Psalm 142–Really God, In a Cave?!

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One of the famous stories in Samuel, is of David being on the run from Saul. While David was hidden in a cave, Saul enters that cave to go to the bathroom. While Saul is hard at it, David sneaks up cuts a swath of of the king’s clothes–but, then allows Saul to leave unharmed. Later, David confronts Saul, and shows him that he spared the king’s life–shocked, the king leaves and allows David to make his next escape.  

This psalm was written in the cave.  David is literally composing a song describing his frustration of being surrounded, alone and living as a fugitive–for trusting the Lord. I can only imagine the depth of despair David must have felt, as his hunter was within inches of him! YET, as he cried out for the Lord’s help, the Lord had again delivered. I am sure that in later years, David remembered God’s grace–but right then, he was feeling abandoned.

We also face life events that seem totally hopeless and painful. We feel alone and abandoned wondering if God is real, or if we are simply using religion as a crutch. Then, what seems to be a hopeless situation, turns into a miracle of grace; and God–yes, God gets the glory, as it should be.  We never know how God is working His plan in our lives, we simply trust that He is. God has big shoulders and can bear our hurt feelings, but, He will remain faithful–even when doubt Him!

God Bless You

I cry aloud to the Lord;
    I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy.
I pour out before him my complaint;
    before him I tell my trouble.

When my spirit grows faint within me,
    it is you who watch over my way.
In the path where I walk
    people have hidden a snare for me.
Look and see, there is no one at my right hand;
    no one is concerned for me.
I have no refuge;
    no one cares for my life.

I cry to you, Lord;
    I say, “You are my refuge,
    my portion in the land of the living.”

Listen to my cry,
    for I am in desperate need;
rescue me from those who pursue me,
    for they are too strong for me.
Set me free from my prison,
    that I may praise your name.
Then the righteous will gather about me
    because of your goodness to me.

Psalm 141–God as Sentry and Mentor

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David knew God was so much more than the creator and master of the universe.  He knew God wanted to keep it personal with his chosen. He would not only stand as Sentry for the nation, He would also stand as Mentor for the king.  David needed more than a national protector of his kingdom–he needed a personal protector for his heart and life.

David calls for God to guard his heart, his mouth and his life.  David knew that there would always be those that sought to destroy him; but, he also knew that on any given day, that he could say or do something that would make their job easy. So as a wise man and king, he sought God in his personal life to lead, guide and protect him from his enemies, and his own sinful nature.

We need to allow God to be Lord of all aspects of our lives as well. Sure, it is easy to seek him as provider and as protector; but, we also need him as our mentor, our master and our Lord.  We have to seek God’s word and allow Him to guard our hearts, our mouths and our lives. As we do, God will make us the best we can be, straighten our paths, fill our spirits and meet our needs.  That is why He is God!  Jesus said it best, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33

God Bless You

I call to you, Lord, come quickly to me;
    hear me when I call to you.
May my prayer be set before you like incense;
    may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.

Set a guard over my mouth, Lord;
    keep watch over the door of my lips.
Do not let my heart be drawn to what is evil
    so that I take part in wicked deeds
along with those who are evildoers;
    do not let me eat their delicacies.

Let a righteous man strike me—that is a kindness;
    let him rebuke me—that is oil on my head.
My head will not refuse it,
    for my prayer will still be against the deeds of evildoers.

Their rulers will be thrown down from the cliffs,
    and the wicked will learn that my words were well spoken.
They will say, “As one plows and breaks up the earth,
    so our bones have been scattered at the mouth of the grave.”

But my eyes are fixed on you, Sovereign Lord;
    in you I take refuge—do not give me over to death.
Keep me safe from the traps set by evildoers,
    from the snares they have laid for me.
10 Let the wicked fall into their own nets,
    while I pass by in safety.

Psalm 140–Our Ultimate Weapon and Shield

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The plotting minds of those who do evil are constantly spinning and planning their next attack.  They are self-driven and self-absorbed and see everything as a win/loss scenario.  In their mind, as long as they come out on top; then those that may lose or get harmed, should have simply tried harder.  Those were the enemies of King David.  Their entire lives were filled with plotting and planning to destroy him. They were always watching and always waiting for any opportunity to dethrone and destroy him.

Conversely, David had but one weapon in his arsenal…God! God was his shield, his fortress, his strength, his deliverer. Since his boyhood, David knew that God alone was in charge and in power.  He witnessed God’s protection against lions, bears, giants, enemy troops, rogue kings and countless other forces that would seek to defeat him. Still, in the midst of the daily attacks, trials and temptations–it was always God that met the needs of His beloved king.

