Reading: Psalm 37
I have seen a wicked and ruthless man
flourishing like a luxuriant native tree,
but he soon passed away and was no more;
though I looked for him, he could not be found.
Consider the blameless, observe the upright;
a future awaits those who seek peace.
But all sinners will be destroyed;
there will be no future for the wicked.
The salvation of the righteous comes from the LORD;
he is their stronghold in time of trouble.
The LORD helps them and delivers them;
he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
because they take refuge in him (NIV).
Today’s reading is the concluding portion of Psalm 37. As noted previously, this entire psalm contrasts the life of the righteous person with the individual who pursues a life of sin and illicit gain. The righteous will receive their reward and the man who does evil will be destroyed.
We all reap what we sow. If we sow seeds of selfishness, hate and discord, we will reap a harvest of ruin. Paul, the apostle, gives us this warning, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life” (Galatians 6:7-8).
We can readily conclude that the good man will live because of his goodness. In other words, the righteous person will be saved because of his righteous deeds. But that’s not what this psalm teaches. In fact, the idea that one is saved because of one’s righteousness runs contrary to the message of this psalm and the entire counsel of Holy Scripture. The psalmist clearly states, “The salvation of the righteous comes from the LORD.”
We are not saved by our righteousness. We are saved by the LORD. It is because of His great mercy that we are saved. This aligns with New Testament teaching as Paul declares, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Yes, we are called to live righteous lives and to do good works, but let’s not deceive ourselves into thinking that by these means we will earn our way to heaven. Jesus is the way to heaven. Our feeble efforts won’t take us very far. We need His forgiveness and the power of His redeeming blood. We are saved because we take refuge in Him.
Response: LORD God, I thank you for Jesus. I am thankful that I can put my complete trust in you. I am saved by your amazing grace not by my effort. Hallelujah! Lord Jesus, you are the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). Amen.
Your Turn: Have you relied on your righteousness rather than God’s grace?
I will praise Him!
Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all the earth.
Sing to the LORD, praise his name;
proclaim his salvation day after day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous deeds among all peoples.
(Psalm 96:1-3, NIV)
I will praise Him!
Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD;
let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before him with thanksgiving
and extol him with music and song.
For the LORD is the great God,
the great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth,
and the mountain peaks belong to him.
The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land.
(Psalm 95:1-5, NIV)
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Reading: Psalm 35
Since they hid their net for me without cause
and without cause dug a pit for me,
may ruin overtake them by surprise—
may the net they hid entangle them,
may they fall into the pit, to their ruin.
Then my soul will rejoice in the LORD
and delight in his salvation.
My whole being will exclaim,
“Who is like you, LORD?
You rescue the poor from those too strong for them,
the poor and needy from those who rob them” (NIV).
Paul the apostle reminds us that as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we are engaged in spiritual warfare. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand (Ephesians 6:11-13).
The conflicts that David experienced in the Old Testament, reflected in the words of this portion of Psalm 35, are mirrored in the spiritual warfare experienced by New Testament believers. Make no mistake—the devil and his cohorts have dug a pit to trap you; they spread their nets to ensnare you in sin and degradation. But as was true for David, the LORD has also provided a way of escape for you and me. Once again Paul reminds us of this: No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it (1 Corinthians 10:13).
The LORD has equipped us with the armor of God and He has provided a way of escape, so then with David we can rejoice in the victory the LORD will bring.
Then my soul will rejoice in the LORD and delight in his salvation. My whole being will exclaim, “Who is like you, LORD? You rescue the poor from those too strong for them, the poor and needy from those who rob them.”
Satan is a thief and a robber, who robs us of victory, peace and joy. But like David and Paul we can overcome. Victory is possible because the victory has already been won for us at the cross, and it was confirmed on resurrection morning at the empty tomb. “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:25).
Response: Heavenly Father, I thank you that you have provided armor so that I can stand against the wiles of the devil. I praise you for the power of your holy word. I have victory through your blood, Lord Jesus. Amen.
Your Turn: In your battle against sin are you using “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God?”
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 31
Praise be to the LORD,
for he showed me the wonders of his love
when I was in a city under siege.
