Psalm 61–Extreme Makeover –The God Edition

In the 90’s there was a great show called “Extreme Makeover.” In the show, people who were horrible scarred or damaged would be systematically and amazingly changed to a lovely, and perfected specimen.  The families would meet them in “the big reveal” and be amazed and perplexed at what modern medicine had accomplished.

Long before television aired extreme makeover, God had been accomplishing the same result for eternal purposes in men’s lives. Gideon, Moses, Peter were merely a few of the lives–God transformed to make his nation, a nation of priests and his children, outstanding in the world.  David himself was merely the family sheep nanny–before he became the mighty warrior and king.  Joseph, Rahab, Elijah and Esther each stood out as amazing–simply because they believed God and his purpose for their lives.

God wishes the same for us.  In the midst of this difficult time and chaotic culture–God still calls us to take refuge in him and allow him to lift us up–then, use us to change lives and make things awesome for his sake.  None of the heroes of the Bible ever grasped the scope of their influence; or saw the legacy they left behind.  Still, they remained faithful, and allowed God to work through them all the way to the end of their journey.  If we will simply trust God he will fill our lives with power; and walk us through the chaos and into the eternal.

God Bless You

Hear my cry, O God;
    listen to my prayer.

From the ends of the earth I call to you,
    I call as my heart grows faint;
    lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For you have been my refuge,
    a strong tower against the foe.

I long to dwell in your tent forever
    and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.[b]
For you, God, have heard my vows;
    you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.

Increase the days of the king’s life,
    his years for many generations.
May he be enthroned in God’s presence forever;
    appoint your love and faithfulness to protect him.

Then I will ever sing in praise of your name
    and fulfill my vows day after day.

Psalm 60–When We Let God Retake his Lead in our lives

When we walk away from God, there are sure to be consequences.  David wrote this teaching Psalm to expose two important lessons–turning away has a price, and returning to God is our only and best hope.  When Israel had turned from God, they began to lose battles and experience losses like the days before David.  All their enemies were returning to get a piece of them.  But then, as they returned to God–their only and best hope, he came back with a fury and they regained all that they had lost.

God never spares us from the consequences of our choices, but as we follow him, he will and does lead us through difficult times and often restores what we have lost and more.  That is why it is so important that we trust him every day and allow him to lead, guide and protect us.  As we allow him to be God, and we trust him with our lives–we live a full and meaningful life.  In addition, our influence draws others, including our own families, to Christ.  

Our walk with God is no minor thing.  It is everything for us and for those we love. Let’s seek Him today and see what tomorrow may bring.

God Bless You

You have rejected us, God, and burst upon us;
    you have been angry—now restore us!
You have shaken the land and torn it open;
    mend its fractures, for it is quaking.
You have shown your people desperate times;
    you have given us wine that makes us stagger.
But for those who fear you, you have raised a banner
    to be unfurled against the bow.[e]

Save us and help us with your right hand,
    that those you love may be delivered.
God has spoken from his sanctuary:
    “In triumph I will parcel out Shechem
    and measure off the Valley of Sukkoth.
Gilead is mine, and Manasseh is mine;
    Ephraim is my helmet,
    Judah is my scepter.
Moab is my washbasin,
    on Edom I toss my sandal;
    over Philistia I shout in triumph.”

Psalm 59–God Goes Before Us

David had keen insight into God.  He loved him with his heart, and he followed him closely.  Through their journey, one of God’s traits that David grew to depend upon–was the fact that God went before him to clear a path.  In this particular passage, David wrote of the days when Saul sent assassins to his home to kill him.  David was able to escape, because God went before him and allowed his wife (Saul’s daughter) to prepare a successful escape for David.

God was David’s security cam…He knew all, saw everything and was focused on David’s safety and success to complete his plan.  Saul and his minions would never understand that their own inability to reach David–was a God thing. The harder they tried; the more foolish thy looked, and the more obvious God’s protection on David’s life and family became.

As his chosen, we too can seek God’s comfort and protection.  He can be our shield and our fortress if we will simply trust him.  Our enemies will simply fail–as God leads, guides and protects us. He will bring us into a place of safety and peace; as the world spins in frustration.  That is the joy of following God, and that is the peace we can have by simply trusting him.

God Bless You

God will go before me
    and will let me gloat over those who slander me.
11 But do not kill them, Lord our shield,[d]
    or my people will forget.
In your might uproot them
    and bring them down.
12 For the sins of their mouths,
    for the words of their lips,
    let them be caught in their pride.
For the curses and lies they utter,
13     consume them in your wrath,
    consume them till they are no more.
Then it will be known to the ends of the earth
    that God rules over Jacob.

