Psalm 75: God Responds

Today’s reading is Psalm 75.

The shocks simply keep coming for me. As I shared last week, I’m completely stunned by the prayer of Psalm 74. I simply don’t understand how a worship leader in Israel could be so obtuse and ignorant of God’s prophetic warnings and declarations about the Babylonian captivity. That being said, I was completely comforted by God accepting that prayer. However, notice what happens this week.

As we’ve learned, while each psalm is its own literary unit, we can often see how the psalms link together to tell a story or provide some overarching line of thinking. We see that this week. If Psalm 74 is a prayer, Psalm 75 is God’s response.

Frankly, I think the psalmist of Psalm 74 ought to get a response something like the one Joshua received in Joshua 7:10ff. “Get up! Why have you fallen on your face? Israel has sinned; they transgressed my covenant that I commanded them…” Instead, God responds to the questions about “How long?” by saying, “At the appointed time.” That is, “at the appropriate time.” He responds to the request to defeat the enemies with, “All the horns of the wicked I will cut off.” He responds to the requests to deliver the poor and needy with, “but the horns of the righteous shall be lifted up.”

WOW!

What comforts me the most is recognizing the difference between the prayer of Psalm 74 while being written as a prayer and how it is presented in the psalter. When the son of Asaph prayed and wrote Psalm 74, it was prayed as its own prayer. There is no indication God gave an audible answer or immediate response. Otherwise, we’d expect it to be included in Psalm 74 as happened, for example, in Psalm 12. However, God did have a response. We’re reading it this week.

When I pray, when you pray, God does not respond audibly. However, don’t doubt God responds. Don’t doubt God responds in the right way. Don’t doubt God responds in the best way.

Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 75.

PODCAST!!!

Click here to take about 15 minutes to listen to the Text Talk conversation between Andrew Roberts and Edwin Crozier sparked by this post.

PATHS:
Discuss Today’s Meditation with Your Family

How does Psalm 75 prompt or improve your praise of God?

Psalm 74: Looking Back to Jesus

Today’s reading is Psalm 74.

It probably won’t surprise you, with as much trouble as I’ve had trying to figure out how this psalm works and what to do with it, it has also put to the test my claim that we can find Jesus in every psalm. I admit, I also struggle to do that this week.

Sorry to keep using the hackneyed metaphor of tying a knot in the end of our rope, but when we see the psalmist tie his knot by looking back to God’s works of deliverance from Egypt, I think we can find Jesus. First, notice the anchor for the psalmist’s faith: “God my King.” Though God established kings in Israel, the ultimate king of Israel was God. Which should cause those who read the psalms, even in their original context, to look ahead and realize if God is the ultimate king, then when the ultimate King gets here, He’s going to be God.

Second, we find in this the way we can tie our own knot when we are at the end of our rope. When we look back, however, we don’t look back to the deliverance from Egypt. We look back to Jesus. The bottom may have fallen out of my life. My foundations may have crumbled. My sources of strength and faith may have disappeared. But what cannot be taken away is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. That happened. And even when I don’t understand what is going on around me (even those times when my ignorance is inexcusable and I probably should be able to know), even when I have no idea what tomorrow will bring, even when I can’t say how long God will let what is happening to me go on, what I can know is Jesus. I can know Jesus on the cross. I can know Jesus in the tomb. I can know Jesus resurrected.

There is no way God would sacrifice His one and only Son to reconcile me simply to hand me over to the enemy. This is essentially the message of Romans 8:32: “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” If God would sacrifice Jesus, what will He not do to save us? I can tie that as a knot at the end of my rope and hang on until the end.

Our King is from old. Our King is God. Our King went to the cross. Our King rose from the dead. Whatever is happening today, let’s always look back to our King. And let’s always hang on to Him.

Praise the Lord!

Next week’s reading is Psalm 75.

PODCAST!!!

Click here to take about 15 minutes to listen to the Text Talk conversation between Andrew Roberts and Edwin Crozier sparked by this post.

PATHS:
Discuss Today’s Meditation with Your Family

What do you want to share with others from Psalm 74?

Psalm 74: What Matters Most

Today’s reading is Psalm 74.

I’ve been pretty clear about my struggle with our psalm this week. I don’t get why the psalmist doesn’t understand Israel’s circumstance in Babylonian captivity. However, at the same time, I am amazed the psalmist understands something most Christians today don’t understand.

