Psalms


Psalms 149-150 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: He dwells in the atmosphere of praise (Psalm 22:3)

I’ve never taken a journalism class but somewhere along the line I picked up the journalism mantra:  Who, what, when, where, why and how.  If I can answer these questions, then the story has been told!  The sticking points are usually why and how, and they must be answered before the story is complete or before the case can be solved.  This style of journalism was recorded as far as back as the first century B.C., but apparently, the writers of Psalms had a lock on it long before then.

Psalms, the glorious book of praise, ends with an inspirational summary in Psalms 149 and 150 that answers these journalistic inquiries.  One day each week over the past year we have read example after example of David and other psalmists praising God in a myriad of life’s situations, the good, the bad and the ugly.  These closing Psalms sum up the story of praise and its purpose in our lives and answer those vital questions about Praise:  who, what, when, where, why and how. 

WHO:  “Let everything that breathes sing praises to the Lord!  Praise the Lord!” (150:6) 

WHAT: Praise the Lord! Sing to the Lord a new song.” (149:1)

WHEN: “Sing his praises in the assembly of the faithful… Let them sing for joy as they lie on their beds… Let the praises of God be in their mouths, and a sharp sword in their hands.” (149:1,5,6)  Praise the Lord in church, in the home, and in battle – everywhere.  “I will praise the Lord at all times.  I will constantly speak his praises.” (34:1) 

WHERE: “Praise God in His sanctuary; praise him in His mighty heaven!” (150:1) Visit Him in His sanctuary, at His feet and praise His holy name. “Publish his glorious deeds among the nations.  Tell everyone about the amazing things he does.” (96:3) Publish, make known everywhere, your praise to the Lord.

WHY: “Praise him for His mighty works; praise His unequaled greatness! (150:2)  Praise Him for who He is and what He does.  “How good to sing praises to our God!  How delightful and how fitting!” (147:1)  It’s good, delightful and fitting to praise the Lord. “Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.” (22:3) Our praises provide a dwelling place for Him to reign amongst us.

HOW: “Praise him with a blast of the ram’s horn; praise him with the lyre and harp! Praise him with the tambourine and dancing; praise him with strings and flutes!  Praise him with a clash of cymbals; praise him with loud clanging cymbals.  Let everything that breathes sing praises to the Lord!” (150:3-6)  Praise Him with our instruments, our dancing, and our singing.

Well, there we have it!  The story has been told.  All of us are to praise the Lord, all the time, everywhere with our voices, our dance and our instruments because of Who He is and the great things He has done.  Now to express one last bit of journalistic jargon: I’m going to put this story to bed! 

Moving Forward: Singing praises…“In the morning, I can’t stop praising your name. In the evening, I can’t stop praising your name…” (Hillsong, Faletolu/Sampson) 

Tomorrow @ Song of Solomon 7-8

Psalms 146-148 (NLT link) 

Discover His heart: He delights in those who put their hope in Him

My husband tells the story of watching a television program a few years ago of Congress interviewing the smartest man in the world.  Congressmen were trying to figure out how the bottom fell out of our economy in the United States, and they brought in Alan Greenspan, then Chairman of the Federal Reserve, to question.

After much pontification, they finally put the question to Mr. Greenspan, “How did this happen?”  And the smartest man in the world and one of the most powerful men in the financial world replied with all seriousness, “I don’t know.”  Tom got a good laugh out of that.  Our Psalms today give us a clue as to who we can depend on and who we can’t. 

@ Psalm 146
“Don’t put your confidence in powerful people; there is no help for you there.  When they breathe their last, they return to the earth, and all their plans die with them.” (3-4)  This writer in Psalms understood the risk involved in placing our trust for the future in powerful people.  Paul wrote about it to the Corinthians, “My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.  We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing.” (I Corinthians 2:4-6)  There is only one power in which we should place our confidence and trust, and that is God’s forever power. 

@ Psalm 147
“Praise the Lord! How good to sing praises to our God! How delightful and how fitting!… He takes no pleasure in the strength of a horse or in human might.  No, the Lord’s delight is in those who fear him, those who put their hope in his unfailing love.” (1,10-11)  The Lord is delighted by our trust and confidence in His unfailing love, and this response to Him on our part comes with a promise.  “Trust in the Lord and do good.  Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Commit everything you do to the Lord.  Trust him, and he will help you.” (Psalm 37:3-5)  We delight in Him, He delights in us and gives us our heart’s desires.