14 They return at evening,
    snarling like dogs,
    and prowl about the city.
15 They wander about for food
    and howl if not satisfied.
16 But I will sing of your strength,
    in the morning I will sing of your love;
for you are my fortress,
    my refuge in times of trouble.

17 You are my strength, I sing praise to you;
    you, God, are my fortress,
    my God on whom I can rely.

Psalm 58–Who Rules the Rulers

In these difficult political times, one often wonders, “Who rules the rulers?” As in most important questions, the answer is God. Romans 13:1 states,”There is no authority except for God and those which exist are established by God.” Also,  in Daniel 2:21 the Daniel reminds the King, “It is he who changes the times and the epochs. He removes kings and establishes Kings. He gives wisdom  to the wise men and knowledge to the men of understanding.”

While God appoints authorities, he still allows their free will.  That is why men in positions of authority need to be grounded in God and in his word. Sadly, in a world committed to eradicating God’s influence from any position of authority, the result becomes utter chaos and anarchy.  We, as God’s chosen, are called to honor authority. Still, there are times when those in charge seem so lost and out of control–that honoring them is virtually impossible.

Still, if we will trust God, his plan and his timing–we will see him do on a national level the same things he does on a personal one.  If we are willing to trust him for our personal faith, then, we must also trust him for our national future.  It seems frighting, but, He does have a plan for us–both individually and nationally. Let’s trust him to execute it, and follow Him closely as he does.

God Bless You

Do you rulers indeed speak justly?
    Do you judge people with equity?
No, in your heart you devise injustice,
    and your hands mete out violence on the earth.

Even from birth the wicked go astray;
    from the womb they are wayward, spreading lies.
Their venom is like the venom of a snake,
    like that of a cobra that has stopped its ears,
that will not heed the tune of the charmer,
    however skillful the enchanter may be.

Break the teeth in their mouths, O God;
    Lord, tear out the fangs of those lions!
Let them vanish like water that flows away;
    when they draw the bow, let their arrows fall short.
May they be like a slug that melts away as it moves along,
    like a stillborn child that never sees the sun.

Before your pots can feel the heat of the thorns—
    whether they be green or dry—the wicked will be swept away.[c]
10 The righteous will be glad when they are avenged,
    when they dip their feet in the blood of the wicked.
11 Then people will say,
    “Surely the righteous still are rewarded;
    surely there is a God who judges the earth.”

Psalm 57–God Our Refuge

As David, God’s anointed king fled from his enemy, aka King Saul, he hid in a dark, dank and dusky cave. There, in the lowest point of his young life, he stopped and took refuge in the arms of God. As he paused and experienced the peace only God could provide; he was able to catch a glimpse of the futility his enemy faced. He was under God’s care, and standing in God’s will—as God’s chosen leader of the nation of God.

In that light, David could rest confidently, knowing–as with the bear, wolf, Goliath and countless other foes; God would be David’s armor and shield. David would be crazy to think that God would raise, nurture, train and anoint him; only to have him die in a cave. 

We may not have as clear a picture of God’s plan for our lives, but, we can stand with the same confidence as God’s favorite king and know God is in control.  As with David, there will be trials, battles, fears and temptations that we may find overwhelming, but, God is greater than all those things.

As Paul so graciously reminded the Philippians, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving bring your requests to God.  Then God’s peace, which passes all human understanding will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6

God is our refuge; crawl into his arms and rest.

God Bless You

Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me,
    for in you I take refuge.
I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings
    until the disaster has passed.

I cry out to God Most High,
    to God, who vindicates me.
He sends from heaven and saves me,
    rebuking those who hotly pursue me—[c]
    God sends forth his love and his faithfulness.

I am in the midst of lions;
    I am forced to dwell among ravenous beasts—
men whose teeth are spears and arrows,
    whose tongues are sharp swords.

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
    let your glory be over all the earth.

They spread a net for my feet—
    I was bowed down in distress.
They dug a pit in my path—
    but they have fallen into it themselves.

Psalms 56–When I am Afraid, I Will Trust in You

When I was a kid, I was very afraid of the dark.  I was not so much afraid of the dark itself; I was afraid of the things that lurked in the dark. One week in Sunday school, we learned verse three of this Psalm–“When I am afraid, I will trust in You!”  Like a theologian, I quoted that verse whenever I had to carry out the trash at night, or when I heard noises in the closet after I went to bed.  That verse is still a comfort–even today.

