Reading: Psalm 79
A maskil of Asaph.
O God, the nations have invaded your inheritance;
they have defiled your holy temple,
they have reduced Jerusalem to rubble.
They have left the dead bodies of your servants
as food for the birds of the sky,
the flesh of your own people for the animals of the wild.
They have poured out blood like water
all around Jerusalem,
and there is no one to bury the dead.
We are objects of contempt to our neighbors,
of scorn and derision to those around us.
How long, LORD? Will you be angry forever?
How long will your jealousy burn like fire?
Pour out your wrath on the nations
that do not acknowledge you,
on the kingdoms that do not call on your name;
for they have devoured Jacob
and devastated his homeland (NIV).
Have you caught a glimpse of the devastation? It seems that the psalmist, Asaph, had a good look at it. Now take a good look at his words. They have left the dead bodies of your servants as food for the birds of the sky, the flesh of your own people for the animals of the wild. They have poured out blood like water all around Jerusalem, and there is no one to bury the dead.
Has the world gone mad? Are we sinking deeper and deeper into depravity? Have our minds become numb to the carnage? Or are we joining with the psalmist in crying out, “How long, LORD?” How long will you let this insanity continue? LORD, won’t you come and fix this broken messed up world?
Our hearts cry out for justice, mercy and peace—justice for those who have been wronged, mercy for those who have been wounded and broken, and peace for all who are troubled in soul and spirit. He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus (Revelation 22:20).
Response: LORD God, please have mercy on the people of this world. We need you here—right here with us in this broken world. Come and fix it. Come and fix us, Lord Jesus. Amen.
Your Turn: Are you concerned about the state of your city, your country and the world?
I will praise Him!
The LORD works righteousness
and justice for all the oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses,
his deeds to the people of Israel:
The LORD is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
(Psalm 103:6-12, NIV)
Reading: Psalm 50
A psalm of Asaph.
The Mighty One, God, the LORD,
speaks and summons the earth
from the rising of the sun to where it sets.
From Zion, perfect in beauty,
God shines forth.
Our God comes and will not be silent;
a fire devours before him,
and around him a tempest rages.
He summons the heavens above,
and the earth, that he may judge his people:
“Gather to me this consecrated people,
who made a covenant with me by sacrifice.”
And the heavens proclaim his righteousness,
for he is a God of justice (NIV).
Psalm 50 begins by reminding us that Judgment Day is coming. A great summoning will take place. We will all gather before the throne of God. Rich and poor, the powerful and the weak, the living and the dead—all will gather before the LORD. None are excused. The Mighty One, God, the LORD, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to where it sets.
On the day before his crucifixion Jesus elaborated at some length on this great summoning. For some it will be a day of joy and gladness; for others it will be a day of dread and sorrow. “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left” (Matthew 25:31-33).
What kind of day will it be for you?
It will certainly be a day of justice. The world is crying out for justice. All too often in this world—in this life—there is no such thing. The innocent suffer, while the perpetrators get off free. They gloat in their pride, while swaddled in luxury. On that great day—that Judgment Day—the tables will be turned. The great Judge of all the earth will see to that. And so He should. Since the fall of man, the world is crying out for justice.
It is well worth noting that in his account of Judgment Day, Jesus decides if we will enter into bliss or torment based on how we treat others. He states, “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’ (Matthew 25:40).
Response: LORD God, help me to live my life in joyous preparation for that great summoning when wrong will be made right. Help me to be merciful so that I will receive your mercy in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Your Turn: How can we prepare our hearts and live our lives aright in the knowledge that Judgment Day is coming?
I will praise Him!
I will sing of your love and justice;
to you, LORD, I will sing praise.
I will be careful to lead a blameless life—
when will you come to me?
I will conduct the affairs of my house
with a blameless heart.
I will not look with approval
on anything that is vile.
(Psalm 101:1-3, NIV)
I will praise Him!
The LORD reigns,
let the nations tremble;
he sits enthroned between the cherubim,
let the earth shake.
Great is the LORD in Zion;
he is exalted over all the nations.
Let them praise your great and awesome name—
he is holy.
The King is mighty, he loves justice—
you have established equity;
in Jacob you have done
what is just and right.
Exalt the LORD our God
and worship at his footstool;
he is holy.
(Psalm 99:1-5, NIV)
I will praise Him!
The LORD reigns, let the earth be glad;
let the distant shores rejoice.
Clouds and thick darkness surround him;
righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
Fire goes before him
and consumes his foes on every side.
His lightning lights up the world;
the earth sees and trembles.
The mountains melt like wax before the LORD,
before the LORD of all the earth.
The heavens proclaim his righteousness,
and all peoples see his glory.
(Psalm 97:1-6, NIV)
Reading: Psalm 37
The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom,
and their tongues speak what is just.
The law of their God is in their hearts;
their feet do not slip.
The wicked lie in wait for the righteous,
intent on putting them to death;
but the LORD will not leave them in the power of the wicked
or let them be condemned when brought to trial.
Hope in the LORD and keep his way.
He will exalt you to inherit the land;
when the wicked are destroyed, you will see it (NIV).
A few years ago, here in Canada’s capital we saw aspects of this psalm play out in real time. David, the psalmist states, “The wicked lie in wait for the righteous, intent on putting them to death.” A terrorist, with planned intent gunned down Corporal Nathan Cirillo, while he stood guard before the National War Memorial. This cowardly act highlights the contempt of those who celebrate evil, for those who stand for righteousness, truth and justice. The contrast between those who love peace and those who revel in violence is stark indeed.
