1970.) Psalm 107

November 18, 2016

Psalm 107   Good News Translation

Think of Jonah’s adventures . . . and of your own . . . 

In Praise of God’s Goodness

“Give thanks to the Lord, because he is good;
his love is eternal!”
Repeat these words in praise to the Lord,
all you whom he has saved.
He has rescued you from your enemies
and has brought you back from foreign countries,
from east and west, from north and south.

God rescues wanderers.

Some wandered in the trackless desert
and could not find their way to a city to live in.
They were hungry and thirsty
and had given up all hope.
Then in their trouble they called to the Lord,
and he saved them from their distress.
He led them by a straight road
to a city where they could live.
They must thank the Lord for his constant love,
for the wonderful things he did for them.
He satisfies those who are thirsty
and fills the hungry with good things.

These verses make a lovely table grace:

“We thank the Lord for His constant love,
and the wonderful things He does for us.
He satisfies those who are thirsty
and fills the hungry with good things.”

God rescues prisoners.

10 Some were living in gloom and darkness,
prisoners suffering in chains,
11 because they had rebelled against the commands of Almighty God
and had rejected his instructions.
12 They were worn out from hard work;
they would fall down, and no one would help.
13 Then in their trouble they called to the Lord,
and he saved them from their distress.

Romans 6:22

But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.

14 He brought them out of their gloom and darkness
and broke their chains in pieces.
15 They must thank the Lord for his constant love,
for the wonderful things he did for them.
16 He breaks down doors of bronze
and smashes iron bars.

God rescues the sick.

17 Some were fools, suffering because of their sins
and because of their evil;
18 they couldn’t stand the sight of food
and were close to death.
19 Then in their trouble they called to the Lord,
and he saved them from their distress.

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
that saved a wretch like me;

I once was lost, but now am found,
was blind, but now I see.

20 He healed them with his command
and saved them from the grave.
21 They must thank the Lord for his constant love,
for the wonderful things he did for them.
22 They must thank him with sacrifices,
and with songs of joy must tell all that he has done.

God rescues the storm-tossed.

23 Some sailed over the ocean in ships,
earning their living on the seas.
24 They saw what the Lord can do,
his wonderful acts on the seas.

25 He commanded, and a mighty wind began to blow
and stirred up the waves.
26 The ships were lifted high in the air
and plunged down into the depths.
In such danger the sailors lost their courage;
27  they stumbled and staggered like drunks—
all their skill was useless.
28 Then in their trouble they called to the Lord,
and he saved them from their distress.
29 He calmed the raging storm,
and the waves became quiet.
30 They were glad because of the calm,
and he brought them safe to the port they wanted.

jonah4-jesus-jonah

We are each of us a Jonah, sometimes lost in a storm, often in a mess that is of our own making. BUT GOD rescues us! And God, in Jesus, rescues us for all eternity! “We must thank the Lord for his constant love, for the wonderful things he does for us!”

31 They must thank the Lord for his constant love,
for the wonderful things he did for them.
32 They must proclaim his greatness in the assembly of the people
and praise him before the council of the leaders.

33 The Lord made rivers dry up completely
and stopped springs from flowing.
34 He made rich soil become a salty wasteland
because of the wickedness of those who lived there.
35 He changed deserts into pools of water
and dry land into flowing springs.

A Prayer for the World
by Rabbi Harold Kushner

Let the rain come and wash away
the ancient grudges, the bitter hatreds
held and nurtured over generations.
Let the rain wash away the memory
of the hurt, the neglect.
Then let the sun come out and
fill the sky with rainbows.
Let the warmth of the sun heal us
wherever we are broken.
Let it burn away the fog so that
we can see each other clearly.
So that we can see beyond labels,
beyond accents, gender or skin color.
Let the warmth and brightness
of the sun melt our selfishness.
So that we can share the joys and
feel the sorrows of our neighbors.
And let the light of the sun
be so strong that we will see all
people as our neighbors.
Let the earth, nourished by rain,
bring forth flowers
to surround us with beauty.
And let the mountains teach our hearts
to reach upward to heaven.

Amen.

36 He let hungry people settle there,
and they built a city to live in.
37 They sowed the fields and planted grapevines
and reaped an abundant harvest.
38 He blessed his people, and they had many children;
he kept their herds of cattle from decreasing.

39 When God’s people were defeated and humiliated
by cruel oppression and suffering,
40 he showed contempt for their oppressors
and made them wander in trackless deserts.
41 But he rescued the needy from their misery
and made their families increase like flocks.
42 The righteous see this and are glad,
but all the wicked are put to silence.

43 May those who are wise think about these things;
may they consider the Lord’s constant love.

_________________________

Music:

Back to the title, if you will, of this psalm — “In Praise of God’s Goodness.”  HERE  is a song that sings the same idea.  It’s Delirious (a British Christian rock and modern worship band) and probably their most famous song, “I Could Sing of Your Love Forever,” from 1994.  Sing along in your heart — it’s good practice for Heaven!

