TEXT: PSALM 80
Verses 1-2: The psalmist refers to God as the Shepherd of Israel in an appeal to God to listen to their prayer. The psalmist asks God to shine forth.
Verse 3: Here is the first statement of the psalm’s refrain calling on God to restore his relationship with his people by saving them.
Verses 4-6: The psalmist continues the lament by asking: How Long?
Verse 7: Again, the psalmist asks God to restore the relationship.
Verses 8-11: Israel is likened to a vine. The vine transplanted from Egypt is an obvious reference to the Exodus.
Verses 12-15: The psalmist urgently asks God to return, invoking him again with his battle name “God Almighty”.
Verses 16-18: The psalmist requests that God enable their king, since God had given them this king.
Verse 19: For the third and climatic time, the psalmist calls on God to restore them to his good graces.
The psalmist speaks on behalf of the community and asks God to save them in a manner typical of a corporate lament. This psalm is notable for its use of a repeated refrain (v. 3, 7, 19) and a striking use of the metaphor of God’s people as a vine. The historical setting that inspired this poem is uncertain but the reference to God as enthroned above the cherubim indicates a connection with the theology of the Jerusalem temple, and thus a southern Israel perspective.
The psalmist calls on God during the midst of a threat, likely an attack from a northern army, to come in power to save them. They recognize that God has become distant, but now they call on him as Warrior to rescue them. This psalm speaks of God’s people’s special position and their present predicament, using the figurative language of a vine.
Reading this psalm from a New Testament perspective brings our attention first to the reference of the king, the “son of man you have raised up for yourself” (v. 17). While not cited in the New Testament, this passage cannot be read by a Christian without evoking a connection with Jesus, the Son of Man, who is the Christ (the anointed King). Secondly, our attention is drawn to John 15: 1-6, where Jesus presents himself as the vine and his followers as the branches. In the light of other New Testament passages in which the Kingdom is describes as a vineyard (Matt 20: 1-11; 21: 33-43), Jesus is saying that participation in the Kingdom depends on his followers being united with him.
Very often, we attempt to grow the vineyard apart from the vine. This often leaves us feeling exhausted or even worse, disillusioned. Similar to the southern kingdom of Israel, we too can feel distant when we put too much faith in our own efforts or in other branches. It is the vine that gives life to the branches, and it is the vine that grows the vineyard. Jesus is the true source of life and nourishment, and it is when we abide in him that we become capable Kingdom builders. Not only is it an honour to serve him in this way, but it brings honour and glory to his name when we do. God’s light will shine upon us and our Kingdom work, when we abide in the True Vine.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, teach me to abide in Christ and He in me. Teach me to live my life as you would have me to live in total dependence upon you, which is the life of Christ being lived through me, so that I may produce that good fruit in my life that is honoring to you. In Jesus name I pray. AMEN.
SONG: You Are The Vine; We Are The Branches
July 4th – Les Kovacs Psalm 79
Observe: Psalm 79 laments the destruction of Jerusalem, and it was likely composed by a descendant of Asaph, who was King David’s chief music director.
In the first 4 verses of the psalm, we witness the aftermath of the destruction of Jerusalem. The city is destroyed, and the temple is defiled. The streets are littered with the bodies of the dead which have been left as food for the birds and wild animals. The streets run with blood because there is no one to bury the dead. Their enemies heap scorn and derision on them.
The next verses 5-8 are a cry for mercy. The psalmist asks how long they must endure God’s anger. He asks God to pour out His wrath on the other nations who do not revere the Lord instead, for His people are in desperate need.
The following verses 9-12 plead for forgiveness of their sins and deliverance from their enemies. They ask the Lord to avenge their destruction and captivity, and to pay back seven-fold the insult their enemies have cast on God’s name.
The psalm ends with verse 13 in which the people promise to praise God’s name forever, from generation to generation.
Interpret: This psalm, like the books of Jeremiah and Lamentations deals with the destruction of Jerusalem as a result of the people turning away from God and following their own ways.
