Psalm 116 is another psalm that speaks of God’s saving the author. He plead for mercy and God responded. And now the author promises to call on God for all his needs. God acted and saved him. He’ll do the same for you and me. “Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live”. We need to learn to call on God for all our needs, small and large. He is faithful, He hears us, and He acts on our behalf when we are in relationship and following Him. The writer was on the verge of death but God came through.
Things were desperate. Evil was closing in. Death was coming if God doesn’t show up. “Then I called on the name of the Lord: “O Lord, I pray, deliver my soul”! The prayer was simple. It was desperate and direct. The psalmist needs God’s hand upon his situation and God responds. God is faithful and delivers him. It’s a beautiful thing. The Lord loves to care for His people. The writer is trusting God, seeking refuge in God, and waiting for God. God never fails.
What should be the result of God’s faithfulness to us? Our faithfulness to Him. “I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living”. Our relationship is a walk with God through life. He walks with us if we’ll only walk with Him. The problem is that too often we want to run off and do our own thing our own way and not just walk hand in hand with Him. We want to run ahead or run off the path and not stay connected with God, that is until we’re in trouble and need to cry out again. How much better life would go if we’d just faithfully walk with Him as He does us.
The writer asks an important question. “What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits to me”? How do we repay God for His faithfulness? How can we even the score? What can we give back to God in return for God’s goodness and salvation? The author gives us a glimpse:
- “I will lift up the cup of salvation
- I will pay my vows
- I am your servant
- I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving
- I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people”
We need to walk openly and loudly with the Lord. His goodness and blessing needs to be shouted loudly in front of all!
Psalm 114 gives more perspective on the history of God and His people and provides reason for us to praise Him. It should be an encouragement to us as we see God at work in mighty ways to save those He loves. As the writer recalls history, we get to see first hand the presence of God in the lives of His children. It was personal and complete. God fulfilled His covenant promise and cared for His people. God led them from the hands of their enemy with mighty power and in absolute triumph over all.
“When Israel went out from Egypt….the sea looked and fled; Jordan turned back. The mountains skipped like rams, the hills like lambs”. The victory over the Egyptians was impressive in itself, but consider what God really did as He set His people free. He parted the Red Sea, He stopped the Jordan from flowing, and He controlled the mountain and hills as the people stood at the foot of the mountain as Moses received the Ten Commandments and met with God. There is power in the hands of God.
This psalm is about God’s sovereignty and power at work in His people. God did it then, and He is still equally at work around us today. Today, the Christian community is both God’s sanctuary and His kingdom. We are like the psalmist writes in verse two: “Judah became his sanctuary, Israel his dominion”. We are now a “chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation” that Peter writes about in 1 Peter 2:9. God is at work among us in the same way He was when Moses led God’s people from captivity. All powerful, all knowing, and able to do whatever was needed to set His people free.
The psalmist paints a picture of God’s power. “Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob, who turns the rock into a pool of water, the flint into a spring of water”. The psalmist paints a picture of the earth as trembling at the presence of the Lord. This psalm calls attention to the seas, the rivers, and the mountains moving only in the presence of the Lord. God is in absolute control. He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is worthy to be praised. We are called to worship and adore Him based on this history!
Psalm 113 continues a very familiar theme – we need to praise the Lord. Three times in the first verse the psalmist exhorts us to praise the Lord. “Praise the Lord! Praise, O servants of the Lord, praise the name of the Lord”! The repetition here is not a mistake. The writer is reminding us that praising God is not something we should grow cold or callous toward. It is our call and we must not disregard God’s glory. God is great and worthy of our praise. We need to be focused and fervent in our praise.
As Christ Followers, we need to be sure we spend time truly focused on praise and adoration of our Creator. We can often get caught up in the daily grind of life and take God for granted. We don’t stop and realize just how awesome God is because we are consumed by the activity and challenges of the day. Chaos controls our perspective, not God’s amazing love. Praise is a response to thinking about who God is and what He has done, as revealed in His Word and in our life.
