I will praise the LORD!
Reading: Psalm 19
The law of the LORD is perfect,
reviving the soul.
The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
The precepts of the LORD are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the LORD are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.
The fear of the LORD is pure,
The decrees of the LORD are firm,
and all of them are righteous.
They are more precious than gold,
than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
than honey from the honeycomb.
By them your servant is warned;
in keeping them there is great reward (NIV).*
The voice of the speaking stars (see yesterday’s reading) is now joined by the voice of the written Holy Word. If nature, specifically the sky, is the first witness to testify to the glory of God, then the scriptures—the written word of God—constitute the second great witness to speak of God’s existence. Both these great witnesses have gathered here to testify within the context of Psalm 19.
While nature speaks to us of the existence of God the creator, it is largely silent regarding the nature or character of this all-powerful supernatural being. Is He good? Is He evil? Is He indifferent to us? Is He angry with us? What is this great, overarching, omnipresent God really like? May we approach Him?
God’s word shows us the way. Here David tells us, “The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul.”
The law is perfect, flawless, inerrant and infallible. Only a perfect, flawless, inerrant and infallible God can be the source of such a document. The law of the LORD that is referred to here is in fact the Bible, the Word of God. Jack Hayford in his commentary on this verse from the Psalms states, “That the ‘law of the LORD is perfect,’ is direct reference to the absolute, complete, and entire trustworthiness of the Holy Scriptures, which constitute the Bible.”
And this perfect, true and infallible law, or Word of God, has an effect. The Word of God is active. It revives the soul. God’s word literally brings souls back to spiritual life. There is great power in the written word. The word of God is redemptive, personal and transformational.
Response: LORD God, help me draw life, wisdom and joy from your word every day. Light my way. Amen.
Your Turn: Do you read God’s word daily? How has it helped you grow in faith?
Reading: Psalm 11
For the director of music. Of David.
In the LORD I take refuge.
How then can you say to me:
“Flee like a bird to your mountain.
For look, the wicked bend their bows;
they set their arrows against the strings
to shoot from the shadows at the upright in heart.
When the foundations are being destroyed,
what can the righteous do?”
The LORD is in his holy temple; the LORD is on his heavenly throne.
He observes everyone on earth; his eyes examine them.
The LORD examines the righteous,
but the wicked, those who love violence,
he hates with a passion.
On the wicked he will rain fiery coals and burning sulfur;
a scorching wind will be their lot.
For the LORD is righteous, he loves justice;
the upright will see his face (NIV).*
Do you feel like your faith is under attack? It seems that everywhere there are people who are mocking those who have faith in God. Believers are openly ridiculed. We are blamed for every war since time immemorial. We are told that science has rock-solid evidence, while God followers rely on concocted myths handed down by unscrupulous manipulators.
The enemy is firing arrows of accusation, doubt and distrust from the shadows at the upright in heart. The very foundation of our faith, the word of God—the Bible—is being attacked as outdated, unreliable and historically inaccurate. Along with David we ask, “When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?”
The righteous can do what David does in the first line of this psalm. David says, “In the LORD I take refuge.” For David, God was not a mystical concept. God was a rock solid reality. David had a memory bank full of experiences with the LORD. The LORD was David’s helper, healer and deliverer. In the tough times of life, God was there—was present in David’s life. The LORD brought victory for David over Goliath and over every enemy that exalted itself above God.
The same can be true for you. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes (Ephesians 6:11). Remember the LORD is on his heavenly throne. Nothing takes Him by surprise. The LORD is with you and He is watching your response. We need not be intimidated; we need not flee. We need to stand our ground like David and like Paul the Apostle. The LORD is with us.
Response: LORD, you are my refuge. Help me to stand my ground when my faith is under attack, and help other believers to do the same by the grace of Jesus. Our faith rests on you, Lord. Amen.
Your Turn: Do you have a memory bank full of experiences with the LORD that you can draw on?
Reading: Psalm 147
He has revealed his word to Jacob,
his laws and decrees to Israel.
He has done this for no other nation;
they do not know his laws.
Praise the LORD (NIV).*
Have you ever asked yourself this question: Where is God?
It’s a valid question. But when we ask that question, it may indicate a lack of faith or at least a level of doubt. When disaster strikes it’s not unusual to wonder, where is God in all this?
There are several theologically correct answers to that question. One could reply that God is in heaven, where He always has been. Or we could say God is everywhere because the Bible teaches that the LORD is omnipresent. See Psalm 139:7-10. Still others may say that the Lord is in their heart. St. Paul reminds us of this truth with this admonition: Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
The simple truth is God needs to reveal Himself to us. The most obvious way that God does this is through His written word. Today’s reading from Psalm 147 speaks of the importance of that revelation. He has revealed his word to Jacob, his laws and decrees to Israel. He has done this for no other nation; they do not know his laws.
But the written word of God can be nothing but dead words on a page to us unless those words are activated—made alive by the Spirit of God. We need the intervention of God—a revelation from God. When that happens, the written words dance off the page and into our hearts. The writer of Hebrews expresses it this way. For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).
Just as God revealed His word to Jacob, we need God to speak to us today. He does that through His written word, but He also does that through the direct prompting of the Holy Spirit. God still speaks to people today. Are your ears open to hear His voice?
The greatest revelation of God came through the person of Jesus Christ. He is the word incarnate—the logos of God who came to dwell among us.
Where is God? He is in the person of Jesus. Jesus, come and dwell in my heart.
Response: LORD God, I need a greater revelation of you. When you show yourself to me, I am changed. Come, Lord Jesus. Invigorate my life. Help me to know you better. Speak deeply to my heart. Amen.
