If David (shepherd, songwriter, fugitive, Robin Hood of his day, leader of men, king, adulterer, warrior, man after God’s own heart, biblical protagonist) had lived in the days of the internet, Psalms would be his blog. He even has a few guest writers. God spoke through his life and preserved his words for us. My summer 2014 project is to read his blog.
I don’t know why certain songs stick in our minds and won’t go away – I’ve heard so many people say it happens so I know it’s not just me. For the last few days it’s been a version of Psalm 1 that I sang enough times to have it memorized:
Blest and happy is the man
Who does never walk astray
Nor with the ungodly men
Stands in sinner’s way.
For many of my years in one particular church, the hymns we sang were composed by one man who went through the psalms and made a song from almost all of them. Some were a little weird and hard to sing but others stuck and come to mind whenever I hear those scriptures read. Songs are an effective method of putting things into memory. I am thankful for the classic hymns that I’ve learned and the contemporary hymns that have biblical substance.
So I turned to Psalm 1 in my bible and reviewed its message and my questions. After the statement in verse three “whatever he does prospers” I have marked in “Oh? “ since that prosperity is not always obvious. I ask God to define prosperity so I can understand what he means. And I ask him to define righteous. I underline “in the judgment” in verse five. Is that when the prosperity or lack of it is realized? I’m very drawn to the words in verse six “watches over the way of the righteous”. I need someone to be watching over my way (but more because I’m not always righteous…)
He shall be a tree that grows
Planted by the river’s side
Which in season yields its fruit
Green its leaves abide.
David knew there was a way to tap into spiritual strength and security that was as real as a tree whose roots draw life from a river of water near where it’s planted. That water is necessary for the tree to be what is was made to be – fruitful in season. What an object lesson, a poem from one man’s experience with God. Meant for all time.
It isn’t very often that I think of the word rejoice in the same sentence with the word trembling. How does one rejoice with trembling? Sounds a little tentative to me. I can understand how to serve with fear but rejoice with trembling… I also am puzzled by the phrase “his wrath can flare up in a moment” since that’s not the picture of God that I want to see. It sounds so much like earthly loss of temper. What was David thinking when he wrote “Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you be destroyed in your way.” It doesn’t sound like the way Jesus presented himself in the gospels.
At the same time I can picture God being totally angry at the way his creation is either ignored or destroyed by men – the one creature that was meant to have fellowship with him and enjoy all he had made for them. How can they ignore everything amazing around them and somehow come to the conclusion that they are God. The attitude of sin, the willingness to bow down to anything and everything except their creator – where does that come from?
“He rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath.” I would like to think that anyone who could see God, angry or otherwise, and know that it was he who was rebuking them would also see themselves in perspective, and would come to belief, would come to recognize his goodness and finally choose the best path for themselves
I am so glad this psalm ends with a blessing on all who take refuge in him, referring to the Son. Sometimes that’s all I can think to do.
I used to have a hard time thinking of anyone who was my enemy. I had no personal knowledge of anyone hating me or thinking of trying to kill me. I still may not know them personally but now I feel what David was saying about many rising up against him, and especially those that say of me “God will not deliver him (her).”
Something that God did for David gave him the confidence to call God his shield, someone who “lifted his head” which to me means gave him hope and encouragement. David said God answered him, and he sounded pretty sure about it. He was so sure that he used the example of being able to lie down and sleep, knowing that if he woke up the next morning it was the Lord who had made another day possible.
If I wake up tomorrow, I will know that there is a reason the Lord sustained me through the night and gave me another day. To me, that is a good way to think about the morning. It gives me an expectation of something meaningful that could come about if I am looking for it and ready to act.
What kind of fear compares to the fear of having tens of thousands of enemies coming up against you – on every side!? The fear of being late for work? The fear of not having enough money for a bill? The fear of being sick? Maybe. If his knowledge of the Lord’s deliverance took away David’s fear in that situation then maybe I can let him deliver me from my fears too.
There are a lot of things said today that are probably the equivalent of “break the teeth of the wicked”. I think David had a rough side, was a fighter, lived with all those brothers… That was his way of putting the bad guys in their place. And having done that he summed it all up for the readers of this third post. Simply put “from the Lord comes deliverance” and he meant the message to be spread to others, asking that the Lord’s blessing, his deliverance, be on his people. I am his people.
There are a couple phrases here which I’m latching onto because they are familiar circumstances to me. I often lie still in bed thinking about the day that’s past or the day to come, asking the Lord about it. David evidently did that too. “When you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent.” “I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”
It is at night when I consider how helpless I really am – against intruders, against illness, against emotions that overwhelm. It is a comfort to me to put all those possible stressful situations on someone else’s plate, knowing that if he with all his power cannot or will not change them, no one else can either. He will help me through them in the best possible way. I can be at peace. I search my heart, my thoughts and name those situations. I hand them over.
