Psalm 9 – Praise Him

Not being a warrior, I have a hard time relating to David’s rantings about the evil nations, and God’s judgment upon those nations. I think, though, that it’s important to remember that God will judge the nations, and everyone, based upon the lives they live and the decisions they make. I definitely don’t have the zeal that Davd had to see my enemies crumble. I think it’s a different viewpoint; one view is of a king living in a war-torn time, a king trying to protect his people from their violent enemies. My viewpoint stems more from a New Testament perspective, which is to “love your enemies.” I don’t believe that God ever intended for us to hate our enemies (even in David’s time), and I’m not sure that He condoned David’s zeal for revenge. But I do think He intended for us to rely upon Him for our protection and eternal security, and this is one of the reasons that David was a man after His own heart. Whoever doesn’t rely on Him will surely end up (ultimately) in big trouble.

17 The wicked shall return to Sheol,
all the nations that forget God. (ESV)

9 The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble.
10 And those who know your name put their trust in you,
for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you. (ESV)

This Psalm also reminds me that we, as God’s people, are to praise Him. We forget (at least I forget) to do that. He created us; He gave us life; He deserves our praise! And apparently recounting God’s mercies in song was one of David’s favorite ways to offer up praise. I believe God loves music; there’s such an emphasis on praise through music in the Psalms.

1 I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart;
I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.
2 I will be glad and exult in you;
I will sing praise to your name, O Most High. (ESV)

Psalm 8 – God Loves Us!

I like the way David starts out this Psalm.

1To the choirmaster: according to The Gittith. A Psalm of David. O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. (ESV)

How majestic in Israel? Yes, and also everywhere! I’m reminded of New Testament days, when Jesus established His kingdom upon this earth and His name was spread far and wide. Now, He is known and worshiped throughout the earth. Gentiles have been included in God’s plan since the beginning.

Psalm 8:2 reminds me of my Bible study. Kids run wild, making noise, knocking things over, even (gasp!) walking right up to Tim and sitting on his lap while he’s teaching! The nerve! But Jesus thinks quite highly of little children, as we see in Matthew 11:25, Matthew 21:16, Luke 10:21, and Matthew 19:14. We need to remember that God has chosen the weak things of this world to bring down the strong (I Corinthians 1:27). He did this when he chose lowly, uneducated fisherman to become the foundation upon which Christianity was built.

2 Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger. (ESV)

The rest of this Psalm makes me wonder why God has shown us favor. Why did He create us? We don’t treat Him well. Why did He bestow honor and glory upon us? Why did He give us dominion over the earth when He knew we’d be irresponsible keepers? (Did you recycle today?) It’s incomprehensible to me why God bothered with us at all.

4 what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? (ESV)

But not only did He bother with us, He gave us everything. He gave us the ultimate gift – life – while sacrificing His own.

5 Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.
6 You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet . . . (ESV)

It’s so normal to complain, to be ungrateful, and to think that life isn’t fair. But when you think of God’s gift, all that goes down the drain. And when you compare God’s generosity to our regular rejection of Him, the argument of “A fair God wouldn’t send people to Hell,” looks quite petty. He’s given us dominion. He’s given us honor. He’s given glory. He’s given us life, here, and, if we choose to accept it, with Him forever.

9 O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Psalm 7 – Turn or Burn

I thought long and hard about what this Psalm meant. And these musings of mine aren’t meant to be anything but that – musings. I don’t claim to be a theologian (as you can probably tell from reading my other blurbs) and I don’t claim to have God’s mind on any of these subjects.

Like David, though, I’m an emotional guy, and I go through times of turmoil, also like David. And that’s what I like about the Psalms. They’re real. David spills his guts. He lays it all on the line. His writings pulse with emotion. So . . . when you read what I have to say, keep in mind that I’m a regular guy, going through trials and tribulations of my own, finding inspiration in David’s words.

As I said in an earlier rant, I appreciate how David goes to God when he’s in trouble. We often don’t do that. We go through difficulties with our health, in our jobs, in our relationships, and we seek relief. Different people turn to different things: alcohol or drugs, meaningless relationships, pornography, exercise, shopping, television . . . anything to mitigate the pain, at least temporarily. Why we avoid God when life turns upside down amazes me. I do it all the time. I think we’d do well to watch David’s example and cry out to God when life begins to crumble.

