To Love Muchly

A devotional on Psalm 119:145-176

ק Qoph

145 I call with all my heart; answer me, Lord, and I will obey your decrees.

146 I call out to you; save me and I will keep your statutes.

147 I rise before dawn and cry for help; I have put my hope in your word.

148 My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promises.

149 Hear my voice in accordance with your love; preserve my life, Lord, according to your laws.

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The psalmist obeys the decrees, keeps them, hopes in them, and meditates on them. He is greatly vested in them. This draws him to call out to God, even with all his heart, in his time of need. The owls’ hours find this believer awake, not only rising before dawn but also staying awake through the night. He knows that he is heard because he is loved.

150 Those who devise wicked schemes are near, but they are far from your law.

151 Yet you are near, Lord, and all your commands are true.

152 Long ago I learned from your statutes that you established them to last forever.

What will you choose to be near, the wicked and their schemes or God’s law? The wicked distance themselves from God and his ways. They want nothing to do with him and certainly don’t want to be associated with him. But that God is close to those who incline to him. He delights to cozy up to them. He wants to be near them. He enjoys being near them. Many of them have a long history with the statutes and they’ve stood the test of time. Their relationship to him is as a long-term investment. They start young and it carries them for decades, getting sweeter and richer; bearing much fruit and profit. As we saw yesterday in verse 140, “Your promises have been thoroughly tested, and your servant loves them.”

ר Resh

153 Look on my suffering and deliver me, for I have not forgotten your law.

154 Defend my cause and redeem me; preserve my life according to your promise.

155 Salvation is far from the wicked, for they do not seek out your decrees.

156 Your compassion, Lord, is great; preserve my life according to your laws.

157 Many are the foes who persecute me, but I have not turned from your statutes.

158 I look on the faithless with loathing, for they do not obey your word.

159 See how I love your precepts; preserve my life, Lord, in accordance with your love.

160 All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal.

ש Sin and Shin

161 Rulers persecute me without cause, but my heart trembles at your word.

Human power has the capacity to make us quake in our pants in fear. We know the terror of being called to the principle’s office when we’re in trouble. We know the panic of being pulled over by an officer when we are speeding. Terrible is the angst of being persecuted without cause. Yet even that pales in regard to our feelings about the Word. Because we revere it so much, because we believe the majestic, consuming power of its writer, the Word causes such visceral reactions within us that our bodies quake, reiterating the sentiment of verse 120, “My flesh trembles in fear of you; I stand in awe of your laws.”

162 I rejoice in your promise like one who finds great spoil.

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God’s Word to the believer is like gold, like much fine gold. It is so rich, so valuable that it strikes delight in the heart of him who finds it. Jesus tells the story of a pearl of great price that a man discovers hidden in a field. The man reburied it, sold everything he had, and bought that field. With earnest, may we do the same. May we sell all we have and invest in the field of our spiritual life. Its returns are a thousand-fold!

163 I hate and detest falsehood but I love your law.

164 Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous laws.

165 Great peace have those who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.

166 I wait for your salvation, Lord, and I follow your commands.

167 I obey your statutes, for I love them greatly.

168 I obey your precepts and your statutes, for all my ways are known to you.

How dear are God’s statutes to you? How precious are his commands? Can you say you love them greatly, exceedingly, with muchness? Oh, I love that word, muchness, it seems so incorrect and yet speaks volumes. That means that we love the Word wholly, speedily, vehemently, with ever increasing passion.

ת Taw

169 May my cry come before you, Lord; give me understanding according to your word.

170 May my supplication come before you; deliver me according to your promise.

171 May my lips overflow with praise, for you teach me your decrees.

172 May my tongue sing of your word, for all your commands are righteous.

173 May your hand be ready to help me, for I have chosen your precepts.

174 I long for your salvation, Lord, and your law gives me delight.

175 Let me live that I may praise you, and may your laws sustain me.

176 I have strayed like a lost sheep.  Seek your servant, for I have not forgotten your commands.

Prayers of supplication and praise gush from this believer alternately. We know God alone is our source, so we run to him for succor. We are awed and thrilled by him, so we rejoice to tell him that.

Shine the Light

A devotional of Psalm 119:97-144

מ Mem

97 Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long.

God’s word is like a hearty breakfast or a cedar log in the fire. It sticks with us all day long, providing brain fuel for hours of meditation.

98 Your commands are always with me and make me wiser than my enemies.

99 I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes.

100 I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts.

Who wouldn’t want to be wiser than their enemies? Who wouldn’t want more insight than all their teachers? Who wouldn’t want more understanding than the elders? There’s a sure-fire way to get it and it’s in God’s commands, statutes, and precepts.

101 I have kept my feet from every evil path so that I might obey your word.

102 I have not departed from your laws, for you yourself have taught me.

103 How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

104 I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path.

Pursuing and obeying God’s word is all about dopamine, the feel-good neurotransmitter. We have to develop a taste for it. Our six senses are the gateway to our soul. We train our soul and its appetites so that one thing appeals to it over another. We train it through discipline so that it treasures and appreciates this over that. As we spend slow, deliberate time mulling over God’s precepts, they become sweeter and sweeter to us than the greatest lure of evil. Spending time in the Word means God himself if teaching us. Imagine God as your personal tutor. Jesus was the greatest teacher that every lived. He gave us the Holy Spirit who would continue to instruct us and remind us all things.

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:26 ESV). “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you,” (John 16:12-14.) Truly, as verse 102 states,I have not departed from your laws, for you yourself have taught me.

נ Nun

105 Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

106 I have taken an oath and confirmed it, that I will follow your righteous laws.

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This light is what my Bible devotion ministry Zahar is all about. Remember that zahar means to admonish. The literal picture the word paints is one of shining a light upon something and therefore illuminating it. This whole ministry exists to partner with Holy Spirit in lighting up shadowy areas of our hearts and keeping them lit up as he abides there. Every day in weighty ways he gives us solid nourishment to digest and ponder. He knows what lies ahead for us and what we need to tackle it successfully.

107 I have suffered much; preserve my life, Lord, according to your word.

108 Accept, Lord, the willing praise of my mouth, and teach me your laws.

109 Though I constantly take my life in my hands, I will not forget your law.

110 The wicked have set a snare for me, but I have not strayed from your precepts.

111 Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart.

112 My heart is set on keeping your decrees to the very end.

What determination to possess these words for himself that the psalmist demonstrates. Determination is a construct of the brain’s executive function. He purposes that he will not forget the law – even in the face of adversity – and he states out loud that he has decided to do so. We frequently need to verbalize our resolve, so we hear it just as our listener does. We remember differently what we hear audibly than what we only think.

