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
When you, God, went out before your people,
when you marched through the wilderness,
the earth shook, the heavens poured down rain,
before God, the One of Sinai,
before God, the God of Israel.
You gave abundant showers, O God;
you refreshed your weary inheritance.
Your people settled in it,
and from your bounty, God, you provided for the poor.
The Lord announces the word,
and the women who proclaim it are a mighty throng:
“Kings and armies flee in haste;
the women at home divide the plunder.
Even while you sleep among the sheep pens,
the wings of my dove are sheathed with silver,
its feathers with shining gold.”
When the Almighty scattered the kings in the land,
it was like snow fallen on Mount Zalmon (NIV).
Are you about to start some grand enterprise? Are you embarking on a great journey? Are you beginning a new endeavour? Maybe you are doing none of these things. Perhaps for you it’s just a regular day. There’s nothing special or grand about it at all.
But just for a moment, let’s suppose you were setting out on a magnificent, but somewhat risky adventure. What are the conditions you would like to see in place before you step out of your comfort zone and take on the very real challenges and obstacles that lie ahead?
This portion of Psalm 68 gives us a biblical answer to that question. If you are taking on the world and all it can throw at you, it’s best to have God on your side. It’s best to have the LORD going before you. He is the One who prepares the way for victory and success.
In a dry and thirst place God is our faithful provider. You gave abundant showers, O God; you refreshed your weary inheritance. Your people settled in it, and from your bounty, God, you provided for the poor.
When we step out in His will, God is at work. He has gone before us even as we sleep. He sets our enemies to flight. “Even while you sleep among the sheep pens, the wings of my dove are sheathed with silver, its feathers with shining gold.”
The dove so beautifully described here is the Holy Spirit. He circles over His people preparing the way.
Response: LORD God, as I go about my day, please go before me. Today help me to see you at work. I walk in confidence and faith because your Holy Spirit is at work even as I sleep. Thank you, Lord. Amen.
Your Turn: Can you recall times when it was apparent that God had gone before you?
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.
I will praise Him!
How many are your works, LORD!
In wisdom you made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.
There is the sea, vast and spacious,
teeming with creatures beyond number—
living things both large and small.
There the ships go to and fro,
and Leviathan, which you formed to frolic there.
All creatures look to you
to give them their food at the proper time.
When you give it to them, they gather it up;
when you open your hand,
they are satisfied with good things.
When you hide your face,
they are terrified;
when you take away their breath,
they die and return to the dust.
When you send your Spirit, they are created,
and you renew the face of the ground.
(Psalm 104:24-30, NIV)
Reading: Psalm 65
You care for the land and water it;
you enrich it abundantly.
The streams of God are filled with water
to provide the people with grain,
for so you have ordained it.
You drench its furrows and level its ridges;
you soften it with showers and bless its crops.
You crown the year with your bounty,
and your carts overflow with abundance.
The grasslands of the wilderness overflow;
the hills are clothed with gladness.
The meadows are covered with flocks
and the valleys are mantled with grain;
they shout for joy and sing (NIV).
I can’t read this psalm without picturing an overflowing cornucopia. This is the psalmist’s horn of plenty. Speaking of the LORD, David declares, “You crown the year with your bounty, and your carts overflow with abundance.”
My farm boy’s heart delights in this psalm. I delight in the land and the soil. Being on the land and cultivating the rich earth nurtures my soul. I am invigorated by it. The soil where I grew up in Saskatchewan was black and fertile. It’s the best kind of soil for crops. In the summer the fields were mantled with grain—a vast sea of wheat billowing in the breeze.
But I’m not alone in my love for the earth. David assures us that God has that same affection for the soil. You care for the land and water it; you enrich it abundantly. You drench its furrows and level its ridges; you soften it with showers and bless its crops.
Now in practical terms my love for the soil is confined to a small backyard suburban garden. I tend my vegetable garden with care and God above does His part. He softens the earth with showers and blesses its crops. This morning, my wife and I rooted out a grape vine in preparation for spring planting. It was a pleasure to work with her and my heavenly partner, the LORD God Almighty.
Before the snow flies in the fall we will pull out the last of the carrots and parsnips. To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven (Ecclesiastes 3:1 NKJV).
In our toil we are not alone. There is something sacred about work. God ordained it. He planted a Garden for Adam and Eve to tend. Whether we are rooting out weeds, extracting teeth or rooting out unproductive habits, God is present in our work. Welcome Him as your partner.
Response: LORD God, I am thankful for my calling and the work you have set before me. You are my partner in it and my provider. I give myself to you to your service today. Amen.
Your Turn: Do you see yourself as God’s partner in your vocation?
Reading: Psalm 64
For the director of music. A psalm of David.
Hear me, my God, as I voice my complaint;
protect my life from the threat of the enemy.
Hide me from the conspiracy of the wicked,
from the plots of evildoers.
They sharpen their tongues like swords
and aim cruel words like deadly arrows.
They shoot from ambush at the innocent;
they shoot suddenly, without fear.
They encourage each other in evil plans,
they talk about hiding their snares; they say, “Who will see it?”
They plot injustice and say, “We have devised a perfect plan!”
Surely the human mind and heart are cunning.
But God will shoot them with his arrows;
they will suddenly be struck down.
He will turn their own tongues against them
and bring them to ruin;
all who see them will shake their heads in scorn.
All people will fear; they will proclaim the works of God
and ponder what he has done.
