Today’s verse from the Psalms.
Lord, thank you for the refreshing you bring. Your mercy is new every morning.
Reading: Psalm 31
How abundant are the good things
that you have stored up for those who fear you,
that you bestow in the sight of all,
on those who take refuge in you.
In the shelter of your presence you hide them
from all human intrigues;
you keep them safe in your dwelling
from accusing tongues (NIV).*
Our view of God is of crucial importance. It will greatly influence how we live our lives on planet earth. Is He a divine ogre waiting to pounce on us for the slightest transgression? Is He aloof, hard of hearing, out of touch and out of reach? Does He stand opposed to your wishes and dreams—the nagging heavenly parent who frowns at your ambitions?
That’s not David’s view of God. He saw a caring LORD of heaven and earth, who was only too eager to bless those who sought refuge in Him. That’s why David exclaims, “How abundant are the good things that you have stored up for those who fear you that you bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in you.”
Think of it for a moment: God has a storehouse of good things just waiting for you. He has prepared a whole series of blessings that He will lavish on those who fear Him. Furthermore, the LORD will bestow those blessings in the sight of all—on all who seek shelter in the shadow of His wings. Now that’s a picture of an amazing God.
What might some of those good things be? First and foremost the LORD has an abundance of mercy set aside just for you. In the midst of unparalleled disaster, as a witness to the destruction of Jerusalem, the prophet Jeremiah rightly discerned the heart of the LORD. Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness (Lamentations 3:22-23). For Jeremiah God was good all the time, even in disaster.
God has an abundance of love, peace and joy set aside just for you. Tap into it; drink deep of it. It’s there for you. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval (Romans 14:17-18).
We serve a generous God—a God of grace who extends unmerited favor to us. In your mind, stop limiting His blessings. They are abundant, they are stored up for you and they will manifest in the lives of those who love and fear Him.
Response: LORD God, thank you for all the good things you have stored up for me, both temporal and spiritual. I rejoice in you! You are a generous God lavishing mercy on me through your son, Jesus. Amen.
Your Turn: How do you see God? Do you have the right perspective of Him? Is He opposed to your wishes and dreams?
Reading: Psalm 104
He makes springs pour water into the ravines;
it flows between the mountains.
They give water to all the beasts of the field;
the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
The birds of the sky nest by the waters;
they sing among the branches.
He waters the mountains from his upper chambers;
the land is satisfied by the fruit of his work.
He makes grass grow for the cattle,
and plants for people to cultivate—
bringing forth food from the earth:
wine that gladdens human hearts,
oil to make their faces shine,
and bread that sustains their hearts.
The trees of the LORD are well watered,
the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.
There the birds make their nests;
the stork has its home in the junipers.
The high mountains belong to the wild goats;
the crags are a refuge for the hyrax (NIV).
Psalm 104 is a poetic ode in praise of God’s creation. In yesterday’s reading, God lay down the foundations of the earth, and set the boundaries of the oceans. Today we see how He waters the land and covers it with vegetation. He populates it with a vast variety of animals and birds.
He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for people to cultivate—bringing forth food from the earth: wine that gladdens human hearts, oil to make their faces shine, and bread that sustains their hearts.
In this psalm we see a God of teeming abundance. He is an extravagant God of infinite variety. Consider for a moment the various kinds of birds from the soaring eagle to the tiny hummingbird. Our God cares for them all. Jesus gives us these words of assurance concerning the humble sparrow, “not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care” (Matthew 10:29). In reality, all of today’s reading is about the Father’s care and His rich provision for all His creatures.
Have your eyes been opened to the LORD’s rich provision for you? He’s not a stingy God. Those who call on Him will have their needs met. Perhaps David said it best: The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing (Psalm 23:1).
Response: Father God, you created such a wonderful world! I marvel at your handiwork. I thank you for the great variety of lifeforms on this planet—the plants, the birds, the animals. Help us appreciate and safeguard your creation. Amen.
Your Turn: How can we go beyond words of thanks and demonstrate our thanks for God’s creation?
Reading: Psalm 66
For the director of music. A song. A psalm.
Shout for joy to God, all the earth!
Sing the glory of his name; make his praise glorious.
Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!
So great is your power that your enemies cringe before you.
All the earth bows down to you;
they sing praise to you, they sing the praises of your name.”
Come and see what God has done,
his awesome deeds for mankind!
He turned the sea into dry land,
they passed through the waters on foot—
come, let us rejoice in him.
He rules forever by his power,
his eyes watch the nations—
let not the rebellious rise up against him.
Praise our God, all peoples, let the sound of his praise be heard;
he has preserved our lives and kept our feet from slipping.
For you, God, tested us; you refined us like silver.
You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs.
You let people ride over our heads;
we went through fire and water,
but you brought us to a place of abundance (NIV).
