“Bless the Lord, O my soul!
O Lord my God, You are very great:
You are clothed with honor and majesty”
The greatness of God causes the psalmist to break forth in praise. He writes of the majesty of the Lord who is clothed in light, stretches the heavens open like a curtain and is surrounded by a host of heavenly angels who do His bidding day and night. He speaks of God as the one who rides the clouds as a chariot and has set boundaries around the oceans but he spends the majority of his time celebrating how God cares for His creation. He sings of how the splendor of our King is seen in providing for the needs of those who are His. He has not only filled the earth with the basic staples to provide life but has gone beyond so that His people can enjoy life.
What peace is found when we realize the true nature of God. John explains that the reason Jesus came was so that we could see what God is really like.
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”
We can find comfort, hope, help and provision from the God who created us and loves us. Whatever you may be facing keep in mind that the majesty of God is often most clearly seen in providing for the needs of those He loves.
Questions for Psalm 104
- As you read this Psalm take notice that the Psalmist is recounting the days of creation. For example, verses 1-2 describe day 1 of creation. Verses 2-3 describe day 2. Verses 6-18 describe day 3. See if you can pick out the last three.
- Verse 5 says that God’s foundation will never be removed. We have an immovable foundation. His name is Jesus and He said, “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of mine and does them is rock solid.” How is your foundation? Is it on solid rock or is it on sinking sand?
- You have heard the old saying, “Stop and smell the roses.” Look at verse 24. God made a variety of things in wisdom. Be encouraged. Get out there and check out the bugs and His other wonderful creatures.
- Verses 27-28 tell us that we depend on Him for everything; our every breath comes from Him. God wants the best for us. Do you desire to do His will and learn more of His plans for each new day? If not, read verse 29 and repent.
“Praise the Lord!
Praise God in His sanctuary;
Praise Him in His mighty firmament!”
The church serves many purposes, not the least of which is as a place for the people of God to gather together and worship. When we meet with the congregation, turn our attention upward and begin to worship, something takes place in time and eternity. We are given a whole new perspective on life. Instead of being consumed with our troubles we are able to see them in light of the mighty God who loves us and works all things for His purposes and our good. When this happens our discouragement and fears are often replaced with a new found faith and hope. A broken marriage, a trouble child or disastrous financial situation is now seen as an opportunity for God to show His never ending mercy and divine power. We see our lives like a Red Sea, a Jericho wall or the enclosed tomb of Lazarus. Each of which is an opportunity for God to do the miraculous.
If you are downcast,broken hearted or facing what seems to be a hopeless situation remember that worship was created by God as a means for you to connect with Him and see life in light of who He is. Don’t let discouragement keep you from gathering with the people of God in worship. Perhaps more than anything else you need a new perspective on life. One that is seen through the filter of faith.
Questions for Psalm 150
- This is the culmination of all the Psalms. In a word how should we respond to all God has done?
- Take some time for worship. Meditate on your life and all that God has done for you. Take some time to rededicate yourself to Him.
“Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
Praise Him in the heights!
Praise Him, all His angels;
Praise Him, all His hosts!
Praise Him, sun and moon;
Praise Him, all you stars of light!
Praise Him, you heavens of heavens,
And you waters above the heavens!”
As a child I was fascinated with the television show “The Twilight Zone.” While there were many episodes that thrilled me, there is one in particular that stood out above the rest. The scene began with a man stepping into a flying saucer as a passenger traveling to a far away planet after aliens had visited earth and convinced mankind that they were there to help. He was part of the committee assigned to translate their language, the man had discovered the basic framework of the alien language and translated the title of a book that had been given to them. The book was called, “To Serve Man.” Unfortunately they discovered too late that it was a cookbook and he was actually being invited to dinner not as a guest but as the main course.
The psalmist declares that if we were able to discover a way to translate the sounds of nature we would find that all creation is joined together in a beautiful chorus of praise. The trees filled with birds, the rocks and all that hide within them for protection are accompanied by the sea and its inhabitants as they burst forth in celebration of the God who brought them forth by the word of His power. Paul explained to the Roman church that part of their praise is a cry for Christ to return and make all things right again.
It is interesting that creation seems to be ever mindful of God and quick to respond to His commands. When Moses’ staff touched the waters of the Red Sea there was no argument, the sea simply parted. When Jesus spoke to the wind and waves they did not complain or give excuses they only obeyed. While all creation is subject to the fall it seems that the only part of creation that resists the plan of God is man. It is time to stop fighting against God and instead submit ourselves and our living over to Him.
Questions for Psalm 148
- After reading verses 1-6, write a list of more things to praise Him for.
- Verse eight suggests that nature fulfills the Word of God. How can you show your obedience to Him today?
