I will praise Him!
Reading: Psalm 41
For the director of music. A psalm of David.
Blessed are those who have regard for the weak;
the LORD delivers them in times of trouble.
The LORD protects and preserves them—
they are counted among the blessed in the land—
he does not give them over to the desire of their foes.
The LORD sustains them on their sickbed
and restores them from their bed of illness.
I said, “Have mercy on me, LORD;
heal me, for I have sinned against you.”
My enemies say of me in malice,
“When will he die and his name perish?”
When one of them comes to see me,
he speaks falsely, while his heart gathers slander;
then he goes out and spreads it around (NIV).
Psalm 41 reminds us that compassion and empathy are at the core of what it means to be a follower of the LORD. David begins this psalm with this declaration, “Blessed are those who have regard for the weak.”
Social justice and care for the poor are not small matters in eyes of LORD. Ancient Israel was destroyed and went into exile because of their disregard for the poor. The LORD enters into judgment against the elders and leaders of his people: “It is you who have ruined my vineyard; the plunder from the poor is in your houses. What do you mean by crushing my people and grinding the faces of the poor?” declares the LORD, the LORD Almighty (Isaiah 3:14-15).
Why is regard for the weak so pivotal in having a right relationship with God? Lack of care or empathy for the needy is based on a kind of self-deception. In arrogance we see ourselves as better than those who are weak or needy. Yet if we examine ourselves, we have all gone through times when we were weak and needy. Sometimes we may need a reminder that our current state of self-sufficiency can come to an end in a moment.
This morning I very nearly hit a pedestrian as she rushed across the street. I sounded my horn thinking she was in error. A quick glance showed she was crossing with the walk light. I was the one in error. I had completely missed a red light. I was the one in need of correction and forgiveness.
Are you doing well now? Praise God. The day will come when you need His help and protection. Do you see someone in need? Help as you are able. The day will come when you will need forgiveness and the help that you have offered others.
Response: LORD God, forgive me when I have looked down on others in need. Open my eyes to someone I may help today. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.
Your Turn: How do you keep yourself from the deception of pride?
Reading: Psalm 145
The LORD is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and rich in love.
The LORD is good to all;
he has compassion on all he has made.
All your works praise you, LORD;
your faithful people extol you.
They tell of the glory of your kingdom
and speak of your might,
so that all people may know of your mighty acts
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
and your dominion endures through all generations(NIV).
Adolf Hitler boasted that his rise to power would lead to the thousand-year reign of the Third Reich. Instead, his diabolical reign of terror came to an end after twelve years with millions dead and Europe lying in ruins. His brand of race-based nationalism ended in an unparalleled catastrophe.
Where did Hitler get his idea of a thousand-year reign? Undoubtedly, he stole the concept from the millennial rule of Christ, which is described in the revelation of Jesus Christ to John. Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years (Revelation 20:6).
The contrast between the reign of Christ and his kingdom, and the reign of a tyrant like Hitler is stunning. In today’s reading from Psalm 145 we catch a glimpse of the reign of God. All your works praise you, LORD; your faithful people extol you. They tell of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might, so that all people may know of your mighty acts and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
What makes the reign of God so wonderful—so glorious? The answer lies in the character of the King. The LORD is gracious and compassionate; slow to anger and rich in love. The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.
Yes, the LORD is good to all. He is good even to the wayward and disobedient, including me. He shows compassion to those who don’t deserve it. His compassion isn’t based on race. But even more surprising, it’s not based on conduct or performance; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). No, God’s compassion looks beyond that. He is the God of grace—unmerited favor.
This unmerited favor flows from a King whose blood flowed to save us—flowed to purchase our redemption. A blood stained cross stood on a hill to declare these words to the world: The LORD is gracious and compassionate; slow to anger and rich in love. Have you surrendered to His love?
Response: LORD God, I thank you that I am a citizen of your kingdom. Your grace and compassion have won my heart. I want to serve you. Your dominion endures through all generations. I praise you. Amen.
Your Turn: Are you a citizen of the LORD’s kingdom—His everlasting kingdom?
Reading: Psalm 116
I love the LORD, for he heard my voice;
he heard my cry for mercy.
Because he turned his ear to me,
I will call on him as long as I live.
The cords of death entangled me,
the anguish of the grave came over me;
I was overcome by distress and sorrow.
Then I called on the name of the LORD:
“LORD, save me!”
The LORD is gracious and righteous;
our God is full of compassion.
The LORD protects the unwary;
when I was brought low, he saved me.
Return to your rest, my soul,
for the LORD has been good to you.
