Archive for the ‘Psalm’ Category

Psalm 143

Psalm 143 has David again reaching out to God in prayer.  “Hear my prayer, O Lord; give ear to my pleas for mercy! In your faithfulness answer me, in your righteousness”!  He reminds us that God is a God of mercy and His love for us.  The truth is that our sins (falling short and missing the mark God has set) are so many and we fall so far from God’s standards that it is only by His mercy we have life.  David also reminds us of God’s faithfulness and the fact that He never leaves and is always available to answer.  But he also calls out God’s righteousness – God is a God that cannot stand sin and evil.

That creates a real problem for every man, woman and child on this planet.  We are sinners plain and simple.  “Enter not into judgment with your servant, for no one living is righteous before you”.  The ground is level at the foot of the cross as we all come before God unrighteous and doomed for an eternity of separation from Him.  At least if we try to achieve it on our own merit.  None of us are righteous and able to pass His judgment on our own merit.  That’s where Jesus comes in – He alone is our source of forgiveness and cleansing.  He alone can set us free from the penalty of sin.

David is worn down.  He has been pursued for a long time and is weary.  “Therefore my spirit faints within me; my heart within me is appalled”.  The enemy wants to defeat us, most of all in the area of our spirit.  Sure we face physical and emotional challenges where we are defeated, but the enemy wins when he robs us of our joy and walk with God.  David knows that is what his enemies want to do – to drive a wedge between himself and God and get David focused on how bad life is.  David shows us four responses to stay connected with God:

  1. I remember the days of old
  2. I meditate on all that you have done
  3. I ponder the work of your hands
  4. I stretch out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land

David runs to God and remembers all that He has done.  He doesn’t give up or give in.  He asks God to reveal Himself and speak to him.  He runs to God for protection.  “Deliver me from my enemies, O Lord! I have fled to you for refuge”!  Although he is still under attack, David asks God to show him clearly what His will is and to help him walk in it.  “Teach me to do your will, for you are my God”!  We cannot win the battle on our own.  Our hope and strength must come from the Lord.  He has the solution.  He knows the situation and is ready to come to our aid.  We simply need to ask!

Psalm 142

Psalm 142 has David crying out to God as he feels trapped and overwhelmed by the troubles in his life.  He writes this while in a cave, hiding out and fearful for his life.  “With my voice I cry out to the Lord; with my voice I plead for mercy to the Lord. I pour out my complaint before him; I tell my trouble before him”.  David again shows us what to do when we are overcome with fear – we need to run to God.  Look at what he does:

  • I cry out
  • I plead for mercy
  • I pour out my complaint
  • I tell my trouble

David knows He can’t deal with the enemy alone.  So he raises his voice to God.  He doesn’t sit quietly – he literally cries out and allows his soul and spirit to connect with God.  His crying out was a form of supplication, or praying to the Lord humbly asking for grace and mercy.  He brings his requests openly to God.  He relies on God to sustain him.  “When my spirit faints within me, you know my way! In the path where I walk they have hidden a trap for me”.  And he knows they are out to get him, so he asks God to keep him safe from their traps.

When we face trials and tribulations, our spirit too can faint.  We can run out of our own energy, the tank can go dry, and we need to learn to lean on God for that sustenance and strength. He never runs out.  He never fails.  God already knows the battles we face and is there waiting for our cry for help.  But we need to cry out and ask.  “I cry to you, O Lord; I say, You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living”.  God is our refuge and our strength, an ever present help in times of trouble if we’ll only seek Him.

Life can be overwhelming.  David was king, and a man after God’s heart, yet he experienced a life filled with ups and downs and overwhelming difficulty.  But he always does the same thing – he runs to God for his strength and protection.  And God always responds.  “Attend to my cry, for I am brought very low”!  When things seem overwhelming, that’s when we run to God.  When we feel like we’re down and out and just can’t keep on, that’s when we need to run to God.  When we’re in the pit of life and can’t see out, that’s when we run to God.  God is our refuge and strength.  We need to run to Him!

Psalm 141

Psalm 141 has David again crying out to God.  David was in distress when he penned this psalm, pursued most likely by Saul.  “O Lord, I call upon you; hasten to me! Give ear to my voice when I call to you”!  He has a personal relationship with God, and walks constant in His presence so when he prays, he knows God is listening.  We can have the same confidence.  Same God today as was there for David.  And He is listening and ready fo come to us just like He did David.