- The Psalmist speaks of God’s glory being above the earth and heavens. Take some time to consider how glorious God must be if He is more glorious than all creation.
“Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord, O my soul!
While I live I will praise the Lord;
I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.”
Praise is pretty common. If you have ever watched a sporting event you will hear it. One team goes ahead in the final seconds and the arena bursts forth in praise. Sometimes however the opposing team hits the final shot at the buzzer and the crowd is stunned into silence and the praise evaporates from the room.
Often we approach God in the same way. If all is well in the world we offer him praise, but as soon as things become difficult we have nothing to offer except complaint. We base our praise on our emotional condition rather than basing it upon who God is and what He has done. Regardless of what our day is like God is worthy of praise. Rain or shine, blessing or buffeting, joy or sadness, God is still the one who loves us, saved us and promises to work in and through us. If we are in the midst of a difficult season of life it is important that we do not lose sight of God or become consumed with our grief. Whatever hardship we are facing Jesus is still alive from the dead, seated at the right hand of the Father, sending forth His Spirit to work in our lives and preparing a place in eternity for us. While we cannot always celebrate our circumstances or our emotional condition we can certainly celebrate the amazing great and unending love of God who promises to be with us as we walk through the fire.
“I pour out my complaint before Him; I declare before Him my trouble.”
Complaining is often the result of looking at the one thing that is going wrong instead of the many things that are going well. We might have a day off work, be gathering with our family at a park or at the beach, and instead of enjoying the day we begin to complain that it is too windy, too hot or there are too many others who chose to spend the day at the same location. Instead of looking at all that is right we becoming fixated with what we perceive to be wrong. Another common problem associated with complaining is that we often bring our complaints to the wrong place. When we are upset about our job we complain to our spouse, when we have a problem associated with the kids school or their sports team we complain to our friends. Instead of bringing our complaint to the source who can resolve it, we simply like to complain.
Here David teaches us something important about complaining. If we have a problem we should take it to the Lord. Often it is in the presence of the Lord that we will see our difficulty in light of the work He desires to accomplish in us and we will discover that the very thing we were so upset about was actually a tool He was using to make us more like Christ.
Instead of bringing a barrage of complaints against your spouse as soon as they walk in the door, how about taking your issues to the Lord and allowing Him to work in your life. After all He promised that all things work together for the good of conforming us into the image of Jesus.
Questions for Psalm 142
- We often fail by complaining to one another. Where does the psalmist take his complaint?
- The psalmist recognizes that his enemies are stronger than him. Who does he realize is stronger than his enemies?
“O God the Lord, the strength of my salvation, You have covered my head in the day of battle.”
David was familiar with warfare. He had faced Giants and well as giant armies. He knew the dangers of hand to hand combat and there is little doubt that his body bore the scars of some of those battles. As a soldier, David also knew the importance of protecting his head. A wound to the forearm, although painful, was not deadly but a wound to the head could cost him his life. The same is true for us in the spiritual battles in which we are engaged. It is critical for the Christian that we learn to keep our head covered when under attack.
The bible describes Satan as the accuser of the brethren. As such he brings constant accusations against the child of God. Since God is unwilling to listen to his rants, he makes us his target. In the midst of our battles the devil sends a barrage of missiles into our minds seeking to defeat us. When we are struggling with sin he increases the level of temptation and when we fail he turns up the guilt. When we are discouraged he seeks to fill our minds with our weakness rather than allowing us to think about God’s strength. It is critical for the child of God that we allow the Lord to cover our head in battle. A friend of mine had a plaque hanging above his desk that read, “The next time the devil reminds you of your past remind him of his future.”
Questions for Psalm 140
- David is asking for deliverance, protection and for the Lord to let his enemies have it. We do ask God to take care of the people who seem to be out to get us? Who do you need deliverance from today?
- After David pours his heart out, he finally comes to the conclusion that the Lord will take care of him verse 12-13, so trust in the Lord and let Him deal with it. Read 1 Peter 5:6-7.
“By the rivers of Babylon, There we sat down, yea, we wept when we remembered Zion.”
The story of Israel is a familiar one. They were saved by the marvelous grace and mighty hand of God who provided for their needs and gave them victory over their enemies. Soon they began to compromise with sin and struggle to follow the commands of God. As time went on, those whom they had victory over, once again began to rule their lives until finally, they were taken captive and lost almost all God had provided for them. In a sense they are the story of the prodigal who wandered from his father’s grace only to find out how miserable life is apart from God. I can only imagine what it must have been like for Israel to scoop water from the Euphrates only to begin weeping for all they had lost through rebellion and disobedience to God. But that in itself is another testimony of the incredible mercy of God. Instead of forsaking them for their continual sin, He promised to restore them into the land and give them a marvelous future and hope.
