3600.) Psalm 119:17-32

February 3, 2023

Open my eyes, that I may see glimpses of truth thou hast for me . . .

Psalm 119:17-32   (NIV)

Just to keep things interesting — we will be looking at sections of Psalm 119 while we are also reading through Jeremiah.  

George Wishart was the Bishop of Edinburgh in the 17th century (not to be confused with another Scot by the same name who was martyred a century earlier). Wishart was condemned to death and would have been executed. But when he was on the scaffold he made use of a custom that allowed the condemned person to choose one psalm to be sung, and he chose Psalm 119. Before two-thirds of the psalm was sung, his pardon arrived and his life was spared!
~David Guzik

ג Gimel

17 Be good to your servant while I live,
that I may obey your word.
18 Open my eyes that I may see
wonderful things in your law.

“Blinding ignorance does mislead us. O! Wretched mortals, open your eyes!”
~Leonardo da Vinci

“In these times you have to be an optimist to open your eyes when you awake in the morning.”
~Carl Sandburg

“Light only benefits one whose eyes are open.” 
~Matshona Dhliwavo

19 I am a stranger on earth;
do not hide your commands from me.
20 My soul is consumed with longing
for your laws at all times.
21 You rebuke the arrogant, who are accursed,
those who stray from your commands.
22 Remove from me their scorn and contempt,
for I keep your statutes.
23 Though rulers sit together and slander me,
your servant will meditate on your decrees.

“The best way to deal with slander is to pray about it: God will either remove it, or remove the sting from it. Our own attempts at clearing ourselves are usually failures.”
~Charles Haddon Spurgeon

24 Your statutes are my delight;
they are my counselors.

ד Daleth

25 I am laid low in the dust;
    preserve my life according to your word.
26 I gave an account of my ways and you answered me;
    teach me your decrees.
27 Cause me to understand the way of your precepts,
    that I may meditate on your wonderful deeds.
28 My soul is weary with sorrow;
    strengthen me according to your word.
29 Keep me from deceitful ways;
    be gracious to me and teach me your law.
30 I have chosen the way of faithfulness;
    I have set my heart on your laws.

I like how Eugene Peterson puts verses 29-30 in The Message:

Barricade the road that goes Nowhere;
grace me with your clear revelation.
I choose the true road to Somewhere,

I post your road signs at every curve and corner.

31 I hold fast to your statutes, Lord;
    do not let me be put to shame.
32 I run in the path of your commands,
    for you have broadened my understanding.

In the beginning of the section he is clinging to the dust (verse 25); by the end he is clinging to God’s word. In the beginning he is laid low; now he is joyfully running with all his strength in the race God’s word sets before him.
~David Guzik

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is an old one — “Open My Eyes, that I May See,” by Clara M. Scott. Scott was born in Illinois in 1841 and died in Iowa in 1897. In 1856, Scott attended the first Music Institute held by C.M. Cady in Chicago, Ill. By 1859, she was teaching music at the Ladies’ Seminary, Lyons, Iowa. She married Henry Clay Scott in 1861, and published in 1882 the Royal Anthem Book, the first volume of choir anthems published by a woman.

Horatio R. Palmer, an influential church musician in Chicago and later New York City, was a source of encouragement for Scott, and helped her publish many of her songs. Three collections were issued before her untimely death, when a runaway horse caused a buggy accident in Dubuque, Iowa.

  1. Open my eyes, that I may see
    Glimpses of truth Thou hast for me;
    Place in my hands the wonderful key
    That shall unclasp and set me free.
              Refrain
              Silently now I wait for Thee,
              Ready my God, Thy will to see,
              Open my eyes, illumine me,
              Spirit divine!
  2. Open my ears, that I may hear
    Voices of truth Thou sendest clear;
    And while the wave notes fall on my ear,
    Everything false will disappear.
              Refrain 
  3. Open my mind, that I may read
    More of Thy love in word and deed;
    What shall I fear while yet Thou dost lead?
    Only for light from Thee I plead.
              Refrain 
  4. Open my mouth, and let me bear,
    Gladly the warm truth everywhere;
    Open my heart and let me prepare
    Love with Thy children thus to share.
              Refrain 

_________________________

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:
open eye.  https://www.novaeyedocs.com/eye-care/what-causes-puffy-eyes/
verse 18. Calligraphy by Tim Botts.   http://www.prestoimages.net/store30/rd183/183_pd2678828_1_psalm_119_18_timbotts.jpg
Truth.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/psalm119_30.jpg

3594.) Psalm 73

January 26, 2023

Psalm 73   (NIV)

A psalm of Asaph.

