“Look on me and answer, O LORD my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death.”
Psalm 13:3, NIV
God is the sole developer of light. He creates it and then assigns it to whom ever He chooses. He is the proprietor and the sole creator of its properties. Without Him actively bestowing light on us we would have no access to its power or its benefits . He holds the exclusive patent.
As Adam’s progeny we have experienced a light moratorium. We have been cut off from its many benefits. Illumination, understanding and wisdom are just some of the essences of light. When we have it, we are astounded that we lived without it, and we are amazed at the ignorance of our past days.
“The unfolding of your words gives light;
it gives understanding to the simple.”
Psalm 119:30, NIV
Darkened by our sin, we struggle throughout our blinded lives, unable to understand or grasp what is our real purpose. Meaning completely eludes us. However, we are directed by the Psalmist to open our hearts to the gracious gift of light. It illuminates us, giving us a sense of what is real and how life unfolds. That word “understanding” from our text is critical . No matter how stupid and pathetic we have become, the Word of God penetrates our fog and gives us a sense of what is true, and what is real.
Let it unfold, let it open up in your understanding. Like an umbrella on a foggy and rainy day, when it opens it will cover you. Notice that the source of ‘lit-up’ truth emanates from the “words”. Place yourself in His Word, let it pour over you and let it bring you to the the place of joyful acceptance.
The verse speaks of being “simple”. That actually is a pretty descriptive of our condition, and reveals much of human history and “so-called” progress. The word means “naive”. History opened up shows people to be amazingly compliant and susceptible to dictators and men with power. We seem to follow leaders with sinister and strange purposes and agendas. History shows it over and over. We just can’t grasp what is true and what is real.
Jesus has come as the “Good Shepherd”. He stands at the door, and rings our doorbell. Those of us who are being led into His Grace and Truth are finding light. He is revealing to us a definitive understanding of truth. And we need truth desperately. Let Him lead you, today.
%“Glory in Christ and you can bask in His light forever.” Woodrow Kroll
“If you have only a little ray of light, show out distinctly that you are for Him.” G.V. Wigram
- Christian meditation (eteubom.wordpress.com)
- Lip Service “A malicious man disguises himself with (lifetimecollegestudent.wordpress.com)
- Not presuming on the Lord (biblebase2adaringfaith.wordpress.com)
In our journey from initial conversion to Christ to our last breath on earth, like a seasoned sea captain, we will need wisdom to avoid shipwreck and get our boat safely into harbor. Wisdom will help us be aware of Satan’s strategies and how to respond to them. Scripture will make the simple wise (Psalm 19:7) and Christ the Word will teach us wisdom in our innermost being (Psalm 51:7).
Take the issues of unity and division, for example. A good rule of thumb is this: What Satan wants to divide, God wants to unify; and what Satan wants to unify, God wants to divide. In recent decades, we’ve had more teaching in the Church on the first half of this statement than the second.
We’ve had clarion calls to unity in many different areas of life: marriage, family, work, race relations, between the sexes, Christians within a local church, Christians in different denominations, world religions, nation to nation, etc.. There’s been no shortage of sermons or books on the importance of unity. However, the truth that where Satan wants to unify, God wants to divide, is sometimes overlooked.
For the wise man or woman who is immersed in Scripture and engaged in an intimate relationship with Christ, sometimes God will come to them like a sword or a scalpel and will divide an area of their life that Satan has combined, fused, or unified. Scripture and Christ the Word of God will visit them and be “living and active, sharper than any two–edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
Notice that when Christ visits the Seven Churches in the Book of the Revelation, he has a “sharp two–edged sword in his mouth” (Revelation 1:16). Here are three examples of that sword at work:
One problem I saw frequently in the pastorate was when people fused their view of God with their view of a dysfunctional parent. Put another way, if they had a father who was distant, angry, abusive, vindictive, controlling, manipulative, and/or neglectful, it was easy for them to see God the Father this way. This is right out of Satan’s playbook; he loves to unify a person’s experience of an unhealthy parent with their concept of God.
