Many Are my Foes!

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I will praise Him!

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Tulip fields, Abbotsford, BC — photo by David Kitz

LORD, how many are my foes!
    How many rise up against me!
Many are saying of me,
    “God will not deliver him.”

But you, LORD, are a shield around me,
    my glory, the One who lifts my head high.
I call out to the LORD,
    and he answers me from his holy mountain.

(Psalm 3:1-4, NIV)

You Are my Son

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I will praise Him!

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Great cedars of Winfield Park, Abbotsford, BC — photo by David Kitz

I will proclaim the LORD’s decree:
He said to me, “You are my son;
 today I have become your father.
Ask me, and I will make the nations your inheritance,

the ends of the earth your possession.
You will break them with a rod of iron;
you will dash them to pieces like pottery.”

Therefore, you kings, be wise;
    be warned, you rulers of the earth.
Serve the LORD with fear
    and celebrate his rule with trembling.
Kiss his son, or he will be angry
    and your way will lead to your destruction,
for his wrath can flare up in a moment.
    Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

(Psalm 2:7-12, NIV)

A Plea for Help

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Reading: Psalm 69
For the director of music. To the tune of “Lilies.” Of David.
(Verses 1-5)
Save me, O God,
for the waters have come up to my neck.
I sink in the miry depths,
where there is no foothold.
I have come into the deep waters;
the floods engulf me.
I am worn out calling for help;
my throat is parched.
My eyes fail, looking for my God.
Those who hate me without reason
outnumber the hairs of my head;
many are my enemies without cause,
those who seek to destroy me.
I am forced to restore
what I did not steal.
You, God, know my folly;
my guilt is not hidden from you
(NIV).

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Spring crocus — photo by David Kitz

Reflection
Above all else Psalm 69 is a plea for help. Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck.

Have you ever been neck deep in trouble? I’ve been there and it’s not an entirely pleasant experience. I recall hanging upside down in my car, which was sitting on its roof in a snow-covered ditch. My wife was suspended upside down in the driver’s seat beside me.

Suddenly finding yourself upside down after a high-speed-icy skid can be unsettling. I recall unfastening my seatbelt so I could reverse my position and sit upright on the interior of the car roof. Opening the car doors was impossible due to the snow jammed up on the outside. There we sat, trapped, car tires in the air, as the sun began to set.

We had two life lines: a mobile phone and a direct line to Jesus. Both worked flawlessly. Within minutes a young couple helped us out of the car. Later that evening we drove our flipped car back into the city undamaged. There was nothing to indicate we were in a rollover, not even a scratch on the car body.

This true account serves as a reminder to me that God hears us when we pray. When we are in over our head—when we are neck deep and beyond—we can call out to God.

God did not save us because we are faultless. As the psalmist says, You, God, know my folly; my guilt is not hidden from you.” God saves us because of His great mercy.

Response: LORD God, thank you for showing us mercy when we don’t deserve it. Thank you for coming to rescue the likes of me. For this mercy and a thousand more, I give you thanks. Amen.

Your Turn: Has the Lord helped you when you were neck deep in trouble?

A Grand Descent!

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Reading: Psalm 68
(Verses 32-35)
Sing to God,
you kingdoms of the earth,
sing praise to the Lord,
to him who rides across the highest heavens,
the ancient heavens,
who thunders with mighty voice.
Proclaim the power of God,
whose majesty is over Israel,
whose power is in the heavens.
You, God, are awesome in your sanctuary;
the God of Israel gives power
and strength to his people.
Praise be to God! (NIV).

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Acres of tulips, Abbotsford, British Columbia — photo by David Kitz

Reflection
Psalm 68 ends with a call for us to sing. Sing to God, you kingdoms of the earth, sing praise to the Lord, to him who rides across the highest heavens, the ancient heavens, who thunders with mighty voice.

Let’s take a few moments to cast our minds back a few months to the Christmas season. Have you noticed how important singing and music are to our celebration of Christ’s birth? Take music and song out of Christmas and there is little left. In many ways carols define the season and add sparkle and joy. And so it should be. Heaven saw fit to announce the Savior’s birth through song. Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests” (Luke 2:13-14).

God sent an angel choir to celebrate the birth of His only begotten Son. And earlier during her pregnancy, at the home of Elizabeth, Mary burst out with what is commonly called the Magnificat or Mary’s Song. See Luke 1: 46-56. Yes, even in the merry month of May we can reflect on the songs of Christ’s birth.

So yes we should sing praise to the Lord, to him who rides across the highest heavens. He sent his star to guide the way for the magi. One glorious night the heavens joined in to declare the glory of heaven’s Son, who had come to earth to be born among men—men and animals.

