I will praise Him!
Reading: Psalm 98
Let the sea resound, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it.
Let the rivers clap their hands,
let the mountains sing together for joy;
let them sing before the LORD,
for he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
and the peoples with equity (NIV).
What comes to mind when you think of God’s judgment? Do you envision pictures of doom, gloom and destruction? If that’s your response, you are not alone, but maybe you have the wrong set of pictures? Maybe you have a wrong understanding of God? Should the redeemed live in dread of God’s judgment?
Psalm 98 is a joyous anthem of praise to God—praise for the salvation the LORD has won for us. The psalmist begins this psalm by calling us to sing to the LORD a new song. In today’s reading, that call for praise and worship is extended to all of nature. Let the sea resound, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it. Let the rivers clap their hands; let the mountains sing together for joy.
Have you seen any mountains singing for joy? Have you heard the rivers clap their hands? I love the pictures such thoughts put in my mind. In reality all of creation is speaking daily. The earth, sea and sky are telling of God’s mercy and glory. The setting sun shouts out the praises of God. Can you hear it?
According to the psalmist, there is a cause for this great celebration by the sea, the rivers and the mountains. These elements of creation are celebrating because the LORD is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples with equity. In other words God’s judgment should bring joy not dread. The LORD will set things right.
For far too long we have lived in a world of injustice, suffering and death. When the LORD comes, He will bring all this pain and perversity to an end. The environmental degradation that we have caused will come to an end. The Eden that was lost because of mans’ sin will be restored. Once again we will have access to the Tree of Life. Best of all we will walk in sweet communion with our heavenly Father. All this is possible because of the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus. The power of sin was broken at the cross. Since God’s coming judgment will bring about all this glorious restoration, why wouldn’t we join the mountains as they sing for joy?
Many of us have a wrong understanding of God and a wrong understanding of the purpose for His judgment. His judgments are good. They bring about peace—the shalom of God. Here in Psalm 98 we have the promise of His word on that. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples with equity.
Response: LORD God, in the past I have dreaded your judgment, but now I recognize your goodness. Come quickly, Lord Jesus. I want to see this world set right through your power and grace. Amen.
Your Turn: Do you fear God’s judgment? Is that always a good thing? Can it be misunderstood?
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?