I will praise Him!
Reading: Psalm 37
The wicked plot against the righteous
and gnash their teeth at them;
but the LORD laughs at the wicked,
for he knows their day is coming.
The wicked draw the sword
and bend the bow
to bring down the poor and needy,
to slay those whose ways are upright.
But their swords will pierce their own hearts,
and their bows will be broken.
Better the little that the righteous have
than the wealth of many wicked;
for the power of the wicked will be broken,
but the LORD upholds the righteous (NIV).
As stated in my first post on Psalm 37, this psalm is a stark night and day comparison of the life of the evil person with the life of the individual who does right in God’s eyes. The contrast is profound.
I cannot read the passage above without thinking of the evil that is loose in the world today. Here in Canada in recent years, we had the trial of Luka Magnotta for his slaying of Jun Lin, a Chinese born university student. Magnotta posted his killing of Lin with an icepick on YouTube. After dismembering his body Magnotta mailed various body parts to schools and political party headquarters.
In Iraq and Syria, ISIS militants defiantly beheaded journalists and international aid workers in a cowardly display of their depravity. Any who hold different religious views have been executed, their women raped, their children enslaved. It appears we live in a wicked world where hatred and evil are trumpeted as worthy pursuits—pursuits that attract adoring young fanatics.
The opening line of this psalm posting is as true today as when it was written three thousand years ago. The wicked plot against the righteous and gnash their teeth at them… The wicked draw the sword and bend the bow to bring down the poor and needy, to slay those whose ways are upright.
The sin process is still at work in the hearts of men. When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death (James 1:13-15).
But thanks be to God! We have this promise: for the power of the wicked will be broken, but the LORD upholds the righteous. God will uphold us as we put our trust in Him.
Response: LORD God, you are my upholder—my help in evil times, in times of trouble. I put my trust in you. Hold me in the palm of your hand. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Your Turn: How do you fight evil? Where does it start? We must examine our hearts.
Reading: Psalm 15
A psalm of David.
LORD, who may dwell in your sacred tent?
Who may live on your holy mountain?
The one whose walk is blameless,
who does what is righteous,
who speaks the truth from their heart;
whose tongue utters no slander,
who does no wrong to a neighbor,
and casts no slur on others;
who despises a vile person
but honors those who fear the LORD;
who keeps an oath even when it hurts,
and does not change their mind;
who lends money to the poor without interest;
who does not accept a bribe against the innocent.
Whoever does these things
will never be shaken (NIV).
Where are you living? Please note, I did not ask, “What is your address?”
For the Old Testament believer, God had an address. He lived in the Tent of Meeting on Mount Zion in Jerusalem. Later this was the location of the great temple built by Solomon. But this entire psalm is based on the premise that we can live in the presence of God. Why else would David ask, “LORD, who may dwell in your sacred tent? Who may live on your holy mountain?”
It would appear that wherever we are, it is possible to live one’s life in the conscious presence of the LORD. What an awesome privilege. But how is that possible? On an intellectual level, this is a no brainer. God is present everywhere. We are continually living our lives in full view of an omnipresent God.
Am I always aware of His presence? No, not always.
What can I do to change that? The psalmist lists some requirements for living in the LORD’s presence. Apparently, God is vitally concerned with the way we walk out our life of faith—the words we speak, and our interactions with neighbours and friends. The list of requirements found in this psalm is all about practical day to day living, being true to our word, loving our neighbour, and being generous to those in need.
The day is coming when I will meet the LORD face to face, but can I see Him before that final day? Do I see Him in the face of my neighbour?
Response: Heavenly Father, I don’t want to come for an occasional visit. I want to live in your presence now and in eternity. Today, help me interact with others with the knowledge that you are watching every thought, word and action. I’m living with you. Amen.
Your Turn: When are you most conscious of God’s presence in your life?
Reading: Psalm 11
For the director of music. Of David.
In the LORD I take refuge.
How then can you say to me:
“Flee like a bird to your mountain.
For look, the wicked bend their bows;
they set their arrows against the strings
to shoot from the shadows at the upright in heart.
When the foundations are being destroyed,
what can the righteous do?”
The LORD is in his holy temple; the LORD is on his heavenly throne.
He observes everyone on earth; his eyes examine them.
The LORD examines the righteous,
but the wicked, those who love violence,
he hates with a passion.
On the wicked he will rain fiery coals and burning sulfur;
a scorching wind will be their lot.
For the LORD is righteous, he loves justice;
the upright will see his face (NIV).
Do you feel like your faith is under attack? It seems that everywhere there are people who are mocking those who have faith in God. Believers are openly ridiculed. We are blamed for every war since time immemorial. We are told that science has rock-solid evidence, while God followers rely on concocted myths handed down by unscrupulous manipulators.
The enemy is firing arrows of accusation, doubt and distrust from the shadows at the upright in heart. The very foundation of our faith, the word of God—the Bible—is being attacked as outdated, unreliable and historically inaccurate. Along with David we ask, “When the foundations are being destroyed,
what can the righteous do?”
