Unto You, O Lord!

Today’s reading is Psalm 25.

The previous psalm explained that whoever lifts up his soul to what is false is not allowed to ascend the holy hill of Yahweh. As if in response, this psalm begins with a clear “To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.” In the previous psalm, this kind of person would receive blessing and righteousness from the Lord. In this psalm, the psalmist is asking the Lord to hold true to His word. “Let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me.” However, it is more than a request, it is also a confident assertion. “Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame.” He ends this psalm the same place he begins. His foes are many. They are violent and hateful. But he takes refuge in the Lord and waits on Him. Therefore, he asks and expects the Lord to guard his soul and keep him from shame. Today, we recognize that suffering and struggle, whether from enemies or from some other source, isn’t an indication of shame nor does it lead to shame. Paul tells us our suffering produces endurance, our endurance produces character, character produces hope, and our hope does not put us to shame. Further, we are confident this is true because God’s love has been poured into our hearts and the Holy Spirit has been given to us (Romans 5:3-5). The next time you sing “Unto thee, O Lord,” remember there is no shame with the Lord. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 25.

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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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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 Lord is His Refuge

Today’s reading is Psalm 14.

There is something about the fool and looking down on the poor. In Isaiah 32:6-7, where we get a more robust definition of the fool alongside his companion the scoundrel, we learn these brothers deprive the thirsty of drink and leave the hungry unsatisfied while actually planning to ruin the poor even when the plea of the needy is right. For some reason, the fool thinks the poor has no refuge, no protector. Perhaps because the poor lack what the fool believes provides him protection. In fact, this may be why Jesus Himself said it was so hard for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. After all, they have plenty to take refuge in, but the poor have nowhere to go. So they often go to God. And this should cause the fool to fear. He is not getting away with his corruption. She is not getting away with her abominable deeds. Deliverance and salvation are coming for those who take refuge in God instead of all that fools take refuge in. You don’t have to be poor to have God as your refuge. But you are a fool if He isn’t.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 14.

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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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The Lord’s Refined Word

Today’s reading is Psalm 12.

Look at the words of the liars and blasphemers. “With our tongue we will prevail, our lips are with us; who is master over us?” (vs. 4). The faithless, wicked, blaspheming liars trust in their own words. It is as if they believe something is so simply because they said it is so. But it doesn’t matter how many times the flattering boasters declare they will prevail. It doesn’t matter how loudly they proclaim they are their own masters. Their words come into conflict with the Lord’s. And the Lord’s words are “pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times.” The words of the wicked haven’t even begun to enter the fire, but they are about to. The Lord’s words have already been through the refining fire seven times. That is, His Word is completely refined. His Word contains no dross, no slag, no lies, no impurities. His Word has nothing to fear from the fire. Has the Lord promised deliverance? He will give it. His promises are always true. He always keeps His covenants. He never fails. Neither He nor His Word are consumed by the fire. But the liars and their lies will be. Read God’s Word. Know God’s Word. Trust God’s Word. It has been refined. It doesn’t need to be rethought. It doesn’t need to be adjusted for modern times. It won’t be changed to fit the boasting blasphemies of the wicked. God’s Word has been refined. Trust it. Live in it and live by it.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 12.

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The Lord Will Keep Us

Today’s reading is Psalm 12.

Having explained his dire circumstances, being completely surrounded by wicked, vile, ungodly, disloyal liars and blasphemers, David explains his only hope: the Lord! David knows he will not be able to respond to all the liars. He knows he will not be able to deliver himself from all the blasphemies. Only the Lord can do that. And so his prayer is that the Lord will cut off the flattering lips and cut out the tongues that make great, arrogant boasts (vs. 3). After all, as he says in vs. 7, the Lord is the one who keeps us and protects us. The Lord is the one who guards us from “this” generation. And in this, though David’s words are pretty violent, we actually see how we are to respond when surrounded by lies and liars. His words were violent, but his action was prayer. We don’t go around trying to cut off the lips and cut out the tongues of liars and blasphemers no matter how much they hurt us. In fact, we don’t even have to respond to every lie we hear spoken against us (Jesus didn’t; He was silent before His accusers). Rather, we can rejoice (see Matthew 5:11-12) and we take our plea to the Lord. He knows the right way to address the liars around us. He knows the right way and the right time to judge the blasphemers. Yes, there are liars. Yes, their words will hurt us. Yes, it will seem at times like God is just letting the lies and liars triumph. But He isn’t. He will keep us. He will deliver us. Trust Him always!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 12.

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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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The Lord Sees

Today’s reading is Psalm 11.

The counsel David received, whether from others or from his own internal struggle, claimed the foundations were destroyed. That is everything is so bad his usually righteous morals and principles should be flung out the window. David, however, solidly lands on the side of maintaining his morality and his principles of faith. He has a couple of arguments. All of which claim the true foundations are actually still intact. The first foundation is that God is still God in heaven. Things may be a mess here on earth, but God is still in His holy temple. He is still sitting on His throne. He is still watching everything that goes on down here. His timing may not be my timing. I may be wondering why He hasn’t done anything about my enemies yet. I may be wondering why He allows injustice to continue in so many ways around the world. But abandoning His Word and Will is simply not an option. First, because I can’t hide from Him if I join those sinners in their foundation wrecking. Second, because He does see all those sinners around me. They aren’t getting away with it. And from heaven, He has a better perspective of what they are doing and what to do about it. Therefore, why would I ever flee to my own mountain? I will continue to take my refuge on His. No matter what it looks like, the one true foundation never crumbles. He always rules and He always reigns from a place that is unshakeable. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 11.

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But David Always Fled to the Mountains!

Today’s reading is Psalm 11.

So, I’m struggling with what many commentaries say about this psalm. Over and over, they claim David is being given advice to flee to the mountains when he is being attacked, but he refuses. My one problem with this is David always fled to the mountains. When Saul was threatening him, he literally fled to and hid in the mountains. When Absalom conspired against him, David fled across the Jordan. Trying to make this a literal counsel received by David that he rejected will only work if we assume there was some other time of attack not recorded in the Scripture in which David decided not to flee. Which leaves me asking, what on earth is this about? Perhaps it isn’t intended to be taken literally, but metaphorically. That is, perhaps the point of the psalm is not about some time David refused to run to the mountains, but rather a time when he refused to take refuge in himself. Perhaps it is a time when the counselors were claiming God was no longer on David’s side, the foundations had collapsed, the righteous can no longer rely on being righteous. But David refused. Relying on God when Saul was chasing him meant hiding in the mountains and in other places. Relying on God when Absalom was conspiring against him meant fleeing across the Jordan. What neither time meant was deciding to fight his own way. With Saul, it didn’t mean striking God’s anointed, even when a good opportunity presented itself. With Absalom, it didn’t mean killing folks like Shimei along the way. Even when counselors were concerned that God was no longer looking out for David and it was time for him to look out for himself, David put his trust in the Lord. I need to do the same. How about you?

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 11

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