And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them (Psalm 78:72).
The most powerful king Israel ever had is applauded for leading his people with integrity and skill like a shepherd. Not as a warlord, not as a kingdom builder, not as a musician and songwriter; but a lowly, unassuming shepherd.
A shepherd is known for these qualities—
—shepherds don’s see their sheep as a mass, but know each and every individual by name.
—shepherds lead their flock by walking in the middle of the group so that they can be as close to as many sheep as possible.
—shepherds are attentive to the particular needs of the young, the sick, and the elderly.
—shepherds lay down in the dirt to protect any places vulnerable to a predator’s attack.
—shepherds find the best food and water possible for their sheep.
—shepherds search for any sheep who have strayed away.
—David shepherded the people Israel just as he himself had been shepherded by God.
This is an invaluable lesson every leader should learn!
This is part 30 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out all of my posts in this series by clicking here.
Here’s some perspective—if you drew a timeline 50 feet long that represented all of Earth’s recorded history, your life would cover about the breadth of your hand. But that’s only recorded history—what about the eternity that existed before history started and the eternity that will continue after history ends?
Twice in Psalm 39, David described our brief life like this: each man’s life is but a breath.
So what do we do with our breath-long life? Fortunately for us, David gives us godly perspective in five areas.
David had a good start: I will keep my tongue from sin, but what happens when sinful words slip out? I would suggest we count those as a gift. Really?! Yes, because those “slips” make us aware of what’s really in our heart (see Matthew 15:19) so that we can confess them.
David also suggests putting a muzzle on our mouths when we’re around certain people. In other words, don’t get into petty fights with people who aren’t going to receive the wisdom we may have to share with them.
Why do we procrastinate doing good things? Some of our simple cliches reflect this, like TGIF. Why wait until Friday to get happy? Why not say TGIT—thank God it’s today! Do something memorable today… do something life-altering today… do something for God today.
David reminds us that we work so hard to accumulate stuff “not knowing who will get it.” Jesus had another word for someone who only wanted to get stuff to make his life easier: fool (see Luke 12:16-21). Use stuff to serve others.
Why oh why, would we spend one minute longer than we have to with unconfessed, unforgiven sin? I blogged last week about the freedom that immediately comes when we receive forgiveness from our confessed sin. Let’s do this quickly!
If I only have a breath-long life, I want to make every moment count. I love what C.T. Studd wrote: “Only one life will soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last. … Let us not glide through this world and then slip quietly into heaven without having blown the trumpet loud and long for our Redeemer, Jesus Christ. Let us see to it that the devil will hold a thanksgiving service in Hell when he gets the news of our departure from the field of battle.”
Here’s my prayer for all of us—Lord, help me to know how few days I have so I can live every one for Your glory.
Psalm 32 is only eleven verses long, yet Selah—a call to pause and ponder—is used three times. In other words, David is very interested in getting us to weigh something important. This whole psalm is a call to ponder the heavy, unbearable burden of unconfessed sins vs. the freedom and fresh start that comes immediately with confession.
And in case you think that confession is just something that someone does one time when they become a Christian, keep in mind that David is writing this song to be sung by the choir in church. That means confession is good for everyone!
The weighty CURSES of unconfessed sin
Then comes confession—I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I did not hide. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord continually unfolding the past till all is told”—then You instantly forgave me the guilt and iniquity of my sin (v. 5 AMP).
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:8-9).
The weighty BLESSINGS after confessed sin
What relief for those who have confessed their sins and God has cleared their record (v. 2 TLB)
Don’t let unconfessed sin weigh you down. As soon as you feel the Holy Spirit pointing something out in your heart, confess it and experience God’s immediate release!
I am going to share one more message in this series on the Selahs in the Psalms this Sunday (but, God willing, we will return to this next summer). Please join me either in person or on Facebook Live.
“The King of glory” is a phrase that’s only used five times in the Bible, and all five times are packed into just four verses of Psalm 24. In this psalm, David lets us know who can enter into this awesome, heavy presence of the King of Glory.
Why do I say “heavy”? The definition of the Hebrew word for glory always refers to a heaviness. There is something majestically, awesomely heavy about going before the All-Righteous, All-Powerful, All-Holy, All-Knowing, Absolutely Perfect God. Can any mere mortal enter into this presence?
In an earlier psalm, David said, “For the Lord is righteous, He loves justice; the upright will see His face” (Psalm 11:7). But in this psalm, David asks, “Who can ascend Your holy hill? Who can come into Your presence?” (Psalm 24:3).
He answers the question with these words: the upright, the one with clean hands and a pure heart (he expands this list even more in Psalm 15), then he calls on us to Selah—pause and weigh this as if on a scale. David is asking, “Do you really want to enter into the weighty presence of the King of Glory?”
