Food for the Soul
Food for the Soul
12 I have not yet received all these things. I have not yet reached my goal. Christ Jesus took hold of me so that I could reach that goal. So I keep pushing myself forward to reach it. 13 Brothers and sisters, I don’t consider that I have taken hold of it yet. But here is the one thing I do. I forget what is behind me. I push hard toward what is ahead of me. 14 I push myself forward toward the goal to win the prize. God has appointed me to win it. The heavenly prize is Christ Jesus himself. 15 So all of us who are grown up in the faith should see things this way. Maybe you think differently about something. But God will make it clear to you. 16 Only let us live up to what we have already reached.
I love the idea of our lives as a race. We have all seen those toned athletes sprint it out along the track in the Olympics. I would like to think my spiritual journey is like that. Coordinated, flawless, powerful. You know, just like Usain Bolt. The reality is many days my race feels more like a Sunday school picnic 3-legged race. A bit unco with the potential for a fall any moment.
Regardless of what my race looks like there are some things we all need to do. Firstly always press on regardless, never giving up. It breaks my heart when I hear of friends who have given up their faith, how much more must it grieve our Heavenly Father. Maintain your focus on the goal – don’t be distracted by what’s happening on the sidelines. Paul urges us to press on to what’s ahead, forgetting the past. We have to remember as believers our past is dealt with. If I am running my race constantly turning back to what’s behind me then I will probably run off the track. I have to bring my best race, make good choices every day to keep my eyes on the goal. I want to finish strong. Lastly cheer along those in the race – we always do better if we receive encouragement!
Heavenly Father thank you for all you have done for me. Help me to keep my focus on where you are taking me. Help me to run my best race today and bring Glory to you. Help me Lord to stay strong in my faith. Thank you God that my past is safe in your hands. In Jesus name Amen.
Written by Christine Knight
7 I thought things like that were really something great. But now I consider them to be nothing because of Christ. 8 Even more, I consider everything to be nothing compared to knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. To know him is worth much more than anything else. Because of him I have lost everything. But I consider all of it to be garbage so I can know Christ better. 9 I want to be joined to him. Being right with God does not come from my obeying the law. It comes because I believe in Christ. It comes from God because of faith. 10 I want to know Christ better. Yes, I want to know the power that raised him from the dead. I want to join him in his sufferings. I want to become like him by sharing in his death. 11 Then by God’s grace I will rise from the dead.
When I read this passage, what stands out to me is how clearly Paul has found his entire identity in Jesus Christ. All the gains that he had previously experienced, such as his birth right, culture, religion & position, he now considers as a loss when compared to knowing Jesus. Given that Paul writes this as a prisoner who had little to no freedom or authority – a position in stark contrast to how he used to live – Paul’s claims aren’t just empty words. The passage tells us that Paul has not only found Jesus, but has found himself in Jesus, so that who he was no longer matters.
This presents a very clear challenge to me straight away. If I’m truly honest with myself, how much of my identity is based on my own choices, my job, my family, the roles I fill, how others see me, (the list could go on) – and how much is based simply on the fact that I am found in Jesus? I’m challenged to spend more time with Jesus, letting Him mould me into who he wants me to be. In Him is where my – and your – true identity can be found.
Jesus, thank you that we can place our identity safely & securely in you. Thank you that being in relationship with you is greater than anything else we can do or be on our own. Help us to be found in you each & every day.
Written by Madelaine Tarasenko
1 It is no trouble for me to write about some important matters to you again. If you know about them, you will have a safe path to follow. 2 Watch out for those dogs. They are people who do evil things. When they circumcise, it is nothing more than a useless cutting of the body. 3 But we have been truly circumcised. We serve God by the power of his Spirit. We boast about what Christ Jesus has done. We don’t put our trust in who we are or what we can do. 4 I have many reasons to trust in who I am and what I have done. Someone else may think they have reasons to trust in these things. But I have even more. 5 I was circumcised on the eighth day. I am part of the people of Israel. I am from the tribe of Benjamin. I am a pure Hebrew. As far as the law is concerned, I am a Pharisee. 6 As far as being committed is concerned, I opposed and attacked the church. As far as keeping the law is concerned, I kept it perfectly.
In this passage Paul is emphasising to the Philippians something he had previously taught them. Using somewhat colourful language he reminds them not to be pressured into the old testament practice of circumcision as it was simply an allegory of the true work God is doing, that is ‘the circumcision of the heart’.
The Lord your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live. Deuteronomy 30:6
However, it was not until the New Testament that it became evident that this work was to be done by the Holy Spirit.
As I think about my life I realise not everything God wants to do in me is easy or painless. In fact, like the cutting away of flesh in circumcision many of the deeper works of God in us are very painful. Like pruning a plant, the Holy Spirit snips off wrong thinking or cuts away bad habits, maybe heals painful memories or trims off wrong motives. Sometimes He removes things that we consider strengths like self-reliance, but also like a properly pruned plant we grow back stronger and healthier.
Lord, today I ask you to make me aware of the deeper works you are doing in my life and to be sensitive to the work you are doing in the lives of people around me. Help me endure the difficult moments knowing that you are making Deuteronomy 30:6 a reality in my life. Amen!
Written by David Newton
25 But I think it’s necessary to send Epaphroditus back to you. He is my brother in the Lord. He is a worker and a soldier of Christ together with me. He is also your messenger. You sent him to take care of my needs. 26 He longs for all of you. He is troubled because you heard he was sick. 27 He was very sick. In fact, he almost died. But God had mercy on him. He also had mercy on me. God spared me sadness after sadness. 28 So I want even more to send him to you. Then when you see him again, you will be glad. And I won’t worry so much. 29 So then, welcome him as a brother in the Lord with great joy. Honor people like him. 30 He almost died for the work of Christ. He put his life in danger to make up for the help you yourselves couldn’t give me. 3 Further, my brothers and sisters, be joyful because you belong to the Lord!
The verses that stand out to me in this passage are verses 29 and 30 where it says, “… give him the honour that people like him deserve. For he risked his life for the work of Christ.” Paul acknowledged that Epaphroditus was worthy of honour because of the sacrificial way he lived his life as a Christian.
I am challenged by Paul’s view of what he identifies as being worthy of honour. Society recognises ‘good deeds’ and ‘random acts of kindness’ as being honourable, which they are, however Paul credits Epaphroditus’ honour to his surrender to God’s call. He neared death, yet God showed mercy towards him for the selflessness and faithfulness he lived out.
God, please help me to live an honourable life that glorifies you. Help me to be willing to make sacrifices where needed, to follow Your call. In Jesus’ name.
Written by Laura Samperi
19 I hope to send Timothy to you soon if the Lord Jesus allows it. Then I will be encouraged when I receive news about you. 20 I have no one else like Timothy. He will truly care about how you are doing. 21 All the others are looking out for their own interests. They are not looking out for the interests of Jesus Christ. 22 But you know that Timothy has proved himself. He has served with me like a son with his father in spreading the good news. 23 So I hope to send him as soon as I see how things go with me. 24 And I’m sure I myself will come soon if the Lord allows it.
This short passage gives us a great picture of Paul and his understanding about the importance of relationship – his relationship with Timothy and Timothy’s interest in relationship with the Philippians. Just a few words but a picture that shows caring for one another, interest in the welfare of those around you is critical. Paul was in the midst of finding out what would happen to him – he was in jail and waiting to hear what would happen next (death was a possibility). He was not focused on himself but on the church in Philippi and how he could help Timothy grow in confidence in his ministry.
