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.

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David’s Victory Song!

Today’s reading is Psalm 29.

I hope when you read the title of this post, it prompted you to think, “Wait a minute! Didn’t we already have this post? Didn’t we talk about this last week?” Yes, we had a very similar post last week. You may want to go back and read David’s song in Psalm 28:8-9. It is actually quite similar to Psalm 29:10-11. Both highlight how God is the strength of His people. In fact, it prompts me to see that Psalm 29 may well be the final psalm in the series we’ve been tracking since Psalm 23. Throughout these psalms, David wants to dwell in the Lord’s house, but he is afraid. To dwell in the Lord’s house, you have to have a pure heart and clean hands. David, however, is a sinner. It’s a good thing David’s God is merciful and gracious, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin. But David seems to have a fear. Will God remember him according to God’s own steadfast love and faithfulness or according to the works of David’s hands? Will God draw David into His dwelling place or drag him off with the wicked in judgment? In Psalm 28:6-7, David declared God heard his plea. God had responded. He was making a distinction between David and the wicked. And what do we get next? Psalm 29. It is a song that exults, glorifies, and magnifies God. It’s a song that causes everyone in God’s temple, God’s house, the place where David wants to dwell, to cry out, “Glory.” But then notice this. We’ve been tracking the story of a storm. And in Psalm 29:10, David tells us which storm he’s actually talking about. The storm that shook the earth and covered the mountains in the day’s of Noah. The Lord sat enthroned over the “flood.” The only other place that word translated “flood” is used is in Genesis 6-11 (and we find it there 12 times). Do you know what the flood was? It was the classic example of God’s ability to judge the wicked, sweeping them away, while saving the people who trusted in the Lord. And that Lord still sits enthroned. And because He is still King, we know this: God knows those who are His. What an amazing God and King we serve! Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 29.

PODCAST!!!

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The Crucified Savior

Today’s reading is Psalm 22.

We find ourselves in the exact same position with Psalm 22 as with so many others. David is making extraordinary claims for himself and for his own life. Yet, as we apply them to David’s life, we have to see them as figurative, poetic, hyperbole. There was never a point in David’s life in which everyone mocked him or wagged their heads at him. There was never a point in David’s life in which he was so personally close to death he was dehydrated, emaciated, dealing with heart failure. At least, not one we can find in the record. At the same time, there was no victory David experienced that caused the ends of the earth to worship the Lord. And yet there is One about whom this psalm can be taken much more literally. I don’t say completely literally because the bulls, lions, and dogs are all still figures of speech even in the life of Jesus. And in case we might miss it, the New Testament authors make sure we see it. Psalm 22 is one of the most quoted psalms (if not the most quoted) in the New Testament in reference to Jesus. Jesus Himself quotes it on the cross in Matthew 27:46. But let’s understand how truly profound Psalm 22 is as a prophecy of Jesus. It is not merely the record of one saying, “Some day, in the future, there will be a guy who goes through this.” This is not Jesus merely fulfilling a foretelling of events. This is Jesus fulfilling the very life of David. It wasn’t merely David’s words that pointed to Jesus, David’s life pointed to Jesus. In fact, notice that David demonstrates, in his faith in Psalm 22:3-5, that he was walking in the footsteps of the fathers, the entire nation of Israel. Jesus is not merely fulfilling a prophecy, He is fulfilling the very history of Israel. He is on that cross dying the death that Israel, that in fact the whole world, deserved. The difference is whenever Israel would cry out a statement like Psalm 22:1, it was because of their own sins. When Jesus cried it out, it was because of ours. And because He did, we can experience vs. 21: “You have answered me!” Praise the Lord!!!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 22.

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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We Would See Jesus

Today’s reading is Psalm 17.

You’ve read Psalm 17 six times this week (at least if you are following our Bible reading plan). Perhaps you should go back and read it one more time right now. Listen to the claims David makes about his own integrity and righteousness. “You have tested me and will find nothing.” “I have avoided the way of the violent.” “My steps have held fast to your paths.” “My feet have not slipped.” Wait a minute! Can David actually claim these things? We all know he can’t. Every commentator knows he can’t. Which is why the commentaries will consistently claim David is merely referring to whatever accusations are being made against him. They assure us David isn’t actually trying to claim he never sinned; he is simply innocent of that particular sin. Further, if we are going to claim David really is the author (and some suggest otherwise), we have to put it before the whole sordid affair with Bathsheba and Uriah. Surely he could never have written anything like this after that. And you know, as it applies to David, that is the best we can do. In fact, his reference to steadfast love in Psalm 17:7 calls to mind the name of God who also forgives sin (Exodus 34:6-7). But what if Psalm 17 is more like Psalm 16 than we’ve considered? Peter and Paul said they knew David was actually talking about Jesus in Psalm 16 because his claims about Sheol and the corruption of his flesh weren’t literally true for himself. Couldn’t Peter and Paul say something similar about this psalm? Couldn’t they say, “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both sinned and walked the path of violence. And we can recount his sins”? Wouldn’t the logical conclusion that they could continue, “Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, he foresaw and spoke about the sinlessness and resurrection of the Christ, that He would live a perfect life and even though He would die He would awake and behold the face of God in righteousness and be satisfied with the likeness of God”? Didn’t we recognize in Psalm 15, that Jesus is the only one who measures up and who can claim that He will not be moved? And now in this psalm, David claims his foot has not slipped. Guess what. That is the same word as “moved” in Psalm 15:5 and “shaken” in Psalm 16:8. In Luke 24:44, Jesus told the apostles that everything written about Him in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled. Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures that the Christ should suffer, die, and rise up. I get it, Psalm 17 doesn’t say the resurrection will happen on the third day, but we should see Jesus in this psalm. He’s there. His vindication did come from the Lord. He sought His refuge at God’s right hand. He did sleep, and He did awake. He is satisfied with the presence of God. And that alone is why this psalm gives us hope that the same can happen for us. Praise the Lord!

