Remembered Praise (Psalm 18)

PSALM 18

1 To the Chief Musician. [A Psalm] of David the servant of the LORD, who spoke to the LORD the words of this song on the day that the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. And he said: I will love You, O LORD, my strength. 2 The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. 3 I will call upon the LORD, [who is worthy] to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies.

PSALM 18:1-3, NKJV

REMEMBERED PRAISE

Many of the Psalms were written by David over key moments in his life. We get a glimpse into his heart as he sings and prays while on the run from his enemies. We get a picture of how he prays about those who slander him and those who persecute him. We get a sense of his trust in the Lord even above the kind counsel of friends who want “the best” for him but just can’t seem to see what that is. We even read along with David’s cry for deliverance from his enemies.

We go through all those ups and downs of life too. What do we do though when we see the Lord deliver us from our desperate situations? What happens when that day of deliverance comes? Do we simply let out a few small words of thanks? Do we just give credit to the Lord in our acceptance speech at an award ceremony? Such responses just don’t seem fitting for how the Lord has delivered us!

When deliverance comes in David’s life, he pens a 50 verse Psalm. This Psalm is overflowing with praise, and a recounting God’s goodness. God is worthy of praise. He is worthy of our praise, especially when we see His word fulfilled with our own eyes! David could not be silent, he had to praise the Lord.

As I often remind my children, who make weird noises at inopportune times, there is a time and a place for everything. I long for the day when our prayer meetings are filled with more praise than problems as we recount the goodness to the Lord in answered prayers. It would be silly to think that every prayer meeting should be filled with this type of praise all the time. For most of David’s life, it hadn’t happened yet; he was still in trouble. When he finally saw his deliverance though, he didn’t hold back.

PRAYER

Father, You are worthy of all glory, honor, and praise! I confess that many times I come to you carrying heavy burdens of intercession, doubt, and perhaps guilt. I come needing rescue and confessing my dependence on you. I am grateful that you hear my prayers. I am grateful that through my life I have seen many answered prayers. You know my personality, too often I am just waiting for the other shoe to drop. That shouldn’t hold back my praise! That shouldn’t keep me from celebrating your goodness. Thank you Lord for all of your blessings! Help me to be ever mindful of our goodness and deliverance and never slack in my praise, for you are worthy! 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 Logic of Prayer (Psalm 17)

PSALM 17

1 A Prayer of David. Hear a just cause, O LORD, Attend to my cry; Give ear to my prayer [which is] not from deceitful lips. 2 Let my vindication come from Your presence; Let Your eyes look on the things that are upright. 3 You have tested my heart; You have visited [me] in the night; You have tried me and have found nothing; I have purposed that my mouth shall not transgress. 4 Concerning the works of men, By the word of Your lips, I have kept away from the paths of the destroyer. 5 Uphold my steps in Your paths, [That] my footsteps may not slip. 6 I have called upon You, for You will hear me, O God; Incline Your ear to me, [and] hear my speech. 7 Show Your marvelous lovingkindness by Your right hand, O You who save those who trust [in You] From those who rise up [against them]. 8 Keep me as the apple of Your eye; Hide me under the shadow of Your wings, 9 From the wicked who oppress me, [From] my deadly enemies who surround me. 10 They have closed up their fat [hearts]; With their mouths they speak proudly. 11 They have now surrounded us in our steps; They have set their eyes, crouching down to the earth, 12 As a lion is eager to tear his prey, And like a young lion lurking in secret places. 13 Arise, O LORD, Confront him, cast him down; Deliver my life from the wicked with Your sword, 14 With Your hand from men, O LORD, From men of the world [who have] their portion in [this] life, And whose belly You fill with Your hidden treasure. They are satisfied with children, And leave the rest of their [possession] for their babes. 15 As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness.

