I will praise Him!
Reading: Psalm 31
For the director of music. A psalm of David.
In you, LORD, I have taken refuge;
let me never be put to shame;
deliver me in your righteousness.
Turn your ear to me,
come quickly to my rescue;
be my rock of refuge,
a strong fortress to save me.
Since you are my rock and my fortress,
for the sake of your name lead and guide me.
Keep me free from the trap that is set for me,
for you are my refuge.
Into your hands I commit my spirit;
deliver me, LORD, my faithful God (NIV).
We all need a place of refuge. Here as David begins Psalm 31, he pleads with God to hear him, and become a rock of refuge for him. Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me.
David spent many of his early years fleeing from King Saul. At other times the Philistines were a threat. There were many occasions in which David needed a fortress—a rock of refuge from his enemies. Often he found himself calling out for the LORD to rescue him.
Are we any different? We may not have physical enemies who are seeking to kill us, but in the spiritual realm the demonic forces of hell are constantly seeking opportunities to trip us up, so that they can launch their vicious assault. Trouble and affliction comes to every human life. We are not immune simply because we have put our faith in Christ. We too need a safe place—a rock of refuge.
But the rock to which we flee is not an inanimate object, fixed and unmoving. No, we come to the living rock which is Christ. He travels with us on this earthly pilgrimage. The apostle, Paul reminds us that even the people of Israel wandering in the wilderness were not alone. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ (1 Corinthians 10:3-4).
The veins of that rock were opened wide for us. Jesus bled and died so that we could experience new life and complete forgiveness. As he hung dying, Jesus called out to his Father with the words of this psalm, “Into your hands I commit my spirit.” Now daily that living rock accompanies you. He is the fount of forgiveness and a sure refuge in a time of need. Have you put your trust in him for your salvation now and in eternity?
Response: LORD God, I thank you for Jesus. You alone are my rock and my eternal fortress. Guide my spirit into the right path today. Keep me safe from the traps of the enemy. I trust in you. Amen.
Your Turn: Is Jesus your living rock? Why is the analogy of Jesus as a rock a comfort to you?
Reading: Psalm 25
Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
Relieve the troubles of my heart
and free me from my anguish.
Look on my affliction and my distress
and take away all my sins.
See how numerous are my enemies
and how fiercely they hate me!
Guard my life and rescue me;
do not let me be put to shame,
for I take refuge in you.
May integrity and uprightness protect me,
because my hope, LORD, is in you.
Deliver Israel, O God,
from all their troubles! (NIV)
David begins Psalm 25 on a note of confidence, but as this psalm draws to a close he truly bears his heart. David plaintively calls out to the LORD, “Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.”
The warrior king let’s his guard down and we see into his soul. There is a time for putting on a brave face, and there’s a time for open and transparent honesty. Here within the context of this psalm we see both; David the brave heart and David the lonely heart. Earlier in this psalm David showed absolute confidence in his God, but now he pours out his soul in humble petition. Hear the cry of his heart, “Relieve the troubles of my heart and free me from my anguish. Look on my affliction and my distress and take away all my sins.”
David recognized his greatest need. David’s greatest need was forgiveness. That’s our greatest need too. We need the peace of mind that forgiveness brings.
David was surrounded by mortal enemies, but then so are we. The legions of hell are arrayed against the Christian believer. At this moment worldly philosophies and demonic forces are conspiring to destroy your home, your marriage and your life. Along with David we pray, “See how numerous are my enemies and how fiercely they hate me! Guard my life and rescue me; do not let me be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.”
Our hope must always be centered in the LORD. Integrity and uprightness form a wall of protection around the people of God. But our deliverance comes from the LORD. Along with David we affirm, “No one who hopes in you [LORD] will ever be put to shame.”
Response: Lord Jesus, help me to be open and transparent before you. Take away all my sins. My hope is in you. Protect me the attacks of the enemy. Deliver me from all my troubles. Amen.
Your Turn: How much do you need God? Do you need His forgiveness?
Reading: Psalm 9
Sing the praises of the LORD, enthroned in Zion;
proclaim among the nations what he has done.
For he who avenges blood remembers;
he does not ignore the cries of the afflicted.
LORD, see how my enemies persecute me!
Have mercy and lift me up from the gates of death,
that I may declare your praises in the gates of Daughter Zion,
and there rejoice in your salvation.
The nations have fallen into the pit they have dug;
their feet are caught in the net they have hidden.
