Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Tuesday - Psalm 46 - Though the Earth Be Removed

e have all been through troubles, and one doesn't have to look very long to find folk who have had it harder than they have. On the other side of the coin, it's easy to find others who appear to have had an easier time than you have. But, whatever we have all endured, not one of us can truly say that our world has been shattered quite as literally as David described in Psalm 46:2. If the continents along with the mountains on them were to indeed sink into the oceans, well... we would all be in quite a predicament. Yet, David said that we (who are God's children) have nothing to fear even if our world falls apart to that extent.  That's quite a statement of confidence!

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1). What a comfort! When the earth melts (Psalm 46:6 & II Peter 3:10-12), God will still inhabit His city and will keep the inhabitants of that city secure (Hebrews 11:10 & Psalm 46:5). And, no surprise either, because the very desolations from which He protects us are brought on by His hand anyway (Psalm 46:8). He is never caught off guard by danger because He is the sovereign source of authority, power and organization who oversees and manages every detail.  We are in no danger (Psalm 46:4 & 10).

Someday this old earth is going to be removed (Matthew 24:35 & Revelation 21:1-2). But it will not faze us one iota nor signal our demise.  We will be as secure as we ever were and will inhabit the new home for us which God will surely make.  Let come what may... if God be for us, who can be against us.   Even if the mountains are cast into the sea, and they will be, we are still safe in Him!

Monday, February 26, 2018

Monday - Psalm 45 - Anointed with Oil of Gladness

n many cases we perceive that a psalm or a passage is messianic (prophetically descriptive of Christ) because we find something in the wording that reminds us of the cross... or of some aspect of the events surrounding Christ's death. In Psalm 45 we have a messianic prophecy, but the focus is on the exaltation of Jesus rather than on His humiliation. Here, He is the king; not just a carpenter. Here, instead of being "despised and rejected, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief' (Isaiah 53:2-3), He is "fairer than the children of men" (Psalm 45:2). Here, instead of being pierced by a spear, He is carrying a sword upon His thigh and is riding majestically while shooting arrows effectively into the hearts of His enemies. Rather than His simple garments being parted among vile soldiers while He hangs naked on a tree, here His fine garments smell of sweet fragrances. Here He wears a smile rather than a look of sadness. Here He is accompanied by a beautiful queen instead of by rough malefactors. Here He is worshipped rather than being spat upon.

The very heart of the Psalm is in verses 6 & 7 (see also Hebrews 1:8-9). It is one of the most wonderful proofs of the deity of Jesus and of His eternal place in the Godhead, because we find His Almighty Father calling Him, "God." He is the Son... but so too is He also God. He is not just A son; He is THE Son. And He is the Messiah; the Christ; the Anointed One... anointed with the oil of gladness. And because He is glad, we also can be glad. He has made me glad (Psalm 92:4).

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Saturday - Psalm 44 - Killed All Day

t's a strange phrase, "killed all day long" (Psalm 44:22).  According to this psalm, obviously the Jews felt like they were oppressed and persecuted because of their association with Jehovah.  Paul picked up on this same theme in Romans 8:36 where he quotes from this passage and uses it to encourage all believers to suffer willingly for Christ's sake, knowing that in the end, we will overcome through His love (Romans 8:35-37).

This is not an uncommon sentiment, but it does feel a little strange to read it in the Bible.  Psalm 44:8-9, "In God we boast all the day long, and praise Your name for ever.  Selah.  But You have cast off, and put us to shame; and go not forth with our armies."  The tone is almost blatantly accusatory against God.  In fact, the theme is reminiscent of Job's puzzlement when he resorted to extolling his own innocence and questioning God's methods.  Likewise, this psalmist was apparently confused as he considered what he viewed as his people's fidelity to God and how incongruent it was for them be forsaken.

Indeed, God's ways are not comparable to ours.  And, according to Hebrews 11:36-39, there have been some of God's children who through faith ended this life at the very bottom... at least, if we evaluate their end from a human standpoint (see Luke 16:20-22 & 25). Whatever the case, let's always declare humbly that God is good all the time.  Even if we don’t always feel His goodness, He is good.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Friday - Psalm 43 - Why Am I Still Sad?

salm 42:5, 11 & 43:5 are all 3 almost identical verses. Psalm 43:5, "Why are you cast down, 0 my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God: for I shall yet praise Him, who is the health of my countenance..." By the way, notice that the countenance of God (Psalm 42:5) and the countenance of the psalmist were expected to be connected.  God's countenance affects our countenance.  The expression on His face determines the expression on our faces... or at least, it should.

