The Benefits of A Sheltered Life (Psalm 16)

PSALM 16

1 A Michtam of David. Preserve me, O God, for in You I put my trust. 2 [O my soul], you have said to the LORD, “You [are] my Lord, My goodness is nothing apart from You.” 3 As for the saints who [are] on the earth, “They are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight.” 4 Their sorrows shall be multiplied who hasten [after] another [god]; Their drink offerings of blood I will not offer, Nor take up their names on my lips. 5 O LORD, [You are] the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You maintain my lot. 6 The lines have fallen to me in pleasant [places]; Yes, I have a good inheritance. 7 I will bless the LORD who has given me counsel; My heart also instructs me in the night seasons. 8 I have set the LORD always before me; Because [He is] at my right hand I shall not be moved. 9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will rest in hope. 10 For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. 11 You will show me the path of life; In Your presence [is] fullness of joy; At Your right hand [are] pleasures forevermore.

PSALM 16:1-11

THE BENEFITS OF A SHELTERED LIFE

We often use the term a “sheltered life” in a derogatory manner. We might say something like, “They have lived a sheltered life.” We are usually talking about someone who hasn’t seen many of the evils of this world. 

A sheltered life isn’t really that bad. If you could be preserved from evil, wouldn’t you want to be? Would you rather witness someone degraded into doing all sorts of things for the next high or be protected from such things? Would you rather your children be surrounded and influenced by wickedness or preserved from such things?

It’s not as though you can’t still work and do ministry among those who have been hammered by theirs sins and the sins of others, but that you are preserved from some sin and it’s effects. You can still minister among the homeless without being homeless. You’re eyes can be wide open to the severity of addiction in your neighborhood without being addicted yourself. To be sheltered in this sense it to be protected from the harm of sinful living.

Ultimately, a sheltered life is a protected life. You are sheltered from a storm of influences that have the potential to hurt you. In this sense, I want a sheltered life and I want my kids to have a sheltered life!

The way we have this type of sheltered life is to pursue the Lord’s commands. It is to seek what God has for us more than what we would want for ourselves. It’s learning to live within boundaries set up by our trust in God’s word. It’s found in delighting in the Lord. It’s found in being content.

PRAYER

Father, I confess that too often I have not sought shelter in you and have lives a less sheltered life than I could have. Too many times I have pursued things that have only brought me to a place of temptation, sin, and shame. Today I ask that you would set my heart right in you and that I would pursue the things that will be of greatest gain in my life. Help me to know you more through your word, be content in your provision, and know when to leave well enough alone. Let my heart find rest and shelter in you today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

I’m reading and blogging the Psalms Through The Summer. I’d love for you to join me. You can find out a little more here.

Who Can Dwell With God? (Psalm 15)

PSALM 15

1 A Psalm of David. LORD, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill? 2 He who walks uprightly, And works righteousness, And speaks the truth in his heart; 3 He [who] does not backbite with his tongue, Nor does evil to his neighbor, Nor does he take up a reproach against his friend; 4 In whose eyes a vile person is despised, But he honors those who fear the LORD; He [who] swears to his own hurt and does not change; 5 He [who] does not put out his money at usury, Nor does he take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these [things] shall never be moved.

PSALM 15:1-5, NKJV

WHO CAN DWELL WITH GOD?

I kicked a man out of my house one time. I told him, he had to go. He had gotten too comfortable with my family, it was late, he hurled a backhanded insult and I had had enough. Admittedly he was like a puppy breaking in his baby teeth, he didn’t know that his comments packed such a bite. He was intending it as playful, but it hurt and I let him know by kicking him out. It wasn’t acceptable to “play” that way in “my” house. When it comes to considering the house of the Lord, since we are all sinners, are there character issues at stake for who is welcome in the house of the Lord? Would he turn anyone away? Lots to ponder as we jump into this passage this morning.

