Psalms Devos_Studies

No Longer Required

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Religion is viewed by many to be restrictive. It certainly can be. "Religion is just a bunch of do's and don'ts," people will say.

But God desires something beyond an attempt to keep a list of rights and wrongs.

Scripture

For the choir director: A psalm of David.

I waited patiently for the lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.

He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the lord.

Oh, the joys of those who trust the lord, who have no confidence in the proud or in those who worship idols.

O  lord my God, you have performed many wonders for us. Your plans for us are too numerous to list. You have no equal. If I tried to recite all your wonderful deeds, I would never come to the end of them. [vss 1-5]

You take no delight in sacrifices or offerings. Now that you have made me listen, I finally understand— you don’t require burnt offerings or sin offerings.

Then I said, “Look, I have come. As is written about me in the Scriptures: I take joy in doing your will, my God, for your instructions are written on my heart.”

 I have told all your people about your justice. I have not been afraid to speak out, as you, O  lord, well know.

I have not kept the good news of your justice hidden in my heart; I have talked about your faithfulness and saving power. I have told everyone in the great assembly of your unfailing love and faithfulness. [vss 6-10]

Lord, don’t hold back your tender mercies from me. Let your unfailing love and faithfulness always protect me.

For troubles surround me—too many to count! My sins pile up so high I can’t see my way out. They outnumber the hairs on my head. I have lost all courage.

Please, lord, rescue me! Come quickly, lord, and help me.

May those who try to destroy me be humiliated and put to shame. May those who take delight in my trouble be turned back in disgrace. Let them be horrified by their shame, for they said, “Aha! We’ve got him now!”

But may all who search for you be filled with joy and gladness in you. May those who love your salvation repeatedly shout, “The lord is great!”

As for me, since I am poor and needy, let the Lord keep me in his thoughts. You are my helper and my savior. O my God, do not delay. [vss 11-17]

(Psalm 40:1-17 NLT) [Context– Psalm 40]

Key phrase— Oh, the joys of those who trust the Lord

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Digging Deeper...

Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions

How does this psalm begin? What does the psalmist (David) rejoice about? What does he say about the Lord?

What does the Lord not take delight in or require? What does bring joy and why is this what God desires?

What specific things has David told people about the Lord?

What are David's two requests and why does he make them? What blessing is given near the ending?

Reflection...

This psalm has many different literary elements (see Psalms Study Guide). It begins with a testimony of God's rescue and declarations of God's greatness. It ends with requests for God's help and a blessing.

In the middle is a declaration by David that is prophetic. He speaks to the heart of what God desires, but in the voice of Jesus the Messiah, as noted in Hebrews 10:5-7 (also see Luke 24:44).

God isn't interested in sacrifices and offerings, though required by the Law of Moses, He desires trust and obedience from the heart.

Jesus came as the ultimate atoning sacrifice for humanity's rebellion towards God. His coming was foretold centuries before He came, but the nation of Israel did not accept it.

He will come a second time and those who've experienced His mercy and faithfulness are to proclaim the freedom found in Jesus to others until He returns.

Make it personal...

Read through the Scripture text again as you consider and answer these questions

Do you feel burdened and restricted by things you should or shouldn't do? If so, why?

Have you experienced the freedom of God's mercy and grace in your life?

If so, in what specific ways have you experienced the Lord's mercy and faithfulness in your life?

Has the Lord put a "new song" in your heart? Do you share what God's done in your life with others?


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A Whisper in the Wind

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No one wants to suffer. But suffering is a reality of life on earth, and suffering comes in many forms.

When suffering comes we all ask why—Why must this be? How long will it last?

It may be of no immediate comfort, but know this—suffering has a way of grabbing us, of getting our full attention.

Scripture

For the choir director; for Jeduthun; a psalm by David.

I said, “I will watch my ways so that I do not sin with my tongue. I will bridle my mouth while wicked people are in my presence.”

I remained totally speechless. I kept silent, although it did me no good. While I was deep in thought, my pain grew worse.

My heart burned like a fire flaring up within me. Then I spoke with my tongue:

“Teach me, O Lord, about the end of my life. Teach me about the number of days I have left so that I may know how temporary my life is. Indeed, you have made the length of my days ⌊only⌋ a few inches. My life span is nothing compared to yours. Certainly, everyone alive is like a whisper in the wind. Selah [vss 1-5]

Each person who walks around is like a shadow. They are busy for no reason. They accumulate riches without knowing who will get them.”

And now, Lord, what am I waiting for? My hope is in you!

Rescue me from all my rebellious acts. Do not disgrace me in front of godless fools. I remained speechless. I did not open my mouth because you are the one who has done this.

Remove the sickness you laid upon me. My life is over because you struck me with your hand.

With stern warnings you discipline people for their crimes. Like a moth you eat away at what is dear to them. Certainly, everyone is like a whisper in the wind. Selah [vss 6-11]

Listen to my prayer, O Lord. Open your ear to my cry for help. Do not be deaf to my tears, for I am a foreign resident with you, a stranger like all my ancestors.

Look away from me so that I may smile again before I go away and am no more. [vss 12-13]

(Psalm 39:1-13 GW) [Context– Psalm 39]

Key phrase— Certainly, everyone alive is like a whisper in the wind

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Digging Deeper...

Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions

How does the psalmist begin to describe his situation?

What does he say after the pain grows worse? What does he ask God to teach him?

How is a typical life described? How is this description applied to people and their daily lives?

What is the request at the end of this prayerful psalm? What does he hope for?

Reflection...

Determining the purpose of suffering, whatever kind it is, isn't simple. C.S. Lewis' famous quote gives some insight—

God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.

This psalm helps us see it from a different view. Life on this earth is temporary. But life and hope in God are eternal.

No one wants to die, but every one of us will die. Even people who take their own life don't want to die, they've just given up hope.

We all need a living hope beyond the whisper of life on earth. Hope is better than cynicism, fatalism, or nihilism.

It's easy to get caught up in everyday tasks and pursuits, but there's no final, satisfying destination. Yet, when we see how short and fragile life is it humbles us. At least, it ought to humble us.

Real hope is grounded in a relationship of trust in God, the Creator of life. David knew this from experience, even in the darkest of times.

Make it personal...

Read through the Scripture text again as you consider and answer these questions

Do you ever feel life is futile, almost purposeless?

When you struggle with pain, physical or emotional, how do you cope with it?

How do you view life in general? Have you come to realize how life is precious yet fragile?

Do you take time each day to appreciate the life God gave you?


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

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5 Ways to Overcome It All

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When the world around us seems out of control, it's easy to become discouraged, angry, depressed, and even fearful.

When evil, injustice, scandals, unrest, and tragedies dominate the news, cynicism is easy to cultivate. Why? We get bitter and our hearts harden when we lose hope in what's right and true and good.

But there are ways to overcome it all.

Don't be overcome

If we don't want to be overcome by the snarling darkness of this world, we need to develop attitudes and actions to contend with it.

One thing is certain—as followers of Jesus, we don't need to be overcome with worry or secretly admire those who seem to get away with everything.

In a previous post, I looked at the first nine verses of Psalm 37 and pointed out five ways to overcome what we cannot control. (Psalm 37:1-9). This is a follow-up post to see how these five ways can help us to overcome it all.

5 Ways to overcome what we can't control (from Psalm 37)

1– Trust in the Lord and do good (verse 3)– the opposite of fretting and envy

The initial way to not be overcome with worry and envy is to trust. Any form of trust is a risk of sorts, but the risk is reduced by the trustworthiness of whoever (or wherever) we're putting our trust.