In my alarm I said,
“I am cut off from your sight!”
Yet you heard my cry for mercy
when I called to you for help.
Love the LORD, all his faithful people!
The LORD preserves those who are true to him,
but the proud he pays back in full.
Be strong and take heart,
all you who hope in the LORD (NIV).
David ends Psalm 31 with a testimony to God’s great love and mercy. Hear his declaration: Praise be to the LORD, for he showed me the wonders of his love when I was in a city under siege. In my alarm I said, “I am cut off from your sight!” Yet you heard my cry for mercy when I called to you for help.
Are you living in a city under siege? My quick and simple answer is no. My city is not surrounded by enemy troops who are lobbing artillery shells down on my neighbourhood.
While in the physical sense that may be true, in the spiritual realm my city is caught up in active warfare. Demonic forces are firing their missiles into my city. The airwaves and social media feeds are filled with smut and pornography. In the public square Christian faith is routinely mocked and under attack. Atheists trumpet their cause with bestselling books and spew venom on any who dare to embrace the faith.
Meanwhile, pop culture plunges headlong into the deep end of gothic horror, vampire blood lust and zombie self-identification. Then we stand back in amazement when those same young people lash out in murderous deranged madness as happened when five young people were stabbed to death in Calgary or in my hometown when an eighteen-year-old killed his mother.
When you shun God and bed down with the devil, many are going end up hurt. My city is under siege, but with the help and grace of God, I will not succumb to the enemies attack. I will emerge triumphant. David did. And here is his advice for you and me: Love the LORD, all his faithful people!
David’s advice is counterintuitive. Take your eyes off the enemy. Don’t be mesmerized by the devil’s devices and machinations. Your salvation comes from the LORD. Set your heart and your affections on Him. The LORD preserves those who are true to him, but the proud he pays back in full. Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD.
Response: LORD God, have mercy on me. I love you, LORD. Preserve me through the unfailing love of your Son, Jesus. I will be strong and take heart because I set my hope on you. Amen.
Your Turn: Do you feel that your faith is under attack? How do you respond? Do you cower or advance?
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)
Reading: Psalm 31
For the director of music. A psalm of David.
In you, LORD, I have taken refuge;
let me never be put to shame;
deliver me in your righteousness.
Turn your ear to me,
come quickly to my rescue;
be my rock of refuge,
a strong fortress to save me.
Since you are my rock and my fortress,
for the sake of your name lead and guide me.
Keep me free from the trap that is set for me,
for you are my refuge.
Into your hands I commit my spirit;
deliver me, LORD, my faithful God (NIV).
We all need a place of refuge. Here as David begins Psalm 31, he pleads with God to hear him, and become a rock of refuge for him. Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me.
David spent many of his early years fleeing from King Saul. At other times the Philistines were a threat. There were many occasions in which David needed a fortress—a rock of refuge from his enemies. Often he found himself calling out for the LORD to rescue him.
Are we any different? We may not have physical enemies who are seeking to kill us, but in the spiritual realm the demonic forces of hell are constantly seeking opportunities to trip us up, so that they can launch their vicious assault. Trouble and affliction comes to every human life. We are not immune simply because we have put our faith in Christ. We too need a safe place—a rock of refuge.
But the rock to which we flee is not an inanimate object, fixed and unmoving. No, we come to the living rock which is Christ. He travels with us on this earthly pilgrimage. The apostle, Paul reminds us that even the people of Israel wandering in the wilderness were not alone. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ (1 Corinthians 10:3-4).
The veins of that rock were opened wide for us. Jesus bled and died so that we could experience new life and complete forgiveness. As he hung dying, Jesus called out to his Father with the words of this psalm, “Into your hands I commit my spirit.” Now daily that living rock accompanies you. He is the fount of forgiveness and a sure refuge in a time of need. Have you put your trust in him for your salvation now and in eternity?
Response: LORD God, I thank you for Jesus. You alone are my rock and my eternal fortress. Guide my spirit into the right path today. Keep me safe from the traps of the enemy. I trust in you. Amen.
Your Turn: Is Jesus your living rock? Why is the analogy of Jesus as a rock a comfort to you?