I will praise Him!
Reading: Psalm 83
A psalm of Asaph.
O God, do not remain silent;
do not turn a deaf ear,
do not stand aloof, O God.
See how your enemies growl,
how your foes rear their heads.
With cunning they conspire against your people;
they plot against those you cherish.
“Come,” they say, “let us destroy them as a nation,
so that Israel’s name is remembered no more.”
With one mind they plot together;
they form an alliance against you—
the tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites,
of Moab and the Hagrites,
Byblos, Ammon and Amalek,
Philistia, with the people of Tyre.
Even Assyria has joined them
to reinforce Lot’s descendants (NIV).
Do you have enemies? Ancient Israel certainly did. Here in Psalm 83, Asaph lists ten traditional enemies of Israel. The psalmist clearly states the objective of these foreign powers. Their objective was the annihilation of Israel as a nation. “Come,” they say, “let us destroy them as a nation, so that Israel’s name is remembered no more.”
In the spiritual realm every born-again follower of Jesus has a host of enemies who are trying to tear him down and annihilate his or her faith. Therefore, St. Paul gives us this advice: 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 (Ephesians 6:11-12).
Though they may not have a physical form, our enemies are real. The trap called pornography is real. The idolatrous nature of greed is real. The crippling effects of resentment and bitterness are real. These sins and the demonic forces that continually prompt us to disobey God are real. They are constantly working to annihilate our faith.
Our enemies growl and like cobras they rear their heads to strike. But in our hour of need, if we call out to God, He will not stand aloof. He will deliver us. Lord, teach us to pray. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
Response: LORD God, we have a powerful opponent, but we have victory through your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. I call on your awesome name. Give me victory over sin and the forces of evil that are out to destroy my life. My strength is in you. Amen.
Your Turn: Can you identify the sins and snares the enemy has set for you?
Reading: Psalm 81
I am the LORD your God,
who brought you up out of Egypt.
Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.
“But my people would not listen to me;
Israel would not submit to me.
So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts
to follow their own devices.
“If my people would only listen to me,
if Israel would only follow my ways,
how quickly I would subdue their enemies
and turn my hand against their foes!
Those who hate the LORD would cringe before him,
and their punishment would last forever.
But you would be fed with the finest of wheat;
with honey from the rock I would satisfy you” (NIV).
In this concluding portion of Psalm 81, the LORD sets out two possible courses of action for the people of Israel. They can refuse to listen to God, persist in their stubborn ways and reap the devastating consequences, or they can submit to the LORD and be rewarded for their obedience.
God is for us; He is on our side. But we must decide to be on His side. He will fight for us—on our behalf—if we make the right decision. Take a look at this promise. “If my people would only listen to me, if Israel would only follow my ways, how quickly I would subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes!”
But the LORD doesn’t just promise victory over our foes. He promises to richly provide for us and bless us. “But you would be fed with the finest of wheat; with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”
The benefits of following the LORD are clearly stated and obvious. They are obvious when we examine the word of God, but they are obvious as well from human experience. I know many individuals who have resisted the will of God for their lives and their way has been marked by hardship and tragedy—much of it brought on by the choices they have made. The rebellious soul chooses to walk a rocky road. God sets the lonely in families; he leads out the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land (Psalm 68:6).
What choices are you making? Are you choosing God’s ways? Are you listening to Him? We can choose a rocky road in a sun scorched land or we can choose to be fed with honey from the rock. There are rich rewards when we make the right choice.
Response: LORD God, today I choose to follow you. I want to be on your side, rooting for the right team. I trust the promises in your word. You bring me victory, provision and enduring joy. Amen.
Your Turn: Have you struggled in obeying God? How do you turn rebellion into submission to God’s will?
Happy Canada Day to all my Canadian readers.
Reading: Psalm 81
For the director of music. According to gittith. Of Asaph.
Sing for joy to God our strength;
shout aloud to the God of Jacob!
Begin the music, strike the timbrel,
play the melodious harp and lyre.
Sound the ram’s horn at the New Moon,
and when the moon is full, on the day of our festival;
this is a decree for Israel, an ordinance of the God of Jacob.
When God went out against Egypt,
he established it as a statute for Joseph.
I heard an unknown voice say:
“I removed the burden from their shoulders;
their hands were set free from the basket.
In your distress you called and I rescued you,
I answered you out of a thundercloud;
I tested you at the waters of Meribah.
Hear me, my people, and I will warn you—
if you would only listen to me, Israel!
You shall have no foreign god among you;
you shall not worship any god other than me (NIV).
Psalm 81 begins with a call for God’s people to celebrate: Sing for joy to God our strength; shout aloud to the God of Jacob! Begin the music, strike the timbrel, play the melodious harp and lyre.
