Devotion :: Psalm 123

26 09 2006

In this brief snapshot into the life of the Psalmist we see him and his peers being surrounded by the songs of scoffers and doubters. In the midst of their chorus of contempt we are given a great model of faithfulness.

When we are in the midst of resistance and difficulty it is common and even natural to look at and measure our surroundings for help and relief. Further, we often find ourselves looking inward, at ourselves for the relief that is necessary.

In the model of faithfulness however, we see something different from the Psalmist:

Psalm 123:2 Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, As the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, So our eyes look to the LORD our God, Until He is gracious to us.

The Psalmist models exactly what the essence of faith is, simply looking away from ourselves and depending fully on God. Just as a servant has come to know of the faithful character of his master so too we who have been blessed by God have come to anticipate and relish our Master’s continual gracious condescension to us.

This exercise that we see from the Psalmist is so pivotal for us as believers. We get to participate in spiritual cardio as we massage our hearts to depend upon God for his manifold mercies. Just saying the words of this Psalm forces you to question whether you believe them or not!

Psalm 123:1 To You I lift up my eyes, O You who are enthroned in the heavens!

Do you look to him who is “enthroned in the heavens”?

How good is it believer that ultimately you are not looking to the hands of earthly masters for your care and consolation but you are looking to the One who is enthroned in the heavens!?!

Through the blood stained cross of Jesus Christ you have a sure and faithful advocate who is able and willing to console and encourage you in the midst of the scoffing crowds. And even more, scoffing is providentially used to draw us into greater dependence and appreciation of our wonderful Savior.

 

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Eternal Character, Eternal Comfort. (Psalm 119.50)

6 07 2006

Words have an interesting affect. Sometimes people’s words encourage us, other times they infuriate, still others may make us laugh. The effects of various words are directly related to the person delivering them and the content and context that is contained.

Consider the supreme affect of the words of God. The Psalmist confesses to God that the words of God are his “comfort in affliction” and the chief instrument for revival in his soul (Ps. 119.50).

Psalm 119:50 This is my comfort in my affliction, That Your word has revived me.

Why are these words comforting? The word of God comes and brings comfort to the saint because the words of God are eternally linked to the divine character.

Why can I take comfort in affliction? It is because the word of God communicates that God is eternally sovereign and all-powerful! Nothing or no one can thwart his plans, he has no rivals!

In addition, I can be comforted in affliction because God is equally good as he is sovereign. It would be one thing to be all powerful but be corrupt like an evil dictator. But no, our God is eternally good and powerful. O’ consider the comforts of this! He is able not only to control the various situations and trials of life, but also to work them together for the good of the saint and the greater glory of his own character!

How good it is in prayer to remember the commitment of God to his own glory and character, even in our trials, that he is the living God who acts and thinks consistent with what he has revealed in his word! Throughout my life I am to be running to the word for consolation! For it is in this word that I know God.

This is why the Psalmist speaks of revival. Encouraging words from a friend can lift your spirits, but it is only the word of the living God that can revive your soul! He comes to the geyser of divine glory to put his weary and tired face to its base and is refreshed and revived in his innermost man with the refreshing reality of who God is.

Thanks be to the gracious, merciful, and loving God who has stooped towards us his creation, even communicating his infinite character in terms that our finite brains can understand, that we could respond with whole souled exaltation to the great I am.

 

[As a church we are reading through the book of Psalms each Sunday morning. As a result Thursday postings will be geared toward a devotional look at the respective Psalm for each week in effort to kindle genuine affections in heart of the child of God through the word of God to the glory of God.]

 

 





Dying to Thirst! (Psalm 119.25-32)

8 06 2006

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The Psalmist here is an interesting position. To many his self-debasing dust dwelling is contemptible, for he is obviously having a bad day, needing, perhaps a vacation and some time of entertainment. To others who have had tasted this dust, we can identify with the faithful saint.

Our writer does not ask for a vacation, a movie, a nap, or any other temporal refreshment, instead he cries with earnest zeal for the irrigating springs of divine truth! “My soul clings to the dust, revive me according to your word” (119.25).

Entertainment is not bad and is not fundamentally opposed to godliness. However, our saint here is longing with the insatiable longings for the streams of life! He has a particular need (refreshment & revival) and there is a particular remedy (the word of God!)

