The first Psalm speaks to us about two ways of living – the Lord’s way and the world’s way. Each of us must choose. When we choose God’s way, His blessing fills our lives. We must not turn away from Him, and lose out on His blessing. May God help us to keep on walking with Him, and to enjoy His blessing on our lives.
The Psalmist speaks of his enemies – “my foes” (Psalm 3:1). They are not only his enemies. They are the Lord’s enemies (Psalm 2:2).
What an encouragement it is to know that we do not stand against our enemies on our own. The Lord is standing with us. We do not stand in our own weakness. We stand in the strength of the Lord. He is with us. Many times, we will fail Him. He will never fail us. Often, we will let Him down. He will never let us down. What does God say to us, in our weakness? – He assures us that He holds on to us with a love which is much stronger than our weak love for Him – “If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful” (2 Timothy 2:13). When, in our battle against strong a nd determined enemies, we like giving up, let’s remember this: God is faithful – and He is much stronger than Satan. “Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
“Whoever does these things will never be shaken” (Psalm 15:5).
Jesus Christ is the Rock upon which our faith is built. Building on Christ means more than believing the right things about Him. It also means living for Him. This is the message taught by Jesus in his parable of the wise man and the foolish man – “everyone who hears these words of Mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock… But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand” (Matthew 7:24,26). What are we to believe? – This is not the only question we must ask. If our faith is real, we must move on from there to another very important question: How are we to live?
“I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With Him at my right hand, I will not be shaken” (Psalm 16:8).
An unshakeable faith – What does this mean? Is my faith ever an unshakeable faith? No! It’s not. Is my Saviour an unshakeable Saviour? Yes! He is. Our faith is often shaken. Our Saviour is never shaken.
“Show Your marvellous lovingkindness … O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer” (Psalm 17:7; Psalm 19:14).
The lessons that we discover in the Word of God are lessons that are given to us by revelation. God shows us His “marvellous lovingkindness.” He shows us His salvation. Learning about God’s love and His salvation – There is nothing more wonderful than this. To know that we are loved by the Lord and have been saved by Him – This is what gives us strength to keep on loving and praising Him as we travel with Him towards His glorious Kingdom.
“Keep me as the apple of the eye” (Psalm 17:8).
Jesus is God’s “beloved Son” (Matthew 3:17; Matthew 17:5). In Jesus, God’s “beloved” Son, we are “accepted” (Ephesians 1:6). In the eyes of God the Father, Jesus is “precious” (1 Peter 2:4,6-7; 1 Peter 1:19) – and our faith is “precious” (1 Peter 1:7: 2 Peter 1:1).
“You, Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light” (Psalm 18:28).
Without You, Lord, we’re stumbling around in the dark. With You, we’re walking in the light – the light of Your love, the light of Your truth, the light of Your holiness.
“As for God, His way is perfect” (Psalm 18:30).
The Lord knows what He has planned for each one of us. There are no surprises for Him. The Lord doesn’t leave us to travel on our own. He’s with us every step of the way. When we wonder about what’s happening in our lives, He is there, teaching us to say from the heart, “As for God, His way is perfect” (Psalm 18:30; 2 Samuel 22:31). He’s leading us to His Son, Jesus. He’s showing us our suffering Saviour. He’s showing us our risen Lord. He’s showing us that there is a way of peace, joy and love. It’s the way of Jesus. It’s the way of trusting Him. Keep your eyes on Jesus. He will lead you in His way. God’s blessing will surround you each day.
“The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul” (Psalm 19:7).
God’s Word does not return to Him empty. It accomplishes the purpose for which He sent it (Isaiah 55:11
). Often, we feel like God’s Word returns to us empty. It never returns to Him empty. Wherever God’s Word is preached in the power of the Holy Spirit, God is at work. He is doing more than we realize. Some may refuse to listen to the voice of the Spirit – but the Spirit keeps on speaking to them, calling them to return to the Lord and receive His free gift of salvation: “Seek the Lord
while He may be found; call on Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and He will have mercy on them, and to our God, for He will freely pardon” (Isaiah 55:6-7). Let us pray that the Word of God will be spoken in the power of the Spirit of God:
The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul (Psalm 19:7
Pray that ‘the meditation of your heart’ and ‘the words of your mouth’ will be filled with the Spirit of love.
