Saturday, May 29, 2010

Project 4:4--Day One Hundred Twenty-Seven

Day One Hundred Twenty-Seven, Psalm 42, 53, 58, 81, 101

If you’ve not noticed by now, a lot of the psalms that I love speak to me because they are songs. That pattern continues today, as I especially appreciate Psalm 42, for from it, we have 2 songs: “As the Deer” and a song by Acappella called, “Why So Downcast, O My Soul?”

As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?
My tears have been my food
day and night,
while men say to me all day long, ”Where is your God?”
These things I remember
as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go with the multitude,
leading the procession to the house of God,
with shouts of joy and thanksgiving
among the festive throng.

Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.

My soul is downcast within me;
therefore I will remember you
from the land of the Jordan,
the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep
in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
have swept over me.

By day the Lord directs his love,
at night his song is with me—
a prayer to the God of my life.

I say to God my Rock,
“Why have you forgotten me?”
Why must I go about mourning,
oppressed by the enemy?”
My bones suffer mortal agony
as my foes taunt me,
saying to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”

Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.

Psalm 53 is one of my favorites, for the same reason that I loved Psalm 14 a few days ago. I won’t bother to post it here, though, because it’s nearly identical. I didn’t know that until I came across this one and it seemed so incredibly familiar. Seriously. Look ‘em up.

Project 4:4--Day One Hundred Twenty-Six

Day One Hundred Twenty-Six, Psalm 4, 12, 20, 25, 32

Today’s reading begins a section of “Psalms Expressing a Variety of Sentiments”.

I like Psalm 20, just because it has a line in it that is used for the song, “We Trust in the Name of the Lord Our God.”

May the Lord answer you when you are in distress;
may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.
May he send you help from the sanctuary
and grant you support from Zion.
May he remember all your sacrifices
and accept your burnt offerings.
May he give you the desire of your heart
and make all your plans succeed.
We will shout for joy when you are victorious
and will lift up our banners in the name of our God.
May the Lord grant all your requests.

Now I know that the Lord saves his anointed;
he answers him from his holy heaven
with the saving power of his right hand.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
They are brought to their knees and fall,
but we rise up and stand firm.

O Lord, save the king!
Answer us when we call!

Psalm 25 is another great one, because, yes, it’s another great song, “Unto Thee, O Lord.”

To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul;
in you I trust, O my God.
Do not let me be put to shame,
nor let my enemies triumph over me.
No one whose hope is in you
will ever be put to shame,
but they will be put to shame who are treacherous without excuse.

Show me your ways, O Lord,
teach me your paths;
guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you all day long.
Remember, O Lord, your great mercy and love,
for they are from of old.
Remember not the sins of my youth
and my rebellious ways;
according to your love remember me,
for you are good, O Lord.

Good and upright is the Lord;
therefore he instructs sinners in his ways.
He guides the humble in what is right
and teaches them his way.
All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful
for those who keep the demands of his covenant.
For the sake of your name, O Lord,
forgive my iniquity, though it is great.
Who, then, is the man that fears the Lord?
He will instruct him in the way chosen for him.
He will spend his days in prosperity,
and his descendants will inherit the land.
The Lord confides in those who fear him;
he makes his covenant known to them.
My eyes are ever on the Lord,
for only he will release my feet from the snare.

Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
The troubles of my heart have multiplied;
free me from my anguish.
Look upon my affliction and my distress
and take away all my sins.
See how my enemies have increased and how fiercely they hate me!
Guard my life and rescue me;
let me not be put to shame,
for I take refuge in you.
May integrity and uprightness protect me,
because my hope is in you.

Redeem Israel, O God,
from all their troubles!

Project 4:4--Day One Hundred Twenty-Five

Day One Hundred Twenty-Five, Psalm 139, 145, 148, 150

Psalm 139 is incredible and has long been one of my favorites. I remember learning at least part of it when I was about 12 years old. I love how totally thoroughly the Lord knows all things.

