Thursday, May 03, 2007

Psalm 73

Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart. But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped. For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. (vv 1-3)

The psalmist wonders, as many saints have done through the years, why the wicked prosper and God's people don't. Why do evil, ungodly people seem to have it all? They laugh in God's face, amass worldly wealth, and enjoy healthy, robust lives. On the other hand, God's people suffer persecution, get bypassed for promotion, pray to be healed, but don't get better, are poor, broken and seemingly abandoned by God.

They say, "How can God know? Does the Most High have knowledge?" (v 11)

The dilemma may have occurred to you. You may even be one of the godly to whom the psalmist refers, and you wonder if there is any point 'playing by the rules' (v 13 Message translation). Stay with the psalmist, though, and you'll realise this life-changing fact: temporal provision does not translate to eternal blessings.

Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end. (v 17)

To arrive at this conclusion, Asaph needed a shift of focus. When he concentrated on the wicked, and material things, his world view was gloomy. But once he spent time in God's presence, he saw the wider picture. There is no benefit to comparing yourself with the wicked, because, when they arrive at their eternal resting place, they would change places with you in a heartbeat! As Christ said to the disciples, what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul? (Matt 16:25-26 )

Your life may presently be filled with heartbreak and pain, but even that is temporal. Before you conclude that you have no hope or help in God, revisit the psalmist's first words, which I repeat here for emphasis:

Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart. (v 1)

God is only good. His goodness extends to all, especially the pure in heart. He is gracious, compassionate, loving and merciful. He desires that you prosper and be in health (3 John 2). He delights in the prosperity of His servants (Ps 35:27). Take a look at this paraphrase of Psalm 103: 3-5:

He forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases. He redeems you from death and crowns you with love and tender mercies. He fills your life with good things.

God's goodness extends towards you, all the time. Don't let temporary circumstances convince you otherwise.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Psalm 72

GIVE THE king [knowledge of] Your [way of] judging, O God, and [the spirit of] Your righteousness to the king's son [to control all his actions]....May he judge and defend the poor of the people, deliver the children of the needy, and crush the oppressor, so that they may revere and fear You while the sun and moon endure, throughout all generations. (vv 1, 4-5 Amp)

This psalm, penned by Solomon, is generally believed to be a prayer uttered from the lips of David, his father. However, as is habitual with many psalms, the prophetic runs throughout the verses, clearly pointing beyond Solomon's reign to the Messiah, our Lord Jesus Christ. The words foretell things to come. They point to the eternal reign of Jesus, when He will come to (among other things):
  • Judge the earth, (v 2)
  • Cause righteousness to reign (v 3)
  • Right the wrongs perpetuated by oppressors and abolish evil (v 4)
  • Bring peace and cause the righteous to flourish (v 7)
  • Rule over nations. (vv 8, 11)
Let this psalm ignite hope as you allow the words to sink into your heart.

Jesus is coming back one day, and when He returns, He will bring with Him the answer to your every desire (as placed in you by God Himself). Psalm 72 is proof that our hope in Christ is not in vain.

Moreover, your cries will not go unanswered, even now, for our Lord already reigns. Your life is precious in His sight, and you are of more value to Him than a flock of helpless sparrows, for whom He assumes daily care (Luke 12: 6-7). Meditate on the words of this psalm, until you are confident of your salvation, and of God's love and plans to help you in your hour of need.

Then lift up your voice and join the throng of those who call Him blessed. Let his praise rise on the tide of hope that swells within you as you rejoice in the knowledge that you have been saved, are being saved, and will be saved for eternity.

Blessed be the name of the Lord!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Psalm 71

Here, we see the testimonial of a man, who, having walked throughout his life with God, is confident enough to seek His help in old age.

For You are my hope, O Lord GOD; You are my trust from my youth. By You I have been upheld from birth; You are He who took me out of my mother’s womb. My praise shall be continually of You. (vv 5-6)

As he casts his mind back over his lifelong relationship with God, he acknowledges that God has been with him from birth. His Maker's presence was a viable part of his life, from his youth. He has learned to trust in, and seen the Lord do wondrous things on his behalf.

You can do the same today. If you candidly look back over your life, you will have cause to testify of the Almighty's goodness towards you. An old song, Angels, puts it this way:

God only knows the times my life was threatened just today;
A reckless car ran out of gas before it ran my way

Near misses all around me, accidents unknown
Though I never see with human eyes the hands that lead me home.
(Amy Grant: Age to Age 1982)

In the psalmist's words:

My mouth shall tell of Your righteous acts and of Your deeds of salvation all the day, for their number is more than I know. (v 15)

The fact that you are alive today, enjoying whatever blessings you are surrounded with, is proof that God has been with you from birth. You don't know how many times His angels have rescued you and kept you from harm. You don't know how many dangers they have averted on your behalf. Because he could testify to God's help throughout his life (and possibly because he noted the acts of which he was aware), the psalmist could count on God's help in his old age.