This song address the question of what kind of worshippers are welcomed in the house of the LORD. It was sung by travelers with anticipation and education in mind. The children as well as the adults would have been involved in singing and meditating on God’s word all along the way. Their hearts were being prepared for worship. I think one of the things we miss by traveling the way we do to church these days is that we have little time to prepare our hearts for worship.  

The question that is asked in this Psalm is very real, but in a poetic sense is something like this, “Who can go to God’s house and be invited to stay as a guest? or, Who does God want to come over? or, Who gets to stay at God’s house?” 

Growing up my in-laws used to have all sorts of people over at the house. If you were going to come over and stay, you had to abide by a few simple house rules. They weren’t anything crazy, but if you were going to be there you were going to abide by a few ground rules. You had to wear a shirt to dinner, wait until after the blessing to eat, etc. In a much more serious way, this Psalm asks the question, “what kind of characteristics must I have if I am going to dwell in the house of God?” 

It is important to notice that these are not the means by which we are saved, but rather what it means to be saved (Sam Storms). It’s not what we do to get through the door, but what kind of company we are once we are saved. We are not saved by our good works, but we are saved to good works. The question isn’t so much, “who makes it into heaven?” as much as it is, “what kind of people are in heaven?” The answer flows in verses 2-5. We must be people of genuine integrity. This is the work the Lord must be doing in our lives. This must be the work we are willing for the Lord to do in our lives.

PRAYER

Father, thank you for the invitation to salvation by grace through faith in you. Thank you that we are not saved by our works, but thank you that You do work in us to be more and more conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. I pray that I would fit the description laid out in this Psalm today. I need to be a man of integrity, reflecting your goodness to those around me. I want to feel comfortable in your house because I have been more and more conformed to the image of Jesus. Thank you again for your overwhelming grace and goodness. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

I’m reading and blogging the Psalms Through The Summer. I’d love for you to join me. You can find out a little more here.

A New Song From Old Pieces (Psalm 14)

PSALM 14

1 To the Chief Musician. [A Psalm] of David. The fool has said in his heart, “[There is] no God.” They are corrupt, They have done abominable works, There is none who does good. 2 The LORD looks down from heaven upon the children of men, To see if there are any who understand, who seek God. 3 They have all turned aside, They have together become corrupt; [There is] none who does good, No, not one. 4 Have all the workers of iniquity no knowledge, Who eat up my people [as] they eat bread, And do not call on the LORD? 5 There they are in great fear, For God [is] with the generation of the righteous. 6 You shame the counsel of the poor, But the LORD [is] his refuge. 7 Oh, that the salvation of Israel [would come] out of Zion! When the LORD brings back the captivity of His people, Let Jacob rejoice [and] Israel be glad.

PSALM 14:1-7, NKJV

A NEW SONG FROM OLD PIECES

One of the churches I used to serve had a woman who would make a “breakfast cake” every week and set it out in the foyer with doughnuts. Every week the cake was the same shape and size, it had the same general texture, but it was almost always a different cake than the week before. Sometimes it had a banana-nut taste, other weeks it was pumpkin, still other weeks I’m pretty sure I tasted bits of apple or pear, then there were weeks that it definitely had chocolate chips. Then someone told me the secret, the cakes she made were, “whatever is on hand cakes”. She used the same base of flour, eggs, oil, or whatever and then would see what she had “on hand” to make the rest of the cake. If it was baking with apples earlier in the week, we got an apple cake. If she had done a banana nut bread earlier, we had a banana-nut cake, etc., etc. Sometimes the cakes had peculiar combinations that somehow seemed to work really well (my favorite, banana-nut-chocolate chip!).

That’s kind of what we have with this Psalm here. It’s got the basic set up of a good Psalm. All the structure, theological depth, etc. is there, but it seems like many of the ingredients were borrowed. Not only that, but some of this Psalm is quoted later in the New Testament.