Jerusalem had served as the capitol city for the Kingdom of Israel, and later for the southern Kingdom of Judah, for many centuries. The great buildings, the Temple, and the palaces had weathered much over the years, and probably looked like they would survive forever. They gave the people a false sense of permanence and invulnerability. The kings, priests, and people began to pay less attention to the worship of the Lord and were lulled into a sense of apathy towards Him by their great city. Although their prophets continually warned them about their bad behaviour, they ignored the warnings because they believed they were God’s chosen people so He would always protect them no matter what. As we know, eventually, God’s judgement did fall on them, and their world came crashing down around their heads in a most brutal and dreadful way when the Babylonians captured and razed the city.
Too late the people realized the folly of their defiance of God as they endure the pain and the shame of the destruction of their city, their temple, and their people. Too late they remembered who the source was of their strength and prosperity. Too late they returned to the Lord to ask His forgiveness and deliverance. And in their remembrance of who He is, they will still praise Him.
Application: How much like the Israelites we are! Every day of our lives we are faced with choices to make. We make our decisions based on how the outcome will affect us personally or the people we care about. Sometimes those decisions line up with God’s will, and sometimes they don’t, but either way, we usually make them based on our own wisdom and understanding, and what we believe the desired outcome should be. Following our own desires can sometimes lead to painful lessons for us to learn and disasters may result.
In just about everyone’s life, there will be times when it feels like our world is crashing down around our heads. Sometimes those catastrophes are the result of our own bad choices and sometimes they are the result of outside circumstances that we have little or no control over. When it happens, to whom do you turn? Do you try to handle it on your own? Do you turn to God, but only when things have spun completely out of your control, and you have nowhere else to turn? Or do you turn to God because that’s what you always do?
God loves you. He always has. He wants to have a real, on-going relationship with you. Although He Is glad when you come to Him under any circumstances, He wants you to include Him in all your daily activities, not just when you are distressed, so that He can help you align your will with His. When you spend time with God in your prayer time, quiet time, or reading scripture, you get closer to Him, and it becomes more and more natural to simply seek Him in all the different aspects of your life. The challenges in your life don’t define the depth of your relationship with God. The depth of your relationship with Him define your response to the challenges. Sing His praises day and night.
Prayer: Father God, we praise you and bless the name of Jesus above all things. Help us to praise you when life is hard, as well as when they are good, for only you are steadfast and true. You are our one true hope during all of life’s ups and downs. Open our lips, Lord, and our mouths will declare your praise. This we pray in the mighty name of Jesus. Amen.
Song: Praise You in this Storm – Casting Crowns
Observe The psalm begins with a command: Listen! Verses 1-8 are a preamble to a parable (2), a means of instruction, a riddle (‘dark sayings’) to solve. Without careful listening, the meaning is lost. Teaching God’s deeds must be passed on to future generations: What we have heard and known, what our fathers have told us, we will not hide these things from their children. (3,4). Asaph then recounts the history of Israel as a parable.
A riddle. Why did Israel not obey the Lord? How often they rebelled against him in the wilderness and grieved him in the desert! They tested him again and again, and provoked the Holy One of Israel. (40,41)
Another riddle: Why is God so patient with them? Yet he, being compassionate, forgave their iniquity, and did not destroy them; he restrained his anger often, and did not stir up all his wrath.(38) He fed His rebellious children, sheltered them, led them, almost to no avail. Their response was complaint. But he remembered they were only flesh (39) weak and dependent.
The writer, Asaph, recalls the plagues that God sent on the Egyptians but bypassed Israel; they forgot. He drove out the pagan inhabitants as He led them to the border of His Tabernacle; they forgot. When the Ark of the Covenant was captured at Shiloh (58), God’s power broke through the enemy’s blasphemy, and again they forgot. God has had it; He deserts Ephraim in favour of Judah, the small tribe from which David arose by God’s choosing to shepherd and rule His forgetful people.
This is the riddle’s answer: God’s mercy never stops.
