Psalms


Psalms 45-47 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: His Presence is a river of joy in our lives

Watching the news unfold today is not for the faint of heart.  Many parts of the world are filled with political chaos while other areas are facing catastrophic events unlike any time in history.  Individuals performing ordinary tasks on any given day have had their world turned upside down with earthquakes, floods or storms, but we can take heart in the words of Jesus, “when you see all these things, you can know his return is very near, right at the door.” (Matthew 24:33)

This section of Psalms begins with a prophetic account of the marriage of Christ and His bride, the Church, in Psalm 45.  The King, anointed with the oil of joy (7) at this happiest of all occasions is joined with His Bride, who has left her past life (10) for the delight of one who loves her eternally. These are the things of which movies are made, and one day, this will be our reality!  But until then… 

@ Psalm 46
Psalm 46 reminds us of the protection He offers His beloved as we wait for His return.  “God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.”(1) Have we seen any trouble lately?  “So we will not fear when earthquakes come and mountains crumble into the sea.”(2) Hundreds of earthquakes around the world are reported each day, ever growing in strength.  “The nations are in chaos, and their kingdoms crumble!” (6) Have we ever seen a day like today where countries are facing national bankruptcy, with our own country on the verge of collapse at times?  “God’s voice thunders, and the earth melts!” (6)  Today we see tsunamis leveling cities and lava destroying everything in its path, filling the air with volcanic ash.  Fearsome are the days in which we live.

However, The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us.(7)  We will not fear!  Even though the events surrounding Jerusalem at the time this Psalm was written were chaotic, there was a river bringing joy to the city, “A river brings joy to the city of our God, the sacred home of the Most High.” (4).  No, Jerusalem did not have a river like we would think; it was a different kind of river.  It was a river of joy from the throne of God, filling God’s people with His presence regardless of the circumstances surrounding them.  As long as they stayed in the river, peace and joy were theirs.

We, too, have a river of joy, the very presence of God flowing through our lives to bring peace and joy in troubled times. We should not fret and wail like those who have no hope, but we should follow His advice, “Be still, and know that I am God!” (10)  I stand silent in His Presence. 

Moving Forward:  I will not fear. I will remain in the river of joy today, ever confident that “The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us!” (11) We are not alone. 

Tomorrow @ Job 31-32

Psalms 42-44 (NLT)

Discover His heart: He satisfies the thirst of all those who long for Him

Once in a while we hear stories about individuals who have been lost at sea, clinging for life to a small buoy or dingy. Their greatest need is always the hope of rescue, but their most immediate need is something to drink. With the sun beating down its brutal heat, the body quickly loses a great deal of water and through parched lips, the poor souls cry out for water. Of course, we see the irony here – surrounded as far as the eye can see with water, but unable to drink it. It’s water that won’t satisfy; it’s water that will cause even more thirst.

Animals in the wild will travel great distances to find water during a dry spell. Deer and other animals can actually smell the water in the air and will follow their noses to the source. All living things need water. While the feeling of thirst is what signals our need, the need is there long before our bodies sense it. We require a constant intake of water to keep our bodies functioning properly, and so it is with the soul.

@ Psalm 42
“As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God. I thirst for God, the living God. When can I go and stand before Him?” (1-2) The psalmist of Psalm 42 paints an accurate picture of how we feel when we haven’t stayed connected to the source of living water, and we find ourselves in a dry condition. “When can I go and stand before Him?” I would say that now would be a good time to so do, better sooner than later.

“Why must I wander around in grief, oppressed by my enemies? They scoff, ‘Where is this God of yours?’” (9-10) It seems that when we are at our thirstiest, the enemy comes around to taunt us with questions about the God we love and serve, but just like the psalmist, we can go to the Source who fills our thirsty souls with living water. “Send out your light and your truth; let them guide me. Let them lead me to your holy mountain, to the place where you live. There I will go to the altar of God, to God—the source of all my joy.” (43:3-4)

Send out your light! “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” (Psalm 119:105) Send out your truth! “For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what He teaches is true.” (I John 2:27) His Word and His Spirit lead us to Him, and it is there that, “All humanity finds shelter in the shadow of your wings. You feed them from the abundance of your own house, letting them drink from your river of delights. For you are the fountain of life, the light by which we see.” (Psalm 36:7-9)

There’s no need for us to be thirsty, wandering in the dark! His Word and His Spirit will lead us to Him, and it is in that place where we can drink from His river of delights. Thirst no more!

