Reading: Psalm 38
All my longings lie open before you, LORD;
my sighing is not hidden from you.
My heart pounds, my strength fails me;
even the light has gone from my eyes.
My friends and companions avoid me because of my wounds;
my neighbors stay far away.
Those who want to kill me set their traps,
those who would harm me talk of my ruin;
all day long they scheme and lie.
I am like the deaf, who cannot hear,
like the mute, who cannot speak;
I have become like one who does not hear,
whose mouth can offer no reply.
LORD, I wait for you; you will answer, LORD my God.
For I said, “Do not let them gloat
or exalt themselves over me when my feet slip.” (NIV)
Here in Psalm 38, David has brought all his troubles before the LORD. He laments over his sin and the downcast state in which he finds himself. Hear his confession: All my longings lie open before you, LORD; my sighing is not hidden from you. My heart pounds, my strength fails me; even the light has gone from my eyes.
In humble prayer David has come before a God who always hears and sees. God hears and sees even when we wish He could not. He sees our triumphs and our failures, our victories over temptation and our slide into defeat. He hears every idle word and understands every crass and selfish thought. The LORD sees and hears. He saw Adam’s sin in the Garden before He met with him in the cool of the evening. God sees our sins long before we bow in repentance.
God sees and hears all we say and do. This should bring comfort to the soul in distress and a healthy fear to the soul tempted to sin. All my longings lie open before you, LORD: the wholesome longings and those that spring from impure motives. The LORD sees my needs and my wants, my hopes and my dreams, but more than that, God understands my motives. David brought all of this before the LORD and so should we.
Though we may not see the pain of those around us, God sees our suffering. Though we may be deaf to the needs of others, God is not deaf to our plea for help. Though we may stand mute when others need defence or encouragement, our God speaks. He does not remain silent. His Spirit speaks even to you—even to me.
Response: LORD God, speak to me when I am downcast. Lift me when I am in need. Forgive me when I fail. LORD, I wait for you; you will answer, LORD my God. Amen.
Your Turn: How has the all-hearing, all-seeing God helped you?
Reading: Psalm 38
A psalm of David. A petition.
LORD, do not rebuke me in your anger
or discipline me in your wrath.
Your arrows have pierced me,
and your hand has come down on me.
Because of your wrath there is no health in my body;
there is no soundness in my bones because of my sin.
My guilt has overwhelmed me
like a burden too heavy to bear.
My wounds fester and are loathsome
because of my sinful folly.
I am bowed down and brought very low;
all day long I go about mourning.
My back is filled with searing pain;
there is no health in my body.
I am feeble and utterly crushed;
I groan in anguish of heart. (NIV)
Psalm 38 is a psalm of personal lamentation. The psalmist, David, laments the state of his personal and spiritual health. Notes of joy and triumph are absent from this psalm; instead we find David in a state of deep melancholy.
What is the cause of this melancholy—this depression verging on despair? David attributes his current ill health to sin. He has sinned and is bearing the consequences of his sin. His words of confession make this perfectly clear. Because of your wrath there is no health in my body; there is no soundness in my bones because of my sin. My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear.
What a refreshingly different approach to one’s problems! Rather than blaming others or blaming God, David takes responsibility for his self-inflicted difficulties. How different from the pop-psychology of today! Rather than deal with the sin issue we are often advised to pop a pill, blame a parent, a colleague or society in general. Rather than take our problems to God the world encourages us to indulge ourselves with another bottle, another donut or another spouse. Meanwhile, our putrid load of sin piles ever higher.
David was on the right track when he confessed his sin to the LORD. He laments, “My wounds fester and are loathsome because of my sinful folly.”
Thanks be to God! He can handle our sinful folly. He sent Jesus to die on the cross to wipe away our sins.
Response: LORD God, I thank you for Jesus. I am thankful that I can put my complete trust in you. You forgive me and cleanse me from all my sins. I am saved by your amazing grace not by my effort. Amen.
Your Turn: When was the last time you lamented over sin in your life?
Reading: Psalm 37
I have seen a wicked and ruthless man
flourishing like a luxuriant native tree,
but he soon passed away and was no more;
though I looked for him, he could not be found.
Consider the blameless, observe the upright;
a future awaits those who seek peace.
But all sinners will be destroyed;
there will be no future for the wicked.
The salvation of the righteous comes from the LORD;
he is their stronghold in time of trouble.
The LORD helps them and delivers them;
he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
because they take refuge in him. (NIV)
Today’s reading is the concluding portion of Psalm 37. As noted previously, this entire psalm contrasts the life of the righteous person with the individual who pursues a life of sin and illicit gain. The righteous will receive their reward and the man who does evil will be destroyed.
We all reap what we sow. If we sow seeds of selfishness, hate and discord, we will reap a harvest of ruin. Paul, the apostle, gives us this warning, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life” (Galatians 6:7-8).