David also clung to God when he was afraid. Running from the Philistines, King Saul or his son Absalom–often, God was all that was left. So David, the man after God’s own heart, called and held tightly to the one stable force in a very precarious and unstable world–God! That steadfast faith carried him through many dark days and made his reign as king unforgettable.

Today, amidst all the self-help, pharmaceuticals, counseling and security technology; God remains the one stable force in an unstable world. Like David, we are pounded on every side and seeking a safe harbor in the ever-growing storm. God provides the safety and security the world simply cannot offer. He is the same yesterday, today and forever.  That is why we can say today, as David did so long ago, “When I am afraid, I will trust in you!!!”

God Bless You

Be merciful to me, my God,
    for my enemies are in hot pursuit;
    all day long they press their attack.
My adversaries pursue me all day long;
    in their pride many are attacking me.

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
    In God, whose word I praise—
in God I trust and am not afraid.
    What can mere mortals do to me?…

8 Record my misery;
    list my tears on your scroll[d]
    are they not in your record?
Then my enemies will turn back
    when I call for help.
    By this I will know that God is for me.

10 In God, whose word I praise,
    in the Lord, whose word I praise—
11 in God I trust and am not afraid.
    What can man do to me?

12 I am under vows to you, my God;
    I will present my thank offerings to you.
13 For you have delivered me from death
    and my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before God
    in the light of life.

Psalm 55–When I Want to Turn Tail and Run

There are days, many of them, in a man’s life when he wants, simply to walk away and fall off the grid.  The forces that we face spiritually, culturally and personally can both overwhelm and defeat us.  David dealt with that. Chased by Saul, taking over a divided kingdom, Bathsheba and Nathan, Absalom and counting his troops were just a few of the highlighted events of this amazing king that drove him to his knees.  

Still, at the end of the day, David always ended up in the arms of the Heavenly Father.  He wanted many times to chuck it and leave; but, always found his way back to God.  There, covered by God’s grace and provision, David became the greatest king Israel ever knew. In a word, that was his distinction–standing in God’s shadow.

In our lives, we were never expected to be perfect. As Paul taught us in Romans,”God demonstrated His love for us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8. If we always make our way back to him, he stands ready to forgive, provide, prepare and protect us–His chosen. As we scan the events in our own lives, like David, it is not the times we fall that define us–it is our willingness to rise and to run back to the one who truly loves and cares for us.

God Bless You

 

My heart is in anguish within me;
the terrors of death have fallen on me.
5 Fear and trembling have beset me;
horror has overwhelmed me.
6 I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove!
I would fly away and be at rest.
7 I would flee far away
and stay in the desert;[c]
8 I would hurry to my place of shelter,
far from the tempest and storm.”…

 

16 AS FOR ME, I CALL TO GOD,
AND THE LORD SAVES ME.
17 EVENING, MORNING AND NOON
I CRY OUT IN DISTRESS,
AND HE HEARS MY VOICE.
18 HE RESCUES ME UNHARMED
FROM THE BATTLE WAGED AGAINST ME,
EVEN THOUGH MANY OPPOSE ME.
19 GOD, WHO IS ENTHRONED FROM OF OLD,
WHO DOES NOT CHANGE—
HE WILL HEAR THEM AND HUMBLE THEM,
BECAUSE THEY HAVE NO FEAR OF GOD…

22 Cast your cares on the Lord
and he will sustain you;
he will never let
the righteous be shaken.
23 But you, God, will bring down the wicked
into the pit of decay;
the bloodthirsty and deceitful
will not live out half their days.

But as for me, I trust in you.

 

My heart is in anguish within me;
    the terrors of death have fallen on me.
Fear and trembling have beset me;
    horror has overwhelmed me.
I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove!
    I would fly away and be at rest.
I would flee far away
    and stay in the desert;[c]
I would hurry to my place of shelter,
    far from the tempest and storm.”…

16 As for me, I call to God,
    and the Lord saves me.
17 Evening, morning and noon
    I cry out in distress,
    and he hears my voice.
18 He rescues me unharmed
    from the battle waged against me,
    even though many oppose me.
19 God, who is enthroned from of old,
    who does not change—
he will hear them and humble them,
    because they have no fear of God…

22 Cast your cares on the Lord
    and he will sustain you;
he will never let
    the righteous be shaken.
23 But you, God, will bring down the wicked
    into the pit of decay;
the bloodthirsty and deceitful
    will not live out half their days.

But as for me, I trust in you.

Psalm 54–God’s Best Work

When life is at its most hopeless, that is when God does his best work.  David was on the run, hiding in caves and countryside always just a step ahead of Saul the king. On the day he wrote this Psalm, He had been exposed by an enemy to the King. Surrounded and in grave trouble, David turned to the only place he knew–Our God!

