Today’s Key Verse from the Psalms
Why should God bless us?
Reading: Psalm 33
The LORD foils the plans of the nations;
he thwarts the purposes of the peoples.
But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever,
the purposes of his heart through all generations.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD,
the people he chose for his inheritance.
From heaven the LORD looks down
and sees all mankind;
from his dwelling place he watches
all who live on earth—
he who forms the hearts of all,
who considers everything they do (NIV).*
I confess I am a bit of a history buff. I am currently reading The War that Ended Peace by Margaret MacMillan. The subtitle is The Road to 1914. As you might guess, it highlights the causes of World War I. Throughout, the author meticulously points out that war was not inevitable. A change in course by any of the key players in the years leading up to 1914 could have prevented this monumental catastrophe. Each nation had plans and objectives that they considered in their best interest. Quite naturally the pursuit of those plans led to conflict with neighbouring nations with opposing objectives.
What does the psalmist say about national objectives? The LORD foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.
Nations pursue their own perceived national interest. Despite the rhetoric we sometimes hear, they do not pursue the plans and purposes of the LORD. For political leaders national self-interest trumps the purposes of God. In fact, the purposes of God are seldom considered. But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.
Was it God’s plan and purpose to have millions of Christian believers go to their slaughter in World War I? Many atheists purport that this is what we believe. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are responsible for our own actions. God does not cause war. Humans cause war and they carry it out. Why should we suddenly blame God for what we have engineered through our own dogged stupidity? Blaming God for our own arrogant idiocy is the pinnacle of irresponsibility, yet we do it all the time, both on a national and a personal level. Most often we are the author of our own disaster. We stubbornly fail to pull back and change course before it’s too late.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people he chose for his inheritance.
Response: LORD God, thank you for choosing me to be to be one of your people. Help me to live a life that is pleasing to you, my Father. You watch over me. You, O LORD are my inheritance, and first and foremost I am a citizen of your eternal Kingdom. Amen.
Your Turn: How does personal conflict escalate? Do you blame God rather than yourself?
Reading: Psalm 144
From the deadly sword deliver me;
rescue me from the hands of foreigners
whose mouths are full of lies,
whose right hands are deceitful.
Then our sons in their youth
will be like well-nurtured plants,
and our daughters will be like pillars
carved to adorn a palace.
Our barns will be filled with every kind of provision.
Our sheep will increase by thousands,
by tens of thousands in our fields;
our oxen will draw heavy loads.
There will be no breaching of walls,
no going into captivity,
no cry of distress in our streets.
Blessed is the people of whom this is true;
blessed is the people whose God is the LORD (NIV).
Yesterday, my afternoon work routine was interrupted by visitors. First my oldest son dropped in. My wife and I worked to quickly put together a delicious lunch. After the meal we talked business for about an hour. Tim wanted some help and advice with his market gardening enterprise. It’s difficult and challenging work, and the busy spring season will be here soon enough.
Not long after, my youngest son and his wife dropped over for a visit. Their spring and summer schedule includes working tours to locations in the Yukon, the US, western Canada and the British Isles. They will be doing live history shows at museums and historic homes on two continents.
After everyone left I said, “I didn’t get much work done this afternoon.”
My wife replied, “You got the most important thing done—time with your family. You need to appreciate these times. You won’t be seeing them much this summer.”
Of course she is right. Time spent with family is precious. You can sense that same appreciation of family in today’s reading from Psalm 144. David, the psalmist, makes this observation: Then our sons in their youth will be like well-nurtured plants, and our daughters will be like pillars carved to adorn a palace. Our barns will be filled with every kind of provision.
That’s what I want for my family. We want peace and prosperity. These are blessings that come to us from the good hand of God. Yesterday I experience these things. Together, we are truly blessed.
Response: LORD God, I thank you for my family. In them and through them I am blessed beyond measure. You have been very kind to us. Blessed are the people whose God is the LORD. Amen.