Interpret This contemplative ‘Maskil’ is the second longest Psalm (after 119). A ‘history Psalm’ recounts the story of Israel in Egypt up to David’s kingship; and teaches future generations to avoid the mistakes of their forebears. The opening verses stress the need to teach children about God.
‘Hear’ in Hebrew literally means “Stretch your ears …”, really work at listening to absorb God’s Word.
Apply We would do well to review the story of Israel in the Hebrew Bible, as recounted in this Psalm. Things haven’t changed much in human history. God is so gracious and generous, but how easily we forget, lured by lesser things. Yet, He welcomes us back in love and mercy.
Teaching young ones to love the Lord is a communal responsibility (thus very counter cultural):
Phase One: ‘Home schooling’ by example, by reading the Word together and talking about God and His love.
Phase Two: Sunday School and youth group prepare them to know the Lord, follow Jesus and take their place in the congregation. Just because the children are downstairs doesn’t imply segregation. They are learning at their own levels, taught by skilled and caring teachers (who could use some responsible help from us!).
Phase Three: We welcome our grown no-longer-children into the congregation, encouraging them to find and use their gifts, praying for God’s wisdom. We’re not a nuclear family; we’re God’s extension of Himself.
Ask A riddle: How can we get to know our church’s children?
Pray Lord, who welcomed children for whom the Kingdom is prepared, show us how to live in You, teaching the young in years (or in faith) the joy of obedience to You and the delight of serving You, together.
Sing Psalm 78 Pilgrims
Psalm 78 Listen O My People - Karl Kohlhase (he sings all 72 verses, and speaks at the end. Listen patiently…)
The message of this psalm is that to brood on sorrow is to be broken and disheartened, while to see God is to sing on the darkest day. Once we come to know that our years are of His right hand, there is light everywhere (G. Campbell Morgan)
Observe: Psalm 77 can be split into two parts – the first part where the psalmist cries out to God in distress, experiencing profound difficulties and feels that his cries to God are largely ignored. It is only in remembering the past that he can see anything even resembling joy. (verses 1 - 12) The second part shows the greatness of God and His faithfulness in His sanctuary and at the Red Sea. (verses 13 – 20)
Interpretation and Application: Do you ever doubt God? If you do, do you ever think that you’re not a Christian because of that doubt? If you’ve been reading the psalms regularly, you know that this is not true. We human beings tend to bring God down to our level – if we forget, God must forget, if we break our promises, God must do so as well. Thankfully, that is not at all true! God is not like us. The psalmist recalls the mighty deeds of God, particularly at the Red Sea. He recalls the miracles that the children of Israel were privileged to see and tells of God’s power and might. It was God’s path that led them through the sea, not theirs. Even though they couldn’t see His footprints, He was there and led them. He was faithful then and He is faithful now. I’m sure most of you have read the poem “Footprints”. If not, I’ll do a short re-cap for you. A man dreamt that he was walking along the sand with God. He was able to see two sets of footprints – his and God’s. However, at the lowest times in his life, he only saw one set of footprints. When he asked the Lord why He would abandon him at the worst moments in his life, the Lord answered him saying: “My child, that was when I carried you – those are my footprints that you see!” Let us remember that God is faithful to the end – He leads us along the path He has for us and will never abandon us, even when we feel He has vanished. He is carrying us in His arms at our most vulnerable times and shows us His mercy, unfailing love, and His faithful promises. Great is His faithfulness!
Prayer: Dear Lord, help me not to bring you down to my level, but to recognize and praise you for your constant faithfulness and love. Even when I feel abandoned, help me to put my trust in you especially as I have seen your power, might, mercy, and miracles in the past. Help me to consider all your works and meditate on your mighty deeds. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Song: Great is Thy Faithfulness
Psalm 75 is a song set to the tune of the Davidic Psalms 57-59 and was written by Asaph, a lead singer and musician in the time of David and Solomon. It begins with thanksgiving to their God who is near; thanksgiving based on His wonderous deeds and accomplishments. It shifts perspective from that of the people to that of God in which He declares His imminent righteous judgement. By His power He maintains the very pillars of the earth; by His righteousness He rebukes the prideful. God reminds the inhabitants of His good creation that it is He who lifts up and casts down, no other person can do this. No other person can deliver or judge rightly. The image of a cup foaming with bitter wine as a punishment brought on by evildoers is a contrast to its more traditional use depicting frivolity and joy. It ends with a promise and reminder that the wicked will be brought low and the righteous shall be exalted.
