October 31 - Psalm 150

Friday, October 31, 2008

October 31 - Psalm 150:1-6

Praise the Lord
1. Come up with at least two other descriptive names with which you can praise God!

Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens.
2. Praise God ... don't just thank Him, but praise Him for where you are today, whether it's at work or on the road or at home.

Praise him for his acts of power.
3. What has He done in your life lately? Have you given Him praise?

Praise him for his surpassing greatness.
4. What do you idolize? Your God is above all of those things in your life.

Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, praise him with tambourine and dancing, praise him with the strings and flute, praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals.
5. Find a time when you are alone ... all by yourself ... no one is around. Fling your arms in the air, let yourself be completely vulnerable, express yourself physically and let God know with your entire being how much you adore Him!! Dance before the Lord!

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
6. Tonight as you are lying in your bed, concentrate on your breathing. As you take a breath, consider the source of all that you are and all that you have. The Lord God has created this amazing body that you inhabit ... praise Him for your life.

Praise the Lord
7. Praise is commanded and greatly desired by our God. We are nothing without Him and yet we are stingy with our praise and thanksgiving. Be mindful to constantly praise Him for all that He has offered to us ... because He loves us.

October 30 - Psalm 148

Thursday, October 30, 2008

October 30 - Psalm 148:1-14

In reading this Psalm, I am immediately reminded of the words in Luke 19:37-40. Jesus' response to the Pharisees. They were a little annoyed with the spontaneous outbreaks of praise along the road from his disciples and asked him to shut them up. He responded with "If they keep quiet, the stones will cry out."

"Indescribable" by Chris Tomlin attempts to describes creation's praise.

From the highest of heights to the depths of the sea
Creation's revealing Your majesty
From the colors of fall to the fragrance of spring
Every creature unique in the song that it sings
All exclaiming

Indescribable, uncontainable,
You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name.
You are amazing God
All powerful, untameable,
Awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim
You are amazing God

Who has told every lightning bolt where it should go
Or seen heavenly storehouses laden with snow
Who imagined the sun and gives source to it's light
Yet conceals it to bring us the coolness of night
None can fathom ...

Psalm 148:5-6. The Lord is worthy of the praise of heavens because His creation occurred at His command. He set them into place and decreed that they would never pass away.

Psalm 148:13. The Lord's name is to be exalted by all of the creation of earth. His splendor rises above the earth and the heavens.

All of creation is commanded to PRAISE THE LORD in this Psalm because He is the Creator and because He is worthy. Can we do any less?

Psalm 148:14 reminds the people that they are chosen by this Lord ... the Creator of all, the One who is Worthy. From the great exultations of praise to the tenderness of His heart - Praise the Lord.

October 29 - Psalm 139

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

October 29 - Psalm 139:1-24

This Psalm was written by David when he was made King of Israel. What a glorious testimony to the power of God in his life!

There are three sections to this Psalm and they reflect the nature of God. He is Omniscient (Psalm 139:1-6), He is Omnipresent (Psalm 139:7-12) and He is Omnipotent (Psalm 139:13-24).

I have a few Psalms that are my absolute favorites and this is one of them. The other 30 will have been discussed through this month of October! If I was standing before you teaching this Psalm right now, I would ask you to take it one verse at a time. Read the verse and contemplate what it means in your life today.

As I read about God's omniscience (all-knowing) in these verses (Psalm 139:1-6), I am struck by the fact that there are things God knows about me that I'm not even sure of in myself. And yet, as I learn to trust Him, I know that He's got it well in hand and I have to do nothing more than allow Him to guide me. Psalm 139:3b is so tender. God is familiar with all our ways.

I love watching couples that have been married for a long period of time. They know each other so well and they share thousands of memories. Words will trigger a song that they immediately sing at each other, or they will laugh over an old inside joke together. They are familiar with each other.

Psalm 139:5 is another tender verse to me. God hems us in - behind and before; He lays His hand on us. This is the same hand that Jesus speaks of in John 10:27-30. No one can snatch us out of the Father's hand.

God's omnipresence (everywhere) is repeated over and over throughout the Psalms and the scriptures. Jeremiah 23:24 reminds us that there is nowhere we can hide from God. He fills heaven and earth.

God's omnipotence (unlimited power) is extended to the tiniest details. Our bodies are the most intricate pieces of creation that can be found. The sum of our lives are of the utmost importance to us and to God. Without the Creator's hand in this portion of Creation, we would be nothing, we would cease to exist. His power over us is unmatched.

David ends this Psalm with a plea for God to deal with the wicked and a promise that he, himself with always side with God.

Following this, he opens himself up to the Lord. He lays himself out there - completely vulnerable and asks God to lead him (Psalm 139:23-24).

If you acknowledge that God is omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent, how can you not allow yourself to be that vulnerable before the One that cups you in His hand?

October 28 - Psalm 137

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

October 28 - Psalm 137:1-9

The rivers of Babylon. The exiles mourned the loss of their homes and yet were asked to play joyful songs for their captors. What an insulting and terrifying prospect. It's difficult for us to imagine this occurring. We have no concept of being turned out of our homes and dragged to a country that is ruled by such a pagan king. Yet, for the second time, the people of Israel found themselves captive to a foreigner. This time, however, there wasn't going to be a Moses to guide them through the Red Sea. This time was different.

Over hundreds of years, infighting and idol worship had reduced their power. They no longer relied on God to guide them, they relied on corrupt kings. They had opened themselves to the conqueror and in their captivity could do nothing else except mourn their losses and pray for restoration.

The Edomites in Psalm 137:7, were the descendants of Esau, Jacob's (whose name became Israel) brother. They did not assist their brethren, but stood by and maybe even helped the Babylonians. There is prophecy regarding their punishment in Ezekiel 25:12 and in Joel 3:19 and Obadiah 10-14 seems to insist that they will pay.

There were promises of retribution against the Babylonian from the prophets. Both Jeremiah and Isaiah spoke of horrendous things and promised that this terrible wrong would somehow be made right. (Jeremiah 51:24, Isaiah 13:16). More than likely, the Psalmist remembers seeing children of the Hebrews killed during the raids on Jerusalem. That pain brings the end to this Psalm with a reminder that God would avenge His own. This is a difficult verse to read. We really don't understand how children can be used as tools of war. I pray that this is something we never have to face.

As you read this Psalm today, pray for those that have been taken from their homes due to war or other hideous events. Our world is filled with exiles and captives. We need to remember them.

October 27 - Psalm 136

Monday, October 27, 2008

October 27 - Psalm 136:1-26

I can't read the first verse of this Psalm without singing it. It was written for either two choirs to sing antiphonally or for the choir to sing the first line and the congregation to reply with "His love endures forever." It is also found in Psalm 106:1 and Psalm 118-1-4.

This is one of those things that I love about God's Word - the threads that flow through scripture. The sense of eternity and the solidity of God from before the beginning of the world to after the end comes. His love endures forever. Not his judgment, not His creation ... but His love.

We all want a 'forever' love. When we find the person that we fall in love with, we speak vows to love that person until death parts us, but that's not eternity. We hope that love will cross the boundary of death. But, God's love does endure forever ... from before we were created until long after our lives on earth have ceased.

Take a moment to read through this Psalm without the antiphonal response - just the poetry. This Psalm is easily broken down into just a few parts: Psalm 136:1-3 - God's status. He is Lord, He is God. Psalm 136:4-9 - God is Creator. Psalm 136:10-22 - God is Redeemer of Israel. Psalm 136:23-26 - God is our Protector.

