Reading: Psalm 96
Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all the earth.
Sing to the LORD, praise his name;
proclaim his salvation day after day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous deeds among all peoples.
For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise;
he is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the nations are idols,
but the LORD made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty are before him;
strength and glory are in his sanctuary (NIV).
Who are you singing to? Let’s face it; most of us sing. We may not sing in a choir or in front of a crowd of thousands, but we sing. Maybe you sing in the shower. Maybe you just hum, whistle or sing a tune in your mind. Even though you may not fully vocalize your song, the music is still there bubbling beneath the surface.
Psalm 96 urges us to sing that song to the LORD. Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth. Sing to the LORD, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day.
I believe it’s in our nature to sing. Music is after all a universal activity enjoyed by people of every race and culture. This universality begs a question: Who put that love for music and song within us?
For believers the answer is obvious. God put music in our hearts and God puts songs on our lips. We sing because we are and because God is. Music is so foundational—so fundamental to our being—that it’s hard to imagine our world without it. When we break forth in song we are doing what God designed us to do. You were designed to sing, just as you were designed to bring glory to God through the work of your hands or the fruit of your body. So let your voice bring honor, praise and glory to God. Sing out your worship with joy.
Psalm 96 is also a call for newness in worship. Why does God want a new song? Could it be because His mercy and love for us are continually renewed? In the midst of national tragedy, Jeremiah reminded us of this truth. Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness (Lamentations 3:22-23).
Just as the changing seasons bring renewal to the earth and its vegetation, so to new songs of praise bring renewal to our worship. So whether you hum, whistle, or belt out songs in the choir, let your song ascend to the LORD. You are singing for Him and to Him.
Response: LORD God, I want to praise you. Give me news songs and new melodies to sing your praise. Your goodness and love abounds. Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise. Amen.
Your Turn: Do you enjoy singing? Do you like both old and new worship songs?
Reading: Psalm 92
For surely your enemies, LORD,
surely your enemies will perish;
all evildoers will be scattered.
You have exalted my horn like that of a wild ox;
fine oils have been poured on me.
My eyes have seen the defeat of my adversaries;
my ears have heard the rout of my wicked foes.
The righteous will flourish like a palm tree,
they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;
planted in the house of the LORD,
they will flourish in the courts of our God.
They will still bear fruit in old age,
they will stay fresh and green,
proclaiming, “The LORD is upright;
he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him” (NIV).
God’s people have been called or compared to many things. Often we are likened to sheep—the sheep of the LORD’s pasture. But here in Psalm 92 we are likened to trees, the palm tree, the cedar and various fruit trees.
There is a striking parallel between the tree analogy found in this psalm and a similar analogy found in Psalm 1. In both cases the righteous are compared to trees. That person [the righteous] is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers (Psalm 1:3).
By its very nature, there is something very settled about a tree. Unlike a sheep, a tree is not prone to wander. Trees flourish or perish where they have taken root. Have you been planted in the house of the LORD? Are you staying fresh and green and flourishing in the courts of our God?
Fruitfulness begins with flowering. Is your relationship with God in the flowering stage? Have you fallen in love with Him—so in love that you radiate beauty? Are you and the message you bear attractive? Have you made yourself attractive because of your love for the Lord?
What about fruit? Are the fruits of the Spirit beginning to appear on your branches? But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law (Galatians 5:22-23).
I can’t speak for you, but I would rather be a flourishing, fruit-bearing tree in the courts of the LORD than a wayward sheep.
Response: LORD God, daily I want to grow more in love with you. Grant me a settled heart. I want my life to bear fruit that will bring honor to you. Help me to radiate your goodness and beauty. Amen.
Your Turn: How attractive is the message you bear? What signals are you sending out into the world?
Reading: Psalm 89
Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne;
love and faithfulness go before you.
Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you,
who walk in the light of your presence, LORD.
They rejoice in your name all day long;
they celebrate your righteousness.
