I will praise the LORD!
Reading: Psalm 92
For surely your enemies, LORD,
surely your enemies will perish;
all evildoers will be scattered.
You have exalted my horn like that of a wild ox;
fine oils have been poured on me.
My eyes have seen the defeat of my adversaries;
my ears have heard the rout of my wicked foes.
The righteous will flourish like a palm tree,
they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;
planted in the house of the LORD,
they will flourish in the courts of our God.
They will still bear fruit in old age,
they will stay fresh and green,
proclaiming, “The LORD is upright;
he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him” (NIV).
God’s people have been called or compared to many things. Often we are likened to sheep—the sheep of the LORD’s pasture. But here in Psalm 92 we are likened to trees, the palm tree, the cedar and various fruit trees.
There is a striking parallel between the tree analogy found in this psalm and a similar analogy found in Psalm 1. In both cases the righteous are compared to trees. That person [the righteous] 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 1:3).
By its very nature, there is something very settled about a tree. Unlike a sheep, a tree is not prone to wander. Trees flourish or perish where they have taken root. Have you been planted in the house of the LORD? Are you staying fresh and green and flourishing in the courts of our God?
Fruitfulness begins with flowering. Is your relationship with God in the flowering stage? Have you fallen in love with Him—so in love that you radiate beauty? Are you and the message you bear attractive? Have you made yourself attractive because of your love for the Lord?
What about fruit? Are the fruits of the Spirit beginning to appear on your branches? But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law (Galatians 5:22-23).
I can’t speak for you, but I would rather be a flourishing, productive fruit-bearing tree in the courts of the LORD than a wayward sheep.
Response: LORD God, daily I want to grow more in love with you. Grant me a settled heart. I want my life to bear fruit that will bring honor to you. Help me to radiate your goodness and beauty. Amen.
Your Turn: How attractive is the message you bear? What signals are you sending out into the world?
Reading: Psalm 90
Relent, LORD! How long will it be?
Have compassion on your servants.
Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
for as many years as we have seen trouble.
May your deeds be shown to your servants,
your splendor to their children.
May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us;
establish the work of our hands for us—
yes, establish the work of our hands (NIV).
Does your work have value and meaning? I certainly hope it does. There is nothing quite as frustrating as spending long hours working on something and then realizing it’s useless or unappreciated.
In many ways our work defines us. Frequently, we identify people by their work. Bob, the plumber, Susan, the teacher, and Troy, the accountant are examples of this tendency. It shouldn’t surprise us then to hear this request at the conclusion of Psalm 90: May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us—yes, establish the work of our hands.
Some people are of the opinion that work is a result of the curse, but that is not true. Before our first parents fell into sin they had a work assignment from their Creator. The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it (Genesis 2:15). The requirement, or should I say blessing of work, preceded mankind’s fall into sin. The consequence of sin simply meant that work would become more arduous and prone to frustration. Weeds would grow; harvests would fail.
We all need the favor of the Lord our God to rest on us. Usually God’s favor is synonymous with God’s grace. It’s not earned; it’s freely given. In this case the Hebrew word that is translated here as favor could also be translated as beauty. God’s gracious favor is perhaps the most beautiful attribute of our LORD. Without His favor our work will not be established. It will have no lasting worth, value or beauty.
Today as you set your day or your work week into motion, make this your prayer: May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us—yes, establish the work of our hands.
When the day is done and my head hits the pillow I want to know that the work I accomplished that day has value and meaning. Better yet, I would like that work to have eternal worth. Only God can establish that lasting worth. Commit your work into His hands.
Response: LORD God, I often become impatient or frustrated with my work. Open my eyes to see how you are working in me and through me as I go about my daily tasks. Help me to have an eternal perspective. Lord, establish the work of my hands. Amen.
Your Turn: Do you feel that your work is worthwhile? What brings you joy in work?
Reading: Psalm 45
Listen, daughter, and pay careful attention:
Forget your people and your father’s house.