I love this providential peek into the confessional of the Psalmist.

Notice his dialogue with God:

(v. 26) I have told…you have answered

(v. 27) make me understand the way…so I can meditate!

(v.28) my soul weeps…strengthen me according to your word

(v. 29) Remove every false way…give me your law…

(v.30) I have chosen…the faithful way…

(v.30) I have placed….your ordinances before me

(v.31) I cling to….your testimonies

(v.32) I shall run the way….of your commandments

Can you pray like this? This is hard. It deals with my soul! This guy saw his soul, and so therefore his neediness. It is in this light that he sees God’s goodness in providing the all sufficient word.

And isn’t this always the problem for us? We do not esteem the word of God because we too highly esteem ourselves?! We are too busy declaring self-sufficiency to “cling to” the divine testimonies. There is no question about it; we neglect the word when we attend to our flesh, even feeding its desires of self-sovereignty and self-sufficiency. But it is in this self-worship that we hijack sanctification, and usurp our mission as believers to exalt and magnify the glory of God, drawing attention to his power and grace in giving us the all sufficient word.

Dust is good. It is good to see the dust (v.25) so that we can see the thirst. Cling to the word of God (v.31), drink heartily from its fountains, and run the way of his commandments (v.32), even being lavished in heavenly delight through the meditation of the divine wonders (v.27).

[As a church we are reading through the book of Psalms each Sunday morning during. As a result Thursday postings will be geared toward a devotional look at the respective Psalm for each week in effort to kindle genuine affections in heart of the child of God through the word of God to the glory of God.]

 





Addicted to the Word (Psalm 119.17-24)

1 06 2006

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The Psalmist is clearly a great model of dependence for believers of all ages. He prays for grace that he might obey (v.17) and he prays for illumination that he might see and understand the truth (v.18). I wonder how often we as his spiritual grandchildren follow after such wisdom.

How often do we hit our face and pray with passion that God would grant that we live in order to obey?!

(v. 17) Deal bountifully with Your servant, That I may live and keep Your word.

OR before cracking open our Bibles or while studying or sitting under the preaching of the word, how often do we pray as he:

(v.18) Open my eyes, that I may behold Wonderful things from Your law.

I will readily admit that I cannot identify with what he is praying in v. 20. I cannot recall a time when I have been “crushed with longing after” the divine ordinances.

(v.20) My soul is crushed with longing After Your ordinances at all times.

Sure there have been times that I have been particularly excited to study, teach, or sit under biblical teaching, but this is something more! The Psalmist is modeling sanctified behavior that is similar to what we see coming from an addict. These comparisons are obviously polemical in terms of what they are desiring, however, the posture of being “crushed with longing” is similar. It is like you could not take the Bible away from this guy. If you did get it away, he wouldn’t stop talking about it with you, and if you would not talk he would just meditate, and if he couldn’t meditate, he would just sit there and delight in the Law of God, even worshipping him in his own heart, overflowing with praise and thankfulness.

The word used here for crushed carries with it the concept of being disciplined. The soul of this man of God is so enthralled with the word that the deprivation of its utmost joy and value is soul crushing!

Perhaps if we prayed like the Psalmist for our eyes to be opened we would behold such wonderful things from the book and then be so enraptured by the divine realities?!

I love this great hymn book of revival because it is so necessary for my soul. It is so necessary to see man’s dependence and God’s greatness, to see the supremacy of the word of God as opposed to everything. It is necessary to see that it does indeed please God to have the whole soul of man pursuing and even panting for his character and testimonies as revealed through the word. God is pleased to allow his redeemed to join in the ceaseless and marvelous exaltation of Godhead! What grace, what a privelge, what joy awaits us in this stewardship of the sacred text of divine amplification.

Psalm 119:24 24 Your testimonies also are my delight; They are my counselors.

[As a church we are reading through the book of Psalms each Sunday morning. As a result Thursday postings will be geared toward a devotional look at the respective Psalm for each week in effort to kindle genuine affections in heart of the child of God through the word of God to the glory of God.]





