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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Thanks and Praise for Unexpected Deliverance

[To the chief Musician on Neg’inoth, Maskil, A Psalm of David, when the Ziphim came and said to Saul, Doth not David hide himself with us?]

1 Save me, O God, by thy name, and judge me by thy strength.

2 Hear my prayer, O God; give ear to the words of my mouth.

3 For strangers are risen up against me, and oppressors seek after my soul: they have not set God before them. Selah.

4 Behold, God is mine helper: the Lord is with them that uphold my soul.

5 He shall reward evil unto mine enemies: cut them off in thy truth.

6 I will freely sacrifice unto thee: I will praise thy name, O LORD; for it is good.

7 For he hath delivered me out of all trouble: and mine eye hath seen his desire upon mine enemies.

—Psalm 54 KJV Bible

This is a psalm of David. In the song, David reflects on the treachery of the Ziphites, who informed Saul that David was hiding among them, as told in 1 Samuel 23. David prays to God for deliverance from his enemies and praises God for the answer.

The psalm superscription states that this is a “maskil”—Hebrew, meaning “a hedge.” In the context of the psalms, it is thought to mean either a contemplative or teaching psalm, or a psalm written in a clever way. Thirteen psalms are described as "maskils." they include 32, 42, 44, 45, 52-55, 74, 78, 88, 89 and 142.

The superscription also states it is to be performed on "Neg’inoth." This Hebrew expression is interpreted as "stringed instruments." this direction is used in Psalm 4, 6, 54, 55, 61, 67, and 76.

In verses 1 through 3, David asks God for deliverance from his enemies. Since no one else believes him, David asks God to judge him, confirm David's innocence in this situation and supernaturally intercede for David.

The Hebrew "selah" is used after verses 3 of the psalm. 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. The word "selah" is used in thirty-nine of the psalms.

In verses 4 through 7, David praises God for answered prayer. As recounted in 1 Samuel 23:26-28, Saul had David nearly surrounded when Saul received word of a raid by the Philistines. When Saul and his troupes left to repel the Philistines, David was able to escape. Here we see God using unexpected events to accomplish David's request; to deliver David and to repay evil to Saul for the evil done against David. In response, David vows to thank God with sacrifices and with praise.

Father, when I feel the world building up against me, remind me that You are there. Though I may not see how it will come, remind me that you are able to deliver me. Whatever may come, I thank You and I praise You.

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Friday, March 30, 2012

The Words of the Wicked

[To the chief Musician, Maskil, A Psalm of David, when Do'eg the Edomite came and told Saul, and said unto him, David is come to the house of Ahim'elech]

1 Why boastest thou thyself in mischief, O mighty man? the goodness of God endureth continually.

2 The tongue deviseth mischiefs; like a sharp razor, working deceitfully.

3 Thou lovest evil more than good; and lying rather than to speak righteousness. Selah.

4 Thou lovest all devouring words, O thou deceitful tongue.

5 God shall likewise destroy thee for ever, he shall take thee away, and pluck thee out of thy dwelling place, and root thee out of the land of the living. Selah.

6 The righteous also shall see, and fear, and shall laugh at him:

7 Lo, this is the man that made not God his strength; but trusted in the abundance of his riches, and strengthened himself in his wickedness.

8 But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God: I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever.

9 I will praise thee for ever, because thou hast done it: and I will wait on thy name; for it is good before thy saints.

—Psalm 52 KJV Bible

This is a psalm of David. In the song, David contrasts the wicked and the righteous, describes the wicked, their doom, and the delight of the righteous. David wrote the psalm when Do’eg the Edomite, a servant of king Saul, informed Saul that David had been sheltered and feed by the priest Ahim’elech. Following one of Saul’s attempts to kill David, David fled to Nob where the priest Ahim’elech gave David shelter and food before David moved on. Saul’s servant Do’eg witnessed these events and later informed Saul of what happened. Saul then took out is murderous vengeance on Ahim’elech, his household and all the other priests of Nob. One son of Ahim’elech was able to escape and tell David what Saul had done. The full story may be read in 1 Samuel 21 and 22.

The psalm superscription states that this is a “maskil”—Hebrew, meaning “a hedge.” In the context of the psalms, it is thought to mean either a contemplative or teaching psalm, or a psalm written in a clever way. Thirteen psalms are described as "maskils." they include 32, 42, 44, 45, 52-55, 74, 78, 88, 89 and 142.

The Hebrew "selah" is used after verses 3 and 5 of the psalm. 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. The word "selah" is used in thirty-nine of the psalms.

In verses 1 through 4, David describes the wicked. Their speech can cut. They prefer lies over the truth. And they prefer to destroy rather than to build up.

In verse 5, David explains the doom of the wicked in four striking images: The wicked will be broken down, destroyed, plucked from their home, and uprooted from life.

In verses 6 through 9, David describes the righteous. In verses 6 and 7, David explains that the righteous have reverential “fear” of God and that the righteous scoffingly “laugh” at the actions and reasoning of the wicked. In verses 8 through 9, David explains that as one of the righteous, he remains firmly planted and full of life. David does depend on men, but trusts and waits in hope of God.

Father, at times it is tempting to share what I know for the hope of personal gain, regardless of those I might hurt or dishonor, including You. Help me to always speak honorably. Help me to stay true to those around me and true to You.

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

A Prayer of Confession, for Forgiveness and for Cleansing

[To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came unto him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba]

1 Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.

2 Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.

3 For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.

4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.

5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.

6 Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.

7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

8 Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.

9 Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

11 Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.

12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.

13 Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.

14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.

15 O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.

16 For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering.

17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

18 Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem.

19 Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar.

—Psalm 51 KJV Bible

This lament psalm of David is the fourth 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 they expressed sorrow to God for their sins.

This psalm elaborates David’s confession of his sin with Bathsheba, as told in 2 Samuel chapters 11 and 12. David kept his silence until God sent the prophet Nathan to confront David. David then broke his silence, confessed his sin and asked forgiveness. It has been suggested that Psalm 32 is a follow-up or a revisit of Psalm 51. Some also suggest that Psalm 41 may describe events surrounding David’s sin with Bathsheba. Though God forgave David, there were great repercussions in David's house and David's kingdom because of David's sin, including the later rebellious acts of David's beloved son Absalom.

In this psalm, David pleads for forgiveness and cleansing, confesses his guilt, and prays for pardon and restoration. David then resolves to praise God, and David prays for the continued prosperity of Jerusalem.

In verses 1 and 2, David pleads for forgiveness and cleansing. In verse 1, David reminds God of His “lovingkindness.” This is the Hebrew checed—the everlasting, covenant love of God. David also reminds God of His “tender mercies.” This is the Hebrew “racham,” also translated as compassion, tender love, pity, and similar expressions.

In verses 3 through 6, David confesses his guilt. In verse 4, David acknowledges that though his sin involved others, David recognized that it was primarily against God. In verse 5, David is not saying that conception is the result of sinful acts, but rather that from the moment of conception a person possesses a sinful nature.

In verses 7 through 12, David prays for pardon and restoration. In verse 7, David notes the use of “hyssop” in cleansing. Hyssop was a common plant of the mint family. Because of its stiff branches and hairy leaves, it was very effective in the dipping and sprinkling of liquids. As described in Exodus 12:22, a bunch of hyssop was used to dip and sprinkle the blood of the sacrifice on the door frame of the house so that the angel of death would pass over the children of Israel. As Leviticus 14:49 describes, hyssop was also used in the ritual cleansing of the house of a leper. Also, Numbers 19:16-19 describes the use of hyssop in the ritual cleansing of a person defiled by another’s death. In verse 11, David uses the Old Testament context of the “Holy Spirit,” which related particularly to service, rather than salvation, and of indwelling of the "Spirit" only for the length of the service. There are several Old Testament passages of this, including Exodus 31:3; 35:31; Numbers 27:18; Judges 3:10; 6:34; 11:29; 13:25; 1 Samuel 10:9-10; 16:13; 1 Chronicles 12:18; Daniel 4:8; 6:3. In the New Testament, beginning at the Day of Pentecost, the constant presence of the Holy Spirit became a proof of those who belonged to Christ, as explained by the Apostle Paul in his Letter to the Romans (Romans 8:9). In the Old Testament usage of service, David is asking God to not take away David’s service as the anointed king of Israel, which passed from Saul to David when Samuel anointed David at God’s direction (1 Samuel 16:13-14).

In verses 13 through 17, David resolves to praise God. In verse 14, David asks God to take away David’s “bloodguiltiness,” or David’s sentence of death for the murder of Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband.

