Paulines Daily Reflections
81 - 84
The opening verses of this psalm are v1-5 “Sing for joy to God, our strength, shout aloud to the God of Jacob! Begin the music, strike the tambourine, play the melodious harp and lyre. Sound the ram’s horn at the New Moon, and when the moon is full, on the day of our Feast; this is a decree for Israel, an ordinance of the God of Jacob. He established it as a statute for Joseph when he went out against Egypt, when we heard a language we did not understand.”
Throughout the psalms there are many references to making music, singing and dancing. Also look at Ephesians 5:19 “Be filled with the Holy Spirit singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts”. I know it’s been hard during the pandemic but via our zoom worship we are meeting regularly with one another like it says in Hebrews 10:25”Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another....”
v2. How long will you defend the unjust and show partiality to the wicked?”
I’ve been reflecting on these psalms for a while and one verse that keeps cropping up time after time is “how long” How long will those who do evil get away with it, how long must the sick and the poor suffer. How long must we wait for violence and terror to stop. Let’s think about it - Why did God become Jesus and dwell among us? Don’t you think this is how far He would go to relate to the poor and oppressed. I don’t know of anyone else who innocently became the victim of injustice and died on a cross. Look at v8 “Rise up O God, judge the earth, for all the nations are your inheritance.” I can’t remember the number of times I’ve said it but God knows what He is doing and we have to trust in Him and be patient.
v1 “O God, do not be silent! Do not be quiet. O God Do not be still.”
v13 “Make them like tumble-weed O my God, like chaff before the wind.”
v17 “May they ever be ashamed and dismayed; may they perish in disgrace.”
I’m sure that we’ve all done it at sometime. Why God won’t you answer my prayer? God I’m yelling my head off and you aren’t taking any notice of me are you? So you pray again, nothing happens, you are met with silence. When will that prayer be answered? When I was a child I used to beg and plead or as my parents would say whinge and whine for things (usually toys) and the answer always came back “wait and see...it’s not long until your birthday or Christmas.” The point is on those dates I was usually lucky enough to get the longed for games etc. I think we need to remind ourselves that God isn’t like the genie in the lamp and will grant our every wish. Those prayers haven’t gone unanswered but like I’ve said before God’s ways are not our ways. His thoughts are higher than ours.
v1-4 “How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty! My soul yearns even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young – a place near your altar. O Lord Almighty, my King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you.”
The writer of this psalm wants nothing more than to go to the temple and worship God. He wants to feel the nearness of God. He’s not asking for anything in this psalm but is purely expressing his innermost thoughts of faith, trust, hope and joy. In my Bible I’ve highlighted v11“For the Lord God is a sun and shield; He gives us grace and glory. No good thing does he withhold.” When we obey Him He will not hold back anything that will help us to serve him.
78 - 80
Wow! 72 verses to make sure that history doesn’t repeat itself!
v1-4 “O my people, listen to my instructions. Open your ears to what I am saying, for I will speak to you in a parable. I will teach you hidden lessons from our past-stories we have heard and known, stories that have been handed down to us. We will not hide these truths from our children, we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord, about his power and his mighty wonders.”
From v13-55 he relates the highlights about what happened in Egypt, The Exodus, the journey through the wilderness and the conquest of Canaan. If you just want a short synopsis of these events read the psalm! He warns his people not to make the mistakes of the past generations. v7-8 “So each generation should set its hope anew on God, not forgetting his glorious miracles and obeying his commands. Then they will not be like their ancestors - stubborn, rebellious and unfaithful, refusing to give their hearts to God.” v5 “For he issued his laws to Jacob; he gave his instructions to Israel. He commanded our ancestors to teach them to their children so the next generation might know them- even the children not yet born- and they in turn will teach their own children.” This psalm ends on a high note. God built his temple and chose a leader. v70-72 “He chose his servant David, calling him from the sheep pens. He took David from tending the ewes and lambs and made him the shepherd of Jacob’s descendants - God’s own people Israel. He cared for them with a true heart and led them with skilful hands.”
v8 “Do not hold us guilty for the sins of our ancestors! Let your compassion quickly meet our needs for we are on the brink of despair.” v9-13 “Help us for the glory of your name, save us and forgive our sins, why should pagan nations be allowed to scoff, asking ‘where is their God?’ Show us your vengeance against the nations, for they have spilled the blood of your servants. Demonstrate your great power by saving those condemned to die. Lord pay back our neighbours seven times then we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will thank you forever and ever, praising your greatness from generation to generation.”
