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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Praise When Tested

1 My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?

2 O my God, I cry in the day time, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent.

3 But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.

4 Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them.

5 They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded.

6 But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.

7 All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,

8 He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.

9 But thou art he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother's breasts.

10 I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother's belly.

11 Be not far from me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help.

12 Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round.

13 They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion.

14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.

15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.

16 For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.

17 I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me.

18 They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.

19 But be not thou far from me, O LORD: O my strength, haste thee to help me.

20 Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog.

21 Save me from the lion's mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns.

22 I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.

23 Ye that fear the LORD, praise him; all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify him; and fear him, all ye the seed of Israel.

24 For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard.

25 My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation: I will pay my vows before them that fear him.

26 The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the LORD that seek him: your heart shall live for ever.

27 All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the LORD: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee.

28 For the kingdom is the LORD's: and he is the governor among the nations.

29 All they that be fat upon earth shall eat and worship: all they that go down to the dust shall bow before him: and none can keep alive his own soul.

30 A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation.

31 They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this.
--Psalm 22 KJV Bible

This is a lament psalm of David. He expresses his trust in God in spite of his apparent rejection by God and by men David petitions God's help and deliverance in the face of attacks by his enemies, confidently resolves to praise God and invites others to join in that praise because God has heard his prayer. David predicts the future worldwide worship of the Lord.

The description of the psalm includes the phrase "upon Aijeleth Hashshahar," in Hebrew, upon the hind of dawn. This may have been the name of a known melody which was suggested for use with the psalm.

Psalm 22 is typical of those which applied to the events of the time as well as to the events surrounding the coming Messiah. These psalms are described as Messianic psalms. Psalm 22 is one of the most quoted in the New Testament.

In verses 1 and 2, David cries to God because he feels that God has rejected him. Two of the Gospels record that Jesus quoted the first phrase of verse 1 while Jesus was on the cross (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34). In Hebrew, the phrase is "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani." Mark's recording uses the Aramaic "Eloi" rather than the Hebrew "Eli." Aramaic was the common language of the day. In fact, Aramaic might have been Jesus' first language, before Hebrew. Jesus may have spoken these words from the cross in Aramaic so that more people around Him would understand. If Jesus had any difficulty in speaking from the cross, which he most definitely would have, Mathew could have easily interpreted the "Eli" as "Eloi," particularly if Matthew thought Jesus was quoting the psalm of David rather than just making a personal statement. Matthew would seem to have understood that even in His death, Jesus was still teaching.

In verse 3, David uses the phrase "the praises of Israel." Some think this figure of speech is a reference to a physical sanctuary, the temple in Jerusalem where the people of Israel praised the Lord. Others interpret the phrase to mean that God is present in the praises of believers, whenever and wherever they are. In this writer's humble opinion, both would seem valid.

In verse 7, David describes the scorn of the people. The phrase "shoot out the lip," sometimes translated as "separate with the lip," is a mocking gesture, similar to sticking out one's tongue.

In verses 11 through 18, David describes his struggle with death in language which is also appropriate to the suffering Messiah. In verses 14 through 16, David speaks of pain, extreme thirst, asphyxiation, and agony to the hands and feet. While David's words may have accurately described to him what he was going through, David is also prophetically describing crucifixion, a means of execution that was not known until Roman times.

In verse 12, David describes the people as "Bulls of Bashan." the prophet Amos used a similar phrase (Amos 4:1). The country of Bashan, or Basan, extended from Gilead in the south to Hermon in the north, and from the Jordon River on the west to Salcah on the east. Bashan was known for its fat cattle. By his reference, David was describing the people around him as self serving. They were insatiable in their appetites and they were pretentious in their religious practices.

In verse 15, David describes his strength as dried up, or gone. He compares it to a “potsherd,” a broken piece of clay pottery, no longer useful for its original purpose.

In verse 16, David compares is savage enemies to “dogs.” This is a reference to the lone animals that haunted the streets, scavenging anything they could find.

In verse 17, David explains that he is wasted away to the point that he can discern and count his bones through his skin. David has become a living skeleton.

In verse 18, David comments that those around him are debating and gambling for ownership of what will be left of him after his death--is clothing. Two of the Gospels note that this event took place at Jesus’ crucifixion, in Matthew 27:35 and John 19:24.

In verse 21, David asks for deliverance. With reference to the Messiah, Jesus, this was accomplished by His resurrection from the dead. The reference to “unicorns” is also translated as wild oxen.

In verses 22 through 26, David expresses gratitude publicly with a thanksgiving sacrifice a feast. These were the common custom of the time, as described in Leviticus 7:15-17. The writer of the Letter to the Hebrews, sometimes credited as the Apostle Paul, quoted verse 22 and referenced it to Jesus Christ (Hebrews 2:12).

In verses 27 through 31, David gives prophecy of millennial blessings that will come with the Messiah’s kingdom. The beginning of verse 29 is a reference to the feast described in Isaiah 25:6.

Lord God, even in the times of greatest trial--when I am under the greatest attack--remind me that You are always with me. Help me to think not only of myself, but of those around me. Prompt me to give praise to You and to encourage others to do so as well, for You inhabit our praises, both now and in the kingdom to come.

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Friday, October 30, 2009

Thanks for Victories to Come

1 The king shall joy in thy strength, O LORD; and in thy salvation how greatly shall he rejoice!

2 Thou hast given him his heart's desire, and hast not withholden the request of his lips. Selah.

3 For thou preventest him with the blessings of goodness: thou settest a crown of pure gold on his head.

4 He asked life of thee, and thou gavest it him, even length of days for ever and ever.

5 His glory is great in thy salvation: honour and majesty hast thou laid upon him.

6 For thou hast made him most blessed for ever: thou hast made him exceeding glad with thy countenance.

7 For the king trusteth in the LORD, and through the mercy of the most High he shall not be moved.

8 Thine hand shall find out all thine enemies: thy right hand shall find out those that hate thee.

9 Thou shalt make them as a fiery oven in the time of thine anger: the LORD shall swallow them up in his wrath, and the fire shall devour them.

10 Their fruit shalt thou destroy from the earth, and their seed from among the children of men.

11 For they intended evil against thee: they imagined a mischievous device, which they are not able to perform.

12 Therefore shalt thou make them turn their back, when thou shalt make ready thine arrows upon thy strings against the face of them.

13 Be thou exalted, LORD, in thine own strength: so will we sing and praise thy power.
--Psalm 21 KJV Bible

This psalm of David is a royal song of thanksgiving. In the first verses, David acknowledges that God established his kingdom. David then adds the people's anticipation of David's future successes as their king. Finally, David record's the people's praise to the strong and powerful Lord God.

This psalm is partly Messianic. While verses 4 through 6 and 10 through 12 can apply to David with a little hyperbole, these verses would literally apply to the Messiah when He establishes His kingdom.

In verse 3 David remarks at how God "confronts" or "meets" David with blessing. In this and other psalms, God presents to David a blessing in the form of an event--such as relief from enemies or victory in battle--or bestows upon David earthly glory or praise, or provides in other ways. Whatever David needs, God meets that need.