In verses 18 and 19, David prays for the continued prosperity of Jerusalem through the broken and contrite spirit of the people. Here David is concerned about the affect of his sin on the people which God anointed David to lead. David asks God to continue to protect and build up the city and to honor the worship and sacrifices of the people.

Father, while some may compare the severity of one sin to another, they are all sin. There is no difference between them in Your eyes and they all have their consequences. Father, I confess to You my sin. Please forgive me. Wash me clean. And make me a better servant for You.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

God's Judgment of the Insincere

[A Psalm of Asaph]

1 The mighty God, even the LORD, hath spoken, and called the earth from the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof.

2 Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined.

3 Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him.

4 He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people.

5 Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.

6 And the heavens shall declare his righteousness: for God is judge himself. Selah.

7 Hear, O my people, and I will speak; O Israel, and I will testify against thee: I am God, even thy God.

8 I will not reprove thee for thy sacrifices or thy burnt offerings, to have been continually before me.

9 I will take no bullock out of thy house, nor he goats out of thy folds.

10 For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills.

11 I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine.

12 If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fulness thereof.

13 Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats?

14 Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High:

15 And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.

16 But unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth?

17 Seeing thou hatest instruction, and casteth my words behind thee.

18 When thou sawest a thief, then thou consentedst with him, and hast been partaker with adulterers.

19 Thou givest thy mouth to evil, and thy tongue frameth deceit.

20 Thou sittest and speakest against thy brother; thou slanderest thine own mother's son.

21 These things hast thou done, and I kept silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes.

22 Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver.

23 Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me: and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I shew the salvation of God.

—Psalm 50 KJV Bible

The psalm superscription says it is a song of Asaph. Asaph was an outstanding musician in the time of King David. David had appointed Asaph minister of music for the tabernacle (1 Chronicles 15:19; 16) and Asaph's descendants were also official Temple musicians (Ezra 2:41). Psalms 50 and 73 through 83 are attributed to Asaph, or perhaps written for Asaph to perform.

In this psalm, Asaph reports an appearance of God for judgment and presents God's indictments of His people for insincere sacrifices, with instruction for correction, and God's indictments for unethical practices, with instruction for correction.

This would not be the only time the people would have to learn these lessons. The prophets Isaiah and Micah, who lived about 250 years after David and Asaph, similarly instructed the people of their generation (Isaiah 1:11-20; Micah 6:6-9).

In verses 1 through 6, Asaph tells of God judging the people. In verse 2, Asaph refers to "Zion," an expression for the city of Jerusalem. Asaph describes how in the past the godly example of the people had shined among the nations as a reflection of the image of God. But in verse 3, Asaph warns that God will no long sit in "silence" while the people now sin against Him. In verse 5, Asaph describes the people of Israel as the "saints," sometimes translated as the "godly ones." These are the people with whom God made the Mosaic covenant (Exodus 24:7) and whom God accuses in verse 7.

The Hebrew "selah" is used after verse 6 of the psalm. 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. The word "selah" is used in thirty-nine of the psalms.

In verses 7 through 13, Asaph presents God's indictments of His people for insincere sacrifices. In verses 8 through 13, Asaph explains that God does not reprove them for failing to bring their offerings, but for bringing them with the motive of trying to make the God who owns everything dependent on their generosity.

In verses 14 and 15, Asaph gives instruction to correct the people for their insincere sacrifices. The people are to sincerely offer to God the sacrifice of thanksgiving. They are also to rightly honor God when He delivers them from trouble.

In verses 16 through 21, Asaph lists God's indictments for unethical practices. In verses 16 through 17, Asaph speaks for God, accusing the people of giving lip service to God's law while violating them. Asaph lists the details in verses 18 through 20. They have associated with thieves and become adulterers. They have become liars to the point of testifying falsely, even against members of their own family. In verse 21, Asaph exposes the hopes of the people; that by God's "silence" until now, He indicated that He was as lawless as they were!

In verses 22 and 23, Asaph gives the people instruction to correct their unethical practices and prevent their destruction by God. The people are to honor God by bringing offerings of praise and thanksgiving and by following the path that God instructs for their lives.

Father, I confess that I am not always honest with You or myself. At times I am insincere in my worship, in my service and in my obedience to You. Please forgive me. I thank You, I praise You and I give You glory, as I should. Help me to shine with Your light through even the most basic of tasks. Let all be done for You.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

In the End, the Rich Have Nothing

[To the chief Musician, A Psalm for the sons of Korah]

1 Hear this, all ye people; give ear, all ye inhabitants of the world:

2 Both low and high, rich and poor, together.

3 My mouth shall speak of wisdom; and the meditation of my heart shall be of understanding.

4 I will incline mine ear to a parable: I will open my dark saying upon the harp.

5 Wherefore should I fear in the days of evil, when the iniquity of my heels shall compass me about?

6 They that trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches;

7 None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him:

8 (For the redemption of their soul is precious, and it ceaseth for ever:)

9 That he should still live for ever, and not see corruption.

10 For he seeth that wise men die, likewise the fool and the brutish person perish, and leave their wealth to others.

11 Their inward thought is, that their houses shall continue for ever, and their dwelling places to all generations; they call their lands after their own names.

12 Nevertheless man being in honour abideth not: he is like the beasts that perish.

13 This their way is their folly: yet their posterity approve their sayings. Selah.

14 Like sheep they are laid in the grave; death shall feed on them; and the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning; and their beauty shall consume in the grave from their dwelling.

15 But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave: for he shall receive me. Selah.

16 Be not thou afraid when one is made rich, when the glory of his house is increased;

17 For when he dieth he shall carry nothing away: his glory shall not descend after him.

18 Though while he lived he blessed his soul: and men will praise thee, when thou doest well to thyself.

19 He shall go to the generation of his fathers; they shall never see light.

20 Man that is in honour, and understandeth not, is like the beasts that perish.

—Psalm 49 KJV Bible

This is a psalm of wisdom. Rather than to praise God, the psalmist wrote this psalm to instruct the people. The psalmist calls on the world to hear the truth concerning the temporary glory and false security of the wicked rich, whose doom is certain, in contrast to the everlasting hope of the righteous.

It is not certain who the psalmist is. Some think that he lived at a time when many people in Israel and Judah were very rich. These rich were not kind to the poor, but instead exploited them. The poor thought the rich could buy a long life on earth, while they could not. The psalmist tells all the people, whether rich or poor, that only God can stop anyone from truly dying.

The psalm superscription states it is for the "sons of Korah." The three sons of Korah—Assir, Elkanan and Abiasaph—were loyal to God (Exodus 6:24; Numbers 26:11). The descendants of these were also described as the "sons of Korah." Some later became singers in the Temple choir (2 Chronicles 20:19). Twelve of the psalms (42-49, 84-85, 87-88) are specifically dedicated to the "sons of Korah," possibly because of their musicality, or possibly as a reference to those who remain faithful to God even in the most difficult times.

The Hebrew "selah" is used after verses 13 and 15 of the psalm. 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. The word "selah" is used in thirty-nine of the psalms.

In verse 1 through 4, the psalmist calls on the world to hear the truth. In verse 4, the psalmist describes his teaching as a "parable," sometimes translated as a "proverb," and as a "dark saying," sometimes translated as a "riddle." Basically, the psalmist is sharing important information for living, but in a way that requires careful listening and some explanation. The psalmist then goes on to explain.

In verse 5 through 14, the psalmist points out the temporary glory and false security of the wicked rich. In verses 7 through 9, the psalmist explains that no one can purchase from God additional days in order to extend his life. The psalmist goes on to explain in verses 10 through 14 that even the rich, whether they are wicked or righteous, cannot bring someone back from the dead. In verse 12, the psalmist reminds the listener that the hopes of the wicked are restricted to this life. In verse 14, the psalmist tells the listener that Death is guiding the foolish, like sheep, directly to "sheol"—Hebrew for the physical grave, or the place where all souls go after death. The righteous will ultimately triumph over the wicked, either in this life or "in the morning"—in the life to come.

In verses 15 through 20, the psalmist calls attention to the everlasting hope of the righteous. In verse 15, the psalmist reminds the listener that God can do what we are not able to do. God can pay the ransom which we cannot pay.

Father, so often in this life it seems that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. When I stress about money, help me to remember that money is not everything. And after this life, it is nothing at all. Help me to focus on You; to rely on You. You are the true life, now and forever.

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Monday, March 26, 2012

Greatly to be Praised

[A Song and Psalm for the sons of Korah]

1 Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness.

2 Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King.

3 God is known in her palaces for a refuge.

4 For, lo, the kings were assembled, they passed by together.

5 They saw it, and so they marvelled; they were troubled, and hasted away.

6 Fear took hold upon them there, and pain, as of a woman in travail.

7 Thou breakest the ships of Tarshish with an east wind.

8 As we have heard, so have we seen in the city of the LORD of hosts, in the city of our God: God will establish it for ever. Selah.