_________________________

Good News Translation (GNT)   Copyright © 1992 by American Bible Society

Images courtesy of:
verse 1.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/psalm107.jpg
breakfast plate.   http://hostedmedia.reimanpub.com/TOH/Images/Photos/37/exps27737_CFT862013D39C.jpg
freedom.    http://jacsgod777.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/freedom-in-christ-copy.jpg?w=360
Jesus healing a blind man.   http://tiberjudy.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/healing-touch-of-jesus.jpg
sailboat.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/psalm1071.jpg
fish mouth and empty tomb.    http://pre05.deviantart.net/8f0d/th/pre/i/2012/248/7/5/from_jonah_to_jesus_by_tackupwind-d5dq9xs.jpg
saguaro.   http://www.gospelgifs.com/art_pages_10/images/cact1.gif

1955.) Psalm 83

October 28, 2016

ps83-known

Psalm 83 (NIV)

A song. A psalm of Asaph.

Study the psalm in two parts:

   ·    Verses 1 – 8:  what the enemies of God and Israel are doing

   ·    Verses 9 – 18: what the psalmist wants and prays that God will do

1 O God, do not remain silent;
do not turn a deaf ear,
do not stand aloof, O God.

“It is so difficult sometimes to go on living day by day without one authoritative word; and we are prone to rebuke Him for silence, that He is still, that He holds His peace….But God has not kept silence. The Word was manifested. In Him the silence of eternity was broken.”

–F. B. Meyer (1847-1929) British Baptist pastor and evangelist

2 See how your enemies growl,
how your foes rear their heads.
3 With cunning they conspire against your people;
they plot against those you cherish.
4 “Come,” they say, “let us destroy them as a nation,
so that Israel’s name is remembered no more.”

ancient and modern coins of Israel

ancient and modern coins of Israel

“In all the annals of recorded history there has never been a people so encircled by foes or as persecuted as the Jews have been. Yet surprisingly, the Jews have prospered. In 1836 a world census indicated that there were then three million Jews living in many countries. A century later, in 1936, in spite of severe persecutions in which many Jews were killed, particularly in Russia, a second census indicated that the Jewish world population had risen to sixteen million, an increase of thirteen million in a century. The Nazis killed more than six million Jews, but today there are more Jews in the world than before the Nazi era. The only explanation for this growth is that the hand of God has been on this people and that he has blessed them.”

–James Montgomery Boice (1938-2000) pastor of Tenth Pres in Philadelphia for more than 30 years and a teacher on The Bible Study Hour radio program

5 With one mind they plot together;
they form an alliance against you—

6 the tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites,
of Moab and the Hagrites,
7 Byblos, Ammon and Amalek,
Philistia, with the people of Tyre.
8 Even Assyria has joined them
to reinforce Lot’s descendants.

9 Do to them as you did to Midian,
as you did to Sisera and Jabin at the river Kishon,
10 who perished at Endor
and became like dung on the ground.
11 Make their nobles like Oreb and Zeeb,
all their princes like Zebah and Zalmunna,
12 who said, “Let us take possession
of the pasturelands of God.”

ps83-remember

Asaph encourages himself by remembering the times in the past when the Lord has upheld his people. 

–Gideon destroyed Midian; the story is in Judges 6-8.
–Oreb and Zeeb were princes of Midian. People from the tribe of Ephraim killed them; the story is in Judges 7:24-25.
–Gideon killed Zebah and Zalmunna, kings of Midian, in Judges 8:21.
–Sisera and Jabin come from another story, in Judges 4:1-24. Jabin was king of Hazor, and Sisera was the leader of his army. A woman, Jael, killed Sisera as he hid in her tent.
–Two judges of Israel destroyed Jabin’s army at the River Kishon.

13 Make them like tumbleweed, my God,
like chaff before the wind.
14 As fire consumes the forest
or a flame sets the mountains ablaze,
15 so pursue them with your tempest
and terrify them with your storm.
16 Cover their faces with shame, LORD,
so that they will seek your name.
17
May they ever be ashamed and dismayed;
may they perish in disgrace.
18 Let them know that you, whose name is the LORD—
that you alone are the Most High over all the earth.

p83-mountains

Asaph ended this Psalm with an unexpected turn. After praying for the destruction of Israel’s enemies, he prayed that they would be thoroughly humbled (fill their faces with shame) so they would be led to seek Yahweh.

This Psalm began with a plea that God would not remain silent, and ends with the idea of His fame and glory going out to all the earth. 

–David Guzik

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is “Your Grace Is Enough” — written by Matt Maher and sung by Chris Tomlin.