For you, LORD, have delivered me from death,
my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before the LORD
in the land of the living (NIV).
Recently, on a family level I experienced the power and truth of the following words: For you, LORD, have delivered me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the LORD in the land of the living.
Some time ago on a Saturday evening, I got a call from my brother. My alert and active, ninety-three-year-old mother had suffered a stroke. Fortunately, this happened while in hospital, as she was in recovery from having a heart pacemaker implanted. Clot dissolving drugs could be administered. But…
But my mother is a hemophiliac—a bleeder. In her case, the clot dissolvers could easily result in a brain hemorrhage leading to death. The doctors needed us to decide on a course of action. The choice was between taking no action and having my mother permanently disabled by the stroke, or administering a remedy that could kill her. This is the dilemma we faced.
We decided to have the doctors proceed with the clot dissolving drugs. We resolved to pray and trust God for the best outcome. And God answered by bringing my mother through with no symptoms of a stroke whatsoever. Zero. Two weeks later she was standing in front of her church, proudly displaying a quilt she had made to mark the 70th anniversary of the congregation. Yes, and just to remind us that this recovery was God’s doing, she had a significant bleeding incident earlier that week from her pacemaker incision. You, LORD, have delivered me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling.
Response: Father God, I love you LORD, for you heard my voice. Over and over you have answered my prayers. You are a very merciful God. Amen.
Your Turn: Has God helped you? Has He answered your prayers? Take a moment to testify to God’s goodness.
Reading: Psalm 109
Appoint someone evil to oppose my enemy;
let an accuser stand at his right hand.
When he is tried, let him be found guilty,
and may his prayers condemn him.
May his days be few;
may another take his place of leadership.
May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow.
May his children be wandering beggars;
may they be driven from their ruined homes.
May a creditor seize all he has;
may strangers plunder the fruits of his labor.
May no one extend kindness to him
or take pity on his fatherless children.
May his descendants be cut off,
their names blotted out from the next generation.
May the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the LORD;
may the sin of his mother never be blotted out.
May their sins always remain before the LORD,
that he may blot out their name from the earth (NIV).
This portion of Psalm 109 contains fourteen mays of condemnation. After reading this long list of curses spoken against this unnamed individual, it becomes abundantly clear that David, the author of this psalm, was not affectionately inclined toward this man of treachery. This man, who earlier was identified as a friend, had turned against David. In the verse just prior to today’s reading, David laments, “They repay me evil for good, and hatred for my friendship” (Psalm 109:5).
Psalm 109 is called an imprecatory psalm. The word imprecatory simply is a fancy term for cursing. I am sure many Christians are unaware that there is cursing in the Bible—cursing coming from the man who penned Psalm 23—the LORD is my shepherd.
Many find the imprecatory psalms deeply troubling. I include myself in that number. Does God condone calling down curses on our enemies? What about the words of Jesus? “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?” (Matthew 5:43-46).
I remain convinced that Jesus calls us to live on a higher plane—the plane where he dwells. This requires grace—more grace than I can muster.
Response: Father God, I need your help. I find it easy to lash out at those who have hurt me. When I want to go for the jugular help me reach out for the wisdom and compassion of Jesus instead. I want to be more like you, Jesus. Amen.
Your Turn: Is there a place for the imprecatory psalms in the Bible? What purpose might they serve?
Reading: Psalm 103
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.
The life of mortals is like grass,
they flourish like a flower of the field;
the wind blows over it and it is gone,
and its place remembers it no more.
But from everlasting to everlasting
the LORD’s love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children’s children—
with those who keep his covenant
and remember to obey his precepts (NIV).
Last week I heard a news report that stated that new research has led astronomers to realize that there are ten times more stars in the universe than they previously estimated. A minor miscalculation you may assume. Not really!
Our own Milky Way galaxy contains about 400 billion stars of varying sizes. The most recent astronomical estimate counts 170 billion galaxies in the observable universe. To do a rough calculation of the total number of stars in the universe, you multiply 400 billion stars X 170 billion galaxies and get a number with twenty-five zeroes tacked on the end. Now that’s astronomical!
So how does that ginormous number connect with today’s reading from Psalm 103? It tells us the LORD’s concern and care for us are nothing short of astounding. The God who created all that vast array of stars cares even for you and me. As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.
Dust… We are nothing more than dust. From dust we were formed and to dust we will return. (See Genesis 3:19.) Yet despite our humble origin and our body’s grave fate, we have a God who has the compassion of a father for his children. Furthermore, this care and compassion is not fleeting; it’s eternal. Our time on earth may be transitory, but God’s love for us persists. But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children—with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.
