Synopsis Psalms 109:26-112:5 2/7/2022
King David reflected on how he overcame the nations around him. He remembered God’s promise to make his enemies a footstool. In other words, God promised that David would rule over his enemies even before He made it happened.
Unsurprisingly, the psalmists took up such promises with joy. And they proclaimed their commitment to praise the Lord with all their hearts.
They found a new depth of meaning in the idea of “fear of the Lord”. And they recognized the relationship between fearing the Lord and the way of wisdom.
Walking in the Promise
David walked in the promise before the promise came true. He recognized that God was good to His word. And so, he trusted.
Walking in the promise opens an entire range of possibilities that most human beings will never experience. So, consider what God has offered you. Think about what you have been promised. And let your behavior be informed by this anticipation.
“I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Phil 1:6
Synopsis Psalms 107:34-109:25 2/4/2022
King David was determined. So, he told God of his intentions. He let God know that his heart was steadfast. He was determined to praise no matter what.
And so, he spoke to God with confidence. He asked for help knowing that God loved Israel and therefore should want to help.
Later, he came to a cosmic reflection on the order of the world. He saw that every nation and people has its own role in the world. Accordingly, he asked for aid against Israel’s foes.
What’s more, he asked God to intervene against his personal enemies. At this point in his reign, there were conspirators determined to injure David’s reign through false accusations. And so David petitioned God to intervene against those subjects who repaid David evil for good.
God is on my side. In fact, He is more on my side than I am. He’s determined to protect my soul and do good for me.
Such is the case for anyone who seeks after Him. Anyone who remains steadfast.
So, let’s take David’s lead and ask God to protect us and lead us into every true and good and beautiful encounter He has always intended.
“Open up the gates that a righteous nation may enter, one that keeps faith.” Isaiah 26:2
Synopsis Psalms 107:1-33 2/3/2022
The psalmist urged the Israelites to praise God. He reminded them that the Lord has redeemed. Therefore, give thanks!
With this, he noted various ways that the Israelites had left the Promised Land. Some, he said, lost their way in the desert wilderness, but God led them out to safety. Others were bound with chains and placed in prison. But once again, God saved them from their peril. Still others were sick in their bodies. And often times, God healed them.
God seems to delight in inverting everything through the power of His redemption.
The World is Upside Down
God is the master of reversals. He loves turning my expectations on their head.
But he uses reversal because nothing else challenges my expectations in the same way. When my circumstances suddenly shift for no obvious reason, then I start asking questions. And curiously enough, I’m generally more open to new possibilities.
“And you who once were alienated and hostile in mind because of evil deeds he has now reconciled in his fleshly body through his death, to present you holy, without blemish, and irreproachable before him” Col 1:21
Synopsis Psalms 106:21-48 2/2/2022
As the Israelites approached the Promised Land, they were conflicted. Because the land was occupied, they could not believe that God was actually going to it to them. They forgot all that God had done for them in their exodus from Egypt.
As a result, they complained. And they sought out other gods. And even after the next generation went into the land, they did not root out the Canaanites. Instead, they settled in the land and accepted the culture of the people living there.
Yet, the more they tried to integrate and be accepted, the more their enemies oppressed them. And over the centuries, this was the cycle that plagued the people. Remembering this, the psalmist cried out for God to restore Israel from the diaspora amongst the nations.
In contemporary terms, the belief cycle is an idea that describes how beliefs form a person. So, a person starts with something they claim to believe. Then they act on that belief. And the result of the action produces and outcome. Taking a little time for reflection, the person evaluates the outcome to either confirm, refute or refine their belief.
This cycle is pretty common in most people’s experience.
But the belief cycle presents some challenges. This is especially true if I don’t act deliberately. The main challenge is the failure to actively reflect on outcomes. I live my life day-to-day. So, it’s easy to fail to connect my actions with the outcomes they produce. Especially if the outcomes aren’t immediately forthcoming.
The temptation is to cheat. And if nothing challenges me with the immediate consequences of my cheating, I think I’ve gotten away with it. I don’t say it, but my behavior reveals my deeper belief that God doesn’t really care about my small failures. Or, I delude myself to believe that somehow my sins have escaped God’s notice.
In this way, a new set of beliefs begins to set in. And like for the Israelites, the real danger is I won’t realize how wrong I am until my circumstances turn dire.
So, let my commitment be to examine myself daily.
“Take care, brothers, that none of you may have an evil and unfaithful heart, so as to forsake the living God. Encourage yourselves daily while it is still “today,” so that none of you may grow hardened by the deceit of sin.” Heb 3:12-13
Synopsis Psalms 105:34-106:20 2/1/2022
The psalmist emphasized how God gave Israel provisions. Specifically, He did this because of the covenant with Abraham.
Subsequently, the psalmist made an observation about life. His conclusion was that a person is happiest when they obey God.
At the same time, he was aware that he was part of a sinful generation.
As he reflected on this fact, he recounted how even Israel’s ancestors forgot about God’s goodness almost immediately after He helped them. As examples, he cited the way the Israelites challenged Moses and Aaron. They never realized they were actually challenging God. In their defiance, they made a golden idol in the shape of a cow.
