Archives for posts with tag: Psalms

““For from the least of them even to the greatest of them, Everyone is greedy for gain, And from the prophet even to the priest Everyone deals falsely.” (Jeremiah 6:13 NAS95)

There is an interesting juxtaposition between two of the verses in my Bible reading this morning.  One is the above.  In it, Isaiah writes for God about unfaithful Israel: Everyone is greedy for gain.

In Psalms we have: “You open Your hand And satisfy the desire of every living thing.” (Psalms 145:16 NAS95) Neither nature, nor human beings need to be greedy because God provides for both of them in a way that satisfies their desires.

Men take the good provision of God, which was meant to satisfy their desires, and turn it into an ever present grasping for more, more, more.  More of course, is never satisfied.  A reporter once asked John D. Rockefeller—founder of Standard Oil and world’s first billionaire, “how much is enough.”  Rockefeller’s answer was: “Just a little bit more.”

More, of course, never quite arrives.

 

 

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I just couldn’t narrow down my Bible reading to one verse today, so I chose three:

He won’t brush aside the bruised and broken.
He will be gentle with the weak and feeble,
until his victory releases justice.
And the fame of his name
will birth hope among the people. (Matt 12.20-21; Passion Translation)

*I love the Passion Translation: the fame of his name will birth hope.  Yes.  Yes it will.

“For from days of old they have not heard or perceived by ear, Nor has the eye seen a God besides You, Who acts in behalf of the one who waits for Him.” (Isaiah 64:4 NAS95)

“O Israel, hope in the LORD; For with the LORD there is lovingkindness, And with Him is abundant redemption.” (Psalms 130:7 NAS95)

*Abundant redemption.  One could spend a long time meditating on that phrase.

 

“In my trouble I cried to the LORD, And He answered me.” (Psalms 120:1 NAS95)

If you were in deep trouble, the trouble where your existence was in question, or your livelihood, on whom would you call?  Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just dial up the president of the United States and be like, “can you take care of this for me?”  Or maybe you knew Warren Buffet—one of the richest men in the world—and you could call him up and say, “Warren, I need some money, can you write me a check” [or even better, “send me some Apple cash?”].

It’s easy for us to zip right through Ps. 120.1 without stopping to consider what the psalmist is actually saying.  He is in trouble/distress/anguish and he cries out, not to the king of Israel, nor to the richest man in Israel, but to Yahweh, the One who made the richest man in Israel into the richest man in Israel [“What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?” (1 Corinthians 4:7 NAS95)]; the One who raised up the king of Israel to be the king; the One who created the earth and all that it contains.

Why call on something God has made when we can call upon God himself? We have ready access to the most powerful being in all of the universe.  We can call upon him at any time.

What we will find, as the psalmist did here, is that God is ready to help, he is willing to help, and he will help. Our job is to call upon Yahweh, that’s all we have to do.

 

 

“I hope for Your salvation, O LORD, And do Your commandments.” (Psalms 119:166 NAS95)

The psalmist has an interesting juxtaposition here between what he does and what he hopes.  The psalmist hopes for Yahweh’s salvation, meanwhile, while he is hoping, he does/follows/obeys God’s commandments.  The psalmist sees a vital link between his own act of doing/following/obeying and Yahweh’s act of salvation in the future.  The two are inextricably linked.

Notice that the psalmist doesn’t think that he can bring about his own salvation, he isn’t doing God’s commandments in order that God will save him.  He is doing God’s commandments because he is a God-worshipper and this is what his heart prompts him to do. My son [pastor of Veritas Church, Fayetteville] puts it this way, “we are obedient not for our salvation, we are obedient from our salvation.”  We don’t do what God commands so that he will “like” us better, we do God’s commands because he has changed us and we suddenly begin to realize that God’s commands are good, just, and right, and God has put them in place so that we will flourish.

The psalmist does/obeys/follows God’s commandments because they are God’s good gift to him; when he follows them he will flourish.  Meanwhile, he waits for God to fulfill his word and bring salvation.  It’s not a bad pattern of life to emulate.

 

 

 

O LORD, I remember Thy name in the night, And keep Thy law. (Psa. 119:55 NASB)

The psalmist here mentions something to remember and something to keep. First, he remembers Yahweh’s name. In Hebrew culture a person’s name was a summation of the entire character of that person.  When the psalmist remembers Yahweh’s name, he is not saying that he forgot it, he is saying that, as he lay awake at night, he went over and over Yahweh’s character so that he was intimately familiar with Yahweh.

Second, the psalmist has something to keep: Thy law. To the psalmist, God’s law was good because it guided him into a right relationship with God. It was God graciously saying, “here is how an unholy person can live in the presence of a holy God.”

Like Israel, we who follow Jesus by faith are to remember/think about/be intimately familiar with Our Lord, and we are to keep the instructions he has given us so that we know how to please a holy God.

 

May the LORD cause you to flourish, both you and your children. (Psa 115:14 NIV11-GK)

The word that the NIV translates “flourish” means “to add, to increase, to flourish.” A couple of things come to mind. First, the human desire is to flourish, to do have an abundant and fulfilling life. Second, a life that truly flourishes comes from the Lord.

Man thinks that a life of physical abundance is a life that flourishes, but we know that sheer wealth doesn’t lead to abundance for the spirit, indeed it often leads to just the opposite.

In the New Testament we discover that it is Jesus, God-in-the-flesh, who gives man abundant life: A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance. (John 10:10 HCSB)

A life that truly flourishes, is a life that has been committed to Jesus.  He is the only one who can cause man to live a life of true abundance.

Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous. (Psa 112:4 NIV11-GK)

The psalmist here takes a frank and realistic look at life and recognizes that the circumstances of life do not always go well for those who love and follow God.  Indeed, they often go terribly wrong.  The righteous experience grief and loss and injury and desolation just like everyone else does.  However, those who love God have something that those who do not love God do not have: hope.

When the upright are in darkness, they can count on this fact: the light will dawn.  We do not know how it will dawn, sometimes we think it will never dawn, sometimes we wonder if this verse is true, but the truth of the matter is that God is there with us in the darkness and he will bring us out of the darkness.

This is the testimony of the Scriptures; it is the testimony of generations and generations of Christians.  Corrie Ten Boom—arrested with the rest of her family for smuggling Jews out of occupied Holland during World War II—discovered in the midst of the shame, horror, and ill-treatment of the Ravensbruck concentration camp, that “there is no pit so deep, that God is not still deeper.”  She spent the rest of her life testifying to God’s faithfulness in darkness.

Scripture is true and we can rest on God’s promises: Even in darkness light dawns for the upright.