Reading: Psalm 68
Your procession, God, has come into view,
the procession of my God and King into the sanctuary.
In front are the singers, after them the musicians;
with them are the young women playing the timbrels.
Praise God in the great congregation;
praise the LORD in the assembly of Israel.
There is the little tribe of Benjamin, leading them,
there the great throng of Judah’s princes,
and there the princes of Zebulun and of Naphtali.
Summon your power, God;
show us your strength, our God, as you have done before.
Because of your temple at Jerusalem
kings will bring you gifts.
Rebuke the beast among the reeds,
the herd of bulls among the calves of the nations.
Humbled, may the beast bring bars of silver.
Scatter the nations who delight in war.
Envoys will come from Egypt;
Cush will submit herself to God (NIV).
All of Psalm 68 is a hymn of triumph—national triumph. In today’s reading it is apparent that this psalm is a triumphant processional song penned by David. The enemies of Israel have been vanquished and God’s army has returned victorious.
For Christians today, does this psalm hold a deeper significance? Does it signify more than a celebration after a military conquest?
The King we serve—the one born in a stable—didn’t come to establish an earthly kingdom by means of guns and war. In his defence before Pilate Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place” (John 18:36).
Make no mistake; Jesus calls us to be citizens in his heavenly Kingdom. It is a Kingdom that is headquartered in heaven, but its address on the earth is the human heart—your heart—my heart. Furthermore, that Kingdom grows in power and influence as we yield our will to God and joyfully become more like His son, Jesus. For followers of Jesus, battles are won as we submit our will to God.
There are nations—Egypt and Cush (the upper Nile region) are mentioned here—that will submit themselves to God. But for us today, submission must first come from our own stubborn heart.
Response: LORD God, I yield my will to you. Conquer my heart with your love. Through Jesus sacrifice on the cross I am yours. Help me to joyfully live as a productive citizen of your Kingdom on earth. Amen.
Your Turn: Have you been conquered by the love of God? Where is your primary citizenship?
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 38
All my longings lie open before you, LORD;
my sighing is not hidden from you.
My heart pounds, my strength fails me;
even the light has gone from my eyes.
My friends and companions avoid me because of my wounds;
my neighbors stay far away.
Those who want to kill me set their traps,
those who would harm me talk of my ruin;
all day long they scheme and lie.
I am like the deaf, who cannot hear,
like the mute, who cannot speak;
I have become like one who does not hear,
whose mouth can offer no reply.
LORD, I wait for you; you will answer, LORD my God.
For I said, “Do not let them gloat
or exalt themselves over me when my feet slip” (NIV).
Here in Psalm 38, David has brought all his troubles before the LORD. He laments over his sin and the downcast state in which he finds himself. Hear his confession: All my longings lie open before you, LORD; my sighing is not hidden from you. My heart pounds, my strength fails me; even the light has gone from my eyes.
In humble prayer David has come before a God who always hears and sees. God hears and sees even when we wish He could not. He sees our triumphs and our failures, our victories over temptation and our slide into defeat. He hears every idle word and understands every crass and selfish thought. The LORD sees and hears. He saw Adam’s sin in the Garden before He met with him in the cool of the evening. God sees our sins long before we bow in repentance.
God sees and hears all we say and do. This should bring comfort to the soul in distress and a healthy fear to the soul tempted to sin. All my longings lie open before you, LORD: the wholesome longings and those that spring from impure motives. The LORD sees my needs and my wants, my hopes and my dreams, but more than that, God understands my motives. David brought all of this before the LORD and so should we.
Though we may not see the pain of those around us, God sees our suffering. Though we may be deaf to the needs of others, God is not deaf to our plea for help. Though we may stand mute when others need defense or encouragement, our God speaks. He does not remain silent. His Spirit speaks even to you—even to me.
Response: LORD God, speak to me when I am downcast. Lift me when I am in need. Forgive me when I fail. You are my help and my strength. LORD, I wait for you; you will answer, LORD my God. Amen.
Your Turn: How has the all-hearing, all-seeing God helped you? Take a moment to reflect on how the LORD has helped you in the past.
Reading: Psalm 22
I will declare your name to my people;
in the assembly I will praise you.
You who fear the LORD, praise him!
All you descendants of Jacob, honor him!
Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!
For he has not despised or scorned
the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
but has listened to his cry for help.
From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly;
before those who fear you I will fulfill my vows.