“The Lord gives victory to His anointed” (Psalm 20:6).
Jesus is the Christ (the anointed). Through His death and resurrection, Jesus has won the victory over Satan. He won the victory for us. He gives His victory to us.
“Surely You have granted him eternal blessings” (Psalm 21:6). Through the mighty victory of Jesus Christ (God’s Anointed), there are “eternal blessings” – for us.
“My God, God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Psalm 22:1).
How do eternal blessings come to us through Christ? When we see Christ, suffering on the Cross, we must give thanks to God that His suffering was for us. For Him, there was suffering. For us, there is salvation.
“‘Tis mystery all! The Immortal dies… Amazing love! how can it be that Thou, my God shouldst die for me!… No condemnation now I dread; Jesus, and all in Him, is mine!”
“Surely Your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the House of the Lord for ever” (Psalm 23:6).
For us, God’s salvation begins while we are here on earth. They continue for “all the days of our life.” His blessings do not come to an end when we leave this world. His blessings are eternal – “I will dwell in the House of the Lord forever.”
“Your love, Lord reaches to the heavens … How priceless is Your unfailing love, O God!” (Psalm 36:5,7).
Where do God’s eternal blessings come from? They come from His love, His eternal love, His love which endures forever (Psalm 136).
“Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered” (Psalm 32:1).
God’s eternal blessings begin with the forgiveness of our sins. Jesus was forsaken by God so that we might be forgiven by God.
“We wait in hope for the Lord” (Psalm 33:20).
The forgiveness of our sins is just the beginning of God’s eternal blessings. There is more to come. We look forward to being with the Lord forevermore.
“You are holy, enthroned in the praises of Israel” (Psalm 22:3).
God is not enthroned because we enthrone Him. We enthrone Him because He is enthroned.
“The Lord is my Shepherd… “
The words are so familiar. When we start to think that we understand all that this great Psalm is saying to us, the Lord comes to with something new, something fresh, something that speaks to our hearts, something that brings blessing into our lives. What are to say about this? ~ From God to us, comes blessing, much blessing. How much blessing? Who can say? All we can say is this – It’s His blessing, and His blessing “overflows” (v. 5).
Speaking about God – The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
Speaking to God – Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
* The Lord is my Shepherd;
* The Lord is my Shepherd;
* The Lord is my Shepherd;
* The Lord is my Shepherd.
“The Lord is my Shepherd” (Psalm 23:1).
In Luke 15:3-7, Jesus tells the story of the lost sheep and the loving Shepherd.
We read about a lost sheep. We know that we are lost sinners. We are lost because we are sinners. Lost sheep need a loving shepherd. Lost sinners need a loving Saviour. That’s what Jesus is. He’s our Saviour. His Name means “Saviour” – “You are to give Him the Name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).
Why did Jesus come to this world?
– “The Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:10).
– “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17).
Jesus came to find the lost. He came to save sinners.
God speaks to us in love. He says, ‘I Myself will be the Shepherd of My sheep… ’ (Ezekiel 34:15). We rejoice in His love. We say, ‘The Lord is my Shepherd’ (Psalm 23:1). Jesus is our Shepherd. He is ‘the good Shepherd’. He laid down His life for us that we might receive the forgiveness of our sins. ‘Christ died for our sins’. He – ‘the Righteous’ – died for us – ‘the unrighteous’ – ‘to bring us to God’ (John 10:11; 1 Corinthians 15:3; 1 Peter 3:18). He is ‘the great Shepherd’. He was ‘raised’ from the dead’. Through His resurrection, we receive eternal life. He says to us, ‘Because I live you will live also’ (Hebrews 13:20-21; 1 Corinthians 15:4; John 14:19). He is ‘the chief Shepherd’. He will come again with ‘the unfading crown of glory’ for His ‘good and faithful servants’ (1 Peter 5:4; Matthew 25:21).
“He leads me in paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake” (Psalm 23:3b).
We enter the Kingdom of God through the new birth. Jesus Christ is “the Door” to God’s Kingdom (John 10:9). To those who have come, in faith, to Him, the Lord Jesus says, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27).
* Where does the Good Shepherd lead those who follow Him? – He leads us “in the paths of righteousness.”
* Why does the Good Shepherd lead His people in the paths of righteousness? – It is “for His Name’s sake.”