Yesterday in Jeremiah 12, the prophet asked the question:  Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Here is another saint facing the same dilemma.

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.

Ps73 God is good

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.   https://i0.wp.com/www.markcole.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/unfair2.png
God is good.    https://www.pinterest.com/pin/598486237959704506/
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!    https://christthekingparish.com/charismatic-prayer-group/

3590.) Psalm 119:1-16

January 20, 2023

P119 alphabet blocks

Psalm 119:1-16   (NIV)

Just to keep things interesting — we will be looking at sections of Psalm 119 while we are also reading through Jeremiah. 

Psalm 119 is both the longest psalm and, at 176 verses, the longest chapter in the Bible. It is the prayer of a person who delights in God’s word and wants to live according to it. Included in almost every verse is a synonym for Scripture, such as precepts, or commands, or statutes.

This psalm is an acrostic poem, the stanzas of which begin with the 22 successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet; moreover, the 8  verses of each stanza begin with the same letter of the Hebrew alphabet. For this reason, this chapter is known as the Golden Alphabet of the Bible.

Thinking of alphabets reminds me of what Jesus said in Revelation 1:8 — “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” These words, of course, are the first and last letters in the Greek alphabet.

א Aleph

Blessed are those whose ways are blameless,
who walk according to the law of the Lord.

Ps119 v1

How many people in our world today think that following God’s law is boring or irrelevant. Yet this psalm teaches us over and over again that true joy and fulfillment and peace are found in obedience to God.

Blessed are those who keep his statutes
and seek him with all their heart
they do no wrong
but follow his ways.
You have laid down precepts
that are to be fully obeyed.
Oh, that my ways were steadfast
in obeying your decrees!
Then I would not be put to shame
when I consider all your commands.

“‘Shame’ is the fruit of sin; confidence is the effect of righteousness.”
~George Horne

I will praise you with an upright heart
as I learn your righteous laws.
I will obey your decrees;
do not utterly forsake me.

ב Beth

How can a young person stay on the path of purity?
By living according to your word.
10 I seek you with all my heart;
do not let me stray from your commands.
11 I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you.

“I know of no other single practice in the Christian life more rewarding, practically speaking, than memorizing Scripture. . . . No other single exercise pays greater spiritual dividends! Your prayer life will be strengthened. Your witnessing will be sharper and much more effective. Your attitudes and outlook will begin to change. Your mind will become alert and observant. Your confidence and assurance will be enhanced. Your faith will be solidified.”
~Charles Swindoll

When Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness, he recited Scripture from memory and put Satan to flight (Matthew 4:1-11).

12 Praise be to you, Lord;
teach me your decrees.
13 With my lips I recount
all the laws that come from your mouth.
14 I rejoice in following your statutes
as one rejoices in great riches.
15 I meditate on your precepts
and consider your ways.
16 I delight in your decrees;
I will not neglect your word.

“The word delight is very emphatical: evetva eshtaasha, I will skip about and jump for joy.”
~Adam Clarke

_________________________

Music:

The Christian ABC song — did you learn it as a child, too? This cutie starts singing about 30 seconds in. Click  HERE to enjoy!

_________________________

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:
ABC blocks.    https://www.shutterstock.com/search/alphabet+blocks
Joyful, v. 1.    https://www.facebook.com/kloveradio/photos/a.99342059055/10161039954204056/?type=3
Thy Word, v. 11.   https://i.pinimg.com/736x/66/85/41/668541cffc4fc18140038f0436a62284–god-is-faithful-psalm-.jpg

3552.) Psalm 58

November 29, 2022

Psalm 58  (NLT)

For the choir director: A psalm of David, to be sung to the tune “Do Not Destroy!”

Speaking to the wicked rulers:

Justice—do you rulers know the meaning of the word?
    Do you judge the people fairly?

“The abrupt question of verse 1 speaks of long pent-up indignation, excited by protracted experience of injustice.”

