Wishing to Be Near God
For the director of music. A maskil of the sons of Korah.
1 As a deer thirsts for streams of water,
so I thirst for you, God.
2 I thirst for the living God.
When can I go to meet with him?
3 Day and night, my tears have been my food.
People are always saying,
“Where is your God?”
4 When I remember these things,
I speak with a broken heart.
I used to walk with the crowd
and lead them to God’s Temple
with songs of praise.
5 Why am I so sad?
Why am I so upset?
I should put my hope in God
and keep praising him,
my Savior and 6 my God.
I am very sad.
So I remember you where the Jordan River begins,
near the peaks of Hermon and Mount Mizar.
These verses ask that we truly understand a “seeking heart.” Unless we are in this specific frame of mind we will never understand. This has to be the precursor of all that follows. And only an adoring heart can enter these private chambers. These rooms can only be opened with a special key– humility blended with worship.
Have you ever been really thirsty? I mean bone-dry, parched, dehydrated. It seems that all you think about is a big glass of sweet tea, with ice cubes! Psalms 42 is a very accurate description of a heart that only wants God. There is nothing on this planet that draws a desperately thirsty heart like His presence.
V. 1, 2 David compares himself to a desperate deer, that is driven to the clear streams of water. Funny, but deer are very reliant on a water source, much more than other animals. They will stay close to their water. David described his need for God in these terms. Are you thirsty? The living God is your soul’s real source.
V. 3, there is a profound sadness in David’s words. There are far too many people who will mock and discourage his deep need for God. Tears are David’s only response. Lots of tears. They cynically demand to know, “where is your God?” There will always be resistance, no matter what. What it works in us though is rich and true.
V. 4, is an active memory of things– the way they used to be. However it is only heart-broken nostalgia set ablaze. The enemy, he pushes us into an amnesia. We no longer think clearly about things. But David remembers his response, of travelling into His presence. What he remembered was glorious, he sang and danced as he led God’s dear people. But there is a caveat; we can only truly worship what we love and respect.
V. 5, David processes things as he looks inside. He asks himself certain questions. He doesn’t ask real questions. As he knows true answers. He talks about “sadness.” And a grief that can’t be assuaged. He makes comments that will never be understood apart from “trial.”
V. 6. only develops things that would be “sadness.” Our grief would only irrigate this understanding. David truly understands sadness, and everything he embraces is full of sadness and woe. But David penetrates past his deep grief, and God’s presence meets him on the way. All that we see at this point is sadness. We must accept all that we can. We can only take the things that come too us.
“God blesses those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.”
Matthew 5:4, NLT
Psalmslife is written and maintained by two people, Bryan Lowe and Jonathan Coe. These Christian brothers have formed a relationship of more than 30 years. They have come together as partners to study the Book of Psalms. They have two separate voices, but they strive to hear from one God. We really hope Psalms Life will bless you as you personally workout the Psalms in your own life.
Bryan Lowe graduated from Alaska Bible Institute in 1984. He served with SOS Ministries in San Francisco, and with NLM in Mexico. A bonafide rascal with definite issues, who is seeking to be authentic in his faith to Jesus Christ. An avid reader and a hopeful writer. Husband and father. A pastor and Bible teacher. Diagnosed as Bipolar Depression and disabled. Hepatitis C and also a brain trauma survivor. Enjoys life in Alaska. Email: email@example.com. His other websites are www.Brokenbelievers.com and www.crossquotes.org.
Jonathan Coe is a graduate of Bethel University and Bethel Theological Seminary and has served in both pastoral and campus ministry. In 2004 he was received into the Roman Catholic Church and now lives in Colville, Washington working as a writer in the area of Christian spirituality. He writes for audiences across denominational lines and will be coming out with a book with Tate Publishing later in 2013 presently titled “Letters from Fawn Creek: Wisdom for the Journey to the Gold Rush.” His personal site is http://www.openheavensblog.com/wp/.
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.
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.
Praise the Lord with Music
1 Praise the Lord!
Praise God in his Temple;
praise him in his mighty heaven.
2 Praise him for his strength;
praise him for his greatness.
3 Praise him with trumpet blasts;
praise him with harps and lyres.
