Psalm Sunday: Psalm 59

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Psalms Sundays are hosted by Erica of Butterfly Kisses. 

Prayer for Deliverance from Enemies.
For the choir director; set to Al-tashheth. A Mikhtam of David, when Saul sent men and they watched the house in order to kill him.

1 Deliver me from mine enemies, O my God: defend me from them that rise up against me.

2 Deliver me from the workers of iniquity, and save me from bloody men.

3 For, lo, they lie in wait for my soul: the mighty are gathered against me; not for my transgression, nor for my sin, O LORD.

4 They run and prepare themselves without my fault: awake to help me, and behold.

5 Thou therefore, O LORD God of hosts, the God of Israel, awake to visit all the heathen: be not merciful to any wicked transgressors. Selah.

6 They return at evening: they make a noise like a dog, and go round about the city.

7 Behold, they belch out with their mouth: swords are in their lips: for who, say they, doth hear?

8 But thou, O LORD, shalt laugh at them; thou shalt have all the heathen in derision.

9 Because of his strength will I wait upon thee: for God is my defence.

10 The God of my mercy shall prevent me: God shall let me see my desire upon mine enemies.

11 Slay them not, lest my people forget: scatter them by thy power; and bring them down, O Lord our shield.

12 For the sin of their mouth and the words of their lips let them even be taken in their pride: and for cursing and lying which they speak.

13 Consume them in wrath, consume them, that they may not be: and let them know that God ruleth in Jacob unto the ends of the earth. Selah.

14 And at evening let them return; and let them make a noise like a dog, and go round about the city.

15 Let them wander up and down for meat, and grudge if they be not satisfied.

16 But I will sing of thy power; yea, I will sing aloud of thy mercy in the morning: for thou hast been my defence and refuge in the day of my trouble.

17 Unto thee, O my strength, will I sing: for God is my defence, and the God of my mercy.

Once again David is beseeching God for protection from very real enemies sent to watch his house in order to kill him, and once again, though few of us have been in that exact situation, we can draw from David’s experience.

I don’t think it’s at all hard to understand that his first words here are cries for deliverance. They remind me of Peter’s cry: “Lord, save me.” When we’re in dire straits we get right down to business.

In many of David’s psalms he either acknowledges that his sins are causing his problems and confesses them or, as in this one, he proclaims his innocence. He was close enough in his relationship to God to know the difference between chastening or an outside attack. It’s good for us to examine our hearts with the Lord’s help and confess any sin there. But sometimes we do face an enemy’s unprovoked attack, and we can go to the Lord with a clean conscience.

One aspect of the Psalms I have a hard time reconciling is the imprecatory nature of some of David’s prayers, calling for God’s judgment against his enemies. One thing to remember is that this era was a different dispensation: the New Testament teachings about loving your enemy weren’t written yet (although one or two proverbs foreshadow them). Another aspect is that every person has an opportunity to respond to God’s grace, but if they continue in their own ways, they will face His judgment. We think of that judgment coming most often at the end of life when we stand before God, but certainly many times in the Bible people faced His judgment during the course of their own lives. Sometimes it brings them to repentance; sometimes it serves as a warning to others. I have prayed that certain national enemies would be saved and brought to repentance, but asked the Lord, if He knows they won’t come to that point, to take them out so they won’t cause any more trouble. I’d be interested to hear whether others interpret or apply this differently.

Of course, since I don’t have personal enemies in the same sense as David did, I tend to apply these verses to mankind’s greatest enemy, Satan.

My two favorite parts of the Psalm and the parts that minister to and remain with me are verses 9, 16, and 17:

Because of his strength will I wait upon thee: for God is my defence.

But I will sing of thy power; yea, I will sing aloud of thy mercy in the morning: for thou hast been my defence and refuge in the day of my trouble.

Unto thee, O my strength, will I sing: for God is my defence, and the God of my mercy.

Satan is stronger than we are, but he that is in us is stronger than him. We can praise God for His deliverance, defense. power, strength, mercy, and refuge.

Psalm Sunday: Psalm 57

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1 Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast.  2 I will cry unto God most high; unto God that performeth all things for me.

 3 He shall send from heaven, and save me from the reproach of him that would swallow me up. Selah. God shall send forth his mercy and his truth.

