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
“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire—
but my ears you have opened[b]—
burnt offerings and sin offerings[c] you did not require.
7 Then I said, “Here I am, I have come—
it is written about me in the scroll.[d]
Psalm 40:6, NIV
I am hard of hearing. I find I am constantly asking for people to speak up. At times I admit I just shake my head, and pretend I heard what was just said to me. I’ve been tested and I have significant hearing loss. Perhaps the years of rock concerts have taken there toll on my poor ear drums. And if the background noise is fairly loud I find myself in an auditory nightmare. But I am highly resistant to being fitted with a hearing aid.
David is writing about his hearing. Or, more precisely, his new found ability to hear. It would seem that the Father has given David the very real and significant ability to hear His voice. “My ears you have opened.” A work has been done in David’s life. He now has the supernatural ability to hear and listen to what the Lord is saying. I suggest that this is mot a casual or ordinary capability to the average person. This seems like a case when God has given David a special ability to hear what God is saying.
Open ears improve our service, and gives us wisdom, and a solid assurance. Many of us try hard to serve the Lord, but if we are spiritually deaf, we will constantly falter in this. Hearing as a sense is way too crucial to fake. Sometimes, I think the Holy Spirit has to resort to “sign” language to communicate to us. If we can not hear Him, how are we going to serve Him?
“My ears you have opened.” This suggests a true work of the Father. I once saw a poignant sequence of photos, which were taken of a boy whose hearing had been surgically restored. His face lit up, when he heard the voice of his father for the very first time. Somehow, I have to believe that this takes place when we hear Him spiritually for the first time.
Far too often, our hearing is blocked by the steady drone of background noise. There is too much noise, much is media driven. Temptation and sin create a bubble that filters out the Father’s voice. We are deafened by our own wrong choices and desires. Our spiritual hearing is compromised.
“Father, help us to hear you. Help us to do all that is necessary to tune your voice in. May our hearts receive your voice, that we may follow you even closer than we now do. In Jesus’ name.” Amen.
- Deafness and Hearing loss-Insights, Prevention, way forward (kobbyblay.wordpress.com)
- Five Common Myths about your Hearing (healthyhearing.com)
- 5 Unexpected Ways to Lose Your Hearing (healthyhearing.com)
- Psalm 40: Gratitude and Prayer for Help (daddyslittlebrat.wordpress.com)
21 Then I realized that my heart was bitter,
and I was all torn up inside.
22 I was so foolish and ignorant—
I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you.
23 Yet I still belong to you;
you hold my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
leading me to a glorious destiny.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
I desire you more than anything on earth.
26 My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak,
but God remains the strength of my heart;
he is mine forever.
Psalm 73:21-26, NLT
Our hearts are unstable things. Our spiritual life is often in a turmoil. For many, the yo-yo is not much more than a toy to amuse a child. At any given time, it seems we can be in any given place. Only God truly knows how confused and tumultuous we get. Some intrepid photographer once put a bull in a china shop just to see what would happen. The pics are really funny, as the bull put on a raging show, blasting glass everywhere. The more he broke, the more agitated he became. Sometimes– I think about this.
Psalm 73 is like a silver trumpet. It sounds out many things. And when we get toward the end of the psalm we run smack dab into vv. 21-26. The writer has a big dose of self-awareness. Sometimes we can travel a long way with an imperfect faith, without ever realizing what the truth really is. Oh, dear one– these can be very good times. The psalmist realizes his ugly issues. He realizes that he has gotten bitter, and he has become very foolish.
For many of us with a strong set of religious principles, we deem this inconsistency as a complete and total failure. We see our stupid behavior and decide that God will never, ever accept that kind of person (whether its you, or someone else.) But, my Bible reads so much different! I’m told that,
”Yet I still belong to you;
you hold my right hand.” (v. 23)
Can a jerk follow Jesus? But more, can a bitter believer be held close, and loved so faithfully? When we begin to “really” see ourselves, we may often condemn what we see. Condemnation is one of the most insidious diseases of the spirit. The Holy Spirit saves his strongest medicine for us who are regularly sickened by this evil.