In principle, it seems apparent that David knew factually that he was supposed to be happy; he had good reasons to rejoice in faith, despite his negative circumstances.  Yet, he wasn't happy.  He was weary.  David, with all of his fine qualities and attributes had a "disquieted soul" - that is, he was anxious, uneasy; he lacked the peace which he knew God could give him. Of course, he didn't have the advantage of reading Philippians 4:6-7.  However, David knew what he needed anyway.

Psalm 43:3-4 is the heart of this song, "O send out Your light and Your truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto Your holy hill, and to Your tabernacles.  Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy: yea, upon the harp will I praise thee..."  The light of God's countenance was something that David treasured; he valued it (Psalm 4:6 & 89:15).  He knew he needed God's truth.  He knew he needed God... because God alone is our inexhaustible source of joy; He is our joy (Genesis 15:1), if we will come to Him (Matt. 11:28-30).

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Thursday - Psalm 42 - Why Am I Sad?

ave you ever asked yourself, "Why am I sad?"  For many of us, we look and see the riches of God's mercy and the abundance of His grace (all around us), and yet at times we, (even as we are, God's children), can be absolutely overcome with grief.  David was sad, yet he believed sadness to be inappropriate for himself in his particular circumstance.

In a way, David's grief arose from His desperate thirst for God's presence (Psalm 42:1). Yet, even in that, he puzzled a little at his own melancholy.  He realized that his faith should have been strong enough to have given him the necessary confidence in God which he needed, even in his undesirable circumstance (Psalm 42:5).  But, when he heard the jeering of his critics... well, really the jeering of God's critics, it was more than he could bear (Psalm 42:9-10).

You may have heard the phrase, "Why worry when you can pray?"  Well, that pretty much sums up David's judgment of himself in this song. In the words of Nehemiah, " ...the joy of the LORD is your strength" (Nehemiah 8:10).  In the words of the apostle Paul, "Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice" (Philippians 4:4).  Solomon said it this way, "A merry heart does good like a medicine: but a broken spirit dries the bones" (Proverbs 17:22).  David also, in Psalm 118:24 said, "This is the day which the LORD has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it."  Jesus Himself said, "These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full" (John 15:11).  In Paul's epistle to the Romans, we read, "The kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost" (Romans 14:17).  James said that we can rejoice in our trials (James 1:2). And, Peter said that our faith in Christ is fittingly accompanied by ''joy unspeakable" (I Peter 1:8). 

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Tuesday - Psalm 41 - The Opportunity of Penury

t's particularly powerful when God turns a requirement and an expectation into an opportunity and an adventure.  Such is the case with alms.  In one passage we read, "Give now!" (Proverbs 3:27-28).  This is a negative and an obligatory way of teaching goodness.  But, sometimes... many times, in fact... God teaches us the same lessons using positive reinforcement, "Give, and God will give to you" (Luke 6:38, Proverbs 19:17 & Mark 14:7).

Here in Psalm 41:1 we have a similar billboard (see also verses 2 & 3).  God is willing to let us in on a great investment opportunity if we have the heart to get involved.  The poor all around us are heaven-sent investment options available for our consideration.  Of course, that's not the only perspective to consider, but it is the one at hand.

Here in our land we sometimes blame poverty on the socialistic programs which have been instituted by our federal government.  And indeed, there are many cases where the entitlement programs seem to have institutionalized poverty and functionally imprisoned the poor for generations.  However, Jesus taught that there would always be poor folk.  Even if we could smash the very ideals of communism and socialism into smithereens, and even if we could liberate every individual who is oppressed under dictatorship in the whole wide world... there would still be poor plebeians.  Equal opportunity is certainly fair and just, but it doesn't produce equal outcomes, because among humans there is diversity of drive and ability (plus the reality of the curse and of God’s sovereign plans).

Monday, February 19, 2018

Monday - Psalm 40 - Innumerable

avid must have had numbers on his mind.  In this Psalm he pointed to a couple of things that were mathematically insurmountable.  Ironically, the 2 innumerable things that David mentions would seem to be contrary to one another.  In Psalm 40:5 David worships the Lord by pointing out that God's gracious thoughts and intentions toward His children are more in number than we could ever count.  Then, in Psalm 40:12 he adds that his troubles were also multiplied beyond his capacity to count them.  Now, how can both of those things be true?  If God's good ideas concerning us are infinite and our troubles are also seemingly infinite…. where is the disconnect?

We could go to Hebrews 12:11 and interpret the troubles of life as kindnesses... but would that fit with this context?  It should instead be pointed out that parts of this passage are definitely Messianic (Psalm 40:6-8 & Hebrews 10:5-7).  As such, yes, the innumerable troubles which Christ endured do fit with the innumerable kindnesses in the heart of the Father.  Jesus' aches, pains and death were the means of our redemption.  Jeremiah 29:11 tells us that God thinks generous thoughts about His people.  And yes, even when we are surrounded by a mountain of troubles, we can be certain that God has our good and His glory in His mind and on his heart (Psalm 40:17). 

