply,” as well as all of the examples of barren women in Israel, point to. The read Titus 2:2-5 to discover what is the mandate of all women, whether married or single.