I will praise Him!
A song of ascents.
When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dreamed.
Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
“The LORD has done great things for them.”
The LORD has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy.
Restore our fortunes, LORD,
like streams in the Negev.
Those who sow with tears
will reap with songs of joy.
Those who go out weeping,
carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with them.
(Psalm 126:1-6, NIV)
Reading: Psalm 102
Let this be written for a future generation,
that a people not yet created may praise the LORD:
“The LORD looked down from his sanctuary on high,
from heaven he viewed the earth,
to hear the groans of the prisoners
and release those condemned to death.”
So the name of the LORD will be declared in Zion
and his praise in Jerusalem
when the peoples and the kingdoms
assemble to worship the LORD (NIV).
Time capsules are a fascinating idea. They can tell us a great deal about what people at a certain point in history considered important or indicative of that particular time. What was significant in the lives of people 100 years ago? A time capsule gives us a glimpse into that long ago period. For instance, a time capsule from 1959 might contain a hula-hoop, but the significance of that craze might well be lost on the current generation of young people.
In some respects, this reading from Psalm 102 acts as a time capsule. It is a written testimony of what the LORD has done. “The LORD looked down from his sanctuary on high, from heaven he viewed the earth, to hear the groans of the prisoners and release those condemned to death.”
Generation after generation of Bible readers has read this written testimony. They know that the LORD hears the groans of prisoners and sets them free. But this testimony doesn’t end there. It doesn’t end there because the LORD has not stopped listening and acting. He continues to do these things today.
I can personally testify to being set free from the bondage of sin. I know that due to my sinful nature I was condemned to die. But Jesus suffered the punishment I deserve on my behalf. When I called out to God, He heard my cry and set me free from the death penalty I was living under. My body may perish, but through the blood shed by Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit, I have eternal life. That’s my testimony. That’s the time capsule message I want to send to the next generation and beyond.
By the way, my testimony is not unique. Millions of people around the world can testify to the life changing power of the LORD. They all have time capsule testimonies that they want to send to a generation as yet unborn.
What about you? Do you have a testimony to God’s redeeming forgiveness and power? It might be worth your time to write it down. We overcome the attacks of the enemy by the words of our testimony. You have a story to tell. It’s a time capsule with contents far more valuable than a hula-hoop.
Response: Heavenly Father, I thank you for your intervention in my life. You have given me a story to tell—a testimony to your amazing grace. Help me to carry that testimony to a future generation—a generation that is not yet born. Amen.
Your Turn: Have you testified to the saving power of Jesus? How has the Lord changed your life?
Reading: Psalm 102
But you, LORD, sit enthroned forever;
your renown endures through all generations.
You will arise and have compassion on Zion,
for it is time to show favor to her;
the appointed time has come.
For her stones are dear to your servants;
her very dust moves them to pity.
The nations will fear the name of the LORD,
all the kings of the earth will revere your glory.
For the LORD will rebuild Zion
and appear in his glory.
He will respond to the prayer of the destitute;
he will not despise their plea (NIV).
Psalm 102 begins as a lament, but today’s reading is drawn from the mid portion of the psalm, and rather than despair and grief, this section is filled with hope and promise. Though at present we may be plagued by troubles, a turning point is coming. This is the hope we have when we truly know our God.
Despite experiencing the troubles and difficulties of an afflicted person, this is the psalmist’s personal confession: But you, LORD, sit enthroned forever; your renown endures through all generations. You will arise and have compassion on Zion, for it is time to show favor to her; the appointed time has come.
What about you and me? Is the LORD enthroned as the Lord of my life? Is He calling the shots? Have I stopped to listen for His voice, or do I simply plunge ahead into my day without giving any thought to His will or His plans for me?
By the way the LORD has plans for you that are nothing short of amazing. Here’s a look at the LORD’s plans according to Psalm 102: You will arise and have compassion on Zion, for it is time to show favor to her; the appointed time has come.
This is the promise that we all have as believers. A time is coming when the LORD will show us His favor. It is an appointed time. You can be sure that the LORD keeps His appointments. He will show up in our lives to favor us—to bestow His grace. What a magnificent promise that is!
Do I know when that appointed time will come? No, I don’t. It’s the LORD’s appointment, not mine. He will arise and show compassion on His people. My responsibility is to be numbered among His people—the faithful ones of Zion. That brings us back to considering who is enthroned as the King of our lives. Lord Jesus, this is my confession: I want you enthroned in my heart forever.
Response: Heavenly Father, reign in my life. Jesus, you are King forever. I bow my knee to you. Give me ears that hear what you are saying to me today and always. I wait with faith and expectation for you to show me your favor? Amen.
Your Turn: Have you exper
ienced the Lord’s favor? What did that look like?
Reading: Psalm 99
The LORD reigns,
let the nations tremble;
he sits enthroned between the cherubim,
let the earth shake.
Great is the LORD in Zion;
he is exalted over all the nations.
Let them praise your great and awesome name—
he is holy.
The King is mighty, he loves justice—
you have established equity;
in Jacob you have done
what is just and right.