4 Praise him with tambourines and dancing;
praise him with stringed instruments and flutes.
5 Praise him with loud cymbals;
praise him with crashing cymbals.
6 Let everything that breathes praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord!
Psalms 150, NCV
There exists an orchestra here, a certain symphony of praise. So many are escorted into this, and yet not enough are praising Him. These six verses give us a deep variety of instrumentation to choose from. Everything must be accepted, and brought into this certain place of blessing Him loudly.
There are 12 certain approaches listed in this psalm. Twelve ways to worship, who go on to create a deep harmony within each other. None of us operate on our own, but as believers are ushered into music practice. All of a sudden, we are much more than “spiritual musicians.” We are quite corporate, or at least should be.
Recently, I’ve gotten hooked on the Jazz musician, of Miles Davis. His work seems to be always a conundrum of a jazz and blues, but always several instruments working together, weaving a wonder that is exquisiteness at it’s best. He teaches me of how the Church weaves a certain connection between people.
Psalm 150 brings everything together, as we read it we should think “together.” We have “worship tools” that enhance what we want to do. Harps, tambourines, and flutes are some of what we play. All are invited as we excel in something more than the mundane or ordinary. We will never be elevator music or “Muzak.”
Psalm 150, the last psalm should really be the first psalm. (But I won’t make a federal case of it.) The throne room of God is not simply a visual place– it is just as much an auditory one. We do see things, but we also hear things, which are wonderful in themselves. Get ready dear ones, for a concert which will not disappoint, that is going on, without us, in the heavenly places.
For the director of music. A psalm of David. To help people remember.
“1 God, come quickly and save me.
LORD, hurry to help me.
2 Let those who are trying to kill me
be ashamed and disgraced.
Let those who want to hurt me
run away in disgrace.
3 Let those who make fun of me
stop because of their shame.
4 But let all those who worship you
rejoice and be glad.
Let those who love your salvation
always say, “Praise the greatness of God.”
5 I am poor and helpless;
God, hurry to me.
You help me and save me.”
Lord, do not wait.
Psalm 70:1-5, NCV
“As in all warfare, the two essential elements in victory are knowing your enemy and knowing your resources.”
Sinclair B. Ferguson
Welcome to the war! It’s very seldom that a new convert realizes what we are all up against. Not to put too fine a point on it, but you have become a target for hell to shoot their arrows at. What was never an issue before, now becomes an universal adjudication.
There is a nasty viciousness about Satan’s attacks. We look into his kingdom and see such hostility and spite that it takes your breath away. David saw it also. He was able to write cogently and forcefully about what he had experienced. What we have here in Psalm 70 is nothing less then a “first person” account of a war that’s going on for David’s very soul.
V. 1, there is a plea of desperate alacrity in this verse. There is a deep earnestness to David’s words. Figuratively, he has been pinned down by the enemy, and is making an urgent call for help. It’s typical for a soldier under a withering assault will cry out to be saved.
V. 2, Sometimes we start viewing the darkness as a kind of foggy philosophy of ‘anti-god’ protoplasm. But David won’t do that. His enemies are real, and they possess solid identities. They can be forced to be backed down. And yet David can’t push these bullies away, and so we see him on the radio to HQ for divine intervention.
V. 3, I can just imagine God hearing these words from David. I can see the hint of a smile that the Father has for such audacity and zeal. I can hear Him say, “Now that’s my boy!” The Father releases His power on those who are desperate.
V. 4, Now David doesn’t remain in this same place. We see him getting up and advancing directly into worship. (I always wanted to get a tattoo, “Born to Worship.”) David finds his footing enough to exhort and encourage his brothers and sisters. Warfare does that to you, David understood where everything was leading to.
V. 5, This verse always struck me as being out of sequence. V. 4 after all seems to be the pinnacle. This arrangement though creates a real sense of the cyclical nature of spiritual warfare. In a certain sense we will never see a final battle in our lifetimes. There will always be high places to tear down, and towering giants to kill. But our Helper is just a prayer away. Thank God.