This Psalm reminds the worshippers of God's presence during the Exodus. Many of them are still in exile. Psalm 136:23 speaks of their low estate - that means captivity. He reminds them that even while they were in captivity, God was with them. And as you read Psalm 136:25, consider the words from Matthew 6:25-26. Jesus says the same thing: God will provide for every living thing.

This week, I challenge you to find specific things for which you can praise God. Write them down. Then, in your prayer time, praise Him for those things ... and as you do, silently affirm them with 'His love endures forever.'

October 26 - Psalm 130

Sunday, October 26, 2008

October 26 – Psalm 130:1-8

This Psalm is also called “De Profundis.” Out of the depths … It has been put to music by many composers. I have always associated this with my father because of his deep, booming voice. He would recite this Psalm and use all of the resonance and tone that he had in the lower register to bring home the sorrow and penitence the Psalmist intended.

Psalm 130:1-3. The depths. He feels distant and alienated from his Lord. Remember Psalm 42:7? Deep calls out to deep. That place in the Psalmist’s soul that has a connection to God is calling out again … pleading for the Lord to listen and to forgive.

Too often we ask forgiveness from those around us and then just hope that God will forgive us. I suspect there are some of us that actually believe we don’t sin all that much. We’re pretty good people, we take care of our friends and family, do our jobs well, etc., etc. So … there isn’t much time spent before God as a penitent sinner. That’s a difficult place to be. Because it forces us to acknowledge that we aren’t the king (or queen) of our domain.

Psalm 130:5-6 tell of the watchman on the city walls, waiting for dawn to arrive so that he is relieved of his duty. The repetition stresses the urgency with which the Psalmist lays out his plea before God. I am waiting, Lord … I am waiting.

Psalm 130:7-8. The Lord Himself will redeem Israel. There is no one qualified to redeem this nation. There has been no one other than the Lord Himself qualified to redeem us. Redemption requires payment.

Hah. I learned about this word from S&H Greenstamps. Many of you will be too young to remember those, but they were little stamps handed out at our grocery story (they were green) for every dollar that was spent. Each stamp was collected and put into a booklet. There was always a ‘redemption’ center – a store usually that had items that could be ‘redeemed’ for a certain number of stamps. We all had catalogs and we all dreamed about things we could someday own if we earned enough stamps.

By earning those stamps, we were able to purchase an item with them – no other funds were required.

I’m grateful that I don’t have to earn my redemption. You see, Jesus Christ offered that to me on the cross. No other funds are required. Thank you Jesus.

October 25 - Psalm 126

Saturday, October 25, 2008

October 25 – Psalm 126: 1-6

This is another of the 'Psalms of Ascent' and would have been written during the timeframe of the captives returning from Babylon. Psalm 126:1-3 recalls the first captives returning from exile. Can you imagine the ecstatic, joyous singing and dancing that would have been occurring? In 570 bc, Cyrus decreed that Jews could return to Jerusalem. This is written about in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah.

Beth Moore said in a Living Proof Live simulcast that the word ‘done’ in Psalm 126:3 (The Lord has done great things for us), is the Hebrew word ‘asah.’ This word actually means ‘producing, creating, making, working.’ In other words, the Lord took the mess that His people were in and created great things! That builds a lot of confidence for me. I can do nothing that the Lord can’t fix. Now, whether or not He will, that’s a different matter. But, I can’t screw the world up so much that His plan will not be accomplished. Thank you, God!

Psalm 126:4 reminds the singer that there were some who didn’t return. The Negev was a dried-up, scorched riverbed. Streams that could fill it would only come with torrential rains. Bringing everyone back would return Jerusalem to a flourishing community under the hand of the Lord.

They have much work ahead of them as Psalm 126:5-6 tell us, but as long as they are willing to work, the rewards will overflow.

The work that is spoken of here is two-fold: bringing the exiles home and returning the land to its former glory. The harvest will come, but only after we have toiled in preparation.

Jesus speaks of the harvest quite often and in Galatians 6:7 we are reminded that a man reaps what he sows. But, with the harvest that the Psalmist speaks of here, come songs of joy. I pray that the harvest He reaps from my life will bring songs of joy.

October 24 - Psalm 121

Friday, October 24, 2008

October 24 - Psalm 121:1-8

One of my favorite Psalms is Psalm 119, but I figured that asking you to read that in one day would be tantamount to literary suicide, so I moved past it to Psalm 121, yet another favorite.

The Psalms of Ascent (Psalms 120 – 134) were sung as pilgrims approached the city during the Festivals. Psalm 121 is an affirmation of the God who watches over Israel and shelters them from harm.

The Psalmist is looking for security and comfort. He looks to the hills – the hills that surround Jerusalem. Jesus tells us in Mark 13:14 to flee to the mountains. These are natural defenses around Jerusalem. Jesus was speaking of the end times when things would be so awful and the abomination of desolation would become obvious to the world. If you were living in Judea, flee to the hills.

Psalm 121:1 reads as a desire filled with expectation. Psalm 121:2 comes as the fulfillment of that question. In Psalm 121:3-4, we hear the Psalmist’s words as a comfort to one who would be walking and singing this Psalm. How many times does your foot slip when walking on uneven ground. There was no such thing as pavement on the dusty roads leading to Jerusalem.

I found myself walking off the sidewalk yesterday on very uneven ground. Rocks of all sizes and divots in the ground made it difficult to walk quickly. I realized that I had gotten off the sidewalk to allow a group to pass me, but I hadn’t immediately stepped back onto the pavement when they had moved on. As soon as I did, I walked confidently. God will not let your foot slip, though you are on uneven ground.

The Creator who has never been anywhere else but with us, never slumbers nor sleeps. He is constantly watching over Israel. He is constantly watching over us. I felt confident as a child, knowng that my Dad was in the house. He slept with one ear open and always knew what was happening in the house during the night. However, a God that never sleeps brings a sense of incredible safety. Nothing will be missed – even in the dark of the night. I have relied on that sensation through many a night when I've been terrorized over things that happened to me during the day or frightened of events and conversation that would have to happen the next day. God will always protect me.

Psalm 121:5-8 continues the affirmation of God’s protective nature. Thank Him for caring for you so much that He watches your every move.

October 23 - Psalm 110

Thursday, October 23, 2008

October 23 - Psalm 110:1-7

Meet Jesus.

This Psalm has always been considered to be Messianic prophecy. Jesus used it in Matthew 22:41-45 to prove his deity (also Mark 12:35-37).

But, much of this moves beyond the fulfillment of Messianic prophecy to the second coming of the Messiah.

In Acts 2:33-34, we hear Peter as he preaches to the people. The Holy Spirit has just blown into the room and tongues of fire rested on each of them (Acts 2:2-3). Peter reminds his listeners that Jesus has ascended and is sitting at the right hand of the Father. If you look at Revelation 5:7, the Lamb (Jesus) takes the scroll (THE scroll) from the right hand of God.

Psalm 110:2 speaks of the scepter. Revelation 12:5 reminds us that the male child (Jesus) will rule with an iron scepter and in Revelation 19:15 we see this come to fruition as the rider on the white horse (Jesus) prepares for battle.

Psalm 110:3 continues with preparation for battle, the same battle that is found in Revelation 19:14 the armies of heaven are willing troops, dressed in white linen or arrayed in holy majesty.

We have seen words over and over that remind us of God's eternal faithfulness. In Psalm 110:4, we are told again that the Lord will not change His mind. The Levitical priests during the time of David had no hope of succession to the throne. Their position was that of priest ... not King.