What a delight to think of these statutes as a heritage. How blessed we are when we consider them as gold. What joy they elicit in the heart and the life through what they bring us and what they prevent us from. They bring good things and show us how to combat and consider any bad that comes.

ס Samekh

113 I hate double-minded people, but I love your law.

114 You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word.

115 Away from me, you evildoers, that I may keep the commands of my God!

We have very different reactions to various people. As we read verse 74 “May those who fear you rejoice when they see me, for I have put my hope in your word. But in the cluster above we see a repulsion to those who despise God’s commands. The former aide and abet us in following the statutes. The latter are a hinderance to our compliance. Not only is the psalmist having to do the arduous work of following the commands, he is additionally having to fend off the evildoers which is no easy task.

116 Sustain me, my God, according to your promise, and I will live; do not let my hopes be dashed.

117 Uphold me, and I will be delivered; I will always have regard for your decrees.

118 You reject all who stray from your decrees, for their delusions come to nothing.

119 All the wicked of the earth you discard like dross; therefore I love your statutes.

120 My flesh trembles in fear of you; I stand in awe of your laws.

Earnestness and conviction fill us as we stand in the light of the source of all light and our lowly cells and organ systems respond with trembling. His very presence makes the earth rumble and quake. How much more our bodies. You are fearsome and formidable, God. We fall flat on our faces before you. We are boggled, amazed, overwhelmed at your grandeur. We are boggled further still, at your love and gentle care of us.

ע Ayin

121 I have done what is righteous and just; do not leave me to my oppressors.

122 Ensure your servant’s well-being; do not let the arrogant oppress me.

123 My eyes fail, looking for your salvation, looking for your righteous promise.

124 Deal with your servant according to your love and teach me your decrees.

If my plight depended on happenstance, I would be lost. If my well-being was a matter of chance, I would have no hope. My only assurance, even when things are bleak is that God will deal with me according to his love.

125 I am your servant; give me discernment that I may understand your statutes.

126 It is time for you to act, Lord; your law is being broken.

127 Because I love your commands more than gold, more than pure gold,

128 and because I consider all your precepts right, I hate every wrong path.

We have no capacity to comprehend God outside of him. Only as he opens our eyes can we see wonderful things in his law as we saw in verse 18. Only with his discernment can we understand his statutes. Only with his drive can we sense urgency to defend the treasure that is constantly under siege.

פ Pe

129 Your statutes are wonderful; therefore I obey them.

130 The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.

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Here we see the matter of light again. As we unfold hidden things, we get to participate in the wonder of discovery of his greatness. Always new marvels. Always new curiosities. It is akin to snorkeling in the ocean and seeing new mind-blowing things at every turn, in every direction. And it’s not just for the heady and intelligent. Anyone can comprehend and appreciate. No wonder we constantly see things in scripture we haven’t seen before. It is indeed a sea of delights.

131 I open my mouth and pant, longing for your commands.

The more we read it, the more we want. Our appetite for it cannot be satiated. Nor can its provisions be depleted. May we hunger and thirst for this bread and water. May we pine for it so much that our bodies crave it.

132 Turn to me and have mercy on me, as you always do to those who love your name.

The psalmist’s trust is God is unshakable. It is clear that he is in trouble and surrounded by an enemy. The Word galvanizes his resolve and is faith, keeping him steadfast despite the stormy assault to his soul and his very being. As he awaits the deliverance he knows is on the way, he busies himself with the Word. What a worthwhile use of his time and energies. How much more effective than fussing and fretting.

133 Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.

We are delivered from the power and the consequences of sin. God has given us dominion over sin in our lives. Who the son sets free is free indeed, John 8:36. “Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master because you are not under law but under grace,” Rom. 6:13, 14. “

134 Redeem me from human oppression, that I may obey your precepts.

135 Make your face shine on your servant and teach me your decrees.

136 Streams of tears flow from my eyes, for your law is not obeyed.

God facing you means favor, approval, and acceptance. He declares you righteous. It is the highlight of your life. Zeal for his good Word pierces our hearts when we see it violated and trampled. Does the blatant contempt for God’s word bring tears our eyes or are we as calloused as the disobeying world? Does thievery, slavery, hatred, murder, and immorality sicken and affront us or have we become desensitized? May our hearts be tenderized by his Word so that what saddens him saddens us.

צ Tsadhe

137 You are righteous, Lord, and your laws are right.

What a beautiful throwback to verse 68, “you are good and what you do is good.” What simple, straightforward phrases that speak rock-solid truths.

138 The statutes you have laid down are righteous; they are fully trustworthy.

139 My zeal wears me out, for my enemies ignore your words.

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Holy Spirit ignite our emotions and make us zealous for you. May we not be passive and lackluster. Spark passion and fire within our hearts that we may burn for you and your causes.

140 Your promises have been thoroughly tested, and your servant loves them.

What confidence this inspires in us. This Word has stood the test of time. Generations over millennia have lived it out and proved it true – all over the world, all cultures, all walks of life. How blessed we are to be a part of this grand army. How blessed we are to be betrothed to the Promise-Keeper.

141 Though I am lowly and despised, I do not forget your precepts.

142 Your righteousness is everlasting and your law is true.

143 Trouble and distress have come upon me, but your commands give me delight.

144 Your statutes are always righteous; give me understanding that I may live.

The only right thing about this world is you, O God. You are righteous. Your statutes are righteous. All else is altogether wrong. You are acceptable and all else is not. You are light. All else is darkness.

Wineskin in the Smoke

A devotional of Psalm 119:65-96

ט Teth

65 Do good to your servant according to your word, Lord.

66 Teach me knowledge and good judgment, for I trust your commands.

67 Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word.

Afflicted – anah – means to look down on literally and/or figuratively. It is to humble or humiliate oneself, to chasten, submit, or abase oneself. In previous chapters we’ve described the soul as a spirited seven-year-old behind the wheel of a car, quite certain they know what they’re doing. But the default way of the unsubmitted soul is to stray. It smugly follows its own plan, making up its own rules along the way; its own template; its own blueprints.

The default way of the unsubmitted soul is to stray.

