1:1-2:13 – Satan is very busy – ‘going to and fro on the earth…walking up and down on it’. Why is Satan ‘roaming through the earth’? – ‘Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour’ (1:7; 1 Peter 5:8). If, like Job, you ‘fear God and turn away from evil’, Satan will make you his target. He will do all that he can to make you stop worshipping God and start cursing Him (1:1,11). Satan is very powerful – but he can only do what God allows him to do (1:12; 2:6). There is a greater Power than the power of Satan – ‘the Power of God’. When you face Satan’s onslaughts, remember – God is in control. His Power is at work in us to keep us in the way of faith, the way which brings ‘ praise and glory and honour’ to Him (1 Peter 1:3-7).
3:1-4:11 – ‘I’m reaching the end of my tether’ – Do you ever feel like this? What are we to do when, like Job, we find ourselves sinking into a state of deep depression? Remember Jesus. Remember His suffering – ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken Me?’ (Matthew 27:46). He suffered for us. He suffers with us. In our suffering, we need Jesus. We need His love. Some may say, ‘You’ve only yourself to blame’. They will tell us, ‘Pull yourself together’. What good will this do – without the love of Jesus? Without His love, things will only get worse. Jesus knows how we feel. He’s been there. He went to the Cross – for us. Behind His suffering, we see His love. He has ‘suffered’. He has been ‘tempted’. He feels our pain. He comes to us with ‘mercy and grace’. He is our ‘Help in time of need’ (Hebrews 2:18; 4:15-16).
4:12-6:7 – Eliphaz sounds so ‘spiritual’. He speaks of ‘a word’ being ‘brought’ to him. He speaks of ‘visions in the night’ (4:12-13). Sadly, there is, in Eliphaz, a lot of pride and not much love. There’s no suggestion, from Eliphaz, that Satan might be behind Job’s suffering. ‘It’s all your own fault’ – This is what Eliphaz is saying to Job. When we listen to this kind of talk, we become despondent – ‘What have I done to deserve this?’. There are times when we cause problems for ourselves. There are other times when we must say, ‘This is the work of Satan’ – ‘An enemy has done this’ (Matthew 13:28). There are times when we must pray, ‘Forgive us our sins’. There are times when we must pray, ‘Deliver us from the evil one’. From the Lord, we receive forgiveness and victory. Let’s give all the ‘glory’ to Him (Matthew 6:12-13).
6:8-7:21 – Job calls on God – and there is no answer. The happy days seem to be gone forever. From the Cross, Jesus cries out in agony, ‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?’. There is no Voice from heaven, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased’ (Mark 15:34; Matthew 3:17). What are we to make of this? Job is suffering. Jesus is suffering. Where is God while all this is happening? What is He doing about it? Shortly before His crucifixion, Jesus said this to His enemies: ‘This is your hour, and the power of darkness’ (Luke 22:53). God allows Satan to have his ‘hour’. ‘The power of darkness’ appears to have the upper hand. This is not the end of the story. There is ‘a happy ending’. Job is raised from his depression (42:10,12). Jesus is ‘raised’ from the dead (Acts 2:23-24).
8:1-9:19 – Bildad speaks as a ‘know-it-all’. He sees what has happened to Job, and he thinks, ‘Job must have forgotten God’. If Bildad had not been blinded by his own ideas of how things must be, he would have noticed that Job had not forgotten God and he would have realized that bad things can and do happen to people who love God as well as people who don’t love Him. When things are going badly, don’t forget God’s long-term purpose. He is preparing us for ‘eternal life’ (Matthew 19:29). Sometimes, we wonder what’s going on in our lives. We must remember that ‘God’s ways are higher than our ways’ (Isaiah 55:8). We must learn to look beyond our sufferings. They are ‘slight and short-lived’. We must look ahead to the ‘eternal glory that is greater than anything we can imagine’ (2 Corinthians 4:17).
9:20-10:22 – Job thinks that God is ‘against’ him. He thinks that he is condemned by God (10:2). Where do these negative thoughts come from? Do they come from God? No! God has a very positive view of Job – ‘My servant Job’ (1:8). Job is being attacked by Satan, ‘the accuser’ of God’s people (Revelation 12:10). Satan puts negative thoughts into Job’s mind. What are we to do when Satan attacks us in this way? Look to the Cross of Christ, rejoicing in God’s love for us (Romans 5:8).Take our stand in Jesus Christ – ‘There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus’ (Romans 8:1). Remind Satan of Christ’s victory – ‘the gates of hell shall not prevail against’ us. Resist Satan – ‘Get behind me, Satan!’ – , confident that ‘we are more than conquerors through Christ’ (Matthew 16:18,23; Romans 8:37).
11:1-12:25 – Zophar had all the answers – so he thought! It was all so simple – according to Zophar. ‘He must have done something pretty awful to deserve this’ – That’s what Zophar thought of Job and his suffering (11:6). For Job, nothing was simple. He didn’t have any answers. He was very confused. He had been ‘a righteous and blameless man’ (12:4). Now, he was suffering. Was he being punished by God? Job listened to Zophar. It didn’t ring true! Job didn’t fully understand what was going on. He did know this: Zophar didn’t know what he was talking about. He was shouting his mouth off about things he knew nothing about. Job was not taken in by Zophar’s pious words. He responded with this ‘understanding’ – ‘The spiritual man judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one’ (12:3; 1 Corinthians 2:15).
13:1-14:22 – When you don’t really know what you’re talking about, it’s a case of the less said the better. That’s how Job feels about his ‘friends’ – ‘Oh that would you keep silent, and it would be your wisdom!’ (13:5). They are no help to him. What does he do next? He takes his problem to the Lord. Nothing seems clear to Job. He seems to be bogged down in his own suffering. There is, however, a glimmer of light. A question comes into his mind – ‘If a man die, shall he live again?’ (14:14). Later on, Job gives the answer of faith: ‘I know that my Redeemer lives…Even after my skin has been stripped off my body, I will see God in my own flesh’ (19:25). ‘Christ has been raised from the dead…Death is swallowed up in victory…Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ’ (1 Corinthians 15:20,54,57).
15:1-16:5 – After more of the same from Eliphaz, Job responds, ‘How often have I heard all this before! What sorry comforters you are!’ (16:1). With ‘friends’ like this, who needs enemies? This was not what Job needed. He needed ‘words of encouragement’ (16:5). Where does true comfort comes from? It comes from the Holy Spirit – ‘the Comforter’ (John 14:26). If we are to speak words of encouragement, we must listen to the voice of the Spirit. We must learn to speak with His voice, the voice of ‘love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control’ (Galatians 5:22-23). Pray that ‘the meditation of your heart’ and ‘the words of your mouth’ will be filled with the Spirit of love. Remember – Without love, our words mean ‘nothing’ (Psalm 19:14; 1 Corinthians 13:1-2). Let there be more love.
16:6-17:16 – ‘There is no violence in my hands, and my prayer is pure’ (16:17). Is this no more than Job’s own opinion of himself? No! It is much more than that. It is also God’s view of Job: ‘my witness is in heaven, and He that vouches for me is on high’ (16:19). When suffering comes our way, we can become bitter – blaming God and turning away from Him – or we can become better – ‘the righteous holds to his way, and he that has clean hands grows stronger and stronger’ (17:9). What makes the difference? – It is ‘God’s love…poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit’ (Romans 5:3-5). Seeing our suffering in the light of God’s love, we say, with faith, ‘Nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (Romans 8:35-39). Let His love lead you from the bitter way to the better way.
18:1-19:7 – Job listens to Bildad’s harsh words. He answers with a question: ‘How long will you torment me, and break me in pieces with words?’ (19:2). Job couldn’t make much sense of what was going on in his life. He was sure of one thing. His ‘friends’ were missing the point of it all. They had it all wrong. They were not speaking the Word of the Lord. They were only making things worse for Job. We must be careful with our words: ‘The tongue is a fire…set on fire by hell…With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, this should not happen!’ (James 3:6,9-10). ‘Let your conversation be always full of grace’ (Colossians 4:6). May our words ‘bring a blessing to those who hear’ them (Ephesians 4:29).
19:8-29 – Christ’s resurrection, Christ’s return, our redemption – All of this is brought to mind as we read Job’s great words of faith: ‘I know that my Redeemer lives…in the end He will stand upon the earth…in my flesh I will see God’ (25-26). Jesus Christ ‘has risen’ from the dead. He is ‘the living One’. He is ‘alive for evermore’ (Matthew 28:6; Revelation 1:18). Jesus Christ will return ‘with power and great glory’. ‘He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him’ (Matthew 24:30; Revelation 1:7). The Day of Christ’s return will be the Day of ‘our redemption’. ‘When He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is’. ‘We shall always be with the Lord’ (Luke 21:27-28; 1 John 3:2; 1 Thessalonians 4:17). Don’t forget the word of warning, spoken by Job to his ‘friends’ – ‘There is a judgment’ (29)!
20:1-29 – ‘Fools rush in where angels fear to tread’. This is what we have here. Zophar doesn’t stop to think. He’s ‘like a bull in a china shop’. Zophar gives a detailed description of ‘the wicked man’s portion from God, the heritage decreed for him by God’ (29). He does not stop to ask, ‘Does all of this apply to Job? Is Job a wicked man? Is Job being punished by God?’. Before we rush into passing judgment on other people, here are some things to think about: ‘There is one Lawgiver and Judge, He who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you that judge your neighbour?’. ‘Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Why do you despise your brother? We shall all stand before the judgment seat of God’. ‘Judge not that you be not judged’ (James 4:12; Romans 14:10; Matthew 7:1). Think before you speak!
21:1-34 – Job has listened to his ‘comforters’, and he is not impressed: ‘How then will you comfort me with empty nothings? There is nothing left of your answers but falsehood’ (34). Job can’t make sense of all that is happening to him. He doesn’t understand what it all means. In all his confusion, there is one thing he doesn’t forget: God is in control. When he asks the question, ‘Will any teach God knowledge …?’ (22), what he’s really saying is this: ‘I don’t understand what’s going on, but God does!’. Later on, Job speaks these great words of faith – ‘He knows the way that I take; when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold’ (23:10). When you’re ‘going through the mill’, remember, ‘Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles…’ (Isaiah 40:31).
22:1-23:7 – Job’s ‘friends’ assume that Job is being punished by God. They are unaware that someone else is behind Job’s suffering – Satan! Job isn’t sure what to make of it all. Is God punishing him after all? Deep down in his heart, he knows that God loves him. Job asks the question – ‘Would He contend with me in the greatness of His power?’. He answers his own question – ‘No; He would give heed to me’ (23:6). Job knows that God is a God of great power. He knows something else about God. He is a God of great love. He is not ‘all power and no love’. ‘God is love’ (1 John 4:8). What really lies behind Job’s suffering? – ‘The devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!’ . The time will come when God will say to Satan, ‘Enough! No more!’ (Revelation 12:12; 20:10)!
23:8-24:5 – Satan is working overtime! He is filling Job with fear. In his state of deep depression, Job says, “God has made my heart faint; the Almighty has terrified me; for I am hemmed in by darkness, and thick darkness covers my face’ (23:16-17). Where do these thoughts come from? Do they come from the Lord? No! They come from Satan! This is not ‘the fear of the Lord which is the beginning of wisdom’ (Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 1:7). It is a very different kind of fear, a fear which comes from Satan. How are we to overcome this fear? When depression threatens to overwhelm us, what are we to do? Look to the Lord. He ‘has not given us a spirit of fear’. He has given us His ‘Spirit of power and love’. He gives us ‘a sound mind’. Look to the Lord. Let His ‘perfect love cast out your fear’ (2 Timothy 1:7; 1 John 4:18).
25:1-27:6 – Job’s ‘comforters’ are no friends to him. They fail to discern the presence and purpose of God in Job’s life. Job responds to them with biting sarcasm – ‘How you have helped him who has no power! How you have saved the arm that has no strength!’ (26:2). They’re hopeless – no help to him at all! Why is their advice so useless? Job challenges them, ‘With whose help have you uttered words, and whose spirit has come forth from you?’ (26:4). Their words do not come from the Spirit of the Lord. They come from Satan. They are his servants. He is using them. He is speaking through them. They are part of his evil plot to destroy Job. No wonder their words are so useless! There is no way the servants of Satan will ever help us to love the Lord better. We need the Word of the Lord spoken in the power of His Spirit.
27:7-28:28 – ‘The fear of the Lord – that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding’ (28:28). True wisdom is centred on Christ. He is ‘our wisdom’. He is ‘the wisdom of God’ (1 Corinthians 1:30,24). True wisdom leads us to put our faith in Christ. Through ‘the Holy Scriptures’, we receive the wisdom which leads us to receive ‘salvation through faith in Christ Jesus’ (2 Timothy 3:15). True wisdom leads us to become ‘mature in Christ’, living a Christ-like life: ‘The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, gentle, obedient, full of mercy and good deeds, straightforward and sincere’ (Colossians 1:28; James 3:17). True wisdom gives glory to Christ. Our ‘faith’ does ‘not rest in the wisdom of men’. It rests ‘in the power of God’. ‘Let him who boasts, boast of the Lord’ (1 Corinthians 2:5; 1:31).
29:1-30:31 – Don’t forget to remember! In his time of darkness, Job remembers: ‘when His lamp shone upon my head, and by His light I walked through darkness’. When God seems so far away, Job remembers: ‘when the friendship of God was upon my tent; when the Almighty was yet with me’ (29:4-5). What are we to do when ‘the days of affliction come to meet’ us, when our days are full of ‘mourning’ and ‘weeping’ (30:27,31)? We must remember the good times, the happy days. When you find yourself wondering, ‘Why are these bad things happening to me?’, think of something else – ‘Why has God blessed me with so many good things?’. This will help you when everything seems so dark, when God seems so far away. Remember to thank God for His good days. It will help you to trust Him in your bad days.
31:1-40 – For a summary of all that Job says here, we may go back to the very beginning of his story: ‘Job…was blameless and upright, one who feared God, and turned away from evil’ (1:1). He is a fine example of the kind of godly living which Paul made his ideal: ‘I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man’ (Acts 24:16). How many times we fall short of this ideal! Again and again, we must come to God with our confession of sin . We ‘have sinned’. We ‘fall short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3:23). How can our sins be forgiven? How can our guilt be removed? There is only one way. It is through ‘the blood of Jesus’. Through His blood, ‘our hearts are sprinkled clean from an evil conscience’. Confess your sins to God. Let ‘the blood of Jesus cleanse you from all sin’ (Hebrews 10:19-22; 1 John 1:9,7).
32:1-33:18 – ‘The Bible is the Word of God’ – What do we mean when we say this? Two statements from Elihu may help us to think about this question. (a) ‘Understanding’ comes from ‘the breath of the Almighty’ (32:8). (b) ‘God does speak – now one way, now another – though man may not perceive it’ (33:14). ‘The breath of the Almighty’ – This is where the Scriptures come from: ‘All Scripture is God-breathed’ (2 Timothy 3:16). God has spoken. He has breathed out His Word. ‘God does speak – now one way, now another’ – There is great variety in the Bible. We have our favourite passages. Let’s not forget the more obscure and difficult passages – He speaks through ‘all Scripture’: ‘now one way, now another’. When the doubters fire their questions – remember: ‘God does speak…though man may not perceive it’!
33:19-34:20 – Things are going well. We say, ‘Thank You, God’. We rejoice in the Lord. We give praise to His Name. Everything seems to be going so well – but we need to take care! In the good times, our praise and thanksgiving can go stale. We take God’s blessing for granted. Our rejoicing in the Lord becomes a superficial thing. Things start going badly. We blame God. We say, ‘Where are You, Lord? What are You going to do about this?’. What we must remember is this: The Lord is with us – even when we’re going through hard times. He hasn’t stopped loving us. He hasn’t gone away and left us. He is there beside us, every step of the way. He wants to bring us closer to Himself, to give us this powerful testimony: ‘He redeemed my soul from going down to the pit, and I shall live to enjoy the light’ (33:28-30).
34:21-35:16 – ‘If you have sinned’ (35:6). Let’s think about Job, Jesus and ourselves. (a) ‘Job feared God and shunned evil’ (1:1). He was not being singled out for special punishment – because he was much more sinful than anyone else. This does not mean he had never sinned (7:21; 13:26). (b) There is only One Man ‘without sin’ – our Lord Jesus Christ (Hebrews 4:14-16). Did this mean that Jesus did not suffer? No! – ‘He suffered for us…He bore our sins…He died for us…He died for our sins’ (1 Peter 2:21-24; Romans 5:8; 1 Corinthians 15:3). (c) There’s no ‘if’ about it! When we sin – What are we to do? Like Job, we must trust in our ‘Redeemer’ – the Lord Jesus Christ (19:25). He gives ‘quietness’ and ‘songs in the night’ (34:29; 35:10). ‘Be still and know that He is God. Shout for joy to Him’ (Psalms 46:10; 98:4).
36:1-33 – ‘God is mighty, and does not despise any’ (5). God is great – great in power, great in love. How sad it would be if the God of great love had no power to save us! How terrifying it would be if the God of great power had no love in His heart for us! What a joy it is to know that He is both the God of great power and the God of great love! He is ‘abundant in power’ – and He loves us: ‘He heals the brokenhearted and…lifts up the downtrodden’. What can we say about this God of great power and great love? – ‘Praise the Lord!’. Let us ‘sing to the Lord with thanksgiving’. Let us ‘make melody to our God’. “It is good to sing praises to our God’ (Psalm 147:1-7). ‘How good is the God we adore! Our faithful, unchangeable Friend. His love is as great as His power and knows neither measure nor end’ (Mission Praise, 244).
37:1-24 – ‘The Almighty is great in power and…He does not oppress’ (23). God’s power is loving power. His love is powerful love. In Jesus Christ, we see God’s power – ‘He is able to save to the uttermost all who come to God through Him’ – and God’s love – ‘I will never turn away anyone who comes to Me’ (Hebrews 7:25; John 6:37). In our world, the love of power has become a very destructive thing. In Jesus Christ, we see something quite different – the power of love. He uses His power to show us His love. He shows us His love when – through His mighty power – He saves us. As you think of the Lord Jesus Christ – His loving power, His powerful love – , let ‘His love and power control all you do and say’: ‘More love, more power, more of You in my life’ (Church Hymnary, 432; Songs of Fellowship, 392).
38:1-38 – The Lord has listened long enough! He’s listened to a lot of ‘empty-headed words’. He has listened to a long, heated debate. There’s been a lot of heat and not much light. Everything seems to be as clear as mud (2). Now, it’s His time for speaking! What does God have to say? He invites Job to look at the bigger picture. Being preoccupied with our own problems doesn’t really solve anything. ‘Why has this happened to me? Why did it not turn out that way? Why this? Why that?’ – We go round in circles, thinking about these kind of questions. We don’t have all the answers. There are plenty of things we don’t understand. Even when we don’t understand what’s happening, we can still say, ‘I lift up my eyes to the hills. Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth’ (Psalm 121:1-2).
