Psalm 108 ~ Awaken the Dawn

imageMy heart, O God, is steadfast; I will sing and make music with all my soul.

Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn. I will praise you, Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples.

For great is your love, higher than the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. (Psalm 108:1-4)

In a short cry for physical aid, the psalmist calls us centuries later to consider the urgency of our spiritual motivation. Are we driven to rise in the darkness, to awaken the dawn in fervent worship? Do we linger in the comfort of our bed, seeking additional moments of slumber, delaying our appointment with God until a more convenient moment? Many are the nights in which the Lord beckons us awake, seeking our company and wanting to share a moment of communion with us. How will we respond?

Grace and peace in the Spirit of the Lord to you.

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Psalm 107–Do Tell


Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story – those he redeemed from the hand of the foe, those he gathered from the lands, from east and west, from north and south. (Ps 107:2-3)

The culture that we have developed within the Church puts an emphasis on the shiny, clean you. Reborn, redeemed? Give effusive thanks for that, Christian!

Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things. (vv8-9)

The psalmist reminds us, however, of the value of recounting the journey prior to redemption. Others benefit directly and indirectly from the journey, from seeing the hills and valleys overcome. They gain a deeper perspective on redemption when they see sin beaten, sin removed, sin forgiven and washed clean. The psalmist tells of the wandering, the failure, the enslavement, the loss and greed—all forgotten by Yahweh in an instant when His people focused their devotion on Him.

Let the one who is wise heed these things and ponder the loving deeds of the Lord. (v43)

Grace and peace to you.

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Psalm 106 – How Quickly


But they soon forgot what he had done and did not wait for his plan to unfold.

In the desert they gave in to their craving; in the wilderness they put God to the test. (Ps 106:13-14)

To read the Old Testament is to thumb through a catalog of mankind’s many failures. As much a diary as it is a mirror, the pages are rife with grotesque and subtle reminders of our own tendencies. In the two psalms that conclude Book IV of the psalter, the psalmists rehearse Israel’s repeated incidents of glorifying and celebrating God for his mighty deeds, followed by a meteoric descent into the waters of the Lethe.

Psalms 105 and 106 must be read together to gain the full impact of the psalmist’s purpose. Where 105 catalogs God’s unending faithfulness to the people who are called by His name, 106 reminds hearers of the incessant unfaithfulness. The juxtaposition of the two is jarring, and we cannot help but marvel at His Love and Israel’s failure.

And the myriad failures in our own lives.

Many times he delivered them, but they were bent on rebellion and they wasted away in their sin. (v43)

The Christian has little excuse for continued purposeful rebellion. The Spirit serves in His role as paraclete in countless ways, one being the early warning when our tendency toward corruption threatens to affect our behavior. We can avoid repeating the history of our family line by becoming more aware and responsive to His whispers, warning us off of unglorifying speech, thoughts and behaviors.

Save us, Lord our God, and gather us from the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in your praise. (v47)

Save us, Lord our God, from ourselves and our bent toward failing you. Let us give thanks and praise for your redemption and your power to live out the new creation you’ve begun in us.

Grace and peace to you.

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Psalm 105–Don’t Know Much About History


Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done.

Sing to Him, sing praise to Him; tell of all his wonderful acts. (Psalm 105:1-2)

The awe of the sovereign God of the universe is sufficient inspiration to invite the totality of our worship. He is the God of all creation, the giver of life and the sustainer of souls. Worship-worth/ship-should be the natural relationship between created and Creator.

Then the mind gets in the way…

The brain tells the heart to justify the worship. Give me a reason, it says. The psalmist knows this tendency well. To call Israel to worship he rehearses the glory of Yahweh’s interactions with His people.. Glory in his holy name…Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced.

He remembers his covenant forever..He confirmed it to Jacob as a decree

They wandered from nation to nation…He allowed no one to oppress them

Have you spent the time allowing God to remind you of your history together? The wonders that He has worked in your life, the trials he has sustained you through, the love He blankets you with. The act of rehearsing your history may be a personal motivation that deepens your worship to depths you have yet to experience.

Praise the Lord. (v45)

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Psalm 104–The Beams of His Upper Chamber


He wraps himself in light as with a garment; he stretches out the heavens like a tent and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters. (Psalm 104:2-3)

Feeling the rays of the sun upon our face is one of the simple joys we take for granted. The warmth that brings rejuvenation, a reminder that we are alive. It relaxes us and reminds us of our toil while inhabiting this mortal coil.

The fragility of our skin in the sun’s rays is also a reminder of the source of those rays. We cannot stay long in even the mildest weather as the unseen wavelengths do their work on us. As the beams of His upper chambers strike us our façade, no matter how thick, we are reminded of how His holiness envelopes us. We cannot hide our failings in the light and we are brought to confession and repentance.

Bathe in the light.