Melchizedek came onto the scene rather suddenly in Genesis 14:18. He was the King of Salem and we are told, a priest of the Most High God. Abram gave him a tithe and this is the last we see of him. Paul says in Hebrews 6:20 that Jesus did exactly this, he became a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek. He goes on in Hebrews 7 to discuss this aspect of Jesus' ministry, but in Hebrews 7:24-25, we are told that because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood and can thus save us completely.

Psalm 110:5-6 returns us to the battle scene and this is played out in Revelation 19:19-21. While David may have seen a brook in Psalm 110:7, the Hebrew word is 'nachlah,' which means torrent, river, stream, valley or flood as well. This takes me to the River of Life in Revelation 22:1-3. The River of Living Water flowing down from the throne of God and the Lamb.

The Lord has been lifted it up and now reigns over all. Praise the Lord.

October 22 - Psalm 100

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

October 22 - Psalm 100:1-5

One of the most well-known hymns of praise, Psalm 100 was an early text for the tune that we know as the Doxology. William Kethe wrote "All People That On Earth Do Dwell" in 1561 while he was in exile. He was a Scottish pastor and with the Scottish Reformation just beginning, was living in Geneva.

All people that on earth do dwell,
Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice.
Him serve with fear, His praise forth tell;
Come ye before Him and rejoice.

The Psalm is written in a common poetic format: A-B, A-B.

It begins with (A) an invitation in three parts (Psalm 100:1-2). Shout for joy, Serve the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. This is followed by (B) an affirmation in three parts (Psalm 100:3). The Lord is God, He made us, we are his.

Psalm 100:4 (A) offers a second invitation in three parts to enter his gates, his courts, and to give thanks followed by (B) a second affirmation in three parts. The Lord is good, His love endures forever and his faithfulness continues.

This is one of those Psalms that would be fairly simple to memorize using a mnemonic, or the knowledge that there is a pattern to this Psalm should be quite helpful.

The Psalmists were musicians and story tellers. I don't know of any composer that wishes their music to be hidden from the world. Their greatest joy comes from hearing their music reproduced well. These Psalms were well composed so that the people could use them in their prayers and in their worship.

Memorization is difficult for me. I guess my challenge is to know this Psalm intimately.

October 21 - Psalm 96

Monday, October 20, 2008

October 21 - Psalm 96:1-13

This Psalm is reproduced in 1 Chronicles 16:23-33. Parts of Psalm 97, 98 and 100 are found in David's Psalm of Thanks (1 Chronicles 16:7-36). The Ark of the Covenant has returned to Jerusalem. The story of the beginning of David's reign is found just prior to this in 1 Chronicles 11 - 15. Saul has died, David becomes King, conquers Jerusalem, the warriors join him, David's house is built, he defeats the Philistines and then prepared a place for the Ark of the Covenant. He called together the descendants of Aaron and the Levites (1 Chronicles 15:4) to consecrate themselves and prepare the transport the Ark into Jerusalem.

This is also where he asked them to appoint singers and musicians, and Ethan and Heman (October 18 - Psalm 89) are appointed.

In 1 Chronicles 15:28, it says that all Israel brought the ark. What a celebration!

This Psalm is another beautiful form of poetry. It is actually a repetitive motif. A-B-C, A-B-C.

The world is called to worship! Not just Israel, but all the earth.
A Motif - Psalm 96:1-2a

A commandment is given. Tell who He is!
B motif - Psalm 96:2b-3

An explanation. God is the only God.
C motif - Psalm 96:4-6

The world is called to worship! All the earth shall tremble.
A motif - Psalm 96:7-9

A commandment is given. Tell who He is and what He shall do!
B motif - Psalm 96:10

An explanation. God is coming!
C motif - Psalm 96:11

Upon returning to the festivities surrounding the return of the Ark in 1 Chronicles, we find the celebration winding down. David appoints priests to minister before the Ark regularly, to present burnt offerings and to give thanks. Musicians were responsible for sounding trumpets and cymbals and other instruments and others were left to guard the gate.

The people returned to their own homes and David went home to bless his family (1 Chronicles 16:43).

Jubilation filled the hearts of Israel on this day. The Ark of the Covenant of the Lord had returned to Jerusalem.

Very quickly, I need to make a comparison. God resides in our hearts now. We are the Temple. While we may not be returning to Jerusalem, be assured that He is sending everything out to greet us and bring us into the New Jerusalem. What a celebration that will be! The music and songs of thanksgiving will make this celebration pale in comparison.

October 20 - Psalm 91

October 20 - Psalm 91: 1-16

In the first two verses, David expresses the character of God using 4 different names. Most High - Elyon, also found in Genesis 14:17-20 and Isaiah 14:13-14; Almighty (or even God of the mountain)- El Shaddai, also found in Genesis 17:1; The Lord - Yahweh, first found in Genesis 2:4, refers to God's salvation; God - Elohim, refers to God's power and might, we meet Elohim in Genesis 1:1.

The rest of this Psalm calls out for help, but also for refuge and protection. Who better to offer that than the Lord who is powerful and mighty (Elohim), our Savior (Yahweh), Most High (over all else - El Elyon) and the Almighty (El Shaddai)).

In Psalm 91:3, the fowler's snare is a spring-type net. The bird steps on it and a net springs up around it. This type of snare is often used to describe dangers that we face in scripture (Job 18:8–10, Psalm 140:4, Psalm 124:7, 141:9, and 142:3; Proverbs 7:23 and 22:5; Hosea 9:8, and Amos 3:5.)

The Psalmist then uses a literary ploy (Psalm 91:3-4) by describing the Lord with feathers and wings. He will not be entrapped by a snare, in fact, he will protect us from those very dangers. The shield and the rampart will protect us from every danger (Psalm 91:5-8).

Psalm 91:11-12 is a familiar passage. Even Satan knows scripture and used this when Jesus was in the wilderness (Matthew 4:5-7) to tempt Him.

The lion and the snake found in Psalm 91:13 represent two very different attacks upon us: the lion represents great physical strength and the snake represents the conniving evil of the mind. With God's help, we can withstand both.

The end of this Psalm brings 8 promises from God (Psalm 91:14-16). 1. Rescue, 2. Protection, 3. Answer (response), 4. Companionship, 5. Deliverance, 6. Honor, 7. Long life, 8. Salvation. Why does God promise these things ... because we love Him.

I do love Him!

October 19 - Psalm 90

Sunday, October 19, 2008

October 19 - Psalm 90:1-17

Yes, this is a Psalm written by Moses. The Moses that led the Israelites out of Egypt. It is the oldest Psalm in the Psalter. If you look at Deuteronomy 33:1, you will find that it uses the same terminology to describe the author.

Warren Wiersbe says that this prayer was probably written by Moses as he dealt with the wrath of God following the refusal of the Israelites to follow Moses and trust God as they left Kadesh Barnea. For 40 years they wandered in the desert because of their disobedience. They couldn't leave until all of that generation had passed away. As you read Psalm 91:7-11, consider Moses' thoughts, his agony and his disappointment. (Number 13-14 tells the story.)

I was trying to think of one person, one life that would exist for most of us from the day of our birth to the end of our life. I can think of some reasons (early death while our parents still live, etc.) but for the most part, people move in and out of our lives. In Psalm 90:1-2, we see God as the one solid foundation from generation to generation. Moses says in verse 1 that the Lord has been there through all generations. For me, it's one thing to know that the earth has been here since the beginning of time and will be here until the end of time. But God existed before this earth and will exist long after it perishes. And this God is the same one that reaches into the depths of our hearts ... your heart, my heart, to establish a personal relationship. That's almost more than I can fathom.

