Meditation Psalm 37a

Of David.

Do not fret because of those who are evil
    or be envious of those who do wrong;
for like the grass they will soon wither,
    like green plants they will soon die away.

Trust in the Lord and do good;
    dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him and he will do this:
he will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
    your vindication like the noonday sun.

Be still before the Lord
    and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
    when they carry out their wicked schemes.

Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
    do not fret – it leads only to evil.
For those who are evil will be destroyed,
    but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.

A little while, and the wicked will be no more;
    though you look for them, they will not be found.
But the meek will inherit the land
    and enjoy peace and prosperity.

(Ps. 37:1-11 NIV)

This Psalm is a wisdom Psalm. The issue facing the Psalmist is that the way of folly appears to be proving to be a successful way to live. The Psalmist is concerned about the issues of life and death, wisdom and folly, and reward and punishment. The problem that concerns him is why does the wicked appear to enjoy the reward for their evil. The evil have power, greed and prosperity and to any casual onlooker it would appear that the evil way is the better way. What the Psalmist needs to understand is that he has taken a short-term view.

The Psalmist is encouraged to trust in the Lord. The Psalm recognises how easy it is to be adversely affected by the prosperity of the wicked. They may appear to have power and prestige but under the hand of God they are mere mortals. Just like grass they will wither and die away. The matter of the evil people must be left to God. The Psalmist’s responsibility is to take his eye of the wicked and fix his eye upon the Lord and do good. Rather than allow vexation of spirit to consume them, they should get on with life and enjoy what God has given them. The Psalmist is to be satisfied with the Lord by delighting in the Lord, and the Lord will provide him with the desires of his heart. There are many things in life that we cannot change, but what we can change is our attitude. The attitude change comes when we trust and delight in the Lord. The desires of our hearts become wholesome desires. When we fret over the prosperity of the wicked and perhaps even feel that we should have the kind of prosperity that the wicked have, then the desires of our heart are not appropriate for a child of God. It is better to enjoy what we have with the blessing of the Lord upon it.

The Psalmist calls upon us to commit our way to the Lord. To commit to the Lord is to set aside the anger at those who have prospered. To commit our way to the Lord is to adopt the wise way of living. The wise way to live is to wait on God’s time and God will bring justice. The reward from the Lord will come from living the wise way and in hope for the future blessing that God will give. Our reward will be righteous and not ill-gotten gain like the prosperity of the wicked. The reward of the righteous will be radiant and evident for all to see. The glory of the people of God will be as bright as the noonday sun when God establishes His rule of righteousness.

If you are consumed by anger you become enraged and want to take matters into your own hands, but the wise way is to be still before the Lord and wait patiently on the Lord’s time. We are not to fret when the evil prosper, because that only leads us into the evil way. Those who are evil will be destroyed but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.

The concept of land is a prominent theme in the OT. The Promised Land never had clearly defined boundaries. In the book of Joshua the people of God has much land still to be possessed. When the people of God turned away from the Lord, they were taken out of the land. As you read the OT prophets the concept of land expands to speak about the lands beyond the rivers. In the NT the land expands yet further to take in the whole world – the great commission is to go into all the world and preach the Gospel. The land promise has not yet been fulfilled, but it will be fulfilled for the OT and NT church when Christ comes back again, when the people of God will inherit the land in Christ in the New Heavens and the New Earth. This will all come soon; in a little while the Lord shall reign, the wicked will be no more. You may look for the wicked, you may even expect to see them because they had gained prosperity and property, but they will not be found. But for the meek who have quietly waited and patiently hoped, they will inherit the land and enjoy peace and prosperity.

Be still my soul

Prayer
Lord our God it does disturb us that the ungodly impose laws upon us that are contrary to Your law. They ask us questions to check if we agree with their politically correct values. Many Christians have been taken to court because they sought to uphold Christian values. Lord we do trust You, but help us when we doubt. Help us to be patient and to wait for Your time. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen

Posted in blog, meditation | Comments Off on Meditation Psalm 37a

Meditation Psalm 36

For the director of music. Of David the servant of the Lord.

I have a message from God in my heart
    concerning the sinfulness of the wicked:
There is no fear of God
    before their eyes.

In their own eyes they flatter themselves
    too much to detect or hate their sin.
The words of their mouths are wicked and deceitful;
    they fail to act wisely or do good.
Even on their beds they plot evil;
    they commit themselves to a sinful course
    and do not reject what is wrong.

Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens,
    your faithfulness to the skies.
Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,
    your justice like the great deep.
    You, Lord, preserve both people and animals.
How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
    People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast in the abundance of your house;
    you give them drink from your river of delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
    in your light we see light.

Continue your love to those who know you,
    your righteousness to the upright in heart.
May the foot of the proud not come against me,
    nor the hand of the wicked drive me away.
See how the evildoers lie fallen –
    thrown down, not able to rise!

(Ps. 36:1-12 NIV)

While there is some lament in this Psalm there is a clear contrast between the ways of wisdom and folly.