_________________________

New International Version (NIV)   Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
 Psalm 83:18, globe.   http://prophecynewsreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/psalm-83-366×366.jpg
coins.   http://www.israel21c.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Israel-coins-268×178.jpg
Remember your people.   http://images.slideplayer.com/15/4565096/slides/slide_6.jpg
 Psalm 83:18, mountains.   http://alittleperspective.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/psa-83-18-ww-wall-9x.jpg

1940.) Psalm 78

October 7, 2016

Psalm 78 (NIV)

Everyone knows the old adage:
Those that forget the past are doomed to repeat it. 

I think of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, following in the pattern of Jeroboam-who-made-Israel-to-sin.

“Psalm 78 is the longest of the historical psalms. Its lesson is that history must not repeat itself. The people must never again be unbelieving.”
–James Montgomery Boice

 1 My people, hear my teaching;
listen to the words of my mouth.
2 I will open my mouth with a parable;
I will utter hidden things, things from of old—
3 things we have heard and known,
things our ancestors have told us.
4 We will not hide them from their descendants;
we will tell the next generation
the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD,
his power, and the wonders he has done.

Proverbs 22:6 (KJV)

 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

5 He decreed statutes for Jacob
and established the law in Israel,
which he commanded our ancestors
to teach their children,
6 so the next generation would know them,
even the children yet to be born,
and they in turn would tell their children.
Centuries later the Apostle Paul would explain that one of the great advantages God gave to Israel was that He committed to them His word, the oracles of God (Romans 3:2).
–David Guzik
7 Then they would put their trust in God
and would not forget his deeds
but would keep his commands.
8 They would not be like their ancestors—
a stubborn and rebellious generation,
whose hearts were not loyal to God,
whose spirits were not faithful to him.

1 Corinthians 10:11-12 (NIV)

These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come.  So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!

9 The men of Ephraim, though armed with bows,
turned back on the day of battle;
10 they did not keep God’s covenant
and refused to live by his law.
11 They forgot what he had done,
the wonders he had shown them.
Forgot; not historically, but practically. They did not so remember them, as to love, and serve, and trust that God of whose infinite power and goodness they had such ample experience.”
–Matthew Poole (1624-1679, English Nonconformist theologian
12 He did miracles in the sight of their ancestors
in the land of Egypt, in the region of Zoan.
13 He divided the sea and led them through;
he made the water stand up like a wall.
14 He guided them with the cloud by day
and with light from the fire all night.
Open now the crystal fountain,
Whence the healing stream doth flow;
Let the fire and cloudy pillar
Lead me all my journey through.
Strong Deliverer, strong Deliverer,
Be Thou still my Strength and Shield;
Be Thou still my Strength and Shield.
15 He split the rocks in the wilderness
and gave them water as abundant as the seas;
16 he brought streams out of a rocky crag
and made water flow down like rivers.
.
17 But they continued to sin against him,
rebelling in the wilderness against the Most High.
18 They willfully put God to the test
by demanding the food they craved.
19 They spoke against God;
they said, “Can God really
spread a table in the wilderness?
In 1933, the middle of the Great Depression, a young Irishman named J. Edwin Orr left a good paying job. With no fixed source of income, he trusted that God would provide for him and his mother. He planned to travel around Great Britain with the message of prayer, salvation, and revival. He left Belfast with 2 shillings and 8 pence, about 65 cents. He had a bicycle, a change of clothes, and a Bible. He spent the next year travelling to every county in Great Britain and organized some 300 prayer groups dedicated to pray for revival. He wrote a book about it all and somehow convinced a publisher to take it, after being rejected 17 times. That first book was titled Can God — ?  It was based on Psalm 78:19, and was published in 1934. It sold hundreds of thousands of copies and was a tremendous inspiration to Christians in that day. Orr’s book and his life was a remarkable demonstration of the fact that God can prepare a table in the wilderness.
–David Guzik
.
Ps78 Ps23
.
20 True, he struck the rock,
and water gushed out,
streams flowed abundantly,
but can he also give us bread?
Can he supply meat for his people?”
21 When the LORD heard them, he was furious;
God was “furious” at their ingratitude. That is food for thought in our lives which are, let’s be honest, pretty easy, pretty comfortable. Are we careful to be thankful rather than to complain?
his fire broke out against Jacob,
and his wrath rose against Israel,
22 for they did not believe in God
or trust in his deliverance.
23 Yet he gave a command to the skies above
and opened the doors of the heavens;
24 he rained down manna for the people to eat,
he gave them the grain of heaven.
25 Human beings ate the bread of angels;
he sent them all the food they could eat.
.
.
Manna in the Morning

Cook fires,

clothing scraps,

animal dung

have long disappeared

from the desert.

But the story remains:

how the Israelites

fled Pharaoh

under a spiral

of swirling white clouds

as angels swept

stones and snakes

from their path.

For forty years,

Jews followed Moses

with manna-filled bellies,

thirst quenched by

a wondrous wandering well–

the same fountain I sipped

this candle-lit evening

with honeyed challah

and roasted chicken.

.

