David wrote this psalm while he was hiding in caves, on the run from Saul. He is afraid and uncomfortable, yet he knows that God is in charge. The second verse is encouraging for all of us.
I will cry to God Most High, Who accomplishes all things on my behalf (for He completes my purpose in His plan). Psalm 57:2
God’s plan includes each of His children. Without His presence in our lives, our purpose can not be fulfilled. We can’t accomplish it alone. Whatever is happening in our life today, whether comfortable or uncomfortable, we can be confident tat God is at work completing His plan and our purpose, in His plan. This makes all things bearable, even when we don’t know how it will be woven together. God’s will is perfect and good.
This psalm was written during the time Saul was pursuing David. David spent many years keeping an eye out for Saul and hiding from Saul and Sauls allies. It had to feel never-ending at times. This psalm and David’s life-story, tells us that we will have trouble in this world. We will have sorrow. We will shed tears. We struggle, but, we will not be alone. God will be with us, watching over us, tenderly gathering all of our tears and noting them. In the new testament, Paul tells us that God will work all things together for our good. God can turn each healed sorrow into strength – for us and for His Kingdom. He is on our side. Always.
You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in a bottle. You have recorded each one in your book. Psalm 56:8
This psalm was written during the time that David’s son, Absalom betrayed him. To be betrayed and then pursued by a member of your family has to be a deep and complicated form of anguish. I’m sure it would be hard to talk about or to even know what to ask God for in this situation. Thankfully, God can hear all things we have to say, even when we don’t know how to say them. He knows our hearts and our thoughts and he knows the situation we face. His communication skills are way more advanced than our own. He knows what we need in the way we sometimes know what a child needs, when they can’t tell us. We are in the very best hands when we start the dialog with God, he will be faithful to discern exactly what we are going through.
Our Lord, we belong to you. We tell you what worries us and you won’t let us fall. Psalm 55:22
David wrote this psalm while being pursued by Saul. Saul had all the power, but David had God. He speaks confidently in this psalm about what God will do to help him. Sometimes God works in a powerful way by influencing the circumstances that surround you, bringing in allies, confusing your enemies and interrupting plans formed against you. Sometimes he whispers the truth to you when you are absorbed in lies. A whispered truth is as mighty as an earthquake when it sets you fee. He may remind you who you are with one of these scriptures:
• You are God’s child. (John 1:12)
• You have direct access to God through the Holy Spirit. (Eph 2:18)
• You are free from condemnation. (Romans 8:1,2)
• You can not be separated from the love of Christ. (Romans 8:35)
• You have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit. (John15:16)
David is reflective and mournful in this psalm, pondering why people reject God. He calls them foolish, heartless, worthless and cruel. We’ve all known people like that and try to stay out of their wake. What is truly astonishing is when you witness a person who was bent towards evil, change their course and accept Christ. Some change quickly, almost in front of your eyes. Their faces become less tense, their tempers fade, they start to give instead of take from others. They may become more emotional, tearing up during worship or during a sermon. Its my favorite kind of miracle. Someone once lost, is now found.
From heaven God looks down ro see if anyone is wise enough to search for him. Psalm 53:2
In this psalm,David is mocking his enemies who seek evil as a way of life. He points out how counter-productive their focus is because God’s lovingkindness will always win. Instead of seeking ill-gotten gains, like his enemy, David seeks after God’s heart. He describes himself as an olive tree that grows under the loving care of God.
“I am like an olive tree growing in the house of God. I trust in his constant love forever and ever.” Psalm 52:8
I actually have an olive tree growing in my house. It was a gift from a dear friend. It spent the summer outside and I am preparing to bring it back in so the Minnesota winter won’t destroy it. When I see it, I will now think of this verse and the way God nourishes and cares for me with his loving-kindness.
In this psalm, David is seeking forgiveness for his sins, after the prophet, Nathan, confronted him. Today, the Holy Spirit confronts us when we sin. When He convicts us, it is clear to us what we have done and that we need to seek forgiveness. He points out the sin, but he does not attack our identity.
