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.

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Let Him In!

Today’s reading is Psalm 24.

Those final verses of Psalm 24 are a conversation between the gates of the temple and the triumphal procession of Yahweh. The temple was charged to open wide its gates and its doors to allow the King of glory entrance. But this should give us pause for a moment. Where is that temple? Can this song be sung today? That temple has been shaken out of the way so what cannot be shaken could remain. The kingdom that cannot be shaken remains. And so does the temple that cannot be shaken. What temple is that? That, my brothers and sisters, is us. We are that temple. According to Ephesians 2:19-22, we the believers in Jesus Christ, whether from among the Jews or from among the Gentiles, are the temple of the Lord. We learned yesterday of Israel’s great failure. We must not also fail. We are to be the dwelling place of the King of glory. He should dwell in our hearts. He should dwell in our churches. He should dwell in His church. We must lift up our heads, open our hearts and our minds to give Him entrance. We must open our lives to give Him free reign. He is the King of glory. He is mighty in battle. And when we give Him entrance, He will fight on our behalf and we will be victorious. God be praised! Our King is great! Let Him in !

Next week’s reading is Psalm 25.

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Israel’s Great Failure

Today’s reading is Psalm 24.

Some believe this psalm was written when David had the Ark brought to Jerusalem. Others believe it was when Solomon brought the Ark into the temple. Still others believe it was written much later and simply a memorial of these trips. Honestly, I don’t have a dog in this fight at all. The bigger point that we should see is not about the Ark of the Covenant at all. The bigger point is about the King of glory! And who is the King of glory? Jesus, of course! Certainly, when He was first brought to the temple there were a couple of people who tried to point out the reception He should receive (think Anna and Simeon). And the second time He came to the temple, teachers were astonished. However, when Jesus grew up, He should have been hoisted on the shoulders of the people, brought into the temple this song being sung. When He cleansed the temple of the money changers, He should have been lauded and applauded. He should have been asked, “What else shall we do to serve You, King of Glory?” He should have been praised and worshiped universally. The people should have realized He was actually too big to be housed in that temple. But, instead, the Jews believed they were defending the temple by keeping Jesus out of it. Instead of marching Him up Zion’s hill and letting Him take His rightful place on the throne of God in the Holy of Holies, they marched Him up Golgotha’s hill outside the gate and nailed Him to a cross. He was and is the King of glory, the Lord of hosts, strong and mighty, mighty in battle. And Israel failed. Their hands were defiled with the blood of Jesus. Their hearts were divided against their true King. They did lift up their souls to what was false. They did swear deceitfully. And they did not receive their blessing. But as many as did receive Him and believed in His name were given the right to become children of God and subjects of the one, true King of Glory, Jesus Christ. Which choice have you made?

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 24.

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The Destiny of the Saint

Today’s reading is Psalm 23.

We’ve been on a journey this week as we walked with the sheep from the pasture to the palace, and then again with David as he traveled that same path, and then with Israel as they did the same. With this week’s discoveries in mind, what is the message for us today? Of course, we must first remember who our Shepherd is. In John 10:11, Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd.” It’s not that Yahweh was Israel’s Shepherd, while Jesus is ours. Rather, Jesus is Yahweh who is the Good Shepherd. You see, our Shepherd is more than that. He is also the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He went through the crucifixion to prepare a place for us. He defeated death to prepare a path for us. Today, we are wandering through the wilderness of this life. We wander in the pastures as Jesus lets us lie down there and then leads us by still waters. He restores our soul when we are harassed, distressed, downcast. When our way is dark as death, so dark we can’t even see Him, He is still there. With His rod and staff He guides us through paths of righteousness. And, yes, sometimes the path of righteousness goes right through the valley of the shadow and darkness of death. However, He is leading us somewhere. He is leading us to the palace. He is leading us to the marriage feast of the Lamb (see Revelation 19:9). Yahweh took Israel from the pasture to the palace. Yahweh took David from the pasture to the palace. Yahweh is taking us from the pasture to the palace. Hang on to the Shepherd, He will become our eternal host. And we will dwell in His house forever. Praise the Lord!

Next week’s reading is Psalm 24.

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The Autobiography of David

Today’s reading is Psalm 23.

