"God's Timing" by Rev. Susan Salo
OBSERVATION: I love this Psalm. "How long, Lord ..." so perfectly captures our longing for God's intervention, and relief from our current fear and anxiety surrounding the pandemic, and other longstanding ordeals, when we doubt God's rescue will ever come. This Psalm captures the poignancy of prayer in difficult circumstances. Attributed to David, I wonder if it reflects his temptation to doubt God's power and willingness to intervene in the ongoing battle with his enemy. There are even hints of God's neglect, or forgetfulness of the Psalmist.
INTERPRETATION: In the Old Testament the "sleep of death" represents the ultimate and permanent separation between God and humans, because in death it was thought one cannot praise God. Therefore the Psalmist is pointing out to God that abandoning him to death would deprive him of the praise due his name, as well as giving David's enemy an opportunity to boast.
APPLICATION: The great thing about Psalms such as this is that they give us permission to be completely open and honest with God, as well as providing language to express exactly what we feel in any circumstance. In this Psalm we even have an example of petition, "Look on me and answer," "Give light to my eyes..."
PRAYER: Lord, we are exhausted by the seemingly neverending ordeals brought to us with the pandemic. We join with David in asking "How long O Lord?" Look at us in our suffering. Give us strength to persevere. Give us grace to remain faithful. We choose to trust in You O Lord, no matter what. We will sing your praises forever Lord, for our hope rests in you. Amen.
HYMN: "It is Well With My Soul"
Silver Purified by Trish Reimer
David begins by begging the Lord for help because he can’t trust anyone (vs. 1&2). He asks God to silence the boastful (vs. 3 &4). The Lord responds by saying that He will protect His people from those boasters and goes on to say that His word is as flawless as silver that has been purified (vs. 5&6). Finally, we have the assurance that God will protect and preserve us from the wicked (vs. 7&8).
I’d like to focus on verse 6 and talk a little about silver purified. When does silver become pure? Well, the more times heat is applied to silver, the more pure it becomes. Not all silver is pure silver unless the impurities are removed by the process of smelting. The heat of a furnace (or crucible) extracts silver from the slag (bronze, iron, lead, or tin), leaving the desired metal in its pure state – undefiled. The number seven here is important as well because in the Bible it is known to be symbolic of completion. Silver is also more durable than gold, or at least less malleable. Therefore, we know that God’s Word is as flawless, pure and durable as we could ever wish it to be!
Do you see God’s Word as something to just take for granted? Do you believe that He will keep His promises and take to heart that He will protect you from the wicked? Do you value His Word, knowing that each written letter is silver purified?
Heavenly Father, thank You for drawing our attention using silver to show us that Your Word is flawless, pure, durable and valuable. Keep us faithful to reading Your Word and hiding it in our hearts. Give us opportunities to share Your silver purified Word with others. We pray this in the name of Your Son Jesus, for His honour and glory. Amen.
Song: Thy Word is a Lamp Unto My Feet - Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith
Observe: Psalm 11 is in two parts: in the first part, v.1-3, the psalmist asks, “In the Lord I take refuge, so how can you say to me…” Evidently some are suggesting fleeing away. What follows is a rebuke to those who say the only safe course is to run away.
The wicked are out to attack you, they say, like a hunter after a bird, “to shoot from the shadows at the upright in heart.” The advice ends, “When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” The psalmist is being told to flee from the wicked.
Part two is the psalmist’s response, in v.4-7. In effect the answer is, “Why would I run away? God is in charge of heaven and earth.”
The images of God on his throne in heaven and God dwelling on earth in his Temple are two sides of the same coin. God is watching, observing, examining everyone on earth. God sees and hates the wicked with a passion, but examines or tests the righteous. The wicked will be hellishly destroyed with fiery coals and sulphur, and a scorching wind. The final verse sums up the answer: The Lord is righteous, loves justice, and the upright will see God face to face.
Interpret: David, or Israel, or a congregation is being pulled different ways as they face wicked people who are poised to attack. Fight, or flight? Or are there other options?
