I will praise Him!
Reading: Psalm 32
Of David. A maskil.
Blessed is the one
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the one
whose sin the LORD does not count against them
and in whose spirit is no deceit.
When I kept silent,
my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy on me;
my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.
Then I acknowledged my sin to you
and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD.”
And you forgave the guilt of my sin (NIV).|
A right relationship with God is like a flowing stream. In such a relationship there is a natural giving to God that includes prayer, worship, time spent in His word, and periods of quiet communion. In turn, God by the Holy Spirit pours His peace, love and joy into our lives. And just as trees naturally line a river bank, there is a verdant fruitfulness that comes to the believer as that refreshing current is allowed to flow.
Sin acts like a boulder hindering the flow of God’s Spirit in our lives. As more and more un-repented sin piles up, a dam is formed. Suddenly prayer stops. Worship and thanksgiving that once cascaded so freely from our lips comes to a halt. The word of God becomes boring, and we find other interests. Times of quiet communion with our Maker are replaced by a search for other things like constant entertainment.
This is the state of David’s soul at the start of this psalm. The flow has stopped. Where was the overflowing cup experience of Psalm twenty-three? At this point David’s cup—his soul—is sitting stagnant. And in the natural realm any liquid left unstirred becomes foul as time goes by. David’s spiritual life was turning into a swamp because of unconfessed sin.
But there was a turning point for David: Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD.”
Confession breaks the dam. David verbally brought his sin out in the open before God. He acknowledged what God knew all along. You see David’s sin and my sin are never hidden from God. Our sin is always in plain sight of the LORD. But praise God! He forgives the guilt of our sin when we break the spiritual dam through confession. Repentance restores the flow.
Response: LORD God, have mercy on me. I acknowledge my sin to you and do not cover up my iniquity. I need your forgiveness. I put my trust in the redeeming sacrifice of your Son, Jesus. Amen.
Your Turn: Has unconfessed sin dammed up the flow of prayer and worship in your life?
Reading: Psalm 24
Lift up your heads, you gates;
be lifted up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The LORD strong and mighty,
the LORD mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, you gates;
lift them up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is he, this King of glory?
The LORD Almighty—
he is the King of glory (NIV).
Are you ready? The King is coming.
All of Psalm 24 is a psalm of anticipation. David, the shepherd king, is anticipating the arrival of the LORD. The LORD is coming to His city—to His temple. Have you prepared your heart and your mind for the moment of His arrival? Are you ready to receive Him as your King? He often shows up at the moment we least expect Him.
Undoubtedly, David, the warrior King, was reflecting on his own triumphant entry into the city after the defeat of his enemies in battle. But here in this psalm, he projects the victorious arrival of a much greater monarch—the King of glory.
There is a prophetic expectancy to this psalm that forms a very natural bridge to the Palm Sunday triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. Jesus, the long anticipated King, came suddenly to His temple. Some were ready for Him; most were not. This should infuse our preparations for the King with an element of urgency. We can miss his appearing. Earlier in this psalm David asks, “Who may stand in his holy place?”
Purity of heart and action are essential. Blessing and vindication awaits those who seek His face. Again I ask, “Are you ready?” God can show up in your life today in an unexpected way. Will you recognize Him? Or like the busy people of Jerusalem will that moment pass you by? Will you be too caught up in buying and selling and the commerce of our times? Will you be too distracted by social media to recognize the medium of the Holy Spirit?
Lift up your head. Open your eyes. Take your attention off the mundane things of this world and focus the eyes of your heart on the Lord. Seek His face in your daily routine. The King of glory may be passing by today.
Response: Come, Lord Jesus, come. I open my heart and my mind to you. I want to see you at work in my daily circumstances. King of Glory, help me to anticipate your appearing in my life today. Grant me a pure heart so I can recognize your coming. Amen.
Your Turn: Has the King of glory appeared in your life recently? What are you doing to prepare for Him?
Reading: Psalm 19
But who can discern their own errors?
Forgive my hidden faults.
Keep your servant also from willful sins;
may they not rule over me.
Then I will be blameless,
innocent of great transgression.
May these words of my mouth
and this meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer (NIV).
