I will praise Him!
Reading: Psalm 17
A prayer of David.
Hear me, LORD, my plea is just; listen to my cry.
Hear my prayer—it does not rise from deceitful lips.
Let my vindication come from you; may your eyes see what is right.
Though you probe my heart, though you examine me at night and test me,
you will find that I have planned no evil; my mouth has not transgressed.
Though people tried to bribe me,
I have kept myself from the ways of the violent
through what your lips have commanded.
My steps have held to your paths; my feet have not stumbled.
I call on you, my God, for you will answer me;
turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.
Show me the wonders of your great love,
you who save by your right hand those who take refuge in you from their foes.
Keep me as the apple of your eye;
hide me in the shadow of your wings
from the wicked who are out to destroy me,
from my mortal enemies who surround me (NIV).
“Are you up for the test? The exam schedule has been posted. Have you prepared? Are you ready for it?” Words like those can produce feelings of dread or anxious thoughts, especially for high school or university students. If you have studied and prepared yourself well, you can have a measure of confidence. But some uncertainty always remains.
In today’s psalm, David welcomes God’s examination. He states, “Though you probe my heart, though you examine me at night and test me, you will find that I have planned no evil; my mouth has not transgressed.”
David had nothing to hide. His conscience was clear; therefore he did not dread God’s probing. He knew that an examination of his heart would result in vindication. He would be proven right and just before his Maker. Do you and I have the same confidence?
Check your heart. Better yet, allow God to check it regularly. Be open and transparent before Him. It’s the only way I know to keep a clean heart and a right mind before God and others. The LORD is the best heart doctor available, and He does home visits if we invite Him in.
Only when our hearts and minds are open and right before God can we freely pray, “Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings.
Response: Heavenly Father, probe my heart so that I can repent of anything that displeases you. I want to bring only joy and pleasure to the heart of my Father. Amen.
Your Turn: Why do we resist allowing God to examine our heart issues? Are we afraid of what He may find?
Reading: Psalm 10
His ways are always prosperous;
your laws are rejected by him;
he sneers at all his enemies.
He says to himself, “Nothing will ever shake me.”
He swears, “No one will ever do me harm.”
His mouth is full of lies and threats;
trouble and evil are under his tongue.
He lies in wait near the villages;
from ambush he murders the innocent.
His eyes watch in secret for his victims;
like a lion in cover he lies in wait.
He lies in wait to catch the helpless;
he catches the helpless and drags them off in his net.
His victims are crushed, they collapse;
they fall under his strength.
He says to himself, “God will never notice;
he covers his face and never sees” (NIV).
Yesterday’s reading from Psalm 10 was an introduction to the man who has no room for God in his life. The psalmist states, “In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.”
Today’s reading continues to describe in disturbing detail, the thoughts, deeds and attitudes of the heart of such a person. He says to himself, “Nothing will ever shake me.” He swears, “No one will ever do me harm.” His mouth is full of lies and threats; trouble and evil are under his tongue.
Nature abhors a vacuum. All manner of things will rush in to fill an empty space. When God is removed from His rightful place as the Master of our life, selfishness and pride rise to the top. If Jesus isn’t the Lord of my life, then my selfish nature will rise to the occasion. But when my selfish nature rules, all manner of sin follows. Worst of all self-deception follows. We deceive ourselves into believing a lie.
The psalmist states: He says to himself, “God will never notice; he covers his face and never sees”
Of course, God does see. Our pride and ignorance are on full display before Him. Jesus has these words to say about this topic. “But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken” (Matthew 12:36).
I have spoken more than a few empty words. How about you? The simple truth is I need a Lord and Master like Jesus to help me govern my life. I also need his love and forgiveness when I slip up.
Response: Lord Jesus, you are the Lord and Master of the universe. Even the wind and the waves obey you. I want to obey you too. Holy Spirit, blow into my life and fill me with your presence today. Amen.
Your Turn: What fills the vacuum in your life? Is it Jesus?
Reading: Psalm 119
How can a young person stay on the path of purity?
By living according to your word.
I seek you with all my heart;
do not let me stray from your commands.
I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you.
Praise be to you, LORD;
teach me your decrees.
With my lips I recount
all the laws that come from your mouth.
I rejoice in following your statutes
as one rejoices in great riches.
I meditate on your precepts
and consider your ways.