In verse 7 David uses the Hebrew "hesed" to describe God's long-lasting, loyal love. David also uses the Hebrew "El Elyon" to describe the strong and sovereign God who is above all.

Lord God, I thank You for the victories you will bring to battles that I don't even know about yet. I thank You and praise You that whatever I require, You meet my need.

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Victory in My Battles

1 The LORD hear thee in the day of trouble; the name of the God of Jacob defend thee;

2 Send thee help from the sanctuary, and strengthen thee out of Zion;

3 Remember all thy offerings, and accept thy burnt sacrifice; Selah.

4 Grant thee according to thine own heart, and fulfil all thy counsel.

5 We will rejoice in thy salvation, and in the name of our God we will set up our banners: the LORD fulfil all thy petitions.

6 Now know I that the LORD saveth his anointed; he will hear him from his holy heaven with the saving strength of his right hand.

7 Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God.

8 They are brought down and fallen: but we are risen, and stand upright.

9 Save, LORD: let the king hear us when we call.
--Psalm 20 KJV Bible

This psalm of David is a royal song. In it, David relay's the people's prayer for David's victory in battle, David affirms his trust in God for victory, and David repeats the people's prayer to the Lord God, their King. Some have suggested that this psalm is a general prayer for success as the leader of the people of Israel. But it is also possible that this psalm was sung before a specific battle, or it may have been one of those normally sung before David and the army went out to battle an enemy.

In verses 1 through 5 David offers to God the prayers of the people for victory in the coming battle. In these verses the people are speaking to David regarding what they want God to do. In verse 1 David describes the Lord God as the God of Jacob. When God made His covenant with Jacob and his future descendants, God renamed Jacob to Israel.

In verses 6 through 8 David proclaims his trust in God. David observes that while others boast of the power of their weapons or the size of their armies, David and the people boast in the LORD God as the bringer of their victory

In verse 9 David restates the people's prayer. They state that while David is their earthly king, the people know that God is their true King and is ultimately responsible for their victory.

Lord God, protect me in my daily struggles; my battles. No matter how much in control I think I am, You alone are the One who brings real and lasting victory.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

God's Glory in His Creation and in His Word

1 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.

2 Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.

3 There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.

4 Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun,

5 Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race.

6 His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.

7 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.

8 The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.

9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.

10 More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.

11 Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.

12 Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults.

13 Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.

14 Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.
--Psalm 19 KJV Bible

This psalm of David is a hymn of praise. In it, David reflects on the glory of God revealed in creation, the glory of God revealed in the the law of the LORD, and that only the law of the LORD meets man's spiritual needs.

In verses 1 through 6 David observes that the heavens are constantly declaring the glory of God. All day and all night, though seemingly silent and without words, they never stop telling the glory of the Creator. Even one who cannot see can feel God's glory in the heat of the sun.

In verses 7 through 9 David gives six descriptions of God's glory as revealed in His law. David describes it as perfect, sure, right, pure, clean, and true. In verse 9, David's use of "fear" is referring to a reverential trust fostered by God's words.

In verses 10 through 14 David explains how God's law is essential for man's spirit--it is priceless. In verses 12 and 13 David notes that the law of the LORD is necessary for exposing sins of ignorance, sins of weakness and sins of defiance. David closes by asking God to keep him sinless in his words and thoughts.

O God, I praise You for Your creation. More so, I praise You for Your Word, which my spirit so desperately needs. Help me use Your Word to proclaim Your glory in my thoughts, words and deeds.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

My Protector and My Deliverer

1 I will love thee, O LORD, my strength.

2 The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.

3 I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies.

4 The sorrows of death compassed me, and the floods of ungodly men made me afraid.

5 The sorrows of hell compassed me about: the snares of death prevented me.

6 In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears.

7 Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations also of the hills moved and were shaken, because he was wroth.

8 There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it.

9 He bowed the heavens also, and came down: and darkness was under his feet.

10 And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: yea, he did fly upon the wings of the wind.

11 He made darkness his secret place; his pavilion round about him were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies.

12 At the brightness that was before him his thick clouds passed, hail stones and coals of fire.

13 The LORD also thundered in the heavens, and the Highest gave his voice; hail stones and coals of fire.

14 Yea, he sent out his arrows, and scattered them; and he shot out lightnings, and discomfited them.

15 Then the channels of waters were seen, and the foundations of the world were discovered at thy rebuke, O LORD, at the blast of the breath of thy nostrils.

16 He sent from above, he took me, he drew me out of many waters.

17 He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them which hated me: for they were too strong for me.

18 They prevented me in the day of my calamity: but the LORD was my stay.

19 He brought me forth also into a large place; he delivered me, because he delighted in me.

20 The LORD rewarded me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands hath he recompensed me.

21 For I have kept the ways of the LORD, and have not wickedly departed from my God.

22 For all his judgments were before me, and I did not put away his statutes from me.

23 I was also upright before him, and I kept myself from mine iniquity.

24 Therefore hath the LORD recompensed me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in his eyesight.

25 With the merciful thou wilt shew thyself merciful; with an upright man thou wilt shew thyself upright;

26 With the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt shew thyself froward.

27 For thou wilt save the afflicted people; but wilt bring down high looks.

28 For thou wilt light my candle: the LORD my God will enlighten my darkness.

29 For by thee I have run through a troop; and by my God have I leaped over a wall.

30 As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him.

31 For who is God save the LORD? or who is a rock save our God?

32 It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect.

33 He maketh my feet like hinds' feet, and setteth me upon my high places.

34 He teacheth my hands to war, so that a bow of steel is broken by mine arms.

35 Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy right hand hath holden me up, and thy gentleness hath made me great.

36 Thou hast enlarged my steps under me, that my feet did not slip.

37 I have pursued mine enemies, and overtaken them: neither did I turn again till they were consumed.

38 I have wounded them that they were not able to rise: they are fallen under my feet.

39 For thou hast girded me with strength unto the battle: thou hast subdued under me those that rose up against me.

40 Thou hast also given me the necks of mine enemies; that I might destroy them that hate me.

41 They cried, but there was none to save them: even unto the LORD, but he answered them not.

42 Then did I beat them small as the dust before the wind: I did cast them out as the dirt in the streets.

43 Thou hast delivered me from the strivings of the people; and thou hast made me the head of the heathen: a people whom I have not known shall serve me.

44 As soon as they hear of me, they shall obey me: the strangers shall submit themselves unto me.

45 The strangers shall fade away, and be afraid out of their close places.

46 The LORD liveth; and blessed be my rock; and let the God of my salvation be exalted.

47 It is God that avengeth me, and subdueth the people under me.

48 He delivereth me from mine enemies: yea, thou liftest me up above those that rise up against me: thou hast delivered me from the violent man.

49 Therefore will I give thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the heathen, and sing praises unto thy name.

50 Great deliverance giveth he to his king; and sheweth mercy to his anointed, to David, and to his seed for evermore.
--Psalm 18

Psalm 18 is a victory song of David. In the psalm, David relates what the Lord is to him. David describes God's current and future deliverance. David then relates the basis for that deliverance, further describes God's victory, and resolves anew to continue praising God.