If you take a piece of white chalk, and you dip it into a cup of india ink. The chalk obviously absorbs the ink– it is porous. If you snap the chalk, and examine the inside, you will see that the ink has altered everything, this is how condemnation works. Once affected, we are very vulnerable to bitterness and confusion and guilt. We discover that our life is bracketed by the word, “if.”
Verse 23-25 speak loudly of a love that will never let you go. Never. Write down your sin, tally it up, “ Yet I still belong to you; you hold my right hand.” As sinners who have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus, “though our sins be as scarlet; they shall be as white as snow.”
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.
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)
23 “He broke my strength in midlife,
cutting short my days.
24 But I cried to him, “O my God, who lives forever,
don’t take my life while I am so young!
25 Long ago you laid the foundation of the earth
and made the heavens with your hands.”
Psalm 102:23-25, NLT
I guess one might say, that the psalmist is having a “midlife crisis.” One part of this crisis, is thick with a feeling of brokenness. He feels the ragged edge of his life, a roughness that offers nothing, but a type of pain. We understand God’s love– but can we handle His discipline?
“But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me.”
2 Corinthians 12:9-11
“Before God could bring me to this place He has broken me a thousand times.”
V. 23, “He broke my strength in midlife,
cutting short my days.”
Our human strength has its limits. And God doesn’t respect them. The psalmist describes the effort of God to demolish any strength we just might muster. His intention is very good. He only wants to bust us of our own strength.
Verse 23 explains why He is hard on us. Anything good we might generate has just been bulldozed under. Our lives have been shattered, and He is the culprit. He does this, in order to save us.
V. 24, “ But I cried to him, “O my God, who lives forever,
don’t take my life while I am so young!”
Crying out to Him is the way we make ourselves heard. The psalmist recognizes that God is indeed God. He only wants us to acknowledge Him.
In terms of the life the psalmist lives, he acknowledges God is fully and completely in control of it. He can prolong it, and He can end it, at His whim.
The psalmist is at the special place where God could simply stop his existence on earth. And we see him making a plea for mercy. It seems he wants God to make him a special case.
V. 25, “Long ago you laid the foundation of the earth
and made the heavens with your hands.”
There is an awareness of God’s creative sovereignty that the psalmist builds upon. He has an understanding that from the very beginning, God has put this planet on something very solid; a solid foundation of a commitment to us.
The psalmist looks up to the beautiful stars– he sees the Milky Way, and some bright planets. All that God has made, is visible and quite profound. He looks up at the stars, and everything he sees is a creative work of God’s hands– creating, and sustaining His masterpiece.
Simply, we can only anchor ourselves into all that He has done. When we embrace reality, we shape ourselves into people God wants, and seeks.
19 Tell them the Lord looked down
from his heavenly sanctuary.
He looked down to earth from heaven
20 to hear the groans of the prisoners,
to release those condemned to die.
21 And so the Lord’s fame will be celebrated in Zion,
his praises in Jerusalem,
22 when multitudes gather together
and kingdoms come to worship the Lord.
Psalm 102:19-22, NLT
The movie “Roots” is on the tube. I have never seen it before, and it is quite provocative. The scenes on the slave ship, and the slave market where Africans were auctioned off are brutal and vicious. It didn’t seem possible for such evil being afflicted on a people.
I also have been reading this psalm and thinking about God’s certain awareness of both the condemned, and the prisoner. I know His heart is breaking as He watches every mean and wicked action against these sufferers.
There are 7 billion people alive on planet Earth today. Slavery, and prostitution are rampant. Drug addiction and crime seethes into every corner– corrupting and confusing. In fact, if we could weigh all the sin in the world committed in the last five minutes it would bury us.
This thought fits, but may need work to make it real. Bob Pierce, who wrote, “Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God.”
And, it is something that Mother Teresa once said, “May God break my heart so completely that the whole world falls in.” – Mother Teresa
V. 19, “Tell them the Lord looked down
from his heavenly sanctuary.