But this Psalm says more to me than that. This Psalm reminds me that God rules the earth. He created us; we can’t hope to fully understand Him; we don’t have the right to question His sovereignty. God will punish the wicked; they will come to ruin. This Psalm reminds me that Hell is real and that many people are headed there. How can this be fair? I can’t answer that question. But as David says,

12 If a man does not repent, God will whet his sword; he has bent and readied his bow;
13 he has prepared for him his deadly weapons, making his arrows fiery shafts.

We need to remember, like David, that being on God’s side is of utmost importance. The wicked will surely burn.

As a side note, on December 7, 1856, Charles Spurgeon wrote a sermon on Psalm 7:12 called “Turn or Burn.” I got my inspiration for my title from that sermon.

Psalm 6 – What a Waste

Right now I’m feeling tired. Mindless. Useless. Incompetent. Persecuted. I’m sick and tired of my job, of the negativity that pervades it. I’m disgusted with my laziness, my lack of motivation to get anything done. I lack confidence in my ability to do my job. I wonder how sincere I am in wanting to help the students. Existence seems so meaningless. Go to work. Be abused. Argue. Go home. Watch television. Sit around. Be lazy. Eat. Sit at the computer. Go back to work. Get abused some more. The cycle seems endless, and life (especially mine) seems like a complete waste.

My heart needs to be right with God. I need to seek Him and His will. I need to read His Word. I need to pray. Again, I need to look at David’s example. When he experienced trouble, he cried out to God. He recognized his sin and begged for forgiveness. He cried out in anguish; he wept; He sought God’s mercy.

When we sin, do we look to God and beg Him for mercy? Do we remember that He alone rules and judges the earth? Do we know that even in our utter weakness He listens to us? After David pleads to God for mercy and deliverance, he says,

The LORD has heard my plea; the LORD accepts my prayer.
Psalm 6:9 (ESV)

When our lives start crumbling down around us, we can call on God to pick up the pieces. He waits for us; He remains patient; His mercy endures forever.

For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Romans 10:13

17 When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.
18 The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.
19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.
Psalm 34:17-19 (ESV)

Psalm 5 – God Rules

David wrote this Psalm to be sung. He wrote it for flutes. This reinforces, for me, that music and singing really does bless God. My friend Tim believes that music will be the language of heaven.

I’m also struck by how David pleads for God to listen to him. Do we really need to do that? I don’t think so; I think God listens to us whenever we talk to Him. But sometimes I forget how awesome and holy our God really is. Do I give Him the time of day? Do I treat Him as if He ruled the universe? Not usually. I talk to Him like I talk to anyone else. Sometimes I even talk to him with a lack of respect. David fears God; he bows before Him; he treats him as the King He really is.

1 To the choirmaster: for the flutes. A Psalm of David. Give ear to my words, O LORD; consider my groaning.
2 Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray.
3 O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.
Psalm 5:1-3 (ESV)

Then look at 5:7 . . .

But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house. I will bow down toward your holy temple in the fear of you.

David understood that God deserves respect. And he gave it to God. And even though David sinned (he committed some atrocious sins) God still said that David was a man after His own heart.

And when he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, “I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.”
Acts 13:22

If David was a man after God’s heart, I figure looking at David as an example couldn’t hurt.

I also love the end of this Psalm because it gives me hope for the future (for this life and the next). Again I see an emphasis on singing, and again I see the concept of eternity in an Old Testament passage:

11 But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you.
12 For you bless the righteous, O LORD; you cover him with favor as with a shield.
Psalm 5:11-12 (ESV)

Psalm 4 – God Listens to Us

Psalm 4:1 reminds me that God pulled me out of the miry clay and set my feet on firm ground. He gave me reasons to live when life seemed meaningless. Do I routinely remember that? In the day to day minutia of life I think it’s easy to forget that God rescued us from sin and gave us life – not just any life but eternal life with Him. He gave us a way to defeat death. Nobody else could give us a gift like that. Look how David remembers God:

To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. A Psalm of David. Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have given me relief when I was in distress. Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!
Psalm 4:1 (ESV)

When my life sucked God gave me relief. Nobody else could have done that for me. My life was nothing but a total disaster (that’s putting it lightly) at one point. God rescued me when I was in distress. I need to remember that and thank Him!

This Psalm reminds me that God loves me. He loves and protects all those whose hearts are blameless toward Him. We can rest in peace and assurance knowing God will protect us. I ask the question, “Does this mean Christians won’t be poor or get sick?” I don’t think that’s what David means. I think David means that trusting God results in an inner peace that surpasses understanding. We no longer have to fear when we trust God with our lives. No matter what happens in this life, we will spend eternity with Him.