Other things David says in this post are less understandable – like when he switches voices and talks for God. How does that come about? I can see God having those feelings though – wondering why men do what they do. And I also identify with David when he marvels at how people can’t see the Lord’s blessing when he sees it abundantly and it fills his heart with “greater joy”.
These are filled with words like “judge”, “righteous”, “wicked”, justice – and they all seem to be concerned with things men do or think that the Lord judges. He spends a LOT of time describing the evil people that must have been everywhere around him. It seems like David is more aware of earning righteous standing with God himself than with letting Christ do it for him. ( Ps. 7:9 “Judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness, according to my integrity, O Most High.”) Which makes me wonder, what did David know about God’s plan of salvation? How did David know about God at all? Man’s experience with God up to that point was not all that extensive, and yet he was able to pen words about salvation and a savior that had both present and future meaning.
My favorite parts:
Ps. 5 “I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation” “spread your protection over them” “you surround them with your favor as with a shield”
Ps. 6 “the Lord has heard my weeping”
Ps. 7 “he who is pregnant with evil and conceives trouble gives birth to disillusionment” (good writing)
Ps. 8 the whole thing. Puts me in my place and makes me thankful for it.
Ps. 9 “you, O Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you”
Ps. 10 his promise to the afflicted “You hear, O Lord, the desire of the afflicted, you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more.” Yes!
Ps. 11 the picture of the wicked as they “shoot from the shadows” and the Lord as he not just sees but examines both the wicked and the righteous.
Ps. 12 “the words of the Lord are flawless, like silver refined in a furnace of clay.” What inspired this? And, “The wicked freely strut about when what is vile is honored among men.” Timeless.
How long? How long? And what plagued him was wrestling with his own thoughts and sorrows! He says “give light to my eyes or I will die” and sometimes I feel that desperation too. And then like a true bipolar human he ends with “But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord for he has been good to me.” Up, down, up, down, up….
“The fool says in his heart, “there is no God”.” I wonder about God sometimes (a lot) and I doubt sometimes. I know that I am not always wise so that would make me a fool at times. I don’t know that I’ve ever gotten to the point where I thought I knew that God didn’t exist. At my lowest and least trusting point I still find no better answer for life, the universe, time, consciousness than God. When I admit that, I begin to feel that he has communicated something important to me. I begin to look formore and the effort is always rewarded.
When David says “there is no one who does good, not even one” talking about the sons of men, I don’t think he means to exclude himself. He talks so much about doing good, and being good that it surprises me when he admits that no one does it quite right. He didn’t know the whole plan of salvation but he clearly saw the problem.
Reading through this description of the person David thought worthy of being with a holy God makes me wonder if he thought he was doing all that, or did he just want to present the impossibility of being righteous in our own power?
He doesn’t fool me. He said it at the end of the last post and he says it again here. The part about never being shaken. I think those are clues to his biggest fear – that he would be shaken. I love these phrases “you have assigned me my portion and my cup” and ” the boundary lines have fallen for me”. I like that he speaks not just about his heart but also mentions his body specifically – his mortality. I wonder what he thought the eternal pleasures were?
I have been trying to memorize these words because they often run, paraphrased, through my mind as I look at the natural world. I think David shared my obsession with sunrise, sunset, clouds and stars. I’ve noticed another facebook friend who posts sunrise pictures regularly – because his travels to work give him the opportunity to look and marvel. It’s a shame that so many people have schedules that prevent them from ever seeing such things happen in the sky. They are aptly described as proclamations of God”s glory.
“all the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him.” I’ve always thought of that as a very bold statement and something only God would have the nerve to say or have written. I like this good description of humanity “those who cannot keep themselves alive”. True that.
I think I finally have it. Even though I’ve memorized this short, oft repeated psalm dozens of times, when I would test myself I was never sure if I was getting things in the right order. But I’ve thought about what it’s saying and how the phrases relate to each other and the last few times I’ve nailed it. Verses 1-3 are where the shepherd takes me on a daily basis. Verse 4 is where I find myself from time to time, in a scary place and how the rod and staff of the shepherd can be a safety provision for me there. Verse 5 reminds me that I am in the presence of my enemies pretty much all the time but there I am not only provided for but there’s actually a feast laid out for me. And verse 6 I have no trouble remembering because I say it this way “Shirley, goodness and love will follow me…” Anyway, I love the whole shepherd analogy and would kind of like being a shepherdess, I think.
“no one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame” obviously a statement of who will have the final word. Hoping in the Lord is regularly shamed by this society, this culture. Those who don’t acknowledge a spiritual world think God is something people make up to avoid thinking. Many who do believe in a spiritual world have decided they are masters of it, and are not afraid to toy with it. Some enjoy tapping into the evil side of the spiritual world and acknowledge the power there. There is no end to the ways in which we will fight the concept of God being a creator in love with his creation, having a plan to end things clearly, with no shame to those who have known him.
