Reading: Psalm 119
Your word, LORD, is eternal;
it stands firm in the heavens.
Your faithfulness continues through all generations;
you established the earth, and it endures.
Your laws endure to this day,
for all things serve you.
If your law had not been my delight,
I would have perished in my affliction.
I will never forget your precepts,
for by them you have preserved my life.
Save me, for I am yours;
I have sought out your precepts.
The wicked are waiting to destroy me,
but I will ponder your statutes.
To all perfection I see a limit,
but your commands are boundless (NIV).
One of my hobbies is art. I enjoy drawing. In recent years I have rediscovered my childhood love for pencil crayons. When creating any piece of art, I find there is a delicate balance that needs to be reached. Anything I do can be improved. Early on in the process there is a lot of improving or refining needed, but eventually you reach a point where further tinkering becomes pointless. I aim for perfection, but perfection always seems illusive. At some point I need to say, “I’m done. This piece is finished.”
In today’s reading the psalmist reached that same conclusion. To all perfection I see a limit, but your commands are boundless.
We will never reach the limits of God’s holy word. There is always more to be discovered, to comprehend and apply. It is as the psalmist declares, “Your word, LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.”
St. Paul expresses the same thought. Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! (Romans 11:33). Eternity gives us insufficient time to explore the wisdom of God. But let’s begin the quest; let’s take up the challenge. All of Psalm 119 can be viewed as a grand challenge to discover the wisdom and beauty of God’s word, His commands and precepts.
Let’s continue the journey. This glorious art—the divine art of God’s word—is without beginning or end. At its best human art is a pale imitation of what God has done. The LORD is the true artist.
Response: Father God, I love your word. I want to dig deeper in it and know you better thereby. You are a totally awesome God, far beyond my comprehension, but not beyond my appreciation. Amen.
Your Turn: Have you taken up the challenge of studying God’s word?
Reading: Psalm 55
Lord, confuse the wicked; confound their words,
for I see violence and strife in the city.
Day and night they prowl about on its walls;
malice and abuse are within it.
Destructive forces are at work in the city;
threats and lies never leave its streets.
If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it;
if a foe were rising against me, I could hide.
But it is you, a man like myself,
my companion, my close friend,
with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship
at the house of God,
as we walked about among the worshipers.
Let death take my enemies by surprise;
let them go down alive to the realm of the dead,
for evil finds lodging among them (NIV).
My wife and I are currently on a road trip through western Canada. Today I am in Edmonton, a growing, prosperous city of more than a million. Last evening after a passing thunderstorm, I went by myself for a walk in the Mill Creek Ravine. There in the cool of the evening I was surrounded by the beauty of God’s creation. After the heat of the day, it was a quiet place of refreshing.
Sad to say, my wife would not dare go for a walk by herself in Mill Creek Ravine. You see, last week in broad daylight a woman was attacked there by a sexual predator. Earlier in the day I had gone to a nearby bank branch to use an ATM. At the bank, a repairman was replacing a shattered window pane and the front door had been kicked in—presumably an attempted robbery.
In cities today the words of Psalm 55 ring true. I see violence and strife in the city. Day and night they prowl about on its walls; malice and abuse are within it. Destructive forces are at work in the city; threats and lies never leave its streets.
Edmonton is no more dangerous than any large city. In fact, it is far safer than most North American cities of comparable size, nevertheless, evil finds lodging here. Evil leaps across geographic boundaries and crosses cultural and racial barriers. Evil finds lodging wherever a human heart entertains hatred, greed or lust. Jesus said that all manner of wickedness flows out from the heart. See Matthew 15:19.
The question I need to ask myself is what finds lodging in my heart. Do I open the door to the evil one, to resentment and bitterness? Or do I turn those thoughts away and invite Jesus in?
Response: LORD God, I want you to find lodging in my heart through Jesus Christ your Son. Amen.
Your Turn: Do you live in a safe city or neighborhood? Take a moment to pray for your city.
Reading: Psalm 36
Your love, LORD, reaches to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the skies.
Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,
your justice like the great deep.
You, LORD, preserve both people and animals.
How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house;
you give them drink from your river of delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
in your light we see light. (NIV)
As mentioned in my previous post, Psalm 36 is a psalm of contrasts. David compares the wickedness of man with the amazing goodness of God. The opening portion of Psalm 36 touches on the depravity of man. In today’s reading we behold the awesome love and kindness of God.
Your love, LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the highest mountains, your justice like the great deep. The beautiful poetry of those words sends me off on a Rocky Mountain high.
God’s love is reflected in the beauty of his creation. He nestled us into a world of incredible beauty and variety. From the grandeur of the mountains to the minute sea fauna, God is there—sustaining all—reigning over all. You, LORD, preserve both people and animals. How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
God’s unfailing love stands in sharp contrast to man’s rapacious capacity for hate and destruction. We glory in war, death and bloodshed as though these are great accomplishments, when in fact they are a failure in love and forgiveness—the attributes of God. Yet despite these failures God showers us with His love and goodness. People take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights.
It is worth noting that God is the source of the river of delights. Just as any good father enjoys bringing pleasure to his children, so too our Heavenly Father delights in bringing joy to us. He is not stingy in His love, but overflowing with generosity, in many cases providing more than we can handle.
For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light. The LORD is the author and source of all life. “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day” (Genesis 1:31). Only in Him and through Him do we see the light of day and the light of life. To God be praise forever more!
Response: LORD God, thank you, thank you, thank you for your great love and faithfulness to me. Let your light shine in me and through me today. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Your Turn: Have you been drinking from God’s river of delights?
Reading: Psalm 19
For the director of music. A psalm of David.
The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
It rises at one end of the heavens
and makes its circuit to the other;
nothing is deprived of its warmth. (NIV)
When was the last time you went for a walk beneath a canopy of stars? Now, I’m not talking about catching a fleeting glimpse of a dozen or so stars, obscured by the incessant glare of city street lights. I’m talking about walking beneath a canopy of stars, visible in their myriads, stretching from horizon to horizon. Now that’s a truly awe inspiring experience!
That’s where David begins this psalm. He begins it beneath the stars. He begins it beneath a sky so big it reduces any who behold it to a mere speck of insignificance—a speck below the glorious vastness above. Can you see him standing there – the youthful shepherd, on the Judean hillside, gazing into the face of eternity?
And eternity is talking. The sky is talking to him. What is it saying? Can you hear its words? David can. He hears it pouring forth speech. And it’s not just the night sky that’s talking to him. The heavens are speaking continually, day and night. This is an endless conversation heard around the world.
You see the sky speaks in a language understood by all. Who has not stopped and stood in wonder at the sight of a dazzling sunset, marvelled at the shafts of light beaming down from behind a thunder head, been amazed by the appearance of a rainbow, or perhaps you have seen the aurora whirl and dance across the northern sky?
These experiences are universal. They are available to all, on every continent, in every nation, to every language and people group. The sky is talking. Are you listening? Do you understand the words?
Response: Heavenly Father, help me hear your voice speaking to me in nature. Open my eyes and my ears to the glory of Your creation. You are more wonderful than I can imagine. I praise You. Amen.
Your Turn: Does God speak to you through the beauty of nature?