My Spirit and My Times

Today’s reading is Psalm 31.

“Into your hand I commit my spirit,” David says in Psalm 31:4. That sounds beautiful. I want to do that. But what does it mean? Practically, how do I commit my spirit to the Lord? Perhaps Psalm 31:15 gives us some insight. David also says, “My times are in your hand.” That is, my circumstance, my life events, my days, my nights, my seasons, my weeks, my years. If “my times” are in God’s hands, doesn’t that imply my behavior during those times is in God’s hands? Paul provides a great example of this in 2 Corinthians 12:10. Having become convinced of God’s grace in his life through a thorn in the flesh, he says, “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” In other words, “My circumstances are in the Lord’s hands. If He decides to make me sick, if He decides to make me go through a shipwreck, if He decides to put me in prison, if He decides to make me abound in prosperity, I’ll trust Him that He is doing what is right; and I’ll just obey Him no matter what.” Of course, Jesus demonstrates this on the cross. He even quotes it (Luke 23:46). Even if God puts me on a cross. Even if I’m thrown in a fiery furnace or a lion’s den. Even if the fig tree doesn’t blossom, there is no fruit on the vine, the produce of the olive fail, the fields yield no food, the flocks and herds get destroyed, I will rejoice in the Lord (Habakkuk 3:17-18). He’ll get me through. I trust Him. My job will just be to do whatever He says and rejoice in Him no matter what. I know in the end, He’ll work it out for His glory and my good. My spirit and my times are in the Lord’s hands. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 31.

PODCAST!!!

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

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Saved from God

Today’s reading is Psalm 28.

David is begging for mercy. He is afraid he will be like those who go down to the pit. But what does he want to be saved from? What is he actually afraid is going to happen? He mentions the wicked, workers of evil, and those who have falsehood in their heart. It is no wonder so many people believe David is asking God to deliver him from wicked people. There are many psalms in which David is doing exactly that. However, read the psalm again. In which verse does David speak of what these wicked people are doing to him? In which verse does David speak of needing rescue from his enemies? Shockingly, when we slow down and don’t just read into this psalm what we’ve read in other psalms, we see those things are actually missing here. Of whom is David really afraid in this psalm? Be honest. David is afraid of God. David is afraid that God, when He brings judgment on the wicked, the evil, the false, will drag him off as well. David is afraid of being swallowed up in God’s judgment. David wants to be saved from God and His wrath. This really fits with the series of psalms we’ve been reading. In Psalm 23, David expresses that he wants to dwell in the Lord’s house. In Psalm 24, he describes the qualifications for dwelling in the house. But then in Psalm 25, he hits a snag. He knows he doesn’t qualify. However, he serves a merciful God who is full of loyal love and is faithful to His covenants. Praise the Lord! That is the only reason David can be assured he will dwell in the holy hill. So, he begs God to remember him according to God’s mercy, not according to David’s sin. But David knows the wicked will be remembered according to their sins. They will be remembered for the works of their hands. What hope does David have? There is nothing he can offer God. He can’t earn His way into the sanctuary of the Lord. He can only turn toward it and beg for mercy. He is the tax collector whose only recourse is to cry out, “Be merciful to me the sinner.” More than that, he is a stalk of wheat in the midst of tares. Can he be sure that he won’t get cut down and cast into the fire with the wicked? That is exactly where we all are. We don’t really need to be saved from the wicked people. What we really need is to be saved from God’s wrath. Isn’t that what Paul says Jesus does for us in Romans 5:6-11? Absolutely. David begged that God would not sweep him away with the wicked. God’s response was to let Jesus die for David. That is His response for us as well. And if God was willing to sacrifice Jesus to save us from His wrath, don’t you think He is paying attention to which folks are actually in Jesus? Of course, He is. In fact, isn’t that the message of Revelation 7:1-12? The Lord knows who are His. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 28.

PODCAST!!!

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

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David’s #1 Goal

Today’s reading is Psalm 27.