It doesn’t matter how quick we claim credit for all the good things that happen it’s a totally different story when we take responsibility for our failures. It is easy to point the finger at someone else and by blaming them, it shows how immature we are. When we admit our own faults, we are taking the first step to beating them.
v3 -5 “Turn us again to yourself, O God, make your face shine down upon us only then will we be saved. O Lord, how long will you be angry with our prayers? You have fed us with sorrow and have made us drink tears by the bucketful.”
This is about forgiveness. The people of Israel have offended God and now they are asking for forgiveness.
v14-18 “Come back we beg you, look down from Heaven and see our plight. Take care of this grapevine that you have planted, strengthen the man you love, the son of your choice and we will never abandon you again. Revive us so we can call on your name once more.”
When we have done wrong we ask God to forgive us. This might not happen immediately because we have to be taught a lesson!
Sportspeople like to win. When they don’t win and their title is taken away they want a re-match. They want to make that comeback to prove that they are the titleholder. I have a great niece. She likes to win when I play games with her. We try to teach her how to play fairly and I suppose she’s heard on more than one occasion “well you can’t win them all. Life’s not like that nor is this game.” She also has that drive in her that says “we’ll see about that auntie Paule – let’s play again” I must admit that when I get tired I do let her win and I love to see the happy smile of her face.
Look at this psalm. Destruction is all around v9 “We are given no miraculous signs; no prophets are left and none of us knows when this will be.” But the psalmist knows that God will rise above all that has happened. v20 “Have regard for your covenant, because haunts of violence fill the dark places of the land.” And he is so sure that God will make a comeback, he says v22 “Rise up O God and defend your cause.”
At the time of reflecting on the Psalms we are living through a pandemic. We seem to have lost control of our way of living and sadly, too many people have died. My prayer is “Lord, please help us, may I never forget that you can do everything. Please guide us and help us. Let your will be done. Amen.” Okay you might not think my prayer is very good but the truth is that God is in control. He knows every heart and every situation. We can’t do anything to make him love us more than He already does and in this psalm, the writer reassures us that God won’t let the world fall apart and He is the One who will pass judgement. v7 “It is God who judges; he decides who will rise and who will fall.” (NLT)
This psalm praises God. He is powerful, mighty and strong.
v3 “There he broke the flashing arrows, the shields and swords and weapons of war.”
Why does God even bother with us. We call on Him when the going gets tough. He hears billions of prayers every day and yet His goodness and mercy never fail us. Isaiah 55:8 sums it up “my thoughts are nothing like your thoughts and my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.”
So I think that we need to do what psalm 76:11 says “Make vows to the Lord your God, and fulfil them.”
v16-20 “The waters saw you, O God, the waters saw you and writhed; the very depths were convulsed. The clouds poured down water; the skies resounded with thunder; your arrows flashed back and forth. Your thunder was heard in the whirlwind, your lightening lit up the world; The earth trembled and quaked. Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen. You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.”
The Psalmist is troubled but he remembers God’s goodness and he is full of praise for God’s mighty acts. The story of the parting of the Red Sea was passed from generation to generation to remind the Israelites of God’s love, power and protection.
v5-11 “For you have been my hope, O Sovereign Lord, my confidence since my youth. From my birth I have relied on you; you brought me forth from my mother’s womb. I will ever praise you. I have become like a portent to many, but you are my strong refuge. My mouth is filled with praise, declaring your splendour all day long. Do not cast me away when I am old; do not forsake me when my strength is gone. For my enemies speak against me. Those who wait to kill conspire together. They say, ‘God has forsaken him; pursue him and seize him, for no one will rescue him.” v14-16 “But as for me, I shall always have hope; I will praise you more and more. My mouth will tell of your righteousness, of your salvation all day long – though I know not its measure. I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, O Sovereign Lord; I will proclaim your righteousness, yours alone.”
