Archive for January, 2016

Psalm 53

Psalm 53 has David providing some commentary on the state of the fool.  “The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.””  David looked at those who denied the existence of God and came to the conclusion that they are fools.  Guzik points out that the God-denying man is a fool because:

  • He denies what is plainly evident.
  • He believes in tremendous effect with no cause.
  • He denies a moral authority in the universe.
  • He believes only what can be proven by the scientific method.
  • He takes a dramatic, losing chance on his supposition that there is no God.
  • He refuses to be persuaded by the many powerful arguments for the existence of God.

Those who don’t believe in God have no moral compass, thus they do all sorts of things that are without boundaries.  “They are corrupt, doing abominable iniquity; there is none who does good”.  God does pay attention to all this.  He watches from heaven to see who is seeking after Him and His laws.  “God looks down from heaven on the children of man to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God”.  All of us will stand before Him someday to give account for our actions and choices.  We won’t escape that because we say there is no God.  That doesn’t change the reality that He is.

Many people deceive themselves into believing they will get away with living however they want.  “Have those who work evil no knowledge”.  There is a judgment coming where we’ll stand before the throne of the God who created the universe and answer for our life.  It’s not optional, and pretending God doesn’t exist or judgment is not coming will only be a matter of deceiving ourselves.  It’s why Jesus came to earth – because judgment is coming and all of us will fall short.  We won’t pass muster on our own merit.  And those who refuse to accept the reality of God’s existence will be particularly exposed on that day.

There are many arguments that support the existence of God.  Guzik calls out these:

  • The Cosmological Argument: The existence of the universe means there must be a creator God.
  • The Teleological Argument: The existence of design in the universe means there must be a designer God.
  • The Anthropological Argument: The unique nature and character of humanity means there must be a relational God.
  • The Moral Argument: The existence of morality means there must be a governing God.

So where do you stand.  Are you taking the stand that God doesn’t exist, thus how I live doesn’t matter?  Don’t make that mistake.  Someday we’ll stand face to face with Him.  Make sure you’re ready for that reality!

Psalm 52

Psalm 52 is written by David when Doeg the Edomite went and told Saul, and said to him, “David has gone to the house of Ahimelech.” The terrible events that prompted this chapter are recorded in 1 Samuel 21 and 22. Doeg informed Saul regarding David’s presence at the tabernacle of God and regarding the help he received from the priest there. In an evil and paranoid response, Saul sent Doeg to kill the priests and others at the tabernacle, and Doeg did – 85 people in total (1 Samuel 22:18-19).This psalm captures David’s thoughts on Doeg and his evil actions.

“The steadfast love of God endures all the day”. David begins by reminding us that God is the same no matter what people do all around us.  God is steadfast and never changes.  We can be in the midst of evil and destruction but God is there before the day begins and will continue after the day ends.  Doeg was evil and it began with his tongue.  “Your tongue plots destruction, like a sharp razor, you worker of deceit. Doeg’s evil began with him running to Saul and betraying David and his place of hiding.  We have to grasp the reality that what we say matters.  Words mean something and are important to control and contain.

 David gets to the heart of Doeg’s issue.  “You love evil more than good, and lying more than speaking what is right. You love all words that devour, O deceitful tongue”. This is a heart issue for this traitor.  He was seeking power and glory and honor from king Saul and was willing to give up David in exchange.  We get motivated by evil thoughts and desires the same way and allow our tongue to say bad things or hurtful things that cause people much pain.  We have to learn to control our tongue.  It can be such a tool of good, or so destructive.

Then David reminds us of how faithful our God is.  “God will break you down forever; he will snatch and tear you from your tent; he will uproot you from the land of the living”.  The battle is not ours, although we often want to take control.  God is in control.  He settles the score according to His righteousness.  We need to take this approach.  “I am like a green olive tree in the house of God. I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever. I will thank you forever, because you have done it. I will wait for your name, for it is good, in the presence of the godly”.  David knows God has this under control.  He doesn’t have to try and change things.  He merely needs ot trust God and thank Him for his protection and restoration.  Much to learn here of leaning on God and being a tree in His presence!