This is the fourth longest psalm in the Psalter--the collection of psalms. This psalm, with very minor variations, is also found in 2 Samuel chapter 22. Written after King Saul's death and the securing of David's kingdom, the psalm does not focus on one event, but rather commemorates David's overall deliverance from his enemies. The psalm's description states that David is "the servant of the LORD"--a title given by God to David as His anointed king.

In verse 2 David uses many symbols to represent God's protection, including a "horn of salvation." This is a comparison of God's protection to an animal which uses its horns for protection and defense.

In verse 5 the word translated as "hell" is the Hebrew "Sheol." This is an Old Testament concept of a place where all souls go after death.

In verses 7 through 15 David describes God in powerful ways. Many match the way God appeared to Moses at Mount Sinai.

In verse 43 David references the overcoming of a civil war and the defeat of several enemy nations. The civil war was the war between the supporters of David and the supporters of King Saul, as mentioned in 2 Samuel 3:1. The defeat of several enemy nations is a reference to David's defeat of the armies of Philistia, Moab, Zobah, Syria, and Edom, as mentioned in 2 Samuel chapter 8.

In verses 49 and 50, David references the Lord and His anointed. At the time, David would have meant himself, God's anointed king. The Apostle Paul saw Messianic implications in this passage, as he wrote in Romans 15:9. Paul's use in this way is supported by the fact that "anointed" in Hebrew is also a reference to "messiah," the royal line which culminated in Jesus Christ.

Lord God, You are my Protector and my Deliverer. Remind me that no matter how long the battle, no matter how many or how great my enemies, the victory is Yours

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Monday, October 26, 2009

A Shield from the Wicked and a Promise for the Future

1 Hear the right, O LORD, attend unto my cry, give ear unto my prayer, that goeth not out of feigned lips.

2 Let my sentence come forth from thy presence; let thine eyes behold the things that are equal.

3 Thou hast proved mine heart; thou hast visited me in the night; thou hast tried me, and shalt find nothing; I am purposed that my mouth shall not transgress.

4 Concerning the works of men, by the word of thy lips I have kept me from the paths of the destroyer.

5 Hold up my goings in thy paths, that my footsteps slip not.

6 I have called upon thee, for thou wilt hear me, O God: incline thine ear unto me, and hear my speech.

7 Shew thy marvellous lovingkindness, O thou that savest by thy right hand them which put their trust in thee from those that rise up against them.

8 Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings,

9 From the wicked that oppress me, from my deadly enemies, who compass me about.

10 They are inclosed in their own fat: with their mouth they speak proudly.

11 They have now compassed us in our steps: they have set their eyes bowing down to the earth;

12 Like as a lion that is greedy of his prey, and as it were a young lion lurking in secret places.

13 Arise, O LORD, disappoint him, cast him down: deliver my soul from the wicked, which is thy sword:

14 From men which are thy hand, O LORD, from men of the world, which have their portion in this life, and whose belly thou fillest with thy hid treasure: they are full of children, and leave the rest of their substance to their babes.

15 As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.

--Psalm 17 KJV Bible

Psalm 17 is a lament psalm of David. Here David presents proof of his uprightness and asks the Lord for protection from the wicked in view of David's hope for the future.

Many of the psalms are prayers, but only five are actually described as such. These include Psalm 17, 86, 90, 102, and 142.

In verse 1, David asks God to "hear the right," or to hear David's righteous cause. In verse 3 David does not claim to be sinless. He instead is comparing his heart and his actions to those of the wicked. In verse 4 David notes that though he has faltered on occasions, David tries to keep away from the path of the wicked.

In verse 8 the "apple of the eye" refers to the pupil of the eye, or rather what the pupil of the eye is gazing upon. This suggests the watcher is gazing on something or someone most tender and most dear to them. The "wings" reference is an often used symbol of protection.

In verses 10 through 12 David uses the imagery of a predator. This is implies the scheming heartlessness of David's wicked enemies.

In verses 13 through 15 David notes that God does permit the wicked treasures. David then goes on to explain that these treasures are transitory when compared to the resurrection--awaking in God's eternal presence.

Lord God, I know that I am far from perfect, but I do so desire to walk Your path of righteousness. Please guard me from the schemes of the wicked. And in Your time, awaken me to Your eternal treasure.
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Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Lord is My Lot

(1) Preserve me, O God: for in thee do I put my trust.
(2) O my soul, thou hast said unto the LORD, Thou art my Lord: my goodness extendeth not to thee;
(3) But to the saints that are in the earth, and to the excellent, in whom is all my delight.
(4) Their sorrows shall be multiplied that hasten after another god: their drink offerings of blood will I not offer, nor take up their names into my lips.
(5) The LORD is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot.
(6) The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.
(7) I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons.
(8) I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
(9) Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.
(10) For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
(11) Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
--Psalm 16 KJV Bible

This psalm of David is a song of trust. David declares that he has trusted the Lord to be his portion in life, so will he trust the Lord to preserve him in death. In the psalm's description, the meaning of the word "Mikhtam" is uncertain. It is apparently derived from a verb meaning "to cover," and may indicate psalms dealing with protection (covering) from one's enemies or psalms recited silently--for example, with lips covering the mouth. This same word is also used in the descriptions of Psalms 56-60.

In verse 3 David delights not only in God but also in the people of God. David describes the righteous as excellent or majestic, perhaps in their resemblance to their Lord.

In verses 5 through 6 David describes the beauty of his spiritual inheritance as similar to the divine allotment of the promised land to Israel. In verse 6, the "lines" are a reference to the surveyor's measuring cords by which the various allotments--the given lots of land--were measured.

In verse 7 David blesses the Lord for David's sleepless nights. They provide David with the opportunity for instruction--to face hard facts.

In verses 8 through 10 are both personal and prophetical. David's hyperbolic language about his own deliverance from death, or possibly about his future resurrection, is fulfilled in Christs deliverance out of death by resurrection, for only Christ has not experienced corruption. Luke records the Apostle Peter's citing of these words in Acts 2:25-28, 31, and the Apostle Paul citing verse 10 in Acts 13:35. In verse 8, the phrase "at my right hand" is a reference to the position of protector and defender. In verse 10, the use of the Hebrew "Sheol" is a reference to the grave--the place where both righteous and unrighteous souls went after death, as regarded in the Old Testament.

O Lord, I want You to be me my portion; my lot; my inheritance. Help me to trust in You for all things.

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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Dwelling on Thy Holy Hill

(1) Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill?
(2) He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart.
(3) He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour.
(4) In whose eyes a vile person is condemned; but he honoureth them that fear the LORD. He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not.
(5) He that putteth not out his money to usury, nor taketh reward against the innocent. He that doeth these things shall never be moved.
--Psalm 15 KJV Bible

Psalm 15 is a psalm of David. Here David describes the character of the person who qualifies keep company with God.

David's repeated question in verse 1 emphasizes its importance. It is answered by the verses that follow, which contain eleven descriptions of one that is righteous. He or she is upright in deed, word, attitude, and finances. These qualities, not natural to mankind, are given by God.

In verse 5 David references the financial concept of loaning money for usury--interest. As Moses recorded in the law (examples are in Leviticus 25:35-46 and Deuteronomy 24:10-13), poor Israelites were to be assisted in every way and without interest. A pledge could be taken--an article of the debtor held by the loaner until the debt was paid. This pledge could not be something that would jeopardize the debtor's livelihood his life. For example the loaner could not take the debtor's mantle--his coat--which he used as a cover when sleeping. Also, the loaner could not take the debtor's daily wage.

