I will praise Him!
Reading: Psalm 67
For the director of music. With stringed instruments. A psalm. A song.
May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face shine on us—
so that your ways may be known on earth,
your salvation among all nations.
May the peoples praise you, God;
may all the peoples praise you.
May the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you rule the peoples with equity
and guide the nations of the earth.
May the peoples praise you, God;
may all the peoples praise you.
The land yields its harvest;
God, our God, blesses us.
May God bless us still,
so that all the ends of the earth will fear him (NIV).
This is perhaps the most evangelical of all the psalms. By that I mean there is good news in this psalm, and the good news of God’s loving-kindness, which is found here, is not to be kept to oneself. It is to be taken to the whole world. Twice within this short psalm the psalmist declares, “May the peoples praise you, God; may all the peoples praise you.”
Like any loving parent, God draws pleasure from blessing his children. But is there a divine motivation that extends beyond the family of God. As the opening verse of this psalm makes clear, God desires to bless us, so that his ways and his salvation may be known all over this world.
So then, Psalm 67 should be our prayer, not only for us, but for the world. That includes the world that does not know Jesus. May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us, that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations.
In other words, God’s blessing is not to be selfishly hoarded. It is to extend around the world and beyond the family of God. Is God in fact, blessing us abundantly, so that we may in turn bless others? Is he blessing us, so that we may make his salvation known among all nations? That certainly would appear to be the plan according to Psalm 67.
There is a great harvest day that is still coming on the earth. It is not a harvest of wheat, corn or rice, but a harvest of souls that will be swept into the Kingdom of God. If this psalm is to be believed, it is a harvest that is propelled and swelled by our joyous praise.
Is your thanksgiving for God’s blessing extending beyond the borders of your family?
Response: LORD God, I thank you for all the blessings you have showered on my life. Most of all I thank you for my salvation through Jesus Christ. Show me how I can extend your blessing to others. Amen.
Your Turn: Have you taken the message of God’s salvation across international borders? How?
Reading: Psalm 62
For the director of music. For Jeduthun. A psalm of David.
Truly my soul finds rest in God;
my salvation comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.
How long will you assault me?
Would all of you throw me down—
this leaning wall, this tottering fence?
Surely they intend to topple me from my lofty place;
they take delight in lies.
With their mouths they bless,
but in their hearts they curse.
Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God;
he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in him at all times, you people;
pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge (NIV).
Jesus concluded his Sermon on the Mount by telling the parable of the wise and foolish builders (Matthew 7:24-29). One man built his house on sand, while the other built his home on the rock. Only the house built on the rock was able to withstand the floods and storms of life. Having Jesus and his teaching at the very foundation of your life will help you withstand all the hardship and temptation the world and the devil can throw at you.
Did Jesus use Psalm 62 as his story prompter as he told the parable of the wise and foolish builders? Until we pass over to eternity and can question Jesus personally, we cannot know the answer with absolute certainty; nevertheless, there is a striking parallel between Jesus’ built-on-a-rock parable and Psalm 62.
According to this psalm, David found his rest in God. God was his rock. His life rested secure on that eternal foundation. Here is David’s confession: Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
To David’s declaration of allegiance to the Rock, Jesus adds this thought. Our connection to the Rock is established as we put his words—Jesus’ words—into practice. What is your life resting on?
Response: LORD God, you are my mighty rock, my refuge. In a troubled world you are a sure foundation. My soul finds rest in you. Help me put into practice the words of life—the words of Jesus. Amen.
Your Turn: In a changing world has the LORD become your rock of stability? Are you heeding this admonition from James, the brother of our Lord? Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says (James 1:22).
This Good Friday may you find your rest in the redemptive work of Christ on the cross.
Reading: Psalm 53
For the director of music. According to mahalath. A maskil of David.
The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, and their ways are vile;
there is no one who does good.
God looks down from heaven on all mankind
to see if there are any who understand,
any who seek God.
Everyone has turned away, all have become corrupt;
there is no one who does good, not even one.
Do all these evildoers know nothing?
They devour my people as though eating bread;
they never call on God.
But there they are, overwhelmed with dread,
where there was nothing to dread.
God scattered the bones of those who attacked you;
you put them to shame, for God despised them.
Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!
When God restores his people,
let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad! (NIV).
There is something very fresh and current about Psalm 53. Though David penned this psalm in about 1000 BC, he is describing today’s world. The fools of the world in the twenty-first century are still busy spouting their lies. The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
The fool, using the logic of a fool, observes that there is no God. But it is God’s observations about mankind that strike me as being more accurate: They are corrupt, and their ways are vile; there is no one who does good. God looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. Everyone has turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.
When God is taken out of the picture, corruption runs rampant, and no set of laws or regulations will change that. The problem is not laws or regulations; the problem is the state of a person’s heart. Without the love and fear of God, restraint is cast off and everyone does what is right in their own eyes. See Judges 21:25.
You see the fool doesn’t stop at claiming there is no God. He takes matters to the next logical step. In the absence of God, he asserts that he is god. He is the master of his own domain and not accountable to anyone but himself. This quickly leads to moral rot of the worst kind, since the devious mind of man can self-justify even the most heinous crimes. On a personal level it’s a rot that we must all guard against. None of us can claim moral perfection. When we do, we turn God into a liar.
Response: LORD God of heaven and earth. I bow my knees before you. Grant me a pure heart so that I can see you at work all around me. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Your Turn: Do believers deny the existence of God when they wilfully engage in corrupt behavior?
Reading: Psalm 51
Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
so that sinners will turn back to you.
Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
you who are God my Savior,
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise.
You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.
May it please you to prosper Zion,
to build up the walls of Jerusalem.
Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous,
in burnt offerings offered whole;
then bulls will be offered on your altar (NIV).
I just had my morning shower. Nothing special about that—daily showers are the social norm. But they haven’t always been the norm. Step back a century and the weekly bath was the norm. Step back a thousand years and a bath was an annual event. With this lack of personal hygiene is it any wonder that epidemics ran rampant through the medieval population, and diseases like smallpox and the bubonic plague killed millions in Europe?
As a society we have embraced the concept and practice of personal hygiene. But what about spiritual hygiene? Have we embraced that as well? I fear the opposite is true. Are we routinely plunging into the deep end of a cesspool of sin? Do we mistakenly believe there are no consequences? A filthy spirit can be as deadly as bubonic plague. A host of mental, emotional and social problems are a direct result of poor spiritual hygiene. Cleanse your heart and mind and you will walk in spiritual health.
From his own cesspool of sin David cried out: Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
I don’t know about you, but daily I need to bathe in Christ’s love and forgiveness. He cleans me up.
Response: LORD God, thank you for the forgiveness you purchased for me through the shed blood of Jesus your son. I acknowledge my need for your cleansing power. Amen.
Your Turn: How is your spiritual hygiene today? How do you keep your spirit clean?
Reading: Psalm 50
But to the wicked person, God says:
“What right have you to recite my laws
or take my covenant on your lips?
You hate my instruction
and cast my words behind you.
When you see a thief, you join with him;
you throw in your lot with adulterers.
You use your mouth for evil
and harness your tongue to deceit.
You sit and testify against your brother
and slander your own mother’s son.
When you did these things and I kept silent,
you thought I was exactly like you.
But I now arraign you
and set my accusations before you.
“Consider this, you who forget God,
or I will tear you to pieces, with no one to rescue you:
Those who sacrifice thank offerings honor me,
and to the blameless I will show my salvation” (NIV).
I have a tendency to be forgetful. As I leave the house, it is not uncommon for me to forget some rather important items such as my wallet or my mobile phone. On our recent trip to Japan, my wife would often help me run through a checklist of essential items as we set out on an excursion. Wallet, rail pass, mobile phone and passport, all were needed. I dare not forget any of these.
But there is something more important than all of these ‘essentials’. In his conclusion to Psalm 50, the psalmist Asaph reminds us not to forget God. How often have you set out on your day only to realize that you forgot God at home? Did He even make it home with you? Maybe He’s still at church? Have you had God with you lately? Have you forgotten Him completely as you went about your business?