Grace and peace to you.

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Psalm 103–So Great Is His Love


The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. (Ps 103:8)

Of all of the great promises in Scripture, this stands out for those who only see God in terms of His wrath. For many within His people and many more who still stand apart, the image of the Holy Father is not one of love, but one of a God of vengeance, sweeping His eyes east and west watching for any infraction that might be an opportunity to visit retribution upon their heads.

While we are wrong to discount His anger at the ways in which we treat one another upon His creation, we also err when we see His holiness only in terms of righteous wrath. God is patient, demanding holiness, but teaching rather than terminating. When you live with the constant fear of failure and its outcome, the fruit of joy is never harvested in your life. Many Christians have followed this path, living their entire lives with a very narrow understanding of God’s character.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. (vv 11-12)

This unmatched, vast and measureless forgiveness is one of the prime character traits of God. Far from the hair-trigger vengeful God of lore, He desires a loving relationship rooted in love much more. When we look to the cross, we don’t see charges waiting to held against us, we see a fresh start that is refreshed by our prayers of repentance and our journey toward greater and greater holiness.

Praise the Lord, all his works everywhere in his dominion.

Praise the Lord, O my soul. (v22) 

Grace and peace to you.

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Psalm 101–Eyes on the Faithful


My eyes will be on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me; he whose walk is blameless will minister to me. Ps 101:6

The psalmist introduces a small group of psalms (101 – 110) that concentrate the larger themes of the entire psalter. Arranged concentrically, both 101 and 110 speak to the devotion of the king to God. He pledges to arrange his kingdom on the principles of the Lord and to reign in righteousness.

I will walk in my house with blameless heart. (v2)

I will set before my eyes no vile thing. (v3)

Men of perverse heart shall be far from me; (v4)

Faithfulness to the Lord begins with separation from the world. Dwelling in the muck does not leave you spotless. While we will reach into the mud to pull another to safety, it is not meant to be our dwelling place. We will spend time with the unsaved, but they will not direct our lives. When blame enters our heart, we will confess and repent.

Grace and peace to you.

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Psalm 100–We Are His


The verses of this psalm strike a note of familiarity with the reader and the reason for this is twofold. The themes of praise for God, membership in His flock and the ultimate truth of His enduring love are all present. Because the truths present are all encompassing, the words of the psalm have made their way into countless hymns, choruses and prayers.

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.

Worship the Lord with gladness;

come before him with joyful songs.

Know that the Lord is God.

Placed in the cultural context of Israel, there are also theological lessons that take root in the subconscious. The Lord is God, not one among many, not capricious and prone to tantrum as the imaginary gods of those surrounding Israel. Knowing this truth and the truths about God make worship and the joy inherent second nature. Unlike the way in which one might approach an idol—hoping but never knowing—approaching the gates of the Shepherd comes with assurance.

For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;

His faithfulness continues through all generations.

Assurance despite any temporary travail or circumstance comes through knowing God. The psalmist doesn’t speak from book knowledge here, he writes from the heart of one who has searched both his personal history and that of the people of Israel, knowing the peaks and valleys. Knowledge brings level to these ups and downs. Knowledge reminds us that time belongs to God and that the contours may only soften over time. Knowledge reminds us that we can still be joyful in this truth.

Grace and peace to you.

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Psalm 99–Seven


O Lord our God, you answered them; you were to Israel a forgiving God, though you punished their misdeeds. (Ps 99:8)

As the joy and awe of Easter remains fresh in our hearts, we do well to reflect on the reality of God’s demand for holiness. Psalm 99 is linked to 97 as an expression of the benefits of the Lord’s reign over His people. These benefits are not the product of a one-sided covenant however. As mercy is extended to us, we are commanded to pull our boots from the mire that has held us captive and ascend to higher ground. Our core calling is to make holiness the objective of our efforts.

The psalmist also expresses the parallel expressions of God’s reign, mercy and correction. Grace is not license, as some mistakenly interpret it. He corrects those he loves in order to reorient their path. To be abandoned to sin is to be without hope.

Grace and peace to you.

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Psalm 98–Rivers Clap Their Hands


The Lord has made his salvation known and revealed his righteousness to the nations. He has remembered his love and his faithfulness to the house of Israel; all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God. (Psalm 98:2-3)

God the evangelist. There’s a phrase that we don’t often hear on Sunday mornings. The idea that God who mercifully extends His grace—of which He is the source—also trumpets that message to the world somehow seems to escape us. We take the burden and responsibility for evangelism onto our own shoulders, but fail to look back at the exemplar for the proper way of performing the task.

God the Father announced His love through His chosen people. As His people put their depravity on display over and over, the message was confused. The Suffering Servant would leave no doubt. Christ made salvation known for all the generations that would follow. Our evangelism requires nothing but to display Christ to the world.

Marana Tha!

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