The psalm becomes a strong statement of faith in the God who is just, who sees what the wicked are up to, and will punish them. In the Psalms the wicked often think God is not watching. “The fool says in his heart, ‘there is no God.’” (Ps. 53:1)
God also has his eye on the righteous, who, if they know God, will depend on God to be just. The answer to the tempting but bad advice to “head for the hills” is right at the beginning: “In the Lord I take refuge.”
Psalm 11 is not a petition for help, but rather a confession of trust, right in the face of threats of violence. “What can the righteous do?” is directly answered by a strong confession of who God is.
Application: What do we do when we are given tempting but bad advice? Especially advice that sounds sincere and well meaning, and sounds like it has our own interests in view? The advice sounds godly: “When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?”
It is very, very tempting to run away to our own self-made refuge, to rely on our own self-made defences, or own personal brand of “righteousness,” which is bound to put ourselves at the middle of things. “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.” (2 Cor. 10:4)
The answer to all this is to know who God is. God judges, not us. People who say, “Good people haven’t got a chance” (Ps. 11, The Message) have forgotten who God is.
Trusting in God is easy in good times, when “God is in his heaven and all is right with the world.” (Robert Browning) But to trust in God and his justice when the world is dangerous, and the wicked look like they have the upper hand? To do that, we need to deeply know God in his deep character as the just God, who will judge, and who is a refuge for the righteous.
Prayer: O God, who knoweth us to be set in the midst of so many and great dangers, that by reason of the frailty of our nature we cannot always stand upright; Grant to us such strength and protection, as may support us in all dangers, and carry us through all temptations, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Hymn: Safe in the Arms of Jesus
How Long, O Lord? - by Richard Neufeld
Psalm 10 vents so much of our frustration at the wickedness and corruption we see nowadays and what must have been just as rampant at the time of it’s writing. The author writes comprehensively of their disgust of the wicked and asks “Why, O Lord, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” They lay out all the ways in which they see evil go unpunished, greed result in gain, and those who curse the Lord prosper in whatever they do. They lament the ways in which the poor and needy are crushed; how the powerful prey on those who have no means of protecting themselves. The author lays out their complaint that the wicked continue to prosper and God, it appears, is standing far off.
As is common in the Psalms, complaining is not the entirety of what is written. In verses 12-18 is a call for the Lord to arise and act according to His promises; to break the arm of the evildoer; to prove the wicked wrong that God does not see their deeds. “But you do see, for you note mischief and vexation, that you may take it into your hands.” There is a note of reassuring oneself as the author remembers that “to you the helpless commits himself; you have been the helper of the fatherless.” Psalm 10 wraps up in praising God, His promises, and His justice.
In the United States alone, 20 million Americans lost their jobs during the pandemic. At the exact same time, roughly 650 billionaires in America saw their total net worth increase by 1.2 trillion dollars, from 3 400 000 000 000 to 4 600 000 000 000. Jeff Bezos, the owner of Amazon, has recently spent 1.2 billion on a Super Yacht that has it’s own, smaller, companion yacht that will carry his helicopter around, all while successfully busting an effort of Alabama Amazon workers to unionize; this would have given the workers a voice with which to call for things like better job security, higher pay, and proper breaks in what has accurately been described as sweatshop-like conditions. This is one of countless stories of the rich exploiting the poor and trampling on the weak, and you don’t have to search very far to find its kind.
It’s clear that these sorts of disparities have been around for thousands and thousands of years. We can imagine that the Psalmist above was just as sick and tired of the mighty and wicked constantly getting away with their corruption as we are today. It is not an issue isolated to time but is endemic to humanity. The worst part is that the wicked and corrupt not only get away with their schemes but flourish and thrive, and all the while God is nowhere to be found. We are just like the author of Psalm 10 whenever we look at the corruption and deliberate evil taking place around us and ask “how long, O Lord?”
Now, it isn’t true that God is absent in our times of need, nor does He dismiss the thoughts, deeds, and words of those who are wicked. He doesn’t fail to catch and comfort the poor and oppressed who run to Him for help, nor will any of those who rebel against Him stand. We are unable to see Him in everything, all the time, but He is always sovereign, always attentive, always nearby!
