Archives for category: Devotional

May you be pleased with every sweet thought I have about you,
For you are the source of my joy and gladness! (Psalms 104:34, Passion Translation)

That the followers of Yahweh will think deeply [ESV “meditate” which ironically means “to growl or mutter”] about Him is assumed by the psalmist (David?).  Since Yahweh is the source of joy and gladness, then it seems obvious that the follower of God would think, ponder, consider, meditate, growl, mutter (to the Hebrews meditation seems to have been something done aloud) about and in the presence of God Himself.

The psalmist doesn’t tell us his exact thoughts, but he really doesn’t need to because a cursory reading of the psalms shows that they were thinking about God in relation to: creation, worry, presence, care, concern, the past, the future, the present, and literally everything else that concerned the psalmists.  Wouldn’t it make sense that God is somehow linked to everything that happens in our lives, and wouldn’t it make sense that it would be worth thinking “sweet thoughts” of how God is related to all the events of our lives?

I do not believe there is a right or wrong answer as we mediate about God, as if we could somehow do it wrong.  I think the Holy Spirit will lead us ever deeper into fellowship with him.

Spurgeon: “We ought, therefore, both for our own good and for the Lord’s honour to be much occupied with meditation, and that meditation should chiefly dwell upon the Lord himself: it should be “meditation of him.” For want of it much communion is lost and much happiness is missed.”

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With my whole heart, with my whole life,
And with my innermost being,
I bow in wonder and love before you, the Holy God! (Psalms 103:1, Passion Translation)

Unsurprisingly, with its soaring eloquence, this psalm is written by David, the shepherd-king.  He pens words of entirety and completion here: Whole heart, whole life, innermost being  (ESV has all that is within me, which is fine, but certainly doesn’t capture what David surely meant in a poetic sense), these words imply that David is all in with the Lord; that every fiber of his being is committed to God; that there is not an inch of his person or character that does not desire to pursue God with everything that he is.

This is not to imply that David was perfect, for her surely was not.  The Hebrews understood righteousness, not as perfection, but as pursuing God according to how God had commanded his people to pursue him.  David delights in Yahweh and only in Yahweh.

Spurgeon writes here: “Our very life and essential self should be engrossed with this delightful service, and each one of us should arouse his own heart to the engagement. Let others forbear if they can: “Bless the Lord, O MY soul.”

 

But then I remember that you, O Lord,
Still sit enthroned as King over all!
The fame of your name will be revealed to every generation! (Psalms 102:12, Passion Translation)

The title attached to this Psalm by the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Testament) is: “A prayer for those who are overwhelmed and for all the discouraged who come to pour out their hearts before the Lord.”

And so it is.  “Do not hide your face from me,” pleads the psalmist, “my days pass away like smoke.”  “My bones cling to my flesh,” and “I eat ashes like bread and mingle tears with my drink.” One could scarcely imagine a more vivid description of depression and discouragement.

However…

Along comes our verse in the middle of this very bleak and discouraging outlook: But then I remember that you, O Lord, Still sit enthroned as King over all!” 

Wow!  Now that was unexpected, and I believe this is exactly what the psalmist was trying to accomplish.  He first paints a true and realistic and starkly depressing picture of his life, then he stops in the middle and says, “but the truth of the matter is this: “God is still the king, even when my life lays in pieces before me.”

This is solid comfort because the storms of life will eventually break on us; difficult times will come; people will fail us; jobs are lost, illness comes, things that we had counted on do not pan out, and over all of this, over all of our disappointment and discouragement, God is still king.  He still rules.  He is still in control.  He is still working all things to the praise of his glory, and indeed for the ultimate good of his people.

Spurgeon comments here: “The sovereignty of God in all things is an unfailing ground for consolation; he rules and reigns whatever happens, and therefore all is well.”

As you serve him, be glad and worship him.
Sing your way into his presence with joy! (Psalms 100:2, Passion Translation)

One of the mistakes that we might make as we worship Our Lord is to be too focused on his justice and the weightiness of his judgment.  Now don’t get me wrong, God’s judgment is very weighty, but this is not what God wants us to focus on when we enter into his presence.  He wants us to Sing your way into his presence with joy!   An encounter with God ought to be one that we delight in, that we anticipate, that we enter with joy and thanksgiving in the knowledge that God delights in our delight.

