Reading: Psalm 86
Among the gods there is none like you, Lord;
no deeds can compare with yours.
All the nations you have made
will come and worship before you, Lord;
they will bring glory to your name.
For you are great and do marvelous deeds;
you alone are God.
Teach me your way, LORD,
that I may rely on your faithfulness;
give me an undivided heart,
that I may fear your name.
I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart;
I will glorify your name forever.
For great is your love toward me;
you have delivered me from the depths,
from the realm of the dead (NIV).
Today’s reading from Psalm 86 begins with this prophetic declaration. All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, Lord; they will bring glory to your name.
Psalm 86 is a prayer of David, but within this prayer David makes this prophetic statement about all nations worshipping the Lord. By the Spirit of God, David saw and declared what is to come. In the pantheistic world of his time, David saw that the God he served was not a local or national god. He saw that Yahweh, the LORD was, is and will be the Lord over all. How could David know that the God of Israel would come to be worshipped in every nation on the earth?
David grasped the big picture. Or a better explanation might be that the God of the big picture grasped David and revealed this truth to him. Through David’s line would come a Savior—a Savior named Jesus—a Jewish Savior for the whole world.
Why was David able to receive such a profound revelation? We are given a clue in the words of his prayer. Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.
The answer may lie in David’s heart. He had an undivided heart. In other words he was wholehearted in his love for the Lord. He had a single-minded focus on God. He says just that in the next line of his prayer. I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever.
Are you wholehearted in your love and praise for the Lord?
Response: LORD God, unite my heart to praise your name. I don’t want to be distracted by the pursuits of this world. I set my affection on you. Thank you for loving me as your child. Amen.
Your Turn: What are some of the things that distract you from loving and fearing God?
Reading: Psalm 85
For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. A psalm.
You, LORD, showed favor to your land;
you restored the fortunes of Jacob.
You forgave the iniquity of your people
and covered all their sins.
You set aside all your wrath
and turned from your fierce anger.
Restore us again, God our Savior,
and put away your displeasure toward us.
Will you be angry with us forever?
Will you prolong your anger through all generations?
Will you not revive us again,
that your people may rejoice in you?
Show us your unfailing love, LORD,
and grant us your salvation (NIV).
Psalm 85 begins on a high note as the psalmist reflects on God’s goodness in the past. You, LORD, showed favor to your land; you restored the fortunes of Jacob.
God’s favor is not something we earn; it is undeserved. God’s favor is synonymous with God’s grace. We may attempt to explain God’s grace, but in reality there’s no accounting for it. God showers His grace upon us, but why on us and not someone else? There is an aspect of Divine grace that we may never fully comprehend. We simply need to receive it and rejoice in God’s favor when it comes our way.
Make no mistake. God’s grace and His favor are rooted in forgiveness. Note the words of the psalmist: You forgave the iniquity of your people and covered all their sins. You set aside all your wrath and turned from your fierce anger.
Because of our sins and disobedience, we deserve God’s wrath and anger, but instead He has shown us favor and forgiveness. How awesome is that! There is something over-the-moon wonderful about the love of God. When we experience its fullness, it puts a smile on our face and a wellspring of joy in our hearts.
But… But there is a point of transition in this psalm. The wonderful sense of nearness to God has been lost. About midway through the passage above the psalmist cries out in anguish. Restore us again, God our Savior, and put away your displeasure toward us. Will you be angry with us forever?
We are not told what has caused this sense of separation from God. Is it sin? Is it unforeseen hardships or calamities of various kinds? Whatever the cause, the psalmist pleads for revival and a return to joy.
Response: LORD God, revive my love for you. I want to sense you near to me again—smiling down on me. Show me your favor and your unfailing love. Let me know your grace. Amen.
Your Turn: Have you lost a sense of nearness to God? What can you do to restore it?
I will praise Him!
Praise the LORD.
Blessed are those who fear the LORD,
who find great delight in his commands.
Their children will be mighty in the land;
the generation of the upright will be blessed.
Wealth and riches are in their houses,
and their righteousness endures forever.
Even in darkness light dawns for the upright,
for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous.
Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely,
who conduct their affairs with justice.
(Psalm 112:1-5, NIV)
Reading: Psalm 80
For the director of music. To the tune of “The Lilies of the Covenant.”