PSALM 17:1-15, NKJV

THE LOGIC OF PRAYER

I have a teenager who has learned to argue. I liked it a lot better when she would ask for something and if we ever said, “no,” All we needed to do was say no, and it was enough. Those days are gone. She now needs us to give her a compelling reason as to why we said, “no.” Once she hears our reason, she will attempt to help us see things her way. She has learned to argue. The rational part of her brain is growing. She has suddenly become very intellectually interesting and smart. Her appeals for things have become better as well. Instead of just asking to go hang out with her friends, she has learned to suggest where she will be, what times, who she will be with, who else will be aware, and most importantly, how this plan of hers would benefit me as her dad. She knows what I will ask and has already worked her logic on my possible objections to make her petitions more appealing.

Often when we pray, we offer God just a bunch of random concerns. There certainly isn’t anything wrong with that, for we are told to, “cast all our cares on Him, for he cares for us.” (1 Peter 5:7). But I think we can pray better by applying a little of God’s Word and logic to our prayers. (Not better in the sense that we will get an answer we want, but better in the sense praying with confidence that what we are asking for is more in line with God’s will than a random petition.)

My daughter learned to amend her own would be petitions because as she brought previous petitions, she heard the answers and the objections. In short, she listened to my concerns. In the same way the more we read God’s word, the more we will know God and the more we will know about God. This will help us weed through the rambling and get to the heart of the issue, “What is God’s will in this matter?” By reading the scripture we are informed in our praying. We can ask God confidently for him to forgive our sin, we can pray behind the Psalms and ask him like a shepherd to lead us, feed us, and bring us home safely. In praying for children we can remind ourselves that he cares for little ones. In praying for the sick we can be reminded that he is a God who heals. In praying for the grieving, we can be reminded that Jesus knows what death is like and has promised to bring us to the other side.

What we see David doing here isn’t just praying random thoughts, but he is applying logic to his petitions. God delights in truthful lips and so David confesses his honesty. He knows that God defends the righteous and so he pleads for the Lord to do just that. David’s petitions for God to hear his prayer have come with a little work on his part to offer prayers that He knows align with God’s character.

PRAYER

Father, thankyou that you hear our prayers. Thank you that you have given us free access to call out to you in prayer. I am grateful that you have told us to boldly approach your throne of grace. I am grateful that you have promised to never leave or forsake us and that you provide for the needs of those who belong to you. Today I ask you to provide for me all that I need in Jesus Christ. As I meditate on your word help me to examine my own life. Let me be a man of honesty and integrity in a way that pleases you. Give me contentment in your provision to let you deal with those who unjustly accuse me. Let me stand before you as my judge and let my ears listen to what you would say. Keep me as the apple of your eye, hide me under the shadow of your wing. 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 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.

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.

Start Looking For God’s Will Early In The Morning (Psalm 5)

PSALM 5

1 To the Chief Musician. With flutes. A Psalm of David. Give ear to my words, O LORD, Consider my meditation. 2 Give heed to the voice of my cry, My King and my God, For to You I will pray. 3 My voice You shall hear in the morning, O LORD; In the morning I will direct [it] to You, And I will look up. 4 For You [are] not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness, Nor shall evil dwell with You. 5 The boastful shall not stand in Your sight; You hate all workers of iniquity. 6 You shall destroy those who speak falsehood; The LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man. 7 But as for me, I will come into Your house in the multitude of Your mercy; In fear of You I will worship toward Your holy temple. 8 Lead me, O LORD, in Your righteousness because of my enemies; Make Your way straight before my face. 9 For [there is] no faithfulness in their mouth; Their inward part [is] destruction; Their throat [is] an open tomb; They flatter with their tongue. 10 Pronounce them guilty, O God! Let them fall by their own counsels; Cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions, For they have rebelled against You. 11 But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; Let those also who love Your name Be joyful in You. 12 For You, O LORD, will bless the righteous; With favor You will surround him as [with] a shield.

PSALM 5:1-12

START LOOKING FOR GOD’S WILL EARLY IN THE MORNING

In one of my jobs I was tasked with assembling a large desk for our office. I unloaded the boxes got all the pieces sorted and made sure we had the tools we needed to start. Then I laid the plans aside and started to put the desk together. It wasn’t until about midway through that I realized we were in trouble. I thought we were going by the plans, but I was just eye balling the pieces and putting them together, I wasn’t checking for the important letters and numbers listed on each piece. Somehow I had placed piece J where G should be and to further complicate it I had H on backwards… We had to undo most of our work to go back and set it up right.