The Lord is trustworthy beyond what we can comprehend, so it boils down to our own willingness to trust Him. Trusting in the Lord isn't a choice between one thing or another, it's based on relationship.

It's a confidence that God is greater than whatever threatens to overwhelm us. This is expanded on further in the psalm (Psalm 37:10-15; 18-22). It's a confidence that God will honor our trust in Him (Heb 11:6).

[bctt tweet="Our confidence in God needs to be greater than whatever threatens to overwhelm us" username="tkbeyond"]

2– Delight yourself in the Lord (verse 4)– having right priorities

As a young believer, I remember hearing the verse, Delight yourself in the Lord, and He'll give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4), as if it was a guarantee the Lord would give you whatever your heart desired. But there's more to it than that.

It's tied to trusting in the Lord (#1 above). The focus needs to be on delighting in the Lord, not what we want or desire. When our highest priority is the Lord Himself, our priorities are in right order and he will honor that.

[bctt tweet="When God transforms our hearts, the desires of our heart will change" username="tkbeyond"]

When this is true it transforms our heart and what we desire—our selfish nature is no longer the basis for the desires of our heart. This brings contentment into our relationship with the Lord. This is seen in other verses of this psalm (Psalm 27:16-19; 23-26).

3– Commit your way to the Lord– the Lord's promised care

Many believers have the sense that once they've given their heart to Jesus no further commitment is needed. In one way this is true. Once a decision is made to follow Jesus, just as with a marriage vow, a person doesn't need to do it over and over again.

But it's not a one and done type of commitment. In the gospel of Luke, Jesus speaks of the need to affirm this commitment daily (Luke 9:23). How can it be both?

The battle of not going with the cultural flow of the world around us is constant. It doesn't go away once we make a decision to follow Jesus. It requires a continuing surrender of our will and ways to the Lord.

I learned this as a young believer and Proverbs 3:5-6 became an anchor of truth for me when I dealt with worry, frustration, and envy of others.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

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4– Be still and wait (verse 7)– the power of disconnecting

This may seem like a passive action or no action at all, but it's a powerful way to connect with God. This is especially true in our digital age where people wander around in their own world with headsets and headphones or chasing imaginary creatures on their smartphone.

If we want to connect with God, we need to be willing to disconnect from the world around us, including people. This is nothing new and the idea of being present or mindful has once again become vogue in American culture.

[bctt tweet="To connect with God, we need to be willing to disconnect from the world around us" username="tkbeyond"]

The question for many is how? How can we digitally, emotionally, and physically unplug for a while? You'll need to find your own way to do this.

One way I do this is to get up early in the morning (while it's still dark) for a less-distracted time with God. Another thing that helps me is riding my bike on the beach, or fully engaging in worship.

As I said, you'll have to sort out how you can do this, and it requires some discipline and commitment.

5– Refrain...forsake...fret not (verse 8)– breaking the cycle

A friend of mine showed me an illustration and explanation of the Cycle of Rage that's relevant here. A choice needs to be made to break out of the cycle of reacting with anger or fretting when things seem out of control (Psalm 37:8).

This is a choice to not be controlled by our circumstances or feelings. How? This brings us full circle to the beginning of our ways to overcome it all.

When you begin to roll down the hill of cynicism and despair, it's time to put the brakes on!

[bctt tweet="If you're rolling down the hill of cynicism and despair, put the brakes on!" username="tkbeyond"]

Choosing God's kingdom over this world's dominion

What's described in these five ways to overcome is not a list of disciplines to apply, but a way of life in the Kingdom of God. This is seen in the repetition about inheriting the land (Psalm 37:9, 11, 22, 29, 34). For the Jews, this spoke of God's kingdom on earth.

But the kingdom of God is not restricted to a dominion upon earth, it encompasses all those who trust in the Lord in a personal way. Jesus refers to this in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5:5), and Paul speaks of this in his letter to the church in Rome (Romans 4:13; 14:17).

The world around us may continue to darken, but it doesn't have to run over us like a truck.

[bctt tweet="The world around us may continue to darken, but it doesn't have to control our life" username="tkbeyond"]

Our life may not go as we expect, but when we choose to trust in the Lord, committing our ways to Him, we have the assurance of inheriting a better life than we could make for ourselves as co-heirs with Jesus (Gal 3:29; Eph 3:6).

What will you choose today?

The Desires of the Heart

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We all want life to make sense and to have purpose. Yet, many things that take place in the world and impact our life bewilder us.

We have no control over most of what goes on around us. The more out of control life seems the more we want to get things under control.

But we can't control others, nor can we set everything in order around us. And yet, we have options.

Scripture

Of David

Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away.

Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. [vss 1-4]

Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.

Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil. For those who are evil will be destroyed, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land. [vss 5-9]

(Psalm 37:1-9 NIV) [Context– Psalm 37]

Key phrase— Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart 

[bctt tweet="Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart" username="tkbeyond"]

Digging Deeper...

Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions

What are we not to worry about and who should we not envy? Why is this so?

What are we to do? What are the specific things we're encouraged to do?

What are the results we can expect when we do these things?

What is the final thing we're encouraged to do? How do you think we are to do this?

Reflection...

When life around us seems overwhelming, we tend to do one of two things. We try to take actions to bring things into order, or we withdraw to hide from it all.

The first thing often leads to frustration, while the second brings a sense of hopelessness.

Looking to the Lord for what we can't control helps us gain perspective on it all. Setting our mind and heart to trust the Lord this way brings internal peace and order.

But how can we do this when we're overwhelmed? It's not something we do once and it's finished. It involves a commitment and consistency to continue doing what we know in our heart to be right and true and good.

The psalmist gives ways to do this, which are expanded on in the rest of the psalm. Each one results in some type of blessing from the Lord.

Here are those five ways to overcome what we cannot control—

  1. Trust in the Lord and do good (verse 3)
  2. Take delight in the Lord (verse 4)
  3. Commit your way to the Lord (verse 5)
  4. Be still before the Lord (verse 7)
  5. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath (verse 8)

In my next post, I'll unpack these five things a bit more, so check back!

Make it personal...

Read through the Scripture text again as you consider and answer these questions

Are there times when you're frustrated and angry about the state of things in your life or the world around you?

When do you feel most overwhelmed? What seems to trigger this, or precede this sense of being overwhelmed?

How do you handle angry feelings, worry, frustration, or fears? Are you able to bring these feelings to the Lord in prayer?

How often do you try to settle your heart and mind by trusting your concerns with the Lord? 


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

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Mercy and Faithfulness

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It use to be that you could easily tell the good guys from the bad ones. In older western movies, the good guys wore white hats.

But the public image is not always the private reality. Nowadays, image and branding have become an important industry. Much emphasis is put on projecting the right public persona.

No matter how a person appears on the outside, the heart of a person reveals their true self. God is far more concerned with the heart of a person than their image. If we're wise, we ought to be as well.

Scripture

For the choir director; by David, the Lord’s servant.

There is an inspired truth about the wicked person who has rebellion in the depths of his heart: He is not terrified of God.

He flatters himself and does not hate or ⌊even⌋ recognize his guilt. The words from his mouth are ⌊nothing but⌋ trouble and deception.

He has stopped doing what is wise and good. He invents trouble while lying on his bed and chooses to go the wrong direction. He does not reject evil. [vss 1-4]

O Lord, your mercy reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the mountains of God, your judgments like the deep ocean. You save people and animals, O Lord.

Your mercy is so precious, O God, that Adam’s descendants take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They are refreshed with the rich foods in your house, and you make them drink from the river of your pleasure. 

Indeed, the fountain of life is with you. In your light we see light. [vss 5-9]

Continue to show your mercy to those who know you and your righteousness to those whose motives are decent.