V1-4 has the element of lament but is a lament about the way of folly. The Psalmist functions like a prophet uttering a word of prophecy about the way of folly or the way of the wicked. The message weighs heavily upon the Psalmist’s heart. The Psalmist is given insight into the behaviour of the wicked; in their sinfulness they have no fear of God, that makes them foolish

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
    but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

(Prov. 1:7 NIV)

They are without the fear of the Lord, and therefore without wisdom. The way of the wicked is utterly condemned and this condemnation serves for every generation. Their position is one of religious indifference, they have no thought of God and they live as if God did not exist. With them there is no respect or sense of trembling. With that as the basic foundation for how they are going to live, the rest of the description is a descent into further evil. The view that they have of themselves is so inflated that they don’t recognise any wrong in their behaviour. Who is to judge them, as they live by their own standards? The instruction in wisdom literature already evident in some of the Psalms is that there should be a wise use of words. Here the foolish wicked have no regard for the proper use of words. Their words are wicked and deceitful. They do not act in a wise way or do good. The description of their night-time contemplation of evil means that they never take a rest from the evil, ‘even on their beds’ they still come up with new ideas for evil, and they resolve to commit themselves to a sinful course of action, never taking a moment to reject what is wrong. Because they have an inflated view of themselves they become their own judge and they decide for themselves what is right and wrong for them. We learn from Psalm 1 that this is the way that perishes.

For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
    but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.

(Ps. 1:6 NIV)

In complete contrast is the way of the Lord. Notice that the Psalmist does not contrast the way of the wicked with the way of the righteous as we might have expected. It is as if the unwholesome thought of evil causes him to turn away to the wonders and beauty of the Lord.

The character of the Lord knows no height or depth. God’s covenant love (hesed) reaches right up to the heavens and God’s faithfulness reaches to the skies. The covenant love and covenant faithfulness of the Lord cannot be measured. The Lord’s righteousness stands as timeless sentinels like the highest mountains. The righteousness of the Lord does not change with time, by the righteousness of the Lord the difference between right and wrong is established. God’s justice is not a thin veneer, it penetrates to the great depths of the ocean. Though the wicked pursue their way of life which impacts the whole of creation, the covenant Lord preserves both people and animals.

The Psalmist values the covenant love (hesed) as priceless. We were not redeemed with things like silver and gold whose value fluctuates with the uncertainty of the market, we were redeemed by the precious blood of Christ. The way of the wise is dependent on the greatness of God’s character and works. The love, faithfulness, righteousness and justice of God are constants in an ever-changing world. The wisdom of God impacts upon the whole of creation. But God is not aloof from His people. They are hidden in the shadow of His wings. But it is not that we are hiding cowering in fear from the enemy, no! We are feasting on the abundance that comes from God’s presence. The Psalmist again reflects the idea of refreshment from Psalm1. We are led to the still waters and we drink from the Lord’s river of delights. This is a picture of security, of spiritual health and joy. With the Lord we have the better way, the wise way, the way of life. Unlike the wicked who couldn’t tell right from wrong, the people of God see light in God’s light. We see things God’s way. There are moments in our Christian lives when we grasp such a sense of blessedness. The Psalmist, aware of the brevity of such contemplation, prays that the Lord will continue His love. When we reach heaven we will know the security, the abundance and the delights of the Lord for all eternity. It will mean no longer will we have fleeting glances, but we will enjoy an eternal gaze upon the beauty of the Lord. But through this little while, we still have the proud wicked opposing the Kingdom of God. Our prayer is the same as the Psalmist’s, that the wicked will not drive us away from this place of security, abundance and delight. The final verse of the Psalm describes the downfall of the wicked that had been described in Psalm 1.

Prayer
Lord our God, we stand in awe that we are permitted to shelter in the shadow of Your wings, that we can feast on the abundance of Your presence and that we can drink from Your river of delights. Lord we are abundantly blessed to be in Christ and to be allowed such joys of salvation. Keep us near to Your side because we are prone to stray. Be pleased to hear our prayer in Jesus’ name.

Posted in blog, meditation | Comments Off on Meditation Psalm 36

Meditation Psalm 35b

Ruthless witnesses come forward;
    they question me on things I know nothing about.
They repay me evil for good
    and leave me like one bereaved.
Yet when they were ill, I put on sackcloth
    and humbled myself with fasting.
When my prayers returned to me unanswered,
    I went about mourning
    as though for my friend or brother.
I bowed my head in grief
    as though weeping for my mother.
But when I stumbled, they gathered in glee;
    assailants gathered against me without my knowledge.
    They slandered me without ceasing.
Like the ungodly they maliciously mocked;
    they gnashed their teeth at me.

How long, Lord, will you look on?
    Rescue me from their ravages,
    my precious life from these lions.
I will give you thanks in the great assembly;
    among the throngs I will praise you.
Do not let those gloat over me
    who are my enemies without cause;
do not let those who hate me without reason
    maliciously wink the eye.
They do not speak peaceably,
    but devise false accusations
    against those who live quietly in the land.
They sneer at me and say, ‘Aha! Aha!
    With our own eyes we have seen it.’

