I will praise the LORD!
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 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).
Three years ago this month, 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. Thank you. Amen.
Your Turn: Has God helped you? Has He answered your prayers? Take a moment to testify.
Reading: Psalm 91
If you say, “The LORD is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
“Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation” (NIV).
Let’s be honest. We all want it. We all want satisfaction. For our sex-obsessed society that can only mean one thing, but in reality personal satisfaction encompasses so many facets of life. I want a satisfying meal when I sit down to dinner this evening. I want satisfactory service at the restaurant, at the auto repair shop and on the plane that I’m catching tomorrow. Above all else I want a satisfying life.
This may come as a surprise to many people, but the simple truth is God wants to give you a satisfying life. Here is the long list of promises that the LORD promises to undertake on your behalf. “Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation”
In summary, we will be protected and rescued. Our prayers will be answered. We will know God’s presence in times of trouble. And just imagine this; the LORD will honor us. Consider for a moment the implications of that. Furthermore, we are promised eternal salvation, and in the here and now, we will have a long and satisfying life.
That sounds like an amazing offer and it truly is. But there are two conditions attached. We need say, “The LORD is my refuge.” In other word we need to confess our dependence on God, and then we must make the Most High our dwelling. We need to live in God, not our own little world, but rather His world with our minds and hearts set on Him. That will take a decision that is renewed daily. Are you ready for that kind of commitment? Are you ready for that kind of satisfaction?
Response: LORD, you are such a good God. I don’t deserve your goodness and love and yet you continually pour out your blessings. I love you, LORD. I want to dwell in you now and always. Amen.
Your Turn: What do you think it means to dwell in God?
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. 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. I seek after you. Reveal yourself in my life because I pray. Amen.
Your Turn: Has God spoken to you at various times in various ways?
Reading: Psalm 57
They spread a net for my feet—
I was bowed down in distress.
They dug a pit in my path—
but they have fallen into it themselves.
My heart, O God, is steadfast,
my heart is steadfast;
I will sing and make music.
Awake, my soul!
Awake, harp and lyre!
I will awaken the dawn.
I will praise you, Lord, among the nations;
I will sing of you among the peoples.
For great is your love, reaching to the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches to the skies.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
let your glory be over all the earth (NIV).
As with many of David’s psalms, Psalm 57 turns on a dime. By that I mean the psalmist begins in a state of worry and trouble. In his distress David cries out to God and the Lord answers him. Suddenly, desperate pleas are replaced by wholehearted praise. The psalm ends with rejoicing over the goodness of God. David invites us to join in his rejoicing. I will sing and make music. Awake, my soul! Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn. I will praise you, Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples.
There is tremendous power in music. When I am discouraged—trapped in the Christian pilgrim’s Slough of Despond—a song of praise can lift me out like nothing else. Perhaps you have had a similar experience. When I am drowning in a sea of regrets, music brings buoyancy. Worship helps me set my eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith. See Hebrews 12:2. Faith gives us eyes to see beyond our current set of circumstances.
Most often we want to see God’s deliverance before we praise Him. In the introduction to Psalm 57 we read that David hid in a cave from King Saul. David called out for God to deliver him and He did. Therefore, David bursts out with music and song. Can you picture him strumming on his harp and singing with a smile you can see for a mile?
But there are times when I believe God wants us to sing His praise before deliverance comes—before the healing appears. He is our good and faithful God whether we have faith to move mountains or are troubled by doubt. Whether we live or die, He is faithful and worthy of our praise. In all the circumstances of life our help comes from Him.
Response: LORD God, even in the midst of trouble fill my heart with praise for you. You are good and faithful. You are my help—my steadfast help—through Jesus Christ your Son. Amen.
Your Turn: Can you recall a time when you praised God before He brought the answer to your prayer?