It makes us wonder why we would trust in the establishments of this world, in the smartest men of our day or any human wisdom that is coming to nothing.  God is the one who “Heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds…whose power is absolute…whose understanding is beyond comprehension…” (3,5-6)  God is the one to trust today to meet our needs, to heal our bodies and to protect our homes. “How good to sing praises to our God!  How delightful and how fitting! (1) 

Moving Forward:  I’m placing my confidence today in the only One who can be trusted, He will delight in me, and I will sing praise to our God. 

Tomorrow @ Song of Solomon 5-6

Psalms 143-145 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: His grace and goodness are immeasurable, His love unfailing

“Would anyone like to share a testimony tonight of what God has done in your life this past week?”  Those of us who remember hearing this invitation from our pastor during a Wednesday or Sunday night service are probably over 50 years old.  At that invitation, church members would stand and give a testimony.  As a little girl, I enjoyed hearing testimonies of miracles, healing and provision straight from the mouths of people I knew.

Yes, sometimes Sister So and So would go on and on for quite a while and share much more than was needed, and as churches grew in size, it was difficult to hear what was being said. But the testimony service seemed to build a foundation of faith in me – God is faithful, He will not fail me, and He loves to bless His children.  Today I love when my pastor calls someone up front to share about the goodness of the Lord, and I love the testimony of David in our reading today. 

@ Psalm 145
“Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise! No one can measure his greatness… Your awe-inspiring deeds will be on every tongue; I will proclaim your greatness. Everyone will share the story of your wonderful goodness; they will sing with joy about your righteousness.” (3,6-7)  Well, it’s testimony time!  Regardless of the difficult challenges we may be facing at the moment, there is always something that will stir us to give praise and glory to our God.  Just in case we need a reminder, David supplied us today in verses 8-20 with some thoughts that should encourage our testimony of praise:

  • The Lord is merciful and compassionate,
  • Slow to get angry
  • And filled with unfailing love.
  • The Lord is good to everyone.
  • He showers compassion on all his creation.
  • All of your works will thank you, Lord,
  • And your faithful followers will praise you.
  • They will speak of the glory of your kingdom;
  • They will give examples of your power.
  • They will tell about your mighty deeds
  • And about the majesty and glory of your reign.
  • For your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom.
  • You rule throughout all generations.
  • The Lord always keeps his promises;
  • He is gracious in all he does.
  • The Lord helps the fallen
  • And lifts those bent beneath their loads.
  • The eyes of all look to you in hope;
  • You give them their food as they need it.
  • When you open your hand, you satisfy the hunger and thirst of every living thing.
  • The Lord is righteous in everything he does;
  • He is filled with kindness.
  • The Lord is close to all who call on him, yes, to all who call on him in truth.
  • He grants the desires of those who fear him;
  • Hears their cries for help and rescues them.
  • The Lord protects all those who love him, but he destroys the wicked.

Our testimony service has gone on and on, but my faith is renewed!  I am reminded that God is faithful, He will not fail me and He loves to bless His children. Our testimonies are powerful tools, building faith in us and touching the hearts of others as well, giving the power to overcome the enemy.  Revelation 12:11 gives insight to the cause of our future victory, “And they overcame [the enemy] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.” (KJV)  I’m wondering, does anyone have a testimony today of what God has done in your life?  I’m certain you do. 

Moving Forward:  “My mouth shall speak the praise of the LORD: and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.” (KJV 21) 

Tomorrow @ Song of Solomon 3-4

Psalms 140-142 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: Because He loves us so, He perfects and changes us through His messengers

No one likes to be criticized.  I’ve never started the day with the thought I hope someone criticizes me today so that I can grow and improve.  Critical words can disrupt a friendship and destroy family ties, yet when those words come from pure intent, they can change us and make us more like Him.  David was facing an enemy in our reading today.  We don’t know for certain if he was trying to save his own life from the king who had gone rogue or if it was in battle; but in the midst of it all, David opened his life to criticism as he prayed to the Lord for help. 

@ Psalm 141
David’s heartfelt prayer that he offered in a difficult circumstance is an example for us of the contrition and humility we should exhibit in the challenges we face.  His first step was surrender, “Accept my prayer as incense offered to you, and my upraised hands as an evening offering.” (2)  His arms were raised in surrender to the One who would help him.  David offered plenty of suggestions of what God could do to his enemies, but his first action was one of surrender.

David surrendered the most difficult member of his body according to James 3:6; he surrendered the words of his mouth.  “Take control of what I say, O Lord, and guard my lips.” (3)  How easy it is in the face of criticism and pressure to spout off the first thing that comes to mind, but it’s rarely a good thing.  Guard our lips, Lord.

