Posts Tagged With: Psalms
And the words of the Lord are flawless,
like silver purified in a crucible,
like gold refined seven times. Psalm 12:6
We often tend to think of our age as particularly evil but when we read Psalm 12 we realise that David struggled against great evil too. He often felt helpless against its onslaught.
In Psalm 12 he reveals a battle that is fought through the words of people in contrast to the words of God – the flattering, lying and boastful lips of people versus the pure, truthful words of God.
It is a relevant psalm for our time when advertising dominates our lives. The huge amounts spent on political campaigns to sway a small percentage of voters comes to mind. “Spin doctors” try to flatter and manipulate us. Then we have the culture of celebrity where their position and fame is used to make us believe …. whatever. I am reminded of a certain TV host of Africa American descent, amongst many, many others.
We have two choices: we either join the throng of deceivers and deceived or we run to God for His protection. His protection came in the form of one who said, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” and “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
David recognised his own helplessness because by nature he too was like the deceivers, but in God’s promises his life would have a completely alternative and truth led orientation through the promises of God. In God’s arms he could begin to see life differently.
A reflection on Psalm 91
I have …
… a God who covers his children
like a mother hen,
and whose feathers
become a fortress that is
a refuge from danger,
and all that destroys.
… a God who lifts me up
beyond the harm
and hatred swirling ’round me.
… a God who gathers me
in his arms
and gives me
than I deserve.
… a God
whose son is,
busy making a home for me,
“If you’ll hold on to me for dear life,” says God,
“ I’ll get you out of any trouble.
I’ll give you the best of care
if you’ll only get to know and trust me.
Call me and I’ll answer, be at your side in bad times;
I’ll rescue you, then throw you a party.
I’ll give you a long life,
give you a long drink of salvation!” Psalm 91:14-16 (The Message)
One of my daughters pointed me to ‘The Message’ translation of Psalm 91. As a family we are in need of a party right now and here we find God promising us one. In the NIV and KJV it speaks of “honouring” us. I like the “party” idea better. It has a sense of joy and celebration and also echoes forward to the story of the prodigal son and the party his dad throws for him.
When you read Psalm 91 it becomes obvious that there is nothing in our own strength that we can do about our broken human condition. All we can do do is “dwell”, “rest” and seek “refuge”. God however “covers”, guards”, “lifts up” and “protects”. God is active in His care for us and all we can do is flee into His arms. But that is what we must do – fall helplessly into His arms. It is not easy. We are by nature arrogant and stubborn. Like a little child we stand stubbornly stamping our feet, arms crossed defiantly thinking we know best.
Our heavenly dad says, “Come to me my little child. I will hold you and because you have obeyed my call to fall helplessly into my arms, we will have a party.”
I don’t know about you, but a party with God sounds brilliant!
my righteous God.
Give me relief from my distress;
have mercy on me and hear my prayer. Psalm 4:1 Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs. Psalm 100: 1&2
One of the amazing characteristics of the Psalms is the passion that leaps from the words and phrases. The Psalms are not cold, calculated and remote. They are heartfelt. Filled with joyous, desperate, angry, exhausted, amazed and yearning cries , pleas and exaltations.
To put it differently, the writers have a living and engaged relationship with God. There is nothing distant or clinical. We see similar expressions in slaves yearning for freedom “I wants to go where Moses trod,/O de dying Lamb !/For Moses gone to de promised land,/ O de dying Lamb !) These songs are personal and immediate. During WW2 no one under the boot of the oppressors sang or read Psalm 91 (“Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence.”) without the words coming from the very depths of their being. Years later in the safety of a new country, I know from my own family, those words in Psalm 91 still brought up the tremors of dark memories as well as the overwhelming realisation that God had been with the family through those dark times.
The Psalms are a clue to the relationship that God wants with us – a living, ongoing and thirsting connection between Him and the very core of our beings. We also see in the Psalms honesty and vulnerability. Pretence and self-aggrandisement are put aside. The Psalmist is completely open with God with all his feelings.
I fell in love with the Psalms during one of the tougher times of my life and in the process I came to realise how close God was all the time. His comfort, challenge and direction were never far away. The Psalms became, for me, a gateway to worship – a worship that is founded upon an utter and helpless dependence on a living God.
Immerse yourself in the Psalms and be amazed how near God is!
