Month: April 2017

April 28, 2017: Day 118 – Psalm 118

Get ready for the long, long, long psalm tomorrow.  It is the longest chapter in the Bible…but wait, that is tomorrow.  Just give yourself a lot of time to read the Psalm, and since I’m not preaching on Sunday I’ll probably give you a longer breakdown of the psalm than normal.  But let’s look at Psalm 118.  

This Psalm reminds me of that saying where a person says: “God is good”, and someone else responds: “All the time, all the time”, and then the first person responds back with: “God is good”.  Look at the beginning verses which have that repeat which goes: “His steadfast love endures forever.”  We see another repeat in vs. 15 and following.  

So this is the psalm which is used by the Gospel writers to talk about Palm Sunday.  Look at verses 25 and following and we have “save us” which in the Hebrew is Hosanna.  It is also the Psalm which tells us: “This is the day that the Lord has made!  Let us rejoice and be glad in it.”  I use those words more times than you may imagine.  I use it for funerals (which we call services of witness of the resurrection), weddings, and just general worship services where I feel really good.  It is just a great, happy statement that comes right out of Scripture.  It also applies to every day.

April 27, 2017: Day 117 – Psalm 117

So, here are a couple of interesting tidbits in regards to Psalm 117.  It is the shortest Psalm in the Bible.  It is the shortest chapter in the Bible.  It is exactly in the center of the Bible.  It is the 595th chapter in the Bible which means that there are 1190 chapters in the Bible.  What I like is the simplicity of the Psalm which really captures the entirety of God’s relationship with us.  It is a psalm of worship.  It encourages, strike that, it beseeches us, strike that, it commands us to praise the Lord!  The reason we are given that we ought to praise the Lord is that His steadfast love endures forever and his faithfulness is something you can bank on.


April 26, 2017: Day 116 – Psalm 116

The first place my mind went was to this song.  Then, right after I thought of this song  I thought of Jonah 2 when he prays in the belly of the whale.  It sounds like he is saying this Psalm.  He would have known it.  Then my thoughts went to Job as the author in this psalm rejoices that the Lord drew him out of his affliction.  

It is hard to believe that we are only 34 psalms away from covering all 150.  I need to end today’s blog with the last words from this Psalm.  Read them and know that I am saying them now.  I hope you are praising the Lord for how He has brought us safely thus far.  

April 25, 2017: Day 115 – Psalm 115

Let’s jump ahead to verse 16 and of what Scripture does this remind you?  Go to Genesis 1:26ff (ff means through the end of the chapter).  You find the terminology “dominion” in reference to humans and all of creation.  You see where the psalmist states: “the heavens are the Lord’s but the earth he has given to humans.”  This is a key concept.  

So, one thing that people have never accuse me of is being a tree hugger, or a strong environmentalist.  It simply has never been on my radar.  Now, of course I am not destructive for the sake of disrespecting that which God has entrusted to us, but I do fully believe that God has given us the earth to use and over which we are to have dominion.

But I believe in global warming, I believe that what we do on this earth will impact the earth.  I believe that God is saddened by how we hurt the earth just for our greed.  God wants us to have dominion so we can survive, not so that we can take advantage of the earth in such a harmful way that it destroys the earth.

I don’t feel like I am walking a fine line, but I do believe that the earth is not an entity unto itself, but rather a means for our survival.  

April 24, 2017 – Day 114 – Psalm 114

Here is another psalm that has great imagery.  Look at vss. 3-4.  Do you see the sea fleeing?  That must have been a reference to the parting of the Red Sea.  I don’t have a direct correlation to the next image.  Can you see the mountains and the hills skipping?  I don’t have a biblical image that correlates directly with that image, but I like it.  The closest thing that I can think of is when Jesus says that if we would have the faith even the size of a tiny mustard seed then we could tell a mountain to move, and it would!  That works for me.

April 23, 2017: Day 113 – Psalm 113

This isn’t what I was looking for, but I guess it will work.  I was looking for a song that I used to sing that said:  “From the rising of the sun, to the going down of the same, the Lord’s name is to be praised”.  It is interesting that there are some phrases that elicit some great childhood memories for me.  That song was associated with VBS and those times that I went to Christian camp.  