Poor David (sympathize, sympathize…) “I am lonely and afflicted. The troubles of my heart have multiplied.”
In spite of all his depressed statement he somehow describes himself “I have trusted in the Lord without wavering”. And at what stage did he write “I lead a blameless life.” I would love to have a conversation with him about those kinds of statements that he often put in his writings – what was he thinking? How did he get to be so perfect in his own eyes?
So many songs come to mind reading these words. But my favorite verses are 13 and 14 and I’m not sure I know a song with that message. Another one to memorize because it is a good summary of what keeps me going “I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” As time goes faster and faster for me, I get better and better at waiting. Sometimes waiting is all we are given to do.
Some are so wrapped up in what their own hands have done or are doing that they have no regard for the Lord and what his hands have done. I want to avoid that way of thinking, totally.
I like the word ascribe for some reason, and even looked it up in the dictionary. It is a definitive word giving God ownership of glory and strength. But I don’t understand why David focuses on the voice of the Lord . It’s true, the images are powerful, but what exactly did he think the voice was? Thunder? Audible speech? An amazing thing, that in this present time, God’s people can still be blessed with peace of any kind.
These words make me grateful for the Lord’s favor, which I often feel “For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime. Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” This speaks again of how God’s view of time is so different from ours. I think the morning he’s talking about is not only the beginning of any given day but also the beginning of our eternal life with him.
This has several great expressions of giving it all up, realizing who is really in control of all that happens to us. If I could put a frame around any of these words it would be here “But I trust in you, O Lord. I say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hands. ” I suppose someone reading verses 9-13 would probably call David a drama king (is there such a thing?) Was life really like this for him? Hard to imagine the king of Israel being treated like this, but who knows… He wasn’t always king.
He had every man’s experience with animals – “Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you.” True that. I also love that the Lord convicts when we try to cover up our sin and not acknowledge it (verses 3-5) and that he is willing to teach and instruct us in the best way to go.
Such a great tribute to God’s greatness, from creation to his present watchfulness over everything. I really do believe he is considering everything we do. I am most sure of it when I consciously ask him what to do in the minutes ahead – I feel his pleasure when I choose to do the best thing. “Keep them alive in famine” jumps out at me (verse 19) because I’m not always sure we’ll have the plenty that we have now. I’m kind of a “prepper” but a pitiful one and wouldn’t last long on the pantry I’ve put together. And again, horses. David must have loved them in spite of all the trouble they are.
This is one of my favorite posts! I don’t know if he came up with the idea to pretend he was crazy himself or if God inspired him to do it, but what a plan. And it worked. The enemy king decided he was too weird to be dangerous and released him, told him to get out. This post is all about being released from FEARS, about being saved from stuff that scares us and harms us. Verse 7 contains the mental image that I want to be aware of “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.” Very simply put and I believe it has happened in my life. My eyes would love to see the spiritual world, but then again, maybe not. Scary.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted. Been there more than once.
Here is another one of those dramatic descriptions of a life I can hardly imagine David having. He talks about the poor and needy as though he is them. People are seeking his life, laying nets for him, digging pits for him, and accusing him of things he knows nothing about. “I bowed my head in grief as though weeping for my mother.” Do we hear anything else about David’s mother ever? All those brothers he had – I can only imagine how overwhelmed that woman must have felt. And yet David did not pick his knowledge of God out of the air. It must have come from a parent in some fashion. Bet it was his mom.
Love the phrase “those who live quietly in the land” because that is pretty much what I do.
There is a song in the middle of this one. “Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.” I like the song. But the post is arranged as a poem (interesting) and starts with a serious description of man:
“There is no fear of God
before his eyes..
For in his own eyes he flatters himself
too much to detect or hate his sin.”
This is all about not fretting isn’t it? And words to those who are so blessed as to find themselves in safe pasture – delight yourself in the Lord. That would be me. I am so thankful that I can openly, without fear, have a Bible, worship in a church, speak of what God has done in my life, and acknowledge him as the true God when there are so many places where any one of these things would bring a death sentence. I can commit (vs. 5), and trust, be still (vs. 7) and wait patiently and not fret over the wickedness in the world because God laughs at them. They think they are in control but they are not and will find out soon enough.
“I was young and now I am old.” A painful admission. I wonder how old David was. How old was I when I was able to admit that I was old?
All this talk about inheriting the land is interesting. Why was that an issue to David? His kingship of the area must have been constantly challenged by those he had conquered – just like it is today. Who does that land belong to?