38:39-40:14 – ‘I am unworthy – how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth…I have no answer…I will say no more’ (40:3-5). God speaks to us about our sin: ‘All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’. He tells us that ‘all our righteous acts are like filthy rags’. Why does God speak to us like this? He speaks ‘so that every mouth may be silenced’ (Romans 3:23, 19; Isaiah 64:6). We must stop talking about our own righteousness and start listening to what God is saying to us. He speaks to us of ‘His love’. He tells us that, ‘while we were sinners, Christ died for us’. This is Good News – ‘the blood of Jesus, God’s Son, cleanses us from all sin’. No more excuses – ‘I’m not such a bad person. I’m really quite good’! Let’s ‘confess our sins’ and receive God’s forgiveness (Romans 5:8; 1 John 1:7-10).
40:15-41:34 – ‘Who can stand before Me?’ (41:10). God puts this question to every one of us. God’s Word gives two answers to this question. The first answer speaks to us of our sin. The second answer speaks to us of our Saviour. The first thing God says to us is this: ‘There is no-one righteous, not even one’ (Romans 3:10). The question is asked, ‘Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? Who shall stand in His holy place?’. The answer is given, ‘He who has clean hands and a pure heart…He will receive blessing from the Lord’ (Psalm 24:3-5). We read these words, and we wonder, ‘Is there any hope for us?’. Our situation seems hopeless – until we look to Jesus, the Man ‘without sin’, the beloved Son with whom God is well pleased’, the Saviour who ‘died for our sins’ (Hebrews 4:14-16; Matthew 3:16-17; 1 Corinthians 15:3).
42:1-17 – After so much suffering – a happy ending! Job has been brought closer to God (5-6). His ‘friends’ have been forgiven by the Lord (7-9). Everybody is happy about the way things have turned out for Job (10-11). Is there always a happy ending? In this earthly life, we will never reach a stage where there will be no more problems and everything will be just fine. For God’s people, ‘redeemed with the precious blood of Christ’, there will be a happy ending – but not until ‘the last time’! For now, we must face many ‘trials’. Beyond our ‘little while’ of suffering there is a happy ending – ‘salvation ready to be revealed in the last time’. We must pray that our ‘faith, more precious than gold, will be proved genuine and will result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed’ (1 Peter 1:3-7,18-19).
1:1-6 – As well as journeying through the Old and New Testaments, we will read a Psalm at fairly regular intervals. The first Psalm contrasts two ways – the way of the Word and the way of the world, the way of blessing and the way of judgment. Encouraging us to build upon the solid foundation of God’s Word, the opening Psalm sets the tone for what is to follow. To whet your appetite for the Psalms, here are some early lessons: stability in the Lord (1:1-2); service for the Lord (2:11); salvation of the Lord (3:8); sanctification from the Lord (4:4-5); singing to the Lord (8:4); strength in the Lord (9:9). These are some of the blessings promised to those who ‘delight in the law of the Lord’ (1-2). With a God like this – full of so much blessing for us – what else can we do but rejoice in Him?
2:1-12 – In this Psalm, we read of a conflict. On the one side, there is ‘the Lord and His Anointed’ (2). On the other there are those who ‘conspire and …plot’ (1). The conspiracies and plots of men will come to nothing. The saving purpose of God will be fulfilled. This purpose will be accomplished in Christ, the One to whom God says, ‘You are My Son’ (7), the One to whom God says, ‘I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession’ (8). God calls us to worship Christ – ‘Kiss the Son’ (12). This call to worship Christ is accompanied by a warning against judgment and a promise of salvation. As sinners, we are under God’s judgment. Trusting in Christ, we are saved (12; John 3:36). We are to take delight in Christ. This is the thought conveyed by the phrase, ‘Kiss the Son’. We delight in God’s Son, and we delight in God’s Word which leads us to Him.
3:1-6 – This Psalm begins with the human situation – ‘O Lord, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me! Many are saying of me, “God will not deliver him”’’ (1-2). It ends with the divine provision – ‘From the Lord comes deliverance’ (8). How does the Psalmist rise above his deeply distressing circumstances? He takes his problem to the Lord. The Psalm’s opening words, ‘O Lord’, indicate the way toward its triumphant conclusion. Why is the Psalmist not overwhelmed by depression? – He is looking to the Lord. This is not a case of ‘positive thinking’ on the part of David. This is deliverance from the Lord. There is no simple ‘psychological’ explanation for David’s change of mood. He is delivered by the Lord. He is raised from his depressive mood by the Lord, ‘my Glorious One, who lifts up my head’ ( 3). What He’s done for others, He can do for you!
4:1-8 – There is a great message of the Gospel here. By ourselves, we are sinners, turning God’s glory to shame, loving delusions and seeking false gods (2). By grace, God has done something about this – ‘the Lord has set apart the godly for Himself’ (3). When we pray, ‘Answer me’ (1), we have this confidence: ‘the Lord will hear when I call to Him’ (3). The Lord hears the sinner’s prayer, ‘Give me relief from my distress; be merciful to me and hear my prayer’ (1). Jesus Christ is God’s Answer to this prayer. Christ brings relief (salvation). This salvation arises from the mercy of God. In Chriat, we have a ‘joy’ and ‘peace’ which the world can neither give nor take away (7-8). When the seeking sinner comes with question, ‘Who can show us any good?’ (6), the Gospel Answer is always the same – Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
5:1-12– This is a morning prayer: ‘morning by morning’, we are to come before the Lord ‘in expectation’of His blessing (3). The Psalmist prays with great earnestness. His prayer is a ‘sighing’before God, a ‘cry for help’(1-2). He acknowledges the holiness of God: ‘You are not a God who takes pleasure in evil, with you the wicked cannot dwell’(4). The words of verse 9 apply to every one of us. Paul quotes this verse in support of the conclusion that ‘allhave sinned and fall short of the glory of God’(Romans 3:13, 23). There is, however, a way of coming to God. It is ‘by His mercy’(7). Each of us has been declared guilty by God (10; Romans 3:19-20). For the fallen, God has provided a way of forgiveness. For the guilty, He has provided a way to gladness (11; Luke 2:10-11). ‘Hallelujah! What a Saviour!’(Church Hymnary, 380).
6:1-10– What a pitiful picture: ‘languishing …troubled …sorely troubled …moaning …tears …weeping …grief …weak’ (1-7). Transformation – Overwhelmed by evil becomes overcoming evil. ‘O Lord – how long?’becomes ‘The Lord has heard the sound of my weeping. The Lord has heard my supplication’ (3, 8-9). We look at our circumstances. We ask, ‘How long must this continue?’. We look at Christ’s Cross. We say, ‘He has won the victory’. His victory becomes ours, as we say, in faith, ‘the Lord accepts my prayer’(9). We look beyond our present circumstances to Christ’s Second Coming. When He returns, the tables will be turned. In a moment, there will be complete shame for His enemies (10; 1 Corinthians 15:25) and complete salvation for ‘those who are eagerly waiting for Him’(1 Corinthians 15:51-52; Hebrews 9:28).
7:1-17– Scripture speaks to us of both judgment and salvation (6,10; Hebrews 9:27-28). The Gospel brings salvation, – ‘God sent the Son… that the world might be saved…’. There is also a warning – ‘he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the Name of the only Son of God’(John 3:17-18). The Lord does not wish ‘that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance’. Nevertheless, there will be ‘the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men’(2 Peter 3:9,7). What is happening here on earth? – ‘the wicked man…makes a pit…and falls into the hole which he has made’(14-15). What does God say about this? – ‘If a man does not repent, God will whet his sword…’(12), ‘God… commands all men everywhere to repent’(Acts 17:30). God calls for ‘repentance’and ‘faith in our Lord Jesus Christ’- ‘Repent and believe the Gospel’(Acts 20:21; Mark 1:15).
8:1-9– The Lord is ‘majestic’(1,9). He does not remain remote. He does not keep His distance. He show us His greatness, the greatness of His love. We feel forgotten. He remembers us. We feel unloved. He cares for us (4). We are tempted. He will ‘still the enemy’(2). We look beyond our creation (5-8) to our salvation – ‘we see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, crowned with glory and honour because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone…that through death He might destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the devil’(Hebrews 2:8-9,14). This is ‘Majesty’- ‘Jesus, who died, now glorified, King of all kings’. The Name of the Lord is majestic ‘in all the earth’(1, 9). To God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – we pray, ‘Glorify Your Name in all the earth’(Mission Praise. 454,142).
9:1-20– ‘I will give thanks to the Lord…’(1-2). The enemy is defeated (3-6). ‘The Lord sits enthroned for ever’(7). ‘The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble’(9). What an encouraging Psalm this is: We have the victory in Christ. Nevertheless, it is not easy when we face determined opposition from the enemies of Christ and His Gospel: ‘Behold what I suffer from those that hate me’(13). In this situation, we must call upon the Lord: ‘Arise, O Lord! Let not man prevail’(19). Though the conflict is raging all around, we must – taking our stand in Christ – declare God’s praises and rejoice in His salvation (14). ‘The Lord dwells in Zion’(11): ‘Blest inhabitants of Zion, Washed in the Redeemer’s blood’, may we always say, ‘Let the world deride or pity, I will glory in Thy Name’(Church Hymnary,421).
10:1-18– Wickedness seems to be so prevalent. Many ‘renounce the Lord’, saying ‘There is no God’(3-4). It seems that the wicked ‘prosper at all times’, while the innocent victims of oppression feel that ‘God has forgotten’ (5-11). When it appears that God ‘has hidden His face’, when we feel that He has forgotten us, we must remember this: ‘The Lord is King for ever and ever’(11,16). Do not judge by appearances. Do not trust your feelings. Everything changes. Nothing remains the same. Everything changes – except God. He is unchanged, unchanging and unchangeable in His faithful love for us. We rejoice in this: ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever’(Hebrews 13:5). Whatever circumstances and feelings may suggest, never forget this: ‘He loved us from the first of time, He loves us to the last’(Church Hymnary, 293).
11:1-13:6– ‘The Lord is in His holy temple, the Lord’s throne is in heaven’: We ‘take refuge’ in Him (11:4,1). We are to seek His face, confident that ‘when He appears…we shall see Him as He is’ (11:7; 27:8; 1 John 3:2). Seeking God’s face, we learn to rest in His promises, we are protected, we are kept (12:6-7). We may face difficult circumstances (13:1-4). We can still trust in the Lord’s ‘steadfast love’. We can still ‘rejoice’ in His ‘salvation’. We can still say with the Psalmist, ‘I will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me’ – ‘God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work (13:5-6; 2 Corinthians 9:8).
14:1-15:5– Life can be testing and trying. In all of this, God makes Himself real to us. This is our assurance of faith: ‘The Lord restores the fortunes of His people’. He makes us ‘glad’- In Him, we ‘rejoice’(7). God Himself is the Sure Foundation for our lives: Build on Him, and you ‘shall never be moved’(15:5). We long for God’s blessing, ‘O that salvation…would come…’(7). He will not disappoint us. Do not be ‘the fool’ who ‘says in his heart, “There is no God”’(14:1). ‘Fear the Lord’- ‘and give Him glory’(15:4; Revelation 14:7). We are to ‘act wisely’- ‘seeking after God’, ‘calling upon the Lord’(14:2,4). Do you want to ‘dwell on God’s holy hill’(15:1)? – ‘There is a way for man to rise to that sublime abode…’(Church Hymnary, 357): Christ is the Way to God and Heaven (John 14:2-6).
16:1-11– ‘Thou wilt show me the path of life; in Thy presence is fulness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore’(11). In this earthly life, there are many difficulties. For all of God’s people, there is something better still to come. We must look not only at the things which are happening now. We must look also to the glory which is yet to come. Our hope of eternal glory is based on Christ’s resurrection. David’s words (8-11) are quoted by Peter in connection with ‘the resurrection of the Christ’(Acts 2:24-33). ‘Christ has been raised from the dead…at His coming those who belong to Christ…will be raised imperishable’(1 Corinthians 15:20-23, 52). ‘The Lord is my chosen portion…Therefore my heart is glad’(5,9). Is this your testimony? Choose Christ and be glad.
17:1-15– Here is the prayer of a man whose earnest desire is to walk with God, to have a close walk with God in the centre of His will (5). His prayer is sincere. It ‘does not rise from deceitful lips’(1). He is painfully aware of ‘the onslaughts of the wicked’. His ‘enemies cluster round him, breathing hostility’(9). Whatever troubles we may encounter, we must learn to pray with the Psalmist: ‘Hear, O Lord, my righteous plea; listen to my cry. Give ear to my prayer’(1). As we call upon the Lord, He gives the assurance of His protection. Through His Word and Spirit, He assures us that He will ‘keep us as the apple of His eye’(8). We are precious in His sight. He looks upon us in love. He does not see our sin. He sees us ‘in Christ’- ‘accepted in the Beloved’, ‘no condemnation’(Psalm 32:1; Ephesians 1:6; Romans 8:1).
18:1-24– The first three verses set the tone: Worship. What a great start to this Psalm. Our attention is directed away from ourselves to the Lord: ‘my strength…my rock, my fortress and my deliverer…my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold’(1-2). The great testimony of verse 3 – ‘I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies’- did not come easily (4-5). The enemies of the Lord will be brought to judgment (13-14). ‘The cord of death encompassed me…He delivered me from my strong enemy…’(4-5,17-19) – Rejoice in the risen Christ through whom we have the ‘victory’ over ‘the last enemy…death’(1 Corinthians 15:20,26,54). God is leading us into ‘a broad place’(19). Step into the future with Him. Don’t hold back! ‘Let go and let God have His wonderful way’.
18:25-50– ‘This God’ is ‘our God’. He is ‘the Rock’. He is ‘my Rock’. No one can compare with the Lord our God. He is the living God, the God of our salvation (30-31,46). In the Lord, we have salvation: ‘You save the humble but bring low those whose eyes are haughty’. In our God, we have victory: ‘You armed me with strength for battle; you made my adversaries bow at my feet’(27,39). Do you want to enjoy God’s blessing – His salvation and His victory? God says, ‘Clothe yourselves with humility’. Together with His command, we have God’s warning– ‘God opposes the proud’- and God’s promise– He ‘gives grace to the humble’(1 Peter 5:5). There is a question which each of us must answer: ‘Who is on the Lord’s side? There is an answer which of us must give: ‘We are on the Lord’s side’(Church Hymnary, 479).
19:1-14– God reveals Himself in creation and Scripture. He speaks through His created world. He speaks through His written Word. God is always speaking. He is never silent. Through His created world, God is speaking to us – every day, every night. He is showing us His glory (1-2). He makes us aware of His presence. He whets our appetite for His written Word. The Scriptures lead us to Christ. Through faith in Him, we receive salvation (2 Timothy 3:15). Christ is the high-point of God’s revelation. He is the living Word (John 1:1,14). The testimony of the Psalmist – ‘The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul’(7) – becomes real for us through faith in Christ – ‘I came to Jesus…My soul revived and now I live in Him’(Church Hymnary, 212). Make it real. Come to Christ. Come alive in Him!
20:1-21:13– ‘We boast of the Name of the Lord our God…Through the steadfast love of the Most High’ we ‘shall not be moved’(20:7;21:7). We do not trust in things that ‘collapse and fall’. We build on ‘the Rock’(20:8; Matthew 7:24-27; Psalms 18:1-3; 62:5-7). We ‘rejoice’ in our God. He has made us ‘most blessed for ever’(21:1,6; Ephesians 1:3). Think of Jesus Christ your Saviour. He is absolutely trustworthy. He is completely dependable. His love is an ‘unfailing love’(21:7). In Him, there is salvation. In Him, there is joy. With His strong and powerful love, He has saved us. He has given us ‘a new song’ to sing, ‘a song of praise to our God’(Psalm 40:1-3). Let us lift our hearts and voices to Him in praise and worship: ‘Be exalted, O Lord, in Thy strength,! We will sing and praise Thy power’(13).
22:1-18– Read of the Psalmist’s sufferings. Think of the Saviour, suffering for you (7-8,18; Matthew 27:39,43,35). We highlight two statements: ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’, ‘They have pierced my hands and my feet’(1,16). Jesus Christ was ‘crucified and killed by the hands of the lawless men’(Acts 2:23). There is, however, more to His story than this: ‘The Lord has laid all our sins on Him’(Isaiah 53:6). When we read of Jesus Christ, ‘pierced for our transgressions’, we see Him ‘pierced’ by men and forsaken by God (Isaiah 53:5; Zechariah 12:10; John 19:34; Matthew 27:46). Looking on to Jesus Christ, risen, exalted and returning, we see Him still bearing the marks of His suffering – ‘the mark of the nails’, ‘a Lamb standing as though it had been slain’, ‘pierced’(John 20:25; Revelation 5:6; 1:7).
22:19-23:4– Jesus Christ has ‘tasted death for everyone’(Hebrews 2:9). Now, through Him, salvation is proclaimed to ‘the congregation’, to ‘the ends of the earth’ to ‘future generations’(22,27,30). Jesus Christ, ‘the same yesterday, today and for ever’, proclaims salvation to the great ‘congregation’, drawn from ‘every tribe and language and people and nation’(Hebrews 13:8; 2:12; Revelation 5:9). Jesus Christ has passed ‘through the valley of the shadow of death’ for us (4). Now, we rejoice in Him, our Shepherd of love – (a) the Good Shepherd who died for us (John 10:11); (b) the Great Shepherd who was raised for us (Hebrews 13:20-21); (c) The Chief Shepherd who is coming again for us (1 Peter 5:4). He restores us. He keeps us from ’straying like sheep’. He leads us ‘in paths of righteousness’(3; 1 Peter 2:25).
23:5-24:10– For God’s people, there is a glorious eternal destiny: ‘I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for ever’(23:6). We ‘receive this blessing from the Lord,…the God of our salvation’(24:5). There is only one answer to the question, ‘Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?: Jesus Christ ‘shall stand in His holy place’. No one else has ‘clean hands and a pure heart’- no one else but Jesus. He is the One who receives ‘blessing’ from the Lord – and He gives it to us (3-5)! How do we receive His blessing? – We must open our hearts ‘that the King of glory may come in’(7,9). How can ‘the Lord, strong and mighty’ live in me? How can I receive His resurrection power? Jesus says, ‘I stand at the door and knock, if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in’(8; Ephesians 1:19-20; Revelation 3:20).
25:1-22– ‘Lead me in Thy truth, and teach me, for Thou art the God of my salvation’(5). We can pray this prayer with confidence. God has given His promise: ‘He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble His way’(9). Our confidence is in the Lord. We ‘put no confidence in the flesh’(Philippians 3:3). Jesus teaches us that God hides Himself from the proud and reveals Himself to the humble: ‘…Father…Thou hast hidden these things from the wise and revealed them to babes’(Matthew 11:25). In the life of faith, the most important thing is the right attitude – not the ‘best education’! The proud may concern themselves with impressing ‘the right people’. For the humble, there is something more important – pleasing God. His opinion is the one that really matters!