Relationship building and caring for one another were important to him. They should be important to us as well. I love the fact that God made us for relationship and that He wants us to be engaged with those around us – to love and care for them. Paul got God’s priorities – we need to as well.
Lord please help me to understand how to do relationship well. Please help me to see those in need around me. Please help me to work out how to care for those around me well. Please help me to have confidence in You – to know that You are inspiring others to be thinking about those same ideas for me. Your passion for each one of us to know we are loved beyond imagining is a great basis for our lives – help us to see the pictures You paint so we know!
Written by Therese Manning
12 My dear friends, you have always obeyed God. You obeyed while I was with you. And you have obeyed even more while I am not with you. So continue to work out your own salvation. Do it with fear and trembling. 13 God is working in you. He wants your plans and your acts to fulfill his good purpose. 14 Do everything without complaining or arguing. 15 Then you will be pure and without blame. You will be children of God without fault among sinful and evil people. Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky. 16 You will shine as you hold on tight to the word of life. Then I will be able to boast about you on the day Christ returns. I can be happy that I didn’t run or work for nothing. 17 But my life might even be poured out like a drink offering on your sacrifices. I’m talking about the way you serve because you believe. Even so, I am glad. I am joyful with all of you. 18 So you too should be glad and joyful with me.
Paul is encouraging the Philippian believers to live lives that reflect
their salvation through Christ. Paul cannot be with the Philippian church
all the time but he is keen for them to continue to live in the same manner.
It’s a shout out to integrity really! He is asking them to live lives beyond
reproach ie. “Live clean, innocent lives as children of God.” Quite the
Given our human nature it’s nigh impossible in fact it is impossible to
continually live a clean, innocent life. This is where verse fifteen comes
to our rescue, “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and power
to do what pleases him.” Phew! God is working in us even to the point of
moulding our desires and not only that but empowering us to fulfil his will.
This is an amazing promise and one worth remembering.
Dear God, thank you for not leaving us to battle through in our own
strength. Thank you for working in us and empowering us to life lives that
reflect our faith in Jesus. Please continue working in me and moulding my
desires in line with your purpose. Amen.
Written by Ps. Ainslie Woods
2 So does belonging to Christ help you in any way? Does his love comfort you at all? Do you share anything in common because of the Holy Spirit? Has Christ ever been gentle and loving toward you? 2 If any of these things has happened to you, then agree with one another. Have the same love. Be one in spirit and in the way you think and act. By doing this, you will make my joy complete. 3 Don’t do anything only to get ahead. Don’t do it because you are proud. Instead, be humble. Value others more than yourselves. 4 None of you should look out just for your own good. Each of you should also look out for the good of others. 5 As you deal with one another, you should think and act as Jesus did. 6 In his very nature he was God. Jesus was equal with God. But Jesus didn’t take advantage of that fact. 7 Instead, he made himself nothing. He did this by taking on the nature of a servant. He was made just like human beings. 8 He appeared as a man. He was humble and obeyed God completely. He did this even though it led to his death. Even worse, he died on a cross! 9 So God lifted him up to the highest place. God gave him the name that is above every name. 10 When the name of Jesus is spoken, everyone will kneel down to worship him. Everyone in heaven and on earth and under the earth will kneel down to worship him. 11 Everyone’s mouth will say that Jesus Christ is Lord. And God the Father will receive the glory.
I love this passage. It so clearly says that Jesus is God (not just equal standing with him but one and the same) but also in complete submission to him; that he has all power, but he also put all that power aside to become a person just like me, with all my frailties and insecurities; that he has the highest position possible and took on the lowest position imaginable, even dying the most humiliating horrible death.
I can’t begin to understand how he did it. All I really need to understand is that he did it, and that he did all this because he loves me (and you) so much.
Now comes the hard bit: I need to copy him.
I need to think like him (and if we can all do that we will all be of one mind). I need to love my fellow believers so much I make them more important than me. I need to be the servant rather than the master; the one who encourages and builds up not the one who tears down; the one who is humble, not the one who is proud; the one who gives myself, not the one who takes what I want.
And since Jesus did all that for me before I was a believer, I need to love and give myself for people who aren’t believers yet too. And since Jesus did all this for people who hated him and might never believe in him, I need to love and give myself for people who hate me or him too.
Thank you Jesus that you did far more for me than I could ever do for you; or than I could ever do for anyone else. Change me to think like you; love like you; give myself like you.
Written by David Cornell
27 No matter what happens, live in a way that brings honor to the good news about Christ. Then I will know that you remain strong together in the one Spirit. I will know this if I come and see you or only hear about you. I will know that you work together as one person. I will know that you work to spread the teachings about the good news. 28 So don’t be afraid in any way of those who oppose you. This will show them that they will be destroyed and that you will be saved. That’s what God will do. 29 Here is what he has given you to do for Christ. You must not only believe in him. You must also suffer for him. 30 You are going through the same struggle you saw me go through. As you have heard, I am still struggling.
Going ahead – rain, hail or shine’. Have you ever heard that idiom before? It’s essentially a mindset that says, “whatever happens, I’m still going ahead”. Over the June long weekend, a bunch of friends and I planned to go on a camping trip. In the days leading up to the weekend the weather was extremely wet. The weekend was forecast to be equally wet. Given the weather, we had no idea how it would turn out, but thanks to the commitment and enthusiasm of a few key people, the camping trip went ahead and was an absolute blast! It is unlikely that the camping trip would have gone ahead without a ‘rain, hail or shine’ attitude. Can I say, I love that attitude! It’s not doubtful or on the fence. It’s confident and committed. That is the mindset that Paul is encouraging the Philippian church to have when he calls them to live in a manner ‘worthy of the gospel of Christ’. He wants them to be all-in, in a life of witness and faith in God, even in suffering (v. 29).
‘Whatever happens’ in this life doesn’t have to stop us from living for God’s glory. Paul’s life was a clear example of this mentality – he proclaimed Jesus in freedom and chains, rain, hail or shine. This teaches me that a life of faith in God is not bound by our circumstance.
How about you, are there areas of your life where your faith in God is conditional to your circumstance?
Father God, thank you for Paul’s encouragement to us to declare your praise in every circumstance. Give us strength not to be swayed by our circumstances or discouraged by suffering. Help us to have a mindset of being ‘all in’ and to give you praise ‘whatever happens’.
Written by Sam Liu
And I will continue to be glad. 19 I know that you are praying for me. I also know that God will give me the Spirit of Jesus Christ to help me. So no matter what happens, I’m sure I will still be set free. 20 I completely expect and hope that I won’t be ashamed in any way. I’m sure I will be brave enough. Now as always Christ will receive glory because of what happens to me. He will receive glory whether I live or die. 21 For me, life finds all its meaning in Christ. Death also has its benefits. 22 Suppose I go on living in my body. Then I will be able to carry on my work. It will bear a lot of fruit. But what should I choose? I don’t know! 23 I can’t decide between the two. I long to leave this world and be with Christ. That is better by far. 24 But it is more important for you that I stay alive. 25 I’m sure of this. So I know I will remain with you. And I will continue with all of you to help you grow in your faith. I will also continue to help you be joyful in what you have been taught. 26 I’m sure I will be with you again. Then you will be able to boast in Christ Jesus even more because of me.
