Reading: Psalm 41
All my enemies whisper together against me;
they imagine the worst for me, saying,
“A vile disease has afflicted him;
he will never get up from the place where he lies.”
Even my close friend, someone I trusted,
one who shared my bread,
has turned against me.
But may you have mercy on me, LORD;
raise me up, that I may repay them.
I know that you are pleased with me,
for my enemy does not triumph over me.
Because of my integrity you uphold me
and set me in your presence forever.
Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting.
Amen and Amen (NIV).
This concluding portion of Psalm 41 comes with a prophetic twist. You need not take my word for it. As he sat with his disciples at the Last Supper, Jesus himself said he was fulfilling the words of this psalm.
“I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill this passage of Scripture: ‘He who shared my bread has turned against me.’ I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am who I am. Very truly I tell you, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.”
After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me” (John 13:18-21).
The psalmist, David experienced the heartbreak of betrayal. It was betrayal of the worst kind. Not only did David’s friends turn on him, but his own son, Absalom, sought to snatch the throne in a bloody coup—an act of open rebellion. See 2 Samuel 15-18.
David was betrayed by his son, Absalom; Jesus was betrayed by his friend and disciple, Judas Iscariot. But Jesus stayed loyal to his heavenly Father. He willingly went to the cross when he could have resisted arrest. He rebuked Peter for using his sword. “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:52-53).
Jesus experienced the resurrection truth of David’s words. Because of my integrity you uphold me and set me in your presence forever. Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Amen and Amen.
Response: LORD, I thank you for Jesus. Through Jesus I can overcome all things, even betrayal. Amen.
Your Turn: Have you experienced betrayal? Has the LORD upheld your cause?
Reading: Psalm 41
For the director of music. A psalm of David.
Blessed are those who have regard for the weak;
the LORD delivers them in times of trouble.
The LORD protects and preserves them—
they are counted among the blessed in the land—
he does not give them over to the desire of their foes.
The LORD sustains them on their sickbed
and restores them from their bed of illness.
I said, “Have mercy on me, LORD;
heal me, for I have sinned against you.”
My enemies say of me in malice,
“When will he die and his name perish?”
When one of them comes to see me,
he speaks falsely, while his heart gathers slander;
then he goes out and spreads it around (NIV).
Psalm 41 reminds us that compassion and empathy are at the core of what it means to be a follower of the LORD. David begins this psalm with this declaration, “Blessed are those who have regard for the weak.”
Social justice and care for the poor are not small matters in eyes of LORD. Ancient Israel was destroyed and went into exile because of their disregard for the poor. The LORD enters into judgment against the elders and leaders of his people: “It is you who have ruined my vineyard; the plunder from the poor is in your houses. What do you mean by crushing my people and grinding the faces of the poor?” declares the LORD, the LORD Almighty (Isaiah 3:14-15).
Why is regard for the weak so pivotal in having a right relationship with God? Lack of care or empathy for the needy is based on a kind of self-deception. In arrogance we see ourselves as better than those who are weak or needy. Yet if we examine ourselves, we have all gone through times when we were weak and needy. Sometimes we may need a reminder that our current state of self-sufficiency can come to an end in a moment.
This morning I very nearly hit a pedestrian as she rushed across the street. I sounded my horn thinking she was in error. A quick glance showed she was crossing with the walk light. I was the one in error. I had completely missed a red light. I was the one in need of correction and forgiveness.
Are you doing well now? Praise God. The day will come when you need His help and protection. Do you see someone in need? Help as you are able. The day will come when you will need forgiveness and the help that you have offered others.
Response: LORD God, forgive me when I have looked down on others in need. Open my eyes to someone I may help today. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.
Your Turn: How do you keep yourself from the deception of pride?
Reading: Psalm 39
“Surely everyone goes around like a mere phantom;
in vain they rush about, heaping up wealth
without knowing whose it will finally be.
“But now, LORD, what do I look for?
My hope is in you.
Save me from all my transgressions;
do not make me the scorn of fools.