9 We have thought of thy lovingkindness, O God, in the midst of thy temple.

10 According to thy name, O God, so is thy praise unto the ends of the earth: thy right hand is full of righteousness.

11 Let mount Zion rejoice, let the daughters of Judah be glad, because of thy judgments.

12 Walk about Zion, and go round about her: tell the towers thereof.

13 Mark ye well her bulwarks, consider her palaces; that ye may tell it to the generation following.

14 For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death.

—Psalm 48 KJV Bible

Psalms 46, 47 and 48 appear to be three parts of one story. Many think they are an account of the time when King Sennacherib of Assyria attacked Jerusalem in 701 BC, during the reign of Judah's King Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:13-19:37). Because of the possible time period, and because the writing style of the psalmist is similar to that found in the Book of Isaiah, many think the psalmist could be the prophet Isaiah.

The psalm superscription states it is for the "sons of Korah." The three sons of Korah—Assir, Elkanan and Abiasaph—were loyal to God (Exodus 6:24; Numbers 26:11). The descendants of these were also described as the "sons of Korah." Some later became singers in the Temple choir (2 Chronicles 20:19). Twelve of the psalms (42-49, 84-85, 87-88) are specifically dedicated to the "sons of Korah," possibly because of their musicality, or possibly as a reference to those who remain faithful to God even in the most difficult times.

The Hebrew "selah" is used after verse 8 of the psalm. 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. The word "selah" is used in thirty-nine of the psalms.

This psalm is a song of Zion. The psalmist praises God and Zion (Jerusalem), God’s dwelling place. The psalmist then describes the defeat of the enemies of the city. He offers thanksgiving and then invites the people to praise and trust God.

In verses 1 through 3, the psalmist praises God and Zion (Jerusalem), His dwelling place. In verse 2, the psalmist's reference to the "city of our God" is Jerusalem--the location of the Temple, the dwelling place of God. In verse 2, the psalmist compares Jerusalem to the regions in the "north." In heathen lore, the far north is often thought to be the abode of the gods; thus, the psalmist is claiming that Jerusalem is the place where the true God reigns.

In verses 4 through 7, the psalmist describes the defeat of the city’s enemies. In verse 7, the psalmist tells of God's ability to break the “ships of Tarshish.” Though these large trading vessels were the greatest of ancient ships, they could not withstand God’s mighty power.

In verses 9 through 10, the psalmist offers thanksgiving. The psalmist recognizes God's faithful, everlasting love—the Hebrew "hesed."

In verses 11 through 14, the psalmist invites the people to praise and trust God. In verse 11, the psalmist says “the daughters of Judah” should be glad. This is a reference to the cities and villages of the southern Kingdom of Judah, home to the city of Jerusalem and the Temple.

O God, You so deserve our praise. I thank You for saving me. I ask all of creation to rightly and justly praise Your name.

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Sunday, March 25, 2012

God Does Rule and Will Rule

[To the chief Musician, A Psalm for the sons of Korah]

1 O clap your hands, all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph.

2 For the LORD most high is terrible; he is a great King over all the earth.

3 He shall subdue the people under us, and the nations under our feet.

4 He shall choose our inheritance for us, the excellency of Jacob whom he loved. Selah.

5 God is gone up with a shout, the LORD with the sound of a trumpet.

6 Sing praises to God, sing praises: sing praises unto our King, sing praises.

7 For God is the King of all the earth: sing ye praises with understanding.

8 God reigneth over the heathen: God sitteth upon the throne of his holiness.

9 The princes of the people are gathered together, even the people of the God of Abraham: for the shields of the earth belong unto God: he is greatly exalted.

—Psalm 47 KJV Bible

Psalms 46, 47 and 48 appear to be three parts of one story. Many think they are an account of the time when King Sennacherib of Assyria attacked Jerusalem in 701 BC, during the reign of Judah's King Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:13-19:37). Because of the possible time period, and because the writing style of the psalmist is similar to that found in the Book of Isaiah, many think the psalmist could be the prophet Isaiah.

The psalm superscription states it is for the "sons of Korah." The three sons of Korah—Assir, Elkanan and Abiasaph—were loyal to God (Exodus 6:24; Numbers 26:11). The descendants of these were also described as the "sons of Korah." Some later became singers in the Temple choir (2 Chronicles 20:19). Twelve of the psalms (42-49, 84-85, 87-88) are specifically dedicated to the "sons of Korah," possibly because of their musicality, or possibly as a reference to those who remain faithful to God even in the most difficult times.

The Hebrew "selah" is used after verse 4 of the psalm. 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. The word "selah" is used in thirty-nine of the psalms.

This psalm of God’s kingship celebrates the reign of the Lord over all the earth. Like Psalms 96 through 98, this psalm looks forward to God’s rule through Christ during the Millennium. This is a Messianic psalm in the sense that the future rule of God spoken of will be fulfilled in the rule of Messiah.

In verses 1 through 4, the psalmist celebrates God' kingship. In verse 3, the psalmist states that God will subdue the nations. In the Book of Revelation, the Apostle John describes how God's Messiah, Jesus, will strike the nations and rule them with a rod of iron (Revelation 19:15).

In verses 5 through 9, the psalmist describes God on His throne, ruling the earth. In verse 5, the psalmist says that God has "gone up," or ascended to His earthly throne. This event will actually happen when God's Son, Jesus the Messiah, takes the earthly throne at the beginning of His millennial reign. Also in verse 5, the psalmist says that God ascends to the throne with the sound of the "trumpet." This is the Hebrew "shofar"—a musical instrument made from a ram's horn. By the blowing of shofars, military leaders called their armies to battle. In the Temple at Jerusalem, priests blew the shofars to give praise to God. In verse 9, the psalmist states that “the shields of the earth” belong to God. This is a reference to all the earthly symbols of authority. All authority is His.

O God, You are the King. You rule this world, whether the world leaders realize it or not. I praise You now and I look to the coming reign of Your Son, Jesus.

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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Our Refuge, Our Strength, Our Deliverer

[To the chief Musician for the sons of Korah, A Song upon Al'amoth]

1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

2 Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;

3 Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.

4 There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.

5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.

6 The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted.

7 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.

8 Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations he hath made in the earth.

9 He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire.

10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.

11 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.

—Psalm 46 KJV Bible

Psalms 46, 47 and 48 appear to be three parts of one story. Many think they are an account of the time when King Sennacherib of Assyria attacked Jerusalem in 701 BC, during the reign of Judah's King Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:13-19:37). Because of the possible time period, and because the writing style of the psalmist is similar to that found in the Book of Isaiah, many think the psalmist could be the prophet Isaiah.

The psalm superscription states it is for the "sons of Korah." The three sons of Korah—Assir, Elkanan and Abiasaph—were loyal to God (Exodus 6:24; Numbers 26:11). The descendants of these were also described as the "sons of Korah." Some later became singers in the Temple choir (2 Chronicles 20:19). Twelve of the psalms (42-49, 84-85, 87-88) are specifically dedicated to the "sons of Korah," possibly because of their musicality, or possibly as a reference to those who remain faithful to God even in the most difficult times.

The superscription also says it is set to " Al’amoth," the plural form of the Hebrew "al’amah." The root word describes a young woman who has not yet married. Three suggestions have been offered for its meaning in the psalm. First, it may have referred to a type of 10- or 12-stringed lute instrument having a pitch similar to that of a young girl's voice. Second, it may have referred to an instrument called an "al’amoth" that was made in "Al’ameth" (a Levitical city in Benjamin). Third, it may have referred to the pitch range of the voices that were to accompany the psalm. Of those translators who think this, a variety of translations are given, including "soprano voices," "high voices" and "small harps." Some translators ignore the reference while others honestly translate the reference as "mystery."

The Hebrew "selah" is used after verses 3, 7 and 11 of the psalm. 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. The word "selah" is used in thirty-nine of the psalms.

This psalm is the people's song of trust and thanksgiving. First, it focuses on the God of Israel, their refuge. Second, it focuses on the city of God, their security. Third, it focuses on the deliverance of God, their peace.

In verses 1 through 3, the psalmist declares that the God of Israel is their refuge. Whatever may happen, the people will not fear.