Moses, in Psalm 90:3-6, speaks of the frailty of man. In Psalm 90:10, he laments the speed at which life passes. You find Peter quoting this passage in 2 Peter 3:8.

Psalm 90:12 is highlighted in bright orange in my Bible. After Moses has spoken of the frailty of man and the speed of life on earth, it is quite seemly to remind us that these few, short days that we have available to us should be used well.

Psalm 90:13-17 finish this plea for God to forgive His people. Our days are short, we are a sinful people. The heart of wisdom that Moses prays for in Psalm 90:12 will be the heart that can still sing praise through it all. The heart filled with wisdom will set us into God's will as the work of our hands becomes the work of His hands.

October 18 - Psalm 89

Saturday, October 18, 2008

October 18 - Psalm 89:1-52

Ethan the Ezrahite and Heman the Ezrahite (Psalm 88) were appointed as singers by the Levites (1 Chronicles 15:16-17). I love that they were 'appointed to sing joyful songs.'

I read a lot of scifi and fantasy. One of the significant characters in many fantasy storylines is the bard. Stories were told in song. Gatherings were held so that people could hear the stories. They remembered them by remembering the song. It is much easier for me to memorize scripture if I know the song. David appointed these men as bards! They were to tell the stories and remind the Israelites of many thing. The songs would be remembered long after the singers.

So, imagine Ethan sitting down to compose this Psalm. Imagine his great love for the Lord as he begins with ... "I will sing of the Lord's great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations..."

If you were to sit down right now and compose a joyful song that would tell of God's work in your life, how would it begin?

Ethan was not one to shy away from his responsibilities in this teaching. The first section of this Psalm tell of God's great glories. He reminds the people of the covenant (Psalm 89:3-4), a reminder that will occur again in this Psalm.

Then he begins to sing of God's character: His faithfulness (Psalm 89:5-8), His power (Psalm 89:9-13), His righteousness (Psalm 89:14-18). Ethan begins telling the story of God's relationship with David in Psalm 89:19. These words are incredible. Read Psalm 89:27-29. This covenant is one that will last as long as the heavens endure.

This is the faithfulness of God! In Psalm 89:30-37, he reiterates the covenant. No matter what, the covenant will never be violated. David and his sons can wreak havoc on the relationship by disobeying God's law. They will be punished, but God will never remove His covenant.

We are children of that God. His promises, once set in place, will never be removed.

Ethan's Psalm goes on to question whether or not God really will fulfill the covenant. He sees the punishment and it seems to signify something much greater to him (Psalm 89:38-45). But the Psalmist only sees a piece or two of the puzzle, he doesn't see the entire picture.

After he has given voice to his fears, he comes to the correct question to pose to God in Psalm 89:46. It is not about whether or not God will grant relief, but when God will do so. How long, O Lord? Please, Lord remember us.

Those thoughts occur all too often in my mind. I am thankful for the Psalms which also give voice to my fears.

Psalm 89:52 seems a bit out of place at this point in the song. And it is. This is the end of the Third Book of Psalms (out of five). Each book ends with a Doxology ... a word of Praise. This is the doxology that was put into place. In all things, though ... "Praise be to the Lord forever! Amen and Amen."

October 17 - Psalm 81

Friday, October 17, 2008

October 17 - Psalm 81:1-16.

This is another celebration Psalm and was probably written for the Feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:33-43). This Feast and the Passover celebration were both reminders to the Israelites of the Exodus.

Bring on the instruments, start the festival! Psalm 81:3-5 reminds the listener that God had set down the three Festivals (Passover, Tabernacles (or shelters), Weeks (we know this as Pentecost - it's actually a harvest festival) and these were not to be taken lightly. These were decrees...statutes. It isn't often the Lord of Creation tells you to party ... shouldn't be a difficult thing to do, eh?

Psalm 81:6-10 recalls the Exodus for the listeners and Psalm 81:11 sings out the lament of the Father. The lament gives way to the plea found in Psalm 81:13-14. This sounds very much like 2 Chronicles 7:14.

The Bible is filled with stories of God's power being released when his people no longer tried to control their own destiny. Moses was alone when the burning bush spoke to him, the people of Israel were at the lowest point of their subjugation to Egypt when God revealed Himself through the plagues and finally the parting of the Red Sea. John received the Revelation when he was in exile on the rocky island of Patmos. The stories in between fill the pages of my Bible.

We don't seem to ever learn, though. We are so conditioned to fend for ourselves and to rarely trust others to care for us.

Does God ever say these words over you? "If you would but listen to me, if you would follow my ways, how quickly would I subdue your enemies and turn my hand against your foes." I am certain that He has whispered them in my ear when I am bent on pursuing my own way.

God's promises endure. Even though we find ourselves running from Him and working diligently to establish our small kingdoms, He will reign.

Psalm 81 reminds us that we are a stubborn people. It also reminds us that God wants to bless us, but is many times stopped by our actions.

Take time today to really listen to God. Shut your mouths. Quit telling Him what your needs and desires are. Listen to Him.

October 16 - Psalm 73

Thursday, October 16, 2008

October 16 - Psalm 73:1-28

I have "1/12/99. Psalm 73 describes my feelings." written in my Bible beside this Psalm. I really wish I would have put more information there. I have no idea why, but it definitely struck me during that time of my life. Oh well!

Asaph, the author of this Psalm, also wrote Psalm 50 and Psalms 74-83. We see in I Chronicles 25:1-2 that the sons of Asaph (along with the sons of Heman and Jeduthun) were set apart for the ministry of prophesying, accompanied by harps, lyres and cymbals. Whether this Psalmist was actually Asaph or part of his family is ambiguous. After the exile, we find that the sons of Asaph returned to Jerusalem with Ezra and Nehemiah. Ezra 2:41 and Nehemiah 7:44 identifies them as singers.

As I read through this Psalm, I am overcome with the images of the arrogant and wicked. By the time he gets to Psalm 73:13, he is questioning a lifetime of clean living. Has it all been in vain?

The turning point occurs in Psalm 73:16-17. I read this and my eyes filled with tears. Only in the presence of God can we understand the truth behind the actions that are occurring on earth. Those few short words: "When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me - till I entered the sanctuary of God..." Take time to reflect on those words.

Over and over we find ourselves working to understand why things happen and why we seem to be flooded with more than we can handle. This brings to mind Proverbs 3:5-6. "Lean not on your own understanding."

Why do I make things so much more difficult for myself? It's been proven over and over by others with a lot more sense than I have. The moment that I put all of my trust in God and stop trying to make decisions for myself, He is allowed to work His will in my life. It is much better for me than anything I can dream up on my own.

What great imagery in Psalm 73:20! I love to dream, but they are fleeting. When I try to recall them, they are but vague impressions. Asaph compares these wicked people to just that. God will recall them as nothing more but fantasies, vague impressions.

In Psalm 73:21-22, I find myself giggling as I read these words. If this Psalmist was senseless and ignorant and a brute beast, I must seem like a lumbering elephant with my crying and pleading.

Psalm 73:23-24. Just breathe and say 'thank you' as you read this. That kind of protection and guidance is such a comfort. When my niece and nephews were small, they reached for my hand as we negotiated unfamiliar territory. The protection of an adult hand and the guidance through the maze of the world supported them.

Another song sings through my mind as I read Psalm 73:25-26, but the words themselves echo my desires. Psalm 73:28 - it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge. I will tell of all your deeds.

Is He your refuge? Do you hold His hand? It's really the best place to be.