When I was growing up it seemed like there wasn’t a lot of big bad news going around all the time like there is today. In truth, I was simply inattentive then and overly connected now. It’s safe to say that at no other point in my life have I had more urgent news alerts on my phone that I cannot bear to look at than I do right now. Evil men and wicked women hurt and abuse and coerce and slaughter one another and it seems like there is no consequence for their action. It is infuriating to see so much pain and distress all over the earth, and as soon as I think it can’t get any worse, it invariably does.
It’s at times like these when I need to unplug the most. It’s at times like these I need to remember that things aren’t necessarily worse now than they were ten, twenty, or even two thousand years ago: it’s just the specifics that have changed. This world has been fallen for so long and I find myself groaning with the rest of creation for Jesus to show up and put an end to it all! That’s when I find comfort in the Psalms. The earth we live on has never been short of the murderous or greedy; the arrogant and deceitful. As it was, it is, and will continue to be. But that is where despair must be checked – for as longstanding as evil seems to be, the promises of God Almighty are infinitely stronger, infinitely greater, and last forever!
God has promised long, long ago to bring down the haughty, to lift up the crushed and broken, and have compassion on the poor and widowed. He has promised to wipe away every tear and do away with the proud once and for all! So many of the books of the New Testament are written to struggling churches, encouraging them to press on, look heavenward, and hold fast to the promises of Christ. We are in no less dire straits right here and right now. In fact, given the overwhelming flood of news and information, we are in more danger of being overwhelmed by the wickedness of the world today more than yesterday!
In what ways do you react to the state of the world as it is today? Do you shut down like me? Are you bitter like I can be? Do you find it all a bit hopeless like I do? I think any honest and sincere look at something as small as our own community to something as large as our continent will yield distress within us, especially when held up to the ideal put forward in Genesis. I would caution you, as I continually have to do myself, to be spurred on to pray instead of shutting down. Pray big prayers and pray them constantly. Prayer makes the difference, for in prayer we intercede for others and commit all things to God. Prayer is the natural antidote to despair, and prayer reminds us of the wealth of God’s promises from Genesis to Revelation.
Lord God, thank you for all the ways in which you work good and hope into such desperate times as these. We pray for soft hearts that will not become calloused or insensitive to the world around us. We pray for our hearts to break over what breaks yours. Give us eyes to see and ears to hear those who need your help today and help us to be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ in even the smallest way today. Help us to be a beacon on a hill, salt of the earth, and the light of the world, that all may see our good deeds and give glory to you, our Father in Heaven. Amen!
Song: Holy, Holy, Holy (Shane & Shane)
"Going to Zion to worship our mighty God."
INTRODUCTION: This Psalm is a hymn celebrating Zion as the place God has chosen to dwell. It also serves as a celebration of a time when God delivered Zion from invaders. When the congregation sang this, they marvelled at the privilege of going to Zion and worshiping there, and thanked God.
Do we marvel at the privilege of worshiping Jesus in the midst of our congregation?
When has God rescued you from danger?
Do you remember what he has done for you?
Are you thankful?
OBSERVATION: V.1-2, The maker of heaven and earth has chosen his people, Israel, and Zion as his dwelling place on earth. In a great battle God defended Zion from invaders. We read here of God breaking flashing arrows, shields, and weapons of war. [Oh, that he would do it again!]
V.4 reads of God's glorious majesty as being more glorious than mountains. Next, we see the defeated army, weapons being destroyed at the rebuke of God, v. 6 resulting in worship by his people. "It is you alone who are to be feared," v.7. We stand with Israel in awestruck wonder at the power of our God unleashed to deliver his people, v.10. In v.11-12 we are bidden to make commitments to the Lord - and keep them - because God takes our vows seriously.