Hannah tk

God enters the picture and desires to be inserted into the picture in a radical way. In his sovereignty, he declares himself master and brings his blueprints for us to transpose our lives to. We examine our ways and his ways and wisdom reveals that his ways are supreme. We then, moment by moment, divest ourselves of what we are and pour our lives into his for him to make wonders with. We choose his way. “I have considered my ways and have turned my steps to your statutes,” v. 59. Ultimately it is no loss to us at all. This process of losing ourselves in him and his ways makes us more than we could ever be otherwise. This is knowledge. This is good judgement. This is the loving Lord doing good to us.

The process of losing ourselves in him and his ways makes us more than we could ever be otherwise.

Hannah tk

68 You are good, and what you do is good; teach me your decrees.

Here is another ingot to memorize. Say this one to yourself and to others often. “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me, Matthew 16:24. To deny – aperneomai – means to forget oneself, to lose sight of one’s self and one’s own self-interest. Spiritually, we do this with our soul – our will, our intellect, and our emotions. As you die to yourself you quickly learn that dying hurts. Hurt is another definition of the term affliction we discussed in v. 67. The pain involved in dying makes us fear and avoid it. Pain and death are a human beings’ greatest fears.

If I am to carry my cross and crucify myself daily, I must deeply trust the cause. If I am to take my will (desires;) my intellect (attention, plans, knowledge, etc.;) and my emotions (joy, fear, anger, excitement, etc.) and afflict them, submitting them to him, I will only be as successful as my trust factor that God’s will, his intellect, and his emotions are better than mine.  My heart and soul and mind must learn and know that he is good and that what he does is good. Otherwise, I will walk in doubt and default to my will, my intellect, and my emotions.  

69 Though the arrogant have smeared me with lies, I keep your precepts with all my heart.

70 Their hearts are callous and unfeeling, but I delight in your law.

71 It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.

72 The law from your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold.

The practice of submission will galvanize your soul and your faith in incredible ways. It will enable you to stand before people who accost and smear your character without you being shaken. Then you can say with David, “Find rest, O my soul, in God alone, my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my Salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My Salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. One thing God has spoken, two things I have heard: that you, O God, are strong, and that you, O LORD, are loving,” Ps. 62:1, 2, 5-8, 11, 12a.

“I have set the LORD always before me. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. You make known to me the path of life;  you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand,” Psalm 16:8-11. God’s law and ways then become the greatest treasure we could ever desire – one that no one can ever take from us.

י Yodh

73 Your hands made me and formed me; give me understanding to learn your commands.

74 May those who fear you rejoice when they see me, for I have put my hope in your word.

75 I know, Lord, that your laws are righteous, and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.

76 May your unfailing love be my comfort, according to your promise to your servant.

77 Let your compassion come to me that I may live, for your law is my delight.

78 May the arrogant be put to shame for wronging me without cause; but I will meditate on your precepts.

79 May those who fear you turn to me, those who understand your statutes.

80 May I wholeheartedly follow your decrees, that I may not be put to shame.

the Hallel Psalms (113-118) we studied three groups of people God identified as greatly blessed:  the house of Israel, the house of Aaron, and those who fear the Lord. Ps. 119:74 and 79 address the conduct of those who fear God towards you. First they rejoice at the very sight of you. Remember our senses are the gateway to our souls. You spark recognition (intellect) and delight (emotion) in them. You ignite their very soul. You relish each other and spur each other further in the fear of God. Secondly, when you are pushed away many who besmear you with malice aforethought, may there be God-fearers who turn to you in compassion, love, and understanding. In everyday life may God-fearers turn to you as God increasingly sets you up as a leader among them because of your obedience. May they turn to you as an example and as a beacon of hope in their affliction.

כ Kaph

81 My soul faints with longing for your salvation, but I have put my hope in your word.

82 My eyes fail, looking for your promise; I say, “When will you comfort me?”

83 Though I am like a wineskin in the smoke, I do not forget your decrees.

84 How long must your servant wait? When will you punish my persecutors?

85 The arrogant dig pits to trap me, contrary to your law.

86 All your commands are trustworthy; help me, for I am being persecuted without cause.

87 They almost wiped me from the earth, but I have not forsaken your precepts.

88 In your unfailing love preserve my life, that I may obey the statutes of your mouth.

Waiting on God is one of the toughest disciplines of faith as we all know. Things don’t happen in our time. Many lose hope and faith on this issue of time.  Theologian Horne says, “While the promised salvation is delayed, the afflicted soul thinketh every day a year.” How true that feels. Conception of time is another construct of our intellect. It is therefore another opportunity to surrender our soul to God, even as we ask, “when will you comfort me?”

The psalmist describes himself as a wineskin in the smoke. What a visual. Smoke makes our eyes smart and imbues us with its distinct odor. Our initial reaction is to wave it away. It seems to compromise the integrity of the wineskin as it dries it out, sapping it of all life. Yet God knows that smoke has its purpose too. As it dries the wineskin it cures it. It kills harmful microorganisms. It removes the moisture that harbors them and makes it prone to disease and irreparable damage. It makes it tough and able to endure various conditions.

It doesn’t stay in the smoke forever, but it might feel like it to the wineskin. Within a day the wineskin might say, “Okay, I’m good. I’m pretty well cured now.” But not so. It must sit there many days till its master sees to it that it is devoid of all disease; denuded of all humidity which would damage the wine. The master of the wine knows exactly when it is ready. Spurgeon adds, “our trials are smoke, but not fire; they are very uncomfortable, but they do not consume us.”

ל Lamedh

89 Your word, Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.

90 Your faithfulness continues through all generations; you established the earth, and it endures.

91 Your laws endure to this day, for all things serve you.

92 If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.

93 I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have preserved my life.

94 Save me, for I am yours; I have sought out your precepts.

95 The wicked are waiting to destroy me, but I will ponder your statutes.

96 To all perfection I see a limit, but your commands are boundless.

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What glorious words of life! What faith and depth of truth. A life lived thus ends with no regrets. Indeed, its end is heightened with anticipation to see the culmination of the faith when it truly becomes sight and we behold our master face to face. Delight in the laws. Seek out and remember the precepts. Ponder the statutes. They are the ultimate in unlimited perfection!

Open the Eyes of my Heart

A devotional of Psalm 119:33-64

ה He

33 Teach me, Lord, the way of your decrees, that I may follow it to the end.

We saw yesterday that being in the Word learning the way requires discipline and strength. To follow it to the end, we must also grow in endurance. This is not a short stint. It is a marathon. May we determine to start, maintain, and finish no matter what comes our way.