In verses 4 through 7, the psalmist tells of their security in the city of God. In verse 4, the psalmist describes “a river” flowing through the city. The river symbolizes physical and spiritual blessing, particularly in relation to the millennial “city of God,” the New Jerusalem. In his vision of a new, holy land, the prophet Ezekiel mentions a river which flowed out of the Temple in the New Jerusalem and gave life to the land (Ezekiel 47:1-12). The prophet Zechariah also records a vision of living water that will flow to the east and to the west, out of the New Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:8). In verse 7 and verse 11, the psalmist's term for God, sometimes translated as “the Lord of hosts,” is the Hebrew "YHWH Tsaba" (Yahweh Tsaba). The phrase can mean "Jehovah who assembles," "Jehovah who serves," or "Jehovah who wages war." This is the One who commands the angelic armies of heaven and the armies of Israel. The term emphasizes the sovereignty and omnipotence of God.

In verses 8 through 11, the psalmist tells of the deliverance of God. In verses 8 and 9, the psalmist is prophetically describing the works of God through His Messiah, Jesus Christ, during His millennial reign following His return. The prophets Isaiah and Micah give more details of the new government (Isaiah 2:2-4; 11:6-9; Micah 4:1-8). In verse 10, the psalmist tells the people to cease from their warlike activities and acknowledge that God is supreme.

O God, You are my refuge. You are my strength. Whatever trouble may come, You are ready to deliver me and give me peace.

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Friday, March 23, 2012

The Coming of the Bride and the Groom

[To the chief Musician upon Shoshan'nim, for the sons of Korah, Maskil, A Song of loves]

1 My heart is inditing a good matter: I speak of the things which I have made touching the king: my tongue is the pen of a ready writer.

2 Thou art fairer than the children of men: grace is poured into thy lips: therefore God hath blessed thee for ever.

3 Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O most mighty, with thy glory and thy majesty.

4 And in thy majesty ride prosperously because of truth and meekness and righteousness; and thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things.

5 Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the king's enemies; whereby the people fall under thee.

6 Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre.

7 Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.

8 All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made thee glad.

9 Kings' daughters were among thy honourable women: upon thy right hand did stand the queen in gold of Ophir.

10 Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear; forget also thine own people, and thy father's house;

11 So shall the king greatly desire thy beauty: for he is thy Lord; and worship thou him.

12 And the daughter of Tyre shall be there with a gift; even the rich among the people shall intreat thy favour.

13 The king's daughter is all glorious within: her clothing is of wrought gold.

14 She shall be brought unto the king in raiment of needlework: the virgins her companions that follow her shall be brought unto thee.

15 With gladness and rejoicing shall they be brought: they shall enter into the king's palace.

16 Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children, whom thou mayest make princes in all the earth.

17 I will make thy name to be remembered in all generations: therefore shall the people praise thee for ever and ever.

—Psalm 45 KJV Bible

This is a royal wedding psalm. In the song, the psalmist praises the king, encourages and describes the bride, and pronounces a benediction. Biblical scholars have noted that this wedding song foreshadows the future wedding of God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to His bride, the church.

We do not know who wrote the psalm or the name of the king being married. It might be David’s son Solomon, or perhaps a later king.

The psalm superscription says to present the psalm on the " Shoshan'nim"—Hebrew, meaning lilies. While it is not certain, this is possibly the name of a musical instrument or the name of a wedding tune to be used with the text.

The superscription states that this is a “maskil”—Hebrew, meaning “a hedge.” In the context of the psalms, it is thought to mean either a contemplative or teaching psalm, or a psalm written in a clever way. Thirteen psalms are described as "maskils." they include 32, 42, 44, 45, 52-55, 74, 78, 88, 89 and 142.
The superscription also states it is for the "sons of Korah." The three sons of Korah—Assir, Elkanan and Abiasaph—were loyal to God (Exodus 6:24; Numbers 26:11). The descendants of these were also described as the "sons of Korah." Some later became singers in the Temple choir (2 Chronicles 20:19). Twelve of the psalms (42-49, 84-85, 87-88) are specifically dedicated to the "sons of Korah," possibly because of their musicality, or possibly as a reference to those who remain faithful to God even in the most difficult times.

In verses 1 through 9, the psalmist praises the king. In verse 1, the psalmist describes their emotions using the Hebrew "rachash," meaning to stir, gush, or to overflow. It is sometimes translated as “inditing” or “overflowing.” The psalmist is saying that their heart overflows with love in composing this song for the king. In verse 6, the psalmist describes the king as "God"—likely a royal hyperbole, or extravagant exaggeration, of the king. In verse 7, the psalmist references the true "God" who anointed the king to lead the people. The writer of the Letter to the Hebrews noted how this passage is a prophetic reference to Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1:8-9). In verse 9, the psalmist mentions gold from "Ophir," a port or region mentioned in the Old Testament, famous for its wealth.

In verses 10 through 12, the psalmist encourages the bride to forget her home and her past. She should only think of the king, who loves her, and their future together.

In verses 13 through 15, the psalmist describes the beauty of the bride. Her gown is woven with gold and her attendants are coming with her.

In verses 16 through 17, the psalmist pronounces a benediction. The children of the wedding couple will rule throughout the land and the nations will praise the couple forever.

Father, I thank You for Your love. I praise You for Your faithfulness. And I look forward to the day when your Son returns to take His bride.

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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Faithful and Loving Discipline

[To the chief Musician for the sons of Korah, Maskil]

1 We have heard with our ears, O God, our fathers have told us, what work thou didst in their days, in the times of old.

2 How thou didst drive out the heathen with thy hand, and plantedst them; how thou didst afflict the people, and cast them out.

3 For they got not the land in possession by their own sword, neither did their own arm save them: but thy right hand, and thine arm, and the light of thy countenance, because thou hadst a favour unto them.

4 Thou art my King, O God: command deliverances for Jacob.

5 Through thee will we push down our enemies: through thy name will we tread them under that rise up against us.

6 For I will not trust in my bow, neither shall my sword save me.

7 But thou hast saved us from our enemies, and hast put them to shame that hated us.

8 In God we boast all the day long, and praise thy name for ever. Selah.

9 But thou hast cast off, and put us to shame; and goest not forth with our armies.

10 Thou makest us to turn back from the enemy: and they which hate us spoil for themselves.

11 Thou hast given us like sheep appointed for meat; and hast scattered us among the heathen.

12 Thou sellest thy people for nought, and dost not increase thy wealth by their price.

13 Thou makest us a reproach to our neighbours, a scorn and a derision to them that are round about us.

14 Thou makest us a byword among the heathen, a shaking of the head among the people.

15 My confusion is continually before me, and the shame of my face hath covered me,

16 For the voice of him that reproacheth and blasphemeth; by reason of the enemy and avenger.

17 All this is come upon us; yet have we not forgotten thee, neither have we dealt falsely in thy covenant.

18 Our heart is not turned back, neither have our steps declined from thy way;

19 Though thou hast sore broken us in the place of dragons, and covered us with the shadow of death.

20 If we have forgotten the name of our God, or stretched out our hands to a strange god;

21 Shall not God search this out? for he knoweth the secrets of the heart.

22 Yea, for thy sake are we killed all the day long; we are counted as sheep for the slaughter.

23 Awake, why sleepest thou, O Lord? arise, cast us not off for ever.

24 Wherefore hidest thou thy face, and forgettest our affliction and our oppression?

25 For our soul is bowed down to the dust: our belly cleaveth unto the earth.

26 Arise for our help, and redeem us for thy mercies' sake.

—Psalm 44 KJV Bible

The psalm superscription states that this is a “maskil,” in Hebrew, literally meaning “a hedge.” In the context of the psalms, it is thought to mean either a contemplative or teaching psalm, or a psalm written in a clever way. Thirteen psalms are described as "maskils." they include 32, 42, 44, 45, 52-55, 74, 78, 88, 89 and 142.

The superscription also states it is for the "sons of Korah." The three sons of Korah—Assir, Elkanan and Abiasaph—were loyal to God (Exodus 6:24; Numbers 26:11). The descendants of these were also described as the "sons of Korah." Some later became singers in the Temple choir (2 Chronicles 20:19). Twelve of the psalms (42-49, 84-85, 87-88) are specifically dedicated to the "sons of Korah," possibly because of their musicality, or possibly as a reference to those who remain faithful to God even in the most difficult times.

We are not certain who wrote this psalm or when it was written. It could have been written during the reign of King David or in the five centuries that followed—during the time of the divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah, or during the seven years of Judah's people's in Babylon.

This psalm is a song of national lament. First, it recalls God's past care for Israel. It then encourages the people to praise God and to be confident in God's faithfulness. The psalm then brings before the Lord the people's present defeat and their plea for deliverance.

In verses 1 through 3, the psalmist describes the amazing things God did in the past because of the people of Israel. He mentions times during the settlement of Canaan when God fought for the people, as in Joshua 24:12, and when God allowed an enemy to remain and subdue the people, as in Judges 6:3. In verses 2 and 3, the psalmist describes God's "hand" and God's "arm," referring to the things God did with His power.