- God, Come Quickly: Psalms 70 (psalmslife.com)
- Lord, Please Hurry!! (mrsknack.wordpress.com)
- Psalm 28:3 Draw me not away with the wicked and with the workers of iniquity, (calvinistview.com)
- Restore the Sparkle: Psalm 13, NLT (brokenbelievers.com)
- Psalm Chapter 70 (pofw.wordpress.com)
- Psalms (vannettachapman.com)
A Call to Praise the Lord. A psalm of thanks.
1 Shout to the Lord, all the earth.
2 Serve the Lord with joy;
come before him with singing.
3 Know that the Lord is God.
He made us, and we belong to him;
we are his people, the sheep he tends.
4 Come into his city with songs of thanksgiving
and into his courtyards with songs of praise.
Thank him and praise his name.
5 The Lord is good. His love is forever,
and his loyalty goes on and on.
This is a “good” psalm, in the sense that it is fairly easy to read through, and it doesn’t make things too terribly difficult to think out its purposes. And yet, we do come across things that require a certain attentiveness.
Vv. 1-2 pronounces our need to shout. Shouting is something we do when things get very bad, or at least when we desperately need assistance. We only shout when the present moment is collapsing around us. We think that if we should shout, it will make us a “shouter.” We don’t want to live with that label.
Shout, and “serve.” Our thinking can deal with serving. It is much better than shouting. Serving is to be done with “joy.” There is something to being a joyful servant. The secondary part of verse to pushes the need for us to sing. This also can create issues. We really find it hard to sing, from our heart, spontaneously. Perhaps our rigidity and stiffness are taking roles they should never have taken in the first place.
V. 3 is a key verse. It essentially is a thought that explains, but it also declares. It does well in both of these dual purposes. When it “explains” we start to grip vv. 1-2. When it “declares” we find that we have just now taken up the challenge. There is a deep idea of a stepping into the attack, and accepting an objection against the evil one.
There is also the idea of being sheep who are carefully watched and tended. The verse declares we are people, and sheep, which He is tending. The parallels between the natural and the spiritual should lead us into a more enhanced understanding of His love for us. Just as the earthly shepherd cares and protects, so the Shepherd is fully aware of us.
V. 4 is a condensed understanding of worship. The intensity within v. 4 presses, and we praise and thank with the best of them. As we step into the boundaries of Jerusalem, we pick up the chant of worship. We have been led through so much, what we sing is only the starting step. He has covered us, and brought us through such terrible difficulties. There comes an essential awareness of His care over our souls.
V. 5, ”The Lord is good. His love is forever, and his loyalty goes on and on.” This is the “king verse” of this psalm. The ideas come together, “goodness, love, and loyalty.” The three together make a wonderful blend. They enhance each other, you might say that each one brings out the best in the others. There is no reason to pick them apart, or try to focus on just one. They all belong together under God’s protective care.
1 How lovely is your dwelling place,
O Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
2 I long, yes, I faint with longing
to enter the courts of the Lord.
With my whole being, body and soul,
I will shout joyfully to the living God.
3 Even the sparrow finds a home,
and the swallow builds her nest and raises her young at a place near your altar,
O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, my King and my God!
4 What joy for those who can live in your house,
always singing your praises.
There are some things that leave an indelible mark inside, deep on our souls. For me, one instance I remember staying at Simpson College on Silver Ave. in San Francisco in June, 1986. The dorms were empty and I had a whole floor to myself. The campus was gorgeous. I found a little “mom and pop” corner market nearby which had a awesome deli. Here I could buy cold cuts, cheese, braunschweiger and fresh sourdough bread. I returned to my room to build my sandwich. I remember the windows were open and a beautiful breeze was there. Good food, warm sun, flowers in bloom and the Holy Spirit are about ready to intersect in my life.
It was simply a moment I captured and savored. Everything seemed to coincide, it was magical in the best sense of the word. It was beautiful, that is all I can say. That time in that dorm room has become a crystalline moment that I will never forget. Right there, it seemed I fell in love, not with a girl, but with a moment in time and place.
That nostalgia is thick on the shoulders of the writer of Psalm 84. He remembers and savors the memories of his visit to the temple. He was given something in that particular moment that would haunt him for the rest of his life. In his thinking, the beauty of the temple could never ever be the same again. The beauty of that experience was inviolable and true and could never be duplicated. But it was his, and he would never forget.
