Who Is Your Shepherd?

Today’s reading is Psalm 49.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” I almost asked, “Do you remember that one?” But what kind of silly question would that be? Of course, you remember it. It is the most well-known psalm in the whole book.

But do you remember this one? “Death is my shepherd; I shall not be satisfied.”

Probably not. For starters, that psalm isn’t nearly as well-known. But also, it isn’t written exactly like that. However, that is exactly what Psalm 49 says. People who trust in money have a foolish confidence. Shockingly, even after those who trusted in money have died, other folks use their lives as an example and approve their boasts. However, when money is your master, the Lord is not your shepherd, death is.

Think about that. When we trust in wealth, wealth doesn’t shepherd us, death does. What a terrible picture. When we trust in money, our shepherd is not leading us through the valley of the shadow of death. Goodness and mercy are not following us all the days of our lives. And we will not dwell in the Lord’s house forever. Rather, when we trust in money, our shepherd is leading us to the slaughter house.

Money may build you a big house and buy you a nice car. It may clothe you in fine clothing. It may even provide you a nice retirement. But it will not restore your soul. It will not lead you in paths of righteousness. And it will not get you through the valley of the shadow of death.

Who is your shepherd? Only the Lord satisfies.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 49.

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.

Discuss the Following Questions with Your Family

  1. What are your initial reactions to the psalm and the written devo above?
  2. Which would you rather be your shepherd: The Lord or death? Why?
  3. Does the idea of having death as a shepherd frighten you? Why or why not?
  4. How should you live today if you are going to let the Lord be your shepherd?
  5. What do you think we should pray for and about in light of this psalm and our discussion today?

Only One Master

Today’s reading is Psalm 49.

The competition for the captivating of our trust and hope is on. There are two candidates: God and money. Jesus wasn’t the first one to recognize this competition. Korah’s son saw it generations before Jesus.

He says to rich and poor, to low and high alike, “Don’t trust in your money. Don’t hope in wealth.” The fact is it simply does not matter how much money you have, you cannot ransom your way out of death. Only God can ransom you from death.

No matter how much money you have, you will die. And when you die, even if you have bought entire cities that are named after you, you can only reside in a box, in a hole in the ground. In the end, you will be nothing more than a beast that perishes and crumbles to dust.

This really gives legs to Jesus’s much later warning: “No man can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money” (Matthew 6:24). That’s all well and good, but which one of them should we choose as our master? Korah’s son makes it clear: choose God and you are choosing life.

Who will be your master today?

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 49.

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.

Discuss the Following Questions with Your Family

  1. What are your initial reactions to the psalm and the written devo above?
  2. Why do most people trust money more than God?
  3. Why should we trust God over money?
  4. What advice do you have to help people trust God more than money?
  5. What do you think we should pray for and about in light of this psalm and our discussion today?

Wisdom and Understanding

Today’s reading is Psalm 49.

In this psalm, Korah’s son turns his attention to wisdom and understanding.

Wisdom and understanding go together in many passages. The Lord created the universe by wisdom and understanding (Jeremiah 10:12; 51:15; Proverbs 3:19). It is no surprise then that any house is built by wisdom and understanding (Proverbs 24:3). Wisdom and understanding come from the Lord (Proverbs 2:6). We need to call out to wisdom and understanding (Proverbs 2:3) and also be attentive to wisdom and incline our ears and our hearts to understanding (Proverbs 2:2; 5:1), because wisdom and understanding are calling out to us (Proverbs 8:1). Those who find wisdom and understanding will be blessed (Proverbs 3:13).

All of this calls to mind the underlying foundation of wisdom and understanding in all wisdom literature. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 1:7). Which gets to the heart of this psalm. Why should I fear when the iniquity of those who trust their wealth surrounds me? I do not need to be afraid when others become rich or the glory of their houses increase. There is no wisdom in that fear.

Fear the Lord. Fear Him only. Wisdom and understanding will follow.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 49.

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.

Discuss the Following Questions with Your Family

  1. What are your initial reactions to the psalm and the written devo above?
  2. What is wisdom? What is understanding?
  3. Why do you think the fear of the Lord is the foundation of wisdom?
  4. Why don’t we need to fear anything else?
  5. What do you think we should pray for and about in light of this psalm and our discussion today?

The City Foursquare

Today’s reading is Psalm 48.