Do not let the feet of arrogant people step on me or the hands of wicked people push me away.  Look at the troublemakers who have fallen. They have been pushed down and are unable to stand up again. [vss 10-12]

(Psalm 36:1-12 GW) [Context– Psalm 36]

Key phrase— O Lord, your mercy reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies

[bctt tweet="O Lord, your mercy reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies" username="tkbeyond"]

Digging Deeper...

Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions

How is the "wicked person" characterized? What does this person do and not do?

How do all these descriptions reveal the core problem of someone who is wicked?

How is the Lord described in contrast to the wicked? How do the images used make these descriptions more vivid and memorable?

What are the benefits for those who are not in rebellion, but trust in the Lord?

Reflection...

Most people have difficulty with faith in God, because He's not readily visible. We want to see Him to believe in Him. One of Jesus' followers, Thomas, was of the same mindset (John 20:25).

Yet, many things are accepted and believed in that aren't visible, such as thoughts or gravity. Thoughts are made known through words, and we all experience the effects and impact of the earth's gravity.

Faith in God is similar. We know about God through the words and experiences of others, but also the intelligent design of the natural world (creation).

In a similar way, a person's heart is revealed by their words and actions. This is true for each of us and in relation to one another.

When we find ourselves filled with pride and deception without a sense of guilt, it's time to change the direction of our life. This often requires God helping us change our heart to make wiser choices.

Make it personal...

Read through the Scripture text again as you consider and answer these questions

What is your typical response to flattery (of any kind), deception, and wrong-doing?

How do you handle guilt? Do you learn from it or ignore it?

Are you aware of and appreciate God's great mercy and faithfulness?

Do you have a healthy respect for God's power and righteousness?


Here's a link to a favorite song of ours taken from Psalm 36– Your Love Oh Lord (but skip the ad ;-)


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Taste and See

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Personal experience is powerful. It speaks louder than suppositions and theory. Everyone may be entitled to their opinion, but it doesn't make it true or right. Experience has a way of exposing half-truths and falsehoods.

At one point in history, leading scientists and thinkers believed the world was flat. If a person were to sail a ship towards the horizon, they thought the ship would fall off the edge of the world.

These leaders were proven wrong by the experience of the early explorers, who sailed beyond the horizon and lived to tell about it.

Scripture

By David when he pretended to be insane in the presence of Abimelech; Abimelech threw him out, so David left.

I will thank the Lord at all times. My mouth will always praise him. My soul will boast about the Lord. Those who are oppressed will hear it and rejoice. Praise the Lord’s greatness with me. Let us highly honor his name together.

I went to the Lord for help. He answered me and rescued me from all my fears. All who look to him will be radiant. Their faces will never be covered with shame. Here is a poor man who called out. The Lord heard him and saved him from all his troubles. [vss 1-6]

The Messenger of the Lord camps around those who fear him, and he rescues them. Taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed is the person who takes refuge in him. Fear the Lord, you holy people who belong to him. Those who fear him are never in need. Young lions go hungry and may starve, but those who seek the Lord’s help have all the good things they need.

Come, children, listen to me. I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Which of you wants a full life? Who would like to live long enough to enjoy good things? Keep your tongue from saying evil things and your lips from speaking deceitful things. Turn away from evil, and do good. Seek peace, and pursue it! [vss 7-14]

The Lord’s eyes are on righteous people. His ears hear their cry for help. The Lord confronts those who do evil in order to wipe out all memory of them from the earth. ⌊Righteous people⌋ cry out. The Lord hears and rescues them from all their troubles. The Lord is near to those whose hearts are humble. He saves those whose spirits are crushed.

The righteous person has many troubles, but the Lord rescues him from all of them. The Lord guards all of his bones. Not one of them is broken. Evil will kill wicked people, and those who hate righteous people will be condemned. The Lord protects the souls of his servants. All who take refuge in him will never be condemned. [vss 15-22]

(Psalm 34:1-22 GW) [Context– Psalm 34]

Key phrase— Taste and see that the Lord is good—Blessed is the person who takes refuge in him

[bctt tweet="Taste and see that the Lord is good—Blessed is the person who takes refuge in him" username="tkbeyond"]

Digging Deeper...

Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions

Why is King David thankful to the Lord? How does he express this gratitude?

What is David's encouragement about the Messenger of the Lord? What are his exhortations concerning the fear of the Lord?

How does the Lord relate to those who are righteous and humble? How does He deal with those who are evil?

What are the promises and assurances given throughout this psalm for those who trust God?

Reflection...

The fear of the Lord is often misunderstood. At times it's minimized as respect, but it's more than that. Some people view it as something negative.

This psalm gives some good insight into the fear of the Lord. It's based on experiential relationship with God, a relationship built on trust.

It includes gratitude and awareness of God's goodness and faithfulness. It motivates a person to walk in the light of God's truth, so we honor Him and become a reflection of His nature.

Does the fear of the Lord involve respect? Yes, but it's a recognition and acceptance of who God is and of His power and might and holiness.

Great blessing comes with fearing the Lord in a right way, but there's a great cost for those who choose not to humble themselves before God.

Make it personal...

Read through the Scripture text again as you consider and answer these questions

When you face troubles in life—Do you cry out to God with a thankful heart or only questions?

Have you learned the difference between an anxious fear and the fear of the Lord?

Have you experienced the blessings in life that the fear of the Lord brings?

In what ways have you experienced God's goodness when you've looked to Him as your refuge?


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

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My Hiding Place

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Forgiveness is an act of mercy, not judgment. This alone makes it difficult for many of us to extend it to others. It is the opposite of our natural impulse to want justice or even revenge.

When a person is pardoned, the penalty for their wrong is removed. It means they won't suffer the full consequence of their wrong doing.

God alone is righteous enough to forgive and pardon people, and it is His nature to extend mercy to those who trust in Him.

Scripture

A psalm by David; a maskil.

Blessed is the person whose disobedience is forgiven and whose sin is pardoned. Blessed is the person whom the Lord no longer accuses of sin and who has no deceitful thoughts.

When I kept silent ⌊about my sins⌋, my bones began to weaken because of my groaning all day long. Day and night your hand laid heavily on me. My strength shriveled in the summer heat. Selah [vss 1-4]

I made my sins known to you, and I did not cover up my guilt. I decided to confess them to you, O Lord. Then you forgave all my sins. Selah

For this reason let all godly people pray to you when you may be found. Then raging floodwater will not reach them. You are my hiding place. You protect me from trouble. You surround me with joyous songs of salvation. Selah [vss 5-7]

⌊The Lord says,⌋ “I will instruct you. I will teach you the way that you should go. I will advise you as my eyes watch over you. Don’t be stubborn like a horse or mule. ⌊They need⌋ a bit and bridle in their mouth to restrain them, or they will not come near you.”

Many heartaches await wicked people, but mercy surrounds those who trust the Lord. Be glad and find joy in the Lord, you righteous people. Sing with joy, all whose motives are decent. [vss 8-12]

(Psalm 32:1-12 GW) [Context– Psalm 32]

Key phrase— Blessed is the person whose disobedience is forgiven and whose sin is pardoned

[bctt tweet="Blessed is the person whose disobedience is forgiven and whose sin is pardoned" username="tkbeyond"]

Digging Deeper...

Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions

What is the benefit of the Lord's forgiveness and pardon of sin?

What was the result when David kept silent about his sin? What brought God's forgiveness?

How does David describe the Lord's protection and blessing in his life?

What are we exhorted to not do, and how can we be surrounded by mercy?

Reflection...