Carrying dishes to the sink,

my sandaled feet skip

on a freshly swept  floor,

free of snakes and stones.

Tonight, Pharaoh lies drowned

behind me

and I am traveling to Canaan

under a sheltering white cloud,

certain of manna in the morning.

–Jacqueline Jules
.
26 He let loose the east wind from the heavens
and by his power made the south wind blow.
27 He rained meat down on them like dust,
birds like sand on the seashore.
28 He made them come down inside their camp,
all around their tents.
29 They ate till they were gorged—
he had given them what they craved.
30 But before they turned from what they craved,
even while the food was still in their mouths,
31 God’s anger rose against them;
he put to death the sturdiest among them,
cutting down the young men of Israel.
32 In spite of all this, they kept on sinning;
in spite of his wonders, they did not believe.
Ps78 hard heart
What more could God have done? The tragedy of hard hearts!
33 So he ended their days in futility
and their years in terror.
34 Whenever God slew them, they would seek him;
they eagerly turned to him again.

Ps78 seekmyface

Hosea 5:15 (ESV)

 I will return again to my place,
   until they acknowledge their guilt and seek my face,
   and in their distress earnestly seek me.

35 They remembered that God was their Rock,
that God Most High was their Redeemer.
36 But then they would flatter him with their mouths,
lying to him with their tongues;
37 their hearts were not loyal to him,
they were not faithful to his covenant.
38 Yet he was merciful;
he forgave their iniquities
and did not destroy them.
Time after time he restrained his anger
and did not stir up his full wrath.
39 He remembered that they were but flesh,
a passing breeze that does not return.

Psalm 103:15-18 (ESV)

As for man, his days are like grass;  
he flourishes like a flower of the field;
for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,  
and its place knows it no more.
But the steadfast love of the LORD
is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,  
and his righteousness to children’s children,
to those who keep his covenant  
and remember to do his commandments.

40 How often they rebelled against him in the wilderness
and grieved him in the wasteland!
41 Again and again they put God to the test;
they vexed the Holy One of Israel.
42 They did not remember his power—
the day he redeemed them from the oppressor,
43 the day he displayed his signs in Egypt,
his wonders in the region of Zoan.
.
.
44 He turned their river into blood;
they could not drink from their streams.
45 He sent swarms of flies that devoured them,
and frogs that devastated them.
46 He gave their crops to the grasshopper,
their produce to the locust.
47 He destroyed their vines with hail
and their sycamore-figs with sleet.
48 He gave over their cattle to the hail,
their livestock to bolts of lightning.
49 He unleashed against them his hot anger,
his wrath, indignation and hostility—
a band of destroying angels.
50 He prepared a path for his anger;
he did not spare them from death
but gave them over to the plague.
51 He struck down all the firstborn of Egypt,
the firstfruits of manhood in the tents of Ham.
52 But he brought his people out like a flock;
he led them like sheep through the wilderness.
53 He guided them safely, so they were unafraid;
but the sea engulfed their enemies.
54 And so he brought them to the border of his holy land,
to the hill country his right hand had taken.
55 He drove out nations before them
and allotted their lands to them as an inheritance;
he settled the tribes of Israel in their homes.

Acts 13:16-20 (NLT)

So Paul stood, lifted his hand to quiet them, and started speaking. “Men of Israel,” he said, “and you God-fearing Gentiles, listen to me.

“The God of this nation of Israel chose our ancestors and made them multiply and grow strong during their stay in Egypt. Then with a powerful arm he led them out of their slavery.  He put up with them through forty years of wandering in the wilderness.  Then he destroyed seven nations in Canaan and gave their land to Israel as an inheritance.  All this took about 450 years.”

56 But they put God to the test
and rebelled against the Most High;
they did not keep his statutes.
57 Like their ancestors they were disloyal and faithless,
as unreliable as a faulty bow.
58 They angered him with their high places;
they aroused his jealousy with their idols.
59 When God heard them, he was furious;
he rejected Israel completely.

God is “furious” again — this time for idolatry, for valuing things over God. Do we yield our lives entirely to his will? Is the Lord truly first as we consider what to think, to say, to do?

60 He abandoned the tabernacle of Shiloh,
the tent he had set up among humans.
61 He sent the ark of his might into captivity,
his splendor into the hands of the enemy.
62 He gave his people over to the sword;
he was furious with his inheritance.
63 Fire consumed their young men,
and their young women had no wedding songs;
64 their priests were put to the sword,
and their widows could not weep.

Psalm 6:8-10 (NLT)

Go away, all you who do evil,
      for the Lord has heard my weeping.
The Lord has heard my plea;
      the Lord will answer my prayer.
May all my enemies be disgraced and terrified.
      May they suddenly turn back in shame.