Once again we find the psalmist pointing to the needy as those for whom God has favor.  He lifts the poor from the dust and the needy from the ash heap.  The ash heap would have been the place that the poor would have gone to collect charcoal which could be sold or used in the home for fuel for the fire.  It truly was a place where only the poor would find themselves.  We also see a reference to God who looks with favor upon the barren.  So much of the Old Testament is centered upon the role of the woman being somewhat singular.  She was responsible for bearing children.  We read in many different Scriptures that those women who could not bear children were ashamed and felt worthless (Sarah, Rachel, Rebecca, Hannah and others).  They felt like God had cursed them and had withdrawn His presence from them.

But here we find quite the opposite.  We find him giving her a home.  But it again centers back on her being gifted with children.  Not a word of comfort for the families today who are not able to bear children.  

April 22, 2017: Day 112 – Psalm 112

This is a really different psalm from those we have seen before.  We have the somewhat traditional, and I would even say somewhat mistaken, claim that those who trust in the Lord can rely upon earthly blessings and riches.  There simply is no quid pro quo when it comes to faith.  But we do see a change in what we normally see in these types of psalms.  There is a very pragmatic approach to faith. 

Start at vs. 5 and you see where the psalmist says: “It is well for those who deal generously and lend, and conduct their affairs with justice.”  First of all Scripture says that the people of Israel should not lend with interest.  They can lend, but not with interest.  Any type of interest is called usury.  Now, if there is a foreigner in the land, then they can charge interest to that person.  

But then again in vs.9 we find that same extolling of the one who has distributed freely and given to the poor.  It is a psalm that seems filled with two different messages, and yet if we could pick and choose I would go from vs.5 on.  

April 21, 2017: Day 111 – Psalm 111

I have said quite a few times that one of the aspects that I love about the church is that it is filled with sinners just like me.  There is not a sense that the church is populated with people who are good, or perfect, or live a sin free life.  This is not a green light to go and sin boldly, but it is a recognition that there is no place for hypocrisy in a church.  This psalm does call those who are in the congregation the “upright”.  I’m thinking that this might be a desire of the author, and not so much a recognition of who is actually within the group that he calls the “upright”.  

Now, it is our desire and our goal to be “upright”.  We ought to try to live our lives in a way that reflects the desire of Jesus that we be “upright”.  I have always seen humanity as God’s utopia.  We have not arrived nor have we become that which God wants us to be, but He so hopes that we would and that we do.  There is a godly desire that we reflect the same nature as God.  While it is impossible, it is still something after which we strive.  

But this psalm has much less to do with the “upright”, than it does with the one whose works of his hands are faithful and just.  This Psalm does point to all that God has done for us.  It uses that experience of God’s love and faithfulness as that which ought to build up trust and confidence in God.  In fact, it ought to build up a wisdom within each person which helps us rely upon God for all things.  Look at vs.10 and you should hear a verse with which you are familiar.  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.  

Wisdom does not find its culmination in the fear of the Lord, but rather finds its mere beginning with the fear of the Lord.  It is nice to be wise.  It is important to have a certain respect and awe of the Lord that may only come through experience.  Trust in the Lord with all your heart and soul.  Fear the Lord.  Rejoice in that fear.

April 20, 2017: Day 110 – Psalm 110

The psalms have such beautiful imagery.  Look at vs.3 and the words which speak of the young who will be birthed in order to fight on the side of the Lord.  It speaks of the youth coming over the mountains as if from a womb just as the dew comes from the early morning.  It is beautiful, feminine imagery.  We have often seen imagery used that describes God in a masculine sense, but it is not exclusive to male imagery.  We find Jesus wanting to gather his people as a mother hen gathers her chicks.

Here in the Old Testament it is refreshing to hear about God in a way that uses feminine imagery.  I hope that is not threatening to anyone.  I have no problem seeing God in a feminine way, nor in a masculine way.  You see God completely transcends gender.  God is not male, God is…well, God.  Sure, Jesus was a male, but his maleness did not influence his divinity.  Jesus could have been Gelsomina, but he wasn’t.  But God could have chosen to come in the flesh as a woman, and can choose to do the same in God’s second coming.  The nature of God transcends our understand of male and female.  This psalm reflects the presence of God in a beautiful, artistic way which incorporate female imagery.  I like that.

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