I will praise the LORD!
Reading: Psalm 85
For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. A psalm.
You, LORD, showed favor to your land;
you restored the fortunes of Jacob.
You forgave the iniquity of your people
and covered all their sins.
You set aside all your wrath
and turned from your fierce anger.
Restore us again, God our Savior,
and put away your displeasure toward us.
Will you be angry with us forever?
Will you prolong your anger through all generations?
Will you not revive us again,
that your people may rejoice in you?
Show us your unfailing love, LORD,
and grant us your salvation (NIV).
Psalm 85 begins on a high note as the psalmist reflects on God’s goodness in the past. You, LORD, showed favor to your land; you restored the fortunes of Jacob.
God’s favor is not something we earn; it is undeserved. God’s favor is synonymous with God’s grace. We may attempt to explain God’s grace, but in reality there’s no accounting for it. God showers His grace upon us, but why on us and not someone else? There is an aspect of Divine grace that we may never fully comprehend. We simply need to receive it and rejoice in God’s favor when it comes our way.
Make no mistake. God’s grace and His favor are rooted in forgiveness. Note the words of the psalmist: You forgave the iniquity of your people and covered all their sins. You set aside all your wrath and turned from your fierce anger.
Because of our sins and disobedience, we deserve God’s wrath and anger, but instead He has shown us favor and forgiveness. How awesome is that! There is something over-the-moon wonderful about the love of God. When we experience its fullness, it puts a smile on our face and a wellspring of joy in our hearts.
But… But there is a point of transition in this psalm. The wonderful sense of nearness to God has been lost. About midway through the passage above the psalmist cries out in anguish. Restore us again, God our Savior, and put away your displeasure toward us. Will you be angry with us forever?
We are not told what has caused this sense of separation from God. Is it sin? Is it unforeseen hardships or calamities of various kinds? Whatever the cause, the psalmist pleads for revival and a return to joy.
Response: LORD God, revive my love for you. I want to sense you near to me again—smiling down on me. Show me your favor and your unfailing love. Let me know your grace. Amen.
Your Turn: Have you lost a sense of nearness to God? What can you do to restore it?
Reading: Psalm 62
Surely the lowborn are but a breath,
the highborn are but a lie.
If weighed on a balance, they are nothing;
together they are only a breath.
Do not trust in extortion
or put vain hope in stolen goods;
though your riches increase,
do not set your heart on them.
One thing God has spoken,
two things I have heard:
“Power belongs to you, God,
and with you, Lord, is unfailing love”;
and, “You reward everyone
according to what they have done” (NIV).
In this life that we have been given, what things are solid? What things are sure? Not much according to the psalmist, David.
Our station in life is just a fabricated lie. At heart, the highborn are no different than the street pauper. We breathe the same air, suffer the indignities of aging, and our bodies are fated for death and decay. In his epistle, James makes our fate quite clear. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes (James 4:14b).
As for this world’s wealth, it has no lasting value. Here is sound advice—advice from this psalm that you won’t get from a financial planner: though your riches increase, do not set your heart on them.
What then should we do? How should we live? Live in the light and knowledge of eternity and the One who holds eternity in His hands. David reminds us God will…“reward everyone according to what they have done.”
In other words, how we live matters. It matters for now and eternity. That knowledge should inform and give shape to all that we say and do. But there are two additional truths that should bring meaning to our lives. One thing God has spoken, two things I have heard: “Power belongs to you, God, and with you, Lord, is unfailing love.”
God alone has the power of life, death and resurrection. And in Jesus, He demonstrated his unfailing power and love for every man, woman and child on this planet. On the cross Jesus showed his unfailing love. Other loves—human loves—may fail us, but God’s love stands firm and unwavering. In a changing world of eroding values our LORD remains firm and immovable.
Response: LORD God, thank you for the unfailing love of Jesus. You love me even when I have failed and despite my shortcomings. Help me live my life in the light of eternity. Amen.
Your Turn: Is God’s love a motivator for you to change your ways, since He never changes?
Reading: Psalm 52
For the director of music. A maskil of David.
When Doeg the Edomite had gone to Saul and told him:
“David has gone to the house of Ahimelek.”
Why do you boast of evil, you mighty hero?
Why do you boast all day long,
you who are a disgrace in the eyes of God?
You who practice deceit, your tongue plots destruction;
it is like a sharpened razor.
You love evil rather than good,
falsehood rather than speaking the truth.
You love every harmful word, you deceitful tongue!
Surely God will bring you down to everlasting ruin:
He will snatch you up and pluck you from your tent;
he will uproot you from the land of the living.
The righteous will see and fear; they will laugh at you, saying,
“Here now is the man who did not make God his stronghold
but trusted in his great wealth and grew strong by destroying others!”
But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God;
I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever.
For what you have done I will always praise you
in the presence of your faithful people.
And I will hope in your name, for your name is good (NIV).