While the psalmist does ask God to remember the congregation and the poor and needy among them, while he does ask God to keep from letting Israel be like a dove eaten by wild beasts, he demonstrates something else matters more.

How long, O God, is the foe to scoff?
Is the enemy to revile your name forever?

Psalm 74:10 (ESV)

Remember this, O LORD, how the enemy scoffs,
and a foolish people reviles your name.

Psalm 74:18 (ESV)

Arise, O God, defend your cause;
remember how the foolish scoff at you all the day.

Psalm 74:22 (ESV)

Something mattered more than the suffering and captivity of the Israelites. Because the Israelites were suffering and held captive, God was being mocked. His own name was being reviled. God Himself was being insulted.

The psalmist is in distress, perhaps even despair. But for all the psalmist misunderstands and is perhaps even dangerously ignorant, what he understands is profound. Perhaps it is the basis for God’s patience with him. The psalmist understands what matters most: God’s name.

May we remember that when we pray, whether our prayer is one of praise or one of lament. Whether we are riding high or hanging on to the end of our rope, may we recall this. What matters most is God’s name, God’s glory. May we always prioritize that in our praying.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 74.

PODCAST!!!

Click here to take about 15 minutes to listen to the Text Talk conversation between Andrew Roberts and Edwin Crozier sparked by this post.

PATHS:
Discuss Today’s Meditation with Your Family

How does Psalm 74 prompt or improve your hope in God?

Psalm 74: When You Don’t Understand

Today’s reading is Psalm 74.

The psalmist doesn’t get it. The temple has been destroyed. The people have been carted off to Babylon. None of his friends understand. He is hanging on to the relationship God established with Israel in the Exodus, but he is at a complete loss for why God is letting the situation be as it is.

I’ve already shared this week that I don’t get it. That is, I don’t understand why the psalmist doesn’t understand. God sent prophets to warn. He sent prophets to explain. He even sent a prophet to answer the question “How long?” Why doesn’t the psalmist know this? I don’t know. But he doesn’t.

Maybe the psalmist was like Daniel, Hananiah, Meshael, and Azariah. Maybe he was innocent and didn’t understand the captivity or didn’t understand why he was subject to it like all those who were guilty. Maybe this psalm is written later and enough time has gone in captivity that this descendant of Asaph doesn’t know how bad Israel was before the judgment. I don’t know. But for whatever reason this psalmist doesn’t understand.

I’m not in the middle of the circumstance. I’m on the outside of it. From this vantage point, I do understand what was happening to Israel and I think I’m learning something important. First, as we keep reading the psalms of Asaph, God will make it quite clear why He is angry (just wait for Psalm 78). However, when Psalm 74 is written, for whatever reason, the psalmist doesn’t know. His ignorance is hardly excusable in my opinion. Yet, God lets him voice this prayer. Not only that, God includes it in Scripture.

I could be wrong about this, but this leads me to a second lesson. Not that ignorance is excusable. However, I think I see mercy and grace in action in this psalm. To be frank, I expect anyone who wrote a psalm like this in the time of Babylonian captivity to be judged and his psalm to be lost in obscurity. I expect us not to know about anyone who had this kind of prayer in that particular situation. However, the psalmist’s ignorance, bordering on impertinence and insolence, is accepted by God. God receives his prayer. Yes, God will educate the psalmist, but He graciously allows the psalmist to pray even a lament and complaint in his ignorance.

Maybe this is a bit of Romans 8:26-27 in action. The psalmist didn’t know quite what to pray. He doesn’t understand the whole situation. He probably should know better. He probably should know the answers to his questions. But he doesn’t. So he prays what he knows. He prays about God’s covenant, God’s name, God’s enemies. And God mercifully accepts his prayer.

Can we praise God for being the kind of God who doesn’t smack us down for every misunderstanding we have? Can we thank God for patiently walking with us through our ignorance, educating us, accepting us, forgiving us, interceding for us?

As I said on Monday, I’m not quite sure what to do with this psalm. However, I think I’m getting a picture of how this psalm can help us today. What do you think?

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 74.

PODCAST!!!

Click here to take about 15 minutes to listen to the Text Talk conversation between Andrew Roberts and Edwin Crozier sparked by this post.