David is surrounded by enemies and violent false accusers. He is facing war. An enemy army is encamped around him. What is his #1 goal? Defeating the enemy? Saving his skin? Prolonging his life? Proving his own manliness, strength, and military might? Returning to kick back in the palace and be served by the masses? Nope! Being in the house of the Lord. Gazing on the beauty of the Lord. Seeing the face of the Lord. Immerse yourself in this picture. The commanding king is on the battlefield and what most upsets him about having to face this battle is not really his own personal danger. The most upsetting part for David is this battle keeps him away from the Lord’s house. Remember Psalm 23:6? David wanted to dwell in the house of the Lord forever. But today, an enemy army stands between him and that house. Peter tells us we can cast all our anxieties upon the Lord because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:6-7). My prayer is that I will grow to the point where I understand that the real issue with every other anxiety, every other attack, every other struggle is that they are distracting me from the beauty of the Lord and drawing me out of the house of the Lord. I pray I will grow to the point that my #1 concern, my #1 goal is to be in the Lord’s house, gazing upon His beauty and favor, glorying in the sight of His face.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 27.

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.

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Revisiting the Valley of Death’s Darkness

Today’s reading is Psalm 27.

Do you remember the Valley of the Shadow of Death? That was definitely a dark picture. I can understand, however, how we might struggle to put legs on that metaphor. What might the Valley of Death’s Darkness look like in a more pragmatic picture? Look no further than Psalm 27. As David continues this series on the house of the Lord, we see his faith along the paths of righteousness. Look at how dark it is for him. Evildoers assail him to eat up his flesh. That’s a pretty brutal picture, but it makes a whole lot more sense if we see it as continuing the sheep metaphor from Psalm 23, doesn’t it? A bit more literally, he says, “Though an army encamp against me” and “war arise against me.” False witnesses had arisen against him breathing out violence. We can try, of course, to place this psalm at a particular moment in David’s reign, but whenever we place it, this picture helps us understand his dark valley and how he made it through. “The Lord is my light and my salvation.” “The Lord is the stronghold of my life.” Can you see how these statements call to mind both metaphors from Psalm 23? He is the light for the sheep in death’s dark valley. He is the stronghold in which the guest is hosted as enemies look on helpless. “Whom shall I fear?” David asks. Paul asks the same question on our behalf in Romans 8:31, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” Then he goes on to explain that our certainty is far more sure than David’s: “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?” (Romans 8:32). When we are in the valley as dark as death, we can remember that Jesus has already gone through that valley on our behalf. We can remember He came out on the other side. David had faith even before Jesus. How much more faith can we have in our Shepherd, knowing He has in fact already defeated our biggest enemies. Even if you can’t sense the light, know that to Jesus, your dark valley is as bright as the morning. He will lead you through it. Just keep doing what He says in His Word. You’ll make it. Not because you are amazing, but because our Lord and Shepherd is. Praise God!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 27.

Some Links:

Click here to hear or read Edwin’s sermon on “The Dark Shadow of Psalm 23.”

Click here to be reminded of the Psalm 23 metaphor about the Shepherd.

Click here to be reminded of the Psalm 23 metaphor about the Host.

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!

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I Love Your Friends!

Today’s reading is Psalm 26.

We mentioned Psalm 1 yesterday. Remember it again today. That psalm made a distinction between the blessed and the wicked. But there is more to the choice than just being the blessed or being the wicked. David understands that if He is going to dwell in the Lord’s holy habitation at the summit of the Lord’s holy hill, he has to be careful who his friends are. In Psalm 15, another psalm that questions who can dwell in the Lord’s house (similar to Psalm 24), David recorded that the holy hill dweller is one “in whose eyes a vile person is despised, but who honors those who fear the Lord.” In a day and age, such as our own, dominated by the concept of tolerance, we can lose sight of the fact that the Lord does not tolerate everyone. Those who pursue what is false, hypocrites, evildoers, and those who practice wickedness are not tolerated by the Lord in His own house. And while nothing makes God happier than for these to repent, submit to Him, and then come live with Him, nothing will make God bring these into His house while they continue in their sin. And so, back to Psalm 1, the person who walks with the wicked, hangs out with the sinful, settles down with scoffers will not be blessed. David loves Yahweh. He loves worshiping Yahweh. He loves those who worship Yahweh in truth. He knows that if he hangs out with the impenitently sinful and rebellious now, he will be hanging out with them for eternity. He loves the Lord and those who love the Lord. He loves the Lord’s friends. While we can never go out of the world (see 1 Corinthians 5:10), and while we certainly must develop relationships with the impenitently sinful in order to lead them to repentance, we must make sure our closest relationships are those who have their closest relationship with Yahweh. And doesn’t that just make sense? I mean, it is kind of hard to dwell in Yahweh’s house if I’m having to constantly abandon it to hang out with my best friends. Who are your best friends?