Like several of David’s psalms, Psalm 52 comes with a backstory. It’s a story of stunning betrayal. Though he was loyal, David was forced to flee from jealous King Saul. On one occasion, he sought refuge at the tabernacle of the LORD and with Ahimelech the priest. Doeg the Edomite, Saul’s chief shepherd, was present at the tabernacle that day. Acting in good faith, Ahimelech helped David by providing food and a weapon—the sword of Goliath. This innocent act of kindness led directly to Ahimelech’s death. Doeg reported this incident to Saul, who ordered the priests be put to death. Doeg personally killed eighty-five of them. (For a full account of this treachery see 1 Samuel 21-22.)
We live in a fallen world—a world where stunning betrayal is often rewarded. In the political realm or the world of high finance, almost daily we hear accounts of how men and women have cut down those they once considered family and friends. All too often this accusation rings true: You who practice deceit, your tongue plots destruction; it is like a sharpened razor.
David discovered that he could trust very few men. He placed his trust in God. When the world turns on you, as it did on David, we can turn to God. Here is the testimony of a wise man: I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever. For what you have done I will always praise you in the presence of your faithful people. And I will hope in your name, for your name is good.
Response: LORD God, help me to always put my trust in your unfailing love. You are my help and refuge in the storms of life. Bring me through by your grace. Amen.
Your Turn: Has someone you trusted let you down? Has that experience damaged or renewed your trust in God?
Reading: Psalm 33
No king is saved by the size of his army;
no warrior escapes by his great strength.
A horse is a vain hope for deliverance;
despite all its great strength it cannot save.
But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him,
on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,
to deliver them from death
and keep them alive in famine.
We wait in hope for the LORD;
he is our help and our shield.
In him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in his holy name.
May your unfailing love be with us, LORD,
even as we put our hope in you (NIV).
This final portion of Psalm 33 is all about hope. Life is all about hope. From the first breath we take until our last gasp, life is all about hope. Life has no meaning or purpose if we lose hope.
The essential question we must ask is where do you place your hope? All too often we place our hope in the things of this world, our resources, our ingenuity and the strength of our flesh. But the psalmist reminds us: No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength. A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save.
Time and again throughout history the little guy has won. David defeated Goliath. The Viet Cong ousted the US Army. The Afghan rebels outlasted the armies of the USSR. Victory does not always go to the mighty. So the lament goes up, “How the mighty have fallen! The weapons of war have perished!” (2 Samuel 1:27).
Where is your hope? Where have you put your trust? The psalmist reminds us to put our hope in the LORD. Leaders come and go; nations rise and fall. Human abilities wane. “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever” (Isaiah 40:8).
Our hope and our trust must be in God and in His unfailing word.
When calamity strikes, those who maintain hope survive; those who give up hope perish. In stories of extreme survival over and over again this truth is borne out. Hope sustains the human heart, when food and water run out. When we put our trust in the LORD, we tap into a limitless supply of hope. Therefore: We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.
Response: This is our prayer. May your unfailing love be with us, LORD, even as we put our hope in you. In the name of Jesus—our source of hope—who defeated death, we pray. Amen.
Your Turn: What are some sources of false hope? Why have you put your hope in God?
Reading: Psalm 119
Your hands made me and formed me;
give me understanding to learn your commands.
May those who fear you rejoice when they see me,
for I have put my hope in your word.
I know, LORD, that your laws are righteous,
and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.
May your unfailing love be my comfort,
according to your promise to your servant.
Let your compassion come to me that I may live,
for your law is my delight.
May the arrogant be put to shame for wronging me without cause;
but I will meditate on your precepts.
May those who fear you turn to me,
those who understand your statutes.
May I wholeheartedly follow your decrees,
that I may not be put to shame (NIV).
You have been touched by God. Pause. Consider that for a moment.
When did God touch you? According to the psalmist it happened at the very beginning of your life. Your hands made me and formed me; give me understanding to learn your commands.
Implied in that statement is God’s personal care—His attention to detail. You are not an accident or an afterthought in the mind of God. He formed you with a plan and a purpose. According to the apostle Paul, a large part of that purpose is that you may know Him, and be conformed to the image of His dear Son. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters (Romans 8:28-29).
When we face difficulties, hardship and suffering has God abandoned us? The answer is a resounding no. Consider the psalmist’s response to these things: I know, LORD, that your laws are righteous, and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me. May your unfailing love be my comfort, according to your promise to your servant.
Every adversity you face should bring you nearer to God. See it as an opportunity to learn, grow and be changed into someone who is more like Jesus. He did not run from adversity, but instead faced suffering and death head on. God the Father brought Jesus safely to the other side, and it’s His purpose to bring you through to glory too.
Response: Father God, I want to be like Jesus. Thank you for touching my life and forming me with your hands. I am yours—yours by creation—yours by redemption. I will meditate on your precepts. Amen.
Your Turn: Have you questioned God’s love for you? Are you living out His plan?