My Guardian

I look up toward the mountains. Where can I find help?

My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let you fall. Your guardian will not fall asleep.

Indeed, the Guardian of Israel never rests or sleeps. [vss 1-4]

The Lord is your guardian. The Lord is the shade over your right hand.

The sun will not beat down on you during the day, nor will the moon at night.

The Lord guards you from every evil. He guards your life.

The Lord guards you as you come and go, now and forever. [vss 5-8]

A song for going up to worship.  (Psalms 121:1-8 GW)

[Psalm 121 is the first in a group of psalms known as the Songs of Ascent]


God's design for the parent-child relationship is remarkable. It's a picture and model of God's original design for the relationship between Him and humanity.

Working with abandoned babies and children gave my wife and I a much greater appreciation of this. We saw the longing in every child to belong to their own family. This is something no institution, no matter how well run, could ever fulfill.

The personal trust and confidence a child has in their parents is sacred and it is a great tragedy when it's violated or broken. It creates a vacuum in the soul that can't be filled by anything else.

The acceptance and approval a child receives from their parents bring a sense of safety and security that mirrors the relationship God desires with every person.

What about those who are abandoned and abused by parents? God is still faithful. He never sleeps or forgets us. He is our Guardian. We just need to trust in Him.

When we look for help and trust in other ways than how God intends for us to trust in Him, we'll be disappointed over and over again.

This psalm opens with looking up "towards the mountains" and asking the rhetorical question, "Where can I find help?" People who trusted in ritualistic, superstitious religion based on false gods set up idolatrous shrines in high places (hills and mountains).

The psalmist knew the answer to his question. He knew who to trust—the One true and living God.

What and who do you trust? If not the living God, then it's a hopeless trust

Trust in the One who knows you, never sleeps or forgets you—the Lord your Guardian.

©Word-Strong_2017


Would you like a free study guide for your study of Psalms?

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I won't cover all 150 Psalms, but do selective devotionals through the rest of Psalms.

So if I skip one that you like... let me know and I'll try to cover it!

Treasured Truth

Blessed are those whose lives have integrity, those who follow the teachings of the Lord.

Blessed are those who obey his written instructions. They wholeheartedly search for him. They do nothing wrong. They follow his directions.

You have commanded that your guiding principles be carefully followed.

I pray that my ways may become firmly established so that I can obey your laws.

Then I will never feel ashamed when I study all your commandments.

I will give thanks to you as I learn your regulations, which are based on your righteousness. I will obey your laws. Never abandon me. [vss 1-8—Aleph]

How can a young person keep his life pure? ⌊He can do it⌋ by holding on to your word.

I wholeheartedly searched for you. Do not let me wander away from your commandments.

I have treasured your promise in my heart so that I may not sin against you. Thanks be to you, O Lord. Teach me your laws.

With my lips I have repeated every regulation that ⌊comes⌋ from your mouth.

I find joy in the way ⌊shown by⌋ your written instructions more than I find joy in all kinds of riches.

I want to reflect on your guiding principles and study your ways. Your laws make me happy. I never forget your word. [vss 9-16—Beth]

Be kind to me so that I may live and hold on to your word. Uncover my eyes so that I may see the miraculous things in your teachings.

I am a foreigner in this world. Do not hide your commandments from me. My soul is overwhelmed with endless longing for your regulations.

You threaten arrogant people, who are condemned and wander away from your commandments.

Remove the insults and contempt that have fallen on me because I have obeyed your written instructions.

Even though influential people plot against me, I reflect on your laws.

Indeed, your written instructions make me happy. They are my best friends. [vss 17-24—Gimel]

(Psalms 119:1-24 GW)


What do you treasure? What is it that you value and cherish most in life? Perhaps it's people who you're close with, which is good, or it may be status or riches.

Whatever we hold closest in our hearts reveals what governs our life. Jesus said, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matt 6:21 NIV)

Psalm 119 is the longest of all the Psalms—176 verses! It's also laid out as an acrostic where each verse starts with the same letter in each stanza for all 22 characters of the Hebrew alphabet. The first 24 verses would be similar to the first three letters of the English alphabet—A, B, C—Aleph, Beth, Gimel.

This ancient poetic form provided a structure that is memorable and instructional. Using the whole alphabet shows completeness, as the English expression goes—"from A to Z." Each stanza of eight verses reinforces the theme which focuses on the Word or Law of God and the God of the Word.

Woven around this theme are confessions of faith and failure, pleas and prayers, and promises. These thoughts are intended to stir reflection and encourage meditation on the truth of God's Word and what it reveals about God Himself and His promises.

Several verses stand out and are memorable to me that are representative of the psalm's theme. Here's one that sums up the intent and purpose of this instructional psalm—

I have treasured your promise in my heart so that I may not sin against you. (Psa 119:11 GW)

Another familiar verse representative of Psalm 119 is—

Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path. (Psa 119:105 GW)

Do you treasure the truth of God's Word in your heart?