I’ve been struggling with something as we’ve read these first seven psalms of Book II. It really seems like we are in the middle of another series. Psalms 42 and 43 started the story. Korah’s son was struggling. He was going back and forth between dehydration and drowning. He knew one day he would be back with God. But he was struggling. By Psalm 44, the situation was so bad he wrote a psalm that is, frankly, frightening to read. He accuses God of not keeping His covenant and wondering why. Psalm 46 seems to be a bit of a hinge. It is the declaration of faith Psalm 44 needed. No matter how bad it gets, Korah’s son is going to hang on to God. God is the refuge even when the world is crumbling around him. And God has brought the wars to an end. He has brought victory. Psalms 47 and 48 are praises for the victory. Psalm 49 might be seen as a personal application of the entire story.

This is all well and good. But what about Psalm 45? Why, in the middle of this story, is there a wedding psalm?

I admit that I can’t say for sure. However, as I’ve read Psalm 46-48, I notice an emphasis on the city of God. We find that especially in Psalm 46:4 and all over Psalm 48. In Psalm 48, Zion is called “the city of the great King.” And Psalm 47 was all about the Great King of that city and, in fact, of the whole earth.

With all this in mind, I come to Revelation 21:9. Here, the angel tells John, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” What does John see? A woman? No. He sees “the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God.” It is bejeweled and bedecked like a bride, but he sees a city. What city? The city foursquare (Revelation 21:16). It is the church, the kingdom of Jesus Christ, in its splendor and victory. It is unassailable. No enemy can defeat it or infiltrate it; all would flee in fear. Only the pilgrims who wash their robes in the blood of the Lamb may enter the gates of the city.

And the voice of God says of this city: “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be their God.”

Perhaps Psalms 45-48 have really all been about the same thing. Sure, that wedding psalm would have been used in royal weddings, perhaps even in non-royal weddings. But always, those psalms were about Jesus, because they were about God’s true bride, the true bride of Christ, the holy city, the heavenly Jerusalem. That is us. His church. We are His bride. And we can truly say He is “our God forever and ever. He will guide us forever.”

Praise the Lord!

Next week’s reading is Psalm 49.

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.

Discuss the Following Questions with Your Family

  1. What are your initial reactions to the psalm and the written devo above?
  2. Are you comforted to learn that Christ’s church is the new Jerusalem, the heavenly city of God? Why or why not?
  3. How great is it to know that Christ’s church cannot be overthrown or conquered?
  4. How will that help you stay faithful to our King when it looks like His kingdom is losing (as it looked sometimes for the earthly Jerusalem)?
  5. What do you think we should pray for and about in light of this psalm and our discussion today?

Things That Can Be Shaken

Today’s reading is Psalm 48.

Jerusalem, in its day, was amazing. Not because it was amazing, but because God who dwelt there is amazing. As we learned yesterday, however, Judah essentially kicked God out. Perhaps we should say they made Him unwelcome. They pursued idols, and they neglected to care for each other. God left. Jerusalem was destroyed. God did have it built again. But when Jesus came, they executed Him. The Messiah, the King came and wasn’t wanted. Mostly because He didn’t measure up to their view of how He should behave, rule, reign, and govern.

This was really all part of God’s plan. He had not ever intended for His kingdom to be an earthly one. He had not ever really intended for His kingdom to be geo-political. His kingdom had always been heavenly. Therefore, in Hebrews 12:18-29, we are told God planned to shake the earth. He was going to shake out all that can be shaken in order to leave behind only what can’t be shaken.

What can be shaken? Walls. Stones. Houses. Buildings. What can’t be shaken? God’s actual kingdom. God’s heavenly city of Jerusalem. And that is what is super amazing. When we come to Jesus, we come to His church. We come to His superior covenant. And we come to the true Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. In 70AD, God shook the earth. Rome defeated Jerusalem and tore it to the ground. The wall was destroyed. The temple was crushed. All of this was to leave behind Christ’s temple, Christ’s church. Psalm 48 is still true. However, it was never really about a city on a hill in the middle east. It was about the people who are His kingdom, His bride, His city. That is now us, the disciples of Jesus Christ.

We, the heavenly Jerusalem whether from among the Jews or the Nations, are now the joy of all the earth. We are the high hill. We are the heavenly city. We are the place for God’s name to dwell. We cannot be shaken.

Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 48.

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.

Discuss the Following Questions with Your Family

  1. What are your initial reactions to the psalm and the written devo above?
  2. The idea of a “heavenly Jerusalem” may seem weird to you. What do you think is the difference between “earthly Jerusalem” and “heavenly Jerusalem”?
  3. Why do you think God needed to shake out the earthly Jerusalem in order to leave behind the heavenly Jerusalem?
  4. Considering all we’ve learned this week about God’s name and His city, how should modern citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem live?
  5. What do you think we should pray for and about in light of this psalm and our discussion today?

The Joy of All the Earth?