The righteous will rejoice in the LORD and take refuge in him;
all the upright in heart will glory in him! (NIV)
I originally wrote this post in the final days of an election campaign here in Canada. In the context of an election, the words of this psalm have a peculiar resonance. Politicians’ tongues have been sharpened like swords. Cruel words have been aimed at opponents like deadly arrows. The airwaves are saturated with lies, propaganda and half-truths coming from all sides.
Rest easy, dear reader, I’m not about to take sides in a political debate. But Psalm 64 contains some important truths that we would be wise to heed.
First, our tongues have deadly power. The poison of vipers is in the tongue. (See Psalm 140:3.) Many young people have taken their own lives because of the taunting of others. Social media has only worsened the situation, since one can now mount an attack from a distance. The venom that is often spewed in website comment boxes is beyond disgusting. The cruelty and depravity of the human heart are on full display. As the psalmist, David says, “Surely the human mind and heart are cunning.”
So then guard the thoughts of your heart and mind. Take care what you put into print. It can have a profound effect for good or evil. Cruel words can be as deadly as a missile strike. The LORD is our refuge from cruel taunts, but He also is our judge, when we launch a verbal or written attack.
Response: LORD God, help me to use wisdom and discretion in all I say, write or post. You are the judge of every idle word. Holy Spirit, guard my heart and my mind. Amen.
Your Turn: Have you been the victim of social media attacks? How did you respond?
Reading: Psalm 63
On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
I cling to you; your right hand upholds me.
Those who want to kill me will be destroyed;
they will go down to the depths of the earth.
They will be given over to the sword
and become food for jackals.
But the king will rejoice in God;
all who swear by God will glory in him,
while the mouths of liars will be silenced (NIV).
Where do your thoughts turn when you are at rest? Where our mind goes in idle moments, tells us a lot about ourselves. Are you off in the realm of sports, politics or family events? Does your mind graze on pornography or steamy romance novels? Are you plotting your plans for the week or the weekend?
My mind—your mind—is a busy place. And if it’s not occupied with things at hand, it will invent thoughts, opinions and worries to keep self-engaged.
Where did David’s mind go when he was at rest? Here in Psalm 63 we find the answer. On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night.
Rather than worry about the schemes being hatched by his enemies, King David’s mind was focused on the LORD. We may mistakenly believe that being king meant dwelling in a worry-free secure zone. Nothing could be further from the truth. Kings in Old Testament times were frequently assassinated. Rebellions and backroom treachery were common. Metaphorically, the king walked about with a bullseye target on his back.
But are today’s followers of the Lord Jesus any different? The true and faithful follower of Jesus is engaged in spiritual warfare. The sons and daughters of the King are target practice for the demons of hell. Temptation comes in a variety of ways. Sometimes it wears a pretty dress. At other times it offers a fast buck or a thrilling escape. Or does temptation simply dazzle and distract us into soul deadening spiritual apathy?
Now here is a thought to consider: Turn your mind to the Lord Jesus through the watches of the night, because you can rest assured he’s watching you.
Response: LORD Jesus, I want my mind to find rest in you. I know that my sins are forgiven and your love for me was proven on the cross. You lived for me; you died for me. You love me. Oh, what joy that thought brings! Amen.
Your Turn: Where does your mind go when you are at rest? Does the Holy Spirit come to change your thoughts?
I will praise Him!
He makes springs pour water into the ravines;
it flows between the mountains.
They give water to all the beasts of the field;
the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
The birds of the sky nest by the waters;
they sing among the branches.
He waters the mountains from his upper chambers;
the land is satisfied by the fruit of his work.
He makes grass grow for the cattle,
and plants for people to cultivate—
bringing forth food from the earth:
wine that gladdens human hearts,
oil to make their faces shine,
and bread that sustains their hearts.
The trees of the LORD are well watered,
the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.
There the birds make their nests;
the stork has its home in the junipers.
The high mountains belong to the wild goats;
the crags are a refuge for the hyrax.
(Psalm 104:10-18, NIV)
Reading: Psalm 62
Surely the lowborn are but a breath,
the highborn are but a lie.
If weighed on a balance, they are nothing;
together they are only a breath.
Do not trust in extortion
or put vain hope in stolen goods;
though your riches increase,
do not set your heart on them.
One thing God has spoken,
two things I have heard:
“Power belongs to you, God,
and with you, Lord, is unfailing love”;
and, “You reward everyone
according to what they have done” (NIV).
In this life that we have been given, what things are solid? What things are sure? Not much according to the psalmist, David.
As for this world’s wealth, it has no lasting value. Here is sound advice—advice from this psalm that you won’t get from a financial planner: though your riches increase, do not set your heart on them.
What then should we do? How should we live? Live in the light and knowledge of eternity and the One who holds eternity in His hands. David reminds us God will…“reward everyone according to what they have done.”
In other words, how we live matters. It matters for now and eternity. That knowledge should inform and give shape to all that we say and do. But there are two additional truths that should bring meaning to our lives. One thing God has spoken, two things I have heard: “Power belongs to you, God, and with you, Lord, is unfailing love.”
God alone has the power of life, death and resurrection. And in Jesus, He demonstrated his unfailing power and love for every man, woman and child on this planet. On the cross Jesus showed his unfailing love. Other loves—human loves—may fail us, but God’s love stands firm and unwavering. In a changing world of eroding values our LORD remains firm and immovable.
Response: LORD God, thank you for the unfailing love of Jesus. You love me even when I have failed and despite my shortcomings. Help me live my life in the light of eternity. Amen.
Your Turn: Is God’s love a motivator for you to change your ways, since He never changes?