Tags: Biblical prayer, Biblical prayers, commentary on Psalms, Heman, importunity, Luke 11, prayer, Psalm 88, purpose of prayer, Sunday School lessons on Psalms
In part one we saw that Heman, the psalmist of Psalm 88, prayed openly. Now we see that he also prayed obstinately.
O lord God of my salvation, I have cried day and night before thee:
Mine eye mourneth by reason of affliction: LORD, I have called daily upon thee, I have stretched out my hands unto thee.
But unto thee have I cried, O LORD; and in the morning shall my prayer prevent thee.
Praying day and night, praying with tears and grasping hands, praying first thing in the morning, as though the Lord would hear our prayers before He even (figuratively, of course) begins HIS day – this is what is called praying with importunity. And, while it may be an annoyance to us when someone pesters us this way, it does not bother the Lord.
And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth. And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
This asking and this seeking and this knocking is an insistent, faithful, and strenuous calling out to the Lord in prayer, which may very well incline Him to respond. Regardless of whether He grants our plea or not, though, it pleases Him because it teaches us dedication and persistence, and because it brings us to intentionally spend time with Him in the awareness of His presence.
Next time we will see that Heman even prayed obnoxiously!
Tags: 1 Corinthians 3, Biblical gardening, commentary on 1 Corinthians, commentary on Psalms, farming, gardening, Jeremiah 17, Psalm 1, Sunday School lessons on 1 Corinthians, Sunday School lessons on Psalms
You may have heard the term “church planting.” We tend to describe the work that goes into the establishment of a local Christian church assembly in a new location with this agrarian terminology because this was how the Holy Spirit taught Paul and the first Apostles to think of it.
Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.
I Corinthians 3:5-6
It makes sense that, in doing the work of ministry – in winning new converts to Christ and in establishing local churches – that the planting comes first, and then the watering. Anyone who knows anything about farming or gardening would know that it makes little sense to water a seed, and then bury it in parched earth. That does not mean, however, that the watering is less important than the planting. Both are vital to the laying-down of foundational roots and new growth.
The word translated as “watered” in I Corinthians 3 is potizo, and it does not mean to simply pour water on something for the purpose of getting it wet. It has the idea of “watering” in the sense that a herdsman “waters” cattle. It is the pouring of water as an offering, invitation, or encouragement to DRINK.
When we are “watering” new converts, we don’t want to blast them with a fire hose in the hopes of getting them clean, and we don’t want to dunk them merely for the purpose of a spiritual bath. We should water them with the Word of God, with kindness, love, fellowship, camaraderie, and encouragement.
Our desire is to grow strong trees, drawing their hydration from the life-giving water of Christ Himself, not fleetingly-damp tumbleweeds, who sipped in enough moisture to barely count as vegetation, only to be blown away, out of sight and out of mind.
Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.
Thus saith the Lord; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord. For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited. Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.
Tags: Biblical prayers, commentary on Psalms, condescension, depression, depression in the Bible, lamentation, prayer, Psalm 88, Sunday School lessons on Psalms
[[A Song [or] Psalm for the sons of Korah, to the chief Musician upon Mahalath Leannoth, Maschil of Heman the Ezrahite.]] O lord God of my salvation, I have cried day and night before thee:
Heman was a musician and a Levite. He was an overseer of music (not lyrics) in the Temple. He was also a prophet, and was renowned for his wisdom.
For he [Solomon] was wiser than all men; than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, and Chalcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol: and his fame was in all nations round about.
I Kings 4:31
In Psalm 88 he was inspired to write a psalm for the sons of Korah, meaning it would be included on a regular basis as part of Temple worship. It is a song based explicitly on Heman’s life and personal experiences, but also inspired by the Holy Spirit. We get the true feelings of Heman, although the articulation of them is breathed through him by the Holy Spirit, and Heman’s feelings are grief, pain, terror, sorrow, frustration, and utter despair.