So we need to make sure we don’t lose sight of God and who He is and where He sits in our life. “From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the Lord is to be praised”! Our praise should not be a few minutes here or there. It is the awareness of God all around us from sun up to sun down. It is recognizing His beauty in the world we live in. It is seeing His hand at work in the lives of people around us, and in our own life as He moves and directs the details of life.
We should always praise God because He is great and He is gracious to anyone that calls on Him. The psalmist makes it clear that God is not only sitting on the throne high above the nations, but He is taking action to help those in need. He raises people up and protects them from evil. He lifts people from the depths and sits them with princes. God is a gracious and giving God that changes lives. Nothing too great for Him, no one too small. God is able, and willing, to love and care for any and all who will simply call on His name.
Psalm 112 picks up right where the previous psalm ended – focused on the true source of blessing. “Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in his commandments”! The secret to true happiness and success is knowing who God is and having a healthy and reverential fear of Him. It’s knowing God as God and not making Him our BFF or a genie at the end of an SOS line. God is the creator and ruler of all. He is worthy of our praise. And the result of that fear or reverent admiration is obedience.
Lots of people don’t like the idea of obedience. That indicates there is a set of rules or guidelines that we have to follow. Many prefer the concept of doing whatever seems right or feels right at the time. But that doesn’t align with God’s standards and the very reality of sin. Sin literally means ‘missing the mark’ which means there has to be an absolute wrong and right, there has to be an absolute standard that we’re accountable to. Obedience to God’s commandments and will create that standard. If we walk in obedience, blessing flows. If not, well…..
This chapter talks about mankind and what happens with we live a God honoring life. The words that describe a successful walk with God are pretty amazing.
- “His offspring will be mighty in the land
- the upright will be blessed
- Wealth and riches are in his house
- his righteousness endures forever
- Light dawns in the darkness for the upright
- he is gracious, merciful, and righteous
- It is well with the man who deals generously….conducts his affairs with justice
- he will be remembered forever
- He is not afraid of bad news
- his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord
- His heart is steady
- he will not be afraid
- he looks in triumph on his adversaries
- He has distributed freely
- he has given to the poor
- his righteousness endures forever
- his horn is exalted in honor”
That is quite a list that results when we get our fear of God and our obedience to Him right.
Psalm 111 gave us a clear picture of God and his mercy, love and grace. This chapter shows us the result of walking with Him in fear and obedience. The outcome is overwhelming – the blessing beyond our imagination or hopes. God is waiting for the opportunity to truly bless us indeed. He wants to pour His goodness all over us. It impacts not only us, but those around us and generations to come. It is an amazing picture of His bounty and love. But equally clear as the author closes is the flip side – that of wickedness. “The wicked man sees it and is angry; he gnashes his teeth and melts away; the desire of the wicked will perish”! They won’t like seeing others enjoy God’s blessing. They will eventually perish.
Psalm 93 is five short verses but gives us some powerful truth. God is on the throng. He is in control. Quite simply it begins with “The Lord reigns”. It’s a pretty matter of fact statement but gives us truth that is for all mankind for all time. God created the world and is established as the Creator for eternity. “It shall never be moved”. Another matter of fact statement about God and just how established His seat is. He is the Lord and sits on the throne of the universe. That isn’t changing. Not today. Not anytime.
“Your throne is established from of old; you are from everlasting”. It started all the way back at creation. God spoke the world into existence then, and sits on the throne of power and control yet today. That is how it was ‘In the beginning’. That is how it will be at the end. God will be in charge. He will be the judge. He will sit on the throne with absolute power and authority. He came from everlasting (the beginning of time) and will be established until everlasting (the end of time). This isn’t a short term gig. It is for eternity.
The other reality is that God isn’t just hanging on. He isn’t being propped up because He started on the throne. “The Lord on high is mighty”. He is the absolute power of our universe. He created all things. He has overseen all things. He is the source of life in and through all things. He is a mighty God. He is “mightier than the thunders of many waters, mightier than the waves of the sea”. Nothing is beyond His control. God does not just hang on. He is the Master of all for all eternity.
One of the commentaries summarizes the chapter with these three key points:
- Verses 1-2 announce the stability the world enjoys as a direct result of God’s rule.