That same God is our weapon and arsenal. He still loves to serve as His people’s fortress, shield, strength and provision. He gives courage in fearful times. He gives clarity in the midst of confusion. He gives the weapons we need to face any enemy, great or small–always with love, and always on time. The world’s tools and weapons are ever evolving. Technology to meet any circumstance is showing up in stores, on apps and in our lives. We can rest assured, however, that there will never be a tool more complete nor answer more perfect–than the Lord God Almighty who loves us, and only wants what is best for us.

God Bless You

Rescue me, Lord, from evildoers;
    protect me from the violent,
who devise evil plans in their hearts
    and stir up war every day.
They make their tongues as sharp as a serpent’s;
    the poison of vipers is on their lips.[b]

Keep me safe, Lord, from the hands of the wicked;
    protect me from the violent,
    who devise ways to trip my feet.
The arrogant have hidden a snare for me;
    they have spread out the cords of their net
    and have set traps for me along my path.

I say to the Lord, “You are my God.”
    Hear, Lord, my cry for mercy.
Sovereign Lord, my strong deliverer,
    you shield my head in the day of battle.
Do not grant the wicked their desires, Lord;
    do not let their plans succeed.

Those who surround me proudly rear their heads;
    may the mischief of their lips engulf them.
10 May burning coals fall on them;
    may they be thrown into the fire,
    into miry pits, never to rise.
11 May slanderers not be established in the land;
    may disaster hunt down the violent.

12 I know that the Lord secures justice for the poor
    and upholds the cause of the needy.
13 Surely the righteous will praise your name,
    and the upright will live in your presence.

Psalm 139–Nobody knows Me Like You, Lord

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It is the idea, that someone who has known you from the beginning of time–loves you unconditionally and completely; that moved David. In this psalm, he is expressing his amazement and grateful heart that the Creator who literally made time–has had His eye on the shepherd king from conception.  God knew everything about David from the beginning of time.  

David was not the greatest King in Israel by chance–he was part of God’s plan from the creation and remained so throughout his life–ultimately becoming the patriarch for the lineage of Jesus.  In this psalm, he reminds us that God was not surprised by David. What’s more, God created David especially to be a part of His plan–David was wonderfully and marvelously made by God to be a part of that plan.

In our world, the same continues to hold true.  We are told by the culture that much of who we are–is simply left to chance.  There is some direction, but much of life is a series of coincidences and lucky or unlucky turns.  We need to understand, that like David, we are wonderfully and marvelously made by God. We are created for a purpose; and as we trust God and follow him, that purpose is completed in us. As a part of Good’s plan, we can have an actual and real impact on the world.

We must never lose sight of the fact that God is in charge, and He has also known us from the beginning, and he loves us unconditionally.  If we would submit to God’s leadership and follow His plan, then He will do amazing things in and through our lives. We simply need to humble ourselves and trust that His ways are greater than our ways.

God Bless You

You have searched me, Lord,

    and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit?

    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast…

13 For you created my inmost being;

    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made

    your works are wonderful,

    I know that full well.

15 My frame was not hidden from you

    when I was made in the secret place,

    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;

    all the days ordained for me were written in your book

    before one of them came to be.

Psalm 138–Thanks God !!!!

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The psalmist (David) just took a day and got transparent with God! Thanks God–for being awesome, Thanks God for being faithful, thanks God that the world is in awe and reverent at the speaking of Your name.  From the highest heights you can see the most intricate detail of my life–and You care!!!  So, thank you God that, while the world will ultimately bow before you; I will come and hug your neck!  Mostly God, thanks for not giving up on such a sinful awful King.

In my life, I confess that there are many days I lose that thankfulness among the trials and details of the day. I try so hard to squeeze in and take control–only, to once again, realize–that leads to chaos and defeat. Then, like David, I stop and transparently confess–that I am no match for the role of God, and that my heart simply needs to be refreshed.  He has been faithful beyond measure, kind beyond my wildest dreams–From the heavens, He looks at me and truly cares about me specifically and totally.  His ways are greater than our ways and His plan is above time and space. He knows and executes that plan flawlessly.  

Honestly, we have no right to be anything but humbly grateful for Him.