We can readily conclude that the good man will live because of his goodness. In other words the righteous person will be saved because of his righteous deeds. But that’s not what this psalm teaches. In fact, the idea that one is saved because of one’s righteousness runs contrary to the message of this psalm and the entire counsel of Holy Scripture. The psalmist clearly states, “The salvation of the righteous comes from the LORD.”
We are not saved by our righteousness. We are saved by the LORD. It is because of His great mercy that we are saved. This aligns with New Testament teaching as Paul declares, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Yes, we are called to live righteous lives and to do good works, but let’s not deceive ourselves into thinking that by these means we will earn our way to heaven. Jesus is the way to heaven. Our feeble efforts won’t take us very far. We need His forgiveness and the power of His redeeming blood. We are saved because we take refuge in Him.
Response: LORD God, I thank you for Jesus. I am thankful that I can put my complete trust in you. I am saved by your amazing grace not by my effort. Hallelujah! Amen.
Your Turn: Have you relied on your righteousness rather than God’s grace?
Originally posted on The River Walk:
But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. (John 16:32-33)
Relate: Judah was at war. Babylon was at their gates and things looked bleak. They were waiting for their miracle. Things had been this bad before. Worse. Assyria had stood at these very gates and threatened destruction far more grim than any Babylon would carry out. Babylon had already come and conquered once before but they only took the leadership and the elites with them back into captives. Assyria, when they conquered the land…
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Reading: Psalm 37
The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom,
and their tongues speak what is just.
The law of their God is in their hearts;
their feet do not slip.
The wicked lie in wait for the righteous,
intent on putting them to death;
but the LORD will not leave them in the power of the wicked
or let them be condemned when brought to trial.
Hope in the LORD and keep his way.
He will exalt you to inherit the land;
when the wicked are destroyed, you will see it. (NIV)
Just yesterday, here in Canada’s capital we saw aspects of this psalm play out in real time. David, the psalmist states, “The wicked lie in wait for the righteous, intent on putting them to death.” A terrorist, with planned intent gunned down Corporal Nathan Cirillo, while he stood guard before the National War Memorial. This cowardly act highlights the contempt of those who celebrate evil, for those who stand for righteousness, truth and justice. The contrast between those who love peace and those who revel in violence is stark indeed.
The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom, and their tongues speak what is just. The law of their God is in their hearts; their feet do not slip.
When evil raises its brutal head, we need not be intimidated. We need to take heart. When we stand on the side of truth, justice and love, we do not stand alone. God is with us. He is on our side. He has our back. As the psalmist declares, we need to, “Hope in the LORD and keep his way.”
The way of the LORD is the way of love. Jesus said to his disciples, “No one has greater love than this—that one lays down his life for his friends” (John 15:13 NET). Jesus then went on to demonstrate that supreme love by laying down his life on the cross for our redemption.
The question we need to continually ask ourselves is what is my motivation? Am I motivated by love or am I driven by hate? Am I drawing close to the God of love and hope? Is my life a demonstration of God’s redeeming love, or am I only concerned about my selfish interests?
Yesterday, Nathan Cirillo lay down his life in the service of his country. Which god will you serve? Will you serve the god of self or the God whose hands were pierced for you? The choice is yours.
Response: LORD God, we live in a very troubled world. When evil rises, we put our trust in you. Help me to walk in the way of love. Surround me with your peace. I pray in Jesus name. Amen.
Your Turn: How can you honour the life of Nathan Cirillo?
Reading: Psalm 37
The LORD makes firm the steps
of the one who delights in him;
though he may stumble, he will not fall,
for the LORD upholds him with his hand.
I was young and now I am old,
yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken
or their children begging bread.
They are always generous and lend freely;
their children will be a blessing.
Turn from evil and do good;
then you will dwell in the land forever.
For the LORD loves the just
and will not forsake his faithful ones.
Wrongdoers will be completely destroyed;
the offspring of the wicked will perish.
The righteous will inherit the land
and dwell in it forever. (NIV)
According to Psalm 37 there is a string of blessings that is bequeathed to the righteous. We are kept safe—held secure in the palm of God’s hand. Furthermore these blessings are intergenerational. The children of the righteous are blessed, so they can be a blessing to their parents and others.
As parents and grandparents can attest, children can be a great blessing, or if they are corrupted by rebellion and disobedience they can become a curse, making life difficult for all around them.
Much of the trouble in the world today is self-inflicted. By choosing the path of anger, selfishness and resentment, we heap sorrow on our own head. Conversely, if we choose to follow the LORD along the path of love, generosity and forgiveness, we set ourselves up to receive blessings from our heavenly Father.
Down through the ages, David’s admonition rings true: Turn from evil and do good; then you will dwell in the land forever.
But God’s blessings rest on a premise, and here it is: The LORD makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him.