The real goal of Christ-like living is not our pleasure. It is God’s glory. we find our true pleasure as we give glory to the Lord.
Are you following the Lord Jesus? He will lead you in the paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake.
In ‘the Shepherd Psalm’ (Psalm 23), we read, in verse 5,: ‘You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows’. We are to feast on God’s Word. We are to be filled with God’s Spirit. The ‘table’ is the place of feasting. ‘Oil’ is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. As we feast on God’s Word, we will have good cause to say, again and again, ‘God is good’: ‘His goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life’ (6). The Lord never fails us. He always comes with His life-giving Word, the Word of life, through which our life on earth becomes the beginning of life eternal, the pathway to a life in which the fullness of God’s love will be revealed in a way that we can hardly begin to imagine: ‘I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever’(6). This is what Christ is preparing for us (John 14:2)!
We sing our song of praise and thanksgiving. Our enemies are never far away!
“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.” (Psalm 23:5).
The presence of our enemies – this is never removed. It’s always there. There is, however, another Presence – the Presence of the Lord.
“Be still for the presence of the Lord, the Holy One is here” – This is what we must remember when the presence of our enemies threatens to overwhelm us.
“By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion. There on the poplars we hung our harps, for there our captors asked us for songs, our tormentors demanded songs of joy; they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!” How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?” (Psalm 137:1-4).
Here on earth, we are always “in a foreign land”. We haven’t yet arrived safely at our heavenly home. In this “foreign” land, we are called to keep on singing the songs of the Lord. We live in an atmosphere of rebellion. Let us keep on praying that God will send revival.
Can depressing situations be turned out? – Our hope is not in ourselves. It is in the Lord. He is “mighty to save” (Isaiah 63:2).
When I was living in Glasgow, at the end of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first century, I met a lady who lived in three different centuries! She was a born a few months before the end of the nineteenth century. She died a few months into the twenty-first century. When someone achieves their century of years, it is a time for giving thanks to God. We look back over our life and we say, ‘Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life’. It is not only a time for looking back. It is also a time for looking forward – ‘I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever’ (Psalm 23:6). We look back, giving thanks to God for many precious and treasured memories. We look forward to something even better – ‘we will be with the Lord for ever’ (1 Thessalonians 4:17).
Jesus Christ – the great King (Psalm 24:8–10 )
“Who is this great King?” (Psalm 24:8, 10) The Psalmist tells us – “He is the Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord, victorious in battle … The triumphant Lord – He is the great King!” (vs. 8, 10).
When we turn to the New Testament, we learn that Jesus is the great King. Jesus is the Lord. Jesus is strong and mighty. Jesus is victorious in battle. Jesus is the triumphant Lord. Jesus Christ is the Name which jumps out at us from the first chapter of Ephesians. Everything is centred upon Christ.
“Show me your ways, Lord; Teach me Your paths … Guide me in your truth … for you are God my Saviour … ” (Psalm 25:4-5).
When we pray, “Show me your ways, Lord”
, we must always remember that God’s ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:9
). God says to us, “Let the wicked forsake his way.” There is a better way – “Let him return to the Lord.” When we return to the Lord, we are led into His better way – “He will have mercy on him … our God … will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:7).
“The one who has clean hands and a pure heart … the King of glory” (Psalm 24:4,7-10).
We look at Jesus’ life on earth. What do we see? We see the Man “who has clean hands and a pure heart” – “There was no other good enough to pay the price of sin.”
We look at Jesus, in heaven. What do we see? We see “the King of glory.” We see Him, in heaven, and we rejoice in this: “He only could unlock the gate of heaven and let us in.”
“Guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God my Saviour, and my hope is in You all day long. Remember, Lord, Your great mercy and love, for they have existed from eternity” (Psalm 25:5-6).
What does God’s “truth” teach us? He is our “Saviour.” He is our “hope.” He is the God of “great mercy.” He is the God of “love.” He is the eternal God. “All day long”, He is our God, our Saviour and our hope.
“I see Your mercy in front of me. I walk in the light of Your truth” (Psalm 26:3).
In Your mercy, Lord, open up for us a new way of living – a way of living that is shaped by Your truth, a way of living that is filled with Your light.
“I have always been mindful of Your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on Your faithfulness” (Psalm 26:3).