A loaner who charged interest or endangered the life a poor fellow countryman was not counted among the righteous. The same were those who where deceitful or self-serving in their deeds, words or attitude.

O Lord, I want to abide with You. I want dwell on Your holy hill. Help me to walk upright. Help me to be righteous.

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Friday, October 23, 2009

The Foolish and the Righteous

(1) The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.
(2) The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God.
(3) They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
(4) Have all the workers of iniquity no knowledge? who eat up my people as they eat bread, and call not upon the LORD.
(5) There were they in great fear: for God is in the generation of the righteous.
(6) Ye have shamed the counsel of the poor, because the LORD is his refuge.
(7) Oh that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion! when the LORD bringeth back the captivity of his people, Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad.
--Psalm 14 KJV Bible

Psalm 14 is a psalm of David. The psalm must have resonated strongly with David because he later revisited these thoughts in Psalm 53. The latter is almost identical to the former, except for differences in Psalm 53's verses 5 and 6.

In Psalm 14, David laments the moral foolishness and corruption of the whole human race. David longs for the establishment of the righteous kingdom of the Lord on the earth.

The "fool" referenced in verse 1 is one who is morally perverse, not mentally deficient. David is describing one who believes there is no God and behaves as if there is no goodness. This one practices a practical rather than a theoretical atheism.

Verses 2 and 3 are David's comment on the immorality of the generation. The Apostle Paul quotes these verses in his letter to the Romans, in agreement with David on the universal and perennial sinfulness of mankind (Romans 3:10-12).

In verse 7 David longs for the establishing of the Messiah's kingdom on the earth, when God's Holy Spirit will be upon all, and God's Word will depart from none. The prophet Isaiah foretells it and the Apostle Paul echoes Isaiah's words (Isaiah 59:20-21; Romans 11:26-27).

Lord God, it is so tempting at times to just go with the flow of prevailing society--to practice a practical atheism. Help me to hold fast against the current. Give me the strength to be righteous in the midst of fools.

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Perspective in the Tough Times

(1) How long wilt thou forget me, O LORD? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me?
(2) How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? how long shall mine enemy be exalted over me?
(3) Consider and hear me, O LORD my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death;
(4) Lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him; and those that trouble me rejoice when I am moved.
(5) But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation.
(6) I will sing unto the LORD, because he hath dealt bountifully with me.
--Psalm 13 KJV Bible

Psalm 13 is a psalm of David. In it, David mourns his oppression by an enemy, David asks God to deliver him, and then confidently resolves to praise God for that deliverance.

In verses 1 and 2 David cries to God for relief from his enemy. David employees the Hebrew practice of repetition to emphasize his point. David's four questions of "How long" convey his great misery.

In verses 3 and 4 David asks God to deliver him. David explains his plight to God as if God has been distracted. Here David behaves like us in that he has little or no thought for the problems of anyone else. David seems intently focused only on his own.

Finally, in verses 5 and 6, David confidently resolves to praise God for the deliverance that David expects to receive. Though troubled, David's faith does not waiver. He trusts in God's lovingkindness (the Hebrew "hesed"), in God's salvation and in God's bountiful care.

O God, I thank You for Your love, Your salvation, and Your bountiful care. Remind me that even in the tough times, You are still there. You are always there

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Support in Perilous Times

(1) Help, LORD; for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men.
(2) They speak vanity every one with his neighbour: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak.
(3) The LORD shall cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that speaketh proud things:
(4) Who have said, With our tongue will we prevail; our lips are our own: who is lord over us?
(5) For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now will I arise, saith the LORD; I will set him in safety from him that puffeth at him.
(6) The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.
(7) Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.
(8) The wicked walk on every side, when the vilest men are exalted.
--Psalm 12 KJV Bible

This is a lament psalm of David. In the psalm David contrasts the trouble caused by the words of the wicked versus the trust instilled by the true words of the Lord God.

In verse 1 David is crying to God for help because of the perilous times. David is not referring to perils such as poverty, unemployment or war, for these abound even in the best times. David is referring to an abundance of sin and wickedness. The aggressiveness of wickedness makes it seems to David that the righteous have disappeared from the earth.

In verses 2 through 4 and in verse 8 David describes how the wicked manipulate rather than communicate. Their words are described as vane (worthless), flattering (self-important), double talk (deceptive), proud (lacking humility or respect), and strutting (arrogant).

In verses 5 through 7 David reminds the listener that the Lord God has promised to keep safe the afflicted and needy. In verse 6 David states that God's words are as pure as silver which has been refined by fire seven times. In Scripture, the number seven is used to represent perfection; divinity; God. Things are often grouped by sevens, whether they are objects or actions, to emphasize the divine. By his statement in verse 6, David means that God's words are divinely pure, trustworthy and reliable. In verse 7 David assures the righteous that though God may not remove them from the peril, He will support and preserve them, both now and always.

Lord God, I thank You that even in the most perilous times, You are with me. Your Word is trustworthy and reliable. Help me to stand strong against the words of the wicked.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Trust When Troubled

(1) In the LORD put I my trust: how say ye to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain?
(2) For, lo, the wicked bend their bow, they make ready their arrow upon the string, that they may privily shoot at the upright in heart.
(3) If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?
(4) The LORD is in his holy temple, the LORD's throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men.
(5) The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth.
(6) Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup.
(7) For the righteous LORD loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright.
--Psalm 11 KJV Bible

Psalm 11, written by David, is a song of trust in the midst of trouble. It has been suggested that the psalm recalls an actual event in David's past--possibly one of the times when Saul tried to kill David, though David gave no cause for Saul's actions. Examples of such events would include 1 Samuel 18:11 and 1 Samuel 19:10, two occasions when Saul tried to pin David to the wall with a spear, but David managed to escape. Another example is in 1 Samuel 23:13, when Saul tried to kill David and his army of about six hundred while they were in Keilah. In this instance, David defeated Philistines who were occupying Keilah, but was still able to leave in time, at God's instruction, before Saul's army could arrive. And another example is in 1 Samuel 26:20, when David confronted Saul, who was chasing David, and convinced Saul to allow David to depart in peace.

In verses 1 through 3 David is faced with the temptation to flee when he should take a stand for God. In verse 1 David is apparently advised by well-meaning counsel to run away and hide because the danger seems too great to survive. The use of "foundations" in verse 3 is a reference to the basic foundations of faith--piety, justice, fidelity, and mercy--which translate to the basic foundations of society--law, order, morality, and goodness. David asks that if the foundations are allowed to be destroyed, what can the righteous do then to fix the whole?

In verses 4 through 7 David expresses his faith in the Lord, who will destroy the wicked and deliver the righteous. The "eyelids" reference in verse 4 is thought to be verbal imagery of the Lord squinting--narrowing His eyes as He scrutinizes the hearts of men. The "snares" mentioned in verse 6 may be a reference to burning coals or some other trap being dropped on the heads of the wicked. In verse 7 David reaffirms that whatever their circumstances, God is always watching the righteous.