There is a lot of argument regarding when Psalm 23 was written. Most people, knowing of David’s youth as a shepherd, are willing to accept the heading “Psalm of David” to mean he actually wrote it. But when? Some picture the youthful David writing as he lay among the sheep staring up at the stars. Some, recognizing its maturity, picture an aged David looking back on a life of ups and downs, but seeing the Shepherd or Host with him through it all. I guess I’ll wade into the discussion as well. I think it was written around the events of 2 Samuel 7. If it wasn’t written around that time, I’m convinced it was based on that experience. In 2 Samuel 7, David wanted to build a house for the Lord, but the Lord refused. Instead, He told David He would build a house for him (yes, that’s a play on words). Look at 2 Samuel 7:8. God had taken David from the pasture and made him a prince. Doesn’t that sound like our psalm as it moves from a sheep wandering in green pastures, to a guest in a king’s palace feasting in the presence of enemies? And David’s house, according to 2 Samuel 7:16, would be established forever. How long would David dwell in the Lord’s house? In 2 Samuel 7:14, David is reminded of the rod of the Lord’s discipline. And in 2 Samuel 7:15, he is told the steadfast love of the Lord will never depart from him. Sounds an awful lot like goodness and mercy following all his days. And when David concluded his prayer, he said, “For you, O Lord God, have spoken, and with your blessing shall the house of your servant be blessed forever” (2 Samuel 7:29). I could be completely wrong about this, but when I read Psalm 23 next to 2 Samuel 7, I see Psalm 23 as a very poetic autobiography of David. Under the Lord’s watchful eye, he was carried through the wilderness and even through the valley of the shadow of death into the house the Lord had provided for him. Under the Lord’s provision, he moved from the pasture to the palace. And David knew how it had happened. It happened not because he was such an amazing sheep, but because he was cared for by such an amazing Shepherd. What a beautiful picture!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 23.

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Answered!

Today’s reading is Psalm 22.

The entire tenor of the psalm changes at Psalm 22:22. It started as an extreme lament; so dismal we can hardly find a time to actually place it in David’s life. It becomes an extreme praise and thanksgiving; so exuberant it asserts praise not only from the psalmist, not only from the congregation of God’s people, but from the entire world. It is so intense and amazing, we can hardly imagine anyone whose deliverance and salvation would warrant such reaction from the whole world. What produced such an extreme swing? Read vs. 21b: “Save me from the mouth of the lion! You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen!” (ESV). Though that conveys the excitement and reality that would produce such a shift, it actually clouds the really important point David was making. Consider the NKJV: “Save me from the lion’s mouth and from the horns of the wild oxen! You have answered me” (NKJV). I know “rescued” sounds so much more exciting than “answered,” but “answered” is intended to connect us back to vs 2 in which David was receiving no answer. What is the shift? Psalm 22:1-21a is the dismal lament of the one whose request has not been granted though it has been made over and over again, day and night. Psalm 22:22-31 is the exuberant praise and thanksgiving of the one whose requests have been granted. In a very real sense, Psalm 22 mirrors Psalms 20 and 21. Psalm 20 is the prayer for requested blessing on the king as he goes out to battle. Psalm 22:1-21a is the prayer of the king himself in the midst of the battle, but it isn’t going his way. Psalm 22:22-31 is the king’s prayer of thanksgiving and praise when the battle finally turns his way by the grace of God. Psalm 21 is the prayer of thanksgiving offered by the people when the king comes back victorious. Honestly, we likely go back and forth between the two halves of the psalm. Remember, the same God rules in both halves. If you want to be able to offer the praises of the second half of Psalm 22, you have to hang on to God and await His answers while living through the first half of Psalm 22. Yes, He may wait to grant your request until the dogs circle, the mouth of the lion closes, the horns of the oxen vault you in the air. But He will answer. He will deliver. You are not forsaken. You are answered! Hang on!!!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 22.

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Do Not Be Deceived, Judgment Comes

Today’s reading is Psalm 21.

In the first half of Psalm 21, the psalmist is looking back. The king having come home victorious, the psalmist is acknowledging God’s part in the victory. However, beginning in vs. 8, the psalmist looks ahead. The past victory is a sign, a down payment if you will, of what is to come. It is unclear whether the speaker is addressing Yahweh, simply asserting faith regarding what He will do, or if he is addressing the king, encouraging him with what Yahweh will do through him. Either way, the message is the same. “Enemies Beware!” It is as if to say to everyone of the enemies, “Did you see what just happened to my last enemy? That is what is coming for you.” Having been raised up on the love of Jesus, it is hard for us to stomach this kind of psalm. And yet, we need to understand that being an enemy of Jesus is a serious affront. It is a crime against not only humanity, but against heaven. It is a sin of truly extravagant proportions. Jesus’s love was offered to find escape from this judgment. Those, however, who ignore His love and choose rather to stiff arm Him and spit in His face will be judged. Don’t be deceived. It is coming and it won’t be pleasant. It will be awful. Don’t joke about it. Don’t dismiss it. Don’t ignore it. Don’t procrastinate preparing for it. In the end, the battle does belong to the Lord. You can’t defeat Him. I encourage you if you haven’t already done so, surrender. Lay down your weapons. Put down your defenses. Surrender your allegiance. The only way to victory is to grant that God wins and defect to His side. Don’t delay. Judgment comes.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 21.