God's Word of truth can be a blessing to guide and strengthen you in daily life.

©Word-Strong_2017


Would you like a free study guide for your study of Psalms?

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I won't cover all 150 Psalms, but do selective devotionals through the rest of Psalms.

So if I skip one that you like... let me know and I'll try to cover it!

The Cornerstone

Give thanks to the Lord because he is good, because his mercy endures forever.

Israel should say, “His mercy endures forever.” The descendants of Aaron should say, “His mercy endures forever.” Those who fear the Lord should say, “His mercy endures forever.” [vss 1-4]

During times of trouble I called on the Lord. The Lord answered me ⌊and⌋ set me free ⌊from all of them⌋.

The Lord is on my side. I am not afraid. What can mortals do to me? The Lord is on my side as my helper. I will see ⌊the defeat of⌋ those who hate me.

It is better to depend on the Lord than to trust mortals. It is better to depend on the Lord than to trust influential people. [vss 5-9]

All the nations surrounded me, ⌊but armed⌋ with the name of the Lord, I defeated them.

They surrounded me. Yes, they surrounded me, ⌊but armed⌋ with the name of the Lord, I defeated them.

They swarmed around me like bees, but they were extinguished like burning thornbushes. ⌊So armed⌋ with the name of the Lord, I defeated them.

They pushed hard to make me fall, but the Lord helped me.

The Lord is my strength and my song. He is my savior. [vss 10-15]

The sound of joyful singing and victory is heard in the tents of righteous people. The right hand of the Lord displays strength.

The right hand of the Lord is held high. The right hand of the Lord displays strength.

I will not die, but I will live and tell what the Lord has done. The Lord disciplined me severely, but he did not allow me to be killed.

Open the gates of righteousness for me. I will go through them ⌊and⌋ give thanks to the Lord. This is the gate of the Lord through which righteous people will enter.

I give thanks to you, because you have answered me. You are my savior. [vss 15-21]

The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. The Lord is responsible for this, and it is amazing for us to see.

This is the day the Lord has made. Let’s rejoice and be glad today!

We beg you, O Lord, save us! We beg you, O Lord, give us success!

Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord. We bless you from the Lord’s house.

The Lord is God, and he has given us light. March in a festival procession with branches to the horns of the altar.

You are my God, and I give thanks to you. My God, I honor you highly.

Give thanks to the Lord because he is good, because his mercy endures forever. [vss 22-29]

(Psalms 118:1-29 GW)


It's been said that life happens while making other plans. Interruptions and the unexpected bring completeness, depth, and fullness to our lives.

When these unexpected moments interrupt our life, we may not embrace them because they're difficult. But life is too boring and routine without them. We'd also have no reason to trust God.

Two things stand out to me in this psalm. It begins and ends with the same exhortation and declaration—

Give thanks to the Lord because he is good, because his mercy endures forever. (Psa 118:1, 29 GW)

The psalmist seems to exhort himself along with those who hear it or us who read it.

Embedded in this psalm is a Messianic prophecy, an important one. It's a prophecy that Jesus quotes about Himself (Matt 21:42) and the apostle Peter says the Lord's church is built upon (1 Peter 2:7-8).

The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. (Psa 118:22 GW)

In ancient days, the cornerstone was the foundation for a building. It set the vertical and horizontal lines for the rest of the building.

This unexpected prophetic interruption brings life and depth to this psalm. It makes this psalm more than a poetic musical prayer. It has an eternal message of hope.

The Lord God Himself would come to earth and bring a freedom and fullness of life to all those who trust in Him.

Verses 22 through 27 echo the story of Christ's entry into Jerusalem before offering Himself on the cross to bring freedom and life to all those who trust in Him.

How have you seen the Lord work in your life when it's been interrupted?

Build your life on the Lord and trust the One whose mercy endures forever.

©Word-Strong_2017


Would you like a free study guide for your study of Psalms?

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I won't cover all 150 Psalms, but do selective devotionals through the rest of Psalms.

So if I skip one that you like... let me know and I'll try to cover it!

Precious In His Sight

 I love the Lord because he hears my voice, my pleas for mercy. I will call on him as long as I live because he turns his ear toward me.

The ropes of death became tangled around me. The horrors of the grave took hold of me. I experienced pain and agony. 

But I kept calling on the name of the Lord: “Please, Lord, rescue me!” [vss 1-4]

The Lord is merciful and righteous. Our God is compassionate.

The Lord protects defenseless people. When I was weak, he saved me.

Be at peace again, my soul, because the Lord has been good to you.

You saved me from death. You saved my eyes from tears ⌊and⌋ my feet from stumbling.

I will walk in the Lord’s presence in this world of the living. [vss 5-9]

I kept my faith even when I said, “I am suffering terribly.” I also said when I was panic-stricken, “Everyone is undependable.”

How can I repay the Lord for all the good that he has done for me?

I will take the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord. I will keep my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people.

