I will praise Him!
Reading: Psalm 63
A psalm of David. When he was in the Desert of Judah.
You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
where there is no water.
I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you (NIV).
A healthy human body can go as much as ninety days without food, but only about ten days without water. Water is life. Without it we perish.
A few years ago with great fanfare, it was announced that liquid water had been discovered on the surface of Mars. This opens the possibility of microbial life on or just beneath the Martian surface. What is more important, human life can be sustained on Mars for long periods if water is present.
The introductory note to Psalm 63 informs us that David composed this psalm, when he was in the Desert of Judah. But there is something quite startling about this psalm. David is not crying out for water as we might expect. Instead, David is crying out for God. He’s not seeking for water; he is earnestly seeking for God.
Hear David’s desperate plea, “I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.”
When was the last time you thirsted for God like a man trekking in the heat of the desert? I must confess I’m better at ignoring God than seeking Him. But that was not David’s mindset. David recognized his need for God. He was thirsty for Him.
Our thirst for God should be a constant in our lives. As I write this, I pause for sips of my morning coffee. It’s a thirst I have—a longing that prompts me to pick up my cup. At various times throughout the day do I thirst for God in the same way? Do I long for His Spirit and the thrill of His presence near me?
Are you spending your days in a spiritual desert? Are you yearning for intimacy with God? Oh that we might thirst for God as David did!
Response: LORD God, I want more of you in my life. Help me to sing and praise your name, and draw my satisfaction from you. You are the true source of life and joy. All my springs of joy are in you. Amen.
Your Turn: How can we cultivate a personal thirst for God?
Reading: Psalm 35
May all who gloat over my distress
be put to shame and confusion;
may all who exalt themselves over me
be clothed with shame and disgrace.
May those who delight in my vindication
shout for joy and gladness;
may they always say, “The LORD be exalted,
who delights in the well-being of his servant.”
My tongue will proclaim your righteousness,
your praises all day long (NIV).
Psalm 35 draws to a close with this warning against Schadenfreude: May all who gloat over my distress be put to shame and confusion; may all who exalt themselves over me be clothed with shame and disgrace.
So what is Schadenfreude you ask? Dictionary.com defines schadenfreude as satisfaction or pleasure felt at someone else’s misfortune. It is a compound German word: schaden harm + freude joy. In other words, schadenfreude is the joy you may feel when hearing about another person’s calamity. Schadenfreude can be viewed as the ladder-climber’s delight in seeing others fall behind or off the ladder entirely. Far too often it manifests in the false assumption that we can advance ourselves by putting others down. The truth is we advance ourselves by advancing others. Advancing by putdowns has no firm foundation because it hurts others and creates hostility. It usually ends badly because pride precedes a fall, just as darkness follows sunset.
Are you exalting yourself at the expense of others? If so, take some time to repent. Do your best to repair the damaged relationships that result from such behavior.
Paul, the apostle, gives us this advice: Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited (Romans 12:14-16).
Take joy in the success of others rather than resenting their achievements. Let their successes ignite within you a desire for self-improvement. With God’s help change what you can within yourself before looking to change others. We all have a place in our heart that needs some renovation.
Then with David we can rejoice when others succeed. May those who delight in my vindication shout for joy and gladness; may they always say, “The LORD be exalted, who delights in the well-being of his servant.”
Response: Father God, give me a heart of thanksgiving. Grant me a pure heart with pure motives. May I always delight in the well-being of your servants. Amen.
Your Turn: Have you suffered from a bad case of schadenfreude? Do you rejoice when others succeed or are you envious?
Reading: Psalm 33
Sing joyfully to the LORD, you righteous;
it is fitting for the upright to praise him.
Praise the LORD with the harp;
make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre.
Sing to him a new song;
play skillfully, and shout for joy.
For the word of the LORD is right and true;
he is faithful in all he does.
The LORD loves righteousness and justice;
the earth is full of his unfailing love (NIV).
It’s a good to wake up with a song of praise to the LORD on your lips. How do I know that’s true? I listen to birds. Their joyous songs are new every morning. If they have cause to sing praise to the LORD, surely I do as well.
Jesus said, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:29:31).
If a sparrow has grounds for praising the LORD each and every day, surely we have more. His constant care sustains us moment by moment. If the Father keeps count of my hair, He must be concerned about even the tiny details of my life. His loving mercy is new every morning; therefore, it is fitting for the upright to praise him.
Here in Psalm 33 we are instructed to: Praise the LORD with the harp; make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre.
Forgive me, LORD. I’m an instrumental disaster. Playing skillfully is nigh unto impossible. But with my voice I will praise you. I can’t compete with robins and cardinals, but I will sing my praise. For the word of the LORD is right and true; he is faithful in all he does.
