Praying the Psalms: Psalm 21

Psalm 21 is another royal psalm, closely connected to the preceding psalm, psalm 20. Psalm 21 serves as a prayer of thanksgiving to God for his blessings on the King. The themes of kingship and kingdom run throughout the Bible. As we look at the joy the people of Israel found in their righteous and godly king, we too find our joy in the eternal king Jesus Christ. As we look at this Psalm today we will find that the Lord blessed his anointed King and exalts him to glory. Praying the Psalms

Commentary

v 1-7 - The Psalm begins as a prayer to God in thanksgiving for their King and the way God has honored the king. The king is a godly and righteous king who rejoices in the Lord, delighting in the salvation of God. As a result, God is faithful to bless the king. He gives the king his hearts desire and sets a crown  of fine gold upon his head. God blesses the king with a long life and the king is made glorious through the salvific work of God. God gives to him splendor an majesty. The King is the most blessed, because “the king trusts in the Lord” (7).

God loves to bless his anointed king. Though this psalm was originally addressed to a godly king in Israel, this psalm points so clearly to the true king and the true son of David. Jesus is the Christ. Christ means the anointed one. Jesus is the faithful and obedient servant king who finds his strength in God. He rejoices in the presence of his Father and delights to obey him.

Since Jesus is the righteous king, God crowns him with honor and praise. Jesus is the forever king of God’s people, because he is the only perfectly righteous king. The Father gives to his son life, and resurrected life at that. The length of his days stretch thought the unfathomable time of eternity.

The psalmist tells us that “His glory is great through your salvation; splendor and majesty you bestow on him” (5). Truer words have never been spoken about Jesus. Jesus the king is made glorious through the salvation of God. Through the salvation God purchased through the death of the righteous king, the king then receives the glory for it. The ascribing of splendor and majesty is ascribed to Jesus so clearly in the Christ Hymn of Philippians 2:5-11. Jesus who became the obedient servant, even unto death is know highly exalted by God. God gives to him the name that is above every name.

v 8-12 - The psalm continues in its celebration of the king by praising the Lord for his protection of the king. Enemies may very well rise up to challenge the King. They may be filled with violent hate, but the Lord will deliver the King from his enemies. “The Lord will swallow them up in his wrath, and fire will consume them”. The King’s enemies do not stand a chance. They will be wiped away by the very power of God.  Though the enemies may plan evil against the king, they will not succeed.

Certainly the powers of darkness cannot stand agains the anointed king Jesus. Despite all their cunning and hatred towards Jesus, their plans were foiled. Though they sought to kill Jesus, God used his death to bring about salvation and resurrected glory. Those who stand as enemies of God’s anointed king should be fearful, whether demonic or human. Jesus the true King will come again and establish his kingdom on the earth. Those who align themselves with the powers of darkness will face swift destruction and the eternal wrath of God.

v 13 - The Psalm concludes with a crescendo of praise. May the Lord be exalted in his strength, because the Lord provides strength to his anointed and blessed the righteous King. As we think about the kingship of Jesus, it is mean to bring us before our knees in worship. God is glorifies through his King and as we serve King Jesus with our lives, it is done  in worship and in love to God.

Prayer Guide

  • Thank God for King Jesus and for the way God has exalted him.
  • Thank God for the salvation given to you through Jesus.
  • Praise God for the confidence we have knowing that Jesus’ enemies will one day be defeated once and for all.
  • Praise the Lord for his strength and he glorifies himself through his King.

Praying the Psalms: Psalm 19

God is a revealing God. He does not conceal himself, hiding away like the Wizard of Oz behind a curtain. God loves to show himself. David, in Psalm 19 is going to celebrate God’s revelation of himself both through the creation and through his word. God reveals himself generally through the cosmos, and specifically through the Scriptures. God’s gracious act of communicating himself to us is undeserved, but it is absolutely wonderful. If it wasn’t for God communicating himself to us, we would not know him. God reveals himself to us so that we might respond to his glory in worship.

Praying the Psalms

Commentary

v 1-6 - God has revealed himself in the cosmos. “The Heavens declare the glory of God.” Theologians call this aspect of God’s revelatory work general revelation. General revelation means that God has revealed himself to all people simply by creating the universe. We can see aspects of his attributes and character simply by observing creation. We can observe his grandness as we look at the immense size of galaxies or we can perceive his order and rule as he establishes the laws of physics. We can identify his creativity by looking at the his imagination at work in the many different organisms that populate our planet. We can comprehend his beauty by standing on a mountain watching the parting clouds over the red and orange tapestry of the sunset. The heavens are declaring the glory of God!

David tells us that each day is a mini sermon. The world itself is pouring out revelation. “Day to day pours out speech and night to night reveals knowledge.” The universe each day in rhythm continues its unceasing praise to God simply by its continual existence. The world is communicating something to us. The universe is pointing us to its creator, God himself. David says that speech doesn’t exist if the voice isn’t heard, but the voice of the cosmos of God’s glory is spread throughout the ends of the earth.

The voice of God’s general revelation goes out like the rising of the sun. The sun comes out each day like a bridegroom leaving his chamber. The sun runs its course across the sky with joy. It rises from one end of the sky and sets as the other. The light of the sun covers the earth and there is nothing hidden from its heat.

Everyone can hear the voice of creation testifying to its creator. Though many choose to ignore this message or drown it out, the message is hitting our ears if only we would listen to it. This complex, gargantuan, and beautiful cosmos sings like a choir in one unified message, “Glory to God!”

God speaks this message to every human being. We have all heard, yet we all reject God. Though God reveals himself generally to all, general revelation only condemns us. Though many people have yet to hear about Jesus and the Gospel, we are all witnesses to the general revelation of God and we have rejected him as God and have worshiped created things rather than the creator (Rom 1:25). Yet, even though our sin blinds us, the heavens speak, declaring the glory of God.

v. 7-11 - God not only reveals himself through creation, but God also speaks to us with words. Theologians call this special or specific revelation. The Bible, God’s written word is special revelation, and David begins to celebrate God’s revelatory work as he considers God’s word.

Verse 7-9 are a series of parallel statements describing and celebrating God’s word.  The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. Yes, how the word of God brings life to our soul! Though we are downcast, numb, and lifeless, God’s word comes in power restoring and reviving. The word of God brings life to those dry bones, so too does it revive those dead in sin and brings life.

The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The word of God is a sure foundation. It is stable and firm. It is not filled with lofty and confusing worldly wisdom, but rather is simple and straight forward. It is a message that is clear to all people.

The precepts are the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart. God’s words brings joy to our hearts, because they are right and true. We delight in the truth, so we delight in God’s revealed words. They are precious to us and we long to read them and know them. They are our joy because through his right precepts we are able to know and love God.