Take two things away from Psalm 71:
  1. Teach your children (or the young around you) about the Lord as early as possible. The Hebrews, during the psalmist's time, were raised knowing God was always with them, He was taught to them as ever-present and part of their existence. That way, they grew up able to trust in His ability to deliver them, and they could experience Him personally.

  2. Recount often, to the Lord, yourself and others, how God has blessed you. Ask God to open your eyes to see how He has always been with you. Then give Him thanks.
Today, write Him a letter of testimony and thanks, just like this psalmist, so that in days to come, you can refer to it and reinforce your confidence in His ability to look after your future.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Psalm 70


David's prayer here, although largely for God to remember and deliver Him, could also be assessed as the prayer for two types of people in his life: he asks for deliverance from his enemies (those who sought kill him) and for God's blessing on his fellow believers.

Much as we prefer otherwise, there are those who want to harm us. They do not wish any good to come to the believer (you), either due to your trust in Christ, for their own evil advancement, or because they are tools of our eternal Enemy, Satan. David felt justified in calling for God to deliver him from their evil deeds. In fact, he asked God to help him quickly.

We learn from this psalm that we can seek God's help in an emergency. When you need rescuing, let God bear the brunt of your urgency. Before rushing off to consult with friends, the bank manager, your Pastor, or anyone you feel may be able to assist you, stop and ask the Lord to help you, and don't be shy about your demands.

The widow woman whose story Jesus told in Luke 18: 2-5 was not intimidated by the judge's godless attitude. She pestered him until she got what she wanted. God expects the same from you. Let heaven hear the sound of your voice, and the cries from your heart. Don't be lacklustre about what you need from God; and never feel God is probably fed up with hearing you. If there's one lesson you should take away from the Psalms, it is that God never tires of hearing your voice.

More pertinently, God is willing to act on your behalf, when you ask Him to move swiftly.

Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: and let such as love thy salvation say continually, Let God be magnified. (v 3)

In the second half of the psalm, David prays for the righteous; those who love God and His salvation. Those, we would say today, who have reached out to accept the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

That, my friend, is you. For,

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. (Romans 10: 9-10)

If Jesus is Lord of your life, this portion of the psalm speaks directly to you.

Rejoice and be glad in Him. Praise His name continually. Let God be so magnified in your sight (see Him through eyes that wonder at His greatness), that everything else (including your enemy) becomes small and insignificant.

Then you will, like the psalmist, be able to trust that He will hastily come to you!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Psalm 69

This song, another of David's cries to God about false accusations and injustice, is quoted several times in the New Testament as a parallel for Christ's life.

The Christian who meditates on this psalm will likely experience mixed feelings - of comfort in reading what was prophesied about the Saviour centuries before His advent, and unease in knowing He was taking our place; of joy in the knowledge that He came to rescue us from suffering, and heartbreak at what He had to endure.

The following scriptures are directly referred to in the New Testament:
  1. v 4: Those who hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of my head; they are mighty who would destroy me, being my enemies wrongfully; (John 15:25)
  2. v 9: Because zeal for Your house has eaten me up, and the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me. (John 2:17)
  3. v 21: They also gave me gall for my food, and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink. (Matt 27:34)
Other indirect references include:
  1. v 7: Because for Your sake I have borne reproach; shame has covered my face.
  2. v 8:I have become a stranger to my brothers, and an alien to my mother’s children;
  3. v 12: Those who sit in the gate speak against me, and I am the song of the drunkards.
As you read through this psalm, consider Christ. Consider His suffering. Consider the glory He exchanged for sin-stricken man. Consider the following:
  • He bore our disgrace and reproach, that we might be included in the family of God (v9,19)
  • He was despised that we might be accepted (v 8)
  • He took our sins upon Himself, that we might have His life (v 7)
  • He sought and found no comfort, that we might be comforted (v 20)
  • He was made poor that we might be rich (v 29)
  • His salvation set us on high (v 29)
Surely, our response to His goodness, mercy, and the suffering He endured must be worship and adoration: to join our voices with heaven to praise Him, and raise our song with the seas (v 34). And to declare His saving grace to a dying world.

Consider Him.