34 Give me understanding, so that I may keep your law and obey it with all my heart.

King Solomon prayed, “Give therefore your servant a heart of understanding to judge your people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge so great a people?” 1 Kings 3:9.  If wise king Solomon needed a heart of understanding, how much more do we? I love that God invites us to understand so that we can obey. He is not just forcing or lording us into obedience. He wants us to understand his laws because in so doing, we understand him more and more.

35 Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight.

We were created for pleasure. Father, convince my heart that there is ultimate pleasure and delight in your ways. Satan, the world, and the flesh are determined to tell me otherwise. They offer tantalizing alternatives. I must become convinced from my own experiences and those of others that, “The blessing of the LORD enriches, and He adds no sorrow to it,” Pr. 10:22. The problem with the world’s “blessings” is that they are paid for in the currency of sorrow as I show repeatedly in Napping in Delilah’s Lap. Only in God’s pure Word and ways will we have no regrets.

36 Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain.

37 Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word.

Heart management takes two parties: us and God. I have to co-labor with him and cooperate with him in training my heart to align with his. He has provided the Word, I am to learn from it. He gives the instruction and the power of the Holy Spirit, I yield to those forces and decision by decision, moment by moment choose his way over mine. I do this repeatedly, immediately, consistently, with passion or muchness, to the end.

So much of the competition of God’s Word and ways is worthless. It is fleeting, it is deceptive, it is hollow, it is consuming, and it is dismally dissatisfying. Like King David, may we determine, “I will set no vile thing before my eyes,” Ps. 101:3a. The eyes and other senses are the gateway to our souls. May I do everything in my power to guard them carefully. And when I fail, Jesus take the wheel and turn my eyes away.

38 Fulfill your promise to your servant, so that you may be feared.

39 Take away the disgrace I dread, for your laws are good.

40 How I long for your precepts! In your righteousness preserve my life.

ו Waw

41 May your unfailing love come to me, Lord, your salvation, according to your promise;

42 then I can answer anyone who taunts me, for I trust in your word.

43 Never take your word of truth from my mouth, for I have put my hope in your laws.

44 I will always obey your law, for ever and ever.

45 I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts.

46 I will speak of your statutes before kings and will not be put to shame,

47 for I delight in your commands because I love them.

God’s ways are stalwart and competent. We should have to fear of them appearing as foolishness even in the presence of kings. They will not let us down. They will hold their own as we speak them with confidence and passion. May they come to define us as we become increasingly associated with them, like a familiar coat.

48 I reach out for your commands, which I love, that I may meditate on your decrees.

ז Zayin

49 Remember your word to your servant, for you have given me hope.

50 My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.

What a wonderful verse to remember in difficult times. May we quote it often for ourselves and for others.

51 The arrogant mock me unmercifully, but I do not turn from your law.

52 I remember, Lord, your ancient laws, and I find comfort in them.

53 Indignation grips me because of the wicked, who have forsaken your law.

54 Your decrees are the theme of my song wherever I lodge.

55 In the night, Lord, I remember your name, that I may keep your law.

56 This has been my practice: I obey your precepts.

As part of the brain’s learning process, practice is indispensable. We have to do things over and over and over. We are to aim for mastery and it only comes through repeated exposure. Moreover, we gain an affinity for what we spend our time and attention on. Ensure that your time and attention are on worthwhile things.

ח Heth

57 You are my portion, Lord; I have promised to obey your words.

58 I have sought your face with all my heart; be gracious to me according to your promise.

59 I have considered my ways and have turned my steps to your statutes.

Here again is the picture of the template. This is true north. May we constantly recalibrate our tools. Where my life doesn’t measure up to God, I need to fix my compass to his.

60 I will hasten and not delay to obey your commands.

Note the matter of immediacy in obedience as it is reiterated here. We are training our brains and it is imperative that our responses are swift. This is like training an animal or a child. We must home in on immediacy.

61 Though the wicked bind me with ropes, I will not forget your law.

62 At midnight I rise to give you thanks for your righteous laws.

63 I am a friend to all who fear you, to all who follow your precepts.

64 The earth is filled with your love, Lord; teach me your decrees.

May he guard and guide you in the grand adventure of getting to know him more and more in his Word. May he nurture a deep love and appreciation for it. May he help you understand and find new insights every time you are in it. May your heart crave it and drink deeply of it. May he open your eyes that you might see wonderful things in his law.

The Word as a Template for the Heart

A devotional on Psalm 119:1-32

Fascinating facts about Psalm 119 according to rcg.com:

  • This, the longest psalm, is divided into 22 sets of eight-verse strophes, or sections.
  • Before each section, a word and sometimes a symbol appear. (These words are the English names of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. The symbols represent the Hebrew letters.)
  • It is written in a unique poetic form known as an acrostic. (In an acrostic, the first verse begins with a word starting with the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, Aleph. The second verse then begins with a word starting with the second letter, Beth. This pattern continues until the alphabet is used up.)
  • Because Psalm 119 is divided into 22 eight-verse sections, each section then represents a Hebrew letter. The first eight verses all begin with the letter Aleph. Verses 9-16 all begin with Beth, and so on throughout the psalm.

א Aleph

1 Blessed are those whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord.

The blameless – tamiym – are complete, whole, sound, and healthful. They are innocent, without blemish, perfect, and unimpaired. They are these things in the way – derek – in the frequented or trodden road. They are tamiym in their habits. What a great goal to aspire to. The psalmist shows us how.

2 Blessed are those who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart

3 they do no wrong but follow his ways.

The heart is front and center when it comes to fulfilling our calling to be tamiym. It’s not just what we do, it’s who we are. This is an unfolding of what it means to love the Lord with all our heart, and all our mind, and all our soul – the greatest commandment. Reflect back to the three aspects of the heart/ soul/mind. They are the Will, the Intellect, and the Emotions (WIE.) Keep these in mind as we explore this glorious psalm.

As we strive to align our hearts with God in love, our actions follow and we are tamiym. We frequently try to get the actions to align first but that puts the cart before the horse. The heart is the horse and the resulting actions are the cart. Moreover, as New Testament believers know, we are woefully incapable of meeting every requirement of the law. Yet to sin in just one means we completely miss the mark and might as well have broken them all. So God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteous of God, (2 Cor. 5:21.) To be tamiym starts with Jesus being Lord of the heart.

4 You have laid down precepts that are to be fully obeyed.

As sovereign over our lives, God has laid down rules for living. In this passage we will see them called precepts, decrees, commands, laws, the way, statutes, and the word. These are not given willy-nilly just to keep us busy till Jesus returns. They are serious mandates with serious consequences when they are obeyed and when they are not obeyed. They are to be obeyed diligently – meod – with muchness. I love that word. It means forcefully, exceedingly, very vehemently, wholly, and speedily.