Paul is verbalising his adamant confidence in God that everything is going according to God’s plan. He is ready to die, knowing that it means he will be taken to Christ’s side. But he is certain in his spirit that there is still more work for him to do, to help the Philippians church. He is confident that he will be delivered from his gaol cell by God, not for his own sake, but to continue this work. He knows that by the prayers of the church and the presence of the Lord Jesus miracles happen and he expects to have the resources he needs from God to endure pain in the mean time.
I am struck by the way Paul has sized up his situation. Ultimately he says Christ in complete control and has decided that he cannot lose, he is ‘more than a conqueror’! This from a man in a first century roman prison!
Lord, this is the joy that you promised us all, that you will never leave us nor forsake us, that you work all things for the good of those who love you and are called according to your purpose. It is your presence that turns prisons into purpose! Abide with me today. Amen.
Written by Andrew Mellor
12 Brothers and sisters, here is what I want you to know. What has happened to me has actually helped to spread the good news. 13 One thing has become clear. I am being held by chains because I am a witness for Christ. All the palace guards and everyone else know it. 14 And because I am a prisoner, most of the believers have become bolder in the Lord. They now dare even more to preach the good news without fear. 15 It’s true that some preach about Christ because they are jealous. But others preach about Christ to help me in my work. 16 The last group acts out of love. They know I have been put here to be a witness for the good news. 17 But the others preach about Christ only to get ahead. They preach Christ for the wrong reasons. They think they can stir up trouble for me while I am being held by chains. 18 But what does it matter? Here is the important thing. Whether for right or wrong reasons, Christ is being preached about. That makes me very glad. And I will continue to be glad.
To help two people come together and resolve their differences, as Paul the apostle does for Onesimus and his master, can be a huge challenge, but it is something that I am striving to improve in my ability to do.
If each of us took steps to ensure the relational health of those around us was upheld, I wonder if the world would he a better place.
Relational health isn’t really something that gets talked about much. Sure, people who are psychologically and emotionally healthy will generally be better in relationships, but if I just look after myself, it will certainly not guarantee that I will automatically relate well to others. It is a skill I need to learn, and one where the support of others can help me do well.
Thank you Lord that you have made us to be relational and to live in relationship with you and with people. Help us to care for one another so that relational health can be developed across our community to make the world a better place.
Written by Ps. Justin Ware
1 We, Paul and Timothy, are writing this letter. We serve Christ Jesus. We are sending this letter to you, all God’s holy people in Philippi. You belong to Christ Jesus. We are also sending this letter to your leaders and deacons. 2 May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace. 3 I thank my God every time I remember you. 4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy. 5 I am happy because you have joined me in spreading the good news. You have done so from the first day until now. 6 God began a good work in you. And I am sure that he will carry it on until it is completed. That will be on the day Christ Jesus returns. 7 It is right for me to feel this way about all of you. I love you with all my heart. I may be held by chains, or I may be standing up for the truth of the good news. Either way, all of you share in God’s grace together with me. 8 God is my witness that I long for all of you. I love you with the love that Christ Jesus gives. 9 I pray that your love will grow more and more. And let it be based on knowledge and understanding. 10 Then you will be able to know what is best. Then you will be pure and without blame for the day that Christ returns. 11 You will be filled with the fruit of right living produced by Jesus Christ. All these things bring glory and praise to God.
V6 says – And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. (NLT)
This is perhaps one of my favourite verses in the whole bible. It encourages me to know that God is at work in my life. God began the good work. God will finish the good work, and promises that there is coming a day when Christ Jesus will return.
But the hardest word in this verse is – continue.
Because it means that God is not finished yet, in fact he won’t be finished until the day that Jesus returns. Then and only then will we be made perfect.
Sometimes I wish that God would just finish his work, now.
Some days it’s two steps forward, other days it’s three steps back.
But these are all part of Gods plan and purpose to work things out in my life. It’s not enough to hear or read about what God will do in my life, I have to live it.
But the hope I have in this verse is also in that word continue. It tells me that God won’t give up on me. And that has everything to do with his love for me and nothing to do with my ability or progress.
Thank you God for not giving up on me. Please, continue.
Written by Andrew Martin
1 Lord, I have gone to you for safety. Let me never be put to shame. 2 You do what is right, so save me and help me. Pay attention to me and save me. 3 Be my rock of safety that I can always go to. Give the command to save me. You are my rock and my fort. 4 My God, save me from the power of sinners. Save me from the hands of those who are mean and evil. 5 You are the King and the Lord. You have always been my hope. I have trusted in you ever since I was young. 6 From the time I was born I have depended on you. You brought me out of my mother’s body. I will praise you forever. 7 To many people I am an example of how much you care. You are my strong place of safety. 8 My mouth is filled with praise for you. All day long I will talk about your glory. 9 Don’t push me away when I’m old. Don’t desert me when my strength is gone. 10 My enemies speak against me. Those who want to kill me get together and make evil plans. 11 They say, “God has deserted him. Go after him and grab him. No one will save him.” 12 God, don’t be far away from me. My God, come quickly and help me. 13 May those who bring charges against me die in shame. May those who want to harm me be covered with shame and dishonor. 14 But I will always have hope. I will praise you more and more. 15 I will tell other people about all the good things you have done. All day long I will talk about how you have saved your people. But there’s no way I could say how many times you’ve done this. 16 Lord and King, I will come and announce your mighty acts. I will announce all the good things that you alone do. 17 God, ever since I was young you have taught me. To this very day I tell about your wonderful acts. 18 God, don’t leave me even when I’m old and have gray hair. Let me live to tell my children about your power. Let me tell all of them about your mighty acts. 19 God, your saving acts reach to the skies. You have done great things. God, who is like you? 20 You have sent many bitter troubles my way. But you will give me new life. Even if I’m almost in the grave, you will bring me back. 21 You will honor me more and more. You will comfort me once again. 22 My God, I will use the harp to praise you because you are always faithful. Holy One of Israel, I will use the lyre to sing praise to you. 23 My lips will shout with joy when I sing praise to you. You have saved me. 24 All day long my tongue will say that you have done what is right. Those who wanted to harm me have been put to shame. They have not been honored.
I love the slogan of Hope 103.2 FM – “There is always hope!”
It could have been taken from v 14 of this powerful psalm.
It seems the writer is feeling under siege – vs 10-11,13. This is something I can relate to. When things aren’t going right, when things in my world are beyond my control, no matter what I do there is no change.
This psalm is for all of us who feel like this. There is always hope.
The images with which the psalmist writes of hope powerfully convey the depth of its meaning. One is the rock, also translated as bedrock in the Message version (v5). What is bedrock? It’s solid or undisturbed rock and is also under the sea floor. It’s hard rock such as granite or sandstone, which resists erosion. To the psalmist, God is his bedrock because he has always been with him, even from his birth. He reflects back on this special relationship, which has continued throughout his life, and is characterised by caring, reliance, praise, love, hope. How does my relationship with God measure up?
The Message translates v14 this way – “I stretch out, reaching for you.” Instead of being weighed down by our “accusers” we hope in God. The image of stretching and reaching reminds me of rock climbing, clinging to a solid wall of rock, reaching for the next hand hold, balancing on my feet, arms crying out for relief. Our hope is active, not a feeling. The difficulties we encounter are like gravity to the rock climber – they can pull us away from reliance on God, like gravity pulls the climber off the rock face. We have to train (by praising, praying and trusting our righteous God) to keep the relationship strong. And our God will raise us up, bringing restoration and honour.