God gives us moments, wrapped in wonder and awe. His presence is very likely the ‘tipping point’ in these. When He is present, a connecting link is made and we receive grace. We will longingly look back on these moments when grace was so close. The psalmist has the same hunger. These moments in the temple which so blessed have also in a way, ruined him. Special times of God’s presence have resulted in a sanctified dissatisfaction with the present.
When we finally make our way to Jesus, life takes on a curious wonder. When the rain finally comes to the barren desert, an explosion of life bursts out. In the exact same way, our lives get very green and lush. This is in contrast to our dry and desperate life without His presence.
I am hungry for His presence. I want to be in the center of wherever He is at. I admit that His grace and love has spoiled me. But the love of Jesus does this. Normal life seems to be in ‘black & white,’ He turns it into a vibrant color. The psalmist begs to be returned to the temple. He wants to be there, with you, more then anything.
To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. Of David.
1 Hear my cry, O God,
listen to my prayer;
2 from the end of the earth I call to you
when my heart is faint.
Lead me to the rock
that is higher than I,
3 for you have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the enemy.
4 Let me dwell in your tent forever!
Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings!
5 For you, O God, have heard my vows;
you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.
6 Prolong the life of the king;
may his years endure to all generations!
7 May he be enthroned forever before God;
appoint steadfast love and faithfulness to watch over him!
8 So will I ever sing praises to your name,
as I perform my vows day after day.
As human beings we live our lives under assault. As we grow up very little gets communicated to us about spiritual warfare. The stark realities of heaven and hell are seldom passed down to us. Evil remains abstract; it never becomes personal. Until.
Psalm 61 was written by David, who understood pretty clearly the evil that wanted to destroy him. He was someone who understood the vicious nature of reality. It seems that David wrote this song while he was running from his son. But there are only a couple of hints for that, nothing more. Ps. 61 is meant for the pursued soul, it is designed not to be autobiographical. The details may change from person to person, but we all live in hostile territory.
“There is no neutral ground in the universe; every square inch, every split second, is claimed by God and counter-claimed by Satan.”
V. 1, have you ever talked to someone about something very important, but they aren’t listening? So, you raise the volume a bit, and put more energy behind your words.
V. 2, describes the vast scope of prayer, and its potency and clout. Even out there, teetering on the edge, God hears. David knows exactly where he needs to be. A rock that is way beyond me in scope and size. The “high ground” of the presence of God.
V. 3, “for you are my safe refuge, a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me” (NLT). In the Army, I learned tactics of “cover and concealment.” Essentially to put yourself in the place of safety. It’s actually a great skill to have. High ground, thick walls, and out of the weather were all prime ways to find it. David announces to God, that He is his safe place. David has irrevocably put his trust in Him.
V. 4, Here are dual images that work together. God is to be a tent we live in, and wings to hide under. A hen opens up her wings, just enough for the chicks to collect. Now a chicken is not very formidable on our level. But God is. Under His wings we are in the safest place possible.
V. 5, isn’t really a popular truth today. Vows seem antiquated and part of the Old Testament. But I think that is a bit harsh. We make vows when we get married. It’s a promise made before God and God’s people. Those vows are exceptional words of true commitment.
V. 6-7, we hear David speaking of himself in the “third person.” I think that this reveals a lot of humility. He doesn’t demean or diminish himself here, but in the light of what he knows its quite refreshing. David knows now what is of value, and what isn’t.
V. 8, within this verse we see David establishing a way of life. Vows and praises! Furthermore, David wants God to understand exactly how he intends to supervise his life from this moment on. He fully intends to be an eager servant in the ways of the Lord.
Psalm 92:8-11, New Living Translation
8 But you, O Lord, will be exalted forever.
9 Your enemies, Lord, will surely perish;
all evildoers will be scattered.
10 But you have made me as strong as a wild ox.
You have anointed me with the finest oil.
11 My eyes have seen the downfall of my enemies;
my ears have heard the defeat of my wicked opponents.
Strengthening and weakening. The world, as we know it is being shuffled and sorted. The very things that we think are wonderful, and praiseworthy, mean nothing at all to God. Enemies fall down, and can’t get up. Ultimately they’re defeated by their own wickedness.
