Day One – Psalm 1 (A Flourishing Tree)
What activity do you love to do to refresh your soul? How often do you do it? Are you due for another refresh?
The Book of Psalms is a collection of inspired Hebrew prayers and hymns, like a temple "hymnal" or hymn book, and it was composed after the Israelites returned from exile and rebuilt the temple.
The Psalms were written during a period of about one thousand years from the time of Moses (about 1500 B.C.) to the time of Ezra (about 450 B.C.). The Book of Psalms is structured into five books. It is probably the most well-known and well-loved book of the Old Testament. Even those who have never read the Bible often know Psalm 23, as it is frequently read at funerals.
The Bible is God’s Word but we must remember that not all the words contained in it are from God to people. The Bible also contains words spoken to God or about God - which is what the Psalms do – and these words, too, are God's Word.
The Psalms help us to express our joy, our sorrow, our hopes and disappointments, our anger and frustration, our successes and our failures to God. They inspire us, comfort us, exhort and edify us, they instruct and they prophesy to us.
And the people who wrote the Psalms are just like us – they feel deep pain and despair, they revel in hope and joy, they may swing from faith to fear and back to faith again in a single moment.... so they are just like us.
Psalm 1 (NIV) –
Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.
4 Not so the wicked!
They are like chaff
that the wind blows away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
6 For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.
There’s a lot of “noise” right now. Have you noticed that? Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, endless news stories and talk back radio. It can be hard to escape! We have more access to information now than ever.
But this Psalm reminds us, in the first few verses, to be careful of the company we keep, wary of the voices we allow to speak into our lives.
The Message Bible puts it this way –
1 How well God must like you—
you don’t hang out at Sin Saloon,
you don’t slink along Dead-End Road,
you don’t go to Smart-Mouth College.
Instead, we are reminded to delight in God’s Word, to chew on it regularly. And when we do, there’s a promise here – listen to how The Passion Translation puts verse 3.
3 He will be standing firm like a flourishing tree planted by God’s design,
deeply rooted by the brooks of bliss,
bearing fruit in every season of his life.
He is never dry, never fainting, ever blessed, ever prosperous.
Don’t you love people who, even in their senior years, are still full of life and zest, still fruitful and walking in the blessings of God?
They have learned the secret of digging deep into His word and of planting themselves where God has planted them, so that they can be fruitful, supple and prosperous in body, mind and spirit.
How does this Psalm inspire you today? Why not take a moment right now to thank God for His promises of fruitfulness and blessing to you as you spend time in His Word to you today.
Day Two – Psalm 6 (No More Trips to the Woodshed)
When you were caught out doing something wrong as a child, what was your first reaction? Did you run and hide the evidence.... or confess to someone?
No one knows for certain the full story behind the writing of this Psalm. It’s believed that David had already committed his sin concerning Uriah and Bathsheba. Some think that Bathsheba had given birth to her baby and since the baby was near death, David was completely heartbroken and remorseful so he prays and asks for forgiveness.
Some believe that David has leprosy and he is anguishing over his condition and the fact that it has been made known to his enemies. Whatever the exact circumstances, we do know that David is truly repentant for his sin, and suffering mental and emotional anguish as a result of it. So he seeks forgiveness and begs restoration.
This Psalm is known as the first of the Penitential Psalms. It expresses the sorrow, the humiliation, and the hatred of sin, which are the definite marks of a remorseful spirit when it turns to God.
Psalm 6 (NIV) –
Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger
or discipline me in your wrath.
2 Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint;
heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony.
3 My soul is in deep anguish.
How long, Lord, how long?
4 Turn, Lord, and deliver me;
save me because of your unfailing love.
5 Among the dead no one proclaims your name.
Who praises you from the grave?
6 I am worn out from my groaning.
All night long I flood my bed with weeping
and drench my couch with tears.
7 My eyes grow weak with sorrow;
they fail because of all my foes.
8 Away from me, all you who do evil,
for the Lord has heard my weeping.
9 The Lord has heard my cry for mercy;
the Lord accepts my prayer.
10 All my enemies will be overwhelmed with shame and anguish;
they will turn back and suddenly be put to shame.
This Psalm is a sobering reminder that even an incredible man such as King David was guilty of falling away and sinning grossly, and it was his unconfessed sin which resulted in such severe suffering. Yet in our darkest nights, God is always present to hear the prayers of the distressed.... He always hears our prayers!
As New Testament followers of Christ, we know that Christ died once for all sin. This means that every sin that we have ever committed and will ever commit has been covered by the blood of the lamb. He paid the price for our sins. See 1 Peter 3:18.