PATHS:
Discuss Today’s Meditation with Your Family

How does Psalm 74 prompt or improve your trust in God?

Psalm 74: When the Bottom Falls Out

Today’s reading is Psalm 74.

Clearly, our psalmist is in the pit of despair. However, if we think only about our present psalm by itself, we may miss just how tragically distressing his spiritual state is. If we’ve learned anything about the psalms over the past few years, we’ve learned we’re supposed to see the links between them. When we read Psalm 74 with Psalm 73 in mind, we discover the calamitous nature of the psalmist’s harrowing situation.

Do you recall the struggle the psalmist had in Psalm 73? His feet had nearly slipped. He was lured by idolatry, no longer convinced Israel’s God really was the good God he had always thought. It seemed the wicked triumphed while those who stayed faithful to the Lord struggled constantly. Now…do you recall where the psalmist found the solution to his struggle? What prompted him to hang on?

But when I thought how to understand this,
it seemed to me a wearisome task,
until I went into the sanctuary of God;
then I discerned their end.

Psalm 73:16-17 (ESV)

However, what has happened in this week’s psalm?

They set your sanctuary on fire:
they profaned the dwelling place of your name,
bringing it down to the ground.

Psalm 74:7 (ESV)

What is the psalmist going to do now? When he struggled before, he could go to the sanctuary and be reminded of God’s plans. But now the wicked have destroyed the sanctuary. The bottom has fallen out.

Have you been there? What do you do when the one saving grace you have been hanging on to gets taken away?

In Psalm 73, the psalmist went to the sanctuary and looked ahead to God’s plan for the faithful and unfaithful. He was anchored in God’s plans for the future. In Psalm 74, that foundation has been taken away. The psalmist isn’t sure what the future holds. He doesn’t know the times or the seasons. “How long?” he cries. He has reached the end of his rope. What does he do? He ties a knot in it and hangs on by looking back.

He looks back to a time when Israel was similarly captive without a foundation to stand upon. He thinks of the time when they were in Egypt and God worked salvation for them in the midst of the earth by dividing the sea, allowing Israel to walk through to safety. He thinks of the time God dried up the Jordan and allowed them to cross through to the promised land. He recalls the time when God took charge of the day and caused the sun to stand still giving Israel victory.

What does the future hold? The psalmist may no longer be certain. So he hangs on to the past work of God. If God would deliver them from Egypt, surely He wouldn’t do so to simply hand them over to Babylon.

When the bottom falls out and you reach the utter end of your cliched rope. Tie that proverbial knot and hang on to God’s work in the past. Would He really go through all of that work in the past just to hand us over to the enemy? Of course not. We may not know what the future holds, but as they say, from looking to the past, we know who holds the future.

Hang on to God. Always.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 74.

PODCAST!!!

Click here to take about 15 minutes to listen to the Text Talk conversation between Andrew Roberts and Edwin Crozier sparked by this post.

PATHS:
Discuss Today’s Meditation with Your Family

How does Psalm 74 admonish you?

Psalm 74: The Bible We’re Given, Not the One We Expected or Wanted

Today’s reading is Psalm 74.

To be Frank, I’d have to change my name.

I’ve started today’s post with that bad Dad joke in order to distract you from the real issue at hand. To be frank, I don’t know what to do with Psalm 74. The psalm is clearly written after Nebuchadnezzar’s destruction of Jerusalem. One of the descendants of Asaph wrote this prayer/poem/psalm to express distress about the destruction of the temple and the captivity of God’s people.

So far, so good. I get all of that. My problem is the psalm starts with “O God, why do you cast us off forever? Why does your anger smoke against the sheep of your pasture?” What?! God had made it abundantly clear why this happened. Israel had abandoned their covenant agreement with God. They had neither loved God or one another. They were full of sin and injustice. How can “Asaph” not know this? And how can he question God as if God had no justification?

The psalmist says, “There is no longer any prophet, and there is none among us who knows how long.” What?! On the one hand, I can imagine this particular psalmist not realizing the inspired nature of his prayer. Yet, here it is in the psalms, and if I understand prophecy and Scripture, then this psalmist himself was a prophet, otherwise this psalm wouldn’t make the Scriptural cut. Not only that, even if there were no prophets at the time, Jeremiah had been pretty clear. In Jeremiah 25:11-12; 29:10, he said they would be in Babylonian bondage for seventy years. This was so obvious and so well known, that Daniel who went into captivity before Jeremiah wrote had received a copy of the prophet’s writings and was able to know when the time to start praying was (see Daniel 9:1-2). How can this psalmist write as if nobody knows how long?

