Psalm 138 is quite a contrast from the previous chapter. It begins with “Thank you….everything in me says thank you”. What a way to begin. And it frankly is how our days should start. We need to wake up thanking God. Whether we are a morning person or not, we need to start the day recognizing that everything that has been or will be has been because of His goodness. Every good and perfect gift came from Him. We need to “kneel in worship….say it again….thank you”. Can you see how that should be part of our daily routine? “Thank you for your love…thank you for your faithfulness”. Our psalmist calls out two of God’s character traits – love and faithfulness. Definitely two things that we should be thankful for as they are defining qualities of our God. Do you recognize Him? Do you see just how blessed we are to be able to have a relationship with this God?
The writer also calls out another quality of God – His holiness. “Most holy is your name….most holy is your Word”. God is a holy God and expects the same from us. That alone should cause us to latch on and connect with Him. We won’t achieve that on our own. He alone can help us move toward holiness as we become more like Him. But check out the response the psalmist gets: “The moment I called out, you stepped in; you made my life large with strength”. Did you catch that? God is listening and waiting to respond to us. And He does step into our lives and have an impact. He is the one who makes “life large” and gives us the ability to do far more than we can do on our own. He alone is the one who makes good things happen. Are you connected with the King? We should cry out just like the psalmist “finish what you started in me God”. He has a plan. It is in motion. We need to walk with Him as He completes His work in us!
Psalm 137 shows the very raw and real emotion to a time of captivity and destruction. The writer is responding to memories of days gone by when bad things happened and people were sad. “We sat on the banks….we cried and cried”. Not a very uplifting set of words. Sometimes we want to think that bad things won’t happen. We want to believe that only good things happen to those who love God. That isn’t always how it works out. There are dark days when things don’t go as we might like. There are difficult seasons that we all have to walk through. The good news is that we never walk them alone. God never leaves us nor forsakes us. He is always by our side. Our psalmist talks about “remembering the good old days”. We do need to remember – scripture tells us that often. We need to consider what God has done in the past and realize that He is the same yesterday, today and forever. We need to hang on to His nature and character when things begin to get difficult. We should never live in the past, but we certainly need to remember the past. It gives us perspective for the future. God’s given us a record of His Story that shows us how He is. We can take comfort in knowing Him. Our own journal of our part in His Story also is important to remember. That is why journaling is so critical. It gives us a place to refer back to in order to discover how God has worked in the past.
Our writer asks this question: “how could we ever sing God’s song in this wasteland”? Sometimes it seems like there is no way for us to be joyful in our current circumstances. Sometimes the weight of the situation is overwhelming. And the reality is that we may be unable to sing God’s praises at that time. We may struggle to be able to find joy inside us. But God does know our pain. He does understand our situation. And He will receive all our attempts to communicate with Him. We just need to cry out. We need to reach to the skies and let God know we are here and no matter what is happening, we recognize that He is God and we trust Him. No matter what…..no matter how bad it seems…..we know that He is in charge. Easier said than done for sure. But God is God even when it doesn’t feel like it. Fortunately His position is not impacted by our feelings. He is God all the time!
Psalm 136 lists a litany of things that God has done. It is a psalm of thanksgiving. Line after line of God’s faithfulness to His people. It starts with these words: “Thank God”. When did you last do that? When did you last stop and think about just how much He loves us and how everything that happens comes from Him? The writer here makes a list of things God has done. He calls out the very nature and character of God, and the creator God. He gives us a history reminder of His faithfulness through the ages. The list is long and powerful. After each statement the writer says these words: “His love never quits”. What a promise and fact. God’s love never does quit. It has been since the beginning of time, and it will continue for as long as eternity is – which is quite a while. God loves us. He has demonstrated it faithfully and continues to do so in your life and mine moment by moment and day by day. God loves us. It is that simple. God always loves us. But I think the psalmist said it best in his list so rather than me saying more – check out the long list of why we need to thank God. “His love never quits”.
- He deserves your thanks
- Thank the God of all gods
- Thank the Lord of all lords
- Thank the miracle-working God
- The God whose skill formed the cosmos
- The God who laid out earth on ocean foundations
- The God who filled the skies with light
- The sun to watch over the day
- Moon and stars as guardians of the night
- The God who struck down the Egyptian firstborn
- And rescued Israel from Egypt’s oppression
- Took Israel in hand with his powerful hand
- Split the Red Sea right in half
- Led Israel right through the middle
- Dumped Pharaoh and his army in the sea
- The God who marched his people through the desert
- Smashed huge kingdoms right and left
- Struck down the famous kings
- Struck Sihon the Amorite king
- Struck Og the Bashanite king
- Then distributed their land as booty
- Handed the land over to Israel
- God remembered us when we were down
- Rescued us from the trampling boot
- Takes care of everyone in time of need
- Thank God, who did it all
Twenty six reasons why we should thank God! His love never quits!