I can’t answer for you, but I for one did not enjoy writing tests at school. It’s not that I did poorly on tests, the exception being high school math. But let’s not go there. I haven’t used algebraic equations for the last forty years and have suffered no ill effects.
Simply put, tests are stressful. No matter how well you know the material, you can’t be sure of the outcome. Will there be a trick question? Will you experience a momentary brain burp? Have you studied the right subject matter?
Despite my aversion to tests and major exams as a student, I quite enjoyed administering them after I became a teacher. They provided so much information. They let me see into a student’s head and heart. Was learning happening behind those big brown eyes or were they only going through the motions?
But why would God test us, since He knows the outcome in advance? For you, God, tested us; you refined us like silver. God tests us to bring out the very best in us. When we are tested we discover for ourselves what lies below the surface. In the furnace of affliction God removes the dross from our lives so His glory can shine through. Only then can we properly reflect His glory.
Response: LORD God, help me appreciate the tests you bring into my life. I praise you in advance because you are working to perfect me through the hardships I face. Change me for the better. Amen.
Your Turn: Has the Lord brought you near to Him in difficult times?
Reading: Psalm 36
Your love, LORD, reaches to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the skies.
Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,
your justice like the great deep.
You, LORD, preserve both people and animals.
How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house;
you give them drink from your river of delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
in your light we see light (NIV).
As mentioned in my previous post, Psalm 36 is a psalm of contrasts. David compares the wickedness of man with the amazing goodness of God. The opening portion of Psalm 36 touches on the depravity of man. In today’s reading we behold the awesome love and kindness of God.
Your love, LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the highest mountains, your justice like the great deep. The beautiful poetry of those words sends me off on a Rocky Mountain high.
God’s love is reflected in the beauty of his creation. He nestled us into a world of incredible beauty and variety. From the grandeur of the mountains to the minute sea fauna, God is there—sustaining all—reigning over all. You, LORD, preserve both people and animals. How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
God’s unfailing love stands in sharp contrast to man’s rapacious capacity for hate and destruction. We glory in war, death and bloodshed as though these are great accomplishments, when in fact they are a failure in love and forgiveness—the attributes of God. Yet despite these failures God showers us with His love and goodness. People take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights.
It is worth noting that God is the source of the river of delights. Just as any good father enjoys bringing pleasure to his children, so too our Heavenly Father delights in bringing joy to us. He is not stingy in His love, but overflowing with generosity, in many cases providing more than we can handle.
For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light. The LORD is the author and source of all life. “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day” (Genesis 1:31). Only in Him and through Him do we see the light of day and the light of life. To God be praise forever more!
Response: LORD God, thank you, thank you, thank you for your great love and faithfulness to me. Let your light shine in me and through me today. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Your Turn: Have you been drinking from God’s river of delights?
Reading: Psalm 68
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).
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?
Reading: Psalm 65
You care for the land and water it;
you enrich it abundantly.
The streams of God are filled with water
to provide the people with grain,
for so you have ordained it.
You drench its furrows and level its ridges;
you soften it with showers and bless its crops.
You crown the year with your bounty,
and your carts overflow with abundance.
The grasslands of the wilderness overflow;
the hills are clothed with gladness.
The meadows are covered with flocks
and the valleys are mantled with grain;
they shout for joy and sing (NIV).
I can’t read this psalm without picturing an overflowing cornucopia. This is the psalmist’s horn of plenty. Speaking of the LORD, David declares, “You crown the year with your bounty, and your carts overflow with abundance.”
My farm boy’s heart delights in this psalm. I delight in the land and the soil. Being on the land and cultivating the rich earth nurtures my soul. I am invigorated by it. The soil where I grew up in Saskatchewan was black and fertile. It’s the best kind of soil for crops. In the summer the fields were mantled with grain—a vast sea of wheat billowing in the breeze.
But I’m not alone in my love for the earth. David assures us that God has that same affection for the soil. You care for the land and water it; you enrich it abundantly. You drench its furrows and level its ridges; you soften it with showers and bless its crops.
Now in practical terms my love for the soil is confined to a small backyard suburban garden. I tend my vegetable garden with care and God above does His part. He softens the earth with showers and blesses its crops. This morning, my wife and I rooted out a grape vine in preparation for spring planting. It was a pleasure to work with her and my heavenly partner, the LORD God Almighty.
Before the snow flies in the fall we will pull out the last of the carrots and parsnips. To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven (Ecclesiastes 3:1 NKJV).
In our toil we are not alone. There is something sacred about work. God ordained it. He planted a Garden for Adam and Eve to tend. Whether we are rooting out weeds, extracting teeth or rooting out unproductive habits, God is present in our work. Welcome Him as your partner.
Response: LORD God, I am thankful for my calling and the work you have set before me. You are my partner in it and my provider. I give myself to you to your service today. Amen.
Your Turn: Do you see yourself as God’s partner in your vocation?