A Burden too Heavy to Bear

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Reading: Psalm 38
A psalm of David. A petition.
(Verses 1-8)
LORD, do not rebuke me in your anger
or discipline me in your wrath.
Your arrows have pierced me,
and your hand has come down on me.
Because of your wrath there is no health in my body;
there is no soundness in my bones because of my sin.
My guilt has overwhelmed me
like a burden too heavy to bear.
My wounds fester and are loathsome
because of my sinful folly.
I am bowed down and brought very low;
all day long I go about mourning.
My back is filled with searing pain;
there is no health in my body.
I am feeble and utterly crushed;
I groan in anguish of heart
(NIV).*

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Ottawa River sunset — photo by David Kitz

Reflection
Psalm 38 is a psalm of personal lamentation. The psalmist, David, laments the state of his personal and spiritual health. Notes of joy and triumph are absent from this psalm; instead we find David in a state of deep melancholy.

What is the cause of this melancholy—this depression verging on despair? David attributes his current ill health to sin. He has sinned and is bearing the consequences of his sin. His words of confession make this perfectly clear. Because of your wrath there is no health in my body; there is no soundness in my bones because of my sin. My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear.

What a refreshingly different approach to one’s problems! Rather than blaming others or blaming God, David takes responsibility for his self-inflicted difficulties. How different from the pop-psychology of today! Rather than deal with the sin issue we are often advised to pop a pill, blame a parent, a colleague or society in general. Rather than take our problems to God the world encourages us to indulge ourselves with another bottle, another doughnut or another spouse, meanwhile, our putrid load of sin piles ever higher.

David was on the right track when he confessed his sin to the LORD. He laments, “My wounds fester and are loathsome because of my sinful folly.”

Thanks be to God! He can handle our sinful folly. He sent Jesus to die on the cross to wipe away our sins. Healing, forgiveness and redemption are available through the blood Jesus shed.

Response: LORD God, I thank you for Jesus. I am thankful that I can put my complete trust in you. You forgive me and cleanse me from all my sins. I am saved by your amazing grace not by my effort. Amen.

Your Turn: When was the last time you truly lamented over sin in your life?

* New International Version, Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

This post by award-winning author David Kitz will be published in book format later in 2020 by Elk Lake Publishing under the title 365 Days through the Psalms.

I Will Sing of Your Strength

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I will praise the LORD!

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But I will sing of your strength,
    in the morning I will sing of your love;
for you are my fortress,
    my refuge in times of trouble.

You are my strength, I sing praise to you;
    you, God, are my fortress,
    my God on whom I can rely.

  (Psalm 59:16-17, NIV)*

* New International Version, Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Awake, Harp and Lyre!

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I will praise the LORD!

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Dewberry blossoms — photo by David Kitz

My heart, O God, is steadfast,
    my heart is steadfast;
    I will sing and make music.
Awake, my soul!

    Awake, harp and lyre!
    I will awaken the dawn.

I will praise you, Lord, among the nations;
    I will sing of you among the peoples.
For great is your love, reaching to the heavens;
    your faithfulness reaches to the skies.

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
    let your glory be over all the earth.

  (Psalm 57:7-11, NIV)*

* New International Version, Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

A Future Awaits Those Who Seek Peace

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Reading: Psalm 37
(Verses 35-40)
I have seen a wicked and ruthless man
flourishing like a luxuriant native tree,
but he soon passed away and was no more;
though I looked for him, he could not be found.
Consider the blameless, observe the upright;
a future awaits those who seek peace.
But all sinners will be destroyed;
there will be no future for the wicked.
The salvation of the righteous comes from the LORD;
he is their stronghold in time of trouble.
The L
ORD helps them and delivers them;
he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
because they take refuge in him
(NIV).*

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Photo by David Kitz

Reflection
Today’s reading is the concluding portion of Psalm 37. As noted previously, this entire psalm contrasts the life of the righteous person with the individual who pursues a life of sin and illicit gain. The righteous will receive their reward and the man who does evil will be destroyed.