I delight in your decrees;
I will not neglect your word (NIV).
In the age of the internet and one-click-away pornographic websites, the opening question in today’s reading from Psalm 119 has never been more salient. How can a young person stay on the path of purity?
Why would a young man want to keep his way pure? Why not chase every skirt in town? Why not have some fun? Why not eat, drink and be merry? We only pass through this life once. Why not live it up?
But if the God of the universe has called men and women into relationship with Him, then purity and holiness are at the very core of that relationship. If we are called to be with God—to dwell in harmony with Him—then we must embrace holiness. To embrace God is to embrace holiness. Those filthy sin spots have got to go. If we are to walk with God, we must willingly walk away from mind and soul-fouling sin.
The writer of the Book of Hebrews urges on the young faith runners with these words: Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:1-2, NIV).
In a world awash in pornography, we all need fixed eyes—eyes fixed on Jesus—eyes that see the cross— eyes that see the blood-drenched cross. Purity comes at a price. It cost the heavenly Father the life of His very own Son. A young man named Jesus—in flesh like my own—in skin like my own—poured out his life’s blood to make me pure. Fix your eyes on Him!
Response: LORD, I want to live my life according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Amen.
Your Turn: Do you struggle with impure thoughts? Are you neglecting God’s word?
Reading: Psalm 108
Save us and help us with your right hand,
that those you love may be delivered.
God has spoken from his sanctuary:
“In triumph I will parcel out Shechem
and measure off the Valley of Sukkoth.
Gilead is mine, Manasseh is mine;
Ephraim is my helmet, Judah is my scepter.
Moab is my washbasin,
on Edom I toss my sandal;
over Philistia I shout in triumph.”
Who will bring me to the fortified city?
Who will lead me to Edom?
Is it not you, God, you who have rejected us
and no longer go out with our armies?
Give us aid against the enemy,
for human help is worthless.
With God we will gain the victory,
and he will trample down our enemies (NIV).
In today’s reading from Psalm 108, we get into the meat of David’s request or petition. He makes his plea before God: Save us and help us with your right hand that those you love may be delivered.
It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly when David penned this Psalm, but it likely came early in his reign as king over Judah or Israel. When David assumed the leadership of Judah, Israel was in dire straits. The nation had been weakened by division under King Saul. The Philistines won a major battle which resulted in the death of King Saul and his heir apparent, Prince Jonathan. The nation was divided, despondent and in disarray. Meanwhile, enemies on every side were seizing the moment to press their advantage.
In many respects Christendom and the church world finds itself in a similar position today—divided, despondent and in disarray. We need a David or a number of Davids to arise and rally God’s people against spiritual foes and machinations too numerous to mention. Where are the Davids? Are you one of them? Over a number of years through a series of battles the David of the Bible turned things around.
But we need to always keep this in mind. Though God calls various people to leadership roles, He is the One who brings victory and He is the One who deserves the credit. David clearly expressed this truth in his prayer. Give us aid against the enemy, for human help is worthless. With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies.
We look to the LORD for victory and deliverance. David did, and so must we.
Response: Father God, I want to play my part in turning things around in your church. Today let your Kingdom come and your will be done through the power of your Holy Spirit. Amen.
Your Turn: Are you a present-day David? What has God called you to do?
Reading: Psalm 104
He makes springs pour water into the ravines;
it flows between the mountains.
They give water to all the beasts of the field;
the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
The birds of the sky nest by the waters;
they sing among the branches.
He waters the mountains from his upper chambers;
the land is satisfied by the fruit of his work.
He makes grass grow for the cattle,
and plants for people to cultivate—
bringing forth food from the earth:
wine that gladdens human hearts,
oil to make their faces shine,
and bread that sustains their hearts.
The trees of the LORD are well watered,
the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.
There the birds make their nests;
the stork has its home in the junipers.
The high mountains belong to the wild goats;
the crags are a refuge for the hyrax (NIV).
Psalm 104 is a poetic ode in praise of God’s creation. In yesterday’s reading, God lay down the foundations of the earth, and set the boundaries of the oceans. Today we see how He waters the land and covers it with vegetation. He populates it with a vast variety of animals and birds.
He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for people to cultivate—bringing forth food from the earth: wine that gladdens human hearts, oil to make their faces shine, and bread that sustains their hearts.
