I will praise the LORD!
Reading: Psalm 145
A psalm of praise. Of David.
I will exalt you, my God the King;
I will praise your name for ever and ever.
Every day I will praise you
and extol your name for ever and ever.
Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise;
his greatness no one can fathom.
One generation commends your works to another;
they tell of your mighty acts.
They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty—
and I will meditate on your wonderful works.
They tell of the power of your awesome works—
and I will proclaim your great deeds.
They celebrate your abundant goodness
and joyfully sing of your righteousness (NIV).*
Have you ever tried to lift up something that is far too heavy for you? As a boy I remember trying to pick up a rock that was heavier than me. It’s a good thing that young bodies are resilient because I’m sure I would seriously harm myself, if I tried the same thing today.
If I can’t lift up a heavy rock, how can I possibly lift up God? But that is precisely what David did and is calling me to do in Psalm 145. David begins with these words: I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name for ever and ever.
The key word as we begin this psalm is the word exalt. Exalt means to lift, elevate, raise or boost. How can we as mere more mortals lift, elevate, raise or boost God, the creator of the universe? Is God feeling down? Does the Almighty need me to lift Him up—to give Him a little boost? That sounds absurd, and it is absurd.
Yet here and throughout the psalms we are encouraged to praise the LORD. Does the LORD suffer from a fragile ego? Is that why He wants us to praise Him? No, that can’t be the reason we see these frequent admonitions to praise God. We can’t exalt God higher than He already is. Will praising God make Him one scintilla more holy, powerful, magnificent or loving? Of course not. The only one who is changed by praising God is us. The only one who is lifted up by exalting the LORD is you and me.
We are lifted up by lifting others. It has always been this way. Help someone, and we ourselves are helped. That’s how life works. That’s how praising God works. In this life of hardship and struggles, praise lifts my head and my heart from its burdens. I am lifted up when I lift the LORD up. And rest assured no one lifts like Him!
Response: LORD God, I just want to praise you. Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom. I will meditate on your wonderful works. You LORD are the lifter of my head. Amen.
Your Turn: Does heartfelt praise for the LORD fill you with joy? Do you need a lift today?
Reading: Psalm 119
I call with all my heart; answer me, LORD,
and I will obey your decrees.
I call out to you; save me
and I will keep your statutes.
I rise before dawn and cry for help;
I have put my hope in your word.
My eyes stay open through the watches of the night,
that I may meditate on your promises.
Hear my voice in accordance with your love;
preserve my life, LORD, according to your laws.
Those who devise wicked schemes are near,
but they are far from your law.
Yet you are near, LORD,
and all your commands are true.
Long ago I learned from your statutes
that you established them to last forever (NIV).
Meditation. It seems everyone is doing it. Have you taken up meditation? Even the Bible encourages us to meditate.
Ah, but there are some fundamental differences between transcendental meditation and the meditation that is described in the Bible. Eastern meditation, which springs from the Hindu religion, calls on the practitioner to relax and empty his or her mind.
Biblical meditation is not an emptying of the mind, or a disengagement with the thought process. Instead, it is active, concentrated thought on a topic, word or Bible verse. On an intellectual level, it has been compared to rumination—a cow chewing her cud. It involves getting the most out of what God has said—digesting His word—so it is fully incorporated into the life of the believer.
Today’s reading sheds light on the psalmist’s practice of biblical meditation: I rise before dawn and cry for help; I have put my hope in your word. My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promises.
The psalmist is thoroughly engaged with God. He is crying out to Him. He is focused on the word of God and His promises: I have put my hope in your word.
In the rush of life, do we stop and meditate on God’s word? Is Bible reading just a box to check off as we speed through our day? It’s the LORD who calls us aside to spend time with Him.
Response: LORD God, with all the distractions around me, I want to get in the habit of meditating on your word. Help me to focus my attention and thoughts on your promises. You are good to me. Amen.
Your Turn: Are you easily distracted from God’s word? Do you take it with you through the day?
Reading: Psalm 119
May your unfailing love come to me, LORD,
your salvation, according to your promise;
then I can answer anyone who taunts me,
for I trust in your word.
Never take your word of truth from my mouth,
for I have put my hope in your laws.
I will always obey your law,
for ever and ever.
I will walk about in freedom,
for I have sought out your precepts.
I will speak of your statutes before kings
and will not be put to shame,
for I delight in your commands
because I love them.