The enemy, on the other hand, attacks our identity. He may want to convince us we are bad, unworthy, despicable or less than others, because of what we have done. We may not even be sure what we have done, the enemy may just point to the vast canvass of our past. If we are confused and feeling shameful, it is likely the enemy trying to paralyze us.
The hope, described in this psalm, is that we CAN BE forgiven – when we ask to be. God knows when we are truly sorry and He will be faithful to forgive us when we ask.
The way to please you, God, is to be truly sorry deep in our hearts. This is the kind of sacrifice you won’t refuse. Psalm 51:17
This psalm lays it on the line. God isn’t looking for fantastical sacrifices or showy displays of grandeur. God is interested in your heart. He is looking for those who are grateful towards Him and who live their lives in a way that honors Him. Like yesterday’s psalm, God’s value system is different than what we may witness in the world around us. He wants us to seek Him and back it up by obeying His commands.
The sacrifice that honors me, is a thankful heart. Obey me, and I, your God, will show my power to save. Psalm 50:23
Psalm 49 is another cautionary tale. The author of this psalm challenges us not to get distracted or enamored by wealth. He warns us, it isn’t wealth or worldly goods that have the power to save, only God can save us.
Money can’t buy what God is willing to give.
God’s heart is open to all who seek Him, regardless of social standing.
This psalm was written during the time God’s Temple was being rebuilt. God’s people had honored and dishonored the Temple throughout the years, depending on the appointed King and what each King valued. The temple had been ransacked many times and lay in ruins for several generations until someone rose up with the desire to honor God, whatever the cost.
God’s temple, today, resides within each believer. I often wonder what King David, or his son, Solomon would think of that? Our King, King Jesus, (Emmanuel, Christ within us) is ever-present and living within us, through his Holy Spirit. We have ready-access to His wisdom and guidance.
Our God will guide us, forever and ever.
It is my lifelong journey to improve my hearing, by reading His word, praying and pausing to listen to what He wants to say.
This psalm is a confident song of praise. Praising God as the ruler of all nations.
The promise that God rules all nations is both true now and also in the making for the future. It is true that God is the ruler over all – yet it’s hard to see that all nations honor God today. One day, we will see this come to life. When I see God answer a prayer that is impossible for me to do, like; someone is suddenly healed, a friend receives the baby they’ve waited so long for, a relationship is put back together, a job offer arrives at just the right time. I can see His rule in our lives, and my knees buckle. What will it look like when all nations honor Him? I look forward to that day! I hope my knees arent too shaky with awe, so I can stand and shout with joy!
Come everyone, clap your hands! Shout to God with joyful praise! For the Lord Most High is awesome. He is the great King of all the earth. Ps 47:1-2
This psalm was written after a great victory in the years of Jehoshaphat. It’s a song boasting of God’s mighty power and faithfulness. When my oldest son was young, he used to say, “It’s not bragging if it’s true”. I thought of his words after I read this psalm. How fortunate are we that God’s mighty works have been recorded for us to read? It helps us imagine what is possible today with God’s mighty intervention.
I especially like verse 10, in the Contemporary English Version.
Our God says, “Calm down, and learn that I am God! All nations on earth will honor me.”
When we are confident that God’s will – will prevail, we can look to the future with a victory mindset. We know He will win, even though we cannot see the finish line from here. We push forward in faith. These words in verse 10 can comfort us when we feel unsure and panicked. We need to seek the Lord and learn that He is God.
As a leader, we are sometimes tasked with developing short-term and long-term plans. Typically, the completion of the short-term plan looks pretty close to the one we imagined when we drafted it. Long-term plans inevitably look different when completed than the plans we initially drafted. Many variables change as time moves forward, staff members change, business conditions and customer’s expectations change, each change demands an alteration to the plan to make it work. You might complete your plan sooner or later that anticipated, or your plan may be scrapped and totally replaced.