Lord, you have seen this; do not be silent.
    Do not be far from me, Lord.
Awake, and rise to my defence!
    Contend for me, my God and Lord.
Vindicate me in your righteousness, Lord my God;
    do not let them gloat over me.
Do not let them think, ‘Aha, just what we wanted!’
    or say, ‘We have swallowed him up.’

May all who gloat over my distress
    be put to shame and confusion;
may all who exalt themselves over me
    be clothed with shame and disgrace.
May those who delight in my vindication
    shout for joy and gladness;
may they always say, ‘The Lord be exalted,
    who delights in the well-being of his servant.’

My tongue will proclaim your righteousness,
    your praises all day long.

(Ps. 35:11-28 NIV)

The Psalmist turns again to lament. The problem he describes in v11-18 is the worst kind of problem. He has been repaid evil for good. When others were ill, he mourned and prayed for them. He was sincere, and he prayed for them as if they were members of his only family. When the Psalmist stumbled, the very people he had prayed for gathered together with glee to rejoice in his stumble. They slandered his name behind his back, and carried out a whispering campaign of spiteful, relentless attacks. These people behaved like the ungodly, maliciously mocking and attacking the Psalmist. This has carried on for some time, and the Psalmist cries out for the Lord to intervene, ‘how long is the Lord going to look on?’ While this goes on, those who are attacking the Psalmist rejoice in glee with every verbal wound that they inflict. This is so difficult for the Psalmist, because the people whom he tried to serve and help have turned on him. Those who attacked him seemed to gain in strength and became like wild animals, and they were ravaging his reputation. The Psalmist doesn’t retaliate, instead he turns to God, and again anticipating his rescue, he looks forward to praising the Lord and giving thanks.

The Psalmist returns again to the unjust betrayal. He has seen those who have become his enemies without him ever having given them cause or reason. The harm that they do is subtle, but as they do their damage they wink knowing that they have scored their points. These slanderers are not interested in peace, they watch carefully to find further occasion to devise false accusations. The use of the word devise indicates that the false accusations were carefully crafted to include enough truth to make the accusation plausible and believable.

The Psalmist would have been happy to live a quiet life, but these slanderers were determined to rob him of any sense of peace. They laugh at the torture they have put him through, and he can see their sense of triumph. In the previous Psalm we saw that the eye of the Lord is always upon his people. This adds to the Psalmist’s difficulties, because the Psalmist knew that the Lord had seen all this but had remained silent. Perhaps the Lord’s silence emboldened the slanderers, because they appeared to be getting away with their behaviour, and possibly even felt that their behaviour was justified.

The Psalmist wants the Lord to act, to vindicate him to the standard of the Lord’s righteousness. The Psalmist is quite exhausted by those who gloat over him. They are robbing him of the joy of serving the Lord. They are delighted because they think they have triumphed by swallowing him up.

The Psalmist has a deep concern that justice and righteousness may triumph. When the Lord intervenes, those who opposed him will be exposed for what they have done, and they will suffer shame and disgrace. There will be many who rejoice at the vindication of the Psalmist. But the praise is not for the Psalmist, it is for the Lord. The Psalmist now has a sense of wellbeing that had unnecessarily been robbed from him by spiteful people. The Psalmist speaks of the Lord’s righteousness and praises the Lord all day long.

There is a contrast here between the two groups of enemies: the first group was attacking openly with weapons, and the second group were those who had been close the Psalmist, and they turn on him and repay him evil when he had attempted to do them good and pray for them when they were in need. The eye of the lord sees both types of opposition and will one day establish righteousness and justice.

Prayer
Lord God we thank You that one day righteousness and justice will prevail. Lord help us not to be guilty of undermining the joy of any brother or sister. Keep us free of gossip and slander. Help us to seek the peace of the churches that Your people will be built up and learn to love one another deeply. Lord in mercy hear our prayer, for we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Posted in blog, meditation | Comments Off on Meditation Psalm 35b

Meditation Psalm 35a

Of David.

Contend, Lord, with those who contend with me;
    fight against those who fight against me.
Take up shield and armour;
    arise and come to my aid.
Brandish spear and javelin
    against those who pursue me.
Say to me,
    ‘I am your salvation.’

May those who seek my life
    be disgraced and put to shame;
may those who plot my ruin
    be turned back in dismay.
May they be like chaff before the wind,
    with the angel of the Lord driving them away;
may their path be dark and slippery,
    with the angel of the Lord pursuing them.

Since they hid their net for me without cause
    and without cause dug a pit for me,
may ruin overtake them by surprise –
    may the net they hid entangle them,
    may they fall into the pit, to their ruin.
Then my soul will rejoice in the Lord
    and delight in his salvation.
My whole being will exclaim,
    ‘Who is like you, Lord?
You rescue the poor from those too strong for them,
    the poor and needy from those who rob them.’