Christ doesn’t ask us to dismiss the turmoil we see around us or to just skate by evil and corruption; the Psalmist here pulls no punches in conveying their despair and frustration in a state of honest worship that lays bare their heart before their God. We are supposed to lament these things and have them break our heart, for they grieve the Lord as well. It is a holy and right grief turned into worship. Yet there is more than simple venting here, for Psalm 10 turns lament into a reminder of God’s goodness and promise. It is in the darkest hour that we need to preach to ourselves the promises of God and let our hearts rest on that which might be hidden from our eyes. It is clear that when we follow this path of prayer, we find ourselves reassured and comforted in the peace of Christ; from there we slide naturally into praise and a deeper trust of Him who holds the world in His hands.
The Lord knows what is on your heart better than you do yourself, so it is no use hiding these things from Him. It is no sin to lament evil in prayer or to call God to action on behalf of those oppressed, nor is it shameful to cry out to God when we cannot sense Him or see His hand at work. The name Israel quite literally means wrestles with God, and that is seen no more obvious than in the Psalms where the deep and turbulent woes of the heart are laid bare. There is a faithful and sure pattern that we see time and time again: prayer and petition, then praise and worship; woe and sorrow, then thanksgiving and promise. They do not all follow this exact pattern but usually contain all of these elements.
Do your prayers do the same? Are you truly being vulnerable with God in your times of prayer? Do you actually bring forth the most elemental parts of your burdens in lament and frustration? Do not shave down your prayers to what you think might be acceptable – give everything to God! All of it! Even the part of you that might not want to be praying at all. Give it to Him and in doing so, learn to actually lean on Him for everything. Make it your instinct to run to the throne of God with everything that comes your way. Abide in Him, and you cannot help but grow and worship and praise Him.
How long, O Lord, will this world continue in such darkness and evil? How long until you do away with pain and suffering forever? Why is it so hard to find your face in times of trouble? Please help us bear these burdens and remind us of your plan. Put in our hearts the assuredness of all things working out for our good and your glory. Thank you for giving us our daily bread and for the work you’ve given for this freezing cold Monday. Thank you for free access to you in prayer, knowing that you hold each and every one of us near and dear as your children; please give us that comfort today in a tangible way, that all who look upon us could see your face instead of ours. Thank you for your Son, for your Holy Spirit, O God of comfort and peace. Amen!
Song: How Long - Bifrost Artists
Glorious Praise (By: Chris Barnes)
Text: Psalm 9
OBSERVE: This Psalm begins with David praising the Lord for all of His wonderful deeds. David then praises God for his sovereignty in providing righteous judgment; as not even a memory of the wicked nations will remain. David then continues by declaring that God is a haven for those who are oppressed. The Lord never forsakes or forgets those who belong to Him and David makes it clear that the natural reaction of God’s people to this truth should be praise. David then calls on God to rescue him from his enemies and continues by previewing the total ruin of all who oppose God. David then closes this Psalm with a prayer; asking that the Lord would judge the nations and put them in their proper place by reminding them that they are simply human.
INTERPRET: This Psalm is a Thanksgiving Song, in which David shows appreciation for the Lord’s rescue. This Psalm shares similar themes to Psalm 10; though using a very different tone. It is a common held understanding among many that Psalms 9 and 10 were originally a single work. Psalm 9 is the first of the acrostic Psalms covering the first half of the Hebrew alphabet, with Psalm 10 covering the rest of the alphabet. This is not uncommon, as many of the Psalms are connected to one another.
Psalm 9 is a part of the first book of Psalms (Psalms 1-41). Through this first book, the focus is on David’s human kingship which helps us see his need for God’s Kingship. This overall theme is very clear in this particular Psalm as it is evident that David is very reliant on the one true King; to be able to overcome his enemies. It’s ancient Chaldean title suggests that it could have possibly been written to celebrate David’s victory over Goliath.