–Alexander Maclaren

2 No! You plot injustice in your hearts.
    You spread violence throughout the land.

David said they weigh out the violence against others; with careful thought and deliberation they gave it out. “As righteous judges ponder the law, balance the evidence, and weigh the case, so the malicious dispense injustice with malice aforethought in cold blood.” (Spurgeon)

–David Guzik

3 These wicked people are born sinners;
    even from birth they have lied and gone their own way.

David diagnosed the problem of the judges; they were wicked at the root, in their nature, from birth. David understood this of all humanity including himself (Psalm 51:5). 

“Sinful, indeed, we are all by nature, and a birth-blot we bring into the world with us, making us strangers and strayers from God.”

–John Trapp

G.K. Chesterson said that the doctrine of original sin is the only philosophy that has been empirically validated by thirty-five hundred years of human history!

4 They spit venom like deadly snakes;
    they are like cobras that refuse to listen,
ignoring the tunes of the snake charmers,
    no matter how skillfully they play.

Speaking to God who judges the wicked:

Break off their fangs, O God!
    Smash the jaws of these lions, O Lord!
May they disappear like water into thirsty ground.
    Make their weapons useless in their hands.
May they be like snails that dissolve into slime,
    like a stillborn child who will never see the sun.
God will sweep them away, both young and old,
    faster than a pot heats over burning thorns.

These are strong words, harsh words! But radical evil demands vengeance from a God of justice.

10 The godly will rejoice when they see injustice avenged.
    They will wash their feet in the blood of the wicked.

“It is a sickly sentimentality and a wicked weakness that have more sympathy with the corrupt oppressors than with the anger of God.”

–G. Campbell Morgan

11 Then at last everyone will say,
    “There truly is a reward for those who live for God;
    surely there is a God who judges justly here on earth.”

“Yes, child of God, there is a reward for thee. It is not in vain that thou hast washed thy hands in innocency. But it will not come in the coinage or honour of this age, else it would be evanescent and perishable. God is already giving thee of the eternal and divine – peace, joy, blessedness; and one day thou shalt be fully vindicated.”

–F. B. Meyer

It’s a short psalm! Read it again, in the heart-stirring words of The Message, a retelling by Eugene Peterson:

Psalm 58 (The Message)

A David Psalm

1-2 Is this any way to run a country?
Is there an honest politician in the house?
Behind the scenes you brew cauldrons of evil,
behind closed doors you make deals with demons.

3-5 The wicked crawl from the wrong side of the cradle;
their first words out of the womb are lies.
Poison, lethal rattlesnake poison,
drips from their forked tongues—


Deaf to threats, deaf to charm,
decades of wax built up in their ears.

6-9 God, smash their teeth to bits,
leave them toothless tigers.


Let their lives be buckets of water spilled,
all that’s left, a damp stain in the sand.
Let them be trampled grass
worn smooth by the traffic.
Let them dissolve into snail slime,


be a miscarried fetus that never sees sunlight.
Before what they cook up is half-done, God,
throw it out with the garbage!

10-11 The righteous will call up their friends
when they see the wicked get their reward,
Serve up their blood in goblets
as they toast one another,
Everyone cheering, “It’s worth it to play by the rules!
God’s handing out trophies and tending the earth!”

_________________________

Music:

And then there is the other side of the coin. As servants of the God of justice, as those who live for God, what can we do to bring his justice and peace and love to the world?  HERE  is “God of Justice” by Tim Hughes. Let us hear the prayer — “Fill us up and send us out, Lord!”

_________________________

The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Images courtesy of:
We want justice.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/justice.jpg
Psalm 51:5.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2019/08/2ab70-capture.png
rattlesnake venom.    https://www.zmescience.com/medicine/black-mamba-venom-morphine-04102012/
toothless tiger.    http://onlyinbridgeport.com/wordpress/talk-to-the-animals-zoo-celebrates-90th-birthday/
snail slime.    http://www.strangehistory.net/2018/02/13/snail-love-spell/

3543.) Psalm 94

November 16, 2022

Psalm 94 (The Message)

“In this song we see how the very things which assault faith, and threaten to produce despair, may be made the opportunity for praise, in the place and act of worship.”

–G. Campbell Morgan

1-2 God, put an end to evil;
avenging God, show your colors!
Judge of the earth, take your stand;
throw the book at the arrogant.

God is the judge; vengeance belongs to Him.  Bible commentator James Montgomery Boice wrote:  “Dr. Samuel Johnson, the maker of the first great English dictionary, made the distinction well when he said, ‘Revenge is an act of passion, vengeance of justice; injuries are revenged, crimes are avenged.’” 