5 Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees!

Here the psalmist passionately states the desire of his heart: to consistently obey with muchness. Jesus makes it abundantly clear how we are to love him in John 14:15, 16, 21 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” He also makes it clear that we can’t do it alone, but need a helper, the promised Holy Spirit.

6 Then I would not be put to shame when I consider all your commands.

As we learn God’s ways, we find that we constantly fall short. He who thinks he is perfect has not considered or understood the commands. To know them is to constantly see our shortcomings. Remember that the commands can be summed as loving God and loving others.

7 I will praise you with an upright heart as I learn your righteous laws.

8 I will obey your decrees; do not utterly forsake me.

Here we see the will applied. The psalmist determines to praise – yadah. That is the word that means to thrust the hands in the air, to give thanks and worship, and to confess sin. To do so with uprightness means to do it as it should be done, not our idea of what’s good enough. It is imperative that we learn the laws that we are to obey. If we don’t know God’s expectation, how can we meet it? May we explore the word so as to learn (a function of the intellect) them.

To obey is to keep, to guard. it is to attend to and put a hedge about so as to preserve. It speaks to a treasure that is cherished and at risk.

ב Beth

9 How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word.

10 I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.

To seek is to resort to. It means that we speedily defer to God and his ways, not as a last resort when our ways have failed. May we desire to stay tethered to the word and its commands. Further, to seek means to investigate, to practice with care, to follow.

11 I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

To hide is to store, treasure, to hoard. It is to esteem and protect. So we hide God’s word in our will. We treasure it in our intellect. We protect it in our emotions.  This treasure is endangered. Many imposters within and without desire to crowd it out. That is why we are to “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it,” Pr. 4:23.

12 Praise be to you, Lord; teach me your decrees.

We are to expose ourselves to God’s teaching at all times. May we take every opportunity to immerse ourselves in the refreshing pool of his teaching. May we expose our brains (an aspect of the heart/soul) to him and his ways. May we fill it with information. The more we know, the richer we are. May we be teachable. Man’s opinions and thoughts may be good, but the unadulterated pure word of God is unmatched.

13 With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth.

Have you ever thought you understood something till you went to explain it to someone else and realized you didn’t get it? If you can recount it, you probably learned it. Practice this constantly. Speaking organizes the thoughts and gels what you are learning. Do it alone and with others.

14 I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches.

The psalmist here engages his emotions. He nurtures delight in following the statutes. We gain an affinity for what we spend time and attention on. May we pursue God’s word as much as we pursue silver and gold. May it be the primary desire of our hearts.

15 I meditate on your precepts and have respect upon your ways.

To meditate is a function of the intellect. It means to ponder, consider, or muse and to utter. To have respect – nabat – is to consider, to pay attention to, to scan and lock in on. This too is a function of the intellect preceding focus and learning.

16 I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.

The psalmist again engages the emotional state of delight. It is to amuse or please oneself. The KJV renders the latter part of the verse, “I will not forget your word.” Shakach is to ignore or to cease caring. We see his will determining to engage the intellectual aspect of memory and the emotional aspect of caring.

ג Gimel

17 Be good to your servant while I live, that I may obey your word.

18 Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.

This is one of my favorite verses. The senses are integral to the heart. Indeed, the heart has parallel senses to our physical senses.  Paul said “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints,” Eph. 1:18. One person will read the word and find nothing of value. Another will see pure gold. May we be those who have eyes to see spirit treasures that our physical eyes cannot. Make this your prayer every time you get in the word: “open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.”

19 I am a stranger on earth; do not hide your commands from me.

20 My soul is consumed with longing for your laws at all times.

21 You rebuke the arrogant, who are accursed, those who stray from your commands.

22 Remove from me their scorn and contempt, for I keep your statutes.

To keep – natsar – is to maintain, to guard. To maintain is another function of the intellect. We initiate activity, maintain it, and then terminate it.  Many start but don’t follow through. Maintenance is an act of maturity and commitment. This is where the rubber meets the road. It requires faithfulness, strength, and endurance. Anyone can start on a desire and commitment to be in the word. Many do, con gusto. To maintain and finish well requires assistance from our precious helper, the Holy Spirit of God himself. He wants to help you in this regard. Ask him.

23 Though rulers sit together and slander me, your servant will meditate on your decrees.

24 Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors.

ד Daleth

25 I am laid low in the dust; preserve my life according to your word.

26 I gave an account of my ways and you answered me; teach me your decrees.

He is always teaching. Are we always learning?

27 Cause me to understand the way of your precepts, that I may meditate on your wonderful deeds.

28 My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word.

To strengthen – qum – is another aspect of the intellect, the will, and the emotions.  It starts with the basic intellectual act of being roused as from sleep so we can pay attention. Sorrow (among other emotions) wears us down and can cause our bodily systems to start shutting down in self-preservation. God’s word is as sugar to a diabetic having a low. It gives a new lease on life so that we can rise up. God has not called us to stupor and ignorance. He calls us to valor and strength and purpose. He calls us to prosper and engage; to maintain and finish, and to do so with muchness!

29 Keep me from deceitful ways; be gracious to me and teach me your law.

Lies are the primary thing that keep us from the Word. The enemy of our souls is a liar. He has always been and always will be. If the Word is the truth, it is the antithesis of Satan. He does not want us in the Word. He’s okay if we are in the news and on Facebook and YouTube for hours on end. But he trembles when we are consistently and strategically in the Word. He will do anything and everything in his power to keep us from it. It’s a good thing we have power and help in that department. Not today, Satan! Tomorrow doesn’t look good either.

30 I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I have set my heart on your laws.

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on Pexels.com

To set ones heart is to adjust so that it resembles something else. We have to choose (intellect) what is truth and then align our souls with it. That is the sole job of our lives. This is what it means to worship God. This is what pleases him. I take my will and use his will as a template – I desire what he desires. I take my intellect and adjust it to his – I am roused by what rouses him; I become alert to what he is alert to; I focus on what he focuses on; I learn and memorize what he teaches and values; I perceive as he does; I problem-solve and plan according to him. I take his intellect and use it as a blueprint for mine. I also adjust my emotions to his. I fear what he says to fear. I delight in what delights him. I love what he loves and hate what he hates. Beloved, set your heart on his laws.