Psalm 88 is roundly considered by all its commentators to be the saddest Psalm, and perhaps the saddest chapter in the whole Bible. It is in some ways the least hopeful, the most discouraging, the least joyful. So why study it? So that we may prepare for our own coming distress or depression, or make some sense of – and glean some truths about – some period of suffering we may already be experiencing. Because, whatever your view of Heman’s reaction to his suffering, his complaining, his groaning, his self-pity, you will have to admit that he did the one thing the Lord would unquestionably have us to do if we ever find ourselves in this condition: He prayed.
I. Heman prayed openly.
O LORD God of my salvation…
This might be the one glimmer of brightness in the whole psalm – and it comes at the beginning. Heman knew God was his Savior. Therefore, he addresses the only One Who can help, and, as he views the entire universe to be against him, he addresses his pleas and petitions to the Master of the Universe. You and I, when we find ourselves in despair or danger, must openly seek help from the only One who can truly provide it.
Let my prayer come before thee: incline thine ear unto my cry;
Do not sit there sobbing, hoping that the Master will notice you. Address him specifically and boldly. Heman asks God to “incline” (in modern English we would probably say “recline”) His ear – to stoop down – to condescend. This may sound presumptuous, but it is an open statement of the obvious fact that, if the sovereign Lord of all creation is to deal with us, He must (and He has proven that He will) stoop down to our lowly and pitiable level.
Heman is honest about his mental condition:
For my soul is full of troubles…
He admits that he has become consumed with his fears and has trouble focusing in his prayers.
… while I suffer thy terrors I am distracted.
How easily are we distracted in prayer? Did you know you can actually ask the Lord to help you focus in prayer as part of your prayers?
Next time, we will see that Heman also prayed obstinately.
Tags: commentary on Psalms, Flood of 2016, flooding, Louisiana Flood, Pastor John Wilkerson, Psalm 32, Sunday School lessons on Psalms
I don’t know if, after a few months or a few years, the title of this post will be the official name of the flooding event that took place in South Central Louisiana on the weekend of August 13 or 14, 2016, or not. I don’t even know if it will have an official name. Many people (not including me) are already angry that the national news media – neither while it was happening, nor up til now – has given it the attention that these types of weather catastrophes usually garner (for reasons I may cover in a different post later).
Regardless, though, of whether the event ever enters or remains in the national consciousness, I doubt it will ever be forgotten by my neighbors. Apparently, the house in which the Lord allows my family to live sits on something of an imperceptibly elevated ledge, but our neighbors suffered massive flooding in their homes, and many had to be evacuated – some in boats, some in huge National Guard trucks with giant tires, and some in Blackhawk or Red Cross helicopters! The local news media is reporting that 90% of the homes in my parish (the equivalent of a “county” elsewhere) suffered flood damage. Not us, thankfully. While the water spilled across the highway in front of our house, and while it became a rapidly rising lake on the road behind us, and while it filled my next door neighbor’s home with a foot of water, my old Sunday School teacher, now a pastor, John Wilkerson, called to check on me. He lives in Indiana now, and, with AT&T cell service completely down, he somehow still had my landline number. As he prayed with me on the phone, asking the Lord to “honor His servant” (John 12:26), and to stop the encroaching waters, I became immensely humbled. I know that I belong to Christ, and that He shed His blood for me and saved me, but I also know for sure that I am not worthy of any honor! I am a faulty and neglectful servant at best, and much, if not most, of the time, the term “servant” itself could scarcely be applied to me due to my selfishness and impiety. However, after we finished the call, I walked outside to check. Thirty feet from my house the water appeared to have stopped, and maybe even receded a couple of inches. We were spared.
I want to thank and praise the Lord for protecting my wife and children, and the home that He allows me to manage. The next few weeks and months will be busy. We have already begun to tear out and clean out the damaged parts of the church building where our family meets, worships, and ministers, along with many of our church families’ and neighbors’ homes. There will be great opportunities to minister and to share the Gospel. The love of Christ, by His grace, will be made manifest, the Word will be proclaimed, and my prayer is that souls will be eternally saved.