 4 My soul is among lions: and I lie even among them that are set on fire, even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword.

 5 Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens; let thy glory be above all the earth.

 6 They have prepared a net for my steps; my soul is bowed down: they have digged a pit before me, into the midst whereof they are fallen themselves. Selah.

 7 My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise.

 8 Awake up, my glory; awake, psaltery and harp: I myself will awake early.

 9 I will praise thee, O Lord, among the people: I will sing unto thee among the nations.

 10 For thy mercy is great unto the heavens, and thy truth unto the clouds.

 11 Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens: let thy glory be above all the earth.

Other versions list a heading saying this is a “Prayer for Rescue from Persecutors,” a Psalm of David when he was fleeing from Saul in the cave. Even though we may not face that exact type of persecution, I think the day is coming when we might. Even now there is not a general favorable attitude toward Christianity as there has been in past decades in this country. Really, it’s unusual to have a general public attitude favorable toward Christianity — in many countries throughout much of history, persecution has been the norm.

And even if we’re not facing persecution for our faith or our stand for Christ, sometimes we can face opposition as David did when someone takes it upon themselves to try to thwart our cause or decides they just don’t like us. Many people battle “office politics” or family problems or bullies or any number of contrary people or circumstances. So I believe this Psalm can be applicable to any situation in which we face opposition.

Our first recourse, as David’s was, is to cry unto the Lord, trusting Him to undertake, protect, and deliver us. I love the way verse 1 is worded. I love that God is our refuge.

I love also that David is not only concerned for his own situation: he is concerned for God’s glory. He wants God to be exalted in his situation. You see this echoed throughout the Psalms. In Psalm 109:26-27, David says, “Help me, O LORD my God: O save me according to thy mercy:That they may know that this is thy hand; that thou, LORD, hast done it.” Too often we just want deliverance; we want out of the problem or situation, as fast as possible, and we may remember to thank the Lord, but we don’t often think about wanting Him to be exalted or His glory to be seen in the midst of it all. I am touched by how, in many of the Psalms, David doesn’t just cry out for help, but his heart for his God is seen.

Once again David tells the Lord of his circumstances, then focuses on God’s mercy, faithfulness, and ability to deliver. My heart is fixed….other versions use the word “steadfast” instead of fixed. We could say David steadfastly fixes his heart on the Lord. In verses 7-10 he looks forward in faith. When he says he will praise the Lord, I am not sure if he means “I will praise you now despite my circumstances: I will focus on You and not the dilemma” or if he means “I will praise you in faith, knowing that You will save me.” I think there are ways that both views are applicable.

I am so thankful that in the midst of any calamity, we can trust in God’s mercy and take refuge in Him.

See Butterfly Kisses for more thoughts on this Psalm. and feel free to join us in meditating on them.

Psalm Sunday: Psalm 56

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1 Be merciful unto me, O God: for man would swallow me up; he fighting daily oppresseth me.

2 Mine enemies would daily swallow me up: for they be many that fight against me, O thou most High.

3 What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.

4 In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.

5 Every day they wrest my words: all their thoughts are against me for evil.

6 They gather themselves together, they hide themselves, they mark my steps, when they wait for my soul.

7 Shall they escape by iniquity? in thine anger cast down the people, O God.

8 Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?

9 When I cry unto thee, then shall mine enemies turn back: this I know; for God is for me.

10 In God will I praise his word: in the LORD will I praise his word.

11 In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me.

12 Thy vows are upon me, O God: I will render praises unto thee.

13 For thou hast delivered my soul from death: wilt not thou deliver my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living?

I am glad that a warrior such as David was could admit that he was afraid. He had very real enemies after him off and on throughout his life; he hid for his life in caves; he fought victoriously against his foes, foes who  not only battled him physically but who “wrested his words” (v. 5). Even though he had much more reason to be afraid than I have had, verse 3 has been a comfort to me many times. When fear come, I can dwell on them — which doesn’t help, and, in fact, only make things worse — or I can turn to God in faith.

God not only cares for and delivers us from our fears: He  keeps track of our wanderings and our tears (v. 8).