Next week’s reading is Psalm 18.

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And You Thought You Were the First

Today’s reading is Psalm 13.

Four times David cries “How long?” Most believe this is David’s question during the rather lengthy period between Samuel anointing David as king (1 Samuel 16:13) and Judah or Israel anointing him as king (2 Samuel 2:4; 5:3). This was a period of about 15 years. It definitely fits what David was thinking in 1 Samuel 27:1 when he decided to escape to the Philistines. “How long, Lord?” How long until You do what you’ve promised? How long until You bless me like You said? How long until You do something about my enemies? You can hear an almost despair in these first two verses. Especially in that first line, “Will You forget me forever?” And you thought you were the first one to have ever felt like this. Nope. Here is David, the man who ended up being king of Israel, right in the midst of this kind of angst, depression, and even despair. It felt like the Lord had abandoned him. I bring this up simply because one of the devil’s tools is for us to get in this interim period between when God gives His promises and when God actually grants His promises, and use that period to make us believe God has reneged. Or worse, that God isn’t really there and the promises were a hoax. We get into this sad position and then believe we are the first and only to have ever been there. We feel like we’ve been lied to, and we give up. We’ll have more to say about overcoming this place later in the week. Today, I just want us to see that the Bible is absolutely, 100% honest. It lets us know there will be these times. Even the greatest and most blessed of God’s saints faced these times. You aren’t the first of God’s people to face times like this. You won’t be the last. Don’t give up on God.

Today’s reading is Psalm 13.

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God’s Reputation

Today’s reading is Psalm 10.

If Psalm 10 is a continuation of Psalm 9, the psalmist himself is under affliction (Psalm 9:13). By itself, Psalm 10 only recognizes a great deal of affliction going on in the world. Either way, the psalmist’s #1 concern isn’t actually about the affliction. Rather, the psalmist is most concerned about…are you ready for this? God’s reputation. (Yeah, the post’s title should have clued you in.) Even in Psalm 9:13-14, the psalmist wants mercy, deliverance, and salvation so he can recount God’s praises. In Psalm 10, his concern is about the terrible things being said about God because there is so much affliction going on in the world. Those seeming to get away with sin claim “There is no God” (vs. 4). In vs. 11, they claim “God has forgotten, he has hidden his face, he will never see it.” In vs. 13, the wicked renounce God and claim “You will not call to account.” In vs. 6, though God is not specifically mentioned, the sinful claim, “I shall not be moved; throughout all generations I shall not meet adversity.” That is, “What is God going to do about this?” Certainly, the psalmist decries these statements as godless and wicked in and of themselves, but vs. 13 demonstrates his concern is that because God is standing so far off, the wicked believe they have justification for their claims. In other words, the psalmist is not saying, “God, come do something about this affliction because I’m tired of the pain.” He is saying, “Come do something about this so everyone will know who You really are. Come closer so the atheists, agnostics, skeptics, rebels, and other sinners won’t have a leg to stand on.” I have to ask about my own praying. When I lay out supplications and intercessions, is that my concern? Is my goal in prayer my comfort or God’s glory? The psalmist was squarely in the God’s glory camp. Where are you in your prayers?

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 10.

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Why are You Way Over There, Lord?

Today’s reading is Psalm 10.

