Psalms 63-65 (NLT)

Discover His heart: He fills us with songs in the night

The prescription for a good night’s sleep according to experts is: No coffee after 3:00 p.m., no eating after 6:00 p.m. and no exercise after 8:00 p.m.  If these were truly the prerequisites to sleeping at night then Europeans, South Americans and sport figures would never get any rest.  However, I must agree that when I am troubled about something or going through a challenging situation, these stimulants certainly aren’t helpful.

Some moments in life require more than a healthy dose of chamomile tea to bring rest to the body and peace to the soul.  It was David who gave the prescription for a peaceful night, with or without sleep. 

@ Psalm 63
Most believe David wrote this Psalm during a most difficult time in his life and while hiding from those involved in Absalom’s rebellion who were seeking to kill him.  Away from home, lonely and vulnerable, David could think of only one comfort and that was his God. We just may find ourselves in this position at some point in life, when God is the only comfort and solution to our illness, abandonment, threat or pain, when there is no help, but God.

David did not have an immediate answer to his dilemma so he focused on what he did have.  He had his God, “I have seen you in your sanctuary and gazed upon your power and glory.” (2)  He had his song, “I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands…with singing lips my mouth will praise you.” (4-5). And he had his joy, “Because you are my helper, I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings.” (7)  Our situation may not be anything to sing a joyful song about, but we have our God, and He alone is something to sing about!

“I lie awake thinking of you, meditating on you through the night.  Because you are my helper, I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings.  I cling to you; your strong right hand holds me securely.”(6-8) Oh, those nights of tossing and turning can be endless and lonely.  Our sleepless nights may be caused by too much coffee or a very poor mattress as those cute little sheep in the commercials suggest, but so often these restless nights are caused by difficult moments like David was experiencing.

Counting sheep may be helpful, but I’d rather count on the Shepherd.  “I lie awake thinking of You, meditating on You through the night,” the One who has helped me in times past, the One who knows the future, the One who loves me, the One who fills me with songs in the night. 

Moving Forward:  Regardless of what I may face today, God is my helper and nothing compares to Him!  And because of Him, I have a song and I have joy!  “I cling to you; your strong right hand holds me securely.”

Tomorrow @ Proverbs 1

2 Samuel 15-19 (NLT) 

Discover His heart:  His mercy and forgiveness – the paradigm to follow

Charisma does not always a good politician make.  This is a lesson we’ve learned in recent years, and it certainly was true about the captivating Absalom.  One of the great sorrows of David’s life was the rebellion against him by his son, Absalom.  As if that wasn’t painful enough, others came along to kick him when he was down. 

@ 2 Samuel 16
Sadly, there are those who take advantage of us when we are fatigued, discouraged and weakened by our situation, and this is where David was in 2 Samuel.  Ziba, the servant of Mephibosheth, reported to David that Mephibosheth was attempting to steal back his grandfather Saul’s throne. This news from Ziba made David all the more susceptible to discouragement as Saul’s relative, Shimei, assaulted him with accusations, calling David the murderer of Saul’s family. Though Shimei’s words were untrue, David did not fight back because he believed that God would vindicate him if he was in the right.

Trouble upon trouble!  How could things go so wrong for David? Absalom was seeking to kill him, those he had helped in the past had betrayed him, others called him a murderer and his own son slept with his concubines, in plain sight on the roof no less, as prophesied by Nathan after David’s sin in Chapter 11.  One time a teenager asked me why the story of David and Bathsheba was in the Bible.  To her, the moral of the story was:  Do what you want, ask forgiveness and then everything will be alright.  As we read together more of David’s story, she saw things in a different light.  David had lost much. 

@ 2 Samuel 19
While the news of Absalom’s death threw the nation into a victory celebration, David was filled with remorse and grief, “O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom!  If only I had died instead of you!  O Absalom, my son, my son.” (18:33)  No doubt David was filled with regret and shared the blame for Absalom’s rebellion because of the prophet Nathan’s words after his own sin with Bathsheba, “Because of what you have done, I will cause your own household to rebel against you.” (2 Samuel 12:11)

Although this was a dark time in the life of David and one filled with consequences, he went on to enjoy many victories because he had a heart of repentance.  He returned to Jerusalem to reign once again as king.  God did vindicate him in the very words of the one who had cursed him when Shimei cried out, “My lord the king, please forgive me.  Forget the terrible thing your servant did when you left Jerusalem.” (19)  And David did forgive him, for the moment.  He showed kindness to Mephibosheth and rewarded those who had served him well.

David had received mercy from God in the past, and he was eager to show this same mercy to those who had hurt him – Absalom, Ziba, Mephibosheth and Shimei. Jesus spoke of forgiveness and mercy like this in Matthew 18:23-35 with the parable of the servant whose master forgave him a debt yet he was unwilling to forgive a fellow servant of a debt.  The outcome was not good. When we’re going through a difficult time, it seems there are always those who will come along to pour salt on ours wound like David had experienced.  Just like David, we would do well to remember the many great mercies God has extended to us and to also forgive those who hurt us in this way. 

Moving Forward:  Remembering your mercy to me, I will forgive those who hurt me or hurt those I love.   I pray that I will never be the one who pours salt on someone’s wounds!