This psalm is a foretelling of the Messiah. The day that Jesus will reign and be united with his bride. This psalmist describes the future the best way he can, as a wedding. We all know that conditions have changed, since this psalm was written, all the people have changed and we don’t know the timeline. We do know the One who made the plan and God’s plans don’t’ change. The Messiah came to us once and will return, one day soon. What will that look like? We will know that answer when we see it for ourselves. In the meantime, we believe in the One who made the plan to complete His work.
This psalm is a cautionary tale. When you live among leaders who are corrupt, you can suffer the consequences of their poor decisions. You may have to live under the black cloud they create even though you did nothing to cause it. In the natural world, it usually takes new leadership and time to set things back-to-good. In the spiritual, as this psalm tells us, it takes as long as it takes. In the meantime, the faithful must continue being faithful and doing what they know is right. Trusting that God will set things back-to-good.
I feel like we live in a time, such as this, today. There is so much turmoil in so many different areas, it’s hard to find our balance. As the faithful, we work to keep our faith and to plead to God to help us.
Rise up, Lord, and help us. Rescue us because of your unfailing love. Ps 44:26
This Psalm is similar in tone and written during the same time period as Psalm 42. David is being pursued by his son, Absalom. I’m pretty sure David didn’t expect to spend the end of his life in the same way he spent his earlier years when he was on the run from Saul. It had to be a “not this again” experience for him. In verse 3, he asks God to “send light and truth to guide me back to your home on the sacred mountain”. He longs to be close to the Lord like he had been in the best of times.
When I am out in the world with my family, at a crowded place, I can easily lose sight of them. With my type of vision loss, I cannot see the definitions of a face well enough to recognize even the most familiar face. In these situations, my family has a call they use to help me locate them. It sounds like “Key – a – he”. When I hear it, I can find their general direction and follow their waving arms to zero in on their location. It always feels so good to find them again. I feel safe just hearing their voices and walking alongside them.
Next time I feel distant from the Lord, I will ask him to send me a sound to lead me back home to Him.
What do you do when you feel distant from God? When your experience with God doesn’t seem as “electric” as it was in the past? Journalling is one way I can begin sorting out my feelings and acknowledge them. The questions in verse 11 are great sentence starters for a journal, or a prayer.
Why am I feeling so discouraged?
Why am I restless?
As I explore these questions, I may find the answers and I may not. Maybe the answers will come after some time passes. In the meantime, this psalmist gives us powerful words to conclude our journal entry or prayer.
I trust you, LORD!
I will praise you again because you help me, and you are my God.
We are in good hands, even when we are restless and discouraged. God will help us.
It gave David great comfort to know God was in control. Even on the days he was overwhelmed with troubles, he was able to reset himself to the truth; God is God, and He is in control. I, too, have been so thankful for this truth. When we have periods of time when we are under the leadership of someone who is inconsistent, unstable, or crazy-making – this truth reminds me that things will somehow work-out. From the beginning to the end, God is in control, regardless of what we may be enduring. It will soon pass and God’s will – His good and perfect will – will prevail.
When I don’t know how to endure my current situation, I can look up and say, “Blessed be the LORD God of Israel from everlasting, and to everlasting.” ps 41:13.
This psalm reminds us that even when we are going through a difficult season, God is at work in our lives. It was true for David, it is true for us, too.
When my husband and I walked through the season of my vision loss, then career loss – all we could focus on was the problems ahead of us. We were scrambling to understand my eye condition, find the best treatment, manage our financial changes, sort out all the emotional issues, and a long list of subsequent complications. We were both overwhelmed for a long time. Around the two year mark, when things started to calm down, my husband was the first to notice all the little and big things God had done for us along the way. Financial provisions, excellent medical care, emotional support, and an uncountable amount of small daily graces that lightened our load, even when we didn’t notice at the time. The list is long, we feel so grateful and cared for.
Similar to psalm 38, this psalm is a lament. David faces the question we all face from time to time. What is the purpose of my life? As we go through our ages and stages, our purpose transforms for the situations we face. When we start our first job, our purpose is different then the day we retire. How do I live my life to honor you, God, in this new season of my life? If we keep that question in front of us, it makes some of our life’s transitions easier, and it gives us a purpose to aim at.
