I will praise Him!
A psalm of David.
The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
(Psalm 23:1-4, NIV)
Reading: Psalm 22
For the director of music. To the tune of “The Doe of the Morning.”
A psalm of David.
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, but I find no rest.
Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
you are the one Israel praises.
In you our ancestors put their trust;
they trusted and you delivered them.
To you they cried out and were saved;
in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by everyone, despised by the people.
All who see me mock me;
they hurl insults, shaking their heads.
“He trusts in the LORD,” they say, “let the LORD rescue him.
Let him deliver him, since he delights in him” (NIV).
Do you believe in prophecy?
Psalm 22 is the most graphic description of Christ’s crucifixion found anywhere in the Bible. Yet here it is—tucked away among the Psalms—written roughly 900 years before the birth of Christ. How can this be? During David’s time, crucifixion as a form of execution had not yet been invented. Furthermore, crucifixion is portrayed from the victim’s point of view—Jesus’ point of view.
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” These are the words of Jesus on the cross and they form the opening line of this psalm. Of course, Jesus knew he was quoting this psalm when he cried out in anguish.
But did his arrogant mockers know that they too were fulfilling scriptural prophecy as they hurled their insults, “He trusts in the LORD,” they say, “let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.” These words from Psalm 22 find an uncanny parallel in the verbal abuse thrown at Jesus in Matthew 27:43 where we read, “He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’”
Remarkably, David saw it all. Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he beheld the cross nine centuries in advance. I believe in prophecies to come because of prophecies fulfilled.
Response: Father, thank you for sending your Son Jesus to this cruel world to suffer on my behalf. Thank you that I can put my trust in Your Holy Word. It was, is and will be forever true and trustworthy. Amen.
Your Turn: Why do you have confidence in God’s word?
Reading: Psalm 21
Your hand will lay hold on all your enemies;
your right hand will seize your foes.
When you appear for battle,
you will burn them up as in a blazing furnace.
The LORD will swallow them up in his wrath,
and his fire will consume them.
You will destroy their descendants from the earth,
their posterity from mankind.
Though they plot evil against you
and devise wicked schemes, they cannot succeed.
You will make them turn their backs
when you aim at them with drawn bow.
Be exalted in your strength, LORD;
we will sing and praise your might (NIV).
I have a confession to make. The overall title of my blog is I Love the Psalms! But there are some psalms where the fondness runs very thin. That’s the case with this psalm portion. The pacifist side of me gets very uncomfortable with all this talk of God’s wrath burning like a consuming fire. My reasoning goes something like this: If God gets angry with others; I might be the next one dropped in the toaster.
In this psalm David paints a portrait of the LORD as a warrior. I’m not so sure I want to see the LORD as a fearsome warrior. I prefer to see Him as a gentle shepherd—the Good Shepherd—not a God of vengeance firing arrows at His foes. But if I have my way—if I see Him only as a meek shepherd—do I have a right picture of the LORD? Am I blind to an important side of His character? Is He both a warrior and a shepherd?
I can be guilty of shaping God according to my image—the likeness I prefer. But the god I create is not the true God. The true God is always greater, more awesome, fear-provoking, and loving than I can possibly imagine. Words on a page fall short—always fall far short—when we attempt to describe God.
As for this world, it’s inhabited by evil men. Some are heinously evil—monsters in human skin. Others by the mercy of God are filled with kindness. A measure of the grace of God is extended even to those who do not know Him. If God refused to rain judgment on the perpetrators of evil would He still be a good God? If this world were perfect, would we still long for heaven?
Who am I to judge God? Who am I to find fault with my Creator and His ways? Here is the conclusion: Ride on in the battle against evil, Warrior King. Shelter me in your arms, Good Shepherd.
Response: Heavenly Father, I confess I have an incomplete picture of you. I can never grasp or comprehend your fullness. I bow before you, LORD Almighty. In humility I worship you, the magnificent and perfect, I AM. Amen.
Your Turn: Has your picture of God changed over time? Has it become more biblically accurate?
Reading: Psalm 21
For the director of music. A psalm of David.
The king rejoices in your strength, LORD.
How great is his joy in the victories you give!