It reminds me of the first time I had a real conversation with a friend about Jesus. I had never lead someone to faith in Christ before. I didn’t know that there are different “approaches” to sharing my faith, we simply had a conversation and I presented the gospel in a way that I understood it and it made sense to me. It wasn’t a cookie cutter approach. We didn’t walk down the Romans Road, or go over the four spiritual laws (different approaches to sharing the gospel). I just simply quoted the verses I knew about the things we were talking about. It was encouraging to me because I was seeing how to apply scripture to a given situation and it was helpful to my friend.

David writes a new song with familiar words that in several generations will become an old song with familiar words. God uses the lyrics of this song throughout the scripture because they carry key truths about who he is and who we are. They are relevant for worship in every generation because they speak to the greatness of God and our desperate need of Him.

I can’t help but think of all the old songs, made new in my generation. I love it when a musician plays an old tune or sings an old lyric for modern ears. I can’t help but think of what Chris Tomlin has done with Amazing Grace, My Chains Are Gone.

PRAYER

Father, Thank you for this old song made new. We all truly stand in desperate need of you. Let us not brag on our positions in life as though we have achieved something great. Let us walk in humbleness and holiness because of your great work in our life. It is you the preserved the Nation of Israel in the Old Testament and it is you who preserve those who trust in you even now. We are saved by grace, through faith, not of our selves. So let us sing with confidence today of your great grace and goodness. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

I’m reading and blogging the Psalms Through The Summer. I’d love for you to join me. You can find out a little more here.

Feeling Helpless But Not Hopeless (Psalm 13)

PSALM 13

1 To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David. How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? 2 How long shall I take counsel in my soul, [Having] sorrow in my heart daily? How long will my enemy be exalted over me? 3 Consider [and] hear me, O LORD my God; Enlighten my eyes, Lest I sleep the [sleep of] death; 4 Lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed against him”; [Lest] those who trouble me rejoice when I am moved. 5 But I have trusted in Your mercy; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. 6 I will sing to the LORD, Because He has dealt bountifully with me.

PSALM 13:1-6, NKJV

FEELING HELPLESS BUT NOT HOPELESS

Have you ever had a terrible no good, dirty, rotten day? Ever had a week of those? Every had a month? Dare I say a year like that?

It can be hard to see people. They want you to smile and say everything is fine, but the truth is it doesn’t feel fine. Things are broken and you FEEL it. Sometimes the temptation can come to push down those feelings, run from them, and try to hide them (Usually by hiding from people). You feel as though it is not an appropriate attitude to wear at church. 

What a relief it is to see this Psalm. We must keep in mind that this is a song that was meant to be sung in worship. This Psalm made it to the Hebrew Hymnal because even in our depression there is a way to worship God. We need this and the conversations that it might provoke. We need to know how to approach God when it feels like He is absent!

David cries out, “How long” four times in the beginning of this song. He isn’t a kid in the back seat impatiently trying to wait for the trip to be over. He is feeling the absence of God. He wants/ needs God to move in his life. He needs to hear from Heaven. He feels like he is losing…. yet for all this feeling, he knows that God is not absent and so he prays further than his eyes can see and his heart can feel. He simply asks God to hear his prayer and enlighten his eyes. And he comes to settle on God’s mercy and his own testimony of how God has dealt with him in the past.

Sometimes that’s the best medicine for a troubled heart is to bring our brokenness to God in prayer and to understand that who God is through His word, and be reminded of his faithfulness both then and now. Sometimes it’s too easy to forget all that God has done for us and the blessings we have in Christ. It is good to practice remembering the answered prayers.

PRAYER

Father, Thank you that you are not just God in the mountains, but you are also God in the valleys. I’ve been through some harsh times of depression. I am grateful that even in the midst of my fears and worries that you are good and you are God. Thank you that even when you feel absent that I can call out to you with a confidence that you hear the prayers of your saints. Let me never tire of recounting the moments in my life where I saw you most clearly at work. I need this and others need it as well. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

I’m reading and blogging the Psalms Through The Summer. I’d love for you to join me. You can find out a little more here.