Thank you dear heavenly Father for caring so much for me, from even before I was born right up to today. Amen
Written by Claire Moore
For the director of music. A prayer of David. 1 God, hurry and save me. Lord, come quickly and help me. 2 Let those who are trying to kill me be put to shame. Let them not be honored. Let all those who want to destroy me be turned back in shame. 3 Some people make fun of me. Let them be turned back when their plans fail. 4 But let all those who seek you be joyful and glad because of what you have done. Let those who want you to save them always say, “The Lord is great!” 5 But I am poor and needy. God, come quickly to me. You are the God who helps me and saves me. Lord, please don’t wait any longer.
As I pause and take notice of the psalmist’s style of writing, I cannot help but see a lack of polite trimmings. There is no please or thank you, no ‘God if it is not too inconvenient…’. The psalmist clearly has a history with God, a relationship built over time, such that there is no need for polite custom. The writer is in need, and he cries out honestly to God for help. There is no hiding of the request in conversation about the weather or general chit chat. The psalmist owns their need and states their dependence on God. There is no back-up plan, this is serious and God must come through for the writer.
Am I this bold in talking to God and requesting help? Do I quickly own my need or do I hesitate and try to cover over my insufficiency?
God, help me to recognise my limits and be quick to call for your aid. Where I get caught in polite trimmings or what I ‘should’ say, open my eyes and teach me to keep it simple. Thank you that you respond to me because I’m your child, and not because I pray the ‘right’ prayers. Amen.
Written by Bethany Waugh
For the director of music. A psalm of David to the tune of “Lilies.” 1 God, save me. My troubles are like a flood. I’m up to my neck in them. 2 I’m sinking in deep mud. I have no firm place to stand. I am out in deep water. The waves roll over me. 3 I’m worn out from calling for help. My throat is very dry. My eyes grow tired looking for my God. 4 Those who hate me without any reason are more than the hairs on my head. Many people who don’t have any reason to be my enemies are trying to destroy me. They force me to give back what I didn’t steal. 5 God, you know how foolish I’ve been. My guilt is not hidden from you. 6 Lord, you are the Lord who rules over all. May those who put their hope in you not be dishonored because of me. You are the God of Israel. May those who worship you not be put to shame because of me. 7 Because of you, people laugh at me. My face is covered with shame. 8 I’m an outsider to my own family. I’m a stranger to my own mother’s children. 9 My great love for your house destroys me. Those who make fun of you make fun of me also. 10 When I weep and go without eating, they laugh at me. 11 When I put on rough clothing to show how sad I am, people make jokes about me. 12 Those who gather in public places make fun of me. Those who get drunk make up songs about me. 13 But Lord, I pray to you. May this be the time you help me. God, answer me because you love me so much. Save me, as you always do. 14 Save me from the trouble I’m in. It’s like slippery mud, so don’t let me sink in it. Save me from those who hate me. Save me from the deep water I’m in. 15 Don’t let the floods cover me. Don’t let the deep water swallow me up. Don’t let the grave close its mouth over me. 16 Lord, answer me because your love is so good. Turn to me because you are so kind. 17 Don’t turn your face away from me. Answer me quickly. I’m in trouble. 18 Come near and save me. Set me free from my enemies. 19 You know how they make fun of me. They dishonor me and put me to shame. You know all about my enemies. 20 They have broken my heart by saying evil things about me. It has left me helpless. I looked for pity, but I didn’t find any. I looked for someone to comfort me, but I didn’t find anyone. 21 They put bitter spices in my food. They gave me vinegar when I was thirsty. 22 Let their feast be a trap and a snare. Let my enemies get what’s coming to them. 23 Let their eyes grow weak so they can’t see. Let their backs be bent forever. 24 Pour out your anger on them. Let them feel what it is like. 25 May their homes be deserted. May no one live in their tents. 26 They attack those you have wounded. They talk about the pain of those you have hurt. 27 Charge them with one crime after another. Don’t save them. 28 May their names be erased from the book of life. Don’t include them in the list of those who do right. 29 I’m in pain. I’m in deep trouble. God, save me and keep me safe. 30 I will praise God’s name by singing to him. I will bring him glory by giving him thanks. 31 That will please the Lord more than offering him an ox. It will please him more than offering him a bull with its horns and hooves. 32 Poor people will see it and be glad. The hearts of those who worship God will be strengthened. 33 The Lord hears those who are in need. He doesn’t forget his people in prison. 34 Let heaven and earth praise him. Let the oceans and everything that moves in them praise him. 35 God will save Zion. He will build the cities of Judah again. Then people will live in them and own the land. 36 The children of those who serve God will receive it. Those who love him will live there.
I just love the way David is able to express his emotional state with imagery. I picture him drowning in quick sand. He is up to his neck, exhausted, parched and overwhelmed.
David does not doubt God’s unfailing love and mercy and power to save him. With his mind on this he says in v.30-31: THEN I will praise His Name with singing and honour Him with thanksgiving, because this pleases Him more than ritual sacrifice. He longs to see God glorified to his people.
This pattern here of complaint, expression of faith and anticipation of praise and thanks giving for deliverance is one which I want to use in my times of trouble. Anticipation of Gods glorious saving grace.
Dear Lord when I am drowning please help me to look UP to you. And when I can’t do it on my own then please bring me back to this psalm, to pray it with David. Amen.
Written by Dimity Milne
For the director of music. A psalm of David. A song. 1 May God rise up and scatter his enemies. May they turn and run away from him. 2 May you, God, blow them away like smoke. As fire melts wax, so may God destroy sinful people. 3 But may those who do what is right be glad and filled with joy when they are with him. May they be happy and joyful. 4 Sing to God, sing praise to his name. Lift up a song to the God who rides on the clouds. Be glad when you are with him. His name is the Lord. 5 God is in his holy temple. He is a father to children whose fathers have died. He takes care of women whose husbands have died. 6 God gives lonely people a family. He sets prisoners free, and they go out singing. But those who refuse to obey him live in a land that is baked by the sun. 7 God, you led your people out. You marched through the desert. 8 The ground shook when you, the God of Sinai, appeared. The heavens poured down rain when you, the God of Israel, appeared. 9 God, you gave us plenty of rain. You renewed your worn-out land. 10 God, your people made their homes in it. From all your riches, you provided for those who were poor. 11 The Lord gives the message. The women who make it known are a huge group. 12 They said, “Kings and armies are running away. The women at home are dividing up the things the army took from their enemies. 13 Even while the soldiers sleep near the sheep pens, God wins the battle for them. He gives the enemy’s silver and gold to Israel, his dove.” 14 The Mighty One has scattered the kings around the land. It was like snow falling on Mount Zalmon. 15 Mount Bashan is a majestic mountain. Mount Bashan is a very rocky mountain. 16 Why are you jealous of Mount Zion, you rocky mountain? That’s where God chooses to rule. That’s where the Lord himself will live forever. 17 God has come with tens of thousands of his chariots. He has come with thousands and thousands of them. The Lord has come from Mount Sinai. He has entered his holy place. 18 When he went up to his place on high, he took many prisoners. He received gifts from people, even from those who refused to obey him. The Lord God went up to live on Mount Zion. 19 Give praise to the Lord. Give praise to God our Savior. He carries our heavy loads day after day. 20 Our God is a God who saves. He is the King and the Lord. He saves us from death. 21 God will certainly smash the heads of his enemies. He will break the hairy heads of those who keep on sinning. 22 The Lord says, “I will bring your enemies from Bashan. I will bring them up from the bottom of the sea. 23 Then your feet can wade in their blood. The tongues of your dogs can lick up all the blood they want.” 24 God, those who worship you come marching into view. My God and King, those who follow you have entered the sacred tent. 25 The singers are walking in front. Next come the musicians. Young women playing tambourines are with them. 26 The leaders sing, “Praise God among all those who worship him. Praise the Lord in the community of Israel.” 27 The little tribe of Benjamin leads the worshipers. Next comes the great crowd of Judah’s princes. Then come the princes of Zebulun and the princes of Naphtali. 28 God, show us your power. Show us your strength. God, do as you have done before. 29 Do it from your temple at Jerusalem, where kings will bring you gifts. 30 Give a strong warning to Egypt, that beast among the tall grass. It is like a herd of bulls among the calves. May that beast bow down before you with gifts of silver. Scatter the nations who like to make war. 31 Messengers will come from Egypt. The people of Cush will be quick to bring gifts to you. 32 Sing to God, you kingdoms of the earth. Sing praise to the Lord. 33 He rides across the highest places in heaven. He rides across the ancient skies above. He thunders with his mighty voice. 34 Tell how powerful God is. He rules as king over Israel. The skies show how powerful he is. 35 How wonderful is God in his holy place! The God of Israel gives power and strength to his people. Give praise to God!