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 26.

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.

Continue reading “I Love Your Friends!”

The History of Israel

Today’s reading is Psalm 23.

When we compare Psalm 23 to 2 Samuel 7, we see David’s autobiography, being taken from the pasture to the palace. But we see more. David’s life mirrored the history of Israel. Therefore, so does Psalm 23. Though I admit it isn’t spelled out quite as plainly, in 2 Samuel 7, God reminds David of the years Israel spent wandering in the wilderness in tents. He does specifically call the judges He used during those days as shepherds of His people in 2 Samuel 7:7. In 2 Samuel 7:10, He explains His plans to plant Israel so they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more. He will give them rest from their enemies. In other words, though not quite as literally as David, God took Israel from the pasture to the palace. There are other connections. For instance, in Deuteronomy 2:7, Moses reminded Israel that as God led them through the wilderness, they lacked nothing. In Psalm 78:19, Asaph refers to God’s work in the wilderness as spreading a table before Israel and then explained that when the rock gushed water it overflowed streams. And God was considered the Shepherd of Israel since Genesis 48:15. In other words, the story of Psalm 23 is not just an idyllic picture of comfort. But it is also more than the autobiography of David, it is the history of Israel. A pattern is emerging. This is how God deals with His people. He leads them from the pasture to the palace. Praise the Lord!

PODCAST!!

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

Continue reading “The History of Israel”

The Lord is My Host

Today’s reading is Psalm 23.

The Lord is my host. That imagery is not nearly as beloved today as yesterday’s shepherding imagery. However, that is exactly what our psalm moves to in vss. 5-6. I recognize and appreciate the view that the picture of shepherding persists throughout the whole psalm. And, in fact, it might. I could be wrong about this. However, as much as we can stretch the figures of vs. 5 to still apply to a shepherd with his sheep (preparing tableland pastures, anointing the head of the sheep with medicinal ointments, the cup of ointment being in abundance), these metaphors are most simply and most literally applied to the role of a host at a feast. When the Lord is our host, a sumptuous table is spread before us. Not only that, but the disturbing odors of the day in the hot sun are removed by the fragrant anointing oil that softens the skin and soothes the weariness. And the cup overflows. Like the Lord’s sheep led by the abundance of quiet waters, the Lord’s guest never waits for a refill and doesn’t have to worry that the supply of refreshment will be depleted. But as with the sheep and his Shepherd, being the guest of the Lord is not all sunshine and daisies. We feast under the threatening eyes of the enemies. We are in a scene of plenty, but there is danger. For the sheep, the rod and staff comforts. For the guest, it is goodness and mercy. And, we must recognize that goodness and mercy do not passively follow along. They pursue. They chase us down. In almost an inversion on the whole enemy picture, though enemies are present, they aren’t our pursuers. The Lord’s goodness and mercy are. So, why would I be a guest in anyone else’s house? Why would I feast with any other master? I will dwell in Yahweh’s house. After all, in His house, I lack nothing. Hallelujah!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 23.

PODCAST!!!

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

Continue reading “The Lord is My Host”

When I Feel So All Alone

Today’s reading is Psalm 12.

