1990.) Psalm 100

December 16, 2016

Psalm 100   (NRSV)

Thankfulness is at the heart of a worshiper. When we come to worship we can’t help but thank God for who he is and what he has done.

All Lands Summoned to Praise God

Psalm 100 is the only psalm with the title, “A Psalm of Thanksgiving.” The Hebrew word for thanksgiving literally means, confession (Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, ed. by R. Laird Harris [Moody Press], 1:365). In this case, it means to confess God’s character and His works. Psalm 100 is the “unclouded summit” (Psalms 73-150, by Derek Kidner [IVP], p. 355) that closes Psalms 93-100, which proclaim God as King. It overflows with the exuberant joy of those who know themselves to be God’s people.

–Steven J. Cole

Note the commands to praise in bold print, and the reasons for praising in verses 3 and 5. I strongly suggest that we learn this psalm by heart and use it to praise God everyday, any time and any place!

1Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth.

2Worship the Lord with gladness; come into his presence with singing.

3Know that the Lord is God. It is he that made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

4Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him, bless his name.

5For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

ps100-good

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Music:

The hymn tune “Old 100th” is commonly used to sing Psalm 100, “All People That on Earth Do Dwell.” This metrical psalm version originated in the Anglo-Genevan Psalter (1561) and is attributed to the Scottish clergyman William Kethe. The version  HERE,  harmonized and arranged by the English composer Ralph Vaughn Williams, was sung at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. I strongly suggest that we learn this song by heart and use it to praise God everyday, any time and any place!

1 All people that on earth do dwell,
sing to the Lord with cheerful voice;
him serve with mirth, his praise forth tell.
Come ye before him and rejoice.

2 Know that the Lord is God indeed;
without our aid he did us make;
we are his folk; he doth us feed,
and for his sheep he doth us take.

3 O enter then his gates with praise;
approach with joy his courts unto;
praise, laud, and bless his name always,
for it is seemly so to do.

4 For why? The Lord our God is good;
his mercy is forever sure;
his truth at all times firmly stood,
and shall from age to age endure

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The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Images courtesy of:
Worship.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/psalm100-2cborders.jpg
The Lord is good.    https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/8d/ff/e8/8dffe8a7b04f140027918294b2b21fae.jpg

1989.) Psalm 81

December 15, 2016

Psalm 81 (English Standard Version)

Oh, That My People Would Listen to Me

To the choirmaster: according to The Gittith. Of Asaph.
 1 Sing aloud to God our strength;
shout for joy to the God of Jacob!
2Raise a song; sound the tambourine,
the sweet lyre with the harp.
3Blow the trumpet at the new moon,
at the full moon, on our feast day.

Psalm 81 is read for Rosh Hashanah and the painting is based on these  lines:

            Blow the shofar at the moon’s renewal.
            at the appointed time of our festive day.

I painted Jerusalem at night, with watchers standing on the Temple’s high places.  When the first sliver of the new moon was sighted by the watchers, the Shofar was blown and Rosh Hashanah started.  The sliver of moon appears in a night sky, over the holy city dimly lit by the stars.  The watcher sees the moon emerge and sounds the Shofar.

As the moon appears from darkness to renew itself at the start of the holiday so too does Israel renew itself and emerge from spiritual darkness.
–Irv Davis

4For it is a statute for Israel,
a rule of the God of Jacob.
5He made it a decree in Joseph
when he went out over the land of Egypt.
I hear a language I had not known:

6“I relieved your shoulder of the burden;
your hands were freed from the basket.
7In distress you called, and I delivered you;
I answered you in the secret place of thunder;
I tested you at the waters of Meribah.
Selah

“Meribah” refers to an incident during the wilderness wanderings. The people complained about a lack of water. God told Moses to strike a rock, and water came out of it for the people to drink. Exodus 17:7 puts it this way:  And he called the place Meribah because the Israelites quarreled and because they tested the Lord saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”

8 Hear, O my people, while I admonish you!
O Israel, if you would but listen to me!
9There shall be no strange god among you;
you shall not bow down to a foreign god.
10 I am the LORD your God,
who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.
Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.

11“But my people did not listen to my voice;
Israel would not submit to me.
12So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts,
to follow their own counsels.

Acts 7:39-43 (NLT)

“But our ancestors refused to listen to Moses. They rejected him and wanted to return to Egypt.  They told Aaron, ‘Make us some gods who can lead us, for we don’t know what has become of this Moses, who brought us out of Egypt.’  So they made an idol shaped like a calf, and they sacrificed to it and celebrated over this thing they had made.  Then God turned away from them and abandoned them to serve the stars of heaven as their gods! In the book of the prophets it is written,

   ‘Was it to me you were bringing sacrifices and offerings
      during those forty years in the wilderness, Israel?
  No, you carried your pagan gods—
      the shrine of Molech,
      the star of your god Rephan,
      and the images you made to worship them.
   So I will send you into exile
      as far away as Babylon.’”

13 Oh, that my people would listen to me,
that Israel would walk in my ways!
14I would soon subdue their enemies
and turn my hand against their foes.
15Those who hate the LORD would cringe toward him,
and their fate would last forever.
16But he would feed you with the finest of the wheat,
and with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”

ps81-listen

Psalm 81 seems to reflect the time of exile, when God punished Israel with the loss of the temple, its king, and the land of promise. It also reminds us of an earlier time, when Israel doubted God and grumbled about Him (v. 7). At Meribah (Ex. 17), Israel tested the Lord, doubting that He was with His people, so the Lord tested Israel and found her wanting. Similarly, we can look at the history of the church and see many times and ways in which the church failed to listen to the Word of the Lord.

