Third Verse not Like the First

Today’s reading is Psalm 43.

The common consensus is Psalm 42 and Psalm 43 were originally one psalm. There are decent reasons to believe this. For starters, a few ancient manuscripts apparently record them as one psalm (though the majority do not). The repeated refrain from Psalm 42:5, 11 is also the refrain in Psalm 43:5. The question about mourning and oppression of the enemy is found in Psalm 42:9 and Psalm 43:2. Clearly, Psalms 42-49 is a collection of psalms by the Sons of Korah. Psalm 43, however, does not have an attribution to anyone. That seems pretty convincing that the attribution for Psalm 42, in view of the other similarities, is supposed to stand for both psalms.

No doubt, the common consensus may be right. Of course, almost no one can venture a guess as to why the psalm would have been split in two. The only conjecture I’ve read is this last verse was separated for liturgical use. It is more of a prayer than the two verses in Psalm 42, so it was separated to be used in different worship settings. Perhaps.

But just like many of the psalms that we are told are surely two psalms that have been jammed together, I’m left with the same question. Why? It is clearly obvious that somehow these psalms are connected. So obvious almost everyone asserts they must have once been a single psalm. Why then would anyone separate them?

In my mind, its much more likely that either the author of Psalm 42 or another Son of Korah determined Psalm 42 was a song that needed another verse and added it later. Something was missing and needed to be completed. It seems God felt similarly, because He wanted both included in the Psalter. But whether I’m right or the common consensus is correct really doesn’t matter. These two psalms go together and clearly the ancient editors of the Psalms thought so, because they put them together in our psalter.

But there is a difference. Psalm 42 is very much a lament. It explains the two scenarios of dehydration and drowning. It laments the mocking of the enemies. It questions what God is doing. Psalm 43, however, is a prayer, a request. “Lord, do something about this!”

And that is exactly what we can do. When lament is the order of the day (and there are days when lament is in order), the prayer is not complete with just the complaint. Certainly, Psalm 88 proves you can end with just the lament, but why would you want to? Bring in that third verse that is not like the first or the second. Bring in that third verse that calls on God. He’ll let you ask. He wants you to ask. What gracious God we serve!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 43.

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? It doesn’t matter a great deal, but do you think these were probably a single psalm that were broken apart or is Psalm 43 a later psalm meant to “complete” the first?
  3. Why are we sometimes tempted to just lament? Is there ever a reason to do so?
  4. What comfort does it give you to know that in our lament God allows and even wants us to make our requests of Him?
  5. What do you think we should pray for and about in light of this psalm and our discussion today?

Who Is in Control?

Today’s reading is Psalm 41.

Underneath Psalm 41:8 is an interesting claim. The ESV says the friends claim a “deadly thing” has been poured out on David. The word for deadly is similar to the word “Belial.” It is the word that means “worthless” (1 Samuel 25:25) and can also mean “destruction” (Psalm 18:4). It contains an underlying idea that David’s sickness is actually caused by demonic or unclean spirits. This actually brings up an amazing point we find in the Psalms.

In the ancient Near East, we learn that when folks from other nations wrote psalms, poems, laments, they often attributed their sicknesses and troubles to evil spirits, jinn, demons just as David’s enemies here do. But take a look at to whom David attributes control over his illness. Once again, David believes his illness is theosomatic. That is, he believes it is God’s discipline for his own sins.

I know it gives us just a bit of trouble to place God as the ultimate power behind all the things we read about in the psalms. However, the great blessing of that realization is God is the one in control. He is sovereign. If God is the one who is ultimately behind all these, then God is the one we must turn to when we face them.

No, this doesn’t mean every sickness we face is God’s specific discipline for a specific sin. Further, it doesn’t mean God is simply striking people with sickness right and left. But it does remind us God is the one in control. God is the one who can provide the healing. God is the one who can provide the deliverance. David’s sickness was not under the control of Belial, therefore David wasn’t going to die.

Whatever we face, whether it is because of our sins or just because of time and chance, it isn’t under the control of the enemy. It is under the control of God. Turn to Him. He is the one who can deliver. He is the only one who can deliver. He will deliver.

Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 41.

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.

Discuss the Following Questions with Your Family

  1. What are your initial reactions to the psalm and the written devo above?
  2. Why are you glad that God is in control?
  3. Why is it hard to hang on to God when we are really sick or when enemies attack?
  4. What advice would you give to encourage others to hang on to God even when life is difficult and painful?
  5. What do you think we should pray for and about in light of this psalm and our discussion today?