The righteous can do what David does in the first line of this psalm. David says, “In the LORD I take refuge.” For David, God was not a mystical concept. God was a rock solid reality. David had a memory bank full of experiences with the LORD. The LORD was David’s helper, healer and deliverer. In the tough times of life, God was there—was present in David’s life. The LORD brought victory for David over Goliath and over every enemy that exalted itself above God.
The same can be true for you. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes (Ephesians 6:11). Remember the LORD is on his heavenly throne. Nothing takes Him by surprise. The LORD is with you and He is watching your response. We need not be intimidated; we need not flee. We need to stand our ground like David and like Paul the apostle. The LORD is with us.
Response: LORD, you are my refuge. Help me to stand my ground when my faith is under attack, and help other believers to do the same by the grace of Jesus. Our faith rests on you, Lord. Amen.
Your Turn: Do you have a memory bank full of experiences with the LORD that you can draw on?
Reading: Psalm 119
You are righteous, LORD,
and your laws are right.
The statutes you have laid down are righteous;
they are fully trustworthy.
My zeal wears me out,
for my enemies ignore your words.
Your promises have been thoroughly tested,
and your servant loves them.
Though I am lowly and despised,
I do not forget your precepts.
Your righteousness is everlasting
and your law is true.
Trouble and distress have come upon me,
but your commands give me delight.
Your statutes are always righteous;
give me understanding that I may live (NIV).
In the spring of 2015 my son bought his first new car. He was understandably proud of his purchase. The vehicle boasted great handling, exceptional fuel economy and almost zero harmful emissions. What’s not to like about a diesel-powered car like that? Volkswagen engineering was ranked among the best in the world.
Less than a year later, the illusion of zero harmful emissions came crashing down. Volkswagen had installed specially designed software to make sure its vehicles passed emissions tests, but real world, on-the-road results were totally different. The thorough testing that consumers rely on had been subverted.
Fortunately, God’s laws cannot be subverted. Humans may try, but the judge of all the earth knows all; He sees all. We can never pull a fast one on God. Today’s reading from Psalm 119 makes that perfectly clear. You are righteous, LORD, and your laws are right. The statutes you have laid down are righteous; they are fully trustworthy. The psalmist then goes on to make this assertion: Your promises have been thoroughly tested, and your servant loves them.
God’s word and His promises have been road tested by us, His people. They stand up in real life situations. The Bible—God’s word is designed to be applied. It doesn’t just work in the test lab. It works in the laboratory of life—day-to-day life, where it really counts. That’s why spending time in God’s word is so important. It becomes the roadmap for life—an abundant life—the life Jesus promised to his followers.
Response: Father God, your word and your promises stand true for all eternity. Help me to believe and live each day through the wise application of your word. Give me understanding that I may live. Amen.
Your Turn: Have you tested God’s word? Did it work for you in real life situations?
Reading: Psalm 118
Shouts of joy and victory
resound in the tents of the righteous:
“The LORD’s right hand has done mighty things!
The LORD’s right hand is lifted high;
the LORD’s right hand has done mighty things!”
I will not die but live,
and will proclaim what the LORD has done.
The LORD has chastened me severely,
but he has not given me over to death.
Open for me the gates of the righteous;
I will enter and give thanks to the LORD.
This is the gate of the LORD
through which the righteous may enter.
I will give you thanks, for you answered me;
you have become my salvation (NIV).
Are you left handed? Today in western cultures being left handed presents some challenges since many devices are designed with right-handed people in mind. Try finding left-handed scissors next time you’re at a store. Good luck with that! Oh, and if you find them, expect to pay three times the price of a right-handed model. Often lefties don’t have it so good.
Even today in Middle Eastern cultures being born left handed presents an enormous challenge. The right hand is used for eating food; the left hand is used for personal hygiene—bottom wiping. You dare not reverse that assigned role. Toddlers are strictly trained in this cultural practice. Usually left-handed children are forced to switch so they conform to the social norm. Making this switch plays havoc with the developing brain and often results in speech impediments such as stuttering, since this transition requires a complete rewiring of the child’s brain.
The Bible was written by Holy Spirit inspired authors, but like authors today they were not blank slates. They wrote from their cultural perspective to the people of their time. As a result, readers today can easily miss or misunderstand concepts that were readily understood in their original context.
The significance of the right hand is one of those culturally important concepts that we often pass over with little thought. The Bible is replete with references to the right hand or specifically God’s right hand. So what’s the big deal, we think to ourselves. But in Middle Eastern culture the right hand holds great significance. This is the hand of righteousness, honor and blessing. Thus, there is immense significance in this statement: “The LORD’s right hand has done mighty things! The LORD’s right hand is lifted high; the LORD’s right hand has done mighty things!”
Response: Father God, extend your right hand of blessing over me. Work on my behalf. Show me your mercy, your power and glory. Again and again I will give you thanks, for you answered me. Amen.
Your Turn: Are you like the psalmist? Has the LORD spared your life for a purpose? Has God lifted His right hand to save and bless you?