Category Archives: Psalms

Silence . . .

silence

Four hundred years of it to be precise.

No prophecy.

No revelation.

Nothing.

Did HE forget about US?

I know we have forgotten Him many times. But, did He finally give up on us?   We are living as captives in our own country, it is occupied territory. Did He forget His promise? We are supposed to have a KING, not some emperor in  far away land.

Which reminds me, aren’t we supposed to be the nation others look to for hope? Because, right now, I can’t remember the last time I had hope. I remember being taught the songs of our people. Songs of hope, songs of joy, songs of expectation, songs of exultation,  and songs of lament. Lately it is one of those last ones that springs to mind. You know the one, it starts out, “How long, O Lord? How long?”

Indeed, how long? . . .

AND THEN! . . .

Then, an angel of the Lord  stood before  us,  and the glory of the Lord  shone around us, and we were terrified.   But the angel said to us, “Don’t be afraid,  for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people:  Today a Savior,  who is Messiah  the Lord,  was born for you in the city of David. This will be the sign for you:  You will find a baby wrapped snugly in cloth and lying in a feeding trough.”   Suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying:

Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth  to people He favors!

Wait, what?

A Baby?

No, not just a baby, a savior. Finally! A Savior! Descendant of Kings.

Can it be?

Dare we hope?

I have to see this for myself.   And there He is! So tiny, so frail, so ordinary. Wait! No, not ordinary. Just normal, like me. But He is so much more too. He is special. The angel called Him a Savior, our Savior. My Savior.

Wow! Now my soul is reminded of another song. This one is at the end of the book. It goes like this (in case you don’t remember it),

Praise the Lord

Hallelujah!

Praise God in His sanctuary.

Praise Him in His mighty heavens.

Praise Him for His powerful acts;

praise Him for His abundant greatness.

Praise Him with trumpet blast;

praise Him with harp and lyre.

Praise Him with tambourine and dance;

praise Him with flute and strings.

Praise Him with resounding cymbals;

praise Him with clashing cymbals.

Let everything that breathes praise the Lord.

Hallelujah!  

Indeed, Hallelujah!

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Filed under Christmas, Doxology, GRACE, Joy, Psalms

Thirsty?

Stomach flu!  It is a direct result of the fall.  I detest it.  I despise it.  Did I mention that I hate the stomach flu?  I do.  I would rather go into surgery without anesthesia.

But this past week I have to say that the stomach flu served a sanctifying purpose in my life.  (No, it was not to build patience in me.  That is a lost cause! ;))

I will spare you the gruesome details but, suffice it to say, that after bowing to the white throne for a day I was totally dehydrated.  I mean I was parched.  I had been tossing my cookies for hours and I was dry!  My lips had chapped and were starting to crack.  My sinuses , for the first time in weeks, were dry.  My hands felt like chalk.

I had a bottle of water next to my bed.  As I laid there I wanted nothing more than to open that 20 oz. bottle and chug it.  But I couldn’t.  I knew that if I did I would just get more dehydrated as I worshipped the porcelain gods again.

It was then that God brought Psalm 42:1-2 to mind, “As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for You, O God.

2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; When shall I come and appear before God?”  The Spirit just impressed upon my heart that it had been a long time since I had felt toward Jesus, the way I felt toward that water bottle.  I must admit that I was sick to my stomach in a whole new way.

Did I even realize that my soul was also parched?  Did my spirit long for living water the way my body longed for H20?  I confess that I felt  ashamed because I was not thirsting like I should.

While I do not recommend the stomach flu, I recommend spiritual dehydration even less.  Is your soul satisfied?  Are you thirsty?  You need never thirst again.  Come and drink your fill of living water.  It is free!  But you need to come and drink, daily!  The bottle was at my side but only drinking it would quench my thirst.  What about you?  Have you had your fill of the living God?

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Pslam 3 (part 3, final)

Last time I ended up by saying that I want to learn these lessons in my own life.  While I totally believe that we can (and should) learn valuable lessons from others, I also believe that the best lessons are learned by experience.  I.E. no one can know what it is like to be thirty years old until they become thirty years old.

