Psalm 79-82

O my people hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in parables. I will utter hidden things, things from of old. Psalm 78:1-2

In spite of all this, they kept on sinning : in spite of all his wonders, they did not believe. Psalm 78:32

Whenever God slew them, they would seek him; they eagerly turned to him again. They remembered that God was their Rock, that God Most High was their Redeemer. Psalm 78:34

Help us, O God our Savior, for the glory of your name; deliver us and forgive our sins for your namesake. Psalm 79:9

Restore us, O God Almighty; make your face shine upon us, that we might be saved. Psalm 80:3,7,19

God gave Israel the law, but they still sinned.  He performed wonders for them, but  they forgot his miracles. Time and time again he rescued them and as soon as they were safe, they abandoned him giving him little more than lip service. God answered those prayers of desperation in Psalm 79 and 80. Ultimately He delivered all mankind once and for all  through Jesus, the one prophesied to speak in parables.

I am no different than Israel, except in one respect. I am looking back at Christ’s sacrifice for my sin, knowing it is a done deal. They were looking forward to the appearance of the Messiah, not knowing how they would be delivered. Only a few short weeks after God answered my prayers and my crisis passed, I am too distracted to read my bible and my prayer life has dried up. I too have forgotten my first love. Though I am redeemed, I am still a sinner. Paul understood this dichotomy well.

Wretched man I am. Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 7:24-25

Our need of a Savior has not changed, but now we know that Christ has completed the work of redemption through his blood. It is finished.

I am so easily led away from you. Create a clean heart in me O God. Cleanse me of all my sins. Restore me to right relationship with You. Please forgive me for neglecting what should be the most important relationship in my life. Thank you Lord for your mercy and grace through Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior. Amen

YICA Reggie

From the archives. Originally published July 8, 2009.

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Psalms 78:25-72

Psalm 78 opens with these words–

My people, hear my teaching;
    listen to the words of my mouth.
I will open my mouth with a parable;
    I will utter hidden things, things from of old—
things we have heard and known,
    things our ancestors have told us.
We will not hide them from their descendants;
    we will tell the next generation
the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord,
    his power, and the wonders he has done. (Psalm 78:1-4, NIV)

The psalm lists great things the Lord has done. So we will know him and remember who he is. So that we will share it with a next generation.

But what I notice, too, is the psalm lists things man has done.

32 In spite of all this, they kept on sinning;
    in spite of his wonders, they did not believe.

It’s a familiar pattern.

Whenever God slew them, they would seek him;
    they eagerly turned to him again.
35 They remembered that God was their Rock,
    that God Most High was their Redeemer.
36 But then they would flatter him with their mouths,
    lying to him with their tongues;
37 their hearts were not loyal to him,
    they were not faithful to his covenant. (Psalm 78:34-37, NIV)

How often …

How often they rebelled against him in the wilderness
    and grieved him in the wasteland!
41 Again and again they put God to the test;
    they vexed the Holy One of Israel.
42 They did not remember his power— (Psalm 78:40-42a, NIV)

This psalm is just a short glimpse of time, finishing up with David.

In literature, stories sometimes reflect that conditions and state of the world at that time: Take Dickens, Twain, Steinbeck, Angelou, Knowles, and so many others–their stories are a heart’s cry of a generation. And I wonder, if one were to write a psalm today, would it be so very different from this one? There is no doubt to me that God’s goodness and faithfulness will outshine man’s corruption and sin.

39 He remembered that they were but flesh,
    a passing breeze that does not return. (Psalm 78:39, NIV)

Lord, this life is temporary and brief. I read these words in grateful stillness. When a generation screams, Lord, let me remember you. Let me tell someone of your goodness and faithfulness, to pass it down and pass it on. Help me to keep my focus on you and your kingdom.

Courtney (66books365)

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Psalms 76:8-78:24

In distress. In silence. In waiting. In groaning. In faintness and weariness. Self, remember …

I cried out to God for help;
    I cried out to God to hear me.
When I was in distress, I sought the Lord;
    at night I stretched out untiring hands,
    and I would not be comforted.

I remembered you, God, and I groaned;
    I meditated, and my spirit grew faint.
You kept my eyes from closing;
    I was too troubled to speak.
I thought about the former days,
    the years of long ago;
I remembered my songs in the night.
    My heart meditated and my spirit asked:

“Will the Lord reject forever?
    Will he never show his favor again?
Has his unfailing love vanished forever?
    Has his promise failed for all time?
Has God forgotten to be merciful?
    Has he in anger withheld his compassion?”

10 Then I thought, “To this I will appeal:
    the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand.
11 I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
    yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
12 I will consider all your works
    and meditate on all your mighty deeds.” (Psalm 77:1-12, NIV)

Remember the former days. Remember your songs in the night. But especially this: Remember the deeds of the Lord. Remember his miracles of long ago. Consider all his mighty works. Meditate on all his mighty deeds.