O Lord, you have searched me
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
you discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you know it completely, O Lord.

You hem me in—behind and before;
you have laid your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand.
When I awake,
I am still with you.

If only you would slay the wicked, O God!
Away from me, you bloodthirsty men!
They speak of you with evil intent;
your adversaries misuse your name.
Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord,
and abhor those who rise up against you?
I have nothing but hatred for them;
I count them my enemies.

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 148 is one of my favorites simply because it is the basis for the song “Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah!” That’s long been one of my favorite songs that I sang, growing up in church.

Praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord from the heavens,
praise him in the heights above.
Praise him, all his angels,
praise him, all his heavenly hosts.
Praise him, sun and moon,
praise him, all you shining stars.
Praise him, you highest heavens
and you waters above the skies.
Let them praise the name of the Lord,
for he commanded and they were created.
He set them in place for ever and ever;
he gave a decree that will never pass away.

Praise the Lord from the earth,
you great sea creatures and all ocean depths,
lightning and hail, snow and clouds,
stormy winds that do his bidding,
you mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars,
wild animals and all cattle,
small creatures and flying birds,
kings of the earth and all nations,
you princes and all rulers on the earth,
young men and maidens,
old men and children.

Let them praise the name of the Lord,
for his name alone is exalted;
his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.
He has raised up for his people a horn,
the praise of all his saints,
of Israel, the people close to his heart.

Praise the Lord.

Psalm 150 is one of my favorites because it calls for praising the Lord with many different musical instruments. This is not usually a favorite psalm of most people in my tribe of believers. In fact, I recall one Sunday evening when one of our elders (a new elder, at that!) read this scripture before praying over us. I appreciated it, myself, but later, of course, heard that some people were offended. Ridiculously sad, that one would get in trouble for reading Scripture!

Praise the Lord.

Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,
praise him with tambourine and dancing,
praise him with the strings and flute,
praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord.

Project 4:4--Day One Hundred Twenty-Four

Day One Hundred Twenty-Four, Psalm 122, 124, 133-136, 138

Psalm 122 is interesting for me, because it’s one that I rewrote in my own words a couple of years ago, when I was doing a Beth Moore study on the Psalms of Ascent.

I rejoiced with those who said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the Lord.”
Our feet are standing
in your gates, O Jerusalem.

Jerusalem is built like a city
that is closely compacted together.
That is where the tribes go up,
the tribes of the Lord,
to praise the name of the Lord
according to the statute given to Israel.
There the thrones for judgment stand,
the thrones of the house of David.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
“May those who love you be secure.
May there be peace within your walls
and security within your citadels.”
For the sake of my brothers and friends,
I will say, “Peace be within you.”
For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
I will seek your prosperity.

Psalm 124 is another of my favorites, because it makes up the lyrics to a song called “Had It Not Been the Lord”. I had actually never heard this song before I placed membership at my current church, and this song was on a cd that was given to me at that time.

If the Lord had not been on our side—
let Israel say—
Ii the Lord had not been on our side
when men attacked us,
when their anger flared against us,
they would have swallowed us alive;
the flood would have engulfed us,
the torrent would have swept over us,
the raging waters
would have swept us away.

Praise be to the Lord,
who has not let us be torn by their teeth.
We have escaped like a bird
out of the fowler’s snare;
the snare has been broken,
and we have escaped.
Our help is in the name of the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

Psalm 133 is incredible because it talks about how beautiful unity is among brothers!

How good and pleasant it is
when brothers live together in unity!
It is like precious oil poured on the head,
running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard,
down upon the collar of his robes.
It is as if the dew of Hermon
were falling on Mount Zion.
For there the Lord bestows his blessing,
even life forevermore.

Psalm 135 is a great psalm because it recounts a lot of the history of what God has done for the Israelites as He led them out of Egypt. It also talks of idols and how useless they are. But my favorite part of this psalm is the first few verses. It’s one I like to pray for/share with those who minister to me.