3-4 God, the wicked get away with murder—
how long will you let this go on?
They brag and boast
and crow about their crimes!

5-7 They walk all over your people, God,
exploit and abuse your precious people.
They take out anyone who gets in their way;
if they can’t use them, they kill them.
They think, “God isn’t looking,
Jacob’s God is out to lunch.”

8-11 Well, think again, you idiots,
fools—how long before you get smart?
Do you think Ear-Maker doesn’t hear,
Eye-Shaper doesn’t see?
Do you think the trainer of nations doesn’t correct,
the teacher of Adam doesn’t know?
God knows, all right—
knows your stupidity,
sees your shallowness.

Yes, yes, I thoroughly agree! Way too many people are stupid and shallow! (Strain to pat self on back.)   

(Pause to reconsider.)

Lord, you know that often I am stupid and shallow. Help me grow wiser in your truth and kinder in my dealings with others.

12-15 How blessed the man you train, God,
the woman you instruct in your Word,
Providing a circle of quiet within the clamor of evil,

Where is your “circle of quiet”? 

According to these verses, it is where you are studying the Word of God and praying. Jesus often got up early and went to a remote place to pray to his Father. Susanna Wesley, mother of 19 children, found her circle by throwing her apron over her head; the children knew she was praying and waited until she came out. My mother had devotions early every morning at the kitchen table, reading Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening.  I hope that DWELLING provides a circle of quiet for my readers.

while a jail is being built for the wicked.
God will never walk away from his people,
never desert his precious people.
Rest assured that justice is on its way
and every good heart put right.

.
16-19 Who stood up for me against the wicked?
Who took my side against evil workers?
If God hadn’t been there for me,
I never would have made it.
The minute I said, “I’m slipping, I’m falling,”
your love, God, took hold and held me fast.
When I was upset and beside myself,
you calmed me down and cheered me up.

Psalm 94:19 (Good News Translation)

Whenever I am anxious and worried,
      you comfort me and make me glad.

Here are some of God’s  “comforts” for us:

Psalm 46:1-3 (New International Version)

God is our refuge and strength,
   an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
   and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
   and the mountains quake with their surging.

John 16:33 (New International Version)

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

2 Corinthians 1:5 (English Standard Version)

For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.

20-23 Can Misrule have anything in common with you?
Can Troublemaker pretend to be on your side?
They ganged up on good people,
plotted behind the backs of the innocent.
But God became my hideout,
God was my high mountain retreat,
Then boomeranged their evil back on them:
for their evil ways he wiped them out,
our God cleaned them out for good.

The psalm begins with trusting God to set things right and ends with the same confidence.

_________________________

Music:

Be it the frightening power of nature, or the success of the wicked, or anxiety over our own lives, we as believers need have no fears — we are safe in God’s arms.  HERE  is “Safe”  by Phil Wickham.

_________________________

The Message (MSG)    Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson
Images courtesy of:
Psalm 94:18.  https://68.media.tumblr.com/d2eadb00b77f229c5ca04a903a63695b/tumblr_omsfitBHED1s91yx0o1_1280.jpg
stupid people.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/stupidpeoplelarge.jpg
A Circle of Quiet (actually a book by one of my favorite authors, Madeleine L’Engle).   https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51eOV3mwl9L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg
Psalm 94:19.  https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/gods-comfort-psalm-94-19.jpg

3542.) Psalm 47

November 15, 2022

Psalm 47 (NIV)

Praising the King of all the Earth!

1 Clap your hands, all you nations;
shout to God with cries of joy.

2 How awesome is the LORD Most High,
the great King over all the earth!

The pagan gods of the ancient world (Baal, Molech, Ashtoreth, and so forth) were imagined to be territorial gods. Their authority was limited to a nation or a region. The psalmist proclaimed that the LORD God is not like one of these imagined gods.

3 He subdued nations under us,
peoples under our feet.

4 He chose our inheritance for us,
the pride of Jacob, whom he loved.
Selah

Amy Carmichael, 1867-1951.  Born in Ireland, she went to the mission field of India in 1895 and never left.  Much of her work involved rescuing young children from temple prostitution.

from Whispers of His Power,
by Amy Carmichael

“He shall choose our inheritance for us, the excellency of Jacob, whom He loved.”