Why would a God of such infinite capacity commit Himself to a creature of such miniscule significance? The LORD is mind-boggling; God is completely mind-boggling! You can see it in the stars. You can count it in the grains of dust—dust that the LORD loves!
Response: Father God, you are matchless. There is none like you. Your compassion is astonishing. Your grandeur is beyond my ability to even imagine. I love you, LORD. I bow in awe and amazement. Keep me in your care. Amen.
Your Turn: How big is your God? How tiny are you before this awesome God?
Reading: Psalm 103
Praise the LORD, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the LORD, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
The LORD works righteousness
and justice for all the oppressed (NIV).
Psalm 103 begins by David calling on his soul to praise the LORD. Many see praise and worship as a purely cathartic response to the manifest goodness of God. Something good happens to us. Unexpectedly, we get a thousand-dollar check in the mail. Quite naturally our response is praise to God.
For many people, praise to God never progresses beyond this natural, cathartic level. If God does not bless, no praise is forthcoming. Our praise for the LORD becomes, or simply remains circumstance dependent. But that was not the case with David. His praise extended beyond simple catharsis. He taught his soul to praise the LORD in all circumstances. True biblical praise and worship is after all a spiritual exercise, a discipline we grow in, just as we grow in the discipline of prayer.
The LORD, the object of our praise, does not change with our circumstances. He is forever the same. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). He is constant, hence our praise and worship of him should be constant, unaffected by weather conditions, world events, the gyrations of the stock market, our swings of mood or our personal situation.
Of course this constancy in praise is something the natural man simply rebels against. Our world needs to be right in order for us to praise God aright, or so we reason. The only problem with this logic is that the world has never been right since the Fall. Death, disease, war and misery have been raining down on the children of Adam, since wilful disobedience to God first took root among us. And this is one weather forecast, for all humanity, that is not about to change—not until Christ returns.
If we are waiting for a perfect world before we lift our voice in praise to God, we will never praise Him. In fact, if our eyes are on the world, or on ourselves, there will always be grounds to withhold our praise. But then, the whole purpose of praise and worship is to lift up our eyes. We desperately need to get our eyes off ourselves, off the world, and onto God our Maker.
Response: Father God, I genuinely want to learn to praise you in all situations. You are always good, loving and worthy of praise. Along with David I declare, “Praise the LORD, my soul!” Amen.
Your Turn: Have you learned to praise God even in difficult times?
Reading: Psalm 102
But you, LORD, sit enthroned forever;
your renown endures through all generations.
You will arise and have compassion on Zion,
for it is time to show favor to her;
the appointed time has come.
For her stones are dear to your servants;
her very dust moves them to pity.
The nations will fear the name of the LORD,
all the kings of the earth will revere your glory.
For the LORD will rebuild Zion
and appear in his glory.
He will respond to the prayer of the destitute;
he will not despise their plea (NIV).
Psalm 102 begins as a lament, but today’s reading is drawn from the mid portion of the psalm, and rather than despair and grief, this section is filled with hope and promise. Though at present we may be plagued by troubles, a turning point is coming. This is the hope we have when we truly know our God.
Despite experiencing the troubles and difficulties of an afflicted person, this is the psalmist’s personal confession: But you, LORD, sit enthroned forever; your renown endures through all generations. You will arise and have compassion on Zion, for it is time to show favor to her; the appointed time has come.
What about you and me? Is the LORD enthroned as the Lord of my life? Is He calling the shots? Have I stopped to listen for His voice, or do I simply plunge ahead into my day without giving any thought to His will or His plans for me?
By the way the LORD has plans for you that are nothing short of amazing. Here’s a look at the LORD’s plans according to Psalm 102: You will arise and have compassion on Zion, for it is time to show favor to her; the appointed time has come.
This is the promise that we all have as believers. A time is coming when the LORD will show us His favor. It is an appointed time. You can be sure that the LORD keeps His appointments. He will show up in our lives to favor us—to bestow His grace. What a magnificent promise that is!
Do I know when that appointed time will come? No, I don’t. It’s the LORD’s appointment, not mine. He will arise and show compassion on His people. My responsibility is to be numbered among His people—the faithful ones of Zion. That brings us back to considering who is enthroned as the King of our lives. Lord Jesus, this is my confession: I want you enthroned in my heart forever.
Response: Heavenly Father, reign in my life. Jesus, you are King forever. I bow my knee to you. Give me ears that hear what you are saying to me today and always. I wait with faith and expectation for you to show me your favor? Amen.
Your Turn: Have you exper
ienced the Lord’s favor? What did that look like?