APPLICATION: Although there is a tendency for David to want vengeance on the wicked; this tendency can be more clearly understood in light of the constant threat and battle that David faced. However, it is David’s praise and thankfulness that we should see as the main purpose of this Psalm. Praise for the God who is the true King; praise for God’s righteousness and thankfulness for God’s faithfulness to those who belong to Him.
Often in our lives, we can tend to focus too much on those who have committed offence and who have lived in the ways of the wicked. We can learn from David that it is God’s glory and righteousness that should be our focus. It is God who performs many wonderful deeds, it is God who will provide righteous judgment, it is God who provides hope to those who are afflicted and in need. When we focus on praising God first and foremost; it can truly make a difference in how we view our circumstances, and how we are freed from our chains. Focusing on God helps us to understand and experience what praise really is. If David can do it in his dire situation; perhaps we can too.
Let us praise God in song:
Song: King of Glory
The Praise Perspective by Pastor Dave
“Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens.”
Psalm 8: 1
This Psalm’s authorship is traditionally assigned to David. The ‘Director of Music,’ or ‘Great Musician,’ is assigned this Psalm (see note on 12th Jan re this point). The term ‘gittith’ is not really understood, it is most likely a musical term. It is used only for two other Psalms which are of a similar joyous character to this Psalm; therefore it is probable that we are reading a hymn of praise, one to be sung.
The first and last verses of this Psalm point with majestic simplicity to the glory of God in His creation. Creation itself makes God known, showing His divine nature and invisible qualities to humankind; there is no doubt that God is God (Romans 1: 19-20).
Sincere and beautiful praise emanates from the hearts of children and infants. This truth silences those opposed to God (vs. 2). Jesus Himself quoted this verse as children sang His praises in the temple to the consternation of the Chief Priests and Teachers (Matthew 21: 14-16). Elsewhere Jesus taught that we need faith like children, simple and true (Matthew 19: 13-14).
We then enter an area which is debated amongst commentators, does the remaining Psalm refer to Jesus Christ Himself or humankind in general? Verse 4 holds the answer I believe, “what is mankind that you are mindful of them, the son of man that you care for him?” We see firstly ‘mankind’ addressed and we affirm the role God has given us over His creation; we also see the wonder that God has done this and is mindful of us. We identify Jesus, the Son of Man, who was made lower than the angels but then crowned in glory (5, Hebrews 2: 6-7), where all things have been put under Him (6-8, 1 Corinthians 15: 27). So we see the great love of God towards us in creation AND we see His Son Jesus Christ who provides redemption and reconciliation.
When I feel the darkness of despair, the sense of being overwhelmed or the confusion of multiplicity of issues I often find peace and solace in God’s creation. Stilling myself and gazing at, being in, the wonder of God’s majesty within His heavens and earth changes my perspective. I see the truth and power of God, I marvel at the fact that He even knows me and I wonder anew at the grace of His salvation in Jesus. This produces praise in my heart and I am able to sing anew of His excellence. The matters that distressed me decrease in their insignificance as the reality of God’s greatness grows in my heart. Childlike faith is renewed and the Holy Spirit makes alive again the Words of the Bible and the closeness of my brother Jesus Christ.
The Question of Application
Try setting aside time to gaze at God’s beauty in the night sky, in His creation (even via the wonderful nature documentaries that abound). Then wonder at the truth that He knows you, knows your name. Pray, sing, this Psalm and meditate on many of the truths found within…..such as: the revelation of God in creation; His majesty; the simplicity and innocence of childlike faith; our responsibilities for God’s creation; the humbling and glorification of Jesus Christ; His authority over all things; and the gift of grace. Praise will change your perspective!
Blessed are you, creator of heaven and earth; amid the immensity of the universe, you are mindful of us and seek us out. Blessed are you for the gift of your Son, who humbled himself to share our life that we might be raised with him to glory and splendour. Blessed be your holy name, Father, Son,
and Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen
Creation Sings – Stuart Townend and the Getty’s
Now thank we all our God – OCP Session Choir
To Shield and Protect
January 17th – Les Kovacs Psalm 7
Observe: King David laments that once again that he is surrounded by his enemies. They pursue him and if they catch him, he says, they will destroy him. He turns to God and, in humility, says that if he is guilty of their accusations, he deserves to be defeated and punished. Yet, he rouses God to protect him because He is a just God and David believes himself to be innocent of any wrongdoing, so he asks God to bring an end to the violence directed towards him, to be his shield of protection.