God’s Word is Consistently True (Psalm 12)

PSALM 12

1 To the Chief Musician. On an eight-stringed harp. A Psalm of David. Help, LORD, for the godly man ceases! For the faithful disappear from among the sons of men. 2 They speak idly everyone with his neighbor; [With] flattering lips [and] a double heart they speak. 3 May the LORD cut off all flattering lips, [And] the tongue that speaks proud things, 4 Who have said, “With our tongue we will prevail; Our lips [are] our own; Who [is] lord over us?” 5 “For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, Now I will arise,” says the LORD; “I will set [him] in the safety for which he yearns.” 6 The words of the LORD [are] pure words, [Like] silver tried in a furnace of earth, Purified seven times. 7 You shall keep them, O LORD, You shall preserve them from this generation forever. 8 The wicked prowl on every side, When vileness is exalted among the sons of men.

PSALM 12:1-8

GOD’S WORD IS CONSISTENTLY TRUE

We live in a world where it seems like it is becoming more difficult just to find someone who will tell you the truth. Gone are the days of decent, good and unbiased reporting. We have news stations that report down political lines and share mostly commentary. If you want conersvative news go to FOX News and read the Wall Street Journal. If you want liberal news go to MSNBC or CNN and read the Washington Post or the New York Times. The same event will take on two different meanings as everyone dissects it and talks about it from their angle. Everyone puts their spin on it. We quickly pick our sides and line up. 

Sometimes I think finding truth can be like going to a maze of mirrors at the carnival!  Some make you look tall, some make you look short, some make you look fat, some make you look skinny, some put your gut up in your chest, some make your head fat and lots more in between.  Somewhere in the middle of it all there is a real mirror, but you don’t know which one is telling the truth. We live in a culture that believes it can cut and resize the truth to its own liking. 

In the midst of such corruption we can wonder,  how do we get right side up again? What can we trust? Do we just buy any old lie or do we become so jaded and bitter that we refuse to trust anything that anyone says. What do we do? 

Have you ever been disoriented? David is looking for where to go when His world does not make sense.  I am told that there are conditions that a pilot can fly in that become very disorienting and they can’t trust your feelings. In those instances they have to trust their instruments. No matter what their gut tells them, the instruments are what will get them home safely.  

David looks to God. The pure promises of God’s Word are what will guide him home. He can’t put his trust in what others around him might say. This is the way out of this mess! God sees through it all! Through all the lies, the misinformation and the propaganda. God will preserve his people!

The other day our cat was watching TV. Our youngest daughter was watching Frozen and every once and a while you could see that cat jut out his paw as if he were trying to catch a snowflake on the television. For all his effort, he didn’t have any luck catching anything. There was a lot more between the cat and the snowflake than he could comprehend. 

David reminds us that though we live in a world filled with wicked falsehoods and it may seem that it is getting worse and worse. That there is a lot more between the lies that swirl around and the believer than we could even imagine. So while the wicked plot and prowl, God’s eternal purposes will be fulfilled. His word stands forever and he will preserve his people from falsehood.  

So What is Psalm 12 saying to us? 

  • Lets not look to our culture for truth.
  • Let’s not look to studies, statistics, science, (those things are useful tools, but not indicators of truth. 
  • Let’s not look to politics.
  • Let’s not look to our neighbors. 
  • Rather, Let us look to the Pure Word of God.

PRAYER

Father, I confess like David, I need help! It seems a lot harder these days to know who is telling the truth and integrity has gone out of style. I ask for your wisdom and discernment in my life. Help me to see the truth in every area of my life. I cling to your word and ask that I would walk with integrity because I know it and I know you through it. I pray that you would preserve me from the wickedness of my generation. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

I’m reading and blogging the Psalms Through The Summer. I’d love for you to join me. You can find out a little more here.