This seems to be what John Piper means in his oft repeated sentence: “God is most glorified in us, when we are most satisfied in him.”

Spurgeon writes here:

The measured, harmonious, hearty utterance of praise by a congregation of really devout persons is not merely decorous but delightful, and is a fit anticipation of the worship of heaven, where praise has absorbed prayer, and become the sole mode of adoration.

Then he quotes part of a song by Isaac Watts:

“Let those refuse to sing
Who never knew our God;
But favourites of the heavenly king
Must speak his praise abroad.”

May we sing our way into God’s presence with joy, every time we enter there.

 

Let the ocean’s waves join in the chorus
With their roaring praise,
Until everyone everywhere shouts out in unison:
Glory to the Lord! (Psalms 98:7, Passion Translation)

Again I’m struck by the fact that the writers of the Psalms saw praise of God in everything.  This only makes sense because God was the Creator-God and if he created something than why wouldn’t that something praise Him?  It would praise Him and it does praise Him, and in the case of ocean waves, they praise him with roaring praise, because that is what the sea does.

My mom loves to go to the beach in California when a gigantic storm comes in and just sit and watch the waves swell up and crash onto the sand.  It’s an amazing sight and the power that is contained in waves is astounding, and sometimes a little frightening, but doesn’t that reveal the character of Our God.  It reminds me of the discussion in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, between Lucy and Mr. Tumnus about Aslan who is an allegory of God.

Lucy:  “He’s not a tame lion, is he?”

Mr. Tumnus: “No, but he is good.”

The waves will do their part of roaring praise calling relentlessly day after day and night after night as nations come and go and ages wax and wane, until everyone everywhere shouts out in unison Glory to the Lord!

Let the skies sing for joy! Let the earth join in the chorus.
Let oceans thunder and fields echo this ecstatic praise,
Until every swaying tree of every forest joins in,
Lifting up their songs of joyous praise to him! (Psalms 96:11-12, Passion Translation)

Here the psalmist calls for all of nature to proclaim the majesty of their Creator.  The skies in juxtaposition with the earth, and the oceans along with every field until every swaying tree of every forest joins in.  Beautiful words, these.

The thing is, all of nature does an excellent job of praising their Creator.  You’ve seen a sunset flashing reds and oranges, yellows and purples.  You’ve watched the first rays of dawn peak over a clear horizon in brisk fall air.  You’ve witnessed a rainbow.  You’ve experienced rolling thunder from gigantic cumulonimbus thunderclouds moving in before the rain hits, and what rain it is, thousands of pounds of water suddenly dumped from the air.  You’ve heard birds singing their morning song as they wake with the dawn.  Every swaying tree of every forest joins together in praising their Creator because that is what they were created to do.

And we were created to do that also.

I imagine if Ps. 96.11,12 were put to song it would sound something like this:

 

Lord Yah, there’s such a blessing that comes
When you teach us your Word and your ways.
Even the sting of your correction can be sweet. (Psalms 94:12, Passion Translation)

The Passion Translation uses the shortened version of Yahweh here (Yah) because it’s actually in the Hebrew text. When you teach us your Word and your ways is literally “When you teach us from your Torah.”

What struck me when I read this verse was the words: Even the sting of your correction can be sweet.  It’s a counter-intuitive truth, but one that is repeated again in the New Testament:

And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”” (Hebrews 12:5–6, ESV)

How is the sting of correction sweet?  When it keeps us on the path to righteousness.  A good parent disciplines his child, not because he is cruel, but because he loves his child and wants to set him on a path of success in life.  In the same way God disciplines his children because He wants to keep them on the path of righteousness because it is the path of life.  Spurgeon writes here: “Though he may not feel blessed while smarting under the rod of chastisement, yet blessed he is; he is precious in God’s sight, or the Lord would not take the trouble to correct him, and right happy will the results of his correction be.”

May we gratefully accept correction from our Lord and continue on the path of life.