31 I hold fast to your statutes, Lord; do not let me be put to shame.

32 I run in the path of your commands, for you have broadened my understanding.

KJV I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart.

Image result for American ninja

Hold fast with tenacity and determination. Many things will attempt to knock you off. It is like a scene on American Ninja. Dabaq means to stick to, to cling and join to. Adhere yourself to his statutes. Become one with them. Follow hard after them. With your will, determine that in your life the path – derek – of his word will be well worn. It will be as a frequented and well-used highway. It shall consume you and make you one with it. Delight me in it, Lord. Have your way with me.

His Mercy Endures Forever

A devotional on Psalm 118

1 O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; because his mercy endures forever!

Give thanks – yadah – to the Lord. That means throw, shoot, or cast the hand out as to launch a weapon; worship with extended hands; give thanks and praise; to confess sin. Yad is a hand and, figuratively, means strength, direction, and power. We do this for he is good – tob – meaning pleasant, kind, appropriate, excellent, valuable, beautiful, precious, and sweet. And why is he all that? Because his mercy – chesed – goodness, kindness, faithfulness, and beauty endures forever – olam olam. If he was all that for a year, he’d be good enough, I suppose, but his chesed endures a long time. A long, long time.

2 Let Israel say, “His mercy endures forever.”

3 Let the house of Aaron say, “His mercy endures forever.”

4 Let those who fear the Lord say, “His mercy endures forever.”

You, beloved, fall into those three factions as we studied three devotionals ago and again yesterday. It is the blessed triad: You are the chosen of God; you are the royal priesthood; you are the wise who fear the Lord. Thrust those hands and say loudly “His mercy endures forever.” Tell that to your circumstances. Tell that to your aching body. Tell that to your difficult relationship. Tell that to your bank account. Tell that to the desire of your heart. Make it your mantra today.

5 Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me in a large place.

Are you in a squeeze? Are you in a narrow place? Are you constrained? Are you bound? Call on your God. You call, he answers. You call, he answers. You call, he answers. “He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the Lord was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.” Psalm 18:16-19

6 The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?

7 The Lord is on my side as my helper; I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.

KJV The LORD taketh my part with them that help me: therefore shall I see my desire upon them that hate me.

I hope you are feeling confidently cocky right about now. The shielding that you have is supreme. The back-up you have is imperial. Your posse is frightful. Look who is on your side. Look who supports you, cheers you, empowers you. Look who cares for you, loves you, adores you. And all that, olam olam. Do not be afraid for I AM with you. Do not be dismayed for I AM your God. I will help you; I will strengthen you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Halal Jah!

8 It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.

9 It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.

It is better, my friends. The arm of flesh will fail you. “With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God to help us, and to fight our battles. And the people rested themselves upon the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.” 2 Chronicles 32:8. “This is what the LORD says: “Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind, who makes the flesh his strength and turns his heart from the LORD. He will be like a shrub in the desert; he will not see when prosperity comes. He will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives.…” Jeremiah 17:5, 6.

“Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, who rely on horses, who trust in the multitude of their chariots and in the great strength of their horsemen, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel, or seek help from the Lord. Now the Egyptians are men, and not God; and their horses flesh, and not spirit. When the LORD shall stretch out his hand, both he that helpeth shall fall, and he that is holpen shall fall down, and they all will perish together,” Isaiah 31:1, 3.

It is better to take refuge in the Lord, my friends.

10 All nations surrounded me; in the name of the Lord I cut them off!

11 They surrounded me, surrounded me on every side; in the name of the Lord I cut them off!

12 They surrounded me like bees; they went out like a fire among thorns; in the name of the Lord I cut them off!

13 I was pushed hard, so that I was falling, but the Lord helped me.

14 The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.

15 Glad songs of salvation are in the tents of the righteous: “The right hand of the Lord does valiantly,

16 the right hand of the Lord exalts, the right hand of the Lord does valiantly!”

17 I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the Lord.

18 The Lord has disciplined me severely, but he has not given me over to death.

“It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights. He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You make your saving help my shield, and your right hand sustains me; your help has made me great. You provide a broad path for my feet, so that my ankles do not give way. I pursued my enemies and overtook them; I did not turn back till they were destroyed. I crushed them so that they could not rise; they fell beneath my feet. You armed me with strength for battle; you humbled my adversaries before me. You made my enemies turn their backs in flight, and I destroyed my foes. They cried for help, but there was no one to save them— to the Lord, but he did not answer. I beat them as fine as windblown dust; I trampled them like mud in the streets,” Ps. 18:32-42.

Call upon the name of the Lord, and be saved!

19 Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the Lord.

20 This is the gate of the Lord; the righteous shall enter through it.

21 I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation.

22 The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.

23 This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.

24 This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Consider again that this is the final hymn that Jesus sang after dinner on the night of his betrayal. They sang psalms 115-118 for the Passover. This is the gate of the Lord; the righteous shall enter through it. Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep… I am the gate; whoever enters through Me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” – John 10:7-10 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it,” Mt. 7:13, 14.

25 Save us, we pray, O Lord! O Lord, we pray, give us success!

26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! We bless you from the house of the Lord.

27 The Lord is God, and he has made his light to shine upon us. Bind the festal sacrifice with cords, up to the horns of the altar!

Hosannah in the highest, the crowd had sung as he entered Jerusalem riding on a donkey. He knew full well he was to be the sacrificial lamb that Passover. “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” Jn 8:12. “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord,” they hailed and lauded as they spread their robes for the donkey to tread on, welcoming their king. But in no time, they would bind the festal sacrifice with cords, up to the horns of the altar. “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,” John 1:29.

28 You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God; I will extol you.

29 Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!

Halal Jah!

My Earth, My Peoples.

A devo on Psalm 117

Image result for the earth is the lord. Size: 199 x 160. Source: christianculturecenter.com

Guzik quotes Boice in stating that Martin Luther expounded this brief psalm into the following categories: (1) prophecy (the Gentiles will participate in gospel blessings), (2) revelation (the kingdom of Christ is not earthly and temporal but rather heavenly and eternal), (3) instruction (we are saved by faith alone and not by works, wisdom, or holiness), and (4) admonition (we should praise God for such a great salvation).”

1 Praise the Lord, all nations! Extol him, all peoples!

Halal Jah!

