I will praise Him!
Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baka,
they make it a place of springs;
the autumn rains also cover it with pools.
They go from strength to strength,
till each appears before God in Zion.
(Psalm 84:5-7, NIV)
Reading: Psalm 2
Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together
against the LORD and against his anointed, saying,
“Let us break their chains and throw off their shackles.”
The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them.
He rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying,
“I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain.”
I will proclaim the LORD’s decree:
He said to me, “You are my son; today I have become your father.
Ask me, and I will make the nations your inheritance,
the ends of the earth your possession.
You will break them with a rod of;
you will dash them to pieces like pottery.”
Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth.
Serve the LORD with fear and celebrate his rule with trembling.
Kiss his son, or he will be angry and your way will lead to your destruction,
for his wrath can flare up in a moment.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him (NIV).
Kisses are so close-up and personal, so intimate. I don’t know about you, but I don’t kiss everyone I meet. Kisses are reserved for those special people in my life—people I know and trust—people I love.
Here in Psalm 2, kings and rulers are commanded to kiss the Son of God. What an odd command? What is the significance of this? The kiss in this case signals full submission to the supreme potentate. Kings and rulers are to submit to the overarching rule of Christ over themselves, their affairs and their entire domain.
Psalm 2 is the first of several messianic psalms scattered throughout the Book of Psalms. There is nothing subtle about the messianic message found here. The LORD has installed His anointed as king in Zion and furthermore this anointed one is identified as the Son of God. The term the LORD’s “anointed” is frequently translated as Messiah or Christ.
In the Book of Acts, we see the apostles viewed this psalm as the prophetic fulfillment of Christ’s mission during his last days in Jerusalem. The anointed Son of God was rejected by Herod and Pilate, the rulers of that time. They refused to kiss the Son. See Acts 4:23-31.
But what about me? Have I kissed the Son? Have I submitted to his will for my life? In my own small way, I too am a monarch, a ruler of my own domain. Today, will I allow him to rule over me, my conduct, my activities and my financial affairs?
Response: Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for your unconditional love. You want only the best for me. I yield to you. Help me to embrace your will and purpose for my life. I trust in you. I love you, Lord. With my lips I kiss the Son. Amen.
Your Turn: Have you kissed the Son? How can you show your love and loyalty to Jesus today?
Reading: Psalm 149
Praise the LORD.
Sing to the LORD a new song,
his praise in the assembly of his faithful people.
Let Israel rejoice in their Maker;
let the people of Zion be glad in their King.
Let them praise his name with dancing
and make music to him with timbrel and harp.
For the LORD takes delight in his people;
he crowns the humble with victory.
Let his faithful people rejoice in this honor
and sing for joy on their beds (NIV).
I previously wrote that as we draw to the end of the Book of Psalms, we are slowly building to a crescendo of praise to the LORD. Today’s reading from Psalm 149 expands and amps up the level of praise.
For some praise to the LORD is one dimensional. It involves singing a hymn or worship chorus to the LORD in a place of worship at a designated time. Usually this simply means in church on a Sunday morning. But praise that is birthed by the Spirit of God can be much more than just that. Psalm 149 calls for a wide range of praise. It begins by calling for a new song. Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise in the assembly of his faithful people.
It would seem that the Creator would like to hear something fresh and creative. That’s so much like Him. After all, His mercies are new every morning. See Lamentations 3:22-23. Now don’t get me wrong. There is a place for the tried and true, and the old and familiar. But genuine praise is like fresh homemade bread. It’s best served warm from the oven. Stale worship invigorates no one.
Secondly, our praise for the LORD can take a variety of forms. Let Israel rejoice in their Maker; let the people of Zion be glad in their King. Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with timbrel and harp.
Just yesterday I watched a couple do a beautiful dance to a popular worship chorus. The words, the music, and their expressive movements, added heartfelt meaning to their praise. God was glorified in their dance. We were created to move and our posture and movements can reflect an expressive exuberance for God.
Finally, Spirit initiated praise knows no bounds. It refuses to be confined to a church building. It is after all an outward expression of a thankful heart. There is a place for praise, wherever we find ourselves, whether it’s from our bed, on a park bench, a subway car, or as we stroll down the grocery aisle. Praise the LORD!
Response: LORD God, renew in me a heart of praise. I want to lose my self-consciousness as I praise you. This is all about you. True worship is not about me. I want to praise you with my whole being. Amen.
Your Turn: Is it possible to be God focussed when we are self-focussed or self-conscious?
I will praise Him!
