I Will Guard My Tongue

Today’s reading is Psalm 39.

David kicks off our psalm with a resolution. “I’m going to keep my mouth shut.” I don’t know all the details of why David made this decision. The only thing I know for sure is his declaration that he wanted to keep from sinning. He especially wanted to keep from sinning in the presence of the wicked.

Perhaps they were tempting him to sin with his tongue. Perhaps he was afraid of giving them a reason to discredit him. Perhaps he was afraid of giving them a reason to discredit God. Perhaps he was afraid of giving them an opportunity to justify their own sins. Perhaps he was angry at them, but knew that to respond verbally with his anger would be sinful.

I don’t know the ins and outs. However, I know this, even though he struggled, he was on to something. In James 3, we learn the tongue is a troublesome little creature. Even in this psalm, we learn James told the truth when he said it was impossible to tame. David tried to tame it, but got so worked up he had to speak. James tells us the tongue is a deadly poison, a world of unrighteousness, staining the whole body. Considering he also told us that pure and undefiled religion means keeping ourselves unstained from the world (James 1:27), we see keeping that tongue muzzled might be pretty important.

But here’s the good news for David. When he finally got to the point of no longer being able to keep his silence, instead of something sinful in the presence of the wicked, he turned to God and prayed. There’s probably a great lesson in that all on its own.

Obviously, we are going to speak. We can’t walk through all of life without ever talking. But between Psalm 39 and James 3, we should probably learn to do a lot more thinking and praying before we start talking.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 39.

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 are some of the sins of the tongue?
  3. Why do you think it is so hard to tame the tongue?
  4. What advice would you give to help our family speak in a godly way to one another and to others?
  5. What do you think we should pray for and about in light of this psalm and our discussion today?

The Future of the Blameless, Upright Man of Peace

Today’s reading is Psalm 37.

Psalm 37 is not a foretelling of Jesus. We don’t read Psalm 37 and start looking for someone who fulfills certain verses so we can know that person is the ultimate Messiah.

However, when you have a man on trial as a criminal and you can’t actually get real testimony against Him…

When you bring a man before the magistrate, governor, or king and they have to say, “I find no wrong in Him”…

When the governor’s wife is sending him messages to leave this innocent man alone…

You might want to remember the psalm that says:

Mark the blameless and behold the upright,
for there is a future for the man of peace.
But transgressors shall be altogether destroyed;
the future of the wicked shall be cut off.

Psalm 37:37-38

Certainly, it looks like there is no future for that innocent Man up there on that cross. But understand, things aren’t always what they seem. Just as the sprawling green tree isn’t actually as blessed as it appears, the Man hanging on the tree is not what He appears either.

He isn’t going to perish. He isn’t going to vanish away. Even if you kill Him, He has a future. But you will be cut off. You will be judged. You will be destroyed.

As we look back at Jesus, we should see how He lived this psalm. We should see His example in the face of enemies. He didn’t fret. Rather, He committed Himself and His way to the Father. He trusted God and waited on Him. He didn’t wait on Him until the very last second, see that He was going to die, and decide to take things into His own hands. He waited on the Father until time ran out. Then on the third day, we all discovered time doesn’t run out for God.

Do we ever look around at the wicked who appear blessed in this modern world and fret? Do we get all bent out of shape because if somebody doesn’t do something, they might start taking away our political rights and they might even start to imprison and kill us? How did Jesus handle it when that happened? Perhaps we should take a page out of His book. You know, a page out of the psalms. Maybe specifically we should take out page 37.

Really, it’s going to be okay. God’s got this. Even if you die, you win. That’s the way it worked for our King. That’s the way it will work for us.

Today’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. Read through the psalm again. Now that you are thinking about the blameless and upright man of peace, Jesus, what else do you see in the psalm that makes you think of Him?
  3. How did Jesus live by this psalm for His whole life including His death?
  4. What will our lives look like when we follow His example and this psalm?
  5. What do you think we should pray for and about in light of this psalm and our discussion today?

When the Wicked Look Like the Blessed

Today’s reading is Psalm 37.

David says:

I have seen a wicked, ruthless man,
spreading himself like a green laurel tree.

Wait! What? That’s not right. Wicked people are chaff driven by the wind. They are not green trees, spreading out and growing. Just reread Psalm 1.

Yet, David has seen wicked trees. They look a lot like the fruitful trees of the blessed. They have their eye on the blessed, the righteous. They are doing what they can to afflict the righteous, to cut them off, to put them to death. All the while parading about like blessed trees. However, they are diseased.

David’s wise lesson on this? Don’t fret. They may look like a tree for a short time. But give it some time; the wicked tree will disappear. That is, though it appears to be a solid, stable tree, it will demonstrate that it is actually no more substantial than the chaff the wind blows away.

In fact, we Christians might remember Jesus’s own teaching here. You will know the tree by its fruit. And the tree that doesn’t produce healthy fruit gets cut down and thrown into the fire (see Matthew 7: 17-20).