I reach out for your commands, which I love,
that I may meditate on your decrees (NIV).
We live in uncertain times. I am sure people have been saying words to that effect for generations, but it’s true. Developments in technology have been driving change at an ever increasing tempo. With major political and economic changes on the horizon, there seems to be more uncertainty than ever. The only thing that seems certain is that change will certainly happen.
In times like this, we need certainty. This world can’t offer us certainty, but God’s word can. Isaiah reminds us of the permanence of God’s word. “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever” (Isaiah 40:8).
Jesus offers us the same assurance. “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:17-19).
Jesus fully endorsed a reverence for God’s holy word. This is the reverence that we see expressed here in Psalm 119. We can place our trust in God’s word because it’s not changing with the times. It stands eternal. In uncertain times, we need God’s word in our minds and on our lips more than ever. May this be our prayer: Never take your word of truth from my mouth, for I have put my hope in your laws.
Response: Father God, help me grow in my love for your word. Help me to read, meditate and apply it to my daily life. I reach out for your commands, which I love, that I may meditate on your decrees. Amen.
Your Turn: Are you spending time daily in God’s word? Has it become as essential for you as your daily food? Do see God’s word as nourishment for your soul?
Reading: Psalm 86
Arrogant foes are attacking me, O God;
ruthless people are trying to kill me—
they have no regard for you.
But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God,
slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.
Turn to me and have mercy on me;
show your strength in behalf of your servant;
save me, because I serve you
just as my mother did.
Give me a sign of your goodness,
that my enemies may see it and be put to shame,
for you, LORD, have helped me and comforted me (NIV).
Living or working with an angry person can be extremely difficult. You can never tell what might trigger an angry reaction. You can be going about your normal routine and suddenly something will set them off. Next thing you know you are getting the full brunt of their fury for something done in complete innocence or for which you bear no responsibility. Life is full of stress. No one likes being around someone who gives full vent to their unchecked anger.
Unfortunately, many Christians live their lives as though God has anger management issues. They are convinced that at any moment God may smite them for some minor misstep or indiscretion. The truth is God is far more patient and compassionate than we realize. Here in Psalm 86 David reminds us that the LORD is slow to anger. But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.
If you want a short one sentence description of God, here it is. It is well worth repeating. But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.
Take that sentence and memorize it, repeat it and meditate on it. This is the essence of God. He oozes compassion for the broken and hurting. The LORD is gracious. He shows favor—undeserved grace—to His people. He is slow to anger. He is more than patient with us. He knows that all too often we are slow to learn the ways of God. But despite that, He abounds in love. There is an ocean full of God’s love, when we imagine there’s only a thimble full. Finally, the LORD is faithful. He sticks with us through thick and thin. In a changing world, God and His faithfulness remain constant.
Does your picture of God need to change? It may be time to switch that picture of an angry God for a picture of the God of compassion and grace—compassion and grace for yourself and for others. His love is bigger than our shortcomings.
Response: LORD God, I want to see you as you are, full of compassion and grace. Help me to show compassion and mercy to others. I want to meditate on your word so that I can know you as you truly are. Amen.
Your Turn: Do you believe God is angry with you? What characteristic of God do you love most?
Reading: Psalm 77
Then I thought, “To this I will appeal:
the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand.
I will remember the deeds of the LORD;
yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
I will consider all your works
and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”
Your ways, God, are holy.
What god is as great as our God?
You are the God who performs miracles;
you display your power among the peoples.
With your mighty arm you redeemed your people,
the descendants of Jacob and Joseph (NIV).
Psalm 77 began with the psalmist in a state of anguish approaching despair. He was filled with questions for the LORD—questions but no answers. This brings us to our reading for today. After pouring out his complaint, the psalmist recalls the mighty works of the LORD.
“To this I will appeal: the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand. I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”
When in doubt, remember. In a time of suffering, remember. When troubles assail from every side, remember. What should we remember? Remember the God who performs miracles. Remember that He is your personal redeemer. The blood Jesus shed was for you. The resurrection he accomplished was for you. The forgiveness he offers is for you.
During trying times, I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.
Our faith isn’t tested and purified in the good times while the choir sings sweetly in the background. Faith is tested and purified in the furnace of affliction. There’s no lineup of volunteers signing up for affliction. The gospel that is often presented today is branded as affliction-free. But Jesus gave no such promise. He promised persecution to those who leave all to follow him. (See Mark 10:29-31).