The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. Scripture is pure and righteous. As we read it we see who we truly are. Our eyes are opened to see our own brokenness and sin as we gaze at the righteousness of God.

The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever. Yes, the word of God is clean. It is without error and without corruption. It is infallible and inerrant. As a result the word of God is fixed, enduring for ever. It never changes, because God never changes. As Jesus says, not one iota will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. (Mt 5:18)

The rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. God’s word is true and righteous. It is the good word and the right word. It is the objective standard of what is right and wrong, what is good and what is holy, and what is righteous and what is sinful.

What response to we have to this wonderful self-revelation of God called the Scriptures? Well as David tells us in v. 10, we desire it. We long to know it and to read it. These Scriptures are more to be desired than gold. The word of God is sweeter than honey. We delight and desire for more of God’s revelation. We long for more of his word. We would gladly trade all the treasures and jewels and money in the world in order to own a Bible.

If only we would desire God’s word in this way, but our hearts are so stubborn. We spend so much time seeking the gold of materialism and the sweetness of the honey called comfort. If only we would repent of lesser joys in order to seek the greater joy, God himself, as we experience him and know him through his word! The word of God provides instructions and warnings. In keeping the word of God and following it, there is great reward.

v. 12-14 - The Psalm moves to reflection and confession. As we think about God’s revelation of himself, the only response is humility. God has revealed himself through his creation but more specifically through his word. Through the word of God we receive the Gospel message of Christ that tells us of our salvation by the grace of God. As we think of God’s revelatory work may we respond like David in humility. May God declare us innocent through the blood of Christ and keep us from sin. Through the mercy of God may we be made blameless and innocent under the blood of Jesus Christ.

The Gospel of Jesus is the pinnacle, the highpoint of revelation. He is the one to whom all revelation points. As we see the arrows of the created order pointing us to God and as hear the words of God recorded in the Scriptures, the are all pointing to the glory of the redeemer, Jesus Christ. He is the one who takes away our sin and who makes us innocent and blameless. Praise be to God for his son and for his redemption. May we praise the Lord for his greatest work of revelation, as his word puts on flesh and dwells among us in the person of Jesus Christ.

v. 14 - The Psalm concludes in solemn prayer for God to find acceptable the words of David’s psalm. “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord , my rock and my redeemer”. Even time we get on our knees in prayer, as we meditate on God’s written word, or as we speak to others about God, may this be our prayer. May our words and may our thinking be acceptable to God. May we think and speak in a way that gives glory to God and is acceptable to him. We we rightly divide the word of truth, speaking clearly and accurately about this glorious God.

Prayer Guide

  • Praise God for his created order and the beauty all around you that points to him.
  • Thank God for revealing himself not only through creation, but through his word.
  • Ask God to help you delight in his word more than gold or honey.
  • Confess your sins before God and ask that through the blood of Christ he would make you innocent and blameless before him.
  • Ask God to help you think and speak in a way that is acceptable this and honoring to him in all you say.

Praying the Psalms: Psalm 15

How can man be with God? Who can come before His presence? We tend to ignore the importance of that question. We live in a world in which many people deny the transcendent. Functionally, many people live as if there is no God. So why would they wonder how they can be in his presence? Yet, this is the most fundamental question. Who can come before the presence of God? As we look at another Psalm of David, we are going to see David meditate on just this question. IMG_0500

Commentary

v. 1 - The Psalm begins with two parallel questions. "O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill?" The question presupposes something foundational—not every human being will be accepted before God in his glorious presence. The idea of the tent David mentions draws our attention to the tabernacle that was used during the wilderness years. The tabernacle served as the home of the very presence of God in the midst of the encamped people. Later, Solomon would be a temple, place on that holy hill. The tabernacle/temple dynamic in the Old Testament serves as an important tool in teaching us about God and his presence.

First, God is distinct and holy. The innermost part of the temple was the holy of holies. It was the most sacred space. Only the high priest could enter in to make a sacrifice. He would only enter once a year after extensive purification and preparation. To enter into that place was gloriously terrifying. God is holy and untouchable.

Second, We are defiled and unclean. Because of our sin, we cannot simply waltz into the presence of God as we would stroll about our homes. God provided strict rules of who was allowed to come into his presence. The reason for this is because we are sinners. Our rebellion causes separation between us and God.

So as we look at this in the canon of Scripture, “who shall dwell on your holy hill?”—the answer is no human being. We have all fallen short. We have all sinned. Yet, we know that God makes a way. He cleanses us from our sin, not through the sacrifice of bulls and goats, but through the final sacrifice for all, the Lord Jesus Christ. It was through the death of the Lord Jesus that the thick curtain that separated the holy of holies was ripped in two. For those who come clothed in the righteousness of Jesus by faith, they may enter into the very presence of God.

So this psalm does not intended to show us how to be saved, as that is not its purpose. If we were to read it in that way we would severely misunderstand its meaning and wrongly conclude that all it takes is to be a good person. Yet, that is not what David is trying to teach us. David knew that he is not blameless. The man was a murderer and adulterer. Just read David's psalm of confession in psalm 51.

So what is the purpose of this psalm? This psalm was most likely sung by the people of Israel as they would gather at the temple for worship. It was a song of personal reflection and heart examination. Am I coming to God with the ideal heart for worship?

As Christians, we gather into worship on Sunday morning in a trivial and lackadaisical manner. We enter into worship with little self reflection and little confession. We truly don't prepare our hearts for worship. Unfortunately churches have become in practice like the theater. A group of people socializing and taking there seats getting ready to watch the show. Yet, Psalm 15 instructs us that when we come to worship we must examine ourselves.

v. 2-5b - David then begins to give a list of inner characteristics that describe a true worshiper. The inner and personal holiness of a Christian is vital for true worship. Yes, we are not saved by our works. Yet, Christ Jesus didn't save us to leave us as sinners. Rather, as Christians we embark on a journey of sanctification. Though we cannot reach perfection in this life, the end goal is that we will one day worship God in complete purity and personal holiness. As we worship God today, we must seek to worship him in the inner purity of our heart and life. Where there is sin we must confess it and repent. We must seek to become, by the Spirit's power, true worshipers of the Lord.

So what sort of character does David describe? Well, a true worshiper walks blamelessly and does what is right. He speaks truth in his heart. What a beautiful combination! A true worshiper of God loves the truth and sound doctrine, yet lives it out in his daily life as he walks blamelessly.

The true worshiper also speaks the truth. He does not slander or speak evil to his neighbor. His relationships with other people are upright. He doesn't tear people down and he doesn't use people for his own selfish gain. A true worshiper possesses a reputation for honesty by those around him.