The steadfast love of the LORD is unchanging. My praise for Him should be just as steadfast—unaffected by my current circumstances. I have heard the birds break into song at sunrise even on a gray rainy morning. At the very least my praise for God should be as constant. Paul and Silas sang praises to God after being severely flogged and imprisoned in Philippi. See Acts chapter 16. Their worship was unaffected by their circumstances. They were obedient to the LORD’s command: Sing joyfully to the LORD, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him.
Response: Thank you, LORD God, for each day you set before me. Give me a heart of praise for you. You sustain me. Today give me a new song to praise you, O LORD. It’s always good, right and fitting to sing my praise to you. Amen.
Your Turn: Do you love to praise God? Does it lift your spirit when you do? Are there times when the Lord given you a new song to sing?
Reading: Psalm 31
How abundant are the good things
that you have stored up for those who fear you,
that you bestow in the sight of all,
on those who take refuge in you.
In the shelter of your presence you hide them
from all human intrigues;
you keep them safe in your dwelling
from accusing tongues (NIV).
Our view of God is of crucial importance. It will greatly influence how we live our lives on planet earth. Is He a divine ogre waiting to pounce on us for the slightest transgression? Is He aloof, hard of hearing, out of touch and out of reach? Does He stand opposed to your wishes and dreams—the nagging heavenly parent who frowns at your ambitions?
That’s not David’s view of God. He saw a caring LORD of heaven and earth, who was only too eager to bless those who sought refuge in Him. That’s why David exclaims, “How abundant are the good things that you have stored up for those who fear you that you bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in you.”
Think of it for a moment: God has a storehouse of good things just waiting for you. He has prepared a whole series of blessings that He will lavish on those who fear Him. Furthermore, the LORD will bestow those blessings in the sight of all—on all who seek shelter in the shadow of His wings. Now that’s a picture of an amazing God.
What might some of those good things be? First and foremost the LORD has an abundance of mercy set aside just for you. In the midst of unparalleled disaster, as a witness to the destruction of Jerusalem, the prophet Jeremiah rightly discerned the heart of the LORD. Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness (Lamentations 3:22-23). For Jeremiah God was good all the time, even in disaster.
God has an abundance of love, peace and joy set aside just for you. Tap into it; drink deep of it. It’s there for you. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval (Romans 14:17-18).
We serve a generous God—a God of grace who extends unmerited favor to us. In your mind, stop limiting His blessings. They are abundant, they are stored up for you and they will manifest in the lives of those who love and fear Him.
Response: LORD God, thank you for all the good things you have stored up for me, both temporal and spiritual. I rejoice in you! You are a generous God lavishing mercy on me through your son, Jesus. Amen.
Your Turn: How do you see God? Do you have the right perspective of Him? Is He opposed to your wishes and dreams?
Reading: Psalm 31
But I trust in you, LORD;
I say, “You are my God.”
My times are in your hands;
deliver me from the hands of my enemies,
from those who pursue me.
Let your face shine on your servant;
save me in your unfailing love.
Let me not be put to shame, LORD,
for I have cried out to you;
but let the wicked be put to shame
and be silent in the realm of the dead.
Let their lying lips be silenced,
for with pride and contempt
they speak arrogantly against the righteous (NIV).
Reflection (I wrote this post several years ago, but the truth it contains is just as relevant today.)
Yesterday, I made a trip to the hospital to visit a neighbor from down my street who is dying due to a brain tumor. Today, I just returned from visiting another neighbor who is dying due to heart failure. About ten years ago this medical missionary had a heart transplant. Now that heart is being rejected, and she has less than a year to live. Making matters more dire, she has a thirteen-year-old son and a ten-year-old daughter.
David spoke the truth when he declared, “My times are in your hands.” We have no idea—no certainty about what tomorrow will bring. Will it bring life or death, joy or sorrow, pain or ecstasy, excitement or boredom? Our times are in His hands. We devise our plans, but ultimately the LORD determines the outcome. Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails (Proverbs 19:21).
As if to prove my point, as I went on line to search for the Proverbs passage quoted above, I discovered that Canada’s former finance minister, Jim Flaherty, had suddenly died of a heart attack. While to non-Canadian readers the name Jim Flaherty may mean nothing, to those who live in the true north strong and free Mr. Flaherty was a well-known and well-respected leader who piloted Canada through the Great Recession with consummate skill. He retired just one month before his sudden passing. Mr. Flaherty’s times were in His—that is God’s hands.