Let the king be enthralled by your beauty;
honor him, for he is your lord.
The city of Tyre will come with a gift,
people of wealth will seek your favor.
All glorious is the princess within her chamber;
her gown is interwoven with gold.
In embroidered garments she is led to the king;
her virgin companions follow her—
those brought to be with her.
Led in with joy and gladness,
they enter the palace of the king.
Your sons will take the place of your fathers;
you will make them princes throughout the land.
I will perpetuate your memory through all generations;
therefore the nations will praise you for ever and ever (NIV).
If we interpret Psalm 45 as a messianic psalm, as most Bible scholars do, then it logically follows that Jesus is the royal bridegroom and the church is his chosen bride. For reasons we cannot fathom, the King has fallen in love with us. Now this would make sense if we possessed some godly characteristic or showed some inclination to holiness. But the scripture declares that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).
I am reminded of some romance novel, where the gallant lover takes off his coat and lays it in the mud so that his lady love can step across a puddle without soiling her shoes. Jesus is that gallant lover. But he did more than lay down his coat. He lay down his life that we might cross from death to life. Now that’s true romance! Jesus has romanced us into his kingdom, and I for one, am forever grateful.
Listen to the psalmist’s advice, “Listen, daughter, and pay careful attention: Forget your people and your father’s house. Let the king be enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord.”
If you have bowed your knees at the foot of the cross, He is your Lord. Be beautiful for Him; you are his betrothed. The apostle Paul reminds us of this truth with these words of admonition: I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him (2 Corinthians 11:2).
Having been redeemed by Christ, it’s now time to make yourself presentable before Him, the eternal Lover of your soul.
Response: LORD God, I want to be beautiful for Jesus. I make it my aim to please you today in all I say, think and do. I am forever grateful for your love. Amen.
Your Turn: In what ways can you make yourself beautiful for the King?
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 27
One thing I ask of the LORD,
This is what I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,
To gaze on the beauty of the LORD
And seek him in his temple.
For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
He will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle
And set me high upon a rock.
Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me;
At his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make music to the LORD (NIV).
No matter where we travel, or how pleasant the journey, within us all there is a longing to be home. The same longing for the safety and comfort of home can be found in this psalm of David, but for David, being at home meant being in the presence of God. The LORD God was David’s refuge and comfort. To be near the LORD was to be safe, at rest and fully at peace. Nearness to God was the paramount desire of David’s heart.
Now hear David’s heart cry, “One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and seek him in his temple.”
David’s statement here delineates a clear priority. For David the house of the LORD was of first importance. But, I do not believe that it was the physical structure or house that attracted and captivated David. It was the LORD of the house who captured David’s heart. He wanted to be with Him. He longed to see Him and be at home in His house.
Like many preschool children, my youngest son Joshua had some difficulty pronouncing the t-h sound, so in his four-year-old vocabulary the word ‘with’ became ‘whiff’ instead. He would make odd sounding statements such as this, “Daddy, I want to come whiff you,” or, “I want to do that whiff you.” Doing something ‘whiff’ someone brings to mind the notion of being so close to them that you can smell each other. That’s close—really close; bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh close—father and son close—intimate in a family kind of way.
Something deep and soul changing transpired as David tended that flock of sheep on those Judean hillsides. In his youth David met God. The LORD was ‘whiff David,’ so close that they could smell each other. David in his youth tasted and saw that the LORD is good. So even now in his adult years he yearns for that intimacy. He yearns for the house of the LORD. He is filled with a longing for home.
Response: Lord Jesus, I want to be ‘whiff’ you. I want to live my life close to you now and close to you forever. Show me how to do that. Be near me, Lord Jesus. I ask you to stay close by me forever, and love me I pray. Amen.
Your Turn: Are you at home with the LORD now? How at home will we feel with Him in eternity, if we aren’t at home with Him now?