(Ps. 35:1-10 NIV)

The Psalmist uses metaphors borrowed from the judicial, legal, military and hunting world to help describe how he feels about his present circumstances. He begins with a legal term ‘contend’ but then uses a military term ‘fight’ to plead with the Lord for help. The covenant LORD is the warrior God and the Psalmist calls upon the Lord to take up shield and armour, defensive equipment, and attack equipment, spear and javelin, to fight against those who pursue the Psalmist. The weapons symbolise the Lord’s readiness to defend His people. The Psalmist needs to hear a word from the Lord. He asks to be reminded that the Lord is His salvation. Did he not already know this? There are many truths that we know but we need to hear them frequently because we consistently need encouragement.

The Psalmist wants the Lord to bring vengeance down on his enemies. He calls judgement in the forms of them knowing shame, being reduced to chaff and their paths made dark and slippery. The shame is military defeat, being ‘reduced to chaff’ is being made worthless, and ‘their paths made dark and slippery’ is that they might know troubles and uncertainty. In the end the Psalmist wants them brought to ruin and overtaken by surprise. The enemy has attacked the Psalmist with impunity and never expects to be called to account. The trap that had been made for the Psalmist should become a snare to the enemy. This type of language may seem strange to us, but the apostle Paul quotes such language in

What then? What the people of Israel sought so earnestly they did not obtain. The elect among them did, but the others were hardened, as it is written:

‘God gave them a spirit of stupor,
    eyes that could not see
    and ears that could not hear,
to this very day.’

And David says:

‘May their table become a snare and a trap,
    a stumbling-block and a retribution for them.
May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see,
    and their backs be bent for ever.’

(Rom. 11:7-10 NIV)

This kind of language reminds us that we are engaged in a spiritual battle

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

(Eph. 6:10-12 NIV)

As the Psalmist anticipates the Lord’s deliverance, he also anticipates the moment when he will praise the Lord. He will rejoice and delight in the salvation of the Lord. His whole being will exclaim the uniqueness of the Lord. This is not half-hearted praise, but as the Psalm 103 says

Praise the LORD, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.

(Ps. 103:1 NIV)

The poor and the needy are not in a position to defend themselves against those who would exploit them, but the Lord comes to their aid. The anticipation of deliverance comes from the confidence that the Psalmist has gained because he has brought all his trouble before the Lord in prayer.

Prayer
Lord God defeat those who oppose the work of the Kingdom of God. Surely they plot in vain when they decide to oppose You. A secular society has overtaken this nation and we live regardless of Your Word. Lord be pleased to hear our prayer, may we find success in the preaching of the Gospel. Lord we pray for our nation that this virus may cause many people to turn to You. We will praise You for Your great work of redemption, continue to save us that Christ might be glorified in the congregations of Your people for Christ our Saviour’s sake in whose name we pray. Amen

Posted in blog, meditation | Comments Off on Meditation Psalm 35a

Meditation Psalm 34

Of David. When he pretended to be insane before Abimelek, who drove him away, and he left.

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.
The lions may grow weak and hungry,
    but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
Come, my children, listen to me;
    I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
Whoever of you loves life
    and desires to see many good days,
keep your tongue from evil
    and your lips from telling lies.
Turn from evil and do good;
    seek peace and pursue it.

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

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

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

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

(Ps. 34:1-22 NIV)

This is a thanksgiving Psalm with a reflection on wisdom. The Psalmist begins his praise by telling of the Lord’s character and the many blessings that He gives. He cannot stop praising and vows to extol the Lord on every occasion. Because of what the Lord has done, the Psalmist has a song of praise on his lips. The Psalmist is boasting of what the Lord has done. He will not take any glory for himself by speaking about his own achievements.

When the heart is full of the Lord like this, it has to be shared with others. The Psalmist calls for all who are afflicted to hear about the Lord so that they too can join the praise of God. This is not just a private matter but public worship. Let us glorify the Lord together, let us exalt the name of the Lord together. The purpose of praise is not to make God’s people feel good, but to acknowledge the greatness of our God.

The Psalmist had experienced much sorrow, and he has spent time living with his fears. We can fear many things. Uncertainty can cause fear. We like to know what lies ahead, that helps us to get ready, and not knowing is unsettling. But the Psalmist doesn’t know what the future holds, but he is not discouraged because he knows who hold the future. Those who look to the Lord will have that look of fear removed from their faces, and their faces will light up with joy because the Lord will deliver them.

It is likely that the Psalmist is describing himself as the poor man, or perhaps he is pointing to someone else, either way does not materially alter the meaning. The person came in his poverty to God, and the Lord heard him and delivered him from all his troubles.

The Angel of the Lord is a term that is used about 50 times in the OT and may be a term that refers to an appearance of the Lord Himself. The uncertainty of the identity should not allow us to miss the point, that God sends His messenger to set up camp surrounding those who fear the Lord.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

(Phil. 4:7 NIV)

The Psalmist calls upon us to taste, see and fear. The wise way to live is the Lord’s way, and is the blessed way. We can taste the Lord’s goodness, that is, we can experience the goodness of God toward us. This verse is a reminder of Psalm 23

The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.

