1 – Psalm 63:3 (ESV) 3 Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.
RAF: Heavenly Father, look and see the times this has ceased to be the case for me – and forgive. The truth of it remains ever true – to truly be loved by the Living God as His very own – what can compare? And still my peace is so easily broken at times. My faith shaken, my joy fleeting and my security seemingly threatened. I often live as though I am not the object of your great love – when all of life (if examined rightly) screams out the very opposite. How dull, and hard and cold my heart can become. At times, in an instant. One moment, rejoicing in your Word, worship and the fellowship of your people, and the next, agitated over trifles. As though your love ought not to intoxicate my being. As if it ought not color every thing I see, filter everything I hear, inform everything I say and bring within the reality of your love – everything I feel. To respond to life as though you are not both Lord over it, and my dearest, Heavenly Father in it. Forgive. And by your Spirit, tune my own heart to yours. Let not a single note of your love for your own fail to stike the accordant string in my own soul. Cause the drenching downpour of your lovingkindess to met by a rising fountain from out of my innermost being. Let me know your love more – but I beg you, give the capacity to love you rightly in return.
2 – Psalm 65:4 (ESV) 4 Blessed is the one you choose and bring near, to dwell in your courts! We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house, the holiness of your temple!
RAF: The great object in salvation is, God’s restoring us to Himself. To bring us near. To enter into a full and intimate relationship. To be “saved” and to live life apart from Him as though He is just a distant deity is to fail to enter into salvation at all. He chooses us, that He might bring us near. And not just for a one-time audience, or in certain seasons, but to dwell in His courts. And it is only as we take this up and pursue it that we can find the satisfaction our souls long for. Only in dwelling with Him, can we grow to be happiest with the goodness of His house, and the holiness of His Temple. If we are dissatisfied with God, it is not because we have found something lacking in Him. It is because we have not had enough of Him yet.
3 – Psalm 68:21-23 (ESV) 21 But God will strike the heads of his enemies, the hairy crown of him who walks in his guilty ways. 22 The Lord said, ‘I will bring them back from Bashan, I will bring them back from the depths of the sea, 23 that you may strike your feet in their blood, that the tongues of your dogs may have their portion from the foe.”
RAF: We must remember that such violent images are not to be understood in the context of human war. In our wars, there are those who are innocent who are destoyed. Non-aggressors and those otherwise uninvolved are hurt and shattered. Not so in God’s “war.” He, is meting out perfect justice. He is punishing the wicked only according to what they deserve. There is no collateral damge. There is nothing in this whereby the righteous or the innocent suffer. This is a proclamtion of His absolute triumph over sin and wickedness. As such, violent images such as these, are not only appropriate – they are necessary.
4 – Psalm 69:1-5 (ESV) 1 Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck. 2 I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me. 3 I am weary with my crying out; my throat is parched. My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God. 4 More in number than the hairs of my head are those who hate me without cause; mighty are those who would destroy me, those who attack me with lies. What I did not steal must I now restore? 5 O God, you know my folly; the wrongs I have done are not hidden from you.
RAF: David’s wisdom here is instructive and refreshing. He has the ability to separate between current trials and the injustice in them, and the fact he has sinned against God and God knows it altogether. He does not say to himself: “OK I don’t deserve what is happening to me in this instance – but there have plenty of things I HAVE done and haven’t suffered for – so I won’t ask God for help now.” This is in fact the way many of us think. Why? Because we do not truly believe God has forgiven us, and deals with us as righteous sons and daughters. If you have lost the ability to cry to God for help in unjust situations, because you feel like He has not punished enough anyway, you are still living in a form of self-righteousness. ALL of His blessings are of grace. We deserve none of them. And He does not trade one sin off against another to balance the karmic scales. Christ has truly endured our punishment. Forgiveness is real. And we can call upon Him for help with a clear conscience no matter what He has already forgiven us for. This is the glory of the Cross.
5 – Psalm 73 / Paraphrased
1. God IS good to His children.
2. But I almost blew it by a stupid error.
3. I was jealous, because some guys can get away with anything.
4. They have no fear of future punishment.
5. They live a life of ease.
6. So they gloat! But all is not well.
7. They LOOK satisfied.
8 & 9. They talk a big game.
10. And sometimes we Christians are intimidated by that.
11. They try to sway us by what they say about God.
12. And they point to other wicked men in ease as examples to us.
13. So I started to think: “I serve God for nothing!”
14. I don’t have the easy life they have.
15. And if I cop their attitude and admit its true, other Christians would be offended.
16. But the more I thought about it, the worse it got.
17. UNTIL – I went to God about it. And He showed me the bottom line.
18. These guys are on really thin ice – and ARE going to fall through.
19. In a split second their world will cave in on them.
20. Like being terrifyingly startled awake from a pleasant dream – God will start to judge them.
21. It hurt to see what an idiot I’ve been.
22. How stupid! I’ve got the brain of gopher!
23. And yet Lord, you still hang on to me.
24. In fact, you’ll continue to teach me until Christ comes, or I die.
25. If my future is wrapped up in you, my present must be also.
26. Even when my body and my heart give out, you will preserve me forever.
27. But the wicked ones will be destroyed as surely as if it is already done.
28. So my life will be spent in drawing nearer to you, for I have learned to trust you completely. And in so doing, others will come to know you as I have.