I reckon some of us try and go through life like that. We get all the pieces together and try to figure it out. We know enough about God’s word to assume we’re ok. But to say that we were looking for God’s will for our lives in any given situation might be a stretch.

David says here that he isn’t taking anything for granted. He is seeking the Lord in the morning. He is seeking after God’s will. He doesn’t want to make a mess of things and then go back and have to figure out how to straighten it out. He wants to follow the Lord’s will from the get go. There is too much at stake to not seek after God.

“I’ve got so much work to do today that I must spend at least three hours in prayer.”

Attributed to Martin Luther

What a great sentiment and it rings truer than we’d like to admit sometimes. Our days start off better if we are grounded in God’s word and Prayer. I learned the hard way that the instructions are there for a reason and there is an order to things. We should look to the instructions first and then construct the desk. Yet so often we attempt to live our life eyeballing the pieces thinking we don’t have time to pray and seek the Lord’s will and guidance. The truth is that when we are busiest we need to seek the Lord the most.

PRAYER

Father, thank you for a full schedule. It is a blessing to have so much to do. I bring my schedule to you today and ask you Lord for your hand of guidance on my life. You know what is most important here. You know the details of this day before it has even happened. So I ask that you would guide my steps. Keep me from temptation, use me for your kingdom and your glory. 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.

Prayer for an Angry Son (Psalm 4)

PSALM 4

1 To the Chief Musician. With stringed instruments. A Psalm of David. Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have relieved me in [my] distress; Have mercy on me, and hear my prayer. 2 How long, O you sons of men, [Will you turn] my glory to shame? [How long] will you love worthlessness [And] seek falsehood? Selah 3 But know that the LORD has set apart for Himself him who is godly; The LORD will hear when I call to Him. 4 Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still. Selah 5 Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, And put your trust in the LORD. 6 [There are] many who say, “Who will show us [any] good?” LORD, lift up the light of Your countenance upon us. 7 You have put gladness in my heart, More than in the season that their grain and wine increased. 8 I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; For You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.

PSALM 4:1-8

PRAYER FOR AN ANGRY SON

Three pastors were gathered together to share their perspectives on the best position for powerful prayer. There also happened to be a fellow from the phone company working in the background of the office where they were meeting. The first pastor said, “I think the best position for prayer is to have your hands pressed together pointing upwards.” Another pastor interjected, “That’s good and all, but I’ve found that I’m the most powerful prayers I’ve prayed are when I’m on my knees!” The third pastor said, “I used to pray on my knees, but I’ve had a lot of success lately in getting on my face and laying on the ground before God in prayer.” … finally the phone guy couldn’t stay quiet any longer, he said, “The most powerful prayer I ever made was when I was dangling upside down by my heals, from a power pole, suspended forty feet from the ground!”

David finds himself in a “dangling upside down from a power pole,” type situation as he pens this song and prayer. He is on the ropes from Absalom. He is in danger of losing the kingdom, his son is leading an incredible rebellion against him, and there is no really good outcome that can come from any of it. Where else could he go, but to the Lord.

The fourth verse really stands out as David reminds us that sometimes anger is legitimate but it does not make our sin acceptable. Anger is never an excuse for sin. David confesses that there are things that may have happened to provoke his son to anger, “be angry.” But that our flared tempers shouldn’t lead us to sin, they should lead us to contemplation and meditation upon the character of God who will one day right all wrongs. We should put our trust in the Lord to lift up our faces from anger. Who knows, but perhaps David remembers moments of his life where he was right to be angry and was about to sin, but a calmer voice prevailed (1 Samuel 25).

PRAYER

Father, there are many things in this world that make us angry. Sometimes we are angry because we we misunderstand a situation, but sometimes we have a legitimate right to be angry because injustice has been done. I pray that even in the midst of righteous anger that we would not take in our hands that which belongs in yours. Keep us from sin in our anger, give us wisdom and grace to go to you in the midst of our angered and anxious minds that we might fine peace to sleep by trusting in you to guide our paths. We seek your will in every area of our lives, even our emotions like anger and how it is expressed. 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.