I will praise the LORD!
Reading: Psalm 15
A psalm of David.
LORD, who may dwell in your sacred tent?
Who may live on your holy mountain?
The one whose walk is blameless,
who does what is righteous,
who speaks the truth from their heart;
whose tongue utters no slander,
who does no wrong to a neighbor,
and casts no slur on others;
who despises a vile person
but honors those who fear the LORD;
who keeps an oath even when it hurts,
and does not change their mind;
who lends money to the poor without interest;
who does not accept a bribe against the innocent.
Whoever does these things
will never be shaken (NIV).*
Where are you living? Please note, I did not ask, “What is your address?”
For the Old Testament believer, God had an address. He lived in the Tent of Meeting on Mount Zion in Jerusalem. Later this was the location of the great temple built by Solomon. But this entire psalm is based on the premise that we can live in the presence of God. Why else would David ask, “LORD, who may dwell in your sacred tent? Who may live on your holy mountain?”
It would appear that wherever we are, it is possible to live one’s life in the conscious presence of the LORD. What an awesome privilege. But how is that possible? On an intellectual level, this is a no brainer. God is present everywhere. We are continually living our lives in full view of an omnipresent God.
Am I always aware of His presence? No, not always.
What can I do to change that? The psalmist lists some requirements for living in the LORD’s presence. Apparently, God is vitally concerned with the way we walk out our life of faith—the words we speak, and our interactions with neighbors and friends. The list of requirements found in this psalm is all about practical day to day living, being true to our word, loving our neighbor, and being generous to those in need.
The day is coming when I will meet the LORD face to face, but can I see Him before that final day? Do I see Him in the face of my neighbor?
Response: Heavenly Father, I don’t want to come for an occasional visit. I want to live in your presence now and in eternity. Today, help me interact with others with the knowledge that you are watching every thought, word and action. I’m living with you. Amen.
Your Turn: When are you most conscious of God’s presence in your life?
Reading: Psalm 14
For the director of music. Of David.
The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, their deeds are vile;
there is no one who does good.
The LORD looks down from heaven on all mankind
to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.
All have turned away, all have become corrupt;
there is no one who does good, not even one.
Do all these evildoers know nothing?
They devour my people as though eating bread;
they never call on the LORD.
But there they are, overwhelmed with dread,
for God is present in the company of the righteous.
You evildoers frustrate the plans of the poor,
but the LORD is their refuge.
Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!
When the LORD restores his people,
let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad! (NIV)*
Apparently, atheism is not a modern phenomenon. Three thousand years ago in David’s time, there were people who said in their heart, “There is no God.” Atheism has a long and ignoble pedigree. I say ignoble because as David observes, it is the fool who says, “There is no God.”
There is a footnote in my Bible indicating that the word translated in this psalm as fool denotes someone who is morally deficient. David goes on to describe this moral deficiency. He uses the words corrupt and vile. In fact there is a complete absence of anything good. But this isn’t just David’s indictment against a few errant atheists; this is the LORD’s view of all mankind. All have turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one. In the New Testament, Paul the Apostle quotes from this psalm in his epistle to the Romans as he outlines the depravity of humanity.
Is there a link between unbelief and the sinful state of the human soul? Does sin breed unbelief? There is ample biblical and anecdotal evidence that it does. When Adam and Eve sinned, in an instant, they turned from God seekers to God avoiders. Add a little more sin, and it’s only a short step for a God avoider to become a God denier.
We deny the existence of God to avoid accountability for our sin. We foolishly assume since we can’t see God, He can’t see us and our misdeeds. Better yet, why not pretend that God doesn’t exist? Then we are at liberty to sin as much as we please without fear of God’s judgment. That sounds like morally deficient reasoning to me. The fool fools only himself.
Response: Father, I want to seek you always, especially when I sin. That’s when I need you most. You have the remedy for my sin—the blood of Jesus. You forgive me and clean me up. Amen.