October 15 - Psalm 69

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

October 15 - Psalm 69:1-36

This is a much longer Psalm. Take some time to read through it. I'm only going to touch on a few highlights. This Psalm is referred to several different times in the New Testament as prophetic of Christ and the time of the Gospel. Let's look at those.

Compare John 15:25 and Psalm 69:4.

How well do you know your Psalms? Can you quote any of them (maybe Psalm 23)? Consider the fact that Jesus was able to pull verses from this Psalm from his memory. Then consider that Jesus knew full well that when David was writing it, He would be fulfilling the spirit of it hundreds of years later.

Isaiah 53 is the description of the Suffering Servant, but Psalm 69 fits that same imagery. It heartens me to know that the man who followed after God's own heart was the centerpoint of the lineage from Adam to Jesus and was the one who wrote gorgeous poems and songs that seem to come from the deepest part of his heart ... the part that was connected to the deepest part of God's heart (Psalm 42:7).

You know, the relationship between Jesus Christ and David becomes increasingly special to me as I study these Psalms. John 1:1 tells us that Jesus Christ is the Word made flesh and that He was with God from the beginning of creation. The Word was the active, creative part of Creation. These Psalms are some of the most creative, beautiful words gathered together in ways that most of us can only hope to mimic. Just how close was Jesus to David as he was writing these words? When David was writing these words in Psalm 69, imagine God watching as the pen struck the paper and nodding with tears flowing down his face as he felt the pain that David was feeling and as he looked forward hundreds of years to the pain he would have to face to save his people from what was yet to come.

The kingdom had not yet split, the people were still one people. The terrible sins of idolatry and the exile, the destruction of the temple and the diaspora were not part of history yet for the Israelites, yet God put these words in place, because one day a Savior would be required to sacrifice his life for this nation of people that the Creator of the world adored.

We find that Psalm 69:8 is repeated in John 1:11 and John 7:5. Psalm 69:9 is found in John 2:17 when the disciples realize that Jesus has just fulfilled this verse as he rips through the Temple and overturns the tables of the money changers.

Mark 3:21 and John 7:5 fulfill Psalm 69:7-8.

Imagine the loneliness of Psalm 69:19-20 and find it in Mark 14:50.

The prophecy of the gall and vinegar is found here in Psalm 69:21 and fulfilled in the gospels (Matthew 27:48, Mark 15:36, Luke 23:36, and John 19:28-29).

Compare Matthew 23:38 and Luke 13:35 to Psalm 69:25. Then, read Acts 1:20 to hear Luke speak of this verse in reference to the place where Judas died.

Though we read this today with the emphasis on prophesy regarding Jesus, David is still in pain. When he reaches the end of the Psalm, he remembers who the Creator is and how deserving He is of praise. David was able to step out of his own worries and concerns and lift his voice in worship and thanksgiving. Can we do any less?

October 14 - Psalm 67

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

October 14 - Psalm 67:1-7

This Psalm takes its beginning from the priestly blessing found in Numbers 6:24-26. It is a time of harvest and it is a time of celebration!

While Israel is uniquely blessed, given its relationship to God, this Psalm calls for them to go out into the nations to tell of God's salvation. Because the nation of Israel struggles through most of its history with simply maintaining a balance between the relationship it has with God and the relationship it has with the world immediately surrounding it, we don't see a lot of evangelism occurring.

By the time we get to the New Testament, evangelism becomes a commandment. (Matthew 28:19-20). But for now, it is all they can do to remain in the covenant that God has established with them.

This Psalm, though, seems to remind the people of Israel that the only way the nations and peoples of the earth will see God is through them.

During a time of rejoicing, all people and all nations are brought into the celebration. (Psalm 67:3-5).

Jesus spoke of the harvest. In Revelation 7:9-10 we find that multitudes from every part of the world are standing before the Lamb. The harvest is complete. Psalm 67:6-7 says that the land will yield its harvest. The trees will bear their fruit. The Lord will bless us.

I am immediately drawn to Galatians 5:22-23. These things are the fruit of the Spirit, the harvest that is found in us when we live in the Spirit.

God is looking for that harvest, He is looking for that fruit. Today, what will be found in you? A little more pointedly, how are you reaching individuals in this world and touching them so that when the final harvest is made and the multitude is standing before God, those people can thank you for ensuring their presence?

October 13 - Psalm 63

Monday, October 13, 2008

October 13 - Psalm 63:1-11

The inscription of Psalm 63 tells us that David is in the desert of Judah. This occurred when he was away from Jerusalem during Absalom's revolt (I Samuel 15:13-18).

Though I haven't spent much time in the desert, it is easy to imagine the life being drained from me with no water to restore me. David uses the immediacy of his location to transmit a beautiful idea. As his body was yearning for water, his soul was yearning for God.

Psalm 63:2-5. We saw this same desire for a return to worship in the sanctuary in Psalm 42:1-4. A longing to be in the presence of God, to hear His voice and be able to offer worship at His feet. The Tabernacle was the visible home of God on earth during the time of David. With the rending of the curtain in the temple at Jesus' death, our hearts became the home of God, His temple.

David knew, even then, that without the Tabernacle, he would continue to praise and worship the God who loved him more than life.

As I read this Psalm, it is apparent that David is speaking to God, not as a stranger, but as a close friend. The words that he uses, the images that he creates show the personal relationship that he has found with his Lord.

Psalm 63:6-8. We find David on his bed in a tent in the desert. Imagine that his eyes are closed and the only thing that is on his mind is the relationship he has with God. Even as he fears for his life, he is confident that God will stand beside him. He knows that God has called him into the role of the King. God will use his right hand to hold David up and offer the protection of his wings as David sings.

Do you know that confidence? Oh, He offers it to all of us.

In Psalm 63:11, the king is David himself. He will rejoice and will bring those with him before God in praise.

Think today, about your future - even if it is just tomorrow. Do you have confidence that God is there for your protection? If so, find words to praise Him!

October 12 - Psalm 51

Sunday, October 12, 2008

October 12 - Psalm 51:1-19

You know the story of David and Bathsheba, right? If you want to re-read it, turn to 2 Samuel 11:1-26. The very last verse of this chapter is heartbreaking. "But the thing David had done displeased the Lord."

That sickens me. The thought of doing something that would displease the Lord enough to have Him send a prophet to me is appalling! Nathan is sent to David in 2 Samuel 12:1-26. This is the only man with the courage to confront the King on his bad behavior. I suspect that only because the Lord sent him, did he have that courage.

I think it's wonderful that we have David's response in Psalm 51 to this crisis in his life.

Psalm 51:1-6 is David's confession of guilt. Even though he sinned against Uriah and Bathsheba, all sin is a violation of God's law.

Psalm 51:7 asks that God cleanse him with hyssop. The leaves from this bush were used in ceremonial cleansing in Leviticus 14:4, 6, 49 and 51 and also in the sacrifice of the red heifer in Numbers 19:6, 18. Hyssop was also to be gathered during the Passover to dip in the blood of the lamb and put on the doors (Exodus 12:22).

He proceeds with the pleas of forgiveness in Psalm 51:8-12. One of the beatiful things about Psalm 51:11 is that this verse remembers God's covenant with David found in 2 Samuel 7:14-15. Nathan was also the prophet that delivered this word from the Lord to David. God had promised that He would never remove His love from David, even if he had to punish him.

Psalm 51:13-17 finish out the personal conversation with God. David will encourage others after learning this lesson, he pleads that the blood guilt of Uriah's death be removed. Psalm 51:15 cries out that the guilt be removed so that he can speak words of praise again. David knows that a common sacrifice will never be enough to cleanse him of this sin, but that he needs to come before God with all humility. The heart and the spirit of a contrite man are much more important to God than a sacrificed animal.