26:1-27:12– God’s love for us inspires our loyalty to Him: ‘Your love is ever before me, and I will walk continually in Your truth’(26:3). Loyalty to the Lord involves worshipping Him and walking with Him (26:11-12). Walking with God is not easy. There are ‘enemies round about’ us (26:4-5, 9-10; 27:2-3,6,11-12). What are we to do? We are to worship God: ‘One thing have I asked of the Lord…that I may dwell in the House of the Lord…’(27:4). What are we doing when we gather in the Lord’s House for worship? This is what we are doing – ‘Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage’(27:14). Where does our strength come from? It comes from God: ‘The Lord is my light and my salvation… The Lord is the stronghold of my life’. Strong in Him, we say, ‘My heart will not fear… I will be confident’(27:1,3).
28:1-29:11– ‘The Lord is my Strength…The Lord is the Strength of His people’(28:7-8). Our personal strengthening is closely related to the strengthening of God’s people. Don’t be a ‘lone ranger’, going it alone, keeping yourself to yourself. Share your strength with others. Draw strength from them. ‘Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another’(Hebrews 10:24-25). Where does your strength come from? It comes from ‘the Lord’ who ‘sits enthroned as King for ever’(29:10). We grow strong as we listen for ‘the voice of the Lord’(29:3-9). Don’t let God’s voice be drowned out – ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God’(Matthew 4:4).
30:1-12– ‘I will exalt You, O Lord’(1). God is not exalted because we exalt Him. We exalt Him because He is exalted: ‘He is exalted, for ever exalted, and I will praise His Name’(Mission Praise,217). How do we come to the point where we say, ‘I will exalt You, O Lord’? We realize our need of Him – ‘when You hid Your face, I was dismayed’(7). We look to Him for mercy – ‘To You, O Lord, I called; to the Lord, I cried for mercy’(8). God hears and answers our prayer – ‘You turned my wailing into dancing; You removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy’(11). God calls us to worship Him – ‘Sing praises to the Lord, O you His saints, and give thanks to His holy Name’(4). ‘The joy of the Lord’, His ‘unutterable and exalted joy’, gives us ‘strength’(Nehemiah 8:10; 1 Peter 1:8). We worship God: ‘O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever’(12).
31:1-24– ‘Into Thy hand, I commit my spirit’(5). These words were spoken by Christ as, in death, He gave Himself for our sins (Luke 23:46). For Christ, there was suffering – ‘I am the scorn of all my adversaries’(11). His suffering was followed by rejoicing, the joy of the resurrection – ‘I will be glad and rejoice in Your love, for You saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul. You have not handed me over to the enemy but have set my feet in a spacious place’(7-8). God answered the prayer of His Son – He brought Him into the ‘spacious place’ of the resurrection, the ‘spacious place’ which is, for us, ‘eternal salvation’(Hebrews 5:7-9). We look to the crucified Christ and we say, ‘Praise be to the Lord, for He showed His wonderful love to me’(21). In the risen Christ, we are ‘strong and our hearts take courage’(24).
32:1-11– The forgiveness of sins – what a tremendous blessing this is (1-2). We receive God’s forgiveness when we confess our sins to Him. This is the Psalmist’s testimony: ‘I made my sins known to You, and I did not cover up my guilt. I decided to confess them to You, O Lord. Then You forgave all my sins’(5). This is the promise of God: ‘If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness’(1 John 1:9). Knowing that our sins have been forgiven by God, we can face our many trying times with confidence in Him: ‘You are my hiding place. You always fill my heart with songs of deliverance whenever I am afraid. I will trust in You, I will trust in You. Let the weak say, “I am strong in the strength of my God”’(7; Mission Praise, 793).
33:1-22– ‘Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous’(1). We have plenty of good reasons for rejoicing in the Lord. He opens His heart to us, making known ‘the thoughts of His heart to all generations’(11). In His heart, there is love for us – ‘the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord’(5). He speaks to us of His love. Listening to His voice of love, our joy increases as we learn to trust in His Word – ‘the Word of the Lord is right and true’- and rest in His faithfulness – ‘He is faithful in all He does’(4). We have good cause to say, ‘Our heart is glad in Him’(20). Think of God’s love – His heart of love, His purpose of love, His Word of love. Let His love touch your heart and change your life. May His love cause each of us to pray from the heart: ‘May Your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord’(22).
34:1-22– Looking to the Lord, we are ‘radiant’ He has ‘delivered’ us. He has ‘saved’ us (4-6). Rejoicing in God’s salvation, we say, ‘I will bless the Lord at all times’(1). We call upon others to worship the Lord with us – ‘O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His Name together!’(3). We invite them to trust in the Lord and come to know the joy of His salvation – ‘O taste and see that the Lord is good! Happy is the man who takes refuge in Him!’(8). We encourage them to keep on hearing the Word of the Lord so that they may learn to walk with God – ‘Come, O sons, listen to me, I will teach you the fear of the Lord’(11). We seek to lead people on to spiritual maturity. We say to them, ‘Depart from evil, and do good’, praying that they will become ‘mature’, ‘trained by practice to know the difference between good and evil’(14; Hebrews 5:14).
35:1-28– The Psalmist prays, ‘Contend, O Lord, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me!’(1). Jesus says, ‘In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world’(John 16:33). Paul rejoices in the Lord`s victory – ‘If God be for us, who can be against us?’(Romans 8:31). How do we know that God is for us? How do we know that the victory is ours in Christ? We read the words of John 3:16 – ‘God so loved the world that He gave His only Son…’- and we say, with the Psalmist, ‘Then my soul shall rejoice in the Lord, exulting in His deliverance’(9). We read the words of 1 Corinthians 15:57 – ‘Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ’- and we say, with the Psalmist, ‘I will thank Thee…I will praise Thee…all the day long’(18,2,8).
36:1-12– Read about God’s ‘steadfast love’ and rejoice in Him: ‘Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens…How precious is Your steadfast love, O God!…O continue Your steadfast love to those who know You…’(5,7,10). Rejoicing in the Lord’s ‘steadfast love’ is quite different from taking His love for granted. We dare not say, “God loves me. I can do what I like”. We must not become like the wicked – ‘there is no fear of God before his eyes’(1). Where there is true rejoicing in God’s ‘steadfast love’, there will also be ‘the fear of the Lord’ which ‘is the beginning of wisdom’(111:10). A real appreciation of God’s ‘steadfast love’ brings with it a real awareness of our own sinfulness. Knowing how much God loves us leads us to pray, ‘Let not the foot of arrogance come upon me, nor the hand of the wicked drive me away’(11).
37:1-40– Those who ‘trust in the Lord…will dwell in the land’. Those who turn from Him will ‘perish’(3,20). Through faith in Christ, we look ahead to ‘a heavenly country’, ‘better’ than anything we will know on earth (Hebrews 11:16; Philippians 3:20). We have caught sight of ‘a happy land, far, far away, where saints in glory stand, bright, bright as day’. We have heard the sound of their song – ‘O how they sweetly sing, “Worthy is our Saviour King!”’. We lift our voices to the Lord – ‘Loud let His praises ring, praise, praise for aye’. Still, some are perishing. They have not come to Christ for salvation. To them, we say, ‘Come to this happy land, come, come away; Why will ye doubting stand? Why, still delay?’(Revised Church Hymnary, 587). Trust in the Lord now and look forward to being with Him in heaven.
38:1-22– What a sorry state of affairs we have here! – ‘My guilt has overwhelmed me. Like a heavy load, it is more than I can bear’(4). What are we to do when things are going from bad to worse? What are we to do when everything seems to be falling apart? We must do what the Psalmist does – ‘I wait with hope for You, O Lord’(15). The Psalmist was ‘completely devastated’. His ‘heart was in turmoil’. He looked to his friends for help, but they were not there – ‘My loved ones and friends keep their distance’(8,11). Despised and forsaken by his friends, there was only one thing for it – ‘Take it to the Lord in prayer’. There is ‘a Friend so faithful’. He ‘knows our every weakness’. He ‘will share all our sorrows’. This Friend is Jesus. He will be there for us when there’s nowhere else to go (Mission Praise, 746).
39:1-13– Some live to a ripe old age. Some die young. How does God view our time on this earth? – This is what the Psalmist says, ‘My life span is nothing compared with Yours’(5). The quality of our living is more important than the quantity of our years. “How am I living?’- This is the question of quality. It is more important than the question of quantity – “How long have I lived?”. “What am I doing with my life?”- This is the question each of us must answer. Life is not only about survival – living for a long time. It is about revival – living in the light of eternity. The Psalmist asks the question – ‘Lord, what am I waiting for?’. He gives his answer – ‘My hope is in You’(7). Let us live as ‘citizens of heaven’- ‘We look forward to the Lord Jesus Christ coming from heaven as our Saviour’(Philippians 3:20).
40:1-17– We have been saved by the Lord: ‘He drew me up from the desolate pit, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my feet secure’(2). He calls us to a life of worship and witness. We are to worship Him with ‘a new song…a song of praise to our God’(3). We are to be His witnesses, sharing with others the Good News of His salvation: ‘I have not hid Thy saving help within my heart, I have spoken of Thy faithfulness and Thy salvation…’(10). God has given out His call to worship and witness. May our response be like the Psalmist’s: ‘I delight to do Thy will, O my God’. Let us worship the Lord – ‘Great is the Lord’. Let us be His witnesses – ‘I have told the glad news of deliverance’. Let us pray for the Lord’s help: ‘let Thy steadfast love and Thy faithfulness ever preserve me!’(8,16,9,11).
41:1-13– What do you do when everything seems to be going wrong? Do you forget about God? That’s the worst thing you can do? That’s just asking for trouble! Our problems are bad enough – with God’s help. Things can only get worse – if we turn away from the Lord. When the going gets tough, we must turn to the Lord. Share your ‘day of trouble’ with the Lord. Let Him come to you with His blessing (1-3). Satan is busy, trying to draw you away from the Lord. It is only through the strength of the Lord that you will be able to say, with confident faith, ‘my enemy has not triumphed over me’(11). Look up from your problems to your Lord. Let Him fill your heart with praise – ‘Blessed be the Lord…’(13). Let this be your testimony: ‘When no one but Christ could help, Love lifted me!’(Mission Praise, 450).
42:1-43:5– Three times, the question is asked, ‘Why are you downcast, O my soul’. Three times, the answer is given, ‘Put your hope in God’. Three times, there is the response of faith: ‘I will yet praise Him, my Saviour and my God (42:5,11; 43:5). Often, we are filled with questions. We must bring our questions to God. We must learn to listen for His answers. The Lord is speaking to us. Are we listening? God speaks to us through His Word. Are we taking time to read His Word? He wants us to come to Him with the prayer, ‘Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening’(1 Samuel 3:8-10). Listen to the Word of the Lord. Let His Word be your Guide: ‘Send forth Your light and Your truth, let them guide me…’(43:5). ‘Deep calls to deep’(42:7) – Let ‘the Spirit’ show you ‘the deep things of God’(1 Corinthians 2:10).
44:1-26– Victory comes from the Lord. In ourselves, we are defeated. In Him, there is victory. We see this in the history of Israel, the people whom the Lord redeemed (3). We see it also in the experience of the Psalmist (6-7). We must remind ourselves of these things. It is so easy to forget. We take our eyes off the Lord, and we get despondent – ‘…You have rejected and humbled us…You have made us retreat before the enemy…You gave us up to be devoured like sheep…You have made us a reproach to our neighbours…My disgrace is before me all day long…’(9-16). What are we to do when such negative thoughts fill our minds? We must pray, ‘Awake, O Lord!…Rise up and help us; redeem us because of Your unfailing love’. Pray for the faith which says, ‘We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us’(23,26; Romans 8:37).
45:1-17– Jesus Christ is ‘the most excellent of men’(2). He is more than that. He is God. In verse 6, we read these words – ‘Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever’. We read them again in Hebrews 1:8. They are the words which God the Father speaks to His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. How does the Word of God describe Jesus Christ? – ‘He is your Lord’. How are we to respond to Him? – We are to approach Him with ‘reverence’. We are to ‘honour’ Him. We are to ‘bow down’ and ‘worship’ Him. We are to ‘obey’ Him (11). Think of the “Good News’ of our Lord Jesus Christ – ‘the Son of God loved me and gave Himself for me’. Let your heart overflow with praise to the Lord Jesus Christ – What a wonderful Saviour He is (1; Galatians 2:20)! Let us celebrate His Name in this generation. Let Him be praised for ever and ever’(17).
46:1-47:9– ‘Be still, and know that I am God…Shout to God with loud songs of joy’(10; 47:2). In our worship, there is to be both quiet trust and loud praise. We read the great words: ‘God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble’(46:1). God’s Word brings peace – ‘in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength’. We must not keep God’s blessing to ourselves. We must share it with joy – ‘Sing to the Lord…let them shout from the top of the mountains. Let them give glory to the Lord, and declare His praise in the coastlands’(Isaiah 30:15; 42:10-12). The Lord is to be ‘exalted among the nations’. He is not only ‘our King’. He is ‘the King of all the earth’(10; 47:6-7). ‘Father (Jesus/Spirit), we love You. We worship and adore You. Glorify Your Name in all the earth’(Mission Praise, 142).
48:1-14– ‘Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised’(1). We worship God in the place of worship – ‘Within Your Temple, O God, we meditate on Your unfailing love’. Our worship must not end there. We are to play our part in seeing that the praise of the Lord ‘reaches to the ends of the earth’. We are to ‘be glad’ in the Lord. We are to ‘rejoice’ in Him (9-11). We must not keep this joy to ourselves. The Lord is ‘the joy of all the earth’. We must share His joy. We are to ‘tell the next generation’. How will they know if we do not tell them? Many are slow to come and worship the Lord. We must not be slow to witness for Him. Let’s remember God’s promise – ‘My Word…will not return to Me empty, but will…achieve the purpose for which I sent it’- and let’s say – ‘Here am I. Send me!’(Isaiah 55:11; 6:8).
49:1-20– How can I be saved? How does God answer our most important question, the question of salvation? He speaks to us about (a) our need of salvation; (b) His provision of salvation; (c) receiving salvation. (a) Our need of salvation: We cannot save ourselves. ‘No man can ransom himself, or give to God the price of his life. The price to be paid for his soul is too costly’(7-8). (b) His provision of salvation: Jesus Christ came to earth ‘to give His life as a ransom for many’. We are ‘redeemed with the precious blood of Christ’(Mark 10:45; 1 Peter 1:18-19). (c) Receiving salvation: Christ died to ‘save us from the power of hell’ and ‘take us to Himself’. We receive salvation through faith in Him: ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved’. ‘He who believes in the Son has eternal life’(15; Acts 16:31; John 3:36).
50:1-23– ‘Our God comes, He does not keep silence’(3). God does not keep His distance. He comes near to us. He does not keep His silence. He speaks to us – ‘God the Lord speaks’(1). How does God come near to us? How does He speak to us? He comes near to us in Jesus Christ. He speaks to us through Jesus Christ. In John 1:1, we have this tremendous description of Jesus Christ: ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God’. Jesus Christ is the Word. God is speaking to us through Jesus Christ. How does God speak to us through Jesus Christ? He speaks to us by drawing near to us – ‘the Word became flesh and dwelt among us’. Jesus Christ is God’s Word. He is God, speaking to us. He is God, coming near to us. He is God, ‘full of grace and truth’(John 1:14).
51:1-19– ‘Create in me a clean heart, O God… Cast me not away from Thy presence… Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation’(10-12). These words come to us from the ancient past. They were first spoken many centuries ago. They can be the words which change your future. You can make them your words. David made a new beginning with God. You can make a new beginning with God. You have sinned. You need to be forgiven. Come to Christ. He says, ‘I will never turn away anyone who comes to Me’(John 6:37). You need to be ‘born again’. Receive Christ as your Saviour and be ‘born again’- ‘born of God’(John 3:3,7; 1:12). You feel so weak, unable to be the person God wants you to be. Let ‘the joy of the Lord be your strength’(Nehemiah 8:10). Let His love reach you. Let His power make you a new person.
52:1-53:6– ‘I am like a green olive tree in the House of God’(9). This is a picture of growth and fruitfulness – in the House of God. You can grow spiritually – in the House of God. You can become spiritually fruitful – in the House of God. We must not ‘go it alone’. We receive strength as we worship with the Lord’s people. When the Psalmist prays for God’s blessing, he is not just thinking about himself. He is praying for the whole people of God: ‘O that salvation for Israel would come from Zion!’. He is praying that God will ‘restore the fortunes of His people’. He is not thinking only about his own personal happiness. He is praying that all God’s people ‘will rejoice and be glad’(53:6). Don’t just pray for yourself. Pray ‘that the body of Christ may be built up until we all… become mature…’(Ephesians 4:12-13).
54:1-55:23– The Psalmist had problems – ‘Strangers are attacking me; ruthless men seek my life – men with no regard for God’(54:3). There was, however, something else troubling him. Someone else was causing him problems – ‘my close friend, with whom I enjoyed sweet fellowship, as we worshipped together at the House of God’(13-14). He felt like running away from it all – ‘Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest – I would flee far away and stay in the desert… I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm’(55:6-8). This is what he felt like doing. He had almost forgotten – ‘God is my Helper’(54:4). With God, he faced and overcame his problems: ‘I will call upon God; and the Lord will save me’. ‘Cast your burden on the Lord, and He will sustain you’(16,22).
56:1-57:11– ‘Be gracious to me, O God… Be merciful to me, O God’(56:1; 57:1). In mercy, God withholds from us the judgment we deserve. In grace, He gives to us the salvation we do not deserve. How does He do this for us? He makes His grace and mercy available to us through the death of His Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. How do we receive God’s grace and mercy? We look to the Cross of Jesus Christ. There, we see our Saviour, bearing our sin and inviting us to receive His salvation. There, we see God’s ‘steadfast love and faithfulness’(57:3,10). At the Cross of Christ, we see eternal love. God loves us. His love is unchanged, unchanging and unchangeable. How are we to respond to such love? – ‘I will give thanks to You, O Lord… I will sing praises to You… Be exalted, O God…’(57:9-11).
58:1-59:17– ‘Surely there is a God who judges the earth’(58:11). Let these words send you to the Saviour. ‘Deliver me from my enemies, O my God’(59:1). Take this prayer with you to the Cross of Christ. There, at the Cross, you will meet the Saviour – ‘My God in His steadfast love will meet me’. In our Saviour, we have the victory over our enemy, Satan – ‘My God will let me look in triumph on my enemies’(59:10). What a Saviour we have! Think of His love. Think of His power. Let your heart be filled with praise to Him – ‘I will sing of Your strength… I will sing of Your love… O my Strength, I sing praise to You; You, O God, are my Fortress, my loving God’(16-17). What a great salvation God has given to us in Christ – the forgiveness of our sins, victory over our enemies and eternal life (1 John 1:7,9; 3:8; 5:4-5,11-13).
