Today’s verse from the Psalms.
Lord God, I look back with thanksgiving,
and ahead with hope and confidence,
because you have been with me.
You have been faithful.
Jesus, I give you praise.
Reading: Psalm 56
For the director of music. To the tune of “A Dove on Distant Oaks.”
Of David. A miktam.
When the Philistines had seized him in Gath.
Be merciful to me, my God,
for my enemies are in hot pursuit;
all day long they press their attack.
My adversaries pursue me all day long;
in their pride many are attacking me.
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise—
in God I trust and am not afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?
All day long they twist my words;
all their schemes are for my ruin.
They conspire, they lurk,
they watch my steps, hoping to take my life.
Because of their wickedness do not let them escape;
in your anger, God, bring the nations down (NIV).*
In times of trouble David knew where to turn. With his enemies, the Philistines, surrounding him, he turned to God. Hear his bold confession, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise—in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”
David, the obvious answer is, “Mere mortals can torture and kill you.”
Despite this David remained confident. The Philistines could destroy his body but they could not harm his eternal spirit which was at peace—protected by God. Do you and I have the same confidence? That confidence can be ours if we put our trust in God.
Jesus warned his disciples, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). The One we are to fear is God alone. Jesus perfectly demonstrated his trust in God the Father when he went to the cross on our behalf. There he was tortured and killed, but three days later he was vindicated by the Father, who raised him from the dead. Our redemption and salvation come from Jesus.
When we face mortal danger or a deadly prognosis may these words be on our lips and in our heart: When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise—in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?
Response: LORD God, right now I put my faith and trust in you. By the blood of Jesus you forgive all my sins and have paid the price for my redemption. When I am afraid, I turn to you. I put my trust in you alone. Amen.
Your Turn: Who do you trust and turn to when bad news comes? Friends and family can provide support, but is your Father—your heavenly Father with you? Are you leaning into Him?
Some good news: The first volume of 365 Days through the Psalms by award-winning author David Kitz will be published in November, 2020, by Elk Lake Publishing. Two additional volumes will follow in 2021 to complete the three volume set.
Reading: Psalm 46
For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. According to alamoth.
A song. (Verses 1-7)
God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress (NIV).*
Why are you confident? Confidence is a key ingredient in the life of any child of God. If we lack confidence, we lack faith. In fact, the word confidence is rooted in faith. Confidence is derived from the Latin word fide, which means faith. It is etymologically linked to words like fidelity and fiduciary—words that stand for trust and true faithfulness. But this faithfulness, fidelity and confidence come as a result of a relationship.
If we have no relationship with someone, how can we trust them? How can we have confidence in them or their actions if we don’t know them?
Here in Psalm 46, the psalmist expresses his complete confidence in God. He expresses that confidence despite the evidence around him. Hear his confident assertion: God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
There is nothing quite as unnerving as an earthquake. I know this from personal experience. When the solid ground beneath one’s feet suddenly gives way and rolls and buckles, nerves begin to fray. But the psalmist remains confident because he knows the One who is in control—the One who remains unmoved and unshakable. In times of trouble we can turn to Him.
But we should not turn to God simply as a last resort. He is the God who is with us. Our confidence grows as we live with Him day by day, in good times and bad. Our confidence grows as we experience Him as our rock of refuge and our shelter in the storm. Then we can say, “The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”
Response: LORD God, I put my trust in you. In times of trouble you have been my help and my strength. I turn to you in confidence because you are with me. You are my Savior and my God. Amen.
Your Turn: Has your confidence been shaken recently? Where have you turned for help?
Because of open heart surgery, publication of 365 Days through the Psalms by award-winning author David Kitz has been delayed until later this year or 2021. In due course, 365 Days through the Psalms will be published by Elk Lake Publishing. In the interim, please pray for my return to good health.
Reading: Psalm 27
The LORD is my light and my salvation –
Whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life –
Of whom shall I be afraid?
When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh,
When my enemies and foes attack me,
They will stumble and fall.