(Ps. 23:1 NIV)

The lions may be weak from hunger, but those who seek the Lord will lack no good thing. The lions may not taste food and so grow weak, but those who seek the Lord will taste and see that the Lord is good.

V11 begins the teaching on wisdom. In wisdom literature the students of the sages are known as sons or children. The Psalmist speak as the wise sage and he teaches his students the fear of the Lord.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

(Prov. 1:7 NIV)

As Proverbs shows, the fear of the Lord is the early lesson that is taught in the school of wisdom. The fear of the Lord is expressed in our submission to the way of the Lord. There is a reward in this life for following the way of wisdom. If you love life, then the way of wisdom should be followed. This involves control of the tongue, speaking the truth, rejecting evil, doing good and pursuing peace with others.

The rewards of wisdom are described in v15-22. The eyes and ears of the Lord are on the righteous. The face of the Lord is against the wicked and in contrast to the many good days of the righteous, the memory of the wicked will be blotted out from the earth.

It is encouraging to read in the Word of God about crying out, about troubles, the brokenhearted, and those who are crushed in spirit. God knows that we feel this way at times. When we are struggling it can add to our pain if we feel no-one really understands. The Spirit of God guided the Psalmist to include this list of sorrowful experiences. We are told that the Lord is close to the brokenhearted. When we feel so low, we can feel guilty that we have allowed ourselves to feel like that and we wonder what God thinks of us. But here we are reassured that God is close to us in difficult times and God acknowledges in His word that these are very real experiences.

The righteous do not escape troubles, but the Lord will deliver us and help us through these troubles. The Lord protects His people. The protection of the bones is a metaphor for the Lord’s care for His people. The evil that the wicked practise will overcome them. All those who have persecuted the righteous will be condemned, but the Lord redeems His people and they will know no condemnation.

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.

(Rom. 8:1-2 NIV)

Prayer
Lord help us to choose the wise way to live. Enable us to know more and more of Your goodness. We thank You Lord that Your eye is upon in every moment and that Your ear is attentive to our prayers. Help us to put our trust in You as we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen

Posted in blog, meditation | Comments Off on Meditation Psalm 34

Meditation Psalm 33b

By the word of the Lord the heavens were made,
    their starry host by the breath of his mouth.
He gathers the waters of the sea into jars;
    he puts the deep into storehouses.
Let all the earth fear the Lord;
    let all the people of the world revere him.
For he spoke, and it came to be;
    he commanded, and it stood firm.

The Lord foils the plans of the nations;
    he thwarts the purposes of the peoples.
But the plans of the Lord stand firm for ever,
    the purposes of his heart through all generations.

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
    the people he chose for his inheritance.
From heaven the Lord looks down
    and sees all mankind;
from his dwelling-place he watches
    all who live on earth –
he who forms the hearts of all,
    who considers everything they do.

No king is saved by the size of his army;
    no warrior escapes by his great strength.
A horse is a vain hope for deliverance;
    despite all its great strength it cannot save.
But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him,
    on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,
to deliver them from death
    and keep them alive in famine.

We wait in hope for the Lord;
    he is our help and our shield.
In him our hearts rejoice,
    for we trust in his holy name.
May your unfailing love be with us, Lord,
    even as we put our hope in you.

(Ps. 33:6-22 NIV)

God established creation through His word. He created the universe and the starry sky.

Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.

(Isa. 40:26 NIV)

The power of the Lord is seen in the way that He tames the waters. As you stand on the edge of the ocean you soon realise how humanity has never been able to tame the sea. The power of the waves crashing against the rocks is at once dangerous and beautiful, and many lives have been lost at sea. But to the Lord the raging seas are just something that could be stored in a jar, or stored in a barn the way the farmer stores the grain. How fearful we are as we see the havoc that a tsunami can cause, but to the Lord it is a mere drop of water. As we stand in awe of the sea, how much more should we be in awe of the mighty power of the Lord who rules the sea. The nations of the earth had many false gods who they said ruled the stars and the sea, but they are wrong, there is only one God who put all these things in place, and still today rules these stars, planets and waves of the sea. The whole earth should fear the Lord and revere the creator God. The nations do not make Him Sovereign, He is Sovereign, and all the people need to recognise and acknowledge this.

The world and the universe show order and a great degree of predictability. That is because God established and maintains that order. We are able to practise science because God has created an ordered universe. God’s control over the earth , the sea and the universe is great comfort to His people.

We make plans but God disposes these plans. But the plans of the Lord stand firm for all generations.

The Psalmist turns away from reflection on God’s involvement with creation to His involvement with humanity. The blessing of the people of God is that we are God’s special choice. He chose us to be His inheritance.

The Lord is an all seeing God. From the vantage point of His dwelling place, the Lord watches all who live on the earth. No action, thought or word is unseen or unheard by God. God formed each heart and He understands the motive of every heart. The Lord considers everything that is done and every human is accountable to God.

