Day Eight – Psalm 91 (The Hope that Holds Me)
Have you ever been aware of angelic protection or intervention in your life or in the life of a friend or family member?
This is a great Psalm to meditate on in these present times of a pandemic. It was written by Moses near the beginning of Israel’s forty years of wandering in the wilderness. These people were the ones who experienced “the fowler’s snare”, “the deadly pestilence”, “the terror of night” and more.
Psalm 91 is a reminder that it is God’s presence that is the only refuge from all our troubles, large and small, and every temptation.
Psalm 91 (NIV) –
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
3 Surely he will save you
from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
5 You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
8 You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.
9 If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
14 “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honour him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”
As we learn to dwell, to sit down in the presence of the Most High God, we find ourselves resting in the covering of His shadow, hidden in the strength of God Almighty.
Moses instructs us in verse 2 to claim the promises of the Lord with our mouths. And when we have learned to make the Lord our refuge and our shelter, God promises to deliver us from problems large and small (verses 3 and 4), including terror, temptation, sickness and even death (verses 5 to 12).
We are promised angelic assistance and victory over Satan’s evils (verses 11 to 13). As we employ the power of Jesus’ name, we can walk out in His authority, see our prayers answered and be satisfied with long life (verses 14 to 16). Hallelujah!
God is the hope who holds you and the stronghold who shelters you. His massive arms are wrapped around you, protecting you. You can run under his covering of majesty and hide. His arms of faithfulness are a shield keeping you from harm. Why not claim that for yourself today?
Day Nine – Psalm 103 (With My Whole Heart)
What is your favourite comfort food?
When we are travelling through a hard season, it can be an effort to choose to praise the Lord from the depths of our soul...but how good is it when we make this choice! And God Almighty is always deserving of our praise, whether we feel like it or not!
Listen to verse 1 of Psalm 103 in The Passion Translation.
With my whole heart, with my whole life,
and with my innermost being,
I bow in wonder and love before you, the holy God!
True worship involves our whole heart, our whole lives and our innermost being. When was the last time you bowed in wonder and love before our Holy God?
Psalm 103 is one of David’s Psalms, known as his “Hallelujah Chorus”, and may have been written during David’s flight from Saul recorded in 1 Samuel 21 and 22.
Read Psalm 103 (NIV) –
Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
2 Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
3 who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
5 who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
6 The Lord works righteousness
and justice for all the oppressed.
7 He made known his ways to Moses,
his deeds to the people of Israel:
8 The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
9 He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbour his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
13 As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
14 for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.
15 The life of mortals is like grass,
they flourish like a flower of the field;
16 the wind blows over it and it is gone,
and its place remembers it no more.
17 But from everlasting to everlasting
the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children’s children—
18 with those who keep his covenant
and remember to obey his precepts.
19 The Lord has established his throne in heaven,
and his kingdom rules over all.
20 Praise the Lord, you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his bidding,
who obey his word.
21 Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts,
you his servants who do his will.
22 Praise the Lord, all his works
everywhere in his dominion.
Praise the Lord, my soul.
Some Psalms are addressed to God, whilst some are spoken to other people, such as the righteous, sinners, Israel and the Gentile nations.
But in Psalm 103, David is speaking to himself. Why do we speak to ourselves? To remind us of things we should not forget, to rebuke ourselves in our negative self-talk, to encourage ourselves. Consider many sports players on the field, psyching themselves up for the big game!
But we see very quickly from verse 2 onwards why David is talking to himself. He is reminding himself of God’s blessings (forgiveness, healing, redemption, love, satisfaction and renewal) so that he will continue to be grateful for all that God has done for him. You could say that he is “cataloguing the goodness of God” to strengthen him against moments of depression or backsliding, and so that he will never take the grace of God for granted. Many great hymns and worship songs are based on this Psalm.
Why not spend a minute or two now cataloguing the goodness of God and thanking Him for all the miracles of kindness He has shown to you – the forgiveness, the healing, your salvation and that He has crowned you with His love and compassion?
Day Ten – Psalm 130 (Out of the Depths)
Have you ever been physically rescued from a situation – maybe you were swimming and found yourself caught in a rip and someone came to your rescue, or maybe your clothes were caught on a barbed wire fence and you needed help? How does it feel to know you have been rescued?
Cast down doesn’t have to mean cast out! God is our merciful redeemer and He will always forgive those who diligently seek Him. The author of this Psalm is Hezekiah and he may have written this Psalm just before the miraculous overthrow of Assyria by the angel of the Lord when Hezekiah was “sick unto death” (2 Kings 20:1).