Have we always been mindful of God’s unfailing love? Have we always trusted in His faithfulness? We know the answer as soon as we ask the question. Often, we have failed the Lord – but He has never failed us. Many times, we have let Him down – but He has never let us down. It’s His love for us that’s unfailing – not our love for Him.
“The Lord is my light and my salvation” (Psalm 27:1).
“They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light” (Revelation 22:5).
No fear of a power cut! This is brighter than the Eurovision Song Contest!
“The Lord is my light and my salvation — whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life — of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1).
The “light” that brightens up our life is the light of God’s “salvation.” It’s the Saviour who brings us out of darkness. He brings us into His light. This light gives us strength. God’s salvation is more than forgiveness for the past. It is strength for every day.
“One thing have I asked of the Lord…that I may dwell in the House of the Lord…”(Psalm 27:4).
Why do we come to the House of the Lord? – We come to offer to Him our heartfelt worship.
“To You, Lord, I call; You are my Rock” (Psalm 28:1).
“I’ve anchored in Jesus, the storms of life I’ll brave,
I’ve anchored in Jesus, I fear no wind or wave.
I’ve anchored in Jesus, for He hath power to save,
I’ve anchored to the Rock of Ages” (Lewis E. Jones).
“The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord is enthroned as King forever. The Lord gives strength to His people; the Lord blesses His people with peace” (Psalm 29:10-11).
The Lord is “enthroned” – This is the God of power.
The Lord “gives”, the Lord “blesses” – This is the God of love.
When we think of the God of power, we must always remember that He is also the God of love.
When we think of the God of love, we must never forget that He is also the God of power.
The Lord is the King of love.
“I will honour You highly, O Lord… O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever” (Psalm 30:1,12).
At the heart of true worship, which gives much glory to God, there is thanksgiving. We must never forget that we are sinners, who have been saved by His amazing grace. We receive His grace at the Cross of our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us give thanks to God for our Saviour.
“You have turned for me my mourning into dancing” (Psalm 30:11).
What the Lord does for us – This is truly amazing. He does for us what we could never do for ourselves. He does for us what no-one else could ever do for us. We look at what we are. We look at what the Lord has done for us. We say, This is ‘amazing grace.’ We say, ‘To God be the glory. Great things He has done.’ “This is the Lord‘s doing; it is marvellous in our eyes” (Psalm 118:23). “Not to us, Lord, not to us but to Your Name be the glory, because of Your love and faithfulness” (Psalm 115:1).
“My future is in Your hands” (Psalm 31:15).
We wonder what the future holds. God knows – and our future’s in His hands. This is all that we need to know.
“Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8).
Here, on earth, we’re still at the ‘starter.’ When we’re in heaven, we’ll move on to the ‘main course.’ We won’t be disappointed!
“O Lord… Say to my soul, I am your Saviour” (Psalm 35:1,3).
Assurance of our salvation comes to us from the Lord Himself. He speaks to us. His Word is a deep Word. It reaches the heart.
“His feet do not slip… They will be kept safe forever” (Psalm 37:31,28).
Our feet are slipping. Things are getting out of control. Out of whose control? – Out of our control. Not out of God’s control. He keeps us safe. He keeps our feet from slipping.
How do we keep on walking in the way of the Lord? It is the Lord who keeps us walking in His way. Before we can “keep His way”, we must “wait on Him.” If we are to keep on walking with the Lord, we must keep on waiting on Him. “Wait on the Lord” – This is faith. It is looking away from ourselves to the Lord. Left to our own devices, we will wander away from the way of the Lord. We are not left to our own devices. We can “wait on the Lord and renew our strength” (Isaiah 40:31
). As we keep our eyes on Him, looking beyond our present situation to His eternal salvation, He will keep us walking in His way -“kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:5
What an encouragement it is to know that we do not stand against our enemies on our own. The Lord is standing with us. We do not stand in our own weakness. We stand in the strength of the Lord. He is with us. Many times, we will fail Him. He will never fail us. Often, we will let Him down. He will never let us down. What does God say to us, in our weakness? – He assures us that He holds on to us with a love which is much stronger than our weak love for Him – “If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful” (2 Timothy 2:13
). When, in our battle against strong a nd determined enemies, we like giving up, let’s remember this: God is faithful – and He is much stronger than Satan. “Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4
“O my God, do not be so distant from me. Come quickly to help me, O Lord, my Saviour” (Psalm 38:22).