Praise the Lord.
praise the name of the Lord;
praise him, you servants of the Lord,
you who minister in the house of the Lord,
in the courts of the house of our God.

Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good;
sing praise to his name, for that is pleasant.
For the Lord has chosen Jacob to be his own,
Israel to be his treasured possession.

I know that the Lord is great,
that our Lord is greater than all gods.
The Lord does whatever pleases him,
in the heavens and on the earth,
in the seas and all their depths.
He makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth;
he sends lightning with the rain
and brings out the wind from his storehouses.

He struck down the firstborn of Egypt,
the firstborn of men and animals.
He sent his signs and wonders into your midst, O Egypt,
against Pharaoh and all his servants.
He struck down many nations and killed mighty kings—
Sihon king of the Amorites,
Og king of Bashan
and all the kings of Canaan—
and he gave their land as an inheritance,
and= inheritance to his people Israel.

Your name, O Lord, endures forever,
your renown, O Lord, through all generations.
For the Lord will vindicate his people
and have compassion on his servants.

The idols of the nations are silver and gold,
made by the hands of men.
They have mouths, but cannot speak,
eyes, but they cannot hear,
nor is there breath in their mouths.
Those who make them will be like them,
and so will all who trust in them.

O house of Israel, praise the Lord;
O house of Aaron, praise the Lord;
O house of Levi, praise the Lord;
you who fear him, praise the Lord.
Praise be to the Lord from Zion,
To him who dwells in Jerusalem.

Praise the Lord.

Project 4:4--Day One Hundred Twenty-Three

Day One Hundred Twenty-Three, Psalm 119

Since today’s reading covers the longest psalm, it is the only psalm covered in today’s reading. I like this one well enough (despite its lengthy-ness) because it is all about God’s Word. And I am all about God’s Word. So I enjoy a lot of the insight from this psalm, and I’ve picked out some of my favorite portions to share with you here.

How can a young man keep his way pure?
By living according to your word.
I seek you with all my heart;
do not let me stray from your commands.
I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you.
Praise be to you, O Lord;
teach me your decrees.
With my lips I recount
all the laws that come from your mouth.
I rejoice in following your statutes
as one rejoices in great riches.
I meditate on your precepts
and consider your ways.
I delight in your decree;
I will not neglect your word.


Teach me, O Lord, to follow your decrees;
then I will keep them to the end.
Give me understanding, and I will keep your law
and obey it with all my heart.
Direct me in the path of your commands,
for there I find delight.
Turn my heart toward your statutes
and not toward selfish gain.
Turn my eyes away from worthless things;
preserve my life according to your word.
Fulfill your promise to your servant,
so that you may be feared.
Take away the disgrace I dread,
for your laws are good.
How I long for your precepts!
preserve my life in your righteousness.


You are my portion, O Lord;
I have promised to obey your words.
I have sought your face with all my heart;
be gracious to me according to your promise.
I have considered my ways
and have turned my steps to your statutes.
I will hasten and not delay
to obey your commands.
Though the wicked bind me with ropes,
I will not forget your law.
At midnight I rise to give you thanks
for your righteous laws.
I am a friend to all who fear you,
to all who follow your precepts.
The earth is filled with your love, O Lord;
teach me your decrees.


Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path.
I have taken an oath and confirmed it,
that I will follow your righteous laws.
I have suffered much;
preserve my life, O Lord, according to your word.
Accept, O Lord, the willing praise of my mouth,
and teach me your laws.
Though I constantly take my life in my hands,
I will not forget your law.
The wicked have set a snare for me,
but I have not strayed from your precepts.
Your statutes are my heritage forever;
they are the joy of my heart.
My heart is set on keeping your decrees
to the very end.