Forgetting God is no small matter. Here is the LORD’s response to those who forget Him: “Consider this, you who forget God, or I will tear you to pieces, with no one to rescue you: Those who sacrifice thank offerings honor me, and to the blameless I will show my salvation”
We all want to see the salvation of God, but it starts with not forgetting Him. When we do, we run the risk of becoming objects of His wrath. The wrath of God is not a popular topic these days, but a lack of popularity does not negate its reality. When we choose to ignore God, there are unpleasant consequences. This applies personally and nationally. When we turn our back on the author of our salvation, terrible things happen. When we embrace Him with thanksgiving, joy will be our portion.
Response: LORD God, let me never forget your great love for me. I want to take you with me today and every day. I am thankful for the promise of your presence. Amen.
Your Turn: Do you sometimes forget God as you begin your day?
Reading: Psalm 40
Do not withhold your mercy from me, LORD;
may your love and faithfulness always protect me.
For troubles without number surround me;
my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see.
They are more than the hairs of my head,
and my heart fails within me.
Be pleased to save me, LORD;
come quickly, LORD, to help me.
May all who want to take my life
be put to shame and confusion;
may all who desire my ruin be turned back in disgrace.
May those who say to me, “Aha! Aha!”
be appalled at their own shame.
But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who long for your saving help always say,
“The LORD is great!”
But as for me, I am poor and needy; may the LORD think of me.
You are my help and my deliverer; you are my God, do not delay (NIV).
David begins Psalm 40 by praising the LORD for rescuing him from the slimy pit of the past. But David ends this psalm with a fresh appeal for God’s mercy. Do not withhold your mercy from me, LORD may your love and faithfulness always protect me.
As we move forward, it is only fitting that we take time to praise God for what He has done for us in the past. Let us never forget that the LORD’s faithfulness has brought us to this point. We are not where we are today because of our own cleverness, effort or ability. Every talent we have is a gift from God; every breath we take is a gift from the Giver of Life.
Yet again David appeals for God’s salvation. Be pleased to save me, LORD; come quickly, LORD, to help me.
By the grace of God I have experienced an initial point of salvation, just like David, but my salvation needs to be renewed from time to time. We all need to experience fresh surges of God’s grace and love. Grace (charis) in the full New Testament sense means much more than just unmerited favor. It means we are recipients of God’s providential gifting and power to live a maximized life under His caring guidance. There’s something supernatural about grace. It goes beyond human ability or ingenuity because it comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. When we call out to God as David did, we are tapping into an ocean full of help, strength and possibilities beyond fathoming.
May that grace, that charis of God, be with you and upon you in the days ahead.
Response: LORD God, I need you as I face the days ahead. Equip me with divine grace and ability for each day through the love and power of Jesus. Amen.
Your Turn: Have you experienced God’s grace in the past week—the past year?
Reading: Psalm 37
I have seen a wicked and ruthless man
flourishing like a luxuriant native tree,
but he soon passed away and was no more;
though I looked for him, he could not be found.
Consider the blameless, observe the upright;
a future awaits those who seek peace.
But all sinners will be destroyed;
there will be no future for the wicked.
The salvation of the righteous comes from the LORD;
he is their stronghold in time of trouble.
The LORD helps them and delivers them;
he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
because they take refuge in him (NIV).
Today’s reading is the concluding portion of Psalm 37. As noted previously, this entire psalm contrasts the life of the righteous person with the individual who pursues a life of sin and illicit gain. The righteous will receive their reward and the man who does evil will be destroyed.
We all reap what we sow. If we sow seeds of selfishness, hate and discord, we will reap a harvest of ruin. Paul, the apostle, gives us this warning, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life” (Galatians 6:7-8).
We can readily conclude that the good man will live because of his goodness. In other words the righteous person will be saved because of his righteous deeds. But that’s not what this psalm teaches. In fact, the idea that one is saved because of one’s righteousness runs contrary to the message of this psalm and the entire counsel of Holy Scripture. The psalmist clearly states, “The salvation of the righteous comes from the LORD.”
We are not saved by our righteousness. We are saved by the LORD. It is because of His great mercy that we are saved. This aligns with New Testament teaching as Paul declares, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Yes, we are called to live righteous lives and to do good works, but let’s not deceive ourselves into thinking that by these means we will earn our way to heaven. Jesus is the way to heaven. Our feeble efforts won’t take us very far. We need His forgiveness and the power of His redeeming blood. We are saved because we take refuge in Him.