Psalm 9 ended with a call to the Lord to do something. “Arise! Judge them. They are wicked. Humble them. Defeat them.” But Psalm 10 opens with a shocking realization. God hasn’t done any of what the psalmist begged. It’s as if the psalmist is saying, “Why are you way over there, Lord? Come here and do something about this.” I remember back in the 90s when Christians blistered Better Midler for singing “God is watching us from a distance.” Bumper stickers responded, “If God is watching from a distance, He isn’t the one who moved.” I chimed in and agreed. I hadn’t read the psalms as much back then. I’m singing a different tune today. Sometimes, God does back up. Sometimes, He doesn’t rush in to fix and deliver. Sometimes, He is watching from a distance. Why? He doesn’t always give answers. Perhaps He is giving the wicked time to repent, just like He gave you and me time to repent when we were the ones committing the sins. Perhaps He is growing us to see how truly helpless we are so that, having been driven completely to our knees and casting ourselves completely on His mercy and grace, we become instruments He can use in ways more powerful than we could imagine. Perhaps He is waiting because He is glorified more by conquering Pharaoh and his entire army in the Red Sea than He is by Pharaoh simply letting Israel go three days into the wilderness to worship. Perhaps He has a reason that is beyond our finite, human speculation. I don’t know why He is way over there, but if you are wondering, why don’t you ask Him? You’re allowed. That is what this psalm demonstrates. Sometimes God doesn’t behave the way we expect. That can be frustrating, disappointing, disheartening, discouraging, even angering. Don’t walk away from God. Bring it to Him in prayer. I’m not saying God will give you answer. I’m simply saying when you think God isn’t doing His job, don’t give up on Him; talk to Him. But may I encourage you to maintain the faith the psalmist had? Maintain the faith and hope that even though He is doing so from a distance, He is watching. He isn’t missing anything. He may not explain His reasons to you and me, but He will eventually act. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 10.

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Second Verse, Worse than the First

Today’s reading is Psalm 10.

We don’t see it in our English translations, but Psalm 10 is linked to Psalm 9. In fact, in the Greek version of the Old Testament, they are joined together as one psalm. In the Hebrew, though they are separate psalms, they are together because they form an acrostic poem going through the Hebrew alphabet, though it is not complete. Scholars argue whether it was originally one poem broken in two for some reason by the Hebrew “editors” of the psalms, two poems melded together for some reason by Greek “editors” of the psalms, or one poem (Psalm 9) to which a later writer came along and tacked on a “second” verse (Psalm 10). Whatever the case may be, the psalms go together. There are simply too many connections between them to think they just accidentally got placed side by side in the ancient hymnal. To my mind, they are like two episodes in the same story. The first episode ends with absolute faith that God is going to do something; the second episode begins some time later, but God hasn’t done anything yet. Therefore, the situation has gone from bad to worse. The wicked have been getting away with their wickedness. The poor and needy have become poorer and needier. The afflicted have suffered worse affliction. And to add insult to injury, the psalmist has been praying in faith, but nothing has been happening. Perhaps you have been there. Perhaps you are there. Perhaps you are thinking about giving up. Perhaps you are thinking about abandoning God. You are not alone. You aren’t the first to have been in this situation, and you won’t be the last. May I encourage you to take a lesson from the Psalmist. We thought the psalmist’s faith was being tested in Psalm 9. That test has gone into overdrive in Psalm 10. But what is the psalmist still doing? Praying. Praying with more fervor, more intensity, more helplessness, more powerlessness, and more faith. After all, wouldn’t you agree it takes greater and stronger faith to keep hanging on the longer there seems to be no response? I don’t know what you are waiting on from God, but let this psalmist be your example. Keep praying. After all, there is only One who can provide your answer: God.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 10.

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Judge My Enemies

Today’s reading is Psalm 7.

In the New Testament, we are told to love our enemies and pray for them. Thus, when we read David’s request for his enemies to be judged, that leaves a bad taste in our mouths. Is something wrong? Is this a change between the Old Covenant and the New? There are two principles that help me with this. First, as we will say again and again, psalms are snapshots of the emotions a psalmist was experiencing in a given moment. They are not doctoral dissertations about doctrinal dilemmas. David was facing enemies. No doubt he was angry with them and confused about why God hadn’t done anything yet. The key to notice is what David did with these emotions. He took them to God in prayer. He didn’t take them to Cush in battle. This is especially so if Cush is bringing these charges and attacks against David when he was running from Saul. Imagine the fear, anger, sadness, distress, anxiety David must have felt during that time. But he never took his own vengeance (well, almost with Nabal, but Abigail helped his calmer self prevail). He took these prayers and desires to God in prayer, and he let God decide if Cush needed to be judged. Second, notice his statement about those who refuse to repent (vs. 12, ESV). Notice that David sees not just an enemy but a wicked man who is pregnant with mischief and giving birth to evil. Yes, we are to love our enemies and pray for them that they may bring glory to God, but there is a place to recognize that someone who is pursuing a path of sin is an enemy of God and judgment is the right outcome for them. None of us want that. We know God doesn’t want that. He sent Jesus to die for them just as He did for everyone else. But those who, like Pharaoh and other enemies of God who will not relinquish their sin and repent, will be judged. One of the comforts of serving the righteous Judge as our God is knowing He will be faithful to judge those who wage war against us and persecute us without repentance. Praying that God will do what He has promised in these circumstances is allowed even under the New Covenant (cf. 2 Thessalonians 1:5-12).

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 7.

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