O God, when I am tempted to take the easy way out, help me to stand. Remind me that even when no one else is there, You are always watching.

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Remove the Wicked

(1) Why standest thou afar off, O LORD? why hidest thou thyself in times of trouble?
(2) The wicked in his pride doth persecute the poor: let them be taken in the devices that they have imagined.
(3) For the wicked boasteth of his heart's desire, and blesseth the covetous, whom the LORD abhorreth.
(4) The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.
(5) His ways are always grievous; thy judgments are far above out of his sight: as for all his enemies, he puffeth at them.
(6) He hath said in his heart, I shall not be moved: for I shall never be in adversity.
(7) His mouth is full of cursing and deceit and fraud: under his tongue is mischief and vanity.
(8) He sitteth in the lurking places of the villages: in the secret places doth he murder the innocent: his eyes are privily set against the poor.
(9) He lieth in wait secretly as a lion in his den: he lieth in wait to catch the poor: he doth catch the poor, when he draweth him into his net.
(10) He croucheth, and humbleth himself, that the poor may fall by his strong ones.
(11) He hath said in his heart, God hath forgotten: he hideth his face; he will never see it.
(12) Arise, O LORD; O God, lift up thine hand: forget not the humble.
(13) Wherefore doth the wicked contemn God? he hath said in his heart, Thou wilt not require it.
(14) Thou hast seen it; for thou beholdest mischief and spite, to requite it with thy hand: the poor committeth himself unto thee; thou art the helper of the fatherless.
(15) Break thou the arm of the wicked and the evil man: seek out his wickedness till thou find none.
(16) The LORD is King for ever and ever: the heathen are perished out of his land.
(17) LORD, thou hast heard the desire of the humble: thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear:
(18) To judge the fatherless and the oppressed, that the man of the earth may no more oppress.
--Psalm 10 KJV Bible

Psalm 10 does not have a stated author. However, Psalms 10 seems to be paired with Psalm 9. Together, they form a partially alphabetic acrostic in the Hebrew text. Since David is the stated author of Psalm 9, it is generally thought that David also wrote Psalm 10.

This is a lament psalm of David. In it, David expounds on the evil ways of the wicked and asks for God to destroy them.

In verses 1 through 11 David elaborates on the ungodliness and unrighteousness of the wicked who oppress the afflicted. In verse 1 David calls God’s attention to the trouble David sees around him. In verse 2 David asks that God cause the wicked to be brought down by their own evil plans. In verses 3 through 10 David lists the "fruits" of the wicked, describing them as boastful, greedy, prideful, relentless, atheistic, self-important, cursing, and treacherous.

In verses 12 through 15 David again petitions the Lord to deliver the afflicted and to destroy the wicked. In verse 15 the “arm” is a symbol of power. By David asking God to break the “arm” of the wicked, he is asking God to remove the power of the wicked.

In verses 16 through 18 David affirms that the Lord God has heard David’s prayer. David is confident that God will destroy the wicked and rescue the afflicted.

Lord God, Your Word says that my life should bear the fruits of the Spirit. Help me to do just that. And also help me to prune from my life the fruits of the wicked.

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Righteous Judge

(1) I will praise thee, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvellous works.
(2) I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High.
(3) When mine enemies are turned back, they shall fall and perish at thy presence.
(4) For thou hast maintained my right and my cause; thou satest in the throne judging right.
(5) Thou hast rebuked the heathen, thou hast destroyed the wicked, thou hast put out their name for ever and ever.
(6) O thou enemy, destructions are come to a perpetual end: and thou hast destroyed cities; their memorial is perished with them.
(7) But the LORD shall endure for ever: he hath prepared his throne for judgment.
(8) And he shall judge the world in righteousness, he shall minister judgment to the people in uprightness.
(9) The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.
(10) And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.
(11) Sing praises to the LORD, which dwelleth in Zion: declare among the people his doings.
(12) When he maketh inquisition for blood, he remembereth them: he forgetteth not the cry of the humble.
(13) Have mercy upon me, O LORD; consider my trouble which I suffer of them that hate me, thou that liftest me up from the gates of death:
(14) That I may shew forth all thy praise in the gates of the daughter of Zion: I will rejoice in thy salvation.
(15) The heathen are sunk down in the pit that they made: in the net which they hid is their own foot taken.
(16) The LORD is known by the judgment which he executeth: the wicked is snared in the work of his own hands. Higgaion. Selah.
(17) The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.
(18) For the needy shall not always be forgotten: the expectation of the poor shall not perish for ever.
(19) Arise, O LORD; let not man prevail: let the heathen be judged in thy sight.
(20) Put them in fear, O LORD: that the nations may know themselves to be but men. Selah.
--Psalm 9 KJV Bible

Psalms 9 and 10 form a partially alphabetic acrostic in the Hebrew text. For the most part, every other verse begins with the next successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

The Psalm 9 description says the psalm is for "Muth-labben," meaning "the death of the son" or "the death of the fool." It is uncertain what this references. One suggestion is that it was an event that motivated the writing of the psalm. Another suggestion is that it is a recommentation of how the song is to be performed, either played using a particular musical instrument or a particular melody, or that it could even be a voicing recommentation such as "young boy's voices." Some translatiors prefer this last possibility, but write it as "soprano voices."

In Psalm 9 David praises the Lord, the righteous Judge. The song appears to be referencing events which have occurred as well as things which are to come.

In verses 1 through 10 David praises God for destroying the wicked. In verses 5 and 6 David notes that the wicked are punished forever. Not even their creations remain as a reminder of them.

In verses 11 and 12 David strongly encourages the people to praise God. In verse 12 David refers to God as an Avenger of Blood in His response to the wicked. Here David references the law's requirement that one human life must be given in exchange for the taking of another human life. This concept of capital punishment is first outined in Genesis chapter 9. Two reasons given in the Genesis passage are that every man is made in the image of God, and every murderer is essentially killing is own brother.

In verses 13 through 20 David calls upon God to destroy the wicked so the righteous may be delivered. At the end of verse 16 the instrutions include the Hebrew "Higgaion" ("hig-gaw-yone"). This may be a direction to use a specific instrument, or to meditate, or to produce a particular solemn sound. In verse 17 David uses the Hebrew "Sheol," meaning "grave" or "pit." It can also be a reference to an Old Testament concept meaning the place of departed spirits, both the righteous and the wicked. This is sometimes translated as "hell." In verse 18 David reminds that God will remember the faithful. In verses 19 and 20 David asks the righteous Judge to remind the nations of how frail and temporary they truly are.

O God, help me to remember that whatever I do and whatever I create, it is frail and temporary. You alone have always been and will always be. Praise to the Lord, the righteous Judge.

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Saturday, October 17, 2009

God’s Glory and Man’s Worth

(1) O LORD, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens.
(2) Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.
(3) When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;
(4) What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?
(5) For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.
(6) Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet:
(7) All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field;
(8) The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas.
(9) O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!
--Psalm 8 KJV Bible
 
The description of the psalm says that it is "for the Gittith," but it is uncertain just what that is. The Hebrew word is derived from "Gath," which was a common place name in Israel and the surrounding area. Examples include Gath of the Philistines, one of five Philistine city-states established in northwestern Philistia, Gath-Gittaim, Gath Carmel, and others. A person from Gath is called a Gittite, and a Gittith may have been a tune or instrument associated with one of those places.
 