INTERPRETATION: Like Israel, we are to marvel at the works God has done for us. Most of us have some story of when we were rescued from some calamity or other, BUT, how cool is it, that our story joins with God's great story of salvation - beginning with the people of Israel and coming to climax with Jesus, his Son, on the cross? The enemy defeated for us is sin and death, "Death has lost it's grip on me!" So, if you're tempted (like me) to grumble about getting up early on Sunday to go to church, try instead to marvel at the privilege of worshiping our God together, hearing the Bible preached and taught, feeding our souls with the goodness of God. Let's be the salt in the world, light in our situation. "People everywhere tell of your wonderful deeds." Amen.
PRAYER: Lord, keep us faithful. Refresh our memories of times when you have brought us through the storms of life. Give us strength to endure to the end, that we may praise you along with all the company of heaven, "Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come." (Rev.4.8)
HYMN: "Holy! Holy! Holy! Lord God Almighty!"
“We are given no signs from God; no prophets are left, and none of us knows how long this will be.”
Psalm 74: 9
In some ways this Psalm has echoes of Psalm 44; there is an anguished call upon God to help His people as they face calamities, evil, persecution and trouble. In the face of such difficulty God seems to have abandoned them; at the very least to be remaining silent and inactive.
What is noticeable, though, is that despite this situation there is no mention of national or personal sin and no allusion to the waywardness of the people that have been causal factors of such catastrophe. Mourning, grieving and beseeching are clearly present but no complaint, murmuring or doubt. Instead the Psalm calls upon God to defend His name and protect His cause. He is honoured, even praised for who He is, and the prayers are specific and clear. God has made His sanctuary with His people, both of which are under attack; places of worship destroyed. God has not acted, prophets are silent and there seems to be no end in sight. In the face of such oppression God is called upon to help His people, the oppressed, and the poor; to keep His covenant and to honour His own name. A cry, a petition, of faith in the face of adversity, focused on a Sovereign God who owns salvation and is greater than the enemies and powers that are being faced.
This Psalm has a lot to teach us and a deal of encouragement. We will have all faced seriously difficult times, when we call upon God, but He seems silent and inactive. The situations may have in part or directly been caused by ourselves; they may just simply be awful circumstances. Whatever is the case, we are seeking God, but we are not seeing or hearing anything from Him; we see no light at the end of the tunnel (vs. 9). A truly horrible situation. In such conditions this Psalm calls us to act in the following ways, we are to:
The Church, and God’s individual children, have always faced suffering and trials. This Psalm provides an encouragement of response focused on God’s truth. God’s cause and ultimate blessing will always triumph (Ephesians 1: 9-10). He loves us, and if He has called us, He will always bring good out of the situations we face (Romans 8: 28)
The Question of Application
Is our God greater than that which we face?
Father God, help us to humble ourselves under your mighty hand so that you may lift us up in due time. May we cast all our anxiety on you because you care for us. Help us to be alert and of sober mind as our enemy, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. May we resist him, standing firm in our faith, as we know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
Then O Lord, as the God of all grace, who called us to your eternal glory in Christ, after we have suffered a little while, will you restore us and make us strong, firm and steadfast. To you be the power for ever and ever. Amen.
(Based on 1 Peter 5: 6-11)
Who shall I fear (God of Angel Armies) by Chris Tomlin
TEXT: PSALM 73
Verses 1-2: The psalmist confesses that he has ran into an obstacle in life that has unbalanced him.
Verses 3-12: The psalmist is brutally honest of his resentment towards evil people who prosper in this life.
Verses 13-14: We see that the psalmist’s life is full of struggles and pain. The psalmist finds himself questioning whether an innocent life is worthwhile.
Verses 15-20: The psalmist’s experience of the presence of God refocused his perspective and he quickly realized that present realities are not ultimate realities.
Verses 21-22: The psalmist realizes that his previous behaviour was out of ignorance.
Verses 23-26: These verses describe the ultimate destiny of the wicked and the psalmist speaks of his future as living in relationship to God.
