I Have Become Like Broken Pottery

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Reading: Psalm 31
(Verses 9-13)
Be merciful to me, LORD, for I am in distress;
my eyes grow weak with sorrow,
my soul and body with grief.
My life is consumed by anguish
and my years by groaning;
my strength fails because of my affliction,
and my bones grow weak.
Because of all my enemies,
I am the utter contempt of my neighbors
and an object of dread to my closest friends—
those who see me on the street flee from me.
I am forgotten as though I were dead;
I have become like broken pottery.
For I hear many whispering,
“Terror on every side!”
They conspire against me
and plot to take my life
(NIV).*

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Green’s Creek — photo by David Kitz

Reflection
How often do you find yourself crying out for mercy as David does at the start of this psalm portion? I confess daily I need God’s mercy. Be merciful to me, LORD, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and body with grief. 

The desperate cry for help is a recurring theme throughout the psalms. While there is plenty of rejoicing and we find ample helpings of praise for the LORD throughout the Book of Psalms, we also find time after time David and the other writers of the psalms calling out to God for mercy. It is as though David has stumbled into a dry well and has no one to rescue him. Only God can help. Only God will listen.

Is that where you find yourself? In this psalm portion we can see that David is experiencing a deep sense of abandonment. He feels he is alone with none to help. He laments, “I am forgotten as though I were dead.” 

Is that where you find yourself? But David’s sense of abandonment plums even greater depths. Not only does David feel the sting of rejection, he also feels totally worthless. In his despair he cries, “I have become like broken pottery.” It appears as though he has lost all sense of meaning and purpose to his life. He is abandoned, useless and worthless.

Is that where you find yourself? Then do as David did. Pour out your complaint to God. Call out to Him. He is listening. He cares and He answers. The LORD has not changed.

Response: LORD God, have mercy on me. Come to my aid. When I stumble and fall into the dry well of despair, please come to my rescue. Help me see Jesus peering down at me. Loving Jesus, extend your hand of help. Amen.

Your Turn: Reflect on how God has helped you in the past. How has he pulled you out of a pit?

* 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.

As for me, I Trust in the LORD

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Reading: Psalm 31
(Verses 6-8)
I hate those who cling to worthless idols;
as for me, I trust in the L
ORD.
I will be glad and rejoice in your love,
for you saw my affliction
and knew the anguish of my soul.
You have not given me into the hands of the enemy
but have set my feet in a spacious place
(NIV).*

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Banff town site as seen from Sulfur Mountain — photo by David Kitz

Reflection
David clearly lacked a sense of political correctness. The opening line of this psalm portion makes me want to cringe. I hate those who cling to worthless idols. What an inflammatory remark! Hate has no place in our expression of Christian faith. Didn’t David know that we are to hate the sin, but love the sinner? Perhaps we should send David off to a course in sensitivity training.

Somehow biblical David got away with making such a statement, and here we have it recorded in the pages of Holy Scripture for all to read. Hate is a less than desirable emotion. But is it warranted in certain instances? My Christian love for murdering rapists grows mighty thin at times, and I speak from a distance. If my life was directly impacted by an idolatrous, murdering rapist, I am not sure how I would respond. Christ-centered forgiveness is the right response, but gut-wrenching hate might well spring to life. My capacity for forgiveness in severe circumstances remains untested. I dare not boast in my theoretical ability to forgive.

The second part of David’s opening remark is of crucial importance. I hate those who cling to worthless idols; as for me, I trust in the LORD. 

Only trust in the LORD can break the crippling bondage of sin and hate. Vengeance belongs to the LORD, not to the seething heart tortured and taunted by anger. Secular author Malcolm Gladwell explores the extraordinary power of forgiveness in his most recent book, David and Goliath. Gladwell’s thoughts and research on the topic make for an insightful read. He concludes that forgiveness has the power to turn the world upside down. That’s the power we find in the gospel. Rather than be caught in the trap of ruinous hate, through the power of Christ we have the ability to step into the liberty of forgiveness.

