Our Soul Waits for the Lord

Today’s reading is Psalm 33.

I love movies with a twist, don’t you? I know a lot of people who try to prove how smart they are because they knew before the big reveal that (spoilers ahead) The Village was actually set in modern day or that Dr. Malcolm Crowe was actually dead. As they work to impress me with their intellectual acumen, I just feel sorry for them. Because I’m not that smart, I enjoyed the twists. They didn’t. Must be tough being that smart.

I’ll give you a hint as you read Psalm 33. It’s a psalm with a twist. For almost the whole psalm, you think one thing is happening. In the last scene, however, you discover this is a completely different psalm from what it seemed.

It’s a standard praise and thanksgiving psalm, right? God is wonderful. He’s done amazing things. He is the power and the strength. We are not. Nobody can overcome the Lord; no king, no nation, no counsel. So, let’s all just sit around the campfire and praise the Lord because thanks to Him, life is good.

Then:

Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine.
Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.
For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name.
Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.

Psalm 33:18-22

Wait! What?

We are in a famine? We might die? Why are we waiting on the Lord if we are thanking Him for victory that has already been accomplished?

Because this is not praise offered in the calm after the storm. This is not thanksgiving offered in the shining sun of victory as we enjoy the spoils of war. This is praise offered for calm and peace while the storm is still thundering. This is thanksgiving offered for victory while the battle is still raging.

Don’t wait for the victory to thank and praise God. Thank and praise God while you wait on Him to bring the victory. That is faith. That is trusting in the Lord. That is waiting on the Lord. The steadfast love of the Lord will be upon as we put our hope in Him. But it is not putting our hope in Him if we wait to see how it turns out before we praise and thank Him.

No matter what is going on in your life today, put your hope in the Lord, praising Him, thanking Him, waiting on Him. His steadfast love will abound; I promise!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 33.

PODCAST!!!

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

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From “Me” to “Us”

Today’s reading is Psalm 31.

Track the pronouns in this psalm. Sometimes the main pronoun is the first person singular, sometimes it is the second or third person plural. That is, in some parts it is, “In you, O Lord, do I take refuge.” In other places, it is, “How abundant is your goodness, which you have…worked for those who take refuge in you.” Sometimes it is “I trust the Lord.” Other times it is “Love the Lord, all you his saints! The Lord preserves the faithful…” In this, David moves from praying about “me” the Lord’s anointed to praying about “us” the Lord’s people. This isn’t just some weird poetic thing. This is David setting himself up as the example. This is how God deals with His anointed, the head of His people. Therefore, this is how God deals with all His people. Especially when we get to the ending thoughts. David’s point is, “Look at me, people! Do you see how God has demonstrated himself faithful and loving with me? Do you see how God did deliver? I get it, I had some troubles along the way. But do you see how it ended? The same will be true for you. Hang on through the trouble. Stay faithful. Through me, God has proved Himself faithful.” We should see the same principle in our King. After all, a disciple is not above the teacher but when fully trained will become like the teacher. Do you remember what happened with Jesus? He was persecuted. He was afflicted. It even seemed that the hands of the enemies prevailed against Him. However, on the third day, He burst forth from the grave victorious. That is how the Lord gave victory to our King. We too, though the hand of the enemy seems to prevail, perhaps even killing us, will be victorious. We will also burst forth from the grave. So, commit your spirit into the Lord’s hand and hang on to Him no matter what.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 31.

PODCAST!!!

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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!!!

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Are You Sure You Trust the Lord?

Today’s reading is Psalm 31.

“I trusted the Lord and look where it got me,” says the person who went to church for a while, started obeying the Lord, but then faced a hardship and decided to jump ship. Let me ask you this. Which of the following most demonstrates trust in the Lord? Doing what the Lord says when everything is going your way and turning out exactly as you expected or doing what the Lord says when everything is still going against you and it is not turning out how you expected? David is in some hardship. Enemies have laid a trap for him. He is afflicted and distressed. He has become a reproach to his neighbors, his acquaintances, and even perfect strangers because of his enemies. He is facing terror on every side and the schemes of those who plot to take his life. And all of this has caused his eyes, his body, and his soul to waste away because of how long it has been going on. Yet, he says, “But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.'” It is one thing to say, “I trust You, Lord,” when the Lord behaves exactly like we expect, giving us everything we want and ask for. It is another thing to trust Him by continuing to do what He says and pray to Him when He is not responding the way we want and when it seems like it is doing no good at all. May I suggest we can’t be sure we trust God until that trust has been put to the test in the crucible of shocking circumstances, circumstances in which God isn’t behaving exactly like we expected, in which He isn’t delivering as quickly as we had hoped. In fact, I also suggest we can’t be sure we truly trust God until we continue doing what He says even in the moments when it looks like it is not working at all. You know, moments like when you are hanging on a cross, dying, feeling forsaken, and then say, “Into Your hand I commit my spirit.” I’m not trying to make us fear we don’t have enough faith. I am simply trying to encourage us to hang on to our faith in those moments when we are ready to give up. Because if we don’t, I’m not so sure what we have is actually faith and trust.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 31.