Of Asaph. A psalm.
Hear us, Shepherd of Israel,
you who lead Joseph like a flock.
You who sit enthroned between the cherubim,
shine forth before Ephraim, Benjamin and Manasseh.
Awaken your might; come and save us.
Restore us, O God;
make your face shine on us,
that we may be saved.
How long, LORD God Almighty,
will your anger smolder
against the prayers of your people?
You have fed them with the bread of tears;
you have made them drink tears by the bowlful.
You have made us an object of derision to our neighbors,
and our enemies mock us.
Restore us, God Almighty;
make your face shine on us,
that we may be saved (NIV).
Have you been greeted by a happy face today? I’m talking about the ubiquitous, yellow, happy face stickers that pop up everywhere, especially in any form of online communication. ! We all recognize that these happy faces are intended to brighten our day—make us feel happy like the smiley face shows. I’m not sure they always succeed in their objective.
Here in Psalm 80, the psalmist, Asaph, pleads for face time with the LORD. In fact, in the entire psalm, Asaph repeats this request three times. Restore us, O God; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved. Clearly, the psalmist is longing to see the smiley face of God—the shining face of God.
In Hebrew literature the shining face of God represents God’s favor—His grace. In reality the psalmist is pleading for God’s favor to rest on him and his people. The truth is we get nowhere without the favor of God. Unless the LORD is gracious to us, we are doomed to fail in this life and perish in eternity. It’s just that simple. We desperately need that happy face sticker from God. This should be our daily prayer: Restore us, God Almighty; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved
Response: Father God, today I need face time with you. Show me your kindness. Help me to sense you smiling down on me like a loving parent smiles down on their child. Thanks for your grace. Amen.
Your Turn: Have you recently sensed God smiling down on you? How did that make you feel?
Reading: Psalm 70
For the director of music. Of David. A petition.
Hasten, O God, to save me;
come quickly, Lord, to help me.
May those who want to take my life
be put to shame and confusion;
may all who desire my ruin
be turned back in disgrace.
May those who say to me, “Aha! Aha!”
turn back because of their shame.
But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who long for your saving help always say,
“The LORD is great!”
But as for me, I am poor and needy;
come quickly to me, O God.
You are my help and my deliverer;
LORD, do not delay (NIV).
When I consider my situation—my station in life—I would not call myself poor, but neither would I say I am rich. I live in a comfortable suburban home. It’s no mansion, but we are mortgage free. I have income that covers our expenses with a little left over at the end of the month. We can afford one major trip each year, as long as we do a little penny pinching along the way. Our eight-year-old car will need to be replaced at some point, but for now it’s doing just fine. I have no worries about retirement.
David did not see himself that way. Hear his confession—his desperate prayer: But as for me, I am poor and needy; come quickly to me, O God. You are my help and my deliverer; LORD, do not delay.
We don’t know at what point in his life David penned this humble petition. We know that the Shepherd-King of Israel was a man of humble origin, but he also ruled as King of Judah for seven years and for all of Israel for another thirty-three years. From the midpoint of his life onward, he was a man of wealth and power, but his humility remained. Like authoritarian rulers throughout the ages, he could have had his personal history cleansed of such self-effacing pleas for mercy, but David chose a different path. He let the record stand. Perhaps like other heroes of our faith he was looking for a better country—a better kingdom. See Hebrews 11:16.
Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3). Some poverty and humility of spirit might be fitting for me as well. How about you?
Response: LORD God, I don’t want to live the life of the self-satisfied. You are my treasure and my very great reward. I am needy—in constant need of you. Come quickly to me, O God. Amen.
Your Turn: Are you poor in spirit? How do we remain poor in spirit even when we are blessed financially or in other ways?
Reading: Psalm 69
For the director of music. To the tune of “Lilies.” Of David.
Save me, O God,
for the waters have come up to my neck.
I sink in the miry depths,
where there is no foothold.
I have come into the deep waters;
the floods engulf me.
I am worn out calling for help;
my throat is parched.
My eyes fail, looking for my God.
Those who hate me without reason
outnumber the hairs of my head;
many are my enemies without cause,
those who seek to destroy me.
I am forced to restore
what I did not steal.
