Sampling Some Psalms

June 26, 2013 at 10:49 am | Posted in Selected Psalms | Leave a comment
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When I first became the teacher of an adult Sunday School class, we used the “quarter” system, whereby we studied through a different book of the Bible (or a grouping of shorter books) every three months. It requires a certain discipline to make it through some of the longer books in this amount of time, and, obviously, we couldn’t always go into as much detail as I would have liked, but I believe I always managed to make at least a few remarks about every chapter. Then we came to the book of Psalms. There are 150 Psalms, and I felt there was simply no way to teach through the whole thing in 45 minutes on 12 or 13 Sunday mornings. So we chose some “selected Psalms” and did the best we could. Perhaps one day I’ll get around to teaching through the ones that we left out. The Psalms are the Bible’s “worship” book, and they contain a universe of valuable truths, inspiration, and revelation about the character and attributes of our amazing and almighty God. Here are links to the lessons in the category called Selected Psalms:

1. Parallelism in Psalms (*)
2. Wise Watering (Psalm 1:1-4)
3. God’s Plan for Hurricane Preparedness
4. Give Good Advice: Avoid Sin
5. Give Good Advice: Delay Taking Rash Action
6. Give Good Advice: Vow to be Sincere with God
7. Give Good Advice: Inquire of Your Own Heart
8. Give Good Advice: Content Yourself with God and His Plans
9. Give Good Advice: Esteem the Lord as King
10. Light Is Attractive
11. Beware Foolish Functions
12. Danger + Weakness = Joyful Praise
13. Noisy Neighbors
14. Sweet Theology
15. God’s Revelation of Himself
16. Presumed Guilty
17. Preaching and Praying in Prosperity and Predicaments
18. Faster than a Speeding Shadow
19. Sheep Need a Shepherd
20. Are You Feeling Sheepish?
21. The Shepherd Knows Where We Are Going
22. How to Get High in Christian Ministry
23. There Are Some Absolutes
24. The Early Bird Gets to Wait
25. Light Gives Safety
26. A Child’s View of God’s Supremacy (Psalms 27:4, 73:25, 119:71)
27. Friends or Foes?
28. The Louisiana Flood of 2016 (Psalm 32:5-6)
29. Our Great Needs (Psalm 35:10)
30. Rest / Repentance
31. Water, Water, Everywhere…
32. Light Shows the Truth
33. Two Thrones (Psalm 47:8)
34. Clean and New
35. You the Man!
36. Catechism Question 6
37. The Lord’s Laundry
38. God Versus a Mud Puddle
39. Prayer, Protection, Praise, and Posture
40. From Garbage to Glory
41. Do the Righteous Really Suffer?
42. The Importance of Going to Church
43. Evil Angels 
44. Heman and the Master of the Universe (Psalm 88)
a. Open Prayer
b. Obstinate Prayer
c. Obnoxious Prayer
d. Obstetric Prayer
45. The Beauty of Holiness (Psalm 96:9)
46. Certain Uncertainties
47. The Certainty of Christ’s Deity 
48. The Crawl (Psalm 104:19-20)
49. The Other Ten Commandments
50. Leading instead of Watching
51. Creeping with the Enemy (Psalm 106)
52. Not Afraid of the Dark
53. Waiting and Training
54. The Great Rescuer
55. Two Sides to Every Blessing
56. Light Shows the Way
57. Graded by God: Turning Your “F”s into “A”s (Part Three)
58. A Word about the Word
59. The Word for Sinners
60. The Bible on Trial 
61. A One-Question Quiz for Boys (Psalm 119:9)
62. God Knows Something about Everything
63. Quick Quiz Quietens Questioning Qualms
64. When We Are Tempted to Slam on the Brakes at the Fuller Revelation of God’s Mercy
65. Mercy / Memory (Psalm 136:13)
66. A Closer Walk with Thee
67. Healing for Truly Broken Hearts
68. Even the Children (Psalm 148)

* most-read post in category

Beware Foolish Functions

June 7, 2013 at 12:11 pm | Posted in Selected Psalms, The Fives | 3 Comments
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We tend to think of foolishness as childishness or silliness: frivolous behavior that does not meet the standard of wisdom, but is ultimately harmless. I used to have a middle school teacher who would lightheartedly admonish the students whispering in the back of the classroom to “stop actin’ a fool!” God, however, takes a much more serious view of foolishness.

