I will praise Him!
He is a Father to the fatherless.
Reading: Psalm 71
In you, LORD, I have taken refuge;
let me never be put to shame.
In your righteousness, rescue me and deliver me;
turn your ear to me and save me.
Be my rock of refuge,
to which I can always go;
give the command to save me,
for you are my rock and my fortress.
Deliver me, my God, from the hand of the wicked,
from the grasp of those who are evil and cruel.
For you have been my hope, Sovereign LORD,
my confidence since my youth.
From birth I have relied on you;
you brought me forth from my mother’s womb.
I will ever praise you.
I have become a sign to many;
you are my strong refuge.
My mouth is filled with your praise,
declaring your splendor all day long (NIV).
I must confess that I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with rocks. I grew up on a farm on the Canadian prairies and annually the rich soil produced two crops—a crop of grain and a crop of rocks. Grain crops such as wheat, barley and oats were welcomed—the rocks not so much.
Simply working the soil in spring would bring the rocks to the surface. It was our job as children and teens to help our dad to pick those rocks and haul them off the fields. For the most part it was tedious work. That’s the unpleasant part of my relationship with rocks. But as for the rocks themselves, for the most part I liked them. They came in a huge variety of shapes, colors, sizes and textures. I found them fascinating.
For the psalmist, the LORD was his solid foundation—his rock of refuge in a changing world. Hear his prayer: Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go; give the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress.
In the shifting circumstances of life, it is essential that we have those things that remain solid and unwavering. From our childhood onward we need a rock of refuge from the storms of life—a rock to which we can always go in good times and bad.
It’s wonderful when we can say with the psalmist, “From birth I have relied on you; you brought me forth from my mother’s womb. I will ever praise you.”
Response: LORD God, thank you for being my solid rock. Your faithfulness has steadied me in stormy times. You have been my help and strength, my shelter and fortress. Amen.
Your Turn: How has the Lord been a solid rock for you?
Reading: Psalm 69
But as for me, afflicted and in pain—
may your salvation, God, protect me.
I will praise God’s name in song
and glorify him with thanksgiving.
This will please the LORD more than an ox,
more than a bull with its horns and hooves.
The poor will see and be glad—
you who seek God, may your hearts live!
The LORD hears the needy
and does not despise his captive people.
Let heaven and earth praise him,
the seas and all that move in them,
for God will save Zion
and rebuild the cities of Judah.
Then people will settle there and possess it;
the children of his servants will inherit it,
and those who love his name will dwell there (NIV).
The word ‘despite’ does not appear in this final reading from Psalm 69, but despite its absence it’s at the core of what David is saying here.
But as for me, afflicted and in pain—may your salvation, God, protect me. I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving.
Despite affliction and pain David resolves to praise God and give Him thanks. David decides to rise above his circumstances. He does not give into his troubles and sorrows. He does not yield to the complaints of his body. Not by the flesh, but in the Spirit, he rises above his afflictions.
Often I would rather wallow in my difficulties and coddle my discomforts. But the LORD calls us to live on a higher plane. It takes praise, thanksgiving and a song in our heart to lift us to that higher level. But before the song comes and the praise begins to flow, we determine our response. We must decide. We have a ‘but-as-for-me’ moment.
Despite opposition from our flesh, despite the doubts and misgivings of our peers, we determine that God is worthy of our praise. He is the God of the afflicted—not just the God of the feel-good set—so let the thanksgiving begin and praise burst forth.
Often God sees our heart and He intervenes and our situation changes. But if not, He is still worthy of wholehearted praise. Take time to praise and thank Him now.
Response: LORD God, in my difficulties I praise you. This pain-prone human flesh praises you. Thank you for this life you have given me. Your goodness and mercy never end. Amen.
Your Turn: Are you living in a season when praise comes easily? Is praise difficult for you at times?
Reading: Psalm 68
Mount Bashan, majestic mountain,
Mount Bashan, rugged mountain,
why gaze in envy, you rugged mountain,
at the mountain where God chooses to reign,
where the LORD himself will dwell forever?
The chariots of God are tens of thousands
and thousands of thousands;
the Lord has come from Sinai into his sanctuary.
When you ascended on high, you took many captives;
you received gifts from people, even from the rebellious—
that you, LORD God, might dwell there.
Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior,
who daily bears our burdens.
Our God is a God who saves;
from the Sovereign LORD comes escape from death.
Surely God will crush the heads of his enemies,
the hairy crowns of those who go on in their sins.
The Lord says, “I will bring them from Bashan;
I will bring them from the depths of the sea,
that your feet may wade in the blood of your foes,
while the tongues of your dogs have their share” (NIV).
There is one thought from today’s psalm reading that jumps out at me and here it is: Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.
Why would or should God our Savior bear our burdens? He sits enthroned in heaven above the fray. Why should He entangle Himself in the affairs of humanity? But apparently He does. Jesus our Savior gives us this invitation, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
Jesus is inviting us to step into the harness with him. Then he assures us that he will do the heavy lifting and pulling. I’m not sure that was a wise offer for Jesus to make. Did he really know the extent of my burden? Did he know all that burden bearing would lead him directly to the cross? He must have known, but he did it anyway. What a foolish man! What a foolish God!
Some Saviors will do anything to show their love.
Response: LORD God, thank you for being foolish enough to love me. Thank you, Jesus for bearing my burdens to the cross and beyond. My hope rests in you. Our God is a God who saves; from the Sovereign LORD comes escape from death. Amen.
Your Turn: Has the Lord lifted some of your burdens recently? Have you stepped into the harness with Him? Are you letting Him carry His portion?
Reading: Psalm 68
When you, God, went out before your people,
when you marched through the wilderness,
the earth shook, the heavens poured down rain,
before God, the One of Sinai,
before God, the God of Israel.
You gave abundant showers, O God;
you refreshed your weary inheritance.
Your people settled in it,
and from your bounty, God, you provided for the poor.
The Lord announces the word,
and the women who proclaim it are a mighty throng:
“Kings and armies flee in haste;
the women at home divide the plunder.
Even while you sleep among the sheep pens,
the wings of my dove are sheathed with silver,
its feathers with shining gold.”
When the Almighty scattered the kings in the land,
it was like snow fallen on Mount Zalmon (NIV).
Are you about to start some grand enterprise? Are you embarking on a great journey? Are you beginning a new endeavour? Maybe you are doing none of these things. Perhaps for you it’s just a regular day. There’s nothing special or grand about it at all.
But just for a moment, let’s suppose you were setting out on a magnificent, but somewhat risky adventure. What are the conditions you would like to see in place before you step out of your comfort zone and take on the very real challenges and obstacles that lie ahead?
This portion of Psalm 68 gives us a biblical answer to that question. If you are taking on the world and all it can throw at you, it’s best to have God on your side. It’s best to have the LORD going before you. He is the One who prepares the way for victory and success.
In a dry and thirst place God is our faithful provider. You gave abundant showers, O God; you refreshed your weary inheritance. Your people settled in it, and from your bounty, God, you provided for the poor.
When we step out in His will, God is at work. He has gone before us even as we sleep. He sets our enemies to flight. “Even while you sleep among the sheep pens, the wings of my dove are sheathed with silver, its feathers with shining gold.”
The dove so beautifully described here is the Holy Spirit. He circles over His people preparing the way.
Response: LORD God, as I go about my day, please go before me. Today help me to see you at work. I walk in confidence and faith because your Holy Spirit is at work even as I sleep. Thank you, Lord. Amen.
Your Turn: Can you recall times when it was apparent that God had gone before you?