Some people plan to dominate the lives of others, but neither king nor warrior can guarantee any outcome. Just because some nation has a large army does not mean they will succeed. God rules over humanity, therefore what a nation can achieve can easily be curtailed by God.

Nations build up their weapons with a view to either attack or defend. They may well boast of their capability. They depend upon their own might and power. The coronavirus has shown us how the plans of nations can be so quickly changed.

But the special attention of the Lord is given to His people. The Lord’s eyes are on His people to deliver them and keep them safe. Success does not depend on size or strength because the Sovereign God rules the affairs of humanity. The hope of the people of God is in the unfailing love (hesed) of the Lord. The Psalmist has reflected on the character and work of the Lord. This leads him to a new expression of his trust in the Lord. Whatever happens, the people of God will wait in hope for the Lord, because God is our help and our shield. The sense of security causes the Psalmist to rejoice and he urges us all to rejoice in the Lord. The Psalmist asks that God’s unfailing covenant love (hesed) will rest upon our lives. The one who watches every event places His covenant love upon those who fear Him.

The Psalmist trusts the covenant name of the LORD, because His name is Yahweh and He will do battle for His people therefore we can hope in Him.

Prayer
Father in Heaven, we thank You that Your watchful eye is ever upon us. Forgive us for placing our trust in anything but You. We thank You that Your covenant love rests upon our lives and we are more loved than we could ever imagine or think. Help us to wait upon Your time and enable us to place our hope only in You because we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen

Posted in blog, meditation | Comments Off on Meditation Psalm 33b

Meditation Psalm 33a

Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous;
    it is fitting for the upright to praise him.
Praise the Lord with the harp;
    make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre.
Sing to him a new song;
    play skilfully, and shout for joy.

For the word of the Lord is right and true;
    he is faithful in all he does.
The Lord loves righteousness and justice;
    the earth is full of his unfailing love.

(Ps. 33:1-5 NIV)

This Psalm is a hymn of praise to the Lord because of His creative acts in nature and in human history. V1-3 is the call to worship and is a description of a joyful occasion. The worshipping congregation are described as the righteous and the upright. Musical instruments had a place in the worship and here the Psalmist mentions two: the ten stringed lyre and the harp. The instruments were to aid the singing. The Psalmist says that they were to play the instruments with skill. Where possible the talents of musicians should be used to assist the singing and the praise. It is a fitting thing to praise the Lord because He is the covenant LORD. Each new act of God in the history of redemption is a new occasion for praise. In Ephesians and Colossians we are encouraged to sing using Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.

speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

(Eph. 5:19-20 NIV)

Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.

(Col. 3:16 NIV)

This is a balance we should attempt to maintain in our services. We sing the Psalms as they were given as a songbook to the church. We should sing hymns from previous generations so that we are confessing the same truth that our fathers before us confessed, but we should also recognise that we need not always sing from the past but we should sing new spiritual songs that are composed for our generation. The LORD of course has given us a new covenant song to sing and as we sing we name the name of Jesus in our songs.

The nature of God is the opening theme of the praise. The word of the Lord is right and true, and the Lord is faithful to His word in all He does. If we want to know the way of the Lord’s working, we enquire within His word. The Lord not only works righteously, He loves righteousness. There is a beauty, purity and cleanliness in righteousness. We need not be disappointed because of injustice done against us, because the Lord loves justice. The judge of all the earth and the judge of all generations. The LORD’s covenant love (hesed) is evident in all the works of His hand upon the earth. One spring, we took our book of wild flowers out with us in our walk in the woods and took photographs of all the wild flowers we could find. We identified the names of the wild flowers. The bluebells formed a carpet across the woods and the scent filled the air. No one plants these wild flowers in the ancient woodlands, but everywhere you look you find evidence of the Lord’s love. Even in a fallen world we can see that the Lord has decorated the earth with love that we might find it a pleasant place to live.

Prayer
Lord we praise Your great and glorious name, because You are righteous and just. Just as You displayed Your love in the creation of this world, we thank You that You have displayed Your covenant love in the new creation. You have created a people who will inhabit Your praise. You will present us in righteousness and justice so that we will in beauty adorn the new heavens and the new earth. Everything in us that would spoil the new heavens and the new earth will have been removed from us, and then the Psalm that calls upon us to worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness will be fulfilled. Lord help us to enjoy singing the new song that you have placed on our lips, for Christ the Saviour’s sake, in whose name we pray. Amen.

Posted in blog, meditation | Comments Off on Meditation Psalm 33a

Meditation Psalm 32c

Of David. A maskil.

Blessed is the one
    whose transgressions are forgiven,
    whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the one
    whose sin the Lord does not count against them
    and in whose spirit is no deceit.

When I kept silent,
    my bones wasted away
    through my groaning all day long.
For day and night
    your hand was heavy on me;
my strength was sapped
    as in the heat of summer.

Then I acknowledged my sin to you
    and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, ‘I will confess
    my transgressions to the Lord.’
And you forgave
    the guilt of my sin.

