I will praise Him!
Reading: Psalm 107
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
his love endures forever.
Let the redeemed of the LORD tell their story—
those he redeemed from the hand of the foe,
those he gathered from the lands,
from east and west, from north and south.
Some wandered in desert wastelands,
finding no way to a city where they could settle.
They were hungry and thirsty,
and their lives ebbed away.
Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
He led them by a straight way
to a city where they could settle.
Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
for he satisfies the thirsty
and fills the hungry with good things (NIV).
This psalm is different. It’s unique among the 150 psalms in the Bible because it presents us with various vignettes of redemption—brief stories or scenes where the LORD rains down his mercy and rescues the wayward and downtrodden.
In verse two the psalmist declares, “Let the redeemed of the LORD tell their story.” Then as the psalm progresses, he goes on to describe five scenes or stories of redemption. The desert-stranded traveler is rescued; the prisoner is set free, the rebellious are brought healing and encouragement, those lost in a storm-tossed sea find a safe harbor, and prosperity returns to the inhabitants of a parched wasteland. In every situation, the great God of heaven hears the cries of His people and shows them His plenteous mercy.
What a good God we serve! With the psalmist we exclaim, “His love endures forever!”
If you are a follower of Jesus, you too have a story of redemption to tell. He rescued you from a downward hellish spiral just as real as those described in this psalm. Some rescues come in the nick of time; others come early on, before we sink neck-deep into trouble. We might call them preemptive rescues. Whatever your personal story, it’s a testimony worth telling. God intervened in your life, and the good news is He stands ready to intervene again at the very moment you cry out to Him.
He loves to redeem His people. It’s in His nature. Spiritually, are you in a desert place? Call out to Him.
Response: Father God, I am thankful that I have a story of redemption. You intervened in my life. Today I thank you for satisfying my thirst and filling my life with good things. Amen.
Your Turn: Do you have a story of redemption to tell? Was it pre-emptive or in the nick of time?
Reading: Psalm 102
Let this be written for a future generation,
that a people not yet created may praise the LORD:
“The LORD looked down from his sanctuary on high,
from heaven he viewed the earth,
to hear the groans of the prisoners
and release those condemned to death.”
So the name of the LORD will be declared in Zion
and his praise in Jerusalem
when the peoples and the kingdoms
assemble to worship the LORD (NIV).
Time capsules are a fascinating idea. They can tell us a great deal about what people at a certain point in history considered important or indicative of that particular time. What was significant in the lives of people 100 years ago? A time capsule gives us a glimpse into that long ago period. For instance, a time capsule from 1959 might contain a hula-hoop, but the significance of that craze might well be lost on the current generation of young people.
In some respects, this reading from Psalm 102 acts as a time capsule. It is a written testimony of what the LORD has done. “The LORD looked down from his sanctuary on high, from heaven he viewed the earth, to hear the groans of the prisoners and release those condemned to death.”
Generation after generation of Bible readers has read this written testimony. They know that the LORD hears the groans of prisoners and sets them free. But this testimony doesn’t end there. It doesn’t end there because the LORD has not stopped listening and acting. He continues to do these things today.
I can personally testify to being set free from the bondage of sin. I know that due to my sinful nature I was condemned to die. But Jesus suffered the punishment I deserve on my behalf. When I called out to God, He heard my cry and set me free from the death penalty I was living under. My body may perish, but through the blood shed by Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit, I have eternal life. That’s my testimony. That’s the time capsule message I want to send to the next generation and beyond.
By the way, my testimony is not unique. Millions of people around the world can testify to the life changing power of the LORD. They all have time capsule testimonies that they want to send to a generation as yet unborn.
What about you? Do you have a testimony to God’s redeeming forgiveness and power? It might be worth your time to write it down. We overcome the attacks of the enemy by the words of our testimony. You have a story to tell. It’s a time capsule with contents far more valuable than a hula-hoop.
Response: Heavenly Father, I thank you for your intervention in my life. You have given me a story to tell—a testimony to your amazing grace. Help me to carry that testimony to a future generation—a generation that is not yet born. Amen.
Your Turn: Have you testified to the saving power of Jesus? How has the Lord changed your life?
Reading: Psalm 81
I am the LORD your God,
who brought you up out of Egypt.
Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.
“But my people would not listen to me;
Israel would not submit to me.
So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts
to follow their own devices.
“If my people would only listen to me,
if Israel would only follow my ways,
how quickly I would subdue their enemies
and turn my hand against their foes!
