I will praise Him!
Reading: Psalm 24
Of David. A psalm.
The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it;
for he founded it on the seas
and established it on the waters.
Who may ascend the mountain of the LORD?
Who may stand in his holy place?
The one who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not trust in an idol
or swear by a false god.
They will receive blessing from the LORD
and vindication from God their Savior.
Such is the generation of those who seek him,
who seek your face, God of Jacob (NIV).
Psalm 24 begins by establishing the sovereignty of the LORD. He alone is to be worshipped because the LORD is the Creator of all things. The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters.
David then goes on to ask two very pertinent questions. Who may ascend the mountain of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place?
Can anyone approach this great Sovereign God? Are there any preconditions that we need to meet? According to David, the answer is yes. The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god.
David, I have a problem with that answer. You see my hands aren’t always clean, and my heart isn’t always pure. How then can I approach the LORD? In fact, my problem is a universal problem. In Psalm 14:2-3, we read this indictment against humanity: The LORD looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. All have turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.
Is this generation seeking the LORD? With rare exceptions the answer is no. It has always been thus. The harsh words of Psalm 14 ring just as true now as they did in David’s time. But there are those who break the mold of this world—those who have received the forgiveness and cleansing of God. They will receive blessing from the LORD and vindication from God their Savior. Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, God of Jacob.
Those who have been cleansed by the blood of the Lamb of God may freely approach the throne of God. I want to be numbered among that generation.
Response: Lord Jesus, I thank you for your suffering and death on the cross. Your blood cleanses my hands and purifies my heart. Today I want to seek you. In your great mercy reveal yourself to me. Amen.
Your Turn: Are you a God seeker? On what basis do you approach the Sovereign LORD?
Reading: Psalm 111
Praise the LORD!
I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart, |
in the company of the upright, in the congregation.
Great are the works of the LORD,
studied by all who delight in them.
Full of honor and majesty is his work,
and his righteousness endures forever.
He has gained renown by his wonderful deeds;
the LORD is gracious and merciful.
He provides food for those who fear him;
he is ever mindful of his covenant.
He has shown his people the power of his works,
in giving them the heritage of the nations.
The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy.
They are established forever and ever,
to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.
He sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant forever.
Holy and awesome is his name.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;
all those who practice it have a good understanding.
His praise endures forever (NIV).
If the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the LORD, what is the end point or objective of this inducement to wisdom? I have often heard it argued that the fear of the LORD, which is frequently extolled in the Old Testament, has little to do with the common meaning for fear. We are to reverence or be in awe of the LORD, not be afraid of Him. To an extent this is true; however, I suspect that we often push this fearless approach to God too far. The Lion of the Tribe of Judah is not toothless. He has claws.
A healthy dose of godly fear can prevent a massive case of sin enslavement and heartache.
The reaction of God’s people when the Ten Commandments were given at Mount Sinai is well worth noting. When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance and said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die” (Exodus 22:18-19).
The very human fear expressed in this Exodus passage went well beyond a sense of awe and wonder. This was knee-buckling, heart-racing fear—the kind of fear that makes us dread doing anything that might offend this all-knowing, all-seeing, holy God. That’s a healthy fear—a fear that helps us to live and walk straight. Why would God want to induce this kind of fear?
God wants us to fear Him because He loves us. He wants to spare us from the agony of the terrible consequences of sin. A healthy fear of God leads us to an awe-induced love for Him. Now that’s wisdom
Response: Father God, help me see your love for me in your commandments. In love, you correct me when I stray. Grant me understanding that comes through a healthy fear and love for you. Amen.
Your Turn: What does fearing God mean to you? Is God your chum, your friend or your master?
Reading: Psalm 99
Moses and Aaron were among his priests,
Samuel was among those who called on his name;
they called on the LORD
and he answered them.
He spoke to them from the pillar of cloud;
they kept his statutes and the decrees he gave them.
LORD our God,
you answered them;
you were to Israel a forgiving God,
though you punished their misdeeds.
Exalt the LORD our God
and worship at his holy mountain,
for the LORD our God is holy (NIV).
David’s name appears in the text of several of the psalms, but this is the only psalm that lists other heroes of the faith. Moses, Aaron and Samuel, three heavy hitters of the Old Testament, are honored here. They are honored because they called on the LORD and he answered them.
I could quibble with the choice of these three. Moses struck the rock in anger when he was told to speak to it and thereby bring forth water for the people. As a consequence, he was not allowed to enter the Promised Land. Aaron gave into the people’s will and fashioned an idol—the golden calf. Samuel appointed Saul as the first king of Israel—a man who became a disappointing, disastrous leader who descended into witchcraft.
But… But then can I claim to be error free in the way I have lived my life? Like Moses I have lost my patience in more than one situation. If God treated me like Moses, there would be little hope of me reaching the Promised Land. Like Aaron I have a tendency to be led astray by the crowd, and like the prophet Samuel, at times I have backed people who stumbled badly and betrayed the Lord.