As believers in Jesus, all our sin – past, present, and future – has already been punished on the cross. As Christians, we will never be punished for sin. That was done once for all. “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” - Romans 8:1 (NIV). Due to the sacrifice of Christ, God sees only the righteousness of Christ when He looks at us. Our sin has been nailed to the cross with Jesus, and we will never be punished for it.
However, sometimes we experience the discipline of God in our lives. Our loving Heavenly Dad turns us from rebellion to obedience and we begin to see things from His perspective. Discipline is cleansing. It also promotes growth – allowing us to be shaped on the potter’s wheel of life. So discipline is a good thing! But we never enjoy it.
Notice how David appeals to God in verse 2. This is a right way to respond to God when we have sinned. It does us no good to argue our goodness or greatness but rather to appeal to God, admitting our weakness and approaching Him humbly.
How often do we appeal to God's justice when dealing with our "enemies" but to His mercy when dealing with our own sin? Thankfully, God is both merciful and just all at the same time. He is perfectly balanced in this way.
And see how often David here pleads the name of Jehovah, which is always intended where the word LORD is given in capitals. Five times in four verses we see it. God’s name brings solace to us as it captures the sense that God is eternal and unchangeable. These qualities comfort us as believers. So David finishes this Psalm with the assurance that God had heard and accepted his prayers and that He will also deal with his enemies.
We can think of our tears as "liquid prayers”.
Have you offered any liquid prayers to God recently? How have you felt His comfort and restoration at these times?
Day Three – Psalm 23 (No Fear of the Future)
What was your favourite toy as a child? Do you still have it stored away somewhere?
David wrote this Psalm and most people believe that he was quite young, around 16 or 17 years old, and tending his father, Jesse’s, sheep near Bethlehem when he wrote it. Whilst David was still a youth, we can already see the heart of a giant killer here!
This Psalm reminds us that God is our total sufficiency in every area in our lives. The peace that He gives us is not an escape from life. Rather, it allows us to face the “valleys of the shadow” and the darkest of times knowing we will walk through it – with the full assurance of His love and protection.
Psalm 23 (TPT) –
The Lord is my best friend and my shepherd.
I always have more than enough.
2 He offers a resting place for me in his luxurious love.
His tracks take me to an oasis of peace, the quiet brook of bliss.
3 That’s where he restores and revives my life.
He opens before me pathways to God’s pleasure
and leads me along in his footsteps of righteousness
so that I can bring honour to his name.
4 Lord, even when your path takes me through
the valley of deepest darkness,
fear will never conquer me, for you already have!
You remain close to me and lead me through it all the way.
Your authority is my strength and my peace.
The comfort of your love takes away my fear.
I’ll never be lonely, for you are near.
5 You become my delicious feast
even when my enemies dare to fight.
You anoint me with the fragrance of your Holy Spirit;
you give me all I can drink of you until my heart overflows.
6 So why would I fear the future?
For your goodness and love pursue me all the days of my life.
Then afterward, when my life is through,
I’ll return to your glorious presence to be forever with you!
Spend some time meditating on verse 2 and make it personal to YOU! Jesus, our best friend and shepherd, the One who leads us through life, wants us to lie down in green pastures, to rest in His incredible love.
One of the Greek words for “love” is agape and it is a merging of two words and ideas. Ago means “to lead like a shepherd” and pao means “to rest”. So when we encounter the word “agape” in the Bible, God’s love, we are reminded that God is our shepherd leading us to a place of true rest in Him, true rest in His presence, in His heart.
Verse 3 reminds us that when we rest in God, “He restores our souls”. Another way of translating the original Hebrew here is that Jesus “causes my life (or soul, which is nephesh in Hebrew) to return”.
How often do we feel completely drained by life, the busyness, the crises and suffering? David reminds us here that God restores our well being, our true life returns to us as we pursue what pleases God and fully rest in Him. Fear need never conquer us ...for Jesus already has! Hallelujah!
His rod and His staff comfort us – the rod keeps the enemy, the wolf (the devil) at bay and the staff keeps the sheep (us, as believers) on the straight and narrow, the right path. We even have the promise of a feast in the presence of our enemies. We are anointed with the fragrance of the Holy Spirit. Our hearts overflow with the goodness of God.
So why would we fear the future? God’s goodness and love will always chase us down, like a couple of sheep dogs coming up at the rear of the mob. Just take a look over your shoulder.
Do you need your soul restored today? Jesus is leading you to a quiet place, just you and Him, where you can rest in His extravagant love. You will always have more than enough! Praise God.
Day Four – Psalm 24 (Open Up the Doors)
Have you ever worked in hospitality? Why is the gift of hospitality so important?
