I will praise Him!
Reading: Psalm 88
I call to you, LORD, every day;
I spread out my hands to you.
Do you show your wonders to the dead?
Do their spirits rise up and praise you?
Is your love declared in the grave,
your faithfulness in Destruction?
Are your wonders known in the place of darkness,
or your righteous deeds in the land of oblivion?
But I cry to you for help, LORD;
in the morning my prayer comes before you.
Why, LORD, do you reject me and hide your face from me?
From my youth I have suffered and been close to death;
I have borne your terrors and am in despair.
Your wrath has swept over me;
your terrors have destroyed me.
All day long they surround me like a flood;
they have completely engulfed me.
You have taken from me friend and neighbor—
darkness is my closest friend (NIV).
Psalm 88 is the darkest of all the psalms. Many of the psalms are bright and cheery, filled with joy and praise. If I were to assign a color to them, I would paint them bright yellow, dappled with hues of orange and red. On the other hand, Psalm 88 draws from a much darker palette of black, grey and brown. This psalm is colored by loss, rejection and sorrow.
Many psalms spring from a place of grief, trouble and distress. This is only fitting since every life has such moments. Usually the psalmist pours out his troubles and his complaint before God, but he ends on a positive note—a note of hope. But Psalm 88 does not follow this pattern. It ends on a downer. You have taken from me friend and neighbor—darkness is my closest friend.
What are we to make of this ending? The sad reality is that not every book has a happy ending. Not every personal story has the Hollywood ending that we would like. Tragedy is real. Tragedy can strike anyone. We can live in a pretend world that says it isn’t so, but we are fooling only ourselves. This psalm adds a dark note of real-life integrity to the Book of Psalms.
But in the middle of it all—in the middle of his dark night of the soul—the psalmist takes his stand. But I cry to you for help, LORD; in the morning my prayer comes before you.
Sometimes we don’t have answers. Sometimes all we have is prayer.
Response: LORD God, when I am down, I cry to you for help. You are my hope when all hope is gone. Come to me in the dark times of my life. At such times I need you the most. Amen.
Your Turn: Are you going through a dark time? Do you find help in prayer?
Reading: Psalm 88
A song. A psalm of the Sons of Korah. For the director of music.
According to mahalath leannoth. A maskil of Heman the Ezrahite.
LORD, you are the God who saves me;
day and night I cry out to you.
May my prayer come before you;
turn your ear to my cry.
I am overwhelmed with troubles
and my life draws near to death.
I am counted among those who go down to the pit;
I am like one without strength.
I am set apart with the dead, like the slain who lie in the grave,
whom you remember no more, who are cut off from your care.
You have put me in the lowest pit, in the darkest depths.
Your wrath lies heavily on me;
you have overwhelmed me with all your waves.
You have taken from me my closest friends
and have made me repulsive to them.
I am confined and cannot escape; my eyes are dim with grief (NIV).
There are 150 psalms in the Book of Psalms and one of the most remarkable things about them is their emotional span. They range from giddy heights of joy and praise to great depths of depression and sorrow. The full array of human emotion and experience is on display. Whatever state you find yourself in, there’s a psalm for that—a psalm for every situation and human need. If you are in desperate straits, there’s a psalm for that. If you are soaring in the presence of God, there’s a psalm for that too. They reflect our need for God and our desire to connect with Him in all of life’s experiences.
Psalm 88 is a cry for help from the deepest pit of human need. Hear the psalmist’s cry of anguish: I am overwhelmed with troubles and my life draws near to death. I am counted among those who go down to the pit; I am like one without strength. I am confined and cannot escape; my eyes are dim with grief.
For reasons that we are not told, the psalmist feels trapped in the worst of circumstances. At times I think we all have been there—feeling alone with no one to turn to. In such times, there is no one to turn to but the LORD. In our time of despair He does not reject us or turn us away. He is a God who comforts us, even as Paul, the apostle declares, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
If you are in the depths of depression or despair follow the example of Heman, the psalmist. Call out to God. He is listening. He reaches to the lowest pit.
Response: LORD God, I need your comfort. Hear my prayer and answer me. In this time of sorrow show me a sign of your love and favor, Lord. Amen.
Your Turn: Are you currently facing a time of trouble or sorrow? Are others praying for you?
Reading: Psalm 78
Yet he gave a command to the skies above
and opened the doors of the heavens;
he rained down manna for the people to eat,
he gave them the grain of heaven.
Human beings ate the bread of angels;
he sent them all the food they could eat.
He let loose the east wind from the heavens
and by his power made the south wind blow.
He rained meat down on them like dust,
birds like sand on the seashore.
He made them come down inside their camp,
all around their tents.
They ate till they were gorged—
he had given them what they craved.
But before they turned from what they craved,
even while the food was still in their mouths,
God’s anger rose against them;
he put to death the sturdiest among them,
cutting down the young men of Israel (NIV).
Several years ago I received some wise counsel from a pastor. He said, “Be careful what you pray for. You may get what you want. And that’s not always a good thing.”
