21st in a series.
Today’s Psalms are 21, 51, 81, 111, and 141.
“…we will sing and praise Your might.” Psalm 21:13
1. Psalm 21:1,2 I wrote myself a note on this Psalm, “read in first person.” I’m not sure when I did that, or where I got the idea. But here we go. “Lord I find joy in Your strength. How greatly I rejoice in Your victory! You have given me my heart’s desire and have not denied the request of my lips.” Yes, that sounds about right. I do feel this way. I sometimes wonder what my adult life would have been had Jesus not interrupted me in 1971. It chills me to consider the flotsam and jetsam that would have been in my wake by now.
2. Psalm 21:8 “Your hand will capture all Your enemies…” The Psalms are sometime criticized for the curses they seem to indulge. However, consider the amount of oppression that is rampant around us. My city, Dayton, Ohio, is known to be on a major sex slave route. Slavery may be in our neighborhoods. What can be said about people who kidnap children for such purposes? Perhaps this: “You will make them burn like a fiery furnace when You appear; the Lord will engulf them in His wrath, and fire will devour them.”
3. Psalm 51:1 I’ve turned to this Psalm many times. It is the prayer of a man who committed a grave sin. “Be gracious to me, God, according to Your faithful love; according to Your abundant compassion, blot out my rebellion.” (bold added) How can a rebel expect to be pardoned? “I am conscious of my rebellion, and my sin is always before me.” (v3) And yet, he was pardoned. I am pardoned. Give thanks for amazing grace. Our sins are blotted out forever.
4. Psalm 51:17 Is it possible to be pleasing to God? Not just doing what He wants me to do – that is different. Is it possible to actually bring pleasure to God, as unto a friend? Eric Liddell said, “…when I run, I feel His pleasure.” (1) The answer is in this Psalm. “The sacrifice pleasing to God is a broken spirit. God, You will not despise a broken and humbled heart.” God is most pleased with us when we are humble before Him. We are most alive when we are pleasing God.
5. Psalm 81:5,6 “I heard an unfamiliar language: ‘I relieved his shoulder from the burden…” God speaks compassion to us, but it is foreign to our ears at first. We estranged ourselves from our Maker, and from His ways. Yet He pursued us in His goodness, sometime for decades patiently, persistently pursuing us with the intent to bless. Jesus said, “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:30) The ways of God are not our ways; they are unfamiliar to us. Let us learn them, and forgive our debtors as our debts have been forgiven. (2)
6. Psalm 81:7 “I tested you at the waters of Meribah.” God tests us to see if we trust Him. He tested Abraham by asking him to sacrifice Isaac (Genesis 22). He tested Job with many trials. (Job) He tested Moses and the children of Israel at the Meribah, “…where the Israelites quarreled with the LORD…” (Numbers 20:13) God has tested me several times, and frequently I failed the test, only to get it again later. One example: in my 20’s I was determined to get married. I was discontent being single. Time after time, relationships did not pan out. Then finally, I gave in and repented of my supposed right to be unhappy with God until He gave me a wife. You can guess what happened next, right? As soon as I passed this test I had repeatedly failed, He brought along Ginny, my wife-to-be. We’ve been married now for 28 years. God loves us too much to let us bypass these tests.
7. Psalm 111:2 “The Lord’s works are great, studied by all who delight in them.” Consider the sciences of our schools and universities. They study the works of God. Pray that God would receive praise from those who study His great works. Remind the great chef: who made the vast array of ingredients for his recipes. Who invented taste? Remind the great maestro: who made the ear, and constructed the music of the universe. Everything we see, hear, taste, smell and touch are works of God. Don’t stop learning just because you’re out of school. Forget watching the NFL – it’s empty. Read instead. Honor God by studying His works. Study until the day you die.
8. Psalm 111:10 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow His instructions have good insight.” Do you want to be wise? Fear of God is our “north star” – it transcends the paralyzing effects of the fear of men. “Don’t fear those who kill the body but are not able to kill the soul; rather, fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28) Those who wish to manipulate others through fear and intimidation are frustrated by the man or woman who truly fears God. Pray for the sense to fear God and Him only.
9. Psalm 141:3 “Lord, set a guard for my mouth; keep watch at the door of my lips.” If only I could control what I say. I confess my sins of speech today. Lord, stand guard over what I say and think. Help me be so full of thanks that I am not enticed to say nasty or complaining words.
10. Psalm 141:5 “Let the righteous one strike me – it is an act of faithful love; let him rebuke me – it is oil for my head; let me not refuse it.” Who prays like this, to be corrected when I am in the wrong? Think about your worst enemy. Who is it? Who has the most power to wreak havoc in your life? Is it you? My worst enemy is within me – my heart, my flesh. Christ has saved me. I am hid in Him. No one but me can shipwreck my life. God, save me from myself. Help me accept the correction of my friends with humility.
(2) From the Lord’s prayer, Matthew 6:12.
Scripture references are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, 1999, by Holman Bible Publishers.