Therefore let all the faithful pray to you
    while you may be found;
surely the rising of the mighty waters
    will not reach them.
You are my hiding-place;
    you will protect me from trouble
    and surround me with songs of deliverance.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
    I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
Do not be like the horse or the mule,
    which have no understanding
but must be controlled by bit and bridle
    or they will not come to you.
Many are the woes of the wicked,
    but the Lord’s unfailing love
    surrounds the one who trusts in him.

Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous;
    sing, all you who are upright in heart!

(Ps. 32:1-11 NIV)

The outline of the Psalm is show below:

A. Blessing of forgiveness (v1-2)
B Lesson from experience (v3-5)
C God’s protection (v6-7)
D. Promise of wisdom (v8)
B’ Lesson from experience (v 9)
C’ God’s protection (v10)
A’ Rejoicing in forgiveness (v11)

D Promise of Wisdom

V8 is the key verse of the Psalm and key to the Psalmist’s experience. In v8 we have a word from the Lord. The Lord promises to instruct, teach and counsel. This teaching comes from the Lord with His loving eye upon His people. This is the teaching with regard to God’s wise way of living which was a principle outlined for the whole 150 Psalms in Psalm 1.

B’ Lesson from experience (v9)

God instructs the godly in the way of godliness. God instructs in the way of wisdom and the wise person will pursue that path, but the foolish or ungodly person is like a horse or mule which has no understanding and needs to be controlled by a bit and bridle. The godly ought not to live like that.

C’ God’s protection (v. 10)

The Lord assures the one who trusts in Him of His unfailing love (hesed). We are surrounded by covenant love.

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

(1 Jn. 3:1 NIV)

This verse goes back to the distinction in Psalm 1 between the blessed person and the wicked. Many are the woes of the wicked. While the godly enjoy the blessings of covenant love (hesed), the wicked experience covenant curses.

A’ Rejoicing in forgiveness

The way of wisdom provides the blessings of the assurances of God’s love (hesed), God’s protection, guidance and forgiveness. The wise way of living produces rejoicing. They are instructed to rejoice in the Lord.

Prayer
Dear God we thank You for the instruction that we receive through Your word. Help us to grasp that this is the blessed and wise way to live. We thank You that we can live in the joy of our sins forgiven. Continue to bless us and help us to rejoice in the God of our salvation, for it is in the name of Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.

Posted in blog, meditation | Comments Off on Meditation Psalm 32c

Meditation Psalm 32b

Of David. A maskil.

Blessed is the one
    whose transgressions are forgiven,
    whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the one
    whose sin the Lord does not count against them
    and in whose spirit is no deceit.

When I kept silent,
    my bones wasted away
    through my groaning all day long.
For day and night
    your hand was heavy on me;
my strength was sapped
    as in the heat of summer.

Then I acknowledged my sin to you
    and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, ‘I will confess
    my transgressions to the Lord.’
And you forgave
    the guilt of my sin.

Therefore let all the faithful pray to you
    while you may be found;
surely the rising of the mighty waters
    will not reach them.
You are my hiding-place;
    you will protect me from trouble
    and surround me with songs of deliverance.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
    I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
Do not be like the horse or the mule,
    which have no understanding
but must be controlled by bit and bridle
    or they will not come to you.
Many are the woes of the wicked,
    but the Lord’s unfailing love
    surrounds the one who trusts in him.

Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous;
    sing, all you who are upright in heart!

(Ps. 32:1-11 NIV)

The outline of the Psalm is show below:

A. Blessing of forgiveness (v1-2)
B Lesson from experience (v3-5)
C God’s protection (v6-7)
D. Promise of wisdom (v8)
B’ Lesson from experience (v 9)
C’ God’s protection (v10)
A’ Rejoicing in forgiveness (v11)

B Lesson from experience

The Psalmist shares his experience of what life was like for him when he had unconfessed sin. This had a debilitating effect upon his sense of wellbeing. His anguish was like a wasting away of his bones, all his strength was sapping away. In Ezekiel’s vision of the valley of dry bones (ch 37) the bones signify the hopelessness and meaningless of life lived apart from God. It does not necessarily mean that the Psalmist was ill, but that the face of the Lord had been turned away from him and he no longer enjoyed the Lord’s presence. Day and night the disciplining hand of the Lord was heavy upon him. The Lord’s discipline was as intense as the baking heat of the sun. His strength was sapped away and he withered away like a plant in the parching sun. The Psalmist found no relief until he finally acknowledged his sin. Again we find the Psalmist using three different words to describe his sin: sin, iniquity and transgression. His act of repentance is also described in three ways: he acknowledged, did not cover up and he confessed. The Lord then forgave the guilt of his sin. The sin is forgiven, and the feeling of guilt is taken away.

