What benefit can you gain from reading and studying the Psalms? Here are five direct benefits as I see them:
- The Psalms model prayer–prayer as it should be. The Psalms are the “Prayer Book” of the Bible.
- The Psalms model praise and worship for us. How are we to worship God? The Psalms provide the pattern. Down through the ages, they have inspired thousands of songwriters. The Psalms are the “Hymn Book” of the Bible.
- The Psalms are prophetic. With uncanny accuracy they point to the advent, suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus. The Psalms trumpet the authority and authenticity of God’s Word.
- The Psalms hold up a mirror to our souls. They reflect the trials and triumphs of the human condition. The Psalms are about life–life lived with our Creator.
- The Psalms are relational. They model how we are to live with God and others. They are intended as two-way communication at the deepest level. The Psalms connect us with God.
Reading: Psalm 71
Your righteousness, God, reaches to the heavens,
you who have done great things.
Who is like you, God?
Though you have made me see troubles,
many and bitter,
you will restore my life again;
from the depths of the earth
you will again bring me up.
You will increase my honor
and comfort me once more.
I will praise you with the harp
for your faithfulness, my God;
I will sing praise to you with the lyre,
Holy One of Israel.
My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to you—
I whom you have delivered.
My tongue will tell of your righteous acts all day long,
for those who wanted to harm me
have been put to shame and confusion (NIV).*
Typically Christians view resurrection as a New Testament concept, but here in the conclusion to Psalm 71, we can see that the Old Testament psalmist had a solid grasp of resurrection truths. Consider his words. Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up.
That sounds like resurrection to me. Jesus fulfilled the prophetic words of the psalmist when he stepped out of the tomb on resurrection morning. Elsewhere David spoke prophetically of Christ and his resurrection when he wrote, “I am your chosen one. You won’t leave me in the grave or let my body decay” (Psalm 16:10).
Peter sited this verse as proof of Jesus’ resurrection when he preached to the crowd that gathered on the Day of Pentecost. See Acts 2:22-36.
The promise of the resurrection filled the psalmist with hope and it should do the same for us. Because Jesus is alive now, we too will be raised to life. That thought should buoy us on tough days. When we lose a loved one, whose faith was rooted in God’s redeeming love, we can rest assured that our farewell is not forever. We will see them again at the resurrection. On that great day we can join with the psalmist and declare, “My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to you—I whom you have delivered.”
Response: LORD God, thank you for the promise of resurrection. Thank you for the hope we have in Jesus. Through Jesus’ shed blood we have redemption, and the forgiveness that makes resurrection possible. Hallelujah! Amen.
Your Turn: Why is the resurrection meaningful to you?
* New International Version, Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica
Some good news: The first volume of 365 Days through the Psalms by award-winning author David Kitz will be published in November, 2020, by Elk Lake Publishing. Two additional volumes will follow in 2021 to complete the three volume set of devotions from the Psalms.
Reading: Psalm 24
Lift up your heads, you gates;
be lifted up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The LORD strong and mighty,
the LORD mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, you gates;
lift them up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is he, this King of glory?
The LORD Almighty—
he is the King of glory (NIV).*
Are you ready? The King is coming.
All of Psalm 24 is a psalm of anticipation. David, the shepherd king, is anticipating the arrival of the LORD. The LORD is coming to His city—to His temple. Have you prepared your heart and your mind for the moment of His arrival? Are you ready to receive Him as your King? He often shows up at the moment we least expect Him.
Undoubtedly, David, the warrior King, was reflecting on his own triumphant entry into the city after the defeat of his enemies in battle. But here in this psalm, he projects the victorious arrival of a much greater monarch—the King of glory.
There is a prophetic expectancy to this psalm that forms a very natural bridge to the Palm Sunday triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. Jesus, the long anticipated King, came suddenly to His temple. Some were ready for Him; most were not. This should infuse our preparations for the King with an element of urgency. We can miss his appearing. Earlier in this psalm David asks, “Who may stand in his holy place?”