Though an army besiege me,
My heart will not fear;
Though war break out against me
Even then will I be confident (NIV).*
Are you afraid of the dark? That may seem like a rather empty-headed question? Most adults have overcome their fear of the dark a long time ago, back in the dark ages of childhood. But have you really overcome your fear of dark places?
I would like to suggest that we have not overcome that most basic of fears. We have only learned to mask our fears and conveniently avoid those dark unknown recesses. Our fear of the dark is at its core a fear of the unknown. Hidden out there in the dark unknown regions is a whole battalion of hidden risks—the lurking boogeymen—who keep us close to home, who keep us on the well-beaten path, the well-marked path, a path of no-risk and least-resistance. How often do you dare to go where others have never gone? Are you still certain that you are not afraid of the dark?
In this psalm, David, the fearless warrior, reveals the secret to his victorious life—a life spent overcoming insurmountable obstacles. With reckless confidence this insignificant, no-rank shepherd boy took on the Goliaths of his time, and he rose to each and every challenge, time after time throughout his storied career.
So then, what was the secret to David’s success? It resides in his overwhelming confidence in the LORD. Surely, common sense would dictate that a wet-behind-the-ears shepherd boy is no match for an experienced warrior, such as the towering Goliath. But David exudes confidence: The LORD is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?
David was not afraid of the dark, or the giant, or the Philistine army arrayed against him. He feared only the LORD. The LORD was his light in a dark place. The LORD was his salvation in every battle and his deliverance in every hostile situation. David feared the LORD. He bowed in reverential awe before Him. He allied himself with the LORD his Maker. That’s an unbeatable combination.
Response: Lord Jesus, help me to truly walk in confident faith. I ally myself with you. You are my light and my salvation. Help me now to face my day and my future with confidence that comes from you, my Savior. Amen.
Your Turn: How often do you take a plunge into the unknown? Is God asking you to take a step of faith?
Reading: Psalm 17
They close up their callous hearts,
and their mouths speak with arrogance.
They have tracked me down; they now surround me,
with eyes alert, to throw me to the ground.
They are like a lion hungry for prey,
like a fierce lion crouching in cover.
Rise up, LORD, confront them, bring them down;
with your sword rescue me from the wicked.
By your hand save me from such people, LORD,
from those of this world whose reward is in this life.
May what you have stored up for the wicked fill their bellies;
may their children gorge themselves on it,
and may there be leftovers for their little ones.
As for me, I will be vindicated and will see your face;
when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness (NIV).*
In this world there are those who have a callous heart—a heart that is indifferent to our pain, and the suffering of others. Here in Psalm 17, David finds himself surrounded by such people—people who were ready and willing to tear him down. This is a very difficult place to find yourself. This is why David cries out to the LORD for vindication. Earlier in this Psalm he pleads, “Let my vindication come from you; may your eyes see what is right.”
David’s response in this very trying situation is highly instructive. He does not try to defend himself. He does not plan a personal counterattack. He has no personal plan for revenge. What tactic does he use? He calls out to the LORD, “Rise up, LORD, confront them, bring them down; with your sword rescue me from the wicked.”
David, the mighty warrior, refuses to use his own sword. Instead he calls on the LORD to draw His sword and rise to his defense. That takes a lot of faith and a lot of trust in God. When surrounded and attacked my natural response is to rise up in hostile indignation. I’m inclined to counterattack with all guns blazing. But David held his peace. He did not rely on his abilities. He fled to God. There he laid out his complaint and asked God to intervene. When King Saul maliciously attacked him, David did not seek revenge. He allowed the LORD to take up his cause and deal with Saul. See 1 Samuel 26.
David’s confidence was fully in the LORD. Finally in this psalm, he declares his confidence with these words: As for me, I will be vindicated and will see your face; when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness.
Response: Heavenly Father, help me to seek vindication from you. Help me put my troubles in your hands. Rise up and come to my defense. Today, I trust in you to act on my behalf. Amen.