Forgiveness is an extension of kindness that can never be repaid, nor is it something that's deserved. True, genuine forgiveness is the removal of an offense, sin, or wrong-doing by someone who has the authority and right to grant it.

No one can go around pronouncing forgiveness to people unless they have the right or authority to do so. In the case of a legal conviction for a crime, only someone such as a judge or governor can release a person from their sentence.

Sin is an act or state of rebellion towards God. One person's sin may impact many people and those people can extend their personal forgiveness, but only God can suspend the sentence of eternal death, which is the consequence of rebellion against God.

This is what David experienced after his grievous sin of adultery with Bathsheba and murder of her husband. When he confessed his sin and cried out for mercy, the Lord forgave him and restored him (see Psalm 51)

Make it personal...

Read through the Scripture text again as you consider and answer these questions

What is your experience with the Lord when you have admitted and confessed your sin to Him?

Can you relate to what David says about the effect of not being honest with God and confessing your sin?

When have you realized and known the Lord as your "hiding place"?

Do you make time each day to reconcile your heart with God—to ask forgiveness and restoration—before unconfessed sin breaks your heart and spirit?


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Anger & Favor–Weeping & Joy

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Perspective is valuable. It provides a visual context, whether it's a mental or actual picture of something. A reference point is needed to have an accurate perspective.

If the reference point is false or inaccurate, the perspective will be distorted. So, a true perspective needs a true reference point.

Life has its ups and downs, so having a good sense of perspective is important if you don't want your life to be an emotional rollercoaster.

Scripture

A psalm by David sung at the dedication of the temple.

I will honor you highly, O Lord, because you have pulled me out ⌊of the pit⌋ and have not let my enemies rejoice over me. O Lord my God, I cried out to you for help, and you healed me.  O Lord, you brought me up from the grave. You called me back to life from among those who had gone into the pit. [vss 1-3]

Make music to praise the Lord, you faithful people who belong to him. Remember his holiness by giving thanks. His anger lasts only a moment. His favor lasts a lifetime. Weeping may last for the night, but there is a song of joy in the morning. [vss 4-5]

When all was well with me, I said, “I will never be shaken.” O Lord, by your favor you have made my mountain stand firm. When you hid your face, I was terrified. I will cry out to you, O Lord. I will plead to the Lord for mercy: “How will you profit if my blood is shed, if I go into the pit? Will the dust ⌊of my body⌋ give thanks to you? Will it tell about your truth?” [vss 6-9]

Hear, O Lord, and have pity on me! O Lord, be my helper! You have changed my sobbing into dancing. You have removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy so that my soul may praise you with music and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever. [vss 10-12]

(Psalm 30:1-12 GW) [Context– Psalm 30]

Key phrase— Weeping may last for the night, but there is a song of joy in the morning

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Digging Deeper...

Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions

What are three (3) things David is thankful for?

What is the encouragement given about anger, favor, weeping, and joy?

How would you describe the prayerful dialog between David and the Lord?

What great change did the Lord bring in David's life that he's thankful for?

Reflection...

King David personally experienced God's great favor and kindness in many ways during his life. Not just when things were good, but even in times of personal failure.

David understood that God's favor was based on his relationship of trust in God. He learned to trust God in times of great trial and testing.

Because he had these real reference points of experiencing God's favor in his life, David was able to maintain a clear perspective. He knew he could trust God in all situations and circumstances.

He knew what it was like to move from sorrow and despair into a time of joy and celebration, because of God's faithfulness, not his own.

Make it personal...

Read through the Scripture text again as you consider and answer these questions

Have you experienced God pulling you out of darkness into His light and life?

Do you take time and make time to thank the Lord for His faithfulness in your life?

How has the Lord restored you after a time of failure or testing?

Have you shared with others about God's gracious work in your life?


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

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A Song of Splendor

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Worship, biblical worship, is simply an expression of the heart towards God. No specific form is required. How it's expressed is not so important, but that it is expressed.

Whatever limits or restrictions people attempt to impose as acceptable worship is ignored by God. He sees the expression of the heart, not how it comes out.

Worship isn't just a human act. All of creation responds with awe and wonder and submission to God.

Scripture

A psalm by David.

Give to the Lord, you heavenly beings. Give to the Lord glory and power. Give to the Lord the glory his name deserves. Worship the Lord in ⌊his⌋ holy splendor. [vss 1-2]

The voice of the Lord rolls over the water. The God of glory thunders. The Lord shouts over raging water. The voice of the Lord is powerful. The voice of the Lord is majestic. The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars. The Lord splinters the cedars of Lebanon. [vss 3-5]

He makes Lebanon skip along like a calf and Mount Sirion like a wild ox. The voice of the Lord strikes with flashes of lightning. The voice of the Lord makes the wilderness tremble. The Lord makes the wilderness of Kadesh tremble. The voice of the Lord splits the oaks and strips ⌊the trees of⌋ the forests bare. Everyone in his temple is saying, “Glory!” [vss 6-9]

The Lord sat enthroned over the flood. The Lord sits enthroned as king forever. The Lord will give power to his people. The Lord will bless his people with peace. [vss 10-11]

(Psalm 29:1-11 GW) [Context– Psalm 29]

Key phrase— Give to the Lord the glory his name deserves

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Digging Deeper...

Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions

Who is prompted to give worship to God? What is the basis for this worship?

What are the various ways God's voice is heard and made known? Who responds and how is this expressed?

Who is included in the various expressions of worship throughout this psalm?

How is the Lord described towards the ending? What seems to be the benefit for those who worship the Lord?

Reflection...

When expressions of worship are constrained to specific forms, our very relationship with God is affected, even restricted.

God is an eternal Spirit by nature (John 1:14, 18; 4:24), so worship of God is spiritual, not physical. It is not to be limited to some form, but expressed as a genuine response to God.

The origin of the English word worship carries the sense of being worthy. The near ancient word was originally known as worth-ship.

This psalm shouts out this very idea. The angels and all creation are part of declaring God's greatness!

Make it personal...

Read through the Scripture text again as you consider and answer these questions

As you read this psalm, do you sense the power and awe of God recognized by creation?

When you think of worshipping God, what comes to mind? Are these learned behaviors or spontaneous expressions on your part?

When you watch a powerful thunder-storm or a beautiful sunrise or sunset, what do you feel inside? How does this come out, or how do you express it?

Have you learned to worship God in various ways, or do you feel limited by how others express their worship?


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

Click Here to get a Free Psalms Study Guide

Who Is There to Fear?

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Fear has a way of paralyzing or inhibiting us. Of course, some fears are based on real events and seem reasonable, like earthquakes, tornadoes, or perhaps a terrorist attack.

One fear that tends to inhibit us is related to people. This can take many forms. Some people are afraid to be in a large crowd or to speak in front of a crowd. We all have a fear of rejection in certain situations.

There is also a fear that causes dread and anxiety, while another fear is born out of respect.

Scripture

By David.

The Lord is my light and my salvation. Who is there to fear? The Lord is my life’s fortress. Who is there to be afraid of?

Evildoers closed in on me to tear me to pieces. My opponents and enemies stumbled and fell. Even though an army sets up camp against me, my heart will not be afraid. Even though a war breaks out against me, I will still have confidence ⌊in the Lord⌋. [vss 1-3]

I have asked one thing from the Lord. This I will seek: to remain in the Lord’s house all the days of my life in order to gaze at the Lord’s beauty and to search for an answer in his temple.

He hides me in his shelter when there is trouble. He keeps me hidden in his tent. He sets me high on a rock. Now my head will be raised above my enemies who surround me. I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy in his tent. I will sing and make music to praise the Lord. [vss 4-6]

Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud. Have pity on me, and answer me. ⌊When you said,⌋ “Seek my face,” my heart said to you, “O Lord, I will seek your face.” 