The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom, and their tongues speak what is just. The law of their God is in their hearts; their feet do not slip.
When evil raises its brutal head, we need not be intimidated. We need to take heart. When we stand on the side of truth, justice and love, we do not stand alone. God is with us. He is on our side. He has our back. As the psalmist declares, we need to, “Hope in the LORD and keep his way.”
The way of the LORD is the way of love. Jesus said to his disciples, “No one has greater love than this—that one lays down his life for his friends” (John 15:13 NET). Jesus then went on to demonstrate that supreme love by laying down his life on the cross for our redemption.
The question we need to continually ask ourselves is what is my motivation? Am I motivated by love or am I driven by hate? Am I drawing close to the God of love and hope? Is my life a demonstration of God’s redeeming love, or am I only concerned about my selfish interests?
Corporal Nathan Cirillo laid down his life in the service of his country. Which god will you serve? Will you serve the god of self, or the selfless God—the God whose hands were pierced for you? The choice is yours.
Response: LORD God, we live in a very troubled world. When evil rises, we put our trust in you. Help me to walk in the way of love. Surround me with your peace. Keep those who serve their country safe. I pray in Jesus name. Amen.
Your Turn: How can you honor those who lay down their lives in the service of their country? What makes their sacrifice special for you?
Reading: Psalm 35
Contend, LORD, with those who contend with me;
fight against those who fight against me.
Take up shield and armor; arise and come to my aid.
Brandish spear and javelin against those who pursue me.
Say to me, “I am your salvation.”
May those who seek my life be disgraced and put to shame;
may those who plot my ruin be turned back in dismay.
May they be like chaff before the wind,
with the angel of the LORD driving them away;
may their path be dark and slippery,
with the angel of the LORD pursuing them (NIV).
David was a man acquainted with warfare. Throughout his life, Israel was in a prolonged struggle with its neighbours, even as it is today. From time to time this struggle would flare into open combat. Quite naturally in those times David would turn to the LORD in prayer. Psalm 35 is David’s call for help against his enemies—enemies that may be external or internal.
Who doesn’t want God on their side? The answer is obvious; we all want God’s help when we find ourselves in trouble. Therefore, David cries out: Contend, LORD, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me.
But there are some questions we should ask ourselves before we enlist the LORD’s help. Am I being truthful? Is my cause just? Am I in the right? Do I know all the facts in this matter? Am I seeing this issue solely from a narrow personal perspective? Finally, we should ask ourselves if our heart is right. One can be totally right about a matter, but have a heart that is full of hate, bitterness, jealousy and anger.
God always stands on the side of truth and justice. He knows the full extent of a matter. He sees all sides, not just our perspective. We can’t fool Him or hide from His searching eyes. The LORD examines the righteous, but the wicked, those who love violence, he hates with a passion (Psalm 11:5). Therefore, we need to come before Him humbly with hearts opened wide.
David asks this of the LORD: Say to me, “I am your salvation.”
The LORD will be our salvation—He is on our side—if our hearts are open and humble before Him. David’s confession in Psalm 51 confirms this truth. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise (Psalm 51:17). In other words, God is on our side when we move to His side in honest, humble contrition.
Response: LORD God, give me a humble heart that sees beyond my narrow interests. Help me to stand for righteousness, justice and truth. First, I want to align my heart and my spirit with you. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Your Turn: Has the LORD fought on your side? Did you need to get your heart right first?
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Reading: Psalm 34
When he pretended to be insane before Abimelek, who drove him away, and he left.(Verses 1-7)
I will extol the LORD at all times;
his praise will always be on my lips.
I will glory in the LORD; let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
Glorify the LORD with me; let us exalt his name together.
I sought the LORD, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame.
This poor man called, and the LORD heard him;
he saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him,
and he delivers them (NIV).
David was a man of many talents. He was a gifted musician and a poet—the author of many of the psalms. He was a battle-hardened warrior and a leader of men. After many years of struggle he became the king of all Israel, and in that role he governed an unruly people with wisdom, justice and demonstrable success. David was also a prophet. Many of his psalms are infused with prophetic significance as they point to the coming Messiah—Jesus Christ.
In addition to this long list of David’s skills and accomplishments, we should also add actor. In an early episode in David’s flight from King Saul, he escaped to the Philistine city of Gath. But he was recognized by some of the people who said, “Isn’t this David, the king of the land? Isn’t he the one they sing about in their dances: “‘Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands’?” (1 Samuel 21:11).
To escape certain death, David pretended to be stark raving mad. He must have been a convincing actor because the king of Gath released him saying, “Look at the man! He is insane! Why bring him to me? Am I so short of madmen that you have to bring this fellow here to carry on like this in front of me? Must this man come into my house?” (1 Samuel 21:14-15).
In response to his release from King Achish, David composed Psalm 34—one of the most joyous of all the psalms. Nothing inspires praise like answered prayer when your life is on the line. David did not take the credit for his skill as an actor. Neither did he take credit for conceiving the idea for this clever deception. He gave all the glory to God and he invites us to join in his celebration of praise. Glorify the LORD with me; let us exalt his name together. I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.
Along with David we have good reason to rejoice; we have a God who saves us. This poor man called, and the LORD heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles.
Response: Those who look to him are radiant. LORD, we look to you. Today let me shine for you. Amen.
Your Turn: What talents can you thank God for? How has he answered your prayers?