The LORD is known by his acts of justice;
the wicked are ensnared by the work of their hands.
The wicked go down to the realm of the dead, all the nations that forget God.
But God will never forget the needy; the hope of the afflicted will never perish.
Arise, LORD, do not let mortals triumph;
let the nations be judged in your presence.
Strike them with terror, LORD;
let the nations know they are only mortal (NIV).
If only life was easy; if only life was just and fair! But it isn’t. Life is filled with struggles and difficulties. I’m not always treated fairly, nor are you. Here in this psalm David cries out, “LORD, see how my enemies persecute me!” You can sense the frustration in his voice. Though these words are not recorded, in the midst of his troubles he might have added, “This isn’t fair, LORD. You aren’t being fair!”
But David doesn’t say that. He assigns blame where blame is due. He blames his troubles on his enemies—his human oppressors—not on the LORD. By way of contrast, David has nothing but praise for the LORD. He declares, “Sing the praises of the LORD, enthroned in Zion; proclaim among the nations what he has done.”
If the source of your affliction is human, why are you blaming God for it? We need to always keep this statement in mind. The LORD is known by his acts of justice. In this life we may not always see His justice prevail, but rest assured on that great final Day, He will prevail. Ultimately, His justice will be seen and known by all.
In times of trouble God is our source of help and strength. Human help may fail us. Friends may let us down. We can wrongly blame the LORD for our troubles, or we can run to Him for help. In all our troubles, we must keep this promise in mind: God will never forget the needy; the hope of the afflicted will never perish.
Response: LORD, in times of trouble, you are my help. I lay my troubles and my requests before you. I wait expectantly for you. I praise you for your goodness to me even in difficult times. Amen.
Your Turn: Have you been blaming God rather than thanking Him? Take some time to praise Him.
Reading: Psalm 142
A maskil of David. When he was in the cave. A prayer.
I cry aloud to the LORD;
I lift up my voice to the LORD for mercy.
I pour out before him my complaint;
before him I tell my trouble.
When my spirit grows faint within me,
it is you who watch over my way.
In the path where I walk people have hidden a snare for me.
Look and see, there is no one at my right hand;
no one is concerned for me.
I have no refuge; no one cares for my life (NIV).
Have you been in a cave? Despite what we read and know about cavemen, caves are not great living spaces. They are dark and dank. They may be fine places to retreat to in times of mortal danger, but they leave much to be desired as a permanent habitation.
In desperate times, people hide in caves. That’s where David found himself as he hid from his jealous master, King Saul. Though he was innocent, Saul in a jealous rage attacked David and repeatedly tried to kill him. See 1 Samuel 19:9-24. Eventually, David fled to a cave in the Desert of En Gedi. This psalm, Psalm 142, was born in a desolate place—a cave in the Desert of En Gedi. See 1 Samuel 24.
Here David hit rock bottom. From this low point in his life he called out to the LORD with these words: I cry aloud to the LORD; I lift up my voice to the LORD for mercy. I pour out before him my complaint; before him I tell my trouble.
The Psalms are the prayer book of the Bible. With this psalm David provides us with an excellent example of prayer—prayer from the lowest position—the position of weakness and vulnerability. The future looked bleak for David. He was living the precarious life of a fugitive. At any time, he could be discovered or betrayed. Would today be his last day?
Where did David take his troubles? He took them to the LORD.
Where do you go with your troubles? Where do you take your complaints? The LORD’s complaint department is open for business. There you will find a listening ear.
There are a host of things that are unfair in this life—sometimes brutally unfair. Are we supposed to suppress our outrage? Should we hide our hurt and pretend that all is well, while on the inside the bottom is falling out of our life? No. A thousand times, no! Take it to the LORD in prayer. That’s what David did. He cried out to his God, and his God answered.
Response: LORD God, when I reach a low point you are there. Hear me when I am down. I bring my troubles and sorrows to you. They are more than I can bear. Jesus, be my burden bearer. Amen.
Your Turn: Are you in a cave or a desert place? Take some time to call out to God.
Reading: Psalm 119
ש Sin and Shin
Rulers persecute me without cause,
but my heart trembles at your word.
I rejoice in your promise
like one who finds great spoil.
I hate and detest falsehood
but I love your law.
Seven times a day I praise you
for your righteous laws.
Great peace have those who love your law,
and nothing can make them stumble.
I wait for your salvation, LORD,
and I follow your commands.
I obey your statutes,
for I love them greatly.
