Archive for December, 2015

Psalm 27

Psalm 27 has David beginning with confidence in God as he says “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid”?  That is the kind of confidence we all can have in the Lord.  David’s life was filled with the Lord, and his life was therefore filled with light.  God is the source of his salvation, and ours as well.  When we walk with God, there is no reason to fear.  God is our rock and One we can be confident in.

God’s got a proven track record in David’s life, and he remembers it here.  “When evildoers assail me to eat up my flesh, my adversaries and foes, it is they who stumble and fall”.  He doesn’t forget God’s faithfulness.  In fact, he goes on to recall God’s never ending protection and that truth provides the platform to overcome fear and provide confidence. “Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident”.  We too must remember all that God has done.  He never fails.  He always is there.  And we can depend fully on Him.

God is our protector.  David has asked and has confidence that God will be there for him.  “For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock”.  God will make a way.  He is dependable and we can be sure of His intent.  And as a result, we need to celebrate His faithfulness and sing his praises and make melody to His name.  David is full of joy and gratitude for all that God has done for him.  He seeks God’s face, and God responds.

David ends by reminding us that God is in control, and the only source of power.  “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord”!  David’s instructions are pretty simple – wait, be strong and courageous, but wait.  Why does he tell us to wait twice?  Because our human nature is to do exactly the opposite.  We don’t like to wait, and usually don’t or won’t.  The idea behind waiting on the Lord is not a passive sitting around until the Lord does something. Yes, God gives us strength; but we don’t expect it to come as if He were pouring it into us as we sit passively. He brings it to us as we seek Him, and rely on Him, instead of our own strength. If we are weak, it is because we do not wait…on the Lord.

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Psalm 26

Psalm 26 has David making two requests of God:

  • Vindicate me
  • Prove me

David is asking God to make a statement about him.  He knows God will vindicate him because “I have walked in my integrity, and I have trusted in the Lord without wavering”.  David is confident in how he was living and walking with God.  He wants God to try his heart.  David has lived a faithful life and is looking for God to make that clear to all.

David asks God to “try me; test my heart and my mind”.  He isn’t afraid to be under the microscope and have God examine him.  He’s walked faithfully with God his entire live and now is calling on God to pour out His steadfast love on him.  Spurgeon lists a number of things we know about God’s lovingkindness:

  • His lovingkindness is a good subject
  • His lovingkindess is a wide subject
  • His lovingkindess is a pleasing subject
  • His lovingkindness is a plain and simple subject
  • His lovingkindness is an always suitable and seasonable subject
  • His lovingkindness begins in eternity
  • His lovingkindness is given freely
  • His lovingkindness is certain
  • His lovingkindness is faithful
  • His lovingkindness goes into the smallest details

God is good, and His lovingkindness endures forever.

David also makes it clear that he is not hanging around with the wrong people.  “I do not sit with men of falsehood, nor do I consort with hypocrites. I hate the assembly of evildoers, and I will not sit with the wicked”.  Who we hang with matters.  We can’t be hanging around with the wrong people and expect to have a good outcome in life.  David makes it clear that he’s been intentional in how he has chosen the people to associate with.  He has avoided the wrong kinds of folks that would pull him away from his walk with God.

David didn’t just put off being around those who would potentially lead him astray.  He put on being with God in His house.  “I love the habitation of your house and the place where your glory dwells”.  David spent time where God was.  A right walk with God was more than the avoidance of evil. It was also a simple yet deep love for God and His presence. He loved the tabernacle because it represented the house of God; it was the place of God’s glory.  He wanted to hang where God was.  He pledges that he’ll continue to walk with integrity and seeks God’s redemption and blessing.  David is standing on God and His promises.  Are you?

Psalm 25

Psalm 25 has David again facing a challenge from his enemies.  He begins this Psalm by putting his trust in God, whom he knows he can fully trust.  His words “I lift up my soul” express his surrender and submission and utter helplessness in facing his situation.  He knows that without God, he is toast.  He faces enemies that want to destroy him.  David asks God to clearly “Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths”.  He is teachable and wants to understand what God’s plan is for him so he can obey.

God doesn’t hide His will for us.  The problem is that far too often we don’t and ask what it is.  Rather than praying like David, we ask God to bless what we’re going to do and never even slow down to seek whether that is His will, or ours that we simply want Him to approve.  We have to seek Him.  “Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long”.  David understands the concept of waiting on God.  It wasn’t about his timeline, but God’s.  We plug into His plan, He does not plug into ours.  Sometimes we forget who is in the center of the universe and believe it is all about me.