As he finishes the Psalm, David realizes that his actions could affect the nation of Israel. He prays that God will not allow David's sin to affect them. 'Build up your city, O God.' How do our actions affect our families and our immediate communities?

The sacrifices in Psalm 51:19 are not a sin offering, but refer to commitment to God and community with him.

Create in me a clean heart, O God and renew a right spirit within me. These are the sacrifices that God wants us to bring before Him.

October 11 - Psalm 46

Saturday, October 11, 2008

October 11 - Psalm 46: 1-11

This Psalm has a very familiar verse in it - Psalm 46:10. But, I encourage you to learn the rest of the Psalm - it's beautiful.

You will find the word 'alamoth' in this inscription. While my Bible tosses it aside as 'probably a musical term,' it is generally believed to mean 'sung by virgins' or young girls. I find all sorts of interesting information in these inscriptions!

This Psalm, while the foundation for many hymns and songs of praise was also the inspiration for Martin Luther's "A Mighty Fortress is Our God."

Because of the incredible amount of time I put into studying the book of Revelation, I can't help but notice the similarity between this Psalm and the destruction found in John's vision.

This Psalm probably follows the death of Sennacherib's army (2 Kings 19:35) during the reign of Hezekiah (the entire story is also found in Isaiah 37).

As you read the words of this Psalm, I'd like you to absorb the wildness of the scene that the Psalmist is seeing. The battering of war gives him images of earthquakes and mountains falling into the sea. The waters rise with wild waves, the mountains seem as if they are moving and quaking.

He stops to show us that all of these things are occuring around the dwelling - the tabernacle of God in the holy city - Jerusalem.

Then, he returns to the sight before him (Psalm 46:6). In Psalm 46:8-9, we see more of this extraordinary battle. The Lord has brought desolation to the earth, we see shattered battle weapons and fire.

Before you move on, try to picture this incredible battlefield. The sounds, the smells of fire and death, nothing is alive before you.

And then, we come to verse 10. "Be still and know that I am God."

In the midst of all of that chaos, God calls - no, he whispers those words, "Be still and know that I am God."

I'm certain that you don't need me to translate this into your daily lives. We all have chaos that occurs around us moment by moment. But within the Holy City ... within the temple of yourself, God's dwelling place, He has erected a fortress ... a refuge. He will be exalted.

Be still and know that I am God.

October 10 - Psalm 43

Friday, October 10, 2008

October 10 - Psalm 43:1-5

You will probably read in your Bible that Psalms 42 and 43 were read together as one Psalm. If you read the final verses of this Psalm, you'll see why that is a common belief.

The story continues as the Psalmist pleads to be allowed to return to Jerusalem.

In Psalm 43:3 we find the Psalmist asking God to send forth His truth and His light to guide him. When I looked the word 'truth' up in my concordance, I was astounded by the number of times Jesus said "I tell you the truth ...". A quick search on biblegateway.com tells me that this happens 78 times.

In John 14:6, Jesus says "I am the way the truth and the life." If God is sending forth His truth to guide us, might it not be Jesus? And in John 8:12, Jesus proclaims Himself as light. These are not words to be taken lightly. Jesus ensured that He constantly reminded the people of His relationship to God.

Psalm 43:3-4 gives us a beautiful progression. The Psalmist requests that truth and light guide him first to the holy mountain or back to Jerusalem (large picture). Then, he gets a little bit closer to God by coming into the tabernacle or the place where God dwells. Finally, he approaches the altar of God. And as he approaches God, he brings worship and praise.

As the Psalmist gets closer and closer to God, even if just in his imagination, he finds himself moving away from the depression of Psalm 43:1-2. By the time he gets to Psalm 43:5, the questions become curiosity. He understands that hope will get him through this. There is no reason be downcast. There is no reason to be disturbed. He is assured that he will praise God yet again.

Even in the midst of exile, the Psalmist looks forward to praising God. When we are at our lowest points, we are encouraged to do likewise. I fail at it miserably. How about you?

October 9 - Psalm 42

Thursday, October 9, 2008

October 9 - Psalm 42:1-11

Many of these Psalms reside in my mind as songs. I'm grateful to the many musicians over the centuries who have set these songs to music that grows more and more familiar to me. The beginning phrases of this Psalm echo through my soul as I acknowledge how much I constantly long for the presence of God in my life. As much as He is always present with me, it never seems to be enough.

David was in exile. This is written by one of the Levitical priests that come from the tribe of Korah. Yes, this is the same tribe that was pretty much eliminated in Numbers 16:31-35 for plotting against Moses and Aaron. Those that refused to participate in this soon rose to prominence and during the time of David and Solomon, were pressed into service as temple musicians (I Chron. 6:31) and guardians of the threshold (I Chron. 9:17-19) which led to the presence of the Lord. The priest that wrote Psalm 42 was likely traveling with David.

His longing for the days when he was in Jerusalem is apparent in Psalm 42:4. We read in verse 2 (Psalm 42:2) that he met with God. The terminology used here implies worship and was the time when each Jew was called to worship personally at the temple.

Mount Hermon, in Psalm 42:6 is about 35 miles northeast of the Sea of Galilee. These men are far from Jerusalem.

Trouble seems to keep coming, in what feels like waves sweeping over him (Psalm 34:7). Over and over the waves buffet him, though he is trying to leave his hope in the Lord. This verse tells of something much more amazing, though. Deep calls to deep. No matter what is happening on the surface, God's voice calls out to the depths of our souls.

When a hurricane is raging across the surface of the ocean, the depths of the ocean are not affected. The deepest parts of our souls are connected to the depths of God's grace, mercy, knowledge, love. Those ties cannot be tossed and destroyed by the waves and breakers.

The lament continues in Psalm 42:8-10. Even though God loves and sings to the Psalmist, he remains despondent.

Through all of that, though ... he remembers that the only place to put his hope is in God.

Today ... where is your hope? In your bank account? The stock market (that's not a good idea)? The government? Your family? How about your job and sense of stability? We are reminded that all of these things can quickly fade away. The only safety comes from placing our hope in God.

October 8 - Psalm 34

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

October 8 - Psalm 34: 1-22

This Psalm comes after David feigned insanity in the courts of King Achish due to their recognition of who he really was. He was fleeing from Saul and was probably trying to stay under the radar. (I Samuel 21:10-14) His name was Achish, his title within the dynasty was "Abimelech" which means "my father is king." One man ... two names.

Scholars call this Psalm a 'teaching Psalm.' That becomes obvious when you read verse 11 (Psalm 34:11). David is sharing lessons he learned when he was discouraged.

Let's start with verse 1 (Psalm 34:1). "I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips."

David had to froth at the mouth and act like a madmen to escape from Achish. He had been in the priest Ahimelech's home when one of Saul's spies, Doeg, spotted him and had been forced to run again. Yet, he says that God is worthy of his praise, at all times. I can't imagine having the wherewithall to praise God at all times. I need to learn that.

In Psalm 34:4-7, David rests on assurances that God responds to our calls for help. Yet, if we look at David's life during these years, it doesn't actually seem that God has responded to Him, does it? He is still running. Everyone is ready to turn him over to Saul, who will kill him immediately. He has no friends to speak of. All of the things that we believe are signs of God's protection don't exist for David. Yet, he still sees that God surrounds him and even sends an angel to protect him.

