The Fool’s Prayer

Today’s reading is Psalm 14.

As we learned on Monday, our psalm is not merely about the avowed atheist. It is about the person whose heart and mind denies God even if he would never say it out loud. In fact, it can include the “faithful” church attender. This isn’t simply the person who declares and confesses for all to hear that there is no God. In fact, vs 4 explains who this person is. It is the person who doesn’t call on the Lord. The fool is not only the person who confesses to others that there is no God, it is also the person who simply doesn’t confess to God. This person may technically believe God is out there, but she sees God as inconsequential. God doesn’t actually have a meaningful impact on his life. And that comes out no place more starkly than in prayer. Or, perhaps I should say, in the lack of prayer. The fool’s prayer simply doesn’t happen. The fool postpones prayer because he thinks his effort matters more than God’s. The fool neglects prayer because she doesn’t see God as having a real effect in her day to day life. Oh, I’m not saying the fool never, ever prays. But the fool doesn’t recognize the absolute, utter need for God, and therefore, doesn’t see the absolute, utter need for prayer. Prayer gets put on the back burner. The practical atheist is just as much a fool as the avowed atheist, perhaps more so. At least the avowed atheist knows he is one. When is the last time you prayed? When will be the next time?

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 14.

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Wait! Who Did You Call a Fool?

Today’s reading is Psalm 14.

Yesterday, I felt pretty self-satisfied. After all, I’m no fool. I believe in God. I go to church. I pray and read my Bible. But wait…what’s that you say? There is none who does good? Is it really so bad you had to say it twice? God looked down from heaven to see if any understand and seek after him and He couldn’t find any? Not a single one? How many of them have turned aside? All of them? But wait, that means you’re talking about…me! Yup! In fact, no less than the apostle Paul quotes this psalm in Romans 3:10-12 as part of his argument that you and me and everyone else are sinners in need of a Savior. I have been a fool. I, alongside everyone else, have diminished God in my own mind and heart. I, alongside everyone else, decided at some point in my life that God was inconsequential, His will didn’t matter, His promises were not true, His law was not supreme. And I decided to neglect and ignore His direction, His pleading, His instruction to do what I wanted to do instead. I am a fool. I need a Savior. Praise God! He sent One to Zion!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 14.

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The Fool

Today’s reading is Psalm 14.

“The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.'” Did you notice where the fool says that? In his heart. Sure, there are some fools who say it with their mouths. But every fool says it in his or her heart. Not every fool is an avowed atheist. But every fool justifies folly by diminishing God in their thinking. According to Isaiah 32:6, the fool speaks folly, busies her heart with iniquity, practices ungodliness, utters error concerning the Lord, and refuses to help the hungry and the thirsty. Each fool will, no doubt, state many and various reasons and justifications for why he pursues all the above actions. But at the base of all those stated reasons is a belief that God isn’t out there or, at the very least, is inconsequential. Wisdom and knowledge begin by acknowledging and revering the Lord (Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 1:7; 9:10; 15:33). Folly begins by neglecting, disrespecting, forgetting, and ignoring God. We have a choice today, diminish God in our hearts and minds and pursue folly, or magnify God in our hearts and minds and chart a course of wisdom. What choice will you make?

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 14.

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The Faith to Overcome

Today’s reading is Psalm 13.

As we’ve said, David is writing in the interim between when God gives His promises and God grants His promises. Let’s face it, the way this psalm starts shocks us. We can’t believe any servant of God would be so bold as to question, “How long?!” However, seeing where the psalm starts makes the ending even more shocking. The beginning shocks us because it seems like it lacks faith. However, the end actually demonstrates there was faith all along. David is questioning. He is struggling. He is in a time of weakness, doubt, and fear. However, there is an underlying point we often miss at the beginning of the psalm. When David asks God, “How long?” what is he doing? He is praying. He is reaching out to God. Even when he fears he has been forsaken and forgotten, he is demonstrating a faith that salvation and victory can only come from one place: God. And for all his questioning and pleading, he also affirms that he will not abandon God. God has declared His steadfast love. God has promised salvation. And David is going to sing to the Lord either because he remembers times past when God has arisen and dealt bountifully with him (think Psalm 12:5) or because he is so convinced God will come through for him that he is able to state it as if it has already happened. And this is what John meant when he said our faith is the victory (1 John 5:4). If David had abandoned his faith, he would have abandoned his God, his only means of victory. But because he believed and maintained his faith, he overcame. You may be asking, “How much faith do I have to have to gain the victory?” Great question. Only enough to keep hanging on to God no matter what. Only enough to just keep following where He leads. Only enough to just keep doing what He said. Live by faith, not by sight. God is winning. You can take that to the bank.