I can choose to doubt and despair of an unknown future.

… “Then I thought …” (Psalm 77:10a, NIV)

Or I can choose to appeal to the Lord based on his reliable record, his deeds and works and miracles, his word.

Father God, your word is hope and truth. Circumstance and my own thoughts can make it seem like you are far, but when I remember you and think of who you are and all you’ve done, I draw closer to you. I draw closer to you, and you meet me.

Courtney (66books365)

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Psalms 73:21-76:7

Come walk with me God and see the perpetual desolations. This is the plea of Asaph in Psalm 74:3. Asaph does not just complain about what is happening, but like having the general in an army at his side, asks God to see and evaluate the destruction of his homeland. I am heartbroken at times for the lack of resources for the needy, the unmitigated cruelty on the defenseless, and the loneliness of the elderly, the orphan, and the widowed. Feeling helpless is not in my nature, yet I do not have control over tragic circumstances, addiction, financial needs, medical distress, and the broken relationships of the people I bring to God in prayer. Like Asaph, I want to call on God to “remember.” Remember the unexplained, unfair acts of nature; remember the greed and envy of the takers in this world; remember the harsh criticisms spoken in reproach; remember that all this harm is not just against the oppressed but against God, Himself. Yet also Asaph speaks confidence in his God who has miraculously defeated these enemies in the past. “The day is Yours, the night also is Yours, You have prepared the light and the sun. You have set all the borders of the earth. You have made summer and winter.” (Psalm 74:16,17). What a powerful argument in pleading for God’s divine intervention!

The very next Psalm sings praises to God from Asaph’s heart of faith. Asaph declares that God is near, that God will not be rushed, and that God is the Judge. These words bring a sense of comfort and relief knowing that I do not have to be in control. Though my tears and mourning lead me to pray, my helplessness leads me to let go and trust. I am especially encouraged when my Christian brothers and sisters join in my prayers for deliverance. Asaph also speaks to not only his own faith but that of his countrymen. He says that God is known by Israel. I am reminded about Jesus Christ’s words in John 10:27-30. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.”

From this posture of dependence on God, Asaph (and we) declare that Almighty God is in control. There is no weakness in saying to God, “You, Yourself, are to be feared; And who may stand in Your presence when once You are angry?” If we could see God’s warring angels as if standing on a mountain looking down at the battle, I think we would fall to our knees in our fear of the Lord. Note that the “fear of the Lord” has two connotations – for the righteous, the fear of the Lord produces awe, wonder, adoration, and worship. Being God’s beloved, we who know His voice and are called His sons and daughters would be overcome by the extent that God will go to fight for us. For God’s enemies, the fear of the Lord is terror, hatred, and an overwhelming need to escape. His presence will cause them to shriek the words in Revelation 6:16, “They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!”

Lest some think that I have spiritualized these passages as if judgment and the final days of earth are of little consequence to our everyday lives, I ask that we consider the eternal existence of every soul. To quote my favorite author, C. S. Lewis, from his book The Weight of Glory, “The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbor’s glory should be laid on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal…it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.”

Knowing that our requests to God are divinely purposed to impact the immortal souls all around us, shall we be flippant or negligent in praying for God’s intervention?

Father, God, You are the Almighty! I humbly bring my prayers, supplications, and petitions to You, knowing that You are in control. Let me see Your works when mine are useless. Let me feel Your presence in the midst of turmoil when I want to run away. Let me confidently declare Your goodness to those even weaker in the flesh than I. For You have created us in Your image and for eternity. You alone are worthy to receive honor, glory, and power. Bless the Lord!

Lewis, C. S. (Clive Staples). The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses. HarperOne, 2001.

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Psalms 71:17-73:20

Photo by Mandy Baldwin

“For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.”

Psalm‬ ‭73:3‬ ‭ESV

One of the things I love the most about the Psalms is how the authors write so authentically. In todays reading of Psalm 73 we hear the authors lament over seeing the wicked prosper.

Who hasn’t felt the injustice of watching one’s enemy win?

“And they say, “How can God know? Is there knowledge in the Most High?””

Psalm‬ ‭73:11‬ ‭ESV‬‬

This question of God is one that many of us have asked. How can God not know? Does He see what’s going on? How can He let this happen? And … for some reason it happens.

“But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end.”

Psalm‬ ‭73:16-17‬ ‭ESV‬‬

But…God. It was when the author went before the Lord that He understood. Being with God…that changes us. It changes the way we see ourselves…the way we see others…the way we see the world. Spending time with God doesn’t change the wicked…it changes us! It changes our perspective.

The wicked will always be there this side of eternity. However, how we interact with the injustice of this world is influenced by our time spent with God.

Dear God, I can’t change the wicked. I don’t know why You don’t change them, but I trust You. In the face of injustice, please meet with me…change me…empower me and show me the next right steps towards justice. Amen.

Mandy

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