Do not hide your face from me. Do not angrily turn me away. You have been my help. Do not leave me! Do not abandon me, O God, my savior! Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will take care of me. [vss 7-10]

Teach me your way, O Lord. Lead me on a level path because I have enemies who spy on me. Do not surrender me to the will of my opponents. False witnesses have risen against me. They breathe out violence.

I believe that I will see the goodness of the Lord in this world of the living. Wait with hope for the Lord. Be strong, and let your heart be courageous. Yes, wait with hope for the Lord. [vss 11-14]

(Psalm 27:1-14 GW) [Context– Psalm 27]

Key phrase— Wait with hope for the Lord

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Digging Deeper...

Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions

What is the confidence David expresses in respect to his circumstances?

What or who is this confidence based on? Why do you think David has this confidence?

What is the one thing David asked of the Lord? Why does he seek this?

What are David's appeals in the latter half of this psalm? What are his confident hopes and encouragements at the end?

Reflection...

King David had several enemies who tried to kill him. Most of them were afraid of him. Throughout his psalms we see a confidence in his personal relationship with the Lord.

This is the bedrock of his faith, not the Law or religious practices, but his very personal relationship with God. God honored this in David's life.

Some times, the people we fear or are intimidated by are people who are intimidated by us for some reason. Many fears, especially that of people, are groundless and based on faulty assumptions, even ignorance.

What was the secret to David's confidence in the Lord? He knew God was greater than any enemy, far greater. David feared the Lord more than anyone or anything. Not a fear of dread that causes anxiety, but a fear of respect, awe, and wonder. This is why he trusted in and worshipped the Lord.

Make it personal...

Read through the Scripture text again as you consider and answer these questions

Who or what types of people intimidate you? Why is this? Are you willing to learn more about them to help relieve you of this fear?

Are there certain events or things you fear but have never experienced? If so, have you brought this to God in prayer and trusted Him with it?

Have you developed a level of trust in God that frees you from fear of people and things?

How have you learned to respect God for who He is—to fear Him in a biblical sense—so that your view of life and people is in right perspective?


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Humility and Trust

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Where do you go when life seems to close in on you? Who can you turn to and trust when your heart is troubled and you feel isolated and alone?

The circumstances of life may seem random, but the Lord's faithfulness is constant, continuous, and he can be trusted at all times.

He alone can make sense of what seems like chaos and randomness. When a person is willing to humble themselves and trust in the Lord, He will reveal the purpose of His ways.

Scripture

By David.

To you, O Lord, I lift my soul. I trust you, O my God. Do not let me be put to shame. Do not let my enemies triumph over me. No one who waits for you will ever be put to shame, but all who are unfaithful will be put to shame. [vss 1-3]

Make your ways known to me, O Lord, and teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me because you are God, my savior. I wait all day long for you. Remember, O Lord, your compassionate and merciful deeds. They have existed from eternity. Do not remember the sins of my youth or my rebellious ways. Remember me, O Lord, in keeping with your mercy and your goodness. [vss 4-7]

The Lord is good and decent. That is why he teaches sinners the way they should live. He leads humble people to do what is right, and he teaches them his way. Every path of the Lord is ⌊one of⌋ mercy and truth for those who cling to his promise and written instructions. For the sake of your name, O Lord, remove my guilt, because it is great. [vss 8-11]

Who, then, is this person that fears the Lord? He is the one whom the Lord will teach which path to choose. He will enjoy good things in life, and his descendants will inherit the land. The Lord advises those who fear him. He reveals to them the intent of his promise. My eyes are always on the Lord. He removes my feet from traps. [vss 12-15]

Turn to me, and have pity on me. I am lonely and oppressed. Relieve my troubled heart, and bring me out of my distress. Look at my misery and suffering, and forgive all my sins. See how my enemies have increased in number, how they have hated me with vicious hatred! [vss 16-19]

Protect my life, and rescue me! Do not let me be put to shame. I have taken refuge in you. Integrity and honesty will protect me because I wait for you. Rescue Israel, O God, from all its troubles! [vss 20-22]

(Psalm 25:1-22 GW) [Context– Psalm 25]

Key phrase— Make your ways known to me, O Lord, and teach me your paths

[bctt tweet="Make your ways known to me, O Lord, and teach me your paths" username="tkbeyond"]

Digging Deeper...

Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions

How does this prayerful psalm begin? What is said in confident trust, and what is requested?

What does David ask God to remember? What does he ask God to forget, and how are these related?

What assurances are expressed for those who trust and respect (fear) the Lord?

What does David say regarding his own life situation, and what is his final request?

Reflection...

Here's a simple reality of life—at times people let us down, and at times we disappoint others. And then, we also let our selves down, especially in times of failure.

This is why our trust needs to be in the One who is ever-faithful—God.

Try as we may, we can't make everything right when we fail, nor can we stop the ripple effect of our failure from affecting others.

This is where we need God's forgiveness and God's restoration. Thankfully, He delights in extending forgiveness and restoration to all those who would trust in Him in every way and in all things.

Once restored and forgiven, we need to continue in the path of the good and right life God makes known to us. We can only do this through faith—putting complete and utter trust in God daily.

Make it personal...

Read through the Scripture text again as you consider and answer these questions

How do you handle failure in your life, whether it's your own or someone in your life?

Do you have confidence in God's forgiveness when you've asked for it?

How have humility and trust been key to the restorative work of God in your life?

How have you seen God make His purpose clear for your life as you trusted Him beyond your life circumstances?


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

Click Here to get a Free Psalms Study Guide

The King of Glory

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What is the focus of your life? What are you best equipped to do? Think beyond natural abilities and learned skills, and beyond the routine of everyday life.

If you have a hard time seeing what that optimal thing is, it's because we all tend to drift from the simple, most basic reason we exist.

Every artist, builder, or designer has a purpose in mind for what they create. It is, in someway, an extension of who they are internally.

Scripture

A psalm by David.

The earth and everything it contains are the Lord’s. The world and all who live in it are his. He laid its foundation on the seas and set it firmly on the rivers.

Who may go up the Lord’s mountain? Who may stand in his holy place? ⌊The one who⌋ has clean hands and a pure heart and does not long for what is false or lie when he is under oath.

⌊This person⌋ will receive a blessing from the Lord and righteousness from God, his savior. This is the person who seeks him, who searches for the face of the God of Jacob. Selah [vss 1-4]

Lift your heads, you gates. Be lifted, you ancient doors, so that the king of glory may come in. Who is this king of glory? The Lord, strong and mighty! The Lord, heroic in battle!

Lift your heads, you gates. Be lifted, you ancient doors, so that the king of glory may come in. Who, then, is this king of glory? The Lord of Armies is the king of glory! Selah [vss 7-10]

(Psalm 24:1-10 GW) [Context– Psalm 24]

Key phrase— The earth and everything it contains are the Lord’s

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Digging Deeper...

Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions

What are two things we're told about the Lord and the world we live in on earth?

Who is able to approach God and stand in His presence? What are four things said about them?

What does this person seek and how are they rewarded for doing this?

Who is spoken of in the last half of this psalm? How do you see the beginning and end of this psalm connected (beyond who they describe)?

Reflection...

Every human bears the image of their Creator, whether they acknowledge it or not. Each of us is best equipped to be in relationship with our Creator—God.

Of course, not everyone chooses this, nor seems to want this. But each person has the capacity and need for a relationship with God. It is embedded in us (Gen 1:27).

Instead of asking, "Why are there so many different religions?" Consider that an indicator of the innate desire all humanity has for a relationship with God—the sovereign Creator of all.