This is a re-blog of a post I wrote last year:
You have searched me, LORD,
and you know me. Psalm 139:1
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;
14 for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust. Psalm 103:13,14
The continuation can be found here:
A Re-Telling of Psalm 19: 1-6The night sky sings mighty hallelujahs that praise the Maker. In every moment of their existence the stars and planets shine evidence, no, proof of His great skill. Silently its witness speaks forever, boundless. Leaving us speechless. The Sun, Moon and Milky Way are a romance of beauty and class Led by the Sun which, circuit after circuit, patiently measures our days, warms and delights us.
After being amazed by the night sky two nights ago, my wife and I spent time looking at Psalm 8. Here are a few thoughts:
1. Psalm 8 echoes Genesis 1. We see God’s creation reflected in the Psalm: from stars to fish but it ends in the highpoint – the creation of man in his own image.
2. It is very easy to feel insignificant after staring at the stars for too long. But both Genesis 1 and Psalm 8 remind us that we have been created (and recreated in Christ) with a purpose – to glorify God.
3. The Psalm starts with “Lord,our Lord“, This opening acknowledges both the majesty of a creating God but also the intimacy of a God with whom we are called into relationship.
4. The thought that my wife, especially, delights in, is that God uses the small and weak, that is, “children and infants” to give Him praise, and by so doing His enemies are silenced. It is so easy for us to take on the world’s ideals and methods of strength and power. God’s are totally different. His son at the weakest moment, dying on a Roman cross, achieved victory over death, sin and Satan. The seemingly small and weak in the family of God share in, and can attest to, that victory and thereby silence the mocking world.
Your homework! Find a good, cloudless, night time place where pollution and light pollution is absent. Spread a blanket on the ground and just stare and wonder at the majesty of the stars. Then read Psalm 8 (use a torch) and allow God to remind you of where you fit into His eternal plans. As Jesus’ brothers and sisters we share in His eternal rule.
You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. Ps 32:7
On this Sunday morning my reflection is simple. Every time I am gardening I am reminded of the “Already” and not yet”. Beautiful flowers bursting forth, and vegetables sprouting and growing remind me the Christian is already seated in heavenly realms (Ephesians 2:6 – Already seat with Christ). This is an important reminder because in the garden you are also surrounded by weeds and bugs – the opportunists who take any and every opportunity to destroy that which is good. That is the “Not Yet”. There is still a struggle, in this life, against sin and its pervasive results. Objectively we may be seated with Christ, but subjectively we struggle with the present.
One of my favourite poems by the late Spike Milligan is called “Porridge” (see below). Whenever ‘porridge’ is mentioned, my wife or I will blurt out a line from the ditty, such as, “Why is there no monument to porridge in our land …?” or “Oatmeal OBE”, usually in a wobbly Scottish accent. Amongst our girls it’s film quotes. Lines from favourite films (in suitably dramatic accents) will be thrown in at appropriate places. How often have we heard, “I am a military man. I want a military meal.” (Toys). “Mustard! Don’t lets be silly.” (Alice in Wonderland). And there are hosts more; too many to mention.
It caused me to pause and think. How much is our speech seasoned with helpful aphorisms from God’s Word? Direct encouragements, challenges, comforts, wisdom and more can be declared directly from the Bible. In order to do that however, we need to know the Word and have it inwardly digested. Rather than our fill of mindless TV or internet trawling, we need to spend time taking in and appropriating God’s Word. No I am not ‘anti film’, in fact I love a good movie and I also enjoy the banter that our family has with film and other quotes. Where would I be without a good Mark Twain quote? Far more life enhancing though, is to know and share where life to the full comes from.
The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. Psalm 19
How much time are we spending, not just reading, but ingesting, memorising and clothing ourselves in the living Word of God. The theologian Karl Barth believed that the Word of God came alive (my words) when it was acted upon – other than just being dry words on a sheet of paper. The Hebrew word ‘dabar’ which means ‘word’ or ‘talk’ cannot divorce itself from the action it is declaring. In fact, Jesus is the Word come to life in human existence. Our challenge is to clothe ourselves in the “dabar’s” of God and speak and be the Word of God to each other and the world around us.
… and Spike’s suitably bizarre poem …
by Spike Milligan
Why is there no monument
To Porridge in our land?
It it’s good enough to eat,
It’s good enough to stand!
On a plinth in London
A statue we should see
Of Porridge made in Scotland
Signed, “Oatmeal, O.B.E.”
(By a young dog of three)