60:1-61:8– There is so much to hold us back from worshipping and serving the Lord. We could so easily become discouraged. We need the encouragement of God’s Word. This is what we have here: ‘With God we shall gain the victory, and He will trample down our enemies’(12). At times, it may seem like our enemies have the upper hand. When we feel like this, we must remember the Lord – He is ‘a strong tower against the enemy’(61:3). When things seem to be getting out of control, we must fix our eyes on the Lord Jesus Christ – He is ‘enthroned for ever’(61:7). ‘Day after day’, He calls us to worship Him and to live as His servants. He calls us to receive ‘His mercy… new every morning’, to be ‘renewed day by day’(61:8; Lamentations 3:22-23; 2 Corinthians 4:16-18).
62:1-63:11– The Lord is ‘my Rock and my Salvation’(62:2,6). As you read the Psalmist’s words, let your thoughts turn to the Lord Jesus Christ. He is our ‘Rock’- the ‘Rock’ of our salvation. Through ‘the blood of Christ’, we receive the greatest ‘blessing’ of all – salvation (1 Corinthians 10:1-4,16). No other blessing can ever compare with the joy of knowing Christ as Saviour: ‘Your steadfast love is better than life’. Through our great Saviour – the Lord Jesus Christ – , we are learning to ‘praise’ God. We are learning to say, with the Psalmist, ‘I will praise You as long as I live’(63:3-4). What a great Saviour we have. He is greater than all our songs of praise. He is ‘too marvellous for words’- ‘Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!’(Mission Praise, 788; 2 Corinthians 9:15).
64:1-65:13– ‘Let the righteous rejoice in the Lord’(64:10). True joy in the Lord is not just a passing emotion, a feeling which doesn’t last for very long. When our ‘praise’ to the Lord is real, it leads to a changed life: ‘O God’, we will ‘keep our promises to You’(65:1). Jesus shows us the great difference between a passing emotion, a feeling which doesn’t last, and a true conversion which leads to a changed life. He speaks of those who ‘receive the Word with joy,… endure for a while’ and then ‘fall away’. He speaks also of those who ‘hear the Word and accept it and bear fruit’(Mark 4:3-9,16-17,20). How do you worship the Lord? Are you looking for a good feeling – and nothing more than that? God is looking for more. He wants us to live as ‘a new creation’(2 Corinthians 5:17).
66:1-67:7– ‘Come and see what God has done’(66:5). God invites us to look into His Word, to read His Story, the Story of all that He has done for us. ‘Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what He has done for me’(66:16). God invites us to listen to the preaching of His Word, to let His Story become our story, to let His salvation become real in our lives. We read God’s Word. We hear His Word. This is our journey of discovery. We discover what the Lord has done for us. We discover how much He wants to bless us. He waits to hear our prayer – ‘May God be gracious to us and bless us…’. He answers our prayer – ‘God has blessed us’(67:1,6-7). He wants us to ‘be glad and sing for joy’. He wants us to call ‘all the ends of the earth’ to ‘worship Him’(67:4,7).
68:1-35– God is ‘our salvation’. He is the ‘God of salvation’(19-20). God’s salvation covers our past, present and future. (a) You have been saved. Through faith in Jesus Christ, we have received the forgiveness of our sins (Romans 5:1). (b) You are being saved. God is at work in our lives, making us the kind of people He wants us to be (Romans 5:3-5). (c) You will be saved. We look forward to ‘sharing the glory of God’, being with the Lord forever (Romans 5:2,9-10). From beginning to end, salvation is the work of God – He has forgiven our sins. He is making us like Christ. He will lead us on to heaven. Our God is great. His salvation is great. Let us ‘be joyful’. Let us worship the Lord ‘with joy’(3). Let us give all the glory to God – ‘Blessed be God!’(35).
69:1-36– David is going through ‘the deep waters’ of suffering. He prays to the Lord for deliverance from ‘the flood’ and ‘the deep’(14-15). He had sinned against the Lord. He does not try to hide this. He confesses his sin and guilt – ‘the wrongs that I have done are not hidden from You, my guilt is not hidden from You’(5). He looks to the Lord, remembering that He is the God of ‘steadfast love’ and ‘abundant mercy’(16). When you come to God in prayer, do not try to hide your sins from Him. Remember – ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners’. In Christ, there is ‘mercy’- God doesn’t send the judgment we deserve – and ‘grace’- God sends the blessing we don’t deserve. Come to Christ and receive His ‘mercy’ and ‘grace’(1 Timothy 1:13-16; Hebrews 4:14-16).
70:1-71:24– David is in great danger. His life is being threatened by his enemies (70:2). We might expect that he would be depressed. Far from it! Rather than being preoccupied with his own problems, he is calling on God’s people to worship the Lord with joy: ‘May all who seek You, rejoice and be glad in You! May those who love Your salvation continually say, “God is great!”’(70:4). How was David able to rise above his own problems and call the Lord’s people to worship? – He knew that the Lord was his ‘Rock of refuge’, his ‘strong Fortress’(71:3). Like David, we may face ‘many terrible troubles’. Let us learn, like David, to praise the Lord and look to Him to lead us in the way of victory: ‘You have done great things, O God… You will revive me again’(71:19-20).
72:1-20– Read the words – ‘His Name’ shall ‘endure for ever’(17) – and think of Christ. His Name is ‘the Name above all other names’. He is ‘the King of kings and Lord of lords’(Philippians 2:9-11; Revelation 19:16). Read the words – ‘all nations call Him blessed’(17) – , and think of Christ. ‘From every tribe and language and people and nation’, God’s people have been redeemed by the precious blood of Christ (Revelation 5:9). Read the words -‘May His glory fill the whole earth!’(19) – and think of Christ. In the ‘new heaven and new earth’, ‘the holy city’ will shine with ‘the glory of God’. ‘Its radiance’, ‘like a very precious jewel’, will be shining from this ‘lamp’: Jesus Christ, ‘the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world’(Revelation 21:1-2,10-11,23; John 1:29).
73:1-28– It is so easy for us to lose our way – ‘my feet had almost stumbled’. We look at ‘the prosperity of the wicked’ and we become ‘envious of the arrogant’(2-3). What are we to do when the worldly attitude threatens to take control of us? We must remember the Lord, drawing near to Him in worship and standing up for Him in witness. When others are forgetting about God, we must continue to take our place in ‘the sanctuary of God’(17). In an age when so many show no interest in worshipping God, we must continue to say, ‘for me, it is good to be near God’. Our worship is not to end the moment we leave the place of worship. We are to tell others what the Lord ‘has done’ for us – ‘O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His Name together!’(28; 34:3).
74:1-23– We have been ‘redeemed’. God has brought ‘salvation’ to us (2,12). We rejoice in the Old Testament story of salvation: ‘the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt’(Deuteronomy 7:8). Through Christ, we rejoice with a much greater joy: “In Him we have redemption through His blood’. This is ‘the Gospel of our salvation’. It is ‘good news of a great joy’. Through faith in Christ, we ‘rejoice with unutterable and exalted joy’. Through faith in Christ, we look forward to ‘a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time… the salvation of our souls’(Ephesians 1:7,13; Luke 2:10; 1 Peter 1:5,8-9). ‘Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God’(Revelation 19:1).
75:1-76:12– ‘We give thanks to You, O God… I will rejoice for ever, I will sing praises to the God of Jacob… Make your vows to the Lord your God, and perform them…’(75:1,9; 76:11). True rejoicing in the Lord is more than singing praises to Him. We are to live what we sing. ‘Fill Thou our life, O Lord our God, in every part with praise’. ‘Take my life, and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee’. These are not words to be forgotten as soon as we leave the place of worship. ‘We ask… for a life made up of praise in every part’. ‘Take myself, and I will be ever, only, all for Thee’(Church Hymnary, 457, 462). Such words are not only for singing. They are for living. We must not only sing them. We must live them. ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’(Philippians 4:13).
77:1-20– Sometimes, we have more questions than answers (7-9). The questions keep flooding into our minds. We wonder where the answers are going to come from. What are we to do when this happens? We must remember what the Lord has done for us (11-12). Look back over the ‘years’- and remember how the ‘hand’ of the Lord has been upon you (5,10). Think of how the Lord has led you on your journey through life. He has been your ‘Shepherd’. He has led you ‘in paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake’. Let the memory of God’s many blessings fill you with strength – to face the future with confidence in Him: ‘Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the House of the Lord for ever’(19-20; 23:1,3,6). Trust in the Lord. He will make you truly happy.
78:1-39– ‘Can God spread a table in the wilderness?’(19). We are living in a spiritual wilderness. We wonder, ‘Can God continue to bless us in this wilderness?’. How does God’s Word answer our question? – ‘You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies’. In the ‘wilderness’, there are many ‘enemies’. There is also the ‘table’. At the ‘table’, God blesses us – ‘You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows’(23:5). We are in the ‘wilderness’, surrounded by many ‘enemies’. What are we to do? – We must come to the ‘table’- the Lord’s Table. We must come to Christ. We must drink from ‘the cup of salvation’(116:7). Come to the Saviour. Look to Him for His blessing. He will not disappoint you. You will be ‘anointed with the oil of gladness’. His blessing will be poured upon you ‘like precious oil’(45:7; 133:2). 78:40-72– ‘He brought His people out like a flock; He led them like sheep through the desert’(52). The Lord brought His people out of Egypt. He brought them safely through the wilderness to ‘His holy land’(42-43,51,54-55). He did great things for Israel. He does great things for us – ‘He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake’(23:3). Through faith in our Saviour, Jesus Christ, we have ‘peace with God’. Our sins have been forgiven. We now ‘stand’ in His ‘grace’. In our new life with Him, there will be times of ‘suffering’. None of us is exempt from suffering. It comes to all of us – without exception. In your suffering, remember this: We will not be disappointed in ‘our hope of sharing the glory of God’- ‘God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit…’(Romans 5:1-5).
79:1-13– We look at what’s going on in our world today. We hear the enemies of the Lord saying, ‘Where is their God?’. So many people are turning away from the Lord. They no longer worship Him. We wonder if things can be turned around. It would be so easy to give up and go the way of the world. This is what we must not do. We must keep on praying – ‘How long, O Lord? Will You be angry for ever?’ We must look to the Lord for help – ‘Help us, O God of our salvation’. We must look to ‘our Saviour’ for deliverance and forgiveness. We must pray that the Lord’s Name will be glorified. How is the Name of the Lord to be glorified in today’s world? It must begin with us – ‘We, Your people, the flock which You shepherd, will give thanks to You forever. We will praise You throughout every generation.’(5,9-10,13).
80:1-19– ‘Restore us, O God, make Your face shine upon us, that we may be saved’(3). This prayer for salvation is repeated with a growing sense of God’s greatness – ‘O God Almighty’(7), ‘O Lord God Almighty’(19). To those who are asking the question of salvation – ‘What must I do to be saved?’- , God gives His answer – ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved’(Acts 16:30-31). What does the Lord say to those who look to Christ for salvation? – ‘The Lord will bless you and watch over you. The Lord will smile on you and be kind to you. The Lord will look on you with favour and give you peace’(Numbers 6:24-26). Let us worship Him: ‘Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! Through Christ, God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing that heaven has to offer’(Ephesians 1:3).
81:1-16– God calls us to worship Him with joy – ‘Sing aloud to God our strength; shout for joy to the God of Jacob!’(1). He has blessed us with His salvation – ‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt’. He will continue to bless us, as we keep on looking to Him for blessing – ‘Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it’(10). God wants to bless us. He wants us to seek His blessing – ‘O that my people would listen to me, that Israel would walk in My ways!… I would feed you with the finest of wheat, and with honey from the rock I would satisfy you’(13,16). Far too often, we can’t be bothered with God and are not really interested in seeking His blessing – ‘My people did not listen to My voice; Israel would have none of me’(11). ‘You will seek Me and find Me; when you seek Me with all your heart’(Jeremiah 29:13).
82:1-83:18– ‘The Lord’ is ‘the Most High’(18). Through faith in Jesus Christ, we become ‘sons of the Most High’: ‘You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus’(82:6; Galatians 3:26). Through the great love of God, we have received the great privilege of becoming ‘sons of the Most High’. With this great privilege comes the great responsibility of sharing His love with others: ‘Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the desolate. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked’(82:3-4). Let us rejoice in our great privilege. Let us be faithful to our great responsibility. This is the way of enjoying God’s great blessing: ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God’. This is the way of ‘giving glory to our Father in heaven’(Matthew 5:9,16).
84:1-12– ‘How I love Your Temple, Almighty Lord! How I want to be there! I long to be in the Lord’s Temple. With my whole being I sing for joy to the living God’(1-2). This is much more than paying lip-service to the Lord. This is real. Worshipping the Lord meant everything to the Psalmist: ‘I long for You, O God. I thirst for You, the living God; when can I go and worship in Your presence’(42:1-2). He found great joy in worshipping the Lord: ‘Let Your light and Your truth guide me… to the place where You dwell. Then will I go to the altar of God, to God, my joy and my delight…’(43:4). He worshipped God with his whole heart: ‘O God, You are my God, and I long for You. My whole being desires You… my soul is thirsty for You’(63:1). This is real worship, joyful worship, heartfetlt worship. May God help us to worship Him like that!
85:1-13– We are to pray for revival – ‘Restore us again, O God our Saviour… Will You not revive us again that Your people may rejoice in You?’(4,6). We are to pray that God will ‘grant us His salvation’. We are to pray that ‘His saving presence will remain in our land’. We must pray that ‘His glory may dwell in our land’(7,9). We are to pray for real listening – ‘I will listen to what God the Lord will say’- , a real turning to the Lord – ‘turning to Him in our hearts’- , and a real sense of His blessing – ‘He will speak peace to His people’(8). Prayer for revival does not begin as a prayer for others. It begins with ourselves: ‘O Holy Ghost, revival comes from Thee; send a revival – start the work in me’. It begins with this prayer: “Lord, take my life, and make it wholly Thine; fill my poor heart with Thy great love divine’(Mission Praise, 587).
86:1-17– ‘You are forgiving and good, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call to you… Teach me Your way, O Lord, and I will walk in Your truth… I will praise You, O Lord my God, with all my heart… For great is Your love towards me’(5,11-13). God loves us. He forgives our sins. We receive His love. We want to love Him more. His love inspires our praise – ‘I will praise You…’. His love inspires our prayer – ‘Teach me Your way…’. Our whole life is to be a celebration of His love – ‘Great is Your love towards me’. We are to celebrate His love with ‘joy’(4). We rejoice in the Lord because of who He is– ‘You, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness’- and what He has done for us – ‘You, O Lord, have helped me and comforted me’(15,17).
87:1-7– ‘Glorious things are said of you, O city of God… The Lord will write in the register of the peoples: “This one was born in Zion”. As they make music they will sing, “All my fountains are in You”’(3,6-7). The ‘city of God’ is our glorious destination – ‘we are looking for the city that is to come’, ‘the Holy City’(Hebrews 13:14; Revelation 21:2). It is also the place of our heavenly birth – ‘This one was born in Zion’. The heavenly birth – This is where our journey to the ‘city of God’ begins: ‘No one can see the Kingdom of God without being born from above’(John 3:3). Between our heavenly birth and our glorious destination, there is life in the Spirit: The Psalmist says, ‘All my fountains are in You’. Jesus says, ‘Rivers of living water shall flow from the heart of anyone who believes in Me’(John7:38).
88:1-18– The Psalmist is really ‘down in the dumps’. He feels like he is ‘in the depths of the Pit”, He feels like he is ‘in the darkest depths’(6). This is the way he feels, but he has not stopped praying – ‘O Lord, the God who saves me, day and night I cry out before You… I call to You, O Lord, every day… I cry to You for help, O Lord; in the morning my prayer comes before You’(1,9,13). His prayer doesn’t make pleasant reading: ‘My soul is full of trouble… I am like a man without strength… Your wrath lies heavily upon me… the darkness is my closest friend’(3-4,7,18). How can we be helped when we feel like this? We can be helped by Jesus. He knows what it feels like. For us, He has entered the ‘darkness’- ‘My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?’. For us, He has triumphed – ‘risen from the dead’(Matthew 27:45-46; 28:5-7).
89:1-37– ‘I will sing of the Lord’s great love for ever; with my mouth I will make known Your faithfulness through all generations’(1). Many years have passed since these words were written by the Psalmist. Many generations have come and gone since Jesus Christ came to our world. The years come and go. The centuries run their course. One generation gives way to another generation. Time moves on relentlessly. None of us can halt the march of time. Many changes have taken place over the course of time. There is something which must never change. The Lord is to be praised ‘for ever’. He is to be praised ‘through all generations’. We must look back and remember. Jesus Christ was crucified for us. Jesus Christ has risen for us. This is the Good News which inspires our praise: ‘I will sing of the Lord’s great love for ever…’.
89:38-90:17– ‘Lord, You have been our dwelling place throughout all generations… From everlasting to everlasting, You are God’(1-2). The Bible begins with the words, ‘In the beginning, God…’. Before the world began, there was God – ‘the eternal God’. He is ‘the high and exalted One’. He is the God ‘who inhabits eternity’. He is the God ‘who lives for ever’. He has no beginning. He has no end. He is ‘the beginning and the end’. Our life on earth has a beginning. It has an end. Trusting in ‘the eternal God’, we rejoice in His precious promises – ‘The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms’; ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love’; ‘The free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord’(Genesis 1:1; Deuteronomy 33:27; Isaiah 57:15; Revelation 21:6; Jeremiah 31:3; Romans 6:23).
91:1-16– ‘Surely He will save you from the traps of the hunter’(3). God has given us His warning. We must ‘be alert’- ‘Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour’. He also gives us His promise – ‘Resist the devil, and he will flee from you’. How are we to resist the devil? – We are to ‘resist him, standing firm in the faith’(1 Peter 5:8-9; James 4:7). We must not try to resist the devil in our own strength. We will be defeated. He is much more powerful than we are. We must resist him in the strength of our Lord Jesus Christ. In Christ, we have the victory – ‘Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ’(1 Corinthians 15:57). Satan is out to get us. He’s trying to trap us. Let’s never forget this: Jesus is able to ‘deliver us from the evil one’(Matthew 6:13).
92:1-93:5– ‘You, O Lord, are exalted for ever… The Lord reigns, He is robed in majesty…’(8; 93:1-2). The Lord is ‘exalted’. We are to exalt Him in our worship. He is not exalted because we exalt Him. We exalt Him because He is exalted. He is ‘exalted far above all gods’. That is why we sing, ‘I exalt Thee, O Lord’. ‘He is exalted, the King is exalted on high’- This is the truth concerning the Lord. ‘I will praise Him’- This is our response to His truth. We sing, ‘Jesus, we enthrone You, we proclaim You our King’. This is our response to the eternal truth concerning our Saviour: ‘The Lord is enthroned as King for ever’. ‘From all eternity’ the Lord is ‘robed in majesty’. Let us respond to His majesty. Let us ‘magnify’ the Lord – ‘O Lord our God, how majestic is Thy Name’(97:9; 29:10; Mission Praise, 158,217,388,507).