By the gracious Holy Spirit we have the ability to choose love over hate. David’s confession can then become our own, “I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul.”

When we choose love over hate, forgiveness over vengeance, trust in God over reliance on our own ability, we defeat Satan, the true enemy of our soul. Then the LORD sets us at liberty in a spacious place. With David we can declare, “You have not given me into the hands of the enemy but have set my feet in a spacious place.”

Response: LORD God, thank you for your forgiveness. Help me to practice it daily. Give me a forgiving spirit like your Son, Jesus, who forgave those who crucified him (Luke 23:34). Amen.

Your Turn: Is there someone you need to forgive? Do it today.

* 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.

Be my Rock of Refuge

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Reading: Psalm 31
For the director of music. A psalm of David.
(Verses 1-5)
In you, LORD, I have taken refuge;
let me never be put to shame;
deliver me in your righteousness.
Turn your ear to me,
come quickly to my rescue;
be my rock of refuge,
a strong fortress to save me.
Since you are my rock and my fortress,
for the sake of your name lead and guide me.
Keep me free from the trap that is set for me,
for you are my refuge.
Into your hands I commit my spirit;
deliver me, L
ORD, my faithful God (NIV).*

Perce

The pierced rock, Perce, Quebec — photo by David Kitz

Reflection
We all need a place of refuge. Here as David begins Psalm 31, he pleads with God to hear him, and become a rock of refuge for him. Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me. 

David spent many of his early years fleeing from King Saul. At other times the Philistines were a threat. There were many occasions in which David needed a fortress—a rock of refuge from his enemies. Often he found himself calling out for the LORD to rescue him.

Are we any different? We may not have physical enemies who are seeking to kill us, but in the spiritual realm the demonic forces of hell are constantly seeking opportunities to trip us up, so that they can launch their vicious assault. Trouble and affliction comes to every human life. We are not immune simply because we have put our faith in Christ. We too need a safe place—a rock of refuge.

But the rock to which we flee is not an inanimate object, fixed and unmoving. No, we come to the living rock which is Christ. He travels with us on this earthly pilgrimage. The apostle, Paul reminds us that even the people of Israel wandering in the wilderness were not alone. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ (1 Corinthians 10:3-4).   

The veins of that rock were opened wide for us. Jesus bled and died so that we could experience new life and complete forgiveness. As he hung dying, Jesus called out to his Father with the words of this psalm, “Into your hands I commit my spirit.” Now daily that living rock accompanies you. He is the fount of forgiveness and a sure refuge in a time of need. Have you put your trust in him for your salvation now and in eternity?

Response: LORD God, I thank you for Jesus. You alone are my rock and my eternal fortress. Guide my spirit into the right path today. Keep me safe from the traps of the enemy. I trust in you. Amen.

Your Turn: Is Jesus your living rock? Why is the analogy of Jesus as a rock a comfort to you?

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

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.

Sudden Turn-a-Rounds

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Reading: Psalm 30
(Verses 6-12)
When I felt secure, I said,
“I will never be shaken.”
LORD, when you favored me,
you made my royal mountain stand firm;
but when you hid your face, I was dismayed.
To you, LORD, I called;
to the L
ORD I cried for mercy:
“What is gained if I am silenced,
if I go down to the pit?
Will the dust praise you?
Will it proclaim your faithfulness?
Hear, L
ORD, and be merciful to me;
L
ORD, be my help.”
You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
L
ORD my God, I will praise you forever (NIV).*

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Early spring morning, Petrie Island — photo by David Kitz

Reflection
Every psalm in the Book of Psalms reveals to us an aspect or characteristic of God. Here in Psalm 30, we see the LORD God of mercy, redemption and sudden turn-a-rounds.

We all go through times of triumph as well as times of deep discouragement. My emotional life often swings between these two extremes. Some days my glass is half full; on other days it is half empty. My faith level soars and plummets, often quite abruptly depending on circumstances. David also experienced these swings between optimism and pessimism. They are a trademark of his psalms. Perhaps that’s why I love them. They reflect my own life experience.