- Verses 3-4 point out God’s defeat of the chaos and that He is “mightier” than even this most powerful and unpredictably chaotic force.
- Verse 5 subtly shifts from creation to governance. God’s “decrees” match his reign in stability as they are “very trustworthy.”
The summary is simple. God is in control. That control is over all things. And that control is very good for us all!
Job 23 has Job wishing he could take his case before God. He is frustrated that he feels separated from God. “Oh, that I knew where I might find him, that I might come even to his seat”. He had found peace and help from God previously, and felt confident he could go to the throne and receive it again. But he is struggling to find God’s face – he wants his day in court so to speak so he can be vindicated from his situation. He is confident that if he could just get a chance to stand before God, all would be well.
You have to give Job kudos for his efforts. “Behold, I go forward, but he is not there, and backward, but I do not perceive him; on the left hand when he is working, I do not behold him; he turns to the right hand, but I do not see him”. Job is looking everywhere. Even in the midst of his pain and anguish, Job is trying to find God. This is a critical lesson for us to learn. In the midst of chaos and crisis, when things are deep in distress, that is when we most need to seek God. Job looks left and right and forward and backward. One writer asked why he didn’t look up.
Job has confident in his faith and God’s righteousness. He knows that God will find him purified by the fire. Gold is never hurt by the fire, only the impurities removed. Job believes in God – his faith is strong. “He knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold”. Spurgeon writes this about Job’s confidence:
I shall ask four questions of every man within reach of my voice. God knoweth the way that you take.
- I will ask you first: Do you know your own way?
- Secondly: Is it a comfort to you that God knows your way?
- Thirdly: Are you tried in the way?
- And, if so, fourthly: Have you confidence in God as to the result of that trial?
- Can you say with Job, ‘When he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold’?
Job has walked faithfully with God. He is still defending his integrity. “My foot has held fast to his steps; I have kept his way and have not turned aside. I have not departed from the commandment of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food”. Job is insistent that he has followed God and been obedient to his Word. And God is central to his life. And because of that he is still confident in God. “He will complete what he appoints for me, and many such things are in his mind”. Job knows that God will be faithful and true to His word. He knows he can trust God even in the midst of his situation. That’s the confidence we can have too. God will be true to His Word.
2 Kings 13 moves from a view of Judah’s king to now Israel’s King Jehoahaz. Unlike his counterpart in Judah, this king “did what was evil in the sight of the Lord” just as his father and grandfather before him. “The anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel….he gave them continually into the hand of Hazael king of Syria”. So what do we do when things aren’t going well? We cry out to God which is exactly how “Jehoahaz sought the favor of the Lord, and the Lord listened to him”. God never leaves nor forsakes us. But He does desire us to come to Him humbly and obediently.
The Syrians had ransacked Israel and “there was not left to Jehoahaz an army of more than fifty horsemen and ten chariots and ten thousand footmen”. The kingdom was under the control of the Syrians most of the time of his reign. Jehoahaz dies and his son, Jehoash began to reign. He made the same mistakes as his father – “did what was evil….did not depart from all the sins of Jeroboam….he walked in them”. The king learned that “Elisha had fallen sick with the illness of which he was to die, Joash king of Israel went down to him and wept before him”. Even though he was evil and not walking with God, he did recognize that God was in control and Elisha was his prophet.
“Elisha laid his hands on the king’s hands….you shall fight the Syrians….until you have made an end of them”. That is quite a change from the way things have been the last few decades. Elisha tells the king to “Strike the ground with them”. And the king did but he only struck three times and stopped. Elisha said “You should have struck five or six times; then you would have struck down Syria until you had made an end of it, but now you will strike down Syria only three times”. Later in the chapter we see that God allowed them to strike down the Syrians three times, but no more.
“Elisha died, and they buried him”. But that wasn’t the end of his miracles. Elisha was in his grave and while they were burying another guy, a band of marauders came along and they threw this other dead guy “into the grave of Elisha, and as soon as the man touched the bones of Elisha, he revived and stood on his feet”. Even in his death Elisha was filled with God’s power. We serve the same God as Elijah and Elisha and the other prophets. God is not dead, nor is His power. We need to stay connected to the source and remember that He is alive!