But how can we do this? This psalm reminds us of what's required to be in the presence of God, and we all fall short of this every day.

The last half of this psalm reminds us that God would make Himself known and approachable—

Be lifted, you ancient doors, so that the king of glory may come in.

God did this through His Son Jesus (John 1:1, 14)—the Lord, the King of Glory and grace. Relationship with God is available by trusting in Jesus, not in ourselves or our efforts to please God.

Make it personal...

Read through the Scripture text again as you consider and answer these questions

Are you aware of your innate need to have a relationship with God?

If you have a relationship with God—how did you come into this relationship? What led to it?

If you don't have a relationship with God—what causes you to be in awe or say "wow"?

Are you willing to question the purpose of your life in an honest, open way, and to see what God's purpose is for your life?


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

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Lacking Nothing

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What's the most well-known and popular psalm in the Bible? Hands down, it's Psalm 23. A favorite at funerals because of its comforting words, it's short and descriptive, making it a memorable favorite.

It is a calming and reassuring prayer that's brought comfort and hope to POW's and millions of other through the centuries.

Psalm 23 could very well be called the Lord's psalm. It's a very personal expression of trust in God. Short, compact, yet richly filled with deep language.

Scripture

A psalm by David.The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.

He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. [vss 1-3] 

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. [vss 4-5] 

Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. [vs 6] 

(Psalm 23:1-6 NIV) [Context– Psalm 23]

Key phrase— The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing

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Digging Deeper...

Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions

What is the confident statement made by King David at the beginning? How does this first line reveal how personal this psalm is?

What are the ways David sees the Lord personally involved in his life?

Which statements express great assurances and express David's confidence in the Lord?

If you're familiar with King David's life (1 & 2 Samuel), how are all these confident statements reflective of the journey of his life?

Reflection...

King David was a shepherd before he was a warrior and king (1 Sam 16:11-13; 17:34-37). He understood the responsibility of a shepherd caring for his sheep from personal experience.

This psalm expresses confident statements and assurances of God's provision, guidance, restoration, protection, and presence. It's intensely personal.

Perhaps this is why it's such a popular psalm. Anyone can lean into this comforting prayer and profession of trust. It expresses the personal and hope-filled nature of faith (Heb 11:6).

This psalm encourages a person as they repeat it's simple, confident statements, no matter what adversity they may face.

Make it personal...

Read through the Scripture text again as you consider and answer these questions

Do you currently have a similar confident trust in God as King David expresses in this psalm?

How have you experienced the Lord's personal guidance and protection in your life?

Are there any of these assuring and confirming statements that are hard for you to accept now?

Are you willing to trust God for His provision, guidance, restoration, protection, and presence in your life?

Some final thoughts...

To gain this level of confidence and trust, the Lord needs to be your personal Shepherd. This is an intimate and personal trust relationship between yourself and God.

This week, especially if you're going through discouraging, challenging times—read and pray through this psalm morning and evening for a week. At the end of the week, reflect on how your view of things changes and how God has made His presence known to you.


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Finished!

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Despair leads to desperation. It gives up. It is the opposite of hope. When we're in a state of despair, we see no end to our condition—trapped in a dark tunnel.

Hope sees beyond an end point. It sees beyond despair or disappointment. Hope sees an end to difficulties and trusts.

Hope isn't just light at the end of the tunnel, it's confidence in life beyond the tunnel of darkness.

Scripture

For the director of music. To the tune of “The Doe of Dawn.” A psalm of David. (part 2)

But, Lord, don’t be far away. You are my strength; hurry to help me. Save me from the sword; save my life from the dogs. Rescue me from the lion’s mouth; save me from the horns of the bulls. [vss 19-21]

Then I will tell my brothers and sisters about you; I will praise you in the public meeting. Praise the Lord, all you who respect him. All you descendants of Jacob, honor him; fear him, all you Israelites. He does not ignore those in trouble. He doesn’t hide from them but listens when they call out to him. [vss 22-24]

Lord, I praise you in the great meeting of your people; these worshipers will see me do what I promised. Poor people will eat until they are full; those who look to the Lord will praise him. May your hearts live forever! People everywhere will remember and will turn to the Lord. All the families of the nations will worship him because the Lord is King, and he rules the nations. [vss 25-28]

All the powerful people on earth will eat and worship. Everyone will bow down to him, all who will one day die. The people in the future will serve him; they will always be told about the Lord. They will tell that he does what is right. People who are not yet born will hear what God has done. [vss 29-31]

(Psalm 22:19-31 NCV) [Context– Psalm 22]

Key phrase— People who are not yet born will hear what God has done

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Digging Deeper...

Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions

After his final plea for rescue, what is the psalmist confident that he will do?

Why does he have this confidence? What does say about the Lord?

What are the other things the psalmist is sure will take place?

What does he speak of that will come in the future? Would this include our present time?

Reflection...

Despair leads to desperation and death brings sorrow. But hope—a genuine trust in God—sees beyond despair and death. We're told that Jesus "endured the cross" and its shame because He a had joy greater than both (Heb 12:2).

What joy did Jesus have? A joy born out of confidence in His resurrection from the dead. Christ's resurrection is the cornerstone of the Christian hope in eternal life.

In the latter half of this psalm, many encouraging things are declared. What a reversal of tone from the beginning of the psalm!

King David saw an end to his desperate situation because of his confidence in the Lord. Jesus saw an end to the deadly consequence of sin when He declared on the cross—"It is finished!" (John 19:30)

Jesus brought an end to the hopelessness of death through His own death on behalf of all humanity. Now there's a living hope (1 Peter 1:3) available to all who will embrace it in Jesus.

Make it personal...

Read through the Scripture text again as you consider and answer these questions

Have you experienced the hope of God in Jesus?

Is your confidence in God sufficient to help you see beyond trying times?

Have you experienced the freedom of God's forgiveness and restoration in the Lord?

Do you trust in God with confidence and joy?


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

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Far Away

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Abandonment is most often viewed in a negative way, often for good reason. No one wants to be forsaken or deserted. It brings a sense of emptiness and despair.

When we think of children who've been abandoned, our hearts go out to them. Some of us may have abandonment issues and fear being left alone.

And then, there are those who abandon and forsake others.

Scripture

For the director of music. To the tune of “The Doe of Dawn.” A psalm of David.

My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? You seem far from saving me, far away from my groans. My God, I call to you during the day,but you do not answer. I call at night; I am not silent. You sit as the Holy One. The praises of Israel are your throne.

Our ancestors trusted you; they trusted, and you saved them. They called to you for help and were rescued. They trusted you and were not disappointed. [vss 1-5]

But I am like a worm instead of a man. People make fun of me and hate me. Those who look at me laugh. They stick out their tongues and shake their heads. They say, “Turn to the Lord for help. Maybe he will save you. If he likes you, maybe he will rescue you.” [vss 6-8]

You had my mother give birth to me. You made me trust you while I was just a baby. I have leaned on you since the day I was born; you have been my God since my mother gave me birth. So don’t be far away from me.

Now trouble is near, and there is no one to help. People have surrounded me like angry bulls. Like the strong bulls of Bashan, they are on every side. Like hungry, roaring lions they open their mouths at me. [vss 9-13]

My strength is gone, like water poured out onto the ground, and my bones are out of joint. My heart is like wax; it has melted inside me. My strength has dried up like a clay pot, and my tongue sticks to the top of my mouth. You laid me in the dust of death.