Perhaps the best place to be in is when we find ourselves weeping at the rivers of Babylon. When we look around and realize all that we lost when we chose to wander from the Lord. History is laden with men and women whose lives suffered greatly when they turned from the Lord, but when they came to their senses, weeped over their condition and cried out to God they were restored by His mercy and once again enjoyed sweet communion with God.
There are worse things than to be broken by our failures. For it is in that brokenness that we will be restored.
“Behold, bless the Lord, All you servants of the Lord, Who by night stand in the house of the Lord! Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, And bless the Lord.”
The psalmist exhorts us to enter with the congregation of God into the presence of the Lord. He tells us that we should lift our hands as we bless the Lord. I find it interesting that it is possible to bless God. I understand how richly and continually He has blessed me but to think that I am a blessing to Him is sometimes beyond my comprehension. As amazing as it may seem, scripture makes it clear that worship is a means by which we are able to be a blessing to God. He loves when we take our eyes off ourselves and focus them upon Him. He loves when we realize His nature and His actions and we extol Him for all He has done. Part of the reason worship is such a blessing to God is because of the way it will impact us. As we fix our eyes on Jesus we will see Him as He is and we will see our lives in light of His tremendous love and amazing grace. When this happens it will not be long before we begin to lift our hands and surrender all.
Questions for Psalm 134
1. This psalm is about the temple watchmen who took their job seriously, reverently, and responsibly. Are you doing everything with reverence to God?
2. Are you honoring him with the quality of your work?
3. What is the meaning of Zion
“Lord, my heart is not haughty, Nor my eyes lofty. Neither do I concern myself with great matters, Nor with things too profound for me.”
As this short psalm begins to unfold, David celebrates the condition of his heart. He is rejoicing that his heart is not haughty nor his eyes lofty. In other words he does not have an exalted view of himself. There is no indication within the psalm as to when it was composed. If it was written early on, David was a talented young man who was gifted as a musician and a shepherd. His musical talents had landed him a position as the private worship leader for the king. If it was written a little later, David had proved himself a valiant warrior and was in command of Israel’s forces and was the object of the attention of the young maidens in the land. If it was written in a later season, David had become king of the nation and brought Israel to the height of their success. Yet in all of his success he was careful not to become haughty or to have an exalted view of himself. It seems that David always saw himself as that young shepherd boy who sat among the sheep and fixed his eyes upon the Lord.
We live the age of self promotion. We do not need a press agent because we all have access to social media. Many of us spend hours each day coming up with just the right post for Facebook or image for Instagram. We want everyone to think we are the most creative parent, with the most talented children who go on the most imaginative vacations and accomplish the most extraordinary things. We are often guilty of not only have a lofty opinion of ourselves but wanting to make sure that everyone else has that same opinion. Perhaps it would do us good to consider how God views pride and humility.
Proverbs 3:34 “Surely He scorns the scornful, But gives grace to the humble.”
James 4:6 “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”
1 Peter 5:5 “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”
In the kingdom of God self exaltation is never the road the to take. If we want to experience the grace of God it is found by taking the low place and exalting the Lord and others.
“Many a time they have afflicted me from my youth,”
Difficultly is part of the journey for the people of God. Israel as a nation has been under constant scrutiny and attack since its inception and at the same it is true of the child of God. The moment you publicly proclaim the name of Jesus you will become the object of the world’s attack. Most of the positive things that are done in the name of Christ are overlooked, ignored or forgotten while anything and everything the church or the individual Christian does wrong is paraded as a proof that Christians are no different from the world.
After a recent attack at a gay night club by a person with radical Islamic roots the attention soon turned to the church as though this was somehow caused by the Bible’s position that homosexuality is a sin. Soon the news channels began to report on a church in California where the pastor declared that the victims of the attack deserved what happened because of their lifestyle. I was shocked not only to hear that a person would say such a foolish thing but that the media was able to ignore what was being said and done in thousands of churches across the nation and find one church that held this opinion and make it the news. What about the millions of Bible believing followers of Christ who gathered with their congregations to weep for the victims and pray for their families. What about those who made their way to Orlando to pass out food and water as a way to say they were sorry for the tragedy and to condemn the actions of a violent and godless man? The reality is the world has always opposed the followers of God and put them under scrutiny and attack. Jesus put it this way,
John 15:18-25 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21 They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me.”
As believers we should do all we can to change the world’s perspective of Christ and the church. When a person attacks Christianity they should have to second guess themselves because of your actions. They should find themselves making generalities about Christians while having to rethink those statements because of your life, love and faithfulness to the word of God. We cannot ever compromise the message of the cross but we should be willing to lay our lives down for others to hear it, see it and know it.