I will praise Him!
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?
Reading: Psalm 119
Oh, how I love your law!
I meditate on it all day long.
Your commands are always with me
and make me wiser than my enemies.
I have more insight than all my teachers,
for I meditate on your statutes.
I have more understanding than the elders,
for I obey your precepts.
I have kept my feet from every evil path
so that I might obey your word.
I have not departed from your laws,
for you yourself have taught me.
How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!
I gain understanding from your precepts;
therefore I hate every wrong path (NIV).
Here’s a question for you: How do you take a bone away from a hungry dog?
Answer: You offer him a steak.
In many respects humans respond just like dogs. We won’t give up our filthy habits unless we are offered something much better. Many years back I remember a conversation with a drug addict—a former drug addict. I asked him if he found it difficult to give up his drug habit.
“No it was easy. Once I experienced the love of God—the real love of Jesus for me on the cross—it was easy. I found something so much better,” he said with a huge grin on his face.
These words from today’s reading reflect the same concept: I have not departed from your laws, for you yourself have taught me. How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
It’s not hard to walk the straight and narrow when you are walking that path with the Lord—when He Himself is teaching you—when your heart is burning within you as the resurrected Jesus opens the eyes of your understanding. See Luke 24:13-32. There is a closeness in the Spirit that has no equal. Those are the moments that change you forever because you are fully with God. His word is rich. It’s nourishment to your famished soul. His love is the air you breathe.
Who here wants a dirty chewed up bone when there’s steak on offer?
Response: Father God, renew my first love for you. I want to fall in love with you again. Fill me with delight for your word and your Spirit. Completely change my affections. Amen.
Your Turn: Are you too content with your bone? Have you experienced the nearness of Jesus?
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. Good and evil continue as they always have. They war against each other. 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?
Reading: Psalm 119
I am laid low in the dust;
preserve my life according to your word.
I gave an account of my ways and you answered me;
teach me your decrees.
Cause me to understand the way of your precepts,
that I may meditate on your wonderful deeds.
My soul is weary with sorrow;
strengthen me according to your word.
Keep me from deceitful ways;
be gracious to me and teach me your law.
I have chosen the way of faithfulness;
I have set my heart on your laws.
I hold fast to your statutes, LORD;
do not let me be put to shame.
I run in the path of your commands,
for you have broadened my understanding (NIV).
Humility is not a character quality that is natural to man; on the contrary, a proud and haughty spirit is all too common. We may do our best to disguise our pride, but often it’s there just below the surface. Usually we are blind to our conceit and arrogance. We flatter ourselves too much to see our own faults. There are a number of scriptures that say just that. The rich are wise in their own eyes; one who is poor and discerning sees how deluded they are (Proverbs 28:11).
We smarten up when we are laid low. The psalmist begins today’s reading from the lowest point—from the dust. Why does he begin from such a low point? We are given a clue in the second verse of this psalm portion: I gave an account of my ways and you answered me; teach me your decrees.
When we are called to account, we like to put on a brave face and set our best foot forward. This may work well in human circles, but it’s not the best strategy when we are called to account before God. The positive spin we put on our sins and shortcomings doesn’t impress God in the least.
God sees us as we truly are. We are always naked—morally naked before Him. We can hide nothing from the LORD. When God answers us, we are brought low; we are laid low in the dust. We were taken from the dust and God formed us into who we are. Any success we have had is due to Him—entirely due to Him. That problem-solving mind was formed by Him. That pretty/handsome face was shaped by Him. That strength and athletic talent came from God. My talents are gifts from God.
We get a right understanding—the best understanding from our knees—the laid low position.
Response: Father God, you are right to call me to account. I humble myself before you. Keep me from deceitful ways; be gracious to me and teach me your law. I want to please you. Amen.
Your Turn: Are you putting a positive spin on your relationship with God or has humility triumphed?