Evil people have surrounded me; like dogs they have trapped me. They have bitten my arms and legs. I can count all my bones; people look and stare at me. They divided my clothes among them, and they threw lots for my clothing. [vss 14-18]

But, Lord, don’t be far away. You are my strength; hurry to help me. Save me from the sword; save my life from the dogs. Rescue me from the lion’s mouth; save me from the horns of the bulls. [vss 19-21]

(Psalm 22:1-21 NCV) [Context– Psalm 22]

Key phrase— My heart is like wax; it has melted inside me

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Digging Deeper...

Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions

Who is the psalmist crying out to, and how would you describe his emotional plea?

What does King David base his trust on? What does he say about what others say about him?

What are some of the ways David describes his situation and condition?

What does he ask to be rescued from and from who? How does he express confidence in God?

Reflection...

Jesus cries out on the cross with the opening line of this psalm. Several lines of this psalm were fulfilled as Jesus hung on the cross, suffering and dying. [Matt 27:35-46; Mark 15:27-34; Luke 23:34-37; John 19:24, 32-34]

Jesus experienced a sense of abandonment by His Father on the cross, in His role as savior of the world. And yet, he willing abandoned Himself to His Father, as seen in the garden of Gethsemane (Matt 26:36-46).

Prophetically, King David's passionate prayer looks ahead to the final hours of the Lord Jesus on the cross. This psalm reveals how intimately God understands humanity's struggle with sin.

God has heard the deep cries of the human soul through Jesus—God clothed in humanity (John 1:1, 14)—as He uttered them on the cross.

The first half of this psalm expresses the anguish of the Lord on the cross. The second half reminds us of His victory over death through His resurrection (next week).

Make it personal...

Read through the Scripture text again as you consider and answer these questions

Have you ever felt (or been) abandoned? Can you relate to the passionate prayer of King David?

Are there times when you've felt far from God? If so, how did you draw near to Him again?

Are you able to see how God understands the struggles you go through?

Do you or can you trust God beyond what your emotions tell you?


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Horses and Chariots

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Thoughts and words are powerful. They can have a strong positive influence and impact or a negative one. They are rarely neutral.

Countless book, blogs, and workshops tout the powerful force of thoughts and words. This was understood in ancient times long, long before the printed word.

Prayers and pronouncements of blessing are an important form of expression where this is true. The Scriptures are full of examples, especially the Psalms.

Scripture

For the director of music. A psalm of David.

May the Lord answer you in times of trouble. May the God of Jacob protect you. May he send you help from his Temple and support you from Mount Zion. May he remember all your offerings and accept all your sacrifices. Selah

May he give you what you want and make all your plans succeed, and we will shout for joy when you succeed, and we will raise a flag in the name of our God. May the Lord give you all that you ask for. [vss 1-5]

Now I know the Lord helps his appointed king. He answers him from his holy heaven and saves him with his strong right hand. Some trust in chariots, others in horses, but we trust the Lord our God. They are overwhelmed and defeated, but we march forward and win.

Lord, save the king! Answer us when we call for help. [vss 6-8]

(Psalm 20:1-8 NCV) [Context– Psalm 20]

Key phrase— Some trust in chariots, others in horses, but we trust the Lord our God

[bctt tweet="Some trust in chariots, others in horses, but we trust the Lord our God" username="tkbeyond"]

Digging Deeper...

Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions

How are thoughts and words expressed in the first half of this psalm? How would you describe the way they're expressed?

What are the six specific blessings spoken in this psalm? How are these blessings also a form of prayer?

What is the basis of confidence that this prayer of blessing will be answered?

Where do many people put their trust? How is trust in the Lord shown to be better?

Reflection...

Prayer is simply communication with God. A conversation of our soul and spirit to a personal, living God. How amazing is that!

This is the beauty of the Psalms. They capture various emotions of the heart and soul in an honest, open expression.

This psalm not only expresses blessings, but is an affirmation of faith. It's a confident confession of trust in God.

Other people put their trust in things with limited strength. King David—a mighty warrior—chose to trust in the Lord who is omnipotent. God's strength is unlimited.

Make it personal...

Read through the Scripture text again as you consider and answer these questions

When you pray, how often do you speak from your heart with confidence?

Do you make a point to pray for the spiritual well-being of others?

How confident are you that God will answer when you pray?

Do you consciously choose to trust in God more than anything else?


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Sweeter Than Honey

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"If God exists, why doesn't He make Himself known?" He has. The natural created world proclaims the existence of a Creator, especially the skies surrounding the earth.

All day, all night, God's voice reverberates to everyone on earth.

God's existence and voice are also made known within each person. First, our conscience—the inner sense of right and wrong. Second, the longing we all have for relationship.

Scripture

For the director of music. A psalm of David.

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the skies announce what his hands have made. Day after day they tell the story; night after night they tell it again. They have no speech or words; they have no voice to be heard. But their message goes out through all the world; their words go everywhere on earth. [vss 1-4]

The sky is like a home for the sun. The sun comes out like a bridegroom from his bedroom. It rejoices like an athlete eager to run a race. The sun rises at one end of the sky and follows its path to the other end. Nothing hides from its heat. [vss 5-6]

The teachings of the Lord are perfect; they give new strength. The rules of the Lord can be trusted; they make plain people wise. The orders of the Lord are right; they make people happy. The commands of the Lord are pure; they light up the way. [vss 7-8]

Respect for the Lord is good; it will last forever. The judgments of the Lord are true; they are completely right. They are worth more than gold, even the purest gold. They are sweeter than honey, even the finest honey. By them your servant is warned. Keeping them brings great reward. [vss 9-11]

People cannot see their own mistakes. Forgive me for my secret sins. Keep me from the sins of pride; don’t let them rule me. Then I can be pure and innocent of the greatest of sins. I hope my words and thoughts please you. Lord, you are my Rock, the one who saves me. [vss 12-14]

(Psalm 19:1-14 GW) [Context– Psalm 19]

Key phrase— Respect for the Lord is good; it will last forever

[bctt tweet="Respect for the Lord is good; it will last forever" username="tkbeyond"]

Digging Deeper...

Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions

How is God's voice heard and known to all humanity? In what way is it expressed?

What is one example of God's voice and existence made known that circles the earth?

What are we told about the teachings and commands of God? What are they likened to?

What are the benefits of keeping God's teachings?

Reflection...

If God can be known through the natural world and within, why doesn't everyone accept His existence? Built into every human being is a capacity to resist God. It's called a free will.

When the beautiful intricacy of creation is reduced to a set of accidental and coincidental events, it deafens those who hold to that belief.

Insistence upon our way, regardless of its impact on others, hardens our hearts along with our conscience.

Creation reminds us daily of God's ever-present sovereign existence, and the truth of His word guides our consciences and helps soften our hearts towards God's Spirit.

Make it personal...

Read through the Scripture text again as you consider and answer these questions

How does God's creation speak to you? What speaks the loudest to you?

What things have you learned about God from the natural world?

How has God's Spirit and the Scriptures brought conviction, correction, and restoration in your life?

In what ways does the truth of God help you have a healthy relationship with God?


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

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The Apple of His Eye

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A life of faith is a life of trust. Trust becomes real when it becomes necessary. I can say, "I trust God," but those are mere words until I choose to show it by my actions.

David was slandered and persecuted before he was a king by King Saul, and while he was king by his son Absalom. Yet, he continued to trust God rather than take matters into his own hands.

Prayer is an act of faith. It's not mere words spoken into air, it's a commitment of the soul.

Scripture

A prayer by David.