Don’t Forget To Trust In The Lord On Hard Days Too (Psalm 11)

PSALM 11

1 To the Chief Musician. [A Psalm] of David. In the LORD I put my trust; How can you say to my soul, “Flee [as] a bird to your mountain”? 2 For look! The wicked bend [their] bow, They make ready their arrow on the string, That they may shoot secretly at the upright in heart. 3 If the foundations are destroyed, What can the righteous do? 4 The LORD [is] in His holy temple, The LORD’s throne [is] in heaven; His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men. 5 The LORD tests the righteous, But the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates. 6 Upon the wicked He will rain coals; Fire and brimstone and a burning wind [Shall be] the portion of their cup. 7 For the LORD [is] righteous, He loves righteousness; His countenance beholds the upright.

PSALM 11:1-7

DON’T FORGET TO TRUST IN THE LORD ON HARD DAYS TOO

David begins this Psalm by stating his explicit trust in God. You don’t have to question him. You don’t have to wonder. It is not ambiguous. He declares it from the get go. He puts his trust in the LORD!

What do we trust in? Where is our hope? Who do we cling to and what do we depend on? It’s one thing to say we trust God. That looks good on paper. It sounds good coming from our mouths. It’s different to actually trust Him. What about when life meets conflict. When there is turmoil, where do we turn? 

Do we trust God on just the good days? Days when everything is going our way? Days when there is more paycheck than problems? Days where we are comfortable? Days when our teams win? Days when the sun shines? Days when the biggest buck comes out to our stand? Days when others honor us? Days when we are well known and respected? Do we trust God then? 

What about the bad days? What about when hurt arises? What about when we feel pain and we don’t know why? What about when we miss our loved ones who have gone on? What about when we have been injured by the senseless action of others? What about when we have been hurt and betrayed? Do we just trust God then? 

David puts no qualifier on his statement! He simply states that it is the LORD who has all of his trust! And why shouldn’t God have all of his trust? It was God who sent Samuel to anoint a little shepherd boy. It was God who looked past the outward appearance and saw the heart. It was God who defeated Goliath through the hands of David in the Valley of Elah. God has lead David through trouble in the past, He will lead him now! 

So David is troubled by the good counsel, but not Godly counsel that his friends offer. They beg him to flee for his life. Live to fight another Day. But David won’t have any of it. If we trust God in the green and grassy meadows, we must also trust him in the valley of the shadow of death and especially in the presence of our enemies.

We are reminded that it is Jesus who promises us that He will never leave us nor forsake us. It is the Good Shepherd whose presence comforts us when we go through the valley of the Shadow of Death. He is the one we trust. He has never truly abandoned us. He has always been with us. Even when we couldn’t see.

PRAYER

Father, I am reminded of your goodness to me. I don’t have the same story as David, but I do know that there were several moments where I put my trust in you and I saw your greatness displayed in my own life. I confess there is a time and a place to make sure that I’m not being reckless, but there is a time to step into adversity with boldness knowing that you will hold me up. Help me to know the difference. I pray that I would never miss a Goliath moment in my life because I thought too much or me and too little of you. I put my trust in you LORD! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

I’m reading and blogging the Psalms Through The Summer. I’d love for you to join me. You can find out a little more here.

The Enemy Is Still Out There (Psalm 10)

PSALM 10

2 The wicked in [his] pride persecutes the poor; Let them be caught in the plots which they have devised. 3 For the wicked boasts of his heart’s desire; He blesses the greedy [and] renounces the LORD. 4 The wicked in his proud countenance does not seek [God]; God [is] in none of his thoughts. 5 His ways are always prospering; Your judgments [are] far above, out of his sight; [As for] all his enemies, he sneers at them. 6 He has said in his heart, “I shall not be moved; I shall never be in adversity.” 7 His mouth is full of cursing and deceit and oppression; Under his tongue [is] trouble and iniquity. 8 He sits in the lurking places of the villages; In the secret places he murders the innocent; His eyes are secretly fixed on the helpless. 9 He lies in wait secretly, as a lion in his den; He lies in wait to catch the poor; He catches the poor when he draws him into his net. 10 So he crouches, he lies low, That the helpless may fall by his strength. 11 He has said in his heart, “God has forgotten; He hides His face; He will never see.” 12 Arise, O LORD! O God, lift up Your hand! Do not forget the humble.

