I will praise Him!
For the director of music. A psalm of David.
The king rejoices in your strength, LORD.
How great is his joy in the victories you give!
You have granted him his heart’s desire
and have not withheld the request of his lips.
You came to greet him with rich blessings
and placed a crown of pure gold on his head.
He asked you for life, and you gave it to him—
length of days, for ever and ever.
Through the victories you gave, his glory is great;
you have bestowed on him splendor and majesty.
Surely you have granted him unending blessings
and made him glad with the joy of your presence.
For the king trusts in the LORD;
through the unfailing love of the Most High
he will not be shaken.
(Psalm 21:1-7, NIV)
I will praise Him!
Now this I know:
The LORD gives victory to his anointed.
He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary
with the victorious power of his right hand.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.
They are brought to their knees and fall,
but we rise up and stand firm.
LORD, give victory to the king!
Answer us when we call!
(Psalm 20:6-9, NIV)
Reading: Psalm 13
For the director of music. A psalm of David.
How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
Look on me and answer, LORD my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the LORD’s praise,
for he has been good to me (NIV).
Have you hit a low point in your life? Are you facing a personal downturn when nothing seems to go right? Problems may arise whether it’s in your career, your finances, your family, or your relations with others. Often difficulty in one area leads to difficulty in other aspects of life. It may seem that circumstances are conspiring to bring you down. Are you caught in a downward spiral?
David begins this psalm in such a state. His life and career appear to be in a death spiral. He pleads with God, “Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death, and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall.”
We can learn a lot from David’s response to hard times. First he brought his problems before God. He poured out his frustration, and in desperation he called out to the LORD for help. He didn’t pretend everything was fine, when clearly they were not. Application: Call out to God in times of trouble.
Secondly, David asked for the light of God to shine into his situation. “Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death…” When we are going through a dark time often we can’t see our way out. Many times the solution is right in front of our eyes, but we can’t see it. We need God to illumine our path. There is a way forward. We need Him to show us. Application: Open your eyes to God’s solution.
Finally, David trusted in the unfailing love of God. He rejoiced in God’s salvation. God is in the rescue business. The solution had yet to arrive, but in advance David sang his praise to God. David reflected on the goodness of God. The LORD had been good and faithful in the past. David knew that God would show him His goodness once again. Application: Trust and praise God in advance.
Response: LORD God, thank you that I can call out to you in times of trouble. Show me the way forward. Open my eyes to the help you are providing and will provide. I trust and thank and praise you in advance. Amen.
Your Turn: Has God rescued you in difficult times in the past? Trust Him to do the same now and in the future.
Reading: Psalm 9
For the director of music. To the tune of “The Death of the Son.” A psalm of David.
I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart;
I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.
I will be glad and rejoice in you;
I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High.
My enemies turn back; they stumble and perish before you.
For you have upheld my right and my cause,
sitting enthroned as the righteous judge.
You have rebuked the nations and destroyed the wicked;
you have blotted out their name forever and ever.
Endless ruin has overtaken my enemies, you have uprooted their cities;
even the memory of them has perished.
The LORD reigns forever; he has established his throne for judgment.
He rules the world in righteousness and judges the peoples with equity.
The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.
Those who know your name trust in you,
for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you (NIV).
Without question David was a man of war. After all, this was the man who as a strapping young teenager slew Goliath, the gigantic champion of the Philistines. Later he led King Saul’s army as they went out to do battle with the enemies of Israel. Eventually when David became King, he secured Israel’s borders and greatly expanded its territory through conquest. David knew a few things about bloodshed and war, and he had more than a few enemies.
It should not surprise us then that the language of warfare and talk of enemies and destruction should appear in the psalms that he wrote. David wrote, sang and spoke of the things he knew and experienced. He was personally involved in life and death struggles. Consequently, he was a man of violence, who lived and survived through violent times.
But he loved God. Sometimes it’s hard to reconcile the slay-my-enemies David with the LORD-is-my-shepherd David. It’s as though two contradictory Davids are living in one body. But then I look at myself—deep within myself. Am I any different? There are more than a few contradictory elements at work within me. The real warfare is within the human spirit. Will I yield to the Spirit of God, or to the foul spirit of this world, or my own selfish pride?
Like David I simply need God. I need to praise and exalt Him over all else. When I do that I gain perspective—the right perspective. With David I can say, “Those who know your name trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.”
Response: I praise you, LORD and I seek you. Along with David I can say you have upheld me in difficult times. Be the master within me. I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High. Amen.
Your Turn: Have you yielded to the LORD? Is He winning the warfare within?
Reading: Psalm 4
For the director of music. With stringed instruments. A psalm of David.
Answer me when I call to you,
my righteous God.
Give me relief from my distress;
have mercy on me and hear my prayer.
How long will you people turn my glory into shame?
How long will you love delusions and seek false gods?
Know that the LORD has set apart his faithful servant for himself;
the LORD hears when I call to him.
Tremble and do not sin;
when you are on your beds,
search your hearts and be silent.
Offer the sacrifices of the righteous and trust in the LORD.
Many, LORD, are asking, “Who will bring us prosperity?”
Let the light of your face shine on us.
Fill my heart with joy when their grain and new wine abound.
In peace I will lie down and sleep,
for you alone, LORD, make me dwell in safety (NIV).
Where are you looking?
Think about it for a moment, where you look is where you go. If you are walking, you are looking where you are going. If you are driving, you are looking where you are going, and if you don’t fix your eyes on where you are going, your journey will surely come to an abrupt end—an accident. As you move through your day—as you move through life—where you look is where you go.