In verses 4 through 8, the psalmist encourages the people to praise and have confidence in God. He asks the King for victories over their enemies. Instead of earthly weapons, he trusts in God's power to save His people as He had in the past.

In verses 9 through 16, the people bring before the Lord their present defeat. God did not protect them in battle and allowed them to be taken by their enemy. The great children of Israel have become a laughing stock among the nations.

In verses 17 through 22, the psalmist offers a defense of the faithfulness of the nation. This is similar to David's personal defense in Psalm 17:3. The psalmist does not claim the people have been sinless or innocent, but that they have been far more faithful to God than their enemies. In verse 22, the psalmist describes the people's price of loyalty to God in a world that is at war with Him. In his Letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul applies the same passage to describe the followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the earthly price of their loyalty.

In verses 23 through 26, the psalmist asks God to deliver the people. In verse 26, the psalmist ask God to redeem them because of God's "mercy," sometimes translated as "lovingkindess." This is the Hebrew "hesed;" the everlasting, faithful love; God's covenant love for His people.

Father, I thank You for Your faithfulness in spite of my unfaithfulness. You may not always approve of my actions, but you always love me and You do what is necessary to ultimately make me better for You.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Rejoicing in Exile

[To the chief Musician, Maskil, for the sons of Korah]

1 As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.

2 My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?

3 My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God?

4 When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me: for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holyday.

5 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.

6 O my God, my soul is cast down within me: therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar.

7 Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me.

8 Yet the LORD will command his lovingkindness in the day time, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.

9 I will say unto God my rock, Why hast thou forgotten me? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?

10 As with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me; while they say daily unto me, Where is thy God?

11 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.

—Psalm 42 KJV Bible

1 Judge me, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation: O deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man.

2 For thou art the God of my strength: why dost thou cast me off? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?

3 O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles.

4 Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy: yea, upon the harp will I praise thee, O God my God.

5 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.

—Psalm 43 KJV Bible

Psalm 42 and 43 are two parts of one, sadly beautiful song. It is thought that about 200 B.C., when the Jews translated the Scriptures from Hebrew to Greek—for those Greek-speaking Jews who lived in Egypt—the one psalm was divided into two.

We do not know who wrote the psalm—who was the psalmist—but we know a lot about him from his song. He speaks of being exiled in the far north of Palestine and yearning to return to the Temple in Jerusalem. He expresses his yearning for God, then reveals the depths of his distress and prays that he might return.

The psalm superscription states that this is a “maskil,” in Hebrew, literally meaning “a hedge.” In the context of the psalms, it is thought to mean either a contemplative or teaching psalm, or a psalm written in a clever way. Thirteen psalms are described as “maskils.” they include 32, 42, (43), 44, 45, 52-55, 74, 78, 88, 89 and 142.

The superscription also states it is for the “sons of Korah.” Korah was a great-grandson of Levi and a younger contemporary of Moses. Korah took part in an attempted revolt against Moses' and Aaron's leadership of the Israelites, forgetting that Moses and Aaron had been appointed by God to lead. As proof of this, God caused the earth to open, swallowing all of the rebels and their tents. Following that an additional 14,700 died in a plague because of their grumbling against God (Numbers 16). The three sons of Korah—Assir, Elkanan and Abiasaph—stayed loyal to God, did not rebel, and so did not die (Exodus 6:24; Numbers 26:11). The descendants of these were also described as the “sons of Korah.” Some later became singers in the Temple choir (2 Chronicles 20:19). Twelve of the psalms (42-49, 84-85, 87-88) are specifically dedicated to the “sons of Korah,” possibly because of their musicality, or possibly as a reference to those who remain faithful to God even in the most difficult times.

Of Psalm 42:

In verses 1 through 5, the psalmist expresses his yearning for God. In verse 1, the psalmist describes himself as longing for God just as a “hart” (a deer) thirsts for water in the midst of a prolonged drought.

In verses 6 through 11, the psalmist reveals the depth of his distress. In verse 6, the psalmist tells of being exiled in the far north of Palestine. This happened several times in the Old Testament, when raiders would invade Jerusalem, take hostages with them, and not return them until their demands were met. On example of this practice is seen in 2 Kings 14:14, performed against Judah by King Jehoash of Israel—this was after the older Kingdom of Israel had been divided into the northern Kingdom of Israel and the southern Kingdom of Judah, which included the city of Jerusalem. The psalmist mentions being in “the Hermonites,” the 20-mile long ridge of Hermon, located 40 miles northeast of the Sea of Galilee. He also mentions “the hill Mizar,” which is apparently nearby, but is unidentified. In verse 7, the psalmist says that “Deep calleth unto deep,” possibly a reference to the floods and cataracts of the headwaters of the Jordan River, illustrating the waves of sorrow that overwhelm him.

Of Psalm 43:

In verses 1 through 5, the psalmist prays that he might return to the Temple in Jerusalem. In verse 1, the psalmist’s mood changes to one of confidence and trust.

In verses 3 and 4, the psalmist describes returning to God's “holy hill,” God's “tabernacles” and God's “altar.” These are back at the Temple in Jerusalem, the place containing the Ark of the Covenant, which represented the earthly presence of God. Here the psalmist is expressing his desire to be back in fellowship with God; to again rejoice and praise in God's presence.

Father, when I feel like a prisoner in exile, torn away from all that I love and all I think to be right, remind me that You are still with me. You love me. I can still rejoice and praise You. I can still trust in You.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Show Mercy

[To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David]

1 Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble.

2 The LORD will preserve him, and keep him alive; and he shall be blessed upon the earth: and thou wilt not deliver him unto the will of his enemies.

3 The LORD will strengthen him upon the bed of languishing: thou wilt make all his bed in his sickness.

4 I said, LORD, be merciful unto me: heal my soul; for I have sinned against thee.

5 Mine enemies speak evil of me, When shall he die, and his name perish?

6 And if he come to see me, he speaketh vanity: his heart gathereth iniquity to itself; when he goeth abroad, he telleth it.

7 All that hate me whisper together against me: against me do they devise my hurt.

8 An evil disease, say they, cleaveth fast unto him: and now that he lieth he shall rise up no more.

9 Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.

10 But thou, O LORD, be merciful unto me, and raise me up, that I may requite them.

11 By this I know that thou favourest me, because mine enemy doth not triumph over me.

12 And as for me, thou upholdest me in mine integrity, and settest me before thy face for ever.

13 Blessed be the LORD God of Israel from everlasting, and to everlasting. Amen, and Amen.

—Psalm 41 KJV Bible

This psalm of David is an amplification of the beatitude later spoken by Jesus and recorded in Matthew 5:7 ("Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy"). This principal of mercy is repeated in Proverbs 19:17. In the song, David instructs the congregation that the merciful will receive mercy. He recalls his experience with those who did not show him mercy and praises God, who did.

In verses 1 through 3, David instructs the congregation that the merciful will receive mercy. David explains that God will be their protector and will care for them.

In verses 4 through 9, David recalls his experience with those who did not show him mercy. In verse 4, David says he sinned by breaking God’s rules. Some think David is referring to the time when he sent Uriah to die, so that David might marry Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11:6-17). When David was ill, many came to visit him. David thought they were his friends, but they were not. They were looking for bad things to say about David. They wanted him to die so that there would be a new king. Some suggest this is a reference to the time surrounding the rebellion of David's son Absalom (2 Samuel 15-18).

In verse 9, David records a betrayal by a false friend. This act is echoed in the actions of Judas Iscariot. The Apostle John records Jesus' use of the passage at the Last Supper, but the phrase "in whom I trusted" is omitted (John 13:18-19).

In verses 10 through 12, David praises God, who did show David mercy. By the fact that he is not a captive of his enemy, David knows that God is pleased with David.

In verse 13, David closes with a doxology of praise to God. This doxology marks the close of the first of the five Books of the Psalms. The other four Books are Psalms 42 through 72, Psalms 73 through 89, Psalms 90 through 106, and Psalms 107 through 150.

Father, though I do not deserve it, I thank You for Your mercy to me. I ask You for eyes to see needs and a heart to be merciful.

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Monday, March 19, 2012

Ever Ready to Deliver

[To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David]

1 I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.

2 He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.

3 And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD.

4 Blessed is that man that maketh the LORD his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies.

5 Many, O LORD my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered.

6 Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required.

7 Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me,
8 I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.

9 I have preached righteousness in the great congregation: lo, I have not refrained my lips, O LORD, thou knowest.
10 I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation.
11 Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O LORD: let thy lovingkindness and thy truth continually preserve me.