However, there is value still in learning what we need to make sense of our experiences.  David was a warrior.  As a warrior you only learn from the battles you live through.  So, here is David.  He is the father of a grown man so he is no spring chicken.  He has been in many battles.  You might recall his first encounter with a human opponent –Goliath.  Twice his own size, battle hardened, vicious.  And yet God delivered David.  There was no rational chance that David would survive and yet here he was years later, King of his country.

David was no coward.  He was also skilled at combat.  He was trained!  He was not just the luckiest guy out there!  But he learned one lesson early that kept him in good stead until now.  And now when he is at his most vulnerable he comes back to it.  The lesson?  It is God who protects, saves, and delivers.

It is no wonder then that David cries out and says, “Arise, O Lord; save me, O my God!”  David KNOWS, I means he has this absolute certainty that his deliverance will come from no place else.  He cries out to God.  Not out of desperation or because it is his last resort.  He cries out to God because he knows there is no better place to turn.  He has the experience of a lifetime to look back upon, and what he sees reminds him that God is GOOD!

David recalls the battles where his enemies outnumbered him, where his opponents where way bigger than he was, where there was no human chance of success.  So he reminds himself, “For You have smitten all my enemies on the cheek; You have shattered the teeth of the wicked.”

I know that there are places and times when I felt all hope was lost.  When I was ready to simply let the enemy sweep over me.  And, yet, despite my weakness God stepped down.  HE intervened and the tide turned.  It is a lesson I can say I also was taught.  But somehow, somehow I just let it slip my mind.  Over the last few days of meditating on this, it was not David teaching me.  It was the Holy Spirit of God reminding me of what HE had taught me already.  I have heard from the time I was very young that it is God who saves, it is God who does what we think impossible.

Today I am grateful that, while the lesson was given many years ago, God is always willing to help us finally learn it.  I had the information, I lacked the experience.  Now that I am experiencing things so far beyond my ability the words finally make sense.  “Salvation belongs to the Lord; Your blessing be upon your people!”

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Psalm 3 (part 2)

In part one we looked at what people were saying about David.  An outsiders perspective, if you will.  Now I want to look at David’s response.

First off let me say that I don’t honestly get it.  I cannot fully understand how David keeps his cool and, even more so, his confidence.  People, many people, are rising up to kill him and this is what David says, “But You, O Lord, are a shield about me,  My glory, and the One who lifts my head.” (Psalm 3:3)  This man of war pictures God as a protective covering – a shield.

David draws comfort from knowing that God protects.  This man who had faced sword and bow trusted in God for his safety.  To me, this means that David, now an older man, could look back and KNOW that God can and does protect.  David had trusted God many times before and he had never been let down.  Now he could do so again.

But David does not stop with mere protection.  David goes on to describe God as the one who lifts his head.  This has the idea of one who comes to you when you are in despair and gently puts his hand under your chin lifting it and making your eyes look up.  It is the act of a friend who reminds you that there is hope!  The words, “My glory” have great significance here.  It means that David remembers that his position is derived from the True King.  The glory David has, is not his own, it was given to him by God.  It is God Himself that then comes to David and says look up – at ME!

David goes on to  say that as he cried out to God that God answered him.  David knew he was not alone.  Not just metaphorically but really and truly not alone.  With that knowledge David lies down to sleep.  Now, I don’t know about you but when I am in the thick of things I am not necessarily inclined to sleep.  Quite the opposite in fact.  I tend to lose sleep.  I tend to spend hours obsessing over things and trying to figure out how to make things work.  And now I realize that it is wrong and sinful.

David says that when he, in the midst of intense turmoil, laid down he slept.   More to the point David says that he awoke, still in one piece and still being cared for by the same God who protected him in battle.  That, my friends, is peace.  Not the absence of conflict.  PEACE!  The presence of God in such a real way that all else is secondary.  The kind of reassurance that says, “sleep, I will keep watch.”

It is no surprise then to see what David says next.  “I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people who have set themselves against me round about.”  David declares, I will not be scared even when surrounded by thousands of  enemies.  That is faith.  That is confidence that can only come from experience.