I obey your precepts and your statutes,
for all my ways are known to you (NIV).
We live in troubled times—times of domestic and foreign conflict. Turmoil abounds. If you follow world events, it seems we are sitting on a ticking time bomb. Problems and conflicts abound, and those conflicts spill across borders as people desperately seek a better life.
Into this world of uncertainty, the psalmist speaks these words. Great peace have those who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.
If we are looking for peace in this world, we are sure to be disappointed. The ways of the world lead directly to conflict, as human greed and pride compete for dominance. This should not surprise us since the world and the systems of the world are controlled by our adversary, the prince of darkness.
Again the psalmist reminds us. Great peace have those who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.
Our peace is not found in the world; it is found in loving your law, which is the word of God. The good news is that this word of God did not simply remain as pages in a book. It became flesh to live with us. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14). Furthermore, Jesus, the living word, gives us this promise, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27).
Response: Father God, grant me your peace. Now by faith I receive the promise of your everlasting peace. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7). Thank you, Lord Jesus. My sins are forgiven. Amen.
Your Turn: What brings you peace? Do you need the peace of Christ?
Reading: Psalm 107
Some went out on the sea in ships;
they were merchants on the mighty waters.
They saw the works of the LORD,
his wonderful deeds in the deep.
For he spoke and stirred up a tempest
that lifted high the waves.
They mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths;
in their peril their courage melted away.
They reeled and staggered like drunkards;
they were at their wits’ end.
Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble,
and he brought them out of their distress.
He stilled the storm to a whisper;
the waves of the sea were hushed.
They were glad when it grew calm,
and he guided them to their desired haven.
Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind.
Let them exalt him in the assembly of the people
and praise him in the council of the elders (NIV).
There is something very primal or basic about our understanding of God and storms. We know that we cannot control the weather. Storms and floods are acts of God well beyond our limited power. All we can do is call out for God’s mercy just as the men in this vignette from Psalm 107 did. Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress.
Jesus’ disciples found themselves in an identical situation one day. Fear of drowning is one of those fears that haunts all of us.
A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm (Mark 4:37-39).
For the disciples this was one of those experiences that confirmed the deity of Jesus. They were not following an ordinary man, but rather God clothed in human flesh.
Response: LORD God, I want to see Jesus and experience him in my life. Open my eyes to who you really are. Jesus, please still the storms that roil the seas on which I sail. I need to hear your calming voice. Amen.
Your Turn: Are you being hit by the storms of life? Have you called out to God in your time of need?
Reading: Psalm 107
Some sat in darkness, in utter darkness,
prisoners suffering in iron chains,
because they rebelled against God’s commands
and despised the plans of the Most High.
So he subjected them to bitter labor;
they stumbled, and there was no one to help.
Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress.
He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness,
and broke away their chains.
Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
for he breaks down gates of bronze
and cuts through bars of iron (NIV).
Darkness comes in various forms. Darkness is of course an absence of natural or artificial light. A certain amount of darkness can in fact be very pleasant. Have you ever tried to sleep in a brightly lit room? On a recent trip I was driving through the wilderness of northern Ontario with a full moon—a supermoon beaming down. On such occasions you appreciate the soothing benefits of darkness.
But spiritual darkness is another matter. In today’s vignette or snapshot from Psalm 107, we see a picture of prisoners sitting in utter darkness and subjected to bitter labor. This darkness, however, is self-inflicted, because they rebelled against God’s commands and despised the plans of the Most High.
There’s a lot of self-inflicted darkness and suffering in the world. One could argue that since the time of Adam and Eve, all suffering and spiritual darkness is in some respects self-inflicted. In our blindness and self-generated wisdom, we harm ourselves, rather than calling out to the LORD.
Have you harmed yourself by walking down a dark path? Have you despised the plans of the Most High? I have. In my foolish rebellion, I thought my plans were better than God’s plans, but God’s ways are higher than my ways and He knows the best way because He lights the way.
Sometimes we insist on generating our own light—artificial light. The religions and philosophies of this world are artificial light. We will see that they are pale imitations on that day when the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays (Malachi 4:2). Nothing and no one shines like Jesus. John testifies to this truth. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (John 1:4-5).
Come, descendants of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the LORD (Isaiah 2:5).
Response: Father God, today I want to walk in your light. Thanks for the light of salvation that we receive in Christ our Savior. Please show me your way forward. You brighten my life. Amen.
Your Turn: Have you been guilty of generating your own light rather than calling out to the LORD?