Don’t let me drift toward evil or take part in acts of wickedness.  Don’t let me share in the delicacies of those who do wrong.” (4)  Seldom do we move from a godly life one day to the depths of sin the next.  It is usually a slow drift, a little compromise here and a little concession there.  It is right here, at this moment, that David opened his life to the possibility of criticism.  God often uses the wise counsel of others to help keep us on track, to keep us from drifting and sharing in the deeds of evil and wickedness.  It’s much easier to see the drift in others because we’re not standing in their skin.

However, David knew exactly what he was praying, “Let the godly strike me! It will be a kindness!  If they correct me, it is soothing medicine.  Don’t let me refuse it.” (5)  Only a heart of humility will look at criticism in this way.  The key word is godly. “Let the godly strike me!”  David asked God over and over again to protect him from the criticism of the ungodly, but when the godly offered correction, he said: “Bring it on!”  Solomon expressed this same thought throughout Proverbs, “Correct the wise, and they will love you.  Instruct the wise, and they will be even wiser. Teach the righteous, and they will learn even more.” (9:8-9)

No, I don’t like criticism, but when it comes from time to time, I want to listen with the surrendered heart of David, keeping my mouth shut in the face of it. I want to view it as an act of kindness from someone who cares about my well-being and prayerfully considers its message.   In prayer, God has always been faithful to reveal the truth of the matter to my heart.  Even more than my own desire, God wants me to be wise and righteous.  He will send the godly to my life when He sees the drift, and how could I not receive His messengers? 

Moving Forward: It humbles me to think that the God of all heaven and earth is so mindful of the condition of my heart that He sends His messengers to bring wisdom and righteousness to my life.  “All to Jesus, I surrender…” 

Tomorrow @ Song of Solomon 1-2 (Help)

Psalms 137-139 (NLT) 

Discover His heart:  He knows everything we do and everywhere we go

While traveling by car around the city of Vienna, Austria, Tom and I greatly appreciated the Global Positioning System (GPS) that was provided for us.  I don’t understand how it works, something about a satellite up in the sky and…I don’t know.  How that little box can pinpoint my location and direct me to my next destination is a mystery to me.

I nicknamed our GPS Helga because she was a no-nonsense kind of girl, and really, she wasn’t very pleasant.  No offense intended to all the Helga’s in the world, but she never offered a please or thank you when we complied.  However, for the most part, she got us to our destinations, and we often thanked her for it.  Helga discerned traffic patterns on route to our destination and was able to redirect our course when necessary.  What a gal!

On occasion, the GPS would signal an alarm, but we had no idea what we should be alarmed about.  After the fact, we learned that Helga was informing us about radar detection boxes that were located throughout the city.  She was so attuned to our location that she was able to guide us through what could have been challenging situations, and she was there for us, guiding and directing our steps.  Thanks again, Helga, for a great ride! 

@ Psalm 139
“O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me.  You know when I sit down or stand up.  You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.  You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do.  You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord. You go before me and follow me.  You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!” (1-7)  Like the workings of the GPS, I don’t understand the omnipresence of God, how He goes before me yet follows me, and I don’t understand His desire to do so.  It humbles me.

“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!  Your workmanship is marvelous — how well I know it.  You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born.  Every day of my life was recorded in your book.  Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.” (13-16)  How could we not trust our Creator who has been with us from our very beginning, the One who planned our course and direction?

When we’re going through a difficult time, we often wonder where God is.  Has He left us? Abandoned us?  Sometimes our GPS was silent when we needed her most because of a tunnel or obstruction, but eventually, she came through for us.  Unlike our GPS, God is infallible, but sometimes He is silent, and we question His whereabouts.

David understood this position when he wrote, “The Lord will work out his plans for my life—for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever.  Don’t abandon me, for you made me.” (138:8)  We can trust that God will come through for us, “I praise your name for your unfailing love and faithfulness; for your promises are backed by all the honor of your name.” (138:2)  Now that’s quite a backing!  GPS units like Garmin, Magellan, and TomTom may be helpful, but they don’t hold a candle to the Name of the Lord!

David ended his Psalm soliciting God’s guidance, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” (23-24)  Find my position, Lord, beam your radar deep within my heart and signal the areas of concern.  Lead me along this life to my final destination of eternal life with you.  I trust your Name! 

Moving Forward:  Led from above today, I can trust His guidance and direction because they are backed by the honor of His name

Tomorrow @ Ecclesiastes 11-12

Psalms 134-136 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: “His faithful love endures forever.” 