If you do, something needs to happen first. David calls his generation (and our generation) the generation of Jacob. You can read the story of Jacob’s life beginning in Genesis 27. Jacob was a pragmatic man. If he could get away with something, he did. He only looked out for his own interests. He deceived, he connived, he bribed, he calculated his odds—he did what he had to so that he could advance himself. He didn’t realize God’s weight. He saw God only through a scarcity-mindset that gave God limits. He thought there was only a limited supply, and if somebody else was getting a blessing, then that meant there was less for him to get.
Then Jacob encountered God and discovered that he couldn’t do a thing against this weighty King of Glory. When he finally submitted to God, his name was changed to Israel. Jacob—the self-sufficient man—would never be allowed to enter the doors into God’s heavy glory. But Israel—the submitted man—may ascend the hill of the Lord and stand in His holy presence. Jacob means deceitful; Israel means the man without any deceit.
For the rest of his life, Israel walked with a limp. It was a constant reminder that he simply wasn’t the man he was before he wrestled with God.
Here’s the challenge I would give you… Use either Psalm 15 or Psalm 24:3-4 and let the Holy Spirit wrestle with you. Is there anything that’s holding you back from going through those doors into the weighty presence of the King of glory? If there is, confess it, repent from it, and even limp away from it (if you have to) so that you don’t miss out on God’s eternal blessings.
Join me this coming Sunday as we continue our look at the Selahs in the Book of Psalms.
Well, this isn’t what I expected! David says his song in Psalm 9 is supposed to be sung to the tune of “Death Of The Son,” so I’m expecting a prayer that is loaded with minor notes. But instead, David gives us … this!
The opening verses show us David exploding in praise to God. Check out his vocabulary—
Why this loud, exuberant, unexpected praise? Because David has noticed that whatever has “died” on earth is only a temporary loss, but God is forever!
There is an unusual word pairing at the end of verse 16: Haggaion and Selah. This is the only time these two words appear like this in all of Scripture, and it’s also the only time Haggaion is used without being translated.
Haggaion appears just four times in the Bible—(a) in Psalm 19:14 where it is translated meditation; (b) in Psalm 92:3 where it is translated solemn sound; (c) in Lamentations 3:62 where it is translated whisper and mutter; and (d) here in Psalm 9 where it is untranslated.
By combining Haggaion and Selah, David is wanting us to solemnly meditate on an important contrast: God’s way vs. man’s way. In verses 3-16, David uses huge and eternal terms for God like righteous Judge, reigns forever, refuge, stronghold, merciful, and prayer-answerer.
Side-by-side with these eternal terms for God, David lists the temporary terms for man like stumble, perish, ruined, forgotten, and trapped. In fact, David ends this Psalm by reminding us evil men who do evil things are “mere men.” Other translations fill in the details:
Then David ends with a final Selah—one more call for us to allow this message to resonate with us, especially during the times others may call dark, depressing times. The message that should resonate in our hearts and cause us to throw our hands up in joyful celebration of God is…
When a dark time—a “death of a son”—tries to rock your world, don’t do what puny mortals expect, but throw your hands up in the air, and sing and roar a praise to the Almighty God Who cares for you!
In Psalm 7, some guy named Cush is giving David trouble. How much trouble? David felt like Cush was a lion about to rip him apart!
We would naturally expect David to cry out for God’s help from this tormentor (which he does in the opening verses), but then what David does next is quite unexpected—he asks to God to search his heart to see if he might be the cause for Cush’s attack:
This introspection in God’s presence was apparently a regular habit for David. He made this a regular habit when the heat was on, and also when he was at peace (see Psalm 139:23-24).
Not only did David want to make sure his hands were clean, but he also wanted to make sure he wasn’t carrying a grudge against Cush. A grudge is a feeling of anger or resentment toward someone who has wronged us. But the most devastating thing about a grudge is that it takes our eyes off God and places them on our tormentor.
In other words, as long as we hold a grudge, we continue to give our tormentor power over our lives.
So after asking those introspective questions, David writes Selah. One definition of this word—which is probably quite appropriate here—is pause, and calmly think of that.
After this Selah pause of introspection in God’s presence, David must have felt clear of any guilt (because we don’t see him repenting, as is his habit), but we also see him being very careful of not holding on to a grudge against Cush.
David then begins to affirm in the remaining verses that God is more than capable of handling evil people and keeping the righteous protected. David determines that he will give thanks to the Lord because of His righteousness, and will sing praise to the name of the Most High (v. 17).
Here’s an important thing for anyone who has been injured by someone else to remember—
How can your hands be free to receive God’s blessings if your hands are full of the grudges you are holding?
Learn from David’s Selah these two lessons when someone torments you:
Join me next Sunday as we continue our look at the Selahs in the Psalms.