The question we need to continually ask ourselves is “Am I delighting myself in the LORD? Is He my chief joy in life? Do I hunger for His word and His presence in my life? Do I long for times of sweet communion with Him?
Response: LORD God, help me to delight myself in you. May I love what you love. Help me to position myself to receive your blessings. I pray in Jesus name. Amen.
Your Turn: Are you living proof of God’s intergenerational blessing on those who delight in Him?
Reading: Psalm 37
The blameless spend their days under the LORD’s care,
and their inheritance will endure forever.
In times of disaster they will not wither;
in days of famine they will enjoy plenty.
But the wicked will perish:
Though the LORD’s enemies are like the flowers of the field,
they will be consumed, they will go up in smoke.
The wicked borrow and do not repay,
but the righteous give generously;
those the LORD blesses will inherit the land,
but those he curses will be destroyed. (NIV)
I have heard it said that there are two kinds of people in the world—givers and takers. Notice I didn’t say givers and receivers. We all are receivers from the first breath we take, as we receive love and nourishment from our mothers. But there is a subtle but important difference between receiving and taking. The receiver takes what is freely offered. The taker takes regardless if it is offered or not.
Takers feel the world owes them something. Givers owe a debt of love and make regular payments on that debt. The apostle Paul urges us, “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law” (Romans 13:8 NKJV).
Here in Psalm 37 David declares: The wicked borrow and do not repay, but the righteous give generously. There is something counterintuitive about generosity. Generosity breeds prosperity, whereas hoarding leads to poverty. One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty (Proverbs 11:24-25 NIV).
Why is this the case? Job gives us this nugget of wisdom, “Anyone who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty (Job 6:14). The Almighty oversees our lives. He sees when we withhold kindness from a friend and He sees when we give generously. He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6 NKJV).
A generous spirit reflects the Spirit of God, who freely gives us all things, including His Son. His Son generously gave his life for our redemption, and for the forgiveness of our sins. Forgiveness is freely offered. It’s free for the taking from a lavishly generous God. Have you received what He offers?
Our amazing God turns takers into givers. Saul of Tarsus was a taker, but when he encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus, he became a giver—a forgiven giver. Saul became Paul. Hate turned to love. Taking from the world turned to giving.
Response: LORD God, turn me around. Help me to be generous with those in need. You gave so much to me. Now help me be a giver—a reflection of you in the world. I pray in Jesus name. Amen.
Your Turn: Can we give without receiving? Which comes first?
This is simply worth listening and watching, particularly the Skit Guys video.
Originally posted on The River Walk:
I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. (John 15:1-2)
Relate: The autumn months seem to bring Americans together like no other time of year. As the leaves start to fall people will begin inviting their friends and neighbors over on Sunday afternoons and a couple nights a week. Those going out to eat will find themselves having random conversations will begin with neighboring tables and even more random conversations will be sparked on streets, in shopping centers, and wherever two people gather… and one of them is wearing a sports jersey. This is one way to look at it, here’s another:
React: I believe it was A W Tozer who…
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Reading: Psalm 37
The wicked plot against the righteous
and gnash their teeth at them;
but the LORD laughs at the wicked,
for he knows their day is coming.
The wicked draw the sword
and bend the bow to bring down the poor and needy,
to slay those whose ways are upright.
But their swords will pierce their own hearts,
and their bows will be broken.
Better the little that the righteous have
than the wealth of many wicked;
for the power of the wicked will be broken,
but the LORD upholds the righteous. (NIV)
As stated in my first post on Psalm 37, this psalm is a stark night and day comparison of the life of the evil person with the life of the individual who does right in God’s eyes. The contrast is profound.
I cannot read the passage above without thinking of the evil that is loose in the world today. Here in Canada, this week marks the start of Luka Magnotta’s trial in the slaying of Jun Lin, a Chinese born university student. Magnotta posted his killing of Jun Lin with an icepick on YouTube. After dismembering his body Magnotta mailed various body parts to schools and political party headquarters.
In Iraq and Syria, ISIS militants defiantly behead journalists and international aid workers in a cowardly display of their depravity. Any who hold different religious views are executed, their women raped, their children enslaved. It appears we live in a wicked world where hatred and evil are trumpeted as worthy pursuits—pursuits that attract adoring young fanatics.
The opening line of this psalm posting is as true today as when it was written three thousand years ago. The wicked plot against the righteous and gnash their teeth at them… The wicked draw the sword and bend the bow to bring down the poor and needy, to slay those whose ways are upright.
The sin process is still at work in the hearts of men. When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death (James 1:13-15).
But thanks be to God! We have this promise: for the power of the wicked will be broken, but the LORD upholds the righteous. God will uphold us as we put our trust in Him.
Response: LORD God, you are my help in evil times, in times of trouble. I put my trust in you. Hold me in the palm of your hand. I pray in Jesus name. Amen.
Your Turn: How do you fight evil? Where does it start? We must examine our hearts.