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“Thank You!”

Today’s reading is Psalm 21.

In Psalm 20, a pre-battle blessing was prayed for the king. Psalm 21 seems to be it’s companion. In Psalm 20:4, the requested blessing was that God grant the king his heart’s desire. In Psalm 21:2, the psalmist acknowledges God had done exactly that. Once again, we are saying that while each psalm is its own literary unit, we can see why the compilers of the psalms placed these two together. And what a powerful lesson they give when taken that way. When the trouble is upon us, we are quick to ask. But when the request is granted, do we always remember to acknowledge God? Do we always remember to thank Him? Do we always remember to praise Him? You would think everyone would be thankful for every gift, wouldn’t you? But do you know about the 10 lepers in Luke 17 that begged Jesus for healing? As they went on their way, they all were healed, but only one returned to give thanks. I doubt any of the nine thought of themselves as ungrateful people, but only one returned. I’m sure they were all excited, but only one returned. Where were the nine? Certainly, victory in battle is a pretty big thing. We’d imagine the nation would never forget to thank God for that. Remember, however, that Paul encourages us to be thankful in all circumstances, not simply the really, really big ones (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Are you breathing today? Have you thanked God for air? Is your blood flowing today? Have you thanked God for blood flow? Are you saved in Jesus today? Have you thanked God today for that victory? We could, of course, go on and on and on. But let us especially remember to thank God when He does respond to our requests, whether big or small.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 21.

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A Prayer for OUR King

Today’s reading is Psalm 20.

We may think Psalm 20 is really not for us. It is an interesting look at a historical prayer that could have been used back in the days of Israel’s monarchy, but not today. Not so. We can…we should pray Psalm 20. But let us not dumb it down as if we should use this psalm to pray for the leaders of our earthly nations. Of course, we should pray for them. But we pray for them passages like 1 Timothy 2:1-7, not Psalm 20. This is a prayer for God’s anointed. And as much as it was a prayer for David, it is a prayer for our King, Jesus. It was the prayer the apostles should have been praying that night they were sleeping in Gethsemane. And while Jesus has already won that the greatest of victories, we recall Ephesians 6. We recall we are the army our King is leading into battle against the rulers, the authorities, the cosmic powers over this present darkness, the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. We know the heart’s desire of Jesus and we know His plans–to conquer every foe until the very last is conquered and He turns the kingdom back over the Father. And we can pray for the Father’s blessing on these plans, because they are the Father’s plans as well. Therefore not only will our King stand upright, but we will rise and stand upright. We know God will give our King victory, which actually means God will give us victory. This psalm is not antiquated. It is very modern. We need to be praying it for our King, Jesus. Let us prepare our banners to rejoice in the victory. There is no way our King will lose; there is no way we who give our allegiance to Him will lose. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 20.

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A Prayer for the King

Today’s reading is Psalm 20.

As we’ve intimated over the past two days, Psalm 20 is a prayer for the King of Israel before he goes out to battle. It is a prayer of blessing. And what a prayer it is. Though it is spoken to the King himself, originally David, it is a prayer to God. The blessing assumes the King himself is praying and asks the Lord to answer when the King calls on Him. It is a fearful thing when the King goes out to battle. A land without a King is a like a flock without a shepherd. So, they pray for God’s protection for their King. The main prayer is seen in the requests that help come from the sanctuary and support from Zion. The prayer is not for armed reinforcements. The hope is not that more soldiers will make it to the battlefield from Jerusalem in time. No; Zion was the dwelling place of Yahweh. It was where He chose to make His name dwell from the time of David. The prayer is that Yahweh Himself will fight the battles of the King. Israel had a long history of Yahweh fighting their battles. It started with the ten plagues and the crossing of the Red Sea. We see it when Moses held up his staff with the help of Aaron and Hur and Joshua prevailed. We see it when Joshua and Israel marched around Jericho. We see it when Gideon’s 300 fought the Midianites. But we also see it when the armies of Israel just marched to battle and fought hand to hand. In all these circumstances, God was fighting for them. The assumption in the prayer is that the King’s plans and desires coincide with God’s. That his plans are for victory of God’s people. And this prayer is offered in faith because they are putting their trust in God, not in horses and chariots. Which means the prayer is also offered in obedience. In Deuteronomy 17:16, the King was precluded from multiplying horses, and in Deuteronomy 20:1-4, God told Israel not to fear when they faced large armies with horses and chariots. Thus, when Israel prayed this prayer, they could know it would be granted because they offered it in obedience and faith. What an amazing prayer Israel could offer for David and what amazing confidence they could have in their God. And as David was off with his armies, those who remained behind could prepare their banners because they knew they would be able to fly them. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 20.

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