12 For innumerable evils have compassed me about: mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of mine head: therefore my heart faileth me.

13 Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me: O LORD, make haste to help me.

14 Let them be ashamed and confounded together that seek after my soul to destroy it; let them be driven backward and put to shame that wish me evil.

15 Let them be desolate for a reward of their shame that say unto me, Aha, aha.

16 Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: let such as love thy salvation say continually, The LORD be magnified.

17 But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me: thou art my help and my deliverer; make no tarrying, O my God.
—Psalm 40 KJV Bible

This is a psalm of David; a psalm of praise and a request for deliverance. David praises God for past deliverance and offers himself in dedication. David then brings a new problem before the Lord and asks again for deliverance.

In verses 1 through 4, David praises God for past deliverance. In verse 2, David compares his situation to that of a prisoner confined in a “pit” and a hiker sinking in a treacherous bog of “clay.”

In verses 5 through 10, David offers himself in dedication. In verse 6, David's expression (“mine ears hast thou opened”) signifies obedience. One possible basis for this expression was the custom of piercing the ear as a sign of voluntary perpetual service, as outlined by Moses (Exodus 21:1-6). Another possible basis is the idea of opening one's ears to hear what God says, as later used by the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 50:4-5). Regardless of the reference, David realizes that he should not just perform duties as required in the law, but to do them from his heart. In verse 7, David references “the book,” meaning the Mosaic Law; the first five books of the Old Testament, written by Moses. A more contemporary expression might be to say that if one looked up “obedience” in Mosaic Law, one would find a picture of David.

In verses 6 through 8, David's words of dedication Messianic, going beyond him to the Messiah--the Lord Jesus--who came to be the obedient Sacrifice to end all sacrifices. The writer of the Letter to the Hebrews quoted these verses in reference to Jesus (Hebrews 10:5-7).

In verses 11 through 17, David brings a new problem before the Lord and then asks God for deliverance. The thoughts expressed in verses 13 through 17 must have been close to David's heart. They are essentially identical to the entire Psalm 70. It is not certain whether David appended Psalm 70 to this song, or later restated verses 13 through 17 separately as Psalm 70. In fact, these thoughts are expressed again in Psalm 35:4, 21, 26 and 27. This is not the only occurrence of repetition in the psalms. Psalms 14 and 53 are very similar, as are Psalms 57, 60 and 108. By repeating these thoughts, God may be telling us that they are important and we should listen.

Father, I thank You for the many times you have saved me in the past. I also thank You and praise You that You always stand ready to rescue me again.

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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Life is Short

[To the chief Musician, even to Jedu'thun, A Psalm of David]

1 I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me.

2 I was dumb with silence, I held my peace, even from good; and my sorrow was stirred.

3 My heart was hot within me, while I was musing the fire burned: then spake I with my tongue,

4 LORD, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is: that I may know how frail I am.

5 Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth; and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity. Selah.

6 Surely every man walketh in a vain shew: surely they are disquieted in vain: he heapeth up riches, and knoweth not who shall gather them.

7 And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee.

8 Deliver me from all my transgressions: make me not the reproach of the foolish.

9 I was dumb, I opened not my mouth; because thou didst it.

10 Remove thy stroke away from me: I am consumed by the blow of thine hand.

11 When thou with rebukes dost correct man for iniquity, thou makest his beauty to consume away like a moth: surely every man is vanity. Selah.

12 Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear unto my cry; hold not thy peace at my tears: for I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were.

13 O spare me, that I may recover strength, before I go hence, and be no more.

—Psalm 39 KJV Bible

This is a psalm of David. In the song, David is asking God to help David accept the brevity of life and to stop chastening David In view of life's shortness.

The psalm superscription says it is for “Jedu'thun,” one of the choir directors appointed by David to lead public worship. Jedu'thun is mentioned elsewhere, including 1 Chronicles 16:41 and 1 Chronicles 25:1-3. Three psalms reference Jedu'thun—Psalm 39, Psalms 62 and Psalm 77.

In verses 1 through 6, David asks God to help him accept that life is so short. In verse 1, David wants to blame God for the shortness of life, but David did not want to say anything that the “wicked” would consider disloyalty to God. In verse 4, David asks to know just how short his life is. In verse 5, David describes the length of life as a “handbreadth,” or the width of four fingers. In verse 6, David describes the lives of others as “a vain shew,” also translated “as a phantom.” David is expressing that life is a shadow; unsubstantial. People do so much for no reason. They make money that in the end goes to someone else.

In verses 7 through 13, David asks God to stop chastening him because life is so short. In verse 12, David describes himself and those before him as travelers who are only passing through life. In verse 13, David asks that God will be kind to him in the same way God taught the people of Israel to be kind to the “stranger” and “sojourner,” as directed in Deuteronomy 10:18-19.

Father, as I get older, I realize just how short life really is. I get so bogged down in the details of each day, but I know I should treasure each day as a gift. Help me to savor every day and to fill it with praise and service for You.

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Saturday, March 17, 2012

Sin Really is Bad for Us

[A Psalm of David, to bring remembrance]

1 O Lord, rebuke me not in thy wrath: neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure.

2 For thine arrows stick fast in me, and thy hand presseth me sore.

3 There is no soundness in my flesh because of thine anger; neither is there any rest in my bones because of my sin.

4 For mine iniquities are gone over mine head: as an heavy burden they are too heavy for me.

5 My wounds stink and are corrupt because of my foolishness.

6 I am troubled; I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long.

7 For my loins are filled with a loathsome disease: and there is no soundness in my flesh.

8 I am feeble and sore broken: I have roared by reason of the disquietness of my heart.

9 Lord, all my desire is before thee; and my groaning is not hid from thee.

10 My heart panteth, my strength faileth me: as for the light of mine eyes, it also is gone from me.

11 My lovers and my friends stand aloof from my sore; and my kinsmen stand afar off.

12 They also that seek after my life lay snares for me: and they that seek my hurt speak mischievous things, and imagine deceits all the day long.

13 But I, as a deaf man, heard not; and I was as a dumb man that openeth not his mouth.

14 Thus I was as a man that heareth not, and in whose mouth are no reproofs.

15 For in thee, O LORD, do I hope: thou wilt hear, O Lord my God.

16 For I said, Hear me, lest otherwise they should rejoice over me: when my foot slippeth, they magnify themselves against me.

17 For I am ready to halt, and my sorrow is continually before me.

18 For I will declare mine iniquity; I will be sorry for my sin.

19 But mine enemies are lively, and they are strong: and they that hate me wrongfully are multiplied.

20 They also that render evil for good are mine adversaries; because I follow the thing that good is.

21 Forsake me not, O LORD: O my God, be not far from me.

22 Make haste to help me, O Lord my salvation.

—Psalm 38 KJV Bible

This lament of this psalm of David focuses on David’s sin and God’s chastening as the cause of the distress. The psalm has three sections, each beginning with an address to God. In the first section, David describes his sufferings because of his sin. In the second, David describes his loneliness because of his sin. Finally, David confesses to God his sin. The psalm superscription says that the psalm is to bring to remembrance. This could mean to remind God of His mercy or to remind David of his sin.

This is the third 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 8, David describes his sufferings because of his sin. In verse 3, David mentions his “sin,” but he does not mention what that sin is. It is thought this sin is different from David’s sin of Psalm 51, which was his sin with Bathsheba.

In verses 9 through 14, David describes the loneliness of his sin. In verse 11, David describes himself using the Hebrew “nega,” meaning plague, sore, stroke, stricken, stripe, or wound. This word was typically used for leprosy, suggesting that David’s friends avoided him as if he were a leper. In verse 12 through 14, David records the accusations of his enemies and then does not try to defend himself against the accusations.

In verses 15 through 22, David confesses to God his sin. In verse 18, David confesses that his sin is the cause of his anxiety.

Father, when will I realize that sin, while pleasurable at the time, is so bad for me? It hurts me. It separates me from others. Most importantly, it separates me from You. Father, I confess to You my sin. Please take it away and return me to Your presence.

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Friday, March 16, 2012

Trust in God, Do Good and Receive God's Inheritance

[A Psalm of David]

1 Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity.

2 For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.

3 Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.

4 Delight thyself also in the LORD: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

5 Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.

6 And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday.

7 Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.

8 Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.

9 For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth.

10 For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be.

11 But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.

12 The wicked plotteth against the just, and gnasheth upon him with his teeth.

13 The LORD shall laugh at him: for he seeth that his day is coming.

14 The wicked have drawn out the sword, and have bent their bow, to cast down the poor and needy, and to slay such as be of upright conversation.