This Psalm portrays the position of those in Gods favor, and those whom are enemies, and how the psalmist wants to see God destroy them. But as we read this today, what is there to digest personally?
For me it is the verses 32-34……
“Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth,
sing praise to the Lord,
to him who rides the ancient skies above,
who thunders with mighty voice.
Proclaim the power of God,
whose majesty is over Israel,
whose power is in the skies.”
This is a call to sing to our God and proclaim his power, and to revere his might. I think often we can tend to dilute God, or consider his power only as our feeble minds allow. But the greatest display of his power and might is in the creation of the skies above. I love how the great preacher Louie Giglio tries to give us some comprehension of the enormity of the universe, with stars that are trillion times larger than our planet, and exist thousands of light years away, and yet were created by the very word of God. (Ps33:6). He spoke, and they were birthed. Now that is power! To proclaim this means to announce, or publicly declare his power. That is what I need to digest for today.
Lord, help me to marvel at your majestic creation of the skies above, to sing praise to You and to proclaim, and speak of Your great power to others.
Written by Steve Fell
For the director of music. A psalm. A song to be played on stringed instruments. 1 God, have mercy on us and bless us. May you be pleased with us. 2 Then your ways will be known on earth. All nations will see that you have the power to save. 3 God, may the nations praise you. May all the people on earth praise you. 4 May the nations be glad and sing for joy. You rule the people of the earth fairly. You guide the nations of the earth. 5 God, may the nations praise you. May all the people on earth praise you. 6 The land produces its crops. God, our God, blesses us. 7 May God continue to bless us. Then people from one end of the earth to the other will have respect for him.
It’s amazing what a difference one word can make. “Then…” v6. Such a simple word yet so important. It links the promise with how to get the promise. It shows that praise precedes blessing.
But there is so much more to it than that. Verse 2 talks about God’s saving power and that this salvation is available to everyone – not just to Jewish people. That’s the reason for the praise. It’s Jesus Himself. He is the “how” – how God has redeemed us and rescued us. But not just us – all of creation, all of the earth, everything that was under sin’s curse (see Colossians 1:20). Jesus died and rose from the dead and rescued everything! And as if that wasn’t enough, when we respond to this audacious grace with faith and praise the blessings from God continue to flow.
Oh God of grace and mercy, thank you for Jesus. My savour and redeemer of everything. I fall to my knees and give You praise. Amen
Written by Boudy Van Noppen
For the director of music. A song. A psalm. 1 Shout to God for joy, everyone on earth! 2 Sing about the glory of his name! Give him glorious praise! 3 Say to God, “What wonderful things you do! Your power is so great that your enemies bow down to you in fear. 4 Everyone on earth bows down to you. They sing praise to you. They sing the praises of your name.” 5 Come and see what God has done. See what wonderful things he has done for people! 6 He turned the Red Sea into dry land. The people of Israel passed through the waters on foot. Come, let us be full of joy because of what he did. 7 He rules by his power forever. His eyes watch the nations. Let no one who refuses to obey him rise up against him. 8 Praise our God, all you nations. Let the sound of the praise you give him be heard. 9 He has kept us alive. He has kept our feet from slipping. 10 God, you have tested us. You put us through fire to make us like silver. 11 You put us in prison. You placed heavy loads on our backs. 12 You let our enemies ride their chariots over our heads. We went through fire and water. But you brought us to a place where we have everything we need. 13 I will come to your temple with burnt offerings. I will keep my promises to you. 14 I made them with my lips. My mouth spoke them when I was in trouble. 15 I will sacrifice fat animals to you as burnt offerings. I will offer rams, bulls and goats to you. 16 Come and hear, all you who have respect for God. Let me tell you what he has done for me. 17 I cried out to him with my mouth. I praised him with my tongue. 18 If I had enjoyed having sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. 19 But God has surely listened. He has heard my prayer. 20 Give praise to God. He has accepted my prayer. He has not held back his love from me.
This psalm is a persistent call to action – so many verbs!… Shout (for joy), Sing (of His name), Make (His praise glorious), Say (to God that He is awesome), Come and See (what God has done), Praise (our God), Come (to His temple), Come and Hear (what God has done), Cry (out to Him).
Strong, healthy relationships are built on mutual involvement. It’s easy to grow passive in our relationship with God from time to time, and end up taking Him for granted. This psalm is a good reminder of the need to be verbal in our praise of God and proactive in our seeking Him day by day – not just on Sunday in church.
Today as I write this, I am taking just a few minutes out of the busyness of life to listen to worship music, spend time focusing on God and worshiping Him. So needed and so good for the soul!
Father God, I thank You that You love to hear from Your people, that You incline Your hear to listen. Help me to remember You in my everyday life and not take for granted the awesome privilege it is to speak with You.
Written by Shelley Witt
For the director of music. A psalm of David. A song. 1 Our God, we look forward to praising you in Zion. We will keep our promises to you. 2 All people will come to you, because you hear and answer prayer. 3 When our sins became too much for us, you forgave our lawless acts. 4 Blessed are those you choose and bring near to worship you. You bring us into the courtyards of your holy temple. There in your house we are filled with all kinds of good things. 5 God our Savior, you answer us with right and wonderful deeds. People all over the world and beyond the farthest oceans put their hope in you. 6 You formed the mountains by your power. You showed how strong you are. 7 You calmed the oceans and their roaring waves. You calmed the angry words and actions of the nations. 8 Everyone on earth is amazed at the wonderful things you have done. What you do makes people from one end of the earth to the other sing for joy. 9 You take care of the land and water it. You make it able to grow many crops. You fill your streams with water. You do that to provide the people with grain. That’s what you have decided to do for the land. 10 You water its rows. You smooth out its bumps. You soften it with showers. And you bless its crops. 11 You bring the year to a close with huge crops. You provide more than enough food. 12 The grass grows thick even in the desert. The hills are dressed with gladness. 13 The meadows are covered with flocks and herds. The valleys are dressed with grain. They sing and shout for joy.