I call with all my heart; answer me, O Lord,
and I will obey your decrees.
I call out to you; save me
and I will keep your statutes.
I rise before dawn and cry for help;
I have put my hope in your word.
My eyes stay open through the watches of the night,
that I may meditate on your promises.
Hear my voice in accordance with your love;
preserve my life, O Lord, according to your laws.
Those who devise wicked schemes are near,
but they are far from your law.
Yet you are near, O Lord,
and all your commands are true.
Long ago I learned from your statutes
that you established them to last forever.

Project 4:4--Day One Hundred Twenty-Two

Day One Hundred Twenty-Two, Psalm 103-104, 113-114, 117

Psalm 103 is just incredible. We’re encouraged to praise the Lord and “forget none of his benefits”. Then, all His benefits are listed out for us, just in case you need a reminder—his compassion and grace, His patience, His abundant love, the fact that He does not treat us as our sins deserve, but rather, He has removed them from us, as far as the east is from the west!

Praise the Lord, O my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The Lord works righteousness
and justice for all the oppressed.

He made known his ways to Moses,
his deeds to the people of Israel:
the Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
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.
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.
As for man, his days are like grass,
he flourishes like a flower of the field;
the wind blows over it and it is gone,
and its place remembers it no more.
But from everlasting to everlasting
the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children’s children—
with those who keep his covenant
and remember to obey his precepts.

The Lord has established his throne in heaven,
and his kingdom rules over all.

Praise the Lord, you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his bidding,
who obey his word.

Praise the Lord,
all his heavenly hosts,
you his servants who do his will.
Praise the Lord,
all his works
everywhere in his dominion.

Praise the Lord, O my soul.

Project 4:4--Day One Hundred Twenty-One

Day One Hundred Twenty-One, Psalm 75, 93-94, 97-100

On Michael W. Smith’s “Worship” CD, there is a song entitled “Let it Rain.” In the middle of this song, the singing stops, and there is just some background music as Michael W. Smith quotes some scripture. That scripture comes from Psalm 97, so every time I come across it, I hear it in my head with Smitty’s voice:

The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad;
let the distant shores rejoice.

Clouds and thick darkness surround him;
righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
Fire goes before him
and consumes his foes on every side.
His lightning lights up the world;
the earth sees and trembles.
The mountains melt like wax before the Lord,
before the Lord of all the earth.
The heavens proclaim his righteousness,
and all the peoples see his glory.

All who worship images are put to shame,
those who boast in idols—
worship him, all you gods!

Zion hears and rejoices
and the villages of Judah are glad
because of your judgments, O Lord.
For you, O Lord, are the Most High over all the earth;
you are exalted far above all gods

Let those who love the Lord hate evil,
for he guards the lives of his faithful ones
and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.
Light is shed upon the righteous
and joy on the upright in heart.
Rejoice in the Lord, you who are righteous,
and praise his holy name.

Psalm 100 is one of my favorites because it’s got the lyrics to such a fun, upbeat song that just expresses the joy and excitement of being in God’s presence.

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.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving
And his courts with praise;
Give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
His faithfulness continues through all generations.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Project 4:4--Day One Hundred Twenty

Day One Hundred Twenty, Psalm 29, 33, 65-68

From today’s reading, Psalm 67 is my favorite, just because the beginning of it reminds me of Aaron’s blessing on the Israelites—the one which makes up they lyrics to a beautiful song that we sing sometimes entitled “The Lord Bless You and Keep You.”

May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face shine upon us,
that your ways may be known on earth,
your salvation among all nations.

May the peoples praise you, O God;
may all the peoples praise you.
May the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you rule the peoples justly
and guide the nations of the earth.
May the peoples praise you, O God;
may all the peoples praise you.

Then the land will yield its harvest,
and God, our God, will bless us.
God will bless us,
and all the ends of the earth will fear him.

Project 4:4--Day One Hundred Nineteen

Day One Hundred Nineteen, Psalm 8-9, 16, 19, 21, 24

Today’s reading begins the section on “Psalms of Joy and Praise”. I love Psalm 8 because it reminds me of the song “O Lord, Our Lord.” Also, it contains a couple of recognizable passages, as in “What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” and “From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise.”

O Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

You have set your glory above the heavens.
From the lips of children and infants
you have ordained praise
because of your enemies,
to silence the foe and the avenger.

When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?
You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.

You made him ruler over the works of your hands;
you put everything under his feet:
all flocks and herds,
and the beasts of the field,
the birds of the air,
and the fish of the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas.

O Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Psalm 16 is one of my favorites because it’s one that I actually heard twice in one day once upon a time. Our minister used it in his sermon one Sunday morning. Then that evening, one of our elders read a portion of it before leading us in prayer. He focused on the phrase “Apart from you I have no good thing.” It’s true—every good and perfect thing we have is from God.

Keep me safe, O God,
for in you I take refuge.

I said to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
apart from you I have no good thing.”
As for the saints who are in the land,
they are the glorious ones in whom is all my delight.
The sorrows of those will increase
who run after other gods.
I will not pour out their libations of blood
or take up their names on my lips.

Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup;
you have made my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance.

I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;
even at night my heart instructs me.
I have set the Lord always before me.
because he is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest secure,
because you will not abandon me to the grave,
nor will you let your Holy One see decay.
You have made known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Project 4:4--Day One Hundred Eighteen

Day One Hundred Eighteen, Psalm 76, 82, 84, 90, 92, 112, 115

Psalm 84 is the basis for a FANTASTIC worship song entitled, “Better is One Day”.

“How lovely is your dwelling place,
O Lord Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints,
for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out
for the living God.

Even the sparrow has found a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may have her young—
a place near your altar,
O Lord Almighty, my King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in your house;
they are ever praising you.

Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baca,
they make it a place of springs;
the autumn rains also cover it with pools.
They go from strength to strength,
till each appears before God in Zion.

Hear my prayer, O Lord God Almighty;
listen to me, O God of Jacob.
Look upon our shield, O God;
look with favor on your anointed one.

Better is one day in your courts
than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
for the Lord God is a sun and shield;
the Lord bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold
from those whose walk is blameless.

O Lord Almighty,
Blessed is the man who trusts in you.

Psalm 90 is a little bit different, in that it is a song of Moses. I love how he recognizes the brevity of our lives and the importance of making the most of the short time that we have here.

Lord, you have been our dwelling place
throughout all generations.
Before the mountains were born
or you brought forth the earth and the world,
from everlasting to everlasting, you are God.

You turn men back to dust,
saying, “Return to dust, O sons of men.”
For a thousand years in your sight
are like a day that has just gone by,
or like a watch in the night.
You sweep men away in the sleep of death;
they are like the new grass of the morning—
though in the morning it springs up new,
by evening it is dry and withered.

We are consumed by your anger
and terrified by your indignation.
You have set our iniquities before you,
our secret sin in the light of your presence.
All our days pass away under your wrath;
we finish our years with a moan.
The length of our days is seventy years—
or eighty, if we have the strength;
yet their span is but trouble and sorrow,
for they quickly pass, and we fly away.

Who knows the power of your anger?
For your wrath is as great as the fear that is due you.
Teach us to number our days aright,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Relent, O Lord! How long will it be?
Have compassion on your servants.
Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
for as many years as we have seen trouble.
May your deeds be shown to your servants,
your splendor to their children.

May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us;
establish the work of our hands for us—
yes, establish the work of our hands.

Project 4:4--Day One Hundred Seventeen

Day One Hundred Seventeen—Psalm 40, 49-50, 73

I like Psalm 40 because a portion of it makes up the lyrics to a very fun, upbeat song by a group called NewSong. The title of the song is, appropriately, Psalm 40.

I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock,
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear
and put their trust in the Lord.

Blessed is the man
who makes the Lord his trust,
who does not look to the proud,
to those who turn aside to false gods.
Many, O Lord my God,
are the wonders you have done.
The things you planned for us
no one can recount to you;
were I to speak and tell of them,
they would be too many to declare.

Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but my ears you have pierced;
burnt offerings and sin offerings
you did not require.
Then I said, “Here I am, I have come—
it is written about me in the scroll.
I desire to do your will, O my God;
your law is within my heart.”

I proclaim righteousness in the great assembly;
I do not seal my lips,
as you know, O Lord.
I do not hide your righteousness in my heart;
I speak of your faithfulness and salvation.
I do not conceal your love and your truth
from the great assembly.
Do not withhold your mercy from me, O Lord;
may your love and your truth always protect me.
for troubles without number surround me;
my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see.
They are more than the hairs of my head,
and my heart fails within me.

Be pleased, O Lord, to save me;
O Lord, come quickly to help me.
May all who seek to take my life
be put to shame and confusion;
may all who desire my ruin
be turned back in disgrace.
May those who say to me, “Aha! Aha!”
be appalled at their own shame.
But may all who seek you
rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who love your salvation always say,
“The Lord be exalted!”

Yet I am poor and needy;
may the Lord think of me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
O my God, do not delay.

Psalm 73 became one of my favorites last year. There was a woman at my church who had been battling cancer for a couple of years. Though I did not know this woman nor her family, there are prayer requests e-mailed out to our church family regularly, and last year, her name was included more frequently. We received an e-mail when she was moved into hospice care one Monday morning. The following Saturday morning, we received an e-mail that she had passed away.

The next Sunday morning, if memory serves, our minister did a couple of things he doesn’t normally do: he opened his sermon with a prayer. Then he abandoned the planned sermon outline in order to speak with our church family about trying to make sense of things like this that happen in life.

After his prayer, he began by reading us this psalm:

Surely God is good to Israel,
to those who are pure in heart.

But as for me, my feet has almost slipped;
I had nearly lost my foothold.
For I envied the arrogant
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

They have no struggles;
their bodies are healthy and strong,
they are free from the burdens common to man;
they are not plagued by human ills.
Therefore pride is their necklace;
they clothe themselves with violence.
From their callous hearts comes iniquity;
the evil conceits of their minds know no limits.
They scoff, and speak with malice;
in their arrogance they threaten oppression.
Their mouths lay claim to heaven,
and their tongues take possession of the earth.
Therefore their people turn to them
and drink up waters in abundance.
They say, “How can God know?
Does the Most High have knowledge?”

This is what the wicked are like—
always carefree, they increase in wealth.

Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure;
in vain have I washed my hands in innocence.
All day long I have been plagued;
I have been punished every morning.

If I had said, “I will speak thus,”
I would have betrayed your children.
When I tried to understand all this,
it was oppressive to me
till I entered the sanctuary of God;
then I understood their final destiny.

Surely you place them on slippery ground;
you cast them down to ruin.
How suddenly are they destroyed,
completely swept away by terrors!
As a dream when one awakes,
so when you arise, O Lord,
you will despise them as fantasies.

When my heart was grieved
and my spirit embittered,
I was senseless and ignorant;
I was a brute beast before you.

Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
and earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
And my portion forever.

Those who are far from you will perish;
you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.
But as for me, it is good to be near God.
I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge;
I will tell of all your deeds.

Project 4:4--Day One Hundred Sixteen

Day One Hundred-Sixteen, Psalm 1, 14-15, 36-37, 39

Today begins the section of reading on “Psalms About Righteousness and Wickedness.”

I love Psalm 1 because it talks about the blessings of those “whose delight is in the law of the Lord,” those who meditate on it “day and night.”

Blessed is the man
who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
or stand in the way of sinners
or sit in the seat of mockers.
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers.

Not so the wicked!
They are like chaff that the wind blows away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
But the way of the wicked will perish.

Psalm 14 is one of my favorites because it talks about God searching out for men who are searching for Him.

The fool says in his heart,
“There is no God.”
They are corrupt, their deeds are vile;
there is no one who does good.

The Lord looks down from heaven
on the sons of men
to see if there are any who understand,
any who seek God.
All have turned aside,
they have together become corrupt;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.