A true worshiper also despises evil. He has a love for those who fear and love the Lord. He honors those who fear God while despising those who are vile. This person keeps his promises and he does not back out of them though it might end up being personally costly to him. In the words of Jesus, his yes is yes and his no is no. He generously treats all people fairly, not even charging interest to others. He is just and refuses to take a bribe.

The person David describes is morally upright, solid in character, loving in personal relationships, and known for his personal integrity. This is the kind of person that can come and truly worship the Lord. As we read these sort of character traits they give us pause. Am I such a man or woman? In Christ, am I becoming someone who walks blamelessly? Who speaks truth? Who is generous and loves justice? The answer, if we are honest, is this: we still have a long ways to go. By God's grace may he form us into this type of worshiper as he conforms us to the image of his perfect son Jesus Christ.

As we read this list of inner character traits, only Jesus alone could fulfill them. If these are the requirements of entering in to the tent of God's presence, than he alone could enter in without fear. Yet, by the substitutionary death of Jesus, God gives us Jesus’ perfect record of righteousness. Now, by the Spirit's work, God is transforming us into who we now are in Christ.

v. 5b - The last sentence tells us the sort of confidence this sort of worshiper can have. "He who does these things shall never be moved." For those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ for salvation and who daily seek personal holiness, we can have great confidence. We will not be shaken and we will not be moved. Through the love of Christ and the gracious work of the preserving and sanctifying work of the holy Spirit one day we will see God face to face in all his glory.

As you come into worship this upcoming Sunday, remember it is a foretaste of heavenly realities. Examine your heart. Come prepared for worship. Seek holiness and justice in your life, and know that it is only through Jesus that you shall dwell on that holy hill in worship.

Prayer Guide

  • Thank God for Jesus and for his grace in granting you access to the Father.
  • Ask the Lord to reveal to you hidden sin. Examine yourself.
  • Ask the Lord to help you seek personal holiness and to grow in the image of Jesus Christ
  • Thank God that through Jesus you can come before God in confidence.

Praying the Psalms: Psalm 14

How can there be so many atheists? As we look at the world around us secularism is on the rise. More and more people in our country are stating they have no religious affiliation.  Unbelief is on the rise. Yet, even those who claim no religious affiliation act and live as if there is no God—including, sadly, many professed Christians. They go about their life following desires of their own flesh, unaware that God is ruling and watching. How should we pray when there are so many people who just flat out deny the existence of God? How should we pray when there are so many whose lives are lived in practical denial of God's existence? This particular Psalm of lament by David expresses the frustration and prayers of a man who lives in such a world. IMG_0500

Commentary

v. 1-4 - The psalm instructs that the fool says in his heart that there is no God. The word fool here does not indicate that people who are atheists are dumb. Some of the brightest minds in our world today are atheists. So what does it mean that those who deny the existence of God are fools? The foolishness described here is not simply intellectual but moral. Many stubbornly reject what has God has revealed. Whether we are a committed atheist or not, everyone of us has lived our lives in our own way. Even though we may believe that there is a God, we have not lived our lives consistently in light of that truth.

So many people live there lives today as if there is no God. We make ourselves God. The chief purpose of our life is self-fulfillment and self-actualization. As a result we ignore what is right and true as we give ourselves over to the corrupt.  As we look upon the human race we can conclude like David that there is no one who does good.

As v. 2 begins, we see the Lord searching the earth for any human being that has understanding and for any human being who seeks after God.  The conclusion of the Lord's search is bleak, but vital for us to understand. Every human being has turned aside. Every human being is corrupt.  There is none who are good, not even one.

This grim picture of humanity is hard for us to accept. Many believe that human being are inherently good and that there is nothing wrong with us. Sure, there might be a few bad people out there, but most of humanity are good people. Yes, there is a lot of goodness in humanity because we have been created in God's image, but at our core we are condemned sinners. Sin has so corrupted us that there remains no aspect of our lives untainted. We are totally depraved and sinners by nature. This is the huge problem of humanity: we are truth suppressers and truth deniers.

The apostle Paul would use this Psalm as evidence of humanities innate sinfulness. In his great letter to the Romans, he begins his book explaining the sinfulness of humanity and the just judgement and wrath they deserve from God. Referring to this Psalm, Paul in Romans 3:10-11 would lay out his conclusion, "that there is no one righteous, no not one".  Both Jews and Greeks stand condemned before God. We have all gone our own way and we have rebelled against God.  Every facet of who we are as human beings have been corrupted by sin. Even though we may never confess to be an atheists, every human being has lived as one.

The sinfulness of humanity is the reason for the oppression and evil seen all across the world. Those that have no knowledge of God "eat up my people as they eat bread.” Human beings are vicious and vile. Any illusion we have of the goodness of humanity is shattered if we just walk through the history of humanity. From the moral horrors of racism and slavery that has dominated much of American history, to the horrific holocaust executed by the genocidal Adolf Hitler, to the gruesome beheadings recorded on video by ISIS—the evidence of humanities sinfulness is all around us. Humanity devours one another up like they are eating bread.

v. 5-6 - The psalmist  reminds himself that the Lord is the refuge for the poor and the oppressed. Even though humanity seems to be content on devouring itself, God aligns himself with the victims. God will protect those who are abused by wicked and evil men.

v. 7 - The psalm concludes with a call for salvation and for restoration of the people of God.  David prays for a national renewal and restoration, but, in light of the New Covenant, we see just how God has brought about a greater salvation through the Lord Jesus.  God in his grace makes a way not just to save the oppressed, but also the fools who deny God's existence in word and action.

Though there is none who seek God and there are none who do what is good, God provides a righteousness for us. Though the beginning of Romans 3 begins with the conclusion there is none who are righteous and that all human beings deserve God's just wrath, the end of Romans 3 ends with incredible hope.

“But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,” (Romans 3:21–24, ESV)

This is seriously good news. Though we are not righteous, God has provide a righteousness apart from perfect obedience to the Law of God. God gives us his righteousness through the person of Jesus Christ. We receive it by faith in Jesus and we receive it by grace as a gift from God. Though we have all sinned and fallen short of God's glory, we are justified by God's grace through Jesus' redemption. Through the death of Christ our penalty is paid for and Jesus gives us his perfect and blameless righteousness. Jesus takes on our filthy garment of sin and gives us his pure and blameless robe of righteousness. What incredible news!

God's grace overcomes not only our own sin, but also our unbelief. Though every human being lives as a fool, denying the existence of God, God by his sovereign grace overcomes even the hardest heart and grants them knowledge of himself. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 2:6, "The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned." From this verse we can conclude that the only way God allows us to grasp his Gospel of grace is if the Spirit gives us understanding of this Gospel.

