Category: psalms


This is an interesting psalm: the heading in my bible says, ‘Of Solomon’ and yet verse 29 says ‘this concludes the prayers of David, son of Jesse’ so who actually wrote it?

And if you read the psalm it is talking about the king and how great he is going to be, so if Solomon did write this himself then it seems to smack of a little bit of ‘Look at me! Look how great i am!’ So i thort i would make a bit of a change and go and do some investigating and whereas it does seem there is some difference on opinion about who wrote it, this is something i found:

The psalm is clearly messianic and looks forward to the millennial reign of Christ when His kingdom of peace and righteousness wilt be established. It is one of the most wonderful psalms which heavily underlines all that we embrace in our millennial teaching.

It is best summed up in the words of Scroggie himself, who says, ‘,..so the prophecy of the father, and the prayer of the son, look onto a time still future when God’s kingdom on earth shall be perfect and universal’. 

[http://www.pwmi.org/cms/index.php?page=did-solomon-pen-psalm-72]

Which makes a lot more sense – there is also apparently a direct link to 2 Samuel 7, which as you know is ‘ David’s great messianic prophecy for kingdom rule.’ [Duh!]

Here is God’s message to David from that passage:

“‘The Lord declares to you that the Lord himself will establish a house for you: 12 When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He is the one who will build a house for my Name,and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with a rod wielded by men, with floggings inflicted by human hands. 15 But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. 16 Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.’”

Which is great and a time when i am grateful for people who read commentaries for fun and find these links because then suddenly, what i would have just read as another cool psalm, is found to be spreading out all over the bible and even into future times.

In a nutshell, this seems to be a comforting message from God that, ‘I’ve got this!’

So go and read the whole psalm and see it in this space of speaking both about a local, physical kingdom and a greater spiritual one that is to come. But let’s first be reminded of the first two verses:

Endow the king with your justice, O God,
    the royal son with your righteousness.
May he judge your people in righteousness,
    your afflicted ones with justice.

i like how straight away with this one, the focus is on God. It is ‘Your justice’ and ‘Your righteousness’ and this gives a clear reminder to us of how we are to live on this earth – am i reflecting God’s justice? am i shining His righteousness?

i know in South Africa [and echoing across the oceans in Americaland as well] right now, these questions of justice are huge – poverty and orphans and land distribution and equality. And we can see guidance in this very psalm. We are called to be beacons of God’s justice and righteousness. We should therefore be very wary of living lives that are disconnected to the plight of the poor, needy and those who have had their voices muted in our country.

So this psalm about the greatness of the king and what he will achieve [present and future] is sandwiched with focus on God and this final praise declaration is how it ends:

18 Praise be to the Lord God, the God of Israel,
    who alone does marvelous deeds.
19 Praise be to his glorious name forever;
    may the whole earth be filled with his glory.
Amen and Amen.

[For the rest of the Psalms and other Bible passages i have been walking through, click here]

Advertisements

This feels like a psalm for old people [like me]. So if you’re not even partly old, maybe bookmark this and come back and read it in ten years or so…

And seriously go and read the whole psalm – i am not going to go through all of it here, but it really is a good one to read all the way through:

In you, Lord, I have taken refuge;
    let me never be put to shame.
In your righteousness, rescue me and deliver me;
    turn your ear to me and save me.
Be my rock of refuge,
    to which I can always go;
give the command to save me,
    for you are my rock and my fortress.
Deliver me, my God, from the hand of the wicked,
    from the grasp of those who are evil and cruel.

For you have been my hope, Sovereign Lord,
    my confidence since my youth.

i may just be putting my own oldness and tiredness on to this, but it feels like that is where the author is coming from. Looking back over a lot of years , which have not all been easy [see vs.20] it is the faith of his youth that he is raising up.

You have been my hope, Sovereign Lord, my confidence since my youth.

That line also speaks very much of a faith that has endured. I continue to believe. It may not always have been easy and clearly hasn’t been at times, but i am still holding on, i am still running this race. You continue to sustain me and keep me going and be enough for me God.

This is encouraging in a world where so many people seem to have given up on their relationship with God. Life and having a family and needing to be responsible and the pressures of conformity and the enticement of comfortability have all proved too strong and so a passionate run with God has either declined into a once-a-week religious meeting and an attempt to ‘be kinda good’ or at least as good as the next guy, or a snuffing out of the flame completely, and in some cases turning strongly against it [and how evil it always was]

But this psalmist knows. He knows God as the rock of refuge to whom he can always turn. He knows God is his deliverer and hope. And so continues to believe and hope and live for Him.

