I will praise Him!
Reading: Psalm 86
Among the gods there is none like you, Lord;
no deeds can compare with yours.
All the nations you have made
will come and worship before you, Lord;
they will bring glory to your name.
For you are great and do marvelous deeds;
you alone are God.
Teach me your way, LORD,
that I may rely on your faithfulness;
give me an undivided heart,
that I may fear your name.
I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart;
I will glorify your name forever.
For great is your love toward me;
you have delivered me from the depths,
from the realm of the dead (NIV).
Today’s reading from Psalm 86 begins with this prophetic declaration. All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, Lord; they will bring glory to your name.
Psalm 86 is a prayer of David, but within this prayer David makes this prophetic statement about all nations worshipping the Lord. By the Spirit of God, David saw and declared what is to come. In the pantheistic world of his time, David saw that the God he served was not a local or national god. He saw that Yahweh, the LORD was, is and will be the Lord over all. How could David know that the God of Israel would come to be worshipped in every nation on the earth?
David grasped the big picture. Or a better explanation might be that the God of the big picture grasped David and revealed this truth to him. Through David’s line would come a Savior—a Savior named Jesus—a Jewish Savior for the whole world.
Why was David able to receive such a profound revelation? We are given a clue in the words of his prayer. Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.
The answer may lie in David’s heart. He had an undivided heart. In other words he was wholehearted in his love for the Lord. He had a single-minded focus on God. He says just that in the next line of his prayer. I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever.
Are you wholehearted in your love and praise for the Lord?
Response: LORD God, unite my heart to praise your name. I don’t want to be distracted by the pursuits of this world. I set my affection on you. Thank you for loving me as your child. Amen.
Your Turn: What are some of the things that distract you from loving and fearing God?
Reading: Psalm 78
Then the Lord awoke as from sleep,
as a warrior wakes from the stupor of wine.
He beat back his enemies;
he put them to everlasting shame.
Then he rejected the tents of Joseph,
he did not choose the tribe of Ephraim;
but he chose the tribe of Judah,
Mount Zion, which he loved.
He built his sanctuary like the heights,
like the earth that he established forever.
He chose David his servant
and took him from the sheep pens;
from tending the sheep he brought him
to be the shepherd of his people Jacob,
of Israel his inheritance.
And David shepherded them with integrity of heart;
with skillful hands he led them (NIV).
Up to this point Psalm 78 has catalogued a long list of Israel’s transgressions. They have been a stubborn and rebellious people who have been unfaithful to the LORD. They have been unfaithful despite His mercy and the miracles He has performed on their behalf. Now this final portion of the psalm represents a turning point in the history of the nation.
Once again, the LORD intervened in the affairs of Israel. He chose David his servant and took him from the sheep pens; from tending the sheep he brought him to be the shepherd of his people Jacob, of Israel his inheritance.
God chose a man; He chose a leader. Often the LORD chooses the most unlikely candidates for leadership. He did not go to the palace; He went to the sheep pen. He overlooked Jonathan, the courageous royal son of Saul, and instead He called out David, the youngest son of Jesse—a man after God’s own heart.
What does God consider when He looks for a leader? When selecting the next king, the prophet Samuel was told, “The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). The LORD is not looking for physical strength or a handsome face, but he is looking for integrity of heart.
That should give hope to every one of us. I cannot change my stature or significantly alter my appearance, but through repentance and faith I can change the condition of my heart.
Response: LORD God, I want a heart of integrity—a heart that is pleasing to you. Help me to become an instrument that you will use for your good purpose in this strife-torn world. Amen.
Your Turn: Can we change our hearts or is that God’s job? What role do we play?
Reading: Psalm 70
For the director of music. Of David. A petition.
Hasten, O God, to save me;
come quickly, Lord, to help me.
May those who want to take my life
be put to shame and confusion;
may all who desire my ruin
be turned back in disgrace.
May those who say to me, “Aha! Aha!”
turn back because of their shame.
But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who long for your saving help always say,
“The LORD is great!”
But as for me, I am poor and needy;
come quickly to me, O God.
You are my help and my deliverer;
LORD, do not delay (NIV).
When I consider my situation—my station in life—I would not call myself poor, but neither would I say I am rich. I live in a comfortable suburban home. It’s no mansion, but we are mortgage free. I have income that covers our expenses with a little left over at the end of the month. We can afford one major trip each year, as long as we do a little penny pinching along the way. Our car will need to be replaced at some point, but for now it’s doing just fine. I have no worries about retirement.