I was silent; I would not open my mouth,
for you are the one who has done this.
Remove your scourge from me;
I am overcome by the blow of your hand.
When you rebuke and discipline anyone for their sin,
you consume their wealth like a moth—surely everyone is but a breath.
“Hear my prayer, LORD, listen to my cry for help;
do not be deaf to my weeping.
I dwell with you as a foreigner, a stranger, as all my ancestors were.
Look away from me, that I may enjoy life again
before I depart and am no more” (NIV).
Today’s reading is the concluding portion of Psalm 39. In this psalm we find David in a silent, reflective mood. He contemplates the brevity of life and the certainty of the grave. In the previously posted psalm portion he prayed, “Show me, LORD, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is.”
Why would knowing the number of our days matter? Well, it should focus our minds on making the most of the time available to us. Our days on this earth are not infinite. We are each allotted a predetermined number of days. In Psalm 139, another psalm attributed to David, we read, “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:16).
We have no control or at best limited control over the number of days we live on this earth. But how and with whom we spend those days is within the range of our effective will. I can break my marital vows and my wife’s heart, or I can be true to her and my words spoken before God. I can love and raise my children in godly discipline, or I can neglect them, or alienate them through harsh punishment. I can be faithful to my Redeemer or I can turn my back on Him. These are decisions that fall within the scope of my will. In this life and the next I will be accountable for the decisions I make. Undoubtedly, this is why David cries out, “But now, LORD, what do I look for? My hope is in you. Save me from all my transgressions.”
Response: LORD God, I need your saving help. Through the redemptive blood of Jesus keep me from being trapped and controlled by my transgressions. I need your presence in my life so that I can make the most of my days. May your Kingdom rule extend to me and through me to others. Amen.
Your Turn: Do you think you would live your life differently if you knew how many days you had left?
Reading: Psalm 39
For the director of music. For Jeduthun. A psalm of David.
I said, “I will watch my ways
and keep my tongue from sin;
I will put a muzzle on my mouth
while in the presence of the wicked.”
So I remained utterly silent,
not even saying anything good.
But my anguish increased;
my heart grew hot within me.
While I meditated, the fire burned;
then I spoke with my tongue:
“Show me, LORD, my life’s end
and the number of my days;
let me know how fleeting my life is.
You have made my days a mere handbreadth;
the span of my years is as nothing before you.
Everyone is but a breath,
even those who seem secure (NIV).
Do you often find yourself in a dilemma of silence? In this psalm David finds himself in this very predicament. He decided, “I will put a muzzle on my mouth while in the presence of the wicked.”
If your ways and your thoughts run contrary to the ways of the wicked, you are in good company. You are in the company of the LORD. But don’t be surprised if you are socially ostracized, when you express your opinion. The ungodly rarely want to hear about the error of their ways. They usually prefer to blunder along in the darkness and curse the sudden appearance of light. It’s seen as too great a threat to their way of life.
David remained silent, “not even saying anything good.” But it was an uneasy silence.
Often as I listen to others—as I listen to news reports and the ruminations of cultural icons—I find myself in an uneasy silence. We live in a world that has largely abandoned God and His ways. When we embrace the God of the Bible, we are choosing to swim upstream against the flow of gravity and humanity. The world heaps scorn on those who have caught a different vision.
In his silence, David’s anguish increased. He states, “My heart grew hot within me. While I meditated, the fire burned.”
Is passion for God burning in your heart? True worth and eternal values can only be found in Him.
Response: LORD, show me your ways. Show me how much I need you day by day. Help me to value every day you give me on this earth. Shine your light in me and through me by the power of Jesus. Amen.
Your Turn: Are we silent too often when we should speak?
I will praise Him!
Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
let the sea resound, and all that is in it.
Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them;
let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.
Let all creation rejoice before the LORD, for he comes,
he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
and the peoples in his faithfulness.
(Psalm 96:11-13, NIV)
Reading: Psalm 32
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you and watch over you.
Do not be like the horse or the mule,
which have no understanding
but must be controlled by bit and bridle
or they will not come to you.