In the opening lines of today’s reading, David swings between a position of utter confidence and security to a position of shaken dismay. When trouble or disaster strikes we may well ask, “Where is God in all this?” Like David we may call out, “What is gained if I am silenced, if I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it proclaim your faithfulness? Hear, LORD, and be merciful to me; LORD, be my help.”

God is always on His throne. He is not caught by surprise when you lose your job, a relationship breaks down, a pandemic hits, or you suffer a great loss. He remains secure, but more than that He is a God of great mercy and sudden turn-a-rounds. He is the LORD God of resurrection. He turned the disciples mourning into dancing when He raised Jesus from the dead. Always, always, always remember He can do the same for you. In the course of this psalm He turned David around. Jesus is the resurrection artist. And furthermore remember this: Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

Response: You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. LORD my God, I will praise you forever. Amen.

Your Turn: Has God turned around a seemingly impossible situation for you? Take a moment to remind yourself of those God sent turn-a-rounds.

* 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.

You Lifted me Out of the Depths

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Reading: Psalm 30
A psalm. A song. For the dedication of the temple. Of David.
(Verses 1-5)
I will exalt you, LORD,
for you lifted me out of the depths
and did not let my enemies gloat over me.
L
ORD my God, I called to you for help,
and you healed me.
You, L
ORD, brought me up from the realm of the dead;
you spared me from going down to the pit.
Sing the praises of the LORD, you his faithful people;
praise his holy name.
For his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may stay for the night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning
(NIV).*

Banff

The view from Sulphur Mountain — photo by David Kitz

Reflection
If you ever want an excuse to break out in praise, just read the opening lines of Psalm 30. There are plenty of excellent reasons to praise God, and David gives us several of them right here. I will exalt you, LORD, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me.

The LORD has lifted me out of the depths of sin and the pit of despair on more than one occasion. Furthermore, the LORD provides more than just forgiveness. He also gives victory over the sin and the discouragement that entraps us. Through the death and resurrection of Jesus, He has defeated the minions of hell. Praise the LORD!

LORD my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me. If you enjoy good health, praise the LORD. He is your healer. Whether through miraculous means or natural process God is our healer, and we can thank Him for the strength, energy and rejuvenation He brings into our lives. Praise the LORD!

You, LORD, brought me up from the realm of the dead; you spared me from going down to the pit. In Ephesians, chapter two, Paul tells us that we were dead in trespasses and sins. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:4-7). Praise the LORD!

We serve a God of mercy, redemption and turn-a-rounds. He turns our mourning into dancing. See Psalm 30:11. For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. Praise the LORD!

Response: LORD God, I thank you for your mercy and grace. I praise you for being my healer. You are good to me in more ways than I can count. Thank you. You are worthy of continual praise. Amen.

Your Turn: What can you praise God for today? How numerous are your blessings?

* 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.

Our God Comes

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I will praise the LORD!

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Sunset vista — photo by David Kitz

A psalm of Asaph.

The Mighty One, God, the LORD,
    speaks and summons the earth
    from the rising of the sun to where it sets.
From Zion, perfect in beauty,
    God shines forth.
Our God comes
    and will not be silent;
a fire devours before him,
    and around him a tempest rages.
He summons the heavens above,
    and the earth, that he may judge his people:
“Gather to me this consecrated people,
    who made a covenant with me by sacrifice.”
And the heavens proclaim his righteousness,
    for he is a God of justice.

  (Psalm 50:1-6, NIV)*

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

Resurrection Faith

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I will praise the LORD!

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Redemption’s promise — photo by David Kitz

People, despite their wealth, do not endure;
    they are like the beasts that perish.

This is the fate of those who trust in themselves,
    and of their followers, who approve their sayings.
They are like sheep and are destined to die;
    death will be their shepherd
    (but the upright will prevail over them in the morning).
Their forms will decay in the grave,
    far from their princely mansions.
But God will redeem me from the realm of the dead;
    he will surely take me to himself.

  (Psalm 49:12-15, NIV)*

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