Your Turn: How does God speak to your heart? Has He reveal Himself to you in a variety of ways?
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 119
Your word, LORD, is eternal;
it stands firm in the heavens.
Your faithfulness continues through all generations;
you established the earth, and it endures.
Your laws endure to this day,
for all things serve you.
If your law had not been my delight,
I would have perished in my affliction.
I will never forget your precepts,
for by them you have preserved my life.
Save me, for I am yours;
I have sought out your precepts.
The wicked are waiting to destroy me,
but I will ponder your statutes.
To all perfection I see a limit,
but your commands are boundless (NIV).
One of my hobbies is art. I enjoy drawing. In recent years I have rediscovered my childhood love for pencil crayons. When creating any piece of art, I find there is a delicate balance that needs to be reached. Anything I do can be improved. Early on in the process there is a lot of improving or refining needed, but eventually you reach a point where further tinkering becomes pointless. I aim for perfection, but perfection always seems illusive. At some point I need to say, “I’m done. This piece is finished.”
In today’s reading the psalmist reached that same conclusion. To all perfection I see a limit, but your commands are boundless.
We will never reach the limits of God’s holy word. There is always more to be discovered, to comprehend and apply. It is as the psalmist declares, “Your word, LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.”
St. Paul expresses the same thought. Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! (Romans 11:33). Eternity gives us insufficient time to explore the wisdom of God. But let’s begin the quest; let’s take up the challenge. All of Psalm 119 can be viewed as a grand challenge to discover the wisdom and beauty of God’s word, His commands and precepts.
Let’s continue the journey. This glorious art—the divine art of God’s word—is without beginning or end.
Response: Father God, I love your word. I want to dig deeper in it and know you better thereby. You are a totally awesome God, far beyond my comprehension, but not beyond my appreciation. Amen.
Your Turn: Have you taken up the challenge of studying God’s word?
Reading: Psalm 107
Some became fools through their rebellious ways
and suffered affliction because of their iniquities.
They loathed all food
and drew near the gates of death.
Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress.
He sent out his word and healed them;
he rescued them from the grave.
Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind.
Let them sacrifice thank offerings
and tell of his works with songs of joy (NIV).
There is a verse in Psalm 107 that holds deep significance for all eternity—past, present and future. Here is the verse: He sent out his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave (Psalm 107:20).
I was introduced to this wonderful verse at the funeral of my maternal grandfather. Psalm 107:20 was the sermon text. This Bible verse might seem like an odd choice for use at a funeral. After all, in the end the deceased was not healed. In the case of my grandfather, he made it to the ripe old age 92 years, but death triumphed in the end. Or did it?
The pastor pointed out that throughout his life, on countless occasions, God sent out his word and healed my grandfather, and God who is faithful would do it again. But on the next occasion the LORD would raise my grandfather from the dead.
This is the great hope of all who believe in Jesus Christ. He is our forerunner. He suffered death on our behalf, but he also experienced resurrection—the same kind of resurrection that every believer will experience.
The God who in eons past spoke galaxies into existence can send His word and resurrect my grandfather, and all who have put their faith in the resurrected Savior. With each passing day that awesome moment draws nearer. That’s the ultimate healing and it happens through the power of God’s word.
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).
Response: Father God, send your word. Send your word and heal those who are sick. Send your word and save and transform those who are hostile to you. Send your word and resurrect those who are spiritually dead in their trespasses and sins. LORD God, send your living word. Amen.
Your Turn: Who springs to mind when you pray for God to send His word?
Reading: Psalm 89
But you have rejected, you have spurned,
you have been very angry with your anointed one.
You have renounced the covenant with your servant
and have defiled his crown in the dust.
You have broken through all his walls
and reduced his strongholds to ruins.
All who pass by have plundered him;
he has become the scorn of his neighbors.
You have exalted the right hand of his foes;
you have made all his enemies rejoice.
Indeed, you have turned back the edge of his sword
and have not supported him in battle.
You have put an end to his splendor
and cast his throne to the ground.
You have cut short the days of his youth;
you have covered him with a mantle of shame (NIV).
Though we cannot be absolutely certain, it seems likely that Psalm 89 was written during the time of the Babylonian invasion of Judea. These were days of disaster brought on by idolatry as the people turned away from God. The rebellious King of Judah suffered a catastrophic defeat as the words of this psalm state: You have put an end to his splendor and cast his throne to the ground. You have cut short the days of his youth; you have covered him with a mantle of shame.
In the last few decades the church in North America has also experienced a number of defeats or setbacks. Enemies of the Christian faith have risen up and become bold in their attacks. Just as ancient Jerusalem was attacked and laid low, so too Christian belief systems have been under constant assault. The walls and strongholds of our faith have been undermined.
Two unshakeable biblical truths have come under relentless attack. The first is the truth of creation. Our God is the Creator of the universe—the source point of all matter and life. Since the days of Darwin, who incidentally believed in God, atheists have mounted a ferocious attack on this foundational truth. The Christian response has often been jingoistic or at best disjointed. A more coherent and scientifically sound defense is needed.
The second truth that has been under continual attack is the veracity of the Bible. God’s holy word is mocked and routinely discredited especially at our universities. The word of God is our stronghold. Over and over again it has been proven to be accurate, reliable and true. Archeologists and scholars have marvelled at the veracity and authenticity of God’s word. But the real proof of the inerrancy of God’s word does not come from scholarly research. It comes from the transformed lives of believers.
Response: LORD God, my trust is in you and your word. Creator God, I want my faith to be as secure for me as the earth beneath my feet and the air in my lungs. You are all around me. Thank you, Lord. Amen.
Your Turn: Have attacks on your faith caused doubt? How did you overcome?