What happens when we get exactly what we want? For the answer to that question we should consult with million-dollar lottery winners. Obviously, they got what they wanted when they bought their lottery ticket. Sociologists who do long-term studies on lottery winners will tell you that in some cases winning the “big one” ends in disaster. Some people have managed to fritter away millions in a perpetual party lifestyle that leaves them physically broken and bankrupt in less than five years. Others have maintained their wealth and their health, but they have become socially isolated with family relationships in ruins. Getting what we want and more than we need doesn’t always end well.
In today’s reading from Psalm 78, we learn that despite Israel’s rebellious ways, God gave the people exactly what they wanted and more than they needed. Human beings ate the bread of angels; he sent them all the food they could eat.
The greatest temptation we face may not be denying God in the face of poverty, but rather neglecting Him in the midst of wealth. When God gives us the wealth we want, the end result may be the impoverishment of our spirit. Be careful what you pray.
Response: LORD God, help me to find my contentment in you and not in the abundance of my possessions. If your blessings come, help me to be a wise and generous manager that seeks first the Kingdom of God. Amen.
Your Turn: Have your answered prayers led to regrets later on?
“A timely call to stop our mad rush and encounter God in the stillness of prayer and Bible study. David Kitz paints pictures with words, taking lessons from Scripture and nature to offer us a three-dimensional, multi-sensory relationship with God.”
Robert L. Briggs, Executive Vice President, American Bible Society
David writes with a dramatic and compelling flair, enticing us to meet with God and therein find life. His intent to let God’s Word speak through the psalms is accomplished with theological sensitivity to the sitz im leben and creative application to the context of our lives today. Well done, David! Psalms Alive! helped me inhabit the Word and know Him more.
Rev. Dr. Lawson Murray, President — Scripture Union Canada
For further information on the book, visit https://davidkitz.ca/psalms.php.
For information on the direct book purchase from the author, click here.
For purchase from Amazon click here.
For information on a live dramatization of the Psalms visit
There is no liberation like the liberation of full and free forgiveness. — David Kitz
Reading: Psalm 71
Do not cast me away when I am old;
do not forsake me when my strength is gone.
For my enemies speak against me;
those who wait to kill me conspire together.
They say, “God has forsaken him;
pursue him and seize him, for no one will rescue him.”
Do not be far from me, my God;
come quickly, God, to help me.
May my accusers perish in shame;
may those who want to harm me
be covered with scorn and disgrace.
As for me, I will always have hope;
I will praise you more and more
My mouth will tell of your righteous deeds,
of your saving acts all day long—
though I know not how to relate them all.
I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, Sovereign LORD;
I will proclaim your righteous deeds, yours alone.
Since my youth, God, you have taught me,
and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds.
Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God,
till I declare your power to the next generation,
your mighty acts to all who are to come (NIV).
I am officially a senior, and I am inching my way toward my seventieth year. With each passing year I can more fully identify with the psalmist’s prayer. For those of us in our sixth decade and beyond, great wisdom can be found in this psalm. As physical vitality declines, more and more we come to rely on the strength of God.
The psalmist laments, “For my enemies speak against me; those who wait to kill me conspire together.”
Our enemies don’t all strut about on two legs. Some of them creep into our lives in more subtle forms like discouragement, depression, dementia and disease. These are the more common enemies that conspire against us. When they gain the upper hand, our golden years lose their lustre. Against this backdrop the psalmist is defiant. He takes his stand. As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more…
Having come this far by the grace of God, this is not the time to retreat… till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come.
Response: LORD God, thank you for your presence with me since my youth. Continue to fill my life with joy, meaning and purpose. Day by day, be my help and strength until I see you face to face. Amen.
Your Turn: Do you look forward to your golden years?
Reading: Psalm 66
I will come to your temple with burnt offerings
and fulfill my vows to you—
vows my lips promised and my mouth spoke
when I was in trouble.
I will sacrifice fat animals to you
and an offering of rams;
I will offer bulls and goats
Come and hear, all you who fear God;
let me tell you what he has done for me.
I cried out to him with my mouth;
his praise was on my tongue.
If I had cherished sin in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened;
but God has surely listened
and has heard my prayer.
Praise be to God,
who has not rejected my prayer
or withheld his love from me! (NIV)
I grew up in a family that prayed. But that statement might give you the wrong impression. It might be more accurate to say, “I grew up in a family that religiously recited prayers.”
We recited a common table prayer before every meal and the Lord’s Prayer before breakfast. My mother taught me a very scary bedtime prayer: Now I lay me down to sleep; I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. Amen.
To a six-year-old, that’s a scary prayer. It’s enough to keep you awake lest your soul be carried off in the night, while you’re off in la-la land.
I don’t think I really prayed—prayed from the heart—until the end of my grade four school year. The memory is still fresh in my mind. The little one-room country school I attended was closing. In September I would be bussed to the big school in town. This change was frightening. The familiar was being taken away and in its place was something big, strange and intimidating. Could I survive there? Could I thrive there? These thoughts troubled me.
