In Psalm 4, there is a great message of the Gospel. By ourselves, we are sinners, turning God’s glory to shame, loving delusions and seeking false gods (Psalm 4:2). By grace, God has done something about this – ‘the Lord has set apart the godly for Himself’ (Psalm 4:3). When we pray, ‘Answer me’ (Psalm 4:1), we have this confidence: ‘the Lord will hear when I call to Him’ (Psalm 4:3). The Lord hears the sinner’s prayer, ‘Give me relief from my distress; be merciful to me and hear my prayer’ (Psalm 4:1). Jesus Christ is God’s Answer to this prayer. Christ brings relief (salvation). This salvation arises from the mercy of God. In Christ, we have a ‘joy’ and ‘peace’ which the world can neither give nor take away (Psalm 4:7-8). When the seeking sinner comes with question, ‘Who can show us any good?’ (Psalm 4:6), the Gospel Answer is always the same – Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Psalm 5 is a morning prayer: ‘morning by morning’, we are to come before the Lord ‘in expectation’ of His blessing (Psalm 5:3). The Psalmist prays with great earnestness. His prayer is a ‘sighing’ before God, a ‘cry for help’(Psalm 5:1-2). He acknowledges the holiness of God: ‘You are not a God who takes pleasure in evil, with you the wicked cannot dwell’(Psalm 5:4). The words of Psalm 5:9 apply to every one of us. Paul quotes this verse in support of the conclusion that ‘all have 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’(Psalm 5:7). Each of us has been declared guilty by God (Psalm 5:10; Romans 3:19-20). For the fallen, God has provided a way of forgiveness. For the guilty, He has provided a way to gladness (Psalm 5:11; Luke 2:10-11). ‘Hallelujah! What a Saviour!’(Church Hymnary, 380).
‘Thou wilt show me the path of life; in Thy presence is fulness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore’(Psalm 16:11). 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 (Psalm 16:8-11) 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’(Psalm 16:5,9). Is this your testimony? Choose Christ and be glad.
The first three verses of Psalm 18 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’(Psalm 18:1-2). 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 (Psalm 18:4-5). The enemies of the Lord will be brought to judgment (Psalm 18:13-14). ‘The cord of death encompassed me…He delivered me from my strong enemy…’(Psalm 18:4-5,17-19) – 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’(Psalm 18:19). Step into the future with Him. Don’t hold back! ‘Let go and let God have His wonderful way’.
‘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 (Psalm 18:30-31,46). 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’(Psalm 18:27,39). 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).
Read of the Psalmist’s sufferings. Think of the Saviour, suffering for you (Psalm 22:7-8,18; 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’(Psalm 22:1,16). 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).
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’(Psalm 22:22,27,30). 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; Hebrews 2:12; Revelation 5:9). Jesus Christ has passed ‘through the valley of the shadow of death’ for us (Psalm 23:4). 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’(Psalm 23:3; 1 Peter 2:25).
For God’s people, there is a glorious eternal destiny: ‘I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for ever’(Psalm 23:6). We ‘receive this blessing from the Lord,…the God of our salvation’(Psalm 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 (Psalm 24:3-5)! How do we receive His blessing? – We must open our hearts ‘that the King of glory may come in’(Psalm 24:7,9). 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’(Psalm 24:8; Ephesians 1:19-20; Revelation 3:20).
God’s love for us inspires our loyalty to Him: ‘Your love is ever before me, and I will walk continually in Your truth’(Psalm 26:3). Loyalty to the Lord involves worshipping Him and walking with Him (Psalm 26:11-12). Walking with God is not easy. There are ‘enemies round about’ us (Psalm 26:4-5, 9-10; Psalm 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…’(Psalm 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’(Psalm 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’(Psalm 27:1,3).
‘I will exalt You, O Lord’(Psalm 30:1). 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’(Psalm 30:7). We look to Him for mercy – ‘To You, O Lord, I called; to the Lord, I cried for mercy’(Psalm 30:8). God hears and answers our prayer – ‘You turned my wailing into dancing; You removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy’(Psalm 30:11). God calls us to worship Him – ‘Sing praises to the Lord, O you His saints, and give thanks to His holy Name’(Psalm 30:4). ‘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’(Psalm 30:12).
Looking to the Lord, we are ‘radiant’ He has ‘delivered’ us. He has ‘saved’ us (Psalm 34:4-6). Rejoicing in God’s salvation, we say, ‘I will bless the Lord at all times’(Psalm 34:1). We call upon others to worship the Lord with us – ‘O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His Name together!’(Psalm 34:3). 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!’(Psalm 34:8). 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’(Psalm 34:11). 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’(Psalm 34:14; Hebrews 5:14).
Those who ‘trust in the Lord…will dwell in the land’. Those who turn from Him will ‘perish’(Psalm 37:3,20). 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.
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 (Psalm 42:5,11; Psalm 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…’(Psalm 43:5). ‘Deep calls to deep’(Psalm 42:7) – Let ‘the Spirit’ show you ‘the deep things of God’(1 Corinthians 2:10).
‘Be still, and know that I am God…Shout to God with loud songs of joy'(Psalm 46:10; Psalm 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’(Psalm 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; Isaiah 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’(Psalm 10; Psalm 47:6-7). ‘Father (Jesus/Spirit), we love You. We worship and adore You. Glorify Your Name in all the earth’(Mission Praise, 142).
‘Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised’(Psalm 48:1). 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 (Psalm 48:9-11). 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).
‘Create in me a clean heart, O God… Cast me not away from Thy presence… Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation’(Psalm 51:10-12). 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.
The Lord is ‘my Rock and my Salvation’(Psalm 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’(Psalm 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).