This is another of David’s Psalms and it was most likely sung in celebration of the return of the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6:11-19). Picture that for one moment! It is a reminder to us that God has a sovereign right to all the earth and that Jesus Christ will one day return to lay claim to His people and His planet.
Psalms 24:1 is quoted by Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:26 when Paul argues for Christian freedom in the eating of meat offered to idols.
Psalm 24 (NIV) –
The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it;
2 for he founded it on the seas
and established it on the waters.
3 Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord?
Who may stand in his holy place?
4 The one who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not trust in an idol
or swear by a false god.
5 They will receive blessing from the Lord
and vindication from God their Saviour.
6 Such is the generation of those who seek him,
who seek your face, God of Jacob.
7 Lift up your heads, you gates;
be lifted up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
8 Who is this King of glory?
The Lord strong and mighty,
the Lord mighty in battle.
9 Lift up your heads, you gates;
lift them up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
10 Who is he, this King of glory?
The Lord Almighty—
he is the King of glory.
As you remember verse 1, that the Earth is the Lord’s and that everything and everyone belongs to Him, how does this thought help you to pray in our current circumstances?
In verses 7 and 9, David is addressing us in one sense. Where the Hebrew text says “Lift up your heads” this is a figure of speech meaning “Rejoice!” We are the living gateways who rejoice as Jesus draws near to us from His temple.
Verse 7 in The Passion Translation phrases it in this way –
So wake up, you living gateways!
Lift up your heads, you ageless doors of destiny!
Welcome the King of Glory,
for he is about to come through you.
Wow! What a privilege that right now Jesus, the King of glory, is seeking entrance into people’s hearts – see Revelation 3:20. Notice that He does not break the door down, He does not force Himself into someone’s life. There must be an openness on the part of the people. And He often enters through us – through our testimony of what He has done in our lives.
So we have this privilege of proclaiming to people “Open your hearts and the King of glory will come in!” This King of glory, Jesus, is “armed and ready for battle, the Mighty One, the invincible commander of Heaven’s hosts!” (verse 10 – TPT).
Picture for a moment, drawing from this Psalm, the glory and majesty that accompanies Jesus’ entrance into a person’s heart. Do you remember the moment when it happened in your life? How does this inspire you to share with someone else today?
Day Five – Psalm 27 (Be Strong and Take Heart)
Have you ever run in a marathon or competed in an endurance sporting event? What kept you going to the very end?
We’re not sure of the exact circumstances surrounding David when he wrote this Psalm, but we do know that he was concerned about his enemies overcoming him. Some believe that it was at the time of Saul’s attempts on David’s life (1 Samuel 18-26) whilst others say that it was during Absalom’s rebellion (2 Samuel 15, 16).
The key in this season, and in life, is to keep “waiting on the Lord”. We can depend on Him! He will never let us down.... but we must trust in His sovereignty and timing. Faith can turn to fear when we fail to wait on Him.
Psalm 27 (NIV) –
The Lord is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?
2 When the wicked advance against me
to devour me,
it is my enemies and my foes
who will stumble and fall.
3 Though an army besiege me,
my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
even then I will be confident.
4 One thing I ask from the Lord,
this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
and to seek him in his temple.
5 For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
and set me high upon a rock.
6 Then my head will be exalted
above the enemies who surround me;
at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make music to the Lord.
7 Hear my voice when I call, Lord;
be merciful to me and answer me.
8 My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”
Your face, Lord, I will seek.
9 Do not hide your face from me,
do not turn your servant away in anger;
you have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me,
God my Saviour.
10 Though my father and mother forsake me,
the Lord will receive me.
11 Teach me your way, Lord;
lead me in a straight path
because of my oppressors.
12 Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,
for false witnesses rise up against me,
spouting malicious accusations.
13 I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.
Notice David’s change of mood, focus and perspective through this Psalm. This is a reminder that he is human, just like us!
In verses 1 to 3 we see a beautiful expression of David’s absolute faith in God. David seems fearless, confident, bold.
In verses 4 to 6 we see David’s singular desire to live in God’s presence. This is a right desire. In verse 6 David is inspired to worship!
Then doubt creeps in.
Have you noticed how that can happen?
In verses 9 and 12 it seems that David has begun to doubt God’s presence and God’s goodness. This can happen – in the waiting, in the dark, at night.
Yet David turns back again and reminds himself of God’s faithfulness in verses 13 and 14 and of his need to “wait on the Lord”.
In what areas in your life has God been your light (your well-being and life) recently? Are you “waiting on the Lord” in any area right now? Let David’s words comfort you today – that you can be confident that you will see His goodness in your life.
