Reading: Psalm 72
For he will deliver the needy who cry out,
the afflicted who have no one to help.
He will take pity on the weak and the needy
and save the needy from death.
He will rescue them from oppression and violence,
for precious is their blood in his sight. Long may he live!
May gold from Sheba be given him.
May people ever pray for him
and bless him all day long.
May grain abound throughout the land;
on the tops of the hills may it sway.
May the crops flourish like Lebanon
and thrive like the grass of the field.
May his name endure forever;
may it continue as long as the sun.
Then all nations will be blessed through him,
and they will call him blessed.
Praise be to the LORD God, the God of Israel,
who alone does marvelous deeds.
Praise be to his glorious name forever;
may the whole earth be filled with his glory. Amen and Amen.
This concludes the prayers of David son of Jesse (NIV).
This is the concluding portion of Solomon’s prayer. Many scholars view this as David’s prayer for Solomon, rather than a prayer written by Solomon. In either case, it is a prayer calling for God’s blessing on the king and the nation. This brings us to a question. What is the purpose of God’s blessing? Is it only for personal benefit?
The answer can be found in the first few lines above. The righteous king is blessed and given wealth and authority so that he can be a blessing to others. He will take pity on the weak and the needy and save the needy from death. He will rescue them from oppression and violence, for precious is their blood in his sight.
The great danger for any of us is that when blessings come, we accumulate these blessings for ourselves alone. Along with God’s blessings comes a responsibility to share and identify with those in need within our borders and beyond. We serve a God with a big heart. His love extends far beyond our narrow interests. God blesses His people abundantly, so that we can in turn bless others.
What a privilege we have to reflect the LORD’s character in a hurting world!
Response: LORD God, help me to see my many blessings as a gift from you. Show me today how I can be a blessing to others. You are my source. Lord, give me a generous spirit like you have. Amen.
Your Turn: Are you tempted to keep all of God’s blessings for yourself? How generous is your spirit?
Reading: Psalm 67
For the director of music. With stringed instruments. A psalm. A song.
May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face shine on us—
so that your ways may be known on earth,
your salvation among all nations.
May the peoples praise you, God;
may all the peoples praise you.
May the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you rule the peoples with equity
and guide the nations of the earth.
May the peoples praise you, God;
may all the peoples praise you.
The land yields its harvest;
God, our God, blesses us.
May God bless us still,
so that all the ends of the earth will fear him (NIV).
This is perhaps the most evangelical of all the psalms. By that I mean there is good news in this psalm, and the good news of God’s loving-kindness, which is found here, is not to be kept to oneself. It is to be taken to the whole world. Twice within this short psalm the psalmist declares, “May the peoples praise you, God; may all the peoples praise you.”
Like any loving parent, God draws pleasure from blessing his children. But is there a divine motivation that extends beyond the family of God. As the opening verse of this psalm makes clear, God desires to bless us, so that his ways and his salvation may be known all over this world.
So then, Psalm 67 should be our prayer, not only for us, but for the world. That includes the world that does not know Jesus. May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us, that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations.
In other words, God’s blessing is not to be selfishly hoarded. It is to extend around the world and beyond the family of God. Is God in fact, blessing us abundantly, so that we may in turn bless others? Is he blessing us, so that we may make his salvation known among all nations? That certainly would appear to be the plan according to Psalm 67.
There is a great harvest day that is still coming on the earth. It is not a harvest of wheat, corn or rice, but a harvest of souls that will be swept into the Kingdom of God. If this psalm is to be believed, it is a harvest that is propelled and swelled by our joyous praise.
Is your thanksgiving for God’s blessing extending beyond the borders of your family?
Response: LORD God, I thank you for all the blessings you have showered on my life. Most of all I thank you for my salvation through Jesus Christ. Show me how I can extend your blessing to others. Amen.
Your Turn: Have you taken the message of God’s salvation across international borders? How?
Reading: Psalm 31
How abundant are the good things
that you have stored up for those who fear you,
that you bestow in the sight of all,
on those who take refuge in you.
