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

1905.) Psalm 130

August 19, 2016

Ps130 depths
Psalm 130    (ESV)

My Soul Waits for the Lord

A Song of Ascents.

Luther calls Psalm 130 the most Pauline of Psalms, a proper master and doctor of scripture. God forgives sin and God redeems and restores, as shown in Israel’s return from exile. This psalm proclaims the hope of full restoration, experienced by us in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and looks ahead to the future hope for the church and world.

Listen for echoes of Romans 8!

Psalm 130 is a psalm in four parts, best seen as a conversation. We hear the voice of personal experience in verses 1 and 2, and 5 and 6, and the voice of theological insight in verses 3 and 4, and 7 and 8. The reality of human existence, and in response the reality of God’s character, combine to give us hope.

–Howard Carter (and all following in blue)

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord!
    O Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
    to the voice of my pleas for mercy!

Ps130 Yahweh

The repetition accentuates the distress that the psalmist finds himself in. The depths are a vivid metaphor for trouble and sorrow and suffering in life, as if one is being tossed round on the waves of life. Walter Brueggemann identifies this as a psalm of disorientation, when we seem to have sunk into a pit and the world seems totally upside down.

If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
    O Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
    that you may be feared.

Ps130 record

It’s important to note that God’s grace, shown in mercy and forgiveness, is given as a reason to fear and serve the Lord. God’s grace and kindness is always seen as the foundation for relationship. The Ten Commandments and the Sinai covenant are based on God’s grace, rescuing Israel from Egypt. God’s invitation for all who believe in Christ to be the sons and daughters of God is based on Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins. God calls us to love him and so keep his commands out of love, not out of fear of some tyrant. Walter Brueggemann sums this up by saying that  “there is forgiveness and from it everything else flows. It is the first fact of the new life, of the new age.”

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
    and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
    more than watchmen for the morning,
    more than watchmen for the morning.

Ps130 wait for the Lord

The psalmist still finds himself journeying through the depth, sojourning in a dark landscape, but his posture has changed—from wailing to waiting, from despair to hope, from fretting to trust. Knowing the character of God, knowing God’s forgiveness and grace, means the Psalmist can wait for God to act. To wait on the LORD is to live trusting in God. The dawn will come. The psalmist says he is like the watchman, going about his task in the sure knowledge that the sun will soon rise.

O Israel, hope in the Lord!
    For with the Lord there is steadfast love,
    and with him is plentiful redemption.
And he will redeem Israel
    from all his iniquities.

Ps130 hope

So the psalmist calls us to put our hope in the LORD—to wait and watch and see what God will do. The depths are real, the suffering is real, but the bottom is not the bottom, for we find underneath us the Everlasting Arms. It is in the depths perhaps we can find the deep truth about God’s grace. The psalmist met God in the depths, and it changed things. The psalmist encountered the true gracious nature of God and we can too. Charles Spurgeon puts it so eloquently: “The one who cries out in the depths will sing in the heights.”

_________________________

Music:

HERE  are the Sons of Korah and their soulful rendition of Psalm 130.

_________________________


1894.) Psalm 89

August 4, 2016

Ps89 sing

Psalm 89 (Contemporary English Version)

(A special psalm by Ethan the Ezrahite.)

The LORD’s Agreement with David

1Our LORD, I will sing

of your love forever.

Everyone yet to be born

will hear me praise

your faithfulness.

2I will tell them,

“God’s love

can always be trusted,

and his faithfulness lasts

as long as the heavens.”

3You said, “David, my servant,

is my chosen one,

and this is the agreement

I made with him:

4David, one of your descendants

will always be king.”

5Our LORD, let the heavens

now praise your miracles,

and let all of your angels

praise your faithfulness.

6None who live in the heavens

can compare with you.

7You are the most fearsome

of all who live in heaven;

all the others fear

and greatly honor you.

8You are LORD God All-Powerful!

No one is as loving

and faithful as you are.

9You rule the roaring sea

and calm its waves.

Mark 4:39    (English Standard Version)

And he said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.

10You crushed the monster Rahab,

and with your powerful arm

you scattered your enemies.

11The heavens and the earth

belong to you.

And so does the world

with all its people

because you created them

12and everything else.

Mount Tabor and Mount Hermon

gladly praise you.

Wheat fields below Mount Tabor. Photograph by Ferrell Jenkins.

13You are strong and mighty!

14Your kingdom is ruled

by justice and fairness

with love and faithfulness

leading the way.

15Our LORD, you bless those

who join in the festival

and walk in the brightness

of your presence.

16We are happy all day

because of you,

and your saving power

brings honor to us.

17Your own glorious power

makes us strong,

and because of your kindness,

our strength increases.

18Our LORD and our King,

the Holy One of Israel,

you are truly our shield.

19In a vision, you once said

to your faithful followers:

“I have helped a mighty hero.

I chose him from my people

and made him famous.

20David, my servant, is the one

I chose to be king,

21and I will always be there

to help and strengthen him.

22“No enemy will outsmart David,

and he won’t be defeated

by any hateful people.