PSALM 10:2-12

THE ENEMY IS STILL OUT THERE

Psalm 10 is a broken psalm. It doesn’t have an introduction. It is written in an acrostic style that somewhat completes psalm 9 but it has letters missing and out of order. Even in the chaos of it’s organization it reminds us that we live in a broken world. There is much that needs to be fixed. 

In verse eleven we get a glimpse into the sinister mind of the wicked man. He thinks God doesn’t know or doesn’t care about what he does. He uses the seeming inactivity of God as a reason to figure and devise more wicked schemes. 

At this point we have to ask ourselves why does the psalmist feel so much need to give us so much detail about the wicked man? Why is he so concerned that someone is out there prospering by doing wicked things and setting his heart against God? He is reminding us that we cannot coast because the enemy is still out there!

History is filled with moments where a city was under siege or a war was being waged, but those in official power were drinking and celebrating their victories early. They fell into laziness or unconcern and later lost the city or the war because they celebrated before it was all finished. The psalmist is saying, “We can’t truly celebrate yet because wickedness still prevails!”

Part of the point of this Psalm is to register such a dissonance that we cannot slumber on wickedness. We must remember that our lives are always at odds with the wicked and how they would live. Isn’t the news we hear of wickedness winning in our own day something that drives us to prayer? When we hear of those who have taken advantage of others, doesn’t that drive us to intercession? 

 The Psalmist cries out to God to put things right. We know that there will come a day and time when God will set all things right. All injustice will be settled in him. We know that day is coming. Sometimes it just seems so far away. 

Notice the prayer in verse 17 for the orphan and those who are oppressed. “Prepare their heart” or strengthen their heart. Even when we don’t see justice in this moment or in our day. Set it right in my heart that I might bear up until I see your final justice. Give me grace and strength and hope in YOU until that day comes. 

PRAYER

Father, thank you for this psalm and all the chaos it presents. It doesn’t wrap up neatly in a bow and it reminds me of the messiness of life apart from you. In the celebration of your goodness it can be easy to forget we still live in a sinful and fallen world. Help me not to be content while wickedness prevails around me. Guide me in my community and my moment in history to stand against wickedness and intercede for victims of injustice. Don’t let me be idle while others are suffering. Thank you for your grace in bringing this to our attention to read and meditate on today. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

I’m reading and blogging the Psalms Through The Summer. I’d love for you to join me. You can find out a little more here.

I Will Praise The Lord With My Whole Heart (Psalm 9)

PSALM 9

1 To the Chief Musician. To [the tune of] “Death of the Son.” A Psalm of David. I will praise [You], O LORD, with my whole heart; I will tell of all Your marvelous works. 2 I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.

PSALM 9:1-2

I WILL PRAISE THE LORD WITH MY WHOLE HEART

A few years ago I was very sick. I didn’t know what was fully going on. I would start projects but was too sick to finish. I would be wiped out by two or three in the afternoon. I was fatigued and had a fever every day for over 100 days. I’d had chest pains and been to the ER several times. I went to doctors, we ran tests, and eventually it was discovered that I had a condition with my heart that would require surgery. I know what it is like to have a sick heart that isn’t acting in full capacity.

David says that he will praise God with his whole heart. While David isn’t talking about his physical heart, he is referencing that his praise come from all of who he is and from the place that wills. Often times someone will say that their “heart” isn’t in it. That doesn’t mean that their organ stops beating, but rather that they weren’t fully committed, they showed up and may have been physically present, but their will wasn’t fully in it.  David says that his is fully committed to praise God. He isn’t divided. He isn’t riding the fence. He isn’t hot one minute and cold the next. He is all in on praising God and he tells us How his whole heart is in it!