Many in this world would see me as rich. On the other hand, I’m a pauper in the eyes of the super wealthy. I view myself as living in the comfortable middle.
David did not see himself that way. Hear his confession—his desperate prayer: But as for me, I am poor and needy; come quickly to me, O God. You are my help and my deliverer; LORD, do not delay.
We don’t know at what point in his life David penned this humble petition. We know that the Shepherd-King of Israel was a man of humble origin, but he also ruled as King of Judah for seven years and for all of Israel for another thirty-three years. From the midpoint of his life onward, he was a man of wealth and power, but his humility remained. Like authoritarian rulers throughout the ages, he could have had his personal history cleansed of such self-effacing pleas for mercy, but David chose a different path. He let the record stand. Perhaps like other heroes of our faith he was looking for a better country—a better kingdom. See Hebrews 11:16.
Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3). Some poverty and humility of spirit might be fitting for me as well. How about you?
Response: LORD God, I don’t want to live the life of the self-satisfied. You are my treasure and my very great reward. I am needy—in constant need of you. Come quickly to me, O God. Amen.
Your Turn: Are you poor in spirit? How do we remain that way in spirit even when we are blessed financially or in other ways?
Reading: Psalm 63
A psalm of David. When he was in the Desert of Judah.
You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
where there is no water.
I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you (NIV).
A healthy human body can go as much as ninety days without food, but only about ten days without water. Water is life. Without it we perish.
A few years ago with great fanfare, it was announced that liquid water had been discovered on the surface of Mars. This opens the possibility of microbial life on or just beneath the Martian surface. What is more important, human life can be sustained on Mars for long periods if water is present.
The introductory note to Psalm 63 informs us that David composed this psalm, when he was in the Desert of Judah. But there is something quite startling about this psalm. David is not crying out for water as we might expect. Instead, David is crying out for God. He’s not seeking for water; he is earnestly seeking for God.
Hear David’s desperate plea, “I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.”
When was the last time you thirsted for God like a man trekking in the heat of the desert? I must confess I’m better at ignoring God than seeking Him. But that was not David’s mindset. David recognized his need for God. He was thirsty for Him.
Our thirst for God should be a constant in our lives. As I write this, I pause for sips of my morning coffee. It’s a thirst I have—a longing that prompts me to pick up my cup. At various times throughout the day do I thirst for God in the same way? Do I long for His Spirit and the thrill of His presence near me?
Are you spending your days in a spiritual desert? Are you yearning for intimacy with God? Oh that we might thirst for God as David did!
Response: LORD God, I want more of you in my life. Help me to sing and praise your name, and draw my satisfaction from you. You are the true source of life and joy. All my springs of joy are in you. Amen.
Your Turn: How can we cultivate a personal thirst for God?
Reading: Psalm 61
For the director of music. With stringed instruments. Of David.
Hear my cry, O God;
listen to my prayer.
From the ends of the earth I call to you,
I call as my heart grows faint;
lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For you have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the foe.
I long to dwell in your tent forever
and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.
For you, God, have heard my vows;
you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.
Increase the days of the king’s life,
his years for many generations.
May he be enthroned in God’s presence forever;
appoint your love and faithfulness to protect him.
Then I will ever sing in praise of your name
and fulfill my vows day after day (NIV).
When I reflect on Psalm 61, it’s about distance—distance to God. There’s an old saying that goes like this, “If at one time you were close to God, but now He is far away, who is the one who moved?”
As is so often the case, this psalm begins with David crying out to God. It would seem David is not at home. He is calling out from the ends of the earth. From biblical history we know that David was not a world traveller. He never ventured beyond the traditional territory of Israel, so in this psalm where exactly are the ends of the earth?
If I have offended my wife and the issue has not been resolved, we can be sleeping in the same bed, but there is a distance between us. Though she is physically present there is a gulf between us. Spiritually and emotionally we are on opposite sides of the planet. For that night I’m on the other end of the earth.
The same can be true of our relationship with God. God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth is always close at hand. He is present and evident in His creation. But beyond that He has promised to dwell within every believer. We have Jesus’ promise on this. “The Spirit will show you what is true. The people of this world cannot accept the Spirit, because they don’t see or know him. But you know the Spirit, who is with you and will keep on living in you” (John 14:17 CEV).
That means we can call out to God with confidence. He is more than nearby; He is within us helping to form the words of our prayers. We can draw close. David reminds us that we can take refuge in the shelter of your wings.
Response: LORD God, help me to draw near to you. Thank you for the indwelling Holy Spirit. You have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe. Amen.
Your Turn: What creates distance between you and God? What draws you close?
Reading: Psalm 59
God will go before me
and will let me gloat over those who slander me.
But do not kill them, Lord our shield,
or my people will forget.
In your might uproot them and bring them down.
For the sins of their mouths, for the words of their lips,
let them be caught in their pride.
For the curses and lies they utter,
consume them in your wrath,
consume them till they are no more.
Then it will be known to the ends of the earth
that God rules over Jacob.
They return at evening, snarling like dogs,
and prowl about the city.
They wander about for food
and howl if not satisfied.
But I will sing of your strength,
in the morning I will sing of your love;
for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.
You are my strength, I sing praise to you;
you, God, are my fortress, my God on whom I can rely (NIV).
David began Psalm 59 in great distress, fleeing for his life, and calling out for God’s deliverance. But as is often the case in the Psalms, there is a transition point. What began with desperate pleading on David’s part, ends with confident faith and praise to God for His unfailing help. Apparently, David met with God. The LORD heard his cry and answered him. David makes this assertion, “God will go before me…”
Can you make that assertion too? Have you met with God in prayer? Have you poured out your heart before Him? What is more important, has God answered you? Above all, true prayer is a two-way communication. Have you taken time to listen for His voice? Is He going before you?
There are many who assert that prayer is the answer. That’s nonsense! Prayer is not the answer. God is the answer. What we need is God. We need to hear the Holy Spirit speaking into our spirits when we pray. Prayer is simply a means to connect with God. Prayer is part of the divine equation. But it’s God whom we seek. He is the solution—the eternal amen—the reward at the end of the quest.
David learned how to seek God through prayer, praise and worship. He was taught by God. God will teach us too, if we will take the time to seek Him with all our heart. Then we can say, “You are my strength, I sing praise to you; you, God, are my fortress, my God on whom I can rely.”
Response: LORD God, teach me to pray like David prayed. Give me ears to hear your voice when I come before you. Direct my thoughts into the path you have chosen for me. Amen.
Your Turn: Has God spoken to you at various times?
Reading: Psalm 59
For the director of music. To the tune of “Do Not Destroy.”
Of David. A miktam.
When Saul had sent men to watch David’s house in order to kill him.
Deliver me from my enemies, O God;
be my fortress against those who are attacking me.
Deliver me from evildoers
and save me from those who are after my blood.
See how they lie in wait for me!
Fierce men conspire against me
for no offense or sin of mine, LORD.
I have done no wrong, yet they are ready to attack me.
Arise to help me; look on my plight!
You, LORD God Almighty, you who are the God of Israel,
rouse yourself to punish all the nations;
show no mercy to wicked traitors.
They return at evening,
snarling like dogs, and prowl about the city.
See what they spew from their mouths—
the words from their lips are sharp as swords,
and they think, “Who can hear us?”
But you laugh at them, LORD; you scoff at all those nations.
You are my strength, I watch for you;
you, God, are my fortress, my God on whom I can rely (NIV).
The backstory to Psalm 59 is an episode of high drama, betrayal and treachery. Despite winning several battles as a loyal warrior for King Saul, in a fit of jealous rage Saul attempted to kill David by pinning him to a wall with his spear. David fled to his home, but his wife, Michal warned him, “If you don’t run for your life tonight, tomorrow you’ll be killed” (1 Samuel 19:11).
David made good his escape, while Michal put an idol in his bed to deceive the men who were sent to kill David. Undoubtedly, this deception bought David some precious time as he fled. It is within this context that David makes this double plea for deliverance, “Deliver me from my enemies, O God; be my fortress against those who are attacking me. Deliver me from evildoers and save me from those who are after my blood.”
Saul’s murderous attack was demonically inspired. See 1 Samuel 19:9. Christian believers today should not assume they are immune from demonic attack. After all, this is the week when we commemorate our Savior’s betrayal and death by a demon possessed Judas. Peter gives us this warning, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Fortunately, we have a fortress. God is that secure fortress to whom we can flee in our time of need. Hallelujah!
Response: LORD God, when I am under attack, you are my help and defender. I run to you. Surround me and protect me by the blood of Christ. Amen.
Your Turn: Do you need the safety of God your fortress today?
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?