Day Six – Psalm 29 (Above the Furious Flood)
Have you ever watched a tremendous thunderstorm roll in? What is so captivating about a thunderstorm?
Can you picture David, the shepherd, sitting on a hill somewhere in Israel, unprotected, watching and listening as a great thunderstorm gathers momentum and rolls in? Imagine the cracking of the lightning.... the roar of the thunder.... the dark steely clouds as they swell before the rains.
David is awestruck by the power and majesty of this natural event unfolding before him. As the storm passes directly over him, and as he sees and feels the storm, the wind and the water on his face, he knows... “God is here!”
Psalm 29 (NIV) –
Ascribe to the Lord, you heavenly beings,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
2 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
worship the Lord in the splendour of his holiness.
3 The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders,
the Lord thunders over the mighty waters.
4 The voice of the Lord is powerful;
the voice of the Lord is majestic.
5 The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars;
the Lord breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon.
6 He makes Lebanon leap like a calf,
Sirion like a young wild ox.
7 The voice of the Lord strikes
with flashes of lightning.
8 The voice of the Lord shakes the desert;
the Lord shakes the Desert of Kadesh.
9 The voice of the Lord twists the oaks
and strips the forests bare.
And in his temple all cry, “Glory!”
10 The Lord sits enthroned over the flood;
the Lord is enthroned as King forever.
11 The Lord gives strength to his people;
the Lord blesses his people with peace.
Surely there is a lesson for all of us in this Psalm. God is in your storm! You may feel like you’re right smack bang in the middle of a storm right now, maybe a furious flood. But remember God is in your storm.
Jesus never leaves the boat in the storm. And what’s more – Jesus sits enthroned over the flood (verse 10). Above the floodwaters He sits on His throne and He reigns forever.
Can you see Jesus enthroned above your circumstances and above your challenges today? Why not make a decision today to refuse to be moved from the truth of God’s divine strength, peace and presence in your storm!
Day Seven – Psalm 62 (My Safe Place)
When you were a child, did you have a favourite hiding place? Do you have a favourite place now where you like to go to spend time with God?
We see in this Psalm that despite the fact that David was in great danger, perhaps even mortal danger, his trust in God remained strong and unshakeable. Psalm 62 was possibly written at the time of Absalom’s rebellion or it could also have been written while David was ruling over Judah in Hebron (2 Samuel 1-4).
Psalm 62 (NIV) –
Truly my soul finds rest in God;
my salvation comes from him.
2 Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.
3 How long will you assault me?
Would all of you throw me down—
this leaning wall, this tottering fence?
4 Surely they intend to topple me
from my lofty place;
they take delight in lies.
With their mouths they bless,
but in their hearts they curse.
5 Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
my hope comes from him.
6 Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
7 My salvation and my honour depend on God;
he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
8 Trust in him at all times, you people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge.
9 Surely the lowborn are but a breath,
the highborn are but a lie.
If weighed on a balance, they are nothing;
together they are only a breath.
10 Do not trust in extortion
or put vain hope in stolen goods;
though your riches increase,
do not set your heart on them.
11 One thing God has spoken,
two things I have heard:
“Power belongs to you, God,
12 and with you, Lord, is unfailing love”;
and, “You reward everyone
according to what they have done.”
Our souls (our mind, will and emotions) can also find rest in God. Do you recognise God as your fortress today?
Listen to verse 2 in The Passion Translation.
He alone is my safe place;
his wrap-around presence always protects me.
For he is my champion defender;
there’s no risk of failure with God.
So why would I let worry paralyse me,
even when troubles multiply around me?
God is our safe place. His wrap-around presence always protects us. He is our champion defender. We cannot fail with God! Do you believe that today? It’s His promise to you.
In the first four verses of this Psalm, David makes a decision that he will make God the only object of his trust. He is not trusting something other than God, or trusting God and something else, or God and someone else. His trust is in God only, and that’s why he is so confident.
Then in verses 5 to 8, David reminds his soul to keep on trusting God alone. This is not a refrain. Instead, David knows he needs to keep reminding his soul of this truth. How much more do we need to remind our souls of this truth?
It can be very hard to wait when we don’t depend entirely on God. Remember, God’s delays are not necessarily God’s denials. Don’t give up and let the enemy lead you down a detour in the waiting!
Finally in verses 9 to 12, we are reminded that it is God alone who rewards us. David looks at his enemies in relation to God and now he recognises these men are “only a breath”, not worth fearing. You could say that if he were to put them on the scales (verse 9) that nothing would register – they carry no weight.
The challenge for us all today is this - do we really trust God ONLY? We could all ask ourselves these two questions: ‘What do you have, when all else is taken away?’ (Christ) and ‘Is Christ sufficient?’