INTERPRET: The composer of Psalm 73 struggled with the age-old problem of the suffering of the innocent and the prosperity of the wicked, and wrote this psalm after coming to a place of resolution in his heart. This psalm is considered a wisdom psalm and there are clear connections between this psalm and the life of Job. Job too questioned God’s goodness, since he, an innocent person, was suffering. But when God appeared to him, he submitted to God without explanation of why he suffered.
Psalm 73 expresses what many, if not most, people have felt through the ages as they wondered why some wicked people seem to thrive, while God’s devoted people often struggle in life. The question of why bad things happen to good people has occupied the attention of many through the ages. The psalmist bears testimony that the answer to this question does not come by observation or reason alone, but through an experience of God which compels us to look beyond the present into the future. This psalm clearly illustrates that present realities are not ultimate realities.
APPLICATION: God’s ultimate answer to our sufferings comes in the form of Jesus Christ, his beloved Son, who entered into our human sufferings to the point of dying on the cross. Jesus was also raised from the dead and now sits on the right hand of the Father. Those who are now united in Christ can rejoice, that by his resurrection they are ultimately victorious.
If there is a debate about what was in the mind of the author as he spoke of the final destiny of the wicked and righteous alike, no doubt remains today in the light of the death and resurrection of Christ. Because of the sacrifice and victory of Jesus, we can be sure that present realities are not ultimate realities. When we encounter the overwhelming presence of God like the psalmist did, we too become like Job. We no longer get overcome by our struggles, but rather we become overwhelmed by the grace of God and thereby submit to him in all we do.
PRAYER: Lord Jesus; I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end you will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see you with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me for that day in which all of my struggles with be gone. May my hope for that ultimate reality overcome all of the sufferings of my present reality. AMEN.
SONG: My Redeemer Lives
June 17th – Les Kovacs Psalm 72
Observe: Psalm 72 is a joyous prayer written for the coronation of King Solomon, but which also foreshadows the coming Kingdom of Jesus Christ.
The opening verses 1-4 of the psalm start by asking God to endow the king with His justice and righteousness so he can rule the people with and justice, and that God’s blessings and protection fall on the people because of the king’s righteous reign.
The next verses 5-11, ask God’s blessing on his reign with longevity, righteousness, and prosperity. May the kings of the nations near and far be subject to him and bring hm great tribute.
The following verses 12-15, ascribe to the king great and heroic attributes of delivering the weak and needy from oppression and violence.
This is followed in verses 16-18 by a petition for successful production of the land so that the crops will flourish and that all nations will be blessed because of him.
And finally, verses 18-20 end with praises being lifted to the God of Israel.
Interpret: Although the psalm was written to commemorate the installation of Solomon, the son of David, as king of Israel, any Christian cannot help but see the parallels to the even greater son of David, Jesus Christ. Like Solomon, Jesus too was descended from the Royal House of David.
Although this particular psalm is not considered one of the Messianic Psalms because it was written for Solomon, if you replaced all the pronouns of “he”, “him”, or “his”, or each reference to the “king” with the name of Jesus, every verse would be an apt descriptor of our Lord, but to an even greater degree than the merely mortal Solomon.
It is Jesus who will rule over His people with the ultimate sense of justice and righteousness. It is Jesus who will reign for eternity and to whom all people, nations and rulers will bow down before. It is Jesus who will deliver His people from injustice and oppression of every kind, when He brings the new heaven and the new earth where “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Rev 21-4). And it is Jesus, along with the Father and the Holy Spirit, to whom we will forever sing our praises
This is a psalm fit for a King.
Application: David was a great king of Israel. Solomon was the wisest king of Israel. Over the millennia, there have been many good and wise rulers, not only for Israel, but for the various nations of the earth. But each of these rulers, whether kings, or presidents, or prime ministers are merely human beings. As such, they have their own set of faults, biases, or agendas. No matter how “good” they may be at their job, they like the rest of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. (Rom 3:23)
Despite having a heart after God’s own heart, David committed a myriad of sins. Despite being given great wisdom, Solomon eventually lost his way. Every human leader in history has fallen victim to the desires of their own hearts. But it’s not just our leaders who fall short of our expectations by giving into their sinful impulses. We fall prey to sin every day.
