Reading: Psalm 91
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the LORD,
“He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked (NIV).
Trust is a fascinating concept and it is expressed in various forms. In his book entitled, The Silver Lining, the early twentieth century Christian writer J.H. Jowett makes this observation about trust:
It is, perhaps, helpful to remember that the word which is here translated “trust” is elsewhere in the Old Testament translated “careless.” “Be careless in the Lord!” Instead of carrying a load of care, let care be absent! It is the carelessness of little children running about the house in the assurance of their father’s providence and love. It is the singing disposition that leaves something for the parent to do. Assume that He is working as well as thyself, and working even when things appear to be adverse.
Do you have a childlike trust and carelessness in the Lord? Are you carefree because you know the Lord cares for you? That’s the lifestyle that Psalm 91 calls us to. If I am dwelling in the shelter of the Most High and resting in the shadow of the Almighty, I have nothing to fear. I can go about my life with a carefree mindset, because the Almighty cares for me. He has me covered. The psalmist says just that: He [the LORD] will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
We live in a world where fear is contagious. Will there be another terrorist attack, a stock market collapse, a recession? Will my marriage survive—my children turn out okay? The child of God lives in a carefree, worry-free, safe zone. Do you trust the Almighty?
Response: LORD God, you are my shelter in a stormy world. I am so safe—so very safe—when I am with you. I want to live each day in the confidence that you care for me as a loving Father cares for His dear child. Amen.
Your Turn: If you truly know the loving nature of God, trust should come easily. Does it for you?
I will praise Him!
All you Israelites, trust in the LORD—
he is their help and shield.
House of Aaron, trust in the LORD—
he is their help and shield.
You who fear him, trust in the LORD—
he is their help and shield.
The LORD remembers us and will bless us:
He will bless his people Israel,
he will bless the house of Aaron,
he will bless those who fear the LORD—
small and great alike.
(Psalm 115:9-13, NIV)
Reading: Psalm 56
Record my misery;
list my tears on your scroll—
are they not in your record?
Then my enemies will turn back
when I call for help.
By this I will know that God is for me.
In God, whose word I praise,
in the LORD, whose word I praise—
in God I trust and am not afraid.
What can man do to me?
I am under vows to you, my God;
I will present my thank offerings to you.
For you have delivered me from death
and my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before God
in the light of life (NIV).
Psalm 56 is a relatively short psalm. Yet in this short psalm, David repeats the phrase ‘whose word I praise’ three times. In today’s reading he states, “In God, whose word I praise, in the LORD, whose word I praise—in God I trust and am not afraid.”
For me this phrase raises a question. Whose word do I praise? Do I praise God’s word? Do I appreciate and value the written word of God? Have I made it my refuge as it was for David? Is it my sustenance? Do I feed on it daily? While fasting in the wilderness Jesus answered the tempter, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God’” (Matthew 4:4).
Do you trust the living, active word of God to help you today and every day? Trust really is crucial. If I don’t trust that God’s word will help, encourage, correct and sustain me, I won’t bother reading it or meditating on it. I’ll trust in my own abilities or seek direction from other sources.
Trust is crucial in election campaigns. During such campaigns politicians from a variety of parties make their pitch to the electorate. Again the fundamental question for each voter is whose word, do you trust? Politicians often promise more than they can deliver. Often I have been let down by a politician who promised to do things differently, but once in office failed to deliver, or became caught up in scandal after scandal. I presume the same disappointment holds true for many voters.
We need to remember that salvation won’t ever be achieved at the ballot box. It was achieved at the cross—only at the cross. The remedy for my sin is found there. The living word of God reminds us of that trustworthy, unchanging truth.
Response: LORD God, I put my trust in your word. I praise your life-giving word for it is good and completely trustworthy. Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path (Psalm 119:105). Amen.
Your Turn: Do you make it your habit to read and meditate on the word of God?
Reading: Psalm 56
For the director of music. To the tune of “A Dove on Distant Oaks.” Of David. A miktam. When the Philistines had seized him in Gath.
Be merciful to me, my God,
for my enemies are in hot pursuit;
all day long they press their attack.
My adversaries pursue me all day long;
in their pride many are attacking me.
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise—
in God I trust and am not afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?
All day long they twist my words;
all their schemes are for my ruin.
They conspire, they lurk,
they watch my steps, hoping to take my life.
Because of their wickedness do not let them escape;
in your anger, God, bring the nations down (NIV).
In times of trouble David knew where to turn. With his enemies, the Philistines, surrounding him, he turned to God. Hear his bold confession, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise—in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”
David, the obvious answer is, “Mere mortals can torture and kill you.”
Despite this David remained confident. The Philistines could destroy his body but they could not harm his eternal spirit which was at peace—protected by God. Do you and I have the same confidence? That confidence can be ours if we put our trust in God.