Psalm 51

Psalm 51 is written by David after he had gone in with Bathsheba in 2 Samuel 11 and 12.  David knows he has sinned, and now he is confessing and wants to deal with that sin.  “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions”.  David has sinned in murder, adultery, the covering of His sin, and in hardness against repentance.  He’s far from walking with God.  And he knows that he needs God’s forgiveness.  So he throws himself at the foot of the throne asking for forgiveness.  “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin”!  Forgiveness begins with confession.  David starts there.

“For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me”.  Sin doesn’t hide quietly.  When we violate God’s laws and will for our life, it shouts at us until we make it right.  David knew he was wrong and caught.  “I sinned and done what is evil in your sight”.  He was guilty as could be and wants to fix it.  So he does the right thing and comes to God in repentance.  He wants God to change him.  Repentance is turning around from sin and going the other way.  “You delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart”.  We can’t do that on our own.  We need God’s strength to turn from sin.

Sin often comes with some consequences.  “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow”.  Confession and repentance are vital parts of the restoration process but don’t necessarily remove all the consequences that sin brings with it.  The good news is that God’s forgiveness is complete.  He washes us from that sin and sets us free from the eternal punishment that sin carries.  But that forgiveness comes through Jesus Christ today.  We need to confess, repent and trust in the One who was sent to set us free from the eternal punishment of sin – Jesus himself.  We can’t earn our way to forgiveness.  All of us will fall short.  It is by His Blood that we can be made whiter than snow.

David knows that sinners need to change, but that change doesn’t happen by trying harder and doing more.  We can’t earn salvation or forgiveness by what we do.  We need God’s touch on our life.  “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me”.  It is God that works in us to make us free.  “Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit”.  God will meet us when we come to Him humbly seeking His forgiveness.  He wants us to know our sin, and the plight it has for us.  And then we have to take the right steps to be forgiven.  It’s a matter of the heart.  “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart”. Are you right with God, or is there unconfessed and unforgiven sin in your life.  The stakes are high.  Don’t ignore it.  Get right with God and receive the blessing of His forgiveness through Jesus Christ!

Psalm 50 has the writer reminding us that God is in control.  Asaph is the author of this psalm and he was a great singer and musician in David’s day.  “The Mighty One, God the Lord, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting”.  God is always there.  Sun-up to sun-down and much more.  He is in charge and the first three words of the Hebrew text emphasize that it is God who has spoken: El (= God), Elohim (= God), Yahweh (= Lord).  Make no mistake – God is alive and speaking!

We are reminded that “God shines forth. Our God comes; he does not keep silence.”  God is not a quiet God who sits idly on His throne disconnected from what is happening here on His earth.  He has come to judge the world.  He won’t remain silent. He will call each of us to give account.  God will “judge his people….for God himself is judge!”  The reality is that He will be judge over each one.  We won’t slip by unnoticed, even if we’ve done all things well.  We have to stand and face the Judge.

God is clear that He is more than judge, though.  “I am God, your God”.  He wants a personal relationship with you and me.  He is our God – a God who loves us and knows us intimately.  He also is far more than judge.  “Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me”.  God is active and alive and is our rock and hope.  He is our Savior and Redeemer.  He wants us to call to Him, not as a genie in a bottle, but as the Lord of the Universe and Creator of all.  He will deliver us from evil and then we need to glorify Him.

He does call out one of our weaknesses.  “For you hate discipline, and you cast my words behind you”.  We don’t like to be corrected and held accountable.  But it is the reality – God loves us enough to discipline us and He will correct our ways.  We can make that less painful but not only reading but listening to and heeding His Word.  He’s given us the roadmap for a happy and successful life.  We merely need to read the map and follow it.  There is a warning if we insist on doing things our way.  “You who forget God….there be none to deliver!  We will have to stand before Him.  Are you ready?