All about being old. Also David was probably sick in some way – did he have an STD, like syphilis maybe? It’s possible. But I see much in his description that would be words out of my own mouth. “my back is filled with searing pain”, “even the light has gone from my eyes”, “I am like a deaf man who cannot hear”, “like a mute who cannot open his mouth” , “my bones have no soundness” “I am about to fail”, “my pain is ever with me”. He speaks the words of depression. It sounds like a walk through a nursing home. “O Lord, do not forsake me; be not far from me, O my God. Come quickly to help me, O my Savior.”
An interesting admission which I can identify with “but when I was silent and still, not even saying anything good, my anguish increased, my heart grew hot within me… then I spoke with my tongue.” and that is usually the beginning of trouble, isn’t it?
-did he really want to know his life’s end? I’m not sure I want to know mine.
– life is fleeting
– “But now, Lord, what do I look for?” Yeah, me too.
I like this: “Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare.” and “Yet I am poor and needy, may the Lord think of me.” Because so many of my needs are never going to be met by any human being, I am glad there is someone else.
“Blessed is he who has regard for the weak”. I am looking for the weak that might be placed in front of me for a reason. I have no doubts about people like elderly Betty who is clearly weak and in need. I do have a hard time when seemingly strong, young people come before me asking for money, begging and quoting scripture to impress me and play upon my regard for Christ. Happened the other day in Big Lots – and such a story he had. It changed here and there as I talked to him. I just couldn’t do it. He disappeared rather quickly afterward – probably for fear that I would report him. I don’t always know when I’m seeing “the weak”.
I don’t always have the desire that this lovely poetic image portrays – the deer panting for streams of water. I don’t always have it for God, for the Bible, for being with my husband, for eating right or getting enough sleep. I realize it and I would feel bad about it were it not for the beautiful couplet, repeated twice for emphasis “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me. Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” God is graciously working to change me when I ask him, and let him.
There it is again – you old downcast soul! Haven’t you figured it out that God is capable of being your joy and delight? v. 4
That’s how they knew. People (fathers) in their lives told them. I guess those same fathers are also telling us in words like these psalms and the rest of scripture. Much of it is eye witness material but so many discount it. The second half of this post is troubling. Bad things happening to good people from the way it sounds. I know this is the writer’s perspective and it is his presumed innocence and questioning of God that is so familiar, so present day. Verse 22 describes what many Christians are experiencing now “yet for your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” It is also the present day temptation to say that God is forgetful, or asleep when neither of those are his attributes.
Post 45Who were these sons of Korah. Is it the same Korah that God made the earth swallow up, supposedly with all his family, for disobedience? And it’s a wedding song of all things. They were writers and I like the way they put it ” my heart is stirred by a noble theme, … my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer.”
Verses to memorize, 1-3, and 10. “Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted…”
I am very rarely a shouter (is there something wrong with me?) but I do quite a lot of singing.
His city, his temple, his mountain. I guess it’s really going to be something special although if it is talking about physical Jerusalem/Palestine, I can think of so many places I consider more beautiful now. I do like the last verse and wonder what “end” is being spoken of there.
words of wisdom and understanding – we will take nothing with us when we die. But also about the wealthy “while he lived he counted himself blessed”. That’s interesting.
In this, I see clear distinction between the old and new covenants that God makes with us. He was telling those under the old covenant that it was a preparation for the new.
There is so much in this post that I love, but today I highlight these words “renew a steadfast spirit within me”. That is a request and one I know God would delight in answering. It would be a part of restoring the joy of salvation, not that I feel the loss of it, but that joy is dulled by the mystery of it all. Who is his promise for? I want it for everyone, but what a task to even present it to each one in a way that can be understood. How can that happen?
“The fool says in his heart “there is no God”. But please tell me of your love for the foolish, because I am one, although I will not say that particular sentence. Sometimes I think things that are very close to it. There is that temptation, you know. But I want you to see me seeking you and calling on you, as I am doing this morning.
Posts 54 -89
Read them but will comment later.
I can so identify with “we finish our years with a moan”. This is Moses talking now and I know he lived to be 120 and yet he was already saying (whining) “the length of our days is seventy years – or eighty if we have the strength, yet their span is but trouble and sorrow”. Tell me about it. So maybe it is a blessing that “they quickly pass, and we fly away.” That must be where that song motif comes from “I’ll fly away”.
I not only fall behind in reading present day blog posts but I fall behind in reading David’s. I did devise a calendar schedule by which I will finish the book in the first week of September, and I am on schedule with reading. But putting down my comments on each post is falling behind. Today as I read 91 I had to play and sing the song I know from that post. I had forgotten some of the words. I think of it as my 911 call to God and my reminder to abide in his shadow, his secret place. I love the images that are presented so skillfully. God is a poet and the creator of that skill, even when those using it do not acknowledge him. He says to me “because you love me, I will rescue you. I will protect you for you acknowledges my name.”