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful ones. [vss 10-15]

O Lord, I am indeed your servant. I am your servant, the son of your female servant. You have freed me from my chains.

I will bring a song of thanksgiving to you as a sacrifice. I will call on the name of the Lord.

I will keep my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people, in the courtyards of the Lord’s house, in the middle of Jerusalem. Hallelujah! [vss 9-19]

(Psalms 116:1-19 GW)


Loneliness is linked to death nearly as much as sorrow. When a loved one passes out of this life it leaves an empty place. This is especially true in the loss of a spouse, child, or parent but also with close friendships and other close family ties.

The space in our lives once filled by someone dear is not filled up by time or activity or someone else. It can't be filled with something or someone else but we can express this need to the Lord and ask Him to fill us with

The question of why often follows the death of someone close. A question directed towards God, as if is callous or indifferent to our loss.

But God does care. The death of those who trust in Him is especially precious to Him (vs 15). He doesn't delight in anyone's death.

But what about us left on earth with those empty places in our life?

Every funeral, memorial and burial service I lead is an opportunity to remind people of the value of life and how memories of loved ones are precious treasures.

As this psalm reminds us, the Lord is merciful, righteous, and compassionate (vs 5). He hears us when we cry out to Him. The psalmist reminds us we need to reflect on God's goodness and His precious gift of life to us.

We don't have to wait for some crisis or loss but each day remember His goodness.

How can we repay God for His goodness to us? We can't. But we can choose to trust in Him, think of Him, and commit our lives to Him each day we live on earth.

God's goodness and presence can fill the empty places in our hearts and set us free from loneliness.

Have you lost someone dear to you? Is there an empty place in your heart?

  

Let the Lord fill that empty place in your heart with His goodness and presence!

  

©Word-Strong_2017


Would you like a free study guide for your study of Psalms?

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I won't cover all 150 Psalms, but do selective devotionals through the rest of Psalms.

So if I skip one that you like... let me know and I'll try to cover it!

You're Like What You Trust

Don’t give glory to us, O Lord. Don’t give glory to us. Instead, give glory to your name because of your mercy and faithfulness.

Why should other nations say, “Where is their God?” Our God is in heaven. He does whatever he wants. [vss 1-3]

Their idols are made of silver and gold. They were made by human hands.

They have mouths, but they cannot speak. They have eyes, but they cannot see. They have ears, but they cannot hear. They have noses, but they cannot smell.

They have hands, but they cannot feel. They have feet, but they cannot walk. They cannot ⌊even⌋ make a sound with their throats.

Those who make idols end up like them. So does everyone who trusts them. [vss 4-8]

Israel, trust the Lord. He is your helper and your shield. Descendants of Aaron, trust the Lord. He is your helper and your shield.

If you fear the Lord, trust the Lord. He is your helper and your shield.

The Lord, who is ⌊always⌋ thinking about us, will bless us. He will bless the descendants of Israel. He will bless the descendants of Aaron.

He will bless those who fear the Lord, from the least important to the most important. [vss 9-13]

May the Lord continue to bless you and your children. You will be blessed by the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.

The highest heaven belongs to the Lord, but he has given the earth to the descendants of Adam.

Those who are dead do not praise the Lord, nor do those who go into the silence ⌊of the grave⌋.

But we will thank the Lord now and forever. Hallelujah! [vss 14-18]

(Psalms 115:1-18 GW)


It's remarkable how much likeness there is between some dog lovers and their pets. The same is true for couples who've been together a long time, they begin to look and act like one another.

Many people have said they don't want to become like their parents only to realize later in life it's happened. It's kind of scary how we can take on the resemblance of another person or even a pet.

And then we have the expression, "You are what you eat!" Thankfully, we don't resemble what we eat so much as what we eat impacts our health and wellbeing.

Whether it's pet lovers or couples or parents and children, the likeness results because of a level of trust and familiarity. This can be good or bad.

This psalm is an exhortation to trust and fear (revere and respect) God. For those who do trust and fear the Lord, great blessings are promised (vss 9-13). The flip side is not so good.

In ancient times, even today in certain religions, people used statues and shrines as objects of worship. The Bible refers to these as idols and worshipping them is called idolatry which is in opposition to trusting in a living God.

One problem with idolatry is becoming like the object we worship. This is made clear in verses 4-8. But we may not realize how other things or even people can become idols in our life.

When we put our trust and confidence in anything or anyone else but God, it leaves us vulnerable to deception and leads to disappointment.

Confidence and trust in the Lord are rewarded in this life and beyond it.

Are there people or things that absorb you and your energy in a distorted way?

When you become numb to those around you or isolated from people, it's time to reevaluate your priorities and make the Lord number one.

©Word-Strong_2017


Would you like a free study guide for your study of Psalms?

Click Here to get a Free Psalms Study Guide

I won't cover all 150 Psalms, but do selective devotionals through the rest of Psalms.

So if I skip one that you like... let me know and I'll try to cover it!