Purity of heart and action are essential. Blessing and vindication awaits those who seek His face. Again I ask, “Are you ready?” God can show up in your life today in an unexpected way. Will you recognize Him? Or like the busy people of Jerusalem will that moment pass you by? Will you be too caught up in buying and selling and the commerce of our times? Will you be too distracted by social media to recognize the medium of the Holy Spirit?
Lift up your head. Open your eyes. Take your attention off the mundane things of this world and focus the eyes of your heart on the Lord. Seek His face in your daily routine. The King of glory may be passing by today.
Response: Come, Lord Jesus, come. I open my heart and my mind to you. I want to see you at work in my daily circumstances. King of glory, help me to anticipate your appearing in my life today. Grant me a pure heart so I can recognize your coming. Amen.
Your Turn: Has the King of glory appeared in your life recently? What are you doing to prepare for Him?
* New International Version, Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica
Reading: Psalm 22
All the ends of the earth
will remember and turn to the LORD,
and all the families of the nations
will bow down before him,
for dominion belongs to the LORD
and he rules over the nations.
All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;
all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—
those who cannot keep themselves alive.
Posterity will serve him;
future generations will be told about the Lord.
They will proclaim his righteousness,
declaring to a people yet unborn:
He has done it! (NIV)*
This final portion of Psalm 22 signals the ultimate triumph of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the first half of this psalm Christ’s humiliation, suffering and death by crucifixion are vividly portrayed. With stunning accuracy and detail, David depicts these events from Christ’s perspective. Only God-breathed prophetic insight could reveal such truth through a human vessel. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21).
With today’s reading we discover the worldwide impact of Christ’s redemptive death and resurrection. All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him, for dominion belongs to the LORD and he rules over the nations.
Christ’s gospel—the good news of the Kingdom—has been voiced abroad. Death, hell and the grave have been conquered. Jesus Christ is Lord over all! Keep in mind that this turning to the LORD by all the families of the nations was an alien concept to the people of Israel during David’s time. Yet again, David spoke prophetically of the time when the gospel message would burst forth from its Jewish cocoon and be declared and received by ready hearts all over the world. Our Savior’s commission will be fulfilled. “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).
We have the promise of the world-wide spread of the gospel from generation to generation. Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord. They will proclaim his righteousness, declaring to a people yet unborn: He has done it!
Response: Father, thank you for the good news of the gospel. Jesus is alive and reigns forever. Help me to do my part in bringing the message of your love and redemption to the world. I want to see people from all nations turning to you in repentance and faith. Amen.
Your Turn: How can we spread the good news? What are you doing to tell His story?
* New International Version, Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica
Reading: Psalm 118
The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
the LORD has done this,
and it is marvelous in our eyes.
The LORD has done it this very day;
let us rejoice today and be glad.
LORD, save us! LORD, grant us success!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD.
From the house of the LORD we bless you.
The LORD is God,
and he has made his light shine on us.
With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession
up to the horns of the altar.
You are my God, and I will praise you;
you are my God, and I will exalt you.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
his love endures forever (NIV).
This final reading from Psalm 118 contains one of the most profound messianic prophecies of the Old Testament. The opening sentence carries great significance: The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the LORD has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes.
The apostle Peter identifies Jesus as the stone the builders rejected. He adds that this rejection was due to disobedience and unbelief and he quotes Isaiah 8:14 to prove his point. “[Jesus is] A stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for. But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light (1 Peter 2:8-9).
In reality our reading from Psalm 118 paints a metaphoric picture of Christ’s Passion Week. When Jesus arrived triumphant in Jerusalem on Palm Sunday he was greeted by the crowds chanting this line from Psalm 118: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Matthew 21:9). But later, Jesus, the rock of our salvation, was rejected by the religious leadership. Metaphorically, he was taken up to the horns of the altar and there on a cruel wooden cross, the Lamb of God became our sacrificial offering.