David understands that God knows the hearts and minds of all people, and if His wrath is loosed upon them, who would be able to stand it? The evil-doers would be trapped by their own devices.
David ends by giving thanks to the Lord for His righteousness and declares that he will sing the praises of the Lord Most High.
Interpret: It might seem to us from David's words in Psalm 7, that he is being a bit melodramatic. “save and deliver me from all who pursue me, or they will tear me apart like a lion and rip me to pieces with no one to rescue me.” (Vs1b-2). Yet when we read the stories of David in the Old Testament, we find that he had a lot of enemies. From the time he was a young shepherd boy protecting his flock from bears and lions, to his encounter with Goliath, to his love/hate relationship with King Saul, to his many wars with the surrounding tribes, and even to the intrigue he faced within his own court and family, we see that King David faced many enemies during his life. But, he knew that his one, true ally was the Lord God of Israel.
All through his psalms we see David’s prayers lifted up to God for deliverance from his enemies, from those who hate him, from those who trample the lives of the innocent, from those who give no thought to the sanctity of the human soul.
David had learned that his victory over his enemies, no matter who they were, always came from God Himself. Apart from God, David knew that he was helpless before even the weakest of adversaries. He declares that, “My defense is of God, who saves the upright in heart.” (Vs 7).
Application: David was not the perfect king. Far from it. He was subject to the same desires as any other person. Remember that David’s lust for Bathsheba led to his adultery with her, and then his conspiracy to have her husband killed. What he was however, was a seeker of the Lord. From boyhood he had a close personal relationship with the Lord and he spoke to God as you and I would speak to a close friend. Therefore, when David found himself surrounded by the wicked, it was natural for him to go to God, knowing that God would intercede on his behalf. David knew from direct experience that God is a just God, who would rescue him from his troubles and unleash His wrath on the wicked.
This psalm reminds us to cultivate our relationship with God. When we read of David's close relationship with the Lord, we can understand that God is a very personal God who is concerned about all of the intimate details of our lives. He knows the many burdens and challenges we struggle with daily and wants to help us. Not only that, but David wanted to have a pure heart before God. David confessed his own wrongdoings to God, and took responsibility for his actions. If he had wronged someone, he wanted to make it right. If he had hurt someone, he wanted to know and was willing to accept the consequences.
If we lack confidence in God’s ability to intercede for us, it’s because we have not learned to go to Christ with all of our concerns and problems, and therefore, we miss seeing Him move and work in all of the details of our lives, both large and small.
This psalm also reminds us that if we want to be prepared for a greater work in God's kingdom, we must be willing to face our trials and challenges. David's encounters with the beasts prepared him for his encounter with Goliath, "Moreover David said, "The Lord, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine."" (1 Samuel 17:37). And his encounter with Goliath prepared him for the many battles he would face later in life.
Taken all together, we realize that when we overcome the challenges of our lives by relying on the help of God, and when we confess and repent of our sins before Him, we grow more and more in our faith in Him. Therefore, we should never cower in the face of adversity, but instead we must face them head-on, confident in the Lord, because He is on our side. When we are innocent of wrongdoing and don’t deserve the hurt, the hate and the pain, God is our Vindicator. Our Judge. Our Deliverer.
Questions: How many times have you suffered through troubles and burdens without bringing them to the Lord? Do you truly understand that the only hope there is for you is in the Lord?
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we pray that you would give us the spiritual strength to put all our circumstances into your hands, and if there is a battle to be fought, we ask you for victory, instead of attempting to take it into our own hands. In the mighty and merciful name of Jesus, Amen.