What is your response to God’s word and His voice as it speaks to your heart? In this final portion of Psalm 19 we see David’s response to God. God has been doing the talking thus far. The LORD has been speaking to David through the stars, through the night sky, and the blazing heat of the sun—the first witness. He has spoken to him through the Word of God—His written revelation—the second witness. Now as this Psalm draws to a close, we hear David responding back to God.
In actuality, David is responding to the third witness. His heart is bearing witness to the reality of God. His conscience is convicting him of his sin and of the righteousness of God. We all have this third witness within us—a witness that will not be silenced, though we may try to drown out this inner voice of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is at work in every case when we respond in a right way to God.
If along with David, we have heard the voices of the first and second witness, then there is only one appropriate response. It is the response recorded here in Holy Scriptures. If we see and grasp the awesome power and majesty of God, if through His word we have glimpsed His holiness, then we are brought low. We are humbled before him. Our greatest achievements are nothing. Our pride dissolves. Our weakness, our smallness is self-evident in the presence of the LORD of heaven and earth. We are exposed; our sin is exposed before this holy, magnificent God.
Along with David we cry out, “But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me.”
If we perceive God correctly, and if we assess ourselves accurately and honestly, then we quickly realize our greatest need. Our greatest need is for forgiveness. This is the solid bedrock on which any human relationship with God is built.
Here is the truth. I need forgiveness. My failings and shortcomings are many. What about you?
Response: Heavenly Father, please forgive my sins. Often I have lived according to my will, not yours. Forgive my selfish ways. May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. Amen.
Your Turn: Have you confessed your hidden sins, and admitted your need for a Savior from yourself?
Reading: Psalm 150
Praise the LORD.
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,
praise him with timbrel and dancing,
praise him with the strings and pipe,
praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.
Praise the LORD (NIV).
We have reached the crescendo—the conclusion and the high point of the Book of Psalms. Hallelujah and praise the LORD!
The word praise appears thirteen times in this final psalm. The number thirteen is suggestive of Jesus and his apostles. He is at the core—the very center of God ordained worship.
Eight forms or instruments of praise are listed in this psalm. Eight is the number of new beginnings. Seven suggests completeness, so we see that God rested on the seventh day. But eight signals a new start. In the same way, these eight means or instruments of praise do not represent a complete list. They simply suggest the varied ways in which we can express our praise to the LORD. We have only just begun to discover and explore the many ways in which we can show our gratitude to our Creator.
No one—no living being—is excluded from this call to praise. Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.
This call for all the breathing to praise the LORD is truly fitting. We received our original breath from the LORD. Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being (Genesis 2:7). Now with our breath—our God-given breath—let us praise our Maker.
In the same way after his resurrection Jesus breathed on his disciples. Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:21-22).
We need the breath of God in us—the breath of the Holy Spirit in us to live—to truly live in the overcoming power and joy of the psalms. For the Holy Spirit’s presence I will praise the LORD!
Response: LORD God, I praise you. You are my strength and my song. Help me to discover new ways to praise you because you are good. Let my entire life reflect your redemptive presence in me. Amen.
Your Turn: Why are you breathing? Is praising God an integral part of your purpose?
Reading: Psalm 143
Answer me quickly, LORD;
my spirit fails.
Do not hide your face from me
or I will be like those who go down to the pit.
Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
for to you I entrust my life.
Rescue me from my enemies, LORD,
for I hide myself in you.
Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God;
may your good Spirit
lead me on level ground (NIV).
Can you hide in someone else? That sounds like the plot for a sci-fi thriller. Maybe I could reduce myself to the size of a microbe and be injected into another person’s body? That would truly be a mind-boggling adventure, presumably with a good outcome for all.
But here in Psalm 143, David speaks of hiding himself in the LORD. Rescue me from my enemies, LORD, for I hide myself in you.
David, please tell me how I can do that? How do I hide myself in the LORD? Actually, this idea of hiding in God is well developed throughout the psalms. David sees the LORD as his strong tower and his shelter. See Psalm 61:3. David says this of the LORD: For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock (Psalm 27:5).
Again in Psalm 32 David makes this statement about the LORD. You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance (Psalm 32:7).
How do I hide myself in God? Let me suggest that it begins by immersing oneself in God’s word. Jesus is the living logos—the word of God. See John 1:1-5. But in addition to reading and receiving the written word of God, we need to connect with the Spirit of God. Our human spirit must come alive to and through the Spirit of God. Receiving Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior is not merely an intellectual experience. It is a spiritual experience—a from the inside out transformational experience.