The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity.

Psalm 5:5

We must all seem extremely foolish to God when it comes to our intellectual capacities. After all, God is infinitely wise and omniscient, and there are times when we can barely remember where we put our keys! Here, though, as David the Psalmist prays to the Lord about his (and His) enemies, he is talking about a whole different level of folly.

You may note that the foolish men whom God will not allow to stand in His sight are sandwiched in the middle of verses that talk about God’s complete lack of pleasure in, and hatred for, the wicked, evil, and abhorrent.

You and I need to remember God’s passionate intolerance of sinful foolishness, and we need to especially remember it the next time we are tempted to gauge the seriousness of our sin by how silly, frivolous, or inconsequential it might seem to our biased minds. The Holy Spirit through David groups the “foolish” with those who “work” iniquity. Certainly God is judging us by our hearts, but our actions – those things in which we delight to participate – seem to be the best indicators of exactly what our hearts are embracing. Christians stand before God justified by the blood of Jesus, not by our works, but the application of that blood to our lives is supposed to result in holy living and sanctified functioning.

A Closer Walk with Thee

June 5, 2013 at 10:43 am | Posted in Amos, Biblical Walking, Selected Psalms | 12 Comments
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Thank You, Lord, for overcoming so many obstacles in our lives. Help us to hear Your voice clearly as we read and study Your Word. In the Name of the Lord Jesus. Amen.

In the Bible the image of “walking” is a picture of fellowship.

Can two walk together, except they be agreed?

Amos 3:3

That’s a rhetorical question – a question to which the asker does not really expect a formal answer. It is a question for which the answer immediately comes to mind, and we can just assume that everyone would answer it the same way. So, when the Bible asks, “Can two walk together except they be agreed?” the answer is obviously “no.” As we’re “walking” with God, God expects us to be in agreement with Him. We tend to focus on our fellowship with God from a perspective of how well we know Him. But it might be more helpful to acknowledge and remember how well He knows us. That’s one of the key themes in Psalm 139.

O lord, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.

Psalm 139:1-6

There’s no point in trying to hoodwink God. Is there anybody in your life with whom you can totally let down your guard? Anybody about whom you can say, “There is absolutely nothing they could find out about me that I wouldn’t want them to know.” Maybe your spouse, maybe even your parents or your child, but, even then, in human relationships intimate knowledge almost always carries a loss of respect, or at least reverence. Not with God, however. You’ll never find any “dirt” on Him. For Christians, our relationship with Him is clear: Loving Father and imperfect child; Creator and created.

There is no point in trying to keep secrets from God, and there is no use in trying to hide from Him.

Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.

Psalm 139:7-12

There is no corner dark enough, no dark alley, no barroom, movie theater, closet, or desk drawer that God does not see. Even under the covers in the middle of the night with your windows painted black, you are not invisible to God. Not only is He able to see you, but He is able to come guide you to safety or even deliver you.

In our fallen flesh, we are prone to cringe away from the truth that God sees us all the time – as if He were some malevolent totalitarian Big Brother hoping to catch you in a moment of unguarded freedom. The reality is that God’s omnipresence and omniscience are actually great blessings. Imagine if you could hide from God, what trouble you might get into.

If we’re going to walk with God, the best fellowship – the sweetest fellowship – and the most profitable fellowship – is going to be found walking where He wants to walk. Don’t make the mistake of contemplating the commission of something so shameful that it makes you think that God will depart from you while you do it, and make Himself blissfully ignorant when you’re done.

Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

I Corinthians 6:18-19

The Corinthian church was as carnal as most churches today. They had members openly engaging in fornication. The Holy Spirit wrote to them through the Apostle Paul and told them, “You’re sinning outside of your bodies, you’re sinning inside your bodies, you’re even sinning against your own bodies.” They were joining the temples of the Holy Ghost with harlots. If there was ever a time the Holy Ghost was going to leave them, it would have been then. Instead, He informed them that they were grieving Him by bringing Him into proximity with their fornication. There’s no hiding from God – even in a harlot’s bed.

1. You can’t hoodwink God.
2. You can’t hide from God.
3. You shouldn’t try to hinder God’s plans.

For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.