Jesus warned his disciples, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). The One we are to fear is God alone. Jesus perfectly demonstrated his trust in God the Father when he went to the cross on our behalf. There he was tortured and killed, but three days later he was vindicated by the Father, who raised him from the dead. Our redemption and salvation come from Jesus.
When we face mortal danger or a deadly prognosis may these words be on our lips and in our heart: When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise—in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?
Response: LORD God, right now I put my faith and trust in you. By the blood of Jesus you forgive all my sins and have paid the price for my redemption. When I am afraid, I turn to you. I put my trust in you alone. Amen.
Your Turn: Who do you trust and turn to when bad news comes? Friends and family can provide support, but is your Father—your heavenly Father with you? Are you leaning into Him?
Reading: Psalm 52
For the director of music. A maskil of David. When Doeg the Edomite had gone to Saul and told him: “David has gone to the house of Ahimelek.”
Why do you boast of evil, you mighty hero?
Why do you boast all day long,
you who are a disgrace in the eyes of God?
You who practice deceit, your tongue plots destruction;
it is like a sharpened razor.
You love evil rather than good,
falsehood rather than speaking the truth.
You love every harmful word, you deceitful tongue!
Surely God will bring you down to everlasting ruin:
He will snatch you up and pluck you from your tent;
he will uproot you from the land of the living.
The righteous will see and fear; they will laugh at you, saying,
“Here now is the man who did not make God his stronghold
but trusted in his great wealth and grew strong by destroying others!”
But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God;
I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever.
For what you have done I will always praise you
in the presence of your faithful people.
And I will hope in your name, for your name is good (NIV).
Like several of David’s psalms, Psalm 52 comes with a backstory. It’s a story of stunning betrayal. Though he was loyal, David was forced to flee from jealous King Saul. On one occasion, he sought refuge at the tabernacle of the LORD and with Ahimelech the priest. Doeg the Edomite, Saul’s chief shepherd, was present at the tabernacle that day. Acting in good faith, Ahimelech helped David by providing food and a weapon—the sword of Goliath. This innocent act of kindness led directly to Ahimelech’s death. Doeg reported this incident to Saul, who ordered the priests be put to death. Doeg personally killed eighty-five of them. (For a full account of this treachery see 1 Samuel 21-22.)
We live in a fallen world—a world where stunning betrayal is often rewarded. In the political realm or the world of high finance, almost daily we hear accounts of how men and women have cut down those they once considered family and friends. All too often this accusation rings true: You who practice deceit, your tongue plots destruction; it is like a sharpened razor.
David discovered that he could trust very few men. He placed his trust in God. When the world turns on you, as it did on David, we can turn to God. Here is the testimony of a wise man: I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever. For what you have done I will always praise you in the presence of your faithful people. And I will hope in your name, for your name is good.
Response: LORD God, help me to always put my trust in your unfailing love. You are my help and refuge in the storms of life. Bring me through by your grace. Amen.
Your Turn: Has someone you trusted let you down? Has that experience damaged or renewed your trust in God?
Reading: Psalm 46
For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. According to alamoth. A song
God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress (NIV).
Why are you confident? Confidence is a key ingredient in the life of any child of God. If we lack confidence, we lack faith. In fact, the word confidence is rooted in faith. Confidence is derived from the Latin word fide, which means faith. It is etymologically linked to words like fidelity and fiduciary—words that stand for trust and true faithfulness. But this faithfulness, fidelity and confidence come as a result of a relationship.
If we have no relationship with someone, how can we trust them? How can we have confidence in them or their actions if we don’t know them?
Here in Psalm 46, the psalmist expresses his complete confidence in God. He expresses that confidence despite the evidence around him. Hear his confident assertion: God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
There is nothing quite as unnerving as an earthquake. I know this from personal experience. When the solid ground beneath one’s feet suddenly gives way and rolls and buckles, nerves begin to fray. But the psalmist remains confident because he knows the One who is in control—the One who remains unmoved and unshakable. In times of trouble we can turn to Him.
But we should not turn to God simply as a last resort. He is the God who is with us. Our confidence grows as we live with Him day by day, in good times and bad. Our confidence grows as we experience Him as our rock of refuge and our shelter in the storm. Then we can say, “The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”
Response: LORD God, I put my trust in you. In times of trouble you have been my help and my strength. I turn to you in confidence because you are with me. You are my Savior and my God. Amen.
Your Turn: Has your confidence been shaken recently? Where have you turned for help?
Reading: Psalm 37
Be still before the LORD
and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.
Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
do not fret—it leads only to evil.
For those who are evil will be destroyed,
but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land.
A little while, and the wicked will be no more;
though you look for them, they will not be found.
But the meek will inherit the land
and enjoy peace and prosperity (NIV).
When I consider this passage from Psalm 37, two thoughts stand out: Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him and do not fret—it leads only to evil.