I have not lived a flawless life. That’s why I take comfort in these words: LORD our God, you answered them; you were to Israel a forgiving God, though you punished their misdeeds.
I need a forgiving God. I need a God who forgives my transgressions—those times when I think I know better, but of course I’m wrong. And if I am truly honest, I also admit that I need a God who punishes my misdeeds. If there are no consequences for my wrong doing, my transgressions will escalate. I need the discipline of the LORD, or I will go astray by following my own selfish desires. Just like the ancient people of Israel I need to live under the wise and loving rule of a holy God. How about you? Do you need a forgiving God?
Response: LORD God, you are holy. I want to live in a way that honors you. You know my failings and shortcomings. Forgive me as I call on you. I am needy, but in you I find all that I need. Amen.
Your Turn: If there were no consequences for sin would that change your life and conduct? Do you fear the consequences that come from wrong doing?
Reading: Psalm 99
The LORD reigns,
let the nations tremble;
he sits enthroned between the cherubim,
let the earth shake.
Great is the LORD in Zion;
he is exalted over all the nations.
Let them praise your great and awesome name—
he is holy.
The King is mighty, he loves justice—
you have established equity;
in Jacob you have done
what is just and right.
Exalt the LORD our God
and worship at his footstool;
he is holy (NIV).
What does it mean to be holy? There are several shades of meaning for the word holy. It can mean being consecrated or dedicated for a special purpose. It also means righteous. But the definition that fits best in the light of Psalm 99 reads like this: awe-inspiring—having a character that evokes reverence (Encarta Dictionary).
The psalmist is effusive with his praise for the LORD, but three times in this short psalm, he centers back to this phrase: he is holy. Yes, the LORD reigns, He is righteous and exalted, but what has really caught the psalmist’s attention is the LORD’s holiness. That’s what sets Him apart and elevates Him above the stratosphere.
Has the LORD’s holiness caught your attention? Have you been filled with awe by the holiness of God? I fear that far too often we have diminished God. We have tried to make Him like us—powerful but a bit quirky—maybe short-tempered or set in His ways. What nonsense! Our God is holy. We need to wake up to that fact. It must be central to our understanding of God.
In the Beatitudes from his Sermon on the Mount Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Matthew 5:8). To clarify, I might add that the pure in heart will see the true God, not a distorted caricature. Our sinful nature has a way of distorting our view of the LORD. That’s why personal purity and holiness are so essential. The apostle Peter provides this admonition: As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy” (1 Peter 1:14-16).
Response: LORD God, I want to see you at work in my life. Help me with the help of your Holy Spirit to clean up those areas that distort my view of you. You are holy. I worship you in the beauty of your holiness. Amen.
Your Turn: Are there times when you have seen God as short-tempered or set in His ways? Have you avoided God’s call to holiness?
Reading: Psalm 96
Ascribe to the LORD, all you families of nations,
ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;
bring an offering and come into his courts.
Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness;
tremble before him, all the earth.
Say among the nations, “The LORD reigns.”
The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved;
he will judge the peoples with equity.
Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
let the sea resound, and all that is in it.
Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them;
let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.
Let all creation rejoice before the LORD, for he comes,
he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
and the peoples in his faithfulness (NIV).
When I think of the word, ascribe, I immediately picture a long, grey-bearded man with a quill pen in his hand scratching words onto a scroll. That’s a scribe. I suppose this scribe could be busy ascribing. I wonder just what he could be ascribing? Well, according to the author of Psalm 96 my imaginary scribe could be ascribing glory and strength to the LORD.
In all seriousness ascribing means crediting or attributing certain character qualities to a person. The LORD certainly is strong and glorious. Along with those attributes, we could also add the words loving, faithful, merciful, just and holy. The LORD is all those things and more. For all these character qualities the LORD is worthy of praise.
Sometimes I don’t see something until it smacks me in the face. I can be blind to that missing shirt hanging in the closet or across the back of a chair. It takes someone else, usually my wife, to point out what should be plainly obvious. In the same way I can be blind to the kind gestures of a friend or colleague. It takes someone else to point them out—to ascribe them—by drawing my attention to them.
Are you missing something? Have you become blind to the beautiful character qualities of your spouse, your children or your workmates? Maybe you need to do some ascribing? Before it’s too late, let them know the good qualities you see in their lives. You won’t regret speaking words of affirmation to the ones you love. As for the LORD, He will be honored if we carry through with the words of the psalmist: Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness; tremble before him, all the earth. Say among the nations, “The LORD reigns.”
Response: LORD God, I want to see your glory and strength. I acknowledge your attributes. You are magnificent, holy, merciful and just. Thank you for your judgments. They are righteous. Amen.
Your Turn: Is there someone whose good character you need to ascribe or affirm?