Exalt the LORD our God
and worship at his footstool;
he is holy (NIV).
What does it mean to be holy? There are several shades of meaning for the word holy. It can mean being consecrated or dedicated for a special purpose. It also means righteous. But the definition that fits best in the light of Psalm 99 reads like this: awe-inspiring—having a character that evokes reverence (Encarta Dictionary).
The psalmist is effusive with his praise for the LORD, but three times in this short psalm, he centers back to this phrase: he is holy. Yes, the LORD reigns, He is righteous and exalted, but what has really caught the psalmist’s attention is the LORD’s holiness. That’s what sets Him apart and elevates Him above the stratosphere.
Has the LORD’s holiness caught your attention? Have you been filled with awe by the holiness of God? I fear that far too often we have diminished God. We have tried to make Him like us—powerful but a bit quirky—maybe short-tempered or set in His ways. What nonsense! Our God is holy. We need to wake up to that fact. It must be central to our understanding of God.
In the Beatitudes from his Sermon on the Mount Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Matthew 5:8). To clarify, I might add that the pure in heart will see the true God, not a distorted caricature. Our sinful nature has a way of distorting our view of the LORD. That’s why personal purity and holiness are so essential. The apostle Peter provides this admonition: As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy” (1 Peter 1:14-16).
Response: LORD God, I want to see you at work in my life. Help me with the help of your Holy Spirit to clean up those areas that distort my view of you. You are holy. I worship you in the beauty of your holiness. Amen.
Your Turn: Are there times when you have seen God as short-tempered or set in His ways? Have you avoided God’s call to holiness?
Reading: Psalm 97
Zion hears and rejoices
and the villages of Judah are glad
because of your judgments, LORD.
For you, LORD, are the Most High over all the earth;
you are exalted far above all gods.
Let those who love the LORD hate evil,
for he guards the lives of his faithful ones
and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.
Light shines on the righteous
and joy on the upright in heart.
Rejoice in the LORD, you who are righteous,
and praise his holy name (NIV).
Love and hate are two extremes—two opposites. Almost always we see love as a good thing, something to be encouraged or applauded, while hate is regarded as a universally negative emotion. But is this a correct view of love and hate?
The addict may love his crack cocaine pipe, but is that a good or wholesome kind of love? Strange as it may seem, the battered wife may love her abusive husband and yet feel locked into that relationship despite its toxic or even deadly consequences. Is that a healthy kind of love? Of course not, but the addict and the abused partner both use the term love when they describe the object of their affection.
Similarly hate—that polar opposite emotion—is universally viewed as negative. Is it wrong to hate injustice, murder or pedophilia? Of course not. Hate is the right emotional response when we see these things taking place. The devastating consequences of sin and criminal wrongdoing are repulsive. Seeing such harmful conduct should prompt us to hate those actions.
In today’s reading from Psalm 97, we see a different perspective on love and hate. Let those who love the LORD hate evil, for he guards the lives of his faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.
Are you loving God and hating evil? All too often we see there are those in this world who love evil and hate God. Why do they hate God? Could it be because the LORD expects—no requires—better from them, and they thinking they know better, have gone their own selfish way?
Note that we are commanded to hate evil. We are not commanded to hate evildoers. God in His great mercy may yet redeem the evildoer. It is by God’s grace that we ourselves are not caught up in evil, so wisdom urges us not to be haughty. We do well to focus on loving the LORD. We can draw encouragement from these words: Light shines on the righteous and joy on the upright in heart.
Response: LORD God, teach me to identify and hate evil when I see it. I want your light to shine on me, so I can walk in the path you have set out for me. Let my love for you grow day by day. Amen.
Your Turn: Are you loving the LORD and hating evil? Do you get caught up in hating the evildoer?
Ark of the Covenant, capital, city, city of God, community, David, galleries, Gatineau River, historic buildings, Holy Spirit, Jerusalem, Jesus, John Ceprano, museums, Ottawa, Ottawa River, Remic Rapids Park, Rideau Falls, Rideau River, Zion
Reading: Psalm 87
Of the Sons of Korah. A psalm. A song.
He has founded his city on the holy mountain.
The LORD loves the gates of Zion
more than all the other dwellings of Jacob.
Glorious things are said of you,
city of God:
“I will record Rahab and Babylon
among those who acknowledge me—
Philistia too, and Tyre, along with Cush—
and will say, ‘This one was born in Zion.’”
Indeed, of Zion it will be said,
“This one and that one were born in her,
and the Most High himself will establish her.”
The LORD will write in the register of the peoples:
“This one was born in Zion.”
As they make music they will sing,
“All my fountains are in you” (NIV).
Do you love your hometown? I hope you do. I certainly love my hometown, or to be more accurate, my home city. I live in Ottawa, Canada’s capital city. Though I wasn’t born or raised in Ottawa, I chose to live here. There’s a lot to love about Ottawa. Like any major world capital, there are plenty of grand museums, galleries, historic buildings and monuments. But I think it’s their situation or setting that makes the city so attractive.