Here is the really good news about the salvation God gives us. He not only provides us with the righteousness of Christ, but he also sovereignly gives us faith. Though we all are fools, God by his grace gives us wisdom to understand his glorious Gospel so that we can believe in him for salvation.

As we think about this Psalm of David, we see so much of it pointing to greater new covenant realities. Though every human being is totally depraved and though no human being seeks after God, there is a God who overcomes our depravity and who seeks us out. God takes the initiative and comes and brings his salvation to us. The salvation that we long for comes out of Zion, the very presence of God himself. In light of this great sovereign love as we can do is rejoice and be glad.

Prayer Guide

  • Lament in prayer over the wickedness and evil you see in the world.
  • Confess your own sin that you too have lived as one who denies the existence of God.
  • Thank the Lord that he identifies with the oppressed.
  • Praise the Lord that he provides you righteousness through Jesus by faith.
  • Thank the Lord that he not only gave you his righteousness, but gave you the ability understand and believe in Him.

Praying the Psalms: Psalm 6

The Psalms are not just songs, but prayers. By studying the Psalms we can learn how to better pray and engage in communion with God. Each Thursday I’ll be posting a commentary and prayer guide for the Psalms to help us learn and practice prayer. One of the greatest gifts God can give any man or woman is brokenness. It is a precious gift when God shows us just how despicable, defiling, and shameful our sin really is. David is in just such a situation. This is another Psalm of lament that tends to be in response to some horrific consequences of his personal sin. Psalm 6 is a desperate emotional plea to God for help and expresses the desperate cry of a broken man. As we study this Psalm we will see David model for us brokenness and repentance as he mourns his sin.

Commentary

v. 1-3 - David begins his psalm in a desperate plea for mercy. He begins his prayer immediately confessing his failures and overwhelmed by his costly sin. David knows that because of his sin the Lord is right to be angry and wrathful. David recognizes what many today fail to understand. God is a holy and just God and our sins are infinitely offensive to him. In our modern world today sin is often minimized or out right rejected. Right and wrong is largely thought to be personal choice, and flexible depending upon the individual. Some would even deny the category of evil and sin and reject any moral absolutes that are binding on all humanity. As culture has either minimized human sin or out right rejected it, it gives us an inflated picture of ourselves. Because sin is denied, we think that as human beings we are good people and if we make a mistake its really not a big deal.

Yet, an accurate view of ourselves is not determined by our own wishful perception, but by seeing ourselves in light of the perfection of God. When we compare our lives to the radiant purity and unblemished holiness of God, we fall woefully short. In David's prayer of lament and confession he does not minimize it. He does not excuse it or seek to justify it. Rather, he comes before the Lord broken, desperate, and pleading for grace underserved.

As we think about our own sin we must seek to imitate David, agree with what God says about our sin and plead for mercy. When we see our sin as God sees it, that conviction is gloriously terrifying. Our bones a troubled. Our soul is troubled. To remain under the weight of our own sin is a frightening reality that most are oblivious too. To recognize the terror of the coming just wrath of God might cause our bones to quiver, but it is often a sign of God's grace to lead us to repentance. David's awareness of his sin leads his guilt burdened heart before the Lord to beg for mercy.

v 4-5 - Here David asks for deliverance. Knowing that it is undeserved, David does not let that hinder his bold plea for grace and forgiveness. David pleas that his life might be delivered from his circumstances and from the consequences his sins have brought him. One of the more curious things that David prayers for as he pleads with God to save him is found in v. 5. He tells God that he will not be able to praise him from the grave (Sheol) so he pleads for God's deliverance on the grounds for God's glory. In other words David tells the Lord, "you will be more glorified, worshiped, and praised in my deliverance than in my destruction!"

Indeed, David's words are truer than he realizes. God is glorified in his just wrath being displayed on sinners, but he is exceptionally glorified in his redemption of sinners. This is why Jesus came to deliver us from our sins. Jesus stands in the gap absorbing the righteous wrathful anger of God in our place in order to deliver us from death and bring us into life. God is supremely glorified as he redeems sinners by the blood of his own son.

v. 6-7 - These two verses are emotionally charged with David's complete brokenness. His is mourning, moaning, and weeping over his sin. He tells us every night his bed floods with tears. His coach is soaked from the crying. His eyes are tired, sore, and drained because of his grief. David had no problem at all expressing his emotions and weeping over his sin. In David, we receive a vivid picture of what it means to mourn over sin.

Mourning over personal sin is one of the great marks of a believer in Jesus Christ. It is one of the most vivid and tangible fruits of a person who has truly been born again. In order to become a Christian we must mourn and lament over our sin. This is why Jesus in the sermon on the mount outlines the first two beatitudes as he does. The first one expresses a recognition of our poverty of spirt. In other words, to be under the kingdom rule of Jesus is to recognize just how broken and sinful we really are. We are not blinded by pride, self-sufficiency, and moralism. We recognize our desperate brokenness. However, the key is not only to recognize our spiritual poverty but to mourn over it. This leads us to that second great beatitude, "Blessed are those who mourn".

Why is it a blessed thing to mourn over our sin like David so vividly illustrates here? It is because those who recognize and mourn over their sin means we are so very close to the Kingdom of God. If we do not recognize we need a savior, than we will not look for one. Spiritual brokenness leads us to seek a savior who fills us with the righteousness, peace, and salvation that we so desperately need. Our spiritual desperation leads us to Jesus himself as our only hope.

Conviction of sin is the great work of the Holy Spirit and a great gift of God. To experience the conviction of the Holy Spirit is a wonderful divine work within your heart. That conviction leads us to the cross of Christ as we place our sorrows on the blood stained man of sorrows hanging by nails on a cross. Though our eyes waste away in our tears over our sin, we find restoration and hope in Christ.

v. 8-10 - The second half of that second beatitude is key. Jesus tells us, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted". It is God's delight to minister to the broken hearted and comfort them in the salvation he provides by grace. He hears our plea for help and provides Jesus as a refuge from his wrath and peace for our troubled souls.

In these last few verses we see David filled with confidence towards his enemies as he stands assured of the God who hears his prayers. The Lord hears the sound of the broken hearted. He sees the tears of those who realize they are not good enough. He hears the desperate plea of people who are helpless and unable to deliver themselves. For those under the weight of their own sin, God is eager to hear the prayers of those who ask forgiveness through his son.