My Enemies

Today’s reading is Psalm 41.

It hurts when you find out friends are actually enemies. To your face they say nice things, behind your back they spread secrets and lies. When you are around, they feign care about your life. In their hearts, they wish you were dead. When you are providing the meal, they eat your bread. When you are in your sickbed, they abandon you.

Have you ever been betrayed by a friend? Hurts like crazy, doesn’t it? David knew what that was like.

Friends are great. We all need them. But always remember who your actual hope is. God is the best friend. When friends fail us, God never will. Even when our friends become enemies, though they hurt us, they will not shout in triumph over us.

God always wins. Therefore, when we are with God, we always win. Hang on to your truest friend no matter what.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 41.

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.

Discuss the Following Questions with Your Family

  1. What are your initial reactions to the psalm and the written devo above?
  2. What benefits and blessings do your friends provide you?
  3. Why does it hurt so bad when friends betray us?
  4. What advice would you give to help us make God our best friend?
  5. What do you think we should pray for and about in light of this psalm and our discussion today?

Who is Blessed?

Today’s reading is Psalm 41.

A very common perspective on Psalm 41:1 is to simply see another beatitude adding to the ones we’ve highlighted before. This one teaches that the man who considers the weak and poor will be blessed by God. That is certainly possible. However, what if this beatitude is just a little bit different? Can I suggest a different perspective?

Did you catch how Psalm 40 ended? “As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God!” Now, to be transparent, the words translated “poor” in Psalm 40:17 and Psalm 41:1 are two different words. However, the concept of the “poor and needy” at the end of the last psalm and the “poor” at the beginning of this one are the same.

When you have just read about God taking thought for someone who is poor and needy at the end of one poem and the next one begins with a praise of the one who considers the poor, who is the one considering the poor? Doesn’t it just make sense that it is God? It does to me.

Then in Psalm 40:1b-3, we see a description of the One who considers the poor and needy. We see a picture of the one who is taking care of David when he is weak, poor, needy. God delivers the weak in the day of trouble. God protects the poor and keeps him alive. God sustains the needy on his sickbed.

This psalm is a praise of Yahweh for caring for David. It is not a praise of David for caring for the poor. And what a fitting end to the first book of the Psalms. David has been through so much in these poems. He has been attacked. He has been sick. He has been near death. He has been overcome by sin. But God has brought him through and delivered him from it all.

Blessed be the Lord!

And praise the Lord because He’s our Lord too!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 41.

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? Is Edwin right that the statement is about God? Or do you think it is a beatitude about those who take care of the poor? Why?
  3. What other reasons do we have to praise and bless God? Consider especially things we’ve learned through this first book of the Psalms.
  4. How does this picture of God give you comfort?
  5. What do you think we should pray for and about in light of this psalm and our discussion today?

Well, Lord, Here I Am Again

Today’s reading is Psalm 40.

Why does this psalm go from the heights of thanksgiving to the depths of lament? Because David has gotten himself in a mess…again.

This psalm is David’s plea for God to deliver him from the results of his own sin (the last half of the psalm). Part of his basis for the plea is how he handled God’s earlier deliverances (the first half of the psalm). In the past, he waited patiently. In the past, he trusted in the Lord. In the past, he gave God the praise and the glory. In the past, he told the whole congregation about God’s faithfulness, steadfast love, and salvation. Because of all that, he asks God to deliver him…again.

There is, of course, nothing in this psalm that justifies sinning our way into trouble. However, have you ever been in that moment when you had to say, “Well, Lord, here I am again?” That is where David is in Psalm 40.

What is he allowed to do? He is allowed to go to God…again. He is allowed to pray…again. He is allowed to confess…again. He is allowed to repent…again. He is allowed to cry out for mercy…again. He is allowed to seek deliverance…again. Praise the Lord!

Are you there…again?

Turn to the Lord.

Let us know if we can help.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 40.

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. How comforting is it to you to see one of the Bible saints turn to God after getting in sinful messes multiple times?
  3. Ultimately, what has God done to deliver us from our sin?
  4. What advice do you have to help the others in your family stay out of those sinful messes?
  5. What do you think we should pray for and about in light of this psalm and our discussion today?

Not in Anger, Lord

Today’s reading is Psalm 38.