Have you ever looked longingly at another life and wished that you had as much as it has to offer? But He shall choose, and He does not call the inheritance of any Jacob “poor.” He calls it the excellency of Jacob. The marvel is not that we have so little to offer, but that we have anything at all. There was no worthiness in Jacob.  Whom He loved is the only explanation.

But—and is not this comforting?—God needs each separate soul, each personality with the inheritance of His choice, for the perfecting of His purpose in the spiritual creation. And when it is perfected He will be satisfied, and we too shall be satisfied, “lost in wonder, love, and praise” that we ever were allowed the smallest share in it.

5 God has ascended amid shouts of joy,
the LORD amid the sounding of trumpets.

6 Sing praises to God, sing praises;
sing praises to our King, sing praises.

7 For God is the King of all the earth;
sing to him a psalm of praise.

All in all, this psalm shows us how we are to praise God:

· Praise Him cheerfully when you clap your hands as an expression of your inward joy.

· Praise Him universally together with all you peoples who should praise the Lord.

· Praise Him vocally as you shout unto God with the voice of triumph.

· Praise Him frequently, as the idea of sing praises is repeated often. You cannot praise Him too much.

· Praise Him intelligently, as you are to sing praises with understanding and to know and proclaim the reasons for our praise.

–David Guzik

8 God reigns over the nations;
God is seated on his holy throne.

9 The nobles of the nations assemble
as the people of the God of Abraham,
for the kings of the earth belong to God;
he is greatly exalted.

_________________________

Music:

“Love Divine, All Love Excelling” is one of Charles Wesley’s most sung hymns. It ends with a glorious vision of heaven, with the redeemed falling before the throne of God, “lost in wonder, love, and praise.”

HERE  The Sanctuary Choir, The Cathedral Choir of Young Men and Boys, The Cecilian Carolers, organ and orchestra perform “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling” in the 2009 Christmas concert from First Presbyterian Church, Davenport, Iowa. Arrangement by Mack Wilberg, conducted by Steven R. Jobman.

1. Love divine, all loves excelling,
joy of heaven, to earth come down;
fix in us thy humble dwelling;
all thy faithful mercies crown!
Jesus thou art all compassion,
pure, unbounded love thou art;
visit us with thy salvation;
enter every trembling heart.

2. Breathe, O breathe thy loving Spirit
into every troubled breast!
Let us all in thee inherit;
let us find that second rest.
Take away our bent to sinning;
Alpha and Omega be;
end of faith, as its beginning,
set our hearts at liberty.

3. Come, Almighty to deliver,
let us all thy life receive;
suddenly return and never,
nevermore thy temples leave.
Thee we would be always blessing,
serve thee as thy hosts above,
pray and praise thee without ceasing,
glory in thy perfect love.

4. Finish, then, thy new creation;
pure and spotless let us be.
Let us see thy great salvation
perfectly restored in thee;
changed from glory into glory,
till in heaven we take our place,
till we cast our crowns before thee,
lost in wonder, love, and praise.

_________________________

New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica
Images courtesy of:
Psalm 47 with hands.   https://i.ytimg.com/vi/TsinZiRvEh8/hqdefault.jpg
Psalm 47:2 with river and cliffs.     http://oneyearbibleimages.com/psalm47.jpg
Amy Carmichael.    http://www.myfrienddebbie.com/images/amycarmichael.jpg
Sing praises.   https://c1.staticflickr.com/8/7773/18142703966_f029609324_b.jpg
Lost in wonder.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2017/08/ps47-lost-in-wonder.jpg

3513.) Psalm 27

October 5, 2022

Psalm 27 (NIV)

1 The LORD is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?

In the New Testament, John 1:9 calls Jesus the light:”The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.”

The LORD is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?

If we rarely know what it is to have God be the strength of our life, perhaps it is because we trust in so many other things for strength. We find it easy to trust in our wisdom, our experience, our friends, and our resources. David knew a strength greater than all that.

–David Guzik

2 When evil men advance against me
to devour my flesh,
when my enemies and my foes attack me,
they will stumble and fall.

3 Though an army besiege me,
my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
even then will I be confident.

4 One thing I ask of the LORD,
this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to seek him in his temple.

To behold (to gaze upon) — That there I may delight myself, in the contemplation of thy amiable and glorious majesty, and of thy infinite wisdom, holiness, justice, truth, and mercy.

