Vindicate me by your might!

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Reading:                                        Psalm 54

For the director of music. With stringed instruments. A maskil of David. When the Ziphites had gone to Saul and said, “Is not David hiding among us?”

Save me, O God, by your name;
vindicate me by your might.
Hear my prayer, O God;
listen to the words of my mouth.

Arrogant foes are attacking me;
ruthless people are trying to kill me—
people without regard for God.

Surely God is my help;
the Lord is the one who sustains me.

Let evil recoil on those who slander me;
in your faithfulness destroy them.

I will sacrifice a freewill offering to you;
I will praise your name, L
ORD, for it is good.
You have delivered me from all my troubles,
and my eyes have looked in triumph on my foes
(NIV).

Reflection

I like to prove that I’m right. I get a pleasure boost by showing an opponent that my ability or reasoning is superior to theirs. What about you? I think it’s in our nature to stand up and crow when we score a goal, or are vindicated when challenged. Every athlete lives for that moment on top of the podium. I am sure the psalmist David was no different.

Joshua Kitz - Horseshoe pitch - MacNutt, SK

Joshua Kitz – Horseshoe pitch – MacNutt, SK

Once again, this is a psalm with a back story and in brief here it is: Though David was a faithful servant of his master King Saul, he was forced to flee because Saul was jealous of his success as a warrior, and was determined to hunt David down and kill him. On two occasions the Ziphites went to Saul and reported that David was hiding in their territory.

David begins this short psalm with a straightforward request: Save me, O God, by your name; vindicate me by your might.

There is something unusual about David’s prayer request. He does not seek to be vindicated by his own might. He does not ask for strength or ability so he can be avenged against his mortal enemy, instead he asks God to intervene. He asks God to win the battle on his behalf. Let’s remember that David was a warrior. Of him it was sung, “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands” (1 Samuel 18:7). But rather than lift a finger to harm Saul, on two occasions David spared his life. When urged to kill Saul, David replied, “The LORD forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the LORD’s anointed…” (1 Samuel 24:6).  What about you and me? Are we trying to win battles in our own strength and ability—battles that belong to the LORD?

Response: LORD God, help me to know that the battle belongs to you and you are the ultimate victor. My trust is in you. I need not prove I am right. You will have the final say. Amen.

Your Turn: Do you seek vindication or do you let the LORD be your vindicator?

There is no God?

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Reading:                                       Psalm 53

For the director of music. According to mahalath. A maskil of David.

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, and their ways are vile;
there is no one who does good.

God looks down from heaven on all mankind
to see if there are any who understand,
any who seek God.
Everyone has turned away, all have become corrupt;
there is no one who does good, not even one.

Do all these evildoers know nothing?

They devour my people as though eating bread;
they never call on God.
But there they are, overwhelmed with dread,
where there was nothing to dread.
God scattered the bones of those who attacked you;
you put them to shame, for God despised them.

Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!
When God restores his people,
let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad!
(NIV).

Reflection

There is something very fresh and current about Psalm 53. Though David penned this psalm in about 1000 BC, he is describing today’s world. The fools of the world in 2015 are still busy spouting their lies. The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”

River Path, Nagakute, Japan-- David Kitz

River path, Nagakute, Japan– David Kitz

 Though the fool observes that there is no God, it is God’s observations on mankind that strike me as being more accurate: They are corrupt, and their ways are vile; there is no one who does good. God looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. Everyone has turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.

When God is taken out of the picture, corruption runs rampant, and no set of laws or regulations will change that. The problem is not laws or regulations; the problem is the state of a person’s heart. Without the love and fear of God, restraint is cast off and everyone does what is right in their own eyes. See Judges 21:25.

You see the fool doesn’t stop at claiming there is no God. He takes matters to the next logical step. In the absence of God, he asserts that he is god. He is the master of his own domain and not accountable to anyone but himself. This quickly leads to moral rot of the worst kind, since the devious mind of man can self-justify even the most heinous crimes. On a personal level it’s a rot that we must all guard against. None of us can claim moral perfection. When we do, we turn God into a liar.