Keeping Your Way Pure (Psalm 119.9-16)

25 05 2006

[As a church we are reading through the book of Psalms each Sunday morning. As a result Thursday postings will be geared toward a devotional look at the respective Psalm for each week in effort to kindle genuine affections in heart of the child of God through the word of God to the glory of God.]

compass-at-sea.jpgThe 119th Psalm continues to prevail as the hymnbook for revival. If we cannot agree with the Psalmist in the words he pens then our heart needs to change…and this is good! It is encouraging for all who fear God and in so doing know themselves, to know that there is an able auxiliary in purifying and perfecting folks…in the 9th verse we see that it is by keeping the way according to the word of God. Faithful obedience to the word of God is the only compass towards gaining and maintaining purity!

I find myself in the Psalmist’s sandals in the prayer for a restrainer to keep the heart that is prone to wandering from its ungodly desires: “Do not let me wander from Your commandments” how often have we recognized our propensity to wander away from truth? How often do we pray for divine help to aid us in fidelity? This is a good prayer, knowing that it is God’s desire that we are faithful, so too us, having sought God with all our heart, find it our desire to not wander but remain.

The great key for the believer is found in verse 11: “Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You” Something will be treasured in our hearts, either us or God! If we are the treasure of our hearts then we will be caught up in the idolatrous pursuit of self-exaltation through self-supremacy trusting in our own self-sufficiency…this indeed is self-worship…unseating the heavenly King for our own perceived glory. But the Psalmist cries out to God to imbed in him the means by which to defend against this unholy insurgency in his heart…”I have put the great fortress of divine truth in my heart…it is good…it is powerful….it is precious…it therefore is my delight and so I will not delight in myself, but in God!”

Look what follows from this gracious treasuring of truth…a special divine tutoring of truth (v12) and then the Psalmist cannot contain himself…look at the fertility of the word of God in the child of God:

-Proclamation (v.13)

-Exaltation (v.14)

-Meditation (15-16)

When the believer sees the wretchedness of his own heart and the infinite value of the Word of God to meet the need of his own disfunctionality, he cannot but run to it!

The Psalmist esteems the word; he values it, because he needs it. The word is necessary in light of his goal—keeping his way pure! Therefore, there are not meal supplements in this divine diet, the believer must drink from the fountain of living waters having his mind and heart refreshed with the truth that he may come away dripping with eternal satisfaction and delight in the character and commandments of God.

How can we neglect personal time in the word?

How can we neglect corporate time in the word?

How can we neglect the necessary response to the word? (rejoicing and meditation)

These are all integral in our pursuit of lives that are pleasing to our gracious Father who has demonstrated himself as faithful by giving his own Son as the substitute for sinners. Let us constantly kindle afresh this passionate pursuit of divine glory in our hearts, becoming increasingly impressed with our eternally loving and holy Jehovah.





The One Who is Blessed (Psalm 119.1-8)

18 05 2006

fountain.jpg[As a church we are reading through the book of Psalms each Sunday morning. As a result Thursday postings will be geared toward a devotional look at the respective Psalm for each week in effort to kindle genuine affections in heart of the child of God through the word of God to the glory of God.]

As you read the 119th Psalm you quickly realize this guy was incredibly passionate and transparent with God. One might rightly say he actually knew God and was known by him. Therefore as followers of the same God, believers living today do well to emulate his pattern of seeking divine pleasure in all things through the intimate study, meditation and proclamation of the word of God and the God of the word. I have found personally that the 119th Psalm is a great personal revival tool; for if I cannot pray as the Psalmist there must be something clogging my spiritual windpipe, I must therefore search for this impediment and remove it that I may think God’s thoughts after him.

There is an exciting connection that is established right away in the first few verses of Psalm 119 between joy and obedience. In v.1 the saints are “blessed whose way is blameless who walk in the law of the LORD” this same theme continues in v.2. There is great joy in faithful obedience to the divine agenda. And conversely there is great sorrow in the rejection of and rebellion from God’s will. So many people are searching for the secret of abiding joy and happiness, the answer is quite simple, it is to know God and to obey him, for in this there is joy that endures.

Why is there such joy in genuine obedience to God? I think there are several facets to the answer, however, one real basic understanding fuels everything else. Believers have abiding joy because the source of the joy is not in themselves but rather in the infinitely glorious and joyous God. The joy is rooted in the eternal character of God. We as his followers are privileged then to sit at the great buffet of God as prepared through his word and enjoy the delicious feast of divine revelation as it explains with unparrelled precision the glory and beauty of God.