It’s interesting that David says, and repeats, “In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.” Sometimes we want God to just remove fear from us, and sometimes He does, but this indicates an act of the will. David chooses to place his faith in God, and he chooses to praise Him. I don’t get the idea that this just means He will praise God after he is delivered from his enemies, but also that as he wrestles with his fear, he chooses to praise God and exercise faith instead of focusing on his fear.

Verse 13 seems to expand David’s trust beyond just the immediate need for deliverance from death by his enemies, but to his need for God’s grace to keep him from falling as he walks before God each day. This is another verse I have prayed and leaned on often.

For more thoughts on this Psalm or to add your own, see Butterfly Kisses.

Psalm Sunday: Psalm 54

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1 Save me, O God, by thy name, and judge me by thy strength. 2 Hear my prayer, O God; give ear to the words of my mouth.

3 For strangers are risen up against me, and oppressors seek after my soul: they have not set God before them. Selah.

4 Behold, God is mine helper: the Lord is with them that uphold my soul.

5 He shall reward evil unto mine enemies: cut them off in thy truth.

6 I will freely sacrifice unto thee: I will praise thy name, O LORD; for it is good.

7 For he hath delivered me out of all trouble: and mine eye hath seen his desire upon mine enemies.

Once during my course of reading the Bible through, while reading about David’s life in I & II Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles, I slowed down and looked up the cross references to the Psalms David had written during several of those incidents. Of course, we can do it the other way, too — when reading the Psalms we can look up the cross references to the ones that have them back to an incident in the Old Testament. Though in one sense we can just take the Psalms at face value, it really enriched the reading of both the narrative and the Psalms to know the context of each.

Psalm 54 was written concerning events in I Samuel 23 when David was running for his life from King Saul, hiding out in Ziph, and the Ziphites offered to give him up to Saul. “For strangers are risen up against me, and oppressors seek after my soul: they have not set God before them,” verse 3. But David turns again to the only One who can help, the One in whom he has placed His confidence. He calls out for deliverance, relies in faith on God to provide it, and promises to praise and sacrifice to Him.

In this day and time there are still those with very real physical enemies; there are those who are persecuted for their faith. God will deliver them one way or another. We might also face those who are against us without just cause and those who would betray us: God is sufficient for even that.

Though these days in America we don’t usually face physical persecution for our faith and rarely have enemies that are after our lives, we do have an enemy, “your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (I Peter 5:7-9). We will ultimately be delivered from even him one day, and until then we can call out to God for deliverance from every battle in which we find ourselves.

See our Psalms Sunday hostess at Butterfly Kisses for more thoughts on this Psalm.

Psalm Sunday: Psalm 52

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1 Why boastest thou thyself in mischief, O mighty man? the goodness of God endureth continually.

2 The tongue deviseth mischiefs; like a sharp razor, working deceitfully.

3 Thou lovest evil more than good; and lying rather than to speak righteousness. Selah.

4 Thou lovest all devouring words, O thou deceitful tongue.

5 God shall likewise destroy thee for ever, he shall take thee away, and pluck thee out of thy dwelling place, and root thee out of the land of the living. Selah.

6 The righteous also shall see, and fear, and shall laugh at him:

7 Lo, this is the man that made not God his strength; but trusted in the abundance of his riches, and strengthened himself in his wickedness.

8 But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God: I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever.

9 I will praise thee for ever, because thou hast done it: and I will wait on thy name; for it is good before thy saints.

The NASB heading of this Psalm says it was written “when Doeg the Edomite came and told Saul and said to him, ‘David has come to the house of Ahimelech.'” This incident is recorded in I Samuel 21-22. King Saul had grown increasingly unstable and had tried to kill David. David fled from Saul and stopped in to ask the priest for provisions and a weapon. He did not tell the priest he was fleeing for his life; he told him he was on the king’s business. Doeg the Edomite saw him there, and later when King Saul asked for information about David, Doeg told him all he knew. Saul confronted the priest and, though the priest confessed he knew nothing about the trouble between David and Saul, Saul commanded his servants to kill the priests, but they refused. Then Saul commanded Doeg to kill them, and he did — 85 of them plus “Nob, the city of the priests, smote he with the edge of the sword, both men and women, children and sucklings, and oxen, and asses, and sheep” (I Samuel 22:19). One son of the priest escaped and came to David, who was deeply grieved at the loss of life his situation had caused and took the man into his protection.