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Saturday - Psalm 39 - As Frail as a Moth?

n average moth is not likely to live more than a few days.  In fact, one particular kind of moth doesn't even eat; it doesn't even have mouth parts.  It doesn't live long enough as an adult moth to even need to eat.  But, according to David, you and I are just as frail when compared to God (Psalm 39:4-5 & 11).  David felt this inadequacy so acutely that he decided he was going to just keep his mouth shut... speaking neither good nor bad.  But, that didn't work out.   Although he tried to keep quiet, he couldn't stand it.  He had to speak up and speak out.  Well, in this Psalm he declared again his faith in God and his desire for mercy from God's hand. 

In the last Psalm we read that David was restless and disquieted because of his own guilt, and due to the oppression which he was enduring from godless men.  In this Psalm, he basically says that truly we have no good reason to be so disturbed about the shortcomings in our existence, because our time is so brief and our lives so futile that from certain angles, we don't matter anyway.  Once we are buried in the ground, God and the universe continues on largely as if we had never existed in the first place.  "What's the point?" David mused.

And yet, when he tried to institute this pessimistic philosophy, he couldn't take it.  He had to voice his grief, even if philosophically he was convinced that he wasn't worthy to do so.  

Friday, February 16, 2018

Friday - Psalm 38 - Restless

'm a sinner.  You're a sinner.  So, what's the difference?  David was a sinner.  In fact, he was guilty of adultery, polygamy, murder, deception, abuse of power and position, and... he was a man who could stand toe to toe with the most violent men in history as a wielder of the sword.  Yet, as you read Psalm 38 you will find David describing himself as a sinner (38:3, 4 & 18) while simultaneously asking God to deliver him from other sinners (Psalm 38:12, 19 & 20)... worse sinners than he was?  By whose definition?

It's a serious and important question... what differentiates one sinner from the next?  If we are all sinners, if we are all lawbreakers, if we are all worthy of death and hellfire - then why would God or should God hear the prayers of one sinner against another sinner?  What is the criterion which defines and segregates lost sheep from wild goats?  The answer is much simpler than one might imagine.  We could go to Isaiah 57:15 or to places where God said, "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy" (Romans 9:15-18).  Whatever good God was willing to do was not and is not a reflection of our goodness, but of God’s.  But, let's just look at this Psalm.

It was David praying this prayer... not his enemies.  It was David admitting his own guilt and offering a humble apology... not his enemies.  It was David who was restless because of his sin (Psalm 38:3 & 8)... not his enemies.  They were not contrite.  They were not repentant.  They were not sorry.  David was the one whose restless heart demonstrated that he was one of God's righteous children.  As I've heard Dr. Fred Moritz say a number of times, "Sinners leap into sin, and love it; saints lapse into sin, and loathe it."  David loathed his sin (Psalm 51).  Is sin a guilty pleasure for you, or a hated temptation?

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Thursday - Psalm 37 - Worrywart

ike it or not, God's word to us is, "Fret not ..." (Psalm 37:1, 7 & 8). Don't worry!  Cheer up!  How easy it is to get upset and to go around fussing because life has become a hassle.  But that is not an attribute of "living by faith" in God.  Evildoers will do evilly.  We all wish it weren't so... but it is, at least for a while (Psalm 37:35-36).  They will continue in their evil until God stops them (Psalm 37:2, 9, 28 & 38).  So, what are we going to accomplish by worrying about it?  Nothing good!  We may become envious or jealous or doubtful... but nothing wholesome can come from fretting.

Instead of focusing on the apparent prosperity of the ungodly, we should keep our eyes on Christ.  No commentary can clarify further the already plain admonitions of Psalm 37:3-7, "Trust in the LORD, and do good... Delight yourself also in the LORD; and He shall give you the desires of your heart.  Commit your way unto the LORD; trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass... Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him..."

Now, here is a convicting thought.  With all of our righteous indignation against those who openly revel in their evil, we must be careful not to become like them (Ezekiel 2:8).  Psalm 37:16 says that we are better off being right and having a little in this life than we would be by becoming like our nemeses for personal gain.  When I see the ways of the wicked in my own mirror (Psalm 37:21), it makes me literally nauseous with sorrow.  Oh! how I long to reflect the nature of my Lord (Psalm 37:26).  We free God up to take care of us when we obey him in humble righteousness (Psalm 37:25).