We all reap what we sow. If we sow seeds of selfishness, hate and discord, we will reap a harvest of ruin. Paul, the apostle, gives us this warning, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life” (Galatians 6:7-8).

We can readily conclude that the good man will live because of his goodness. In other words the righteous person will be saved because of his righteous deeds. But that’s not what this psalm teaches. In fact, the idea that one is saved because of one’s righteousness runs contrary to the message of this psalm and the entire counsel of Holy Scripture. The psalmist clearly states, “The salvation of the righteous comes from the LORD.”

We are not saved by our righteousness. We are saved by the LORD. It is because of His great mercy that we are saved. This aligns with New Testament teaching as Paul declares, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Yes, we are called to live righteous lives and to do good works, but let’s not deceive ourselves into thinking that by these means we will earn our way to heaven. Jesus is the way to heaven. Our feeble efforts won’t take us very far. We need His forgiveness and the power of His redeeming blood. We are saved because we take refuge in Him.  

Response: LORD God, I thank you for Jesus. I am thankful that I can put my complete trust in you. I am saved by your amazing grace not by my effort. Hallelujah! Lord Jesus, you are the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). Amen.

Your Turn: Have you relied on your righteousness rather than God’s grace?

* New International Version, Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

This post by award-winning author David Kitz will be published in book format later in 2020 by Elk Lake Publishing under the title 365 Days through the Psalms.

The Contrast Between Love and Hate

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Reading: Psalm 37
(Verses 30-34)
The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom,
and their tongues speak what is just.
The law of their God is in their hearts;
their feet do not slip.
The wicked lie in wait for the righteous,
intent on putting them to death;
but the LORD will not leave them in the power of the wicked
or let them be condemned when brought to trial.
Hope in the LORD and keep his way.
He will exalt you to inherit the land;
when the wicked are destroyed, you will see it
(NIV).*

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Reflection
A few years ago, here in Canada’s capital we saw aspects of this psalm play out in real time. David, the psalmist states, “The wicked lie in wait for the righteous, intent on putting them to death.” A terrorist, with planned intent gunned down Corporal Nathan Cirillo, while he stood guard before the National War Memorial. This cowardly act highlights the contempt of those who celebrate evil, for those who stand for righteousness, truth and justice. The contrast between those who love peace and those who revel in violence is stark indeed.

The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom, and their tongues speak what is just. The law of their God is in their hearts; their feet do not slip.

When evil raises its brutal head, we need not be intimidated. We need to take heart. When we stand on the side of truth, justice and love, we do not stand alone. God is with us. He is on our side. He has our back. As the psalmist declares, we need to, “Hope in the LORD and keep his way.”

The way of the LORD is the way of love. Jesus said to his disciples, “No one has greater love than this—that one lays down his life for his friends” (John 15:13 NET). Jesus then went on to demonstrate that supreme love by laying down his life on the cross for our redemption.

The question we need to continually ask ourselves is what is my motivation? Am I motivated by love or am I driven by hate? Am I drawing close to the God of love and hope? Is my life a demonstration of God’s redeeming love, or am I only concerned about my selfish interests?

Corporal Nathan Cirillo laid down his life in the service of his country. Which god will you serve? Will you serve the god of self, or the selfless God—the God whose hands were pierced for you? The choice is yours.

Response: LORD God, we live in a very troubled world. When evil rises, we put our trust in you. Help me to walk in the way of love. Surround me with your peace. Keep those who serve their country safe. I pray in Jesus name. Amen.

Your Turn: How can you honor those who lay down their lives in the service of their country? What makes their sacrifice special for you?

* New International Version, Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

This post by award-winning author David Kitz will be published in book format later in 2020 by Elk Lake Publishing under the title 365 Days through the Psalms.

