Saturday In The Psalms—Why?

Why? (four times in five verses of Psalm 43).

We seem to ask this question a lot! Just listened to a small child trying to learn about his world, “Why … why … why…?” And in this psalm, we find a grown man still asking, “Why … why … why…?

“God, You are my strength, so why does it seem like You’re ignoring me? why are my enemies seeming to prevail?”

The psalmist then asks for enough light to find his way to the place of worship—here is where he finds reassurance of God’s majesty; here is where he is filled with joy.

Now his why? is directed to himself—not to God. He asks his soul, “What reason do you have to be downcast? God is on His throne—hope is still burning brightly—His help is coming. Now is the time to worship His majesty!”

My whys? need to be pointed the right direction: “My soul, why are you downcast when you have access to such a loving and powerful Father?”

Go ahead and ask your whys? Your loving Heavenly Father wants to hear from you!

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Saturday In The Psalms—God’s Compelling Kindness

An oracle within my heart concerning the transgression of the wicked: There is no fear of God before his eyes (Psalm 36:1).

David believes that fear and reverence of Almighty God would deter the sinner from his sin. This is not a dread of punishment, but a fear of missing out on the wondrous, eternal depths of God’s love.

We are not asking sinners to give up something they enjoy for a better thing. We’re calling them to step into a Relationship that is more real, substantial, fulfilling, enlivening, and satisfying than anything they’ve ever experienced or even dreamed of!

How precious is God loving kindness. How trustworthy His provision. How abundantly satisfying is His fullness. How indescribable His pleasures. How endless is His love!

It is the kindness of God that leads men and women to His presence.

Heavenly Father, may I live in Your kindness and reflect it to all around me, inviting them to share in Your bounty for themselves. Amen.

What can equal in costliness the love of God! Its preciousness is measured by the gift it gave, and by the innumerable gifts contained in that One—life, pardon, salvation, peace, the glory to be revealed. In this love there are unsearchable riches—exceeding riches of grace. There are no riches to be compared to this great love of God. Having it we are rich indeed. Without it we are poor, life is blank, eternity is dark. …

“God’s character is then the basis of human confidence. …

“This love which so suits the sinner and calls forth his confidence is that which is exhibited in the Cross of Christ. That Cross is the revelation of God’s love as a righteous thing; and thus appeals both to man’s heart and his conscience. The love furnishes the ground for trust, and the Cross removes every reason for distrust. …

“These wings [of love] are broad, and large, and strong, fitted to shelter all the sons of Adam. And thus stretched out they themselves invite us. They contain their own invitation. They say, ‘Come and be safe, come and be blessed, come and be sheltered from present wrath and from the wrath to come. Come, for all things are ready; the love is ready, the deliverance is ready, the protection is ready.’” —Horatius Bonar (emphasis mine)

Saturday In The Psalms—My Praise Is Beautiful

…praise from the upright is beautiful (Psalm 33:1).

God thinks praise from upright people is a beautiful thing! That’s great … for the person who is upright.

Whose life does God think is “upright”?

Well, God helps me with that too! “The Lord looks from heaven” and He sees me (v. 13), and “He considers all [my] works.” But before looking at my works, He develops the inside part of me from which my works flow—“He fashions [my] heart individually” (v. 15). I am not an assembly-line, mass-produced product. I am a unique, one-of-a-kind creation!

So how do I get God to spend this individualized attention on me? “Behold the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him” (v. 18). Just standing in awe of His greatness—worshiping Him—asking for His kingdom to come and His will to be done—is the kind of invitation God delights in.

When I fear God it gets His attention and invites His individualized heart work on me. That makes me beautifully upright in His sight, and makes my praise pleasing to His ears. My praise glorifies God and increases my reverential awe of Him, which develops an even deeper fear of God … [and the cycle repeats!].

God delights in making my praise of Him delightful. I am a beautiful thing in His sight!


But none honors God like the thirst of desire,
Nor possesses the heart so completely with Him;
For it burns the world out with the swift ease of fire,
And fills life with good works till it runs ov’er the brim. … 

Oh then wish more for God, burn more with desire,
Covet more the dear sight of His marvelous Face;
Pray louder, pray longer, for the sweet gift of fire
To come down on thy heart with its whirlwinds of grace. … 

God loves to be longed for, He loves to be sought,
For He sought us Himself with such longing and love:
He died for desire of us, marvelous thought!
And He yearns for us now to be with Him above. —Frederick William Faber, Desire Of God

How Should Christians Handle Unfriendly Earthlings?

Christians are citizens of Heaven who are merely passing through Earth, so this isn’t a Christian’s final home. Because of this, it’s not unusual for Earthlings to mistreat, insult, and even persecute these “aliens and strangers.”

