I will praise Him!
May the glory of the LORD endure forever;
may the LORD rejoice in his works—
he who looks at the earth, and it trembles,
who touches the mountains, and they smoke.
I will sing to the LORD all my life;
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
May my meditation be pleasing to him,
as I rejoice in the LORD.
But may sinners vanish from the earth
and the wicked be no more.
Praise the LORD, my soul.
Praise the LORD!
(Psalm 104:31-35, NIV)
Reading: Psalm 68
For the director of music. Of David. A psalm. A song.
May God arise, may his enemies be scattered;
may his foes flee before him.
May you blow them away like smoke—
as wax melts before the fire,
may the wicked perish before God.
But may the righteous be glad
and rejoice before God;
may they be happy and joyful.
|Sing to God, sing in praise of his name,
extol him who rides on the clouds;
rejoice before him—his name is the LORD.
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
is God in his holy dwelling.
God sets the lonely in families,
he leads out the prisoners with singing;
but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land (NIV).
Anyone who has read through the Book of Psalms will readily admit there is a great deal of variety from psalm to psalm. Some psalms are filled with joyous praise, while others are personal or even national laments. Some are filled with humble contrition, while others call for retribution against one’s foes. Each psalm is reflective of the state the psalmist finds himself in. In this respect the psalms act as a Spirit-inspired mirror of the human condition. The highs and lows of life are reflected there.
Psalm 68 is a hymn of triumph—national triumph. Think of it as a triumphant processional song. The enemies have been vanquished and God’s army has returned victorious. May God arise, may his enemies be scattered; may his foes flee before him.
Because God has won the victory, His people can rejoice before Him. Sing to God, sing in praise of his name, extol him who rides on the clouds; rejoice before him—his name is the LORD.
In his lifetime David experienced many victories over his foes, but he did not take credit for his successes. He knew that his triumphs came from the LORD. God was his personal defender—but God was and is also the defender of the fatherless and the widow.
We too have experienced a great victory. It was won for us on Mount Calvary. Satan and the power of sin and death were defeated there. Jesus triumphed over hell and the grave through his resurrection. Now that victory is ours by faith. Rejoice before him—his name is the LORD!
Response: LORD God, I thank you for the victory Jesus won on my behalf at the cross. I praise you for your unconditional love. Help me walk triumphantly in life today because of you, Lord Jesus. Amen.
Your Turn: Are you experiencing victory today? Allow the eternal significance of Christ’s victory permeate your heart and mind.
Reading: Psalm 67
For the director of music. With stringed instruments. A psalm. A song.
May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face shine on us—
so that your ways may be known on earth,
your salvation among all nations.
May the peoples praise you, God;
may all the peoples praise you.
May the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you rule the peoples with equity
and guide the nations of the earth.
May the peoples praise you, God;
may all the peoples praise you.
The land yields its harvest;
God, our God, blesses us.
May God bless us still,
so that all the ends of the earth will fear him (NIV).
This is perhaps the most evangelical of all the psalms. By that I mean there is good news in this psalm, and the good news of God’s loving-kindness, which is found here, is not to be kept to oneself. It is to be taken to the whole world. Twice within this short psalm the psalmist declares, “May the peoples praise you, God; may all the peoples praise you.”
Like any loving parent, God draws pleasure from blessing his children. But is there a divine motivation that extends beyond the family of God. As the opening verse of this psalm makes clear, God desires to bless us, so that his ways and his salvation may be known all over this world.
So then, Psalm 67 should be our prayer, not only for us, but for the world. That includes the world that does not know Jesus. May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us, that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations.
In other words, God’s blessing is not to be selfishly hoarded. It is to extend around the world and beyond the family of God. Is God in fact, blessing us abundantly, so that we may in turn bless others? Is he blessing us, so that we may make his salvation known among all nations? That certainly would appear to be the plan according to Psalm 67.