Psalm 135 gives us a lot of insight into just how awesome God is. Scripture tells us “He does just as He pleases – however, wherever, whenever”. I love the way the Message states that. God does what He is going to do without regard to what anyone else thinks. He doesn’t need to check in and see if it is ok. This is His universe, His plan, and it happens His way. Period and end of story. So what does that look like? Well our author tells us: “He makes the weather…..He struck down the Egyptian firstborn….He made Egypt sit up and take notice….confronted Pharaoh…..struck down great nations…..slew mighty kings……turned their land over”. What comes to mind when you read about what God has done? Limitless….unstoppable…..in His time……done His way……Majestic? God is all that and so much more. He has no limits. He has no resource restrictions. He is so vast and powerful and almighty there is nothing that even slows Him down. What He says happens, just like it did when He spoke the universe into existence. God is still in charge. And then these words really drive that home: “God, your name is eternal….God, you’ll never be out of date”. Some think that God was just for Bible times but let me assure you He is every bit as alive and in control today as He was when He created all this a long time ago. He is just as much your God and mine as He was to Adam and Abraham and Noah and Jacob and David. He is the same – that is what eternal means. God never changes. Scripture tells us that over and over in many ways.
SO what is he doing? “God stands up for His people…..holds the hands of His people”. God is very much in the middle of your life and mine. He is absolutely in control of every detail whether it feels like it or we notice it or not. What we think and feel does not change the facts and reality that God is in control. The writer contrasts that with the “gods” – little “g” for human made and human controlled – which are “mere trinkets….chiseled mouths….carved ears…..dead wood”. DO you see the comparison? God is in control and has been for eternity. Compare that with the gods we allow to get in the middle of our lives that have no power of control, just suck away our life, money and time and destroy relationships and good things. Lots of common things can become god in our life – TV, work, money, another person – anything we worship and put in a place that should be reserved for the one true God who created it all. Here is the sad truth of our little gods – “those who make and trust them become like them”. Hello – did you catch that. If we push God out of His rightful place in our life and replace Him with some human god we latch onto – we become as ineffective and worthless spiritually as whatever it is we allow to take a place in our life. We are like dead wood. We need to focus and stay connected to God and Him alone. And how do we do that? We get some ideas here: “Praise the name of GOD, praise the works of GOD….Shout ” Hallelujah!”…..sing anthems”. We need to put Him on the throne of our life and treat His as He is – King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We need to make Him the only God we serve – not one among a bunch of stuff. “And why? Because GOD chose…..embraced”. We get the answer to the why it matters question. God doesn’t deserve to be God because we decide so. He already is because He is. He should be God because in spite of who we are and all the ways we fail – well He still chose to love us. He chose to accept and embrace us in spite of ourselves. He allows us to come into an eternal relationship with Him because He chose, not because we decide. Do you see that gift? God doesn’t owe us….we don’t deserve Him. But His nature is to love and to draw us to Himself. That is why Jesus was sent to live on earth and go to the cross. To bridge the gap between our pathetic attempts to live a holy life and God’s expectations. Without that, our future would be pretty dim. But God chose and embraces us by sending Christ to the cross to take away our sin if we have a personal relationship with Him. God is so good. Do you know Him? If not, make it a priority to do it today!
Psalm 133 and 134 are both short little chapters that contain a couple of very important messages. In 133, we read these words: “How wonderful, how beautiful, when brothers and sisters get along”. We could get caught up trying to determine whether this refers to physical brothers and sisters or is targeting spiritual siblings. Bottom line – it doesn’t really matter because God wants us to have good relationships with both. God is all about relationships. He is totally focused on people and how we relate to one another. When we have our relationships in order – it is wonderful and beautiful. It is what He desires. And why does this fall apart some times? Because of self. People get focused on themselves rather than others and pride gets in the way. I have seen so many broken relationships where folks can’t even remember why they don’t like someone except there was something back somewhere that happened. God is in the restoration and reconciliation business. With us first in our relationship with Him through Christ, but secondly between brothers and sisters. It is His heart.