How is this real? David knows something that we easily forget. The outside world affects us in many ways - physically, emotionally, mentally. But, these things will all pass away. The power of having God reign over us changes our eternity. Our spiritual life runs deeper than that which affects our mortal lives.

In Psalm 34:8, David tells us to 'taste and see that the Lord is good.' Those are strange words. We have trouble trying to experience God with our five senses, but the last one we would expect to use is our sense of taste. This phrase is used repeatedly in the Old Testament and encourages the reader to participate fully in the experience. By the time a person tastes something, the rest of their senses have already been engaged.

David announces that he is going to teach and in Psalm 34:11-14, the first thing that he tells us to do is something that is incredibly difficult for me: keep my mouth pure. Wow. How easily we are destroyed by the things that we say with our mouths.

Psalm 34:15-20 describes the relationship that the Lord has with the righteous man. Psalm 34:18 is incredibly tender. Can you imagine the Lord hovering over you as you deal with a broken heart? He is close and ready to nestle you in His arms.

David reminds us that we walk in confidence with the Lord who will redeem his servants (Psalm 34:21-22) and who allows us to take refuge in him.

Today as you close in prayer, consider the desire of the Lord to be close to you.

October 7 - Psalm 33

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

October 7 - Psalm 33:1-22

Psalm 33:1-3 is a glorious call to praise. Sing a new song! Sing a song that you have never sung before. Make music with instruments and with your voice. What is a ten-stringed lyre? It's a hand-harp. The strings were stretched over a wooden frame. Each string was tuned to a different pitch. One hand plucked the strings while the other silenced the unused strings. The first time the lyre (Hebrew: nebel) is mentioned in scripture is in I Samuel 10:5. The harp (Hebrew: kinnore) is more like a three-stringed lute. That is the instrument that David used to sooth Saul's soul in I Samuel 16:14-23.

I find Psalm 33:3 interesting because it calls for the musician to play skillfully and shout for joy. While I understand the necessity to bring everyone into worship without regard to technical ability, it seems that David is calling for the musical leaders to do their job with a level of excellence. God did not offer us his mundane and mediocre, we should offer back no less than our very best.

Psalm 33:4-11 give us the reasons behind this extraordinary praise that David is calling forth: truth, faithfulness, God's love of righteouness and justice. He then gets to creation itself. In Psalm 33:6 we read that 'by the word of the Lord...' What else do you know about the Word of the Lord. I'll take you to John 1:1-3. The Word was with God at Creation. It's incredible that these words are such an integral part of Hebrew teaching, yet they did not recognize the Word when He came to earth in the form of man.

The assurance of Psalm 33:11 is that God's plans stand forever. Nothing we do can alter His plans. We can't surprise Him, we can't stop Him.

This knowledge goes with us as we read Psalm 33:12-19. You have to know that as I study Scripture, I get very excited about the way that God has tied the entire Bible together. As an author who regularly attempts to write fiction, I find it very difficult to remember all of the parts and pieces I wrote in the first chapter to keep a cohesive story line going through the 8th or 9th chapter. I also get really annoyed with the lack of cohesion in a movie or television series. They pay people big money to keep track of all of the small details. But, over the course of thousands of years, millions of people, and many words, the Bible is still a cohesive unit.

This Psalm showed us The Word (John 1:1 says the Word is Jesus Christ). We find that the Lord has plans that are eternal. And as I read Psalm 33:12-19, I was reminded of the final book in the Bible. By the time we get to the final battle (Rev. 19:11-21), all of the kings of earth come out to meet Jesus Christ for battle. Before any battle can occur, it is over. The Word, Jesus Christ, is the final victor.

When David wrote these words, He wrote them because He trusted that God spoke truth. When John wrote the words of the Revelation, He wrote them because He trusted that God spoke and showed Him the truth. Yet neither of these men had been exposed to the final scene in the story.

David ended Psalm 33 with the words, "We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.

As you finish today, read Psalm 33:20-22. It's easy to believe that we are fully in control. It's easy to forget that God is actually working to bring together His plan. It feels like we are screwing everything up and that God won't be able to move unless we do something.

That kind of ownership is stressful. That's not what God wants for us. Make these three verses a foundation for your life. Hope in the Lord. He's got it.

October 6 - Psalm 24

Monday, October 6, 2008

October 6 - Psalm 24:1-10

Warren Wiersbe tells us "Jewish tradition says that this psalm was written to commemorate David’s returning the ark to Jerusalem (1 Chron. 13–15)." (from Wiersbe's 'Expository Outlines on the Old Testament.') Choirs would sing this in a call and answer format. Take a moment to imagine the entire assembly singing with everything they had in response to "Who is he, this King of Glory?" "The Lord Almighty - he is the King of glory."

This Psalm is going to be fun to discover.

Psalm 24:2 is a poetic re-creation of Genesis 1:9. David reminds us that before Creation, there was only God. He created the earth and it actually belongs to Him. We've taken a lot of liberties with His creation and many times we believe that when we own property, we actually remove ownership from God. But, our time on this earth is temporary. We are stewards of His creation.

There are a couple of different interpretations of Psalm 24:3-4. One interpretation is that it describes the necessary state of our hearts to be able to approach the throne of God. Another is that it is a predecessor to the question found in Revelation 5:2. The only answer to the question is Jesus Christ. He alone has clean hands and a pure heart. And only through Him do we become worthy to approach the throne.

Psalm 24:7-10 is a glorious song of praise. But, what does it mean?

As God filled the Ark with His presence, the people were celebrating His return to the city of Jerusalem. The gates that are spoken of are not horizontally opening doors. These are like the ancient portcullis, lifted open and dropped again to ensure the safety of the city.

Who is the King of glory? David was the King of Israel. How amazing for him to recognize that there was one so much greater than himself? Luke 1:33 gives Mary the promise that her son would be given the throne of David. I find it awesome, that in both Psalm 24:6 and Luke 1:33 we find the Israelites referred to the name, Jacob. His name change happened when he wrestled with God (Genesis 32:28), but the people of Israel always knew that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was the God who claimed them for His own.

Who is the King of glory? He is Jesus Christ, the victor in the final battle, King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

October 5 - Psalm 23

Sunday, October 5, 2008

October 5 - Psalm 23:1-6

This is probably one of the most familiar and one of the most loved Psalms. I memorized it 35 years ago for my confirmation class, I've heard it spoken and read at numerous funerals, I've recited it during times of distress, I've sung it in varying forms of song. All I have to do is hear the first few words and the entire Psalm opens up before me: "The Lord is my shepherd."

There are three wonderful points to this Psalm.

First, the Lord walks beside us while we live on this earth. He provides for us, he brings us to rest and he offers us righteousness. Secondly, He provides for us in death. The darkness cannot overwhelm us while the rod of the Shepherd is protecting us. Finally, we find ourselves living with the Lord in eternal life. From life to eternal life, the Lord is with us.

David began his life as a shepherd. He was tending his sheep when Samuel came to Jesse's home searching for the future king of Israel. (I Samuel 16:11-13). Kings in the ancient near-East proclaimed themselves as shepherds of their kingdom and the prophecies of the Messiah signified that he would come as a shepherd-king (Isaiah 40:11).

Jesus proclaims Himself as the Shepherd in John, chapter 10 (John 10:1-30). In this beautiful passage, He tells us that 'his sheep follow because they know his voice.' (John 10:4) and that 'the good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep (John 10:11). Finally, in John 10:27-30, we are told that He knows His sheep and they can never be snatched from His hand.

The comfort from Psalm 23 and the assurance from John 10 reminds me that even though I am a strong-willed woman, there is one Shepherd that I can feel safe in allowing to guide my life.