Response: LORD God, I thank you for Jesus. I am thankful that I can put my complete trust in you. I am saved by your amazing grace not by my effort. Hallelujah! Lord Jesus, you are the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). Amen.
Your Turn: Have you relied on your righteousness rather than God’s grace?
Reading: Psalm 35
Since they hid their net for me without cause
and without cause dug a pit for me,
may ruin overtake them by surprise—
may the net they hid entangle them,
may they fall into the pit, to their ruin.
Then my soul will rejoice in the LORD
and delight in his salvation.
My whole being will exclaim,
“Who is like you, LORD?
You rescue the poor from those too strong for them,
the poor and needy from those who rob them” (NIV).
Paul the apostle reminds us that as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we are engaged in spiritual warfare. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand (Ephesians 6:11-13).
The conflicts that David experienced in the Old Testament, reflected in the words of this portion of Psalm 35, are mirrored in the spiritual warfare experienced by New Testament believers. Make no mistake—the devil and his cohorts have dug a pit to trap you; they spread their nets to ensnare you in sin and degradation. But as was true for David, the LORD has also provided a way of escape for you and me. Once again Paul reminds us of this: No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it (1 Corinthians 10:13).
The LORD has equipped us with the armor of God and He has provided a way of escape, so then with David we can rejoice in the victory the LORD will bring.
Then my soul will rejoice in the LORD and delight in his salvation. My whole being will exclaim, “Who is like you, LORD? You rescue the poor from those too strong for them, the poor and needy from those who rob them.”
Satan is a thief and a robber, who robs us of victory, peace and joy. But like David and Paul we can overcome. Victory is possible because the victory has already been won for us at the cross, and it was confirmed on resurrection morning at the empty tomb. “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:25).
Response: Heavenly Father, I thank you that you have provided armor so that I can stand against the wiles of the devil. I praise you for the power of your holy word. I have victory through your blood, Lord Jesus. Amen.
Your Turn: In your battle against sin are you using “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God?”
Reading: Psalm 35
Contend, LORD, with those who contend with me;
fight against those who fight against me.
Take up shield and armor; arise and come to my aid.
Brandish spear and javelin against those who pursue me.
Say to me, “I am your salvation.”
May those who seek my life be disgraced and put to shame;
may those who plot my ruin be turned back in dismay.
May they be like chaff before the wind,
with the angel of the LORD driving them away;
may their path be dark and slippery,
with the angel of the LORD pursuing them (NIV).
David was a man acquainted with warfare. Throughout his life, Israel was in a prolonged struggle with its neighbours, even as it is today. From time to time this struggle would flare into open combat. Quite naturally in those times David would turn to the LORD in prayer. Psalm 35 is David’s call for help against his enemies—enemies that may be external or internal.
Who doesn’t want God on their side? The answer is obvious; we all want God’s help when we find ourselves in trouble. Therefore, David cries out: Contend, LORD, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me.
But there are some questions we should ask ourselves before we enlist the LORD’s help. Am I being truthful? Is my cause just? Am I in the right? Do I know all the facts in this matter? Am I seeing this issue solely from a narrow personal perspective? Finally, we should ask ourselves if our heart is right. One can be totally right about a matter, but have a heart that is full of hate, bitterness, jealousy and anger.
God always stands on the side of truth and justice. He knows the full extent of a matter. He sees all sides, not just our perspective. We can’t fool Him or hide from His searching eyes. The LORD examines the righteous, but the wicked, those who love violence, he hates with a passion (Psalm 11:5). Therefore, we need to come before Him humbly with hearts opened wide.
David asks this of the LORD: Say to me, “I am your salvation.”
The LORD will be our salvation—He is on our side—if our hearts are open and humble before Him. David’s confession in Psalm 51 confirms this truth. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise (Psalm 51:17). In other words, God is on our side when we move to His side in honest, humble contrition.
Response: LORD God, give me a humble heart that sees beyond my narrow interests. Help me to stand for righteousness, justice and truth. First, I want to align my heart and my spirit with you. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Your Turn: Has the LORD fought on your side? Did you need to get your heart right first?