Let heaven and earth praise him,
the seas and all that move in them,
for God will save Zion
and rebuild the cities of Judah.
Then people will settle there and possess it;
the children of his servants will inherit it,
and those who love his name will dwell there.
(Psalm 69:34-36, NIV)
I will praise Him!
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.
(Psalm 65:1-4, NIV)
Later this year, Kregel Publishing will be releasing my Passion of Christ novel entitled “The Soldier Who Killed a King.” I was able to meet an editing deadline on this book yesterday, but I was unable to do my regular, full-length Psalms post for today. I hope to resume my devotional posts soon. — David Kitz
Reading: Psalm 132
The LORD swore an oath to David,
a sure oath he will not revoke:
“One of your own descendants
I will place on your throne.
If your sons keep my covenant
and the statutes I teach them,
then their sons will sit on your throne for ever and ever.”
For the LORD has chosen Zion,
he has desired it for his dwelling, saying,
“This is my resting place for ever and ever;
here I will sit enthroned, for I have desired it.
I will bless her with abundant provisions;
her poor I will satisfy with food.
I will clothe her priests with salvation,
and her faithful people will ever sing for joy.
“Here I will make a horn grow for David
and set up a lamp for my anointed one.
I will clothe his enemies with shame,
but his head will be adorned with a radiant crown” (NIV).
I am an armchair student of history. I enjoy reading history books, particularly books about war and great epic battles. In recent years, several books have appeared on the market, which examine alternate scenarios in history. The authors of these books imagine what might have happened if historic events had unfolded differently. For instance what might have happened if Lee Harvey Oswald’s gun had jammed as he attempted to shoot President Kennedy? How would the Kennedy presidency have unfolded? Or what would the world look like today, if cooler heads had prevailed and the great blood bath known as World War I had been avoided? These are fascinating questions.
I call these “What if…” books. They imagine history unfolding differently. Today’s reading from Psalm 132 leaves me in a “What if…” frame of mind.
The LORD made this promise to King David: “One of your own descendants I will place on your throne. If your sons keep my covenant and the statutes I teach them, then their sons will sit on your throne for ever and ever.”
God promised that history would unfold in a certain way. A descendant of David would sit on the throne of Israel in perpetuity. But there was a condition attached to that promise. God’s promise would be fulfilled, if the sons of David kept the covenant and the statutes. Unfortunately, that did not happen. The descendants of David disobeyed and succumbed to idolatry. But what if those sons had obeyed…
How will history be different if I wholeheartedly obey the LORD?
Response: Father God, I thank you for your son, Jesus. He is the descendant of King David who fulfilled your covenant and now he reigns forever. King Jesus, I am your servant. Reign in my life today. Amen.
Your Turn: Is Jesus your king? How are you serving him?
Reading: Psalm 132
We heard it in Ephrathah,
we came upon it in the fields of Jaar:
“Let us go to his dwelling place,
let us worship at his footstool, saying,
‘Arise, LORD, and come to your resting place,
you and the ark of your might.
May your priests be clothed with your righteousness;
may your faithful people sing for joy.’”
For the sake of your servant David,
do not reject your anointed one (NIV).
David’s commitment and zeal for the presence of the LORD drew others to worship God. That’s what the opening lines of today’s reading are saying: We heard it in Ephrathah, we came upon it in the fields of Jaar: “Let us go to his dwelling place, let us worship at his footstool…”
We should never underestimate the power of our personal witness for Christ. Our zeal for God and love for His house can act as a magnet to draw others to worship Him. David’s self-denial in pursuit of God resulted in others discovering the power and grace of the LORD. By bringing the Ark of the Covenant to Zion, the City of David, David was declaring that he wanted the LORD in his home. He wanted Him close at hand—at the center of the government he was establishing over the land. See 2 Samuel 6.
Do we want God in our home? Is the LORD at the command center of your life and your daily affairs? Genuine worship brings God to the center. It removes the distance between us and God.
The psalmist goes on to offer this prayer. “‘May your priests be clothed with your righteousness; may your faithful people sing for joy.’”
How are you dressed as you approach God? Apparently, clothing matters. It matters because as a redeemed child of God you are serving as a priest of the Most High. The apostle, Peter reminds us of our corporate calling and responsibility. But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light (1 Peter 2:9).
So then as priests offering sacrifices of praise, we have an opportunity to approach God. But how should we be clothed, you ask? St. Paul provides the answer. So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ (Galatians 3:26-27). As a blood-bought believer you are clothed with the righteousness of Christ.