If you look to the internet for porn, you are sure to find it, and be trapped by it. If you look to television for entertainment, you are sure to find it. It too in subtle ways can ensnare and deaden the spirit. If you look to others, they will often disappoint you. As David points out in this Psalm, all too often we love delusions and seek false gods. We are looking in the wrong places and consequently we steer our life into the ditch.
In Psalm 4, David’s approach is totally different. He is looking to the LORD. He is calling out to God. He fears the LORD (trembles and does not sin). In silence he searches his heart and encourages us to do the same. Have you offered a sacrifice of righteousness recently? Right living has a cost. But it also pays enormous dividends.
As we trust in the LORD and look to Him, as a loving Father, He turns His face to us. The light of His face shines on us. Wow! That fills my heart with joy.
Response: Heavenly Father, today let the light of your face shine on me. Guide me in the way of truth. I want to look to you and walk in the way you have prepared for me. Amen.
Your Turn: Has the light of God’s face shone on you recently? What was that like?
Reading: Psalm 146
Praise the LORD.
Praise the LORD, my soul.
I will praise the LORD all my life;
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
Do not put your trust in princes,
in human beings, who cannot save.
When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
on that very day their plans come to nothing.
Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the LORD their God (NIV).
Last week I had a delightful telephone conversation with my mom. She was pleased to report that her last and final round of cataract surgery had gone very well. Her vision has greatly improved. Speaking of her follow-up exam, she said, “The most excited person in the room was the doctor. He was thrilled that the surgery turned out so well. I was the oldest patient he had ever operated on.”
My mom is ninety-four, but she doesn’t let a minor thing like that slow her down. After all, age is just a number. She still keeps a busy schedule and out works many women half her age. Who else but my mother would annually sew a hundred quilts and donate them to Lutheran World Relief?
But she knows, just as we all know that her life here on this earth will come to an end. We best make the most of it while we have this precious gift. Time marches on, and time will eventually march us off to the grave as surely as the sun will rise tomorrow on a new day.
In today’s reading from Psalm 146, the psalmist makes a lifelong commitment. He commits himself to praise the LORD. Praise the LORD, my soul. I will praise the LORD all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
This is not an insignificant commitment. We were made to worship and we all do it, even the atheists among us. Some worship their money; others worship the pleasures of this world. Perhaps the greatest god of the current age is the god of self. Monuments to personal vanity have been erected all around us. I have been known to set up a few of these myself.
Genuine praise for the LORD tears down personal idols. It establishes His lordship over our lives. It acknowledges that He is in control. I have so little power. I can’t turn a white hair to black, at least not in the true sense. But the LORD knows the number of hair on my head and the number of my days. Ultimately, my life is in His hands. My life here is temporary. That’s why I need to put my hope and my trust in God—the eternal One. The psalmist’s words ring true. Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD their God. And that blessing holds true for ninety-four-year-olds too.
Response: LORD God, I thank and praise you for the gift of life. You are worthy of worship. I commit to worshipping you every day for the rest of my life. Thank you for eternal life through Jesus. Amen.
Your Turn: Will you praise the LORD for all of your life? Are you ready to make that commitment?
Reading: Psalm 145
The LORD is trustworthy in all he promises
and faithful in all he does.
The LORD upholds all who fall
and lifts up all who are bowed down.
The eyes of all look to you,
and you give them their food at the proper time.
You open your hand
and satisfy the desires of every living thing (NIV).
More than twenty years ago I went through a dark time in my life. It all began rather abruptly. I got up from the dinner table and went to put my dishes on the kitchen counter. Suddenly everything went dark. According to my wife, I hit the floor with a thud. That’s where she found me unconscious. She was able to revive me and help me to the living room couch. A quick trip to the doctor followed, but remaining conscious was a real struggle for me. The blackness kept closing in.
The diagnosis was a complete shutdown of my thyroid gland. Getting back to full health took quite some time. The severe depletion of the thyroid hormones in my body created a number of side effects. One of these side effects was clinical depression. Though I never blacked out again, I was draped in a lethargic blackness—a darkness of the soul that lasted for months. I needed an antidepressant to bring me back to balance. The medication provided the lift that I needed during this dark episode of my life. Eventually, I regained full health and I no longer needed the antidepressants.
My drug prescription provided the artificial lift that I needed during this transition back health. Today’s reading from Psalm 145 reminds us that the LORD is the true lifter. He lifts the fallen soul out of dark places. The LORD upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down.
We all came into this world with a sinful nature. Willful disobedience comes natural to us. Prompt, willing obedience to God and his commands is not my first inclination. You see, I have fallen—fallen into a life of sin. That’s why I need a Savior. I need an inner change that is propelled by the Spirit of God. Only the LORD can lift me out my condition and restore me to spiritual health.
When God reveals Himself to us as our loving Father, and our faithful provider, by His grace we can choose to put our trust in Him. The LORD is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does.
Do you have a lifter? Not an artificial lifter like drugs or alcohol, but a genuine lifter like the Lord Jesus Christ. Before he was lifted up on a cross, he spoke these words, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself” (John 12:32).
Is Jesus drawing you to himself?
Response: LORD God, thank you for lifting me out of the quagmire of sin. Jesus, you are my merciful Savior. Thank you for restoring my health and lifting me out of depression. You are faithful. Amen.
Your Turn: Has the LORD helped you through a dark period in your life?