Reading: Psalm 119
Your word, LORD, is eternal;
it stands firm in the heavens.
Your faithfulness continues through all generations;
you established the earth, and it endures.
Your laws endure to this day,
for all things serve you.
If your law had not been my delight,
I would have perished in my affliction.
I will never forget your precepts,
for by them you have preserved my life.
Save me, for I am yours;
I have sought out your precepts.
The wicked are waiting to destroy me,
but I will ponder your statutes.
To all perfection I see a limit,
but your commands are boundless (NIV).
One of my hobbies is art. I enjoy drawing. In recent years I have rediscovered my childhood love for pencil crayons. When creating any piece of art, I find there is a delicate balance that needs to be reached. Anything I do can be improved. Early on in the process there is a lot of improving or refining needed, but eventually you reach a point where further tinkering becomes pointless. I aim for perfection, but perfection always seems illusive. At some point I need to say, “I’m done. This piece is finished.”
In today’s reading the psalmist reached that same conclusion. To all perfection I see a limit, but your commands are boundless.
We will never reach the limits of God’s holy word. There is always more to be discovered, to comprehend and apply. It is as the psalmist declares, “Your word, LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.”
St. Paul expresses the same thought. Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! (Romans 11:33). Eternity gives us insufficient time to explore the wisdom of God. But let’s begin the quest; let’s take up the challenge. All of Psalm 119 can be viewed as a grand challenge to discover the wisdom and beauty of God’s word, His commands and precepts.
Let’s continue the journey. This glorious art—the divine art of God’s word—is without beginning or end. At its best human art is a pale imitation of what God has done. The LORD is the true artist.
Response: Father God, I love your word. I want to dig deeper in it and know you better thereby. You are a totally awesome God, far beyond my comprehension, but not beyond my appreciation. Amen.
Your Turn: Have you taken up the challenge of studying God’s word?
Reading: Psalm 55
Lord, confuse the wicked; confound their words,
for I see violence and strife in the city.
Day and night they prowl about on its walls;
malice and abuse are within it.
Destructive forces are at work in the city;
threats and lies never leave its streets.
If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it;
if a foe were rising against me, I could hide.
But it is you, a man like myself,
my companion, my close friend,
with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship
at the house of God,
as we walked about among the worshipers.
Let death take my enemies by surprise;
let them go down alive to the realm of the dead,
for evil finds lodging among them (NIV).
My wife and I are currently on a road trip through western Canada. Today I am in Edmonton, a growing, prosperous city of more than a million. Last evening after a passing thunderstorm, I went by myself for a walk in the Mill Creek Ravine. There in the cool of the evening I was surrounded by the beauty of God’s creation. After the heat of the day, it was a quiet place of refreshing.
Sad to say, my wife would not dare go for a walk by herself in Mill Creek Ravine. You see, last week in broad daylight a woman was attacked there by a sexual predator. Earlier in the day I had gone to a nearby bank branch to use an ATM. At the bank, a repairman was replacing a shattered window pane and the front door had been kicked in—presumably an attempted robbery.
In cities today the words of Psalm 55 ring true. I see violence and strife in the city. Day and night they prowl about on its walls; malice and abuse are within it. Destructive forces are at work in the city; threats and lies never leave its streets.
Edmonton is no more dangerous than any large city. In fact, it is far safer than most North American cities of comparable size, nevertheless, evil finds lodging here. Evil leaps across geographic boundaries and crosses cultural and racial barriers. Evil finds lodging wherever a human heart entertains hatred, greed or lust. Jesus said that all manner of wickedness flows out from the heart. See Matthew 15:19.
The question I need to ask myself is what finds lodging in my heart. Do I open the door to the evil one, to resentment and bitterness? Or do I turn those thoughts away and invite Jesus in?
Response: LORD God, I want you to find lodging in my heart through Jesus Christ your Son. Amen.
Your Turn: Do you live in a safe city or neighborhood? Take a moment to pray for your city.