He looked down to earth from heaven.”
God is always on alert, watching and looking. He is all-seeing, from a sweat shop in China, to the homosexual in Miami. No dark corner in an alley in Rio can block what He sees. He sees 24/7, and never takes a nap.
His HQ is what we call a “sanctuary”– that is, a position of perfect peace and serenity. But this doesn’t infer to isolate. Rather it seems the very opposite is true, as He looks, and grieves over it all.
V. 20, “to hear the groans of the prisoners,
to release those condemned to die.”
Have you ever groaned? I went to Dictionary.com and quickly looked it up. The noun form of groan is, “a low, mournful sound uttered in pain or grief: the groans of dying soldiers.
Prisoners groan–a sob, a cry, a whimper. But people being people, one must adapt and become inured to the dull pain that confinement brings. You adapt to stay alive, even when life gets difficult.
The last phrase in this verse, “to release those condemned to die.” This explains the effort of God to see people liberated. He loves to parole those who will turn to Him. We think this release is physical. But I’m reasonably sure it is a spiritual release as well. If you find Christ, “you are free indeed.”
V. 21, “And so the Lord’s fame will be celebrated in Zion,
his praises in Jerusalem,”
There is nothing quite like praise of one who has been “scraped off the bottom” and given life. I love worshiping with scoundrels and misfits. They are authentic, they understand being held in dark bondage. They know “a jumping kind of joy.” They party in the Presence of their Redeemer.
V. 22, “when multitudes gather together
and kingdoms come to worship the Lord.”
You know, I think worship is what our life is all about. In this verse we witness the discovery of a common mission. A young believer in New Delhi, and the quiet elder of a church in Cornwall, have little in common. But worship. Worship is the “true coin of the realm” which we all share.
This verse speaks of both “multitudes” and “kingdoms.” Jesus redeems us one by one–but we all gather to worship together.
- Psalms 102. The LORD’s Eternal Love. The Prayer Of A Troubled Youth (bummyla.wordpress.com)
- The Power of Delight (waltbrite.wordpress.com)
- Finding Our Certain Home: Psalm 102:12-14 (psalmslife.com)
- Let’s Get Cracking! Psalm 102:16-18 (psalmslife.com)
11 My life passes as swiftly as the evening shadows.
I am withering away like grass.
12 But you, O Lord, will sit on your throne forever.
Your fame will endure to every generation.
13 You will arise and have mercy on Jerusalem—
and now is the time to pity her,
now is the time you promised to help.
14 For your people love every stone in her walls
and cherish even the dust in her streets.
Psalm 102:12-14, NLT
Immutability, and its handmaiden, stability– are core attributes of the Lord God. He will never change, and I seriously doubt we fully understand His concrete permanence.
“God is not a man, so he does not lie.
He is not human, so he does not change his mind.
Has he ever spoken and failed to act?
Has he ever promised and not carried it through?”
Numbers 23:19, NLT
But He is also quite tractable and approachable. Gentleness and kindness are also at the core. In some sense, (imperfect, I know) He is like a “laminate.” Different layers are brought together, and bonded, to form a perfect piece even stronger than the first piece.
V. 12, “But you, O Lord, will sit on your throne forever.
Your fame will endure to every generation.”
The previous verse (v. 11) directly declares the transient nature of human beings. When we are born, and shortly thereafter the news is broken. I am going to die. This knowledge drives people insane or addicted. I have a temporary residency card, that will be revoked in a few years.
But God is different. He has an eternal throne. Again, we struggle to understand what that means. It has no beginning– and it has no end. It just goes on and on into infinity, a 1,000,000 years– or a 1,000,000,000 years. Time will cease to be a measurement, as it’s now obsolete.
V. 13, “You will arise and have mercy on Jerusalem—
and now is the time to pity her,
now is the time you promised to help.”
God stands up, full of kindness and mercy for His covenant people. The word pity is used, and defined it is the, “kindly sorrow evoked by the suffering, distress, or misfortune of another.”
