Psalms of the Day

Psalm 42

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This in one of my favorite Psalms. I love the honesty, the roller coaster of emotion , the depths and the heights. Many is the day when I have to instruct myself more than once to “bless the Lord, O my soul!”

Psalm 42

S)  Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. (Psalm 42:11 ESV)

H) The Psalm is attributed to the Sons of Korah. Who was Korah? A great gandson of Levi, we read about him being put to death for his rebellion against Yahweh (Num. 16). His boys escaped the judgment (Num. 16:11) and later became doorkeepers and then leaders of worship in the sanctuary of God. It contains one of the most beloved (and most sung) passages of Scripture:

As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. (Ps 42:1 ESV)

This Psalm and Psalm 43 were separated but likely make up one song. Throughout the Psalm there is great distress. The singer is weeping, crying out for help, taunted and oppressed by adversaries. He wonders when he will ever be able to once again lead the throngs of worshipers into God’s house. Repeatedly, rather than let despair overtake him, he instructs his soul to bless the Lord. (Twice in this psalm, v.5, 11 and once in the companion Psalm 43:5)

A) As John Piper has remarked, “Life is not a straight line leading from one blessing to the next and then finally to heaven. Life is a winding and troubled road. Switchback after switchback.” Saints will always experience great heights of joy but, just as certain, great depths of suffering. I am so grateful that God knows our frame. He knows that we are but dust and He holds in His heart a Father’s pity for our weaknesses and our often faithless responses to trials. The psalmist is reminding himself of God’s faithfulness and everlasting promises. So often I have had to do this. My dark nights of the soul have not been as tortuous as many others have been but they are still mine and they are real. Thankfully, the Spirit has comforted me and prompted me again and again to count on the promises of the Father. I love this verse and chorus of a song we are singing in church:

When I fear my faith will fail,
Christ will hold me fast;
when the tempter would prevail,
He will hold me fast.
I could never keep my hold through life’s fearful path;
for my love is often cold; He must hold me fast.

He will hold me fast,
He will hold me fast;
for my Savior loves me so,
He will hold me fast.

P) Father, I pray that I would know ever more deeply your keeping power in my life. You can surely be trusted and my heart is safe in your hands. In Jesus name, Amen.

E) He will hold you fast! 

 

The Psalms of the Day for 10/12 are: 12, 42, 72, 102, 132

Reading the Psalms of the Day is a very helpful way to energize and broaden your prayers. You can learn more about praying the psalms here. You can download a chart of the daily readings here. Learn about the S.H.A.P.E. Method of engaging with scripture here.

Psalms of the Day

Psalm 135

psalmsoftheday
Idolatry is the act of trusting in anything or anyone to bring satisfaction to the deepest desire of our longing hearts. Our God speaks to that deep desire. The idols of any age “have no breath within them.” God offers to breathe life into our hearts with a vision of His glory. If we insist on our idols, we risk becoming like them: deaf, blind, mute and lifeless. Jesus offers so much more!

Psalm 135

S)  “The idols of the nations are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; they have eyes, but do not see; they have ears, but do not hear, nor is there any breath in their mouths. Those who make them become like them, so do all who trust in them.” (Psalm 135:15-18 ESV)

H) In this Psalm, God is celebrated as the Creator and the Lord of all history. The Psalm consists of 4 sections:

V.1-4 All of God’s servants are urged to give Him great praise

V. 5-14 Reasons to give God praise. Focus is on His creative power and His acts of redemption toward Israel

V. 15-18 The uselessness of idols and the danger of becoming like them.

V. 19-21 A return to the call to praise. Blessing the Lord is exhorted 5 times.

Are you familiar with cover bands? They are music groups that “cover” the songs of popular artists. They may put their own spin on them but the lyrics remain the same. Sometimes they will do a medley, covering  pieces of several songs and presenting them as one piece. The unknown author of this Psalm has done just that. He has his own take on things but the psalm is largely the content of other scriptures woven into a new piece.

A) The characteristics of idols in the OT is that they are deaf, dumb and blind. The main idea was that they were dead. “…nor is there any breath in their mouths.” The idols of any age are only empty dead ends.  The scriptures tell me that Jesus is a living “life-giver.” (John 5:21; John 6:33; John 6:39-40; John 6:54; John 6:57; Romans 8:2; Romans 8:10) My instinct for self-preservation is not simply a desire to not die but is rooted in my deepest desire to be fully alive and united to Jesus in His eternal life. So why do I so often trust in things that cannot give me life? I feel the tension that is always with me – “this will satisfy you more than prayer…this is more vital than your Bible…this will give you immediate pleasure, why wait for some pie in the sky?” Variations of these fiery darts seem to always be assaulting my shield of faith in one form or another.  I am reminded in this Psalm of two things. 1) God’s reputation is good. He has a track record. He will deliver those who trust Him. 2) Praise is a means to keeping my heart anchored to God’s faithfulness. When I drift from the cross, when my praise turns to complaining and I begin to doubt God’s faithfulness, I am ripe for idolatry. The more I bow before whatever that idol may be I will become more like it. Deaf to God’s voice, blind to God’s truth, muted instead of giving thanks, and ultimately courting death. I want to choose daily to direct my affections toward God and trust in His faithfulness.