For you are their glory and strength,
and by your favor you exalt our horn.
Indeed, our shield belongs to the LORD,
our king to the Holy One of Israel (NIV).
Yesterday afternoon at about 4:30 my wife and I got a call from my son. He found himself in a difficult spot. He and his wife had just bought two swivel chairs. He had wrongly assumed that both would fit into the trunk of his car. Despite his best efforts the second chair would not fit. Could I come, pick up and deliver the second chair to their home?
My wife had a batch of homemade buns rising in the oven, so she was not available. The delivery task fell to me. So off I drove in a torrential downpour through heavy rush-hour traffic to pick up this chair. Did I resent this interruption in my schedule? Did I get all steamed up about the inconvenience? Was I upset that I was a few minutes late for dinner? No. In all seriousness, none of this bothered me because I love my son and his wife. I was glad to help. I even took a minute or two to sit in that comfy chair and appreciate their new purchase.
Today’s reading from Psalm 89 is all about a chair—a special chair. It’s called the throne of God. Unlike the rollers on the bottom of the chair that my son purchased, this chair has a foundation. It’s immovable. The psalmist makes this statement. Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; love and faithfulness go before you.
The throne of God speaks of His authority. God’s authority rests squarely on His righteousness and justice. This has always been so and will be so forever. Righteousness and justice are foundational to all authority. When authorities in this world go astray and engage in unjust and immoral behavior, we find this abhorrent. We question the legitimacy of such authorities. We say they have lost the moral authority to govern.
But God does more than just sit on His throne and govern. He moves out from that throne. Again the psalmist states, “Love and faithfulness go before you.” God is active in this world. Daily the LORD demonstrates His love and faithfulness to His people and also to those who do not call on His name. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous (Matthew 5:45). Furthermore, our heavenly Father is eager to do these things because He loves us.
Response: Heavenly Father, you are good and kind to all. I thank you for your love and faithfulness. Today, I want to walk in the light of your presence, LORD, and rejoice in your name all day long. Amen.
Your Turn: Can you testify that on various occasions God’s love and faithfulness have gone before you?
Reading: Psalm 89
A maskil of Ethan the Ezrahite.
I will sing of the LORD’s great love forever;
with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known
through all generations.
I will declare that your love stands firm forever,
that you have established your faithfulness in heaven itself.
You said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one,
I have sworn to David my servant,
‘I will establish your line forever
and make your throne firm through all generations’” (NIV).
The opening stanzas of Psalm 89 remind me of a little rhyme found in a children’s book. It goes like this:
“I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always,
as long as I’m living
my baby you’ll be.”
The lines of that little song were first sung by Robert Munsch as he held his stillborn baby in his arms. Imagine the grief he felt when for a second time his wife gave birth to another stillborn child. Again he took that little baby in his arms and he rocked it back and forth and sang,
“I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always,
as long as I’m living
my baby you’ll be.”
The bestselling children’s book Love You Forever was birthed from that heart-wrenching experience. If you are a parent or a grandparent, this little picture book should come with a warning label: Impossible to read without tearing up.
There’s an element of forever in the bond between a parent and a child. I am a father forever to my two sons, Timothy and Joshua. My love for those two boys hasn’t diminished as they have grown into young men. Though they have moved out of our home, they will be forever loved and we will be forever linked by love and faithfulness. God’s love for us is that kind of love. It’s a forever love just as the psalmist declares. I will sing of the LORD’s great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations.
Love and faithfulness are what marriage is all about. It’s one of those forever things along with parenthood. When God is at the center, these things last forever because they don’t end at the grave. I’m so glad we have the promise that they will continue on.
Response: LORD God, I am so glad that I’m your child forever. You have loved me and welcomed me into your family. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you! Amen.
Your Turn: Will you sing of the LORD’s great love forever? Now is a great time to get started.
Reading: Psalm 86
Arrogant foes are attacking me, O God;
ruthless people are trying to kill me—
they have no regard for you.