I think this is why mentorship is so important. When we mentor someone younger, we can listen to their challenges and help them find purpose. When we are mentored, we have someone to help us navigate our challenges as well as give us a preview of what out next stage will be like. Ultimately, Jesus is our mentor, in whom we can trust.
What, then, can I hope for, Lord? I put my hope in you. Psalm 39:7
This psalm describes the inner pain and weight of sin. God forgives quickly, but David continues to suffer from the consequences of his actions. To be truly free is to accept the forgiveness Jesus offers us, and to then do the work to learn from our mistakes, repair broken relationships and to forgive ourself and others. When you bring all these complicated emotions to Jesus, he will be faithful to listen and to guide you through the painful side-effects of sin. His love will lead you to and through repentance.
I trust in you , O Lord, and you, O Lord my God, will answer me. Psalm 38:15
“What a Friend We Have in Jesus”. Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere? We should never be discouraged. Take it to the Lord in prayer.
and, the theme song for Mary Tyler Moore,
“Love is All Around”. Who can take a nothing day and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile?
Perhaps the song-writers were inspired by this psalmist’s words? Psalm 37 ensures us that when we follow God, do right in His eyes, we will make it through all things. God will watch over us, guide us, shelter us and help us. All I can think to say now is, “Thank-you, GOD!”
37:23-24. The Lord guides us in the way we should go and protects those who please him. If they fall, they will not stay down, because the Lord will help them up.
This psalm starts out talking about people who hear evil whispers and take them in, turning them into action. They do not revere God so they don’t reject evil or even discern it as evil. They are living without a God-filter or the tools He gives us to discern and turn from evil.
As Christians, we are equipped with God’s love and discernment. We can use God’s love as a compass, choosing our direction at every decision point we face. What would Jesus do? We can sort out our thoughts, tossing out the evil thoughts and focusing on the thoughts that are true and right. We may not make all the right choices, but the choices we do get right keep moving us in God’s direction. We have hope as we continue to seek His will for our lives.
God, you are the source of all life, and because of your light, we see the light. Ps 36:9
In this psalm David is asking God to suit up with him for battle. He invites God to pick up his shield and javelin and fight right by his side. Imagine the confidence you’d have in any situation if God was standing next to you ready to do battle. In the spiritual sense, He is.
As I thought about this psalm, I had a memory of my mom. In one of the neighborhoods we lived in, there was a group of boys that liked to chase me and my friends to scare us. My friend lived across the street from me. if the boys were outside when i wanted to come home, I’d call my mom and ask her to stand outside on the front step. When my mom was visible, the boys would leave me alone. It worked every time. She was my hero! Jesus does this for us in visible and invisible ways.
Every bone in my body will shout: “No one is like the LORD!” You protect the helpless from those in power; you save the poor and needy from those who hurt them. psalm 35:10
This psalm gives us direction on how to live a long, enjoyable and happy life. Keep from speaking evil, don’t tell lies, turn away from evil, do good and strive for peace with all your heart. Demonstrating this level of self-control honors God.
Ten years ago, I set a goal to run a 5k before my birthday. I had to stay focussed and make daily choices to move me towards the goal. Go for a run or sleep in? Prepare a salad or cheesy nachos? I ran the race i signed up for and I was so amazed that I was able to run the whole time and finish! After the race, I slowly changed back to my old habits.
Making choices that honor God is also a daily challenge. We build spiritual strength by practicing new responses when we are faced with difficult situations. We can consider what Jesus would do – or, if you’re like me – consider what Jesus would have done after we blow it. I am so grateful for forgiveness on the days I get it wrong.
The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right; his ears are open to their cries for help. Ps 34:15
Psalm 33 proclaims God as the creator over all the earth. As the Creator, His plans endure forever; his purposes last eternally. This gives me great comfort. Knowing that there is no person or force that can override His plans, helps me to trust Him even when there is chaos all around.