When you see the wicked looking like the blessed, don’t get bent out of shape. Just wait on the Lord. He’ll set things to rights in His time. And those who are His will be the ones truly blessed.

Tomorrow’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.

Discuss the following questions with your family.

  1. What are your initial reactions to the psalm and the written devo above?
  2. Have you ever seen a time when wicked people looked like they were blessed?
  3. How does Satan use these seemingly blessed wicked people as a threat to God’s people?
  4. How does Jesus’s teaching in Matthew 7:17-20 help you respond when you see wicked people who appear blessed?
  5. What do you think we should pray for and about in light of this psalm and our discussion today?

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”

Who are the Wicked?

Today’s reading is Psalm 28.

Back in Psalm 24, when David was explaining the qualifications for those who can actually climb God’s Holy Hill, he said they had to have clean hands and a pure heart. Now, in Psalm 28, when he is scared he might get dragged off with the wicked, he brings us back to their deceitful hearts and defiled hands. As we consider who these people might be, we can imagine all kinds of terrible, awful, vile, violent, immoral things these people who deserve the titles “wicked” and “workers of evil” have done. And there is certainly a whole gambit of possibilities. Interestingly enough, it might include a list of sins that David committed. You know, adultery and murder. Look again through the psalm, however, and see if you can spot what actually makes someone wicked. Do you see it in vs. 5? “Because they do not regard the works of the Lord or the work of his hands, he will tear them down and build them up no more.” In fact, do you notice how there is a shift in personal reference for the Lord in this verse? In vss. 1-4, David is referring to the Lord in second person (you, your). In vs. 5, it switches to third person (He, His). David is drawing attention to this verse to highlight that it is not merely prayer, but instruction. It is wisdom from the Lord. And what actually marks the wicked as wicked? Not regarding the Lord. Not regarding the work of the Lord’s hands. This may cause all kinds of activities we think of as evil. Or it may just cause someone to eat a fruit from a forbidden tree. It may just cause someone to offer a different fire on the alter. It may just cause someone to reach out and touch the Ark of the Covenant. It may just cause someone to start worshiping a bronze serpent that God commissioned to be made. It may even cause someone to put more faith in the Jerusalem Temple than in Jesus Christ. The fact is people won’t be dragged away in judgment because their sins were worse than everyone else’s. Folks will be dragged away in judgment because they had more regard for the works of their own hands than the works of God’s hands. God’s view of wicked is different from ours. That’s why David, an adulterer and murderer, doesn’t get dragged off with the wicked. He had regard for God and God’s work as demonstrated by his humble repentance. That’s why Saul got dragged away, he ultimately didn’t as demonstrated by consulting the medium on his final day. And that will be the ultimate distinction between those in Christ’s kingdom and those cast into the outer darkness. Whose work are you regarding?

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 28.

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 “Who are the Wicked?”

I Love Your Friends!

Today’s reading is Psalm 26.

We mentioned Psalm 1 yesterday. Remember it again today. That psalm made a distinction between the blessed and the wicked. But there is more to the choice than just being the blessed or being the wicked. David understands that if He is going to dwell in the Lord’s holy habitation at the summit of the Lord’s holy hill, he has to be careful who his friends are. In Psalm 15, another psalm that questions who can dwell in the Lord’s house (similar to Psalm 24), David recorded that the holy hill dweller is one “in whose eyes a vile person is despised, but who honors those who fear the Lord.” In a day and age, such as our own, dominated by the concept of tolerance, we can lose sight of the fact that the Lord does not tolerate everyone. Those who pursue what is false, hypocrites, evildoers, and those who practice wickedness are not tolerated by the Lord in His own house. And while nothing makes God happier than for these to repent, submit to Him, and then come live with Him, nothing will make God bring these into His house while they continue in their sin. And so, back to Psalm 1, the person who walks with the wicked, hangs out with the sinful, settles down with scoffers will not be blessed. David loves Yahweh. He loves worshiping Yahweh. He loves those who worship Yahweh in truth. He knows that if he hangs out with the impenitently sinful and rebellious now, he will be hanging out with them for eternity. He loves the Lord and those who love the Lord. He loves the Lord’s friends. While we can never go out of the world (see 1 Corinthians 5:10), and while we certainly must develop relationships with the impenitently sinful in order to lead them to repentance, we must make sure our closest relationships are those who have their closest relationship with Yahweh. And doesn’t that just make sense? I mean, it is kind of hard to dwell in Yahweh’s house if I’m having to constantly abandon it to hang out with my best friends. Who are your best friends?

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 26.

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 “I Love Your Friends!”

What are You Praying For?

Today’s reading is Psalm 25.