Those who fear the Lord often feel alone. In 1 Kings 19:10, 14, Elijah sought mercy from God because he felt all alone. Isaiah claimed the righteous were perishing while no one laid it to heart (Isaiah 57:1). Micah was undone because the godly had perished from the earth and there was no one upright among mankind (Micah 7:1-2). And here David also asserts being all alone. As far as David is concerned, there are no other godly people around him. The faithful have all vanished from the children of men. Similarly, the psalm ends by saying on every side the wicked prowl and only vileness is exalted among the children of men. What do all these men have in common? They were wrong. That is, if we are going to take their words 100% literally. David always had supporters. There was a remnant in Israel even during the captivity periods. And God specifically told Elijah there were 7000 who were just as faithful as he was. But when I feel alone, hearing, “No you’re not!” isn’t always the most helpful thing. What is? Turning to God. If there is one thing we learn from the Psalms, it is that prayer is the right response no matter what. We live in a culture and a time in which sitting alone with God is almost impossible. With television, Facebook, radio, podcasts, magazines, books, news, Twitter, movies, Instagram, and so much more constantly blaring around us, we rarely just get to sit in God’s presence. But when we’re all alone, even if it is just an emotional feeling, that is the perfect time to pour out our hearts to God. That is the perfect time to simply meditate on God and His goodness. That is the perfect time to pull out His Word and let it marinate our hearts, minds, and souls. Even when we intellectually know it isn’t true, there are times when we feel all alone. The best response in those times is to follow the example of the psalmists: turn to the God who never, ever leaves us alone. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 12.

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Rebuking the Nations

Today’s reading is Psalm 9.

I have no idea when Psalm 9 was written. It sounds like it could have been written during the days the Philistines were attacking David while Saul was trying to have David killed in 1 Samuel 18. Or it could be when the Philistines were attacking the newly established king David in 1 Chronicles 14. Then again, it could be around the time of 1 Chronicles 18, when David fought Philistines, Moabites, Edomites, Ammonites, Amalekites, and Zobahites. It could really fit in 1 Chronicles 19 when David was wishing to honor Hanun son of Nahash the Ammonite, but his men were dishonored. So Joab and David respectively lead the Israelite army in battles to defeat the Ammonites and Syrians in response to this poor treatment. David was attacked, dishonored, and fought against many times. Of course, I think he did his fair share of attacking himself. What gave him confidence in these battles? In Psalm 9, David remembered Israel’s past. God had rebuked the nations. David remembers the conquest of Canaan under Joshua and the amazing victories God gave then. He knew what God’s promises had been. He knew what God’s promises to him were. He knew how God had handled all of His promises in the past. Therefore, he could praise God and give Him thanks with his whole heart even when he was facing affliction, even when he was in the middle of the battle, even if some things didn’t quite go his way. Perhaps it would behoove the nations today to know that when they go against God’s people, God’s people always win. Just as Psalm 8 had said, God is mindful; God does care. God especially cares about His anointed people. May the nations stand rebuked. We do not take up arms to fight military battles. We do not trust in men to win the war with political battles. But, nations beware! God always wins!

Today’s reading is Psalm 9.

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We are the Babies

Today’s reading is Psalm 8.

It is quite possible that the purpose of Psalm 8:1-2 is to move our gaze from the expanse of the universe down to the tiniest infant to see God’s glory from the greatest to the smallest. However, I think vs. 2 may have a more significant point. The psalmist is about to question why God would even consider humankind as worthy of thought and remembrance. Yet, God has crowned man with glory and honor and given dominion to him. The latter half of the psalm expresses how amazing it is that God gives man dominion over His creation. This first part of the psalm shows how amazing it is that God stills the enemy and the avenger through mere infants. The point is not that literal infants are the strength of God. The point is that we, in all our strength, are nothing more than infants and babies. When we defeat the foes of God, when we still the enemies and avengers, it is not because of any great strength we have. It is because God has worked through us: mere babies and infants. This has special significance if this psalm really was written, as some believe, to memorialize David’s defeat of Goliath. Saul had claimed David was but a youth. David goes further, he is an infant. The victory wasn’t about David. He was just a baby. The victory was about God who, though His glory is above the heavens, condescends to work through youths, children, infants, and babies. We are the babies. How amazing is that?

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 8.

Continue reading “We are the Babies”