The psalmist speaks of a time for pity, and a time to help. He also refers back when our steady, immovable God made a promise to help. This is an awesome boon and benefit. It’s like a “get out of jail free card.”
God promises to do many things for His people. But He is not a “genie in a lamp.” He is not magic, and He does not give us three wishes; and that is it. We are very foolish if we base our faith on this. Ultimately, we are saved because He stood up, intervening in this world, to bring us to His side.
It is very, very hard to accept this idea that He actually loves us. We seem to vacillate to extremes– either, He loves me and I can never do anything wrong, or He hates me and I’m just treading water until I am officially judged.
V. 14, “For your people love every stone in her walls
and cherish even the dust in her streets.”
We are “His people,” at least all of us who are in a blood covenant with Him, through Jesus Christ.
There is a deep awareness of our certain place in His capital city. We should be people of “memories.” A certain heavenly nostalgia, and a sense of a future hope surges through us. Somehow, we are connected through “space and time,” to a definite spot. A certain gratitude and an appreciation begins to finally flow through us.
1 “Praise the Lord!
I will thank the Lord with all my heart
as I meet with his godly people.
2 How amazing are the deeds of the Lord!
All who delight in him should ponder them.
3 Everything he does reveals his glory and majesty.
His righteousness never fails.”
Psalm 111:1-3, NLT
This is a “teaching” psalm thats purpose is to instruct or educate. This Psalm is a strict acrostic, with each line having an “ABC…” pattern. The first line (V.1) is the Hebriac phrase, “Hallel-jah” which we use in English, but it means “praise the Lord”.
Psalm 111 was part of a group of hymns sung while celebrating the Jewish feast of Passover. It is very possible that Jesus sang this song with His disciples just before His arrest in Gethsemane.
Because this psalm is constructed so well and so precisely we can safely assume it should have a honor and reverence among both Jews and Christians.
V. 1, “Praise the Lord!”
“I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people.”
Why is praising God so important? Why should we thank Him? I suppose the answer can be found in His worthiness. Our relationship is with a Someone who is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient. In other words, He is all powerful, present everywhere, and all knowing.
Verse 1 also carries the idea of an existing fellowship of the “godly.” When we meet with each other to worship and praise, we activate and fortify each other. The Holy Spirit gives His gifts, and we will find a way to encourage each one.
V. 2, “How amazing are the deeds of the Lord!
All who delight in him should ponder them.”
We are cordially invited to wrap our heads and hearts around “the deeds of the Lord.” These are actions that God has done. These are things creative and redemptive. Our past, present and future are full of them. These deeds can be understood by those who delight in God, and ponder what He is doing.
Pondering is not ‘a piece of cake.’ You have to be motivated to ponder, and that takes a certain discipline. This Psalm has praise embedded all through it– so perhaps that is where we must begin.
V. 3, “Everything he does reveals his glory and majesty. His righteousness never fails.”
When we are exhorted by our elders to seek the Lord, that is a good thing. But how do we start? Remember, this Psalm is a teaching psalm. If we only listen to it, very closely, we will understand what we are to do.
The writer explains that we seek God by looking at what God does. (His actions speak louder than words.) He is creative– stars and galaxies, hummingbirds and salmon, snowflakes and monsoons. He created people and culture– Africans and Asians, Eskimos and Puerto Ricans. Indeed the whole earth is filled with the glory of the Lord.
To love Him is to honor His acts. To ponder all that He has done, or is doing, to save us from our sins and free us from our bondage. What He did to free the Hebrew slaves from Egypt is the story of us all. We should be people of joy, set apart to the Glory of God.
3 “For I recognize my rebellion;
it haunts me day and night.
4 Against you, and you alone, have I sinned;
I have done what is evil in your sight.
You will be proved right in what you say,
and your judgment against me is just.[a]
5 For I was born a sinner—
yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.”
Psalm 51:3-5, NLT
In this life, we must understand our inner rebellion and sin. We had better accept and agree with God on this basic matter. If we really are going to be truthful people we have to really focus on this fundamental understanding of our own depravity.