Next week’s reading is Psalm 14.

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The Fear of Ridicule

Today’s reading is Psalm 13.

“Consider and answer me, O Lord my God…lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.” David’s third fear in the interim between God giving His promises and God fulfilling His promises is the fear of ridicule. The enemies may rejoice, belittle, mock. Knowing David’s history with the taunts of Goliath and David’s ensuing victory, it is a little surprising David has this fear. And yet, as we’ve really recognized this week, even a valiant warrior like David has times of struggle and weakness. This should give us a great deal of comfort. However, the reality is the taunts, rejoicing, and ridicule of the enemy shouldn’t bother us all that much. After all, whether we are winning or losing, that is how they are going to behave. In fact, Jesus said we should rejoice when our enemies are ridiculing us. That is actually when we are most blessed. Jesus said, “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12). And in Psalm 13, we are seeing one of those prophets. We are seeing one who was ridiculed. We are seeing one whose enemies were rejoicing over him, belittling him, mocking him, threatening him. He may have been early enough in the history to be justified in this fear. We, however, having read our Bibles, have seen it happen again and again and again, and then seen God accomplish the victory. We have no need to fear ridicule, it’s just part of the discipleship experience. In fact, if we aren’t experiencing it, that is when we need to be concerned.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 13.

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The Fear of Defeat

Today’s reading is Psalm 13.

David feared death in Psalm 13. He also feared defeat. Honestly, it makes me wonder if he provided this list in ascending or descending order. Did he start with his biggest fear or the smallest one. Either way, the #2 fear on the list is the fear that he will lose: “Consider and answer me, O Lord my God…lest my enemy say, ‘I have prevailed over him.'” And isn’t that exactly what Satan wants us to fear? He wants us to fear we’ve chosen the losing side. He wants us to fear that God, in the end, can’t actually win the battle. And what greater time to perpetuate that fear than in the interim? What greater time to perpetuate that fear than before God has struck the decisive blow against the enemy? In these moments, we will be tempted to switch sides, but in these moments we must remember another of David’s prayers: “Yours O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours” (1 Chronicles 29:11). And as Proverbs 21:31 says, “The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord.” Of course, I was half-joking when I asked if David was starting with his biggest fear or working up to it. 1 Corinthians 15:54-57 demonstrates these two fears are not so different. When our living is anything but Jesus Christ, death seems like the greatest loss. But when we are in Christ and our lives are focused on gaining Christ, death is no defeat. Rather, even in death we have the victory in Jesus Christ. Of course, the only way we will have this victory is through faith (1 John 5:4). No matter what it looks like today or tomorrow, we are going to win. Feel free to ask God how long it is going to be until we win, but always remember we will win. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 13.

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The Fear of Death

Today’s reading is Psalm 13.

In Psalm 13, as in many psalms, David is living in the interim between when God gives a promise and God grants the promise. He lists three fears we often have in this time. The first is fear of death. “Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death.” In 1 Samuel 27:1, though God had promised the throne, David begins to fear Saul will actually succeed at killing him. Honestly, this is a low point regarding David’s faith. I can’t say for certain that Psalm 13 was written at this time. However, I know that his fear of death at either time was unnecessary. And the same is true for us. According to Hebrews 2:14-16, Jesus has shared in flesh and blood so that through death He might defeat the the one who has the power of death, the devil. Because Jesus has defeated the devil and death, we who are in Jesus have no need to fear death either. Like Paul in Philippians 1:21 death is not a loss for us. It is gain for us. No matter how bad it gets, even though we walk through the shadow of death, we do not have to fear any evil, not even death. Whether we live or die, Jesus is leading us to victory. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 13.

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And You Thought You Were the First

Today’s reading is Psalm 13.