How would you feel if both the Assyrian army and death were staring you in the face?
So this is why Hezekiah cries “out of the depths” to God in verse 1.
Psalm 130 (NIV) –
Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord;
2 Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive
to my cry for mercy.
3 If you, Lord, kept a record of sins,
Lord, who could stand?
4 But with you there is forgiveness,
so that we can, with reverence, serve you.
5 I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
6 I wait for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.
7 Israel, put your hope in the Lord,
for with the Lord is unfailing love
and with him is full redemption.
8 He himself will redeem Israel
from all their sins.
Often, even as Christians, we can blame God for our negative circumstances. Our first response in times of trouble can be “Why did God let this happen to me?” Yet Hezekiah does not waste any time asking why or how. Instead, he appeals to God’s forgiveness and mercy and knows these are his only way out!
In the same way, our confidence in God as the one who can deliver us from anything can be even greater than our confidence in tomorrow’s rising sun (verse 6).
In what area do you need God to deliver you and meet your need? Is your back against the wall in a certain situation? Remind yourself today that you can put your hope in the Lord and in His unfailing love and full redemption.
Day Eleven – Psalm 131 (My Feet on the Ground)
Do you have a curious mind? Are you someone who asks lots of questions.... or are you content to not pursue matters that are over your head?
This Psalm is a song of ascents and was written by David, but most likely during his early years as a shepherd or when he was a fugitive, fleeing from Saul. See 1 Samuel 16-30.
Psalm 131 (NIV) –
My heart is not proud, Lord,
my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.
2 But I have calmed and quieted myself,
I am like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child I am content.
3 Israel, put your hope in the Lord
both now and forevermore.
Look at Psalm 131 in The Passion Translation.
Lord, my heart is meek before you.
I don’t consider myself better than others.
I’m content to not pursue matters that are over my head
— such as your complex mysteries and wonders
— that I’m not yet ready to understand.
2 I am humbled and quieted in your presence.
Like a contented child who rests on its mother’s lap,
I’m your resting child and my soul is content in you.
3 O people of God, your time has come to quietly trust,
waiting upon the Lord now and forever.
True humility stems from having a true understanding of the source of our own strengths and abilities and of not overstepping these. In a world that promotes self-help in every arena, we need to acknowledge that we cannot truly help ourselves and that the only true source of help is Jesus Christ.
A great question to ask ourselves is “Are you doing a great work for the Lord, or is the Lord doing a great work through you?” Jesus is the Vine; we are the branches. We must always be wary of our perspective as God will never share His glory with another (Isaiah 48:11).
There is something wonderfully powerful about being able to sit in God’s presence, to recognise that HE is God and we are not, and to still our hearts before Him. It brings contentment. It brings peace to our souls.
How is your heart before God today? Do you need to quiet yourself in His presence right now? We can be assured, as David was, especially in this uncertain season, that we can trust God, we can put our hope in Him and wait on Him. He hears our prayers and moves on our behalf.
Day Twelve – Psalm 133 (In This Together)
What is your favourite smell – fresh coffee beans as they’re ground, potatoes roasting in the oven, maybe Jasmine on a dewy morning?
This is another song of ascent by David. David was first anointed King at Bethlehem in 1 Samuel 16:1 and then again at Hebron in 2 Samuel 5:1-3. It was at this second anointing where the kingdoms of Judah and Israel were united. So this Psalm could have been written for either occasion.
Can you think of a time when you saw great unity amongst a group of people? How does unity promote strength?
On the other hand, what effect does strife have on relationships and families and even nations? What effect does strife have on a church, on God’s family?
Psalm 133 (TPT) –
How truly wonderful and delightful
to see brothers and sisters
living together in sweet unity!
2 It’s as precious as the sacred scented oil
flowing from the head of the high priest Aaron,
dripping down upon his beard and running all the way down
to the hem of his priestly robes.
3 This heavenly harmony can be compared to the dew
dripping down from the skies upon Mount Hermon,
refreshing the mountain slopes of Israel.
For from this realm of sweet harmony
God will release his eternal blessing, the promise of life forever!
God blesses unity. He imparts His blessing on unity. When a group of believers, the church, love God and each other that’s where you will find the blessings of God. That is where you will find life – zoe life, a fullness of life that is active, vigorous and genuine.
And we are all called to pray for our pastors and leaders and for one another and to encourage unity. It is easy to fault find and criticise but far better to be part of the solution and to seek resolution.
