Reading: Psalm 32
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you and watch over you.
Do not be like the horse or the mule,
which have no understanding
but must be controlled by bit and bridle
or they will not come to you.
Many are the woes of the wicked,
but the LORD’s unfailing love
surrounds the one who trusts in him.
Rejoice in the LORD and be glad, you righteous;
sing, all you who are upright in heart! (NIV)
In Psalm 32 God speaks back. David begins this psalm and we clearly can hear his voice addressing us, as he tells how wonderful it is to be forgiven. He then goes on to speak of his own struggle with unconfessed sin. Finally, he tells us of the great relief he experienced as he is pardoned and restored to a place of close fellowship with the LORD. But then abruptly in verse eight, we hear a different voice. God is speaking. The LORD responds to what David has said. Through this psalm David is modelling true prayer. This psalm is two-way communication.
We have heard David’s words; let’s hear God’s words now. I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.
Clearly this is not the voice of David. David is not going to counsel and watch over us. This is the work of the LORD. The LORD will teach and guide us. It is His role to shepherd the flock of His pasture.
These words, from verse eight to the end of this psalm are coming from the LORD. David has heard God speak, and now he is passing on this message from the LORD directly to us. In this respect David is fulfilling the role of a prophet. He is acting as God’s spokesperson. In fact in Acts 2:30, Peter asserts that David was a prophet. And what is a prophet? In the simplest terms, it is someone who hears God, and then passes on God’s message to others.
Do you hear God? This is no idle, rhetorical question. It is essential to our Christian faith that we as believers hear the voice of God. I would go so far as to say, that you cannot experience salvation unless you first hear God. Jesus said, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish” John 10:27-28a (NIV).
In short, we must be able to hear Jesus in order to follow Him, and it is in following Him that we receive eternal life. Hearing God’s voice is of paramount importance.
Response: LORD God, give me ears to hear what you have to say to me. Please instruct me and teach me in the way I should go. Then give me grace to obey. I put my trust in you, O LORD. Amen.
Your Turn: Do you hear God’s voice? How does He speak to you? Have you heard the Lord’s voice recently? How do you distinguish God’s voice from all the other voices that you hear?
Reading: Psalm 29
A psalm of David.
Ascribe to the LORD, you heavenly beings,
ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;
worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness.
The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders,
the LORD thunders over the mighty waters.
The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is majestic.
The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars;
the LORD breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon.
He makes Lebanon leap like a calf, Sirion like a young wild ox.
The voice of the LORD strikes with flashes of lightning.
The voice of the LORD shakes the desert;
the LORD shakes the Desert of Kadesh.
The voice of the LORD twists the oaks and strips the forests bare.
And in his temple all cry, “Glory!”
The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; the LORD is enthroned as King forever.
The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace (NIV).
In Psalm 29 we see and hear the LORD, the God of the storm. There is an evocative poetic style to this psalm that helps the reader to picture the fury of the approaching tempest. But we not only see the flashes of lightning and the power of the wind, we also hear the booming thunder as it shakes the desert. The voice of the LORD twists the oaks and strips the forests bare. And in his temple all cry, “Glory!”
Nine times the psalmist repeats the phrase the voice of the LORD. In this psalm, the voice of the LORD is a very active force. The voice of the LORD thunders, breaks, strikes, shakes, twists and strips. The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is majestic.
The voice of the LORD spoke the world into existence, set the planets in their orbits, and scattered the starry hosts across the heavens. A thunderstorm sweeping down from Lebanon is as nothing to Him.
But the LORD of the storm is also the LORD of peace. One day on the Sea of Galilee Jesus our Lord brought peace to the storm. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm (Mark 4:37-39).
Response: You are the LORD of the storm and the LORD of peace. When storms arise in my life help me to trust you completely. Lord Jesus, grant me peace in the midst of the storm. Amen.
Your Turn: Jesus says to us, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4:40). Are you hearing him?
Reading: Psalm 27
Hear my voice when I call, O LORD;
Be merciful to me and answer me.
Do not turn your servant away in anger;
You have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me, O God my Savior.
Though my mother and father forsake me,
The LORD will receive me.
Teach me your way, O LORD;
Lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors.
Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,
For false witnesses rise up against me breathing out violence.
I am still confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD;
Be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD (NIV).
Is God listening? Do I have His full attention? Is He even there? Even people of great faith ask questions such as these. Listen to David’s plea, “Hear my voice when I call, O LORD.”
David’s psalms are replete with calls for God to listen and then quickly respond to his cries for help. These pleas for a listening ear happen with such frequency throughout the Book of Psalms that one can be forgiven for wondering if God is deaf. In our minds we know that this is an absurd proposition. He who formed the ear can surely hear the faintest whispered prayer or unvoiced thought. But despite what our intellect knows, we still plead for His listening ear. Along with David we cry out, “Hear my voice when I call, O LORD; be merciful to me and answer me.”
I suspect that the problem in prayer is not that we are speaking to a deaf God, but rather we, the petitioners, are deaf to God’s answers. The patriarchs and prophets of old heard the voice of God. They conversed with the LORD Almighty. Many of these conversations are recorded verbatim in the Old Testament. A fine example of this is found in Exodus as Moses speaks with the LORD at the burning bush.
Have we lost the ability to hear God? Has a great collective deafness settled across humanity?
In a cold world filled with rejection, there is a God. There is a God of mercy that the lonely soul can turn to. There is one who understands. There is one who listens to our anguished prayers. David discovered and knew that reality. We can join with David and say, “Though my mother and father forsake me, the LORD will receive me.”
Response: LORD God, this is my confession, “I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.” I will, “Wait for the LORD.” I will, “Be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” Amen.
Your Turn: Are there times when you doubt that God is listening to your prayers? How do you know He is there? Has the LORD spoken to your heart?
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. Prayer is what we need. 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. Amen.
Your Turn: Has God spoken to you at various times?