I have been challenged to expand my thinking in the area of faith. Faith is a big part of being an effective leader. A person of faith sees the promises of God that have not yet been fulfilled, and can see as if it has already happened. Then they keep persevering in prayer until it comes to pass.
In Psalm 65, David is speaking (actually, singing) out his faith in the goodness of God and for what is to yet to come. He sings praise for answered prayer, for forgiveness, for salvation for all people, and for abundant provision. David is singing out his faith in what God will do, as well as being thankful for what He has already done.
It’s so easy to get stuck focusing on what our natural eyes can see – difficult circumstances and challenges, and not lift our eyes to see in faith what God will do. May I be a person of faith and one who will not give up praying until God’s purposes come to pass.
Written by Shelley Witt
For the director of music. A psalm of David. 1 God, hear me as I tell you my problem. Don’t let my enemies kill me. 2 Hide me from evil people who talk about how to harm me. Hide me from those people who are planning to do evil. 3 They make their tongues like sharp swords. They aim their mean words like deadly arrows. 4 They shoot from their hiding places at people who aren’t guilty. They shoot quickly and aren’t afraid of being caught. 5 They help one another make evil plans. They talk about hiding their traps. They say, “Who can see what we are doing?” 6 They make plans to do what is evil. They say, “We have thought up a perfect plan!” The hearts and minds of people are so clever! 7 But God will shoot my enemies with his arrows. He will suddenly strike them down. 8 He will turn their own words against them. He will destroy them. All those who see them will shake their heads and look down on them. 9 All people will respect God. They will tell about his works. They will think about what he has done. 10 Godly people will be full of joy because of what the Lord has done. They will go to him for safety. All those whose hearts are honest will be proud of what he has done.
I’m sure there are times in all our lives when we feel the universe is against us. Worse still, times when our misery is the direct result of someone else’s words and actions. What a comfort to know we can rest in peace with God as our defender. When we are under attack we need to come back in ‘the opposite spirit’. It would be easy to retaliate against lies/deception/ambushes with spitefulness or a desire to get even. But we are called to take our problems to God. Let Him fight for us. Pray for our enemies, find shelter in the greatness of God who is never taken in by deceit. We need to guard our spirit in these circumstances and let God guide us in wisdom and grace. The universe may seem against us but the creator of the universe is most definitely on our side!
Father God I ask for your protection over my life. Help me God to honour you in all I do and say. Help me to find my shelter in you. Lord I pray for anyone who lies or plots against me that they would see your Glory and repent. May they be blessed. I pray this in Jesus name Amen
Written by Christine Knight
A psalm of David when he was in the Desert of Judah. 1 God, you are my God. I seek you with all my heart. With all my strength I thirst for you in this dry desert where there isn’t any water. 2 I have seen you in the sacred tent. There I have seen your power and your glory. 3 Your love is better than life. So I will bring glory to you with my lips. 4 I will praise you as long as I live. I will call on your name when I lift up my hands in prayer. 5 I will be as satisfied as if I had eaten the best food there is. I will sing praise to you with my mouth. 6 As I lie on my bed I remember you. I think of you all night long. 7 Because you have helped me, I sing in the shadow of your wings. 8 I hold on to you tightly. Your powerful right hand takes good care of me. 9 Those who want to kill me will be destroyed. They will go down into the grave. 10 They will be killed by swords. They will become food for wild dogs. 11 But the king will be filled with joy because of what God has done. All those who make promises in God’s name will be able to brag. But the mouths of liars will be shut.
“…2I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.
3Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.
4I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
5I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you…”
The Psalmist here has seen God, in some way. I would guess by revelation, when in His temple. The impact of seeing God is deeply significant – God’s love is obviously shed abroad in his heart, and a deep satisfaction, like that of enjoying fine foods, fills the psalmists soul.
It is undeniable, the strength of the Psalmists satisfaction in knowing God, and the natural overflow of such knowing is deep and rich praise.
The Psalmist didn’t just go anywhere to be with God. The Psalmist went to the sanctuary.
I can sometimes be a bit flippant as to how I engage with God. Because I have the Spirit, I tell myself, I can engage with God anywhere, anyhow. To some extent this is indeed true, but God must always receive my deep respect and reverence, wherever I engage with Him. His is a power, a glory, a love, and a satisfaction that far surpass everything in this world, even the finest of foods (and I like my food).
And God must be sought out. God is indeed everywhere, but I know He is present with His church, our modern “sanctuary”, every weekend. I must be found there week in, week out, and I can be present when God reveals Himself in magnificent and fresh ways.
Lord, help me truly respect you, always, as is your due. And keep me faithful to be present to you, found in your sanctuary, week in, week out. And keep my eyes open to your glory, for I know you satisfy my heart wonderfully.
Written by Ps. Rob Waugh
For the director of music. For Jeduthun. A psalm of David. 1 It is surely true that I find my rest in God. He is the God who saves me. 2 It is surely true that he is my rock. He is the God who saves me. He is like a fort to me. I will always be secure. 3 How long will you enemies attack me? Will all of you throw me down? I’m like a leaning wall. I’m like a fence about to fall. 4 Surely my enemies only want to pull me down from my place of honor. They take delight in telling lies. They bless me with what they say. But in their hearts they ask for bad things to happen to me. 5 Yes, I must find my rest in God. He is the God who gives me hope. 6 It is surely true that he is my rock and the God who saves me. He is like a fort to me, so I will always be secure. 7 I depend on God to save me and to honor me. He is my mighty rock and my place of safety. 8 Trust in him at all times, you people. Tell him all your troubles. God is our place of safety. 9 Surely ordinary people are only a breath. Important people are not what they seem to be. If they were weighed on a scale, they wouldn’t amount to anything. Together they are only a breath. 10 Don’t trust in money you have taken from others. Don’t put false hope in things you have stolen. Even if your riches grow, don’t put your trust in them. 11 God, I have heard you say two things. One is that power belongs to you, God. 12 The other is that your love, Lord, never ends. You will reward everyone in keeping with what they have done.
This psalm is about hope and trusting in God.
The psalm was written by King David, a man who experienced great highs and lows in his life. He was loved at times and he was hated at times. He lived in the king’s palace at times but he also lived in a cave for a time. He acted with great honour at times but he also acted dishonourably at times.
It was from these experiences David wrote with great confidence about Gods’ unfailing love.
What David discovered was in good times or bad (v8 NIV) pouring his heart out to God strengthened him in his walk with God.
This leaves me with the question ‘do I pour out my heart to God in times of personal need?’. ‘Do I put my trust in God or (v10) do I trust wealth for my security?’
These are big questions and are not easy to answer, so how about taking just 5 minutes out of today and share with God the things that are troubling you today.
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (1Peter 5:7 NIV)
Thank you, God that I can come to you with all my troubles and in turn you strengthen my inner being. I ask that with the strength you give me I can in turn strength others in their time of need.
