“My soul loathes my life; I will give free course to my complaint, I will speak in the bitterness of my soul.”
Even a casual reading of the book of Job will reveal that this man is enduring intense suffering. His pain is both physical and emotional and has been intensified by he accusations and attacks he received from those he presumed to be his friends. It seems like Job has reached the boiling point and cannot endure it any longer. Under the pressure of his circumstances he determines to “Give free course to his compliant.” In other words, the guardrails are being removed and Job is giving himself license to freely complain about his circumstances.
While we can empathize and even relate to Job we also understand that complaining about what is going on will not bring about any positive changes in him or his circumstances. We know that complaining will get his eyes off the Lord and will cause him to be even more fixated upon his trials. We know that complaining will act like a fog, affecting all those who are around him and will cause others to want to avoid being with him. We know that complaining even has the ability to infect others and turn a people of faith into a people of doubt and discouragement.
It is important that we do not let circumstances determine how we will live but determine to trust and honor God regardless of what is thrown our way. Even if you are surrounded with hardship, be sure not to give free course to your complaint but instead replace murmuring with rejoicing and fix your eyes upon the Lord.
“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?
“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
“Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.”
The evolution of love is seen in the relationship between children and parents. An infant child cannot survive on his own and is completely dependent upon the mercy, grace and love of the parents. In a proper relationship the parents give time, energy, even sleep for the benefit of the child. As the relationship develops so does the love, it is not long before the parents begin to see the return in their investment. I can remember being so excited when my children began to smile and laugh, or when they would crawl across the room only to get up on my lap and snuggle. What a joy! Just this week I received messages from each of my boys expressing Father’s Day wishes in their own humorous ways. Our relationship has become one of an exchange of love. This Psalm is an illustration of that kind of love relationship with God. The Psalmist cries out with thankful praise as a response to what God has done for them. Paul used an interesting word for thanks when writing to Timothy, he said “Thanks be to God…” and the word he used was “karis” which is the word used to speak of God’s giving nature. Because of the grace we have received from the Lord, we give grace back to Him.
The Psalmist describes here that exchange of grace and thanksgiving.
He recalls the history of God’s people and reminds them of all that God has done for them. The list includes being redeemed, provided for, delivered, protected, forgiven, and comforted in the storms of life. Sprinkled throughout the Psalm is a continued exhortation;
“Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men!”
Perhaps it would be of great value to our love relationship with the Lord if we took time to recall to mind all that God has done for us and respond in thankful praise.
“Let all those who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; and let those who love Your salvation say continually, ‘Let God be magnified!’”
We can never be sure what the day in front of us holds. We can each testify of times in life, where our days were suddenly interrupted with something good or something bad. A phone call, text, email, or visit to the doctor, can suddenly change the course of our day and even our lives. David exhorts us that regardless of what life throws our way, we should always respond by magnifying the Lord.
The word magnify has two related, yet almost opposite, meanings. In certain cases, it can mean to take something that is too small to see and enlarge it. Scientists use highly advanced microscopes to look at things hidden from the naked eye. However, the word magnify can also mean to take things that are too far away to see and bring them closer. Years ago, my wife and I were walking around an outdoor mall in Southern California where a large telescope had been set up in the courtyard. For a few dollars, we were able to use it to look at the moons of Jupiter. What was impossible to see, suddenly came to light. Magnifying God is like using a highly sophisticated telescope to bring the person and work of God into view in our daily circumstances.
It is quite common for us to question God when our life is interrupted with unsettling circumstances. It is during those times that it is all the more important to fix our eyes upon the Lord, and begin to magnify Him. As we look heavenward with hearts of worship, we will be reminded of His mercy, grace, power, love and presence. If you are in the midst of a particularly trying time, perhaps it would do you good to take your eyes of the circumstances, and begin to magnify the Lord.
Questions for Psalm 70
- David is pleading with God to come quickly. Have you had those moments when you’re empty and broken? By all means cry out like David did “O Lord, do not delay!”
- In the midst of his turmoil and panic David remembers to do something in verse 4. Can you spot it? Sometimes we treat God like a vending machine and forget to thank Him for what he has done and to worship Him for who he is. Even when we become afraid and terrified– forget not His benefits.
“Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples!
Shout to God with the voice of triumph!”
Sometimes knowing the setting in which a psalm was written is beneficial to understanding its content. Other times, like in this psalm, the setting is not given because the truth is universal. Whatever our condition, whether we would classify it as good or bad, blessing or trial, God remains the same and is always worthy of the highest praise. The truths tucked away in this psalm transcend every experience the child of God endures. Whatever state you are currently facing, it is a good idea to clap your hands and shout out the loudest praise.
The Psalmist declares that God is awesome because He is the great King who subdues all things under His feet. Our praise is often lost when we become frightened or overwhelmed by circumstances beyond our control. We wonder how anything good could come from the difficulties we are facing. It is during those times that we must realize God is King of all the earth, and capable of moving mountains in order to accomplish His purposes. We can then learn to celebrate Him, even when are circumstances seem bleak.
The Psalmist declares that God will select our inheritance for us because He loves us dearly. For Israel, the inheritance speaks of the land allotted to each tribe. For the Christian, our inheritance is the blessed life God desires us to experience. Israel needed to trust God beyond fear and circumstance if they were to walk in the land. We must do the same if we are going to walk out the life God intends for us. We must be willing to set emotion and selfish desire aside, take up our cross, and walk after the things of Christ if we want to find the inheritance He has laid aside for each of us.
Finally, the Psalmist speaks of the shields of the earth belonging to God. What a blessing it is when we realize, the safest place to be is in the center of God’s will. Sometimes, walking with the Lord will make us vulnerable and that can lead to worry and fear, unless we realize the center of His will is the safest place for us. Israel’s fear kept them from entering Canaan, which in turn put them outside of the protective care of God. What frightened them was the very thing keeping them from experiencing the protective care of God.
“Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples!
Shout to God with the voice of triumph!”
“Lord, I have loved the habitation of Your house, and the place where Your glory dwells.”
Life is filled with important things and with essential things. Often, what is important will overshadow what is essential. David was an important man with many responsibilities; he was a husband, father, musician, soldier and a king. Each role he played added new responsibilities and threatened his time with God. To guard against this, David learned to fall in love with the house of the Lord, because there he could experience the glory of God.
To be fair, we must recognize that the glory of God can be revealed anywhere. In a previous psalm, David explained that the heavens declare the glory of God and the earth shows forth His handiwork (Psalm 19). We recognize it is possible to experience God anywhere and at any time. That being said, we must also recognize that there are places where we have a much higher likelihood of experiencing the presence, touch, voice and glory of God.
God loves to reveal Himself to the contrite and humble, so if we come seeking to receive from Him, we are likely to experience His presence. Israel was instructed to offer morning and evening sacrifices, so if we begin our day reading the Bible and praying about the things we read, we are likely to experience His glory. God set up the church as the gathering place for the saints, and promised to be in our midst when we meet. So when we gather to worship and learn with God’s people, we are likely to experience His glory.
Perhaps one of the most practical ways to grow in Christ and to ensure that we remain walking with Him, is to learn to love the places where God’s glory dwells.
Questions for Psalm 26
- What does the word “vindicate” mean?
- According to verse 3, how did David live?
- What things did David avoid in life according to verses 4-5?
- Take a look at verse 12, what can you do to ensure that you are standing on an even place?