There is a great harvest day that is still coming on the earth. It is not a harvest of wheat, corn or rice, but a harvest of souls that will be swept into the Kingdom of God. If this psalm is to be believed, it is a harvest that is propelled and swelled by our joyous praise.
Is your thanksgiving for God’s blessing extending beyond the borders of your family?
Response: LORD God, I thank you for all the blessings you have showered on my life. Most of all I thank you for my salvation through Jesus Christ. Show me how I can extend your blessing to others. Amen.
Your Turn: Have you taken the message of God’s salvation across international borders? How?
Reading: Psalm 66
I will come to your temple with burnt offerings
and fulfill my vows to you—
vows my lips promised and my mouth spoke
when I was in trouble.
I will sacrifice fat animals to you
and an offering of rams;
I will offer bulls and goats
Come and hear, all you who fear God;
let me tell you what he has done for me.
I cried out to him with my mouth;
his praise was on my tongue.
If I had cherished sin in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened;
but God has surely listened
and has heard my prayer.
Praise be to God,
who has not rejected my prayer
or withheld his love from me! (NIV)
I grew up in a family that prayed. But that statement might give you the wrong impression. It might be more accurate to say, “I grew up in a family that religiously recited prayers.”
We recited a common table prayer before every meal and the Lord’s Prayer before breakfast. My mother taught me a very scary bedtime prayer: Now I lay me down to sleep; I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. Amen.
To a six-year-old, that’s a scary prayer. It’s enough to keep you awake lest your soul be carried off in the night, while you’re off in la-la land.
I don’t think I really prayed—prayed from the heart—until the end of my grade four school year. The memory is still fresh in my mind. The little one-room country school I attended was closing. In September I would be bussed to the big school in town. This change was frightening. The familiar was being taken away and in its place was something big, strange and intimidating. Could I survive there? Could I thrive there? These thoughts troubled me.
On my last walk home from my country school, I left the country road and walked into a grove of poplars. That’s where I prayed—not a meaningless recited prayer—but a prayer from my heart to God. I asked for wisdom, strength and God’s favour for the challenging year ahead. God answered. After all these years I can say, “Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!”
Response: LORD God, thank you for answering prayer—not once but thousands of times. Again and again you have proven your love for me. You are the God who hears me. Amen.
Your Turn: When did you learn to pray from the heart? Do you remember the occasion?
Reading: Psalm 66
For the director of music. A song. A psalm.
Shout for joy to God, all the earth!
Sing the glory of his name; make his praise glorious.
Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!
So great is your power that your enemies cringe before you.
All the earth bows down to you;
they sing praise to you, they sing the praises of your name.”
Come and see what God has done,
his awesome deeds for mankind!
He turned the sea into dry land,
they passed through the waters on foot—
come, let us rejoice in him.
He rules forever by his power,
his eyes watch the nations—
let not the rebellious rise up against him.
Praise our God, all peoples, let the sound of his praise be heard;
he has preserved our lives and kept our feet from slipping.
For you, God, tested us; you refined us like silver.
You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs.
You let people ride over our heads;
we went through fire and water,
but you brought us to a place of abundance (NIV).
I can’t answer for you, but I for one did not enjoy writing tests at school. It’s not that I did poorly on tests, the exception being high school math. But let’s not go there. I haven’t used algebraic equations for the last forty years and have suffered no ill effects.
Simply put, tests are stressful. No matter how well you know the material, you can’t be sure of the outcome. Will there be a trick question? Will you experience a momentary brain burp? Have you studied the right subject matter?
Despite my aversion to tests and major exams as a student, I quite enjoyed administering them after I became a teacher. They provided so much information. They let me see into a student’s head and heart. Was learning happening behind those big brown eyes or were they only going through the motions?
But why would God test us, since He knows the outcome in advance? For you, God, tested us; you refined us like silver. God tests us to bring out the very best in us. When we are tested we discover for ourselves what lies below the surface. In the furnace of affliction God removes the dross from our lives so His glory can shine through. Only then can we properly reflect His glory.