Psalm 139:13-18

Since God formed us – since He fashioned us – since He made our bodies work – since He even knows the number of our days – how can we think we know better than Him how we ought to live our lives? Or what we ought to do with our lives?

One of the great things about walking with God is just seeing what he planned for us today way back before He even created us. We live in a day when the world says “life” is just a random event. We can allow it to happen or hinder it from happening if we want. Children in their mothers’ wombs – from the instant of conception – are human beings bearing the image of God. Abortion is not a “legal choice” or a “right.” It is the brutal unjustified murder of a baby in an attempt to hinder God’s plan for life.

1. We can’t hoodwink God.
2. We can’t hide from God.
3. We shouldn’t hinder the plans of God.
4. We shouldn’t haggle with God.

Surely thou wilt slay the wicked, O God: depart from me therefore, ye bloody men. For they speak against thee wickedly, and thine enemies take thy name in vain. Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies. Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 139:19-24

We will be much better off when we learn to love what God loves and hate what God hates, and to stop trying to convince Him that we know better than Him. We need to go ahead and submit ourselves to a thorough examination each day, but we are poor self-examiners. If I “search” me, I’m not going to be objective. I’m going to be very subjective, and I’m going to be ready to quickly cover my obvious and grievous sin-caused lacerations with Band-Aids of rationalization. But the Holy Ghost gives a more thorough examination than any doctor. If I ask God to search me – and pray the prayer of Psalm 139:23-24 – He will do it. It won’t be fun, but it will lead to a closer walk with God. It will lead to a revival in my life every day.

Covering our sin is not prosperous for us. Confession and forsaking sin pleases God. Few parents get a kick out of chastening their children, but the hug afterward is well worth the pain. If you are a Christian, God loves you. He wants to walk with you “in the cool of the day” (Genesis 3:8), but He doesn’t want your sin walking along with you. Unconfessed sin means that we are not in agreement with God, and two can’t walk together unless they be agreed.

When We Are Tempted to Slam on the Brakes at the Fuller Revelation of God’s Mercy

May 17, 2013 at 11:40 am | Posted in Selected Psalms | 6 Comments
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All 26 verses in Psalm 136 end the same way: “his [God’s] mercy endureth for ever.” When we see the great and wonderful and awe-inspiring things that God has done for His people in creation, in blessings, in salvation, and in deliverance, we become enthusiastic worshipers, and joyfully repeat the mantra, “His mercy endureth for ever,” over and over again.

He is the God of gods and Lord of lords! (vv. 2-3)
Yes! His mercy endureth for ever!

He made the earth and the whole universe! (vv. 5-6)
Hallelujah! His mercy endureth for ever!

He made all the lights in the sky and the heavenly bodies! (vv. 7-9)
Amen! His mercy endureth for ever!

He killed all the firstborn sons of all the Egyptian moms and dads! (v. 10)
Praise His name! His mercy endur… Wait… Hold on a minute… Suddenly, we’re not so enthusiastic, are we?

To him that smote Egypt in their firstborn: for his mercy endureth for ever:

Psalm 136:10

And what about verse 15? “But overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red sea: for his mercy endureth for ever.” How many families lost their loved ones in the watery grave of the Red Sea when the Egyptian army followed the Israelites into the parted waters? How many 15 and 16 and 17 year old Egyptian little brothers lost their lives, adding to the grief of their mothers and grandparents who had already lost their sons and grandsons and husbands by the hand of the Lord? This doesn’t sound like forever-enduring mercy to us.

See, in Christian ministry, our primary goal is to teach and to learn God’s Word so that we can apply it to our lives. But doing this often means doing the difficult task of staring straight into God’s revealed truth without dressing it up or watering it down. When we get happy about the truth of God’s mercy, we need to remember that God’s mercy toward some can at the same time be His judgment and vengeance toward others. God does not offer a smorgasbord of His attributes for us to sample. We don’t get to pick and choose what we happen to like about Him, or what is easy to understand about Him, and leave the rest.

Here is a Bible truth about God’s mercy: No one deserves it. It wouldn’t be mercy if it was deserved.