I will be the first to admit that I need this lesson made real in my life.  I am tired of sleepless nights and feeling overwhelmed all the time.  I need to learn this.  I need this confidence.  Not from David’s life but from my own.

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Psalm 3 (part 1)

The background is simple and yet complex.  David is being chased by his enemies, and the leader of his enemies is his own son, Absalom.  In David’s shoes I may have just quit.  After all he had been through, after all he had endured this would have been my last straw.  I would have just curled up and died.

David, though, turns to God.  I want to take a quick look at verses 1&2.  In verse one David simply lays out the facts.  He has enemies and they are growing in number.  Now, David was no stranger to the idea of enemies.  He has had more enemies than friends for much of his life.  He started his lifelong fight by defeating enemies of his fathers’ sheep.  He fought bears and lions.  Then he graduated to giants, and proceeded to move on to fighting entire regiments.  David was a man who knew what it was to have enemies.  He also knew how to face them.

But what do you do when your newest enemy is someone you love?  When it is family?  When it is your own flesh and blood.  What then?  There is no easy answer.  There is no pat solution.  This type of situation is what can lead us into despair.  Certainly David’s enemies thought so.  That is why they were the ones saying that not even God could get him out of this one (paraphrase of verse 2).

For me these two verses have been huge!  God has slapped me in the face and reminded me of a few things.  First, that my problem are little ones in comparison of what others are facing.  Second, that I tend to be the one spouting out my own doom.  And, third, that I tend to take for granted that I am sufficiently equipped for the task.

While my problems may SEEM big in comparison to eternity they are nothing.  I need to be reminded of my eternal position in Christ.  And, above all, I need to remember that what armor I wore yesterday I need to put on again today.

I think it is amazing how God allowed David to endure so much, and in doing so gave us so much to help us endure.

In the next few days we will look at the rest of the Psalm and see David’s response.  But let me ask you, “How has your response been to trouble?”

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Psalm 2

I was struck by a few things today as I was reading Psalm 2.  First that the sovereignty of God is assumed.  The psalmist does not argue for it, He simply declares that God can and will do as He pleases.  This is a fact assumed by the Psalmist.  It is one thing to know it but another to look at the world this way.  It is almost as if there is mockery in the Psalmist’s tone when he asks why the nations are all riled up.  It is useless and futile.  God will do as He pleases.

Second, God does look upon His creation at times and laughs.  This is not a hearty, joyous laugh.  It is a laugh of contempt.  He looks at us and our plans and He laughs.  He knows that nothing we plan will work unless He wants it to.  He knows that all our machinations against Him are not only meaningless but utterly foolish.  God scoffs at His enemies.  And, lets face it, we are all His enemies.  Only by grace is our enmity removed.  Which makes this all the more amazing.

Third, and last, God is sovereign and He may laugh at His enemies  but even in all that He offers mercy.  God does not condemn lightly.  He does not simply cast us aside.  The sovereign God of the universe bids us come and worship.  He provides Himself as the refuge from His wrath.

I pray, Oh God, that you may never have cause to laugh at me and scoff.  I ask that you grant me wisdom to worship and take refuge in you.

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Psalms; a search for . . .

I am working on a new project.  I am wanting to spend some time in the Psalms and I want to simply take some time to journal my thoughts as I go.  This is not going to be a book study.  This is going to be a personal journey.  I want to take advantage of the tour guides  in the Psalms.  They take us through the incomprehensible landscape that is life and point out the one thing that gives it meaning — God.

I want to explore the views these men had.  I want to learn to see God as He is, not through the lens of my personal theological slant.  I want to learn to experience God afresh as He becomes more real to me.  I want to learn to walk with Him as others have.  I want to be taught to cry out in pain, to shout from overwhelming joy.  I want to learn to fall in love with God.  I want Him to be real and personal.  You are welcome to come along with me on this journey, but I warn you, it will be intensely personal.  It will be honest and without façade.  It will not be linear , sequential, or structured.  Hopefully it will be transforming, as I come to see God more clearly and, as I see Him, come to love and fear Him more.

In the words of SCC, “I’m divin’ in!”

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