David understands that God is good, and while He loves all, He particularly loves the humble.  “He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way”.  God loves to provide his instruction and guidance to the humble man or woman following after Him.  God goes on to give this remarkable promise: “All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies”.  The conditions are that we stay in God’s covenant and in His word (His testimony), by knowing them and obeying them. The promise is that God will continually pour out His love and faithfulness for those who walk in His covenant and truth.  What a powerful promise.

David is suffering all sorts of affliction during this time.  His enemies were everywhere, ready to destroy him at every turn.  He is in agony and comes to God seeking some relief.  “Consider my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins”.  He knows God is the only source of relief, and David trusts Him.  David has a deep relationship with God, not one easily disrupted or separated by disappointment.  He again shares his heart and willingness to wait upon God to set him free.  “May integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for you”.  And he knows that how he lives – his integrity and uprightness – would be the key to God’s response.

Psalm 24

Psalm 24 begins by reminding us that God owns everything.  “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, for he has founded it”.  Sometimes we forget this truth.  We fall into the mindset that things are ours, or somehow we own something.  This is about as clear a sweeping statement of God’s complete and total ownership as you can get.  There is no room for interpretation here.  God created it.  God owns it.  Not some of it – every last part of the world belongs to Him.  Period, end of story.

SO what does that mean to us?  That we are stewards of God’s stuff.  He entrusts it to us to use wisely and to care for it – harvest, wealth, and even life itself.  It all belongs to God.  That makes God the possessor of all things.  It isn’t just about things either, it extends to people as we are among those who dwell therein.  Our kids belong to God.  We belong to God.  That should change how we view pretty much everything in life.  We get confused about this thinking we belong to ourselves, or our kids are ours, but they too are merely entrusted to us to care for in God’s economy.

God is clear about how this will work.  There is a standard He expects.  “He who has clean hands and a pure heart…. he will receive blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of his salvation”.  Clean hands refers to our actions, and a pure heart to our intentions.  God expects our actions and intentions to our behavior.  It isn’t merely about what we do, but more importantly why we do what we do.  And those actions and intentions determine our blessing.  If we walk with Him well, we will be blessed indeed.

Blessing can have two different meanings.  Sometimes it is a reward that God grants to the obedient; other times it may be the natural result of living according to God’s laws.  But in either case, God pours out His blessing in relationship to our actions and intentions.  How we live matters.  David goes on to praise God.  “Who is this King of glory? The Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord, mighty in battle”!  God is not diminished because He chooses to allow man to be steward over what is His.  He is almighty and full of glory.  We need to worship Him as such!

Psalm 23

Psalm 23 is one of the most recognized in all of scripture.  David shares a vivid memory of his time as a shepherd boy.  He was likely a king when he wrote it, but he certainly hasn’t forgotten his roots.  God was like a shepherd to David, and David was like a sheep to God.  “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want”.  The relationship between shepherd and sheep is a powerful one, and was precious to David and early Christians alike.  The idea of Jesus the Good Shepherd caring for His sheep is a great thing to visualize and describe our relationship with Him.

Notice that David makes this very personal – he says ‘my shepherd’ – not the shepherd or a shepherd.  Our walk with Christ is real and personal, and while Christ is Lord and Shepherd of all mankind, He also fills the role of our personal shepherd through a very personal relationship with Him.  David knew he needed a personal shepherd.  And he also makes it clear that all his needs were supplied by his shepherd – there were no needs beyond that which the shepherd gives.

The Psalm goes on to describe how the shepherd leads and is in control.  “He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me”.  Notice the ‘he’ and ‘you’ statements as David describes their relationship.  Jesus is an active shepherd in our lives.  He is in control.  Philip Keller (in A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23) writes that sheep do not lie down easily, and will not unless four conditions are met:

  1. Because they are timid they will not lie down if they are afraid
  2. Because they are social animals they will not lie down if there is friction among the sheep
  3. If flies or parasites trouble them they will not lie down
  4. Finally, if sheep are anxious about food or hungry they will not lie down.

Rest comes because the shepherd has dealt with fear, friction, flies, and famine.  Jesus deals with all this and more in our lives as our personal Shepherd.