God Bless You

1-3 Thank you! Everything in me says “Thank you!”
    Angels listen as I sing my thanks.
I kneel in worship facing your holy temple
    and say it again: “Thank you!”
Thank you for your love,
    thank you for your faithfulness;
Most holy is your name,
    most holy is your Word.
The moment I called out, you stepped in;
    you made my life large with strength.

4-6 When they hear what you have to say, God,
    all earth’s kings will say “Thank you.”
They’ll sing of what you’ve done:
    “How great the glory of God!”
And here’s why: God, high above, sees far below;
    no matter the distance, he knows everything about us.

7-8 When I walk into the thick of trouble,
    keep me alive in the angry turmoil.
With one hand
    strike my foes,
With your other hand
    save me.
Finish what you started in me, God.
    Your love is eternal—don’t quit on me now.

Psalm 137–Simply, Too Much Pain

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Sadly, not every story has a happy ending.  The psalmist in Psalm 137 is in pain.  He is a captive of Nebuchadnezzar. He is thinking back of all Judah had lost–their nation, their homeland and their identity. As they lived as captives, their enemies rejoiced and taunted them.  Their captors made them celebrate–being vanquished! All of life had lost its luster.  So, as he sat and reflected on what was and what might have been; the psalmist was simply living in pain.  It was a pain of feeling alone and unprotected by a God that had faithfully protected them for many many years.  Sure, losing their stuff was horrific–but, losing their identity and returning to captivity was so much worse.

In our lives, life can be very difficult. Money issues, job issues and life issues can turn our attention inward; and cause us to lose focus.  Instead of being grateful for what we have, we become ungrateful for what we do not have. God calls us to be content in all circumstances and look to Him to lead us, guide us and protect us through even the most difficult of times.  When we find our lives vanquished, we still must focus our attention on him.  If we do, we can face life’s great sadness with hope that he will ultimately deliver us from the pain.  We can never lose hope! We must remember–as God promised in Jeremiah 29:11, “I know the plans I have for you says the Lord! Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.”  Give me the faith, Lord to focus on you and your plan for me!

God Bless You

By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept
    when we remembered Zion.
There on the poplars
    we hung our harps,
for there our captors asked us for songs,
    our tormentors demanded songs of joy;
    they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”

How can we sing the songs of the Lord
    while in a foreign land?
If I forget you, Jerusalem,
    may my right hand forget its skill.
May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth
    if I do not remember you,
if I do not consider Jerusalem
    my highest joy.

Remember, Lord, what the Edomites did
    on the day Jerusalem fell.
“Tear it down,” they cried,
    “tear it down to its foundations!”
Daughter Babylon, doomed to destruction,
    happy is the one who repays you
    according to what you have done to us.
Happy is the one who seizes your infants
    and dashes them against the rocks.

Psalm 136–His Love Endures Forever

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This has to be one of my favorite psalms.  The psalmist wrote this psalm as a compilation of the things Israel could be thankful for.  Here, the God of the universe–time after time, took matters in hand and cared for those He loved.  No issue too small, no matter too hard, no time too early or too late! God, our Father was there to love and care for His chosen people.

The best part of the psalm is the refrain–“His Love Endures Forever!!!!!” (with emphasis).  That phrase acts like a life vest in a storm.  It keeps us afloat in the worst of times.  Like the psalmist, we need to grasp, that while things in our lives may change, one thing does not–“His Love Endures Forever!” That promise brought Jesus from Heaven to earth in human form to show us God’s true nature, and to restore the relationship between God and people.  What a great gift, and a beautiful picture of the fact that His love truly endures forever.

Our response is simple–follow His lead, seek His face, and trust the fact that not only does His love endure forever–it endures forever–FOR US! We are the reason that He gave His life, sent his spirit to guide us and prepared a place for us in Heaven.  In short, one thing remains clear–“His Love Endures Forever!!!”

God Bless You

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever.

to him who alone does great wonders,
His love endures forever.
who by his understanding made the heavens,
His love endures forever.
who spread out the earth upon the waters,
His love endures forever.
who made the great lights—
His love endures forever.
the sun to govern the day,
His love endures forever.
the moon and stars to govern the night;
His love endures forever.

10 to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt
His love endures forever.
11 and brought Israel out from among them
His love endures forever.
12 with a mighty hand and outstretched arm;
His love endures forever.

13 to him who divided the Red Sea[a] asunder
His love endures forever.
14 and brought Israel through the midst of it,
His love endures forever.
15 but swept Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea;
His love endures forever.

Psalm 135–What Makes God Great?