Ottawa is situated at the juncture point of three rivers. The scenic Rideau River winds its way through the city from the south before it plunges into the Ottawa River at the Rideau Falls. On the north shore of the Ottawa River the Gatineau River makes its entry after passing through the rugged Gatineau Hills. With three scenic rivers there’s an abundance of city parks and green space.
According to the psalmist, the LORD loves his hometown too. The LORD loves the gates of Zion more than all the other dwellings of Jacob. Glorious things are said of you, city of God.
During the Old Testament era the LORD chose to dwell in Zion the citadel within Jerusalem. It was David who first brought the Ark of the Covenant to Zion after one of his successful military campaigns. (See 2 Samuel 6.) From that time forward Jerusalem has been called the city of God. It became the city of God because God dwelt there. In due course, His temple was built there.
What about your city or town? Does God dwell there? What truly makes a place remarkable or special is the One who lives there. The presence of God can turn a hut or a humble stable into the portal to heaven. If Jesus is enthroned in your heart then God is truly with you. He is in your city.
Response: LORD God, my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. Thank you for being so personal—so intimate with me. I want to honor and serve you in my community. Be present and active here. Amen.
Your Turn: What do you like most about your community/city? Is God active in your community?
Reading: Psalm 65
For the director of music. A psalm of David. A song.
Praise awaits you, our God, in Zion;
to you our vows will be fulfilled.
You who answer prayer,
to you all people will come.
When we were overwhelmed by sins,
you forgave our transgressions.
Blessed are those you choose and bring near to live in your courts!
We are filled with the good things of your house,
of your holy temple.
You answer us with awesome and righteous deeds,
God our Savior, the hope of all the ends of the earth
and of the farthest seas,
who formed the mountains by your power,
having armed yourself with strength,
who stilled the roaring of the seas,
the roaring of their waves, and the turmoil of the nations.
The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders;
where morning dawns, where evening fades,
you call forth songs of joy (NIV).
There is a joyful exuberance found in Psalm 65. In some ways this psalm reminds me of a Broadway musical in that there’s an eagerness—a readiness—to burst into song. It could happen at any moment. The opening line expresses this joyous exuberance well: Praise awaits you, our God, in Zion!
What about you and me? Is there an eagerness and enthusiasm to praise God as we walk through our day? Is there a song in our hearts just aching for the moment of release? Is your heart filled with gratitude to God? If you can answer, “Yes!” then you have captured the spirit of Psalm 65.
David penned this psalm and it reflects an attitude of gratitude that is present in many of David’s psalms. David provides several reasons for his jubilant praise. First of all, our God answers prayer. He hears when we call out to Him. Over many years, on countless occasions, God has answered my prayers, sometimes in miraculous ways. Like David of old, I can’t help but be grateful.
Secondly, David was thankful for the forgiveness of his sins. There is no better feeling than knowing you have been washed clean from the inside out by the cleansing blood of the Lamb of God. And now you are accepted—welcomed with open arms into God’s family. Oh, hallelujah! I’ve been redeemed.
Finally, all of God’s creation declares his glory. Mountains, prairie, sea and sky shout out His praise!
Response: LORD God, I thank you for hearing my prayers, for forgiving my many sins, and surrounding me with the beauty of your creation. I praise the name of Jesus. Amen.
Your Turn: What blessing from God are you most thankful for?
Reading: Psalm 53
For the director of music. According to mahalath. A maskil of David.
The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, and their ways are vile;
there is no one who does good.
God looks down from heaven on all mankind
to see if there are any who understand,
any who seek God.
Everyone has turned away, all have become corrupt;
there is no one who does good, not even one.
Do all these evildoers know nothing?
They devour my people as though eating bread;
they never call on God.
But there they are, overwhelmed with dread,
where there was nothing to dread.
God scattered the bones of those who attacked you;
you put them to shame, for God despised them.
Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!
When God restores his people,
let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad! (NIV).
There is something very fresh and current about Psalm 53. Though David penned this psalm in about 1000 BC, he is describing today’s world. The fools of the world in the twenty-first century are still busy spouting their lies. The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
The fool, using the logic of a fool, observes that there is no God. But it is God’s observations about mankind that strike me as being more accurate: They are corrupt, and their ways are vile; there is no one who does good. God looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. Everyone has turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.
When God is taken out of the picture, corruption runs rampant, and no set of laws or regulations will change that. The problem is not laws or regulations; the problem is the state of a person’s heart. Without the love and fear of God, restraint is cast off and everyone does what is right in their own eyes. See Judges 21:25.
You see the fool doesn’t stop at claiming there is no God. He takes matters to the next logical step. In the absence of God, he asserts that he is god. He is the master of his own domain and not accountable to anyone but himself. This quickly leads to moral rot of the worst kind, since the devious mind of man can self-justify even the most heinous crimes. On a personal level it’s a rot that we must all guard against. None of us can claim moral perfection. When we do, we turn God into a liar.
Response: LORD God of heaven and earth. I bow my knees before you. Grant me a pure heart so that I can see you at work all around me. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Your Turn: Do believers deny the existence of God when they wilfully engage in corrupt behavior?