P)  O God, you are my life! I bless You for are true and faithful. You are the great creator of all things and the sovereign over all of life. There is nothing in this world that can breathe life into me other than you. Keep me alert to the snares of death. Help me to cooperate with Your Spirit’s promptings and set my heart continually upon You. Give me an ever growing desire to feast on Your truth so that my shield of  faith may stand strong against the lies of the enemy of my soul. In Jesus name, Amen!

E) God’s reputation is good! He is worthy of your trust and praise.

 

The Psalms of the Day for the 15th are: 15, 45, 75, 105, 135

Reading the Psalms of the Day is a very helpful way to energize and broaden your prayers. You can learn more about praying the psalms here. You can download a chart of the daily readings here. Learn about the S.H.A.P.E. Method of engaging with scripture here.

 

Psalms of the Day

Psalm 73

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To draw near to thee, my God,
Shall be my sweet employ;
My tongue shall sound thy works abroad,
And tell the world my joy.

Isaac Watts, Hymn:”God our Portion Here and Hereafter.”

Psalm 73

S) But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, that I may tell of all your works. (Psalm 73:28)

H) This Psalm is in three parts. Each part is introduced by the word “Surely” (v. 1, 13, 18 – NASB;NIV). It is attributed to Asaph and it’s refreshingly honest. Asaph admits his great envy of the godless who increase in riches and appear to have an easy life. It seems that all of his efforts to walk righteously have been a waste of time! Why is it that the ungodly prosper while the righteous suffer trials and persecution? What benefit is there in denying one’s self the sinful pleasures of the world? Where is the justice and equity of God? I have to sadly admit that these questions have crossed my mind. The psalmist feels like an idiot when he finally steps back and reflects. (v.21-22) Asaph reminds us of two things:

1) Keep the big picture in mind. There is an end to the temporary happiness of the wicked. (v.16-20)
2) God is our refuge and our hope. It is good to stay near to God. (v.23-28)

A) Jesus tells me that I can do nothing apart from Him. My goal then is to do as He says and “abide in the vine” (John 15). Jesus made a way through His shed blood for me to “draw near to God” (James 4:8, Hebrews 10:22) and it is by staying near to Him that I maintain His perspective on my sufferings, my joys, my temptations and my true and eternal hope. It isn’t complicated. I stay close through prayer, Bible meditation, worship, fellowship, hearing the preached Word and attending to the table of the Lord. As I draw close and abide in Christ, my eyes are filled with the treasure He truly is. I can say with Asaph:

Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.
(Psalm 73:25-26 ESV)

 

P) Father in heaven, I am often confused and dismayed as I look around this world. So often it seems that those who have no heart for you are richly rewarded. They cater to their flesh by their riches and I find myself with seeds of resentment in my heart. O God! You are my everlasting joy! This life is but a vapor and those who perish without Your grace will see an eternal end of all happiness but for those who trust in You there are pleasures forevermore. Our heartaches are for a moment, our joy is everlasting. Thank you Father. Prompt me day by day to draw close to You, make You my refuge and tell others of Your works. In Jesus name. Amen

 

E) Draw near to Jesus today!

 

The Psalms of the Day for the 13th are: 13, 43, 73, 103, 133

Reading the Psalms of the Day is a very helpful way to energize and broaden your prayers. You can learn more about praying the psalms here. You can download a chart of the daily readings here. Learn about the S.H.A.P.E. Method of engaging with scripture here.

The SHAPE Bible Study Method

A simple way to get more out of the Scriptures

Years ago I began using a method for engaging the scriptures called SOAP. The method was crafted by Wayne Coderio and made popular through his book The Divine Mentor which I heartily recommend to you. The acronym, SOAP, stood for Scripture, Observation, Application and Prayer.

The basic idea was to ask the Holy Spirit to highlight one or two verses in your Bible reading and then apply the 4 parts. 1) Write out the Scripture. 2) Make notes of observations – who, what, where, why? 3)  Write down an application of how you want to respond to God’s word. 4) Write out a prayer based on the passage and your application.

Over time, as I used this method personally and with a group of men, I needed to add one component: Exhortation. The reason for this was due to God’s speaking to our church about the need to “speak truth to one another.”  Often when we read that verse (Eph. 4:15) we assume it means to be frank with others about their failings! While it’s true that we need to be honest with one another (Eph.4:25), verse 15 is speaking of not being carried away by false doctrine. We should speak to one another edifying truth from God’s Word to encourage faithfulness. As a church, we memorize scripture to help us with just that. In order to add the “Exhortation” component to SOAP, I needed to change the acronym to incorporate the E. So we changed it to SHAPE.  The “O” which stood for “observation” was changed to “H” for “hermeneutic”. If you’re familiar with the word, it’s basically the same idea of who, what, where and why.

So expanding the idea to include exhortation we have:

S) Scripture – write down the passage.

H) Hermeneutic – make observational notes about the passage – Who is speaking? Where are they? What is the occasion? Why is this being said?

A) Application – What is your response to the passage? What is God speaking to your heart?

P) Prayer – Write out a prayer of response to God’s word to you.

E) Exhortation – Speak a word of truth to others. (Call, text, social media, etc…)