The past psalms have been instructing three groups to halal Yah: the house of Israel (the chosen people of God through Abraham); the house of Aaron (the priestly line that intercedes to God on behalf of man); and those who fear the Yah. Today the psalmist is opening the playing field to all nations and all peoples. There isn’t a nation or a people group that isn’t chosen and invited. “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it,” Ps. 24:10. God created all things and for his pleasure they were created – all of them (Rev. 4:11) That boggles my mind.

God promised our Father Abraham that through him all nations would be blessed, Gen. 12:3. Maclaren teaches that, “The fire was gathered in a grate, that it might warm the whole house. All men have a share in what God does for Israel.” What a beautiful picture.

2 For His merciful kindness is great toward us, and the truth of the LORD endures forever. Praise the Lord!

God’s kindness, hesed, is great. That means it is strong and powerful and that it makes one strong and powerful. We see a sublime balance of God’s love or merciful kindness hand in hand with the truth of God. Many heresies arise from taking one without the other. Each becomes as soggy toast without the other and is strengthened greatly by the other. “Consider the kindness and sternness of God…” Rom. 11:22. They are two wings on the same bird; two sides of the same coin.

As a hallel psalm, this is a psalm that Jesus would have sung with his disciples before heading out to the Garden of Gethsemane on the night of his betrayal. He created it. He bought it with his blood. The earth is twice his. No wonder he can then say, “Ask of me and I will give you the nations as an inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Your possession.” Psalm 2:8. Please reread Psalm 117 from his perspective and with your eyes opened to what we’ve discussed.

Halal Jah!

Raise the Cup

A devotional on Psalm 116

This is a song that Jesus and his disciples sang on the night of his betrayal “And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.” Mt. 26:30. Read it with him in mind on that dreadful night.

I love the Lord, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy.

2 Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live.

3 The snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me; I suffered distress and anguish.

4 Then I called on the name of the Lord: “O Lord, I pray, deliver my soul!”

This section discloses relational reciprocity between us and God. We call, he answers. We cry out and he inclines his ears to us. This experience repeatedly becomes embedded in our brain, and we learn to love him because of his predictable faithfulness. No matter what ensnares you; no matter what grabs you; no matter the torment, call on his name and he will deliver your soul. Jesus had learned this in his life on earth and well before.

5 Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; our God is merciful.

6 The Lord preserves the simple; when I was brought low, he saved me.

The simple – pethiy pethiy – are the naïve, open-minded, the seducible. Its root word means to be wide open, easy to lure, persuade, or deceive. To God we are as children. We are gullible to things that attract us. We have little knowledge and experience and fall into traps set to entice us. Thank him for his graciousness, his righteousness, and his mercy with which he preserves us. To preserve – shamar – is to guard, to observe, to watch for and save life. It is to hedge about as with thorns; to attend to, to be aware, to watch with eyes narrowed. 

Image result for Jesus on the cross

If you fear him, as we read yesterday, that is his stance toward you. This is the stance of Jesus on the cross over you, guarding you, observing you; with a crown of thorns around his swollen head; eyes narrowed at you, aware of you to save you.

7 Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.

Oh how I love this soul talk. Sometimes we just need to hold our soul by the face, lean in and tell it how it’s going to be. If you are anxious, fussing and fretting, learn to shush your soul. Tell it to dock. Don’t let it keep thrashing and flailing. It will drown itself in that frenzy. Speak words to it and point it back to its Maker. God is your rest – manoach – your resting place. Your condition of rest. A dog circles before it settles into its manoach for a snooze. Train your soul to do that.

8 For you have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling;

9 I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living.

Despite my folly; despite my poor decisions; despite my gullibility and places I took myself that I had no business being in, God maintained his narrowed-eyes stance over me and plucked me just in time. No matter how close I came to death; no matter how hard I cried or how surely my feet stumbled, I was safe in his arms. Therefore “I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the LORD,” Ps 118:17. Heaven knows I should have, but I shall not. Halal Yah!

10 I believed, even when I spoke: “I am greatly afflicted”;

11 I said in my alarm, “All mankind are liars.”

12 What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits to me?

13 I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord,

14 I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people.

Remember how we were to command our soul to return to its rest? The Hebrew word is shub. In verse 12 the psalmist asks what he can shub to Yah for dealing bountifully him. Now that his soul is docked, he can see clearly what he needs to do. Psalm 116 is a hymn that Jesus sang on the night of his betrayal. Commentator Morgan says, ““Within a very little while after this singing, He, in Gethsemane, spoke of a cup, and in complete surrender to His Father’s will, consented to drink it. That was the cup of sorrows, of bitterness, of cursing. Having emptied it, He filled it with joy, with sweetness, with blessing. When we take that cup let us never forget the cost at which He so filled it for us.”

And what can we offer him for filling that amazing cup with his all for us? We can lift up the same cup and call upon him in acceptance of the salvation he wrought for us. We can consistently affirm our belief in him and thank him without ceasing for paying the price we couldn’t pay to give us a life we couldn’t afford.

15 Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.

16 O Lord, I am your servant; I am your servant, the son of your maidservant. You have loosed my bonds.

NIV Truly I am your servant, LORD I serve you just as my mother did; you have freed me from my chains.

When we think of Jesus signing this song before his death and invoking his mother’s name, we remember young Mary being thrust into the limelight and a life she did not want. Yet she surrendered and said, “I am maidservant of Jehovah, be it done to me according to your word,” Lk 1:38. In that precious tone of heart, her son Jesus would say, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup [of divine wrath] from Me; yet not My will, but [always] Yours be done.” Lk 22:42. Truly he could say, “O Lord, I am your servant; I am your servant, the son of your maidservant. You have loosed my bonds.” Verse 16.

17 I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the Lord.

18 I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people,

19 in the courts of the house of the Lord, in your midst, O Jerusalem.

Praise the Lord!

After all he has done for us, the only fitting response to God is thanks. Verse 17 speaks of a sacrifice of Thanksgiving – todah. Todah is praise to God in song. It is primarily rendered in a group setting as a choir or processional. Its root word yada has to do with extending the hand in adoration. Visualize a room full of singing people with hands raised. If individual singing to God is bombastic in power, group singing is atomic.

Halal Yah!

Not To Us

A devotional on Psalm115

Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!

The Lord has promised us abundant glory – kabod kabod – especially in glory. It’s doubled because it’s going to be good good! When God sets up a principle, he enemy sets us up a perversion. Satan’s temptation to us today is that we don’t have to wait till we see Jesus face to face. Oh no, we can have our glory now. We can amass things and experiences that are for our exclusive pleasure till our dying breath. But pleasures and comforts swiftly render us fickle and faithless. We wrangle with God for what is his.