However, the wise person who is immersed in Scripture and engaged in an intimate relationship with Christ will be able to separate the two. The written Word will come to them as a scalpel and separate God from the parent with passages like this:” But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness” (Psalm 86:15). Christ the Word, who is Love, will also come to them with a sword in his mouth and separate the false union they’ve forged with their parent and God.’
Satan also loves to combine real discipleship with false discipleship. Many Christians have experienced churches that are more driven by law than grace. Instead of resting in their identity as loved children of God and having discipleship flow out of that, through self–effort and religious performance they try to earn their identity as loved sons and daughters.
The wise person, who knows both Scripture and Christ, will ultimately escape this toxic union. The Epistle to the Galatians will visit them and separate true discipleship from false with its message of our true identity in Christ. Christ the Word will come to those crushed by the law and speak tenderly to them, “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28, 29).
Satan loves to unify the concept of success with biblical faithfulness. A particular church may be preaching a false gospel of material gain, but since they’re the biggest church in town, the unwise will esteem the leadership of that church to be both successful and faithful. In reality they are successful, but are not faithful to the gospel. Rick Joyner says that God allows these churches to be blessed but he doesn’t inhabit them. Immersion in Scripture and knowing Christ defines the true gospel, separates faithfulness from success, and exposes these impostors for who they really are.
- Psalm 19:7 and 51:6: The Wisdom of the Word, part 1 (psalmslife.com)
- Who are you trusting in? (livingmoreabundantly4christ.com)
- Satan’s Schemes by George Whitefield (bishopmichaelreid.com)
57 “Lord, you are mine!
I promise to obey your words!
58 With all my heart I want your blessings.
Be merciful as you promised.”
Psalm 119:57-58, NLT
What certainty, and what confidence in these two verses. Within these verses we encounter a faith that excels over all that could disturb it. Verse 57 implies a pronounced boldness, “Lord, you are mine! I promise to obey your words!” Obedience for the Christian, can only settle us. We step into it, very much sure and confident of His love for our souls. “You are mine.” This can only be a distinct work of the Holy Spirit within our hearts.
We declare our love by our obedience. They are chained together like inmates on a Georgia prison farm. Love, and obedience should move as one.
There are two who are making promises. The psalmist promises to obey God’s words in v.57. And God in an active act will respond–a promise of a living mercy. Now all vows, or promises are part of any relationship of significance we have. We call this “devotion,” God devotes Himself first, and we in turn dedicate our lives in obedience.
The idea of ‘blessings’ must be worked into all of this wonder– “With all my heart I want your blessings.” Now if you feel you can skip this special touch, you may do so, but at your own personal loss. The Lord is quite patient, but both sin and Satan are quite aggressive. And the world will fight you ‘tooth-and-nail.” There is no such thing as uncontested territories. It’s not mere hyperbole when we say this. It is our opportunity to leave unreality for good–forever.
“Lord, whatever you want, wherever you want it, and whenever you want it, that’s what I want.” Richard Baxter
“Unless he obeys, a man cannot believe. ” Dietrich Bonhoeffer
5 “Who can be compared with the Lord our God,
who is enthroned on high?
6 He stoops to look down
on heaven and on earth.
7 He lifts the poor from the dust
and the needy from the garbage dump.”
We often make comparisons. And I honestly think it is a good thing. When we compare one thing to another, we almost always choose the better over the inferior. Will it be Chinese or Mexican tonight? That depends. Do we attend this church or another? God lead me. Wear a sweater or a coat? Maybe a raincoat? Choices will often define us, whether they are small or large. We make 100s of them everyday.
The psalmist wants us to make a comparison. In his mind there is no one around that can come close to Yahweh, that sits on the throne supreme. But the psalmist asks the question anyway. He assumes that we will agree, and settle ourselves in this truth aware.