Response: LORD God, help me appreciate the tests you bring into my life. I praise you in advance because you are working to perfect me through the hardships I face. Change me for the better. Amen.
Your Turn: Has the Lord brought you near to Him in difficult times?
Reading: Psalm 65
For the director of music. A psalm of David. A song.
Praise awaits you, our God, in Zion;
to you our vows will be fulfilled.
You who answer prayer,
to you all people will come.
When we were overwhelmed by sins,
you forgave our transgressions.
Blessed are those you choose and bring near to live in your courts!
We are filled with the good things of your house,
of your holy temple.
You answer us with awesome and righteous deeds,
God our Savior, the hope of all the ends of the earth
and of the farthest seas,
who formed the mountains by your power,
having armed yourself with strength,
who stilled the roaring of the seas,
the roaring of their waves, and the turmoil of the nations.
The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders;
where morning dawns, where evening fades,
you call forth songs of joy (NIV).
There is a joyful exuberance found in Psalm 65. In some ways this psalm reminds me of a Broadway musical in that there’s an eagerness—a readiness—to burst into song. It could happen at any moment. The opening line expresses this joyous exuberance well: Praise awaits you, our God, in Zion!
What about you and me? Is there an eagerness and enthusiasm to praise God as we walk through our day? Is there a song in our hearts just aching for the moment of release? Is your heart filled with gratitude to God? If you can answer, “Yes!” then you have captured the spirit of Psalm 65.
David penned this psalm and it reflects an attitude of gratitude that is present in many of David’s psalms. David provides several reasons for his jubilant praise. First of all, our God answers prayer. He hears when we call out to Him. Over many years, on countless occasions, God has answered my prayers, sometimes in miraculous ways. Like David of old, I can’t help but be grateful.
Secondly, David was thankful for the forgiveness of his sins. There is no better feeling than knowing you have been washed clean from the inside out by the cleansing blood of the Lamb of God. And now you are accepted—welcomed with open arms into God’s family. Oh, hallelujah! I’ve been redeemed.
Finally, all of God’s creation declares his glory. Mountains, prairie, sea and sky shout out His praise!
Response: LORD God, I thank you for hearing my prayers, for forgiving my many sins, and surrounding me with the beauty of your creation. I praise the name of Jesus. Amen.
Your Turn: What blessing from God are you most thankful for?
Reading: Psalm 63
A psalm of David. When he was in the Desert of Judah.
You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
where there is no water.
I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you (NIV).
A healthy human body can go as much as ninety days without food, but only about ten days without water. Water is life. Without it we perish.
A few years ago with great fanfare, it was announced that liquid water had been discovered on the surface of Mars. This opens the possibility of microbial life on, or just beneath the Martian surface. What is more important, human life can be sustained on Mars for long periods if water is present.
The introductory note to Psalm 63 informs us that David composed this psalm, when he was in the Desert of Judah. But there is something quite startling about this psalm. David is not crying out for water as we might expect. Instead, David is crying out for God. He’s not seeking for water; he is earnestly seeking for God.
Hear David’s desperate plea, “I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.”
When was the last time you thirsted for God like a man trekking in the heat of the desert? I must confess I’m better at ignoring God than seeking Him. But that was not David’s mindset. David recognized his need for God. He was thirsty for Him.
Our thirst for God should be a constant in our lives. As I write this, I pause for sips of my morning coffee. It’s a thirst I have—a longing that prompts me to pick up my cup. At various times through the day do I thirst for God in the same way? Do I long for His Spirit and the thrill of His presence near me?
Are you spending your days in a spiritual desert? Are you yearning for intimacy with God? Oh that we might thirst for God as David did!
Response: LORD God, I want more of you in my life. Help me to sing and praise your name, and draw my satisfaction from you. You are the true source of life and joy. All my springs of joy are in you. Amen.