Knowing the background lends weight to David’s comparing the tongue to a sharp razor, working deceitfully and devising mischief and speaking devouring words. This man, and others like him, ” lovest evil more than good” and “made not God his strength; but trusted in the abundance of his riches, and strengthened himself in his wickedness.”

Yet David had faith that “the goodness of God endureth continually” and that this man had no reason to boast because “God shall likewise destroy thee for ever, he shall take thee away, and pluck thee out of thy dwelling place, and root thee out of the land of the living.”

Verses 6-7 say, “The righteous also shall see, and fear, and shall laugh at him: Lo, this is the man that made not God his strength; but trusted in the abundance of his riches, and strengthened himself in his wickedness.” I honestly have a little trouble with the idea of laughing at the fate of the wicked, but I don’t think this is talking about laughing at his fate. I don’t know if this is exactly the right perspective, but I think of it similarly to when I hear ferocious barking, turn to see where it is coming from, and see it is some little tiny yapping dog, and I smile and think, “Who do you think you are?!” Sure, a little dog can still cause harm, but he’s not nearly as big and mighty as he seems to think he is. And the wicked are the same. Yes, they can cause harm. But their power is limited, and their reward is coming.

We are instructed in the New Testament to “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). I have heard testimony of some who have come to the Lord as a result of being loved and prayed for in the face of hatred and perecution. God “is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (II Peter 3:9). But if a person will not repent, they will have to face God’s judgment.

So God will take care of the wicked one way or another. This reminds me of Psalm 37:7: “Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.”

By contrast to the characteristics and fate of the wicked, David says he is “like a green olive tree in the house of God: I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever. I will praise thee for ever, because thou hast done it: and I will wait on thy name; for it is good before thy saints.” He will not be cut down: he will be growing and fruitful in the house of God, trusting in His mercy forever, praising Him forever.

We can wait on God’s good name as well, trusting and resting in Him.

For more meditations on this Psalm or to join in with your own, see Butterfly Kisses.

Psalm Sunday: Psalm 51

My apologies for being late this week — we had out-of-town company over the last several days.

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1 Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.

2 Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.

3 For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.

4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.

5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.

6 Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.

7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

8 Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.

9 Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

11 Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.

12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.

13 Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.

14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.

15 O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.

16 For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering.

17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

18 Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem.

19 Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar.

I am not going to outline this Psalm as it is pretty clear. I just want to pull a few thoughts from it.

This Psalm reminds me of the marks of godly sorrow and true repentance described in II Corinthians 7:9-11. There is no casual “Forgive me if I have done anything wrong” here.

David appeals to God’s lovingkindness here, and that is our hope and appeal as well. I am so glad God loves us in spite of our bent to sinning and created a way though Christ wherein we can have all our sins forgiven.

Though Israel was commanded to offer certain sacrifices at that time as a picture of the coming Christ’s redemptive work for us, just going through the motions was all for naught if there was not a broken and a contrite heart over sin (vv 16-17). God desires truth in the inward part of us (v. 6).

David acknowledges that, though his sin did affect other people, ultimately his sin was primarily against God (v. 4).

Thank God for His cleansing. I have prayed v. 10 many a time.

Then after there is acknowledgment, confession, repentance, and cleansing — then the joy is restored (vv. 8, 13).

See Butterfly Kisses for more Psalm Sunday meditations.

Psalm Sunday: Psalm 50

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1 The mighty God, even the LORD, hath spoken, and called the earth from the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof.

2 Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined.

3 Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him.

4 He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people.

5 Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.

6 And the heavens shall declare his righteousness: for God is judge himself. Selah.

7 Hear, O my people, and I will speak; O Israel, and I will testify against thee: I am God, even thy God.

8 I will not reprove thee for thy sacrifices or thy burnt offerings, to have been continually before me.

9 I will take no bullock out of thy house, nor he goats out of thy folds.

10 For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills.

11 I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine.

12 If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fulness thereof.

13 Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats?