Is God a faraway God? If we think of God in this way, we’ve missed the point. We don’t just ask Him to come to us. We thank Him that He has come to us. Jesus is our Saviour (Matthew 1:21). HEmmanuel – God with us (Matthew 1:23).
“My hope is in You” (Psalm 39:7).
Hope – what does this mean? We speak about hoping for the best’ when we fear the words. We say, ‘I hope so’, when we’re not too sure about saying, ‘I think so.’ What kind of hope is this. It’s human optimism. It’s wishful thinking. There is another hope, a better hope. This hope begins when we see that our human situation is hopeless. It begins when we look away from ourselves to the Lord, when we look to Him, and say, “My hope is in You.”
“He pulled me out of a horrible pit” (Psalm 40:2).
There are two things that we need to hear about – our own situation and God’s salvation..
* Our own situation is hopeless. We need to be saved by the Lord.
* The Lord is able to lift us up. He is able to lift from the guttermost – and save to the uttermost” (Hebrews 7:25).
“Blessed is the one who has concern for helpless people … Thank the Lord God of Israel through all eternity” (Psalm 41:1,3).
Social concern and spiritual worship – Both are important. There’s an earthly situation which we cannot turn our back on. There’s an eternal dimension we dare not lose sight of
“My soul thirsts for God, for the living God … He is my Saviour and my God … my Rock” (Psalm 42:2,5,8).
The living God is our Saviour and our Rock. When we come to Him, our life can never the same again. We were lost. Now, we’ve been found. We were falling apart. Now, we’re standing on the solid Rock.
“Why are you discouraged, my soul? Why are you so restless? Put your hope in God, because I will still praise Him. He is my Saviour and my God” (Psalm 42:11; 43:5).
These two verses are the same as each other. Some things are worth repeating. We need to hear them over and over again. We get discouraged. Our heads go down. We get restless. We’re being pulled in different directions. The pull of the world seems so strong. Does this kind of thing happen now and again? No! It’s happening all the time. There’s never a time when we don’t need to hear the words, “Put your hope in God.” There’s never a time when we no longer need to hear the call to return to the Lord and start praising Him again. What do we find when we return to the Lord? This is what we find – “He is my Saviour and my God.”
“My heart is overflowing with Good News… Grace is poured on your lips… O warrior, strap your sword to your side… Ride on victoriously in your majesty for the cause of truth, humility, and righteousness” (Psalm 45:1-4).
As we read this Psalm, we catch a glimpse of our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ – “You are the most handsome of Adam’s descendants” (Psalm 45:2). The Good News comes to us from Jesus. Grace comes to us from Jesus. We hear the Gospel. we believe in Jesus. He forgives our sins. He leads us in the way of victory. He teaches us truth, humility and righteousness. His truth sets us free – to become less self-centred and more Christ-centred. He teaches us the truth about ourselves. This keeps us humble. We’re never any more than sinners who’ve been saved by His grace. He teaches us the truth about Himself. He is our Saviour. He is our Lord. As we learn of Jesus, our Saviour and Lord, He creates in us a desire to become more like Him – to be “led in paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake” (Psalm 23:3).
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).
Our strength comes from the Lord. In ourselves, we are weak. In Him, we are strong.
‘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.
“Within Your temple, O God, we meditate on Your unfailing love” (Psalm 48:9).
What do we do when human love fails? We look beyond human love. We look to divine love. God’s love never fails. It’s an “unfailing love.” We should think, often, of the love of God. We should think of Jesus – “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son” (John 3:16). We should think of the supreme demonstration of God’s love – “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Think of Jesus. Thank God for Jesus.
“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. Make them your words. Make a new beginning with God.
“God sends His love and faithfulness” (Psalm 57:3).
Whatever may be happening in our lives, let’s remember God’s faithful love. Let’s will look beyond everything that’s happening to us. Let’s catch a glimpse of God’s presence and purpose. : God is there, and He is fulfilling His purpose of “love and faithfulness.” In Jesus Christ, the love and faithfulness of God are seen more clearly than anywhere else. Rejoicing in God’s faithful love, let us say, from our hearts, “Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth” (Psalm 57:5).