When our human spirit comes alive to God, these words become our prayer. Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.
Response: LORD God, I have put my trust in you. I want to connect with your Holy Spirit. I want to be fully alive in you, body, soul and spirit. Show me the way forward to a vibrant relationship with you. LORD, may your good Spirit lead me on level ground. Amen.
Your Turn: Has your spirit connected with God’s Spirit? Has your life been changed by that encounter?
Reading: Psalm 133
A song of ascents. Of David.
How good and pleasant it is
when God’s people live together in unity!
It is like precious oil poured on the head,
running down on the beard,
running down on Aaron’s beard,
down on the collar of his robe.
It is as if the dew of Hermon
were falling on Mount Zion.
For there the LORD bestows his blessing,
even life forevermore (NIV).
Short, but powerful and evocative—that’s my description of Psalm 133. I might also add, easily read, but difficult to put into practice. Unity among the people of God is that great elusive goal that seems to always disappear around the next bend in the road just as we approach it. But there God has commanded His blessing, if we could only reach that blessed state.
The psalmist uses two metaphors to portray this good and pleasant state of affairs. The first may appear to be rather messy and wasteful. Who wants oil running down their beard and onto their clothing? But in the Old Testament, prophets, priests and kings were anointed in just this way. It symbolized the release of divine authority and power into an individual’s life. The Spirit of God was coming upon them for public service. This concept forms an effective bridge to the coming of the Holy Spirit in the Book of Acts. When the waiting disciples were of one accord, the Holy Spirit was poured upon them; the anointing came. See Acts 2.
The second metaphor signifies rejuvenation. The dew of the morning is new each day. It refreshes and revives. When our social interactions are positive and enriching, the outcome is spiritual renewal and a deep sense of belonging. Recent studies have shown that social isolation may be a greater risk factor among the elderly than smoking or heart disease. Lack of meaningful interaction with others also has a negative impact on mental health.
The person who continually self-isolates is committing a slow form of suicide, both physically and spiritually. Satan loves the isolated believer—feasts on the mind of the isolated believer.
Simply put, we need each other. We need to be surrounded by loving caring relationships, at home, at work and in the church. On every level, unity of purpose coupled with unselfish love, refreshes and revives the weary soul. We all want God’s blessing. Well, here’s the key to God’s blessing. The LORD commands a blessing when God’s people live together in unity!
Response: Father God, help me sow words of love and unity. Open my eyes to see where I can bring a word of encouragement and affirmation to those around me. Make me an instrument of peace, love and unity today. Amen.
Your Turn: How can you avoid sowing seeds of discord? What can you do today to build unity or break out of self-isolation?
Reading: Psalm 126
A song of ascents.
When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dreamed.
Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
“The LORD has done great things for them.”
The LORD has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy.
Restore our fortunes, LORD,
like streams in the Negev.
Those who sow with tears
will reap with songs of joy.
Those who go out weeping,
carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with them (NIV).
This is a psalm that has two parts—two sharply contrasting perspectives. It begins with jubilation, but it transitions to sober reflection and a prayer for restoration.
The historical context of this psalm is readily identifiable. The psalmist is commenting on the joyous return of the exiles following the seventy-year Babylonian captivity—an event that occurred in the sixth century before the birth of Christ. When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy.
The LORD had brought back the people of Israel and they were filled with joy. Have you experienced the glorious liberating power of God in your life? Have you experienced the pure joy of the Lord as you realized your sins are forgiven? And oh joy—this God you serve is as near as your next breath!
I remember a time like that—a time when I was filled with the Holy Spirit. The joy I experienced was so all encompassing that I remember waking in the morning with my face muscles aching because of the smile that had been permanently etched there.
But alas, we can’t live on that mountain-top high forever. In our pilgrimage with God, we eventually reach this line in Psalm 126: Restore our fortunes, LORD, like streams in the Negev. The Negev is the parched desert region to the south of the land of Judah. Streams in the Negev are intermittent. A raging torrent one day becomes a mere trickle on the next day, and then nothing on the third day. The boisterous river of joy turns into a dry gulch—a blank line on the desert floor. Then we join with the psalmist and pray. Restore our fortunes, LORD. Our prayer becomes a plea for a return to the joy of harvest.