23I will strike down and crush

his troublesome enemies.

24He will always be able

to depend on my love,

and I will make him strong

with my own power.

25I will let him rule the lands

across the rivers and seas.

26He will say to me,

`You are my Father

and my God,

as well as the mighty rock

where I am safe.’

27“I have chosen David

as my first-born son,

and he will be the ruler

of all kings on earth.

28My love for him will last,

and my agreement with him

will never be broken.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (New International Version)

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

29“One of David’s descendants

will always be king,

and his family will rule

until the sky disappears.

30Suppose some of his children

should reject my Law

and refuse my instructions.

31Or suppose they should disobey

all of my teachings.

32Then I will correct

and punish them

because of their sins.

33But I will always love David

and faithfully keep all

of my promises to him.

34“I won’t break my agreement

or go back on my word.

35I have sworn once and for all

by my own holy name,

and I won’t lie to David.

36His family will always rule.

I will let his kingdom last

as long as the sun 37and moon

appear in the sky.”

Ps89 moon

38You are now angry, God,

and you have turned your back

on your chosen king.

39You broke off your agreement

with your servant, the king,

and you completely destroyed

his kingdom.

40The walls of his city

have been broken through,

and every fortress

now lies in ruin.

Ps89 Hiroshima

from Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption,
by Laura Hillenbrand

This book moved me.  In the passage that follows, the war between Japan and the USA has just ended, and the American POWs are beginning their journey home.

From the top of Japan to the bottom, trains packed with POWs snaked toward Yokohama. Men pressed their faces to the windows to catch their first glimpse of what all those B-29s had done. Once-grand cities were now flat, black stains, their only recognizable feature a gridwork of burned roads, passing nothing, leading nowhere.

At the first sight of the destruction of their enemy, the POWs cheered. But after the first city there was another, then another, city after city razed, the survivors drifting about like specters, picking through the rubble. The cheering died away. On Louie’s train, the silence came as they passed through Tokyo. A week after Louis had left Omori (one of the POW camps where Louie had stayed), sixteen square miles of Tokyo, and tens of thousands of souls, had been immolated by B-29s.

A few of the trains slipped past Hiroshima. Virtually every POW believed that the destruction of that city had saved them from execution. John Falconer, a survivor of the Bataan Death March, looked out as Hiroshima neared. “First there were trees,” he told historian Donald Knox. “Then the leaves were missing.  As you got closer, branches were missing. Closer still, the trunks were gone and then, as you got in the middle, there was nothing. Nothing! It was beautiful. I know it’s not right to say it was beautiful, because it really wasn’t. But I realized this was what had ended the war.”

41All who pass by

take what they want,

and nations everywhere

joke about the king.

42You made his enemies powerful

and let them celebrate.

43But you forced him to retreat

because you did not fight

on his side.

44You took his crown and threw his throne

in the dirt.

45You made an old man of him

and put him to shame.

46How much longer, LORD?

Will you hide forever?

How long will your anger

keep burning like fire?

47Remember, life is short!

For all who know me and my fondness for high heels . . .

Why did you empty our lives

of all meaning?

48No one can escape the power

of death and the grave.

We can get pretty busy in our lives and not think about God’s great mercy.  It’s very easy, especially if we live a comfortable life, to take God for granted. The Psalmist gives us the formidable words of verse 48:  What man can live and not see death? Can he deliver his life from the power of the grave?

It is a good thing to declare the mercies of God and His faithfulness to us, but in doing so we must still remember that each of us will see death. The only hope of being delivered from the power of the grave is through the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thank you, Jesus, for death-defying, life-giving grace!

49Our Lord, where is the love

you have always shown

and that you promised

so faithfully to David?

50Remember your servant, Lord!

People make jokes about me,

and I suffer many insults.

51I am your chosen one,

but your enemies chase

and make fun of me.

52Our LORD, we praise you

forever. Amen and amen.

_________________________

Music:

“Never Gonna Stop” praising You, Lord!  HERE  is a kinda funky number by Tommy Walker.

_________________________

Contemporary English Version (CEV)   Copyright © 1995 by American Bible Society

Images courtesy of:
I will sing.   https://shareaverse.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/psalm-89-1.png?w=505&h=383
covenant.   http://wallpaper4god.com/wallpapers/psalm-8934_2798_1024x768.jpg
“Peace, Be Still,”  by He Qi.    http://metrolutheran.org/files/2014/03/WS-He-Qi-Peace-Be-Still1.jpg
Jenkins.  http://bibleworld.com/travel-blog/MountTabor_wheat_fjenkins_050110_205c.jpg
Psalm 89:15.  http://www.photosbyjanine.com/uploads/processed/0729/0707160038041psalm_89_15_niv.jpg
David and Goliath.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/david-goliath.jpg
Keep calm and trust God.  http://29.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_liigsxu1uK1qby6rio1_500.png
candy hearts.    http://www.rockindeals4you.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/candyhearts.jpg
moon.   http://www.heartlight.org/graphics/gallery/psalm89_37.jpg
Hiroshima aftermath.  http://history105.libraries.wsu.edu/fall2014/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2014/08/hiroshima-destruction-825×499.jpg
Buy the shoes.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/lifeisshortpillowpic2edited.jpg
cemetery in Dallas.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/cemetery.jpg

1893.) Psalm 39

August 3, 2016

Psalm 39 (New American Standard Bible)

To the Chief Musician. 