But… but praise be to God! The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This same Jesus was raised from the dead on the third day, and now he offers forgiveness and salvation for all those who put their faith in him. He is our living rock—the rock that accompanied Israel through the wilderness. See 1 Corinthians 10:1-5. Jesus is the rock on which you can build your life—your cornerstone.
Response: Father God, I thank you for your prophetic word because it points to Jesus. Lord Jesus, you are the rock solid foundation of my life. I give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! Amen.
Your Turn: Are you building on the Rock, which is Christ?
Reading: Psalm 86
Among the gods there is none like you, Lord;
no deeds can compare with yours.
All the nations you have made
will come and worship before you, Lord;
they will bring glory to your name.
For you are great and do marvelous deeds;
you alone are God.
Teach me your way, LORD,
that I may rely on your faithfulness;
give me an undivided heart,
that I may fear your name.
I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart;
I will glorify your name forever.
For great is your love toward me;
you have delivered me from the depths,
from the realm of the dead (NIV).
Today’s reading from Psalm 86 begins with this prophetic declaration. All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, Lord; they will bring glory to your name.
Psalm 86 is a prayer of David, but within this prayer David makes this prophetic statement about all nations worshipping the Lord. By the Spirit of God, David saw and declared what is to come. In the pantheistic world of his time, David saw that the God he served was not a local or national god. He saw that Yahweh, the LORD was, is and will be the Lord over all. How could David know that the God of Israel would come to be worshipped in every nation on the earth?
David grasped the big picture. Or a better explanation might be that the God of the big picture grasped David and revealed this truth to him. Through David’s line would come a Savior—a Savior named Jesus—a Jewish Savior for the whole world.
Why was David able to receive such a profound revelation? We are given a clue in the words of his prayer. Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.
The answer may lie in David’s heart. He had an undivided heart. In other words he was wholehearted in his love for the Lord. He had a single-minded focus on God. He says just that in the next line of his prayer. I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever.
Are you wholehearted in your love and praise for the Lord?
Response: LORD God, unite my heart to praise your name. I don’t want to be distracted by the pursuits of this world. I set my affection on you. Thank you for loving me as your child. Amen.
Your Turn: What are some of the things that distract you from loving and fearing God?
Reading: Psalm 69
You know how I am scorned, disgraced and shamed;
all my enemies are before you.
Scorn has broken my heart and has left me helpless;
I looked for sympathy, but there was none,
for comforters, but I found none.
They put gall in my food
and gave me vinegar for my thirst.
May the table set before them become a snare;
may it become retribution and a trap.
May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see,
and their backs be bent forever.
Pour out your wrath on them;
let your fierce anger overtake them.
May their place be deserted;
let there be no one to dwell in their tents.
For they persecute those you wound
and talk about the pain of those you hurt.
Charge them with crime upon crime;
do not let them share in your salvation.
May they be blotted out of the book of life
and not be listed with the righteous (NIV).
Vinegar is not the first thing I would reach for, if I wanted to quench my thirst. Vinegar sets my teeth on edge. It curdles milk. It crinkles the stomach. Why? Because it’s acid, a naturally occurring acid.
You don’t give your friend acid to drink. But at his crucifixion that’s what the soldiers gave Jesus to quench his thirst. The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar (Luke 23:36).
Like many of David’s psalms, there is a prophetic element in them and in this portion of Psalm 69; we see that prophetic element vividly portrayed. Jesus experienced the rejection described here. His friends deserted him. There were none to comfort him. He was scorned, disgraced and shamed. As he hung dying, he was given vinegar for his thirst.
The retribution that this psalm calls for fell on Judas. In Acts 1:20, Peter references this psalm as he speaks of the judgment that fell on Judas for his betrayal of Jesus. Yet in his moment of weakness even Peter denied knowing the Lord.
When our time of testing comes will we stand true to the Lord?
Response: Lord Jesus, you suffered rejection on my behalf. Help me be faithful to you when the world mocks you. Help me stand true. Give me courage through the power of your Holy Spirit. Amen.
Your Turn: Have you always stood true, aligning yourself with Jesus?
