Reading: Psalm 145
The LORD is righteous in all his ways
and faithful in all he does.
The LORD is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
He fulfills the desires of those who fear him;
he hears their cry and saves them.
The LORD watches over all who love him,
but all the wicked he will destroy.
My mouth will speak in praise of the LORD.
Let every creature praise his holy name
for ever and ever (NIV).
Psalm 145 begins with David calling us to praise the LORD, and it ends with a similar call to praise. David extols the virtues of the LORD. He sees Him as righteous and faithful. One can have these virtues, but still be distant or aloof. But that’s not how David sees the LORD.
David knows his God hears him when he prays. How does he know this? For David this isn’t an answer he learned from a textbook. He knows God hears prayer from personal experience. In his daily life David called out to the LORD over and over again in times of trouble, and over and over again the LORD helped him. That’s why he can record the following words in this psalm of praise: He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them.
What about you? Have you discovered from personal experience that God answers prayer? Have you called out to the LORD in a time of trouble? Has He brought help your way?
Just this week my wife lost/misplaced her driver’s license. This produced some anxious moments as she discovered this loss just as she was about to board a flight across the country. She had arranged a car rental at her destination, but without her driver’s license she could not access the car. Some desperate prayers were offered up and in due course, after she arrived at her destination, the answer came. The driver’s license was found.
Do we involve the LORD in our day to day activities? That should be the norm. Here is David’s testimony—the testimony of Holy Scripture: The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
That should be our testimony in the daily grind of life, in the ups and the downs. The LORD is near 365 days of the year. Before Jesus ascended to heaven, he left his disciples with these words of assurance, “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).
Response: LORD God, I am so glad that you are not distant or aloof from those who call out to you. You are near to me. You answer prayer. My mouth will speak in praise of the LORD. Amen.
Your Turn: Can you testify that the LORD is near and He answers prayer?
Reading: Psalm 139
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you (NIV).
Psalm 139 is a psalm of incredible intimacy—divine intimacy. God knows us; sees us; loves us like the LORD only can. He has known us and cared for us from the moment of conception. We need to make that statement personal, because it is personal. The Almighty has known me, and cared for me from the moment of my conception.For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
Last week, I had lens replacement surgery on my left eye. The same surgery was done on my right eye three weeks earlier. This highly skilled tinkering with my eyes has left me in awe of the gift of sight. What a miracle! Yes, the surgeon worked wonders. My sight has been restored without the need for eyeglasses—something I have needed and have worn since the age of eight. Now for first time in 58 years, I can roll out of bed and not reach for my glasses.
What I truly appreciate is the original miracle—the gift of sight itself; a gift we are born with. Because the miracle of sight is so universal, we take it for granted. But when that precious gift is lost or threatened we appreciate it again with new eyes. I join with the psalmist in making this declaration: I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
God took the time to knit you together in your mother’s womb. You can be sure He didn’t miss a stitch. You were formed according to His plan to live for His purpose. Wow! What an awesome privilege. And all the days ordained for [you and] me were written in [God’s] book before one of them came to be.
Response: LORD God, thank you for the gift of life, for sight, sound and touch. You thought of me. What joy that brings! Help me to live the days assigned to me with gladness and gratitude. Amen.
Your Turn: Do we take our physical gifts for granted? How do you cultivate an attitude of gratitude?
Reading: Psalm 137
Remember, LORD, what the Edomites did
on the day Jerusalem fell.
“Tear it down,” they cried,
“tear it down to its foundations!”
Daughter Babylon, doomed to destruction,
happy is the one who repays you
according to what you have done to us.
Happy is the one who seizes your infants
and dashes them against the rocks (NIV).
German is a fascinating language. It’s a language that specializes in compound words—short words that are combined to form longer words. Some English language examples of compound words are homerun, overcoat and windshield.
Schadenfreude is a compound German word. Actually, it’s such a useful and descriptive word that it has migrated into the English language and it can be found in any quality English dictionary. Schaden means harm or damage. Freude means joy. Simply put schadenfreude means joy experienced at another person’s expense—rejoicing in someone else’s suffering or loss.
Today’s reading from Psalm 137 is all about schadenfreude. The Edomites celebrated the destruction of Jerusalem. Rather than mourn over their neighbor’s calamity, they joined in calling for the destruction of the Jewish capital.
This manifestation of schadenfreude was rooted in centuries of fraternal rivalry and envy. The Edomites were the descendants of Esau, while the people of Jerusalem were the descendants of Jacob. These two people groups were linked by heredity, language and culture, and yet generation after generation they continued this brothers’ feud.
This psalm is not the only biblical counsel for us to have to avoid rejoicing in other people’s harm: Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when they stumble do not let your heart rejoice, or the LORD will see and disapprove and turn his wrath away from them (Proverbs 24:17-18).
If the LORD is punishing the evildoer, we should not appear too smug. We are spared by the grace of God and not by our moral superiority. The self-righteous suffer from delusions of pride. It’s best not to identify with that camp. The opposite response is called for. Rather than crowing over someone else’s misfortune, we should be offering help or drawing lessons on how to avoid a similar calamity.
I need to replace my schadenfreude with the joy found in extending mercy, grace and compassion.
Response: LORD God, at times I have been guilty of schadenfreude. Help me to show compassion rather than smug indifference when I see others experience loss. Thank you for your ongoing mercy. Amen.
Your Turn: Have you experienced schadenfreude? How do you keep it in check?
I will praise Him!
God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
(Psalm 46:1-5, NIV)
I will praise Him!
Your love, LORD, reaches to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the skies.
Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,
your justice like the great deep.
You, LORD, preserve both people and animals.
How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house;
you give them drink from your river of delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
in your light we see light.
(Psalm 35:5-9 NIV)
Reading: Psalm 97
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.
All who worship images are put to shame,
those who boast in idols—
worship him, all you gods! (NIV).
Who is in charge here? In any situation, that’s a legitimate question. There are always a variety of authorities in any given situation. A week ago I watched Prince William and his family get off a plane in Victoria, BC. On the tarmac the royal family was first greeted by the Governor General, then by the Prime Minister of Canada, then the Lieutenant Governor of the British Columbia and finally, the Premier of the province. They were all lined up according to proper protocol. Yes, there are a variety of authorities all deserving respect. But this question remains. Who is in charge here?
The authorities of this world have jurisdiction over a certain geographic area or realm. Some authorities govern well and others rule as despots who plunder the wealth of the nation. But Psalm 97 reminds us that there is one great authority who rules over all. The LORD reigns, let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice.
The earth can be glad and the distant shores can rejoice because this King, this heaven-dwelling authority rules well. He does not plunder His faithful people and bring them to ruin. He reigns supreme from on high. Clouds and thick darkness surround him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
We can rest assured that the LORD will do what is right. He is allied with goodness, mercy and truth. That’s why justice is the foundation of His throne. We should not fear His judgments because they are right and good. Yes, the authors of evil should be afraid, but if we have done right, we can count on the LORD as our defender. Now here is a proclamation that we all should heed. The heavens proclaim his righteousness and all peoples see his glory.
Response: LORD God, it is my prayer that all people will see your glory and bow before you, the magnificent King of Righteousness. Let the distant shores rejoice because you reign. Amen.
Your Turn: Is the Lord Jesus reigning over you and your home? Who has jurisdiction there?