“With God we shall gain the victory, and He will trample down our enemies” (Psalm 60:12).
When, Lord, we’re feeling defeated, Your Word gives us great encouragement. The battle isn’t ours. It’s Yours. The victory isn’t ours. It’s Yours. In the heat of the battle, You are our “strong tower against the enemy” (Psalm 61:3). When we’re feeling the ferocity of Satan’s hostility towards the truth of Your Word and the Gospel of Your grace, help us to remember that You, Lord, are “enthroned for ever” (Psalm 61:7).
You, Lord, are “our rock and our salvation” (Psalm 62:2,6).
We think of Your Son, Jesus Christ – the “Rock of our salvation” (1 Corinthians 10:1-4,16), and we say, “Your steadfast love is better than life … I will praise You as long as I live” (Psalm 63:3-4). We look at Jesus, our great Saviour, and we say, “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift” (2 Corinthians 9:15).
“O God, my whole being desires you” (Psalm 63:1).
May God help us to worship Him like that!
“Let the righteous rejoice in the Lord” (Psalm 64:10).
Lord, You give us joy – true joy, lasting joy. This is Your joy. It’s not just a passing emotion. It’s more than a feeling that doesn’t last very long. Your joy changes us. It gives us the strength to live as “a new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
“Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold. I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me. I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched. My eyes fail, looking for my God” (Psalm 69:1-3).
Sometimes, we get ourselves into deep water. We’re sinking. We’re looking to You, Lord. The world is pulling us down, pulling us away from You. We’re looking to You, Lord. It’s not easy. Life is difficult. There are many problems. We’re looking to You, Lord. Help us to keep on looking to You – when we feel like giving up and giving in. Help us to keep on believing that there is the light at the end of our tunnel. We’re looking to You, Lord – and we will keep on looking to You, whatever happens.
“Let heaven and earth praise Him… For God will save” (Psalm 69:34-35).
God does not save us because we praise Him. We praise God because He saves us.
“… O God of our salvation, For the glory of Your name… provide atonement for our sins, For Your name’s sake!” (Psalm 79:9).
Beyond our salvation, there is God’s glory. When we think about Christ’s atoning sacrifice for sin, we must not think only of the “for us” blessing – the forgiveness of our sins. We must also think of the “for God” character of the atonement which has been provided for us by God. We rejoice in the forgiveness of our sins. We also rejoice in this: God’s holiness is proclaimed in the death of Christ for sinners. We may think first of the blessing that has come to us through the the shedding of Christ’s precious blood. Scripture speaks first of the “for God” character of the atonement – God is “just” – before speaking of the “for us” blessing – God is “the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:26).
“You transplanted a vine from Egypt. You drove out the nations and planted it. You cleared the ground for it, and it took root and filled the land” (Psalm 80:8-9).
When we read here about a “vine”, we should remember that Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5
). We read here that the vine “filled the land.” Let us pray for our land – “Shine, Jesus, shine. Fill this land with the Father’s glory.”
Real Listening, A Real Turning To The Lord And A Real Sense Of His Blessing (Psalm 85:8)
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’(Psalm 85:8).
“You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to You” (Psalm 86:5).
Sometimes, we contrast ‘the God of the Old Testament’ and ‘the God of the New Testament.’ We speak about ‘the God of law’ and ‘the God of love.’ If we think that ‘love’ only began with the start of the New Testament, we need to read God’s Word more carefully. Here, we are in the Old Testament. What do we find? We find love – the love of God, the God of love.
The older generation will be familiar with the opening question and answer of the Shorter Catechism. It is a question about the purpose of our life. We are ‘to glorify God’. We are ‘to enjoy Him for ever’. We live our life in the light of eternity. Through faith in Jesus Christ, we look forward to the wonderful future God has in store for us: ‘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). How are we to prepare ourselves for this glorious future? We are to pray, ‘Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom’ (Psalm 90:12). We must not think only about how long we live. We must think also about how well we live. We are to be men and women of faith, men and women who have asked the question of salvation, ‘What must I do to be saved?’, men and women who have obeyed the Gospel command, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved’ (Acts 16:31). We must not think only of ourselves. There is more to life than achieving a comfortable standard of living. We are to be ‘rich toward God’ (Luke 12:21). There is more to life than ‘storing up for ourselves treasures on earth’. We must not forget the challenge put to us by our Lord Jesus Christ: ‘store up for yourselves treasures in heaven’ (Matthew 6:19-21). As we grow older, we must not forget another type of growth – spiritual growth: ‘grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ’ (2 Peter 3:18).