But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God,
slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.
Turn to me and have mercy on me;
show your strength in behalf of your servant;
save me, because I serve you
just as my mother did.
Give me a sign of your goodness,
that my enemies may see it and be put to shame,
for you, LORD, have helped me and comforted me (NIV).
Living or working with an angry person can be extremely difficult. You can never tell what might trigger an angry reaction. You can be going about your normal routine and suddenly something will set them off. Next thing you know you are getting the full brunt of their fury for something done in complete innocence or for which you bear no responsibility. Life is full of stress. No one likes being around someone who gives full vent to their unchecked anger.
Unfortunately, many Christians live their lives as though God has anger management issues. They are convinced that at any moment God may smite them for some minor misstep or indiscretion. The truth is God is far more patient and compassionate than we realize. Here in Psalm 86 David reminds us that the LORD is slow to anger. But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.
If you want a short one sentence description of God, here it is. It is well worth repeating. But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.
Take that sentence and memorize it, repeat it and meditate on it. This is the essence of God. He oozes compassion for the broken and hurting. The LORD is gracious. He shows favor—undeserved grace—to His people. He is slow to anger. He is more than patient with us. He knows that all too often we are slow to learn the ways of God. But despite that, He abounds in love. There is an ocean full of God’s love, when we imagine there’s only a thimble full. Finally, the LORD is faithful. He sticks with us through thick and thin. In a changing world, God and His faithfulness remain constant.
Does your picture of God need to change? It may be time to switch that picture of an angry God for a picture of the God of compassion and grace—compassion and grace for yourself and for others. His love is bigger than our shortcomings.
Response: LORD God, I want to see you as you are, full of compassion and grace. Help me to show compassion and mercy to others. I want to meditate on your word so that I can know you as you truly are. Amen.
Your Turn: Do you believe God is angry with you? What characteristic of God do you love most?
Reading: Psalm 85
I will listen to what God the LORD says;
he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants—
but let them not turn to folly.
Surely his salvation is near those who fear him,
that his glory may dwell in our land.
Love and faithfulness meet together;
righteousness and peace kiss each other.
Faithfulness springs forth from the earth,
and righteousness looks down from heaven.
The LORD will indeed give what is good,
and our land will yield its harvest.
Righteousness goes before him
and prepares the way for his steps (NIV).
Psalm 85 began with the psalmist reflecting on a wonderful time of God’s favor and forgiveness. God’s grace had been abundant and a source of great joy. But that is not the present reality. It would seem that for some reason God’s hand of blessing has been lifted and the psalmist finds himself crying out for mercy and revival. Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? Show us your unfailing love, LORD, and grant us your salvation.
Times of hardship and personal setbacks can leave us wondering if God has abandoned us. Have we sinned? Has God withdrawn His blessing from our lives? Will He shows us His kindness once again? In difficult times these questions often flood our minds.
After pleading for restoration and pouring out his troubles before God the psalmist makes this statement, “I will listen to what God the LORD says.”
Now that’s sound advice. Listening to what God says is always a good idea. It resolves inner conflict and brings peace of mind. And what does God the LORD say? “He promises peace to his people, his faithful servants—but let them not turn to folly.”
Often we feel that when things aren’t going right in our lives, we must be at fault. Perhaps we are and we should repent. But there are other times when the hardships we face are not due to sin or error on our part. Troubles and difficulties come to all of us. On such occasions the LORD promises us peace. He assures us that we are walking in His will and He is right there with us in the midst of life’s storms. Here is His promise for you: The LORD will indeed give what is good, and our land will yield its harvest. Righteousness goes before him and prepares the way for his steps.
Hang onto the righteousness of God. He is about to step into your life in a beautiful way.
Response: LORD God, I turn to you in the middle of my difficulties. Open my ears to hear your voice speaking to me. I trust you to lead me. Come and step into my life. Amen.
Your Turn: Can you recall occasions when God has stepped into your life? What did that look like?