14 Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High:

15 And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.

16 But unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth?

17 Seeing thou hatest instruction, and casteth my words behind thee.

18 When thou sawest a thief, then thou consentedst with him, and hast been partaker with adulterers.

19 Thou givest thy mouth to evil, and thy tongue frameth deceit.

20 Thou sittest and speakest against thy brother; thou slanderest thine own mother’s son.

21 These things hast thou done, and I kept silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes.

22 Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver.

23 Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me: and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I shew the salvation of God.

I like to read the Psalm for the day several times on my own first and sort out my thoughts and impressions of what I think it is teaching before checking myself against someone else, usually C. H. Spurgeon’s Treasury of David. Spurgeon summed up the divisions of this Psalm nicely in this paragraph: “The Lord is represented as summoning the whole earth to hear his declaration, Ps 50:1-6; he then declares the nature of the worship which he accepts, Ps 50:7-15, accuses the ungodly of breaches of the precepts of the second table, Ps 50:16-21, and closes the court with a word of threatening, Ps 50:22, and a direction of grace, Ps 50:23.” For an expert study of this Psalm, see the rest of Spurgeon’s commentary on it here: in fact, I wonder what in the world I am doing saying anything about this Psalm when so many others have done a much better job thatn I ever could! But it is an exercise in studying the passage for me, and I do get a lot from it in thinking through it this way.

I won’t go over it verse by verse or section by section this time, but here are just a few thoughts.

— Sometimes these days people forget this view of God as the righteous Judge. He is merciful and gracious, longsuffering and ready to forgive. But as the Creator and as God alone, He has the right to “make the rules,” so to speak, and to deal with those who won’t come to Him for forgiveness for not following His way. Even His warnings may be seen as merciful because they are designed to lead people to repentance before it is too late.

— Like Israel, we can sometimes forget to do what’s required of us or do it in a way that is just “going through the motions” without any heart behind it. God doesn’t “need” our service any more than He “needed” Israel’s sacrifices, but He requires the service out of a right heart of gratitude. I like what Spurgeon said about this:

No longer look at your sacrifices as in themselves gifts pleasing to me, but present them as the tributes of your gratitude; it is then that I will accept them, but not while your poor souls have no love and no thankfulness to offer me. The sacrifices, as considered in themselves, are contemned, but the internal emotions of love consequent upon a remembrance of divine goodness, are commended as the substance, meaning, and soul of sacrifice. Even when the legal ceremonials were not abolished, this was true, and when they came to an end, this truth was more than ever made manifest. Not for want of bullocks on the altar was Israel blamed, but for want of thankful adoration before the Lord. She excelled in the visible, but in the inward grace, which is the one thing needful, she sadly failed. Too many in these days are in the same condemnation.

— Verse 15 is often quoted by itself, “And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me,” but it is a continuation of the sentence in verse 14: “Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High: And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.”

— Verse 21: “These things hast thou done, and I kept silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes.” Sometimes we mistake God’s mercy and longsuffering for indulgence. When we do wrong and there are no immediate consequences, we think He hasn’t seen, or if He has, like a kindly grandfather in the sky He will pat us on the head and overlook our wrongdoing. But forgiveness is not the same thing as overlooking sin: forgiveness involves facing up to wrongdoing and repenting of it.

— On the first part of verse 23, “Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me,” Spurgeon says,

Thanksgiving is a God exalting work. Though nothing can add the least cubit to God’s essential glory, yet praise exalts him in the eyes of others. Praise is a setting forth of God’s honour, a lifting up of his name, a displaying the trophy of his goodness, a proclaiming his excellency, a spreading his renown, a breaking open the box of ointment, whereby the sweet savour and perfume of God’s name is sent abroad into the world.

— The last part of verse 23 can be a little confusing: “to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I shew the salvation of God.” It makes it sound like we’re saved after we correct our actions, but many other verses say that we’re saved by God’s grace, and then with His power and out of gratitude we get things right in our lives. The word “salvation” in the Bible, though, doesn’t always mean deliverance from the penalty and power of our sins: sometimes it means rescue from trouble. Since the first part of this verse seems to be addressed to believers (“whose offereth praise…”) perhaps the meaning of this second part of the verse is similar to Psalm 66:18: “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” A believer can’t expect God to hear and answer prayer if he is walking around with known and unconfessed sin in his life. But once we have confessed that sin to God, we have the confidence that He will answer prayer. Verse 22 is a call to those who “forget God” to heed His warning and repent; verse 23 seems to be a reminder to God’s people that He wants true heart worship, right motives behind a right life, not just a lifeless outer obedience. If you have another “take” on this verse, let me know.

