Re:Verse reading–Psalm 31 (day seven)
“In my alarm I said, ‘I am cut off from your sight!’ Yet you heard my cry for mercy when I called to you for help. . .Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.” (vs 22, 24) Sometimes I pray because I am afraid. It isn’t faith that sends me to my knees. It is fear, and I have nowhere else to go. Sometimes I wonder how He could accept such a prayer, how easy it would be for Him to be frustrated with me for not having more faith, for letting life get the better of me. But He never reprimands me. I receive mercy and help! David reports the same experience. Aware of the weakness of his faith, he prayers, nevertheless, and God hears and helps! God’s grace is sufficient even for people who panic into His presence. “When I am afraid, I will put my trust in you.” (Psalm 56:3)
Re:Verse reading–Psalm 31 (day six)
“Be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me. . .Into thy hands I commit my spirit; redeem me, O Lord.” (vs 3, 5) Words of a song. David’s words. He put them to music. Christ sang (or said) them on the cross. Comparable moment to a modern person, with death fast approaching, who whispers, “that saved a wretch like me”. Most of those standing by would recognize and connect them to “Amazing Grace”. Psalm 31 is a prayer for rest. Soldiers weary from battle are longing for a rock of refuge or strong fortress in which they may “let down their defenses” and be renewed. Ever long for the same thing, yourself? David say that we find such safety in the “hands of God”. “He’s got the whole world in His hands. He’s got the whole world in His hands.” Different song. Same idea. Rest, dear friends. Commit your spirit to God and rest!
Re:Verse reading–Psalm 31 (day four)
All of us need encouragement. The pressures of life can sometimes be overwhelming…it seems as if everything is going wrong and the whole world is against you. David experienced that feeling. Verse 9 says he was in distress. His life was all tears and sorrows…he was like a broken vessel. What was his response? Verse 1 says, “In You, O Lord, I have taken refuge;” Verse 3 says, “For You are my rock and my fortress;” Verse 4 says, “For You are my strength.” Verse 5 says, “Into Your hand I commit my spirit;” Verse 6, “But I trust in the Lord.” Verse 14, “I trust in You, O Lord, I say, ‘You are My God.’” When David faced adversity…as we all will…he trusted in the Lord. His encouragement to us is “Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who hope in the Lord.” On the cross, Jesus gave us the same example…”Into Your hand I commit My Spirit;” Will you follow their example?
Re:Verse reading–Psalm 31 (day three)
“Those who see me on the street flee from me.” David knew how quickly friendships and loyalties could fire up and then fade. Mentors, advisors, friends, his own children—David knew such pain from every side. In the middle of such terrifying instability, words such as “refuge” (verse 1 of this Psalm), “rock”, “fortress”, “rampart”, and the like crop up frequently in David’s descriptions of God. These are the only terms David found that would come close to capturing the sense of sure-footed safety that he had come to know in God’s presence. David could live confidently in the presence of others because he retreated first to God. Jesus Christ stood firmly in this same spiritual rhythm. And he went further. His retreats with God fueled his love for others to the extent that he confidently laid down his life for our sakes.
Re:Verse reading–Psalm 31 (day two)
“…but I trust in the Lord” (6, 14). I trust in the Lord, not in my success, my family, my future, my money, my happiness or anything else that can shift under me without warning. I trust in the Lord, when life is unfair, uncertain, unkind and I have become unapproachable, unremarkable, unprotectable. I trust in the Lord, and find new hope, new peace, new defense, new strength and new courage. To say with the psalmist, “I trust in the Lord,” requires me to leave behind a way of life and find a new way of life. It is the psalmist’s way of speaking about repentance and faith. A repentance and faith that is required of me every day.
Re:Verse reading–Psalm 31 (day one)
“Into your hands I commit my spirit; redeem me, O Lord, the God of truth.” (vs 5) It is instructive. Listening to the last words that people speak. Words of regret like those of Benedict Arnold. “Let me die in the uniform in which I fought for freedom. God forgive me for ever putting on another.” (Just moments before he was hanged for being a spy) Words of love lost like those of Desi Arnaz. “I love you too, honey. Good luck with your new show.” (to his former wife, Lucille Ball) They give us a glimpse of the inner man, the hidden priorities. As we prepare this week for Easter, how glad we are that our Lord’s last words were words of confidence in the Scripture. He quoted Psalm 31. Words of deep trust in the Father. “Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit”. (Luke 23:46) O Come let us adore Him. Happy Easter!
Re:Verse reading–Psalm 22 (day seven)
“All who go down to the dust kneel before him–those who cannot keep themselves alive.” (vs 29) It is a different gospel than the world expects. Different, even, from what some believers think. NOT a guarantee that we will be pain free and death exempt. Something more powerful. A harder and better promise than we imagine. God will never leave us! On the other side of the worst experiences of life, we will know His faithfulness! Like the resurrection of Christ, the believer is promised eventual victory by the very power of God. 1 Peter 5:10 says, “AFTER you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.” Our gospel teaches people facing death, those who cannot keep themselves alive, to confidently kneel before a faithful God. He will keep His promises. We can trust Him. Even in the most painful moments of life.
Re:Verse reading–Psalm 22 (day six) “You who fear the Lord praise Him! For He has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one.” (vs 23-24) “Does Jesus care when my heart is pained too deeply for mirth or song, as the burdens press and the cares distress and the way grows weary and long? Oh yes, He cares! I know He cares! His heart is touched with my grief. When the day is weary, the long nights weary, I know my Jesus cares.” –Frank Graeff (1901) It is an old hymn. An older question. Sobbed out over the centuries by people of faith caught in darkness and grief. David answers affirmatively. As he “prayed through” his fear and distress, he found strong evidence of God’s help and concern. He “walked THROUGH the valley of the shadow of death” and emerged on the other side with a new confidence in the care of his loving Father. Yes! He cares!
Re:Verse reading–Psalm 22 (day four)
It was a time of great anguish for David. There were pressures on all sides. Verse 6 says, “But I am a worm and not a man, A reproach of men and despised by the people.” The people were mocking his faith in God, but how did he respond? He responded with faith…he trusted God even though he could not see His hand at work at the moment. Where did this faith, to stand strong in the face of opposition, come from? Verse 9-10 says, “Yet You are He who brought me forth from the womb; You made me trust when upon my mother’s breasts. Upon You I was cast from birth; You have been my God from my mother’s womb.” David’s faith was learned from his parents. This is God’s plan…that parents teach their children the ways of God. What David learned as a child, made him able to stand firm in his faith in the face of great persecution. We, too, must build faith into our children to stand firm.
Re:Verse reading–Psalm 22 (day three)
“All the ends of the earth
will remember and turn to the Lord…” Solzhenitsyn famously stated the converse of David’s prophetic vision: “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.” What is the “this” to which he referred? Look around, and look inside your own heart. You will see. But creation is groaning, stretching toward the day when it will be renewed. And mankind, suffering in its own physical and spiritual squalor, will know God again. Some will reject him, as many already have. But even as David faced the cruelties of those who had set their faces against him, what he knew of God told him that it could not end like this. And so it is in our day. God will not be satisfied until this whole universe is restored. The end will be only the beginning.