“The Chief Musician” is thought by some to be the Lord God Himself.

1I said, “I will guard my ways
That I may not sin with my tongue;
I will guard my mouth as with a muzzle
While the wicked are in my presence.”

Ps39 words and meditations

The psalmist began this Psalm by remembering his prayer -– asking God’s help in not speaking foolishly or sinfully when the ungody were listening.

“He knew how his words would be misunderstood and misused by such persons. To them his words would seem to be a criticism of God and his ways.”
–James Montgomery Boice (pastor of Tenth  Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia from 1968 until his death in 2000)

2I was mute and silent,
I refrained even from good,
And my sorrow grew worse.
3
My heart was hot within me,
While I was musing the fire burned;
Then I spoke with my tongue:

4“LORD, make me to know my end
And what is the extent of my days;
Let me know how transient I am.

Ps39 cactus

“The reader learns that, since life is short, the only real meaning of a man or woman’s existence must be in his relationship to God, for God is eternal.”

–James Montgomery Boice 

5“Behold, You have made my days as handbreadths,
And my lifetime as nothing in Your sight;
Surely every man at his best is a mere breath. Selah.
6“Surely every man walks about as a phantom;
Surely they make an uproar for nothing;
He amasses riches and does not know who will gather them.

Ps39 busy

Sounding very much like the later Book of Ecclesiastes, the psalmist thought about the mass of humanity that lived ignoring the shortness and frailty of life.

· Each of them walks about, but like a shadow, living a life with no substance.

· They are busy, but in vain, being blind to eternal things.

· Each of them works hard and heaps up riches, yet does not think beyond their own short and frail life.

“‘Every man that exists, is vanity.’ All his projects, plans, schemes, &c., soon come to nothing. His body also moulders with the dust, and shortly passes both from the sight and remembrance of men.” –Adam Clarke (1762-1832, British Methodist biblical scholar)

–David Guzik

7“And now, Lord, for what do I wait?
My hope is in You.

_________________________

Music:

This psalm shows the writer experiencing very trying times, calling out for healing, protection, and mercy. During some of the hardest times in my life things have seemed just so overwhelming that I cannot breathe; it is hard for me even to get air in and out. At such times, I have found that the simple repetition of the phrases  HERE  from this song help me. “My life . . . my strength . . . my hope . . . is in you, Lord.” And indeed, I have good reason find it so:   Job 12:10 says, “For the life of every human being is in his hand, and the breath of every human being.”

May God bless you with healing, protection, mercy, strength, hope, and easy breathing.

_________________________

8“Deliver me from all my transgressions;
Make me not the reproach of the foolish.
9“I have become mute, I do not open my mouth,
Because it is You who have done it.
10“Remove Your plague from me;
Because of the opposition of Your hand I am perishing.
11“With reproofs You chasten a man for iniquity;
You consume as a moth what is precious to him;
Surely every man is a mere breath. Selah.

Calendar, Pages Flipping bxp34754h

James 4:13-15 (Contemporary English Version)

You should know better than to say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to the city. We will do business there for a year and make a lot of money!” What do you know about tomorrow? How can you be so sure about your life? It is nothing more than mist that appears for only a little while before it disappears. You should say, “If the Lord lets us live, we will do these things.”

12“Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear to my cry;
Do not be silent at my tears;
For I am a stranger with You,
A sojourner like all my fathers.

Ps39 world home

“Abraham first described himself as a stranger and a sojourner…All his children, those who inherit a like faith, must say the same. Faith cannot find a home on this side of the stars. It has caught a glimpse of the Infinite, and it can never be content with anything else.”

–F. B. Meyer

“If an Englishman goes to the Continent, and tries to pass himself off as a German or a Frenchman, he is soon detected; and, in a similar fashion, a true Christian reveals the, fact that he is an alien in this world, his ways and manners and customs are not those of the men of the world, who have their portion in this life.” 

–Charles Haddon Spurgeon

13“Turn Your gaze away from me, that I may smile again
Before I depart and am no more.”

_________________________

New American Standard Bible (NASB) Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation

Images courtesy of:
Psalm 39 puff of wind.   http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3640/3305943940_cdf7829fa4.jpg
Psalm 19:14.   https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/ab/39/f3/ab39f383933a2b0c5678e3cf69caf95e.jpg
cactus and 39:4.    http://wonders.wallpaperdave.com/ps39-04v.jpg
calendar pages.    http://lh3.ggpht.com/_z291oaHU3ps/Sg25Xia7JoI/AAAAAAAAQm4/AQFXIeGNKSE/bxp34754h.jpg
This world is not my home.   http://image.slidesharecdn.com/thisworldisnotmyhome193-130828194305-phpapp02/95/this-world-is-not-my-home-1-638.jpg?cb=1377719025