The question gets asked in verse 5. And the verses that follow (v.v. 6-9) are a true and accurate descriptions of our incredible God. Reading these will give God shape. These are profoundly remarkable, in scope and merit. He is an excellent God. He stoops and lifts the poor and needy. Most Sovereigns try to protect their thrones, and maintain an image of power and control. They clearly avoid any unscripted spontaneous contact with their “unwashed” multitudes.
Our Heavenly Father does not do this. Actually, He does the opposite. Truly remarkable.
“Lord who has mercy upon all, take away from me my sins,
and mercifully kindle in me the fire of the Holy Spirit.
Take away from me the heart of stone, and give me the heart of flesh,
a heart to love and adore you, a heart to delight in you,
to follow and enjoy you. For Christ’s sake. Amen.”
Psalm 15 (NIV)
A Psalm of David
1 Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary?
Who may live on your holy hill?
2 He whose walk is blameless
and does what is righteous,
and speaks the truth from his heart
3 and has no slander on his tongue,
who does his neighbor no wrong
and casts no slur on his fellow man,
4 who despises a vile man
but honors those that fear the Lord,
who keeps his oath even when it hurts,
5 who lends his money without usury
and does not accept a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things will never be shaken.
Many biblical scholars regard Psalm 15 as a kind of “entrance liturgy” where those Israelites seeking to enter the temple court are made acutely aware by a temple priest what kind of conduct is necessary to enter these sacred precincts. God is holy and requires those who want to enter his temple and dwell in His presence to also be holy (Lev. 11:44). Jeremiah 7:5–7 echoes this Psalm in that the Lord tells his people that He will only dwell in the temple with them if they “do not oppress the alien, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood or follow other gods…”
The person described in Psalm 15, who qualifies to enter God’s holy presence, is first and foremost a person of sterling character and integrity. Verse 2 shows that what he says and what he does are one in the same. Verse 3 reveals that he has control of his tongue and verse 4a and b disclose that his assessment of other people’s character is accurate and commendable. His dealings with others are above reproach concerning oaths, lending money (no interest), and taking bribes (v.5). Please notice how this list of qualities is weighted heavily towards how one treats their neighbor: Our access to the presence and fellowship of God is inextricably linked with how we fulfill the Golden Rule.
Talk radio show host and virtuoso thinker Dennis Prager, who is deeply committed to Judaism, says there is a strong tradition in his religion that our judgment and reward from God in the hereafter will be mostly based on how we treated other people.
In Dante Alighieri’s epic poem, The Divine Comedy, there is much focus on the Seven Deadly Sins–Pride, Envy, Anger, Sloth, Avarice, Gluttony, and Lust–as Dante himself, the protagonist, takes a journey through Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven. What’s relevant for our study is that in the poem, sins like Pride, Envy and Anger are regarded as worse than sins like Sloth because they take delight in harming others.
Think of Christ Himself dividing up the sheep and goats at the end of the age in Matthew 25:31–46. One group, the sheep, are granted eternal access to the presence of God while a second group, the goats, is eternally banished from the presence of God. The criteria that Christ uses for making this judgment is how each group treated others, specifically whether they extended works of mercy to the hungry, thirsty, unclothed, alien, prisoner, and the sick.
Think of a good parent’s heart and family dynamics. Few things grieve the heart of a parent more–or God the Father–than their kids fighting, doing harm to one another, or withholding love and care to a sibling because of indifference or malice. This observation leads to the question, “Why does the abuse or neglect of our brother grieve the heart of God so, even to the point, in certain cases, of denying a person fellowship with His wonderful presence? We’ll explore that question in part 2 of our study.
6 I hate those who worship worthless idols.
I trust in the Lord.
7 I will be glad and rejoice in your unfailing love,
for you have seen my troubles,
and you care about the anguish of my soul.
8 You have not handed me over to my enemies
but have set me in a safe place.