Reading: Psalm 35
Ruthless witnesses come forward;
they question me on things I know nothing about.
They repay me evil for good
and leave me like one bereaved.
Yet when they were ill, I put on sackcloth
and humbled myself with fasting.
When my prayers returned to me unanswered,
I went about mourning as though for my friend or brother.
I bowed my head in grief as though weeping for my mother.
But when I stumbled, they gathered in glee;
assailants gathered against me without my knowledge.
They slandered me without ceasing.
Like the ungodly they maliciously mocked;
they gnashed their teeth at me (NIV).
There is a prophetic, messianic element to today’s Psalm 35 reading. This psalm is attributed to David, and historically on several occasions, close friends viciously turned on David. During Absalom’s rebellion David was betrayed not only by his son, but also by his confidants, who repaid his kindness with evil. He was openly mocked and tormented by Shimei, son of Gera, as he fled Jerusalem. See 2 Samuel 16:5-14. Though this is part of David’s experience, this psalm portion also has its prophetic fulfilment in the slanderous betrayal of Christ.
Matthew records that, “The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death. But they did not find any, though many false witnesses came forward” (Matthew 26:59-60).
After being betrayed by Judas, his own disciple, Jesus was mocked, stripped and beaten by Roman soldiers (Matthew 27:27-31). While nailed to a cross the crowd hurled abuse at him. In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” In the same way the rebels who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him (Matthew 27:41-44).
The shrieking crowds of hell heaped abuse onto our Savior. Those same demonic crowds are ready to hurl their accusations at us when we stumble. Satan, our accuser, delights in tormenting us by bringing up the sins of our past. He mocks our efforts at change, insisting that it can’t be done. But he is wrong—dead wrong. I can do all this through him who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13).
The Accuser only has power over us if we listen to his lies. Our victory is in the risen Christ!
Response: Jesus, you are my victory when the enemy accuses me. I put my trust in your redeeming blood. Help me to stand firm against the taunts of the enemy. Amen.
Your Turn: Have you put your trust in Jesus? He can change a wayward heart.
Reading: Psalm 33
By the word of the LORD the heavens were made,
their starry host by the breath of his mouth.
He gathers the waters of the sea into jars;
he puts the deep into storehouses.
Let all the earth fear the LORD;
let all the people of the world revere him.
For he spoke, and it came to be;
he commanded, and it stood firm (NIV).
Have you ever considered the creative power of words? Words change the world. They bring order out of chaos. Words shine the light of day into the darkness of this world. From the very beginning words have been imbued with divine power. The psalmist reminds us, “By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth.”
But it’s not only God’s words that have this vast power. Our words—human words, whether spoken written or thought have enormous power too. Adam’s first job assignment was to speak words—to name the animals. Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals (Genesis 2: 19-20).
Strangely, God didn’t do what every parent does. He didn’t tell Adam what the animals were called. Adam told God their names. By so doing, God vested mankind with the power of language. Life is what we call it. Our words describe the world and give meaning to it.
Through our words we bring order and make sense of the world around us. As a writer I am continually processing and attempting to make sense of this chaotic thing called life. I do it with words. From the beginning of time, by divine command that’s what we are called to do. We are to speak order into chaos— speak accuracy and clarity into this world’s muddled reality.
With our words we shine the light of truth onto a situation. With words we write laws, administer justice and design government. With words we woo and romance and vow our love to one another. Our words create imaginary realms into which we can travel—words that transport. With our words we have the power to elevate the human spirit, or crush someone to the point of suicide.
Finally, there is something innately prophetic about our words. What we think, speak and write is potent. It has within in it the latent ability to become reality. Therefore, we need to guard our lips. See James 3:1-12. The psalmist reminds us not only of the power of the word of the LORD, but also our own words. For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.
Response: LORD God, help me give careful consideration to my words. Today, may my words, whether written or spoken, be a creative force for good in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Your Turn: How has God used your words for good lately? Are your words bringing order out of chaos?