Yet because of our good and perfect King Jesus, we have something that we can celebrate every day. As His disciples, we know what awaits us when He returns. We know that He will rule with righteousness, mercy, and love. But we also know that we don’t have to wait for His return for Him to be our saviour. Because of His sacrifice for us, we have the Holy Spirit within us, to be our guide, our comfort, our shield in times of trouble. He can do for us what our earthly leaders can never do. Jesus is the only one in whom we can place our trust fully and completely, and who is most deserving of our praise and adoration.
What better imagery could the psalmist have employed to convey the idea of the most beneficial and blessed effects that follow the descent of Jesus, the Son of God, upon the earth, and that of His Holy Spirit, during Pentecost?
Prayer: Father God, we praise you and bless the name of Jesus above all things. He is the King of kings, and Lord of lords. He alone is the hope of all the nations of the earth. Open our lips, Lord, and our mouths will declare your praise. This we pray in the mighty name of Jesus. Amen.
Song: You're Beautiful – Phil Wickham
Observe The psalmist’s hope is in the Lord, right into his old age. We see three aspects of this hope:
Confidence: In You, O Lord, I put my trust; let me never be put to shame (1), that is, be disappointed or disillusioned. God has always been his rock, his fortress to trust absolutely.
Contrition: He asks God not to forget him in his age and weakness: Do not cast me off in the time of old age; do not forsake me when my strength fails (9).He still has enemies, so he prays, O God, do not be far from me; O my God, make haste to help me! (12). Vulnerable, he trusts God for strength.
Commitment: A lifetime of trials have not embittered him but have increased his faith and trust in God; we see this in the buoyancy of But I will hope continually, and will praise You yet more and more.(14) His declaration of God’s faithfulness reveals a lifetime of wonder: O God, you have taught me from my youth; and to this day I declare your wondrous works (17). He follows with a plea: Now also when I am old and gray headed, O God, do not forsake me.(18) And, He won’t!
He ends with praise for God’s faithfulness (22-24).
Interpret Martin Luther said, “It would be a good thing if young people were wise and old people were strong, but God has arranged things better.” Looking at prominent figures in the Hebrew Scriptures, few are young. God revealed His purposes to them, and they obeyed Him well beyond their three score and ten years, flawed but faithful to the end.
This psalm speaks of a lifetime of faith in God, keeping steadfast trust and endurance well into his final years.
Apply Western culture has skewed the social spectrum so that elders are too often ignored, neglected, even mocked – to our shame.
We’re losing their stories, building blocks for a community’s history. And if we don’t know our history, the adage goes, we may have to repeat it -- not a great prospect.
We combat our culture’s ageism by asking God for a holy respect for our elders, for eyes to see as God sees. Let’s ask for their stories as part of God’s story, listening patiently to learn and grow together in His love.
The Real Lives Lived brochures of a few years ago introduced our elders who attended the 8:30 service. They may now be in hospital, in care homes, homebound -- or with the Lord. As we can, we pray, visit, phone, write, invite… any means to say that their church family esteems them as God does. Psalm 71 reminds us elders have much to offer. Let’s discover who they are, remembering they are gifts!
Ask What are the faith stories of the elders in my community, my church family, my own family? What questions can I ask to encourage their telling? As I age, Lord, will You increase my strength, hope and faith in You?
Pray Lord, help me to renounce society’s fear and mockery of aging. You are my faithful, loving Lord, my life beginning to end. Anchor me to You as I become more vulnerable. Remind me often to give You thanks and praise because Jesus bought my entire life at great price.
Sing Psalm 71 Greg Mailloux - I Will Sing of Your Salvation
The Psalms Project - I Have Hoped, O Lord, in You
Bible Blog 2022
This year the blogs are focused on the Psalms and are posted on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.