On my last walk home from my country school, I left the country road and walked into a grove of poplars. That’s where I prayed—not a meaningless recited prayer—but a prayer from my heart to God. I asked for wisdom, strength and God’s favour for the challenging year ahead. God answered. After all these years I can say, “Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!”
Response: LORD God, thank you for answering prayer—not once but thousands of times. Again and again you have proven your love for me. You are the God who hears me. Amen.
Your Turn: When did you learn to pray from the heart? Do you remember the occasion?
Reading: Psalm 59
God will go before me
and will let me gloat over those who slander me.
But do not kill them, Lord our shield,
or my people will forget.
In your might uproot them and bring them down.
For the sins of their mouths, for the words of their lips,
let them be caught in their pride.
For the curses and lies they utter,
consume them in your wrath,
consume them till they are no more.
Then it will be known to the ends of the earth
that God rules over Jacob.
They return at evening, snarling like dogs,
and prowl about the city.
They wander about for food
and howl if not satisfied.
But I will sing of your strength,
in the morning I will sing of your love;
for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.
You are my strength, I sing praise to you;
you, God, are my fortress, my God on whom I can rely (NIV).
David began Psalm 59 in great distress, fleeing for his life, and calling out for God’s deliverance. But as is often the case in the Psalms, there is a transition point. What began with desperate pleading on David’s part, ends with confident faith and praise to God for His unfailing help. Apparently, David met with God. The LORD heard his cry and answered him. David makes this assertion, “God will go before me…”
Can you make that assertion too? Have you met with God in prayer? Have you poured out your heart before Him? What is more important, has God answered you? Above all, true prayer is a two-way communication. Have you taken time to listen for His voice? Is He going before you?
There are many who assert that prayer is the answer. That’s nonsense! Prayer is not the answer. God is the answer. What we need is God. We need to hear the Holy Spirit speaking into our spirits when we pray. Prayer is simply a means to connect with God. Prayer is part of the divine equation. But it’s God whom we seek. He is the solution—the eternal amen—the reward at the end of the quest.
David learned how to seek God through prayer, praise and worship. He was taught by God. God will teach us too, if we will take the time to seek Him with all our heart. Then we can say, “You are my strength, I sing praise to you; you, God, are my fortress, my God on whom I can rely.”
Response: LORD God, teach me to pray like David prayed. Give me ears to hear your voice when I come before you. Direct my thoughts into the path you have chosen for me. Amen.
Your Turn: Has God spoken to you at various times?
In today’s reading, Marcus Longinus the centurion, disguised in his civilian clothes, joins the throng of Jesus followers as enters the temple courts. It is the morning of the second day of Passover Week.
There were more of this prophet’s followers awaiting his arrival within the temple grounds. Our numbers may have swelled to well over a thousand at this point. Keeping him in view from within this multitude of craning necks was a challenge.
We poured into the Court of the Gentiles, with Jesus taking the lead. It quickly became clear that he did not like what he found there.
This whole area had been converted into a market for the duration of the Passover celebration. There were currency exchange tables, caged fowl available for sacrifice, and goods of various and sundry quality arranged for the pilgrims’ perusal.
I could well imagine the eager anticipation among the merchants with the arrival of such a large crowd. But this prophet had no intention of leading a shopping expedition.
With a loud, anger-edged voice, he declared for all to hear, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you”—his hand slashed through the air to encompass the assembled entrepreneurs—“have made it a ‘den of thieves’!”
Then seizing the nearest table, he sent it, and all that was upon it, clattering onto the paving stones. The prophet swung around, and without stopping to admire the havoc he had caused, he grabbed a money changer’s table, and with one quick move he sent a thousand coins rolling in every direction. The next banker’s hoard met with the same fate.
Pandemonium and panic now fully broke loose.
Benches stacked eight feet high with dove cages were next in line. Cages toppled. Birds flapped. Feathers flew. Within moments scores of birds had been released by the prophet’s followers.
Frightened merchants rushed for the exits, clutching all that their arms could hastily gather. Within short minutes the entire Gentile court had been cleared of both buyers and sellers.
The transformation was astonishing, the effect upon his followers electrifying. They were in his hands. They loved the sheer power of the moment. With single- handed raw courage he had swept aside the outward clutter of both wealth and religious tradition.
I was impressed. The man had convictions and would act on them.
Timid temple guards skittered about the perimeter of the courtyard, dumbfounded by what they had witnessed, yet fully knowing they were powerless to act before the prophet’s adoring throng. This was a coup. In just moments they had lost control—lost it to the leader of a Galilean mob. Explaining this would not be easy.
The crowd pressed in closer, sensing Jesus was about to speak. “My house,” he said, and he gestured to the marble floors and columns that surrounded him. “My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations. This is why there is a temple. This is why I have come . . . that we might draw near.”
To download a free study guide for this high-impact, bible-based novel visit: https://www.davidkitz.ca/centurion.php/free study guide PDF
For book purchases of The Soldier Who Killed a King try Amazon or https://www.christianbook.com