Today’s reading is Psalm 48.

Clearly, Psalm 48 is written in a time of Judean prosperity or victory. The author is confident in God and confident Jerusalem will remain forever under the watchful eye of God. Or so it seems on the surface. However, did you catch the psalm ends by telling the pilgrims to tour the city and walk around it so they can tell the next generation about it? Why would they need to tell the next generation? If the city is going to stand like this forever, wouldn’t the next generation just see it in their pilgrimages?

Then we read Lamentation 2:15:

All who pass along the way clap their hands at you; they hiss and wag their heads at the daughter of Jerusalem: “Is this the city that was called the perfection of beauty, the joy of all the earth?”

We have the perspective of time. Whatever time of victory the son of Korah was commemorating, wasn’t going to last. Jerusalem was destroyed. It was later rebuilt. But then it was destroyed again. In fact, instead of housing a temple to Yahweh, it now houses the Dome of the Rock, a Muslim holy site.

What is up with that? Did God fail?

No. He didn’t. Rather, the people failed. Back in Psalm 44, when they were upset about whatever defeat they had faced, they were able to say they had kept God’s covenant. Their continued faithfulness leads to the victory of Psalms 46-48. But they did not stay faithful for long. Remember what we learned on Monday. Jerusalem wasn’t special because of anything about itself. It was special because Yahweh had made Jerusalem His home. But when the people quit welcoming Him by disobeying His will, He abandoned the city. He left them to their own devices. He left them to their own power, strength, beauty, talent. He removed His protecting hand and watchful eye. The city was lost.

How sad! It had been the joy of all the earth. It was a jewel in the crown of God’s hand. But it has become nothing. It has lost its significance. It is no longer the city of God. It is no longer the place where God’s name dwells. It no longer measures up to this psalm.

May this be an object lesson to us. May we hang on to God. May we love Him with all our heart, soul, strength, and might, and our neighbor as ourselves. May we keep His covenant lest we too kick God out of His dwelling place among us. I promise you, that will bring consequences we do not want to face.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 48.

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.

Discuss the Following Questions with Your Family

  1. What are your initial reactions to the psalm and the written devo above?
  2. Does it sadden you to see that Jerusalem had been so special, but to know that in abandoning God it is no longer the joy of the earth? Why or why not?
  3. Why do you think some become complacent in their relationship with God and abandon Him?
  4. Will you stay faithful to the Lord throughout your life? Why or why not?
  5. What do you think we should pray for and about in light of this psalm and our discussion today?

A Tale of Two Travelers

Today’s reading is Psalm 48.

Two different travelers come to Zion, the city of our God. One is on the warpath, the other is on a pilgrimage.

In Psalm 48:4-7, kings and princes gathered together to attack Zion. However, when they saw the city indwelt by God, they were astounded, afraid, panicked. They took flight. They came; they saw; they fled in fear. This may have been written in specific reference to the defeat of the Assyrians who came to attack Jerusalem in 2 Kings 18-20. However, an angel of the Lord struck down 185,000 soldiers in one night, delivering Jerusalem. Sennacherib fled home and then died in the house of his own false god. Or this may just be poetic language describing the strength and power of God in the face of enemies. In either case, the point is clear. When the traveler comes to attack and wage war on God’s city, the traveler will not succeed, but will flee in humiliating fear.

In Psalm 48:8-11, worshipers and pilgrims travel to Jerusalem. Rather then fear, they find faithfulness. They find the loyal love of God. They see His strength, His love, His loyalty. They find a rock, a refuge, and righteousness. Rather than fear, they are full of gladness and comfort. They had heard of Jerusalem the great city of God, and they saw it exactly as they had heard of it: strong, safe, protected, powerful.

This picture of the traveling pilgrims calls back to an earlier psalm. In Psalm 44, Korah’s son had heard of God’s strength and deliverance, but had seen only defeat. As we progress through the psalms, we come to Psalm 46 in which Korah’s son says he will trust in God and take refuge in Him even if the mountains are crumbling all around him. In Psalm 47, that faith is paid off with victory. God is King of all the earth. Now, in Psalm 48, we see that the earlier complaint has been resolved. What Korah’s son has heard and what he is seeing finally align. God is protecting His people as promised. God is delivering His city as pledged. God is faithfully keeping His covenant.

The fact is we are all one of two travelers. We may be on the warpath against God, assuming that when He seems to lose a minor battle or two He is defeated. However, know that when we come to the end of that journey, all that awaits us is defeat, destruction, and humiliation. Or we are a pilgrim. We may see what seems to be losses and fear that God is not holding up His end of the bargain. However, if we hang on in hope, we will discover God is everything we have heard Him to be. He will protect. He will provide. He will deliver. He will give victory. And we will praise Him.