This is the first of seven of Psalms we call “penitential.” It is probably the best known of these seven. Psalm 51 can be broken down into subcategories. Of course, the title precisely cues us in the time David met with Nathan in 2 Samuel 12:1-14.
V. 3, “ ”For I recognize my rebellion;
it haunts me day and night.”
David doesn’t cling to false platitudes. He is not deceived by creating a new image. He doesn’t care a whit about public relations. It may seem like he is being a little hard on himself. There are some that suggest that David may be too morbid, too moody. But you try to commit adultery, and than murder, then you can judge the entire scene.
But David has looked into a mirror, and he’s stepped away from it. He cannot forget what he saw. He sees his “rebellion” for what it really is– that he is warped and twisted. David can’t shake off this sense of shame and grief. He has committed adultery which has led to murder of one of his best generals.
V. 4, “Against you, and you alone, have I sinned;
I have done what is evil in your sight. You will be proved right in what you say, and your judgment against me is just.“
All of our sins are against God. Failure to see this results in a repentance that is premature, and deficient. This inadequate repentance will not change you, but only makes you feel somewhat better.
There is no doubt that David sinned terribly against Bathsheba, and her husband Uriah. What he did to them was so wrong, on so many levels. But, what about God? David’s selfishness, greed, lust offended God. Perhaps we need to tweak our concepts. The higher in status and power a person is, the greater the offense. All sin is sin against a holy God.
What David believed is that God could say what God wanted about him, and it would be right and true, for God cannot be otherwise. But rather than stubbornly avoiding God, David sees the positive and he chooses to honor God by his authentic repentance.
V. 5, “For I was born a sinner—
yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.”
David is not saying that his mother was immoral. Rather he is recognizing the depth of his own sin. (He knows who he is, he’s got this tattoo, “Born to Sin” on his biceps.)
17″ The Lord is righteous in everything he does;
he is filled with kindness.
18 The Lord is close to all who call on him,
yes, to all who call on him in truth.”
Psalm 145:17-18, NLT
If you are going to have a God, I hope you choose the God of the Bible. He is full of kindness, and always is doing the right thing, He is consistent, dependable, steady and true.
Consistency is perhaps the most under-rated of His personality. We see so little of it in the world of men. He is unchanging and unfailing. He never gets up on the wrong side of the bed, and Mondays are just another day in the world of men.
V. 17, “The Lord is righteous in everything he does;
he is filled with kindness.”
We have never met anyone who is like this. Imagine having never sinned, or, never will sin. I’ve come to see that David is slicing through God’s character in these verses, and giving us just a small piece at a time. It’s really all we can handle.
David insists that the Lord God is “filled with kindness.” In Romans 2:4 Paul insists we get a grip on it,
“Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?”
Kindness is far more than being nice and friendly. In the UK they have a “Kindness Day” every November 13th. I’ll occasionally see a bumper-sticker exhorting me to “Practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty.”
Kindness has a central idea of being for the undeserving. Within Judaism the word is “mitzvah” of good things and blessings done to others. Judaism also teaches that God made the whole earth based on kindness.
V. 18, “The Lord is close to all who call on him,
yes, to all who call on him in truth.”
I like cheddar cheese, and summer sausage. I recently discovered that both taste better sliced thin. And I guess that’s what I’m doing here taking just a verse at a time. I also think that is what the psalmist is doing. Little slices of the heart of God.
In another place it says, “the nearness of God is my good.” Proximity to God brings Him closer to you. He draws us, and if we decide to obey, He then comes Himself to our lives.
“Calling on Him in truth,” means no duplicity– not a shred of manipulation. I think of Nathanael being called to walk with Jesus in John 1:47-49.
”Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and *said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael *said to Him, “How do You know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”
- Bent by the Load: Psalm 145:14-16 (psalmslife.com)
- Life is Hard, But God is Really Good: Psalm 145:8-10 (psalmslife.com)
- Enjoy the Glory: Psalm 145:11 (psalmslife.com)
- The True King: Psalm 145 (psalmslife.com)
- “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” (sharperthanatwoedgedsword.wordpress.com)