Moving Forward: I don’t want to get dry today, so I’m drinking first thing, getting full up, from His river of delights!

Tomorrow @ Job 29-30

Psalms 39-41 (NLT)

Discover His heart: He gives mercy and strength in our trials

Much of the discipline of my children was done through the look rather than through corporal punishment, and I think this is true for many mothers. My children often said I was scolding them even though I hadn’t opened my mouth, and trust me, I am not a ventriloquist. This technique was especially handy in church and in public places, and although I wasn’t really aware that I was giving the look, it certainly was effective.

Even in working with youth and young adult leaders, I was told that they knew things were not right with the world when I gave the look. Nowadays I’m doing my best to keep the look under control around my grandbabies – I gladly have left their discipline up to their parents. In our reading today, David understood all too well the look of discipline from God and how to respond to it.

@ Psalms 39
“I said to myself, ‘I will watch what I do and not sin in what I say. I will hold my tongue when the ungodly are around me.’ But as I stood there in silence—not even speaking of good things—the turmoil within me grew worse.” (1-2) Few of us have experienced the pain that David felt – anointed as king of Israel, yet running for his life from Saul and from his own son, Absalom, and betrayal by his closest of friends and family. David had a lot to complain about.

David believed he was being disciplined by the Lord and chose not to broadcast his complaints to the world but instead went to his only Source of help. Wisely, he didn’t want to be embarrassed later by his fretful words when he had passed through his trials. Complaining to others certainly didn’t work well for Job. When as believers we relay all our sorrows and complaints to those around us, we have no idea how our words may hinder or discourage those who are doing their best to trust in God through their own situations.

When God finds it necessary to give us His look of discipline, it brings us to our knees, “Hear my prayer, O Lord, And give ear to my cry; Do not be silent at my tears…Remove Your gaze from me, that I may regain strength.”(12-13) It’s on our knees where we can seek God’s forgiveness when needed and cry out for help in our struggles. We will instead find strength and mercy in His Presence rather than filling the ears of all those around us with constant words of complaint during our brief time on earth.

According to David, life is just too short for that. “Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered—how fleeting my life is. You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand. My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; at best, each of us is but a breath.” (4-5) I close my mouth.

Moving Forward: During this time of year when we celebrate the living Christ, I pray that my words broadcast the Good News of God’s blessings and that my words encourage others to trust Him through their trials.

Tomorrow @ Job 27-28

Psalms 36-38 (NLT)

Discover His heart: He responds to our delight in Him with delight!

My husband and I have never bought extravagant gifts for each other on our anniversaries. We usually enjoy a nice dinner together at a favorite restaurant and often give each other some little meaningful gift. One year my husband told me that his gift to me that day was that he would spend as much time at the shopping mall with me as I desired. You probably don’t understand the magnitude of this gift, but let it suffice to say that he’d rather have his fingernails pulled off one at a time than walk in a mall. This was huge!

Well, needless to say, I gratefully received his gift, and we strolled through the mall for several hours, laughing, drinking coffee and shopping for Christmas presents. My husband’s gift made me feel cherished and appreciated and brought me much joy. His gift was intentional because he knew me so well, and he delighted in being with me and giving me joy. My response was to make him feel cherished as well.

@ Psalm 37
“Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires.” (4) Because we are made in his image, the actions that delight the Lord are not so unlike our own. Just as we celebrated our special anniversary day, what would delight the Lord more than for us to intentionally give honor and celebration to His special day – the Sabbath? “Keep the Sabbath day holy. Don’t pursue your own interests on that day, but enjoy the Sabbath and speak of it with delight as the Lord’s holy day…Then the Lord will be your delight.” (Isaiah 58:13-14) On our anniversary, we pulled away from our regular activities to honor our special day and delight in one another. On His day, we bring joy to His heart when we rest from our busy lives and delight only in Him.

What could delight the Lord more than for us to spend as much time as He wants at the place where He most desires our fellowship – His Presence? “You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11) Pleasures forevermore!

“…and He will give you your heart’s desires.” This promise that follows our delight in Him can be understood in two different ways. First, when we delight in Him, when we take time to honor His special day and cherish our time spent with Him, His response is to fulfill our heart’s desires. We understand this response because we react to delight in much the same way.