For those who have called out to God in faith through Jesus, there is a confidence that results from the comfort of Divine grace. The psalm concludes with a shift from the beginning. At the start of the Psalm it was David who was "troubled". At the end, David concludes that it is his enemies who should be "troubled". Our great enemy, the serpent who accuses sinners and deceived them to corruption, causes great trouble on humanity. Now, by the grace of God's salvation in Jesus, the trouble is reversed. Through the death and resurrection of the Son of God he has removed our trouble from us and crushed the head of the powers of darkness dealing the fatal blow to sin and death.

Prayer Guide

  • Confess your sin before the Lord. How have you failed? In what areas are you disobeying? What consequences are you enduring because of your sin?
  • Call out to God and plead for deliverance and life. Ask him to save you, redeem you, and restore you.
  • Lament, weep, and mourn to God in your prayer. Do not be afraid to show God the deep recesses of your brokenness as you pray to him.
  • Praise the Lord that God comforts the mourning through Jesus. Thank God for the cross and for salvation only through Jesus.
  • Praise the Lord that he has delivered you from your great enemy of sin and death and praise him that he rescues you from your spiritual trouble.

Praying the Psalms: Psalm 3

The Psalms are not just songs, but prayers. By studying the Psalms we can learn how to better pray and engage in communion with God. Each Thursday I’ll be posting a commentary and prayer guide for the Psalms to help us learn and practice prayer. We each encounter time of incredible crisis in our lives. There are moments where everything seems to be falling apart and our enemies are all around us. Such an occasion takes place in Psalm 3. It is a Psalm written by David inspired by one of the hardest times of David’s life, the rebellion of his son Absalom. His own son had conspired against him to remove David from leadership. For a season David was on the run, hiding and fleeing from Absalom. As we try to imagine the pain, hurt, and frustration that David experienced we also see within Psalm his confident trust in the Lord.

Commentary

v. 1–2. The Psalm begins with describing the desperation of his current situation. He looks around and see his enemies. He has “many” foes and there are“many” rising against him. The sheer number of those who are against David is overwhelming to him. It seems like everyone has turned on him and everyone has dejected him from his kingship. The Christian is not immune to making enemies. Often times the Christian will be hated by the world. In fact, Jesus has promised us persecution. There are times of the Christian life when many may rise up against us.

David’s enemies where ruthless and saw all that was happening to him as a sign that God had abandoned him. David tells us that they are saying of his soul, “there is no salvation for him in God”. The enemies saw David’s downfall and failures and they concluded that the hand of the Lord had left him.

Christians too might hear the wicked lies of the enemy whispering this phrase into our ear. “God could never save you! There is no salvation for you in God. He has abandoned you!” The great accuser can cause doubt in our hearts of God’s good intention and his ability and willingness to deliver us from the calamity of both our spiritual and physical crises. As we will see, these accusations from his enemies will not derail his faith, but only draws him into greater confidence and pleading with God.

v. 3–6. The psalmist begins to think about his history with God. He begins to think about the ways God has delivered him in the past. Time and time again, God has stuck with him and protected him like a shield. In his darkest moments, God has lifted his head from despair. As he cried aloud in desperation, the Lord answered him.

It is easy for us to get so overwhelmed by the present that we begin to forget God’s faithfulness in the past. Though our present circumstances may be paralyzing, it is vital that we remember how God has delivered us from our previous hardships. My grandfather has a saying that has always stuck with me. He always said, “Never doubt in the dark, what God has revealed in the light”. In other words, though our present circumstances may be bleak, remember what God has shown you about his loving kindness in the past. The darkness of the present hour should not shake our faith. We must remember how he has delivered us. As we do, it gives us great confidence in our crisis moments to trust God as our shield.

David tells us that because of his trust in God, he was able to put his head down and sleep. Anxiety and fear often leads to sleepless nights. Everyone has had moments in their life when they were so burdened with worry and stress that they were unable to fall asleep. As soon as they put their head on the pillow, their mind starts running with worry, hypothetical situations, and anxiety. They are unable to fall asleep. David’s, remembrance of God’s protection led him to be able to truly rest.

There is something humbling about sleeping. No matter how self-sufficient we think we may be, we need sleep. God has designed us to spend a third of our day unconscious and dependent upon him. Sleep is a vulnerable thing, because no matter how much you may think you are in control of your life for a full 1/3 of it you are sleep unaware of all that’s going on in this world. Every human being, whether they desire to or not are forced by the hand of the creator to put their lives and this world into the hands of a sustaining God. To give our hearts and mind to sleep requires us to give our life and problems over to God. As we close our eyes, we only open them again by the grace of God. Even in our sleep the Lord sustains us. David sees God’s sustaining hand on his life and he concludes that he will not be afraid of the many thousands of people who are rising against him. He has a confident trust in his sustaining God to deliver him.

v. 7–8. The last section of this Psalm concludes with is prayer of petition. He calls out to God and says, “Arise, O Lord!”. In confident trust he calls out to God to save him and deliver him from his enemies. He trusts God to handle those rising against him. He is confidently trusting in God to strike his enemies and break the teeth of the wicked.

The final verse concludes with great assurance, “Salvation belongs to the Lord”. Although David’s enemies were convinced there was no salvation for David (v. 2), David understands that salvation is not given by the will of men, but by God himself. David understands that salvation is God’s to give, and he gives it to whom he pleases as they come to him by faith.

We may feel completely undeserved of salvation. We may believe lies that tell us God could never save or deliver us, yet God is gracious and blesses his people. God has made a way to bring salvation to all people through the death of his son Jesus. Jesus is the salvation of God. All who come to place their faith in Jesus Christ–no matter how dark their circumstances or how great their crisis–salvation is given to them by God’s grace. It is those who express their dependent child-like trust in God who receive God’s salvation. This child-like dependency even in calamity is the essence of saving faith. It is a faith David lives out in Psalm 3, and its a faith we should possess as well.

Prayer Guide

  • Bring your hearts concern to God. We can come to him in the middle of our crisis. What crisis are you facing now you need to bring before God?
  • How has God delivered you in the past? Remember those times and praise God for his faithfulness then.
  • Pray in confidence before God asking for his help in your present situation.
  • Thank God that he gives salvation to those who trust him in faith through Jesus Christ.
  • Confess your often lack of trust in God during difficult times.Ask God to give you faith right now in your time of need.

Praying the Psalms: Psalm 2

The Psalms are not just songs, but prayers. By studying the Psalms we can learn how to better pray and engage in communion with God. Each Thursday I’ll be posting a commentary and prayer guide for the Psalms to help us learn and practice prayer.