In the shelter of your presence you hide them
from all human intrigues;
you keep them safe in your dwelling
from accusing tongues (NIV).
Our view of God is of crucial importance. It will greatly influence how we live our lives on planet earth. Is He a divine ogre waiting to pounce on us for the slightest transgression? Is He aloof, hard of hearing, out of touch and out of reach? Does He stand opposed to your wishes and dreams—the nagging heavenly parent who frowns at your ambitions?
That’s not David’s view of God. He saw a caring LORD of heaven and earth, who was only too eager to bless those who sought refuge in Him. That’s why David exclaims, “How abundant are the good things that you have stored up for those who fear you that you bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in you.”
Think of it for a moment: God has a storehouse of good things just waiting for you. He has prepared a whole series of blessings that He will lavish on those who fear Him. Furthermore, the LORD will bestow those blessings in the sight of all—on all who seek shelter in the shadow of His wings. Now that’s a picture of an amazing God.
What might some of those good things be? First and foremost the LORD has an abundance of mercy set aside just for you. In the midst of unparalleled disaster, as a witness to the destruction of Jerusalem, the prophet Jeremiah rightly discerned the heart of the LORD. Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness (Lamentations 3:22-23). For Jeremiah God was good all the time, even in disaster.
God has an abundance of love, peace and joy set aside just for you. Tap into it; drink deep of it. It’s there for you. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval (Romans 14:17-18).
We serve a generous God—a God of grace who extends unmerited favor to us. In your mind, stop limiting His blessings. They are abundant, they are stored up for you and they will manifest in the lives of those who love and fear Him.
Response: LORD God, thank you for all the good things you have stored up for me, both temporal and spiritual. I rejoice in you! You are a generous God lavishing mercy on me through your son, Jesus. Amen.
Your Turn: How do you see God? Do you have the right perspective of Him? Is He opposed to your wishes and dreams?
Reading: Psalm 133
A song of ascents. Of David.
How good and pleasant it is
when God’s people live together in unity!
It is like precious oil poured on the head,
running down on the beard,
running down on Aaron’s beard,
down on the collar of his robe.
It is as if the dew of Hermon
were falling on Mount Zion.
For there the LORD bestows his blessing,
even life forevermore (NIV).
Short, but powerful and evocative—that’s my description of Psalm 133. I might also add, easily read, but difficult to put into practice. Unity among the people of God is that great allusive goal that seems to always disappear around the next bend in the road just as we approach it. But there God has commanded His blessing, if we could only reach that blessed state.
The psalmist uses two metaphors to portray this good and pleasant state of affairs. The first may appear to be rather messy and wasteful. Who wants oil running down their beard and onto their clothing? But in the Old Testament, prophets, priests and kings were anointed in just this way. It symbolized the release of divine authority and power into an individual’s life. The Spirit of God was coming upon them for public service. This concept forms an effective bridge to the coming of the Holy Spirit in the Book of Acts. When the waiting disciples were of one accord, the Holy Spirit was poured upon them; the anointing came. See Acts 2.
The second metaphor signifies rejuvenation. The dew of the morning is new each day. It refreshes and revives. When our social interactions are positive and enriching, the outcome is spiritual renewal and a deep sense of belonging. Recent studies have shown that social isolation may be a greater risk factor among the elderly than smoking or heart disease. Lack of meaningful interaction with others also has a negative impact on mental health.
The person who continually self-isolates is committing a slow form of suicide, both physically and spiritually. Satan loves the isolated believer—feasts on the mind of the isolated believer.
Simply put, we need each other. We need to be surrounded by loving caring relationships, at home, at work and in the church. On every level, unity of purpose coupled with unselfish love, refreshes and revives the weary soul. We all want God’s blessing. Well, here’s the key to God’s blessing. The LORD commands a blessing when God’s people live together in unity!
Response: Father God, help me sow words of love and unity. Open my eyes to see where I can bring a word of encouragement and affirmation to those around me. Make me an instrument of peace, love and unity today. Amen.
Your Turn: How can you avoid sowing seeds of discord? What can you do today to build unity?