65 Then the Lord awoke as from sleep,
as a warrior wakes from the stupor of wine.
66 He beat back his enemies;
he put them to everlasting shame.
67 Then he rejected the tents of Joseph,
he did not choose the tribe of Ephraim;
68 but he chose the tribe of Judah,
Mount Zion, which he loved.
69 He built his sanctuary like the heights,
like the earth that he established forever.
70 He chose David his servant
and took him from the sheep pens;
71 from tending the sheep he brought him
to be the shepherd of his people Jacob,
of Israel his inheritance.
72 And David shepherded them with integrity of heart;
with skillful hands he led them.

“If Israel’s record is her shame, God’s persistent goodness emerges as her hope (and ours) for the unfinished story.”
–Derek Kidner (1913-2008, British Old Testament scholar)

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Music:

One of my favorites from David and Isaac Watts!  HERE  is “My Shepherd Will Supply My Need,” which contains some of the most comforting lines I know:

The sure provisions of my God attend me all my days;
O may Thy house be mine abode, and all my work be praise!
There would I find a settled rest, while others go and come,
No more a stranger or a guest, but like a child at home.

_________________________

New International Version (NIV)   Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Tell it . . .   http://in-formatio.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Psalm-78-4-1.jpg
children at church.   http://images.clipartpanda.com/kids-church-clip-art-kids20church.jpg
history.  http://philmontfirecompany.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/history-color1.gif
pillar of fire.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/tabernacle_by_shawnrl61.jpg
You prepare a table.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2016/10/ed126-creation-ss-6.jpg
manna falling.    https://awildernessvoice.files.wordpress.com/2015/11/1-manna-falling-from-heaven.jpg
hard heart.   http://www.deebrestin.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/heart-of-stone2.jpg
seek my face.   https://fruitfulfellowship.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/seekmyface.jpg?w=365&h=365&crop=1
beach grass swaying in the wind.     http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5025/5550514589_ba8361f09a.jpg
10 plagues.   http://www.nccg.org/10_plagues.gif
menorah.   http://rlv.zcache.com/menorah_photosculpture-p153231483757751702z89x5_400.jpg
praying hands.    http://cliparts.co/cliparts/Bca/rpo/Bcarpodzi.gif

1929.) Psalm 73

September 22, 2016

Psalm 73   (NIV)

A psalm of Asaph.

1 Chronicles 16:37 (NIV)

David left Asaph and his associates before the ark of the covenant of the LORD to minister there regularly, according to each day’s requirements.

The question asked in the first 15 verses of this psalm — “How can a good God allow the righteous to suffer?” — reveals several fallacies in our thinking. The first is the assumption that suffering is always evil and therefore irreconcilable with God’s goodness. The second is a failure to understand righteousness, so far as it relates to the saint, the true child of God. In answer to the problem of pain, this psalm forces us to take another look at our definition of good, lest we accuse God of being the author of evil by allowing us to suffer. Let those who suffer look to this psalm for a word of instruction.

–Bob Deffinbaugh (and following comments)

1 Surely God is good to Israel,
to those who are pure in heart.

Here, Asaph declares the truth on which his faith is founded as well as the truth which troubles his faith. The faith of the saints has always been rooted in the firm conviction of God’s existence and the assurance that He rewards those who diligently seek Him. “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Heb. 11:6).

In one sense, verse 1 is the conclusion of the matter. Asaph believed that God existed, that He was good, and that He was sovereign. In another sense, however, this verse was the basis of the psalmist’s problem. If God exists, and He is good so as to reward the righteous, and He is all-powerful, totally in control of His creation, then why is it that in God’s world the wicked seem to be doing better than the righteous? Aren’t the facts inconsistent with Asaph’s faith? How can God be good to the pure in heart if observation convinces us that sinners succeed and saints suffer?

This is a serious spiritual issue and one that has precipitated widely diverging explanations. The atheist answers by explaining that there is no God. The cynic says that there is a God, but denies that He is good; life is just one of God’s cruel jokes. The liberal believes that there is a God who is loving, good, and kind; he explains suffering by denying the sovereignty of God. God is all-good, but not all-powerful. 

A biblical faith does not require nor permit us to deny any of the attributes of God. We maintain not only that God exists, but also that He is good and great, a rewarder of the righteous and a judge of the wicked. How, then, do we explain the problem of the suffering of the saints and the success of sinners? The psalmist takes us through the steps of his personal struggle in verses 2-28, from the low point of his doubts and protest to the pinnacle of his renewed devotion and praise.

2 But as for me, my feet had almost slipped;
I had nearly lost my foothold.
3 For I envied the arrogant
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

4 They have no struggles;
their bodies are healthy and strong.
5 They are free from common human burdens;
they are not plagued by human ills.
6 Therefore pride is their necklace;
they clothe themselves with violence.

7 From their callous hearts comes iniquity;
their evil imaginations have no limits.
8 They scoff, and speak with malice;
with arrogance they threaten oppression.
9 Their mouths lay claim to heaven,
and their tongues take possession of the earth.
10 Therefore their people turn to them
and drink up waters in abundance.
11 They say, “How would God know?
Does the Most High know anything?”