Response: LORD God of heaven and earth. I bow my knees before you. Grant me a pure heart so that I can see you at work all around me. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Your Turn: Do believers deny the existence of God when they wilfully engage in corrupt behavior?

Betrayal and Trust

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Reading:                                        Psalm 52

For the director of music. A maskil of David.

When Doeg the Edomite had gone to Saul and told him: “David has gone to the house of Ahimelek.”

Why do you boast of evil, you mighty hero?     

Why do you boast all day long, you who are a disgrace in the eyes of God? You who practice deceit, your tongue plots destruction; it is like a sharpened razor. You love evil rather than good, falsehood rather than speaking the truth. You love every harmful word, you deceitful tongue!

Surely God will bring you down to everlasting ruin: He will snatch you up and pluck you from your tent; he will uproot you from the land of the living. The righteous will see and fear; they will laugh at you, saying, “Here now is the man who did not make God his stronghold but trusted in his great wealth and grew strong by destroying others!”

But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever. For what you have done I will always praise you in the presence of your faithful people. And I will hope in your name, for your name is good (NIV).

Reflection

Like several of David’s psalms, Psalm 52 comes with a back story. It’s a story of stunning betrayal. Though he was loyal, David was forced to flee from jealous King Saul. On one occasion, he sought refuge at the tabernacle of the LORD and with Ahimelech the priest. Doeg the Edomite, Saul’s chief shepherd, was present at the tabernacle that day. Acting in good faith, Ahimelech helped David by providing food and a weapon—the sword of Goliath. This innocent act of kindness led directly to Ahimelech’s death. Doeg reported this incident to Saul, who ordered the priests be put to death. Doeg personally killed eighty-five of them. (For a full account of this treachery see 1 Samuel 21-22.)

A Tree flourishing in the house of God -- David Kitz

A Tree flourishing in the house of God — David Kitz

We live in a fallen world—a world where stunning betrayal is often rewarded. In the political realm or the world of high finance, almost daily we hear accounts of how men and women have cut down those they once considered family and friends. All too often this accusation rings true: You who practice deceit, your tongue plots destruction; it is like a sharpened razor.

David discovered that he could trust very few men. He placed his trust in God. When the world turns on you, as it did on David, we can turn to God. Here is the testimony of a wise man: I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever. For what you have done I will always praise you in the presence of your faithful people. And I will hope in your name, for your name is good.

Response: LORD God, help me to always put my trust in your unfailing love. You are my help and refuge in the storms of life. Amen.

Your Turn: Has someone you trusted let you down? Has that experience renewed your trust in God?

A Clean Heart

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Reading:                                           Psalm 51

(Verses 10-19)

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
so that sinners will turn back to you.
Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
you who are God my Savior,
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
Open my lips, Lord,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.

May it please you to prosper Zion,
to build up the walls of Jerusalem.
Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous,
in burnt offerings offered whole;
then bulls will be offered on your altar
(NIV).

Reflection

I just had my morning shower. Nothing special about that—daily showers are the social norm. But they haven’t always been the norm. Step back a century and the weekly bath was the norm. Step back a thousand years and a bath was an annual event. With this lack of personal hygiene is it any wonder that epidemics ran rampant through the medieval population, and diseases like smallpox and the bubonic plague killed millions in Europe?

Bamboo Fence, Aichi-ken, Japan -- David Kitz

Bamboo Fence, Aichi-ken, Japan — David Kitz

As a society we have embraced the concept and practice of personal hygiene. But what about spiritual hygiene? Have we embraced that as well? I fear the opposite is true. Are we plunging into the deep end of a cesspool of sin? Do we mistakenly believe there are no consequences? A filthy spirit can be as deadly as bubonic plague. A host of mental, emotional and social problems are a direct result of poor spiritual hygiene. Cleanse your heart and mind and you will walk in spiritual health.