Have you ever worked for someone who changes their mind frequently? Maybe they are easily influenced and change their direction on a whim. Pretty soon, after following someone who zigs and zags all over the place, you stop investing your best into your work. On the other hand, when you work for someone who is sure about their direction and do what they say they will do, you are able to invest more into your work because you trust them.
Trusting in God’s direction helps me to focus on the hard work of responding to his instructions for right-living and studying His word. I know some of the things I do will have eternal implications.
In this beautiful psalm about forgiveness, David gives us a glimpse of how he felt before he confessed his sins and how he felt after. While carrying around his unconfessed sins he felt limp, his bones were wasting away, he felt God’s hand heavily upon him and his strength was diminished. Once he confessed his sins, God was faithful to forgive him. Once forgiveh, David rejoices and praises God.
It is reassuring to know how quickly God is to forgive us. Why is it so hard for us to forgive sometimes? When God forgives he also forgets our sins and moves forward with us, surrounding us with His unfailing love. I think the unforgiveness that we can carry with us for years and years is just as damaging as our own unconfessed sins are to us. A woman who prayed with me, years ago, told me that if I need help forgiving someone, I should ask Jesus to help me. Forgiveness is one of his super-powers. I did as she suggested and with Jesus’s help, I was able to work through years of unforgiveness. What a burden-lifter! I felt free at last.
David is praying for protection in this psalm. It was written during the time Saul was chasing and persecuting him. David is feeling vulnerable, in physical pain, the target of criticism and insults, like an outcast and in one line he says he feels like a broken dish. He prays for help, and in his heart, he trusts that the Lord will help him.
When we are moving through a difficult season, it’s hard to imagine that God can take this time of suffering and brokenness in us, and turn us into something strong and beautiful. I don’t think it’s even in our sights until years later when can we look back at who we once were. Our lives are a journey of ups and downs. I pray for you today – that you are able to look back and see how God has used a difficult time in your past as the raw material for the beauty and strength inside you today.
The Lord is the great transformer. He can turn things around on our behalf. David praises God for saving him from the grave, for healing him, turning his sadness into celebration, turning his sorrow into joyful dancing.
In 2006, I had a season of severe migraines. I had one every three days like clock-work. Most of the time I would have to be in bed, in a dark room for at least a day. In the meantime, I still had to manage my job and my family. I was under the care of a neurologist who, with medication, made the migraine cycle less debilitating but the frequency didn’t change. One weekend, I was at a retreat with some friends and they laid hands on me to pray for healing. I had a migraine, at the time, and it was still there when they finished their prayer. I went home and took a long nap. When I woke up the migraine was gone and I haven’t had one since. Jesus healed me! It was like I was set free from a migraine prison. He turned my sadness into celebration!!
I thank you from my heart, and I will never stop singing your praises, my Lord and my God!
How do you describe the Lord’s voice? Some would say, he has a small still voice. David says the Lord’s voice is mighty and marvelous and it can accomplish things that seem impossible. God’s voice can destroy cedar trees, make mountains skip like a calf or jump like a wild ox, his voice can make lighting flash and the desert tremble.
I just heard on the news that Minnesota has had one of the windiest years on record this year. I meet with some friends once a month to pray, in one of our local parks. It’s been windy each time we’ve met and we always attribute that to the Lord’s presence with us. Speak healing over our land, Father God.
The voice of the Lord echoes over the oceans. The glorious Lord God thunders above the roar of the raging sea.
This psalm can be summed up this way, “God be there for me, like you have in the past and please, God, be there for your people.” It makes me curious when David appears to doubt that the Lord will help him. It also makes me feel better, because, I can be a doubter sometimes too. It’s especially hard when you can’t see how a situation in a loved one’s life will resolve, and you have to trust that God will care for them.
When David ends the psalm with a request that God will hold His people in His arms as their great shepherd – it makes me think of Jesus’s last words; “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” To be suffering and to think of others is a remarkable trait. It’s a glimpse at what God means when He commands us to love your neighbor as yourself.
Come save us and bless us. Be our shepherd and always carry us in your arms.