‘Come and see what God has done’(Psalm 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’(Psalm 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’(Psalm 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’(Psalm 67:4,7).
God is ‘our salvation’. He is the ‘God of salvation’(Psalm 68:19-20). 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’(Psalm 68:3). Let us give all the glory to God – ‘Blessed be God!’(Psalm 68:35).
David is going through ‘the deep waters’ of suffering. He prays to the Lord for deliverance from ‘the flood’ and ‘the deep’(Psalm 69:14-15). 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’(Psalm 69:5). He looks to the Lord, remembering that He is the God of ‘steadfast love’ and ‘abundant mercy’(Psalm 69:16). 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).
Read the words – ‘His Name’ shall ‘endure for ever’(Psalm 72:17) – 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’(Psalm 72:17) – , 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!’(Psalm 72:19) – 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).
‘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’(Psalm 84:1-2). 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’(Psalm 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…’(Psalm 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’(Psalm 63:1). This is real worship, joyful worship, heartfetlt worship. May God help us to worship Him like that!
‘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’(Psalm 86:5,11-13). 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’(Psalm 86:4). 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’(Psalm 86:15,17).
‘I will sing of the Lord’s great love for ever; with my mouth I will make known Your faithfulness through all generations’(Psalm 89:1). 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…’.
‘Lord, You have been our dwelling place throughout all generations… From everlasting to everlasting, You are God’(Psalm 90:1-2). 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).
‘Surely He will save you from the traps of the hunter’(Psalm 91:3). 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).
‘You, O Lord, are exalted for ever… The Lord reigns, He is robed in majesty…’(Psalm 92:8; Psalm 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’(Psalm 97:9; Psalm 29:10; Mission Praise, 158,217,388,507).
‘The Lord reigns’(Psalm 96:10; Psalm 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).
‘Exalt the Lord our God… Make a joyful noise to the Lord’(Psalm 99:5,9; Psalm 98:4,6; Psalm 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!’(Psalm 99:5,9). In our worship, we rejoice in the love of God: ‘His steadfast love endures for ever… He has done marvellous things!’(Psalm 100:5; Psalm 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).
‘Praise the Lord’(Psalm 103:1-2,20-22). Let’s praise Him for His ‘steadfast love’. He is ‘abounding in steadfast love’(Psalm 103:8). 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’(Psalm 103:11,17). Let’s thank God for His love – and live to please Him!
‘Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always. Remember the wonderful works that He has done…’(Psalm 105:4-5). 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).
‘He brought His people out with joy’(Psalm 105:43). 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’(Psalm 105:118:14-15).
In Psalm 106, 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’(Psalm 106:13,24-25,33). 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’(Psalm 106:6). The history of Israel is not only a history of sin. It is also a history of salvation: ‘He saved them…’(Psalm 106:8,10). 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…’(Psalm 106:47-48).
‘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’(Psalm 113:4-5; Psalm 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).
‘I love the Lord… I will call on Him as long as I live’(Psalm 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’(Psalm 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).
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’(Psalm 119:113). 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’ (Psalm 119:115,112).
‘Deliver me, O Lord, from lying lips’ (Psalm 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’(Psalm 121:2,5,7-8). This gives us glorious hope as we keep on looking to Christ,‘eagerly awaiting’ His Return ( Hebrews 9:28).
‘I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go into the House of the Lord”’ (Psalm 122:2). Why do we go to the House of the Lord? We go ‘to give thanks to the Name of the Lord’ (Psalm 122:4). We seek His mercy for our past sins: ‘Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us!’ (Psalm 123:3). We seek His help for our future temptations: ‘Our help is in the Name of the Lord…’ (Psalm 124:8). As we receive mercy and help from the Lord, we worship Him: ‘Blessed be the Lord’ (Psalm 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 (Psalm 123:2; Psalm 124:1-5). Rejoicing in God’s blessing, we pray for others: ‘May they prosper who love You’ (Psalm 122:6).
‘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’ (Psalm 125:1; Psalm 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’ (Psalm 126:3; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4).
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’ (Psalm 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?’ (Psalm 130:3). We must come to God with deep humility – ‘My heart is not proud, O Lord’ (Psalm 131:1). When we truly confess our sin, we receive God’s ‘unfailing love’ and ‘forgiveness’ (Psalm 130:4). ‘In the Lord’ we have ‘full redemption’ (Psalm 130:7). 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!’ (Psalm 131:3; Church Hymnary, 374).
Through Christ our Saviour, we are led ‘in the way everlasting’: ‘God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son’ (Psalm 139:24; 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…’ (Psalm 139:6; 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’ (Psalm 139:6; 1 Corinthians 2:9-10). ‘Lead me in the way everlasting!’(Psalm 139:24).
The Psalmist continues to emphasize the importance of ‘prayer’ in our battle against ‘evildoers’: ‘My prayer is ever against the deeds of evildoers’ (Psalm 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’ (Psalm 141:5; Psalm 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’ (Psalm 142:4-7; Psalm 23:6).
The Psalmist prays, ‘Rescue me from my enemies, O Lord’ (Psalm 143:9). 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’ (Psalm 143:11). 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’ (Psalm 143:8). He gives to us the strength of His Spirit – ‘May Your good Spirit lead me in good paths’ (Psalm 143:10). 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’ (Psalm 143:8,10,12).
‘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’ (Psalm 144:1,9; Psalm 145:1-2,21; Psalm 146:2) – is just a small part of something so much richer and fuller – ‘Let everything that has breath praise the Lord’ (Psalm 150:6). May these great Psalms of praise inspire us to praise the Lord more truly and more fully.