From his own cesspool of sin David cried out: Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

I don’t know about you, but daily I need to bathe in Christ’s love and forgiveness. He cleans me up.

Response: LORD God, thank you for the forgiveness you purchased for me through Jesus your son. Amen.

Your Turn: How is your spiritual hygiene today? How do you keep your spirit clean?

Embracing Brokenness

davidkitz:

This post in “Life is Worship” dovetails nicely with my Psalm 51 post on “The Repentant Heart.”

Originally posted on Life Is Worship:

The Bible leaves no doubt about the necessity of embracing personal brokenness. We see it played out in the lives of biblical hero after biblical hero, from Moses and David to Paul and Peter. Even Jesus Himself was broken. He had to experience that devastation, not because of anything He did, but because of our sin. Not even the holy Son of God was spared the pain and suffering inherent in being separated from intimacy with God because of our offensive choices. As much as anything, the fact that our holy and righteous Savior had to endure brokenness in order to fulfill His destiny is an unmistakable sign to us of how important it is to abandon anything that stands in the way of our complete and sole reliance upon God for true life.

George Barna & David Barton, U Turn (Lake Mary, FL: Frontline, 2014), 186.

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The Repentant Heart

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Reading:                                          Psalm 51

For the director of music. A psalm of David.

When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.

(Verses 1-9)

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.

For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge.
Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
you taught me wisdom in that secret place.

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity
(NIV).

Reflection

Psalm 51 is the great repentance psalm. Nothing matches the deep contrition expressed here by David. There can be little doubt that David was truly remorseful for what he had done. He says it with words, but according to the Scriptures, his actions which followed also revealed a repentant heart. There is no blame shifting here; David takes full responsibility for his actions. Hear his humble plea: For I know my transgressions and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge.

Kanazawa Red Maple -- David Kitz

Kanazawa Red Maple — David Kitz

When Saul and Jonathan were slain in battle by the Philistines, David composed this lament. “Your glory, O Israel, lies slain upon your high places! How the mighty have fallen!” (2 Samuel 1:19 NRSV). David might well have sung this lament for himself. Here he was the vaunted King of Israel, the LORD’s anointed, and he had a fellow soldier murdered to cover up the adulterous affair he was having with this loyal soldier’s wife. This was the conduct of David—the man of God! Yes. “How the mighty have fallen!”

The amazing part of this story is not David’s sin or the depths of his depravity. The amazing part is that he repented—earnestly repented. In our day leader after leader has been caught red-handed in unscrupulous practices. But do they repent? Do they come clean and change their ways? Not likely. Those with absolute power continue to govern ruthlessly. Nathan, the prophet, was fortunate that King David heard the voice of God speaking through a human vessel. David was quick to humble himself and repent. How do you respond when confronted with your sin?

Response: LORD God, grant me a soft heart—a sensitive heart—a repentant heart in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Your Turn: How can we maintain a repentant heart before God?

Forgetting God

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Reading:                                          Psalm 50

(Verses 16-23)

But to the wicked person, God says:

“What right have you to recite my laws
or take my covenant on your lips?
You hate my instruction
and cast my words behind you.
When you see a thief, you join with him;
you throw in your lot with adulterers.
You use your mouth for evil
and harness your tongue to deceit.
You sit and testify against your brother
and slander your own mother’s son.
When you did these things and I kept silent,
you thought I was exactly like you.
But I now arraign you
and set my accusations before you.

“Consider this, you who forget God,
or I will tear you to pieces, with no one to rescue you:
Those who sacrifice thank offerings honor me,
and to the blameless I will show my salvation”
(NIV).

Reflection

I have a tendency to be forgetful. As I leave the house, it is not uncommon for me to forget some rather important items such as my wallet or my mobile phone. On our recent trip to Japan, my wife would often help me run through a checklist of essential items as we set out on an excursion. Wallet, rail pass, mobile phone and passport, all were needed. I dare not forget any of these.