The poor will eat and be satisfied;
those who seek the LORD will praise him—
may your hearts live forever! (NIV)
In this ongoing discussion of Psalm 22 we hit a critical turning point with yesterday’s scripture reading. The humiliated, pierced and tortured Christ prays, “But you, LORD, do not be far from me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me. Deliver me from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dogs. Rescue me from the mouth of the lions; save me from the horns of the wild oxen” (Psalm 22:19-21).
God the Father answered the prayer of his suffering Son, not immediately, but three days later Jesus arose from the dead. Now he reigns triumphant over death, hell and the grave. The opening words recorded here are the resurrected Christ’s song of triumph: I will declare your name to my people; in the assembly I will praise you. You who fear the LORD, praise him! All you descendants of Jacob, honor him! Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!
And why should we praise the LORD? Here is the answer: For he has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.
In the context of this psalm, Christ is the afflict one. The prophet Isaiah declares, “He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).
Yes, praise Him! We have a Savior who can fully identify with every aspect of our humanity because he was fully human. He suffered just as we suffer and in his body he experience severe loss and pain. God incarnate knows all about the human condition because He lived as a human.
But in all this Jesus is the victor. May your hearts live forever because of Jesus Christ who conquered death and lives now and forever.
Response: Father, thank you for victory over death, hell and the grave through your Son Jesus. By faith his victory becomes my victory. Hallelujah! I praise you my Lord and Savior. Amen.
Your Turn: Does the knowledge of Christ’s suffering help you in times of personal pain or loss?
Reading: Psalm 18
I pursued my enemies and overtook them;
I did not turn back till they were destroyed.
I crushed them so that they could not rise;
they fell beneath my feet.
You armed me with strength for battle;
you humbled my adversaries before me.
You made my enemies turn their backs in flight,
and I destroyed my foes.
They cried for help, but there was no one to save them—
to the LORD, but he did not answer.
I beat them as fine as windblown dust;
I trampled them like mud in the streets.
You have delivered me from the attacks of the people;
you have made me the head of nations.
People I did not know now serve me, foreigners cower before me;
as soon as they hear of me, they obey me.
They all lose heart; they come trembling from their strongholds (NIV).
Why do you enjoy sports? Why do you take pride in seeing your home team win? The answer is really quite simple: Inside you beats the heart of a warrior. I can deny that I have a warrior spirit, but in reality there’s a competitive, fighting spirit written into my DNA. It’s in your DNA too. In fact, that warrior spirit is essential to your success and survival.
David had an abundant supply of testosterone fuelled warrior spirit, and in the psalm portion above, we see it on full display. David was a fighter and every competitive warrior signals his triumph. You do as well. This psalm was part of David’s victory celebration. For a scientific discussion of human response in moments of victory visit: Olympic victors‘ first reaction is dominance, not pride | TIME.com
For me as a follower of Jesus the question is not, do I have a warrior spirit? The question is how will I direct that warrior’s heart into a path that is pleasing to my heavenly Father?
Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus’ twelve disciples turned the world upside down. Their response to Satan’s attacks was not merely defensive. Through prayer and proclamation they took souls captive to the obedience of Christ. The apostle Paul declares, “But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere (2 Corinthians 2:14). Paul was a triumphant warrior in the spiritual realm. David was triumphant in the natural realm. What about you?
Response: Heavenly Father, help me rise up as a spiritual warrior for you today. Help me to spread the aroma of the knowledge of Jesus everywhere. Through the power of Christ I know that I am more than a conqueror. Amen.
Your Turn: Are you personally gaining ground in the spiritual battle all around you?
With God we will triumph; he’s the one who will trample our adversaries (Psalm 60:10, CEV).
This week’s I Love the Psalms theme is victory.
Who are my adversaries? I think that’s a very important question to ask before I head off to battle. If I don’t know who or what I am fighting, how can I properly prepare? How can I advance against my enemies, when I know nothing about them? I might meet up with my foes and join their side by mistake.
I think many Christian believers find themselves in this situation. In many cases our enemies are not physical humans, but temptations, ideas and philosophies that draw us away from God. The first enemy that must be defeated often resides within. Wrong thinking and crippling habits keep us from achieving God’s will.
Our first concern needs to be our relationship with the Lord.
With God we will triumph; he’s the one who will trample our adversaries (Psalm 60:10, CEV).
The first fight we must win is against the enemy within. When we give the Lord Jesus full control, victory is sure to follow. He’s the one who will trample our adversaries.
Response: LORD God, help me to identify the adversaries that war against my soul. I want to live in the victory you already won for me through the cross and the resurrection. Amen.
Your Turn: Are there thoughts and habits you need to overcome? Have you taken them to the Lord?