–John Wesley

_________________________

Music:

I have a soft spot for musical plays, and one of the best, I think,  is Fiddler on the Roof. My favorite song from this touching show is  HERE,  “If I Were a Rich Man” — for what Tevye thinks would be “the sweetest thing of all” to do with his wealth. . .

_________________________

5 For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle
and set me high upon a rock.

6 Then my head will be exalted
above the enemies who surround me;
at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make music to the LORD.

7 Hear my voice when I call, O LORD;
be merciful to me and answer me.

8 My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”
Your face, LORD, I will seek.

Revelation 22:1-4 (NIV)

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.

9 Do not hide your face from me,
do not turn your servant away in anger;
you have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me,
O God my Savior.

10 Though my father and mother forsake me,
the LORD will receive me.

    Our Father, which art in heaven.

    What does that mean?

    Answer.  With these words God invites us to believe that He is our true Father, and that we are His true children, so that we may pray to Him in confidence and in all trust, as little children do to their fathers.

–Martin Luther’s Small Catechism

11 Teach me your way, O LORD;
lead me in a straight path
because of my oppressors.

12 Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,
for false witnesses rise up against me,
breathing out violence.

13 I am still confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living.

The living — David was thus earnestly desirous of this mercy in this life, not because he placed his portion in these things; but because the truth and glory of God, were highly concerned in making good the promise of the kingdom to him.

–John Wesley

14 Wait for the LORD;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the LORD.

from Experiencing God Day-by-Day
by Henry T. Blackaby and Richard Blackaby

Waiting is one of the hardest things to do. We want to be people of action. We feel better if we are doing something to address our need, but waiting forces us to rely on God. David learned what it meant to wait. He was chosen by God to be the next king of Israel, then spent years waiting for the day God’s word would come to pass in his life. As he waited, a paranoid, egocentric king occupied the throne that had been promised to him. David spent his time hiding in caves and living among his enemies. As he waited he saw good friends murdered and his family and possessions taken. He saw Israel’s enemies wreak havoc on his nation. Perhaps no one ever faced greater adversity while waiting upon God’s promise than David did. He certainly understood what it meant to become discouraged and fearful.

But David also enjoyed the reward for waiting upon the Lord. He became the greatest king in Israel’s history, and, more importantly, through his trials he became a man after God’s own heart. The psalms David wrote during his days as a fugitive have been cherished words of encouragement for millions of people through the ages. Through David’s descendants came the Messiah. David’s willingness to wait has blessed us all.

Times of waiting on the Lord can be some of the most precious moments in your life (John 11:1-6). If you are waiting on God for something, read Isaiah 40:31 and find encouragement as you wait for Him to fulfill His promises to you.

“God’s timing is always perfect, and always later than mine.”

–my dear friend Hansi

_________________________

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

Images courtesy of:
Psalm 27:1 and lighthouse.    http://i131.photobucket.com/albums/p308/christianmyspace/graphics/psalm27_1.jpg
v. 4.  http://www.thefellowshipsite.org/uploads/7/4/1/7/7417809/7403250.jpg?711
“Face of Jesus” sculpture by Patrick Rankin.    https://images.fineartamerica.com/images/artworkimages/mediumlarge/1/face-of-jesus-patrick-rankin.jpg
The Lord’s Prayer.   https://askgramps.org/wp-content/uploads/the_lords_prayer.gif
“Waiting in repose.”    https://www.journeywithjesus.net/Essays/Waiting_In_Repose_sm.jpg
wrist watch.    https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/a8/6a/93/a86a936e7dbc1cb38270a6db88078fc2.jpg

3508.) Psalm 146

September 28, 2022

Ps146 praise Jesus

Psalm 146   (NIV)

One of the Hallelujah psalms!

“Hallelujah is a compound word made up of two Hebrew words: hallel (an imperative verb meaning ‘praise’) and jah (a contraction of the name for God, Jehovah). So hallelujah means ‘Praise the Lord (or Jehovah).’” 

— James Montgomery Boice

Praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord, my soul.

I will praise the Lord all my life;
    I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.

Ps146 praise 2

“We cannot be too firm in the holy resolve to praise God, for it is the chief end of our living and being that we should glorify God and enjoy him for ever.”

–Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Do not put your trust in princes,
    in human beings, who cannot save.
When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
    on that very day their plans come to nothing.
Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
    whose hope is in the Lord their God.

He is the Maker of heaven and earth,
    the sea, and everything in them—

Colossians 1 tells us that JESUS is supreme in all creation:  For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.

    he remains faithful forever.

Ps146 neverfail

He upholds the cause of the oppressed
    and gives food to the hungry.

Think of Jesus touching and healing lepers and feeding thousands of people with miraculous bread and fish!

The Lord sets prisoners free,
    the Lord gives sight to the blind,

. . . and remember how Jesus helped crippled people to walk and opened the eyes of the blind!

the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down,

. . . and don’t forget the bent-over woman, and the woman with the issue of blood, when Jesus took their hands and literally lifted them up!

    the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the foreigner

. . . and look at how kindly Jesus healed the centurion’s servant and the Syro-Phonecian woman’s daughter!

    and sustains the fatherless and the widow,

. . . and he brought joy to the widow of Nain when he brought her son back to life!

    but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.

10 The Lord reigns forever,
    your God, O Zion, for all generations.

From the Nicene Creed, speaking of Jesus:

And He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.

Praise the Lord.

“Here endeth this gladsome Psalm. Here endeth not the praise of the Lord, which shall ascend for ever and ever.”

–Charles Haddon Spurgeon

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is a song that just begs you to sing along! — “Jesus, What a Beautiful Name.”

_________________________

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:
Praise Jesus.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/ps146-praise-jesus.gif
Psalm 146:2.    https://myloveforjesus.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/psalm146.jpg
I will never fail you.    https://testimoniesofhisgoodness.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/neverfail.jpg?w=570

3482.) Psalm 85

August 23, 2022

“Psalm 85” by John August Swanson. Click on the picture to see it larger. And as you read, refer back to this to see how many details and verses the artist has included!

Psalm 85 (NIV)

The psalm is filled with promise in the midst of a time of waiting and uncertainty. 

For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. A psalm.

1 You, LORD, showed favor to your land;
you restored the fortunes of Jacob.
2 You forgave the iniquity of your people
and covered all their sins.
3 You set aside all your wrath
and turned from your fierce anger.
Thank you, God, for forgiving me and covering all my sin. As John 3:16 says, you loved the world and you gave your Son for our salvation. Such grace and kindness!
4 Restore us again, God our Savior,
and put away your displeasure toward us.
5 Will you be angry with us forever?
Will you prolong your anger through all generations?
6 Will you not revive us again,
that your people may rejoice in you?
.
W. P Mackay, a Scottish Presbyterian minister of the 19th century, wrote a hymn based on this verse.
  1. We praise Thee, O God!
    For the Son of Thy love,
    For Jesus Who died,
    And is now gone above.
    Refrain:
    Hallelujah! Thine the glory.
    Hallelujah! Amen.
    Hallelujah! Thine the glory.
    Revive us again.
  2. We praise Thee, O God!
    For Thy Spirit of light,
    Who hath shown us our Savior,
    And scattered our night.
  3. All glory and praise
    To the Lamb that was slain,
    Who hath borne all our sins,
    And hath cleansed every stain.
  4. All glory and praise
    To the God of all grace,
    Who hast brought us, and sought us,
    And guided our ways.
  5. Revive us again;
    Fill each heart with Thy love;
    May each soul be rekindled
    With fire from above.
7 Show us your unfailing love, LORD,
and grant us your salvation.
.

8 I will listen to what God the LORD says;
he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants—
but let them not turn to folly.

Thank you, Lord, for giving me peace that does not depend on circumstances but on your eternally true promises. Let me not listen to other voices that would lead me to confusion and distress.

9 Surely his salvation is near those who fear him,
that his glory may dwell in our land.

10 Love and faithfulness meet together;
righteousness and peace kiss each other.

“Now, Where did these meet? In Christ Jesus. When were they reconciled? When he poured out his life on Calvary.”

–Adam Clarke, 1763-1832. He is chiefly remembered for writing a commentary on the Bible which took him 40 years to complete and which was a primary Methodist theological resource for two centuries.

11 Faithfulness springs forth from the earth,
and righteousness looks down from heaven.

Thank you, Jesus, for showing us in real life what love and faithfulness and righteousness truly are. May these characteristics shine out from me as I reflect your glory!