Samarai Garden, Kanazawa, Japan, -- David Kitz

Samurai Garden, Kanazawa, Japan, — David Kitz

But there is something more important than all of these ‘essentials’. In his conclusion to Psalm 50, the psalmist Asaph reminds us not to forget God. How often have you set out on your day only to realize that you forgot God at home? Did He even make it home with you? Maybe He’s still at church? Have you had God with you lately? Have you forgotten Him completely as you went about your business?

Forgetting God is no small matter. Here is the LORD’s response to those who forget Him: “Consider this, you who forget God, or I will tear you to pieces, with no one to rescue you: Those who sacrifice thank offerings honor me, and to the blameless I will show my salvation”

We all want to see the salvation of God, but it starts with not forgetting Him. When we do, we run the risk of becoming objects of His wrath. The wrath of God is not a popular topic these days, but a lack of popularity does not negate its reality. When we choose to ignore God, there are unpleasant consequences. This applies personally and nationally. When we turn our back on the author of our salvation, terrible things happen. When we embrace Him with thanksgiving, joy will be our portion.

Response: LORD God, let me never forget your great love for me. I want to take you with me today and every day. I am thankful for the promise of your presence. Amen.

Your Turn: Do you sometimes forget God as you begin your day?

And then there’s prayer

davidkitz:

This post from Mustard Seed Budget was too good to pass by, so I’m passing it on.

Originally posted on Mustard Seed Budget:

and then there's prayer

Need a breakthrough in your life? Maybe you think you need money. But not too many of us have that in abundance. This is how you get a breakthrough without a monetary investment. It’s called prayer.

Prayer only costs us time. Other than that, it’s completely free.

When I was a missionary in Guatemala, I didn’t have a lot of resources. So I spent time praying. And God did amazing things.

I realized that more work wasn’t the answer. Logically, God can get more done that I could. So if I prayed more, God would do what I couldn’t do.

Some people are so busy that they don’t pray. They don’t know what they’re missing.

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The Sacrifice of Thanksgiving

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Reading:                                         Psalm 50

(Verses 7-15)

“Listen, my people, and I will speak;
I will testify against you, Israel:
I am God, your God.
I bring no charges against you concerning your sacrifices
or concerning your burnt offerings, which are ever before me.
I have no need of a bull from your stall
or of goats from your pens,
for every animal of the forest is mine,
and the cattle on a thousand hills.
I know every bird in the mountains,
and the insects in the fields are mine.
If I were hungry I would not tell you,
for the world is mine, and all that is in it.
Do I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats?

 “Sacrifice thank offerings to God,
fulfill your vows to the Most High,
and call on me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you, and you will honor me”
(NIV).

Reflection

What is humanity’s greatest sin? Think about that for a moment. Is it murder? Hatred? Racism? The desecration of the planet? All of these are serious problems—serious sins. But what is the greatest sin?

Central Park, New York, NY - David Kitz

Central Park, New York, NY – David Kitz

Psalm 50 begins with a great summoning of all nations. The LORD is about to enter into judgment. But what charge does He bring against His people? He does not accuse them of heinous crimes, or the desecration of His temple. I bring no charges against you concerning your sacrifices or concerning your burnt offerings, which are ever before me. Instead God calls for thank offerings. The LORD wants His people to have thankful hearts.

There is something rather anticlimactic about this call for thanksgiving. My initial reaction is one of surprise. I thought we had a serious problem here. Why summon the nations to a great gathering unless there is a declaration of some significance. Surely a lack of thanksgiving is an offence of no great significance. Or is it? Apparently in God’s view it is of great importance.

In his epistle to the Romans, St. Paul attributes a lack of thankfulness to the blinding power and deception of sin. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened (Romans 1:20-21).

Because of its long term consequences, a failure to offer thanks may be the gravest sin of all.

Response: LORD God, I owe my life to you. I have so much to be thankful for. Every day is a gift. Amen.

Your Turn: What are you most thankful for?

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