There is an interesting dynamic that the Psalmist hits on right out of the box here for us concerning the role of the word in our obedience and joy. There are several words used in verses 1-8 to denote our actions:

  • v.1: walk in the law
  • v.2: observe his testimonies
  • v.2: seek him
  • v.3: do no unrighteousness
  • v.3: walk in his ways
  • v.4: keep them (precepts) diligently
  • v.5: keep your statutes
  • v.7: give thanks
  • v.8: keep your statutes

path1.jpgAs the Psalmist grows in his knowledge and understanding of God he grows in his love for God, the Scriptures, and obedience! It becomes a wonderfully designed conduit of praise. Think about it: God reveals himself in the Scriptures, which are then read by us his creation, he then causes there hearts to respond to this truth, even converting them and then he gives them food daily that nourishes and inflames appetites for divine glory….and the more you eat the more you want!! The more you stoop and taste at the fountain of God’s delights the more you realize that the taste is unparalleled and the well is inexhaustible (Jn. 4). Therefore, we as believers are to linger long at the spring of God and enjoy fresh water from his word as often as possible, knowing that it nourishes, satisfies, and is inexhaustible.

What a privilege it truly is to have God reveal himself in the Scriptures. We may know him and his tender lovingkindness, his wisdom, and his holiness. We may tremble at this sovereignty and inflexible justice, but take great comfort in his goodness.

While we endeavor to keep the statutes diligently (v.4) we remember the Lord Jesus who, in the place of sinners, kept the commandments of God perfectly and gloriously! As we long to obey and enjoy God through his word we remember that it is earned by one who was quite like us but quite unlike us also. Our Lord Jesus, the God-man, who has purchased salvation for his people; there is great joy in the Christian because there is great joy in Christ.





Sovereign Grace (Psalm 118)

11 05 2006

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Psalm 118:22-23 22 The astone which the builders rejected Has become the chief corner stone. 23 This is 1the LORD’S doing; It is marvelous in our eyes.

This text drips with sovereign grace. Consider the scene that the Holy Spirit is painting here as the leaders of Israel, the very nation and community whom God has knighted to the be the megaphones for his excellencies (Ex. 19.5-6) and glory, this nation, led by religious men, rejected the corner stone.

The leaders were to be building the people of God into the image of God to the glory of God. But what happened? Jesus Christ, himself God, comes to them and he is rejected.

Even as John writes, he came to his own, but his own did not receive him (John 1.11). Jesus came to the people of God and he was rejected, refused, judged unworthy, and discarded like junk mail.

What in the world were they building? Surely it was not what God had in mind for the one who perfectly revealed God (John 1.18) was rejected, therefore God himself was rejected. Rather, they were constructing a monument of self-worship, resting on self-authority, to promote their own selfishness. It was nothing more than a contemporary Tower of Babel; they were building monuments promoting themselves.

Lest we think for a half a second that they were worse then us, remember that you and I would have done nothing different. Perhaps we would have been even less ‘religious’. We may have not been the ones who were spitting on the Savior but we would’ve mocked, jeered, and gladly driven the nails into his arms. We would have gladly attended the apparent silencing of the preacher of righteousness, having our consciences accommodated by the sickening display of ‘justice’.

But for grace yes indeed we too would’ve rejected him.

God has been gracious to his people; he has supplied and applied his lovingkindness through the glorious redeeming death of Jesus. God has indeed acted, using even the hard contrary hearts of national Israel through the strength of Rome to providentially amplify his glory through the harmonious demonstration of his love, holiness, righteousness, mercy and grace on the blood stained wood of Calvary where the cornerstone died.

Indeed to those whom grace has been applied we echo the Psalmist: it is marvelous in our eyes! Indeed it is! It is surpassing explanation or understanding. It is worthwhile and glorious to gaze without interruption at the cross. The humiliation and subsequent exaltation of the Lord Jesus is marvelous, extraordinary praise creating and beautiful in our eyes!!

Therefore, we find ourselves, by sovereign grace, in the tents of the righteous:

Psalm 118:14-15 14 The LORD is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation. 15 The sound of joyful shouting and salvation is in the tents of the righteous; The right hand of the LORD does valiantly.