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When we talk about God’s greatness we can look at the wonder of the universe.  Its expanse, its complexity and even its beauty tell the story of our Great God.  But, Life’s wonders are also a marker for us to be amazed and grateful for God.  As we have advanced in our knowledge, we continue to see the intricacy and symmetry that allows this world to survive the ravages of nature, and the continued wear and tear billions of people and countless animals make on this old rock. Still one sunrise, a field of flowers or the grace of an eagle all remind us how our Creator carefully designed his master work.

But, the psalmist focuses on a different aspect of His greatness–God’s protection and His integrity.  He acknowledges that, as the master of the universe, God can do whatever He pleases.  What pleased him the most–was to bring His chosen to the place He had prepared for them.  He painstakingly freed them from their masters, protected them from their enemies and delivered them to their inheritance.  All the while, patiently enduring their stubborn and independent nature.

What a mighty God we serve. Even now, as the world continues in chaos, He provides peace, provision, direction and hope.  He simply asks that we trust him and follow his lead.  He has led his chosen for thousands of years and still desires to so today.  If we will allow it, He will make the life we have on earth full and purposeful; and prepare us for an eternal and wonderful life with him. In short, all His amazing qualities are on display–but His loving kindness is everlasting and peace and provision is unmatched! That is what makes Him great to me!!!

God Bless You

I know that the Lord is great,

    that our Lord is greater than all gods.
The Lord does whatever pleases him,
    in the heavens and on the earth,
    in the seas and all their depths.
He makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth;
    he sends lightning with the rain
    and brings out the wind from his storehouses.

He struck down the firstborn of Egypt,
    the firstborn of people and animals.
He sent his signs and wonders into your midst, Egypt,
    against Pharaoh and all his servants.
10 He struck down many nations
    and killed mighty kings—
11 Sihon king of the Amorites,
    Og king of Bashan,
    and all the kings of Canaan—
12 and he gave their land as an inheritance,
    an inheritance to his people Israel.

13 Your name, Lord, endures forever,
    your renown, Lord, through all generations.
14 For the Lord will vindicate his people
    and have compassion on his servants.

Psalm 134–Praise God For Ministry

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What a great Gift to be able to minister for the Lord.  The psalmist is clear, brief and to the point. Those who minister need to praise the Lord.  It is a gift and an honor to set your life on the alter and minister to others. To be called by our Lord to pour into hos people is an amazing gift. 

Make no mistake, however, such an undertaking is neither easy nor is it always rewarding.  Ministers are always under scrutiny, their families are always under scrutiny. They are underpaid and overworked.  They deal with volunteers that are human and needy. In short ministry is no picnic.  Still, at the end of the day, ministers do so because they love it.  Most would never do anything else.  It is a calling to serve that is full of reward and joy. 

Whether professional or volunteer, we need to take the opportunities in our lives and minister.  We also need to raise our hands in praise that God thinks enough of us to let us do so!

God Bless You

Praise the Lord, all you servants of the Lord
    who minister by night in the house of the Lord.
Lift up your hands in the sanctuary
    and praise the Lord.

May the Lord bless you from Zion,
    he who is the Maker of heaven and earth.

 

Psalm 133–Unity of Believers

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It is an amazing wonder to all, when God’s people stand together.  It would seem like a “no-brainer”, since the rest of the world stands against God and his people, it would only make sense that his folks would stand together as one. Sadly, that is rarely the case. 

The church is notorious for being at  odds with one another. Nationally, regionally and locally; bodies of believers stand at odds with each other over issues both large and small.  David, knew the importance of his people’ and God’s people in general, walking together. it is a fragrant offering. We are a picture of faith–so, when we walk together, it shows the world that God is in charge. 

Conversely, when we are at odds with each other, it makes us look petty and foolish. We do not show the selflessness of our faith–instead we show the selfishness of the world. We are called to be different–set apart. Nothing will set us apart more than the selfless unity we have when we stand together for the Lord.  It is truly a wonder. In those times, when we are unified, God can and does do amazing things through us.  We need to seek him, and as we do, we will stand as one in unity. There are few sights any more wonderful than that.  

God Bless You

How good and pleasant it is
    when God’s people live together in unity!

It is like precious oil poured on the head,
    running down on the beard,
running down on Aaron’s beard,
    down on the collar of his robe.
It is as if the dew of Hermon
    were falling on Mount Zion.
For there the Lord bestows his blessing,
    even life forevermore.