But we can easily forget that our times are in God’s hands. It is God who judges: He brings one down, he exalts another (Psalm 75:7). He determines the length of our days. That’s why the opening words of this psalm portion are so important. David asserts, “But I trust in you, LORD; I say, ‘You are my God.'”
In life and in death He is Lord. Put your trust in Him for today, for tomorrow and for all eternity.
Response: LORD God, I do not know what the future holds for me, but like David, I put my trust in you. Guide me in your ways. My life is in your hands. Amen.
Your Turn: How long do you think you have on this earth? Are you ready for eternity?
Reading: Psalm 21
For the director of music. A psalm of David.
The king rejoices in your strength, LORD.
How great is his joy in the victories you give!
You have granted him his heart’s desire
and have not withheld the request of his lips.
You came to greet him with rich blessings
and placed a crown of pure gold on his head.
He asked you for life, and you gave it to him—
length of days, forever and ever.
Through the victories you gave, his glory is great;
you have bestowed on him splendor and majesty.
Surely you have granted him unending blessings
and made him glad with the joy of your presence.
For the king trusts in the LORD;
through the unfailing love of the Most High
he will not be shaken (NIV).
The greatest test of a man’s character does not come during times of failure and defeat, but rather during times of success and victory. The higher a person rises the more detached he becomes from the common man’s reality. The historian Lord Acton observed that “Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
Despite much opposition, conflict and affliction, David, the shepherd boy, became the King of Israel. David’s character was severely tested as he wandered as a fugitive in the wilderness, but greater testing lay ahead. David’s moral failure came at the pinnacle of his success. He passed the test in the wilderness, but failed the test in the throne room. Nothing tests a man’s mettle like success.
Despite this weakness, David knew where his strength lay. His strength came from the LORD. He knew the true source of his success. Here in Psalm 21 he testifies to why he rose to prominence: The king rejoices in your strength, LORD. How great is his joy in the victories you give!
When we achieve success, we need to cast our mind back to the reason for that success. It’s interesting to note that David did not take the credit for his victories. He attributed his accomplishments to the LORD. This is contrary to human nature. I am apt to crow about my triumphs, rather than give the credit to God. The truth is my abilities come from God and any success I achieve comes as a gift from Him. For promotion and power come from nowhere on earth, but only from God. He promotes one and deposes another (Psalm 75:6-7, TLB)
Response: Heavenly Father, help me to rightly handle the success that you bring. Lord Jesus, you are my victory over death, hell and the grave. Keep me thankful. You are more wonderful than I can imagine. I praise you. I owe any success I have achieved to you, Lord. Amen.
Your Turn: What personal success can you thank God for today? Are you giving credit where credit is due?
Reading: Psalm 4
For the director of music. With stringed instruments. A psalm of David.
Answer me when I call to you,
my righteous God.
Give me relief from my distress;
have mercy on me and hear my prayer.
How long will you people turn my glory into shame?
How long will you love delusions and seek false gods?
Know that the LORD has set apart his faithful servant for himself;
the LORD hears when I call to him.
Tremble and do not sin;
when you are on your beds,
search your hearts and be silent.
Offer the sacrifices of the righteous and trust in the LORD.
Many, LORD, are asking, “Who will bring us prosperity?”
Let the light of your face shine on us.
Fill my heart with joy when their grain and new wine abound.
In peace I will lie down and sleep,
for you alone, LORD, make me dwell in safety (NIV).
Where are you looking?
Think about it for a moment, where you look is where you go. If you are walking, you are looking where you are going. If you are driving, you are looking where you are going, and if you don’t fix your eyes on where you are going, your journey will surely come to an abrupt end—an accident. As you move through your day—as you move through life—where you look is where you go.
If you look to the internet for porn, you are sure to find it, and be trapped by it. If you look to television for entertainment, you are sure to find it. It too in subtle ways can ensnare and deaden the spirit. If you look to others, they will often disappoint you. As David points out in this Psalm, all too often we love delusions and seek false gods. We are looking in the wrong places and consequently we steer our life into the ditch.
In Psalm 4, David’s approach is totally different. He is looking to the LORD. He is calling out to God. He fears the LORD (trembles and does not sin). In silence he searches his heart and encourages us to do the same. Have you offered a sacrifice of righteousness recently? Right living has a cost. But it also pays enormous dividends.
As we trust in the LORD and look to Him, as a loving Father, He turns His face to us. The light of His face shines on us. Wow! That fills my heart with joy.
Response: Heavenly Father, today let the light of your face shine on me. Guide me in the way of truth. I want to look to you and walk in the way you have prepared for me. Amen.
Your Turn: Has the light of God’s face shone on you recently? What was that like?