“And we bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus, as also it is written in the second Psalm, “ ‘You are my Son, today I have begotten you.’” (Acts 13:32–33, ESV)

We are hard wired for a King. God has designed us is to long for a good and just ruler to bring victory. Although it is hard to recognize in a democratic society, there is still great evidence that human beings naturally long for a King. Consider our love for celebrities, our passionate cheering for our sports teams, or the messianic anticipation we put on political leaders to bring justice and change. Each reveal that within the deep recesses of the human heart we long to rejoice in the fame of the victory of a King who brings true justice and change.

Psalm 2 is what is classified as a royal Psalm. It is a psalm about the royal line of Israel and the celebration of God’s blessing on the line of David. This psalm might have been used at the coronation of a King of Judah. However, as we look at Psalm 2 through the revelation of Jesus Christ, we see how Jesus is the fulfillment of all the promises God has made both to Abraham and to David. Jesus is the begotten of God who rules and reigns over the earth.

Commentary

v. 1–3. The world naturally revolts against the Lord’s anointed. God’s kingdom is continually being questioned and attacked by the nations. The starting question here is one that is always on the minds of God’s people. “Why do the nation rage and the peoples plot in vain?” Why does the world resist the reign and rule of God’s chosen king? As we look at the world all around us the world seems to be conspiring against God. Their sinful prideful hearts refuse to be ruled by another. The wicked want the autonomy that comes with independence. They refuse to submit to the true King. As a result, they conspire together against the anointed one of the Lord. Like wild horses they refuse to submit to the will of the rider.

The Christian must never forget that this world is in rebellion against God. Everyone does what is right in his own eyes, and there is great need for a righteous King. The struggle throughout the whole bible has been between the offspring of God and the offspring of the serpent. Since sins entrance into the world there has only been two sides to take – the kingdom of darkness or the kingdom of light. There is no third way. As the nations continue to rage against one another they also rage against God. In violence, deceit, oppression, and murder they force their own way while rejecting the rule of the anointed of God.

v. 4–5. The second stanza is a foil of the previous one. While the nations are raging below, God above is laughing. Their efforts of rebellion are laughable to him. It is a war they cannot win. For God is God over the universe. He holds the nations like a drop in the bucket. Even the mightiest of empires and the vilest violence of earthly kings are but a bucket of water to kick over. The people’s plotting is no threat to God. Rather, He sits above and speaks to them in anger. God’s just wrath comes out for his mouth, “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.”

God’s solution to the raging of the peoples of the earth is to set a King above them. However this isn’t just any King. God is going to place this king as ruler over ever kingdom of the earth. God is going to squash the rebellion of humanity.

This is important for us to remember as we see the wicked revolting in the world this very day. Justice will be had. God’s wrath will be poured out. Justice will come by his mighty right hand through the anointed of the Lord. No matter how dark it might get in our age, the Lord will come to execute justice – justice administered by this king.

v. 7–9. In this stanza the anointed king of God opens his mouth. He speaks of the divine decree of God, a decree which is fixed by His will. “You are my Son; today I have begotten you.” The Davidic King is established by God himself. He is the son of God, and begotten by Him. 2 Sam 7:14 tells us that God is going take the son of David as His own son. The promise God makes to the Davidic dynasty is fixed by the decree of God.

As we look through the lens of the New Testament, we see clearly how this son of David is the son of God. Jesus is the only begotten of the Father. Jesus is the fulfillment of all the promises God made to the line of David and Jesus is the true son. As a result, he receives all the privileges outlined in this royal Psalm. He will receive the nations as his inheritance. He will own the ends of the earth as his possession. He is the one filled with the power of God to shatter his enemies like a steel rod against a clay pot. This son of God will rule over everything. All the earth will be under his reign and rule. Those who rebel and reject his reign, he will destroy.

v. 10–12. The last stanza turns back our attention to the nations raging and their kings. The psalmist gives them some counsel in light of God’s rule through His son. They are told to be wise and be warned. The conspiring nations are up against a force they do not realize. For as they conspire against the Lord’s anointed, they conspire against the Lord himself. The nations are called to serve and fear the Lord. The nations of the earth are called to recognize the anointed of the Lord as Lord over all. They are urged to kiss the son as a sign of their submission to him and their loyalty. If they do no recognize the rule of the King then his anger and wrath will destroy them. Yet, for those who recognize his divine authority and love him, they will be blessed as they take refuge in the true King. Our eternity is decided by our relationship to the King. If it is one of rebellion it will be our eternal ruin. If it is one of love and fear, then it will be for our eternal blessing.

Gospel Application. As we think about Psalm 2, it is easy to see Jesus as the fulfillment. In fact the early church saw Jesus as the fulfillment of this Psalm and it is even quoted directly in the opening of Hebrews (Heb 1:5) and referred to later on in the book describing him as the appointed Kingly high priest of God in the order of Melchizedek (Heb 5:5). It is also referenced by Paul in Antioch seeing Jesus as the direct fulfillment of Psalm 2 (Acts 13:33). For Paul, just as Psalm 2 was probably sung at the coronation of a new King, Jesus coronation was at his resurrection. He has ascended to his throne and reigns and rules even now.

Jesus is the king over all. He is coming again with all divine authority to bring about his kingdom in total. As we wait for the full arrival of the kingdom of God, we do so knowing that the raging and plotting of the wicked is futile. Yes, the kingdom of darkness might have moments of brief victory, but their destruction is fixed. The wicked may win a skirmish here or there, but the war is lost. Every human being must decide, “Will I live in the blessedness and forgiveness of the King or will I resist, rebel, and be crushed by Him?” Those who take refuge in Jesus will be blessed, because he is the shelter from the wrath of God as he takes it on himself on the cross. By the blood of Jesus he provides not only victory but peace for those who trust Him and live under his benevolent rule.

Prayer Guide

  • Pray longing for the Kingdom of God to come. Pray in anticipation longing for Jesus’ return. Pray that God’s “kingdom would come and his will be done”.
  • Thank God in your prayers that as a just God he will not allow the wicked to go unpunished.
  • Praise God for sending the King that our broken world needs.Thank God for Jesus the King that both brings the Father Glory and you refuge.
  • Ask God to help you serve Jesus with both fear and joy.
  • Confess areas of your life that you struggle to submit to Jesus. What areas is he not Lord over? Take some time in your prayers to “Kiss the son”, showing both love and devotion to him.

Praying the Psalms: Psalm 1

The Psalms are not just songs, but prayers. By studying the Psalms we can learn how to better pray and engage in communion with God. Each Thursday I’ll be posting a commentary and prayer guide for the Psalms to help us learn and practice prayer.

