I will praise Him!
Reading: Psalm 141
Their rulers will be thrown down from the cliffs,
and the wicked will learn that my words were well spoken.
They will say, “As one plows and breaks up the earth,
so our bones have been scattered at the mouth of the grave.”
But my eyes are fixed on you, Sovereign LORD;
in you I take refuge—do not give me over to death.
Keep me safe from the traps set by evildoers,
from the snares they have laid for me.
Let the wicked fall into their own nets,
while I pass by in safety (NIV).
King David lived in treacherous times, and the opening lines from today’s reading reflect that reality. In fact, in its entirety Psalm 141 is a prayer for protection and personal safety. David had enemies who were eager to see his demise.
On a personal level the same is true for every redeemed believer. The apostle Peter provides us with this reminder: Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). Our very survival depends on heeding Peter’s advice.
David pleads for safety from the traps and snares that have been set for him. This brings to mind the word circumspect. As we move forward in life, we should be alert and circumspect. Circumspect is actually a compound Latin word. The circum portion of the word means around, or literally in a circle. The spect portion of the word means to look or see; this is the root for words such as spectacle or inspect. The circumspect person is looking around, so he does not step into the snares of the enemy.
But if we are truly circumspect, we don’t only look down for snares and traps. It is essential that we also look up. David expresses this thought with these words. But my eyes are fixed on you, Sovereign LORD; in you I take refuge—do not give me over to death.
The writer of Hebrews urges us on in our faith with these words: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart (Hebrews 12:1-3).
During this season of my life, I need eyes that are fixed on Jesus. He knows where the snares are, and he is well able to deliver each of us from the jaws of the enemy.
Response: Sovereign LORD, I commit my thoughts and ways to you. Guide me in the way of holiness for your name’s sake. I fix my eyes on you, Jesus, babe in a manger, suffering Savior, and my risen Lord. Amen.
Your Turn: How alert are you to the devil’s tactics? Are you fixing your eyes on Jesus?
Reading: Psalm 140
For the director of music. A psalm of David.
Rescue me, LORD, from evildoers;
protect me from the violent,
who devise evil plans in their hearts
and stir up war every day.
They make their tongues as sharp as a serpent’s;
the poison of vipers is on their lips.
Keep me safe, LORD, from the hands of the wicked;
protect me from the violent,
who devise ways to trip my feet.
The arrogant have hidden a snare for me;
they have spread out the cords of their net
and have set traps for me along my path (NIV).
Psalm 140 is attributed to David. Our reading today is really a prayer for personal safety. David lived during a very violent time in the history of Israel and the entire eastern Mediterranean region. It was a period of technological transition from the Bronze Age to the Iron Age. Historic transitions are never smooth sailing. They are often accompanied by intense warfare, and economic and social collapse. Rival forces vie for power. Out of the ashes new leadership emerges.
That was the world that David, the shepherd boy was born into. The Philistines were the first to adopt the new iron tools, and they used their technological superiority to dominate and subjugate Israel. See 1 Samuel 13:19-22. What followed were several decades of fierce struggle, as Israel under Saul resisted the Philistines and fought back. Eventually, under David’s leadership Israel emerged triumphant. But none of this was a foregone conclusion. It was a massive struggle with much bloodshed.
David not only had foreign enemies; he also had to watch out for sedition within his own ranks. All too often the responsibilities of leadership mean walking around with a giant bullseye painted on your back. If anything goes wrong, you are the first one to be attacked by your own people. In David’s time, being the king was a high risk occupation. Assassination and revolt were common.
On a personal level, we too are in a struggle—a spiritual struggle for survival and dominion. Will the Spirit of Christ reign in us, or will we succumb to the spirit of this age? Will we take up the full armor of God and fight the good fight of faith, or will we believe the lies of the enemy and fall into a cesspool of sin and deception? Are we vigilant and constant in prayer like David, or do we lack the self-discipline that is essential for victory over the enemy of our soul?
David’s prayer should be our prayer too. Keep me safe, LORD, from the hands of the wicked; protect me from the snares that have been set to entangle me.
Response: LORD God, keep me alert. A spiritual battle is raging around me. I want to be a warrior who knows and hears his Commander. Jesus, your blood was shed to secure my victory. Thank you. Amen.
Your Turn: Are you aware of the snares that trip you up? Are you hearing the Commander’s voice?
Reading: Psalm 115
All you Israelites, trust in the LORD—
he is their help and shield.
House of Aaron, trust in the LORD—
he is their help and shield.
You who fear him, trust in the LORD—
he is their help and shield.
The LORD remembers us and will bless us:
He will bless his people Israel,
he will bless the house of Aaron,
he will bless those who fear the LORD—
small and great alike.
May the LORD cause you to flourish,
both you and your children.