His response that I know to be true as well is that He will place in our hearts the desires that He wants us to have because we delighted in Him. He will give us what our hearts should desire. Delight in Him and suddenly our heart’s desires will be His will and receive His stamp of approval. When our desires are not in sync with God’s word, perhaps we are not delighting in the Lord and have found someone or something else to delight in. In this case, God is not the one we take pleasure in, appreciate, revel in and enjoy.

“The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.” (23) We delight in Him, and He delights in us! When we question our next step in life or the path we should follow, our best effort to find direction is when we delight in the Lord. Honor His day, seek His Presence, revel in Him, cherish, savor and enjoy Him. His will becomes our heart’s desires, and He directs our steps.

Moving Forward: My song today, “I delight in the Lord, with all my heart…All my mind and my soul. I delight in the Lord, with all my heart…All my mind and my soul. As I wait upon the Lord, I grow stronger…” (Boloche)

Tomorrow @ Job 25-26

Psalms 33-35 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: He made our hearts and understands everything we do

I remember watching my son several years ago playing with his baby boy, gently tossing in the air his smiling little guy who was filled with giggles.  Kai trusted his daddy to catch him every time, and so did I because I knew he could be trusted.  Just like little Kai, I think we all start out believing in others, but as we mature and collect a measure of disappointments, our trust becomes very limited.

It’s difficult to trust our government at times, not to mention the media that reports its activities.  I’m thankful that I live in a country where media is free to give its opinion, but really, I just want to hear the news!  I find I need to check every shopping receipt for errors and overcharges because the generation at the cash registers is not so much dishonest as it is careless.  If we haven’t been bitten by a purchase on eBay, it’s because we haven’t shopped there yet.  We don’t want to go through life harboring distrust for our fellow man, but we can’t help ask the question, “Who can we trust?” 

@ Psalm 33
“For the word of the Lord holds true, and we can trust everything He does.  He loves whatever is just and good; the unfailing love of the Lord fills the earth.” (4-5)  No hidden agendas, no careless responses, no selfish motivations – we can trust everything He does!

What are His credentials?  “The Lord merely spoke, and the heavens were created. He breathed the word, and all the stars were born. He assigned the sea its boundaries and locked the oceans in vast reservoirs. Let the whole world fear the Lord, and let everyone stand in awe of Him. For when He spoke, the world began! (6-9)  In light of all this, I can venture a guess that the Lord can be trusted to manage my short life.  In fact, I’m sure of it!

It was this trust in God that guided the founding of the United States.  Our Founding Fathers had fled nations where the church and government were so tightly entwined that neither could be trusted.  They didn’t seek a government-controlled religion or a religion-controlled government, but it was on God and His principles that they established this nation because that was the only way the nation could be trusted. “It is impossible to rightly govern a nation without God and the Bible.” (George Washington)

“What joy for the nation whose God is the Lord…The best-equipped army cannot save a king, nor is great strength enough to save a warrior…We put our hope in the Lord.  He is our help and our shield.  In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name.”(12-21) So many in our country, and other countries as well, have lost their joy because they have lost sight of the One worthy of their trust.  Godly principles have been traded for everyone doing what seems right in their own eyes.  The Standard may have been lost, but all is not lost.  Those who follow the Lord are challenged to raise the Standard in all that we do, in the way we vote and in who we support. (Isaiah 62:10)  May our joy return!

Some of my favorite verses are found right here in Psalm 33, “The Lord looks down from heaven and sees the whole human race.  From his throne he observes all who live on the earth.  He made their hearts, so he understands everything they do.”  When we feel like no one understands us – not our government, not our families, not our friends, no one – we know that Someone does.

Who can we trust?  We should trust the One who made our hearts and who understands everything we do. 

Moving Forward: I’m so thankful today for His Word that holds true. I place my trust in the One who knows me so very well! 

Tomorrow @ Job 23-24

Psalms 30-32 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: He watches and advises us as He guides us on our best path

If I made a list of the things I like least about going to the dentist, it would be difficult for me to choose my very least favorite aspect.  Surely close to the top of the list would be having equipment larger than my mouth shoved in it along with hands, suction devices, and gauze.  And usually, this is the moment when the dentist casually asks me a question about my day.  Of course, answering is impossible, and nodding could send a drill up my nose, but I will admit I’ve become very adept with eye signals.  In this position, we can’t speak, we can’t move, and we know that the dentist is in control of things.