As you go through your day, imagine the Shepherd walking before you, clearing the way, ensuring that the world knows you belong to Him.

October 4 - Psalm 19

Saturday, October 4, 2008

October 4 - Psalm 19:1-14

Do you have things in your memory that have no context? I hate it when people quote lines from movies. I recognize the line, but for the life of me, I can't think of what movie it has come from.

My father always opened his sermon with the words, "Let the words of my mouth..." at which point the congregation would respond with, "and the meditations of my heart..." followed by the joint recitation of "be acceptable in your heart, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer."

These words were simply a part of my existence each week. It never occurred to me that I might find them in scripture. Ok, I probably thought my father was incredibly creative. Imagine my surprise, when reading the Bible, I discovered the source of that call and response. This Psalm has been special to me ever since.

The entire Psalm is glorious. What an affirmation of the awareness of God in the world. All creation sees His glory. People don't need to wait to be told of the Creator, the heavens declare, the skies proclaim, their voice goes out into all the world. God doesn't need a language to tell of His glory, all creation sings of it. (Read what Paul says about this in Romans 1:18-20.)

The second witness (after creation) to God's power and perfection is the Law. Psalm 19:7-11 lifts up 6 different concepts of the Law: Law/perfect, statutes/trustworthy, precepts/right, commands/radiant, fear of the Lord/pure, ordinances/sure. This highlights more of the beauty of Hebrew poetry in its use of repetition. The Psalmist doesn't want us to have any doubt as to the qualities of God's word, so his use of repetition reinforces over and over what he is saying.

In this Psalm, we find 3 very different ways that God proclaims His presence to the world: in the silent witness of Creation, in the Word of God found through the Law, and finally in the life that is lived by a man walking with God. So unassuming, so natural, yet so very profound.

There's more to these Psalms than you ever realized, isn't there!

Today, focus on how your life is part of the testimony that tells the world about our Creator.

May the words of our mouths,
and the meditations of our hearts
be acceptable in thy sight,
O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer!

October 3 - Psalm 11

Friday, October 3, 2008

October 3 - Psalm 11:1-7

David is being pursued - probably by Saul (read I Samuel 23:13-14). His friends advise him to fly like a bird to a mountain. David responds that he will rely on the Lord to rescue him. The foundations are crumbling around him. Law and order no longer prevail, the righteous man will soon be lost in the mire of the wicked.

At this point, David was still a young man, he had assurance from God that He was the man God desired to have on the throne of Israel. He knew that God would prevail and would protect him.

The comparison is quickly made between the loss of society's foundation on earth and the strength and power of God's throne in heaven. Saul was away from his throne, chasing David through the countryside. Saul was but a man, limited in his scope. By contrast, God is always on His throne, able to observe everything, the righteous and the wicked, bringing judgment and protection where it is needed.

I love reading about David's trust in God. While Saul was chasing him, David knew exactly what his relationship with God looked like. He wasn't trying to do things on his own, he wasn't going to allow his friends to talk him into running away. If God said that He would protect David, then God would protect David.

Many of us forget about that aspect of the relationship God wants to have with us. He desires our complete trust in Him - to provide protection as well as all of our needs. Jesus reminds us in Matthew 6:25-34 about God's desire to provide everything for us.

Along with reading Psalm 11, take the time to read I Samuel 23:13-14 so as to understand what David was thinking, as well as Matthew 6:25-34 for assurance that God's desire to provide for us far outweighs our desire to provide for ourselves.

Blog Extra - Rosh Hashanah

Thursday, October 2, 2008

This evening marks the beginning of the Fast of Gedalia. This fast honors the memory of Gedaliah, who was appointed by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon to be over the people left behind in Judah. However, seven months later, he was assassinated, along with the men of Judah and any Babylonians that were there with him in Mizpah. This text is found in 2 Kings 25:22-26. This also signified the end of the First Temple (Solomon's Temple).

The Fast of Gedalia is to be held during the seventh month. We find a reference to this in Zechariah 8:19. The Jewish calendar must be an exciting one to maintain. The month of Tishrei is the first month of the civil year and the seventh month of the ecclesiastical year.

So, why is this blog post entitled Rosh Hashanah? The Fast of Gedalia is to occur immediately after the second day of Rosh Hashanah, which this year began on Monday, September 29 and ended Wednesday (at sundown), October 1.

As I was reading, I found some wonderfully interesting information - if not to you, at least it is to me.

What is Rosh Hashanah? It literally means "head of the year." 'Roshe' means beginning, or head. 'Shanah' means year. We see these two words together in Ezekiel 40:1, but the command for the festival comes from Leviticus 23:23-24. It occurs on the first day of Tishrei, the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar. This happens to be 163 days after Passover.

The blowing of the shofar occurs in specific intervals during the prayers that are recited.

Rosh Hashanah is a day of judgment. During the afternoon of the first day, prayers are said beside naturally flowing water and sins are symbolically cast into the water (Isaiah 11:9). Psalms 118:5-9, 121 and 130 are read among many written prayers. Honey and apples are included in meals to symbolize a sweet, new year.

Rosh Hashanah reminds Jews that God has three books and those are all opened during this Festival. There is the book of the wicked, the book of the righteous and a book in the middle. The names of the righteous will be sealed into the Book of Life, the wicked are blotted out of the Book of Life and those in the middle have 10 days until Yom Kippur to repent and become righteous.

As Christians, our awareness of Jewish festivals and fasts is loathsome. I am ashamed of my lack of knowledge of these things. I also find that I discover so much more about my faith when I understand the history of the Old Testament. The book of Life is a predominant part of Revelation. To comprehend John's interpretation of the vision that was being given to him requires one to attempt to fully comprehend the context of his life and background.

I love this stuff!

October 2 - Psalm 8

October 2 - Psalm 8:1-9

I don't often take time to read the inscriptions before the Psalms and I am upset that I don't question the words that are there. For instance, the word 'gittith.' Have you ever wondered what that means? It is found in the inscriptions to three Psalms (Psalm 8, 81 and 84). The word is related to the word 'gath' which means 'wine-press' and probably is used to signify a joyous occasion, a time when the vintage is being harvested. The Psalm is meant to be sung at such an occasion. Do you have one of those in your heart today?

Try to imagine the Psalmist sitting outside in the evening. The harvest is going well, there is satisfaction in his tone.

Sometimes I sit on the front stoop of my house late at night and look up at the sky. I see the stars, I feel a breeze. It is so easy to recognize God's hand at work in the universe. This is why Psalm 8 is one of my favorites. Michael W. Smith had written a worship song in the 80s around the first verse of this Psalm and when I am surrounded by the glories of nature, I sing it over and over.

Many years ago, I was in Canada with my father. He would wake me up at 4 am to go fishing. Fortunately, he did all the work, I just stumbled to the boat. For 45 minutes, we would travel to the spot that he knew would yield fish. We didn't talk, I was unable to form words, my brain was still pretty foggy. But, every moment on that lake was filled with this Psalm resounding in my mind. As the world around me awakened, the glory of God's creation came alive and seemed to sing with me.

Verses 4-8 (Psalm 8:4-8) speak of the 'son of man.' Could this really be Jesus Christ? Turn to Hebrews 2:6-9. It certainly is. Adam lost the dominion over the world. Romans 5:14 tells us that death reigned due to Adam's sin. But, Christ regains dominion over everything including death. To Him is given all glory and honor

Some days all that can be said, "O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!"

Find ways today that you can express that joyous gratefulness!