94:1-23– ‘When I said, “My foot is slipping”, Your love, O Lord, supported me’(18). The Lord is ‘able to keep us from falling’. We are ‘kept by the power of God’. Putting our trust in the Lord, we may be confident of this: ‘God, who began His good work in us, will carry it through to completion on the Day of Christ Jesus’. We are called to ‘press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called us heavenwards in Christ Jesus’. As we ‘press on’, we must never forget this: ‘It is God who works in us to will and to work according to His good purpose’. ‘Let us fix our eyes on Jesus’, trusting in His promise: ‘My sheep listen to My voice… I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no-one can snatch them out of My hand…’(Jude 24-25; 1 Peter 1:3-5; Philippians 1:6; 3:14; 2:13; Hebrews 12:2; John 10:27-30).
95:1-11– ‘Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord… Let us come before Him with thanksgiving… Come, let us bow down in worship…’(1-2,6). We are to worship the Lord with joyful thanksgiving. We rejoice in the Lord. We give thanks for His love. He is ‘the great God’. He is ‘our God’. He is the God of creation – ‘In His hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to Him. The sea is His, for He made it, and His hands formed the dry land’. He is the God of salvation – ‘We are the people of His pasture, the flock under His care’(3-5,7). If we are to learn to worship the Lord with joyful thanksgiving, we must open our hearts to Him: ‘Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts’(7-8). When we hear the call to worship, we must open our hearts to the Spirit of worship.
96:1-97:12– ‘The Lord reigns’(96:10; 97:1). ‘The Lord is King!’. He is not only ‘the King all-glorious above’. He is ‘the King of love’. He is ‘our Maker, Defender, Redeemer and Friend!’. He is not only ‘the King of heaven’. He is ‘the God of grace’. He is ‘the King of mercy’(Church Hymnary, 35,36,388,360,86). His reign is not to be restricted to some faraway heaven. It is not to be a reign that is far removed from the practicalities of our everyday life. He is to reign in our hearts. He is to reign in every part of our life. Let His reign of love begin. Let His grace and mercy control all that you do. We must pray, ‘Reign in me, Sovereign Lord, reign in me’. When we say, ‘Let Your Kingdom come’ and ‘let Your will be done’, we must pray, ‘Captivate my heart. Establish there Your throne’(Mission Praise, 570).
98:1-100:5– ‘Exalt the Lord our God… Make a joyful noise to the Lord’(99:5,9; 98:4,6; 100:1). We are to worship the Lord with joy. We are to glorify God. We are to enjoy Him. In our worship, we must never forget the holiness of God: ‘He is holy!… The Lord our God is holy!’(99:5,9). In our worship, we rejoice in the love of God: ‘His steadfast love endures for ever… He has done marvellous things!’(100:5; 98:1). The God of ‘awesome purity’ loves us with the most perfect love of all: ‘No earthly father loves like Thee…’. Let us worship Him with holy fear and heartfelt love: ‘O how I fear Thee, living God, with deepest, tenderest fears… with trembling hope and penitential tears! Yet I may love Thee too, O Lord, Almighty as Thou art, for Thou hast stooped to ask of me the love of my poor heart’(Church Hymnary, 356).
101:1-102:28– ‘I will sing of Your love… I will walk with integrity of heart…’(101:1-2). These words were written many centuries ago. ‘Things are very different now’- so we’re told! Worshipping the Lord and walking with Him: Are these things out-of-date now? Are they to be forgotten? So many people have no time for the Lord. They feel that they can do without Him. They refuse to worship Him. They do not walk with Him. In our ever-changing world, there is something we must never forget: The Lord is ‘enthroned for ever’. His ‘Name endures to all generations’. In all the changes of life, the Lord ‘remains the same’. His ‘years go on through all generations’. His ‘years will never end’(12,24,27). These words were ‘written for a future generation’. They were written for us. We must not forget to ‘praise the Lord’(18)!
103:1-22– ‘Praise the Lord’(1-2,20-22). Let’s praise Him for His ‘steadfast love’. He is ‘abounding in steadfast love’(8). How are we to respond to His ‘steadfast love’? Are we to say, ‘God loves me. I can do what I like’? No! We must not think like this. We’re not to say, ‘I’ll keep on sinning. God will keep on forgiving’(Romans 6:1-2). God’s Word tells us something very different. Loved by God, we learn to love Him. When God’s ‘steadfast love’ has really touched our hearts, it changes our lives. This is the great change which the Psalmist has in mind when he writes, ‘As the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His steadfast love toward those who fear Him… The steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon those who fear Him’(11,17). Let’s thank God for His love – and live to please Him!
104:1-35– ‘I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live’(33). Do you feel like giving up? Other things are becoming more important to you. Worshipping the Lord is being pushed out to the edge of your life. Wrong attitudes are creeping in. It starts with the idea, ‘Worship’s just an hour on a Sunday’. Then, it becomes, ‘I’ll worship the Lord when I feel like it’. It soon becomes, ‘I’ll worship the Lord when I’ve nothing better to do’. Before long, all desire for worshipping the Lord has gone! Little-by-little, you are drifting away from the Lord. It’s time to start thinking about what’s happening. It’s time for a new beginning. It’s time for an ‘all my life’ commitment to worshipping the Lord – not just on a Sunday, not only when I feel like it, not only ‘when there’s nothing better to do’!
105:1-22– ‘Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always. Remember the wonderful works that He has done…’(4-5). The Lord gives strength to those who put their trust in Him. Trusting in Christ, we have this great testimony: ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’(Philippians 4:13). How do we receive the Lord’s strength? We must ‘seek His face always. We must not think we can face difficult circumstances in our strength. Without the strength of the Lord, we will be defeated. He has helped us in the past. Never forget this. Give thanks to Him for every victory won. As you face temptation, remember the Lord’s promise of victory: ‘God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your strength. With the temptation, He will also provide the way of escape…’(1 Corinthians 10:13).
105:23-45– ‘He brought His people out with joy’(43). When things are going badly and we feel like giving up, we must remember the Word of the Lord: ‘The joy of the Lord is your strength’(Nehemiah 8:10). We are to ‘rejoice in the Lord always’. The Lord does not leave us on our own when our time of testing comes. He is there for us in our time of need: ‘My God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus’(Philippians 4:4,19). When we are deeply conscious of our own weakness, the Lord comes to us with His Word of strength: ‘My grace is sufficient for you. My power is made perfect in weakness’(2 Corinthians 12:9). Through the Word of God, we receive strength. His Word brings joy to us. Let us sing ‘glad songs of victory’: ‘The Lord is my Strength, my Song, my Saviour’(118:14-15).
106:1-48– We read here about sin and salvation. There is a very realistic description of Israel’s sin – ‘They soon forgot what He had done and did not wait for His counsel… They despised the pleasant land; they did not believe His promise… They grumbled in their tents and did not obey the Lord… They rebelled against the Spirit of God’(13,24-25,33). This is not only ancient history. It’s the story of our life! We read this, and we must join in Israel’s confession of sin: ‘We have sinned, even as our fathers did; we have done wrong and acted wickedly’(6). The history of Israel is not only a history of sin. It is also a history of salvation: ‘He saved them…’(8,10). As we read of God’s salvation, we must echo the prayer of God’s people – ‘Save us, O Lord our God…’- and join with them in praising God – ‘Praise be to the Lord…’(47-48).
107:1-43 – There are some things that are worth repeating! The story of God’s amazing grace is worth repeating over and over again – ‘Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and He delivered them from their distress’(6,13,19,28). The call to praise the Lord is also something we need to hear again and again – ‘Let them give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for men’(8,15,21,31). Let us ‘consider the great love of the Lord’. Let us ‘give thanks to the Lord’(43,1). ‘The great love of God is revealed in the Son, who came to this earth to redeem every one. That love, like a stream flowing clear to the sea, makes clean every heart that from sin would be free… It’s yours, it is ours, O how lavishly given! The pearl of great price, and the treasure of heaven!’(Church Hymnary, 415).
108:1-13– ‘With God we shall gain the victory. He will trample down our enemies’(13). In ourselves, there is only defeat. We are no match for ‘our enemies’- the world, the flesh and the devil. We are surrounded by the world – ‘The world is ever near. I see the sights that dazzle. The tempting sounds I hear’. We live with the constant problem of the flesh – ‘the storms of passion, the murmurs of self-will’(Church Hymnary, 434). Behind the world and the flesh, there is an even stronger enemy – the devil: ‘Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against… the spiritual forces of evil…’(Ephesians 6:12). Our situation seems to be utterly hopeless. How can we possibly win the victory? The simple truth is: We cannot. There is, however, a deeper truth: God is with us– and ‘with God we shall win the victory’!
109:1-31– We must come to the Lord, recognizing that, without Him, our situation is hopeless – ‘I am poor and needy, and my heart is wounded within me. I fade away like an evening shadow’(22). When our enemies are on the attack, we are no match for them. What are we to do when the world, the flesh and the devil are threatening to overwhelm us? We must come to the Lord, praying for His help, asking Him to save us – ‘Help me, O Lord my God; save me in accordance with Your love’(26). Let us look away from ourselves and our own weakness. Let us put our trust in the Lord and His strength. The Lord will not fail us. He ‘stands beside’ us in our time of testing. He ‘saves’ us from our enemies. Let us praise Him: ‘I will greatly praise the Lord with my mouth. I will praise Him among many people…’(30-31).
110:1-7 – ‘The Lord says to my Lord: ‘Sit at My right hand…’(1). These words direct our attention to our Lord Jesus Christ: When ‘He was taken up into heaven, He sat at the right hand of God’(Mark 16:19). When Jesus ascended to the Father’s right hand, the Holy Spirit was sent down from heaven to fill our lives with God’s blessing (John 7:37-39). Through the power of the Holy Spirit, our lives are changed: ‘In the Day of Your power, Your people will come to You willingly…’. We come to the Lord in our weakness, and He ‘renews our strength’. We come to Him in our weariness, and we are ‘refreshed’ by His ‘streams of living water’(3,7). ‘Come, Thou Fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing Thy grace. Streams of mercy never ceasing call for songs of loudest praise’(Revised Church Hymnary, 435).
111:1-112:10– ‘Praise the Lord… To Him belong eternal praise… Blessed is the man who fears the Lord… His heart is secure, he will have no fear; in the end he will look in triumph on his foes…’(111:1,10; 112:1,8). Those who ‘fear the Lord’ have no need to live in fear of man. Those who know that ‘eternal praise belongs to the Lord’ can face their enemies with confidence. Our confidence is not in ourselves. Our confidence is in the Lord. We know how good the Lord has been to us – ‘He provided redemption for His people’. We have heard and believed the Good News of Christ. We need not ‘fear’ any ‘bad news’ which the devil sends our way. We ‘trust in the Lord’, confident that the ‘light ‘will triumph over the ‘darkness’. The Good News of Christ will triumph over the devil’s bad news (111:9; 112:4,7).
113:1-114:8– ‘The Lord is high above all nations… Who is like the Lord our God, who is seated on high?… Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord, who turns the hard rock into springs of water’(113:4-5; 114:7-8). The Lord is greater than we could ever imagine. There is no greatness like the greatness of the Lord. All human greatness cannot even begin to compare with the greatness of God. His greatness is not only the greatness of His power. It is also the greatness of His love. When we sing, ‘How great Thou art’, we sing not only of His power – ‘Thy power throughout the universe displayed’. We sing also of His love – ‘And when I think that God His Son not sparing, sent Him to die – I scarce can take it in, that on the Cross my burden gladly bearing, He bled and died to take away my sin…’(Mission Praise, 506).
115:1-18– ‘Not to us, O Lord, not to us but to Your Name be the glory because of Your love and faithfulness’(1). God loves us. He loves us with a faithful love, ‘an everlasting love’, a ‘love that will not let us go’. His love ‘never comes to an end’. Nothing can separate us from His love (Jeremiah 31:3; Lamentations 3:22-23; Romans 8:38-39; Church Hymnary, 677). What have we done to deserve such love? Absolutely nothing! We are ‘sinners’. We do not deserve to be loved by God. We have done nothing to earn His love. Love begins with God. It comes from Him. How do we know that He loves us? Have we proved ourselves worthy of His love? No! – ‘God shows His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us’. ‘To God be the glory!’(Romans 5:8; Church Hymnary, 374).
116:1-117:2– ‘I love the Lord… I will call on Him as long as I live’(116:1-2). Our love for God is to be a lifelong life. It is to be the love of our life. What are we to do when our love for God grows weak? We must remember His love for us – ‘Great is His love towards us. The faithfulness of the Lord endures forever’(117:2). When we find it difficult to keep on loving God, we must remember how much He loves us. When we feel like giving up on loving God, we must remember that He never gives up on loving us. He loves us when our love for Him is strong. He loves us when our love for Him is weak. In love, He reaches out to us. He brings us out of our weakness and into His strength. Let His strong love reach you in your weakness and give you His strength: ‘Loving Him who first loved me’(Church Hymnary, 450).
118:1-29– ‘The Lord is my Strength and my Song. He is my Saviour’(14). Knowing that Jesus Christ is our Saviour gives us a song to sing: ‘Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine… This is my story, this is my song, praising my Saviour all the day long’. Knowing that Jesus Christ is our Saviour, we sing His song with strength, committing ourselves to His service, earnestly seeking to win others for Him: ‘We’ve a story to tell to the nations, that shall turn their hearts to the right … We’ve a song to be sung to the nations, that shall lift their hearts to the Lord…We’ve a message to give to the nations, that the Lord, who reigneth above, hath sent us His Son to save us… We’ve a Saviour to show to the nations…’(Mission Praise, 59,744). Don’t keep your Saviour to yourself. Share Him with others. Win others for Him.
119:1-24 – The way of blessing is the way of obedience (1,9,11,17). Many will choose the way of disobedience – ‘influential people sit together and slander me’. We must choose the way of obedience – ‘Your servant will meditate on Your teachings’ (23). Following Jesus Christ will not be easy. We see many people turning back from following Him. We are tempted to join them. We feel the pull of the world. We must not take our eyes off Jesus. We must not return to the world’s way of living. We must remember all that Jesus has done for us – ‘He loved us and gave Himself for us’ (Galatians 2:20) – and recommit ourselves to following Him: ‘I have decided to follow Jesus… The world behind me, the Cross before me… Though none go with me, I still will follow… No turning back, no turning back’ (Mission Praise, 272).
119:25-48 – ‘Revive me according to Your Word’ (25). How does God revive us according to His Word? He gives us His salvation: ‘Let Your unfailing love come to me, O Lord – Your salvation according to Your Word’ (41). He gives us His strength: ‘My soul is weary with sorrow. Strengthen me according to Your Word’ (28). He gives us a change of heart: ‘I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart on Your laws… I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free… Give me understanding, and I will keep Your law and obey it with my whole heart… Turn my heart to Your testimonies…’ (30,32,34,36). He gives us ‘new life’: ‘When someone becomes a Christian he becomes a brand new person inside. He is not the same anymore. A new life has begun!’ (40; 2 Corinthians 5:17).
119:49-72 – God’s Word makes such a difference! When everything seems so hopeless, we turn to God’s Word and we find that there is ‘hope’ (49). When we are going through a time of terrible ‘suffering’, we turn to God’s Word and we find ‘comfort’ (50,52). When everything seems to be going so badly, we must keep on reading the Word of the Lord: ‘The wicked have laid a trap for me, but I do not forget Your law’ (61). Through His Word, God is teaching us to see His purpose in our sufferings: ‘The punishment You gave me was the best thing that could have happened to me, for it taught me to pay attention to Your laws’ (71). God is showing us what is really important: ‘The law that You gave means more to me than all the money in the world’ (72). He is teaching us to see His ‘love’ in every part of our life (64).
119:73-96 – We rejoice in God’s ‘constant love’. This is our ‘comfort’ – God keeps on loving us no matter what’s going on in our lives. We may be going through really hard times – ‘Men persecute me with lies… They have almost succeeded in killing me’. There’s one thing that never changes – God’s ‘constant love’. He loves us in the hard times as well as in the happy times. His love inspires us to keep on loving Him when we feel like giving up in despair (76,86-88). We see many changes taking place in our world. Sometimes, we wonder, ‘Where is God in all of this? Has He abandoned us? Can we keep on trusting Him and rejoicing in His Word?’. When our minds are full of negative thoughts, we must remember God’s Word – ‘Your Word, O Lord, will last for ever… Your faithfulness endures through all the ages’ (89-90).
119:97-120 – Throughout life, we have to make choices. Some choices are relatively straightforward. Others are very much more difficult. Some choices don’t affect the rest of our life very much. There are, however, choices which affect the whole of our life. There is one choice which is more important than any other – Choosing the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour. Those who refuse to choose are ‘double-minded’(113). They can’t make up their mind. They know that they should be following Christ – but they are still ‘in love with the world’. They are ‘lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God’ (I John 2:15; 2 Timothy 3:4). Make your choice. Say to the world, ‘Away from me, you evildoers, that I may keep the commands of my God’. Say to God, ‘I have decided to obey Your laws until the day I die’ (115,112).
119:121-144 – ‘The entrance of Your words gives light’ (130). The Word of God brings light into our lives. Sadly, many people ‘love darkness rather than light’. They refuse to ‘come to the light’. They prefer to remain in the darkness. They refuse to listen to what God is saying to them through His Word. Then, when things are not going so well for them, they blame God. They say, ‘It’s all Your fault’! Things could have been so different. They could have learned to spend time with God. They could have learned the lessons of faith which are found in God’s Word. They could have learned to cope with life’s difficulties. They could have been filled with the strength of the Lord. They would not be complaining against Him. They would be rejoicing in Him: He has ‘called us out of darkness into His marvellous light’ (1 Peter 2:10).
119:145-176 – ‘With my whole heart I cry; answer me, O Lord!’ (145). God is calling us to pray. There is nothing more important than this. If other things have become more important in our lives, we need to think about the way we are living. God wants to send His blessing into our lives: ‘Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you’ (Matthew 7:7). His blessing will come to those who seek him with their whole heart: ‘You will seek Me and find Me when you seek me with all your heart’ (Jeremiah 29:13). If we do not ask, we will not receive: ‘You do not have, because you do not ask’ (James 4:2). God’s blessing is not given to those who are half-hearted. God is calling us to love Him with our whole heart: ‘I long for Your salvation, O Lord, and Your law is my delight’ (174).
120:1-121:8 – ‘Deliver me, O Lord, from lying lips’ (120:2). God calls us to ‘believe the truth’, ‘love the truth’ and ‘follow the truth’. We are to be people who ‘do what is true’ (2 Thessalonians 2:10-11; 3 John 3-4; John 3:21). How can we be such people? We must keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. He is ‘the Truth’ (Hebrews 12:2; John 14:6). When we are tempted to turn away from the pathway of truth, we must remember this: ‘My help comes from the Lord’. We must remember God’s promise: ‘The Lord is your Keeper…The Lord will keep you from all evil’. God’s promise is not only for ‘this time’. It’s ‘for evermore’(121:2,5,7-8). This gives us glorious hope as we keep on looking to Christ,‘eagerly awaiting’ His Return ( Hebrews 9:28).
122:1-124:8 – ‘I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go into the House of the Lord”’ (122:2). Why do we go to the House of the Lord? We go ‘to give thanks to the Name of the Lord’ (122:4). We seek His mercy for our past sins: ‘Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us!’ (123:3). We seek His help for our future temptations: ‘Our help is in the Name of the Lord…’ (124:8). As we receive mercy and help from the Lord, we worship Him: ‘Blessed be the Lord’ (124:6). In our worship, we ‘look to the Lord our God’, drawing encouragement from His Word: ‘The Lord is on our side’ – In Him we have the victory (123:2; 124:1-5). Rejoicing in God’s blessing, we pray for others: ‘May they prosper who love You’ (122:6).
125:1-127:5 – ‘Those who trust in the Lord… cannot be moved…’. When we put our trust in the Lord, we are like the ‘wise man who built his house on the rock’. His house ‘did not fall because it had its foundation on the rock’. When we do not put our trust in the Lord, we are like the’foolish man who built his house on sand’. His house ‘fell with a great crash’. ‘Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labour in vain’ (125:1; 127:1; Matthew 7:24-27). ‘Jesus Christ’ is the ‘sure Foundation’ upon which our faith is built. He is ‘the solid Rock’, our ‘mighty Rock of spiritual refreshment’ (1 Corinthians 3:11; 10:3-4; Church Hymnary, 10,411). ‘Christ died for our sins… He was raised on the third day’. Let us rejoice in Him: ‘The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy’ (126:3; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4).
128:1-129:8 – ‘Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in His ways’ (128:1). If we are to enjoy the Lord’s blessing, we must fear Him and walk in His ways. Many people despise the place of worship. They ‘pass by’. They have no desire to know ‘the blessing of the Lord’. God warns us that we must not allow this attitude to grow in us: ‘May all who hate Zion be put to shame’. We must take care that our love for the Lord doesn’t ‘wither’ away. We must keep on praying that our love for Him will ‘grow’. If we place no value on the Lord’s blessing, our lives will be empty. Come to the Lord with this prayer: ‘The greatest thing in all my life is knowing You, loving You, serving You. I want to know You more, love You more, serve You more’. He will ‘fill’ your life with His blessing (129:5-8; Mission Praise, 646).
130:1-131:3 – We are not to pray to God with superficial words that don’t mean very much to us. Our prayer is to be a real cry from the heart: ‘Out of the depths I cry to You, O Lord’ (130:1). We are to ‘cry for mercy’ with a deep awareness of how sinful we really are: ‘If You, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand?’ (130:3). We must come to God with deep humility – ‘My heart is not proud, O Lord’ (131:1). When we truly confess our sin, we receive God’s ‘unfailing love’ and ‘forgiveness’ (4). ‘In the Lord’ we have ‘full redemption’ (7). It is for ‘now’ – ‘The vilest offender who truly believes, that moment from Jesus a pardon receives’. It is ‘for evermore’ – ‘But purer and higher and greater will be our wonder, our transport, when Jesus we see!’. ‘Praise the Lord!… Give Him the glory!’ (131:3; Church Hymnary, 374).
132:1-18 – ‘Let us go to the Lord’s House; let us worship before His throne’ (7). God is calling us to worship Him. We are to gather together as His worshipping people. As we gather for worship, we remember that ‘the Lord is King’. We do not only give Him the praise of our lips. We give Him the praise of our lives. We do not only sing to Him. We live for Him. We come ‘before His throne’ with this prayer, ‘Take my heart – it is Thine own; It shall be Thy royal throne’. God hears and answers our prayer. He gives us His strength. We rise to His challenge: ‘Rise up, O Church of God! Have done with lesser things; Give heart and soul and mind and strength to serve the King of kings’ (Church Hymnary, 36,462,477). The service of worship comes to an end. Let our service of living begin – and never end!
133:1-134:3 – God sends ‘His blessing’ when His people gather together for worship: ‘How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!’ (133:1,3). Many people like to think of themselves as ‘believers’, yet they show no interest in worshipping together with God’s people. What does God’s Word say about this? – ‘Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another…’ (Hebrews 10:25). ‘Praise the Lord, all you servants of the Lord who minister by night in the House of the Lord’ (133:1; 134:1). Some people never miss a Sunday morning service – but they always miss the Sunday evening services! They are missing out on so much of God’s blessing. ‘May the Lord… bless you…’ on Sunday evenings as well as Sunday mornings (134:2)!
135:1-21 – ‘Praise the Lord’ (1-3,19-21). ‘The Lord is good… The Lord is great’ (3,5). In our worship, we focus on both God’s greatness and His goodness. God is great in power: ‘Great is our Lord and mighty in power’ (147:5). He is also great in love: ‘How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!’ (1 John 3:1). When we praise the Lord, singing of His greatness, let us not think only of the greatness of His power: ‘I see the stars, I hear the mighty thunder, Thy power throughout the universe displayed’. Let us think also of His goodness, the greatness of His love: ‘And when I think that God His Son not sparing, sent Him to die – I scarce can take it in, that on the Cross my burden gladly bearing, He bled and died to take away my sin’ (Mission Praise, 506).
136:1-26 – ‘His love endures for ever’. This is the great message contained in every single verse of this Psalm. It’s a message worth repeating – over and over again! God’s love is an everlasting love – ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love’ (Jeremiah 31:3). God’s love is an unfailing love – ‘My unfailing love for you will not be shaken’ (Isaiah 54:10). Let us ‘give thanks’ to God for His love (1-3,26). In His love, the Lord has provided for us ‘an everlasting salvation’. His ‘salvation will last for ever’ (Isaiah 45:17; 51:6). We must not be like those who refuse to love the Lord – ‘Pharaoh… great kings… mighty kings …’ (15,17-20). Those who reject God’s love will not receive ‘eternal life’. Their future will be very different – the ‘raging fire that will consume the enemies of God’ (John 3:16-18; Hebrews 10:26-27).
137:1-138:8 – ‘How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?’ (137:4). It is not easy to keep on worshipping the Lord when so many show no interest in worshipping Him. What are we to do when our faith seems so weak and we are on the verge of giving up? ‘Ask the Saviour to help you, comfort, strengthen and keep you’. What will we find when we come to the Lord, looking to Him for strength? ‘He is willing to aid you. He will carry you through’. God gives us strength – ‘You answered me when I called to You. With Your strength, You strengthened me’ (138:3). ‘To him that o’ercometh, God giveth a crown. Through faith we shall conquer, though often cast down. He who is our Saviour, our strength will renew. Look ever to Jesus. He will carry you through’ (Church Hymnary, 482).
139:1-24 – Through Christ our Saviour, we are led ‘in the way everlasting’: ‘God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son’ (24; 1 John 5:11). God’s great purpose of eternal salvation seems ‘too wonderful’ – ‘too good to be true’! ‘It is a thing most wonderful, almost too wonderful to be, that God’s own Son should come from heaven and die to save a child like me, and yet I know that it is true…’ (6; Church Hymnary, 385). God has a glorious future planned for us. We can hardly even begin to take it in: ‘Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain’. We know that ‘no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him’ yet we rejoice in this: ‘God has revealed it to us by His Spirit’ (6; 1 Corinthians 2:9-10). ‘Lead me in the way everlasting!’(24).
140:1-13 – When we are threatened by ‘men of violence’, we must must put our trust in the Lord, our ‘strong Deliverer’. We must pray that the ‘men of violence’ will not succeed in their ‘evil plans’: ‘Do not let their plans succeed… May disaster hunt down the men of violence’ (1-2,7-8,11). The ‘men of violence’ may seem to be getting things all their own way. We must not allow ourselves to be brought down to their level. In our battle against the ‘men of violence’, we must use God’s ‘weapons’: ‘truth… righteousness… peace… faith… salvation… prayer’. These ‘weapons’ have ‘divine power to demolish the strongholds’ of Satan (Ephesians 6:13-18; 2 Corinthians 10:4). Never forget this: ‘“Vengeance is mine, I will repay”, says the Lord’ (Romans 12:19).
141:1-142:7 – The Psalmist continues to emphasize the importance of ‘prayer’ in our battle against ‘evildoers’: ‘My prayer is ever against the deeds of evildoers’ (141:5). We pray that their ‘wicked deeds’ will not succeed. We pray that they will see ‘the error of their way’, returning to the Lord and being ‘led in the paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake’ (141:5; 23:3; James 5:19-20). We may feel that our ‘persecutors’ are ‘too strong’ for us. We must never think that ‘no one cares’. We must bring our fear to God, praying, ‘Set me free from my prison, that I may praise Your Name’. Faced with powerful enemies, we must remember this: The Lord is our ‘portion in the land of the living’. In the face of fierce opposition, we must learn to say, ‘Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the House of the Lord for ever’ (142:4-7; 23:6).
143:1-12 – The Psalmist prays, ‘Rescue me from my enemies, O Lord’ (9). He is not concerned only about his own welfare. He is concerned about the glory of God: ‘For Your Name’s sake, O Lord, preserve my life’ (11). How does God lead us in victory? How is He glorified in our lives? He brings to us the teaching of His Word – ‘Let the morning bring me Word of Your unfailing love’ (8). He gives to us the strength of His Spirit – ‘May Your good Spirit lead me in good paths’ (10). Through His Word and Spirit, God shows us His ‘unfailing love’. He enables us to say, ‘You are my God’, ‘I have put my trust in You’ and ‘I am Your servant’. He ‘shows us the way we should go’. He ‘teaches us to do His will’. He gives us victory over our ‘enemies’ (8,10,12).
144:1-15 – ‘Praise be to the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle’(1). The Lord is ‘the One who gives victory’ to His people (10). What a great God we have! He is ‘our loving God, our Fortress, our Stronghold, our Deliverer, our Shield’ (2). What great blessing the Lord sends into our lives! He fights for us (Exodus 14:14; Deuteronomy 1:30; 3: 22; Nehemiah 4:20). He is ‘our Strength’ (28:7-8; 59:17). ‘With God we shall gain the victory’ (60:12). Let us pray that God will pour out His blessing upon us: ‘Part Your heavens, O Lord, and come down… Reach down Your hand from on high…’ (5,7). Let us think of how much the Lord has blessed us. Let us sing our song of praise to Him: ‘I will sing a new song to You, O God’ (9).
145:1-21 – ‘Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised. His greatness is beyond understanding’. Let us worship our great God: ‘I will exalt You, my God the King. I will praise Your Name for ever and ever. Every day I will praise You and extol Your Name for ever and ever’ (1-3). The God whom we worship is so much greater than the worship we bring to Him. Our worship is to be a ‘joyful celebration’. We celebrate His great love: ‘The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love’. We rejoice in His great faithfulness: ‘The Lord is faithful to all His promises’. Here on earth, we have only begun to worship our great God. Our worship will continue in His ‘everlasting Kingdom’. There, we will ‘praise His Name for ever and ever’ (7-8, 13,21).
146:1-10 – ‘I will praise the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live’ (2). Praising the Lord our God: This is a lifelong commitment. We cannot maintain this lifelong commitment in our own strength. We need the Lord’s help. We must never forget this: ‘Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labour in vain’ (127:1). We are not expected to maintain this
lifelong commitment in our own strength. We have the Lord’s help. We must always remember this: ‘Our help is in the Name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth’ (124:8). ‘Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them, the Lord who remains faithful for ever’ (5-6).
147:1-20 – ‘The Lord builds up Jerusalem. He gathers the exiles of Israel. he heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds’ (2-3). This is much more than the building of the city of Jerusalem with bricks and mortar. This is God building up His people in their ‘most holy faith’ (Jude 20). This is God blessing His people as they gather together to worship Him. In Christ, we are ‘being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit’ (Ephesians 2:22). The Lord draws us to Himself. He brings us into fellowship with His people. He calls us to worship Him: ‘Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving’. He ‘blesses’ us through ‘His Word’. He ‘blesses’ us in ‘the Spirit’: ‘He sends His Word… and the waters flow’ (7,12-13,18; John 7:37-39).
148:1-150:6 – ‘Praise the Lord’. Psalms 146 and 147 began and ended with these words. Now, we find the same beginning and ending in each of these three Psalms – ‘Praise the Lord’. Our personal song of praise to God – ‘Praise be to the Lord my Rock… I will sing a new song to You, O God… I will exalt You, my God the King; I will praise Your Name for ever and ever; Every day I will praise You… My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord… I will praise the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live’ (144:1,9; 145:1-2,21; 146:2) – is just a small part of something so much richer and fuller – ‘Let everything that has breath praise the Lord’ (150:6). May these great Psalms of praise inspire us to praise the Lord more truly and more fully.
1:1-7 – Scripture speaks of different kinds of ‘wisdom’. In Proverbs, wisdom is closely associated with godliness. In Ecclesiastes, wisdom – viewed as mere human intelligence – is described as ‘meaningless, a chasing after the wind’ (1:12-18). This contrast is continued in the New Testament, where Paul describes Christ as our ‘Wisdom’, contrasting this Wisdom with ‘the wisdom of the world’ (1 Corinthians 1:18-25,30). The purpose of Proverbs is set out in its opening verses. Notice the vital connection between ‘understanding’ and ‘doing’ (2-3). We are to be ‘doers’ as well as ‘hearers’ of God’s Word (James 1:22). We are to ‘keep what is written’ in God’s Word (Revelation 1:3). The great theme of Proverbs is stated in verse 7: ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge’. Christ is our Wisdom. We will never be wise unless we build our lives on Him (Matthew 7: 24-27).
1:8-19 – If we are to be saved, we must follow the Wisdom of the Proverbs: ‘Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction’ (8). We must follow the ‘Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing’, the living Word, our Lord Jesus Christ (Church Hymnary, 191). Satan is seeking to destroy us – ‘let’s swallow them alive, like the grave’ (12). To ‘go along with’ those who do not honour the Lord Jesus Christ is to ‘rush into sin’ (15-16). To live by faith in Christ is to be ‘kept by the power of God’ for full salvation (1 Peter 1:5). There are choices to be made. You remain a fool if you choose not to ask God for wisdom (James 1:5-8). The fool is ‘a double-minded man’, trying to live for the Lord and for the world at the same time. Will you be wise or foolish? – The choice is yours. Remember this has more to do with the moral choices you make than with how ‘well educated’ you may be.
1:20-33 – This section begins with the words, ‘Wisdom calls aloud in the street, she raises her voice in the public squares’ (20) and ends with the words, ‘whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm’ (33). The Gospel is not to be kept to ourselves. Christ is to be proclaimed. Why is it so important that we tell others about our Saviour, Jesus Christ? – It is because He offers salvation to all who come to Him: ‘Everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved’ (Romans 10:13). Later on, in Proverbs, we read. ‘he who wins souls is wise’ (11:30). Those who are wise will pray for a greater fulfilment of the Lord’s promise: ‘you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be My witnesses …’ (Acts 1:8). Filled with the Holy Spirit, we will speak the Word of God boldly (Acts 4:31).
2:1-15 – There is a real call for spiritual growth here. We are to accept God’s words, storing up His commands, turning our ears to wisdom and our hearts to understanding (1-2). If we are to grow in the fear and knowledge of God, we must pray for insight and understanding. These blessings are greater than silver and hidden treasure (3-5). In the Christian life, there is both promise and warning. There is God’s promise – you will be led in a way that ‘will be pleasant to your soul’ (10). There is His warning – make sure that you do not ‘leave the straight paths to walk in dark ways’ (13). It is very important that we take time to read God’s Word, since it is ‘the Lord’ who ‘gives wisdom’. We must listen for God’s Voice, speaking to us through Scripture (6). As we listen to Him, we will be led in ‘every good path’ – protected and victorious (7-9).
2:16-3:4 – We read the warning about ‘the adulteress’: ‘her house leads down to death’ (16-18). We also hear the warning of the Gospel: ‘the wages of sin is death’ (Romans 6:23). We are told that ‘none who go to her return or attain the paths of life’ (19). Left to ourselves, none of us would return to God, none of us would find the way to life (Romans 3:10-12). Some seek ‘prosperity’ (1). They seek ‘a good name in the sight of… men’ (4). We must not, however, make these things the be-all and end-all. There is more to life than material possessions, more than high ratings in the popularity stakes. There is eternal life – ‘the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (Romans 6:23) – and the forgiveness of sins – ‘justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Romans 5:1).
3:5-18 – ‘Grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ’ (2 Peter 3:18). If we are to know the Lord, we must come to an end of ourselves: ‘Be not wise in your own eyes’ (7), ‘do not rely on your own insight’ (5). True knowledge of God comes through faith: ‘Trust in the Lord…’ (5). True knowledge of God is heart-knowledge: ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart’ (5). Knowing Christ involves growing in grace. We cannot get to know God apart from the grace of God working within us. Growth in grace is not always a smooth pathway (11-12; Hebrews 12:5-11). Never forget: ‘the Lord’s discipline’ is an expression of the Lord’s love. ‘Lord, You are more precious than silver, Lord, You are more costly than gold, Lord, You are more beautiful than diamonds, And nothing I desire compares with You’ (13-15; Mission Praise,447).
3:19-35 – ‘You will walk on your way securely… for the Lord will be your confidence’ (23,26). Trusting in the Lord, we are to say, ‘He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold’ (Job 23:10). Our faith is under threat. There is the danger of ‘sudden panic’ (25). We are faced with the ‘man of violence… the perverse man… the wicked… the scorners… fools’ (31-35). What are we to do? Even in the most testing and trying times, we must hold on to this: God is at work for our holiness – ‘Refiner’s fire, my heart’s one desire is to be holy. Set apart for You, Lord, I choose to be holy, set apart for You, my Master, ready to do Your will’ (Songs of Fellowship, 475). Submitted to God’s holy purpose, we rejoice in this: Nothing can separate us from His love (Romans 8:39).
4:1-9 – This is ‘a father’s instructions’ to his ‘sons’ (1). The father has been a ‘son’ (3). He has wrestled with temptation. He has needed the exhortation – ‘Let your heart hold fast…’ (4) – and the warning – ‘Do not turn away…’ (5). Now, we turn to the divine Father and Son. The Father does not keep His distance from us. Through the Son, He has come near to us. Through the Son, we come to the Father (John 14:9,6). When Scripture says, ‘Get wisdom’ (7), it means this: ‘Come to the Father through Jesus the Son’. Wisdom brings ‘a beautiful crown’, ‘the crown of righteousness’, ‘the unfading crown of glory’ (9; 2 Timothy 4:8; 1 Peter 5:4). Be wise. Be ready for the Lord’s Return (Matthew 25:1-13). ‘Purer… higher… greater – Our wonder, our worship, when Jesus we see!’ (Church Hymnary, 374).