Psalm 31:6-8, NLT
God’s promises are like watching a sunrise. It is beautiful, and they somehow work inside of us. Wise and patient eyes realize they are seeing something amazing, and it’s good. These three verses overlay each other. When I was a boy, I was fascinated by books that had transparent plastic pages. These pages would fold over on each other. I remember seeing the human body. You see the bones, but if you flip one of these pages– you could see the circulatory system imposed over the bones, and you can add the nervous system and see that as well. Pretty heady stuff for an eight year old boy. This was old school anatomy.
David wrote these verses, and they belong together. ”I hate those who worship worthless idols. I trust in the Lord.” This verse deals with the subject of discernment. The ability to distinguish between certain things, is not always seen as a positive. I cannot remove the stigma of this word– “hate.” In the NT we’re anchored to this idea of love. But in Ps. 139:22,
“Yes, I hate them with total hatred,
for your enemies are my enemies.”
Hatred is a dangerous emotion. It’s has a handle, just like a suitcase. It can be controlled by the Holy Spirit, or manipulated by Satan. As believers, we should be aware of this possibility. Hatred has a place. Romans 12:9 is a ready verse, “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good.” We must walk a tightrope here; it will require wisdom and awareness. But I’m also very confident in the Holy Spirit’s ability to assist you in this matter.
The next verse carries with it an intense blessing. It is also a verse that folds into “our picture book.”
“I will be glad and rejoice in your unfailing love,
for you have seen my troubles,
and you care about the anguish of my soul.”
Being truly glad is the waiting room for believers. It is an active state of a humbled heart. David is thrilled. He is quite aware of having God’s focus– he knows that he is incredibly loved. God has taken on the trials and burdens of David. David’s personal anguishes are taken up by the Lord.
“You have not handed me over to my enemies
but have set me in a safe place.”
David truly believes this. He thinks that this is a truly blessed state to be in. The deep realities of “what could have been” are factored into this awareness. God could have easily sent David to his doom. David is aware of what might have been.
These three verses, (vv. 6-8) snuggle together, like those “Russian nestling dolls.” One inside of the other, inside another. Or like our original metaphor– multiple transparencies coming together to give us a clear view of David’s real truth.
For the choir director: A song of the descendants of Korah, to be sung by soprano voices.[a]
1″ God is our refuge and strength,
always ready to help in times of trouble.
2 So we will not fear when earthquakes come
and the mountains crumble into the sea.
3 Let the oceans roar and foam.
Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge!” Interlude
“Ever-present!” That is how another version words verse 1. I will not to have to hammer very long to get to the real point. It is as if these three verses were beautiful gems just waiting on the ground. “Oh, look here! There is a diamond, and I saw a big ruby lying just over there!” The special promises of the Bible are just like that. I guess its just what holds our gaze.
The sons of Korah have compiled these verses for us to hold dear, close to our breasts. Korah was a family– a clan in the Jewish community. I’d like to believe that the composition of this Psalm knit them together in a profound way. (Their “family reunions” were not drunken brawls, where the police must be called in.) Rather they connected around the Word they had composed. Could it be that you are a son or daughter of Korah? I think that could be arranged. It would be a blessing.
These verses speak about the “secure security” we have in God. You’re the 98 pound weakling, with scoliosis– you wander the beach and very big bullies line up just to kick some sand in your face. And you really are sick of it. God has guaranteed our security. He now stands between us and them! And is always there, and ready to intervene.
The verses that follow all deal with calamities and natural disasters. In Mexico, I lived on the side of a volcano. I now live in Alaska with various earthquakes and tsunamis. I have been through hurricanes, tornados and floods. (I even went without coffee for three days.) But for God’s precious people, there will be triumph, even though there be at times considerable loss. We are not immune to bad things– we are just comforted and sustained in these terrible moments. We get comforted, when others can find none.
10″ The years of our life are seventy,
or even by reason of strength eighty;
yet their span is but toil and trouble;
they are soon gone, and we fly away.
11 Who considers the power of your anger,
and your wrath according to the fear of you?
12 So teach us to number our days
that we may get a heart of wisdom.”