I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah. For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found: surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him.
Tags: commentary on Psalms, humility, J. Stuart Holden, needs, poor and needy, Psalm 35, self-esteem, Sunday School lessons on Psalms, the poor, the Titanic
It goes against our human instincts to admit that we are needy. We don’t like to confess that there are things we cannot obtain on our own, or that we have gotten ourselves into trouble without the ability to get ourselves out. Asking for help is inherently humbling, and we want to see ourselves as self-sufficient, self-reliant, self-made, self-taught, and fortified with heavy doses of self-esteem. In actuality, though, “self-deluded” might be a more accurate description when we are thinking this way. J. Stuart Holden (who narrowly missed going down with the Titanic due to his wife’s voyage-cancelling illness) once preached, “Our needs are the greatest things we have – far greater than our possessions or accomplishments or desires.”
The “needy” in Scripture are often lumped together with the “poor,” and these two conditions are the source of great injury to human pride, because the Lord speaks of the poor and needy as objects of divine pity, while men see them as objects of derision or scorn. However, this may be a blessing in disguise. For, it is when we are completely helpless before our enemies or circumstances – when our needs by far outweigh our resources – that we get desperate enough to call upon our great Help and Deliverer.
All my bones shall say, LORD, who is like unto thee, which deliverest the poor from him that is too strong for him, yea, the poor and the needy from him that spoileth him?
Who is the one Being in all of existence Who has never had, and never will have, a single need? The Holy Lord of Hosts is the single indisputable answer to this question, and when we recognize this fact – combined with the fact that He loves us enough to hear our cries for help and pleas of weakness, and to come to our aid – then we are perhaps closer to a right understanding and knowledge of His glory, character, and attributes than at any other time.
Much harm has been done by the modern professing church in attempting to exalt the “felt needs” of sinners over the unvarnished proclamation of the truth about God, but we must never lose sight of the fact that, although we love and serve a great God, the only thing “great” about ourselves is our massive needs.
Tags: commentary on Hebrews, commentary on Psalms, God's Throne, Hebrews 1, Jesus Christ, King of Kings, Psalm 47, Sunday School lessons on Hebrews, Sunday School lessons on Psalms, throne of God
Years ago I read a quote that I really liked, and I jotted it down: “God has two thrones – one in the highest Heaven, and one in the humblest heart.” The problem is that I forgot to write down who said it, or where I read it. My best guess is that it is somewhere in a collection of volumes I have – compiled by Warren Wiersbe – of famous sermons by famous preachers on different topics. However, I haven’t been able to relocate it, so I can’t be certain of giving credit to who said it, although I have seen it attributed “on the internet” (a dubious source at best!) to D.L. Moody.
In any event, I think of that quote often. First, I think about the amazing and fearful idea that the almighty, sovereign Creator and Lord of the universe would deign to take up residence on the petty little throne of my insignificant and obscure heart. What a simultaneously humbling and encouraging thought! And what a stark and convicting reminder of how often and how treacherously I am guilty of trying to weasel my way back onto that throne after I have supposedly ceded it completely to its rightful Owner and King!
God reigneth over the heathen: God sitteth upon the throne of his holiness.
Second, I think of just how high the throne of the highest Heaven must be, and just how mighty must a King have to be Who would ascend to this throne. A well-known (and increasingly criticized and even ridiculed) evangelical plea says that we need to “ask Jesus into our hearts.” Regardless of the theological accuracy of the wording, the idea is astounding, for this Jesus on Whom we must call for our eternal salvation did Himself once ascend to the throne of the highest Heaven – as God, yes – but also truly as a man. Being an immutable being, if He has indeed “come into” my heart, and is indeed seated on the throne there, He must rule with the same authority invested in His Father’s throne on high. How dare I, mere creature, guilty of abominable and despicable treason, taint the holiness of His throne room or the air around the righteousness of His scepter with vanity or sin? What an exhortation to love, fear, obey, and live for Jesus!