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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Riding the Pendulum

Today’s reading is Psalm 31.

Whether this psalm and the last are placed next to each other for this purpose or not, there is a striking contrast between the two. In Psalm 30:6, David wrote, “I said in my prosperity, ‘I shall never be moved.'” in Psalm 31:22, he writes, “I had said in my alarm, ‘I am cut off from your sight.'” In the previous psalm, because of David’s confidence, pride, and swagger, the Lord hid His face and David was dismayed (though, admittedly, the ultimate outcome of that psalm is David’s deliverance). In this psalm, because of David’s humility, penitence, and prayer, the Lord delivers. This contrast shows what happens in our life. We ride the pendulum. One day, we ride high in confidence. The next, we scrape the bottom in terror. One day, our pride is getting the better of us. The next, our humility draws us closer to God. As all this is going on, this contrast draws out something we learned in Psalm 30 as well. We all want the good times, the mountaintop experiences, but often it is the valleys that teach and grow us the most. It’s hard to thank God for His testing and refining fires, but this gives us reason to count it all joy when we meet various trials. After all, the trials produce steadfastness, steadfastness grows us to maturity, maturity strengthens love, and those who love God receive the crown of life (see James 1:2-4, 12).

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 31.

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Blessed be the Lord!

Today’s reading is Psalm 28.

To really grasp how powerful and profound Psalm 28 is, we need to walk back through the story this last set of psalms has been telling. In Psalm 23, David summarized his journey from pasture to palace and ends with his commitment to dwell in the Lord’s house forever. That leads to a meditation on who can actually dwell in the Lord’s house in Psalm 24. The answer is those with clean hands and pure hearts. That leads to an anticipated objection in Psalm 25. “What if I’ve already defiled my heart and befouled my hands?” The Psalm 25 answer is Yahweh is merciful and forgiving because of His steadfast love and faithfulness. This leads David to beg for help from God in Psalm 26. We miss it because we tend to think of requests for testing as requests for God to learn how awesome we are. But these are refining fire tests that actually pull the slag to the surface and scrape it off. They are tests that grow us and purify us. David realizes that growing through these tests and refinements is walking in the paths of God’s steadfast love and faithfulness (see Psalm 26:3). And it causes David to hang out at God’s reconciling altar allowing his hands to be washed in innocence. This causes David to make a request: “Do not sweep my soul away with sinners” (Psalm 26:9, ESV). However, in Psalm 27, David is surrounded by enemies and false accusers. This concerns him because he has asked the Lord to let him dwell in His house forever, but these enemies seem to be standing in the way between David and the Lord’s house. He is struggling as he walks through these battles and confrontations. He longs to see the Lord’s face, but he fears the Lord may forsake him and turn him away in anger. And if you had committed the kind of sins David had, wouldn’t you be afraid of that as well? But he hangs on. He restates his faith and declares he will wait for the Lord. And now in Psalm 28, David takes up his request again. In fact, this almost seems like an entire psalm dedicated to restating Psalm 26:9 (“Do not sweep me away”). How is this going to end for David? Will he get to be in the Lord’s house forever? Will the Lord remember David according to the mercy for which David is begging or according to the works of his hands? And then we get to Psalm 28:6: “Blessed be the Lord! For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy.” This is not merely David’s faith that God has heard. This is his reaction to the previous declaration that God will tear down the enemies for not regarding the Lord. David knows the distinction has been made. Some commentators, thinking David’s life is in danger, think this psalm was written during the time of Absalom’s rebellion. Frankly, I think it fits much better the time when Nathan told him, “The Lord has put away your sin; you shall not die” (2 Samuel 12:13). And when I grasp how this psalm is the climax of David’s concern about his own sins and his eternal destiny, that is when I gain comfort. Because isn’t his concern mine as well? I have seen David, an awful sinner, forgiven by God. I know I too can turn to God. I can regard the work of His hands above my own. I can call out to Him, and He will hear me as well. Blessed be the name of the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 28.

PODCAST!!!

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Forsaken!

Today’s reading is Psalm 22.