15 Their sword shall enter into their own heart, and their bows shall be broken.

16 A little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked.

17 For the arms of the wicked shall be broken: but the LORD upholdeth the righteous.

18 The LORD knoweth the days of the upright: and their inheritance shall be for ever.

19 They shall not be ashamed in the evil time: and in the days of famine they shall be satisfied.

20 But the wicked shall perish, and the enemies of the LORD shall be as the fat of lambs: they shall consume; into smoke shall they consume away.

21 The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again: but the righteous sheweth mercy, and giveth.

22 For such as be blessed of him shall inherit the earth; and they that be cursed of him shall be cut off.

23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.

24 Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.

25 I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.

26 He is ever merciful, and lendeth; and his seed is blessed.

27 Depart from evil, and do good; and dwell for evermore.

28 For the LORD loveth judgment, and forsaketh not his saints; they are preserved for ever: but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off.

29 The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein for ever.

30 The mouth of the righteous speaketh wisdom, and his tongue talketh of judgment.

31 The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide.

32 The wicked watcheth the righteous, and seeketh to slay him.

33 The LORD will not leave him in his hand, nor condemn him when he is judged.

34 Wait on the LORD, and keep his way, and he shall exalt thee to inherit the land: when the wicked are cut off, thou shalt see it.

35 I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree.

36 Yet he passed away, and, lo, he was not: yea, I sought him, but he could not be found.

37 Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace.

38 But the transgressors shall be destroyed together: the end of the wicked shall be cut off.

39 But the salvation of the righteous is of the LORD: he is their strength in the time of trouble.

40 And the LORD shall help them, and deliver them: he shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust in him.

—Psalm 37 KJV Bible

This psalm of David is a song of wisdom. David uses a series of proverbs to repeatedly encourage the listener to trust in God, who will cause them to receive God’s inheritance. David reminds them not to fret about the wicked because they will be rooted out, cut off, and receive nothing from God.

First and foremost, we should recognize that this psalm is a reminder by David, in his old age, to the Israelites of his time. David is reminding them to uphold God's requirements for inheriting and keeping the land promised by God to Abraham and his descendants. The requirements were outlined roughly five hundred years earlier by Moses in Leviticus 26:1-13 and in a parallel passage in Deuteronomy 28:1-16. Failure on the part of the people to maintain God's requirements would result in they and their future generations not inheriting "the land."

While keeping in mind the above points, it should be noted that many of the principals of this psalm can and have been applied to the New Testament faith. In fact, Jesus echoed the instructions of Moses and David in the principals He outlined in His Sermon on the Mount, as recorded in Matthew, chapters 5, 6, and 7, and the parallel account in Luke 6:20-49.

This psalm is an alphabetic acrostic. Every other verse begins with a successive character of the Hebrew alphabet. Among other things, an acrostic can be used as a mnemonic device to aid memory retrieval. Perhaps by associating this psalm with the Hebrew alphabet, David thought his important instructions would be easier to remember and follow.

In verses 1 and 2, David says “Fret not thyself.” He is telling the righteous to not become incensed, angry, or indignant because of evildoers. The wicked will be gone soon enough.

In verse 5, David says to “commit.” The Hebrew word is “govl,” meaning “to roll.” David is telling the righteous to “roll,” or transfer, their plans and desires from themselves to the God; to make a conscious decision to put God in charge of their lives.

In verse 22, David summarizes the entire psalm: The righteous will receive God’s inheritance, but the wicked will vanish and receive nothing from God.

In verse 30, David affirms that what comes out of the mouth gives evidence of one’s true character. Here David says that the righteous speak wisdom and justice. Contrast this verse with Psalm 36:3, in which David states that the ungodly speak wickedness and deceit.

In verses 35 and 36, David notes that the wicked will appear as indestructible as a luxuriant tree growing in its native soil. Even so, the existence of the wicked is temporary and they will be gone in the blink of an eye.

Father, I thank You that as a child of Your New Covenant, I may inherit Your blessings by following Your instructions. Help me to roll my plans and cars onto You, to trust in You, and to not fret about the wicked, who will be cut off and gone soon enough.

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Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Wicked, the Righteous and the Race


[A Psalm of David the servant of the LORD]

1 The transgression of the wicked saith within my heart, that there is no fear of God before his eyes.

2 For he flattereth himself in his own eyes, until his iniquity be found to be hateful.

3 The words of his mouth are iniquity and deceit: he hath left off to be wise, and to do good.

4 He deviseth mischief upon his bed; he setteth himself in a way that is not good; he abhorreth not evil.

5 Thy mercy, O LORD, is in the heavens; and thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds.

6 Thy righteousness is like the great mountains; thy judgments are a great deep: O LORD, thou preservest man and beast.

7 How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings.

8 They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures.

9 For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light.

10 O continue thy lovingkindness unto them that know thee; and thy righteousness to the upright in heart.

11 Let not the foot of pride come against me, and let not the hand of the wicked remove me.

12 There are the workers of iniquity fallen: they are cast down, and shall not be able to rise.

—Psalm 36 KJV Bible

This is a psalm of David, he describes the attempts of the wicked to bring down mankind and God's work to save and protect mankind. David opens by describing the evil schemes of the wicked. David then voices praise in a superscription of the attributes of God working in behalf of mankind’s salvation. Finally, David asks God to continue His protective love with a confidence that the wicked will ultimately be defeated.

The psalm superscription references David as the “servant of the LORD.” This title was given to David by God following David's anointing by Samuel (1 Samuel 17:13). As God's chosen king over Israel, David was God's servant. David was often reminded of this when asked by God to do specific tasks, such as those described in 2 Samuel 3:18, 2 Samuel 7:5 and 2 Samuel 8. David's use of the title in the psalm superscription may be a reminder to the people that David has tried to be faithful in those tasks that God has asked of David.

In verses 1 through 4, David describes the the evil schemes of wicked. For verse 1, a better translation would be that Transgression, personified as an oracle, speaks deeply into the heart of the wicked in the same way that God speaks into the heart. But those who listen to Transgression deceive themselves into not having a reverential fear of God and what God can do.

In verses 5 through 9, David voices praise in a superscription of the attributes of God working in behalf of mankind’s salvation. In verse 7, David describes how children can trust in God's protection, in the "shadow" of God's "wings." With this imagery, David compares the faithful love of God to a mother bird caring for and protecting her young.

In verses 5, 7 and 10, David describes the "mercy" and “lovingkindness” of God. In each case David uses the Hebrew “hesed,” meaning the loyal, long-lasting love, or the covenant faithfulness.

In verses 10 and 11 David asks God to continue His protective love. David describe himself as running in a race with pride and wickedness. They try to bring David down and defeat him by tripping him and pulling on him, preventing David from reaching the finish line.

In verse 12, David expresses confidence that the wicked will ultimately be defeated. They will fall and not be able to finish the race.

Father, I seem to be distracted and tripped up by so many things. At times I hear the call to do things that seem right to me, but that do not honor You. Help me to stay upright and to finish the race.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Praise and Thanks Amid Injustice


[A Psalm of David]

1 Plead my cause, O LORD, with them that strive with me: fight against them that fight against me.
   
2 Take hold of shield and buckler, and stand up for mine help.
   
3 Draw out also the spear, and stop the way against them that persecute me: say unto my soul, I am thy salvation.
   
4 Let them be confounded and put to shame that seek after my soul: let them be turned back and brought to confusion that devise my hurt.

5 Let them be as chaff before the wind: and let the angel of the LORD chase them.

6 Let their way be dark and slippery: and let the angel of the LORD persecute them.

7 For without cause have they hid for me their net in a pit, which without cause they have digged for my soul.

8 Let destruction come upon him at unawares; and let his net that he hath hid catch himself: into that very destruction let him fall.

9 And my soul shall be joyful in the LORD: it shall rejoice in his salvation.

10 All my bones shall say, LORD, who is like unto thee, which deliverest the poor from him that is too strong for him, yea, the poor and the needy from him that spoileth him?

11 False witnesses did rise up; they laid to my charge things that I knew not.

12 They rewarded me evil for good to the spoiling of my soul.

13 But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth: I humbled my soul with fasting; and my prayer returned into mine own bosom.

14 I behaved myself as though he had been my friend or brother: I bowed down heavily, as one that mourneth for his mother.

15 But in mine adversity they rejoiced, and gathered themselves together: yea, the abjects gathered themselves together against me, and I knew it not; they did tear me, and ceased not:

16 With hypocritical mockers in feasts, they gnashed upon me with their teeth.

17 Lord, how long wilt thou look on? rescue my soul from their destructions, my darling from the lions.

18 I will give thee thanks in the great congregation: I will praise thee among much people.

19 Let not them that are mine enemies wrongfully rejoice over me: neither let them wink with the eye that hate me without a cause.