In this psalm we see a God of teeming abundance. He is an extravagant God of infinite variety. Consider for a moment the various kinds of birds from the soaring eagle to the tiny hummingbird. Our God cares for them all. Jesus gives us these words of assurance concerning the humble sparrow, “not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care” (Matthew 10:29). In reality, all of today’s reading is about the Father’s care and His rich provision for all His creatures.
Have your eyes been opened to the LORD’s rich provision for you? He’s not a stingy God. Those who call on Him will have their needs met. Perhaps David said it best: The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing (Psalm 23:1).
Response: Father God, you created such a wonderful world! I marvel at your handiwork. I thank you for the great variety of lifeforms on this planet—the plants, the birds, the animals. Help us appreciate and safeguard your creation. Amen.
Your Turn: How can we go beyond words of thanks and demonstrate our thanks for God’s creation?
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 102
In the course of my life he broke my strength;
he cut short my days.
So I said:
“Do not take me away, my God, in the midst of my days;
your years go on through all generations.
In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth,
and the heavens are the work of your hands.
They will perish, but you remain;
they will all wear out like a garment.
Like clothing you will change them
and they will be discarded.
But you remain the same,
and your years will never end.
The children of your servants will live in your presence;
their descendants will be established before you” (NIV).
We like to think that we are the captains of our own destiny—the masters of our own future—and to some extent we are. We can determine our attitude and response to many situations. But eventually the truth will hit home. Our ultimate destiny is in God’s hands. We cannot determine how tall we will grow, or the color of our eyes or our skin. These are matters that are beyond our control.
God has predetermined the number of our days on this earth. Jesus said, “Even the very hairs of your head are all numbered” (Matthew 10:30). So I also expect that God knows the exact number of breaths that you and I will breathe.
In today’s reading from Psalm 102, the psalmist is coming to grips with his own mortality. He laments: In the course of my life he [the LORD] broke my strength; he cut short my days. So I said: “Do not take me away, my God, in the midst of my days; your years go on through all generations.”
The LORD is the great everlasting constant. Our days may be numbered, but God’s are not. He is the ageless One without beginning of days or end of life. Even the earth itself may wear out, but He remains. “In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. Like clothing you will change them and they will be discarded. But you remain the same, and your years will never end.”
If even the earth will perish and wear out, what hope is there for us? But in the next breath the psalmist provides us with hope. “The children of your servants will live in your presence; their descendants will be established before you.”
Response: Father God, I want to live in your presence now and in eternity. Establish my children before you. They are gifts from your hand. You are constant and I want to live in constant praise of you. Amen.
Your Turn: Are you in control of your life or is God in control? Are you yielded to Him and ready to do His will?
Reading: Psalm 95
Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD;
let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before him with thanksgiving
and extol him with music and song.
For the LORD is the great God,
the great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth,
and the mountain peaks belong to him.
The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land.
Come, let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel before the LORD our Maker;
for he is our God
and we are the people of his pasture,
the flock under his care (NIV).
I can’t read this opening portion of Psalm 95 without the folk spiritual “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” springing to mind. The psalmist makes this declaration: In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. In other words, He’s got the whole world in His hands.
There is something deeply reassuring about that thought. The great loving God, the Creator of the universe, has the whole world in His hands. But more specifically, our heavenly Father has you and me in His hands. If we grasp this biblical truth, it has broad personal implications.
Early this morning I met with a weekly gathering of men to pray and study God’s word. One of the co-leaders of the group is going through a great personal tragedy. His young, vibrant wife is dying of pancreatic cancer. Unless the Lord miraculously intervenes, his school-age son and daughter will soon be without a mother. At the close of our meeting we placed our hands on this husband and father and prayed. The LORD has the whole world in his hands including this young family.
Do we understand the LORD’s purposes in all this? No. We would be fools to think we do. We can content ourselves in knowing that these great matters—these matters of life and death are in God’s hands. They are loving hands—hands that in the person of Jesus were scarred and pierced by nails. I’ll be content to be held in those hands.
Knowing this, let’s heed the psalmist’s call. Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care.
Response: LORD God, you know all things. We were created for your purpose. Help us to live our lives in service to you. We are the flock under your care. Please extend your hand of mercy and blessing to those we know who are suffering or grieving. Amen.
Your Turn: Does knowing your life is in God’s hands bring you reassurance?