By trusting God wholeheartedly, we have the assurance, like the psalm writer, that God will be with us throughout our lives even when we become old. In this psalm the writer is looking back on what has been and what is yet to come.
What are the characteristics of a good leader? According to this psalm they must have these four:
v1 - justice. “Give your love and justice to the king (leader)”
v4 – concern for the poor – “help him defend the poor, to rescue the children of the needy”
v7 - Love of peace - “may there be abundant prosperity until the moon is no more”
v14 - Overcomes oppression - “He will redeem them from oppression and violence for their lives are precious to him.”
I think this is true for all leaders. As we have seen in our modern day politics our leaders should not think that they can do as they please but must have the same moral standards that apply to everyone.
Do our world leaders show compassion? Are they peace-makers? Do they battle against oppression and violence? Sadly, the answer is not all of them!
Why do bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people? The writer of this psalm was envious of what was happening. v3-5 “For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. They are free from the burdens common to man; they are not plagued by human ills.” This was really annoying him. Why should they be lapping up a life of luxury? v12 “This is what the wicked are like – always carefree, they increase in wealth.” But then he comes to his senses; v21-22 “When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you.” What really matters to him is his closeness to God. He feels happy and contented. v23-26 “Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterwards you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever.” If you don’t remember anything from this psalm, please just remember that last line, “God is the strength of my heart; and my portion forever.”
Think what the world would be like if we didn’t have any rulers, law and order. Everybody would do exactly as they pleased and it would be chaotic! In this psalm, the writer shares his love for God and expects that everybody feels the same way that he does. v2 “…may your ways be known throughout the earth” and v4 “Let the whole world sing for joy because you govern the nations with justice and govern the people of the whole world.”
Being joyful and celebrating God is what all this is about. v24-25 “Your procession has come into view, the procession of my God and King as he goes into the sanctuary. Singers in front, musicians behind, between them are young women playing tambourines.” v3 “Let the godly rejoice. Let them be glad in God’s presence and let them be filled with joy.” They are filled with gratitude because of God’s care. v9-10 “You sent abundant rain to refresh the weary land. There your people finally settled and with bountiful harvest you provided for your needy people.” They recognised how God had set them free and crushed their enemies. v20-21 “Our God is a God who saves! The sovereign Lord rescues us from death. But God will smash the heads of his enemies, crushing the skulls of those who love their guilty ways.” v34-35 “Tell everyone about God’s power. His majesty shines down on Israel; his strength is mighty in the heavens. God is awesome in his sanctuary. The God of Israel gives power and strength to his people.” Christ was victorious over evil and as His followers we trust Him.
v5 “You know my folly, O God; my guilt is not hidden from you.” The psalm writer knows that he’s not perfect but he has shown remorse by weeping and fasting. v10 “When I weep and fast, I must endure scorn” and he prays for mercy, v13 “But I pray to you O Lord, in the time of your favour. In your great love, O God, answer me with your sure salvation.” He is lonely, heartbroken, he has no friends and in v28 he wishes his enemies were dead.
v28 “May they be blotted out from the Book of Life and not be listed with the righteous.” The Book of Life is a list of those who are in a right relationship with God and remain faithful. It refers to those who will receive eternal life. The psalmist wants God to hurry up but he must remain patient and hold on to his faith. v30 “I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving.”
I wonder why some car drivers (usually male) don’t ask for directions when they are lost. Women are far more likely to ask for help. What’s that all about? I don’t believe that men are too ashamed to ask for help. Maybe it depends on the situation and what we are asking for help with. In this psalm David says in v1 “Hasten O God, to save me; O Lord come quickly to help me.” He carries on in v4 “But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you;” he isn’t ashamed to admit that he need help. v5 “Yet I am poor and needy; come quickly O God. You are my help and my deliverer; O Lord do not delay.” I am sure that you’ve heard the saying “as long as there is life there is hope.” Try turning it around the other way “as long as there is hope there is life.” As God’s daughter I look to my Saviour and believe that my hope comes from Him and it might not be in a way I was expecting it to come.