Reading: Psalm 71
Your righteousness, God, reaches to the heavens,
you who have done great things.
Who is like you, God?
Though you have made me see troubles,
many and bitter, you will restore my life again;
from the depths of the earth
you will again bring me up.
You will increase my honor
and comfort me once more.
I will praise you with the harp
for your faithfulness, my God;
I will sing praise to you with the lyre,
Holy One of Israel.
My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to you—
I whom you have delivered.
My tongue will tell of your righteous acts all day long,
for those who wanted to harm me
have been put to shame and confusion (NIV).
Typically Christians view resurrection as a New Testament concept, but here in the conclusion to Psalm 71, we can see that the Old Testament psalmist had a solid grasp of resurrection truths. Consider his words. Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up.
That sounds like resurrection to me. Jesus fulfilled the prophetic words of the psalmist when he stepped out of the tomb on resurrection morning. Elsewhere David spoke prophetically of Christ and his resurrection when he wrote, “I am your chosen one. You won’t leave me in the grave or let my body decay” (Psalm 16:10).
Peter sited this verse as proof of Jesus’ resurrection when he preached to the crowd that gathered on the Day of Pentecost. See Acts 2:22-36.
The promise of the resurrection filled the psalmist with hope and it should do the same for us. Because Jesus is alive now, we too will be raised to life. That thought should buoy us on tough days. When we lose a loved one, whose faith was rooted in God’s redeeming love, we can rest assured that our farewell is not forever. We will see them again at the resurrection. On that great day we can join with the psalmist and declare, “My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to you—I whom you have delivered.”
Response: LORD God, thank you for the promise of resurrection. Thank you for the hope we have in Jesus. Through Jesus’ shed blood we have redemption, and the forgiveness that makes resurrection possible. Hallelujah! Amen.
Your Turn: Why is the resurrection meaningful to you?
Reading: Psalm 57
For the director of music. To the tune of “Do Not Destroy.” Of David. A miktam. When he had fled from Saul into the cave.
Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me,
for in you I take refuge.
I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings
until the disaster has passed.
I cry out to God Most High,
to God, who vindicates me.
He sends from heaven and saves me,
rebuking those who hotly pursue me—
God sends forth his love and his faithfulness.
I am in the midst of lions;
I am forced to dwell among ravenous beasts—
men whose teeth are spears and arrows,
whose tongues are sharp swords.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
let your glory be over all the earth (NIV).
Have you ever had one of those mornings where you just want to pull the covers over your head and hide away from the world? David was having one of those days when he composed Psalm 57. But in David’s case, he wasn’t just trying to avoid a snarly boss. His boss, King Saul, was hunting David down to kill him. Needless to say, there must have been some fervor in David’s plea for help. “Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me, for in you I take refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.”
The phrase ‘take refuge in the shadow of your wings’ reminds me of a story etched on my mind from my childhood. My dog, Champ, absolutely loved any newborn creature on the farm. He instantly became the newborn’s defender. Generally, this worked out very well and we appreciated his hovering affection. All was fine until one day our pet bantam hen brought her newly hatched chicks to our backyard.
Champ was thrilled at the sight of these tiny fluff balls. He greeted them with a bark and vigorously wagged his tail to welcome these new arrivals. Mother hen misunderstood his intentions. She hastily gathered her chicks under her wings to defend them from this wild beast. Champ was outraged. Surely this hen had swallowed up these defenceless chicks. He began to bark at her fiercely, trying to get her off her brood. The hen simply tightened her wings down on the chicks. Laughing at the sight of this, we called off our well-intentioned dog.
Our heavenly Father is our wise and well-intentioned protector. Do we refuse His help? We are eternally safe in the shelter of His wings. Let Him draw you close today.
Response: LORD God, you are my defender. Help me daily to appreciate your love and protection. When the cruelty of this world assaults me, I find shelter under your wings. Amen.
Your Turn: Do we sometimes push away from our secure place near the heart of God?