4:10-19 – ‘The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day’ (18). Face the risen Son. His life in us is like the rising sun. It begins with ‘the first gleam of dawn’. It ‘shines ever brighter until the full light of day’’. Christ ‘dawns on us like the morning light’ (2 Samuel 23:4). In a moment of discovery, we say, ‘It’s just dawned on me’. It is very wonderful when Christ reveals Himself, when He brings us out of our darkness and into His light. This is just the beginning. There is so much more: ‘No eye has seen, nor ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him’ (1 Corinthians 2:9). ‘Light has dawned that ever shall blaze… Light a flame within my heart… Let my flame begin to spread’ (Mission Praise, 422; Songs of Fellowship, 339).
4:20-27 – ‘Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you’ (25). Living the Christian life is like ‘walking a tightrope’ – We must ‘not swerve to the right or to the left’ (27; Deuteronomy 28:14; Joshua 1:7; 23:6). Looking straight ahead, ‘let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith…'(Hebrews 12:2). In the face of life’s many difficulties, you may ask, “Can I ‘run with perseverance the race marked out for me’ (Hebrews 12:1)?”. Keep your eyes on your own capacity for perseverance – and you will be filled with thoughts of your own weakness. Keep your eyes on Christ and His preserving power (1 Peter 1:5; John 10:27-29; Philippians 1:6; Romans 8:37-39). You will grow strong – strengthened by Christ’s Word: ‘My grace is sufficient for you’ (2 Corinthians 12:9).
5:1-14 – Being married: There are many temptations – the ‘loose woman’ (3-6). Be positive: Through ‘mutual love and respect’, let’s build ‘strong and happy’ marriages, in which ‘the marriage bond is honoured’. Singles: Don’t spoil everything by getting entangled with those who are ‘loose’ in their commitment to believing in and living for Jesus Christ! Bringing up children: There are many problems – the natural reaction of the child (11-12). Our children are to be brought up ‘in the nurture and admonition of the Lord’ (Ephesians 6:4). We need the tenderness – ‘I don’t condemn you’ – and firmness – ‘don’t sin’ – of Christ (John 8:11). Children: The natural reaction – ‘I hate discipline. I will not listen’ – is the sinful reaction. Pray for God’s help – to ‘obey your parents in the Lord’ (Ephesians 6:1-3).
5:15-23 – There is teaching here concerning faithfulness in marriage: ‘may you rejoice in the wife of your youth… may you ever be captivated by her love (18-19). We may apply this teaching to our relationship with the Saviour. You loved Him so much in ‘your youth’. You were ‘rejoicing in Him’. You were ‘captivated by His love’. ‘You were doing so well’, but something happened – you have gone off course (Galatians 5:7-8). Is this the story of your life? Return to ‘your first love’ (Revelation 2:4-5). There is also a warning against unfaithfulness (20). This can also be applied to our relationship with Christ. He ‘loved us and gave Himself for us’. He calls us to be ‘holy… a radiant church’ (Ephesians 5:25-27). We belong to Him. Why settle for anything less than the Best, anything less than our Lord Jesus Christ.
6:1-15 – ‘Save yourself… like a bird from the hand of the fowler’ (5). ‘He will deliver you from the snare of the fowler’ (Psalm 91:3). In Scripture, we have both the promise of grace and the call to faith: ‘By grace you have been saved’ (Ephesians 2:5), ‘Your faith has saved you’ (Luke 7:50), ‘Keep yourselves in the love of God’, ‘To Him who is able to keep you from falling’ (Jude 21,24). Laugh at ‘the sluggard’ (6-11), but do not laugh too quickly or too long: You may be laughing at yourself! Looking at the sluggard is like looking into a mirror. We see so much of ourselves in him! ‘A worthless man, a wicked man’ – ‘He “fancies himself”. He’s “a chancer”’. He better watch out: God doesn’t share this man’s opinion of himself – ‘calamity will come… he will be broken beyond healing’ (15).
6:16-35 – God’s Word is our ‘lamp’ and ‘light’ (23; Psalm 119:105). It leads us in the way we are to go (22). It exposes the darkness of the ways we are to avoid. It shows us the ‘things that the Lord hates’, the things which are ‘an abomination to Him’ (16). Why does God list the ‘things’ which are not pleasing to Him? He wants us to watch how we live. He wants us to keep on choosing His way. We must not allow things to drift. Keep God’s Word in ‘your heart always’ (21). Let ‘the reproofs of discipline’ keep you from straying (23). The world tells us, ‘Anything goes. Do what you like. It doesn’t matter how you live’. God’s Word speaks about sin: There is ‘no sense’ in it. It is the way of self-destruction. It will not ‘go unpunished’ (32,29). Be careful to obey God in everything.
7:1-27 – The way of obedience is the way of life: ‘keep My commandments and live’ (2). This is not a shallow legalism. It is the result of the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives. It is ‘walking in the Spirit’. It is living as ‘a new creation’. We do not glory in our own obedience. We ‘glory in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Galatians 5:16; 6:16,14). Obedience is a mark of spiritual maturity. The ‘mature’ are ‘those who have their faculties trained by practice to distinguish good from evil’ (Hebrews 5:14). In His Word, God shows us how we are to live and how we are not to live. We must ‘listen’ to God. We must ‘be attentive’ to His Word, thinking on and doing ‘these things’ which will glorify Him (24; Philippians 4:8-9). ‘Sin so easily entangles… let us fix our eyes on Jesus’ (25-27; Hebrews 12:1-2).
8:1-36 – Hoping for ‘good luck’, some people expect good things to happen to them – all the time! God says, ‘Seek wisdom. Be ready for the hard times’. Wisdom comes from God. He speaks to us with words of wisdom (2:6; 6-8). Wisdom is not only for ‘kings and rulers, princes and nobles’. It is for everyone who loves the Lord (15-17). Wisdom calls us to choose good rather than evil, life rather than death (13,35-36; Hebrews 5:14; Deuteronomy 30:19). The way of wisdom is the way of happiness (32-34). Our path may not be paved with gold. Wisdom is better than ‘silver, gold and jewels’ (10-11). Christ is our Wisdom. Receiving Him, we receive wisdom. Growing in Him, we grow in wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:30; 2:6). As you rejoice in Christ, remember: ‘He who wins souls is wise’ (11:30). Don’t keep Wisdom to yourself. Share Christ with others.
9:1-18 – There is, in verse 5, a Gospel invitation: ‘Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed’. We eat bread. We drink wine. We remember our Saviour (Matthew 26: 26-29). ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom’ (10). ‘This sounds so old-fashioned’ – so the world tells us. ‘The fear of the Lord’ – This is something we must not forget. If we do not fear the Lord, we will forget Him. If we forget Him, we are fools. What is foolishness? Is it a lack of education? No! – It is a lack of obedience. When we do not ‘honour’ God, we are ‘without sense’. ‘Claiming to be wise’, we show that we are ‘fools’. If we are wise, we will keep ‘going straight on the way’, looking always to Jesus Christ who is the true and living Way. He leads us from ‘the depths of hell’ to the heights of heaven (13-18; Romans 1:21-22; John 14:2,6).
10:1-22 – What a difference there is between the ‘wise’ and the ‘foolish’. It is the difference between ‘righteousness’ and ‘wickedness’ (1-2). Throughout life, there are choices to be made. We may choose wisely, being led by the Lord ‘in the paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake’. We may choose foolishly, going ‘astray’, refusing to ‘call upon the Lord’ (Psalms 23:3-4; 14:2-4). We must be very careful about the choices we make. There is a ‘way that leads to life’ and a ‘way that leads to destruction’ (16-17; Matthew 7:13-14). ‘Flee from the wrath to come’. Choose Christ. Choose life. ‘He who believes in the Son has eternal life; he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God rests upon him’ (Matthew 3:7; John 3:36).Choose Him now. ‘Now is the day of salvation’ (2 Corinthians 6:2).
10:23-11:11 – ‘With his mouth the godless man would destroy his neighbour’ (9) – This kind of thing is going on all the time! There is no respect for the ‘neighbour’. An easy target, he is treated with contempt. He is slandered without mercy. It is not without reason that God’s Word says to us, ‘The tongue is a fire… With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse men… My brethren, this ought not to be so’ (James 3:6-10). God knows what we are like. We ‘destroy’ people with ‘the tongue’. It is character assassination. What drastic effects this kind of thing can have: ‘a city… is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked’! Can the blessing return again? God’s Word is clear – ‘By the blessing of the upright a city is exalted’ – , but we must learn to speak and live as ‘the upright’ and not as ‘the wicked’ (11).
11:12-31 – ‘He who wins souls is wise’ (30). ‘He who sows righteousness reaps a sure reward’ (18). Righteousness is not purely a private matter. God’s Word tells us that ‘those who turn many to righteousness shall shine like stars for ever and ever’ (Daniel 12:3). Winning others for Jesus Christ is not easy. To those who commit themselves to this great work, God gives His precious promise: ‘He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him’ (Psalm 126:6). In this work, we must remember: It is not what we do that makes the real difference. It is the Lord working through us. Never forget: ‘Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labour in vain’ (Psalm 127:1). Always remember: When our work is done ‘in the Lord’, it is never ‘in vain’ (1 Corinthians 15:58).
12:1-14 – The Word of God shows us the way we are not to go as well as the way we are to go. We are told that ‘the root of the righteous stands firm’ (12). We are warned: ‘he who follows worthless pursuits has no sense’ (11). Do you have any sense? Here’s the most sensible thing you could ever do: Let ‘Christ dwell in your heart through faith’. Be ‘rooted and grounded in love… the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge’. Does it make any sense to live a life of emptiness – ‘worthless pursuits’ – when you can be filled with all the fullness of God’? What sense is there in living a life that amounts to nothing – ‘worthless pursuits’ – when you can have ‘His power at work within you’? There are two ways: the way of giving ‘glory to God’ and the way of ‘no sense’ (Ephesians 3:17-21). Only one ‘Way’ makes sense – Christ (John 14:6).
12:15-28 – What harm can be done by ‘reckless words’ (18). We need to take care how we speak. As those who belong to Christ, we have a special responsibility. We are to ‘witness’ for Him. We are to give our ‘testimony’, declaring what He has done for us. We are to speak of the ‘one thing’ that is more important than anything else – what the Lord has done for us: ‘I used to be blind, but now I can see’ (John 9:25). This is what the Lord has done for us – ‘He has called us out of darkness into His marvellous light’ (1 Peter 2:9). There is a better way than the way of ‘lying lips’ (22). When the ‘lying tongue’ has no more to say for itself, there will be one confession of faith which will remain forevermore: ‘Jesus Christ is Lord’. This confession brings ‘glory’ to ‘God the Father’. Let it be your confession of faith: ‘Jesus Christ is Lord’ (19; Philippians 2:11).
13:1-11 – ‘The light of the righteous rejoices’ (9). Jesus is our Light. He is ‘the Light of the world’. In Him we rejoice. Through Him, ‘we have now received reconciliation’. We are no longer walking in darkness. We are walking in the light with Him, giving thanks to God that ‘the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin’ (John 8:12; Romans 5:11; 1 John 1:7). What a wonderful thing God has done for us in Christ. He has ‘called us out of darkness into His marvellous light’. Let us ‘declare His praises’, rejoicing in His great love, His rich mercy and His saving grace (1 Peter 2:9; Ephesians 2:4-5). Keep on rejoicing! There is light at the end of the tunnel – even when you have ‘to suffer grief in all kinds of trials’. Don`t lose sight of ‘the goal of your faith’ – ‘the salvation of your souls’ (1 Peter 1:6-9).
13:12-25 – What do you do with the Word of God? How do you respond to the Word of God? What a difference there is between those who respect God’s Word and those who despise His Word. We have here a word of warning – ‘He who despises the Word brings destruction on himself’ and a word of promise – ‘he who respects the commandment will be rewarded’ (13). Those who keep on ignoring God’s Word are putting themselves in great danger – ‘He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck will suddenly be broken beyond healing’ (29:1). Those who take God’s Word seriously will find ‘great reward’ – God’s Word ‘revives the soul’, ‘makes wise the simple’, ‘rejoices the heart’ and ‘enlightens the eyes’. May your heart often meditate on His Word. May your mouth often speak His Word (Psalm 19:11,7-8,14).
14:1-19 – ‘A perverse man will be filled with the fruit of his ways, and a good man with the fruit of his deeds’ (14). Jesus speaks to us about ‘good fruit’ and ‘bad fruit’. He warns us not to be deceived by those who have no real love for Him: ‘You will know them by their fruits’ (Matthew 7:15-20). How does good fruit grow in the ‘tree’ of our lives? – ‘Blessed is the man… whose delight is in the law of the Lord… He is like a tree planted by streams of water, that yields its fruit in its season’ (Psalm 1:1-3). There is good fruit to be enjoyed when we take delight in the Word of the Lord. There is bad fruit to be thrown away. Let’s throw away the bad fruit – ‘…strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness…’ – and enjoy the good fruit – ‘love, joy, peace…’. Let ‘the fruit of the Spirit’grow in you – ‘be filled with the Spirit’ (Galatians 5:19-24; Ephesians 5:18).
14:20-35 – ‘Righteousness lifts up a nation, but sin is a disgrace in any society’ (34). Our nation can flourish again – by the preaching of God’s Word and the praising of God’s Name. Times of blessing can come again – if we will listen to God’s Word and sing His praise. Times of blessing will not come if we refuse to listen to the Lord, if we will not worship Him. We are living in difficult times – ‘dark powers are poised to flood our streets with hate and fear’. We must learn to see things as God sees them – ‘You stand appalled to see Your laws of love so scorned and lives so broken. Pray for mercy – ‘Have mercy, Lord’. Pray for revival – ‘Revive Your Church again’. Pray that Christ’s ‘glorious Cross shall tower triumphant in this land’. Pray that ‘righteousness’ will flow ‘like a never-failing stream’ (Mission Praise, 509).
15:1-33 – ‘The path of life leads upward for the wise’ (24). The wisdom which leads upward is centred on Christ. He is the Way to the ‘Father’s House’ (John 14:2-3,6). ‘Better is a little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble with it’ (17). Jesus teaches us the way to live wisely: ‘lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven’ (Matthew 6:20) – ‘I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold, I’d rather be His than have riches untold…’ (Mission Praise, 319). ‘The lips of the wise spread knowledge’ (7). Christ is our Wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:30). We must not keep Him to ourselves. Share Him with others. Let people know that Jesus is your Saviour. Let them know that He is your Lord. Don’t just ‘believe in your heart’. ‘Confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord’ (Romans 10:9). Your words will help others to find Him.
16:1-17 – ‘Wisdom is better than gold… understanding is to be chosen rather than silver’ (16). What is wisdom? In 1 Corinthians 1:30, we learn that Jesus Christ is Wisdom. To find Jesus Christ is to find Wisdom. How do we find Jesus Christ? How do we find Wisdom? Jesus tells us – ‘Seek and you will find’ (Matthew 7:7). For so many of us, the most important thing is getting on in the world. Jesus says, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth… lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven’ (Matthew 6:19-20). Which world is more important to you – this world or the world to come? Jesus puts this question to every one of us. This is the question we must answer. May God help us to give this answer – ‘I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold… I’d rather have Jesus than anything this world affords today’ (Mission Praise, 319).
16:18-33 – What a difference there is between a self-centred life and a God-centred life. Where does the self-centred life lead us? – ‘There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death’ (25). Is there a better way, a way that leads to true happiness? Yes! There is the God-centred way: ‘He who gives heed to the Word will prosper, and happy is he who trusts in the Lord’ (20). True happiness does not come to those who seek it in the things of this world. It comes to those who seek the Lord. ‘Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey’ (Mission Praise, 760). God invites us to choose between two very different ways – our own way and His way: ‘the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (Romans 6:23). Choose Christ!
17:1-12 – What kind of people are we to be? What kind of life are we to live? We are to be God’s people – people who are learning to live a life of ‘love’ (9). How do we learn what love is like? We learn from God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Father loves us – ‘God so loved the world that He gave His only Son…’ (John 3:16). In the Son, we see perfect love – ‘The Son of God loved me and gave Himself for me’ (Galatians 2:20). Through the Spirit, our lives are filled with love – ‘The fruit of the Spirit is love’ (Galatians 5:22). We can only be an influence for love if we are learning to be influenced by love. We are to be people ‘under the Influence’. We are to live our lives under the influence of God’s love. This is the Godly, Christlike, Spirit-filled life – the life of love.
17:13-28 – ‘A friend loves at all times’ (17). Jesus speaks of His love for us – ‘Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends’ – and our love for Him – ‘You are My friends if you do what I command you’ (John 15:13-14). His love comes first. Our love is a response to His love: ‘We love, because He first loved us’ (1 John 4:19). Jesus didn’t wait until we obeyed His Word perfectly before He laid down His life for us: ‘God shows His love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us’ (Romans 5:8). He didn’t start loving us because we started loving Him. He loved us long before we ever thought of loving Him. He loves us. He died for us. We are to love Him. We are to live for Him. His love is a perfect love. Our love is to be a growing love.
18:1-24 – ‘The fountain of wisdom is an overflowing stream’ (4). ‘The grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus’ (1 Timothy 1:14). This is the ‘wisdom’ we must seek – the wisdom which receives ‘salvation through faith in Christ Jesus’ (2 Timothy 3:15). True wisdom finds its overflowing joy in the Saviour: ‘The Name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe’ (10). We rejoice in Jesus. He is God’s Son – ‘You shall call His Name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High’ (Luke 1:31-32). He is our Saviour – ‘You shall call His Name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins’ (Matthew 1:21). He is ‘the Friend who sticks closer than a brother’ (24). Jesus is God’s Son. Be wise. Let Him be your Saviour and Friend.
19:1-29 – ‘The fear of the Lord leads to life’ (23). ‘The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear Him’ (Psalm 25:14). What a strange combination – friendship and fear! We ask, ‘How can there be friendship where there is fear?’. Here, we have a special kind of friendship – ‘the friendship of the Lord’ – and a special kind of fear – ‘the fear of the Lord’. Why is this friendship and fear so special? It’s because the Lord is special! He is the God of perfect holiness – ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty’. We must come before Him in ‘the fear of the Lord’ – ‘Woe is me! I am undone; I am a man of unclean lips…’. He is the God of perfect love. He calls us into friendship with Himself – ‘Your guilt is taken away and your sin forgiven’ (Isaiah 6:3,5,7). We rejoice in ‘the friendship of the Lord’. Let us respect Him with ‘the fear of the Lord’.