Psalm 90:10-12, ESV
(Actually, in order to scoop this up, you should read Ps. 90:7-17. I can honestly predict good thing emanating from your reading.)
I once attempted to carry Bibles into the village of Minto, Alaska in January 1985. Minto is small and isolated, and it is north of the Arctic Circle. In winter, it is a cold, beyond cold. We saw the temperature drop to a -30, with a windchill of -50 F.
When it gets this cold, the tires on your car freeze. They get flat spots, frozen rubber that keeps its shape. So you hear a clumping sort of sound when someone drives by. This is readily seen in Fairbanks.
Our car just had to breakdown in this frozen waste. We were quite isolated, we were the only vehicle in 50 miles. I tell you this. The cold was horrific. The dead car now was nothing more than a “windbreak”. Since the engine couldn’t run, the temp quickly plummeted. And I knew two things.
- One, I discovered that this kind of cold could quickly kill you.
- Second, I was going to die, as “a Bryan flavored popsicle.”
But we found a miracle. Twelve hours later, a singular snowplow right at the point of turning around, saw the red top of our little Toyota. The driver hesitated, and then decided to find out this mystery. He discovered us, and yes, we were quite close to dying. (No melodrama here folks, just keep moving).
“So teach us to number our days
that we may get a heart of wisdom.”
This is a Psalm of Moses, and we see him connect the dots. This particular verse should lift us up. Just the idea of enumeration should connect us to a deeply eternal watch. Moses is writing directly to the psalmist, and we must accept all that he has said.
Things are astonishingly brief for us. Even as believers (expecting something better) are never really content. We think that we deserve much more than this. But our life is shortened to a set of days, and we have no recourse but to take all that is given to us.
In 1985, in a beat-up Toyota Corolla I suddenly understood the issues. My life was negotiable. This was my certain moment, when I could really understand. We must “count our days”. Only the person who discovers his mortality, can really appreciate” eternal life”.
Its simple, really. We focus on the numbers, and the numerical count we have accrued. We can honestly do nothing less– and nothing more. It seems we are living on a tether, and we can only advance so far. But this is not a bad thing.
There is an “old world” idea of bravery. It’s not so popular lately. But we will only advance if we understand “bravery.” Courage is the only accepted currency in the spirituality of this moment, today. We will trust in the things He gives us.
- The Fellowship of the Saints (brokenbelievers.com)
- Respect Your Elders: 1971 Datsun 240Z Vs 2013 Scion FR-S (automobilemag.com)
- How Dark Could it Possibly Get? Psalm 88 (psalmslife.com)
- To Number My Days – Poetry (cathykilpatrickleadership.wordpress.com)
- Jesus, forsaken by God for us. (explorethestory.wordpress.com)
Temple Guards, Praise the Lord
A song for going up to worship.
134 Praise the Lord, all you servants of the Lord,
you who serve at night in the Temple of the Lord.
2 Raise your hands in the Temple
and praise the Lord.
3 May the Lord bless you from Mount Zion,
he who made heaven and earth.
Psalm 134, NCV
This remarkable Psalm is part of an elite group known as “the Psalms of Ascent.” These 15 were sung as the congregation of Israel went up the steps of the temple in Jerusalem. They would sing each in “rounds” with each other. As you can well imagine, this made the ascent slow, but meaningful.
As you read the three verses, I get a picture of worshippers turning back and blessing the Levites. This takes place at the very end of the day. The Levites, and other godly ones who lived in the Temple, (remember Anna and Simeon, in Luke 2?)
V. 1, “Praise the Lord, all you servants of the Lord,
you who serve at night in the Temple of the Lord.”
The first significant thought is “Lord” mentioned three times. The word is the recognition of someone’s status and standing. We call Him Lord, because He is that (and more).
The second has to deal with the Levitical “night-shift.” They served and guarded the Temple during the wee hours of the night. They probably cleaned, stacked wood, sharpened knives and maintained the Holy Place with its needs.