Your Turn: Does sinful conduct affect or infect your belief system? How does sin cloud our reasoning?
Reading: Psalm 13
For the director of music. A psalm of David.
How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
Look on me and answer, LORD my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the LORD’s praise,
for he has been good to me (NIV).*
Have you hit a low point in your life? Are you facing a personal downturn when nothing seems to go right? Problems may arise whether it’s in your career, your finances, your family, or your relations with others. Often difficulty in one area leads to difficulty in other aspects of life. It may seem that circumstances are conspiring to bring you down. Are you caught in a downward spiral?
David begins this psalm in such a state. His life and career appear to be in a death spiral. He pleads with God, “Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death, and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall.”
We can learn a lot from David’s response to hard times. First he brought his problems before God. He poured out his frustration, and in desperation he called out to the LORD for help. He didn’t pretend everything was fine, when clearly they were not. Call out to God in times of trouble.
Secondly, David asked for the light of God to shine into his situation. “Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death…” When we are going through a dark time often we can’t see our way out. Many times the solution is right in front of our eyes, but we can’t see it. We need God to illumine our path. There is a way forward. We need Him to show us. Open your eyes to God’s solution.
Finally, David trusted in the unfailing love of God. He rejoiced in God’s salvation. God is in the rescue business. The solution had yet to arrive, but in advance David sang his praise to God. David reflected on the goodness of God. The LORD had been good and faithful in the past. David knew that God would show him His goodness once again. Trust and praise God in advance.
Response: LORD God, thank you that I can call out to you in times of trouble. Show me the way forward. Open my eyes to the help you are providing and will provide. I trust and thank and praise you in advance. Amen.
Your Turn: Has God rescued you in difficult times in the past? Trust Him to do the same now and in the future.
Reading: Psalm 12
For the director of music. According to sheminith. A psalm of David.
Help, LORD, for no one is faithful anymore;
those who are loyal have vanished from the human race.
Everyone lies to their neighbor;
they flatter with their lips
but harbor deception in their hearts.
May the LORD silence all flattering lips and every boastful tongue—
those who say,
“By our tongues we will prevail;
our own lips will defend us—who is lord over us?”
“Because the poor are plundered and the needy groan,
I will now arise,” says the LORD.
“I will protect them from those who malign them.”
And the words of the LORD are flawless,
like silver purified in a crucible,
like gold refined seven times.
You, LORD, will keep the needy safe and will protect us forever from the wicked,
who freely strut about when what is vile is honored by the human race (NIV).*
Who cares for the needy? The corporate titans and bank executives don’t. It seems they are far too busy lining their pockets and preparing their golden parachutes to give a thought or a dollar to low paid employees or the poor. The relentless pursuit of profit trumps all other concerns.
Who cares for the poor? It seems political leaders and power brokers don’t. When called upon, they mouth meaningless platitudes and profess concern. But policy is dictated by those with fat bank accounts and the right connections. They ensure that very little trickles down to those in need. In their hearts these are those who say, “By our tongues we will prevail; our own lips will defend us—who is lord over us?”
Who cares for the poor and needy? According to the words of this psalm the LORD does. “Because the poor are plundered and the needy groan, I will now arise,” says the LORD. “I will protect them from those who malign them.”
God has always demonstrated concern for the poor. The prophet Amos declared the LORD’s severe judgment on Israel because of their mistreatment of the poor. “For three sins of Israel, even for four, I will not relent. They sell the innocent for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals. They trample on the heads of the poor as on the dust of the ground and deny justice to the oppressed” (Amos 2:6-7).
Will God judge us for how we treat the poor? Absolutely. God has not changed. He defends the poor and He remains true to His word. Call out to Him in your time of need. The word of the LORD is tried, tested and true. You can count on it.
Response: LORD God, give me a caring heart for those who are poor and oppressed. Help me to demonstrate that care not just in thought but in practical ways as Jesus would. Amen.
Your Turn: What can you do today for someone who is needy or suffering? Let your actions speak.