Who remembered us in our low estate: for his mercy endureth for ever:

Psalm 136:23

And God’s mercy never needs to be reconciled with His righteousness, holiness, justice, or wrath, because, in God, His attributes are never at odds with each other. They simply flow from His divine nature in perfect sovereign harmony.

Shew us thy mercy, O LORD, and grant us thy salvation. I will hear what God the LORD will speak: for he will speak peace unto his people, and to his saints: but let them not turn again to folly. Surely his salvation is nigh them that fear him; that glory may dwell in our land. Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.

Psalm 85:7-10

We did not cause God’s mercy; we were not the source of God’s mercy; and we do not get to dictate the terms of God’s mercy. It endures forever, because God endures forever. He is immutable, and all His attributes are likewise. He is the Redeemer. We are the redeemed. This makes us sing and shout, not dispute and doubt.

Quick Quiz Quietens Questioning Qualms

May 1, 2013 at 11:46 am | Posted in Selected Psalms | 4 Comments
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Psalm 135 seems to be somewhat of a collection of other parts of Scripture. It was authored by the Holy Spirit Who inspired a temple singer or musician to collect and arrange the passages within it – probably for a special occasion. It contains four “praise the Lords” and four “bless the Lords.” It is a very balanced Psalm. It praises the Lord both for Who He is and for what He has done.

Q. Who is He?
A. He is OUR God.

Praise ye the LORD. Praise ye the name of the LORD; praise him, O ye servants of the LORD. Ye that stand in the house of the LORD, in the courts of the house of our God,

Psalm 135:1-2 (emphasis added)

If you belong to God, then He is “your” God, but not in the sense that you are His owner. He says to you, “I am your God,” in a “distinctive” way: You belong to Him rather than to other people’s false gods. This is a good test for what your testimony says about your relationship with God. Is He your God? When everyone else’s gods are entertainment, leisure, drugs, alcohol, money, possessions – if our God is in fact the God, then we should look, act, and speak very differently.

Q. What does He do?
A. Whatever He wants.

Whatsoever the LORD pleased, that did he in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places. He causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth; he maketh lightnings for the rain; he bringeth the wind out of his treasuries. Who smote the firstborn of Egypt, both of man and beast.

Psalm 135:6-8

Do you think the wind and the rain disobey God? What about the birds and the fish? We are creatures. If He rules over creation, we need to realize He rules over us.

Q. What’s to stop Him from hurting us?
A. He is compassionate toward those He has chosen.

Thy name, O LORD, endureth for ever; and thy memorial, O LORD, throughout all generations. For the LORD will judge his people, and he will repent himself concerning his servants.

Psalm 135:13-14

Q. What’s so different about Him?
A. He is real.

Everybody who has a false god pretends to think the above answers are true about their god, too.

The idols of the heathen are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. They have mouths, but they speak not; eyes have they, but they see not; They have ears, but they hear not; neither is there any breath in their mouths. They that make them are like unto them: so is every one that trusteth in them.

Psalm 135:15-18

You have probably heard the expression, “It takes one to know one.” It applies to idol-worshipers. It takes an intentionally blind and deaf person to make a blind deaf god and to act as though he really thinks it’s a god.

Our God is different. He speaks. He makes covenants, gives promises, gives guidance. He sees. His “eyes” are so sharp and so penetrating that we can not hide from Him in sin. He hears. He hears prayers. He hears cries of injustice. He hears the plans of His enemies. He has the power of smell. Worship to Him is like a sweet-smelling savor. We don’t burn incense in New Testament worship the way they did under the Old Testament system, because our sacrifices are obedience and praise and Godly living. Those things smell sweet to Him. He “touches.” Idols are made by men’s hands. Men are made by God’s hands. He walks. Idol-worshipers have to carry their idols. God carries His followers, and walks with us.

Q. Where is He?
A. Right here in the midst.

Blessed be the LORD out of Zion, which dwelleth at Jerusalem. Praise ye the LORD.

Psalm 135:21

He is in the middle of His people both positionally and figuratively. He’s with us on the mountain tops and in the green pastures. He is with us in the valleys (even the valley of the shadow of death). No true Christian will ever truly die alone.

The Bible on Trial

April 8, 2013 at 10:07 am | Posted in Selected Psalms | 7 Comments
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In the previous lesson on Psalm 119 I stated that the purpose of Bible study is to know God better. Martin Luther had a helpful teaching on the use of Scripture in this area. He started off with oratio: speaking to God (prayer).

Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness.

Psalm 119:36 (emphasis added)

Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.

Psalm 119:18 (emphasis added)

Make me to understand the way of thy precepts: so shall I talk of thy wondrous works.

Psalm 119:27 (emphasis added)

When preparing to read the Bible, ask God to incline your heart toward Him. Apart from His grace and power our hearts are not naturally inclined to the things of God. Our fallen and sinful flesh has a bent or perverted inclination. It is at worst bent toward rebellion and defiance, and at best toward idolatry of self and the feeding of our lusts.

Luther would then move from oratio to meditatio: meditation (deep-thinking) upon the Scripture.

And I will delight myself in thy commandments, which I have loved. My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments, which I have loved; and I will meditate in thy statutes.

Psalm 119:47-48 (emphasis added)

Meditation must not be based on drudgery. It is tied to delight. Approach Bible study with a sense of wonder and fascination, expecting the Holy Spirit to show you something thrilling, practical, useful, and transcendent.

Luther then moved from oratio (prayer) and meditatio (meditation), and, when I studied this, I was surprised at what came next. After praying over the Word and mediating upon the Word, I expected Luther to advocate doing the Word. But that’s not what came next. What came next was tentatio: trials and/or temptation.

Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word. Thou art good, and doest good; teach me thy statutes.

Psalm 119:67-68 (emphasis added)

It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.

Psalm 119:71 (emphasis added)

God’s Word becomes sweet and valuable and magnificent when it is all you have to stand on. This is supernatural. In our finite human thinking we might imagine that it would be depressing to have nothing more than a book to guide us through our suffering and trials, but God has infused power into this Book. My old Sunday School teacher used to have this advice for anyone who told him they were having trouble understanding their Bible: “Keep reading.” That may have been the best piece of Bible-study advice I ever received.

Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

Psalm 119:11

This is the “right thing” (God’s Word) in the “right place” (my heart) for the “right reason” (that I might not sin against God).

These words were written by a Christian who was going through severe tentatio for his faithfulness to the Lord:

I never had in all my life so great an inlet into the Word of God as now in prison. Those scriptures that I saw nothing in before were made in this place and state to shine upon me. Jesus Christ also was never more real and apparent than now. Here I have seen Him and felt Him indeed. . . I have had sweet sights of the forgiveness of my sins in this place, and of my being with Jesus in another world. . . I have seen that here that I am persuaded I shall never, while in this world, be able to express.

John Bunyan

The Word for Sinners

March 13, 2013 at 8:41 am | Posted in Selected Psalms | 7 Comments
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A good practical method for studying the Bible is to put yourself in the place of the “sinner” in every Bible story. Of course, every person in the Bible was a sinner except for Jesus, but what I mean is, avoid the temptation to compare yourself to Abel, for example. Rather, think about Cain as you study Genesis Chapter 4 and ask yourself, Do I struggle at times with unrighteous anger? Do I have a tendency to worship God the way I like to worship, rather than the way He likes to be worshiped? If two characters in a Bible story are contrasted for obedience and rebellion, see yourself as the rebel and ask God for forgiveness and deliverance. If there are two sinners in a Bible story, picture yourself as both of them (Adam and Eve). If there are a bunch of sinners in a Bible story, picture yourself as all of them (the children of Israel wandering in the wilderness). The Bible helps us to have a teachable spirit.

Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes.

Psalm 119:12

I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways. I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.

Psalm 119:15-16 (emphasis added)

Delight leads to love, which leads to meditation, which leads to delight, which leads back to love, which leads to back to meditation. Study a verse with this attitude, and pretty soon you’ll have it memorized!

Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.

Psalm 119:18

All Christians must be students of the Word.

Thou hast rebuked the proud that are cursed, which do err from thy commandments.

Psalm 119:21

Wandering from the Word takes you into the enemy’s camp.

Remove from me the way of lying: and grant me thy law graciously. I have chosen the way of truth: thy judgments have I laid before me.

Psalm 119:29-30 (emphasis added)

If we don’t walk in God’s Truth, we are walking in the enemy’s deception.

HE. Teach me, O LORD, the way of thy statutes; and I shall keep it unto the end. Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart.