12 This is what the wicked are like—
always free of care, they go on amassing wealth.

13 Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure
and have washed my hands in innocence.
14 All day long I have been afflicted,
and every morning brings new punishments.

15 If I had spoken out like that,
I would have betrayed your children.

16 When I tried to understand all this,
it troubled me deeply
17 till I entered the sanctuary of God;
then I understood their final destiny.

In verse 16 we come to a dramatic change of heart and mind where we move from the testing of Asaph’s faith to its triumph. The inner debate and doubting of the psalmist, as portrayed in verses 2-15 were the result of his efforts to resolve the problem by mere reason. Human reason could only lead Asaph to the conclusion that personal piety was profitless and painful. But suddenly in verse 16 there is a new perspective and a complete change in Asaph’s attitude. Instead of protest there is praise. What changed his outlook? The answer, I believe, can be summed up in one word—worship: “When I tried to understand all this It was oppressive to me Till I entered the sanctuary of God; Then I understood their final destiny” (vv. 16-17).

It was not a change of place that transformed Asaph’s outlook, but rather a change in his perspective and in his vocation. Asaph is now a man of worship. While God’s name was hardly mentioned in the first 14 verses (except in v. 1) other than on the lips of the wicked (v. 11), now Asaph is communing with God in worship.  There is a dramatic change in the pronouns employed. In the first half of the psalm the wicked (“they” and “them”) are the object of Asaph’s attention, but in verses 15-28 God (“you”) is central. The exact nature of worship and its effect on Asaph’s heart is described in this second half of the psalm.

18 Surely you place them on slippery ground;
you cast them down to ruin.
19 How suddenly are they destroyed,
completely swept away by terrors!
20 They are like a dream when one awakes;
when you arise, Lord,
you will despise them as fantasies.

21 When my heart was grieved
and my spirit embittered,
22 I was senseless and ignorant;
I was a brute beast before you.

23 Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.

from Whispers of His Power,
by Amy Carmichael

Psalm 73:25 — Whom have I in heaven but Thee?  And there is none upon earth that I desire beside Thee.

We all know the hymn “Jesus, Lover of my soul.” The line “Thou, O Christ, art all I want,” comes to us with searching power. It is strangely easy to want Him and a great many other things too. We want to do what we want to do, and to be where we want to be. This is not desiring Christ our Lord and His will only. It is not, “Thou, O Christ, art ALL I want.”

Our Lord want us to come to the place where we can truly say with the psalmist that there is no one and nothing on earth that we desire beside Him. The writer goes on in the next verse, My flesh and my heart faileth, and that is often our experience too. But we do not stop there. The psalm continues with a triumphant But God.  Verse 26:  But God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.

“Thou, O Christ, art all I want;
More than all in Thee I find.”

27 Those who are far from you will perish;
you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.
28 But as for me, it is good to be near God.

Hebrews 10:22  (NIV)

Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings.

I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge;
I will tell of all your deeds.

After worshiping the Lord, Asaph sees God’s promised blessings and His cursings in an entirely different light, and therefore Asaph concludes the psalm by summarizing the peril of the wicked and the blessings of the righteous. The wicked, those who are not near to God (v. 27), will ultimately perish. No matter how comfortable they now seem to be, destruction is their final destiny. The God who is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart (v. 1), is also the God who will destroy those who are unfaithful to Him (vv. 18-20, 27). Their momentary ease of life is no longer the object of Asaph’s envy, but their final destiny is a sobering reality.

If the blessing of God had previously been measured only in terms of material prosperity and ease of life, it is now viewed as being, in the words of one hymn, “near to the heart of God” (v. 28). This was the case with Asaph (vv. 23-26) and so he can conclude the psalm with the confident statement that he has made God his refuge and that he will publicly praise God for His wondrous deeds, which may include sending adversity into the life of His loved ones (v. 28).

Worship is not so much the leaving behind of life and coming into the presence of God as it is bringing life before God and coming to view it as He does. Worship is seeing things as they are. God is good and faithful. Life on earth is fleeting. Thus we should praise God for all that He is and for all that He does, even when He brings suffering into our lives.

Worship is not just important because it delights the heart of God. Worship is vital because it renews the perspective of the saints and enables them to live in a world of suffering, praising God, obeying His word, and looking ahead to the fulfillment of all His promises.

–Bob Deffinbaugh

_________________________

Music:

“Jesus, Lover of My Soul,” by Charles Wesley, has been called the greatest hymn ever written.  The arrangement  HERE,  by Ken Medema, is my favorite.  The verse of this hymn that Amy refers to above is not sung in this performance, but I have included it below.

Thou, O Christ, art all I want;
   More than all in Thee I find:
Raise the fallen, cheer the faint,
   Heal the sick, and lead the blind.
Just and holy is Thy name;
   I am all unrighteousness:
False and full of sin I am;
   Thou art full of truth and grace.