Your Turn: Do you see family gatherings as a blessing, or as a burden?
Reading: Psalm 128
A song of ascents.
Blessed are all who fear the LORD,
who walk in obedience to him.
You will eat the fruit of your labor;
blessings and prosperity will be yours.
Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
within your house;
your children will be like olive shoots
around your table.
Yes, this will be the blessing
for the man who fears the LORD.
May the LORD bless you from Zion;
may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem
all the days of your life.
May you live to see your children’s children—
peace be on Israel (NIV).
I got an unexpected call from my son yesterday morning. “Can we have lunch together today?” he asked.
“Sure,” I responded without hesitation. Who can say no to such a request? We went out to a pizza place for their buffet lunch. We enjoyed a leisurely conversation. There was no urgency to our discussion. He shared a few minor work frustrations, while I did the same. This was simply a father and son enjoying each other’s company, talking a little sports and discussing whatever came to mind.
According to Psalm 128, I was appreciating one of the olive shoots around my table. Now that’s a unique way to view your son or daughter. Children are a blessing, and when adult children enjoy spending time with their parents that’s a double blessing. At a time when many adult children are estranged from their parents or separated by long distances, the opportunity to spend time together at the drop of a hat is a real blessing. As a parent you are enjoying the fruit of your labor. You are reaping the rewards from years spent pouring into the lives of your children.
This is the ninth psalm of the series of psalms known as Songs of Ascent or Psalms of Ascent. These were psalms used by pilgrims as they made the annual trek to Jerusalem for celebrations such as the Feast of Tabernacles or the Passover.
In some respects, these ancient holy days roughly correspond to our present day holidays such as Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Families today often make long journeys to celebrate together what at their core are religious holidays. Family togetherness is a central feature of such events. We should not be surprised then that this entire psalm highlights the blessings of family unity.
It should be noted that the blessings of family begin with obedience and the fear of the LORD.
Response: Father God, I love my family. I am so blessed to have children who love you, Lord. Watch over them, I pray. Keep their hearts tender before you. Help them to daily hear your voice. Guide their steps. Amen.
Your Turn: Are you estranged from family members? Can you build a bridge back to that loved one?
Reading: Psalm 112
Praise the LORD.
Blessed are those who fear the LORD,
who find great delight in his commands.
Their children will be mighty in the land;
the generation of the upright will be blessed.
Wealth and riches are in their houses,
and their righteousness endures forever.
Even in darkness light dawns for the upright,
for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous.
Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely,
who conduct their affairs with justice.
Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever.
They will have no fear of bad news;
their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the LORD.
Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear;
in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.
They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor,
their righteousness endures forever;
their horn will be lifted high in honor.
The wicked will see and be vexed,
they will gnash their teeth and waste away;
the longings of the wicked will come to nothing (NIV).
Is there a blessing to be had for those who fear the LORD? Absolutely yes, according to Psalm 112! When we put the LORD first in our lives and honor Him in all we say and do, He takes note. Blessings come from the LORD. Those blessings can come in various forms.
The psalmist begins by speaking of the blessing that flows to our children. A home where the love of God reigns is blessed indeed. Children grow up in a secure environment with loving role models and that sets the stage for their advancement as adults in society. The psalmist asserts the generation of the upright will be blessed.
Are you finding great delight in the LORD’s commands? There are consequences for that. You may be blessed with wealth and riches as a result. Fearing God brings a reward, but that reward must be used wisely in the service of God and others. Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely, who conduct their affairs with justice.
But this psalm does not promise us a trouble-free life. Though bad news may come, those who fear God will trust in Him and overcome adversity. Even in darkness light dawns for the upright. Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.
Response: Father God, I thank you for every blessing that comes from fearing you and living uprightly. When my way seems dark, shine your light on me. Lead me forward in the way of Christ. Amen.
Your Turn: Have you experienced God’s blessing? Which blessings do you value most?