“He is not under the law as a curse and condemnation, but he is in it, and he delights to be in it as his rule of life; he delights, moreover, to meditate in it, to read itty day, and think upon it by night. He takes a text and chariest with him all day long; and in the night -watches, when sleep forsakes his eyelids, he museth upon the Word of God”. – Charles Spurgeon

Psalm one’s placement in the Psalter is of incredible importance. It is the opening to the whole psalms and stresses the importance of worship guided by the Word of God (The Law/Torah). It truly opens up the book instructing us that wisdom from God’s word is foundational in all of our worship. The Scriptures are a reservoir of divine revelation that supply a heart arid from spiritual dryness to saturated spirit-filled-worship. The placement of the Psalm not only shows us the primacy of Scripture in the man or woman of God, but also the centrality of the Scripture in all Christian worship. From song to prayers to sermon, the Scriptures are the fountain of God that provides a language and guide for true worship.

Commentary

This Psalm is structured in two primary sections. The first is in v. 1–4 that describe the wise and wicked man, with the chief characteristic is that the wise man “delights in the law of the Lord” while the wicked does not. The second section is in v. 5–6 which shows the consequences of each man. The wicked will not stand in the judgement, while the Lord chooses the man whose delight is the Scriptures.

v. 1 - As Christian people, when we read this song the first word “blessed” immediately stirs up thoughts of the Teacher’s great Sermon on the Mount. Here Christ sits on that mountain side saying “Blessed are the poor in Spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 5:3). What does it mean to be blessed? To be blessed is to find true happiness, happiness that is found in God. Blessedness is happiness that finds its source in God himself. It is a lasting, and enduring happiness. It is a joy that surpasses all understanding in any and all circumstances. Blessedness does not eliminate difficulty, but it is a security of victory. To be blessed is to be the recipient of God’s favor. This blessed man in Psalm 1 has received the favor of God himself. Just as a young toddler smiles with glee as his Father celebrates his first few steps, true human happiness is found in the approval and favor of a God who loves us. This blessed man has the favor and approval of God himself. Yet, why does this blessed man have such favor?

The verse continues in telling us negatively, what this blessed man does not do. He does not walk, stand, or sit with those who are hostile to God and his ways. The parallelism in this verse has a cascading and intensifying direction. The blessed man is the one who doesn’t even walk in the counsel of the wicked let alone sit and participate in the seat of scoffers. Sin tends to have a insinuating and progressive nature to it. As people give a foothold in exposing their life to evil, often one is found tumbling down the rabbit hole. The movement from walking, to standing, to sitting describes one moving from merely passing by in the counsel of the wicked to sitting and permanently resting in that seat of scoffers. The blessed man has none of this foolishness. He doesn’t even get close the counsel of the wicked. He avoids it. He walks around it, and he certainly doesn’t sit down and take a seat.

v. 2 - So if this blessed man does not affiliate himself in any way with the wicked, what distinguishes him? What is it that sets him apart and makes him blessed. Here is the distinguishing factor in verse 2, “his delight is in the law of the Lord”. The blessed man is one who loves the Word of God. The word “delight” is a crucial word. This man does not merely affirm the word of God as true, nor does he simply know a great deal about it. The blessed man is one who “delights” in the law of the Lord. He treasures divine revelation because he treasures the author of it, God himself. There are many Christians who are practically biblically illiterate. Their Bible is but a stranger to them. That’s shameful enough as it is as the wise man at least knows his Bible at minimum. Yet, we are told that the Blessed man is more than a person who knows his Bible. There are many Christians who know their Bible. Perhaps they go to Bible Study on occasion and can perform quite well in Bible drills, yet their is no delight in the Scriptures. For them it is dry, distant, and boring. They would much rather be watching the news or playing cards or on Facebook. Yet, the wise man not merely sees the importance of God’s word, he delights in it. It is a source of joy for him. He thirsts for it, longing always for more of it.

How do we know the wise man thinks this way? Well, look at how he reads it! He meditates on it day and night we are told. He soaks on it, letting it fill his mind. He ponders and examines truths from a variety of different angles longing for God to give him a deeper and more personal understanding. The blessed man is not content with a cursory reading of the Bible. He is not interested in simply pushing through it legalistic obligation. Rather, the wise man stores it up in his heart kneading it like yeast into his heart.

v. 3 - What does the life of this blessed man look like? How does a delight in God’s word change our lives? Look at how the Psalmist describes the life this man. He is like a tree. He is a sturdy oak, firmly planted. He is by the streams of God’s word. He is refreshed as he continually soaks up the rich nourishing waters of Scripture. The tree is not merely surviving, but thriving. The tree is producing fruit. The soaking up of the Scriptures is producing good spiritual works in his life. The man is being transformed by God’s word, and its leading to a life of spiritual fruitfulness both in character, holiness, thinking, and action. And the trees leaf does not wither. Because the tree is rooted next to God’s word, their is a constant supply of water to sustains even in a dry season. The tree does not die and the tree does not fade away when difficulty comes or the scorching heat of trails and tribulations come upon him. He perseveres and continues in faithfulness. In all that this wise man does he prospers. He is sturdy, constant, reliable, continual, immutable, and fruitful.

v. 4 - The wicked are the complete opposite from the wise man. Rather than sturdy deep roots, the wicked are like chaff. They have no roots, but are like tumble weeds tossed about by the changing direction of the wind. The culture and philosophy of men are always changing and always shifting directions. The wicked man disconnected from the nourishing waters of God word with no roots is a victim of his times. Whatever the wisdom of the day may be he believes.  The philosophy of man is like fashion always shifting in and out of style. Like a fish on a lure the wicked man goes unknowingly to his own peril being dragged to and fro to his eventual demise.  He is a victim of the temporal and a slave to the fashionable. As we look at the state of modern Christianity could there be a better illustration? There are many Christians who are being jerked around like a tumbleweed in the wind. Whatever empty philosophy is currently in pop culture they adopt blindly. Disconnected from the revealed word of God, and as a result are tossed around like a row boat in a hurricane. They are deceived by men because they do not know the word of God. The thoughts of the wicked are always evolving, always shifting, and always revising. What the human soul need more than any thing is the stability and consistency of having our minds shaped by the revelation of God himself. Yet, the wicked are unstable, inconsistent, fruitless, and lost.

v. 5 - The psalmist has so far described the differences between the blessed and the wicked. The contrast is night and day. The two are complete opposites and foils of one another. They are contrasts not only in their characteristics, but also in their future judgements. The wicked will not be able to stand in the judgement, nor will they be able to be in congregation of the righteous. There is a reversal taking place here. In v. 1 it was the righteous who was not standing in the way of sinners or sitting in the congregation of scoffers. When the judgement comes it will be the wicked who will be forced away. They are outcasted, alienated, and excluded from the holy.