Will evildoers never learn—
those who devour my people as men eat bread
and who do not call on the Lord?
There they are, overwhelmed with dread,
for God is present in the company of the righteous.
You evildoers frustrate the plans of the poor,
but the Lord is their refuge.

Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!
When the Lord restores the fortunes of his people,
let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad!

Finally, I love Psalm 36, because a portion of it makes up the fantastic song “Your Love, Oh Lord,” by Third Day.

An oracle is within my heart
concerning the sinfulness of the wicked.
There is no fear of God
before his eyes.
For in his own eyes he flatters himself
too much to detect or hate his sin.
The words of his mouth are wicked and deceitful;
he has ceased to be wise and to do good.
Even on his bed he plots evil;
he commits himself to a sinful course
and does not reject what is wrong;

Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the skies.
Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,
your justice like the great deep.
O Lord, you preserve both man and beast.
How priceless is your unfailing love!
Both high and low among men
find refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house;
you give them drink from your river of delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
and in your light we see light.

Continue your love to those who know you,
your righteousness to the upright in heart.
May the foot of the proud not come against me,
nor the hand of the wicked drive me away.
See how the evildoers lie fallen—
thrown down, not able to rise!

Project 4:4--Day One Hundred Fifteen

Day One Hundred Fifteen—Psalm 120-121, 140, 143-144

Psalm 121 is beautiful to me because it has such comforting thoughts in it. I love that our God does not slumber nor sleep.

Also, the first couple of verses of this psalm form the bridge to an incredible Casting Crowns song, “Praise You In This Storm.”

I lift up my eyes to the hills—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.

Project 4:4--Day One Hundred Fourteen

Day One Hundred Fourteen—Psalm 88, 91, 95, 108, 109

The first half of Psalm 95 make up a fun, upbeat song that I learned at church camp when I was approximately 9 years old. It’s always been one of my favorites.

The next few verses are also recognizable as a worship song, “Come, Let Us Worship and Bow Down.”

The last part of this psalm is quoted in my favorite book of the Bible, the book of Hebrews.

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;
let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
let us come before him with thanksgiving,
and extol him with music and song.

For the Lord is the great God,
the great King above all gods.
In his hands are the depths of the earth,
and the mountain peaks belong to him.
The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land.

Come, let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;
for he is our God
and we are the people of his pasture,
the flock under his care.

Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah,
as you did that day at Massah in the desert,
where your fathers tested and tried me,
though they had seen what I did.
For forty years I was angry with that generation;
I said, “They are a people whose hearts go astray,
and they have not known my ways.”
So I declared on oath in my anger,
“They shall never enter my rest.”

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Project 4:4--Day One Hundred Thirteen

Day One Hundred Thirteen—Psalm 70-71, 77, 83, 86

I love the questions that Asaph asks in Psalm 77, questions that we may sometimes feel ourselves, but to read them on paper or hear them out loud confirms the impossibility of them.

“Has God forgotten to be merciful?” Never. Praise God, NEVER.

I cried out to God for help;
I cried out to God to hear me.
When I was in distress, I sought the Lord;
at night I stretched out untiring hands
and my soul refused to be comforted.

I remembered you, O God, and I groaned;
I mused, and my spirit grew faint.
You kept my eyes from closing;
I was too troubled to speak.
I thought about the former days,
the years of long ago;
I remembered my songs in the night.
my heart mused and my spirit inquired:

“Will the Lord reject forever?
Will he never show his favor again?
Has his unfailing love vanished forever?
Has his promise failed for all time?
Has God forgotten to be merciful?
Has he in anger withheld his compassion?”

Then I thought, “To this I will appeal:
The years of the right hand of the Most High.”
I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
I will meditate on all your works
and consider all your mighty deeds.

Your ways, O God, are holy.
What god is so great as our God?
You are the God who performs miracles;
you display your power among the peoples.
With your mighty arm you redeemed your people,
the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.