_________________________

New International Version (NIV)   Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Desiring God.     http://wallpaper4god.com/wallpapers/psalm-7325_3188_1024x768.jpg
unfair.    http://www.truelifecoaching.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/unfair.png
God is good.    http://jamieannonline.com/imgsdabney/GodIsGood.jpg
hard heart.    http://www.foundationsforfreedom.net/Topics/Purity/_resPurity/HardenHearts.gif
Here I am to worship.      https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/hereiam_jpg.jpg
Whom have I in heaven but you?    http://oneyearbibleimages.com/psalm73_25.jpg
Praise the Lord!    http://icrucified.com/icruciblog/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/praise-the-lord.jpg

1916.) Psalm 128

September 5, 2016

Ps128 Blessed

Psalm 128    (ESV)

Blessed Is Everyone Who Fears the Lord

A Song of Ascents.

Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord,
    who walks in his ways!
You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands;
    you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you.

Ps128 eat

One result of the Fall was that Adam would have to work hard to get food on the table (Genesis 3:17-19). The Preacher of Ecclesiastes was driven to despair because some people labored while others, less deserving, enjoyed the benefits of their labor (Ecclesiastes 5:8-12). The psalmist envisions the righteous prospering from their own labor, a just situation.  (The Reformation Bible)

Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
    within your house;
your children will be like olive shoots
    around your table.

Ps128 v3

Behold, thus shall the man be blessed
    who fears the Lord.

The Lord bless you from Zion!
    May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem
    all the days of your life!

Ps128 prosperity

It has always been God’s will for His people to prosper. “Beloved, I wish above all things that you may PROSPER and be in health, even as your soul prospers” (3 John 2). “Let the Lord be magnified which has pleasure in the PROSPERITY of His servant” (Ps. 35:27b). “Remember the Lord your God, for it is He that gives you power to get wealth” (Deut. 8:18)—good land, abundant crops, flocks and herds multiplied, gold and silver multiplied, all we have multiplied—when we walk in His ways and reverence Him (Deut. 8:6–9, 13).

God prospers His people so that we may give. We are to trust “in the living God, who gives us RICHLY all things to enjoy,” so that we would “do good” and “be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to share” (1 Tim. 6:17b-18)…”that you, having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work” (2 Cor. 9:8).

But most importantly, God prospers us by giving us JESUS (Phil 4:19), who is the WORD upon which we are to “meditate day and night that we may DO all that is written…for then we will make our way PROSPEROUS and we will have good success” (Josh. 1:8).

–Linda Lee Jackson Longsdorf

May you see your children’s children!
    Peace be upon Israel!

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is an old hymn, written by a woman in Canada, Annie Coghill, in 1854. “Work, for the Night Is Coming” reminds me of something I often heard my mother pray — “Lord, we thank thee for work to do and strength with which to do it.” And another quote I often heard from her: “Only one life, ’twill soon be past; only what’s done for Christ will last.” Oh, to work cheerfully for our Lord Jesus, knowing that in heaven we will see the glorious fruits of our labors!

_________________________

English Standard Version (ESV)   The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.
Images courtesy of:
Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord.    http://media.salemwebnetwork.com/cms/CROSSCARDS/15233-psalm-128-1-nkjv.jpg
You shall eat the fruit.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2016/09/104bf-psalm-128-2-social-800×400.png
Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine.    https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4046/4676275199_570fda202d_b.jpg
prosperity.    https://edslifeleisuretravelarts.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/proverbs-3-12.jpg

1915.) Psalm 86

September 2, 2016

Ps86 v11

Psalm 86 (New Living Translation)

A prayer of David.

1 Bend down, O Lord, and hear my prayer;

. . . and then David gives his reasons why he is counting on God to answer:

answer me, for I need your help.

–because of my great need,

2 Protect me, for I am devoted to you.
Save me, for I serve you and trust you.
You are my God.

–because I am connected to you,

3 Be merciful to me, O Lord,
for I am calling on you constantly.
4 Give me happiness, O Lord,
for I give myself to you.

–because I continue to cry to you,

5 O Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive,
so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help.

–because you are a gracious God,

6 Listen closely to my prayer, O Lord;
hear my urgent cry.
7 I will call to you whenever I’m in trouble,
and you will answer me.

–because you, God, are utterly dependable.

8 No pagan god is like you, O Lord.
None can do what you do!
9 All the nations you made
will come and bow before you, Lord;
they will praise your holy name.

Ps86 all nations

Did David really mean that every nation will worship before God? Yes! Even in the Old Testament we can see that God’s purposes go beyond just the Hebrew nation. God has always wanted all peoples to rejoice before him in worship.

The process has already begun! All over the world various people groups are praising God in their own unique ways, with their own instruments, songs and dances. The ultimate goal of evangelism is that one day people of all nations will be worshiping Jesus as he sits on the throne! As the church presses on with its task of reaching every group with the gospel, David’s vision of all nations worshiping God will be fulfilled.