20 For they speak not peace: but they devise deceitful matters against them that are quiet in the land.

21 Yea, they opened their mouth wide against me, and said, Aha, aha, our eye hath seen it.

22 This thou hast seen, O LORD: keep not silence: O Lord, be not far from me.

23 Stir up thyself, and awake to my judgment, even unto my cause, my God and my Lord.

24 Judge me, O LORD my God, according to thy righteousness; and let them not rejoice over me.

25 Let them not say in their hearts, Ah, so would we have it: let them not say, We have swallowed him up.

26 Let them be ashamed and brought to confusion together that rejoice at mine hurt: let them be clothed with shame and dishonour that magnify themselves against me.

27 Let them shout for joy, and be glad, that favour my righteous cause: yea, let them say continually, Let the LORD be magnified, which hath pleasure in the prosperity of his servant.

28 And my tongue shall speak of thy righteousness and of thy praise all the day long.

—Psalm 35 KJV Bible
     
In this psalm, David asks the Lord to deliver him and to bring destruction on David's enemies. David then laments the unjust hatred of his enemies against him and further asks the Lord for deliverance and justice.
   
Psalm 35 is one 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).
     
It is thought that Psalm 35 was written during the time that David was being hunted by King Saul. In a sense, the psalm is an elaboration of David's statement to Saul in 1 Samuel 24:15. The imprecation of this psalm is not directed against Saul himself, because David spared Saul's life. Instead, the imprecations are against those who encouraged Saul's insane jealousy against David.
   
In verses 1 trough 10, David asks the Lord to deliver David and to bring destruction on David's enemies. In verse 5, David asks, with a sense of poetic justice, that those who chase David be themselves chased by "the angel of the LORD"—in Hebrew, "malak YHVH," which literally means the ambassador or messenger of Jehovah. This phrase is considered a theophany, or a self-manifestation of God. Because this phrase is only used in the Old Testament, it is thought that it described the preincarnate Christ, or God the Son prior to His human birth.
     
In verses 7 through 8, David gives another example of poetic justice. David first describes traps which his pursuers intend for him. David then asks God that they become victims of their own traps.

In verses 11 trough 16, David laments the unjust hatred of his enemies against him. David notes that he was genuinely concerned for them when they were ill or in trouble, they repay his good with evil.
     
In verses 17 through 28, David further asks the Lord for deliverance and justice. In verse 17, 22 and 23, David calls to God as if God has become distracted or is not aware of David's situation. David wonders how long God will allow the situation continue. In verse 18, David seems to bargain with God, reminding Him that David will offer praise and thanksgiving among God's people once David is allowed to return to them.
     
In verses 19 and 21, David refers to his enemy's gestures of malice and contempt when they came in sight of him. Specifically, David notes how they did "wink with the eye" and how they "opened their mouth wide," laughing at their expected victory over David.
   
In verse 23, David calls to God as if God has become distracted or is not aware of David's situation. First, David addresses God using the Hebrew "Elohim," meaning the strong one; the mighty leader; the supreme Deity. David then addresses God using the Hebrew "Adonai," meaning master, lord, or sovereign.
     
Father, when I am put upon, for no reason that I can understand, remind me that You are not far away; that You are with me. Help me to reach out to You, to praise You, and to thank You in the bad times as well as the good.
      
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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Praise for God's Deliverance, God's Goodness and God's Instruction

[A Psalm of David, when he changed his behaviour before Abimelech; who drove him away, and he departed]

     
1 I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
    
2 My soul shall make her boast in the LORD: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad.
    
3 O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together.
    
4 I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.
    
5 They looked unto him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed.
    
6 This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.
    
7 The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.
    
8 O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.
     
9 O fear the LORD, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him.
    
10 The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing.
    
11 Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
    
12 What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good?
    
13 Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile.
    
14 Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.
    
15 The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry.
    
16 The face of the LORD is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.
    
17 The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles.
    
18 The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.
    
19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.
    
20 He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken.
    
21 Evil shall slay the wicked: and they that hate the righteous shall be desolate.
    
22 The LORD redeemeth the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.
    
—Psalm 34 KJV Bible
    
This is a psalm of David. It is a song of thanksgiving. In the psalm, David calls on the people to praise the Lord for delivering David and for God's goodness to His people. David then instructs the people concerning the righteous path to long life.
    
Like Psalm 25, this is an acrostic psalm. Each of the twenty-two verses begins with one of the twenty-two characters in the Hebrew alphabet.
    
The psalm superscription says that it commemorates the time when David fled from Saul to the Philistines and pretended to be mad before "Abimelech," who drove David away so that he could escape. These are the events of 1 Samuel 21:10-15. "Abimelech" was the dynastic title for the king of the Philistines. In this case, the Philistine king was Achish of Gath.
        
In verses 1 through 10, David calls on the people to praise the Lord for delivering David and for God's goodness to His people. In verse 10, David notes that though the great predators may starve, the Lord provides for His own. This appears to be another example of God's protection and provision as the Great Shepherd.
           
In verses 11 through 22, David instructs the people concerning the righteous path to long life. In verses 12 through 14, David instructs the people that they should not speak evil of others, nor do evil to others. They should do good and seek peace. David showed in the events of 1 Samuel 25:14-16 that he practiced what he preached. The Apostle Paul reminds Christians of this instruction for living in 1 Peter 3:10-12.
        
In verse 20, David remarks on how God preserves the righteous. Though they may be severely afflicted, not one of their bones will be broken. This care was part of God's instruction regarding the handling of the sacrificial lamb of Passover, as noted in the first Passover (Exodus 12:46) and in the annual observance of the Passover (Numbers 9:12). These passages were uniquely fulfilled by the ultimate sacrificial lamb, the Righteous One, Jesus Christ. The Apostle John called attention to this in the manner of Jesus' crucifixion (John 19:36).
     
Father, I praise You for delivering me from sin. I thank You for Your goodness. I ask You to help me walk the right path that I may serve You long.
    
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Monday, March 12, 2012

Keep the New Songs Coming

1 Rejoice in the LORD, O ye righteous: for praise is comely for the upright.
     
2 Praise the LORD with harp: sing unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings.
             
3 Sing unto him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise.
       
4 For the word of the LORD is right; and all his works are done in truth.
       
5 He loveth righteousness and judgment: the earth is full of the goodness of the LORD.
       
6 By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.
       
7 He gathereth the waters of the sea together as an heap: he layeth up the depth in storehouses.
       
8 Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.
     
9 For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast.
         
10 The LORD bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought: he maketh the devices of the people of none effect.
     
11 The counsel of the LORD standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations.
         
12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.
         
13 The LORD looketh from heaven; he beholdeth all the sons of men.
       
14 From the place of his habitation he looketh upon all the inhabitants of the earth.
       
15 He fashioneth their hearts alike; he considereth all their works.
       
16 There is no king saved by the multitude of an host: a mighty man is not delivered by much strength.
         
17 An horse is a vain thing for safety: neither shall he deliver any by his great strength.
     
18 Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy;
           
19 To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine.
         
20 Our soul waiteth for the LORD: he is our help and our shield.
               
21 For our heart shall rejoice in him, because we have trusted in his holy name.
           
22 Let thy mercy, O LORD, be upon us, according as we hope in thee.
—Psalm 33 KJV Bible
   
This psalm has no superscription, so it is not certain who was the psalmist—the person who composed this psalm. In this song, the psalmist calls on the righteous to praise the Lord because of His dependability as Ruler and Judge. The psalmist then closes with a final chorus of praise.
         
In verses 1 through 3, the psalmist asks the righteous to praise the Lord. It is only fitting that those who are now righteous should praise the One who has made them to be righteous. And they should not just sing one of the old songs, but they should play and sing a new song, loudly and joyfully to their Lord.
         
In verses 4 through 12, the psalmist explains that the Lord is a dependable Ruler. Verses 4 through 5 seem to summarize the psalm, declaring that God is dependable in all His words and His works, which are characterized by righteousness, justice, and grace. In verse 7, "the depth," sometimes translated as "the deeps," is a reference to the vast and violent oceans of water which God controls in the same way as a farmer who stores his goods.
         
In verses 13 through 19, the psalmist explains that the Lord is a dependable Judge. He sees all. He made all and knows them. No king is greater than God. No weapon is greater than the saving power of the loving God.
       
In verses 20 through 22, the psalmist brings another chorus of praise to the Lord. We desperately wait for our Helper, our Protector, our faithfully loving Lord.
                 
Father, I know that I get bogged down in day-to-day living. But just as You give me a new day, I should sing a new song of praise to You, loudly and joyfully. Help me each day to compose my new song.
           
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