Hear my plea for justice, O Lord. Pay attention to my cry. Open your ears to my prayer, ⌊which comes⌋ from lips free from deceit. Let the verdict of my innocence come directly from you. Let your eyes observe what is fair. [vss 1-2]

You have probed my heart. You have confronted me at night. You have tested me like silver, but you found nothing wrong. I have determined that my mouth will not sin. I have avoided cruelty because of your word. In spite of what others have done, my steps have remained firmly in your paths. My feet have not slipped. [vss 3-5]

I have called on you because you answer me, O God. Turn your ear toward me. Hear what I have to say. Reveal your miraculous deeds of mercy, O Savior of those who find refuge by your side from those who attack them. Guard me as if I were the pupil in your eye. Hide me in the shadow of your wings. Hide me from wicked people who violently attack me, from my deadly enemies who surround me. [vss 6-9]

They have shut out all feeling. Their mouths have spoken arrogantly. They have tracked me down. They have surrounded me. They have focused their attention on throwing me to the ground. Each one of them is like a lion eager to tear ⌊its prey⌋ apart and like a young lion crouching in hiding places. [vss 10-12]

Arise, O Lord; confront them! Bring them to their knees! With your sword rescue my life from wicked people. With your power rescue me from mortals, O Lord, from mortals who enjoy their inheritance only in this life. You fill their bellies with your treasure. Their children are satisfied ⌊with it⌋, and they leave what remains to their children.

I will see your face when I am declared innocent. When I wake up, I will be satisfied ⌊with seeing⌋ you. [vss 13-15]

(Psalm 17:1-15 GW) [Context– Psalm 17]

Key phrase— I have called on you because you answer me, O God

[bctt tweet="I have called on you because you answer me, O God" username="tkbeyond"]

Digging Deeper...

Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions

How does King David begin his appeal to the Lord? Why does he say he's confident in prayer?

In what way does he speak of his relationship with the Lord? Do you think this is boasting?

What and from who is David asking to be protected from? Why?

What is King David's final declaration of confidence? When will this happen?

Reflection...

Corrie Ten Boom, made famous by her book (and movie) The Hiding Place, knew Hitler's Germany would face God's judgment. Why? Because of their genocide upon the Jews, the apple of God's eye.

She knew Israel was the nation God raised up and chose as His people. King David appealed to God for His protection when he said, "Guard me as if I were the pupil [apple] in your eye."

The pupil [apple] is the center of our eye. This speaks of an acknowledgment of need and vulnerability. King David understood that no matter who his enemy was, God was greater.

He even had this assurance beyond life on this earth. As he says, "I will see your face... when I wake up." This shows His trust in God—a genuine faith. Even when surrounded by enemies and the possibility of death, he still trusted God.

Make it personal...

Read through the Scripture text again as you consider and answer these questions

Do you trust in God more than your self or others?

Have you learned to trust God in a deeper way through times of trials and testing?

How has God answered prayer for you? How has this increased your faith?

Are you confident in God's care and protection over you and the lives of your family?


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Click Here to get a Free Psalms Study Guide

Joy In Your Presence

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It's said that confession is good for the soul. It can be. Reflection is also good for the soul, especially when we reflect on God's goodness.

Reflection on God's goodness is a common theme throughout the psalms. It's expressed in the midst of difficulty and in times of blessing.

But how much time is given to reflection nowadays? Are we too busy to take time for reflection? It does take time. It also requires us to extract ourself from the usual demands on our time.

Scripture

A psalm of David.

Keep me safe, O God, for I have come to you for refuge. I said to the lord, “You are my Master! Every good thing I have comes from you.” The godly people in the land are my true heroes! I take pleasure in them! Troubles multiply for those who chase after other gods. I will not take part in their sacrifices of blood or even speak the names of their gods. [vss 1-4]

Lord, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing. You guard all that is mine. The land you have given me is a pleasant land. What a wonderful inheritance! I will bless the lord who guides me; even at night my heart instructs me. I know the lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me. [vss 5-8]

No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice. My body rests in safety. For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your holy one to rot in the grave. You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever. [vss 9-11]

(Psalm 16:1-11 NLT) [Context– Psalm 16]

Key phrase— You will show me the way of life

[bctt tweet="You will show me the way of life"]

Digging Deeper...

Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions

What is the opening request and confession? How does it lead into the rest of the psalm?

How does King David reflect on God's goodness? How is this contrasted with those seeking other gods?

What are specific things David is thankful for? What does this prompt him to declare?

What are the realizations he expresses in the last few verses? How does this complete his thoughts at the beginning of the psalm?

Reflection...

Stillness of heart and mind are benefits of reflecting on God's goodness. The great thing is—it's free! It doesn't cost a thing or require great skill.

But it does require willingness to redirect our thoughts and empty ourselves of worry and doubt. It's hard to do this with sheer will power, but reflecting on God's goodness is a great place to start.

Some people find watching a sunrise or sunset a way to focus on God's goodness. Others find prayer and meditation on God's Word a good place to start. I've found I can reflect on God's goodness in a room full of family and friends, or in a worship service, as well.

Two important things seem essential—reflecting on God's goodness and a thankful heart. Then we will be able to proclaim with David—

You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.

Make it personal...

Read through the Scripture text again as you consider and answer these questions

Have you experienced the benefit of reflecting on God's goodness?

Why do you think it's so hard to disengage ourselves from the many things demanding our time?

How do you find time to disengage from the world around you and reflect on God's goodness?

What do you find most helpful in focusing on God's goodness and being thankful?


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

Click Here to get a Free Psalms Study Guide

Never Shaken

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How good does a person need to be to go to heaven? If asked, many people might say they are a good person and expect to go to heaven after they die. Ask them how good is good enough and you'll get multiple answers.

But how good is good enough? And if there's some way to determine this, how would a person know for sure if they were good enough?

This psalm tells of eleven things to do and not do, so a person will never be shaken in this life.

Scripture

A psalm by David.

O Lord, who may stay in your tent? Who may live on your holy mountain? The one who walks with integrity, does what is righteous, and speaks the truth within his heart. The one who does not slander with his tongue, do evil to a friend, or bring disgrace on his neighbor. [vss 1-3]

The one who despises those rejected by God but honors those who fear the Lord. The one who makes a promise and does not break it, even though he is hurt by it. The one who does not collect interest on a loan or take a bribe against an innocent person.

Whoever does these things will never be shaken. [vss 4-5]

(Psalm 15:1-5 GW) [Context– Psalm 15]

Key phrase— Whoever does these things will never be shaken.

[bctt tweet="Whoever does these things will never be shaken"]

Digging Deeper...

Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions

What two questions are asked at the beginning of this psalm? What do you think, "your tent [and] ...holy mountain" refer to?

What are three things a person is to do? What are three other things a person is not to do?

What are three things a person would do in relation to the Lord? What are two more things a good person does not do?

What promise is given for a person who lives this way?

Reflection...

Some questions are rhetorical—the answer is understood or there may be no simple answer. How does a person live a good enough life to please God? Eleven different things are specified in this psalm, but not all are easily determined?

We typically boil goodness down to good behavior. This is seen in a simple way when a parent says, "Be a good girl (or boy) and don't...." But a person can do one thing outwardly while holding an opposite or different attitude in their heart.

The first three things to do are related to the internal state of a person, not their behavior. The other things are actions determined by their internal values.

But still, how can a person be good enough to go to heaven? It's only possible when our heart—our inner person and internal values—are like God. This takes place when we have a personal relationship with God on His terms, not ours.

Make it personal...

Read through the Scripture text again as you consider and answer these questions

Do you think you are a good person by nature? Why do you believe this, whether yes or no?

How do you view other people in regard to being good? What's your basis of evaluating them?

Is there someone in your life that you respect as a good person? Why is this?

Do you have any assurance of being with God after your life on this earth?


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

Click Here to get a Free Psalms Study Guide