Many are the woes of the wicked,
but the LORD’s unfailing love
surrounds the one who trusts in him.
Rejoice in the LORD and be glad, you righteous;
sing, all you who are upright in heart! (NIV)
In Psalm 32 God speaks back. David begins this psalm and we clearly can hear his voice addressing us, as he tells how wonderful it is to be forgiven. He then goes on to speak of his own struggle with unconfessed sin. Finally, he tells us of the great relief he experienced as he is pardoned and restored to a place of close fellowship with the LORD. But then abruptly in verse eight, we hear a different voice. God is speaking. The LORD responds to what David has said. Through this psalm David is modelling true prayer. This psalm is two-way communication.
We have heard David’s words; let’s hear God’s words now. I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.
Clearly this is not the voice of David. David is not going to counsel and watch over us. This is the work of the LORD. The LORD will teach and guide us. It is His role to shepherd the flock of His pasture.
These words, from verse eight to the end of this psalm are coming from the LORD. David has heard God speak, and now he is passing on this message from the LORD directly to us. In this respect David is fulfilling the role of a prophet. He is acting as God’s spokesperson. In fact in Acts 2:30, Peter asserts that David was a prophet. And what is a prophet? In the simplest terms, it is someone who hears God, and then passes on God’s message to others.
Do you hear God? This is no idle, rhetorical question. It is essential to our Christian faith that we as believers hear the voice of God. I would go so far as to say, that you cannot experience salvation unless you first hear God. Jesus said, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish” John 10:27-28a (NIV).
In short, we must be able to hear Jesus in order to follow Him, and it is in following Him that we receive eternal life. Hearing God’s voice is of paramount importance.
Response: LORD God, give me ears to hear what you have to say to me. Please instruct me and teach me in the way I should go. Then give me grace to obey. I put my trust in you, O LORD. Amen.
Your Turn: Do you hear God’s voice? How does He speak to you? Have you heard the Lord’s voice recently? How do you distinguish God’s voice from all the other voices that you hear?
Reading: Psalm 27
One thing I ask of the LORD,
This is what I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,
To gaze on the beauty of the LORD
And seek him in his temple.
For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
He will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle
And set me high upon a rock.
Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me;
At his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make music to the LORD (NIV).
No matter where we travel, or how pleasant the journey, within us all there is a longing to be home. The same longing for the safety and comfort of home can be found in this psalm of David, but for David, being at home meant being in the presence of God. The LORD God was David’s refuge and comfort. To be near the LORD was to be safe, at rest and fully at peace. Nearness to God was the paramount desire of David’s heart.
Now hear David’s heart cry, “One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and seek him in his temple.”
David’s statement here delineates a clear priority. For David the house of the LORD was of first importance. But, I do not believe that it was the physical structure or house that attracted and captivated David. It was the LORD of the house who captured David’s heart. He wanted to be with Him. He longed to see Him and be at home in His house.
Like many preschool children, my youngest son Joshua had some difficulty pronouncing the t-h sound, so in his four-year-old vocabulary the word ‘with’ became ‘whiff’ instead. He would make odd sounding statements such as this, “Daddy, I want to come whiff you,” or, “I want to do that whiff you.” Doing something ‘whiff’ someone brings to mind the notion of being so close to them that you can smell each other. That’s close—really close; bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh close—father and son close—intimate in a family kind of way.
Something deep and soul changing transpired as David tended that flock of sheep on those Judean hillsides. In his youth David met God. The LORD was ‘whiff David,’ so close that they could smell each other. David in his youth tasted and saw that the LORD is good. So even now in his adult years he yearns for that intimacy. He yearns for the house of the LORD. He is filled with a longing for home.
Response: Lord Jesus, I want to be ‘whiff’ you. I want to live my life close to you now and close to you forever. Show me how to do that. Be near me, Lord Jesus. I ask you to stay close by me forever, and love me I pray. Amen.
Your Turn: Are you at home with the LORD now? How at home will we feel with Him in eternity, if we aren’t at home with Him now?