Written by David Newton
For the director of music. A psalm of David to be played on stringed instruments. 1 God, hear my cry for help. Listen to my prayer. 2 From a place far away I call out to you. I call out as my heart gets weaker. Lead me to the safety of a rock that is high above me. 3 You have always kept me safe from my enemies. You are like a strong tower to me. 4 I long to live in your holy tent forever. There I find safety in the shadow of your wings. 5 God, you have heard my promises. You have given me what belongs to those who worship you. 6 Add many days to the king’s life. Let him live on and on for many years. 7 May he always enjoy your blessing as he rules. Let your love and truth keep him safe. 8 Then I will always sing praise to you. I will keep my promises day after day.
The first part of this psalm is a cry for rescue from that point of despair where his “heart is overwhelmed” (v2 NLT). I love the imagery he uses:
In the second part he asks for the blessing of long life and safety for the king.
I don’t know, but I suspect David wrote this psalm when he was being pursued by Saul. This would mean the king he asks blessing for is the same Saul from whom he needs rescuing. And if the king who pursues David is kept safe and lives a long life, David will sing God’s praises for it.
Some lessons for me: Expecting God to intervene decisively in my life now and into the future to eternity; And not just praying blessings on those who cause me trouble, but looking to see that blessing materialise and praising God when it does.
Oh Father, give me David’s heart towards you and towards those who wish me harm.
Written by David Cornell
1 God, you have turned away from us. You have attacked us. You have been angry. Now turn back to us! 2 You have shaken the land and torn it open. Fix its cracks, because it is falling apart. 3 You have shown your people hard times. You have made us drink the wine of your anger. Now we can’t even walk straight. 4 But you lead into battle those who have respect for you. You give them a flag to wave against the enemy’s weapons. 5 Save us and help us by your power. Do this so that those you love may be saved. 6 God has spoken from his temple. He has said, “I will win the battle. Then I will divide up the land around Shechem. I will divide up the Valley of Sukkoth. 7 Gilead belongs to me. So does the land of Manasseh. Ephraim is the strongest tribe. It is like a helmet for my head. Judah is the royal tribe. It is like a ruler’s scepter. 8 Moab serves me like one who washes my feet. I toss my sandal on Edom to show that I own it. I shout to Philistia that I have won the battle.” 9 Who will bring me to the city that has high walls around it? Who will lead me to the land of Edom? 10 God, isn’t it you, even though you have now turned away from us? Isn’t it you, even though you don’t lead our armies into battle anymore? 11 Help us against our enemies. The help people give doesn’t amount to anything. 12 With your help we will win the battle. You will walk all over our enemies.
Is this God’s battle? Is God involved? Is what’s at stake close to God’s heart? These are important questions to answer when I commit to a fight. If I am going to use the gifts and resources God has entrusted to me, I must use them for the right battles; God will hold me to account for the way I use that which he has entrusted to me. Time, energy, money, focus am I spending it the way my King wants me to spend it?
Even more fundamentally, am I fighting on the right side! The apostle Paul thought he was, and then met Jesus himself and had to switch sides. Is my heart ready to be wrong? Am I more interested in following the Spirit then being right?
Lord, this life is but a breath on the edge of eternity, I want to seek your Kingdom, fight for it alone. Show me where you are at work, and keep me from wasting your precious gifts. I never want to fight against you or fight a battle that doesn’t matter in eternity.
Written by Andrew Mellor
For the director of music. A miktam of David when Saul had sent men to watch David’s house. Saul sent the men to kill David. To the tune of “Do Not Destroy.” 1 God, save me from my enemies. Keep me safe from people who are attacking me. 2 Save me from those who do evil. Save me from people who want to kill me. 3 See how they hide and wait for me! Lord, angry people plan to harm me, even though I haven’t hurt them in any way or sinned against them. 4 I haven’t done anything wrong to them. But they are ready to attack me. Rise up and help me! Look at what I’m up against! 5 Lord God who rules over all, rise up. God of Israel, punish all the nations. Don’t show any mercy to those sinful people who have turned against me. 6 My enemies are like a pack of barking dogs that come back to the city in the evening. They prowl around the city. 7 Listen to what pours out of their mouths. The words from their lips are like swords. They think, “Who can hear us?” 8 But you laugh at them, Lord. You make fun of all those nations. 9 You give me strength. I look to you. God, you are like a fort to me. 10 You are my God, and I can depend on you. God will march out in front of me. He will let me look down on those who tell lies about me. 11 Lord, you are like a shield that keeps us safe. Don’t kill my enemies all at once. If you do, my people will forget about it. Use your power to pull my enemies up by the roots like weeds. Destroy them. 12 They have sinned with their mouths. Their lips have spoken evil words. They have cursed me and lied. Let them be caught in their pride. 13 Burn them up in your anger. Burn them up until there isn’t anything left of them. Then everyone from one end of the earth to the other will know that God rules over the people of Jacob. 14 My enemies are like a pack of barking dogs that come back into the city in the evening. They prowl around the city. 15 They wander around looking for food. They groan if they don’t find something that will satisfy them. 16 But I will sing about your strength. In the morning I will sing about your love. You are like a fort to me. You keep me safe in times of trouble. 17 You give me strength. I sing praise to you. God, you are like a fort to me. You are my God, and I can depend on you.
Verses 9-10 and 16-17 are already well marked in my Bible for this psalm. Verses that in times past have encouraged me, declared God’s love for me, declared that He is my place of safety and protection. But I’ve never put them into the context of the psalm and thought about the feelings of the writer – David. Men are lying in wait outside his house ready to do gross harm, to kill him. But David, instead of seeming panicked or overwhelmed, takes the time and another perspective on his situation. He leaves his enemies for God to sort out. He chooses to praise, He chooses to focus on God’s strength, God who loves him and will deliver him.
My life’s situations have certainly never been anywhere near David’s situation and yet we both worship the same God. David’s faith and trust in God is so sure, so secure, is mine? Where am I placing my confidence? I feel David’s’ challenge to me to always seek the other perspective – and keep my eyes on God.
I want to make verse 17 my prayer today ..” O my strength, I will sing praises to you, for you, O God, are my fortress, the God who shows me steadfast love.” (NRSV) Amen.
Written by Suzie Hodgson
For the director of music. A miktam of David to the tune of “Do Not Destroy.” 1 Are you rulers really fair when you speak? Do you judge people honestly? 2 No, in your hearts you plan to be unfair. With your hands you do terrible things on the earth. 3 Even from birth those who are evil go down the wrong path. From the day they are born they go the wrong way and spread lies. 4 Their words are like the poison of a snake. They are like the poison of a cobra that has covered up its ears. 5 It won’t listen to a snake charmer’s tune, even if the charmer plays very well. 6 God, break the teeth in the mouths of those sinners! Lord, tear out the sharp teeth of those lions! 7 Let those people disappear like water that flows away. When they draw their bows, let their arrows fall short of the target. 8 Let them be like a slug that melts away as it moves along. Let them be like a baby that is born dead and never sees the sun. 9 Evil people will be swept away before burning thorns can heat a pot. And it doesn’t matter if the thorns are green or dry. 10 Godly people will be glad when those who have hurt them are paid back. They will dip their feet in the blood of those who do evil. 11 Then people will say, “The godly will get their reward. There really is a God who judges the earth.”