David is going into worship with an attitude of gladness and rejoicing. He can’t help but get that way when he tells of all of God’s works (This is good medicine for those who are downcast). David is committed to singing God’s praise. He extols God’s attributes, especially God’s goodness, justice, and strength. He takes his refuge/ shelter in the Lord and pleads his cause looking to the Lord for Justice!

Sometimes I confess that I get off center. I don’t approach the LORD the way I should, with my whole heart. I want to hold some part back. Sometimes I need a check up and I need to get the medicine of God’s word to remind me of who He is and what He does. Sometimes I need the Holy Spirit to operate on me and diagnose my condition. I want to always praise God with my whole heart.

PRAYER

Father, thank you for saving my life in the midst of physical heart issues. I am forever grateful of your grace and I am grateful for the good health I experience today. I ask for my spiritual heart today. Don’t let me approach you in a cold or indifferent way, I always want to be all in with you! As I recount my testimony, I am grateful for your presence in my life all along the way. If there is anything holding me back from worshipping you with my whole heart, I pray that you would address it. In Jesus name, Amen.

I’m reading and blogging the Psalms Through The Summer. I’d love for you to join me. You can find out a little more here.

On the Instrument of Gath (Psalm 8)

PSALM 8

1 To the Chief Musician. On the instrument of Gath. A Psalm of David. O LORD, our Lord, How excellent [is] Your name in all the earth, Who have set Your glory above the heavens! 2 Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have ordained strength, Because of Your enemies, That You may silence the enemy and the avenger. 3 When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained, 4 What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him? 5 For You have made him a little lower than the angels, And You have crowned him with glory and honor. 6 You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all [things] under his feet, 7 All sheep and oxen–Even the beasts of the field, 8 The birds of the air, And the fish of the sea That pass through the paths of the seas. 9 O LORD, our Lord, How excellent [is] Your name in all the earth!

PSALM 8:1-9

ON THE INSTRUMENT OF GATH

The address to the Chief Musician reminds us that this isn’t just a private musing of David, but one that he thinks is fit for others to join in as well. It bares David’s name, because he is the author, but these words that have given voice to his awe and wonder of God are suitable for others to use as well. Praise God for musicians who have the skill in penning notes, thoughts, words and have given us expression to praise God! There is no higher vehicle for music to transform us than when we sing praise to God. 

On the instrument of Gath. We remember that Gath was a Philistine Territory in the days of David. It was where Goliath was from. A little coastal village along a creek bank. What kind usefulness could come from Gath? Apparently there was an instrument there that the Hebrew folks took over and used in worship to the LORD!

Wasn’t the Lord worthy of Praise even from this instrument formed by Philistine hands? The Philistines may not have recognized the LORD, but He had made them just the same. He knit them together. He marked off their dwelling. He gave the spark to their creativity. He formed their human ears. He set forth the arithmetic of melody. Surely this instrument had been used for lesser worship of lesser god’s who were at best just stone and at worst demons. Now in the hands of a skilled Israelite musician this instrument would reach forth to it’s fullest potential and be redeemed for use in praising the one true God, the creator of heaven and earth.

I didn’t start out as a Christian. I came to a place where I put my hope and trust in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. There have been a lot of words that I have uttered that were not praise worthy, nor did they extol the grace and mercy of God. Yet, God in his grace and providence has called me to be an instrument in his hands for his praise and glory. I am grateful for this small line in this wonderful psalms that reminds me today that God redeems.

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
  Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
  Call for songs of loudest praise.

Robert Robinson in the Hymn, “COME THOU FOUNT OF EVERY BLESSING”

PRAYER

Father, You are worthy of all praise, honor, and glory! The details of your creation amaze me. From Astronomy to Oceanography our lives brim with testimony of design. From the smallest of cells the the most complex of eco systems the world testifies to your goodness. Thank you for letting me join in the chorus of your praise. I am grateful that you are a God who redeems. In Jesus Christ, Name, Amen.