–YWAM notes

10 For you are great and perform wonderful deeds.
You alone are God.

from This Day with the Master,
by Dennis F. Kinlaw

A TRUE PERSPECTIVE

Among the gods there is none like you, O Lord.  — Psalm 86:8

Most of us turn to prayer in order to solve a problem. Our troubles become the motivating force behind our prayers. If we were the people we ought to be, we would pray whether we had problems or not. One of the beautiful things about God and about human life is that he does not leave us long without problems. He sees to it that we have difficulties, and he works at ordering our situation so we are not trouble free. This helps us to stay in relation to him.

(from Rebecca:  Here’s a thought you don’t often hear taught! Do you agree with Kinlaw? God is of course the giver of every good gift; can troubles and difficulties be good gifts? How do problems actually work strength and faith into our lives? Do you have examples of such from your own experience?)

In Psalm 86 David prays to God in great distress because his very life is in danger. The reader senses David’s panic and desperation in verses 1-7, and then there is a psychological shift in verse 8. All of a sudden David’s eyes turn away from his problem and become fixed on God himself. When David enters into the presence of God, he forgets the men who are hunting for him.

When a person spends enough time in the presence of God, problems begin to fade into the background and God’s greatness begins to loom large. This psalm is a classic picture of the way the most serious and intense problems melt away in the presence of Almighty God, before whom they seem insignificant. As David faces God, he gets the true perspective on reality. His problems diminish and God’s glory increases.

11 Teach me your ways, O Lord,
that I may live according to your truth!
Grant me purity of heart,
so that I may honor you.

Ps86 Undivided heart

Other translations speak of an “undivided heart” or a “focused heart,” or ask God to “unite my heart.” I like that thought. I do not want my heart to be divided when it comes to holy things — not fragmented or scattered or at odds. No, I want my heart to be wholly committed to Jesus, and I want my words and deeds to reflect that! So let me examine myself today: where have I allowed my focus on God to slip or to wander? Where have I given my heart to lesser things? Where have I allowed or even welcomed sin into my life? Oh, Lord, forgive me, and give me an undivided heart. All for you.

12 With all my heart I will praise you, O Lord my God.
I will give glory to your name forever,
13 for your love for me is very great.
You have rescued me from the depths of death.

Ps86 Ps23

14 O God, insolent people rise up against me;
a violent gang is trying to kill me.
You mean nothing to them.
15 But you, O Lord,

“What a contrast! We get away from the hectorings and blusterings of proud but puny men to the glory and goodness of the Lord.”

— Charles Haddon Spurgeon

are a God of compassion and mercy,
slow to get angry
and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.
16 Look down and have mercy on me.
Give your strength to your servant;
save me, the son of your servant.
17 Send me a sign of your favor.
Then those who hate me will be put to shame,
for you, O Lord, help and comfort me.

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is Darlene Zschech and “Show Me Your Way.”

_________________________

New Living Translation (NLT)    Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
“Teach me your way, O Lord”    http://www.middletownbiblechurch.org/versesjh/psa86_11.jpg
Ps. 117:1.   https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/42/01/46/42014686db77428b490ce8d41da3a300.jpg
perspective drawing.    http://etc.usf.edu/clipart/4100/4145/perspective_2_lg.gif
undivided heart.   http://ncccnj.com/wp-content/uploads/Undivided.jpg
Ps. 23:4.   http://media.salemwebnetwork.com/cms/CROSSCARDS/27804-10312015-Psalm-23-4-social.png

1910.) Psalm 124

August 26, 2016

Ps124 our help

Psalm 124   (NIV)

A song of ascents. Of David.

Praise to the Lord who accepts us as a living sacrifice, who gives us many and various spiritual gifts, who helps us live peaceably with one another! Praise God that he is on our side, helping us! Paul’s theme of God’s great love for us from Romans 12 is heard again here.

The Lord is able to protect His church from the attacks of principalities and powers in the spiritual realm (Eph. 6:10-20).

If the Lord had not been on our side—
    let Israel say—
if the Lord had not been on our side
    when people attacked us,
they would have swallowed us alive
    when their anger flared against us;
the flood would have engulfed us,
    the torrent would have swept over us,
the raging waters
    would have swept us away.

Praise be to the Lord,
    who has not let us be torn by their teeth.
We have escaped like a bird
    from the fowler’s snare;
the snare has been broken,
    and we have escaped.

We have escaped like a bird . . .

Our help is in the name of the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is Pilgrim Band and “Psalm 124.”

________________________

New International Version (NIV)   Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Images courtesy of:
Our help.   https://dailyverses.net/images/en/NIV/psalms-124-8.jpg
escape like a bird sketch.    http://www.moreh.net/p2/albums/userpics/normal_XXXPsalm_124_7.jpg