Sunday, November 25, 2012

Psalm 18 - Therefore!

We know from II Samuel 22, that Psalm 18 was written / spoken / sung by David at the very end of his life – these are among the last words he penned while here on earth.

He begins with the loud cry – “I love You, Lord!” And we should echo the same every day. Don’t wait until the end of your days to become vocal about your relationship with the Lord who has redeemed you.

The next 47 verses, in one way or another, David uses to recount the many ways in which God has showered him with blessings, talents, victories, and mercies of all sorts. I find myself ashamed to see David praising God for even the smallest of his abilities. Even the desire or will to carry on with a task is a mighty gift from God!

In verse 49, we come to the “Therefore!” of this psalm. Here we find David summarizing and proclaiming – “Therefore!” Because of ALL the things You, O Lord, have done on my behalf, I will sing praises to You all the days of my life.

No matter what our lives have wrought, no matter how our personal verses 1-48 would read; let us all shout a loud, “Therefore!” and burst into praises, thanksgiving and song.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Psalm 17, Giving Thanks

As I try to think through what I’ve learned this week in my study of this psalm, I am reminded of Job and I conclude that what we have here is a nicely condensed version of the 42 chapters of that book into just these 15 verses. Not exactly all, but nearly so.

In the first few verses, we see David proclaiming the innocence of Job and being able to speak boldly with the Lord because of his innocence. Likewise, Abraham and Moses were able to say the most shocking things to the Lord – without reprisals. The lesson here is to live in such a way that we too can pour our hearts out to the Lord. How awkward to find ourselves knocking on the door to His throne with an urgent matter and realize it has been months or years since we’ve communed in prayer.

Do you have a friend who is so near and dear that you can speak plainly to them and never fear being judged? Even nearer and dearer should be your Lord, Jesus Christ. Is your spouse your closest friend, the one you confide in all day long and enjoy the sweetness of pillow talk each evening? The Church is the Bride of Christ – confide in Him all day long and speak with Him as you fall asleep each night. When you have such a relationship with your Lord, then you too can speak boldly as did Abraham, Moses, and David.

Next we see David bringing to God his many troubles – calamities were befalling him. For Job, it was in the form of various loses and for David here it is being surrounded by various enemies. But both men had their calamities and knew to take them to the Lord in prayer.

The ALL-Mighty Lord has ALL-Power to fix whatever our problems may be, but there’s a catch. We must bring our problems into the throne room of the Lord and leave them there. Unpack our woe-filled backpack and leave with it still empty. But many of us make the mistake of putting each and every problem back into our packs and taking them home with us.

This is like taking our broken watch to the master clock-smith and describing in great detail how the second hand won’t advance past the number 2. The clock-smith says, “No problem, I will have it fixed for you by Friday.” You then leave his shop with the watch still on your arm! How foolish you sound on Friday when you enter his shop and complain that the watch is still broken.

In a similar way, God has to have possession of our problems in order to set them right for us. It is not that our Father in heaven is not powerful enough or caring enough to fix the situation, far from it. Instead, He is waiting for us to mature, for as long as we keep our backpacks over-flowing with our troubles, we show we haven’t fully entrusted them to the Lord. Bring your worries and cares to the Lord’s feet and leave them there.

The last verse of this psalm is simply amazing in its simplicity and its depth. Here we see David turning from worldly full bellies and progeny as his joy and looking ONLY to the Lord – to see His face is all he wants. As Job similarly proclaimed, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21)

Here in the United States, we celebrate Thanksgiving this week. As we sit down to a table over-flowing with delightful food and surrounded by the happy faces of loved ones, we can be tempted to take joy in a full belly and progeny. And while God certainly gives us these good gifts to enjoy, we must remember to always keep our hearts turned towards heaven.

Every child of God needs to learn this important lesson. It doesn’t matter what has befallen you – the loss of people or possessions or the gain of deadly enemies! No matter what this life offers – be it deep sorrows or full bellies and progeny – our everlasting joy, indeed our only joy, is to be looking toward the Master, to see His face, dimly lit now, and full and glorious in heaven.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Psalm 16, My Prayer

So, what is the application in this psalm – what are we left with when we’ve studied these eleven verses? For me, I see this psalm as a prayer of David that I too can and should say from time to time – these attitudes should be mine. This psalm, taken as a whole, sounds to me sort of like David’s answer to someone saying, “Teach us to pray”.

We find in verses 1 and 2 the proper priority of worship and praise and utter dependence on the Lord.

Verses 3 and 4 speak of our right relationships with the people who surround us – love towards those who love the Lord and disdain for those who don’t. (It always seems a little odd to say something like that – the idea that we are to disdain someone. Didn’t Jesus teach us to love our enemies? Yes, but we cannot become partakers of their sin by silent approval. We are to be unyoked from them! And, in the end, what fellowship can there be between the righteous and the unrighteous?)

Verses 5 and 6 teach us the proper attitude toward all the “things” we have accumulated in this world – or those we yet still long to acquire! We are to be grateful and content with whatever we have. The Lord is our great Shepherd and we shall not want! It is at this point of our prayer that we should check on our attitudes and confess any sin of covetousness or idolatry. Things, people, prestige, wealth, or health – all of it is to be as dung compared to the rich glory of fellowship with our Creator.

Verses 7 and 8 speak of our right relationship to the Word of God. Have it so hidden in your heart that you can learn from it by meditation on your pillow at night. Let it so guide your every footstep that nothing – no peril of any sort – can cause you to be shaken and stumble away from that righteous narrow path.

Verses 9 and 10 speak of our sound hope that the Lord who has dealt with us so graciously in this life, will also deal graciously with us in our death. Though this wretched body will decay in the ground – to be food to the maggots and worms – the redeemed of the Lord knows of a new body to be received on the other side – a glorious body that can never see decay of any sort.

Verse 11 promises us a sure answer when we find ourselves needing direction. At any fork in the road of life, our heavenly Father is there with loving words to guide us. And in all of this, there is the immeasurable joy that comes from such a blessed relationship. As Job’s world crumbled around him, he cried out, “Blessed be the Lord!” He knew the transitory nature of this life.

Joy and pleasures forever await us in heaven. We are promised trials and tribulations while on earth – don’t be so surprised when your life seems to crumble. Look to heaven, keep your priorities straight, and know that God will one day set everything right. REJOICE!