This psalm of David is a hymn of praise. In it, David ponders the thought that God has entrusted His creation to the dominion of man. Over the generations of Christian music, the text of this psalm is among the most referenced in songs of praise to God.
 
In verses 1 and 2 David marvels at the majesty of the Lord. In verse 1 David addresses God using the Hebrew "yeh-ho-vaw"--Jehovah, the Lord. David then uses the Hebrew "aw-done"--our lord, our master, our owner. David then describes the name of the Lord God using the Hebrew "ad-deer," which can be translated as excellent, famous, gallant, glorious, goodly, lordly, mighty, noble, principal, and worthy. Any of these descriptors would seem correct for the name of the Lord. In verse 2 David notes how God uses the weak--infants--to overthrow the mighty.
 
In verse 3 David marvels at the handiwork of God. David describes God's creation of the heavens as the work of a skilled craftsman.
 
In verses 4 and 5 David notes that man seems insignificant when compared to the rest of God's creation, yet God has crowned man to rule over His creation. In verse 5 David uses the Hebrew "Elohim." Sometimes translated as "the angles," this is the Hebrew noun for God. The word is the plural of the Hebrew "Eloah," God in the singular. In Scripture, the singular is normally used with descriptors, such as "El Elyon" (God Most High) or "El Shaddai" (God Almighty).
 
In verses 6 through 8 David expounds on all that God has placed in man's charge. David mentions all the animals that move on the land, all the animals that fly in the air, and all the animals that swim in the seas.
 
In verse 9 David concludes as he began. David proclaims the great name of the Lord God.
 
O Lord God, I am humbled by your creation. I am in awe of both its grandeur and its meticulous detail. I also marvel that with all that You have created, You could still love me and want me to be with You for eternity. I thank You and I praise You.
 
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Friday, October 16, 2009

Faithful Even When Accused

(1) O LORD my God, in thee do I put my trust: save me from all them that persecute me, and deliver me:
(2) Lest he tear my soul like a lion, rending it in pieces, while there is none to deliver.
(3) O LORD my God, If I have done this; if there be iniquity in my hands;
(4) If I have rewarded evil unto him that was at peace with me; (yea, I have delivered him that without cause is mine enemy:)
(5) Let the enemy persecute my soul, and take it; yea, let him tread down my life upon the earth, and lay mine honour in the dust. Selah.
(6) Arise, O LORD, in thine anger, lift up thyself because of the rage of mine enemies: and awake for me to the judgment that thou hast commanded.
(7) So shall the congregation of the people compass thee about: for their sakes therefore return thou on high.
(8) The LORD shall judge the people: judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness, and according to mine integrity that is in me.
(9) Oh let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end; but establish the just: for the righteous God trieth the hearts and reins.
(10) My defence is of God, which saveth the upright in heart.
(11) God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day.
(12) If he turn not, he will whet his sword; he hath bent his bow, and made it ready.
(13) He hath also prepared for him the instruments of death; he ordaineth his arrows against the persecutors.
(14) Behold, he travaileth with iniquity, and hath conceived mischief, and brought forth falsehood.
(15) He made a pit, and digged it, and is fallen into the ditch which he made.
(16) His mischief shall return upon his own head, and his violent dealing shall come down upon his own pate.
(17) I will praise the LORD according to his righteousness: and will sing praise to the name of the LORD most high.
--Psalm 7 KJV Bible
 
Psalm 7 is the first of the imprecatory psalms. An imprecation is the act of calling down a curse that invokes evil. The imprecatory psalms contain an invocation of judgment, calamity, or curse against one's enemies who are viewed as enemies of God. The Major Imprecatory Psalms include psalms 69 and 109. Others are psalms 7, 35, 55, 58, 59, 69, 79, 109, 137, and 139 (some include in this list psalms 5, 6, 11, 12, 35, 37, 40, 52, 54, 56, 83, and 143). It is thought that the purposes of these imprecations are, depending on the psalm, to do one or more of the following: (1) to demonstrate God's just and righteous judgment toward the wicked, (2) to show the authority of God over the wicked, (3) to lead the wicked to seek the Lord, or (4) to cause the righteous to praise God. In the New Testament, Jesus quoted from them in John 15:25 (Psalms 35 and 69), the Apostle John references Psalm 69 in John 2:17, and the Apostle Paul quoted from Psalm 69 in his Letter to the Romans (Romans 11:9-10; Romans 15:3).
 
This lament psalm of David is described as a Shiggaion. The root of this word is the Hebrew "shagah," a verb meaning "to reel about through drink." The plural form of the word, shigionoth, is found in Habakkuk 3:1. Shiggaion denotes a lyrical poem composed under strong mental emotion. It is a song of impassioned imagination accompanied with suitable music.
 
In verses 1 through 2 David confidently asks God for deliverance from his enemy. The description of the psalm says that it concerns "Cush, the Benjamite." There is no other mention of this person in the Bible, but some have suggested that Cush was a servant of King Saul who was sent to kill David. In verse 2 David describes this enemy as vicious, like a lion.
 
In verses 3 through 5 David appeals to God to vindicate him from slander. Apparently, David's enemy was turning others against David with lies about what David had done or had not done.
 
In verses 6 through 10 David asks God to bring judgment on his wicked enemies. David also asks that he be vindicated because of his righteousness--he has not done the things his enemies say he has. In verse 9 David notes that God tries, or tests, the righteous. This is only a guess, but David's statement may suggest that David desires some hearing, either with God or with the people concerned, so that the facts may be revealed and the true guilty parties exposed.
 
In verses 11 through 17 David resolves to praise God for His righteousness. In verses 12 and 13 David describes God's actions against the unrepentant. In verses 14 through 16 David describes how the actions of the wicked will lead to their end. In verse 14 David describes the actions of the wicked and compares their creative process of deception to that of childbirth. Finally, in verse 17, David reaffirms his thanks and praise to the Lord God Most High.
 
O God, help me to be faithful and steadfast in my service even when I am unjustly accused of doing wrong. Help me to rely on You and to trust that in the end, in Your time, all will be revealed.
 
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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Praise Through the Discipline

(1) O LORD, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath.
(2) Be merciful to me, LORD, for I am faint; O LORD, heal me, for my bones are in agony.
(3) My soul is in anguish. How long, O LORD, how long?
(4) Turn, O LORD, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love.
(5) No one remembers you when he is dead. Who praises you from the grave?
(6) I am worn out from groaning; all night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears.
(7) My eyes grow weak with sorrow; they fail because of all my foes.
(8) Away from me, all you who do evil, for the LORD has heard my weeping.
(9) The LORD has heard my cry for mercy; the LORD accepts my prayer.
(10) All my enemies will be ashamed and dismayed; they will turn back in sudden disgrace.
--Psalm 6 KJV Bible
 
This lament psalm of David is the first of seven Penitential Psalms or Psalms of Confession. These songs are confessions of sin and expressions of humility before God. The full list of seven includes Psalms 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, and 143. It is said that in the early church believers used these psalms individually and corporately when expressing sorrow to God for their sins.
 