Psalm 119:33-34

The purpose of Bible study is to know God better. The Word of God shows us the God of the Word. God speaks to us through His Word. Do you love God? He’s written 66 love letters combined into one big book. If you love Him, you will read it. If you are not listening to God’s Word, you are by default listening to the devil.

A Word about the Word

February 13, 2013 at 11:24 am | Posted in Selected Psalms | 10 Comments
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We are not sure which human instrument the Holy Spirit used to write Psalm 119. The consensus seems to be that it was David, but I have also seen it argued that it was Jeremiah. The psalm itself is about God’s Word. Like Psalm 112, it is in the form of an acrostic, but with eight lines for each letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Almost every line is a meditation on Scripture.

Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

Psalm 119:11

It is not enough to have God’s Word in our hands, in our homes, and in our heads. We must have it in our hearts!

BETH. Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.

Psalm 119:9

The Bible helps us stay clean. We pour it through our minds they way we pour water through a dirty vessel to purify it.

I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches.

Psalm 119:14 (emphasis added)

Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage for ever: for they are the rejoicing of my heart.

Psalm 119:111 (emphasis added)

I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great spoil.

Psalm 119:162 (emphasis added)

The Bible gives us joy.

Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counsellors.

Psalm 119:24 (emphasis added)

HE. Teach me, O LORD, the way of thy statutes; and I shall keep it unto the end. Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart. Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight.

Psalm 119:33-35 (emphasis added)

NUN. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

Psalm 119:105 (emphasis added)

The Bible gives us guidance.

Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way.

Psalm 119:37 (emphasis added)

The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver.

Psalm 119:72 (emphasis added)

How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

Psalm 119:103 (emphasis added)

Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word.

Psalm 119:148 (emphasis added)

The Bible tells us what is valuable.

I intreated thy favour with my whole heart: be merciful unto me according to thy word.

Psalm 119:58 (emphasis added)

The Bible tells us how to pray.

ZAIN. Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope.

Psalm 119:49 (emphasis added)

The Bible gives us hope.

Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.

Psalm 119:165

The Bible gives us peace.

And I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts.

Psalm 119:45 (emphasis added)

Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me.

Psalm 119:133 (emphasis added)

The Bible sets us free.

JOD. Thy hands have made me and fashioned me: give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments.

Psalm 119:73 (emphasis added)

The Bible tells us what God wants us to do, and how to do it.

They that fear thee will be glad when they see me; because I have hoped in thy word.

Psalm 119:74 (emphasis added)

Let those that fear thee turn unto me, and those that have known thy testimonies.

Psalm 119:79 (emphasis added)

The Bible tells us how to pick our friends.

VAU. Let thy mercies come also unto me, O LORD, even thy salvation, according to thy word. So shall I have wherewith to answer him that reproacheth me: for I trust in thy word. And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth; for I have hoped in thy judgments.

Psalm 119:41-43

We must pray the Word, answer with the Word, and speak the Word consistently. The Bible gives us strength.

DALETH. My soul cleaveth unto the dust: quicken thou me according to thy word.

Psalm 119:25 (emphasis added)

Behold, I have longed after thy precepts: quicken me in thy righteousness.

Psalm 119:40 (emphasis added)

Quicken me after thy lovingkindness; so shall I keep the testimony of thy mouth.

Psalm 119:88 (emphasis added)

Hear my voice according unto thy lovingkindness: O LORD, quicken me according to thy judgment.

Psalm 119:149 (emphasis added)

The Bible revives us.

I will praise thee with uprightness of heart, when I shall have learned thy righteous judgments.

Psalm 119:7

Praise is good preparation for Bible study.

They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways. Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently. O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes!

Psalm 119:3-5 (emphasis added)

The Bible shows us the difference between our ways and God’s ways.

Two Sides to Every Blessing

January 30, 2013 at 2:21 pm | Posted in Selected Psalms | 3 Comments
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In a previous lesson we learned two fundamental principles from Psalm 116:

1. God answers the prayers of His children.
2. God’s attributes tend toward rescue.

Here is another:

3. God’s affections are set on His children.

What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me? I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD.

Psalm 116:12-13

“What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me?” This question can be taken two ways. It can be seen as rhetorical. Obviously we can never pay the Lord back for all the benefits He has granted us. It can also be seen as practical. Although we can never pay the Lord back for what He has done for us, we certainly ought to be encouraged to serve Him out of gratitude.

Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.

Psalm 116:15

Again, this verse has a double application. First, God rewards those who die in the faith, and second, God is not indifferent when His saints are threatened with death.

To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner,

I Peter 2:4-7

God loves His Son, yet He gave His Son to die for us. Therefore, it stands to reason that He loves us deeply. He will not let us die until the appointed time.

4. God approves His own Covenant.

O LORD, truly I am thy servant; I am thy servant, and the son of thine handmaid: thou hast loosed my bonds.

Psalm 116:16

A “servant” is a “son of the Covenant.” God is faithful to keep His promises.

After God has rescued you, be sure to express gratitude. We cannot “buy” God’s blessings, but when we call for help in an emergency, it is only right that we thank Him, and keep whatever promises we made in the time of trouble.

What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me? I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD. I will pay my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people.

Psalm 116:12-14

God knows our hearts, and He may overlook rash words and promises, but here is a good recipe for post-rescue gratitude:

1. Give a thank offering.
2. Pour out some highly-valued part of your life like wine on the altar. People are often afraid to pour out the sin and vanity in their lives because they are afraid it will leave them empty, but it won’t! The Lord will fill you with something better.
3. Set aside part of your offering for sharing with others, and publicly thank the Lord in front of them.
4. Keep the promises you made.

The Great Rescuer

January 14, 2013 at 2:56 pm | Posted in Selected Psalms | 11 Comments
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Psalm 116 is about being thankful to the Lord after we have called on Him in a time of great danger and He has rescued us.

Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the LORD hath dealt bountifully with thee.

Psalm 116:7

The psalmist had been at rest, but then trouble came.

I said in my haste, All men are liars.

Psalm 116:11

Men he trusted had lied about him.

The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow. Then called I upon the name of the LORD; O LORD, I beseech thee, deliver my soul.

Psalm 116:3-4

They almost caused his death, but He called on the Lord, and the Lord rescued him.

I love the LORD, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications. Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live.

Psalm 116:1-2

This Psalm is probably from a testimony given in the Sanctuary. It contains parts of Psalm 56, other Psalms, and parts of Isaiah.

Let’s identify two of four main principles found in Psalm 116:

1. God answers the prayers of His children.

I love the LORD, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications.

Psalm 116:1

Whenever you find yourself in danger, call on the Lord. New, first-time parents will be keenly aware of this principle. Dad is at the far corner of his yard, perhaps on the top of a ladder, pruning a tree. Or mom is carrying a scalding hot pot of boiling water from the stove to the sink. Suddenly their new-born infant lets out a shriek of pain from his crib. Dad leaps from the ladder like a reckless school-boy! Mom instantly drops the pot of water! They race for the baby’s room without any regard for their own safety. Why? Because they love their child, and it sounds like the child is trouble. If wicked, sinful, intrinsically selfish, fallen mortals react this way when their child cries out in distress, how much more will our loving Heavenly Father (Who loves with a perfect love) come to the aid of His children when they – being in real danger – cry out for help?

Have you ever known of a situation where one child called on a parent for help, but the parent didn’t or couldn’t come help because he or she was already busy helping another child? This can’t happen with God. He is never “too busy” to hear or to come to the aid of one of His children. We should trust God in all types of troubles, and there are some troubles that are obviously hopeless unless we are rescued.

The Holy Spirit applied the plea of Psalm 116:3 to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ in Acts 2:24.

The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow.

Psalm 116:3

Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.

Acts 2:24

2. God’s attributes tend toward rescue.

Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful.

Psalm 116:5

Grace is when God gives us what we do not deserve. Mercy is when God withholds from us what we do deserve. Any time we are in danger, we are experiencing what we deserve. Rescue is what we do not deserve. However, God delights in grace and mercy.

The LORD preserveth the simple: I was brought low, and he helped me.

Psalm 116:6

We have a tendency to respond to God’s grace like spoiled children. First, we are amazed by grace. Then, we start to assume grace. Pretty soon, we are demanding grace. When is the last time you simply and uncritically just believed that God does what He says He will do because He is God?

Next time, we will take a look at two more principles from Psalm 116.

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