Your Turn: How can we cultivate a personal thirst for God?
Reading: Psalm 61
For the director of music. With stringed instruments. Of David.
Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer.
From the ends of the earth I call to you,
I call as my heart grows faint;
lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For you have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the foe.
I long to dwell in your tent forever
and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.
For you, God, have heard my vows;
you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.
Increase the days of the king’s life,
his years for many generations.
May he be enthroned in God’s presence forever;
appoint your love and faithfulness to protect him.
Then I will ever sing in praise of your name
and fulfill my vows day after day (NIV).
When I reflect on Psalm 61, it’s about distance—distance to God. There’s an old saying that goes like this, “If at one time you were close to God, but now He is far away, who is the one who moved?”
As is so often the case, this psalm begins with David crying out to God. It would seem David is not at home. He is calling out from the ends of the earth. From biblical history we know that David was not a world traveller. He never ventured beyond the traditional territory of Israel, so in this psalm where exactly are the ends of the earth?If I have offended my wife and the issue has not been resolved, we can be sleeping in the same bed, but there is a distance between us. Though she is physically present there is a gulf between us. Spiritually and emotionally we are on opposite sides of the planet. I might as well be on the other end of the earth.
The same can be true of our relationship with God. God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth is always close at hand. He is present and evident in His creation. But beyond that He has promised to dwell within every believer. We have Jesus’ promise on this. “The Spirit will show you what is true. The people of this world cannot accept the Spirit, because they don’t see or know him. But you know the Spirit, who is with you and will keep on living in you” (John 14:17 CEV).
That means we can call out to God with confidence. He is more than nearby; He is within us helping to form the words of our prayers. We can draw close. David reminds us that we can take refuge in the shelter of your wings.
Response: LORD God, help me to draw near to you. Thank you for the indwelling Holy Spirit. You have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe. Amen.
Your Turn: What creates distance between you and God? What draws you close?
Reading: Psalm 59
God will go before me
and will let me gloat over those who slander me.
But do not kill them, Lord our shield,
or my people will forget.
In your might uproot them and bring them down.
For the sins of their mouths, for the words of their lips,
let them be caught in their pride.
For the curses and lies they utter,
consume them in your wrath,
consume them till they are no more.
Then it will be known to the ends of the earth
that God rules over Jacob.
They return at evening, snarling like dogs,
and prowl about the city.
They wander about for food
and howl if not satisfied.
But I will sing of your strength,
in the morning I will sing of your love;
for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.
You are my strength, I sing praise to you;
you, God, are my fortress, my God on whom I can rely (NIV).
David began Psalm 59 in great distress, fleeing for his life, and calling out for God’s deliverance. But as is often the case in the Psalms, there is a transition point. What began with desperate pleading on David’s part, ends with confident faith and praise to God for His unfailing help. Apparently, David met with God. The LORD heard his cry and answered him. David makes this assertion, “God will go before me…”
Can you make that assertion too? Have you met with God in prayer? Have you poured out your heart before Him? What is more important, has God answered you? Above all, true prayer is a two-way communication. Have you taken time to listen for His voice? Is He going before you?
There are many who assert that prayer is the answer. That’s nonsense! Prayer is not the answer. God is the answer. What we need is God. We need to hear the Holy Spirit speaking into our spirits. Prayer is simply a means to connect with God. Prayer is part of the divine equation. But it’s God whom we seek. He is the solution—the eternal amen—the reward at the end of the quest.
David learned how to seek God through prayer, praise and worship. He was taught by God. God will teach us too, if we will take the time to seek Him with all our heart. Then we can say, “You are my strength, I sing praise to you; you, God, are my fortress, my God on whom I can rely.“
Response: LORD God, teach me to pray like David prayed. Give me ears to hear your voice when I come before you. I seek after you. Reveal yourself in my life because I pray. Amen.
Your Turn: Has God spoken to you at various times in various ways?