But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.
Tags: commentary on Psalms, Dallas Cowboys, Egypt, Exodus, imputed righteousness, Jesus Christ, Justification, Psalm 68, sinus headaches, Sunday School lessons on Psalms
Though ye have lien among the pots, yet shall ye be as the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold.
There was a time when God’s people were in bondage in Egypt. Like pots that had been thrown away, they were the least of the least of the least. They had been that way for a long time before God called Moses to deliver the news of their deliverance. Why did God allow their bondage to go on so long?
One reason may have been because freedom is more greatly appreciated when the pain of bondage is known. I seldom walk around during the day thinking about how “good” my head feels. However, after enduring a long sinus headache, when the relief finally comes, I really appreciate the feeling that comes with having a non-aching head! I thank the Lord for it, I smile, I tell my wife and children how wonderful it feels just to feel “normal.” Freedom is something we are prone to take for granted until God allows us to experience the reality, or at least the threat, of losing it.
Another reason is that we tend to appreciate gifts more when they are novel – when they are things to which we are unaccustomed. I’m thankful to receive a tie for Father’s Day, but – because I have a rack full of them already – I would be hard pressed to describe myself as “delighted” over another one. However, when I received four free tickets and a parking pass to Cowboys Stadium, it was a whole different story! I was thrilled because this would be a whole new experience. The Lord has a way of surprising us with His graciousness so that we remember that every good and perfect gift comes from Him.
Note that Psalm 68:13 describes a covering of gold and silver over things that had been cast aside as broken and useless. These precious metals were not intrinsic to the doves’ wings themselves. They came from another source, and were applied with skill and care. This is an illustration of the “alien” righteousness that Christians receive from Christ at the moment of salvation. It benefits us, but it comes solely from Him. It is our only basis for claiming usefulness and worth.
We don’t like it when this world’s system treats us the way that Egypt treated the Israelites, but we will find ourselves more anxious to leave the bondage of it behind when we recognize its cruelty. We may be thankful to God, in a sense, even for God’s allowance of our sins – for they pursued us to the Savior.
Tags: Bible lessons on Psalms, commentary on Psalms, lessons on Psalms, Psalms, Sunday School lessons, Sunday School lessons on Psalms, Sunday School teachers
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. The Beauty of Holiness (Psalm 96:9)
45. Certain Uncertainties
46. The Certainty of Christ’s Deity
47. The Crawl (Psalm 104:19-20)
48. The Other Ten Commandments
49. Leading instead of Watching
50. Creeping with the Enemy (Psalm 106)
51. Not Afraid of the Dark
52. Waiting and Training
53. The Great Rescuer
54. Two Sides to Every Blessing
55. Light Shows the Way
56. Graded by God: Turning Your “F”s into “A”s (Part Three)
57. A Word about the Word
58. The Word for Sinners
59. The Bible on Trial
60. God Knows Something about Everything
61. Quick Quiz Quietens Questioning Qualms
62. When We Are Tempted to Slam on the Brakes at the Fuller Revelation of God’s Mercy
63. Mercy / Memory (Psalm 136:13)
64. A Closer Walk with Thee
65. Healing for Truly Broken Hearts
* most-read post in category
Tags: 1 Corinthians 6, Amos 3, commentary on Amos, commentary on Psalms, confessing sin, God's omnipresence, God's omniscience, Psalm 139, Sunday School lessons on Amos, Sunday School lessons on Psalms
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Tags: attributes of God, commentary on Psalms, Egypt, Exodus, God's mercy, immutability, mercy, Psalm 136, Psalm 85, Sunday School lessons on Psalms
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 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:
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.
Who remembered us in our low estate: for his mercy endureth for ever:
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.
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.