“Satisfy us in the morning with Your unfailing love…” (Psalm 90:14).
Out of the darkness of the night, into the light of the morning – “Very early on the first day of the week … He has risen!” (Mark 16:4,6). Our new morning comes from Christ’s resurrection morning.
“proclaiming Your love in the morning and Your faithfulness at night” (Psalm 92:2).
What blessing there is in these few words! Our God is with us in the morning. He is with us at night. He is with us always. He loves us in the morning. He is faithful at night. He says to us, “I will always love you.”
What a God – a God of perfect love, a God of absolute faithfulness!
“You, O Lord, are exalted for ever” (Psalm 92:8).
God is not exalted because we exalt Him. We exalt Him because He is exalted.
“When I said, “My foot is slipping”, Your love, O Lord, supported me” (Psalm 94:18).
The Lord is ‘able to keep us from falling’ (Jude 24-25). We are ‘kept by the power of God’ (1 Peter 1:3-5). 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 Jesus Christ’ (Philippians 1:6). 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’ (Philippians 3:14; 2:13). ‘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 shall snatch them out of My hand’ (Hebrews 12:2; John 10:27-30).
“Zion hears about this and rejoices” (Psalm 97:8).
God’s Word brings joy. True joy is not something that we can give to ourselves. It must be given to us by the Lord. This joy – the joy of the Lord – gets stronger and stronger as we listen to the Word of the Lord and receive its message with faith and obedience.
“Exalt the Lord our God, And worship at His holy hill; For the Lord our God is holy” (Psalm 99:9).
We read about the people who worship God, the place where we worship Him, and the God whom we worship.
“Exalt the Lord our God” – We are called to worship God. We are the worshippers. He is the Lord our God. There is nothing special about our worship. Even when we worship, we must never forget that we are never any more than sinners who have been saved by God’s grace. When we hear the call: “Exalt the Lord our God”, we must always remember this: God is not exalted because we exalt Him. We exalt Him because He is exalted.
“Worship at His holy hill” – Why do we think of the place where we worship as a holy place? Is it because we, the worshippers, are holy. No! Let’s never imagine that we are more holy than we really are. Any holiness we may have has been given to us by God through Christ (1 Corinthians 1:30). We are never perfectly holy. When are called to “pursue … holiness, without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14), we must begin by looking away from ourselves to our Saviour, Jesus Christ. He alone can “ascend the hill of the Lord.” He alone “has clean hands and a pure heart.” He alone can “ascend the hill of the Lord.” He alone can stand in God’s holy place. He alone will “receive blessing from the Lord” (Psalm 24:3-5). There is, however, something else which Scripture teaches us about Christ. It is something very wonderful: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). He comes to us in love. He forgives our sin. He renews our strength. He leads us in His paths of righteousness. The holiness of the place where we worship comes from the God whom we worship, the God who loves, the God who has saved us, the God who has forgiven our sins, the God who has sent His Holy Spirit to live in our hearts.
“For the Lord our God is holy” – Holiness: if this was all we had to say about God, we would have to say, “We dare not even attempt to set foot on “His holy hill.” Thank God – There is another “holy hill” where we see His love as well as His holiness: “On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross … where the dearest and best for a world of lost sinners was slain … ’twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died to pardon and sanctify me.” God is holy – and, in love, He calls us to come to Him, to receive His forgiveness, to walk with Him on “the Highway of Holiness” (Isaiah 35:8).
“But You, O Lord, remain forever” (Psalm 102:12).
Times change – but our God doesn’t change. He’s unchanged, unchanging and unchangeable – in His great love for us. His love doesn’t come and go – sometimes up, sometimes down. His love remains forever. This is Good News for sinners. We have wandered far from Him – but He hasn’t stopped loving us. He keeps on loving us. He’s calling us to return to Him. He’s calling us to make a new beginning with Him. This is love – and it gives us great hope for the future. Without His love, a New Year is just another year – more wandering around in the wilderness without really knowing where we’re going. With His love, everything changes. His love changes everything. We move forward into the future with confidence in this: the Lord remains forever – and His love remains forever. Thank You, Lord, for Your great love. We don’t deserve to be loved by You – but You keep on loving us. This fills our hearts with gladness – and with much hope for the future into which You are leading us.