We often find blessings on earth when we follow Him. But people who trust God also suffer. Look at Job. Look at Paul. I choose to look at Scripture in light of eternity. And I choose to trust God and believe that He will protect me, as I would protect my own child.

In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.
Psalm 4:8 (ESV)

Psalm 3 – Words of Encouragement

Psalm 3 makes me think of my troubles. It causes me to think of the “enemies” I have at work. OK, they’re not really enemies, but they always seem to be against me. If I make a decision to use red, then I should have used black. If I say, “turn left,” then I should have said, “turn right.” It’s as if they’re out to get me; it’s as if nothing I do is the right thing to do. And guess who tells me these things? My bosses, of course. The ones with the power.

So, I feel helpless. I feel victimized, pressured, threatened. But you know what? I’m thinking about the minutia of life, about the little things that really have no impact upon my eternal security. If I pull the wool off my eyes and see the big picture of life and death, of heaven and hell . . . I realize that my enemies can do nothing to me, regardless of the power they seem to wield in this present time.

The Lord is my shield. He is my glory. He is the lifter of my head. If I meditate on His Word and focus on His faithfulness, the small troubles that surround me in my day to day life simply fall away.

3 But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.

4 I cried aloud to the LORD, and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah Psalm 3:3-4 (ESV)

David had it a lot worse than I have it. He had people trying to kill him. Absalom, his own son, was after him, trying to murder him. David didn’t just have nagging bosses; he had real enemies trying to end his life. It’s time for us, especially us Christians here in America, to stop whining and realize how good we have it. Especially me. We may have our daily struggles, and those who seem to be enemies, but if we turn our hearts to God and give Him all the glory, He will sustain us, protect us, and ultimately, give us an eternal home with Him.

Psalm 2

Psalm 2 immediately got me thinking about how this earth and our God are at odds. It kind of makes me wonder why God created us at all. Perhaps that question will be answered somewhere on down the road. But if He knew we were going to hate Him and plot against Him, why in the world did he speak us into being? But He did; that was His will.

It reminded me of the stubbornness of humans – of my own stubbornness. There are times that I’m wrong, and I know I’m wrong, but I still dig in my heels and fight. It amazes me that I can be so idiotic. But that’s human nature. Verse 2 says:

The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed . . . (ESV)

Utter stupidity. But it’s real. Read the news articles scattered all over the Internet. Read your local paper. Listen to the news. Opposition to Christianity and morality is everywhere; people have to know there’s a God, yet they openly oppose Him; they loudly scoff at Him.

Psalm 2 reminds me that we need to be wise in our decision making. It would be better for us in the final day to believe in God and in His Son. God gives us fair warning here; He says:

10 Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth.

11 Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.

12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
Psalm 2:10-12 (ESV)

How stupid would it be, with a clear warning from God to listen to His Son, to then ignore Him? Pretty stupid. I fall into the “stupid” category a lot of the time. I hope that, in time, my stupidity will fade and that I will learn to love God’s Word, and to take refuge in His Son.

It’s smarter to be on God’s side . . . to be a leaf that does not wither . . . than to tick God off by working against Him.

Those who continue to do so will, ultimately, perish.

Psalm 1 – Eternal Blessings

I’m going to be reading through the Psalms. I’ll be making an effort to write a bit about each Psalm that I read. I’m not going to preach about the Psalms; I’m just going to comment on what I read, sharing my thoughts and feelings. Feel free to comment on what I write.

Today I read Psalm 1. It reminded me of a conversation I had not too long ago with a gentleman who didn’t feel that the Old Testament really talks much about life after death. I think the Old Testament does, in a lot of places, and Psalm 1 is one of those places.

Look at the first three verses.

1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2 but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.
3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. (ESV)

What does that mean? To me, it means that the person who meditates on God’s law and find his delight in it will live forever. Does it mean that the person who delights in God’s law will be rich or never get a deadly disease? I don’t think so. I think the focus is much more expansive than that. I think the idea here is eternal prosperity, not fleeting riches.

Verses 4 and 5 say the same thing to me. The wicked are like “chaff that the wind drives away.” And they will not stand in the judgment (what judgment?), and they will not be counted among the righteous, but they will perish.

This Psalm also reminds me where my focus should be; on God’s Word. Very often I delight in other things more than God’s Word: my high def T.V. for instance, or my computer, or my bike, or my wife . . . the list is long. But God’s Word is life. It is knowledge. It’s the voice of God, available to you and to me, anytime we have the will to pick it up and look at it.

What do you delight in?