20:1-30 – ‘Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler; whoever is led astray by it is not wise’ (1). We need to learn the truth of these words – before it’s too late! There is a better way than the way of drunkenness. It is the way of being filled with the Holy Spirit: ‘Don’t get drunk on wine, which leads to wild living. Instead, be filled with the Spirit’ (Ephesians 5:18). We must not ‘live according to the flesh’. God calls us to ‘live according to the Spirit’. He warns us against making the wrong choice: ‘To set the mind on the flesh is death’. He shows us the way of blessing: ‘To set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace’. ‘Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth’. May God help us to turn from ‘the works of the flesh’ and seek ‘the fruit of the Spirit’ (Romans 8:5-6; Colossians 3:2; Galatians 5:19-23).
21:1-31 – ‘The victory belongs to the Lord’ (31). When defeat seems inevitable, God comes to us with His Word of encouragement: ‘The Lord your God is with you. He is mighty to save, a Warrior who gives victory. He will take great delight in you. He will renew you in His love. He will rejoice over you with singing’ (Zephaniah 3:17). God’s Word shows us the way of victory. It is the way of faith in our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: ‘This is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?’ (1 John 5:4). God ‘gives victory’ to us. We must receive His victory by ‘faith’. Living for Christ is never easy – ‘In this world you will have trouble’. Don’t let this get you down. Jesus says, ‘Be of good cheer. I have overcome the world’ (John 16:33).
22:1-29 – ‘So that your trust may be in the Lord, I teach you today, even you’ (19). Many people say, ‘It’s not for me’. They know that others have been greatly blessed through reading God’s Word. Still, they do not take the trouble to read God’s Word for themselves. They can’t be bothered. Receiving God’s blessing doesn’t really matter that much to them. Don’t miss out on God’s blessing. God’s Word is for ‘you’. It’s not just for somebody else. It’s for you – ‘even you’. Some people say, ‘I’ll read God’s Word tomorrow’. When ‘tomorrow’ comes around, they’re still saying the same thing – ‘I’ll read God’s Word tomorrow’! Sadly, their ‘tomorrow’ never comes. They never get round to reading God’s Word. They’re missing out on so much. Don’t say, ‘I’ll leave it till tomorrow’. Read God’s Word ‘today’.
23:1-18 – ‘Continue in the fear of the Lord all day long. Let reverence for the Lord be the concern of your life’. To those who put Him first in their lives, God gives His great promise of blessing, ‘There is surely a future hope for you. You have a bright future. Surely you have a wonderful future ahead of you’ (17-18). What a glorious future lies ahead of those who love the Lord: ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him’ (1 Corinthians 2:9)! We must not become ‘short-sighted’. We must look ahead to ‘the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ’. God has given us ‘His very great and precious promises’. Let us press on in ‘faith’, becoming more and more ‘active and effective in our knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (2 Peter 1:3-11).
23:19-35 – ‘Keep your heart on the right path’ (19). How are we to do this? We must seek ‘truth, wisdom, instruction and understanding’ (23). We must give our hearts to Christ. He is ‘the Truth’ (John 14:6). We must open our hearts to Christ. He is ‘our Wisdom’ (1 Corinthians 1:30). Opening our hearts will mean opening our Bibles. Giving our hearts to Christ will mean giving time to reading God’s Word. As we read ‘the Scriptures’, we will receive ‘instruction’. We will learn about ‘salvation through faith in Christ Jesus’. We will receive ‘instruction for right living’ (2 Timothy 3:14-17). As we read God’s Word, we must pray that the Holy Spirit will give us ‘understanding’ (1 Corinthians 2:9-13). ‘Be filled with the Spirit’. ‘Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly’ (Ephesians 5:18; Colossians 3:16).
24:1-14 – ‘Wisdom is sweet to your soul. If you find it, there is a future hope for you’ (14). How do we find wisdom? We read the written Word of God, seeking God’s promised blessing: ‘The law of the Lord is perfect and revives the soul. The Lord’s instruction never fails. and makes the simple wise’. As we read God’s written Word, keeping our eyes fixed on Christ, the living ‘Word’ of God’, we discover that He is the ‘Wisdom’ which is ‘sweeter than honey’and we rejoice in Him, our ‘Hope of glory’ – ‘You believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls’ (John 1:1-2,14; 1 Corinthians 1:30; Psalm 19:7,10; Colossians 1:27; 1 Peter 1:8). ‘Ask God’ for ‘wisdom’.‘Seek and you will find’ (James 1:5-8; Matthew 7:7).
24:15-34 – ‘Though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again’ (15). We are ‘kept by the power of God’. We do not raise ourselves. It is the Lord who is ‘able to keep us from falling’. He ‘knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations’ (1 Peter 1:5; Jude 24; 2 Peter 2:9). When our ‘faith’ is ‘tested by fire’, we must pray that God will give us His victory: ‘Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace’ (1 Peter 1:6-7;Daniel 3:17). When our strength is almost gone, the Lord comes with His Word: ‘My grace is sufficient for you. My power is made perfect in weakness’ (2 Corinthians 12:9), ‘Amazing grace!… Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come. ‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home’ (Mission Praise, 31).
25:1-28 – ‘The Lord will reward you’ (22). The work done by God’s servants is tested by fire: ‘the fire will test what sort of work each one has done’. There is work of real ‘quality’ – ‘gold, silver, precious stones’. There is work which has no real value – ‘wood, hay, straw’. God wants us to think about the work we do in His Name. We are to ‘remove the dross from the silver’ (4). We are not to be content with superficial work which does not lead to changed lives. Our words are to be ‘apples of gold in a setting of silver’. They are to be words of wisdom, words which are ‘better than fine gold’, words which ‘surpass choice silver’ (11; 8:19). We are to bring God’s Word -‘good news’ – and God’s Spirit -‘rivers of living water’ – to our hearers (25; 1 Peter 1:12,23-25; John 7:37-39).
26:1-28 – ‘There is a lion in the road, a fierce lion roaming the streets!’ (13). This is the voice of fear speaking. We need to speak with the voice of faith – ‘I believed, and so I spoke’ (2 Corinthians 4:13). We know that ‘the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour’. The devil can fill us with fear. We must not let him do this. We must face him with faith – ‘Resist him, standing firm in the faith’ (1 Peter 5:8-9). When we ‘resist the devil’, standing firm in the faith, ‘he will flee from us’ (James 4:7). Let us face the ‘roaring lion’ with faith in an even more powerful ‘Lion’. Jesus Christ – ‘the Lion of Judah’ – ‘has conquered’ Satan. He ‘has triumphed’ over him (Revelation 5:5). May Christ’s ‘perfect love drive out our fear’ (1 John 4:18).
27:1-27 – ‘Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring’ (1). God speaks to us about today. He says, ‘Now is the day of salvation’. Today, we are in ‘the valley of decision’. We must make up our mind about Jesus Christ. Today may be your last opportunity to act on God’s precious promise: ‘Everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved’ (Joel 3:14; 2:32; Acts 2:21). Tomorrow may be too late. Your life may be over before tomorrow comes. Tomorrow, you may hear God’s Word of judgment: ‘I never knew you. Depart from Me, you evildoers!’. Tomorrow, you may face ‘eternal punishment’ (Matthew 7:23; 25:46). Tomorrow need not be a day of judgment. Choose Christ today. Let today be your ‘day of salvation’.
28:1-28 – ‘Blessed is the one who always fears the Lord. If you harden your heart, you will be ruined’ (14). The blessing of God comes to us through the Gospel of Jesus Christ our Saviour: ‘The Gospel is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes’. To those who refuse to come to Christ and receive His salvation, God issues His solemn warning: ‘Because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the Day of God’s wrath, when His righteous judgment will be revealed’ (Romans 1:16; 2:5). We receive ‘salvation’ through faith in Christ, ‘the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world’. Those who reject Christ and His salvation must face ‘the wrath of the Lamb’ (John 1:29; Revelation 7:10; 6:16).
29:1-27 – ‘The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern’. So many people have a ‘couldn’t care less’ attitude. They have stopped listening to God’s Word and they have lost interest in living God’s way – ‘Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint’. For those who are ignoring God, refusing to listen to His Word and turning away from the pathway of obedience, God has a stern Word of warning: ‘If you get more stubborn every time you are corrected, one day you will be crushed and never recover’. God is calling us to leave the pathway of disobedience and disaster and walk in the way of obedience and blessing: ‘Blessed is he who keeps the law’ (7,1,18).
30:1-33 – In verse 5, we learn about God’s Word. His Word is ‘true’. His Word is ‘pure’. His Word is full of blessing for those who ‘put their trust in Him’. Trusting in Him , we learn that ‘His Word is truth’. God’s Word is full of blessing for those who ‘live according to His Word’. Living in obedience to His Word, we find that His Word makes us ‘pure’. Through His Word of truth, God leads us in the pathway of holiness, Jesus prays for us: ‘Make them pure and holy through teaching them Your Words of truth’. God’s Word is ‘more precious than gold’. May God help us to ‘hide His Word in our hearts that we might not sin against Him’ (John 17:17; Psalms 19:10; 119:9,11).
31:1-31 – ‘A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies… Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised’ (10,30). We are to seek ‘treasures in heaven’ rather than ‘treasures on earth’ (Matthew 6:19-21). The riches of this world will not last for ever: ‘All your riches and splendour have vanished, never to be recovered… “Woe! Woe, O great city, dressed in fine linen, purple and scarlet, and glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls! In one hour such great wealth has been brought to ruin!”’ There is one treasure which lasts forever – the treasure of salvation. Let us praise our Saviour: ‘Hallelujah! Salvation and power and glory belong to our God’ (Revelation 18:14-17; 19:1).
1:1-2:26 – Without Christ. life is empty. With Him, everything changes. He fills our life with God’s blessing. With Him, we have more than life ‘under the sun’. We have life ‘in the Son’ – abundant life, eternal life (1:3,14; 2:11,17; John 10:10; 1 John 5:11-12). Which life do you want? You can settle for life ‘under the sun’. Many people do. They never think about the meaning of life. They never ask , ‘What is the purpose of my life?’. There is another life, a better life, a life with meaning, purpose and direction. You can come to Christ and receive life ‘in the Son’. This is life ‘from above. This is our ‘foretaste of glory divine’: ‘Angels descending bring from above echoes of mercy, whispers of love’ ‘Looking above’, we are ‘filled with His goodness’ and saved by ‘His love’. In our ‘Saviour’, we are ‘happy and blest’ (Mission Praise, 59).
3:1-4:16 – ‘God has put eternity into man’s mind’ (3:11). In every human heart, there is a God-shaped blank. It can only be filled by Jesus Christ. Many people try to find true happiness without opening their heart to Jesus Christ. That’s like ‘trying to catch the wind’ (4:16). True happiness keeps slipping through your fingers. There’s always something missing – ‘an aching void the world can never fill’ (Church Hymnary, 663). Jesus Christ stands at the door of every human heart. He knocks. He waits for your answer. He says, ‘Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in…’ (Revelation 3:20). Will you invite Him into your heart? He is waiting for you to pray, ‘Come into my heart, Lord Jesus. Come in today. Come in to stay. Come into my heart, Lord Jesus’.
5:1-6:12 – ‘The man who loves money can never have enough’ (5:10). Some people are never satisfied, They’re always wanting more. This is the world’s way. The more you have, the more you want. The Lord’s way is very different: ‘Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth… Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven… Do not be anxious, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?”… Seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well’. ‘Has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the Kingdom which He has promised to those who love Him?’ (Matthew 6:21-23,31-33; James 2:5). There’s more to life than ‘getting on in the world’. ‘Treasures on earth, treasures in heaven’ – Which world is most important to you?
7:1-29 – ‘Do not be over-righteous and do not be over-wise’ (16). Christ is ‘our righteousness and our wisdom’ (1 Corinthians 1:30). We must not take pride in our own righteousness or our own wisdom. We must not be like the arrogant ‘Pharisee’: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men…’. If we get ‘too big for our boots’, we may be ‘brought down to earth with a bump’! This is what God says to those who think they’re wise: ‘Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?’ (Luke 18:11-12; 1 Corinthians 1:20). We do not make ourselves righteous. We do not make ourselves wise. ‘Through faith in Jesus Christ’, we receive ‘God’s righteousness’. We become ‘wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus’ (Romans 3:21-26; 2 Timothy 3:14-17).
8:1-9:10 – ‘Whatever your hands find to do, do it with all your might…’ (9:10). ‘Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart…’ (Colossians 3:23-24). These two verses seem, at first, to be saying the same thing – until we read the rest of each verse! The first is describing life ‘under the sun’ (9:9): ‘in the grave where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom’. The second describes life in the Son: ‘you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward’. There is more to life than life under the sun. There is life in the Son. In everything we do, we must remember this: ‘It is the Lord Jesus Christ you are serving’. We are ‘working for the Lord, not for men’. ‘Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord… your labour in the Lord is not in vain’ (1 Corinthians 15:58).
9:11-10:20 – ‘Wisdom is better than weapons of war’ (9:18). We are to seek the better way, the way of wisdom, the way of peace: ‘The wisdom that comes from heaven is… peace-loving… Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness’ (James 3:18). We look back over the history of our world. We wish there had been more peace and less war. We pray for a better future – more peace, less war. We pray to ‘the God of peace’. We pray for ‘the peace of God’. We pray that God will fulfill His promise: ‘The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet’ (Philippians 4:9,7; Romans 15:33; 16:20). Let us look to ‘the Cross of Jesus’. Let us trust in ‘Christ, the Royal Master’. He leads us in His victory: ‘At the Name of Jesus, Satan’s legions flee; On then, Christian soldiers, On to victory!’ (Church Hymnary, 480).
11:1-12:14 – ‘Fear God, and keep His commandments’ (12:13). This is ‘the heart of the matter’. It’s ‘the matter of the heart’. How can we even begin to fear God and keep His commandments if our hearts are full of sin? How can our hearts be cleansed from sin? There’s only one way we can learn to ‘fear God, and keep His commandments’. We must begin by opening our hearts to our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. We must look to Him for forgiveness – ‘I will cleanse you’. We must look to Him for a new beginning – ‘I will give you a new heart and put a new Spirit in you’ (Ezekiel 36:26). Let our fear of the Lord be filled with the love of Jesus. Let our keeping of God’s commandments be filled with thanksgiving for Jesus Christ, our Saviour. Let us be devoted to Christ: ‘Take my heart – it is Thine own; It shall be Thy royal throne’ (Church Hymnary, 462).
SONG OF SOLOMON
1:1-17 – The Church is the Bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:25-33). We are to be presented to Christ ‘as a pure Bride’, ‘a Bride beautifully dressed’ for Him, ‘the Bride, the wife of the Lamb’ (2 Corinthians 11:2; Revelation 21:2,9). Christ says to His Bride, ‘You are beautiful, my love’. Let us worship Him: ‘You are beautiful, my Beloved, truly lovely’ (15-16). Let us look to Christ and see how beautiful He is: ‘You are beautiful beyond description, too marvellous for words, too wonderful for comprehension, like nothing ever seen or heard. Who can fathom Your infinite wisdom? Who can fathom the depth of Your love? You are beautiful beyond description, Majesty enthroned above…’. Let us pray that His beauty will be seen in us: ‘Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me, all His wondrous compassion and purity…’ (Mission Praise, 788,410).
2:1-17 – Christ comes to us in love: ‘The Voice of my Beloved! Look! Here He comes…’ (8). He calls us to come to Him: ‘My Beloved speaks and says to me, “Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away”’ (10). He calls us to belong to Him: ‘My Beloved is mine and I am His’ (16). Let us come to Jesus and experience His love: ‘Jesus, how lovely You are! You are so gentle, so pure and kind…’. Let us come to Jesus and give Him our love: ‘Jesus, I love You, love You more and more each day; Jesus, I love You, Your gentle touch renews my heart. It’s really no wonder why no other love can satisfy; Jesus, I love You, You’ve won this heart of mine!’. Let us come to Jesus and receive His joy: ‘Jesus, I am resting, resting, in the joy of what Thou art; I am finding out the greatness of Thy loving heart’ (Mission Praise, 361,363,362).
3:1-4:8 – Jesus says, ‘Seek and you will find’ (Matthew 7:7). When we have found Him, we say, with joy, ‘I found Him whom my soul loves – my true love’ (3:4). What does it mean to find Jesus? It means that He has found us. Before we ever thought of seeking for Him, He came seeking for us: ‘the Son of man came to seek and to save the lost’ (Luke 19:10). He comes to us with words of love: ‘you are beautiful, my love’ (4:1). Before we ever thought of loving Him, He loved us: ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love’ (Jeremiah 31:3). In love, He came looking for us. In love, He has found us. We seek. We find. We say, ‘Hallelujah! I have found Him’. There is something else – His seeking and finding: ‘Amazing grace! How sweet the sound… I once was lost, but now am found…’ (Mission Praise, 31).
4:9-5:16 – There are times when the Lord comes very near to us. We pray, ‘Let my Beloved come to His garden’ (4:16). He answers, ‘I come to My garden,… my Bride’ (1). There are times when the Lord seems to be far away from us: ‘I opened to my Beloved, but my Beloved had turned and gone’ (6). What are we to do when the Lord’s presence does not seem so real to us? We must remember His promise: ‘I am with you always’ (Matthew 28:20). Sometimes, we don’t feel so good. We feel like the Lord has gone away and left us. These are the times when we need His Word of encouragement: ‘I am with you always’. In the difficult times, we must hold on to His promise. We must keep on believing that the times of blessing will return: ‘His speech is sweet; He is altogether lovely… my Beloved… my Friend’ (5:16).
6:1-7:9 – ‘You are beautiful… How beautiful you are’ (6:4; 7:6). What beauty can the Lord possibly see in us? We are sinners – ‘We have all strayed like sheep. Each one of us has turned to go his own way’. There’s nothing beautiful about that! Is this the whole story? Thank God! – There’s something more. Christ died for sinners – ‘the Lord laid all our sins on Him’ (Isaiah 53:6). When God looks on us, He does not see our sin. He sees our Saviour, His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. He looks at us, and this is what He sees: ‘The blood of Jesus, His Son, cleanses us from all sin’ (1 John 1:7). Through faith in Christ, we are sinners, saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8). This is the beauty the Lord sees in us: ‘There is, therefore, no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus’ (Romans 8:1). This is not our beauty. It’s His beauty!
7:10-8:14 – ‘Love is as strong as death… It burns like a blazing fire, like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it’ (6-7). Here, we see the greatest love of all, the love of God: ‘Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future… nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (Romans 8:38-39). How can we have the love of God, burning in our hearts ‘like a blazing fire, like a mighty flame’? We cannot buy His love – ‘If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, it would be utterly scorned’ (7). We must receive His love as a gift: ‘So freely flows the endless love You give to me… So easy, I receive the love You give to me… Flowing out to me – the love within Your heart’ (Mission Praise, 603).