When God sets up a principle,

the enemy sets up a perversion.

hannah tk

Scripture challenges the fleshly desire and says that the glory belongs primarily to God’s name. That is where the beauty is. That is where the splendor is. Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory.

2 Why should the nations say, “Where is their God?”

3 Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.

4 Their idols are silver and gold, the work of human hands.

5 They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see.

6 They have ears, but do not hear; noses, but do not smell.

7 They have hands, but do not feel; feet, but do not walk; and they do not make a sound in their throat.

8 Those who make them become like them; so do all who trust in them.

We become much like what we spend time with and pour ourselves into. That includes the people we hang out with, the values of the pleasures we pursue, and whatever we put our hands to. We also become increasingly like those we trust in.

9 O Israel, trust in the Lord! He is their help and their shield.

10 O house of Aaron, trust in the Lord! He is their help and their shield.

11 You who fear the Lord, trust in the Lord! He is their help and their shield.

But we are called and set apart to be different. We look to God to be our pleasure and the soul pursuit of our hearts. We look to God to be our help and our shield. Today’s passage addresses three populations. The first is Israel. Their patriarch Abraham was the recipient of God’s seal of ownership and everlasting relationship as a chosen friend of God. Romans 9:8 says that “not all of Abraham’s children are children of God, but only those who believe the promise of salvation which he made to Abraham.” God is your hope and your shield, O Israel.

Second is the house of Aaron. An elaborate consecration service confirmed Aaron and his sons to represent the people to God as priests forever. This was through the sprinkling with blood upon themselves, their garments, and the altar. “There I will meet with the people of Israel, and it shall be sanctified by my glory. I will consecrate the tent of meeting and the altar. Aaron also and his sons I will consecrate to serve me as priests. I will dwell among the people of Israel and will be their God. And they shall know that I am the Lord their God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt that I might dwell among them. I am the Lord their God,” Exodus 29:43-46.

Then God turns around and calls believers in Christ “sprinkled” and “priests.” “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy,” 1 Peter 2:9, 10. God is your hope and your shield, house of Aaron.

The third party is “those who fear the Lord.” Yesterday we talked about how the earth trembled at the presence of the God of Jacob, Jesus Christ, who was with the Exodus Expedition from Egypt to Canaan. All creation writhed and leapt in terror and praise of him. We were invited to be known as those who fear the Lord. God is your hope and your shield, you who fear him.

12 The Lord has remembered us; he will bless us; he will bless the house of Israel; he will bless the house of Aaron;

13 he will bless those who fear the Lord, both the small and the great.

Halal Yah! Those are they that Yah will stoop down to love on and cover with his favor.

14 May the Lord give you increase, you and your children!

15 May you be blessed by the Lord, who made heaven and earth!

16 The heavens are the Lord’s heavens, but the earth he has given to the children of man.

What a grand blessing. May we speak that over ourselves and all those we come in contact with. Increase our faith, Lord. Increase our fear of you. Increase our obedience unto godliness. Increase our knowledge of you. Increase our hope in you. Increase our humility and our love for others. Increase the work of our hands and the brilliance of our minds. Thank you for giving us the earth. It is a beautiful earth. Help us tend it and use it to your glory.

17 The dead do not praise the Lord, nor do any who go down into silence.

This was a common misconception among our ancestors who did not have knowledge of the afterlife. It was frequently perceived as a cessation of being in a place called Sheol.

18 But we will bless the Lord from this time forth and forevermore. Praise the Lord!

Yet right here we see a declaration that our praise shall indeed be forevermore. Halal Yah!

If Only She Knew

A devotional on Psalm 114

1 When Israel went out from Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of strange language,

2 Judah became his sanctuary, Israel his dominion.

3 The sea looked and fled; Jordan turned back.

4 The mountains skipped like rams, the hills like lambs.

5 What ails you, O sea, that you flee? O Jordan, that you turn back?

6 O mountains, that you skip like rams? O hills, like lambs?

7 Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob,

8 who turns the rock into a pool of water, the flint into a spring of water.

What a delightful, pithy psalm we get to study today. The Exodus from Egypt is one of God’s greatest feats on earth for his people. Just as important is its symbolism for the spiritual journey of the Christian. Upon freeing us from slavery and death through the salvation of our souls, we become his sanctuary. We become his dominion. Sanctuary – qodesh – means a sacred place dedicated and set apart to be holy. The word saint comes from that. Dominion – memshalah – means rule, reign, power. God rules over your life and then gives you reflective dominion over life and principalities. That is who you are beloved saint of God!

So what did the Red Sea see that made it flee in haste?  What did the Jordan River see that made it reverse its course? Paul paints an eye-opening picture for us:

“For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.

Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did… We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, … Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.” 1 Cor. 10:1-4, 6, 9, 11.

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Jesus Christ was with them in the Exodus! Jesus Christ himself. In Egypt, in the wilderness, clear to Canaan. The Rock. Guarding. Guiding. Being put to the test. That’s what the Red Sea saw and split. That’s what the Jordan saw and hightailed it in the wrong direction! That’s why the mountains skipped like rams and the hills like lambs. They were glorying in the physical presence of their creator. They were praising him – halal. Yesterday I reminded you that halal means to boast and glory in, to rave, to celebrate, to make a show, to act madly. It means to dance like an unconstrained little child. Well, if the people weren’t seeing him, the mountains and the hills sure were!

You can’t encounter Jesus Christ and just sit there. He shows up and rocks start to shudder. That’s how he moves the mountains. Tremble O earth, at the presence of the Lord. Elements morph in his presence. THE ROCK turns to water. Electrons and protons and neutrons realign as they bow down in worship. Yes, that Rock that followed the Israelites from Africa, across the Sea, through the wilderness, and into Canaan turned to water. God Almighty turns the rock into a pool of water, the flint into a spring of water.

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Years later, Jesus would encounter a thirsty Samaritan woman at the well in the wilderness. She had a life altering encounter with him in no time. “Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” John 4:10. If she knew, beloved, if only she knew that she was talking to the living water. If only she knew that she would drink from the same spiritual rock that the Israelites drank from in their wilderness.

By verse 28, she knew. She dropped that vessel and took off for town. She was a new woman. She’d been transformed. Her heart of stone had melted. She knew why the sea split and the river reversed course. She knew why the mountains leapt and the hills skilled. She went off to tell others and to bring them back to him. O, she knew Beloved. Do you?

Reread today’s short passage with this perspective. Let it move you.