Psalm 17 ~ In Righteousness I Will See Your Face

The seventeenth psalm calls out to God in His role as the judge of righteousness. The psalmist cries out for judgment on himself and his enemies. Read that again. Not only does he point the Lord’s attention to his enemies so their wickedness can be noted and avenged, he calls for God to examine his own life as well.

Hear, O Lord, my righteous plea; listen to my cry. Give ear to my prayer – it does not rise from deceitful lips.

May vindication come from you; may your eyes see what is right. (vv 1 –2)

Would you and I be willing to invite the same scrutiny? The power to make this invitation comes from living the undivided life, one in which integrity is an integral component of the believer’s life. We do not live in secret a life different from the one we live in the light. We would be able to say:

Though you probe my heart and examine me at night, though you test me, you will find nothing; I have resolved that my mouth will not sin. (v 3)

Reading this psalm challenges us. Our lips might proclaim our innocence in comparison to others but our heart knows the truth. God knows the truth as well and will highlight our hypocrisy to its full extent the harder we beat our chests. We want to be in the position that the psalmist is, satisfied with the immediate presence of God and being able to express how much we cherish God. Pray that we might all be so blessed.

Psalm 12 ~ Purified Seven Times

Help, Lord, for the godly are no more; the faithful have vanished from among men. (v1)

Looking around in our modern day can reveal in us a similar sense of resignation. Our culture constantly pushes the boundaries of truth, ethics, and morality and proclaims each to be their own god who devises the appropriate framework for their lives. As we read the lament of Psalm 12 we find that not much has changed through the centuries.

The psalmist was not alone is lamenting the decadence of his society. The prophets spoke as boldly to these dangers in their time. Micah echoes the sentiments:

What misery is mine!

   I am like one who gathers summer fruit at the gleaning of the vineyard;

there is no cluster of grapes to eat, none of the early figs that I crave.

   The godly have been swept from the land; not one upright man remains.

All men lie in wait to shed blood; each hunts his brother with a net.

   Both hands are skilled in doing evil; the ruler demands gifts,

the judge accepts bribes, the powerful dictate what they desire— they all conspire together.

   The best of them is like a brier, the most upright worse than a thorn hedge.

The day of your watchmen has come, the day God visits you.  Now is the time of their confusion.

   Do not trust a neighbor; put no confidence in a friend.

Even with her who lies in your embrace be careful of your words.

   For a son dishonors his father, a daughter rises up against her mother,

a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— a man’s enemies are the members of his own household.

  But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior;

my God will hear me. (Micah 7:1-7)

King David expressed the same trust – that God would restore the right balance, no matter how far the society tipped.

O Lord, you will keep us safe and protect us from such people forever,

The wicked freely strut about when what is vile is honored among men. (vv 7-8)

Our trust requires a long term perspective, an eternal kingdom perspective. How do you develop such a perspective? By learning and making your own the whole of scripture. A kingdom perspective is not formed from promise books and joyful passages alone, it must be refined in the furnace of reality. We may never escape the persecutors and deceivers that cross our path in this life but we can look forward to a new heaven and new earth in which they will not ‘strut about.’

Psalm 11 – Flee Like a Bird?

Where else, the psalmist asks, can I place my trust? “In the Lord I take refuge.” (v1a) So many of the entries in the psalter echo this same theme. Though life may be an uphill struggle in which we are pursued by our enemies. Though it may seem that evil has free run in our world and that the wicked are victorious. Although our calling may be one of persecution and even death, in who else can we trust? No one but the Lord.

The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord is on his heavenly throne.

He observes the sons of men; his eyes examine them.

The Lord examines the righteous, but the wicked and those who love violence his soul hates. (vv 4-5)

The promise that we rest in is not in the ease and comfort of our lives, the promise is in knowing that through eternity we will be the recipients of the Lord’s unfailing justice. His grace has given us the path to redemption and removes our fear.

For the Lord is righteous, he loves justice; upright men will see his face. (v7)

Thanksgiving One

As the week counts down toward the day of our feast, it is a good period in which to reflect on the multitude of things for which we are or can be thankful. This quiet reflection can be a counterpoint to the ever-deafening roar of THE CHRISTMAS SHOPPING SEASON!!! It seems as though all eyes have already peeked beyond Thanksgiving to the altar of consumerism commemorated on Black Friday. I begin with the root of all of my thanks…

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom 5:8)

How can we not be thankful for this sacrifice? Sooner or later, we all realize that there would be no way for us to earn the great gift that is offered us; we are totally incapable of purifying ourselves enough to be in presence of the Holy. The righteousness that allows us to be called ‘friends’ of God came by the sacrifice of one who looked beyond our pitiful state and gave the ultimate reason for thanks.