Song: Rescue – Lauren Daigle
A Pleading Psalm
Psalm 6: Lynne McCarthy 1/14/22
Observe: David pours out his heart before the Lord in repentance, aware of God’s rebuke for an unnamed sin. He pleads with God to lighten the chastising and rebuke he possibly needs, yet also knows God is merciful (1-2).In anguish of soul he asks, How long, O Lord, how long? (3), while he acknowledges hesed, God’s unfailing love.
Verses 4-7 continue his weeping and crying out. Though David can scarcely pray, he finds that God is indeed near, and …the Lord accepts my prayer. (9b) so his tears are not in vain. At the end, he knows his enemies will not prevail against him – or against God. (10) There’s some vindication; there is definite assurance.
Interpret: This is both a lament and the first of the Psalter’s six “Penitential Psalms” of repentance. Lament is defined as “to feel loss, sorrow or regret, often expressed in a physical way”, here, through loud weeping. As we learn the Psalms this year, we will read many of his laments, groanings in utter honesty before God.
Heb 12:7 tells us that God chastens out of His love, to show us we are His adopted children. He cares, not because we are perfect, but because He is. David doesn’t know this; the cross is a long way off, so he is not sure of his standing with God. But he does know God is rich in mercy, so he clings to this fact. The strange verse 5, the dead cannot praise God arises from the ancient name for the grave, Sheol. It’s the end (resurrection was not a tenet of the Hebrews’ faith); no praising God from there.
And how do laments end? Except for Psalm 88, with trust, hope and praise for the Lord of all comfort. David’s trust despite his bleak circumstances is the basis not only for his laments, but for all his prayer-poems.
Apply: In our culture, if we have deep sorrow, where do we go? For problems with mental health, perhaps a psychiatrist, a psychologist, a counselor of some sort. If we need to resolve a dilemma, professional counselors might have the wisdom to pierce through the murk. Perhaps we have a wise, insightful friend gifted with the Holy Spirit’s knowledge and wisdom, whom we can trust to keep confidences. But human treatment or help has its limits.
By now, we should know prayer is our first recourse, though the other means do help. Prayer teams at the 10:30 service pray with us in our struggles (though we can’t do this now). We can request prayer via the church website or the office. The prayer chain is a wonderful means, brothers and sisters committed to praying for these requests. Make good use of them! Small groups or a prayer partner offer other outlets to pray. Every request is confidential, so be encouraged.
Prayer of lament, in whatever circumstance, centres us in God’s merciful love; prayer with others is always a joy to the Lord to receive and answer.
The late Bible teacher, David Pawson, talks about ‘interrogatory prayer’: we ask God questions and know He will answer, not with thunderbolts of revelation but in the way we need. If the psalmist can moan, How long, O Lord? then why can’t we?
We could try memorizing verses (or entire Psalms – starting with a short one!) that have blessed, encouraged or given us a new sense of God’s mercy and love -- no small feat, but we can do it! It would be a good exercise for small groups to make[LM1] the Psalms ours.
Ask: Have I ever let God know how I really feel when I pray? Do I trust Him enough to be honest in my pleadings and yet have deep reverence for Him? Am I patient enough to wait for His answers?
Lord who knew sorrow, send Your Spirit into my prayers so I can be completely honest and true as I come to you. Show me how to pray the Psalms this year!
Sing: Psalm 6: Save Me, Lord - Jason Silver
Light of Life - Sons of Korah
Best Beginnings by Pastor Dave
“In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.”
Psalm 5: 3
This Psalm’s authorship is traditionally assigned to David. The ‘Director of Music,’ or ‘Great Musician,’ could refer to God Himself or to a leader of choirs at the time of writing; there is some uncertainty over these introductions.
The Psalm can be divided into two parts. The first seven verses where the Psalmist, David, beseeches God to hear His prayer, and from verse eight to the end where he retraces his steps but in greater detail. It describes how the righteous can pray for deliverance, not only for freedom from suffering, but in order to be able to serve God without distraction.
David begins his day with prayer, laying his requests before God. His confidence in God is based on God’s righteous character which he describes. He acknowledges that the only way that he can come into God’s presence is by God’s mercy.