Clearly the temptation to walk away is here for him as well:

Do not cast me away when I am old;
    do not forsake me when my strength is gone.
10 For my enemies speak against me;
    those who wait to kill me conspire together.
11 They say, “God has forsaken him;
    pursue him and seize him,
    for no one will rescue him.”
12 Do not be far from me, my God;
    come quickly, God, to help me.
13 May my accusers perish in shame;
    may those who want to harm me
    be covered with scorn and disgrace.

14 As for me, I will always have hope;
    I will praise you more and more.

But although he has no doubt witnessed it in others, he finishes this section with the powerful words, ‘as for me’ – others may arrive at a different place, but this is how it is going to be for me.

Very reminiscent of Joshua standing before the people in Joshua 24:

14 “Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord.15 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

You can do what you want. But AS FOR ME and my family, we will serve the Lord. 

And there is a whole lot more, but let’s just finish off with the opening lines of these last three paragraphs:

22 I will praise you with the harp
    for your faithfulness, my God;
I will sing praise to you with the lyre,
    Holy One of Israel.
23 My lips will shout for joy
    when I sing praise to you—
    I whom you have delivered.
24 My tongue will tell of your righteous acts
    all day long,
for those who wanted to harm me
    have been put to shame and confusion.

I will praise you.

My lips will shout for joy.

My tongue will tell of your righteous acts.

Is this you?

[To take a look at any of the other Psalms i have walked through so far, click here]

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.

i’m not going to lie, i often don’t quite know what to do with some of the anger and violence of the Old Testament. When i was young it was as black and white as an old A-team episode [google it, kids!] where there were the good guys and the bad  guys and the good guys beat the bad guys. But then one day when i got older, i realised that the bad guys might have moms and wives and children. And suddenly it got a whole lot more complicated.

i do still, however, feel that the evidence of a good God is overwhelming and so this doesn’t make me question God, but it does make me try a little bit harder to understand why things got a little hectic earlier on.

Cos let’s face it – ‘blow them away like smoke as wax melts before the fire’ – sounds a little hectic to me. But it’s the bad guys, so it’s okay. Oh but wait, maybe these bad guys have families too? Argh.

Well, i’m not sure i know the answers, so let’s start with that confession as the base point, BUT perhaps there are some clues that may help.

In the second half of verse 6, after talking about people God looks after, it says, ‘but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.’

Okay, so that is helpful. These enemies of God are people who rebel. Turn against. Refuse to follow God.

21 Surely God will crush the heads of his enemies,
    the hairy crowns of those who go on in their sins.

i think this verse is helpful as well as it suggests the idea of going on in their sins. So not necessarily people who have just got it wrong or made a mistake or been born in the wrong tribe or anything like that. These are people who repeatedly continue to choose a path away from God and to their sin, whatever that particular sin is.

The verses after that get a little edgy in their description of the treatment of the enemies and perhaps what is helpful to get our minds around that is knowing it was spoken into a specific context in the language of the people of the day. This whole piece is a poem, or more correctly a song, and so poetic licence is given in terms of the language used not necessarily being literal but more emotive and colourful.

Because if we only read those verses, we can get a very particular picture of God, but let’s see how else He is described here:

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.

I love that phrase, ‘God sets the lonely in families’ [Could read a whole subtext of ‘Adoption’ into that one phrase, or ‘Community’ or both].

‘A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows’ and He ‘leads out the prisoners with singing’

Okay, so suddenly this God is sounding a lot more likeable.

You gave abundant showers, O God;
    you refreshed your weary inheritance.
10 Your people settled in it,
    and from your bounty, God, you provided for the poor.

That is really great as well, ‘from your bounty, you provided for the poor.’ We can start to get a picture for the kind of people God seems to strongly gravitate towards – those who can’t seem to look after themselves as easily or well.

This is a long Psalm and so worth reading through the whole thing by yourself, maybe multiple times, to really get the meat of it. But there is still a piece or two i would like to draw attention to:

19 Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior,
    who daily bears our burdens.
20 Our God is a God who saves;
    from the Sovereign Lord comes escape from death.

The God we serve is the God who ‘daily bears our burdens’ and He is a ‘God who saves’. Those are both powerful statements ad remind me a lot more of the God i am drawn towards and know.

i think it is important to know that there is a difference between ‘bearing our burdens’ and ‘removing our burdens’ as often we would love fr God to just take away all the bad stuff in our life, but this image is of God carrying it alongside us. So being with us and helping make the burden lighter as opposed to necessarily taking it away altogether.