May God help each of us to “sing to the Lord.” May we “sing praise to Him.” May we “glory in His holy Name.” May we “rejoice” in Him. May we come to Him in our weakness and find our new “strength” in Him (Psalm 105:2-4).
“Who can speak about all the mighty things the Lord has done? Who can announce all the things for which He is worthy of praise?” (Psalm 106:2).
There is always more to be said about the Lord than we can ever say. When we have said all that we can say, we have not said enough. The Lord is always greater than all our words about Him. How great is our God! How great is His mighty work of salvation! Praise be to His Name – the Name of our salvation.
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’(Psalm 107:6, 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’(Psalm 107:8, 15, 21, 31). Let us ‘consider the great love of the Lord.’ Let us ‘give thanks to the Lord’ (Psalm 107:43, 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!’ (Daniel Thambyrajah Niles).
“This is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes” (Psalm 118:23).
When we think of all that the Lord has done for us, let us think also of what He will do for us.
Let us look back with thanksgiving. Let us look forward with hope.
“Let Your blessings reach me, O Lord. Save me as You promised” (Psalm 119:41).
We count our blessings. we name them on by one – and it surprises us what the Lord has done for us. None of our many blessings can even begin to compare with the greatest blessing of all – salvation.
When we thank God for His many blessings, may we never forget to thank Him for His greatest blessing – our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.
God’s Word is “a lamp to our feet and a light to our path” (Psalm 119:105).
He has “wondrous things” to teach us as we pray “Open my eyes that I may see” (Psalm 119:18,11). “May God’s blessing surround you each day, as you trust Him and walk in His way. May His presence within guard and keep you from sin, go in peace, go in joy, go in love.” “Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but to Your Name give glory, because of Your mercy and Your truth” (Psalm 115:1).
Why? Why? Why? – Even when we don’t understand, we can still say, ‘My help comes from the Lord’ (Psalm 121:2).
“I rejoiced with those who said to me, ‘Let us go to the House of the Lord.’ Our feet are standing in your gates, Jerusalem” (Psalm 122:2).
* Standing – in the House of the Lord! In life’s many trying times, we are put to the test – Will we stand? Will we fall?
* Standing – in the house of the Lord! Let’s never imagine that we can stand in our own strength – “If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” (1 Corinthians 10:12).
* Standing – in the House of the Lord: We stand when we put our trust in the Lord. We stand when we build our life on Him.
“May Your priests be clothed with Your righteousness; may Your faithful people sing for joy” (Psalm 132:9).
We need “righteousness” and “joy” – not righteousness without joy, not joy without righteousness. What is “righteousness”, if there’s no “joy”? What is “joy” without “righteousness”? Is it really “the joy of the Lord”? No! “The joy of the Lord” gives us “strength” to live for the Lord (Nehemiah 8:10). “The joy of the Lord” is always more than a nice feeling. The joy of the Lord changes us.
“God’s love endures for ever” (Psalm 136:1).
God loves us. He’s always reaching out to us. He’s calling us to return to Him. He’s inviting us to come and be blessed by Him. When we resist His call and rebel against Him, we miss out on His blessings – the forgiveness of our sins and new life in Christ. We receive these blessings through faith in Christ. Our rebellion against God doesn’t mean that God stops loving us – He keeps on reaching out to us. He keeps on calling us to return to Him – but it does mean that we miss out on the enjoyment of the blessings He’s calling us to receive through faith in Christ.
“I will sing a new song to You, O God… the One who gives salvation… Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving. Sing praises… to our God” (Psalm 144:9-10; Psalm 147:7)._________________________
“Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised” (Psalm 145:1-3).
The God whom we worship is so much greater than the worship we bring to Him.
The world sings its songs. They do not sing the song of the Lord. There is a song which can only be sung by those who have been saved by the Lord. It is “a new song.” It is the song of “salvation.” Saved by the Lord, we sing to Him our song of “thanksgiving.” We think of what the Lord has done for us and we say, “Praise the Lord!” (Psalm 149:1).