This psalm recognizes that political affairs keep questions about power separate from questions about uprightness and faithfulness. Many rulers do not rule in ways that gives priority to integrity and concern for their people. There are supernatural forces working through human rulers, supernatural forces that are cynical about uprightness and faithfulness. When we are concerned about our society we need to recognize that the forces working against human well-being are more than merely human. This makes prayer vital to working for good in society, prayer that recognizes these realities. The psalm begins by addressing the forces themselves.
This prayer is a prayer for desperate people, for powerless people threatened by powerful people who are as dangerous as deadly snakes that will not listen to anyone who tries to stop them from using their poisonous potential. The victims know that God exacts justice, and they look forward to the relief that will come when God does so.
Father, help me to be patient, even as I observe injustice, knowing that vengeance is Yours not mine!
Written by Ps. Richard Botta
For the director of music. A miktam of David when he had run away from Saul into the cave. To the tune of “Do Not Destroy.” 1 Have mercy on me, God. Have mercy on me. I go to you for safety. I will find safety in the shadow of your wings. There I will stay until the danger is gone. 2 I cry out to God Most High. I cry out to God, and he shows that I am right. 3 He answers from heaven and saves me. He puts to shame those who chase me. He shows his love and that he is faithful. 4 Men who are like lions are all around me. I am forced to lie down among people who are like hungry animals. Their teeth are like spears and arrows. Their tongues are like sharp swords. 5 God, may you be honored above the heavens. Let your glory be over the whole earth. 6 My enemies spread a net to catch me by the feet. I felt helpless. They dug a pit in my path. But they fell into it themselves. 7 God, my heart feels secure. My heart feels secure. I will sing and make music to you. 8 My spirit, wake up! Harp and lyre, wake up! I want to sing and make music before the sun rises. 9 Lord, I will praise you among the nations. I will sing about you among the people of the earth. 10 Great is your love. It reaches to the heavens. Your truth reaches to the skies. 11 God, may you be honored above the heavens. Let your glory be over the whole earth.
Whether things are going well in life, or badly, life has a habit of just getting crazy.
I don’t know if it has been part of our human nature since sin entered the world, or whether it is a more modern phenomenon, but it just seems that the default position of modern humanity is to just keep doing doing doing doing doing as much as we can, either out of fear and anxiety, fighting to stay alive, or out of joyful exuberance, energised by the last success and striving for the next one.
I just love though, that as I stop. And read this.
A quiet psalm. Beautiful in its poetic language.
Focussed on the one true God.
I am able to appreciate His presence.
I am able to hear his true voice.
I am able to be still and know that He is God.
And that presence and peace gives me all that I need to know that having stopped, I will be all the more effective than if I had just kept running.
Written by Ps Justin Ware
For the director of music. A miktam of David after the Philistines had captured him in Gath. To the tune of “A Dove on Distant Oak Trees.” 1 Help me, God. Men are chasing me. All day long they keep attacking me. 2 My enemies chase me all day long. Many proud people are attacking me. 3 When I’m afraid, I put my trust in you. 4 I trust in God. I praise his word. I trust in God. I am not afraid. What can mere people do to me? 5 All day long they twist my words. They are always making plans to destroy me. 6 They get together and hide. They watch my steps. They hope to kill me. 7 Because they are so evil, make sure you don’t let them escape. God, bring down the nations in your anger. 8 Make a record of my sadness. List my tears in your book. Aren’t you making a record of them? 9 My enemies will turn back when I call out to you for help. Then I will know that God is on my side. 10 I trust in God. I praise his word. I trust in the Lord. I praise his word. 11 I trust in God. I am not afraid. What can mere people do to me? 12 God, I have made promises to you. I will bring my thank offerings to you. 13 You have saved me from the darkness of death. You have kept me from tripping and falling. Now I can live with you in the light of life.
David faces fierce opposition from his enemies, who are out to destroy him. I notice that in the midst of describing his difficulties he takes positive action. David requests God’s help, chooses to trust God, chooses to praise God and chooses to thank God. David does not deny the seriousness of the opposition, he states it plainly.
What challenges me is the way he also plainly states God’s ability in his requests. David is aware of his problem but he is also aware of God’s power and that God is for him. It is this consciousness of God’s power that enables him to declare confidently, ‘what can man do to me?’
I am very good at describing my problems… but I am not so well-practiced in being conscious of God’s power and declaring it over my situation. God, please help me to be like David and to take positive action in the face of difficulty. Help me to request your help, praise you, trust you and thank you. Help me to see and believe that walking in victory really is that simple. Amen.
Written by Beth Waugh
For the director of music. A maskil of David to be played on stringed instruments. 1 God, listen to my prayer. Pay attention to my cry for help. 2 Hear me and answer me. My thoughts upset me. I’m very troubled. 3 I’m troubled by what my enemies say about me. I’m upset because they say they will harm me. They cause me all kinds of suffering. When they are angry, they attack me with their words. 4 I feel great pain deep down inside me. The terrors of death have fallen on me. 5 Fear and trembling have taken hold of me. Panic has overpowered me. 6 I said, “I wish I had wings like a dove! Then I would fly away and be at rest. 7 I would escape to a place far away. I would stay out in the desert. 8 I would hurry to my place of safety. It would be far away from the winds and storms I’m facing.” 9 Lord, confuse the sinners and keep them from understanding one another. I see people destroying things and fighting in the city. 10 Day and night they prowl around on top of its walls. The city is full of crime and trouble. 11 Forces that destroy are at work inside it. Its streets are full of people who cheat others and take advantage of them. 12 If an enemy were making fun of me, I could stand it. If he were getting ready to oppose me, I could hide. 13 But it’s you, someone like myself. It’s my companion, my close friend. 14 We used to enjoy good friendship at the house of God. We used to walk together among those who came to worship. 15 Let death take my enemies by surprise. Let them be buried alive, because their hearts and homes are full of evil. 16 But I call out to God. And the Lord saves me. 17 Evening, morning and noon I groan and cry out. And he hears my voice. 18 Even though many enemies are fighting against me, he brings me safely back from the battle. 19 God has been on his throne since ancient times and does not change. He will hear my enemies and make them humble. That’s because they have no respect for God. 20 My companion attacks his friends. He breaks his promise. 21 His talk is as smooth as butter. But he has war in his heart. His words flow like olive oil. But they are like swords ready for battle. 22 Turn your worries over to the Lord. He will keep you going. He will never let godly people be shaken. 23 God, you will bring sinners down to the grave. Murderers and liars won’t live out even half of their lives. But I trust in you.
This Psalm is not the most encouraging, or uplifting passage to read in the morning, as one prepares for the day ahead. But it actually can turn our thinking, as we all journey through difficulties at times in our lives. The Psalmist is in a dark place at this time. He is suffering betrayal from a friend, who was obviously a close friend. Who this is, we do not know. But we have all been there.
This Psalm moves in three stages, from fear to fury and then finally to faith. Fear leads only to desire to flee. Fury only emphasizes the consciousness of the wrong. Faith alone creates courage.
V22 “Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain You”. This is the verse which I believe is the emphasis for this passage for today. Note that the verse does not state that He will takes away our troubles, but that He will sustain us through the troubles. Our faith in God will give us the courage, knowing that the one who created the universe in its entirety, is journeying with us, before us, ahead and alongside, in times of turmoil.
Thank you Lord for you faithfulness to me, that despite my failings, and at times lack of trust in You, that you give me the faith to be courageous. I ask this again for this new day ahead. Amen
Written by Steve Fell
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