The psalmist has dedicated this entire psalm to be read every Sabbath day. (Remember this fact, as it helps us understand what we are reading.) There were two services–morning and evening. I believe this would of been read publicly at both. The Sabbath accomplished three things– a public gathering of the faithful, an opportunity to pray, and a chance to worship Jehovah.
V. 8, “But you, O Lord, will be exalted forever.”
This is not a self-confidence– it is a confidence in God. There is a humongous difference. As believers, we are to function from this awareness of God’s majesty and glory. They say that if you want to go places, just hook yourself to a ‘shooting star.’ And then you can go anywhere. In grace He pulls us to travel with Him.
Exalted forever! It buries in our hearts a profound sense of worship and hope, which endures without any end at all. It just keeps going, and going, with neverending joy. Our faith is not equipped with a ‘pause button’ so we can take a break, and get away from it all.
V. 9, “Your enemies, Lord, will surely perish;
all evildoers will be scattered.”
Cemented into place is a real awareness of what happens to the active ‘haters of God.’ It’s interesting that no names are mentioned; after all that isn’t the writer’s place. But that doesn’t nullify any awareness of how things are working out. Evildoers will certainly end up in a very bad place.
V. 10, “But you have made me as strong as a wild ox.
You have anointed me with the finest oil.”
Comparisons are made. On one hand we observe the wicked perishing–and on the other is the enriched place of verse 10.
Strong as an ox! Able to carry much, and plow as well. A strong ox was a great thing to have, and it’s likely a good ox would double the value of the farm. In a way, the modern equivalent would be a brand new tractor.
Anointed with the finest! Very few people would merit this ‘beauty treatment of the soul.’ Anointing sealed a person, and set them apart for life. In a weird way it was like inferring a title– baron, a duke, a lady or a knight. But it also was like a rabbit’s foot (that actually worked). But anointing wasn’t magic. It was divine favor. (Which is much better!)
“The Lord keeps you from all harm
and watches over your life.
8 The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go,
both now and forever.”
V. 11, “My eyes have seen the downfall of my enemies;
my ears have heard the defeat of my wicked opponents.”
Obliquely I would say v. 1o, makes v. 11 possible. Did you see the shift? It’s now “my enemies” and “my wicked opponents.” That subtle change between your enemies and my enemies has powerful implications.
This shift is also seen in “my ears” and “my eyes.” It seems in a sense the lines are being blurred a little; the boundaries are not as distinct. I can only conclude that the anointing that preceded this changed everything. Perhaps, maybe, the baptism of the Holy Spirit changes a person forever?
A psalm. A song to be sung on the Sabbath Day.
1 “It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
to sing praises to the Most High.
2 It is good to proclaim your unfailing love in the morning,
your faithfulness in the evening,
3 accompanied by the ten-stringed harp
and the melody of the lyre.”
This particular psalm was used on ‘Shabbet’, or the Sabbath. It contains the elements needed for a congregation to enter into corporate worship. When we come together– we should celebrate in such a manner that pleases the Lord God.
Corporate worship is significant. It knits us together in places we never considered connecting with another. The Bible really advances, in quite a few places, a mutual blending of voice and instruments. But, it is something we must be taught. It is hardly automatic. But it is necessary.
V. 1, “It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
to sing praises to the Most High.”
This verse plainly states the core benefit of “goodness”. We are to weld this to “giving thanks”. Believe or not, but God is recruiting people who want to be worshippers. The word, “good” carries within itself, the idea of health, healthiness, and salvation.
Many things are corrected as we worship. We come forward to sing praises, and suddenly we are healed from many things inside of us. In a sense, we are recalibrated when we worship. And some of it, has to be on a corporate level.
There is no room to negotiate this. The psalmist says it is good– I think we should take him at his word. It seems if you really want to be “good”, you must learn to worship. This is a transformational thought; try to dilute it and you end up all wrong.
V. 2, “It is good to proclaim your unfailing love in the morning,
your faithfulness in the evening,”
There is such an intelligence embedded here. Again the psalmist has us to reiterate what we have learned in v. 1.
It is good. Whether you know it or not, each of us need to proclaim things from the spiritual realm. You may have a quiet, or a brash personality. It doesn’t matter. The word, “proclaim” means “to announce, exhibit or declare.” These words, like cogs in a machine, mesh with God’s love. It would seem we are to declare His unfailing love (and faithfulness) in the morning when the sun rises– and in the evening when it sets.