You have granted him his heart’s desire
and have not withheld the request of his lips.
You came to greet him with rich blessings
and placed a crown of pure gold on his head.
He asked you for life, and you gave it to him—
length of days, forever and ever.
Through the victories you gave, his glory is great;
you have bestowed on him splendor and majesty.
Surely you have granted him unending blessings
and made him glad with the joy of your presence.
For the king trusts in the LORD;
through the unfailing love of the Most High
he will not be shaken (NIV).
The greatest test of a man’s character does not come during times of failure and defeat, but rather during times of success and victory. The higher a person rises the more detached he becomes from the common man’s reality. The historian Lord Acton observed that “Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
Despite much opposition, conflict and affliction, David, the shepherd boy, became the King of Israel. David’s character was severely tested as he wandered as a fugitive in the wilderness, but greater testing lay ahead. David’s moral failure came at the pinnacle of his success. He passed the test in the wilderness, but failed the test in the throne room. Nothing tests a man’s mettle like success.
Despite this weakness, David knew where his strength lay. His strength came from the LORD. He knew the true source of his success. Here in Psalm 21 he testifies to why he rose to prominence: The king rejoices in your strength, LORD. How great is his joy in the victories you give!
When we achieve success, we need to cast our mind back to the reason for that success. It’s interesting to note that David did not take the credit for his victories. He attributed his accomplishments to the LORD. This is contrary to human nature. I am apt to crow about my triumphs, rather than give the credit to God. The truth is my abilities come from God and any success I achieve comes as a gift from Him. For promotion and power come from nowhere on earth, but only from God. He promotes one and deposes another (Psalm 75:6-7, TLB)
Response: Heavenly Father, help me to rightly handle the success that you bring. Lord Jesus, you are my victory over death, hell and the grave. Keep me thankful. You are more wonderful than I can imagine. I praise you. I owe any success I have achieved to you, Lord. Amen.
Your Turn: What personal success can you thank God for today? Are you giving credit where credit is due?
Reading: Psalm 20
For the director of music. A psalm of David.
May the LORD answer you when you are in distress;
may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.
May he send you help from the sanctuary
and grant you support from Zion.
May he remember all your sacrifices
and accept your burnt offerings.
May he give you the desire of your heart
and make all your plans succeed.
May we shout for joy over your victory
and lift up our banners in the name of our God.
May the LORD grant all your requests.
Now this I know:
The LORD gives victory to his anointed.
He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary
with the victorious power of his right hand.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.
They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm.
LORD, give victory to the king! Answer us when we call! (NIV)
There’s an old saying that’s attributed to St. Augustine, “Pray as if everything depends on God. Work as if everything depends on you.” Here in Psalm 20, in the form of a prayer David captures the essence of that thought. But David is not praying for himself. He is praying for your success. Hear his words: May he [the LORD] give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed. May we shout for joy over your victory and lift up our banners in the name of our God. May the LORD grant all your requests.
David’s prayer on behalf of others brings a measure of conviction to my heart. How much time do I spend praying for the success of others? I tend to be rather selfish in my prayer requests. Do I want personal victories more than corporate or team success? Am I earnest in my desire to see others grow and prosper or is there a root of jealous envy that restricts my prayers on their behalf? Do I speak words of blessing over those around me? Do I inwardly rejoice when my brother stumbles, because it leaves me looking successful where he has failed?
The opening half of this psalm is intended as a spoken blessing over the life of my brother and my friend. Take a moment right now and substitute your friend’s name into this Psalm wherever the word you appears. Now speak the opening lines of this psalm as a blessing over your friend’s life. Finally, trust in the LORD your God to work on behalf of your friend or family member. We serve a God who brings victory.
Response: Heavenly Father, I repent of jealousy and envy. Help me speak words of blessing over those around me. I trust you. You are the true source of health and blessing in this world. Amen.
Your Turn: Whose life can you speak God’s blessing into today? Are there family members, friends or colleagues that need the blessing of God?
Reading: Psalm 19
But who can discern their own errors?
Forgive my hidden faults.
Keep your servant also from willful sins;
may they not rule over me.