Our Psalms Sunday hostess, Erica at Butterfly Kisses, does not yet have the link up for this weeks Psalm Sunday, but she probably will one day this week. I usually wait until she does so to post my Psalms Sunday thoughts, but I wanted to do it as close to Sunday as possible, even though I am a day late already.

Psalm Sunday: Psalm 49

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1 Hear this, all ye people; give ear, all ye inhabitants of the world: 2 Both low and high, rich and poor, together.

3 My mouth shall speak of wisdom; and the meditation of my heart shall be of understanding.

4 I will incline mine ear to a parable: I will open my dark saying upon the harp.

5 Wherefore should I fear in the days of evil, when the iniquity of my heels shall compass me about?

6 They that trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches;

7 None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him:

8 (For the redemption of their soul is precious, and it ceaseth for ever:)

9 That he should still live for ever, and not see corruption.

10 For he seeth that wise men die, likewise the fool and the brutish person perish, and leave their wealth to others.

11 Their inward thought is, that their houses shall continue for ever, and their dwelling places to all generations; they call their lands after their own names.

12 Nevertheless man being in honour abideth not: he is like the beasts that perish.

13 This their way is their folly: yet their posterity approve their sayings. Selah.

14 Like sheep they are laid in the grave; death shall feed on them; and the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning; and their beauty shall consume in the grave from their dwelling.

15 But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave: for he shall receive me. Selah.

16 Be not thou afraid when one is made rich, when the glory of his house is increased;

17 For when he dieth he shall carry nothing away: his glory shall not descend after him.

18 Though while he lived he blessed his soul: and men will praise thee, when thou doest well to thyself.

19 He shall go to the generation of his fathers; they shall never see light.

20 Man that is in honour, and understandeth not, is like the beasts that perish.

This psalm calls to mind I Timothy 6:17: “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy.”

It’s not wrong to be rich if it is within God’s plan for an individual. Abraham and many other Bible individuals were rich in their day. Years ago I read a biography titled Lady Huntingdon and Her Friends about Lady Selina Hastings who was instrumental in helping John Wesley and George Whitfield in their ministries and who founded 64 chapels. She said she was “saved by an m” because the Bible says not many wise, mighty, or noble are called, but it didn’t say not any. 

Yet it can be a temptation to the rich to trust in their wealth, and it can be a temptation to those who are not rich to think they would be secure if they had wealth.  Riches can be an idol in either case. Sometimes we don’t want to be rich, but we feel if we just had a little more then everything would be safe and secure.

But verses 7-8 remind us that riches can’t secure redemption, and verses 9-14 remind us that riches can’t keep death away (at least not forever). Verses 10 and 17 remind us that riches won’t be carried into eternity.

I’m reminded of a scene in Oliver! where Fagin, the evil master thief who has been teaching stray boys to pickpocket, is trying to escape with his hoard of riches after learning that the police are coming. He has all his worldly goods in his arms but somehow drops them into a muddy bog. They sit on top of the muck for just a second, and then, bloop, they disappear down into the mess, and with all Fagin’s thrashing around trying to retrieve them, he can’t find them and has to run on. Many wealthy people through the years can testify of a sudden robbery or a sudden change in the market or a slower change in industry or technology which rendered their product or service useless.

Our care, our provision, our sustenance in this life come from the Lord. And even more, He provides the way for the redemption of our souls from sin and our bodies from the grave (verse 15). The more we learn of Him and get to know Him through His Word, the more our faith will be increased to trust Him for all our needs.

Visit Butterfly Kisses for more Psalms Sunday mediations, and feel free to join in by adding your own.

Psalm Sunday: Psalm 46

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1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;

3 Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.

4 There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.

5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.

6 The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted.

7 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.

8 Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations he hath made in the earth.

9 He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire.

10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.

11 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.