Why should we break forth in music and song? Well, we have a good reason to celebrate. We have been set free from our burdens. Because of the victory of Christ, we have been set free from slavery to sin. The psalmist expresses this thought with these words: I heard an unknown voice say: “I removed the burden from their shoulders; their hands were set free from the basket. In your distress you called and I rescued you.”
Who is that unknown voice? That unknown voice belongs to the LORD. He is the One who set the people free from bondage in Egypt. God went out against Egypt. He opposed the most powerful nation of the world at that time and claimed a people for Himself by rescuing them from the hand of Pharaoh.
Our heavenly Father has done the same for us. At the cost of his life, Jesus redeemed us from bondage to sin and Satan and he brought us into his Kingdom. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1:13-14). We have plenty of reasons to celebrate and break forth into music and song. Let nothing hold you back. The joy of the Lord is our strength.
Response: LORD God, I thank you for rescuing me from a life of sin and futility. I praise you for redeeming me, Lord Jesus. I rejoice in your continual goodness. Your mercies are new every morning. Amen.
Your Turn: Do you find it difficult or easy to break into song as you think of the Lord’s love for you?
Reading: Psalm 68
For the director of music. Of David. A psalm. A song.
May God arise, may his enemies be scattered;
may his foes flee before him.
May you blow them away like smoke—
as wax melts before the fire,
may the wicked perish before God.
But may the righteous be glad
and rejoice before God;
may they be happy and joyful.
Sing to God, sing in praise of his name,
extol him who rides on the clouds;
rejoice before him—his name is the LORD.
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
is God in his holy dwelling.
God sets the lonely in families,
he leads out the prisoners with singing;
but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land (NIV).
Anyone who has read through the Book of Psalms will readily admit there is a great deal of variety from psalm to psalm. Some psalms are filled with joyous praise, while others are personal or even national laments. Some are filled with humble contrition, while others call for retribution against one’s foes. Each psalm is reflective of the state the psalmist finds himself in. In this respect the psalms act as a Spirit-inspired mirror of the human condition. The highs and lows of life are reflected there.
Psalm 68 is a hymn of triumph—national triumph. Think of it as a triumphant processional song. The enemies have been vanquished and God’s army has returned victorious. May God arise, may his enemies be scattered; may his foes flee before him.
Because God has won the victory, His people can rejoice before Him. Sing to God, sing in praise of his name, extol him who rides on the clouds; rejoice before him—his name is the LORD.
In his lifetime David experienced many victories over his foes, but he did not take credit for his successes. He knew that his triumphs came from the LORD. God was his personal defender—but God was and is also the defender of the fatherless and the widow.
We too have experienced a great victory. It was won for us on Mount Calvary. Satan and the power of sin and death were defeated there. Jesus triumphed over hell and the grave through his resurrection. Now that victory is ours by faith. Rejoice before him—his name is the LORD!
Response: LORD God, I thank you for the victory Jesus won on my behalf at the cross. I praise you for your unconditional love. Help me walk triumphantly in life today because of you, Lord Jesus. Amen.
Your Turn: Are you experiencing victory today? Allow the eternal significance of Christ’s victory permeate your heart and mind.
Reading: Psalm 60
For the director of music. To the tune of “The Lily of the Covenant.”
A miktam of David. For teaching.
When he fought Aram Naharaim and Aram Zobah,
and when Joab returned
and struck down twelve thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt.
You have rejected us, God, and burst upon us;
you have been angry—now restore us!
You have shaken the land and torn it open;
mend its fractures, for it is quaking.
You have shown your people desperate times;
you have given us wine that makes us stagger.
But for those who fear you, you have raised a banner
to be unfurled against the bow.
Save us and help us with your right hand,
that those you love may be delivered.
God has spoken from his sanctuary:
“In triumph I will parcel out Shechem
and measure off the Valley of Sukkoth.
Gilead is mine, and Manasseh is mine;
Ephraim is my helmet, Judah is my scepter.
Moab is my washbasin, on Edom I toss my sandal;
over Philistia I shout in triumph.”
Who will bring me to the fortified city?
Who will lead me to Edom?
Is it not you, God, you who have now rejected us
and no longer go out with our armies?
Give us aid against the enemy, for human help is worthless.
With God we will gain the victory,
and he will trample down our enemies (NIV).
David was Israel’s great warrior king. Through conquest he expanded and secured the nation’s territory against enemies who for generations had ravaged the land. His success as a warrior is fully reflected in the words of Psalm 60. Conquerors often boast of their accomplishments, but David does not take the credit for his victories. He attributes his success to God. He asserts, “With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies.”