Can you see the downward flow of unity? The costly anointing oil was poured on the head of the high priest Aaron, flowed down his beard and ran all the way down to the hem of his robe.
This oil symbolises the anointing of the Holy Spirit, which flows from Heaven to Earth and brings us into unity. We need this anointing; we need the flow of the Holy Spirit so we are of one mind, one heart and one spirit. And so we need to seek Him to allow Him to anoint us in this way.
Unity begins with “U”. What can you do to grow and promote unity at home and amongst our church family?
Day Thirteen – Psalm 137 (My Highest Joy)
What was your favourite song as a kid?
This is an anonymous Psalm, written by someone whose heart is deeply remorseful for the nation of Israel. They are reaping the seeds they have sown, having ignored the many warnings from God against allowing idolatry to saturate their culture.
So this Psalm opens on the shores of one of Babylon’s mighty rivers, probably the Euphrates, which would have made a great impression on the Jews who had been exiled to Babylonia. The Jews often held their religious meetings on the banks of rivers.
Psalm 137 (NIV) –
By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept
when we remembered Zion.
2 There on the poplars
we hung our harps,
3 for there our captors asked us for songs,
our tormentors demanded songs of joy;
they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”
4 How can we sing the songs of the Lord
while in a foreign land?
5 If I forget you, Jerusalem,
may my right hand forget its skill.
6 May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth
if I do not remember you,
if I do not consider Jerusalem
my highest joy.
7 Remember, Lord, what the Edomites did
on the day Jerusalem fell.
“Tear it down,” they cried,
“tear it down to its foundations!”
8 Daughter Babylon, doomed to destruction,
happy is the one who repays you
according to what you have done to us.
9 Happy is the one who seizes your infants
and dashes them against the rocks.
There is a great deal of sadness amongst the Jews. They weep over the death of their loved ones and the loss of all their possessions, over the destruction of the city of Jerusalem and of her temple, over the cruelty they have endured whilst in captivity, over their miserable future and over the sin that has led them here.
Notice the picture the Psalmist paints here. Large willow trees grew on the shores of the great river and since there were no songs left in these captives, they hung their harps on these willow trees.
What is encouraging though, is that despite the fact that they no longer felt the urge to sing, they did not smash their harps into pieces or throw them in the river. Instead they hung them on the branches of the willow trees – as if they are waiting for sunnier days.
It seems, also, there was “a song in the silence”. Their captors did not hear it – but God Almighty heard it, just as He heard the cries of His people, captive in Egypt earlier in their history. It was the song of their hearts, as they remembered beautiful Jerusalem, their highest joy!
Even in the darkest hour, we can still sing a song of joy from our hearts to God. Paul and Silas sang a song of worship to their God whilst in prison.
There may be an atmosphere of fear, anxiety or weariness in the world right now as we walk through this pandemic... yet what is the song of your heart? Will you refuse “to hang up your harps on the poplar trees” but instead remember Jesus, our highest joy? He is still enthroned; He is forever King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
Day Fourteen – Psalm 150 (A Big Bass Drum)
Are you musical? Do you play an instrument or have you ever sung in a choir? Why is music, and especially worship, so good for the soul?
This is the final Psalm in the Hebrew hymnbook of Psalms. It is like the “Hallelujah Chorus”. Its theme is praise. We are encouraged to praise God in His sanctuary, His holy house of worship. Yet we are also encouraged to praise Him under the open skies.
Do you ever find yourself somewhere in nature and you just feel like praising God for the wonders of His creation?
Psalm 150 (MSG) –
Praise God in his holy house of worship,
praise him under the open skies;
Praise him for his acts of power,
praise him for his magnificent greatness;
Praise with a blast on the trumpet,
praise by strumming soft strings;
Praise him with castanets and dance,
praise him with banjo and flute;
Praise him with cymbals and a big bass drum,
praise him with fiddles and mandolin.
Let every living, breathing creature praise God!
Every living thing that has breath in it is encouraged to praise God. Praise is not just something we do; it is a lifestyle we live. We can praise God for what He has done – “His acts of power”. And we can praise God for who He is – for “His surpassing greatness”.
God inhabits the praises of His people – Psalm 22:3. This is the best way to experience the presence of God as we enter into real worship of Him.
Don’t wait for your circumstances to change. Make a decision right now to praise God even in your circumstances, whether wonderful or not! We don’t have to wait for Sunday to praise God – we can live a life of praise from Monday to Sunday.