Tag Archives: Psalms

Destiny

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Vaclav Havel said, “The real test of a man is not when he plays the role that he wants for himself, but when he plays the role destiny has for him.”

Each one of us has a purpose for our existence.  When that purpose materializes, life has greater meaning.

The LORD will work out his plans for my life—for your faithful love, O LORD, endures forever. Don’t abandon me, for you made me.  Psalm 138:8 NLT

Embrace the role your spiritual destiny has for you!

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Psalm 119:137-152 Are you perfect?

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This stanza of the 119th Psalm highlights the righteousness of God.  He is righteous (137) and so is his word (138).  His righteousness is everlasting and true (142) and is unchanging (144).

How can anyone measure up to this standard of perfection? The psalmist’s approach is one of an all out pursuit of holiness (139). He recognizes his lowly and despised condition (141), yet he has an unwavering desire to understand God’s word.

The second stanza reminisces, considering the time and manner of the psalmists pleadings with God.  Charles Spurgeon summarizes it this way…He prayed with his whole heart (145).  He prayed, “God save me!” (146). He prayed before dawn (147) and all through the night watches (148), He cried out, “Preserve my life!” (149).  God drew near in response (150).

“He who has been with God in the closet will find God with him in the furnace.”  C. Spurgeon.

1 Peter 3:12 ties the two stanzas of this psalm together.  The eyes and the ears of the Lord focus on the righteous and listen to their prayers.

Psalm 119:65-80 Finding purpose in affliction

little-girl-1611352_960_720(65) You have dealt with me – I take it as a statement of gratitude. Some days, it’s a wonder God chooses to deal with us at all.  (66) Teach me good judgment – who or what have I misjudged lately?

(67) Before I was afflicted I went astray  – “Often trials act as a thorn hedge to keep us in good pasture; but our prosperity is a gap [in the hedge] through which we go astray.” (Charles Spurgeon).

(68) Teach me – how willing are we to learn from God?  Their heart is as fat as grease – we know a fatty heart is a recipe for a medical disaster.  What about our spiritual heart (pride)?  (71) It is good that I was afflicted – in this case affliction led to restoration, looking back the psalmist deemed that good.

(73) Your hands made me – God knows everything about us.  (75) I know your judgments are right – how much do we trust God’s judgment? (76) Comfort – God is able to help me in times of my affliction. (80) Which is more important, to be held in high esteem by man or God?

Matt Chandler’s video series on this portion of Psalm 119 highlights when we are afflicted, God is not an ambulance driver wringing his hands or trying to figure out what he is going to do.  Instead he is more like a surgeon.  Spiritual Surgery during affliction is God’s tool for cutting away things that may harm us in the long run.  For the Christian there is a redemption (purpose) to be found in suffering.

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“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”  Romans 8:28 NLT

Psalm 119:49-64 The Lord is my Portion

god-2012104_960_720Two themes rise to the surface in verses 49-56 of Psalm 119.  The first theme dwells on remembrance.  The psalmist is not asking for God for some new promise.  He is standing on an existing one.   He is not saying, “remember all I have done for you, God,” rather he is asking God to remember his promise.  As Christians we need to remind ourselves of the promise of the empty grave that once held our Savior!  Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection we can experience the forgiveness of sins  and have the promise of eternal life.

The second theme that emerges in this section is one of comfort.  Comfort comes from knowing who or what you believe in.

A worldly person clutches his wallet and proclaims, “this is my comfort.” A drunkard lifts his glass and sings, “this is my comfort.” A man of God grounded in the Word of God testifies, “this is my comfort,” for he personally knows who it is he believes in. (Charles Spurgeon)

sunrise-1756274_960_720The next section of the Psalm (57-64) opens with, “the Lord is my Portion.”  As Matt Chandler puts it, “God is enough, he is BIG enough!”  We don’t serve an ancient, obsolete God.  He is actively at work in the world he created.  Chandler provides four points that highlight why God is big enough, even in times of suffering.

  • God is gracious and kind
  • The testimonies of God are faithful
  • God is always available
  • God has given us people of God as companions

(56) Remember God – how often do your thoughts dwell on God? Weekly? Daily? Hourly?  He is a God who comforts.

(57) Remind yourself at least a dozen times today, “the Lord is my portion.”  (God is enough, he is BIG enough!”

 

Psalm 119:1-16 (Blessing and Cleansing)

books-1155565_960_720How many of us have attempted to read through the Bible in a year and happened upon the 119th Psalm.  Its 176 verses can be quite daunting.  There are others who attempt to skim through this psalm in one sitting and find it hard to digest. Thankfully, the psalm is divided into stanzas of eight verses each. Each stanza is linked to a letter of the Hebrew alphabet making more practical for the ancients to meditate on and memorize. I have been taking my class through Psalm 119 a couple of stanzas at a time.

Here we go. You get the impression from reading this psalm (believed to be written by King David of ancient Israel) that it’s a compilation of life experiences.  Throughout these experiences David has tried to stay true to the teachings of the Jewish Law found in the Old Testament. I would like to emphasize that this involves more than just complying with the 10 commandments. “Following the Law” would require adherence to the Jewish faith, which includes the observance of all required laws, rituals, sacrifices and festivals described in the Old Testament.

Virtually every verse in Psalm 119 references the Word of God. Synonyms such as the law, God’s word, commandments, statutes, way, judgments, precepts and testimony all reference the awesome nature of God’s Word, placing it on the highest pedestal imaginable.

Stanza 1

The first eight verses highlight the blessings found through obedience to God’s Word.

vv1-3               Those who walk in obedience (whole-heartedly) are blessed.

vv4-6               Highlights a desire to be more obedient in light of God’s commands.

vv7-8               Vow to give thanks as one learns about God’s statutes.

Stanza 2

The second stanza (9-16) focuses on the cleansing aspect of God’s word.

vv9                  A person cleanses his way by obeying God’s Word

vv10-14           A person purifies his way by internalizing God’s Word

vv15-16           We must continuously meditate on God’s Word in order to be transformed by it

Way (v9), the word conveys the idea of transgressing repeatedly, creating a sinful rut of the sort made by the wheel of a cart.

These two stanzas encourage us to go beyond simply reading God’s word and seek to internalize it or meditate on it. Pick one of the first sixteen verses of Psalm 119 and meditate on it daily this week.

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Ps 119:11

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