Your Turn: Do you seek revenge when others have hurt you? Have you asked God to intervene? How confident are you in God’s saving intervention on your behalf?
Reading: Psalm 3
A psalm of David. When he fled from his son Absalom.
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.
I lie down and sleep;
I wake again, because the LORD sustains me.
I will not fear though tens of thousands assail me on every side.
Arise, LORD! Deliver me, my God!
Strike all my enemies on the jaw;
break the teeth of the wicked.
From the LORD comes deliverance.
May your blessing be on your people (NIV).*
When do you most need God?
The answer to that question is easy—when I’m in deep trouble. It’s natural to call out to God when I’m in some great or urgent need. A returning veteran from the First World War said it best, “There are no atheists in the trenches. When the artillery shells start exploding to the right and left even unbelievers discover how to pray.”
The context of Psalm 3 is of great significance. David finds himself in the midst of a life threatening tragedy. He is fleeing from his palace in the nation’s capital, because his son is conspiring to murder him and seize the kingdom from his hands. Here is the great delta—the extreme low point in David’s life.
How does David respond? With utter confidence in God! Yes, he calls out to the LORD for deliverance, but he does so with complete assurance that God will answer. There isn’t the slightest hint of doubtful desperation in his voice. Having prayed to the LORD, he boasts in his ability to sleep, because he knows God will answer.
How could David be so confident—so self-assured? Actually, David’s assurance rested entirely on the LORD, not on himself. David had a wealth of experience with God. In his mind, the LORD was tried, tested, and true through the ups and downs of life.
He knew something we need to know. God will come through. He will bring salvation and deliverance!
Response: LORD God, save me from all my troubles. I put my confidence in you. You reach down to me at the low points in my life. You have never abandoned me. I give you thanks in advance. Amen.
Your Turn: Take a moment to reflect on the goodness of the LORD. Has He saved you from deep trouble in the past?
Reading: Psalm 138
Though the LORD is exalted, he looks kindly on the lowly;
though lofty, he sees them from afar.
Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
you preserve my life.
You stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes;
with your right hand you save me.
The LORD will vindicate me;
your love, LORD, endures forever—
do not abandon the works of your hands (NIV).
There is something tragic about an abandoned house. An empty house has a missing soul. It was built to have souls—people—in it, so an absence of life invokes feelings of sadness in me. At one point hopes and dreams were alive in that house. It was a place of comfort and love—a refuge from nature’s elements. Perhaps it echoed with the voices of children at play, but now it sits empty and forlorn.
I find it surprising how quickly a home or community deteriorates after it’s abandoned. Have you viewed videos or the haunting images of the abandoned communities around the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear plants? In a few short years everything constructed by humans has become completely overgrown, and it begins to decay and breakdown.
Turning to today’s reading, we see that David ends this psalm with both a confession of faith and a prayer: The LORD will vindicate me; your love, LORD, endures forever—do not abandon the works of your hands.
David lives in confidence that the LORD is with him and will vindicate him—will side with him in the battles of life. But he adds this petition—do not abandon the works of your hands.
What happens when God abandons us? I dread the thought. When the LORD no longer lives among us, our lives—our spiritual lives—begin to deteriorate like an abandoned house in a nuclear exclusion zone. Around Fukushima wild boars have taken over. With no one to oppose them, they have ravaged the countryside and have moved into the abandoned towns.
Will the LORD abandon us? There is little chance of that happening. The far greater concern is that we abandon the LORD. I have witnessed firsthand the devastation that occurs when that happens. When people who respond to the gospel turn their backs on their Savior, over time the outcome resembles the ravages of nature on an abandoned home.
We need to recall these words: Though the LORD is exalted, he looks kindly on the lowly; though lofty, he sees them from afar. Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life.
Response: LORD God, I want you to be fully at home in my heart and my mind. Show me your kindness. My body is a temple for your Holy Spirit. Live in me and through me, Lord Jesus. Amen.
Your Turn: How do you feel about abandoned houses? Is your inner man (woman) occupied by God?