Response: Father God, I thank you for times of great joy, when we experience your salvation and your felt presence. Help me to sow the seeds of your gospel message today. Amen.
Your Turn: What season are you in? What season is your church in? Is it seed planting time or harvest?
Reading: Psalm 119
You are my portion, LORD;
I have promised to obey your words.
I have sought your face with all my heart;
be gracious to me according to your promise.
I have considered my ways
and have turned my steps to your statutes.
I will hasten and not delay
to obey your commands.
Though the wicked bind me with ropes,
I will not forget your law.
At midnight I rise to give you thanks
for your righteous laws.
I am a friend to all who fear you,
to all who follow your precepts.
The earth is filled with your love, LORD;
teach me your decrees (NIV).
I just got a phone call from a friend that left me rather embarrassed. I was embarrassed because I had promised to call this friend, but I didn’t follow through. I can think of a half dozen excuses I could offer, but none of them hold much water. I can claim that I’m too busy, but I find time for what I consider important. To make matters worse, this forgetting to call is a recurring problem. To put it bluntly, this friendship is in jeopardy because I have repeatedly failed to keep my word.
My relationship with God also suffers when I make promises to the LORD, and then fail to deliver. I have wonderful intentions to pray—to seek God’s face—to read my Bible. But follow through? Not so much. There’s often a big gap between what we promise and what we actually deliver. The shortfall is often enormous. Of course we have our excuses—a flimsy fig leaf to cover our shame.
Today’s reading from Psalm 119 also begins with a promise: You are my portion, LORD; I have promised to obey your words.
If I were to speak those words, in the back of my mind I can hear a voice saying, “Yeah, Yeah. I’ve heard you say that before. When are you going to deliver?”
The brutal truth is I can’t deliver. On my own I cannot obey God’s word. I’ve tried and it’s impossible. I desperately need the Holy Spirit to help me day by day and moment by moment. St. Paul gives us this reminder: it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose (Philippians 2:13).
Response: Father God, help me. I want to obey your word. I want to live out the words of this psalm. I can only succeed by your grace, so give me the will to do your will. Amen.
Your Turn: Have you promised more than you can deliver? Who will help you keep your promises?
Reading: Psalm 119
Be good to your servant while I live,
that I may obey your word.
Open my eyes that I may see
wonderful things in your law.
I am a stranger on earth;
do not hide your commands from me.
My soul is consumed with longing
for your laws at all times.
You rebuke the arrogant, who are accursed,
those who stray from your commands.
Remove from me their scorn and contempt,
for I keep your statutes.
Though rulers sit together and slander me,
your servant will meditate on your decrees.
Your statutes are my delight;
they are my counselors (NIV).
My wife knows all about my blindness. Actually, it’s a condition that afflicts many men. You see I have difficulty seeing what is right in front of me. She will tell me to get a certain item from the next room, but can I find it? Of course not. Eventually, my longsuffering wife will arrive to point out the obvious. To which I will respond with, “Now, why couldn’t I see that?”
She will then reply with, “Because you’re blind.”
I’m sure domestic scenes like this are repeated in homes all over the world. But something very similar happens when we open our Bibles. We read a passage and though we take it in with our eyes, it seems the words go nowhere. The thoughts expressed by those words do not register on our minds or in our spirits. I’m ashamed to admit there are times when I have read a chapter from the Bible and walked away completely unaware of what I have read. Nothing has registered. The psalmist’s prayer in today’s reading needs to become my own: Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.
Unless God opens our eyes when we read His word, we are engaging in an exercise in futility. The Holy Spirit inspired the apostles and prophets to write the Bible, and we urgently need the same Holy Spirit to bring those words alive for us as we read. The god of this world has blinded our eyes. Often God’s truths are veiled. We need the Holy Spirit to remove that veil. Something marvelous happens when that occurs. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3: 18).
Response: Father God, open my eyes and my heart to the truths of your glorious word. Day by day I want to grow in my knowledge and love for you. I need to be transformed by your Spirit. Remove the veil from my eyes. Amen.
Your Turn: Do you regularly read God’s word? Do you sometimes suffer from Bible blindness?