Response: Father God, I thank you for covering me with a garment of righteousness. It’s the supreme righteousness of Jesus. Help me to serve and worship you daily with a grateful heart. Amen.
Your Turn: Are you drawing near to God? Do you see yourself as part of a royal priesthood?
Reading: Psalm 132
A song of ascents.
LORD, remember David
and all his self-denial.
He swore an oath to the LORD,
he made a vow to the Mighty One of Jacob:
“I will not enter my house or go to my bed,
I will allow no sleep to my eyes
or slumber to my eyelids,
till I find a place for the LORD,
a dwelling for the Mighty One of Jacob” (NIV).
This is the thirteenth psalm in the Songs of Ascent series. With this psalm, the author returns to a familiar theme—the glory of God’s presence in Zion. It is what has drawn the pilgrims to this holy place. They have come to worship and meet with God.
But this psalm has a different approach. It recounts the history of Zion and how this particular place was chosen as the site for Israel to worship God. It all began with David. At the prompting of the LORD, David chose Mount Zion to set up the Tabernacle of the LORD. But before Mount Zion could become a place of worship the stronghold of Zion had to be conquered. It was in enemy hands. Nevertheless, David captured the fortress of Zion—which is the City of David (2 Samuel 5:7).
In this psalm we hear of David’s vow. “I will not enter my house or go to my bed, I will allow no sleep to my eyes or slumber to my eyelids, till I find a place for the LORD, a dwelling for the Mighty One of Jacob”
In David’s case, finding a place for the LORD required self-denial. It involved a physical battle. There is a spiritual battle that we too need to fight so the LORD can occupy His rightful place in our lives. The enemy does not leave the strongholds in our mind without a fight. We must take action to evict him.
We live in a world where self-denial is rare, and often frowned upon. Our society pushes the easy life—the comfortable life—the path of least resistance. Self-denial in pursuit of a relationship with God is a foreign concept. In many churches fasting and prayer is a lost discipline.
Jesus encountered the same problem with his own disciples. While he was praying fervently in the Garden of Gethsemane, his disciples were fast asleep. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour?” See Mark 14:32-42.
This inability to pray for an hour is an indicator that at our core we have not surrendered fully to God. Other things are more important. There is no self-denial. That TV show is more important. The game is more important. Perhaps our Zion is still occupied by the enemy and the LORD is not enthroned there.
Response: LORD God, help me to change. I want to put you first in my life. Come and occupy the throne of my life. I want my thoughts, words and actions to be governed by you, Lord Jesus. Amen.
Your Turn: Do you find self-denial difficult? Do you practice a variety of spiritual disciplines?
Reading: Psalm 129
A song of ascents.
“They have greatly oppressed me from my youth,”
let Israel say;
“they have greatly oppressed me from my youth,
but they have not gained the victory over me.
Plowmen have plowed my back
and made their furrows long.
But the LORD is righteous;
he has cut me free from the cords of the wicked.”
May all who hate Zion
be turned back in shame.
May they be like grass on the roof,
which withers before it can grow;
a reaper cannot fill his hands with it,
nor one who gathers fill his arms.
May those who pass by not say to them,
“The blessing of the LORD be on you;
we bless you in the name of the LORD” (NIV).
A few years back I had a conversation with a Jewish friend about what it means to be numbered among God’s chosen people. I found his response quite surprising.
“Most people see being God’s chosen as a great honor or a blessing. The reality is quite different. The reality is persecution. The reality is envy and hatred by your neighbors. The reality is six million dead in the Holocaust. We are God’s chosen people. Is that a blessing? Sometimes it feels like a curse.”
Psalm 129 reflects the truth of my friend’s words: “They have greatly oppressed me from my youth, but they have not gained the victory over me. Plowmen have plowed my back and made their furrows long.”
Often we make the assumption that being chosen by God will bring great blessing. But being called and chosen does not mean trouble free. The apostle Paul was God’s called and chosen messenger to the Gentiles, but fulfilling his mission involved tremendous suffering, beatings, imprisonment and ultimately martyrdom. See 2 Corinthians 11:22-33. Paul makes this observation about his calling: For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like those condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to human beings (1 Corinthians 4:9).
Genuinely following Jesus in the world today can lead directly to persecution. Amnesty International reports that 80% of the systematic persecution in the world today is targeted at Christians. There is often a price to pay for being God’s chosen.
Response: Father God, I pray for those who are facing severe persecution, whatever their faith may be. But I pray especially for my brothers and sisters in Christ. Have mercy on them for Jesus sake. Amen.
Your Turn: Do you see yourself as chosen by God? He has called you to be His child by regeneration.