Psalm 49

Psalm 49 is a sobering psalm as the writer addresses all people. “Hear this, all peoples! Give ear, all inhabitants of the world”.  It applies to every man, woman and child on the planet.  And it deals with the things of this earth, and the life that comes after.  If we want to consider a passage that addresses the reality of life and legacy, this is a good one.  It is clear that it is a proverb that gives clarity and direction of the reality of the future. This psalm touches the high-water mark of Old Testament faith in a future life.

Many “trust in their wealth and boast of the abundance of their riches” but the reality is that they will die just like everyone else.  “For he sees that even the wise die; the fool and the stupid alike must perish and leave their wealth to others”.  Death is coming.  It is not optional.  And wisdom or money won’t impact it at all.  As the old saying goes, ‘you can’t take it with you’ and scripture is clear that no matter what our standing or place on this earth our stuff stays behind when we die.  We won’t be taking it along.

The writer is clear that we won’t be staying either.  “Man in his pomp will not remain”.  It doesn’t matter how confident or cocky we are about life, we’re going to die.  That is absolute and certain.  “Death shall be their shepherd”.  And when we die, there will be a day of reckoning where we’ll stand before God and give account for our lives.  We will stand before God.  And we’ll have to address our sin and falling short of God’s requirement – to live a perfect and holy life.  We’re going to fail the entrance requirement.  That is, unless we have Jesus covering us with His shed blood on the Cross.  If we’ve accepted Him as Savior and Lord God won’t even see our sin but only the blood of the Lamb.  That will be our entrance pass.

Life is not about what we accumulate.  “For when he dies he will carry nothing away; his glory will not go down after him”.  Life is about what we do with what God has entrusted to us.  We will die, and our legacy will be determined by how we lived, not what we gained.  “For though, while he lives, he counts himself blessed, – and though you get praise when you do well for yourself – his soul will go to the generation of his fathers, who will never again see light”.  We might think the scorecard is about the stuff we gather but it is not related to that at all.  God cares about one thing – people – and He wants us to pour life into those in our patch and help them walk closely with Him.

Psalm 48

Psalm 48 begins by reminding us how great our God is.  “Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised in the city of our God”!  The psalmist begins by describing the greatness of God and how worthy He is of our praise.  God is the definition of greatness.  The writer here talks about “His holy mountain” which likely refers to Jerusalem as contrast with Mount Zion.  Having been to Israel last year, Jerusalem is definitely “beautiful in elevation” and sits above the land.  It is the “city of the great King” which ultimately is what makes it so wonderful.

The psalmist talks about the many kings that came and saw the refuge of Jerusalem where God was with His people.  They came to it, but marveled at it rather than attack it.  “As soon as they saw it, they were astounded; they were in panic; they took to flight. Trembling took hold of them there, anguish as of a woman in labor”.  When they saw the city, they understood that God was guarding His Holy City and they were afraid to attack as they might offend the King.

As we have heard, so have we seen in the city of the Lord of hosts, in the city of our God, which God will establish forever”.  Here is a beautiful description of God fulfilling His promises and being alive and active in the current day, not merely the past.  He has done great things, and has proven over and over to be faithful.  God has chosen the city as His own, and has established it forever – it isn’t merely His city for the writing of this Psalm, it is His eternal city that He has chosen to be His forever.

We are reminded that God is a righteous God.  “Your right hand is filled with righteousness”.  God’s interaction with us is based on this fact.  He is righteous and demands the same from us.  We have to live a life worthy of Him, or address those places we miss the mark – which is what sin is.  That’s why Jesus came to earth, as a way to make us righteous and allow us to put off our sin and put on His righteousness so we can enter into our eternity with God.  We have a story to tell.  “Tell the next generation that this is God, our God forever and ever. He will guide us forever”.  God’s love for us is eternal.  We simply need to get right with Him through Christ so we can spent eternity with Him!