Tomorrow @ Psalm 57-59

Psalms 54-56 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: He understands our sorrows and collects our tears

When I was just a young girl, I had a friend who really let me down and I was heartbroken.  My mom consoled me by letting me know that throughout life most of my friends would let me down at one time or another and that she would too. I remember saying something along the line of, “Thanks, Mom, for that encouragement.”  She went on to say that I would let my friends down on occasion as well, and sadly, she was right.  However, she continued by saying that there was one friend who would never let me down, one that I could trust in every situation every day of my life.  Of course, that friend is Jesus.

I’ve found my mom’s words to be true.  Sometimes we disappoint each other, but today we read about David who knew rejection and pain from those who were the closest to him. The pain was unbearable.  Hopefully we’ll never experience the depth of his sorrow, but if we do, we can run for comfort to the one who will never let us down just as David did. 

@ Psalm 55
Most believe Psalm 55 to be David’s response to the rebellion of his son Absalom, and the betrayal of one of his closest advisers, Ahithophel, a story we will read in 2 Samuel 15-19.  Absalom was out to kill him and steal his throne, and rather than face his son, David cried out to God, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove; then I would fly away and rest!  I would fly far away to the quiet of the wilderness.  How quickly I would escape – far from this wild storm of hatred.” (6-8)  Unless we’ve experienced it ourselves, it’s difficult to grasp the depths of pain associated with this kind of hatred from a relative or close friend.  I, too, would want to run away rather than face this pain head on.

David’s description gives us a brief look into Jesus may have felt at the betrayal of Judas.  “It is not an enemy who taunts me—I could bear that…Instead, it is you—my equal, my companion, and close friend.  What good fellowship we once enjoyed as we walked together to the house of God.” (12-14)  I think about how the denial of Peter must have stung the heart of Jesus at the most difficult moment in His life on earth.  God understands more than we can imagine our pain when we are hurt by others.

@ Psalm 56
“You keep track of all my sorrows.  You have collected all my tears in your bottle.  You have recorded each one in your book.”  (8)  The One who knows how many hairs I have on my head, and probably the only one who knows their true color, also keeps track of all my sorrows and collects my tears.  This intimacy with my Creator and my God brings me to my knees.  How can I remain glum and sorrowful with Him on my side?  David expressed it well, “I trust in God, so why should I be afraid?  What can mere mortals do to me?” (11)

Although I’ve known my share of pain, I have not walked this path of despair to the degree of David, and none of us have experienced what Jesus did.  However, God keeps track of all our sorrows and this tells us that we are not alone. He is with us, collecting teardrops along the way.  Even in all of this pain, David encouraged, “Give your burdens to the Lord, and He will take care of you.  He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.” (55:12) 

Moving Forward: With the knowledge that He is with me and caring for me, I step out bravely today because I trust Him. 

Tomorrow @ Job 37-38

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 with 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. Now days 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 9-11 (NLT) 

Discover His heart:  From His Holy Temple, He observes both the righteous and wicked alike, but the righteous will see His face

Head for the hills! Cut and run! Turn tail!  Take to the woods!  Fly the coop!  Skedaddle! Hightail it!  There are a lot of ways to put it, but they all mean pretty much the same thing – retreat, run from the battle.  While sometimes we feel we have to pick our battles, we really aren’t comfortable admitting retreat, even though the situation may call for it.  As a warrior, David faced this dilemma over and over again. 

@ Psalm 11
I trust in the Lord for protection.  So why do you say to me, ‘Fly like a bird to the mountains for safety!’” (1)  David sounded insulted that his advisers would suggest that he retreat.  Did he back down from Goliath? Did he not send the Philistines to flight?  Why would he fly to the mountains for safety?  David put his trust in the Lord for protection.  David was not afraid.

We understand from scripture, however, that David did retreat from battle on occasion.  Did he not trust the Lord during those moments?  I’m sure David must have had moments of apprehension, but he was a brave warrior who knew what battles to pick.  He would have been put in a position of kill or be killed had he come face to face with Saul, the anointed king of Israel, or with his own son Absalom, so David chose to hide from them.  Can you imagine looking into the eyes of your own son and facing the decision to kill or be killed?  I would retreat as well.

Sometimes we find we have an enemy that should not be an enemy at all, but aggressive and hurtful things have been said and done to us.  We’re ready for an all-out attack, no running for the hills, we’re ready to rumble!  While victory may feel good for the moment, an altercation could possibly destroy that person in one way or another forever.  Do we really want to be responsible for that?  Better to have the heart of David.

Just as David was a warrior, we suit up every day in our battle dress from Ephesians 6 to fight the devil.  We are not afraid!  But we, too, have to pick our battles and be led by the Spirit when it comes to those individuals who oppose us.  When it’s all said and done, no one ever really gets away with anything. “But the Lord is in his holy Temple; the Lord still rules from heaven.  He watches everyone closely, examining every person on earth. The Lord examines both the righteous and the wicked. He hates those who love violence. He will rain down blazing coals and burning sulfur on the wicked.” (4-5)

For the wicked, the future does not look good. However, for those who trust in the Lord for protection and live a virtuous life, it’s all good! “For the righteous Lord loves justice. The virtuous will see his face.” (7) 

Moving Forward:  I’ll trust the Lord to protect me whether in battle or at peace; and with His help, I’ll live a righteous life so that I may see His face. 

Tomorrow @ Job 7-8