What a grand descent! From the highest heavens to a lowly stable, and ultimately to death on a cross. That’s the glory of Christmas. God transferred His sanctuary—His dwelling place—from heaven to earth—from heaven’s throne room to a stable. Now we can join with the psalmist and the shepherds with these words of praise:

You, God, are awesome in your sanctuary;
the God of Israel gives power
and strength to his people.
Praise be to God!

Response: LORD God, thank you for sending Jesus. Thank you for coming in frail human flesh—flesh like our own. Thank you because now we can know you as one of us—God with us. Amen.

Your Turn: How important are music and song to you? Do they lead to heartfelt worship?

Our Conquering Hero

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Reading: Psalm 68
(Verses 24-31)
Your procession, God, has come into view,
the procession of my God and King into the sanctuary.
In front are the singers, after them the musicians;
with them are the young women playing the timbrels.
Praise God in the great congregation;
praise the L
ORD in the assembly of Israel.
There is the little tribe of Benjamin, leading them,
there the great throng of Judah’s princes,
and there the princes of Zebulun and of Naphtali.
Summon your power, God;
show us your strength, our God, as you have done before.
Because of your temple at Jerusalem
kings will bring you gifts.
Rebuke the beast among the reeds,
the herd of bulls among the calves of the nations.
Humbled, may the beast bring bars of silver.
Scatter the nations who delight in war.
Envoys will come from Egypt;
Cush will submit herself to God
(NIV).

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Red cross tulip — photo by David Kitz

Reflection
All of Psalm 68 is a hymn of triumph—national triumph. In today’s reading it is apparent that this psalm is a triumphant processional song penned by David. The enemies of Israel have been vanquished and God’s army has returned victorious. 

For Christians today, does this psalm hold a deeper significance? Does it signify more than a celebration after a military conquest?

The King we serve—the one born in a stable—didn’t come to establish an earthly kingdom by means of guns and war. In his defence before Pilate Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place” (John 18:36).

Make no mistake; Jesus calls us to be citizens in his heavenly Kingdom. It is a Kingdom that is headquartered in heaven, but its address on the earth is the human heart—your heart—my heart. Furthermore, that Kingdom grows in power and influence as we yield our will to God and joyfully become more like His son, Jesus. For followers of Jesus, battles are won as we submit our will to God.

There are nations—Egypt and Cush (the upper Nile region) are mentioned here—that will submit themselves to God. But for us today, submission must first come from our own stubborn heart.

Response: LORD God, I yield my will to you. Conquer my heart with your love. Through Jesus sacrifice on the cross I am yours. Help me to joyfully live as a productive citizen of your Kingdom on earth. Amen.

Your Turn: Have you been conquered by the love of God? Where is your primary citizenship?

Our Burden Bearer

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Reading: Psalm 68
(Verses 15-23)
Mount Bashan, majestic mountain,
Mount Bashan, rugged mountain,
why gaze in envy, you rugged mountain,
at the mountain where God chooses to reign,
where the L
ORD himself will dwell forever?
The chariots of God are tens of thousands
and thousands of thousands;
the Lord has come from Sinai into his sanctuary.
When you ascended on high, you took many captives;
you received gifts from people, even from the rebellious—
that you, L
ORD God, might dwell there.
Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior,
who daily bears our burdens.
Our God is a God who saves;
from the Sovereign L
ORD comes escape from death.
Surely God will crush the heads of his enemies,
the hairy crowns of those who go on in their sins.
The Lord says, “I will bring them from Bashan;
I will bring them from the depths of the sea,
that your feet may wade in the blood of your foes,
while the tongues of your dogs have their share”
(NIV).

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Tulip field, Abbotsford, BC — photo by David Kitz

Reflection
There is one thought from today’s psalm reading that jumps out at me and here it is: Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.

Why would or should God our Savior bear our burdens? He sits enthroned in heaven above the fray. Why should He entangle Himself in the affairs of humanity? But apparently He does. Jesus our Savior gives us this invitation, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

Jesus is inviting us to step into the harness with him. Then he assures us that he will do the heavy lifting and pulling. I’m not sure that was a wise offer for Jesus to make. Did he really know the extent of my burden? Did he know all that burden bearing would lead him directly to the cross? He must have known, but he did it anyway. What a foolish man! What a foolish God!

Some Saviors will do anything to show their love.

Response: LORD God, thank you for being foolish enough to love me. Thank you, Jesus for bearing my burdens to the cross and beyond. My hope rests in you. Our God is a God who saves;  from the Sovereign LORD comes escape from death. Amen.

Your Turn: Has the Lord lifted some of your burdens recently? Have you stepped into the harness with Him? Are you letting Him carry His portion?