Four times David cries “How long?” Most believe this is David’s question during the rather lengthy period between Samuel anointing David as king (1 Samuel 16:13) and Judah or Israel anointing him as king (2 Samuel 2:4; 5:3). This was a period of about 15 years. It definitely fits what David was thinking in 1 Samuel 27:1 when he decided to escape to the Philistines. “How long, Lord?” How long until You do what you’ve promised? How long until You bless me like You said? How long until You do something about my enemies? You can hear an almost despair in these first two verses. Especially in that first line, “Will You forget me forever?” And you thought you were the first one to have ever felt like this. Nope. Here is David, the man who ended up being king of Israel, right in the midst of this kind of angst, depression, and even despair. It felt like the Lord had abandoned him. I bring this up simply because one of the devil’s tools is for us to get in this interim period between when God gives His promises and when God actually grants His promises, and use that period to make us believe God has reneged. Or worse, that God isn’t really there and the promises were a hoax. We get into this sad position and then believe we are the first and only to have ever been there. We feel like we’ve been lied to, and we give up. We’ll have more to say about overcoming this place later in the week. Today, I just want us to see that the Bible is absolutely, 100% honest. It lets us know there will be these times. Even the greatest and most blessed of God’s saints faced these times. You aren’t the first of God’s people to face times like this. You won’t be the last. Don’t give up on God.

Today’s reading is Psalm 13.

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Save, O Lord!

Today’s reading is Psalm 12.

Since Psalm 3, David has been begging God to rise up and save. There was the oasis of pure praise in Psalm 8, but otherwise, in one scenario or another David has been asking for deliverance. And why shouldn’t he? In Psalm 1, the declaration was that the one who meditated on God’s Law would be blessed. In Psalm 2, The declaration was that God’s anointed would be vindicated. Almost every psalm since then has shown the psalmist in the exact opposite situation begging for God to do what He said He would in those first two psalms. Then we get to this psalm in which it feels to David like it is as bleak as it can possibly be. There are no godly ones. No one is loyal and faithful. All around the wicked prowl. All David can see is vileness. In fact, David pictures the surroundings just like Noah’s. He alone is faithful while the thoughts of everyone else are only evil continuously. And what does the Lord do? He rises up. He judges. He vindicates. He delivers His people, His anointed from the perverse generation that surrounds them. Wait! That sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Do you remember what Peter proclaimed on Pentecost in Acts 2:40? “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” How did people respond to that? “Those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls” (Acts 2:41). “Save us, O Lord,” we cry, “from the perverse generation that surrounds us.” And so He sent Jesus who rose up and delivers. The question is will we be buried and rise up with Him in baptism? Will we go through the separating waters like Noah? Will we hang on to Him no matter what like David? The Lord does arise and save! Praise the Lord!

Next week’s reading is Psalm 13.

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“I Will Now Arise!”

Today’s reading is Psalm 12.

If you have been paying close attention to the posts from the past few days, you may have noticed a particular progression. After David’s initial cry of “Save, O Lord” (a statement we’ll discuss in tomorrow’s post), you see that the psalm begins (vss. 1-2) and ends (vs. 8) with a claim that there is no faithfulness, loyalty, or godliness among the children of men. It’s like a parenthesis wrapping around the entire poem. But then you may have noticed the second layer. There was David’s prayer for God to judge the wicked toward the beginning of the psalm (vs. 3) and then David’s declaration that God would guard the righteous toward the end (vs. 7). And then as we peeled one layer closer to the center of this onion, we saw the contrast between the words of the wicked (vs. 4) and the Word of the Lord (vs. 6). And right in the center of this is God’s own declaration and response, a thing, I’ve been told, that doesn’t happen often in the psalms. “‘I will now arise!’ says the Lord” (vs. 5). Granted, the call to the Lord to arise is pretty common in the psalms. However, as we have walked through these first 12 psalms, David asked the Lord to arise again and again. In Psalm 3:7: “Arise, O Lord! Save me, O my God!” Then again in Psalm 7:6: “Arise O Lord, in your anger; lift yourself up against the fury of my enemies.” Then we find the double plea in Psalm 9 and Psalm 10, those two psalms that seem to be connected with their increasing cries and ever louder pleas to “Arise, O Lord! Let not man prevail; let the nations be judged before you!” (Psalm 9:19). And then, “Arise, O Lord; O God, lift up your hand; forget not the afflicted” (Psalm 10:12). In Psalm 11, David refused to abandon God no matter what the liars said. And now in Psalm 12, God Himself, right in the center of this psalm, proclaims, “I will now arise!” Hey, I get it. There are more psalms to come. There are more laments to be read, sung, and prayed. I know each psalm is to be read as its own literary unit and maybe I’m making too much of this, but I can’t help noticing this progression. David has begged and begged and begged for the Lord to arise. In times when he knew he was innocent, he cried out to God. In times when he knew he deserved God’s judgment, he cried out to God. Things have gone from bad to worse. The Lord hadn’t responded, but David kept crying out. All around him counseled him to flee, but he stayed true to the Lord. And now the Lord arises! Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 12.

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