Reading: Psalm 75
For the director of music. To the tune of “Do Not Destroy.” A psalm of Asaph. A song.
We praise you, God, we praise you, for your Name is near;
people tell of your wonderful deeds.
You say, “I choose the appointed time;
it is I who judge with equity.
When the earth and all its people quake,
it is I who hold its pillars firm.
To the arrogant I say, ‘Boast no more,’
and to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up your horns.
Do not lift your horns against heaven;
do not speak so defiantly.’”
No one from the east or the west
or from the desert can exalt themselves.
It is God who judges: He brings one down, he exalts another.
In the hand of the Lord is a cup
full of foaming wine mixed with spices;
he pours it out, and all the wicked of the earth
drink it down to its very dregs.
As for me, I will declare this forever;
I will sing praise to the God of Jacob,
who says, “I will cut off the horns of all the wicked,
but the horns of the righteous will be lifted up” (NIV).
I find the opening verse of this psalm to be very thought-provoking. Let’s take a moment to consider it: We praise you, God, we praise you, for your Name is near; people tell of your wonderful deeds.
They are meaningless expressions to those that believe this command from the LORD is a meaningless expression. “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name” (Exodus 20:7, NIV).
The Common English Bible translates this command with these words, “Do not use the LORD your God’s name as if it were of no significance; the LORD won’t forgive anyone who uses his name that way” (Exodus 20:7, CEB).
God’s commands are not meaningless expressions. There is power in the name of the LORD. Perhaps we need this reminder. It is God who judges: He brings one down, he exalts another.
Response: LORD God, I want to treat your Name with the respect and honor it deserves. Please forgive me if I have misused your name in any way. I pray in the powerful name of Jesus. Amen.
Your Turn: Why do you think the LORD makes a big deal about His name? Why is it important?
I will praise Him!
“Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”
(Psalm 91:14-16, NIV)
I will praise Him!
Better is one day in your courts
than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
the LORD bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold
from those whose walk is blameless.
blessed is the one who trusts in you.
(Psalm 84:10-12, NIV)
I will praise Him!
Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
my hope comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God;
he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in him at all times, you people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge.
(Psalm 62:5-8, NIV)
Reading: Psalm 118
Shouts of joy and victory
resound in the tents of the righteous:
“The LORD’s right hand has done mighty things!
The LORD’s right hand is lifted high;
the LORD’s right hand has done mighty things!”
I will not die but live,
and will proclaim what the LORD has done.
The LORD has chastened me severely,
but he has not given me over to death.
Open for me the gates of the righteous;
I will enter and give thanks to the LORD.
This is the gate of the LORD
through which the righteous may enter.
I will give you thanks, for you answered me;
you have become my salvation (NIV).
Are you left handed? Today in western cultures being left handed presents some challenges since many devices are designed with right-handed people in mind. Try finding left-handed scissors next time you’re at a store. Good luck with that! Oh, and if you find them, expect to pay three times the price of a right-handed model. Often lefties don’t have it so good.
Even today in Middle Eastern cultures being born left handed presents an enormous challenge. The right hand is used for eating food; the left hand is used for personal hygiene—bottom wiping. You dare not reverse that assigned role. Toddlers are strictly trained in this cultural practice. Usually left-handed children are forced to switch so they conform to the social norm. Making this switch plays havoc with the developing brain and often results in speech impediments such as stuttering, since this transition requires a complete rewiring of the child’s brain.
The Bible was written by Holy Spirit inspired authors, but like authors today they were not blank slates. They wrote from their cultural perspective to the people of their time. As a result, readers today can easily miss or misunderstand concepts that were readily understood in their original context.
The significance of the right hand is one of those culturally important concepts that we often pass over with little thought. The Bible is replete with references to the right hand or specifically God’s right hand. So what’s the big deal, we think to ourselves. But in Middle Eastern culture the right hand holds great significance. This is the hand of righteousness, honor and blessing. Thus, there is immense significance in this statement: “The LORD’s right hand has done mighty things! The LORD’s right hand is lifted high; the LORD’s right hand has done mighty things!”
Response: Father God, extend your right hand of blessing over me. Work on my behalf. Show me your mercy, your power and glory. Again and again I will give you thanks, for you answered me. Amen.
Your Turn: Are you like the psalmist? Has the LORD spared your life for a purpose?
The LORD says,
“If you love me
and truly know who I am,
I will rescue you and keep you safe.
When you are in trouble, call out to me.
I will answer and be there
to protect and honor you.
You will live a long life and see my saving power.”
(Psalm 91:14-16, CEV)
You made us a little lower than you yourself, and you have crowned us with glory and honor (Psalm 8:5, CEV).
This week’s I Love the Psalms theme is glory.
When we think of glory, especially in biblical terms, we immediately think of God’s glory. But today’s verse from the Psalms reminds us that we humans have glory too. You made us a little lower than you yourself, and you have crowned us with glory and honor (Psalm 8:5, CEV). Other translations read a little lower than the angels.
Glory, honor and dignity are gifts from God. They are His gift to humanity. When we humiliate or dishonor someone, we are sullying God’s glory. We need to see God’s glory in the faces of those around us.
No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is truly in our hearts (1 John 4:12).
Do you see God’s glory in your children, your neighbor or colleague?
Response: LORD God, open my eyes to your glory in those around me. Help me to treat my neighbors with love and respect because they bear your image. Amen.
Your Turn: Do you have trouble seeing God in others?
Honor the wonderful name of the LORD, and worship the LORD most holy and glorious (Psalm 29:2, CEV).
This week’s I Love the Psalms theme is worship.
Today’s verse from the psalms calls on us to honor the wonderful name of the LORD. What a fitting way to begin 2016. Jesus taught us to pray in the same way. In the Lord’s Prayer, our first petition or request of our heavenly Father is that His name be hallowed. There is no greater name than the name of the LORD.
May we honor and worship our holy and glorious LORD throughout 2016.
Response: LORD God, I worship your name. You are worthy of all praise because you created all things. I bow before you. Cleanse my heart, my lips and my very life. Amen.
Your Turn: How will you hallow and honor the LORD in the year ahead?