Embarking on a Great Journey

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Reading: Psalm 68
(Verses 7-14)
When you, God, went out before your people,
when you marched through the wilderness,
the earth shook, the heavens poured down rain,
before God, the One of Sinai,
before God, the God of Israel.
You gave abundant showers, O God;
you refreshed your weary inheritance.
Your people settled in it,
and from your bounty, God, you provided for the poor.
The Lord announces the word,
and the women who proclaim it are a mighty throng:
“Kings and armies flee in haste;
the women at home divide the plunder.
Even while you sleep among the sheep pens,
the wings of my dove are sheathed with silver,
its feathers with shining gold.”
When the Almighty scattered the kings in the land,
it was like snow fallen on Mount Zalmon
(NIV).

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The Rideau Falls, Ottawa, ON — photo by David Kitz

Reflection
Are you about to start some grand enterprise? Are you embarking on a great journey? Are you beginning a new endeavour? Maybe you are doing none of these things. Perhaps for you it’s just a regular day. There’s nothing special or grand about it at all.

But just for a moment, let’s suppose you were setting out on a magnificent, but somewhat risky adventure. What are the conditions you would like to see in place before you step out of your comfort zone and take on the very real challenges and obstacles that lie ahead?

This portion of Psalm 68 gives us a biblical answer to that question. If you are taking on the world and all it can throw at you, it’s best to have God on your side. It’s best to have the LORD going before you. He is the One who prepares the way for victory and success.

In a dry and thirst place God is our faithful provider. You gave abundant showers, O God; you refreshed your weary inheritance. Your people settled in it, and from your bounty, God, you provided for the poor.

When we step out in His will, God is at work. He has gone before us even as we sleep. He sets our enemies to flight. “Even while you sleep among the sheep pens, the wings of my dove are sheathed with silver, its feathers with shining gold.”

The dove so beautifully described here is the Holy Spirit. He circles over His people preparing the way.

Response: LORD God, as I go about my day, please go before me. Today help me to see you at work. I walk in confidence and faith because your Holy Spirit is at work even as I sleep. Thank you, Lord. Amen.

Your Turn: Can you recall times when it was apparent that God had gone before you?

Like a Tree

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I will praise Him!

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Fall colours along Green’s Creek, Ottawa, ON — photo by David Kitz

Blessed is the one
    who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
    or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the LORD,
    and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
    which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
    whatever they do prospers.

(Psalm 1:1-3, NIV)

Everything That Has Breath Responds

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I will praise Him!

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Praise the LORD.

Praise God in his sanctuary;
    praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power;
    praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
    praise him with the harp and lyre,
praise him with timbrel and dancing,
    praise him with the strings and pipe,
praise him with the clash of cymbals,
    praise him with resounding cymbals.

Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.

Praise the LORD.

(Psalm 150:1-6, NIV)

A Great Victory

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Reading: Psalm 68
For the director of music. Of David. A psalm. A song.
(Verses 1-6)
May God arise, may his enemies be scattered;
may his foes flee before him.
May you blow them away like smoke—
as wax melts before the fire,
may the wicked perish before God.
But may the righteous be glad
and rejoice before God;
may they be happy and joyful.
Sing to God, sing in praise of his name,
extol him who rides on the clouds;
rejoice before him—his name is the LORD.
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
is God in his holy dwelling.
God sets the lonely in families,
he leads out the prisoners with singing;
but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land
(NIV).

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Looking across the Strait of Georgia toward Vancouver Island– photo by David Kitz

Reflection
Anyone who has read through the Book of Psalms will readily admit there is a great deal of variety from psalm to psalm. Some psalms are filled with joyous praise, while others are personal or even national laments. Some are filled with humble contrition, while others call for retribution against one’s foes. Each psalm is reflective of the state the psalmist finds himself in. In this respect the psalms act as a Spirit-inspired mirror of the human condition. The highs and lows of life are reflected there.

Psalm 68 is a hymn of triumph—national triumph. Think of it as a triumphant processional song. The enemies have been vanquished and God’s army has returned victorious. May God arise, may his enemies be scattered; may his foes flee before him. 

Because God has won the victory, His people can rejoice before Him. Sing to God, sing in praise of his name, extol him who rides on the clouds; rejoice before him—his name is the LORD.

In his lifetime David experienced many victories over his foes, but he did not take credit for his successes. He knew that his triumphs came from the LORD. God was his personal defender—but God was and is also the defender of the fatherless and the widow.

We too have experienced a great victory. It was won for us on Mount Calvary. Satan and the power of sin and death were defeated there. Jesus triumphed over hell and the grave through his resurrection. Now that victory is ours by faith. Rejoice before him—his name is the LORD!

Response: LORD God, I thank you for the victory Jesus won on my behalf at the cross. I praise you for your unconditional love. Help me walk triumphantly in life today because of you, Lord Jesus. Amen.

Your Turn: Are you experiencing victory today? Allow the eternal significance of Christ’s victory permeate your heart and mind.