On a personal level, we too have enemies who ravage and sabotage the excellent plan God has for our lives. Many a Christian is fighting a personal war with lust and pornography, pride, greed and envy. These are enemies of the soul that rob us of spiritual vitality, leaving us bereft of the fruits of the Spirit. The battle is real. We are in desperate need of victory, but many lack even the will to fight. Over you God speaks from His sanctuary. Victory is available. Hear and believe these words: With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies.
Response: LORD God, help me to put on the armor of God and voice the battle cry. You are my strength. Victory is mine in my personal battle through the all-powerful name of Jesus. Jesus, on my behalf you conquered death and the powers of darkness. Amen.
Your Turn: Have you identified the personal enemies of your soul? Have you taken up the battle cry?
Reading: Psalm 47
For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. A psalm.
Clap your hands, all you nations;
shout to God with cries of joy.
For the LORD Most High is awesome,
the great King over all the earth.
He subdued nations under us,
peoples under our feet.
He chose our inheritance for us,
the pride of Jacob, whom he loved.
God has ascended amid shouts of joy,
the LORD amid the sounding of trumpets.
Sing praises to God, sing praises;
sing praises to our King, sing praises.
For God is the King of all the earth;
sing to him a psalm of praise.
God reigns over the nations;
God is seated on his holy throne.
The nobles of the nations assemble
as the people of the God of Abraham,
for the kings of the earth belong to God;
he is greatly exalted (NIV).
I appreciate God’s timing; it brings a smile to my face. Yesterday’s psalm reading seemed particularly appropriate as we reflected on the events of Good Friday. Today’s psalm posting is fitting as we rejoice in the triumph of the resurrection. I can’t help but think of the risen Christ as I read these words: God has ascended amid shouts of joy, the LORD amid the sounding of trumpets.
Psalm 47 calls forth a spontaneous joy. It is a song of celebration to the LORD for the victories of the LORD. He has conquered! What has He conquered? The LORD has conquered the nations. Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises. For God is the King of all the earth; sing to him a psalm of praise. God reigns over the nations; God is seated on his holy throne.
In its original context, Psalm 47 celebrated the victory of Israel over the surrounding nations. But that is a feeble victory compared to Christ the King’s triumph over death, hell and the power of the grave. Hallelujah! The King is alive. He arose from the dead. The power of sin and Satan are defeated, and because He lives and reigns we too will live and reign with Him through eternity. For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! (Romans 5:10).
In the resurrection of Jesus we have the ultimate cause for celebration. Shout to God with cries of joy!
Response: LORD God, I thank you for the victory of Jesus! He is my forerunner. I will live and reign through Him. Amen.
Your Turn: The resurrection means the dead in Christ will be raised. Who will you want to greet first?
Reading: Psalm 44
For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. A maskil.
We have heard it with our ears, O God;
our ancestors have told us what you did in their days,
in days long ago.
With your hand you drove out the nations and planted our ancestors;
you crushed the peoples and made our ancestors flourish.
It was not by their sword that they won the land,
nor did their arm bring them victory;
it was your right hand, your arm,
and the light of your face, for you loved them.
You are my King and my God, who decrees victories for Jacob.
Through you we push back our enemies;
through your name we trample our foes.
I put no trust in my bow, my sword does not bring me victory;
but you give us victory over our enemies,
you put our adversaries to shame.
In God we make our boast all day long,
and we will praise your name forever (NIV).
What brings you success? There are thousands of books, blogs and advice columns out there that promise you success. If you will just do this, that and this other thing, success is sure to come your way. Now don’t misunderstand me. Many of those self-improvement tips and success formulas can be helpful, if applied. And educating yourself on sound habits and business practices can be rewarding. But…
But if you succeed, what is the source of your success? The author of Psalm 44 would respond by saying success does not come from a formula, a habit or a tip. Success and victory come from the LORD. In this psalm the psalmist refers to the conquest of Canaan by the children of Israel. It was not by their sword that they won the land, nor did their arm bring them victory; it was your right hand, your arm, and the light of your face, for you loved them.
If you succeed in your field of endeavor, what will be the reason for your success? Undoubtedly, hard work, sound practices, wisdom and creativity all play a part, but there are plenty of people who have these character traits in spades, but still they fail to reach their potential. We only succeed—succeed in the fullest sense—when God is working with us. Paul, the apostle, reminds us of this truth, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).
We conquer in our field of endeavor when God is working with us. If you succeed, who is the reason for your success?
Response: LORD God, any success I have comes from you. Every triumph is a victory that you bring. Help me to always remember that you are my source. I succeed because of your love, Lord Jesus. Amen.
Your Turn: Who deserves the credit for your success? Take a moment to give thanks to God.