My natural tendency is not to wait or be still. I tend to fret and worry and then charge ahead simultaneously in different directions. Trust me; it’s hard to go in different directions at the same time. The end result is usually a bad case of self-inflicted paralysis, which often results in—you guessed it—a renewed bout of fret and worry. When will I learn? When will we learn?
Being still before the LORD requires practice. It is a learned response, not a natural reaction. When we wait for the LORD we show that we trust Him. We know that He has not forgotten us or the problems we face. In every situation He has our best interests in mind, even if we don’t understand the reasons, causes or solutions to our difficulties.
By being still and waiting before the LORD we demonstrate that we don’t have the answer within in ourselves. The answer—the solution—lies in Him. If we wait patiently, He will show us the way. And having waited patiently for Him, we can move forward with confidence when He gives us the green light.
It is quite likely that Jesus had the words of this psalm in mind when he gave these instructions in his Sermon on the Mount: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Matthew 6:25-27.
We are to live in quiet confidence. In this psalm we read this promise, “But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy peace and prosperity.” We can put our trust in the God who stands behind that promise.
Response: LORD God, help me to trust you today. Give me a peaceful heart that I may wait patiently for you even when the storms of life descend. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Your Turn: Do you tend to fret? Does quiet prayer still your worries?
Reading: Psalm 37
Do not fret because of those who are evil
or be envious of those who do wrong;
for like the grass they will soon wither,
like green plants they will soon die away.
Trust in the LORD and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the LORD,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
your vindication like the noonday sun (NIV).
What are the desires of your heart? What do you want more than anything else? Wealth? Fame? Power and influence? Is this what you want? We all have desires. Some are noble some are not. How we manage and direct our desires fundamentally determines the direction of our lives.
Here in Psalm 37, David compares and contrasts the life of the evil person with the life of the individual who does right in God’s eyes. The differences are stark; this is a night and day comparison. But at its core, everything in life centers on the desires of our heart and how we handle them.
There is a promise embedded in this psalm: Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. It’s a promise that is well worth pondering.
Will the LORD grant us our desires if our desires are evil? Most certainly not! In Psalm 34 we read, “The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to blot out their name from the earth” (Psalm 34:16).
God’s promises are conditional. There is something required of us before the promise can take effect. In this case we are to “Take delight in the LORD.” What does that really mean?
If I take delight in someone, my wife for example, I enjoy being around her. It’s a delight to spend time with her. I take pleasure in the sound of her voice. I pay careful attention to her wishes and desires. Ah, there’s that word again, desires. If I take delight in the LORD, then my desires will align themselves with the LORD’s desires. I’ll be concerned about what He wants. My selfish desires will be tempered by my love for Him. He in turn will grant the desires of my heart because I love Him and want the best for Him and His eternal Kingdom.
It’s easy to get the desires of your heart, if your desires are His desires.
Response: LORD God, help me to delight myself in you. May I love what you love. Help me to recognize when my desires are right and wholesome, and when they are misdirected. I pray in Jesus name. Amen.
Your Turn: How do you keep your desires in check and in line with God?
Reading: Psalm 33
No king is saved by the size of his army;
no warrior escapes by his great strength.
A horse is a vain hope for deliverance;
despite all its great strength it cannot save.
But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him,
on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,
to deliver them from death
and keep them alive in famine.
We wait in hope for the LORD;
he is our help and our shield.
In him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in his holy name.
May your unfailing love be with us, LORD,
even as we put our hope in you (NIV).
This final portion of Psalm 33 is all about hope. Life is all about hope. From the first breath we take until our last gasp, life is all about hope. Life has no meaning or purpose if we lose hope.
The essential question we must ask is where do you place your hope? All too often we place our hope in the things of this world, our resources, our ingenuity and the strength of our flesh. But the psalmist reminds us: No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength. A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save.
Time and again throughout history the little guy has won. David defeated Goliath. The Viet Cong ousted the US Army. The Afghan rebels outlasted the armies of the USSR. Victory does not always go to the mighty. So the lament goes up, “How the mighty have fallen! The weapons of war have perished!” (2 Samuel 1:27).
Where is your hope? Where have you put your trust? The psalmist reminds us to put our hope in the LORD. Leaders come and go; nations rise and fall. Human abilities wane. “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever” (Isaiah 40:8).
Our hope and our trust must be in God and in His unfailing word.
When calamity strikes, those who maintain hope survive; those who give up hope perish. In stories of extreme survival over and over again this truth is borne out. Hope sustains the human heart, when food and water run out. When we put our trust in the LORD, we tap into a limitless supply of hope. Therefore: We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.
Response: This is our prayer. May your unfailing love be with us, LORD, even as we put our hope in you. In the name of Jesus—our source of hope—who defeated death, we pray. Amen.
Your Turn: What are some sources of false hope? Why have you put your hope in God?