David knows that his lips are powerful.  “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips”!  The tongue is a powerful thing.  And it can lead us into sin.  David was in fear of sin, and he begs God that he might be kept from sin, knowing that his prayers would not be accepted unless he watched against sin. We must be as earnest for God’s grace in us as for anything.  Sin is a real issue.  It gets in the way of relationships, particularly between us and God.  We need to watch our mouth and keep our tongue controlled.

Who we are with matters.  Our hearts are already bent toward sin and doing evil, so who we hang with can pull us over the edge and move us from the temptation to sin to the act of committing sin.  “Do not let my heart incline to any evil, to busy myself with wicked deeds in company with men who work iniquity, and let me not eat of their delicacies”!  We must guard against temptation and stay away from those who would draw us into the sinful pleasures that the enemy will put before us.  Often we choose to go with the crowd rather than stand alone in righteousness.

So how do we stay the course?  We keep our eyes focused on God, not the allure of the world.  “But my eyes are toward you, O God, my Lord; in you I seek refuge; leave me not defenseless! Keep me from the trap that they have laid for me and from the snares of evildoers”!  Our defense against temptation and ultimately sin is to keep our eyes directly on God and to walk in His presence.  Evil cannot be in God’s presence, so if we abide there and walk with Him, we will be safe.  God is our rock and protection.  In Him we need have no fear!

Psalm 140

Psalm 140 has David crying out to God for help.  “Deliver me, O Lord, from evil men; preserve me from violent men, who plan evil things in their heart and stir up wars continually”.  David was under attack for much of his life.  People were out to destroy him and take his life.  He was being pursued by men with a record of violence and doing wrong.  They were not amateurs, but planners of evil set on removing him from the scene.  David cries out to the only One who can protect him, God Himself.  God is his deliverer and protector.

David pleas with God to guard him from the enemy.  “Guard me, O Lord, from the hands of the wicked; preserve me from violent men, who have planned to trip up my feet. The arrogant have hidden a trap for me, and with cords they have spread a net; beside the way they have set snares for me”.  David knows that God has complete understanding of their plans and traps to take him out.  So he asks God to intervene and guard his path that he won’t walk into their snare.  God knows all, sees all, and understands the hearts of all so He knows the plans of every man.  He can guard and protect us.

David has a personal relationship with God.  This isn’t a request out of nowhere.  He walks with God intimately.  “I say to the Lord, You are my God; give ear to the voice of my pleas for mercy, O Lord! O Lord, my Lord, the strength of my salvation”.  This is what God wants from each of us – to be close to Him and to have our hope and faith completely built upon His love.  He is Lord.  He is King.  He wants to be my God and yours.  God is a personal God who not only listens to our cries, but is our strength and salvation.  He alone is worthy of our praise.  He alone can save us.

David asks God to deal harshly with his enemies.  “Let burning coals fall upon them! Let them be cast into fire, into miry pits, no more to rise”!  He is tired of running and hiding from evil.  And he wants God to be victorious and glorified.  God is faithful.  Our response to His action needs to be one of praise and telling that story.  “Surely the righteous shall give thanks to your name; the upright shall dwell in your presence”.  God is alive in your life every day.  Do you give thanks and dwell in His presence?  That is what our response ought to be!

Psalm 139

Psalm 139 has David in conversation with God about the intimate relationship God has with him.  “O Lord, you have searched me and known me!  You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.”.  There are no secrets with God.  He knows us deeply.  He can see right through us – to our motives and heart.  God knows all whether we are resting or active – there are no surprises for Him.  He also understands the reasons behind our decisions and choices because He knows our heart.  And He can tell what our deepest thoughts and drives are.

Do we ever walk alone? No – not ever.  God has promised that.  “Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.”  Comforting, yet convicting.  We at times want to do whatever we want and close our eyes to the reality that God is there and sees all, hears all, and knows all.  But we can’t hide from Him.  We aren’t pulling the wool over His eyes.  There are no secrets He isn’t aware of before it happens.  God loves us, in spite of what He knows.  Our sins are never a surprise, and it grieves Him when we continually make choices that are sinful and fall short of His mark.  That’s what sin is, falling short of the standard God has set for man to live up to.