You, God, know my folly;
my guilt is not hidden from you (NIV).
Above all else Psalm 69 is a plea for help. Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck.
Suddenly finding yourself upside down after a high-speed-icy skid can be unsettling. I recall unfastening my seatbelt so I could reverse my position and sit upright on the interior of the car roof. Opening the car doors was impossible due to the snow jammed up on the outside. There we sat, trapped, car tires in the air, as the sun began to set.
We had two life lines: a mobile phone and a direct line to Jesus. Both worked flawlessly. Within minutes a young couple stopped and helped us out of the car. Later that evening we drove our flipped car back into the city undamaged. There was nothing to indicate we were in a rollover, not even a scratch on the car body.
This true account serves as a reminder to me that God hears us when we pray. When we are in over our head—when we are neck deep and beyond—we can call out to God.
God did not save us because we are faultless. As the psalmist says, “You, God, know my folly; my guilt is not hidden from you.” God saves us because of His great mercy.
Response: LORD God, thank you for showing us mercy when we don’t deserve it. Thank you for coming to rescue the likes of me. For this mercy and a thousand more, I give you thanks. Amen.
Your Turn: Has the Lord helped you when you were neck deep in trouble?
Reading: Psalm 56
Record my misery;
list my tears on your scroll—
are they not in your record?
Then my enemies will turn back
when I call for help.
By this I will know that God is for me.
In God, whose word I praise,
in the LORD, whose word I praise—
in God I trust and am not afraid.
What can man do to me?
I am under vows to you, my God;
I will present my thank offerings to you.
For you have delivered me from death
and my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before God
in the light of life (NIV).
Psalm 56 is a relatively short psalm. Yet in this short psalm, David repeats the phrase ‘whose word I praise’ three times. In today’s reading he states, “In God, whose word I praise, in the LORD, whose word I praise—in God I trust and am not afraid.”
For me this phrase raises a question. Whose word do I praise? Do I praise God’s word? Do I appreciate and value the written word of God? Have I made it my refuge as it was for David? Is it my sustenance? Do I feed on it daily? While fasting in the wilderness Jesus answered the tempter, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God’” (Matthew 4:4).
Do you trust the living, active word of God to help you today and every day? Trust really is crucial. If I don’t trust that God’s word will help, encourage, correct and sustain me, I won’t bother reading it or meditating on it. I’ll trust in my own abilities or seek direction from other sources.
Trust is crucial in election campaigns. During such campaigns politicians from a variety of parties make their pitch to the electorate. Again the fundamental question for each voter is whose word, do you trust? Politicians often promise more than they can deliver. Often I have been let down by a politician who promised to do things differently, but once in office failed to deliver, or became caught up in scandal after scandal. I presume the same disappointment holds true for many voters.
We need to remember that salvation won’t ever be achieved at the ballot box. It was achieved at the cross—only at the cross. The remedy for my sin is found there. The living word of God reminds us of that trustworthy, unchanging truth.
Response: LORD God, I put my trust in your word. I praise your life-giving word for it is good and completely trustworthy. Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path (Psalm 119:105). Amen.
Your Turn: Do you make it your habit to read and meditate on the word of God?
Reading: Psalm 50
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).
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 a 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.
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?
By Bliss Carman
In the Garden of Eden, planted by God,
There were goodly trees in the springing sod –
Trees of beauty height and grace,
To stand in splendour before His face:
Apple and hickory, ash and pear,
Oak and beech, and the tulip rare,
The trembling aspen, the noble pine,
The sweeping elm by the river line;
Trees for the birds to build and sing,
And the lilac tree for joy in spring;
Trees to turn at the frosty call
And carpet the ground for the Lord’s footfall;
Trees for fruitage and fire and shade,
Trees for the cunning builder’s trade;
Wood for the bow, the spear, and the flail,
The keel and the mast of the daring sail –
He made them of every grain and girth
For use of man in the Garden of Earth.
Then lest the soul should not lift her eyes
From the gift to the Giver of Paradise,
On the crown of a hill, for all to see,
God planted a scarlet maple tree.
This poem by New Brunswick poet Bliss Carman is posted in honour of Canada’s 150th anniversary of confederation, July 1st, 1867.
God bless Canada!