With this, they attempted to force God to be what they wanted Him to be.
Absurdity of the False God
The thing that mankind can’t seem to come to terms with is God-envy. This is the repressed envy we feel at the fact that God is God and we are not. Of course, it’s also known as Original Sin.
In the depths of our hearts, we all intuitively know that God is. But, unresolved God-envy drives us toward this crazy effort to supplant God by making up our own gods. No matter how this tendency manifests, it is absurd.
We think the advantage of creating gods is that we somehow control the situation. However, this is an delusion. We make a god. And then we describe the experiences of our lives in some tenuously plausible way that fits our god into our experience.
Yet, like a surfer on a wave, the wave is never actually changed by the surfer. There is a reality at work. And any surfer who fails to recognize who’s in charge is likely headed for disaster.
“Half of it he burns in the fire, on its embers he roasts meat; he eats the roast and is full. He warms himself and says, “Ah! I am warm! I see the flames!” The rest of it he makes into a god, an image to worship and adore. He prays to it and says, “Help me! You are my god!” Isaiah 44:16-17
Synopsis Psalms 104:34-105:33 1/31/2022
As the psalmist reflected, he joyfully meditated on God’s greatness and the wonder of His creation.
Part of the wonder of God is how he forever remembers His holy covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God backed up His promises by carefully protecting the patriarchs. And then, He saved the Jacob’s sons in Egypt through Joseph.
Centuries later, He once again remembered His covenant and raised up Moses. And through Moses, God showed His power by bringing Pharaoh and all Egypt low while exalting the Children of Promise.
God Keeps His Promises
When I’m really stressed, sometimes I cry out to God, “Where are you? Why aren’t you helping me???”
There is an essential difference between the way a man creates and the way that God creates. We use the metaphor of spoken language to describe God’s power to create. Hence, “Let there be light…” and there was light. In this sense, when God speaks, the thing spoken is certainly created, even if not yet seen.
So, the solution to my every problem is out there. It has already been created. Therefore, with grace and gratitude as your guides, seek what has already been accomplished.
“God is not a human being who speaks falsely, nor a mortal, who feels regret. Is God one to speak and not act, to decree and not bring it to pass?” Num 23:19
Synopsis Psalms 104:4-33 1/28/2022
The psalmist wondered at the majesty of God’s design. God created and ordered all things. His creation is widely varied. Even so, each created thing springs forth and reveals some unique aspect of God’s wisdom.
Accordingly, all living things look to God for provision. And God consistently provides.
All Things are Created and Ordered by God
God creates purposefully and intelligently. This is more than a matter of faith. Interpreting my experience in any meaningful way depends on the lived understanding that creation is intelligible.
“For in him – were created all things in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things were created through him and for him” Col 1:16
Synopsis Psalms 102:23-104:3 1/27/2022
The psalmist begged for life amid adversity, both for his present generation, and for future generations.
He realized that God forgives and heals despite the failings and shortcoming of the people. His forgiveness and healing are gifts from God.
Furthermore, God takes away sin because He knows we are feeble. He knows that we are weak and subject to foolishness and failure.
Still, God blesses generations in a special way for those who keep covenant.
Everything Is a Gift Given
Just to exist is a gift. And yet, there are times in the lives of many people that seem utterly intolerable. Even up to the point of despair and hopelessness.
So, if “just existing” really is a gift, how is it that some days my circumstances seem so hard. Why do I sometimes feel so discouraged. Why do I live in a world that seems so prone to “quiet desperation”?
Perhaps the reason is nothing more than my response to the gift.
“that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.” Matt 5:45
Synopsis Psalms 101:4-102:22 1/26/2022
King David proclaimed his rejection of evil. He promised to befriend only the righteous. And he drove out unfaithful people from his court. He feared that God’s presence might depart Jerusalem and Israel if evil was allowed to dwell in the city.
The psalmist cried out to the Lord. In a moment of distress and despair, he begged God to reveal himself.
At the same time, he marveled how God remained steadfast forever. And he committed to telling future generations about God’s steadfast faithfulness.
Don’t Hide Your Face
I need God.
In fact, I need God like my body needs air. Without air in my lungs, I would immediately die. Similarly, if God withdrew His spirit, I would immediately be no more.
I feel this need acutely. Especially as I grow older, I am increasingly aware that I could fail at life after all. Thus, if God hid His face from me, I would be lost.
And so, I seek Him where He may be found.
“How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.” Matt 7:14
Synopsis Psalms 98:1-101:3 1/25/2022
God wins the victory! So, the psalmist acclaimed. But the marvel is that God’s victory is public for all to see.
Of course, this affirms that the Lord God really is king over all things. He is holy. He is omnipotent. And, He loves justice. God is the maker of all things.
What’s more, God hears the prayers of righteous men and women. And He forgives based on those prayers.
Therefore, give thanks to God. His love endures forever.
Shout with Joy
Jesus is Lord. He is the evidence of God’s love and mercy. And it is through Him that God has achieved His very public victory.
Inexpressible joy has no words. It just shouts.
Exult greatly, O daughter Zion! Shout for joy, O daughter Jerusalem! Behold: your king* is coming to you, a just savior is he, Humble, and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” Zechariah 9:9