I’m reading and blogging the Psalms Through The Summer. I’d love for you to join me. You can find out a little more here.

Prayer For When I Am Being Slandered (Psalm 7)

PSALM 7

1 A Meditation of David, which he sang to the LORD concerning the words of Cush, a Benjamite. O LORD my God, in You I put my trust; Save me from all those who persecute me; And deliver me, 2 Lest they tear me like a lion, Rending [me] in pieces, while [there is] none to deliver. 3 O LORD my God, if I have done this: If there is iniquity in my hands, 4 If I have repaid evil to him who was at peace with me, Or have plundered my enemy without cause, 5 Let the enemy pursue me and overtake [me]; Yes, let him trample my life to the earth, And lay my honor in the dust. Selah 6 Arise, O LORD, in Your anger; Lift Yourself up because of the rage of my enemies; Rise up for me [to] the judgment You have commanded! 7 So the congregation of the peoples shall surround You; For their sakes, therefore, return on high. 8 The LORD shall judge the peoples; Judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness, And according to my integrity within me. 9 Oh, let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end, But establish the just; For the righteous God tests the hearts and minds. 10 My defense [is] of God, Who saves the upright in heart. 11 God [is] a just judge, And God is angry [with the wicked] every day. 12 If he does not turn back, He will sharpen His sword; He bends His bow and makes it ready. 13 He also prepares for Himself instruments of death; He makes His arrows into fiery shafts. 14 Behold, [the wicked] brings forth iniquity; Yes, he conceives trouble and brings forth falsehood. 15 He made a pit and dug it out, And has fallen into the ditch [which] he made. 16 His trouble shall return upon his own head, And his violent dealing shall come down on his own crown. 17 I will praise the LORD according to His righteousness, And will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High.

PSALM 7:1-17

PRAYER FOR WHEN I AM BEING SLANDERED

All we really know about Cush the Benjamite is that he was a Benjamite who seemingly was slandering or oppressing David. He probably afflicted David during the reign of Saul (Who was also a Benjamite) and possibly was one of the members of Saul’s inner circle. When others were chanting, “Saul has slain his thousands and David his ten thousands,” it is possible that this fellow Cush was helping to excite the jealousy that was already there in Saul’s heart. 

This Psalm is a very emotional prayer in the midst of a very trying time in David’s life where is facing persecution in the form of verbal assault that was probably inciting and ramping up the persecution of those who were already against David. I’m sure it felt like David had enough going on without someone slandering him and inciting others against him. Yet, here this man makes it into David’s prayer and song because he has made himself David’s enemy, which poses a very interesting question, “How do we pray when we are being slandered?”

Part of us really want’s to slander those who have been slandering us. We want to settle the score ourselves. However, David offers Cush the Benjamite up in prayer. He simply brings him before the Lord like he is pleading a case. David confesses something like, “look at my heart in this matter, I am innocent. Now also look at Cush’s heart, is he innocent? If not, I ask you to give him the justice that this case deserves. Not an ounce more, not an ounce less.”

David trusted God to be God. He knew that God was just and that whatever David or Cush did in this matter, they would report to God. David trusted God to examine his own life and he trusted God to take care of whatever wrongs Cush had committed. It takes a lot of courage to do the right thing in the midst of adversity, especially when someone is going around slandering your name.

PRAYER

Father, We ask that we would walk with integrity in the midst of whatever situations we find ourselves in. We trust that you are not swayed by compelling speeches or the slander of our enemies but you see the truth of the matter all the way down to each individual heart. We ask for you to uphold the righteous and render just verdicts against those who senselessly oppress your people. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

I’m reading and blogging the Psalms Through The Summer. I’d love for you to join me. You can find out a little more here.