May you be blessed by the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
The highest heavens belong to the LORD,
but the earth he has given to mankind.
It is not the dead who praise the LORD,
those who go down to the place of silence;
it is we who extol the LORD, both now and forevermore.
Praise the LORD (NIV).
As a sharp contrast to placing our trust in the lifeless idols of this world, Psalm 115 calls us to place our trust in God. Today’s reading begins with a threefold call to trust the LORD. All you Israelites, trust in the LORD—he is their help and shield. House of Aaron, trust in the LORD—he is their help and shield. You who fear him, trust in the LORD—he is their help and shield.
For those who are logically minded, there is a simple equation or formula at work here. Trust in the LORD results in help and protection—he is their help and shield. Our trust or faith in God brings a response from Him. The LORD’s response is both active and passive. He provides help; He intervenes by actively assisting us. From personal experience I know the LORD has been my help. In the nick of time He has provided words of knowledge and wisdom. He has been my constant guide. When needed most, He has opened the windows of heaven and poured out blessings. He has sent help in various forms in, and in ways too numerous to mention.
But the LORD is also our shield. He protects us from the slings and arrows of the evil one. He shields us from the enemy’s attacks, whether it is from physical harm, or spiritual attacks that undermine our faith through faulty reasoning or deceptive philosophies. The LORD is our sure defense. We can draw strength from this promise: He will bless those who fear the LORD—small and great alike.
Response: Father God, I trust you to be my help and my shield. Keep me safe from the evil one. Thank you for all your help through the years. You have been faithful to keep your word. Amen.
Your Turn: Can you think of instances when God has helped you?
Reading: Psalm 91
If you say, “The LORD is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
“Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation” (NIV).
Let’s be honest. We all want it. We all want satisfaction. For our sex-obsessed society that can only mean one thing, but in reality personal satisfaction encompasses so many facets of life. I want a satisfying meal when I sit down to dinner this evening. I want satisfactory service at the restaurant, at the auto repair shop and on the plane that I’m catching tomorrow. Above all else I want a satisfying life.
This may come as a surprise to many people, but the simple truth is God wants to give you a satisfying life. Here is the long list of promises that the LORD promises to undertake on your behalf. “Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation”
In summary, we will be protected and rescued. Our prayers will be answered. We will know God’s presence in times of trouble. And just imagine this; the LORD will honor us. Consider for a moment the implications of that. Furthermore, we are promised eternal salvation, and in the here and now, we will have a long and satisfying life.
That sounds like an amazing offer and it truly is. But there are two conditions attached. We need say, “The LORD is my refuge.” In other word we need to confess our dependence on God, and then we must make the Most High our dwelling. We need to live in God, not our own little world, but rather His world with our minds and hearts set on Him. That will take a decision that is renewed daily. Are you ready for that kind of commitment? Are you ready for that kind of satisfaction?
Response: LORD, you are such a good God. I don’t deserve your goodness and love and yet you continually pour out your blessings. I love you, LORD. I want to dwell in you now and always. Amen.
Your Turn: What do you think it means to dwell in God?
Reading: Psalm 56
For the director of music. To the tune of “A Dove on Distant Oaks.” Of David. A miktam. When the Philistines had seized him in Gath.
Be merciful to me, my God,
for my enemies are in hot pursuit;
all day long they press their attack.
My adversaries pursue me all day long;
in their pride many are attacking me.
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise—
in God I trust and am not afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?
All day long they twist my words;
all their schemes are for my ruin.
They conspire, they lurk,
they watch my steps, hoping to take my life.
Because of their wickedness do not let them escape;
in your anger, God, bring the nations down (NIV).
In times of trouble David knew where to turn. With his enemies, the Philistines, surrounding him, he turned to God. Hear his bold confession, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise—in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”
David, the obvious answer is, “Mere mortals can torture and kill you.”
Despite this David remained confident. The Philistines could destroy his body but they could not harm his eternal spirit which was at peace—protected by God. Do you and I have the same confidence? That confidence can be ours if we put our trust in God.
Jesus warned his disciples, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). The One we are to fear is God alone. Jesus perfectly demonstrated his trust in God the Father when he went to the cross on our behalf. There he was tortured and killed, but three days later he was vindicated by the Father, who raised him from the dead. Our redemption and salvation come from Jesus.
When we face mortal danger or a deadly prognosis may these words be on our lips and in our heart: When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise—in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?
Response: LORD God, right now I put my faith and trust in you. By the blood of Jesus you forgive all my sins and have paid the price for my redemption. When I am afraid, I turn to you. I put my trust in you alone. Amen.
Your Turn: Who do you trust and turn to when bad news comes? Friends and family can provide support, but is your Father—your heavenly Father with you? Are you leaning into Him?