While I can appreciate the psalmist’s request for God to remember His covenant, I’m stunned there is no confession of sin or declaration of repentance. This psalm comes off like a lament offered in innocence. I referred to Daniel’s confession above. That’s the kind of prayer I expect from this psalmist. “God, we’re wretched sinners. We don’t deserve salvation. We violated your covenant. We deserve everything you gave us. Please be merciful.”

I don’t know what to do with this psalm. However, before I try to do something with it, perhaps we should remember an important and fundamental lesson about the Word of God, the record of which we have in our Bibles.

We have to deal with the Bible God gave us, not the one we expected or even wanted. So, I’ve come across a psalm that shocks me. I don’t expect it. I expect a different approach from the psalmist. I want a different approach. Frankly, the psalm as written doesn’t seem right to me. I don’t think the psalmist should be able to get away with this one. Yet, not only did he get away with it, God let it be included in the Scriptures.

What does this mean? It means I have to back up and try again. It doesn’t fit what I expect or want. But it will, no doubt, when I understand it properly, teach me something about God, covenants, prayer, worship, Israel’s captivity, etc. I may not understand this psalm even by the end of this week. But my job is not to try to mold the psalm to fit what I expect or want. My job is to let it mold me to what God included in His Word, including this psalm.

That’s not a truth merely for this psalm, but one for the entirety of God’s Word. As the old poem says, God’s Word is the anvil against which we will break our hammers if we try to hammer it to fit our expectations and desires.

I’m sure we’ll all find other places in the Word with which we struggle. Let’s always change ourselves instead of God’s Word.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 74.

PODCAST!!!

Click here to take about 15 minutes to listen to the Text Talk conversation between Andrew Roberts and Edwin Crozier sparked by this post.

PATHS:
Discuss Today’s Meditation with Your Family

How does Psalm 74 prompt or improve your praise?

Psalm 73: Taken Up In Glory

Today’s reading is Psalm 73.

Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
you hold my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will receive me to glory.

Psalm 73:23-24 (ESV)

We find another verse in which commentators remind us these ancient people did not have a picture of afterlife and resurrection like we do. And while I’m sure there view wasn’t as well-developed as ours, at some point I begin to think, maybe they did have a strong view of afterlife and resurrection.

Either way, even most of the commentators who have to remind us of the ancient limitations on this view admit these verses must mean something more than an earthly rescue from hardship. Being received into glory surely has some heavenly aspect to it.

And this verse is where we find Jesus. Paul expresses our confession of the mystery of godliness in 1 Timothy 3:16:

He was manifested in the flesh,
vindicated by the Spirit,
seen by angels,
proclaimed among the nations,
believed on in the world,
taken up in glory (ESV).

Asaph is not a type of the Messiah. However, we can’t miss the connection between this verse and the Christ. The one who truly held on to God’s hand and always walked by His counsel would be taken up in glory. Jesus did. Jesus was.

And because He was taken up in glory, we who failed to always hold God’s right hand and failed to always walk by His counsel can also be taken up in glory.

My flesh and my heart may fail. But God is the strength of my heart. And God in the flesh who lived the spotless life, died the sacrificial death, rose on the third day, and then was taken up in glory is my strength. He is the reason I hang on. He is the reason I return to God’s counsel.

If you’ve been considering abandoning God, please, let Jesus be your strength. Let Him lead you to glory.

Let us know if we can help you in any way.

Next week’s reading is Psalm 74.

PODCAST!!!

Click here to take about 15 minutes to listen to the Text Talk conversation between Andrew Roberts and Edwin Crozier sparked by this post.

PATHS:
Discuss Today’s Meditation with Your Family

What do you want to share with others from Psalm 73?

Psalm 73: My Spiritual Goal

Today’s reading is Psalm 73.

Today’s post is pretty personal. Psalm 73:25 is my favorite verse in the entire Bible.

Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you (ESV).

I don’t have much to say about it. I simply recommend it to you. Not that I think it should be your favorite verse as well. But it should be a goal for you.

I pray this verse all the time. But I admit, I have to follow it up with, “And Lord, please, make what I just said true.”