@ Psalm 136
Psalm 136!  The perfect Psalm to read during the Thanksgiving season. Thanksgiving is the day we commemorate the early settlers of our great land who paused after a bountiful harvest to celebrate and give thanks to God for His blessings.  Unfortunately, we would be hard-pressed to discover to whom they were giving thanks if searching through our current history books. The honoree is seldom mentioned.

Abraham Lincoln, the President who proclaimed the last Thursday in November as a national day of Thanksgiving, had no qualms about giving thanks where thanksgiving was due:  “I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” (Washington, D.C., October 3, 1863)  Amen!

The writer of Psalm 136 was proclaiming thanks with an overflowing heart of praise and gratitude, and there is no doubt he knew who should receive the praise and thanksgiving as well, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of gods. His faithful love endures forever. Give thanks to the Lord of lords. His faithful love endures forever.” (1-3)  His praise, too, went to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.

In verses 4-9, God received thanks for the miraculous creator that He is. Verses 10-16, He is honored for His faithful guidance through the challenges of life.  His protection and powerful rule are praised in verses 17-22.  And in verses 23-26, God received thanks for His personal blessings to our lives – His mercy, salvation and provision.   Each word of thanks is followed by yet another attribute of God for which to be thankful, “His faithful love endures forever.”

Our early pilgrims had survived a year of hardship and trials, but when they came through it, they were grateful to the One who had blessed them with His faithful provision.  In the midst of Civil War, Abraham Lincoln paused to give thanks to His beneficent Father.  And we, regardless of the struggles we may be facing should offer praise and thanksgiving to the One who will see us through to victory.

As we express our thanks for our country, our family and our friends, let’s thank Him for being our miraculous Creator. Let’s thank Him for His faithful guidance, His protection and His blessings. “Praise God from whom all blessings flow.  Praise Him all creatures here below…” (Doxology) 

Moving Forward: Blessed beyond measure and so very thankful for His faithful love, I praise Him today, tomorrow and every day!

Tomorrow @ Ecclesiastes 9-10

Psalms 131-133 (NLT) 

Discover His heart:  He blesses our unity with life everlasting

Olive oil has been an essential commodity since early civilization, and it’s still a lucrative product in Italy.  Imagine the excitement for this Italian girl to be taken by dear missionary friends to a castle in the hills of Tuscany, one with a working olive grove and press.  The kind workers allowed us to watch the oil making process from start to finish.  Yes, be still my heart!

The process was lengthy, beginning with a thorough rinsing to remove soil, then the olives were crushed and pulverized into a paste.  At the end, the paste was pressed under pressure, the vegetable water extracted and the finished product was the fragrant liquid we know and enjoy as olive oil.  Olive oil doesn’t just happen – it’s a process under pressure. 

@ Psalm 133
“How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony!  For harmony is as precious as the anointing oil that was poured over Aaron’s head, that ran down his beard and onto the border of his robe.” (1-2)  This anointing oil not only went through the pressing process, but it was also combined with pure fragrances, producing an extraordinary aroma to the Lord.  In this same way, heaven is filled with a pleasing fragrance when God’s people live together in harmony and peace.  But just like the olive oil process, harmony most often results from a process under pressure.

The harmony that believers experience is the result of a process that involves lives that were once soiled by this world but are now cleansed by the blood of Jesus.  Their individual agendas and selfish goals are surrendered to the breaking or crushing process of the Holy Spirit to where their hearts are contrite to God’s desires and plans. This pressing, this process under pressure, produces a precious aroma of unified worship that pleases the Lord.  “And there the Lord has pronounced his blessing, even life everlasting.” (3)

I like to visualize the anointing of Aaron as the oil was poured saturating his hair, down his face and beard, filling every crevice, every fold of fabric and all the way down to his hem.  The oil saturated and marked the fabric, as oil will do, and left an amazing fragrance that filled the nostrils of God and everyone around Aaron.  All this was a visual and sensory reminder of God’s anointing on him. When God’s people live in harmony with love toward one another, we are marked and fragrant in a way for all those around us to sense. “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” (John 13:35)

Just as the best perfumes today attract people to them, our fragrant harmony will attract to us those who have never experienced it.  They will wonder, what is that? Where can I find it?  Just as Jesus prayed for unity in John 17, when we live together as believers in harmony, God blesses our unity, and lost souls are attracted to it because they find it nowhere else.  No wonder David sang, “How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony!” 

Moving Forward: Along with all believers, my goal today is to be saturated and marked with the oil of harmony, so fragrant that others will be attracted to us. 

Tomorrow @ Ecclesiastes 7-8

Next Page »