There was no real glory working the night shift. There were no people to serve. The crowds were for the day shift. (Here’s a weird thought– think “Disneyland at 2:00 a.m.”) There was also a contingent of non-Levite people ministering to the Lord as well. They had no duties, and only the priests could serve through their work.
V. 2 “Raise your hands in the Temple
and praise the Lord.”
I’ve worked nights before. It’s a real adjustment. You never feel like you’ve had enough sleep, and it is really hard to be positive and cheerful. I could get pretty grouchy at times.
But an exhortation is given, a shout and a blessing as the crowds leave. “Raise up your hands– and praise Him!” It is as the work, although necessary, would be secondary. The worship however, was primary. We need to hear that.
V. 3, “May the Lord bless you from Mount Zion,
he who made heaven and earth.”
To be blessed (made “lucky”) by our Creator and Lord is pretty profound. As a kid who read a lot, I think of “fairy dust.” I know better now, but to be blessed by God is deeply significant.
To summarize, I believe this Psalm is speaking of those in the church who are doing “hidden service.” No one sees them really. They go about there duties quietly, and purposefully. The only recognition is from God– who sees all.
I must encourage you to keep on. There are more than you think who see your hidden ministry to the Father.
17 Then he sent someone to Egypt ahead of them—
Joseph, who was sold as a slave.
18 They bruised his feet with fetters
and placed his neck in an iron collar.
19 Until the time came to fulfill his dreams,[a]
the Lord tested Joseph’s character.
20 Then Pharaoh sent for him and set him free;
the ruler of the nation opened his prison door.
21 Joseph was put in charge of all the king’s household;
he became ruler over all the king’s possessions.
22 He could instruct the king’s aides as he pleased
and teach the king’s advisers.
- 105:19 Hebrew ‘his word.’
Psalm 105:17-22, NLT
I would love to have lunch with Joseph. Of all the men and women in the Bible, Joseph would be at the very top of my list. Whenever somebody handles the Word, and mentions his name, my ears perk up and I listen closely.
Psalm 105 is more or less, vignettes from Israel’s rich history. These sketches provide a sense of faith, as it encounters obstacles– and as it follows God. This past history is meant to encourage those in the present, and to be prepared for the future.
When I first became a believer, some kind soul gave me a worn copy of “Foxes Book of Marytrs.” I devoured it. A sense of rootedness began to slowly build as I discovered the rich history of those who would give their lives for the Faith. Psalm 105 does much the same thing.
Vv. 17-18, ”Then he sent someone to Egypt ahead of them—
Joseph, who was sold as a slave.
18 They bruised his feet with fetters
and placed his neck in an iron collar.”
Joseph was being prepared. He would be inserted behind enemy lines. He would become “the tip of the spear.” No doubt though, slavery was a really lousy place to start. He could look down and see the iron shackles. He could reach up, and around his neck, he could feel the collar of a slave.
These are no small things. But perhaps the biggest and most painful was being caught ‘off-guard’ by his brothers, and sold to the slavers. If this were to happen to me– I would become bitter, angry and venomously hateful. I would’ve concocted scenarios where I would wreak revenge (revenge, oops, sorry that slipped out–I meant justice).
V.v 19-20, “Until the time came to fulfill his dreams,
the Lord tested Joseph’s character.
20 Then Pharaoh sent for him and set him free;
the ruler of the nation opened his prison door.”
I believe godly dreams are always linked to a noble character. When God instills something within you, it will come in “seed form.” It will be embryonic. It will need to grow and wait for the precise moment. We can be postured, placed in a forward area until the second is right.
Our impressions of what our dream looks like will almost never be what we thought. But, it will be better. Testing will work you over. You will feel like you just went 12 rounds with Mike Tyson. But you will learn things. God is doing something.
Joseph erupts from his cell. Everything is turned around in a moment. Joseph has been released by Pharaoh himself. The chains and collar are an afterthought (or are they?) He is raised to a prominence never seen before.
The dreams he had as a boy become real. And there is nothing quite like a dream come true!
25 I lie in the dust;
revive me by your word.
26 I told you my plans, and you answered.
Now teach me your decrees.
27 Help me understand the meaning of your commandments,
and I will meditate on your wonderful deeds.
28 I weep with sorrow;
encourage me by your word.
29 Keep me from lying to myself;
give me the privilege of knowing your instructions.
30 I have chosen to be faithful;
I have determined to live by your regulations.
31 I cling to your laws.
Lord, don’t let me be put to shame!
32 I will pursue your commands,
for you expand my understanding.
We are heading back to 119, and picking up where we left off. Verses 1-24 are available for perusal on this site using the search function on the home page.
As a teacher, I admit that Psalm 119 seems very big and cumbersome. Its a lot like having a circus elephant in your living room. It’s all jolly to begin with– but there are some challenging issues as well.
Psalm 119 is quite unique. Each verse is potent and exacting. As we read it we find it is quite choppy and it moves quicker than what we are used to. For many of us, we prefer the sweeping poetry of a Psalm 23 or 103. But this ain’t that.
But it is the most sophisticated chapter in the Bible. It is constructed around the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. And each verse starts with the letter assigned to it. We call this an “acrostic.” (But only in Hebrew.) It the longest chapter, larger than some entire books of the Bible. The construction severely limits the author, as you may imagine.I am tingling with joy Of a glorious discovery: Continuous surrender Brings continuous freedom. Lord, I love being free! ~ Ruth Harms Calkin
V. 25, “ I lie in the dust;
revive me by your word.”
I’m sure we all have seen movies where the protagonist is wandering in the desert under a scorching sun. He has no water, and his strength is completely gone. He dramatically collapses, and looking up he sees the buzzards circling.
The verse makes us see our own desperation. But instead of water, we need to take in God’s Word. We crave and yearn for that which can restore us. The Bible speaks like nothing else.
V. 26, “I told you my plans, and you answered.
Now teach me your decrees.”
As you can see the psalmist does not take time with one metaphor. But jumps to the next.
The writer has been planning. He has been contemplating his future. A strategic understanding must be found, and communicated to the heart of God. An answer comes from the Throne Room.
We see that the psalmist craves instruction. His mindset and inclination is eager for the Father’s aid. In a way, he really want’s God to meddle with his life.
V. 27, “Help me understand the meaning of your commandments,
and I will meditate on your wonderful deeds.”
Understanding is a word connect to the idea of knowledge, discernment, perception, and impression. A multi-faceted word, the writer wants all of these things working.
There is a special way that truth is understood–it comes from God alone. Throughout history, men and women have sought to understand life without God. I’m somewhat of a history buff. Especially WWI history. The foolish and rash ignorance of world leaders was a travesty. (Its laughable, if it wasn’t so tragic.)
What is spoken here is meditation that is not eastern. There is a big difference. On one hand there is an emptying, a turning off of the intellect and rational. On the other, is a taking in of God’s Words. You could say that Eastern meditation is passive, while Biblical meditation is active.
V. 28, “I weep with sorrow;
encourage me by your word.”
Jesus taught in his Beatitudes the core movements of really walking with God. Below are the first three, Matthew 5:3-5,
3 “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him,
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
4 God blesses those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 God blesses those who are humble,
for they will inherit the whole earth.”
When we begin to understand our sin, and unwholesomeness we start on a walk that is real and significant. God delights in the “dust dwellers.”
V. 29, “Keep me from lying to myself;
give me the privilege of knowing your instructions.”
How do we lie to ourself? One of the strongest impulses is to protect ourselves. It is a central urge we have. For many, the physical rules over the spiritual. Self-deception might be easier than deceiving others.
V. 30, “ I have chosen to be faithful;
I have determined to live by your regulations.”
The choice is made and we shouldn’t look back. Put your hand to the plow and keep moving. We make a decision in the heat of a moment. Then we think we can walk away from it.