The time of the Reformation, of course, was one of the greatest times in which the church returned to the Word of God. The Reformation of the church occurred because Christians began again to study the Bible carefully. The Reformers studied Greek and Hebrew, provided the church with new translations of the Bible, used the new technology of the printing press to print Bibles, and prepared some of the finest commentaries and theologies in the history of the church.

Again in our time, the church must be called to listen to the Word of God. God says to us today, as He said to Israel of old and says to every generation of His people: “O Israel, if you would but listen to me!” Let us pray that the Holy Spirit will open ears in our churches and throughout our land. And let us listen carefully and believingly. Such listening is what the church most needs today.

–Dr. W. Robert Godfrey (president and professor of church history of Westminster Seminary California)

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Music:

Sweet Honey in the Rock (see verse 16) is an all-woman, African-American a cappella ensemble. Founded in 1973 in Washington, D.C., the group has sung around the world, addressing topics such as motherhood, spirituality, freedom, civil rights, justice, domestic violence, and racism. I am sure you will enjoy their rendition of “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child.”  HERE.

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English Standard Version (ESV)   The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
Psalm 81.  http://iamlori2.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/psalm-81.jpg
Davis.  http://courseweb.stthomas.edu/jmjoncas/LiturgicalStudiesInternetLinks/JewishWorship/JewishWorshipMusic/OTPsalms/Ps081IrvDavis.gif
Meribah.  http://st-takla.org/Gallery/var/albums/Bible/Illustrations/NHP/1-Old-Testament-Clip-Arts/www-St-Takla-org–MOSESWTR.jpg?m=1298306733
baby birds with open mouths.  https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/birdsopeningmouthwide.jpg
Listen to the Lord.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/listen-to-the-lord.jpg

1988.) Psalms 66

December 14, 2016

Verse 5 says, “Come and see what God has done.” For example:  Have you ever seen the California redwoods?!

Psalm 66 (NRSV)

Praise for God’s Goodness to Israel

1Make a joyful noise to God, all the earth;

2sing the glory of his name; give to him glorious praise.

“Praise requires concentration on the thing, person, or deity being praised. Thanks tend to be focused on what the speaker has received, and thus may become rather narrow and perfunctory. In the expression of thanksgiving the self may become the primary subject, but this is much less likely to happen in praise.” 

–Marvin Tate

3Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds! Because of your great power, your enemies cringe before you.

4All the earth worships you; they sing praises to you, sing praises to your name.”

Philippians 2:10-11   (NLT)

that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.

Selah

5Come and see what God has done: he is awesome in his deeds among mortals.

6He turned the sea into dry land; they passed through the river on foot.

There we rejoiced in him,

“God’s work is never antiquated. It is all a revelation of eternal activities. What He has been, He is. What He did, He does. Therefore faith may feed on all the records of old time, and expect the repetition of all that they contain.”

–Alexander Maclaren

7who rules by his might forever, whose eyes keep watch on the nations— let the rebellious not exalt themselves.

Selah

8Bless our God, O peoples, let the sound of his praise be heard,

9who has kept us among the living, and has not let our feet slip.

10For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried.

“Try us, O God; but enable us to stand the trial!” 

-George Norne

Malachi 3:3 (NLT)

He will sit like a refiner of silver, burning away the dross.

A woman called up a silversmith and made an appointment to watch him at work.  As she watched the siversmith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest so as to burn away all the impurities.

The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot.  Then she thought about the verse, “He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver…”.  She asked the silversmith if it were true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined.

The man answered yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. For if the silver was left even a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed.

The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, “How do you know when the silver is fully refined?”

He smiled at her and answered, “Oh, that’s the easy part — when I see my image reflected in it.”

11You brought us into the net; you laid burdens on our backs;

12you let people ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; yet you have brought us out to a spacious place.

13I will come into your house with burnt offerings; I will pay you my vows,

14those that my lips uttered and my mouth promised when I was in trouble.

15I will offer to you burnt offerings of fatlings, with the smoke of the sacrifice of rams; I will make an offering of bulls and goats.

The Psalmist would fulfill his vows to God with generous, expensive sacrifices, offering multiple animals.

–David Guzik

Selah

16Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for me.

“We may picture the scene of public worship, perhaps at Passover or at a victory celebration, in which the corporate praise gives way to the voice of this single worshipper, who stands with his gifts before the altar, and speaks of the God whose care is not only world- and nation-wide, but personal: I will tell what he has done for me.”

–Derek Kidner

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Music:

HERE  is “What the Lord has done in me”  by Hillsong.

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17I cried aloud to him, and he was extolled with my tongue.

18If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.

19But truly God has listened; he has given heed to the words of my prayer.

ps66-v19

20Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast love from me.

Spurgeon cited Thomas Fuller who composed a syllogism from the two verses above (Psalm 66:19-20). It works something like this:

· If I regard iniquity in my heart, God will not hear my prayer

· God has heard my prayer

We would expect the next line to be, Therefore, there is no iniquity in my heart. Yet the Psalmist completed the syllogism in an unexpected way, praising the mercy of God. “I looked that he should have clapped the crown on his own, and he puts it on God’s head. I will learn this excellent logic.” (Fuller)

–quoted in David Guzik

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The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

Images courtesy of:
California redwoods.    http://college2cali.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/california-redwood-2.jpg
crossing the Red Sea.     http://thehourofrescue.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/crossing-red-sea1.jpg
refiner of silver.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2016/12/16145-refiner.jpg
God has certainly listened.   https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/564x/9c/9f/cf/9c9fcf8139fb18fce04ee21484ff2558.jpg

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.

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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!

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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

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Music:

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

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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)

_________________________

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