Psalm 47

Psalm 47 is another written by the sons of Korah who were Levites and involved with music and the tabernacle/temple activities.  They begin with a bang.  “Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy”!  I can’t think of anywhere in scripture that we are told to keep our worship of God quiet and hidden.  Certainly not what we hear in the Psalms, and the call here is to worship loud and proud.  We need to exalt our God with all we are.  Scripture tells us to keep our prayers and giving a bit more secretive, but not praise and worship.  We are to shout it from the mountain tops that Jesus Christ is Lord.

Why be so vocal?  “For the Lord, the Most High, is to be feared, a great king over all the earth”.  Because He is worthy.  He is the Most High and over all the earth.  We are not worshipping a god, but the God of all the universe.  “He subdued peoples under us, and nations under our feet.  He chose our heritage for us, the pride of Jacob whom he loves”.  We are blessed by Him in every way.  The prior Psalm focused on the security of His people.  Now we are told to let the world know that He is faithful and has delivered us.  We are to rejoice and be happy and do it publicly and openly.

We’re told over and over in this chapter to do two things: shout to God and sing praises to our King.  This isn’t to be quiet and muted but loud and enthusiastic praise.  We aren’t to whisper our praises but let them flow like the sound of a trumpet, bold and powerful full of joy.  “Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises”!  One thing I often watch at a church service is how involved the people in the congregation are in singing.  We are told to sing over and over. It is a way to praise our God.  It’s how we exalt His holy name.

Guzik tells us that this is a Psalm that teaches us how to praise God:

  • Praise Him cheerfully when you clap your hands as an expression of your inward joy.
  • Praise Him universally together with all you peoples who should praise the Lord.
  • Praise Him vocally as you shout unto God with the voice of triumph.
  • Praise Him frequently, as the idea of sing praises is repeated often. You cannot praise Him too much.
  • Praise Him intelligently, as you are to sing praises with understanding and to know and proclaim the reasons for our praise.

He is worthy. “God reigns over the nations; God sits on his holy throne”.  There is no other like Him.  The throne is not empty.  It belongs to Him alone.  He is there being God and looking over all His people.  He is worthy of our praise!

Psalm 46

Psalm 46 is a song of great comfort and confidence.  “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble”.  It defines God’s provision for us.  Many psalms begin with the writer in crisis, facing an overwhelming situation.  In this one, the writer recognizes that God is the answer to every situation:

  • God is our refuge, a place of protection
  • God is our strength, a source of power
  • God is our help, an awareness that He is near
  • God alone fills those roles, nothing else is needed.

Whenever we are in trouble or need of anything, we need to run to God.  Far too often we want to run from Him, but that is the wrong response.

The psalmist has the utmost confidence in God.  He knows that if God is refuge, strength and help, then even when facing the biggest crisis imaginable, He is the source of hope.  “Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling”.  It’s an if/then proposition.  If God is all these things, then there is no other option that is even close.  These are overwhelming and uncontrollable issues – but God is the Rock we can cling too even in the midst of disaster.

The psalmist paints a beautiful picture of our God.  “There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns”.  The river is a picture of abundant and constant provision to His city.  God lives there and is not leaving.  He stands ready to help and take action.  His presence permeates all and He will not be moved.  God is prepared to be our advocate and protector.

The secret to all of God’s power is found in this direction.  “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth”!  This doesn’t mean we stop and just stand still or sit in one place.  We aren’t to go sit in our easy chair on the sidelines and just wait for God to show up and do His thing.  It means we need to have a relationship with Him.  We need to allow Him to be in control.  To put it simply – we need to surrender to His will.  This is about a relationship of submission to the Creator of the Universe and an acknowledgement that He alone is in control.  He is able and sufficient to be our God.  We need to put Him on the throne of our life and trust Him for who He is!