In the second half he describes the ‘wicked’ who self-identify by the words they use and actions they take. He prays that God deals with them accordingly; that they come to their deserved end. In contrast the righteous sing with joy and gladness. They are made righteous by their trust in and love for God. As a result of this close relationship God bestows His favour, protection and blessing upon them.
Within this Psalm there is a wonderful description of personal prayer that places its trust in God and upon who He is. Joy, praise, answers and blessings follow.
David describes a pattern that would truly bless us if we adopt it. The first step is that he begins the day with prayer. So often we let the day start, our mood be set, and the course of the day scheduled before we consider God. What a difference we would find if we each began the day with the Lord as our first priority.
Secondly we see that prayer is more than just words. David asks God to hear his mediations, his cry and his words spoken in faith, asked in expectation. The heart and emotion as well as logical intelligence are all involved. In complete honesty we are to lay all before God, in faith.
Thirdly he directs the prayer to God and focuses on the character of God. If we look up to God and focus on Him our faith is rewarded and encouraged as we see our Almighty God capable, willing and able to answer our prayers. This enables us to pray in line with His will.
In the fourth step David acknowledges that it is only by God’s mercy that we can enter His presence, worship Him and seek answers to prayer. This is a prequel to that wonderful word of encouragement in Hebrews 4: 16 to boldly approach God’s throne for grace. In this approach we see that prayer is not just about seeking answers to petitions that benefit us but about enabling us to serve God.
Finally we see that this prayer brings about blessing. As focus on God is secured, praise and joy follow as we see reality through His eyes. Protection and blessings also ensue.
The Question of Application
Why don’t you try making prayer in this form your first priority in the morning; see how God answers and blesses? If you do this let me know how it goes!
Source of all justice and goodness, you hate deception and evil. Lead us in the paths of righteousness and keep us from falling into sin, that we may pray in faith and sing out our joy in Jesus Christ our Redeemer. Amen
Eternal Spirit of the Living God – David Hurd
Our Prayer – Rend Collective
Set Apart - By Chris Barnes
Text: Psalm 4
OBSERVE: Psalm 4 commences with a prayer of David in which we witness David pleading for God’s grace. This is immediately followed by David addressing his enemies; pleading with them to resist lies and to halt their rebellion against God. David’s alternative suggestion is that they search their hearts and trust in the Lord. Even with all of the adversity against him; David’s heart remains full of joy. The Psalm ends with David testifying to the peace that he has by dwelling in the safety of the Lord.
INTERPRET: This Psalm begins with an appeal from David to God. Following this appeal is another appeal to his enemies; to resist the emptiness of lies. David is appealing to them that they need to understand that the Lord has chosen him as king and therefore his prayers will be heard. Some believe that this Psalm rises from the occasion referred to in Psalm 3:1; where David was surrounded by his enemies who supported his rebellious son Absalom.
In Psalm 4; we witness David giving wise spiritual counsel. He counselled Absalom’s followers to stop listening to Absalom’s lies and to know that the Lord has set David apart for the role of Israel’s king. In addition, David advises his own followers to avoid sinning, to offer sacrifices to the Lord, and to trust in the Lord.
APPLICATION: David knew that his righteousness came from God and not from himself. This is why David is calling upon the God who makes him righteous. David also knew that he was set apart for the service of God; being chosen to be king of Israel.
As believers in Christ; we too have been set apart as children of God. This means that we are set apart for special service to God; that we are set apart for greater purity and that we are set apart to enjoy a wonderful relationship with our Heavenly Father. As children of God; we are to serve in the role we are called to, we are to shine light into the darkness and we are to embrace the incredible gift of our relationship with our Heavenly Father. When we are set apart in these ways; we will have our hearts filled with joy and will find rest just like David did.
REFLECTION: Are you glorifying God with how you serve and how you live?
PRAYER: O Lord Jesus, You are my God. You are my Savior and my Lord. I desire to be set apart for your glory, a light in the darkness, the sweet aroma of Christ for all I encounter along the way. AMEN.
SONG: Psalm 4
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.