How are Christians supposed to respond to this?

First off, let’s make sure the persecution is for the right reason. Jesus said, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me (Matthew 5:11).

Jesus also told us that this persecution has a blessing in it: we would be able to share our faith in Jesus Christ at the highest levels on Earth: On account of Me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them” (Mark 13:9).

In 1 Peter 3:8, the apostle tells us how to live with everyone, Christian and Earthling alike:

  1. Harmoniously—keep The Main Thing the main thing; don’t get caught up in petty arguments
  2. Empathetically—put yourself in others’ shoes
  3. Kindly—treat everyone like a sibling that shares the same parents with you
  4. Compassionately—be strong enough to handle other people’s stuff
  5. Courteously—remember this: manners matter!

This list may be easy to live out when people are friendly to you, but what about when unfriendly Earthlings are downright mean to you? In the very next verse Peter gives us two Don’ts and one Do:

  1. Don’t repay evil with evil—Jesus is our example of this (see 1 Peter 2:21-23)
  2. Don’t insult the insulters—treat others as you want them to treat you (Luke 6:31)
  3. Do bless those who slander and persecute you—Jesus says we get absolutely no credit if we only treat kind people kindly (see Luke 6:32-33)

In Psalm 35 David is dealing with people who are fighting against him. They are saying mean things and trying to do even meaner things. This prayer shows both God’s part and our part

God’s part—defend me against the evildoers … remind me of Your salvation … pursue those who are falsely pursuing me … stay close to me.

My part—listen to God’s voice of assurance … live quietly … don’t give others cause to mistreat me … pray for those who persecute me … continually turn my thoughts and praise to God.

Peter wraps up this thought with these words—Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even it you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed (1 Peter 3:13-14).

Don’t give in to mistreatment and lash out in anger. Trust God to handle things. Keep on living a good life that is focused on bringing God all the glory due His name!

Saturday In The Psalms—The Glory Due God’s Name

Give unto the Lord the glory due His name…. (Psalm 29)

 

How in the world can I do that?! How can a mere mortal possibly give the All-Glorious, All-Powerful God glory that is equal to His majesty?

Verses 3-9 try to capture God’s power—

  • His voice thunders in the powerful crash of ocean waves
  • His voice cracks like the lightning that snaps the mighty cedar trees as though they are mere twigs
  • His voice splits the earth like a volcano rips through rock
  • His voice rumbles and shakes the tectonic plates of the earth like an earthquake

How do I give this God the glory due His name? How can my voice of praise even be heard above the voice of His majestic voice?

How? By simply worshiping the Lord in the beauty of holiness.

That means I come into His presence in the holiness of Christ—I remain clothed in His righteousness—then I can stand in God’s presence and join my voice with the voices of the mighty ones (v.1), with all His people (v. 11).

I can stand unafraid and unashamed in the presence of the King of the Universe and declare, “How beautiful and powerful and majestic and magnificent and loving You are!”

And He hears me.

And the glory due His name that comes from my lips causes all the creatures in His temple to exclaim, “Glory!” (v. 9)

I can give God all the glory due His majestic name by simply realizing that I am only in His presence because He wants me there, and has made the way possible for me to be there through His Son Jesus.

Saturday In The Psalms—Overcoming Overwhelming Problems

…whom shall I fear? … of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1)

Not just enemies are confronting David, but entire armies of wicked people had him surrounded! War and trouble are on every side, trying to overwhelm David.

Yet David is not just not afraid, he is filled with joy!

Why? He has heard God, even in the midst of the evil turmoil, say, “Seek My face.” And David responded, “Yes, Lord, I will seek Your face!” In fact, David declared there was nothing more fortifying for him than to be in God’s presence, gazing on God’s beauty and majesty, and learning more of God’s ways.

In this place David has peace, joy, protection, salvation, courage. In this place David’s overwhelming problems are overcome by God.

David’s conclusion is one for all who are experiencing overwhelming problems—

Wait on the Lord;
be of good courage,
and He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!

How Long??

Four times in the opening two verses of one of his psalms, David cries out, “How long, O Lord?”

“How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever?”

It does sometimes feel like the unpleasant season is lasting “forever!” David lays it out: “Every day it seems like Your face is hidden, I’m trying to come up with my own escape plans, my heart is breaking, and the bad guys are taking advantage of me! O Lord, how long will You let this last?”

David turns to prayer again and again. He asks God to hear him, enlighten his eyes, and silence his enemies.

Then I love this transition in David’s outlook—
“But I have trusted in Your mercy; [so]
my heart will rejoice in Your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord, because
He will deal bountifully with me.”

I have … I will … You have … You will!

O my soul, keep looking up. Keep crying out.

The God who has STILL will! 

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