When David wrote this, it wasn’t because he had a vision of how someone else was going to feel centuries later. It was because it was how he felt. Yes, later in the week, we’ll see Jesus in this psalm. But if we jump too quickly to the prophetic nature of this psalm, we will miss the worship nature of this psalm. The suffering in this psalm is extreme. It is impossible to find a record of a time in David’s life that literally matches. To me it fits Joseph in prison or even Daniel in the lion’s den better than any of the stories of David. However, it is clearly not beyond the sweet psalmist of Israel to express his mental, emotional, and spiritual anguish in such intense physical terms to drive home his point. Instead of being encircled by God, he is surrounded by mockers and scorners, by strong bulls, wild lions, and rabid dogs. Like vultures they circle, awaiting his death. And he is on the brink. He is dehydrated and emaciated. His heart can barely pump. His lungs are full of dust. His strength is gone. And David has no idea why God is doing nothing. BUT!!!! But notice what David is still doing. He is still crying out. He is still praying. He knows God’s nature is not defined by what is happening in the present moment. He hasn’t become a different God in this moment than He was in the past when the fathers cried out to Him and He rescued. He is the same God who provided for him as an infant by giving him a mother to nurse him. Of course, it is remembering all of this that makes it even harder to understand the way God is behaving at the moment. But David never entertains the notion that somehow God isn’t there or doesn’t care. He’s confused, even scared. But his faith is an amazing contrast to his declaration of feeling forsaken. What faith!!! Is it one we can mirror? When we feel God is not listening, will we still worship? That is faith.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 22.

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!

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The God of Jacob

Today’s reading is Psalm 20.

In Genesis 34, Simeon and Levi did the unthinkable. They carried out a plan and attack against an entire city-state in Canaan, wiping out all of their men in a single night raid. Jacob became petrified. He looked at his tiny family in comparison to the other city-states of the Canaanites and said, “You have brought trouble on me by making me stink to the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites and the Perizzites. My numbers are few, and if they gather themselves against me and attack me, I shall be destroyed, both I and my household” (Genesis 34:30, ESV). In the next chapter, however, God calls Jacob to go to Bethel to make good on the promise Jacob had made as he was fleeing Esau years earlier. Jacob tells his family to put away their idols and even give up the jewelry they might use later to re-forge their idols. And then he says, “Let us arise and go up to Bethel, so that I may make there an altar to the God who answer me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone” (Genesis 35:3, ESV). Then the text lets us know that Jacob’s fears were completely unfounded: “And as they journeyed, a terror from God fell upon the cities that were around them, so that they did not pursue the sons of Jacob” (Genesis 35:5, ESV). Years later, David writes Psalm 20. A prayer Israel can pray when he is leading her armies to war. And what is the blessing they seek? “May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble [distress]! May the name of the God of Jacob protect you!” (Psalm 20:1, ESV). Do you see why Israel would call on the “God of Jacob” for their king and for their armies? Do you see why we can call on the “God of Jacob” for our churches and our brethren? We have nothing to fear. The God who protected Jacob from the provoked people around him, the God who had been with Jacob as he fled Esau and as he plundered Laban, the God who saw Jacob through his days of distress is our God. He will be with us wherever we go. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 20.

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!

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In God’s Armor

Today’s reading is Psalm 18.

Under the New Covenant, we talk a great deal about God’s armor (see Ephesians 6:10-18). We know about the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, gospel shoes, helmet of salvation, shield of faith, sword of the Word. Here in Psalm 18, we get to see the warrior on the battlefield in all that armor. Feet set secure on the broad places arranged by God so they won’t slip. Hands trained for war that can bend a bow of bronze. Support of God that shields from enemy’s attacks. These complementary images (the New Testament armor picture and the Old Testament battle image) should inform each other. That is, because we know Ephesians 6, we know the armor that makes the battle in Psalm 18 successful. Because we know Psalm 18, we know what the fight in the Ephesians 6 actually looks like. But there is another aspect of seeing these passages in light of each other. In Psalm 18, David said he needed the Lord in the battle because “my strong enemy…those who hated me…were too mighty for me” (Psalm 18:17). In Psalm 18, we envision Saul, Goliath, Doeg, Philistine armies. We live in a day and age that doesn’t include those kinds of enemies. We might view Psalm 18 as a wonderful poem for an ancient bygone day of violence that we don’t experience, until we go back to Ephesians 6 and discover we are smack in the middle of those days. We have enemies among the rulers, authorities, cosmic powers over this present darkness, spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Our enemies are arrayed against us. We can’t see them, but they are there. And they are too mighty for us. However, with God on our side, training us for battle, equipping us with His armor, we can run against a troop. We can leap walls and tall buildings. We can chase down our enemies as they turn their backs on us. We can beat them fine as dust. We can do all of this not because our enemies are weak or because we are strong. We can do all of this because our God is amazing. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 18.

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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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