I’ve wondered if this is somewhat how horses feel when their owners choose to use a bit in their mouths and a bridle to control them.  From what I understand, when basic training steps are given and followed by the horse because of its trust in the trainer, a smaller, less offensive bit can be used to guide and direct the horse or even no bit at all.  If these steps are not followed or if the horse has lived in the wild for some time, the will of the horse is more difficult to train and often more severe bits are needed.  It just seems that trusting and following the guidance given in the first place would save a lot of pain and discomfort, not only for horses but for us as well. 

@ Psalm 32
“The Lord says, ‘I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.  I will advise you and watch over you.’” (8)  When I was a young girl, the Lord directed me to this treasured verse at a time of uncertainty.  The thought that God, the One who knows my future, would guide me along the best pathway for me brought tremendous peace to my young heart because I knew He could be trusted.

David’s quote from the Lord goes on to say, “Do not be like a senseless horse or mule that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.”(9)  The bit is restrictive and causes a measure of pain if resisted, but in time the animal learns to respond to its direction. Just as with the horse, when we come under the Lord’s training, He sometimes will use even more purposeful means to challenge us to surrender to His gentle guidance.  How much better it is to trust our guide and trainer from the start!

Just as thrilling as His guidance is the fact that He promises to advise and watch over us.  God doesn’t just set a course and expect us to go it alone.  No, not our Guide.  He watches over each step, taking care that we don’t stumble. The success of the popular horse whisperers of today is in the relationship that develops through trust – man and animal alike.  And it is through a trusted relationship that the Lord whispers cautions and comforts to help us along the way.  What a great alternative to mouth gear! 

Moving Forward:  Since those early years, the Lord has proven over and over again that He will guide me along the best pathway, watching, advising and often carrying me in the process.  Yes, I will trust Him today!

Tomorrow @ Job 21-22

Psalms 27-29 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: He invites us to come to Him without delay

The pleasure of your company is requested…”  When we receive an invitation of this nature to attend an event, we understand that it isn’t an ordinary affair.  Whether it involves a wedding or dining with heads of state or any other celebration, we can assume the dress will not include t-shirts and flip flops and only invited guests will attend.  We’ve heard of political event crashers in recent years, but most intelligent individuals would never approach the royalty of another country or the President of the United States without an invitation because we know the Secret Service would be on us like flypaper – and rightly so.

As we read in the story of Esther, ancient kings held royal scepters which they would raise as an invitation for a loyal subject to approach them.  “When [the king] saw Queen Esther standing there in the inner court, he welcomed her and held out the gold scepter to her. So Esther approached and touched the end of the scepter.” (Esther 5:2)  By touching the end of the scepter, Esther showed that she accepted the king’s gracious invitation.  In the busyness of our day, we sometimes fail to respond to our regal invitation from the King of Kings, but the scepter is raised, and He is waiting… 

@ Psalm 27
“My heart has heard you say, ‘Come and talk with me.’ And my heart responds, ‘Lord, I am coming.’”
(8)  In a Psalm so full of wisdom, we may read this verse without thinking about its message.  David recalled the Lord speaking to his heart “Come and talk with me,” and the Lord’s invitation spoken once is heard twice in the mind of David.  Yes, David recalls, I have received the invitation!

We hear the Lord’s invitation to come to Him as well, over and over as He whispers to our spirits and through His Word. “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)  “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink!  For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” (John 7:37) The royal scepter is raised!

Most certainly, we are not event crashers!   The invitation is real – The pleasure of our company is requested. The royal scepter, the sacrificial Son, has been extended and has made it possible for us to enter His presence.  There is no need to enter through the service entrance or walk along the perimeter of the room as one who should not attend.  “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” (Hebrews 4:16)

Clearly, the invitation has been given.  Will we stick it in a drawer with all the miscellaneous items of our lives?  Or will we respond along with David and say, Lord, I am coming.”  This day, this hour, I am coming to you, and tomorrow and the days that follow, I accept your invitation to come.

P.S.  The favor of your reply is requested. 

Moving Forward: How could I ignore such a regal invitation from the King!  Lord, I am coming – I will touch the royal scepter! 

Tomorrow @ Job 19-20

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