Reading: Psalm 119
Blessed are those whose ways are blameless,
who walk according to the law of the LORD.
Blessed are those who keep his statutes
and seek him with all their heart—
they do no wrong
but follow his ways.
You have laid down precepts
that are to be fully obeyed.
Oh, that my ways were steadfast
in obeying your decrees!
Then I would not be put to shame
when I consider all your commands.
I will praise you with an upright heart
as I learn your righteous laws.
I will obey your decrees;
do not utterly forsake me (NIV).
We are about to start a twenty-two day journey through Psalm 119, the longest Psalm in the Bible. This is also an acrostic poem, which in this case means each stanza of this poetic psalm begins with a different letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The section above for instance, begins with the letter Aleph, which roughly corresponds to our letter A. Also, within each alphabetic stanza are eight verses, which all begin with the same Hebrew letter. In this way the psalm’s composer works his way through the entire twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet. This psalm is a truly remarkable literary composition, which was originally structured to be memorized, like the alphabet. Alas, for the English reader, much of the elaborate, intricate beauty of this psalm is lost the moment it is translated from its original tongue.
The theme of this psalm is consistent throughout. It is a poetic testimony in praise of God’s holy, unchanging word. Here we find the alpha and omega of the psalms—a literary tribute to the A to Z wonder of God’s word. Every letter trumpets the salutary goodness of God’s written word.
From the beginning of this poetic masterpiece the author recognizes his need. His life needs to be governed by the law of the LORD. His goal and heart’s desire is to lead a blameless life. God’s blessing comes to such a person. Blessed are those whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the LORD. Blessed are those who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart—they do no wrong but follow his ways.
In a world of injustice and moral rot the words of Psalm 119 pierce like a steel-tipped bullet to the heart.
Response: LORD God, like the psalmist I want to fall in love with your word. Here is the purpose to my desire. I want to live a blameless life that brings honor to my Maker because you are good. Amen.
Your Turn: Is holy living one of your goals? Do you see value in leading a blameless life before God?
Reading: Psalm 115
All you Israelites, trust in the LORD—
he is their help and shield.
House of Aaron, trust in the LORD—
he is their help and shield.
You who fear him, trust in the LORD—
he is their help and shield.
The LORD remembers us and will bless us:
He will bless his people Israel,
he will bless the house of Aaron,
he will bless those who fear the LORD—
small and great alike.
May the LORD cause you to flourish,
both you and your children.
May you be blessed by the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
The highest heavens belong to the LORD,
but the earth he has given to mankind.
It is not the dead who praise the LORD,
those who go down to the place of silence;
it is we who extol the LORD, both now and forevermore.
Praise the LORD (NIV).
As a sharp contrast to placing our trust in the lifeless idols of this world, Psalm 115 calls us to place our trust God. Today’s reading begins with a threefold call to trust the LORD. All you Israelites, trust in the LORD—he is their help and shield. House of Aaron, trust in the LORD—he is their help and shield. You who fear him, trust in the LORD—he is their help and shield.
For those who are logically minded, there is a simple equation or formula at work here. Trust in the LORD results in help and protection—he [the LORD] is their help and shield. Our trust or faith in God brings a response from Him. The LORD’s response is both active and passive. He provides help; He intervenes by actively assisting us. From personal experience I know the LORD has been my help. In the nick of time He has provided words of knowledge and wisdom. He has opened the windows of heaven and poured out blessings when needed most. He has sent help in various forms and in ways too numerous to mention.
But the LORD is also our shield. He protects us from the slings and arrows of the evil one. He shields us from the enemy’s attacks, whether it is from physical harm, or spiritual attacks that undermine our faith through faulty reasoning or deceptive philosophies. The LORD is our sure defense. We can draw strength from this promise: He will bless those who fear the LORD—small and great alike.
Response: Father God, I trust you to be my help and my shield. Keep me safe from the evil one. Thank you for all your help through the years. You have been faithful to keep your word. Amen.
Your Turn: Can you think of instances when God has helped you?