“I have chosen– I have determined.”
V. 31, “I cling to your laws.
Lord, don’t let me be put to shame!”
Psalm 119 is the “Fort Knox” of God’s word. This psalm easily has a lifetime supply of gold in it. Laws are just one of eight different words that categorizes the promises of the Word.
Whenever this word “cling” is mentioned in the Bible; a certain image clicks in. I see someone out in the ocean, clinging to a life jacket. Are we sufficiently aware of our hopeless state without Christ?
V. 32, “I will pursue your commands,
for you expand my understanding.”
The word “pursue” is a very intense word. The writer doesn’t say, “I will wander in your general direction.” There can be a great case made for a single-minded devotion.
Having your mind-blown by God, our thinking doesn’t shrink, but it grows and expands. It is God who does these things.
The conclusion of Psalm 92, NLT.
12 But the godly will flourish like palm trees and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon.
13 For they are transplanted to the Lord’s own house. They flourish in the courts of our God.
14 Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green.
15 They will declare, “The Lord is just! He is my rock! There is no evil in him!”
What an ending. I do confess, I do like watching good movies– and the final scenes can make, or break a good movie. Is it believable, does it flow into the plot, does it carry us beyond the moment?
The very way this Psalm ends intrigues me. The perfect summary for this is found in verses 1-11, which we have already covered. Verses 12-15 is our ending point. We arrive here if we will just follow the conditions of the first 11 verses.
V. 12, “But the godly will flourish like palm trees and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon.”
What audacity, what boldness! We must recognize that there is a certain place for these ‘flourishers.’ They just explode with a core central growth. We see them, but we are not intimidated. Instead they push us to a higher love.
The strength of us is that we can grow strong all the way through. That is just the way it works, and we take anything that we can get. Envision for a moment, the tallest cedars. I remember seeing for the first time the California Redwoods. It was astonishing, and I got a crook in my neck looking up all the time.
V. 13, “For they are transplanted to the Lord’s own house. They flourish in the courts of our God.”
No matter where we are, the Father will bring us closer to Himself. We may think we are “out-of-the-loop”. But He sees it all. He does “transplant,” but only within our true calling. And a “flourishing” is part of the package.
How do we process this? We are brought out of a senseless and desperate life, directly into a full life of intimacy with the Lord Jesus. In this place, we start to grow branches, and new buds. Life is not just a great idea–but it starts to flow through our very being.
V. 14, “ Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green.”
Old age seems close to us. We age, and we determine that it works out to us in obsolescence and defeat. When we hit 60, we determine it is all over, and finished. God promises that as believers we will be green, and fresh–even in this crazy margin of age. But as it works out, we are incredibly “vital.”
I suppose that the truth of this can transform the way we see ourselves, and the way we live out our lives, Old-agedness can never be an excuse to backing out of a true and real spirituality.
V. 15, “ They will declare, “The Lord is just! He is my rock! There is no evil in him!”
Much of what I have shared with you is solid, but simple. We all end up at this verse though. From here we start to focus directly on all that is plain and level. After all, He is the rock and as we start to focus on this, we are ‘pulled’ into His presence.
We can see no evil in this, and yes it may seem we are in a kind of “pinball machine.” We are bound to voices that try to direct us into its version of deceit. We could be pulled even into “denial” of our faith. But never, or ever is there the slightest sense of evil that comes to us from God.
- Thrill Me, God: Psalm 92 (psalmslife.com)
- Why God’s way takes longer (christianpf.com)
- Is Your Worship Worthy? Psalm 92 (psalmslife.com)
- Psalms 91-95 (mybiblereadingplan.wordpress.com)
- Like Anointed Oxen: Psalm 92 (psalmslife.com)
- Flourishing by Association (bcong.wordpress.com)
- Daily Verse: Psalm 25:4-5 (faithfulprovisions.com)
- Psalm 134: Two-Way Blessings (urcpsalmody.wordpress.com)