God stepped in and did what it took to save David. Just as Saul had closed in and was about to catch David, the Philistines attacked the land and Saul had to call of the chase. (I Samuel 23:19–29). David and his men were safe and able to carry on.  God did his best work when all seemed hopeless.  David and his men were only a short distance away from destruction–and God interceded.

In our lives, God comes through time and again–simply to save us and lead us in this journey.  We may feel alone, surrounded and completely defeated; and, just at the right moment, God intercedes and wins the day. We must never be afraid to call out and seek God to intercede and do the same for us.  We simply have to trust him and seek him–then, like with David, we get to watch him do his best work.

God Bless You

Save me, O God, by your name;
    vindicate me by your might.
Hear my prayer, O God;
    listen to the words of my mouth.

Arrogant foes are attacking me;
    ruthless people are trying to kill me—
    people without regard for God.[c]

Surely God is my help;
    the Lord is the one who sustains me.

Let evil recoil on those who slander me;
    in your faithfulness destroy them.

I will sacrifice a freewill offering to you;
    I will praise your name, Lord, for it is good.
You have delivered me from all my troubles,
    and my eyes have looked in triumph on my foes.

Psalm 53–Fools and God

It continues to amaze me, how the world has always tried to both usurp God’s power and deny his existence.  It seems pretty foolish to deny God’s presence and impact on the world. One simply needs to look up at night to realize all this did not happen by chance.  Still, the world knows that to acknowledge God’s presence also requires an affirmative decision to follow or reject his leadership. Should they follow, they would have to submit to his leadership. To reject his leadership means they must usurp his role as God.

When men play God, it always ends poorly.  The most basic tenet of God is his love for us. He gave His Son as a sacrifice, to redeem us from our sin. If we truly want to usurp God’s role; we would have to become completely selfless and give up the thing we love most–to help others who could not care any less about our love and sacrifice.

No, men want to call their own shots and do things their way. Inevitably that leads to chaos.  Then God intervenes, and in love seeks to save that which is lost. For those that follow–peace and a meaningful life, for those that do not, pain and destruction.  Without a doubt, God is real and present. He loves us, and wants to give us a full and meaningful life and restore our place in eternity.  Don’t be a fool! acknowledge his presence and follow his leadership!

God Bless You

The fool says in his heart,
    “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, and their ways are vile;
    there is no one who does good.

God looks down from heaven
    on all mankind
to see if there are any who understand,
    any who seek God.
Everyone has turned away, all have become corrupt;
    there is no one who does good,
    not even one.

Do all these evildoers know nothing?

They devour my people as though eating bread;
    they never call on God.
But there they are, overwhelmed with dread,
    where there was nothing to dread.
God scattered the bones of those who attacked you;
    you put them to shame, for God despised them.

Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!
    When God restores his people,
    let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad!

Psalm 52–Betting on the Wrong Horse

David was the prince. Son-in-law to King Saul. He was leading Israel to victories against the once mighty Philistine army. Yet, Saul, the King, was jealous of David, fearful for his son, Jonathan, and done with God. He used Doeg, the ancestor of Esau, to lie and accuse David of treachery and deceit. Based upon Doeg’s lie, Saul began the hunt for David.  

This psalm is a prophecy of Doeg’s eventual ruin. It came true. Doeg bet on Saul, Israel’s Godless King and lost it all. In life, it sometimes feels like the better bet is the “survival of the fittest” mentality. If we make our own needs our priority, we will always come out on top.  Sadly, that trick never works.  When we become selfless, humble and passionate about God and about others–then God has the ability to meet our needs, direct our path and protect us from a very evil world.

David was on the run for a long time. Still God prepared, protected and provided for him until one day he would become Israel’s greatest King. Doeg, conversely lost everything and died in obscurity as a sad footnote. Given those options, Jesus words in Matthew 6:33 still ring true, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you!” We must make sure we put our faith in what is real, lasting and eternal.

God Bless You

Surely God will bring you down to everlasting ruin:
    He will snatch you up and pluck you from your tent;
    he will uproot you from the land of the living.
The righteous will see and fear;
    they will laugh at you, saying,
“Here now is the man
    who did not make God his stronghold
but trusted in his great wealth
    and grew strong by destroying others!”

But I am like an olive tree
    flourishing in the house of God;
I trust in God’s unfailing love
    for ever and ever.
For what you have done I will always praise you
    in the presence of your faithful people.
And I will hope in your name,
    for your name is good.