In verses 1 through 3 we see that David has sinned against God and that David realizes God is rebuking him for his actions. We see later in the psalm that God is apparently using David's enemies to punish David. In verse 3 we see that David feels he as endured this punishment long enough. He asks God how long it will continue.
 
In verses 4 through 5 David tries in two strategies to reason with God. First, he asks God to stop the torment because of God's faithful love--the Hebrew "hesed," the lovingkindness. Second, David tries a practical approach, telling God he wants to continue praising him, but he can't do it when he is dead. And David feels close to death from all is suffering.
 
In verses 6 and 7 David tells us that God is using David's enemies as the instrument of David's chastening. We also see by the extent of David's sorrow that they are doing a pretty good job of make David's life miserable—David is cried out from his sorrow.
 
Finally, in verses 8 through 10, David warns his enemies to depart, confident that God will answer his prayer. David speaks as a king purging his kingdom of evildoers. This particular psalm must have been especially close to Jesus' heart, for we have a record in the gospels of Jesus quoting verse 8 on at least two occasions, if not three. The first was while Jesus was clearing the temple of the merchants and money changers (Matthew 7:23). The second was in a parable about the timeliness of salvation (Luke 13:27). And a third time might have been during Jesus' parable of the sheep and the goats (Matthew 26:41).
 
At the end of the psalm, David's cries to God for mercy become shouts of confidence that God has heard his prayer. The shame of David at the opening of the psalm is transformed in to the shame of David's enemies as David expects God to soon deal with his enemies.
 
O God, when you discipline me through circumstances, help me to remember that You do it in love and You do it to better me. Help me to praise You even through the discipline.
 
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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Protection from the Wicked

(1) Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my meditation.
(2) Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King, and my God: for unto thee will I pray.
(3) My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.
(4) For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee.
(5) The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity.
(6) Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing: the LORD will abhor the bloody and deceitful man.
(7) But as for me, I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy mercy: and in thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple.
(8) Lead me, O LORD, in thy righteousness because of mine enemies; make thy way straight before my face.
(9) For there is no faithfulness in their mouth; their inward part is very wickedness; their throat is an open sepulchre; they flatter with their tongue.
(10) Destroy thou them, O God; let them fall by their own counsels; cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions; for they have rebelled against thee.
(11) But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee.
(12) For thou, LORD, wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield.
--Psalm 5 KJV Bible

In this lament psalm of David, it is apparent that David really wants an audience with God. In Verses 1 and 2 David uses the Hebrew method of parallelism, asking the same thing three times: LORD, please listen to me.

In verse 3 we see that David followed the practice of praying to God in the morning. At the very beginning of each day, David honored God and dedicate the day to Him. We also see that David directed his prayers to God and then expected God to answer.

Verses 4 through 6 describe God's hatred of sin. David gives some examples of doers of wickedness--possibly the evil actions that were troubling him the most at that time. David mentions the boastful, those who lie and those who kill.

In verses 7 through 10 David asks God to guide him in righteousness. David describes the ever enduring love of God. The word "mercy" in verse 7--sometimes translated as "lovingkindness"--comes from the Hebrew "hesed," meaning a loyal, steadfast, or faithful love." David asks God to lead him in the right path. But David asks that the wicked be allowed to fall away by their own tangled webs of deceit. In verse 9 David describes their open mouths as an open grave, something physically dangerous, morally corrupt, and religiously unclean.

In verses 11 through 12 David rejoices in God's protection and blessing of the righteous. God surrounds them like an all encompassing shield.

O God, remind me to lift my prayer to You in the morning. Help me to walk in Your way of righteousness. And protect me from the works the wicked.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A Prayer of Trust

(1) Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness: thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer.
(2) O ye sons of men, how long will ye turn my glory into shame? how long will ye love vanity, and seek after leasing? Selah.
(3) But know that the LORD hath set apart him that is godly for himself: the LORD will hear when I call unto him.
(4) Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.
(5) Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the LORD.
(6) There be many that say, Who will shew us any good? LORD, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us.
(7) Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the time that their corn and their wine increased.
(8) I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.
--Psalm 4 KJV Bible

Psalm 4 is one of the psalms of David. It is a song of trust in difficult circumstances.

In verse 1, David asks for God's help. David notes that in his times of distress--the Hebrew "ba-tzar," meaning narrowness or tightness--God has brought David relief--the Hebrew "hir-chav-ta," meaning to expand or grow wide or large. To use a more contemporary expression, God had gotten David out of a lot of tight spots.

In verses 2 through 5, David warns his enemies and urges them to trust God. It has been suggested that this psalm, like Psalm 3, was written around the time of the revolt led by David's son Absalom. If this is correct, then David may be appealing to the rebels who are supporting Absalom, encouraging them to rethink what they are doing and return to God.

In verses 6 through 8, David asks the Lord God to look upon him--to again show favor. David reaffirms his trust in God, who gives him joy, peace, and security.

O God, help me to trust in You for my joy, my peace, and my security. Help me to trust You in the difficult times. Not just went it is convenient or easy.

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Monday, October 12, 2009

A Prayer for Deliverance

(1) Lord, how are they increased that trouble me! Many are they that rise up against me.
(2) Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God. Selah.
(3) But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.
(4) I cried unto the LORD with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. Selah.
(5) I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the LORD sustained me.
(6) I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about.
(7) Arise, O LORD; save me, O my God: for thou hast smitten all mine enemies upon the cheek bone; thou hast broken the teeth of the ungodly.
(8) Salvation belongeth unto the LORD: thy blessing is upon thy people. Selah.
--Psalm 3 KJV Bible

The Hebrew word "selah" is used in thirty-nine of the psalms, including this one. The word is thought to be a musical notation to the choir director and musicians. It loosely translates as a break in the song or an instruction to pause and reflect, perhaps with a musical interlude. Some translators suggest the phrase "stop and listen." Others say that a more concise translation would be "let those with eyes see and with ears hear." The word "selah" has been compared to the word "amen" in that it stresses to the listener the importance of the preceding passage.

This psalm is a lament of David. He is fighting against Absalom, his third son, who rebelled against David's rule. At this point in the struggle, Absalom and his forces are winning and David is fleeing for his life.

In verses 1 and 2 David cries to God, complaining of the growing number of enemies which surround him, including his very own son. Then, in verse 3, David remembers what God has done for him in the past, how God has protected him. God has been faithful and David is encouraged by this.

In Verses 4 through 6 David praises God for delivering him thus far in his life. David affirms his trust in God's protection.

In verses 7 through 8 David cries to God again, but this time it is with the confidence that God is able to deliver him. David asks God for further victory.

O God, help me to remember that even in my most difficult times You are with me. You have always been with me, and You wait for me to ask for Your protection, Your deliverance, and Your victory.

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Sunday, October 11, 2009

World Rulers Just Don't Get It

(1) Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?
(2) The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying,
(3) Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.
(4) He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the LORD shall have them in derision.
(5) Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.
(6) Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.
(7) I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.
(8) Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.
(9) Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.
(10) Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth.
(11) Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
(12) Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.
--Psalm 2 KJV Bible

This psalm is thought to be written by David and is referenced as such by Jesus' disciples in Acts 4:25. In the psalm, David describes how the world rulers rebel against the Lord God and against Jesus, God's son and God's anointed, supreme King. Verses 1 through 3 describe the ignorance of the unbelieving world rulers.