Psalm 45

Psalm 45 is a very different tone from some of the previous psalms.  It is filled with joy and celebration.  “My heart overflows with a pleasing theme; I address my verses to the king; my tongue is like the pen of a ready scribe”.  Does your heart overflow with God’s love?  Is it filled with a ‘pleasing theme’ that is overarching to all that you say and do?  That’s the kind of life God desires that we have – one where our heart is overflowing with the goodness that God gives, and our tongue is sharing that goodness with all those in our patch.

This psalm speaks of the king, and there are many commentators that believe it is speaking of the ultimate King – Jesus Himself.  The psalm contains a poetic and powerful description of the King and gives praise and exaltation for all that He does.  The writer begins with a description of the character of the Messiah – the beauty and nature of who He is – not merely His appearance but rather His character and personality.  And he writes of the eternal nature of this King.  “God has blessed you forever”.

The writer also talks about the arrows being sharp. Jesus shoots His arrows at the heart – He is concerned with who we are.  The psalmist goes on to talk about the authority and power of this King.  “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever”.  There is no other who can lay claim to that other than Christ Himself.  The King is praised and exalted as God.  There is no other who fits that description than the very Son of God Himself.  His reign is eternal and goes on forever and ever.

The psalmist ends reminding us that His reign will be eternal.  “I will cause your name to be remembered in all generations; therefore nations will praise you forever and ever”.  The writer knows that his place in God’s kingdom is to praise and worship the King, and to make His name known among all nations.  Do we praise Jesus that way?  Are we living in a way that we are making His name known among all nations?  That is the task we have been given.  We are to let the world know of the King who has purchased our lives and given us eternity.

Psalm 44

Psalm 44 begins with a history review of God’s faithfulness to His people.  “O God, we have heard with our ears, our fathers have told us, what deeds you performed in their days, in the days of old”.  One part of our role as parents is to share a spiritual legacy with our kids and grandkids.  We need to tell the stories of days gone by – stories of all the amazing things God has done in the generations past.  God has done many great and powerful things that we need to capture and share openly with those in our patch.

The people realize that God was the source of what they had.  “Not by their own sword did they win the land, nor did their own arm save them, but your right hand and your arm, and the light of your face, for you delighted in them”.  There is admission that God was the source of all they have.  It is far more important to have God’s favor than our own strength and power.  And having God’s face to shine upon us is the ultimate success.  His hand and His face trump all else around us.  The discussion here is not only what the writer has experienced, but the generations before as well.  It is ultimately the spiritual heritage that they have lived.

There is confidence in God’s ability to protect them from their enemies because God has been faithful in the past.  “Not in my bow do I trust, nor can my sword save me”.  They know that it is only through God that they will be victorious over their enemies.  But with all the great history and heritage, there is a prayer for God to come to the aid of His people.  They are in crisis and disappointed with the current circumstances.  And they cast blame against God:

  • you have rejected us and disgraced us
  • you have not gone out with our armies
  • You have made us turn back from the foe
  • those who hate us have gotten spoil
  • You have made us like sheep for slaughter
  • You have scattered us among the nations
  • You have sold your people for a trifle
  • You have made us the taunt of our neighbors
  • You have made us a byword among the nations, a laughingstock among the peoples
  • you have broken us in the place of jackals
  • you have covered us with the shadow of death
  • for your sake we are killed all the day long

They have quite a list of complaints about God and what they perceive to be happening to them right now.

The psalmist protests what is happening.  “Our heart has not turned back, nor have our steps departed from your way”.  In his mind, they have not changed in their relationship with God, but somehow He has just left them to their enemies.  We don’t get a glimpse as to the ‘why’ behind God’s apparent silence here.  But we do see the freedom of the conversation that He allows to happen with those who love Him.  We can go to God and tell Him how we feel.  And we need to seek Him and pray, just as they did here, to see His hands and His face in our lives.  We too need to pursue God with prayers that are clear, simple and urgent like theirs.  God hasn’t left them.  And they just need to keep walking or running to Him.

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