I figure when I’m finally at the point where no other desire in heaven or earth gets in the way of my desire for God, I’ll be in a good spot. I’m not there yet. I’d love your help in getting there. I’d love to help you get there.

This is my growth goal: to want God more than I want anything else. Not just slightly more, but 100% more. I hope that will be a growth goal for you as well.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 73.

PODCAST!!!

Click here to take about 15 minutes to listen to the Text Talk conversation between Andrew Roberts and Edwin Crozier sparked by this post.

PATHS:
Discuss Today’s Meditation with Your Family

How does Psalm 73 prompt or improve your hope in God?

Psalm 73: The Solution of God’s Sanctuary

Today’s reading is Psalm 73.

Asaph struggled. Idolatry beckoned and called. He nearly slipped and stumbled.

But he didn’t. He hung on. He stayed true to the true God. What anchored him? What pulled him back?

But when I thought how to understand this,
it seemed to me a wearisome task,
until I went into the sanctuary of God;
then I discerned their end.

Psalm 73:16-17 (ESV)

Asaph went to the sanctuary of God. He went to the temple. He worshiped. He witnessed the sacrifices. He participated in the surrender.

If you’re like me, as you envision this psalm, you see Asaph standing alone in the temple gazing at the altar and the gold and the beauty of the building. That, however, is not the correct picture. He isn’t alone. He is surrounded by worshipers. He is surrounded by priests and Levites carrying out their duties. He is surrounded by folks who have brought their sacrifices. Going to the sanctuary doesn’t mean going into a beautiful building and standing alone. It means going in the midst of God’s people worshiping Him.

That is especially the case for us today. Though we often refer to the large room in which a congregation assembles as “the sanctuary,” the sanctuary, the holy place, the temple in our covenant is the people. We are God’s sanctuary. If we wish to find the solution to our doubts and struggles, we need to gather with God’s people, among God’s sanctuary. We must participate in the worship, offer the sacrifice of the fruit of our lips, lift up our voices with others who are part of this sanctuary, listen to the teaching, hear the praises.

Too many people start to doubt and then cut themselves off from God’s sanctuary. Don’t do it. Hang on. Go to the sanctuary. See the end of those who abandon God; see the end of those who hang on. That was Asaph’s solution. Let it be yours.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 73.

PODCAST!!!

Click here to take about 15 minutes to listen to the Text Talk conversation between Andrew Roberts and Edwin Crozier sparked by this post.

PATHS:
Discuss Today’s Meditation with Your Family

How does Psalm 73 prompt or improve your trust in God?

Psalm 73: The Lure of Idolatry

Today’s reading is Psalm 73.

When Asaph speaks of the pure in heart in vs. 1 and then complains he kept his heart clean and washed his hands in innocence in vain in vs. 13, we get a picture of the temptation he faces. Today, as we read these doubts about God, we tend to think the other option is atheism. However, that was not likely the temptation Asaph faced.

In Psalm 24:4, keeping clean hands and a pure heart went along with not lifting up the soul to what is false. This is the struggle. Asaph was concerned that the YHWH, the God of Israel, was not a good God. Perhaps one of the other so-called gods of the nations around Israel was better. The wicked who went after other gods seemed to prosper. The lure of idolatry is the temptation. Instead of lifting his soul up to YHWH, he was considering lifting his soul to something or someone else.

Of course, this psalm points back to the very first psalm. Maybe the counsel of the wicked, the way of the sinners, the seat of the scoffer were the places to be. The altar of the Lord didn’t seem to be doing Asaph any good.

And this is the real temptation for us even today. We tend to think in terms of Theism and Atheism, No-God and God. However, even those who do not believe in any god serve a god. We all place something at the top of the chain. Something drives us, governs us, leads us. Even if it is our own passions and pleasures. There is something out there we sacrifice everything else for. That is our god. Realize that. And choose the right God, the proper God, the real God.

He is good to those who are pure in heart and wash their hands in innocence. So, follow James’s advice and wash your hands and purify your heart. Draw near to the real, true, living God, and He will draw near to you.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 73.

PODCAST!!!

Click here to take about 15 minutes to listen to the Text Talk conversation between Andrew Roberts and Edwin Crozier sparked by this post.

PATHS:
Discuss Today’s Meditation with Your Family

How does Psalm 73 admonish you?