Reading: Psalm 26
Vindicate me, LORD,
for I have led a blameless life;
I have trusted in the LORD
and have not faltered.
Test me, LORD, and try me,
examine my heart and my mind;
for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love
and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness.
I do not sit with the deceitful,
nor do I associate with hypocrites.
I abhor the assembly of evildoers
and refuse to sit with the wicked.
I wash my hands in innocence,
and go about your altar, LORD,
proclaiming aloud your praise
and telling of all your wonderful deeds (NIV).
The opening lines of Psalm 26 certainly catch my attention. David claims to have led a blameless life—a rather audacious statement in my opinion. But he doesn’t stop there. He goes on to invite God to test him. David pleads, “Test me, LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness.”
Now that takes some nerve. Do I really want the LORD to examine my heart and my mind? If I underwent a heart and mind exam, what would my test scores be? Most of us would shy away from being tested by God, but David’s response is completely different. He is clearly saying, “Bring it on!”
How could David be so self-assured—so confident—to the point of sounding arrogant? Actually, David’s confidence was not so much in his own performance, but rather his confidence was in God. He states that he is mindful of the LORD’s unfailing love. He is relying on the LORD’s faithfulness. David knew the unfailing love and faithfulness of God, and this wasn’t merely head knowledge—a bit of mental information. No. David knew God experientially. He experienced the LORD’s unfailing love. He experienced the faithfulness of God over and over in his life. As a youth he slew a marauding lion and a bear. He brought down the mighty Goliath. He fled for his life, but ultimately triumphed over the madness of King Saul. David knew his God experientially in the grit of battle and the daily humdrum.
What about you? Do you have a memory bank full of great experiences with God? If the answer is no, why not ask God for a deposit today? If you put your faith in Him, He will not let you down.
Response: LORD, examine my heart and my mind. I want to grow in my knowledge of you and my confidence in you. Help me to have a pure heart and mind before you. I want to experience your presence in my life. Amen.
Your Turn: Have you experienced God’s love and faithfulness recently? Do you let Him examine you?
Reading: Psalm 18
For the director of music. Of David the servant of the LORD.
He sang to the LORD the words of this song
when the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies
and from the hand of Saul. He said:
I love you, LORD, my strength.
The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I called to the LORD, who is worthy of praise,
and I have been saved from my enemies.
The cords of death entangled me;
the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.
The cords of the grave coiled around me;
the snares of death confronted me (NIV).
Psalm 18 is one of the longer psalms in the Book of Psalms. Step by step, day by day we will glean wisdom from the psalmist, David, as we make our way through this psalm.
In many respects Psalm 18 is a psalm of culmination. The introductory note tells us that David composed and sang this psalm when the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. For many long years David had been fleeing for his life from his master King Saul. At long last, after repeatedly calling on God in great distress, David has triumphed. And now through the words of this psalm, he gives all the credit and all the glory to God.
Notice the list of attributes that David ascribes to the LORD: my strength, my rock, my fortress, my deliverer, my God, my rock, my shield, my salvation and my stronghold. To David the LORD had proven Himself repeatedly during years of hard times to be the embodiment of each of those attributes. If you call on Him, the LORD can be all of those things for you as well.
Did you notice that my rock is the only attribute that is repeated in this list? Why repeat the phrase my rock? In the prophetic realm, during all those years of severe testing, Christ was the rock on which David took his stand. David did not build his life on the shifting sands of public opinion or popularity. He built his life on Christ. A thousand years in advance, David was putting into practice the words of Jesus, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock” (Matthew 7:24-25).
Now that’s wisdom—applied wisdom for the ages!
Response: Heavenly Father, help me daily to build my life on the rock, Christ Jesus. Lord Jesus, you are my fortress, my salvation and my stronghold. I put my full trust in you. Amen.
Your Turn: How is God like a rock in your life? Has He sustained you during difficult times? Is He helping you through tough times right now, or has He already turned the tide in your favor?