For the Christian in this life, we will often find ourselves alienated by a hostile culture. We will be excluded, persecuted, and shunned by the wise of the day. Yet, a reversal is coming. When Christ comes again there will be a reversal. When the record is straight and the truth of God revealed to all, there will be a separating between the wheat and the chaff, the sheep and the goats, and the saints and the sinners.

v. 6 - For the Lord knows the way of the righteous. He accepts them. The “knowing” described here is not like a high school student knowing the name of the 50 states, but of a husband who knows his wife. There is an intimacy, an acceptance, and a relationship. One thing we must be careful of as we interpret this Psalm is the mistake to begin thinking that the righteousness achieved by the blessed man is self-earned. Can a man make himself blessed in and of himself? Can he make himself righteous so that the Lord knows him? Can a man make himself delight in God’s word? Salvation is God’s gift. What sets this blessed man apart from the wicked, according to this Psalm, is his delight in God’s word. But how does a man receive such delight? Is it not by the grace of God as the Spirit opens up his hungry heart to the spiritual realities all around him? Here we hearken back to our Saviors word on that Sermon on the Mount. What makes us blessed? Its by the grace of God we recognize our spiritual poverty and it is by the grace of God that we recognize our spiritual hunger. Those who are thirsty for righteousness and those who recognize their desperate condition that receive the righteousness of God will be blessed. For as Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness sake, for they shall be satisfied” (Mt 5:7). The only reason that any of us do not perish with the rest of the wicked is because we’ve been saved by grace through the atoning work of the son of God. As he satisfies he wrath of the Father for our sin, he opens our hearts to be satisfied by his divine grace and creates hearts in us that long and delight in the refreshing streams of Scripture.

Prayer Guide

  • Pray that God would give you a delight for God’s Word
  • Confess your sin of neglecting diligent study of the Scriptures.
  • Thank God for giving us such a spiritually nourishing gift as the Scriptures Praise God for his infallible word.
  • Thank God for giving you grace to see the Word of God as true, and ask that he would use the Scriptures to grow you, sanctify you, mature you, and preserve you.

Take Refuge in God, and Exalt Him Among the Nations

Before you read this blog go read Psalm 46 then come back. Psalm 46 is a beautiful Psalm describing the gracious protection of God as our refuge and strength. This Psalm teaches us that God is a rod of stability in an unstable world. In the time of ancient Israel, there was great political instabilitiy. At any moment a nation could rise and conquor the known world. Their was great unrest and the people lived in great fear of unsuspected attack from a pagan empire.

In the midst of this, the Psalmist writes that God is a refuge for those who are suffering. He is a refuge in times of hardship. As a result, we do not fear (v. 2). Why? Because God reigns supreme over all the nations. Even in the midst of political turmoil and constant war. The nations rage, the kingdoms totter. God utters his voice, the earth melts (v. 6). God is our protection. He rules over the nations. He is not threatned by them.

However the really amazing thing is what happens starting in v. 8. The Psalmist gives an invitation to the quarreling nations to come and behold the works of the Lord. Through a first read of the Psalm you might wonder, why in the world would this Psalm turn into an invitation to the nations? What does this have to do with God as a refuge? Never the less, God invites the nations to, "Be still, and know that I am God".

You see, this section reveals to us one of God's purpose for hardship and tumoil. Our trusting in God in the midst of suffering serves as a visible invitation to a lost and dying world. As we trust God as our refuge, we invite the quarreling world to come take refuge in God as well. We invite them to exalt in God. Trusting God in suffering serves as a visible evangelistic call to the world. We invite them to behold the works of the Lord. We tell them that God will make the wars cease. We tell them that God can be their refuge as well.

You see, God "will be exalted among the nations" (v. 10). God wants to fill this whole world with his worshipers. He proclaims that His glory will be spread across the earth to every tribe, tongue, and nation! You see God isn't our refuge so we can escape from the world, but so that we can invite the world to take refuge in Him too.

As we trust God as our gracious protection and fortification, we invite others to find protection in the arms of God. The Lord of Hosts is with us. His name is Immanuel. His name is Jesus. In his arms we rest, and under his gracious protection we invite the nations to join us in his loving embrace.

Making it Through Tough Times

The amazing truth of God's love for me never gets old. The reality of God's grace is a thing that never ceases to taste sweet. In all things, I find my self desiring to know more deeply the love that God has for me in Christ. Once God's grace is experienced, it is the most intoxicating of things. Like the fragrant savoring of a hot apple pie sitting in the window to cool, so is God's love for those who have tasted it. It is a drawing, and inexplicable yearning that continually seduces its lover with the utmost tenderness and anticipation. This eager desire to know further our savior Jesus Christ, consumes every fiber of our existence. Each day is a moment to delve into the deeper waters of God's insatiable grace. Delving into richer knowledge is as diving into a cool pool on a hot summer day. All friction of anxiety or the heat of stress quickly cools in the waters of God's mercy. For as the apostle Paul wrote, "If God is for us who can be against us?" If there is no earthly power that can overwhelm me what better truth to rest in other than the love God has for me?

The Psalmists seem to understand this truth well. In all their problems, in all their hardships, in all their imprecatory judgements or sorrowful laments, after encountering the goodness and sovereignty of God in worship, their hearts could not help but sing praise to the righteous King. In all their problems and in all their hardships, God's mercy and grace was enough in the midst of their conflict. His strength renewing even their most sincere weakness.

David pictures this truth so well. In Psalm 17 David begins with a cry of distress "Hear a just cause, O Lord; attend to my cry!". David continues to write expressing his deepest concerns to God. By the end of the Psalm, Davids demeanor and tone has changed. He concludes at the end "As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness." In the midst of our turmoil, when we encounter the presence and comfort of God, our hope and strength are renewed.

Imagine for a second a young boy who at school finds himself face to face with the most terrible ridicule and the most demeaning of jokes. The boy in tears comes home angry, desperate, hurt, and broken. However, when the boy sees his father he runs to His good father for comfort. The father listens with concern, comforts the boy with his embrace, and loves the boy with utmost affection. In light of the fathers extreme demonstration of love and compassion, the boys problems and hardships begin to fall in significance. The problems don't necessarily disappear, but the boy takes joy in the fact that he has a father, a comforter and protector, who will always be there to cry with his children.

As it is with you and with me. We have a high priest who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses. Our God is a compassionate God who cares for us in the midst of our turmoil. In His presence is comfort and joy and the satisfaction of the longing of our hearts. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Their is only rest and freedom.

The truth of God's overwhelming grace and mercy shown to me is a stick of gum that never loses its flavor, but grows in delight with every chew. As a result, fling to the cross. Run to your good Father. Delight in his unconditional love. As you do, the troubles and cares of this life will look strangely dim in the light of his mercy and grace.