Verses 4 through 6 reference the resolve of Jesus, the King. In verse 4, the word Lord is a translation of the Hebrew “Adonai,” meaning "sovereign." It is no wonder that the sovereign would laugh at the rantings of the little rulers. Verse 6 makes reference to the beginning of the Messiah's one thousand-year—millennial—reign from Zion—Jerusalem, as noted in Isaiah 2:3.

Verses 7 through 9 specifically identify the King as God's Son. God recites a decree on the day of Jesus' coronation, giving Him authority to rule the earth in righteousness. The Son's coronation came on the day of his resurrection from the dead. Paul explained this to he people of Pisidian Antioch (Acts 13:3-34), as Paul noted in his letter to the Romans (Romans 1:4) and as is noted by the author of the letter to the Hebrews (Hebrews 1:5; 5:5).

In verses 10 through 12 God warns the rulers of the world to submit to the Son in order to avoid the Son's wrath. The Messiah will break things when He returns. As noted in Revelation 2:27, Jesus will rule with authority and with a rod of iron.

Father, I accept that you are God and that Your Son, Jesus Christ, is Lord of all and rules in Your name. I pray that the rulers and the nations of this world will turn from their rebellious ways and do the same.

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Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Blessed Delight in God's Law

(1) Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
(2) But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
(3) And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
(4) The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.
(5) Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
(6) For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.
--Psalm 1 KJV Bible

We don't know who wrote this psalm, but it is a perfect introduction to The Book of Psalms. The book is a Psalter--a collection of hymns and praises.

This psalm characterizes us as dependant on God. It illustrates this dependency by using the metaphor of a rooted plant--a comparison made many times throughout the Bible.

In verses 1 through 3 we see a tree planted in good soil with a plentiful water supply. The tree is not just growing, but being the best it can be--it is thriving. How could it not? It has everything it needs to be exactly what it is meant to be.

In contrast, verses 4 through 6 show us what we are if we are cut off from God--if we are spiritually dead. We are the chaff--the dried up, undesirable growth. At the harvest, the farmer separates us from the good stuff. And the farmer keeps only the good stuff.

O God, help me to delight in Your law. For in Your law I will thrive. I will be exactly what You meant me to be. And I will bear good fruit for Your harvest.

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Work as For the Lord

Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.
--Colossians 3:23-24 NASB
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Friday, October 9, 2009

Don't Get Too Comfortable in Your Faith

After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James, and John, and brought them up onto a high mountain privately by themselves, and he was changed into another form in front of them. His clothing became glistening, exceedingly white, like snow, such as no launderer on earth can whiten them. Elijah and Moses appeared to them, and they were talking with Jesus. Peter answered Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let’s make three tents: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” For he didn’t know what to say, for they were very afraid. A cloud came, overshadowing them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” Suddenly looking around, they saw no one with them any more, except Jesus only.
—Mark 9:2-8 WEB*

It is so wonderful when you find a church that you thoroughly enjoy. You like the music, you like the preaching, you even like your fellow members. You seem to like everything about that church, and that is fantastic. But be careful. There is a danger in being too comfortable for too long.

Keep in mind that the purpose of the church is to be the body of Christ on Earth, and that involves several things. There is certainly the worship of God and the fellowship of believers. But there are other things that are just as important. There is evangelism — the act of bringing people to Christ. There is discipleship — the teaching, training and equipping of believers with the hope that they will find their own ministry within the body of Christ. And there are other things the church should be about, but I think I've made my point. The danger comes when a church, either intentionally or unintentionally, focuses more on things like worship and fellowship, and focuses less on the other things. The result can be that the church becomes more of a social club, with more emphasis placed on what happens within the walls and less emphasis on what happens without.

A similar situation is told in the passage above. Jesus took Peter, James and John up onto a mountain where Moses and Elijah appeared to Jesus and spoke with Him about His coming crucifixion and resurrection. But Peter was caught up in the excitement of the moment. You may have heard of a mountaintop experience. Well, this was one of the biggest. And Peter confessed to Jesus that the event was wonderful. He even suggested building shelters because it looked like they would be up there for a while. By saying these things, Peter revealed two things about what he felt at that moment — one was good and one was bad.

The good thing was that he really liked what he had. Who wouldn't? During his earthly ministry, Jesus had been constantly tested and ridiculed by the religious leaders of the day, the ones responsible for teaching to the people what they should know from the Law and Prophets. "The Law" was the nickname for those passages of Scripture with commands and instructions for living. These were summed up the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Old Testament, which were written by Moses. "The Prophets" was the nickname for those passages in which God's messengers worked to keep His people on the right path and warned them of what was to come if they strayed. The most memorable of these prophets was Elijah, who at the end of his earthly ministry was carried to heaven in a fiery chariot. And who should be standing before Peter but the embodiments of the Law and the Prophets, Moses and Elijah themselves. What an affirmation to everything Jesus had been teaching!

Then there was the bad thing. Peter apparently had gotten his priorities messed up in the euphoria of the moment. He had forgotten the events of the past few days, and his conversations with Jesus. By his statements, Peter suggested that considered Jesus equal to Moses and Elijah rather than Jesus being God's Son. But he didn't care. He liked things as the were, and he wanted to keep them going as long as he could. The rest of the world didn't matter to him. Just let the good times keep rolling on.

At that moment, a cloud settled over the group on the mountain top and the voice of God spoke to them, saying, "This is My beloved Son. Listen to Him." To use a contemporary phrase, Peter got a wake-up call. Peter was being told that while it was really tempting to stay on the mountain top, the real work was waiting down in the valley, leading to Jesus' death, resurrection, Pentecost, and the spreading of the Gospel to the farthest parts of the world.

My church went through a similar wake-up call in 2008 regarding our Sunday morning schedule. At that time we had a contemporary worship service at 9 AM and a traditional worship service a 11 AM with a Sunday School hour sandwiched between them at 10 AM. An appointed committee did a lot of research and recommended that in order for our church to reach more people for Jesus Christ, and for our church to grow, we needed to flip the worship service formats and put the contemporary at 11 AM. Many in our congregation felt like Peter. They liked what the had and wanted to keep it, and they eventually realized their priorities needed reviewing. The actual details took some testing and tweaking, but that is basically what we as a church agreed to do. Now at 8:30 AM on Sunday mornings I find myself warming up and rehearsing in the choir room. Our contemporary service is growing and we are praying that our newest members will become more involved in the work of the Body of Christ — to help them understand their purpose, and to prepare them for the times when God calls them to leave their comfort zones. There is a great paragraph that appears in our Sunday worship bulletin. The last line says this: "We DO NOT go to church; we ARE the church."

* WEB - The World English Bible, a Public Domain, Modern English translation of the Holy Bible developed by Rainbow Missions, Inc. URL: ebible.org

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Let the Lord Build the House

Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it;
Unless the LORD guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain.
It is vain for you to rise up early, to retire late, to eat the bread
of painful labors;
For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep. --Psalm 127:1-2 NASB

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