Alright. I’ve got a tough and challenging question for you. First of all, let me say, if you are praying, I don’t want to say anything to discourage you. I’m super glad you have a habit of prayer. That is awesome. But now that you are praying, I want to challenge you to think about where you focus your prayers. It is true that you are allowed to bring to God whatever is on your heart. Pray for your needs and your wants. Cast all your cares upon God even when you are not sure if God would even care about that or not; lift it up to Him. He is our Abba, our Father, He wants to hear it. But this psalm presents a challenging question to me. Do I ever pray for what was top on this psalmist’s mind? Think about it, he is facing enemies who are violently hateful. And it is true that the psalmist gets around to praying for protection from them. But do you see where his prayer request first focuses? “Make me know your ways, Lord.” “Teach me your paths, Lord.” Lead me in your truth, Lord.” “Teach me, Lord.” How many of your prayers are anchored here? In fact, while the psalmist gets to talking about protection, it is very clear that the psalmist believes the protection comes not simply from God acting in the lives of the enemies. It comes from knowing the way of God. It comes from knowing God’s word and will. God protects us by showing us His path, His way. And, of course, considering Psalm 1, doesn’t that just make sense? Those who know the way of the Lord are like a tree planted by waters, but the way of the wicked perishes. Too often, I just go about studying and trying to figure things out on my own and then expecting God to pick up my messes. Perhaps I should start with, “Lord, make me to know Your way.” How about you?

Today’s reading is Psalm 25.

PODCAST!!!

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

Continue reading “What are You Praying For?”

Save, O Lord!

Today’s reading is Psalm 12.

Since Psalm 3, David has been begging God to rise up and save. There was the oasis of pure praise in Psalm 8, but otherwise, in one scenario or another David has been asking for deliverance. And why shouldn’t he? In Psalm 1, the declaration was that the one who meditated on God’s Law would be blessed. In Psalm 2, The declaration was that God’s anointed would be vindicated. Almost every psalm since then has shown the psalmist in the exact opposite situation begging for God to do what He said He would in those first two psalms. Then we get to this psalm in which it feels to David like it is as bleak as it can possibly be. There are no godly ones. No one is loyal and faithful. All around the wicked prowl. All David can see is vileness. In fact, David pictures the surroundings just like Noah’s. He alone is faithful while the thoughts of everyone else are only evil continuously. And what does the Lord do? He rises up. He judges. He vindicates. He delivers His people, His anointed from the perverse generation that surrounds them. Wait! That sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Do you remember what Peter proclaimed on Pentecost in Acts 2:40? “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” How did people respond to that? “Those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls” (Acts 2:41). “Save us, O Lord,” we cry, “from the perverse generation that surrounds us.” And so He sent Jesus who rose up and delivers. The question is will we be buried and rise up with Him in baptism? Will we go through the separating waters like Noah? Will we hang on to Him no matter what like David? The Lord does arise and save! Praise the Lord!

Next week’s reading is Psalm 13.

Continue reading “Save, O Lord!”

The Lord Tests

Today’s reading is Psalm 11.

David doesn’t believe the foundations are destroyed, and he refuses to destroy them by abandoning them. But not all of the foundations can be our favorite. It won’t surprise me if this one falls at the bottom of our favorites list. However, it is one of the foundations. The Lord tests the righteous. In other words, when the counselors tell him the jig is up, God must not be on his side anymore, he needs to toss his uppity morals and righteous principles out the window because they obviously aren’t doing him any good, David responds by saying, “Don’t you know the Lord tests His people?” There are obviously going to be bad times. God lets us into the crucible, sometimes He even puts us there. Why? Because He fell asleep on the job? No. Because that is precisely where we need to be. It is actually for our good. Like gold or silver in a crucible, God sends us through the fires so the slag can rise to the top. That is the only way it can be skimmed off. The question is when the slag rises to the top, will we let God skim it off, or will we cling to it, defending it, acting like it isn’t that bad, like we can’t be blamed for what we do while in the fires of testing? Deuteronomy 8:16 tells us God provided manna for Israel while they wandered in the wilderness in order to test them, to do them good in the end. Certainly, when the devil tempts us, his goal is to make us fall. However, when the Lord tests us, His goal is to expose us, refine us, and grow us. Walking through the fire is not a time to abandon the Lord, it is a time to rely on Him even more. The Lord tests even the righteous. It’s one of the foundations. Don’t abandon it.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 11.

Continue reading “The Lord Tests”

The Lord Knows the Way of the Righteous

Today’s reading is Psalm 1.

The main principle of Psalm 1 is that we don’t get to choose where our path goes, we only get to choose which path we get on. When we choose our path, the choice of our end has been made. And the way of the wicked will perish. Grasp the picture here. The psalmist doesn’t say the wicked will perish, but the way of the wicked will perish. That is, the way the wicked chooses is like a path in the Everglades that promises to lead you safely through, but in the middle leads into the boggy swamp which sucks in every one who tries to pass through. Or you might envision a path in a desert that promises to lead to the oasis, but ends up only giving a mirage that turns out to be death for any who try to pass that way. However, God knows the way of the righteous. That is, the way that the Lord directs is the way of righteousness. It is the way to righteousness. It is the way to salvation. Today, we stand at the head of two paths. Both promise life, but only one delivers. That is God’s way. Which way are you walking? Know this. It will never be easier than today to get on God’s way. If we can help you do so, let us know.

Next week’s reading is Psalm 2.

Continue reading “The Lord Knows the Way of the Righteous”