Even though I’ve read another psalm that begins with almost this exact same first verse, I’m completely stunned by it. I was stunned by it at Psalm 6, but I’m even more stunned by it here in Psalm 38. I’m more stunned here because there was no sin in Psalm 6. Now, in Psalm 38, David knows he is a sinner. He knows his own sin is part of the problem. He knows he actually deserves all the other problems he is facing. He is certain all those other issues are actually God’s discipline for his sin.

But how does he start? By telling God how to handle his business! I mean, I can hardly even process that. I want to be able to explain this, to outline reasons why this is okay. But, frankly, I’m scared to try to quantify this because I might get it wrong and lead you to pray something you shouldn’t. The only thing I can say is this is grace. This is what mercy looks like.

God has every right to be angry at David. He has every right to judge and punish David. And for David to come to him in that moment and try to set limits on God’s anger and discipline? What on earth is David thinking?

But, wow! What comfort this brings me. When sin is the foundation of my problem, the very last thing I want to do is come to the Lord. I want to hide from Him. I want Him to forget about me. I am afraid to start making too much noise lest He turn His gaze on me and decide to take final action against me and my sin. But David? David knows there is only One who can do anything about his sins. And so, even though his sins are the root of the problem, He turns to God and asks Him for more mercy and grace.

And God lets him!

Please, don’t miss this most important part. In all your study of the psalm about its genre, its verses, its words, its connections to other passages, don’t miss the most important part. This psalm exists! Not only did David write it, God included it in the psalter.

When I sin, and I have, I can come to God and ask Him not to punish me like I deserve. Wow!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 38.

PODCAST!!!

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

Discuss the Following Questions with Your Family

  1. What are your initial reactions to the psalm and the written devo above?
  2. Are you shocked by Psalm 38:1 at all? Why or why not?
  3. Do you think Psalm 38 is saying every time I’m sick it is because of sin? Why or why not?
  4. How does David actually confront his sin according to Psalm 38:18?
  5. What do you think we should pray for and about in light of this psalm and our discussion today?

A Psalm We Can Relate To

Today’s reading is Psalm 38.

Psalm 38 is intense. It almost seems like everything negative that could happen to a person is happening to David in this psalm.

He’s having spiritual problems, health problems, relationship problems. He is sick with an intensity that is overwhelming. He mentions pain, infection, weakness. He has a relational isolation that is almost insurmountable. His enemies are after him like vultures who sense a near death. His friends and companions have started distancing themselves. Even his family is standing far off. To top all of this off, his sin and guilt stands in the way of fixing any of these other things.

We can argue all day long about whether or not to take the intensity of this psalm literally. Is David using poetic license to simply tell us how he feels in some moment? Or is he literally this sick, this isolated, this spiritually destitute?

The answers to those questions don’t matter nearly as much as the recognition that we’ve all been in those situations. Maybe we’ve never had all of them at the same time. Maybe never to that intensity. But then again, maybe we have been in all those situations, to that degree, and all at the same time. Whatever the case, there is no escaping this psalm. We can’t say, “Well, David doesn’t understand what it’s like to be me. He hasn’t experienced the kind of struggles and problems I’ve faced.”

This is a psalm we can relate to. Whatever problem we are facing, this psalm includes it. And here’s the key. What did David do with it? He took it to God in prayer. Even that sin problem in his relationship with God, he took it to God in prayer. Even though he was certain all his other problems were caused by his sin problem, he went to God in prayer anyway.

I can relate. You can too!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 38.

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. Can you think of any kinds of problems folks might face that aren’t included in this psalm? If so, what do you think we should do with those problems?
  3. What do you think keeps Christians from praying in the face of these kinds of problems?
  4. Look at Psalm 38:9, 15, what faith prompted David to go ahead and take all these problems to the Lord?
  5. What do you think we should pray for and about in light of this psalm and our discussion today?

Life and Light

Today’s reading is Psalm 36.

David is explaining why we want to listen to God instead of Transgression. Transgression only leads to evil. Its way is simply not good.

God, however, is the fountain of life. Transgression doesn’t bring life. It only brings death. God is the light. Not only that, by His light we see all other light. It is like that principle from C.S. Lewis when he said something along the lines of, “I believe in God for the same reason I believe in the sun. Not because I can see it, but because by it I can see everything else.” Without God, we would be blind. And that is exactly what sin does. It blinds us.

How do we gain access to this life and light? The apostle John tells us in John 1:4. Talking about the Word of God whom he later reveals as Jesus, John writes, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men.”

Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). No one can get close to the Father except through Jesus. He is the life. He is the light. He is the refuge. His is the house of abundant feasting. His is the river of delights. He will increase God’s steadfast love to those who make knowing Him their life. He will deliver from the arrogant foot and the wicked hand that threaten to mislead and derail us.

Jesus is our Guide! We might even say, our Shepherd. Praise the Lord!

Next week’s reading is Psalm 37.

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 “Life and Light”

The Two Counsellors

Today’s reading is Psalm 36.

While it is perfectly legitimate to pigeonhole the genre of a psalm as you start to study it, if you forget that the labels we attribute to psalms are not God-inspired, you can miss the trees for the forest. This happens for many with Psalm 36. Is it a wisdom psalm? Is it a praise psalm? Is it a lament? There are elements of each of these genres in this psalm. These attempts to pin down a genre cause some to suggest this psalm is a hodgepodge of multiple ancient psalms thrown together without unity.

That, however, misses the big picture of what is going on here. Once again, we are being taken back to the very first psalm. However, this time there is a twist.

In Psalm 1, the two people being counseled are contrasted: the blessed and the wicked. The blessed listen to God, the wicked listen to…well…other wicked people. In Psalm 36, the two counsellors are contrasted: God and sin.

In this psalm, David personifies sin much like Paul does in Romans 7. Sin counsels and leads. But sin’s counsel is deceptive and destructive. On the other hand, God also calls to David. David knows God’s counsel is anchored in steadfast love and faithfulness. He is no fool. He chooses God to be his counsellor. More than that, he chooses God to be his defender against Sin and those who heed its counsel.

In Psalm 1, we had a choice between ways. In Psalm 36, we have a choice between guides. Choose wisely!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 36.

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!

Continue reading “The Two Counsellors”

Whom Did They Hate without Cause?

Today’s reading is Psalm 35.

Without cause, they hid a net to trap the psalmist. Without cause, they dug a pit for the psalmist to fall in. Why? Because without cause, they hated the psalmist. But who is it they really hate without cause?

John 15:25 explains they really hate Jesus without cause. Once again, while this psalm is about David, it is ultimately about Jesus.

Did you notice the connection to Psalm 22, a psalm everyone agrees is about Jesus because He quotes it on the cross? In Psalm 22:21-22, the big shift in the psalm happens. The speaker is saved from the mouth of the lion. Then He will praise God in the midst of the congregation. In Psalm 35:17, He asks to be rescued from the lions. In vs. 18, He promises to thank God in the congregation.

Psalm 35 is not a foretelling of the Messiah, of Jesus. However, when Jesus is falsely accused and the enemies put Him on trial, threatening His life, we say, “Hmmmm…that sounds kind of like a guy who would pray, ‘Contend for those who contend with me.'” When we hear about Jesus facing traps, false accusers, malicious witnesses, folks who rejoice at His death, we say, “I think I’ve read about something like this before.” When we hear about people testifying to the things they saw from Jesus, but they are lies, we think about those who cry, “Aha, Aha! Our eyes have seen it!” And, of course, did you read what I shared with your kids yesterday? When we hear specifically about a Jesus whose bones were unbroken, we can’t help but come back to this psalm and the previous to read of one whose bones are unbroken (Psalm 34:20) and those same bones rejoice (Psalm 35:9-10). When we witness Jesus praying three times in Gethsemane, we are reminded of the triple prayer of request for deliverance in Psalm 35.

As with other psalms, the point is not so much reading a foretelling prophecy and seeing its fulfillment in Jesus as if it is proof that Jesus really is the Messiah. Rather, its about recognizing that Jesus did more than fulfill foretelling prophecies. Rather, He reiterated David. He reiterated Israel. He fulfilled the entire Old Testament story, walking in the footsteps of so many of God’s servants, but doing so perfectly and without mistake.

After all, as we say again and again, David can only claim that there was no cause to hate him in a modified sense. For instance, I think Ahithophel had all kind of cause to hate David (see 2 Samuel 11:3; 23:34). But there was absolutely no reason to hate Jesus. Even Pilate knew he was innocent.

The psalm divides the world into two groups: those who deny the righteousness of Jesus and those who delight in the righteousness of Jesus. Let us be those who delight in it. Let us be those who shout for joy and are glad that the Lord delighted in the welfare of Jesus, His Servant, and delivered His soul from the grave.

Next week’s reading is Psalm 36.

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 “Whom Did They Hate without Cause?”