Which traveler are you? The warrior or the pilgrim?

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 48.

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.

Discuss the Following Questions with Your Family

  1. What are your initial reactions to the psalm and the written devo above?
  2. Why do you think so many fight against God?
  3. What causes folks to abandon God when things don’t seem to be going their way?
  4. How can we maintain our faith and hope in God even when it seems like He is being beaten?
  5. What do you think we should pray for and about in light of this psalm and our discussion today?

The City of Our God

Today’s reading is Psalm 48.

What made Jerusalem special? Were its walls especially high? Were they uniquely strong? Was its hill singularly elevated above all other mountains? Was the land exceptionally beautiful? Were its people remarkably intelligent, talented, or strong?

Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. And nope.

What made Jerusalem special was its special inhabitant. Yahweh had caused His name to dwell in Jerusalem. Yahweh had allowed His house to be built in Jerusalem. Yahweh had established His throne in Jerusalem.

It was “the city of our God.”

That should say something about us if we allow God to abide in us. We aren’t special because of any talent, intelligence, beauty, or wealth. We are special because we are God’s. That is enough, and it is more than we deserve. May we as His church, may we as a family, and may we as His children allow His name to dwell in us and be hallowed there. That is all the special we need.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 48.

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.

Discuss the Following Questions with Your Family

  1. What are your initial reactions to the psalm and the written devo above?
  2. What do you think we need to do to be God’s dwelling place as a congregation?
  3. What do you think we need to do to be God’s dwelling place as a family?
  4. What do you think you need to do to be God’s dwelling place as an individual?
  5. What do you think we should pray for and about in light of this psalm and our discussion today?

The Nations Assembled

Today’s reading is Psalm 47.

The final stanza of Psalm 47 is straight up shocking. The entire psalm has been about not only Israel praising and worshiping Yahweh, but all the nations. However, the last two verses take the whole thing to a completely new level.

Not only are all nations to exalt God, but “the princes of the peoples gather as the people of the God of Abraham.” That is, all the nations are included in the gathering of God’s people. They have all become part of the assembly of Israel.

When and how did this happen?

It happened in Jesus Christ.

As Jesus said in John 10:16, He had sheep who were not of the fold of Israel. He was, I believe, talking about the other nations, the Gentiles. Then as Paul explained in Ephesians 2:11-22, though the nations were at one time alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world, Jesus removed the dividing wall of hostility. The two became one. Together, we make up the one house of God, the one Holy Temple that is being filled with the glory of God.

This is only possible because God in the person of Jesus came down, lived among us, died for us, arose to reign over us, and went up to be enthroned. He deserves to be worshiped. We must sing His praises. Disciples are to be made of every nation including ours.

Praise the Lord for Jesus Christ! Sing His praises.

Next week’s reading is Psalm 48.

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.

Discuss the Following Questions with Your Family

  1. What are your initial reactions to the psalm and the written devo above?
  2. Does it comfort you to know Jesus is king? Why or why not?
  3. How should we serve, worship, and honor Jesus as our king?
  4. What does it mean to you to know that instead of a building in Jerusalem, we who submit to Jesus are the temple of God’s glory?
  5. What do you think we should pray for and about in light of this psalm and our discussion today?

Worship the King

Today’s reading is Psalm 47.

“God has gone up with a shout, the LORD with the sound of a trumpet.”

That statement is reminiscent of 2 Samuel 6:15 when David brought God’s ark of the covenant into Jerusalem. The ark was brought up the holy hill with shouting and trumpet sound. At that point, Jerusalem became the central point of Yahweh worship for Israel.

Five times the psalm repeats that they were to sing God’s praises. God was enthroned in Israel. He was to be worshiped. He was to be praised. The people were to lift their voices. They were to shout and sing. Yahweh was highly exalted, therefore they were to highly exalt Yahweh.

The same is true today. We don’t have the tabernacle or the temple anymore. We don’t have the ark of the covenant anymore. We don’t travel up a hill to the throne of God anymore. But God is still on His throne. He deserves worship. He deserves praise.

Don’t wait until Sunday to meet with the congregation to worship God. Lift Him up in your heart and mind today. Sing and shout your praises today even if only in your own prayer closet. He deserves it.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 47.

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.

Discuss the Following Questions with Your Family

  1. What are your initial reactions to the psalm and the written devo above?
  2. What are your favorite parts of worshiping God?
  3. Why is worshiping God good for us?
  4. Why does God deserve worship?
  5. What do you think we should pray for and about in light of this psalm and our discussion today?