Paul, the apostle, makes this assertion: We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us (Romans 5:3-5).
As you face difficult times, reflect on the ever-present, never-changing, miracle-working power of God.
Response: LORD God, you are at work on my behalf even when I can’t see it. I believe in you, the miracle-working God. May my meditation center on you and your word, because your word brings light. Amen.
Your Turn: Does God have your attention when you are in trouble or pain?
Reading: Psalm 56
Record my misery;
list my tears on your scroll—
are they not in your record?
Then my enemies will turn back
when I call for help.
By this I will know that God is for me.
In God, whose word I praise,
in the LORD, whose word I praise—
in God I trust and am not afraid.
What can man do to me?
I am under vows to you, my God;
I will present my thank offerings to you.
For you have delivered me from death
and my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before God
in the light of life (NIV).
Psalm 56 is a relatively short psalm. Yet in this short psalm, David repeats the phrase ‘whose word I praise’ three times. In today’s reading he states, “In God, whose word I praise, in the LORD, whose word I praise—in God I trust and am not afraid.”
For me this phrase raises a question. Whose word do I praise? Do I praise God’s word? Do I appreciate and value the written word of God? Have I made it my refuge as it was for David? Is it my sustenance? Do I feed on it daily? While fasting in the wilderness Jesus answered the tempter, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God’” (Matthew 4:4).
Do you trust the living, active word of God to help you today and every day? Trust really is crucial. If I don’t trust that God’s word will help, encourage, correct and sustain me, I won’t bother reading it or meditating on it. I’ll trust in my own abilities or seek direction from other sources.
Trust is crucial in election campaigns. During such campaigns politicians from a variety of parties make their pitch to the electorate. Again the fundamental question for each voter is whose word, do you trust? Politicians often promise more than they can deliver. Often I have been let down by a politician who promised to do things differently, but once in office failed to deliver, or became caught up in scandal after scandal. I presume the same disappointment holds true for many voters.
We need to remember that salvation won’t ever be achieved at the ballot box. It was achieved at the cross—only at the cross. The remedy for my sin is found there. The living word of God reminds us of that trustworthy, unchanging truth.
Response: LORD God, I put my trust in your word. I praise your life-giving word for it is good and completely trustworthy. Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path (Psalm 119:105). Amen.
Your Turn: Do you make it your habit to read and meditate on the word of God?
Reading: Psalm 39
For the director of music. For Jeduthun. A psalm of David.
I said, “I will watch my ways
and keep my tongue from sin;
I will put a muzzle on my mouth
while in the presence of the wicked.”
So I remained utterly silent,
not even saying anything good.
But my anguish increased;
my heart grew hot within me.
While I meditated, the fire burned;
then I spoke with my tongue:
“Show me, LORD, my life’s end
and the number of my days;
let me know how fleeting my life is.
You have made my days a mere handbreadth;
the span of my years is as nothing before you.
Everyone is but a breath,
even those who seem secure (NIV).
Do you often find yourself in a dilemma of silence? In this psalm David finds himself in this very predicament. He decided, “I will put a muzzle on my mouth while in the presence of the wicked.”
If your ways and your thoughts run contrary to the ways of the wicked, you are in good company. You are in the company of the LORD. But don’t be surprised if you are socially ostracized, when you express your opinion. The ungodly rarely want to hear about the error of their ways. They usually prefer to blunder along in the darkness and curse the sudden appearance of light. It’s seen as too great a threat to their way of life.
David remained silent, “not even saying anything good.” But it was an uneasy silence.
Often as I listen to others—as I listen to news reports and the ruminations of cultural icons—I find myself in an uneasy silence. We live in a world that has largely abandoned God and His ways. When we embrace the God of the Bible, we are choosing to swim upstream against the flow of gravity and humanity. The world heaps scorn on those who have caught a different vision.
In his silence, David’s anguish increased. He states, “My heart grew hot within me. While I meditated, the fire burned.”
Is passion for God burning in your heart? True worth and eternal values can only be found in Him.
Response: LORD, show me your ways. Show me how much I need you day by day. Help me to value every day you give me on this earth. Shine your light in me and through me by the power of Jesus. Amen.
Your Turn: Are we silent too often when we should speak?