Inter-Generational Blessings

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Reading: Psalm 37
(Verses 23-29)
The LORD makes firm the steps
of the one who delights in him;
though he may stumble, he will not fall,
for the L
ORD upholds him with his hand.
I was young and now I am old,
yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken
or their children begging bread.
They are always generous and lend freely;
their children will be a blessing.
Turn from evil and do good;
then you will dwell in the land forever.
For the L
ORD loves the just
and will not forsake his faithful ones.
Wrongdoers will be completely destroyed;
the offspring of the wicked will perish.
The righteous will inherit the land
and dwell in it forever
(NIV).*

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A rainbow of blessings — photo by David Kitz

Reflection
According to Psalm 37 there is a string of blessings that is bequeathed to the righteous. We are kept safe—held secure in the palm of God’s hand. Furthermore these blessings are inter-generational. The children of the righteous are blessed, so they can be a blessing to their parents and others.

As parents and grandparents can attest, children can be a great blessing, or if they are corrupted by rebellion and disobedience they can become a curse, making life difficult for all around them.

Much of the trouble in the world today is self-inflicted. By choosing the path of anger, selfishness and resentment, we heap sorrow on our own head. Conversely, if we choose to follow the LORD along the path of love, generosity and forgiveness, we set ourselves up to receive blessings from our heavenly Father.

Down through the ages, David’s admonition rings true: Turn from evil and do good; then you will dwell in the land forever.

But God’s blessings rest on a premise, and here it is: The LORD makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him.

The question we need to continually ask ourselves is “Am I delighting myself in the LORD? Is He my chief joy in life? Do I hunger for His word and His presence in my life? Do I long for times of sweet communion with Him?  

Response: LORD God, help me to delight myself in you. May I love what you love. Help me to position myself to receive your blessings. I pray in Jesus name. Amen.

Your Turn: Are you living proof of God’s inter-generational blessing on those who delight in Him?

* New International Version, Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

This post by award-winning author David Kitz will be published in book format later in 2020 by Elk Lake Publishing under the title 365 Days through the Psalms.

Am I a Giver or a Taker?

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Reading: Psalm 37
(Verses 18-22)
The blameless spend their days under the LORD’s care,
and their inheritance will endure forever.
In times of disaster they will not wither;
in days of famine they will enjoy plenty.
But the wicked will perish:
Though the L
ORD’s enemies are like the flowers of the field,
they will be consumed, they will go up in smoke.
The wicked borrow and do not repay,
but the righteous give generously;
those the L
ORD blesses will inherit the land,
but those he curses will be destroyed
(NIV).*

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The blameless spend their days under the LORD’s care — photo by David Kitz

Reflection
I have heard it said that there are two kinds of people in the world—givers and takers. Notice I didn’t say givers and receivers. We all are receivers from the first breath we take, as we receive love and nourishment from our mothers. But there is a subtle but important difference between receiving and taking. The receiver takes what is freely offered. The taker takes regardless if it is offered or not.

Takers feel the world owes them something. Givers owe a debt of love and make regular payments on that debt. The apostle Paul urges us, “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law” (Romans 13:8 NKJV).

Here in Psalm 37 David declares: The wicked borrow and do not repay, but the righteous give generously. There is something counter-intuitive about generosity. Generosity breeds prosperity, whereas hoarding leads to poverty. One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty (Proverbs 11:24-25 NIV).

Why is this the case? Job gives us this nugget of wisdom, “Anyone who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty (Job 6:14). The Almighty oversees our lives. He sees when we withhold kindness from a friend and He sees when we give generously. He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6 NKJV).

A generous spirit reflects the Spirit of God, who freely gives us all things, including His Son. His Son generously gave his life for our redemption, and for the forgiveness of our sins. Forgiveness is freely offered. It’s free for the taking from a lavishly generous God. Have you received what He offers?

Our amazing God turns takers into givers. Saul of Tarsus was a taker, but when he encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus, he became a giver—a forgiven giver. Saul became Paul. Hate turned to love. Taking from the world turned to giving.

Response: LORD God, turn me around. Help me to be generous with those in need. You gave so much to me. Now help me be a giver—a reflection of you in the world. I pray in Jesus name. Amen.

Your Turn: Can we give without receiving? Which comes first?

* New International Version, Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

This post by award-winning author David Kitz will be published in book format later in 2020 by Elk Lake Publishing under the title 365 Days through the Psalms.