V. 3, “accompanied by the ten-stringed harp
and the melody of the lyre.”
The musical instruments listed are not known to us. I personally like a Strat and drums and piano. A bass and cello are great.
But this leads us back to the idea of corporate worship. I can’t play an instrument. I can’t really sing worth a ‘plug-nickel’. The key word here in verse 3 is “accompanied.” That means more than one– corporate.
- Significant Worship (brokenbelievers.com)
- The UnMaking of a Worship Disorder (donnaharris.wordpress.com)
- The Lord Delights in Those Who Put Their Hope in His Unfailing Love (smritidisaac.wordpress.com)
- Why I Worship God (yahwehssong.com)
- People of the Crescendo: Psalm 51:15-17 (psalmslife.com)
4 The mountains skipped like rams,
the hills like lambs!
5 What’s wrong, Red Sea, that made you hurry out of their way?
What happened, Jordan River, that you turned away?
6 Why, mountains, did you skip like rams?
Why, hills, like lambs?
7 Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord,
at the presence of the God of Jacob.
8 He turned the rock into a pool of water;
yes, a spring of water flowed from solid rock.
Psalm 114:4-8, NLT
The figurative often makes your message palatable and infuses it with hidden understanding. We encounter the Word of the Lord in a deeper way by embracing it’s “color commentary”.
It’s like your favorite book, with good illustrations. In my mind’s eye, when I was a child, I have memories of a big illustrated Bible. It had these great pictures that I still savor. (Like a drawing of the spies returning carrying a huge ‘grape cluster’ on a pole between them).
V. 4, “The mountains skipped like rams,
the hills like lambs!”
The literalist would have a ‘dickens of a time’ understanding this. The psalmist however, engages us in metaphor and the figurative. A towering mountain was the symbol of established power. There is an innate strength and soundness about a craggy mountain.
The writer of this psalm understood nature’s joy at God’s salvation of Israel. To see a lamb or a sheep leaping about gives the observer insight that would help him grasp the relief creation itself has. Some might say it was only an earthquake, but others recognize God’s hand in it.
V.5, “ What’s wrong, Red Sea, that made you hurry out of their way?
What happened, Jordan River, that you turned away?”
Again–poetry rules the psalmists roost. Figurative language is being used here to be the container of truth. When I read this verse(s), a little picture leaps up in my mind’s eye. I “see” an old lady jumping out from the front of a big bus. I see a powerful river suddenly turn 180 degrees so a path is made. As we visualize both we start to engage the Word.
V. 5 strikes me as sarcastic, with a bit of mockery thrown in for good measure. It also seems to be flavored to be on ‘the gloating side’, infused with an “I-told-you-so” attitude.
V. 6, “Why, mountains, did you skip like rams?
Why, hills, like lambs?”
“Why” is said once, and repeated again. Why is a good question to ask. It depends on context, but it can be the hardest of the interrogatives to answer.
As a matter of fact, this is an interrogation. (It doesn’t justify ‘waterboarding’ though.) There exists a cross-examination that forces truth out in the open. It is a demand that the real reason not be toyed with or be disregarded.
Much of our Christian walk seems to involve embracing what is real, and renouncing what is false.
Vv. 7-8, “Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord,
at the presence of the God of Jacob.
8 He turned the rock into a pool of water;
yes, a spring of water flowed from solid rock.”
“Trembling” or shaking, is the furthermost thing a mountain would do. And that is precisely the point. The “presence of God” (mentioned twice), means God is there–right smack in the middle of things.
And He has been transformative. He makes solid rock ‘morph’ into water for His thirsty ones. This becomes a definite point of praise. He indeed does “great things.”
- Remember the Exodus: Psalm 114:1-3 (psalmslife.com)
- Hymns of Theophany: The Jordan Fleeing God (frted.wordpress.com)
- Knowledge of God’s Saving Strength (birdwithmessage.wordpress.com)
- Be Encouraged! (perseveringthroughlifeschallenges.wordpress.com)
- God’s Goodness-The Foundation of Faith/Gloria Copeland (simplyjuliana.com)