We can run, but we can’t hide.  “Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?  If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!”  Rather than running from God, we should run to Him.  We ought to see Him as not Someone to flee from, but to run toward all our days.  God is omnipresent.  He is omnipotent.  He is everywhere and sees everything.  So our right response is to bask in that presence rather than hide and run from it.  When we run, He’s still there: “even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.”  God never leaves us nor forsakes us.  He stands ready to help us and hold us tight.

Does God know us intimately?  “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”  God not only knows us but designed and created us exactly as we are.  As that old statement goes – God doesn’t make any junk.  We are not a mistake.  We are not a surprise to Him.  He knit us together exactly the way we are – physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually and in every other way.  God formed us for His purpose and on purpose.  And He created each of us with a unique purpose that we have the opportunity to discover and walk with Him in each day of our lives.  What a glorious plan.  What an amazing God!

Psalm 138

Psalm 138 is written by David and focuses on thanksgiving.  “I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart; before the gods I sing your praise; I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word”.  David gives thanks to God from the bottom of his heart.  This isn’t a superficial thank you.  David is grateful for the deliverance God has granted him and gets right to the point.  It isn’t just a ‘thanks God’ moment, but a heartfelt and deep thank you from deep within.

God has been faithful, not only to David, but to all for all generations.  David has a specific act in mind here when he says “On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased”.  God is a God of action in our lives.  He isn’t some idealistic pie in the sky thought, but the Creator of the universe and the great and mighty Controller of all things.  David knew God in that way, as One who not only heard prayers, but acted.  He says ‘I prayed, You answered’.  We can experience that same relationship with God if we walk faithfully with Him.

David goes on to define exactly what is going to happen in the future.  God not only is God, but will be recognized as such someday.  “All the kings of the earth shall give you thanks, O Lord, for they have heard the words of your mouth, and they shall sing of the ways of the Lord, for great is the glory of the Lord”.  He writes it as a fact, and indeed it will be so.  God is above all; be they kings, presidents, rulers, dictators, or any other kind of leader.  He alone sits on the throne of this universe.  He will be worshipped and thanked when His day comes.

The psalm ends with this reality – God is our protector and guides our life.  “Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life….The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever”.  Scripture never promises life will be easy.  But it does tell us we won’t walk it alone.  God will be there, and He will take care of us.  He also has a plan for our lives, a very specific, unique and personal plan that will come to fruition.  He fulfills His purpose for each of us.  Not necessarily what we want, but what He has ordained to be our purpose.  How do we know?  Because His love lasts forever.  It goes on to eternity.  It never fails!

Psalm 137

Psalm 137 is known as an imprecatory psalms. In these psalms, the author invokes God to bring down judgment or punishment on his enemies.  This psalm has one of the harshest verses in the psalms in verse 9: “Blessed shall he be who takes your little ones and dashes them against the rock”! But before we get to that, look at how the psalmist begins.  “By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion”. The psalmist is not simply trying to address us, but to shock us into seeing the awfulness of sin.  Sin is a real problem in God’s eyes – no matter how much we try to belittle it.

The psalmist wants us to have an emotional reaction to sin which has taken place. We are too mild in our hatred of sin.  God hates sin, and that is not an overstatement of His position on it.  It is an issue that will cause us to spend eternity apart from a loving God who more than anything wants us to spend that eternity with Him.  But He won’t give us a pass on sin.  He won’t bend the rules so we can spend that eternity with Him.  That’s the reason Jesus has to go to the Cross – because God can’t ignore sin – any sin – no matter how we view it.

Just as these faithful Jews could not sing Zion’s songs in Babylon, so God’s people today should not just blend in with the world.  “How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land….Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth, if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy”!  God’s people can’t praise God while in captivity, even though their very actions are what led them to their situation.  The Jews refused to play their harps in Babylon.  They stood firmly for the Lord, yearning for worship in Jerusalem.

But back to the closing verse, which seems very harsh.  One commentary explains it this way: When the psalmist prays for Babylon to have its infants dashed against the rocks, he is asking that the law of retribution be carried out through God’s prescribed means against a warring nation to punish Babylon with the same evil Babylon had inflicted on Israel. He is invoking God for the judicial punishment of the wicked.  God’s punishment certainly can be strong and severe, especially against those who choose to cause pain to His children.

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