Reading: Psalm 71
In you, LORD, I have taken refuge;
let me never be put to shame.
In your righteousness, rescue me and deliver me;
turn your ear to me and save me.
Be my rock of refuge,
to which I can always go;
give the command to save me,
for you are my rock and my fortress.
Deliver me, my God, from the hand of the wicked,
from the grasp of those who are evil and cruel.
For you have been my hope, Sovereign LORD,
my confidence since my youth.
From birth I have relied on you;
you brought me forth from my mother’s womb.
I will ever praise you.
I have become a sign to many;
you are my strong refuge.
My mouth is filled with your praise,
declaring your splendor all day long (NIV).*
I must confess that I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with rocks. I grew up on a farm on the Canadian prairies and annually the rich soil produced two crops—a crop of grain and a crop of rocks. Grain crops such as wheat, barley and oats were welcomed—the rocks not so much.
Simply working the soil in spring would bring the rocks to the surface. It was our job as children to help our dad to pick those rocks and haul them off the fields. For the most part it was tedious work. That’s the unpleasant part of my relationship with rocks. But as for the rocks themselves, for the most part I liked them. They came in a huge variety of shapes, colors, sizes and textures. I found them fascinating.
For the psalmist, the LORD was his solid foundation—his rock of refuge in a changing world. Hear his prayer: Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go; give the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress.
In the shifting circumstances of life, it is essential that we have those things that remain solid and unwavering. From our childhood onward, we need a rock of refuge from the storms of life—a rock to which we can always go in good times and bad.
It’s wonderful when we can say with the psalmist, “From birth I have relied on you; you brought me forth from my mother’s womb. I will ever praise you.”
Response: LORD God, thank you for being my solid rock. Your faithfulness has steadied me in stormy times. You have been my help and strength, my shelter and fortress. Amen.
Your Turn: How has the Lord been a solid rock for you?
* New International Version, Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica
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 of devotions from the Psalms.
I will praise the LORD!
Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me,
for in you I take refuge.
I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings
until the disaster has passed.
I cry out to God Most High,
to God, who vindicates me.
He sends from heaven and saves me,
rebuking those who hotly pursue me—
God sends forth his love and his faithfulness.
(Psalm 57:1-3, NIV)*
* New International Version, Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica
Reading: Psalm 106
They yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor
and ate sacrifices offered to lifeless gods;
they aroused the LORD’s anger by their wicked deeds,
and a plague broke out among them.
But Phinehas stood up and intervened,
and the plague was checked.
This was credited to him as righteousness
for endless generations to come.
By the waters of Meribah they angered the LORD,
and trouble came to Moses because of them;
for they rebelled against the Spirit of God,
and rash words came from Moses’ lips.
They did not destroy the peoples as the LORD had commanded them,
but they mingled with the nations and adopted their customs.
They worshiped their idols, which became a snare to them.
They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to false gods.
They shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters,
whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan,
and the land was desecrated by their blood.
They defiled themselves by what they did;
by their deeds they prostituted themselves (NIV).
Psalm 106 began with with praise, but in verse three it transitioned to this opening thought, “Blessed are those who act justly, who always do what is right.”
Now there’s a mind-blowing concept. Talk about setting the bar completely out of reach! Nobody—I repeat—nobody always does right and acts justly in every situation. Human fallibility and self-interest dictate to the contrary.
The psalmist then goes on to recount a litany of Israel’s sins. By my estimation there are nine major transgressions outlined in Israel’s history through this psalm. There’s a failure to remember God’s kindness. There’s rebellion, wickedness, idolatry, envy, sensual craving, impatience, ingratitude, unbelief, outright disobedience, bloodshed, human sacrifice and further rebellion.
What is truly remarkable about this psalm is not Israel’s sinful ways; sinful ways are common to all humanity. What is truly mind-boggling is God’s faithfulness and readiness to forgive. He hears us in our distress. He seeks out the lost and wayward. He welcomes back the sin infested prodigals knowing full well where they have been. That’s the wonder of our God. He is always, always, always ready to forgive, when we are ready to admit the error of our ways. Now that’s a reason for praise!
Response: Father God, I acknowledge that my people and my nation have been caught up in sinful ways. Please be merciful to us. We are deserving of your judgment. Forgive us through your son Jesus. Amen.
Your Turn: Like Phinehas are you ready to take a stand against sin in your life and your community?
Reading: Psalm 26
Vindicate me, LORD,
for I have led a blameless life;
I have trusted in the LORD
and have not faltered.
Test me, LORD, and try me,
examine my heart and my mind;
for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love
and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness.
I do not sit with the deceitful,
nor do I associate with hypocrites.
I abhor the assembly of evildoers
and refuse to sit with the wicked.
I wash my hands in innocence,
and go about your altar, LORD,
proclaiming aloud your praise
and telling of all your wonderful deeds (NIV).
The opening lines of Psalm 26 certainly catch my attention. David claims to have led a blameless life—a rather audacious statement in my opinion. But he doesn’t stop there. He goes on to invite God to test him. David pleads, “Test me, LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness.”
Now that takes some nerve. Do I really want the LORD to examine my heart and my mind? If I underwent a heart and mind exam, what would my test scores be? Most of us would shy away from being tested by God, but David’s response is completely different. He is clearly saying, “Bring it on!”
How could David be so self-assured—so confident—to the point of sounding arrogant? Actually, David’s confidence was not so much in his own performance, but rather his confidence was in God. He states that he is mindful of the LORD’s unfailing love. He is relying on the LORD’s faithfulness. David knew the unfailing love and faithfulness of God, and this wasn’t merely head knowledge—a bit of mental information. No. David knew God experientially. He experienced the LORD’s unfailing love. He experienced the faithfulness of God over and over in his life. As a youth he slew a marauding lion and a bear. He brought down the mighty Goliath. He fled for his life, but ultimately triumphed over the madness of King Saul. David knew his God experientially in the grit of battle and the daily humdrum.
What about you? Do you have a memory bank full of great experiences with God? If the answer is no, why not ask God for a deposit today? If you put your faith in Him, He will not let you down.
Response: LORD, examine my heart and my mind. I want to grow in my knowledge of you and my confidence in you. Help me to have a pure heart and mind before you. I want to experience your presence in my life. Amen.
Your Turn: Have you experienced God’s love and faithfulness recently? Do you let Him examine you?