C God’s protection (v6-7)

Suffering or illness need not be considered as discipline for sin. We should be careful about presuming to know why we are ill or why someone else is ill. Remember Job experienced an incredible amount of suffering and he was not guilty of sinning. However, any kind of suffering or other adversity ought to direct us to God in prayer. The Psalmist says the faithful should pray while God may be found. The Psalmist’s experience of the grace of God encourages him to point others to the Lord. There is a sense of urgency for us to seek the Lord because while God’s presence is always with us, God is not always available to be found. Our reluctance to confess our sins leads to delay and compounds the possibility of human error. God does not make Himself readily available to those who seek Him only in times of extreme distress. The Psalmist is encouraging us to have a relationship of trust and reliance on God to be built in times of relative freedom from adversity, so that when the mighty waters of trouble rise they will not overcome us. They will find a refuge in the Lord. The Lord is a hiding place, a place to shelter from adversity.

The importance of the Psalms is mentioned here. We are surrounded by songs of deliverance. We have been surrounding ourselves with these songs of deliverance everyday since the lock down started and perhaps many have spent a lifetime in the Psalms. The singing and praying of the Psalms should be part of our lives and in these songs our hearts will be encouraged.

Prayer
Lord our God, help us not to be slow in coming to confess our sins. Help us to grow in confidence and in trust so that when difficulty comes into our lives that we will find in You a hiding place. Help us we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Posted in blog, meditation | Comments Off on Meditation Psalm 32b

Meditation Psalm 32a

Of David. A maskil.

Blessed is the one
    whose transgressions are forgiven,
    whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the one
    whose sin the Lord does not count against them
    and in whose spirit is no deceit.

When I kept silent,
    my bones wasted away
    through my groaning all day long.
For day and night
    your hand was heavy on me;
my strength was sapped
    as in the heat of summer.

Then I acknowledged my sin to you
    and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, ‘I will confess
    my transgressions to the Lord.’
And you forgave
    the guilt of my sin.

Therefore let all the faithful pray to you
    while you may be found;
surely the rising of the mighty waters
    will not reach them.
You are my hiding-place;
    you will protect me from trouble
    and surround me with songs of deliverance.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
    I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
Do not be like the horse or the mule,
    which have no understanding
but must be controlled by bit and bridle
    or they will not come to you.
Many are the woes of the wicked,
    but the Lord’s unfailing love
    surrounds the one who trusts in him.

Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous;
    sing, all you who are upright in heart!

(Ps. 32:1-11 NIV)

Ps 32 is one of the seven penitential Psalms (6,32,38,51, 102, 130, 143). Many times we sin and we need guidance on how to find our way back to God. These penitential Psalms serve as such a guide and they also give us reassurance that God forgives our sins.

This prayer of repentance expresses true biblical deep sorrow for sin. Sometimes when we sin we are sorry only because we have been found out, or just sorry about the consequences that have resulted from the sin. It is better for us if we clearly state the sin before God because a forthright repentance gives way to a forthright forgiveness. The Psalmist covenantal relationship has been disturbed and he seeks renewal.

I have not attempted until now to outline the structure of previous Psalms, but the structure here is so helpful in understanding the meaning.

A. Blessing of forgiveness (v1-2)
B Lesson from experience (v3-5)
C God’s protection (v6-7)
D. Promise of wisdom (v8)
B’ Lesson from experience (v 9)
C’ God’s protection (v10)
A’ Rejoicing in forgiveness (v11)
A. Blessing of Forgiveness

Twice the Psalmist mentions the state of the one who is forgiven, it is blessed to be cleansed and have all deceit removed from us.

There are three different words used for sin in Hebrew but the NIV has used sin to translate two different words. The three words are: transgression, sin and iniquity.

Transgression is an act of rebellion against God’s word, an open act of defiance against God’s will. It is important not to tone down the description of sin, because we need more than a toned down forgiveness.

Sin is missing the mark, the failure to live up to the standard that God established in Jesus Christ.

Sin (iniquity) is a crooked or wrong act and is often a conscious and intentional intent to do wrong. These are not different types of sin, but three ways of describing the wrong that we do and what it means for us to do wrong.

The forgiveness of sin is to be found in God alone. We can spend a lot of time wallowing in the misery of sin, but the focus of this Psalm is to shift us to the ground of the blessedness of forgiveness.

We are forgiven – sin is removed, the guilt and the remembrance of sin are taken away.

Our sins are covered – this is the act of atonement by which the sinner is reconciled to God and the sin is a past event, so God never makes mention of it again.

The Lord does not count our sin against us. We are justified, declared innocent in the sight of God.

The believers in the OT knew the blessedness of sins forgiven, but how much greater for us who live this side of the cross.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all
unrighteousness.

(1 Jn. 1:9 NIV)

Prayer
Lord our God we have to confess that our sin is an ugly thing. As ugly as sin is, the blessedness of forgiveness far outweighs the dreadfulness of sin. We come before You to describe our sin as the utter rebellion that it is. Lord forgive us and help us to enjoy that freedom, liberty and purity that comes from Your forgiveness. Cleanse us we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen

Posted in blog, meditation | Comments Off on Meditation Psalm 32a