Then I will be blameless,
innocent of great transgression.
May these words of my mouth
and this meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer (NIV).
What is your response to God’s word and His voice as it speaks to your heart? In this final portion of Psalm 19 we see David’s response to God. God has been doing the talking thus far. The LORD has been speaking to David through the stars, through the night sky, and the blazing heat of the sun—the first witness. He has spoken to him through the Word of God—His written revelation—the second witness. Now as this Psalm draws to a close, we hear David responding back to God.
In actuality, David is responding to the third witness. His heart is bearing witness to the reality of God. His conscience is convicting him of his sin and of the righteousness of God. We all have this third witness within us—a witness that will not be silenced, though we may try to drown out this inner voice of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is at work in every case when we respond in a right way to God.
If along with David, we have heard the voices of the first and second witness, then there is only one appropriate response. It is the response recorded here in Holy Scriptures. If we see and grasp the awesome power and majesty of God, if through His word we have glimpsed His holiness, then we are brought low. We are humbled before him. Our greatest achievements are nothing. Our pride dissolves. Our weakness, our smallness is self-evident in the presence of the LORD of heaven and earth. We are exposed; our sin is exposed before this holy, magnificent God.
Along with David we cry out, “But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me.”
If we perceive God correctly, and if we assess ourselves accurately and honestly, then we quickly realize our greatest need. Our greatest need is for forgiveness. This is the solid bedrock on which any human relationship with God is built.
Here is the truth. I need forgiveness. My failings and shortcomings are many. What about you?
Response: Heavenly Father, please forgive my sins. Often I have lived according to my will, not yours. Forgive my selfish ways. May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. Amen.
Your Turn: Have you confessed your hidden sins, and admitted your need for a Savior from yourself?
I will praise Him!
All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;
all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—
those who cannot keep themselves alive.
Posterity will serve him;
future generations will be told about the Lord.
They will proclaim his righteousness,
declaring to a people yet unborn:
He has done it!
(Psalm 22:25-28, NIV)
I will praise Him!
From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly;
before those who fear you I will fulfill my vows.
The poor will eat and be satisfied;
those who seek the LORD will praise him—
may your hearts live forever!
All the ends of the earth
will remember and turn to the LORD,
and all the families of the nations
will bow down before him,
for dominion belongs to the LORD
and he rules over the nations.
(Psalm 22:25-28, NIV)
Reading: Psalm 19
The law of the LORD is perfect,
reviving the soul.
The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
The precepts of the LORD are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the LORD are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.
The fear of the LORD is pure,
The decrees of the LORD are firm,
and all of them are righteous.
They are more precious than gold,
than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
than honey from the honeycomb.
By them your servant is warned;
in keeping them there is great reward (NIV).
The voice of the speaking stars (see yesterday’s reading) is now joined by the voice of the written Holy Word. If nature, specifically the sky, is the first witness to testify to the glory of God, then the scriptures—the written word of God—constitute the second great witness to speak of God’s existence. Both these great witnesses have gathered here to testify within the context of Psalm 19.
While nature speaks to us of the existence of God the creator, it is largely silent regarding the nature or character of this all-powerful supernatural being. Is He good? Is He evil? Is He indifferent to us? Is He angry with us? What is this great, overarching, omnipresent God really like? May we approach Him?
God’s word shows us the way. Here David tells us, “The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul.”
The law is perfect, flawless, inerrant and infallible. Only a perfect, flawless, inerrant and infallible God can be the source of such a document. The law of the LORD that is referred to here is in fact the Bible, the Word of God. Jack Hayford in his commentary on this verse from the Psalms states, “That the ‘law of the LORD is perfect,’ is direct reference to the absolute, complete, and entire trustworthiness of the Holy Scriptures, which constitute the Bible.”
And this perfect, true and infallible law, or Word of God, has an effect. The Word of God is active. It revives the soul. God’s word literally brings souls back to spiritual life. There is great power in the written word. The word of God is redemptive, personal and transformational.
Response: LORD God, help me draw life, wisdom and joy from your word every day. Light my way. Amen.
Your Turn: Do you read God’s word daily? How has it helped you grow in faith?