12 The LORD will indeed give what is good,
and our land will yield its harvest.
.

13 Righteousness goes before him
and prepares the way for his steps.

John 1:14 (NASB)

And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Thank you, Lord, that you walked on earth to save us from our sins and to reconcile us to God and one another. Help us to delight in your will and walk in your ways!

_________________________

Music:

HERE Is “Dona Nobis Pachem” played and sung by one woman, Julie Gaulke.

_________________________

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

Images courtesy of:
Swanson.    http://www.johnaugustswanson.com/www.johnaugustswanson.com/ImagesUpload/Ps85-700.jpg
Revive us again.    https://i.ytimg.com/vi/ahp6ga2cJh4/maxresdefault.jpg
Imagine God’s salvation.   http://magnifythelord.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/psalm85_6-7.jpg
Truth and righteousness.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2017/05/0251a-dscf0651.jpg
harvest basket.     https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2017/05/ps85-harvest.jpg

3435.) Psalm 29

June 17, 2022

Psalm 29 (New International Version)

In eleven verses, the name of the LORD (Yahweh) occurs 18 times. “The Voice of the Lord” repeats seven times. And over the course of the Psalm, the repetitions have a powerful affect on the reader. I suggest you read this psalm out loud to get the full effect!

From the drumbeat of the Lord’s name and voice, the Psalm follows the storm of the Lord. Ripping through the coastland cedars of Lebanon (v. 5), on to Sirion (or Hermon) in the center of Israel (v. 6), to the wilderness east of Canaan (v. 8), Psalm 29 follows the path of God’s thunderous voice like storm trackers would follow a tornado.

Capturing the effect of Psalm 29’s words, Konrad Schaeffer in his book Psalms comments, “The [Psalmist] reproduces auditory and visual effects: the echoing crash of the thunder (‘the voice of the Lord’), the flames of fire, and the quaking earth and twisting trees” (Psalms, 72). As it often happens in the Psalms, the literary devices are meant to do more than explain truth; they make you feel God’s truth.

And the truth in this Psalm is that the God who sits enthroned over all his creation has power to do as he pleases. With the breath of his mouth he subdues the massive trees of Lebanon, shakes the Wilderness of Kadesh, and strips bare the forests. In the presence of such a God, all of creation is reduced to one word: “Glory!”

–David S. Schrock

1 Ascribe to the LORD, O mighty ones,
ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.

2 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;
worship the LORD in the splendor of his  holiness.

3 The voice of the LORD is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders,
the LORD thunders over the mighty waters.

Water is the most abundant compound on Earth's surface, constituting about 70% of the planet's surface.  These still waters are off the coast of Tahiti.

Water is the most abundant compound on Earth’s surface, constituting about 70% of the planet’s surface. These still waters are off the coast of Tahiti.

4 The voice of the LORD is powerful;
the voice of the LORD is majestic.

5 The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars;
the LORD breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon.

Cedars from Lebanon were used by King Solomon in the construction of the Temple.

6 He makes Lebanon skip like a calf,
Sirion (Mount Hermon) like a young wild ox.

7 The voice of the LORD strikes
with flashes of lightning.

Lightning rapidly heats the air in its immediate vicinity to about 36,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which is about three times the temperature of the surface of the sun.

8 The voice of the LORD shakes the desert;
the LORD shakes the Desert of Kadesh.

9 The voice of the LORD twists the oaks
and strips the forests bare.
And in his temple all cry, “Glory!”

10 The LORD sits  enthroned over the flood;
the LORD is enthroned as King forever.

11 The LORD gives strength to his people;
the LORD blesses his people with peace.

This closing word with peace is like a rainbow arch over the Psalm. The beginning of the Psalm shows us heaven open while its close shows us his victorious people upon earth, blessed with peace in the midst of the terrible utterance of his wrath. Gloria in excelsis (glory in the highest) is the beginning, and in terra pax (peace on earth) the close. 

–Derek Kidner

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is Matt Redman and “All Glory.”

_________________________

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

Images courtesy of:
Psalm 29:2.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/ascribetothelordthegloryduehisname.jpg
water of Tahiti.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/ps29-water.jpg
cedar of Lebanon.    http://farm1.static.flickr.com/41/100083847_9de945d7d7.jpg
lightning.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/29-lightning.jpg