In Psalm 134 we are told to “bless God….lift your praising hands”. We could get into a theological discussion about how we praise God. As a conservative Baptist boy, raising hands has never really been my thing. But the message here is clear – we need to recognize that our God is the center of this universe and we need to put Him where He belongs – on the throne of our life and our attention. How do we bless God? By praising Him. By acknowledging who He is and the place He has in our lives and the world we live in. When is the last time you took time to praise Him. Really focus on just how awesome our God is and how blessed we are to be able to have a personal relationship with the Creator. “God who made heaven and earth” is seeking our praise. We can bless Him if we only will. Are you blessing God through praising Him? Are you blessing Him by getting along with your brothers and sisters? We need to make it priority. Other things will always crowd it out unless we focus on putting God first!
Psalm 132 is an interaction between David and God about their relationship. Isn’t that what it all boils down to – our relationship with God? David and God had a vow – they were connected through a mutual promise to one another – and that covenant really set the stage for everything that happened. David puts it this way: “I’m not going home, and I’m not going to bed, I’m not going to sleep, not even take time to rest, until I find a home for God, a house for the strong God of Jacob”. Talk about single minded focus on the relationship. David was not content to be separated from God. He is focused on being in that relationship. And he wasn’t about to sleep, or rest or even go home until God was there with him. He was passionate to be in God’s presence and have God with him. Are you focused on that? Do you pursue God without allowing anything else to get in the way, even sleep and rest? That is the kind of heart that God desires us to have. That we are so focused on being with Him that we will make it priority above all else, even self. It should be number one on our list when we get up each day. How will I connect with God? How will I dwell with Him today?
David tells us that they were going to “worship at God’s footstool”. They were going to be in His presence. How do you view your relationship? Is it something that you focus on going to Him to be at His feet, or is the approach here I am God, come sit here and wait til I can squeeze in a quick prayer or fleeting thought about you. Who fits whose schedule in your life? Do you have a habit of coming into God’s presence and being focused on His plan and His timeline and His will? Or are you coming to the throne when you need Him with your list of what you want done? Do you see a disconnect here? God is not our genie sitting around waiting for us to find a minute to let Him know what we want. That is not how it works. God is the Creator of the universe, the Controller of all things, the Master of everything, and sometimes we treat Him like our own personal assistant that we can cry out to when and if it fits our needs. Oh that we would get the heart of David and make Him our only pursuit. God never turns from us. He is pursuing us with all His heart all the time. Just like He tells David that He has made a place for him, and will take care of him, God wants to abundantly bless us the same way. It is His plan. We need to be in relationship so we don’t miss it!
Psalm 131 is really a short chapter – three simple verses – but oozing with the kind of heart that God desires us to have. David is sharing a look at his innermost being – and it gives us insight into why he was called a man after God’s own heart. He sets the tone as one of humility. This is not about a great warrior and king tooting his own horn and taking credit for all he has done. This is a humble man who realizes it is not about him, but about the One he serves. Check out what he says he does not do here as he addresses God:
- “I’m not trying to rule the roost
- I don’t want to be king of the mountain
- I haven’t meddled where I have no business
- I haven’t fantasized grandiose plans”
Sound like you? Doesn’t really sound all that much like me. I tend to want to be in charge and determine what happens. I seem to think I can take care of things myself. God is just a safety net for when it gets past my ability to handle things on my own. Oh that we would learn the humility of David and put God in His right place in our lives as ruler and king. Oh that we would keep our sticky fingers where they belong rather than meddling where they don’t, and that we would follow His plans rather than dreaming up our own. Can you envision life if we lived it like David?
But wait, there’s more to learn here as David tells us what he does do. Check this out:
- “I’ve kept my feet on the ground
- I’ve cultivated a quiet heart
- I’m like a baby content in its mother’s arms”
Can you see how he lives? Feet solid on the ground – quiet heart – content to be in God’s care and following His lead. David has learned what we all need to – it’s not about me. It is about God and His plan for my life. It is about me lining up with what God wants to do in and through me. It is all about trusting Him and walking in obedience to His lead. We get it all backwards today, certainly in our country. We think church is about serving our needs and wishes. We think life is about making us comfortable and giving us pleasure. We think relationships are designed as things to meet our needs. The focus David has is not self – it is God. We need to get the scope moved from me to Thee. We need to understand that God is the center of our universe and He alone is where we better focus and be spending our energy. Are you there? What has to change so you can be one who is after God’s heart?