David makes it clear that he is never alone.  Even in the face of death, his Shepherd is with him and comforts him.  And he never leaves.  “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever”.  There is assurance that the Shepherd will not leave us.  He will provide goodness and mercy forever.  This isn’t a short term of temporary relationship.  The Shepherd will care for His sheep – you and me – for eternity!

Psalm 22

Psalm 22 has David asking words we have heard from Jesus Christ, the Messiah while He was on the cross.  “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning”?  David knows and trusts God, yet he feels agony and aloneness as he faces great danger and a host of people that truly want to destroy him.  He has a relationship with God, and it is personal.  David is surprised that he feels the way he does – alone and overwhelmed by circumstances.

He goes on to remind God “In you our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them”.  He cries out God’s holiness and remembers God’s faithfulness to generations.  He knows God has delivered many times before, and is confident that God would do so again.  David has some despair as he tries to reconcile how God can seem so far from him given the history of the past.  “He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him”.

David has been in relationship with God for a very long time.  He’s depended on God his entire life.  “From my mother’s womb you have been my God”.  David doesn’t run from God during this time.  He runs to God.  That is how we should all respond if we feel disconnected from God.  We press into Him, not pull away.  Sometimes the response is ‘if God isn’t helping me, I’m moving away from Him’.  David shows us that we have to cling to the history of our relationship.  We need to hang on to the Rock even if we feel alone.

And the reason is clear – there is no alternative.  God is our only answer.  “Be not far from me, for trouble is near, and there is none to help”.  God is our only source of strength.  He is our only option.  And we need to stand firm in our relationship with Him and trust His faithfulness.  The end of the story has already been written.  He is God.  “All the families of the nations shall worship before you.  For kingship belongs to the Lord, and he rules over the nations”.  God’s power and authority will stand, whether we feel like it or not.  We just need to stand firm in our trust in Him!

Psalm 21

Psalm 21 has David rejoicing in the power and strength of the Lord.  He has many reasons to be joyful as God has been faithful to him time and time again.  His passion for God shows through this Psalm, and he is grateful for God’s blessing and the answered prayers God has provided.  “You have given him his heart’s desire and have not withheld the request of his lips”.  God answers prayer.  One of the biggest reasons prayers are not answered is that they are never asked.  Prayerlessness is a big problem in the life of many believers.  We simply don’t make or take time to pray.

But in addition to not asking, there are other things that can certainly hinder our prayers and cause them to go unanswered.  Guzik shares this list:

  • Not abiding in Jesus (John 15:7)
  • Unbelief (Matthew 17:20-21)
  • Failure to Fast (Matthew 17:21)
  • A Bad Marriage Relationship (1 Peter 3:7)
  • Not Asking (James 4:2)
  • Selfish Praying (James 4:3)
  • Disobedience (1 John 3:22)
  • Not Praying in God’s Will (1 John 5:14-15)
  • Unconfessed Sin (James 5:16)
  • Cold, Passionless Prayer (James 5:16-18; 2 Kings 20:5)
  • Prayerlessness and Lack of Persistence in Prayer (Luke 18:1-7; Psalm 55:17)
  • Sin Against Others (Matthew 5:23-24)
  • Lack of Unity (Matthew 18:19)
  • Not Praying in the Name of Jesus (John 14:13-14)
  • Pride (James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:5, Proverbs 3:34)
  • Lying and Deceitfulness (Psalm 17:1)
  • Lack of Bible Reading and Bible Teaching (Proverbs 28:9)
  • Trusting in the Length or Form of Prayer (Matthew 6:7)

David has been truly blessed.  “For you meet him with rich blessings; you set a crown of fine gold upon his head”.  If we stop and think about it, each of us has received his goodness and blessing.  That doesn’t mean there were not difficult patches in life – David had plenty of those – but God’s grace always overcame those troubles.  David also asked God for life, and God responded by not only giving him life but extending that life.  “He asked life of you; you gave it to him, length of days forever and ever”.

The chapter contains many reasons for David’s joy, and David makes it clear that he will continue to trust in God and His love.  “For the king trusts in the Lord, and through the steadfast love of the Most High he shall not be moved”.  God doesn’t move, and we can cling to that Rock and know that His love will remain.  As a result David praises God and His faithfulness.  “Be exalted, O Lord, in your strength! We will sing and praise your power”.  David expresses the determination that he and the people will continue to lift up God and sing His praises.  Our response to God’s love should be the same – to exalt His name and sing of His goodness and blessing!

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