And lastly this song finishes off with a flourish:

32 Sing to God, you kingdoms of the earth,

    sing praise to the Lord,
33 to him who rides across the highest heavens, the ancient heavens,
    who thunders with mighty voice.
34 Proclaim the power of God,
    whose majesty is over Israel,
    whose power is in the heavens.
35 You, God, are awesome in your sanctuary;
    the God of Israel gives power and strength to his people.

Praise be to God!

Awesome in your sanctuary. This is out God. Praise be to Him.

[To return to the Intro page and be connected to any of the other Psalms i have walked through before now, click here]

This is such a short baby of a psalm that it is worth publishing the whole thing here:

May God be gracious to us and bless us
    and make his face shine on us—
so that your ways may be known on earth,
    your salvation among all nations.

May the peoples praise you, God;
    may all the peoples praise you.
May the nations be glad and sing for joy,
    for you rule the peoples with equity
    and guide the nations of the earth.
May the peoples praise you, God;
    may all the peoples praise you.

The land yields its harvest;
    God, our God, blesses us.
May God bless us still,
    so that all the ends of the earth will fear him.

This Psalm is a great reminder of what the kingdom of God is all about and what – in too many respects – christianity has become for so many.

We LOVE verse one. Verse one is our theology: May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine on us

But we certainly like to end it there – it’s all about meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee, Jesus, and all this is for meeeeeeeeee, for my glory and my fame….

However, this psalm DOES have a verse 2: so that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations.

There doesn’t seem to be a cheese-free way of saying this [and for that i humbly apologise], but the reason it is suitably named ‘history’ is because it is in fact ‘His story’ – the story of life is one about God and yet how quickly we continue to bring it back to being all about us…

Verse 3 should be our prayer and our cry: May the peoples praise you, God; may all the peoples praise you.

And the rest is just beautiful. This is a delightful, happy, inspiring little psalm.

When God is praised and when we realise and live out that the story is about Him, it does result in us being blessed and in nations being glad…

[To return to the Intro page and be connected to any of the other Psalms i have walked through before now, click here]

When you’re weary…

weary

DAYS 23-24ish

As we head into the weekend again i have combined today and tomorrow into one post. Please use accordingly.

They say ‘Familiarity breeds contempt’ although i would say sometimes that ‘Familiarity breeds familiarity’ which means that sometimes things that are completely profound, can lose some of their depth and meaning [for us] simply because we see them so many times that we get used to them and possibly skim over them and in one way take them for granted.

Task: The task for this weekend is simply to take a Psalm you probably know really well and read it slowly, more purposefully and a few times through, meditating on each line and trying to see it with fresh eyes. Read it out loud and the let the words speak to you and remind you of the promises of God to you.

DAY 23

For this weekend’s Lent observance I am focusing on the theme of brokenness or despair using two very powerful psalms – this one is my absolute favourite and every single line pretty much has a depth of theology to it so really take your time and work through it line by line.

Psalm 34

I will extol the Lord at all times;
    his praise will always be on my lips.
I will glory in the Lord;
    let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
Glorify the Lord with me;
    let us exalt his name together.

I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
    he delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant;
    their faces are never covered with shame.
This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;
    he saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him,
    and he delivers them.

Taste and see that the Lord is good;
    blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
Fear the Lord, you his holy people,
    for those who fear him lack nothing.
10 The lions may grow weak and hungry,
    but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
11 Come, my children, listen to me;
    I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
12 Whoever of you loves life
    and desires to see many good days,
13 keep your tongue from evil
    and your lips from telling lies.
14 Turn from evil and do good;
    seek peace and pursue it.

15 The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
    and his ears are attentive to their cry;
16 but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
    to blot out their name from the earth.

17 The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
    he delivers them from all their troubles.
18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
    and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

19 The righteous person may have many troubles,
    but the Lord delivers him from them all;
20 he protects all his bones,
    not one of them will be broken.

21 Evil will slay the wicked;
    the foes of the righteous will be condemned.
22 The Lord will rescue his servants;
    no one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.

One of my favourite verses in the bible is verse 34 which suggests to me that no matter how far down you go [a broken heart or a crushed spirit seem like two of the lowest places, fight] God is still there and He is ready to save:

18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

DAY 24ish

i feel like this psalm is a lesser known one but also speaks to a place of despair and confusion and invites hope in God as the One who ultimately rescues and transforms:

Psalm 30

I will exalt you, Lord,
    for you lifted me out of the depths
    and did not let my enemies gloat over me.
Lord my God, I called to you for help,
    and you healed me.
You, Lord, brought me up from the realm of the dead;
    you spared me from going down to the pit.

Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people;
    praise his holy name.
For his anger lasts only a moment,
    but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may stay for the night,
    but rejoicing comes in the morning.

When I felt secure, I said,
    “I will never be shaken.”
Lord, when you favored me,
    you made my royal mountain stand firm;
but when you hid your face,
    I was dismayed.

To you, Lord, I called;
    to the Lord I cried for mercy:
“What is gained if I am silenced,
    if I go down to the pit?
Will the dust praise you?
    Will it proclaim your faithfulness?
10 Hear, Lord, and be merciful to me;
    Lord, be my help.”

11 You turned my wailing into dancing;
    you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
12 that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
    Lord my God, I will praise you forever.

Once again there is a line or possibly a phrase in a line that stands out to me and acts as a lifeline to someone who might be sinking or really feel far away:

11 You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
12 that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. Lord my God, I will praise you forever.

[For the next Lent observance post, click here]

Welcome to the Lent experience… it’s not too late to join in…

Each day for 40 days i will be posting a suggestion to give you an action or focus point or challenge for the day as we head towards Easter time and want to spend the time meaningfully by focusing more on who God is and what He did, learning to love people more deeply and slowing down from the busyness and caught-up-ness of our day to day.

If you are up for joining me in this, please simple leave your name and say some version of “I’m in!” on the Intro blog i posted, in the comments section.

DAY 2

Task: Create a 5 minute space of silence where you unplug, move somewhere less frenetic and just be.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So really move away from phones and computer screens [if not now, then make a time during the day to do so] and get outside if you can and find a spot that is not necessarily quiet but is specifically removed from the busyness of life.

And for today i have a bit of a meditation planned, but i encourage you to insert this 5 minutes of stopping and just being for the whole rest of these 40 days – it will change your life! If you have a lunch break at school or work or even home then you might want to combine that with this.

If you can print this out or grab your Bible and read it rather, from Psalm 46, then do that and meditate on it.

1 God is our refuge and strength,

    an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging.

4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
    the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall;
    God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
    He lifts his voice, the earth melts.

7 The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.

8 Come and see what the Lord has done,
    the desolations He has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease
    to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
    He burns the shields with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.”

11 The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Especially verse 10:

 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.”

Take time to know. To realise. To remember. To speak to. To think about. To listen to. To be awestruck by. To call on. To rage at. To praise. To invite.

Easter is approaching…

[For Day 3 of the Lent series, click here]

bestill

as i read the first four lines of this psalm it felt like i was part of a liturgical choir speaking them out:

1 Praise awaits You, our God, in Zion;
    to You our vows will be fulfilled.
2 You who answer prayer,
    to You all people will come.

the psalm is subtitled as being a song of David and so maybe that is why it conveys that fullness of message and delivery. i can imagine a congregation speaking this out together.

the rest of the psalm is pretty much a ‘God you rock’ anthem, but some parts in particular stood out for me:

3 When we were overwhelmed by sins,
You forgave our transgressions.

i mean that bit is quite magic as well. the contrast between the idea of being ‘overwhelmed by sins’ and ‘you forgave’ – the first one seems to impossibly huge and the second comes across as this quite effortless motion.

4 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.

not going to get caught up in the predestination trap in that verse – i think the bible is very clear that everyone is chosen but not everyone chooses to be chosen. but what is eye-catching is the whole notion of being ‘filled with the good things of Your house, of Your holy temple.’ 

i think we miss out on so much of that sometimes. talk as if we are a King’s kid but live like a pauper. i love [and don’t necessarily fully understand] these verses in 2 Peter 1 that say:

3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

Galatians 5 starts with this verse:

1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

before heading on to:

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 

and so many more places and times where God reveals to us the extent of our inheritance and birthright as His children but this last one from 2 Timothy says it clearly when it shows three resources that we should theoretically never be short of and yet…

7 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

the rest of the psalm is David gushing about God and His awesomeness and the last verse i want to pull from there [but go read the whole thing and take time on it] is this one:

9 You care for the land and water it;
you enrich it abundantly.
The streams of God are filled with water
to provide the people with grain,
for so you have ordained it.

the principle that ‘we have enough’ or at least that ‘there is enough’ or should be… until you start taking notice of the fact that a very small percentage of the ‘we’ are holding on to or controlling most of the stuff and how that somehow leads to truckloads of oranges being dumped in the desert or young children dying in Africa because they can’t get access to clean water and more…

but never forget that ‘the streams of God are filled’ or as i like to say, ‘God is bigGER!’

 [To return to the Intro page and be connected to any of the other Psalms i have walked through before now, click here]

%d bloggers like this: