Today’s verse from the Psalms.
Reading: Psalm 115
All you Israelites, trust in the LORD—
he is their help and shield.
House of Aaron, trust in the LORD—
he is their help and shield.
You who fear him, trust in the LORD—
he is their help and shield.
The LORD remembers us and will bless us:
He will bless his people Israel,
he will bless the house of Aaron,
he will bless those who fear the LORD—
small and great alike.
May the LORD cause you to flourish,
both you and your children.
May you be blessed by the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
The highest heavens belong to the LORD,
but the earth he has given to mankind.
It is not the dead who praise the LORD,
those who go down to the place of silence;
it is we who extol the LORD, both now and forevermore.
Praise the LORD (NIV).
As a sharp contrast to placing our trust in the lifeless idols of this world, Psalm 115 calls us to place our trust in God. Today’s reading begins with a threefold call to trust the LORD. All you Israelites, trust in the LORD—he is their help and shield. House of Aaron, trust in the LORD—he is their help and shield. You who fear him, trust in the LORD—he is their help and shield.
For those who are logically minded, there is a simple equation or formula at work here. Trust in the LORD results in help and protection—he is their help and shield. Our trust or faith in God brings a response from Him. The LORD’s response is both active and passive. He provides help; He intervenes by actively assisting us. From personal experience I know the LORD has been my help. In the nick of time He has provided words of knowledge and wisdom. He has been my constant guide. When needed most, He has opened the windows of heaven and poured out blessings. He has sent help in various forms, and in ways too numerous to mention.
But the LORD is also our shield—our passive protection. He protects us from the slings and arrows of the evil one. He shields us from the enemy’s attacks, whether it is from physical harm, or spiritual attacks that undermine our faith through faulty reasoning or deceptive philosophies. The LORD is our sure defense. We can draw strength from this promise: He will bless those who fear the LORD—small and great alike.
Response: Father God, I trust you to be my help and my shield. Keep me safe from the evil one. Thank you for all your help through the years. You have been faithful to keep your word. Amen.
Your Turn: Can you think of instances when God has helped you?
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 defence. 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 lay 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.
How confident are you in God’s saving intervention on your behalf?
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?
This week’s I Love the Psalms theme is power.
I don’t have much trust in chariots and horses. For me horses are animals of beauty and entertainment. But then I don’t live in the Bronze Age, when horses and chariots were indicators of military might.
Today’s verse from the Psalms reminds us that a nation’s defenses are more than just a matter of having a powerful military. Some people trust the power of chariots or horses,
but we trust you, LORD God (Psalm 20:7, CEV).
Tanks, bombs and fighter planes are not the first line of defense for any nation. The first line of defense is integrity, honesty and morality rooted in our faith in the LORD God, our Creator. When those defenses are undermined in the population, trouble and national decline are sure to follow.
Our God is more powerful than any army. My best defense is aligning my life with Him.
Response: LORD God, I put my trust in you. Help me to live a life of honesty and integrity. Be the defender of my nation. Holy Spirit, be at work among the people. Amen.
Your Turn: Why do you think nations go into decline?