This is one of my favorite Psalms. I remember one time trying to envision what it would be like verses 2-3 might be like — perhaps an earthquake, literally seeing mountains fall into the sea. Even then God is a refuge for us, God is with us, God will help us. And since He is with us, helping us, being a refuge for us even in a terror-filled situation like that, can’t we trust Him for whatever it is we’re going through?

Even when the heathen rage (v.6) we’re don’t need to be troubled: ultimately He will be exalted among the heathen (v. 10).

The NASB translates the “Be still” of verse 10 as “cease striving.” That so struck me: part of my problem in any trial is that striving in spirit with the fact that I don’t want this to happen, I don’t want to deal with it, I can’t see any good reason God would allow it, what am I going to do about it, how will I cope, what about all the repercussions and possibilities….just cease striving! Rest. Know that He is God. He has everything under control. He knows what He is doing. He is our very present help and our refuge.

For more meditations or to add your own, see our Psalm Sunday hostess, Erica at Butterfly Kisses.

Psalm Sunday: Psalm 45

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1 My heart is inditing a good matter: I speak of the things which I have made touching the king: my tongue is the pen of a ready writer.

2 Thou art fairer than the children of men: grace is poured into thy lips: therefore God hath blessed thee for ever.

3 Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O most mighty, with thy glory and thy majesty.

4 And in thy majesty ride prosperously because of truth and meekness and righteousness; and thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things.

5 Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the king’s enemies; whereby the people fall under thee.

6 Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre.

7 Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.

8 All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made thee glad.

9 Kings’ daughters were among thy honourable women: upon thy right hand did stand the queen in gold of Ophir.

10 Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear; forget also thine own people, and thy father’s house;

11 So shall the king greatly desire thy beauty: for he is thy Lord; and worship thou him.

12 And the daughter of Tyre shall be there with a gift; even the rich among the people shall intreat thy favour.

13 The king’s daughter is all glorious within: her clothing is of wrought gold.

14 She shall be brought unto the king in raiment of needlework: the virgins her companions that follow her shall be brought unto thee.

15 With gladness and rejoicing shall they be brought: they shall enter into the king’s palace.

16 Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children, whom thou mayest make princes in all the earth.

17 I will make thy name to be remembered in all generations: therefore shall the people praise thee for ever and ever.

During these and sometimes other studies, I go back and forth between the KJV, NKJV, NASB, and sometimes the ESV. I am the most familiar with the KJV because I have been using it for 30 years, but these translations shed light on each other.

The above is from the KJV, but the introductory note in my NASB say, “A Song Celebrating the King’s Marriage. For the choir director; according to the Shoshannim. A Maskil of the sons of Korah. A Song of Love.” These are the psalmist’s meditations about the King’s marriage, and he is eager to share them. Ephesians 5:31-33 tells us that marriage is a picture representing the relationship between Christ and the church, and this particular marriage depicts that relationship more specifically.

Verses 2-9 are addressed to the King and describe His attributes: fair, gracious, mighty, glorious, majestic, victorious, upright, righteous, eternal. Much could be drawn from these passages about the attributes of our Lord.
Verses 10-16 are addressed to the bride. She is encouraged to forget her people and her father’s house and assured that the King will desire her. Her preparations are described as well as the joy the people will have over her union with the King and her future progeny.

Verse 17, I believe, is addressed again to the King, and the psalmist accomplishes what he proclaims he will do there, as this psalm is included in the canon of Scripture and helps to make His name remembered and Himself praised.

This is just a very brief overview of the psalm: for an extensive and expert treatment, C. H. Spurgeon’s Treasury of David is online, and Psalm 45 is studied here. I particularly like what he brought out from a verse I had glossed over, verse 10:

Hearken, O daughter, and consider. Ever is this the great duty of the church. Faith cometh by hearing, and confirmation by consideration. No precept can be more worthy of the attention of those who are honoured to be espoused to Christ that that which follows. And incline thine ear. Lean forward so that no syllable may be unheard. The whole faculties of the mind should be bent upon receiving holy teaching.

This Psalm is the basis for the hymn “Out of the Ivory Palaces.”

More meditations of this Psalm can be found at the Psalms Sundays inventor and hostess, Erica at Butterfly Kisses.