Those who hate the LORD would cringe before him,
and their punishment would last forever.
But you would be fed with the finest of wheat;
with honey from the rock I would satisfy you” (NIV).
In this concluding portion of Psalm 81, the LORD sets out two possible courses of action for the people of Israel. They can refuse to listen to God, persist in their stubborn ways and reap the devastating consequences, or they can submit to the LORD and be rewarded for their obedience.
God is for us; He is on our side. But we must decide to be on His side. He will fight for us—on our behalf—if we make the right decision. Take a look at this promise. “If my people would only listen to me, if Israel would only follow my ways, how quickly I would subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes!”
But the LORD doesn’t just promise victory over our foes. He promises to richly provide for us and bless us. “But you would be fed with the finest of wheat; with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”
The benefits of following the LORD are clearly stated and obvious. They are obvious when we examine the word of God, but they are obvious as well from human experience. I know many individuals who have resisted the will of God for their lives and their way has been marked by hardship and tragedy—much of it brought on by the choices they have made. The rebellious soul chooses to walk a rocky road. God sets the lonely in families; he leads out the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land (Psalm 68:6).
What choices are you making? Are you choosing God’s ways? Are you listening to Him? We can choose a rocky road in a sun scorched land or we can choose to be fed with honey from the rock. There are rich rewards when we make the right choice.
Response: LORD God, today I choose to follow you. I want to be on your side, rooting for the right team. I trust the promises in your word. You bring me victory, provision and enduring joy. Amen.
Your Turn: Have you struggled in obeying God? How do you turn rebellion into submission to God’s will?
Reading: Psalm 146
He is the Maker of heaven and earth,
the sea, and everything in them—
he remains faithful forever.
He upholds the cause of the oppressed
and gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets prisoners free,
the LORD gives sight to the blind,
the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down,
the LORD loves the righteous.
The LORD watches over the foreigner
and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.
The LORD reigns forever,
your God, O Zion, for all generations.
Praise the LORD (NIV).
Are you looking for the LORD’s help? Let’s be honest now. Many of us are. Well here’s a startling truth. The self-sufficient and well-to-do need not apply. We can also add the smug, the proud, and the arrogant to that list.
I thought the LORD was willing to help all who came to Him. True, but here is the sad reality; the arrogant and self-sufficient don’t come to God. They have no need for Him. They are too wrapped up in their successes and their pride to come in humility before the LORD. In reality, the LORD is the unseen author of any genuine human achievement of lasting value.
Today’s reading from Psalm 146 gives us a glimpse at those who should get their application in for the LORD’s help. Here’s the list as found in this psalm: the oppressed, the hungry, prisoners, the blind, the bowed down, foreigners, the fatherless and widows. Help is promised to all of these. To put it simply, the LORD helps the needy.
I have often heard it said that the Lord helps those who help themselves. I have even had people insist that this statement is found in the Bible. It is not. This non biblical proverb is often used to justify human greed. In other words, I’ll grab whatever I can without any thought for those who are less fortunate. Furthermore, I’ll frame it as God blessing my greed. Ouch!
The character of God is the exact opposite. He is attracted to the needy. He helps the needy rather than running from them. Jesus continually demonstrated this quality in his earthly ministry. He showed compassion to the oppressed, the hungry, the blind, the widow and the fatherless. He set captives free from prisons of sin and shame. Jesus calls his followers to do the same.
Response: LORD God, I confess that often I avoid the needy rather than seeking to help them. Give me a heart of compassion—a heart like your Son, Jesus. You are my great provider. Thank you. Amen.
Your Turn: How do you respond when you see someone in need? Do you always help?
This week’s I Love the Psalms theme is hunger.
Our Lord taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.”
As I think over my life, I can’t think of a single day when that prayer has not been answered. In other words, the Lord has had an unbroken record of faithfulness. I have never gone to bed hungry except by my own choice.
Today’s verse from the Psalms reminds us that God is the one who daily supplies our needs.
The Lord’s provision goes beyond physical needs. As the psalmist declares, the LORD also provides justice and sets prisoners free. Worry often holds me as a prisoner. What about you?
But when I consider the LORD’s faithfulness, there is no place left for worry. He banishes hunger along with worry. We have this assurance: God will take care of all your needs with the wonderful blessings that come from Christ Jesus! (Philippians 4:19, CEV).
Response: LORD God, thank you for your daily provision of good things. You have been more than faithful. My heart overflows with thanks for your goodness. Amen.
Your Turn: Has God been faithful in providing for you? Has He come through for you?