The waters saw you, O God,
the waters saw you and writhed;
The very depths were convulsed,
the clouds poured down water,
the skies resounded with thunder;
your thunder was heard in the whirlwind,
your lightning lit up the world;
the earth trembled and quaked.
Your path led through the sea,
your way through the mighty waters,
though your footprints were not seen.

You led your people like a flock
By the hand of Moses and Aaron.

Project 4:4--Day One Hundred Twelve

Day One Hundred Twelve, Psalm 61-62, 64, 69

Psalm 62 is a beautiful one for so many reasons. God is so many things to David—his rock, his salvation, his fortress. David knows he will “never be shaken.” If nothing else, David knows two things that he states very matter-of-fact-ly:
1. God is strong.
2. God is loving.

My soul finds rest in God alone;
my salvation comes from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.

How long will you assault a man?
Would all of you throw him down—
this leaning wall, this tottering fence?
They fully intend to topple him
from his lofty place;
they take delight in lies.
With their mouths they bless,
but in their hearts they curse.

Find rest, O my soul, in God alone;
my hope comes from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God;
He is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your hearts to him,
For God is our refuge.

Lowborn men are but a breath,
the highborn are but a lie;
If weighed on a balance, they are nothing;
together they are only a breath.
Do not trust in extortion
or take pride in stolen goods;
though your riches increase,
Do not set your heart on them.

One thing God has spoken,
two things I have heard:
that you, O God, are strong,
and that you, O God, are loving.
Surely you will reward each person
according to what he has done.

Project 4:4--Day One Hundred Eleven

Day One Hundred Eleven, Psalm 35, 41, 43, 46, 55

I love Psalm 46, because it has the recognizable (not to mention comforting) line that God is an ever-present help in trouble. Also it is a reminder to “be still” or “cease striving” and take time to recognize who God is.

God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Come and see the works of the Lord,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear,
he burns the shields with fire.
“Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”

The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Project 4:4--Day One Hundred Ten

Day One Hundred Ten, Psalm13, 17, 23, 26, 28, 31

From today’s reading, of course, my favorite is Psalm 23. It’s probably one of the scriptures that I’ve had memorized for the longest time. I remember learning it when I was no more than 6 years old. Possibly even before then.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
Your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord

Project 4:4--Day One Hundred Nine

Day One Hundred Nine, Psalm 5-7, 10-11

Today begins a few weeks worth of reading on the Psalms. I was unsure of how to blog the Psalms, but I have decided to just share my favorite(s) from each day of the reading, and perhaps a little explanation as to why I love the Psalm that I am sharing.

A lot of the ones that I love are recognizable to me as praise/worship songs. Some of them have gained significance to me over the past year or so as I’ve studied the Psalms a little more. Others are just beautiful.

They are divided into sections based on topics. Today begins the section on “Psalms of the Troubled Soul”.

From today’s reading I love Psalm 5, because of the confidence David has…as he meets to talk with God in the morning, and he waits “in expectation”, knowing that God will answer him.

Give ear to my words, O Lord,
consider my sighing.
Listen to my cry for help,
my King and my God,
for to you I pray.
In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my requests before you
and wait in expectation.

You are not a God who takes pleasure in evil;
with you the wicked cannot dwell.
The arrogant cannot stand in your presence;
you hate all who do wrong.
You destroy those who tell lies;
bloodthirsty and deceitful men
the Lord abhors.

But I, by your great mercy,
will come into your house;
in reverence will I bow down
toward your holy temple.
Lead me, O Lord, into your righteousness
because of my enemies—
make straight your way before me.

Not a word from their mouth can be trusted;
their heart is filled with destruction.
Their throat is an open grave;
with their tongue they speak deceit.
Declare them guilty, O God!
Let their intrigues be their downfall.
Banish them for their many sins,
for they have rebelled against you.

But let all who take refuge in you be glad;
let them ever sing for joy.
Spread your protection over them,
that those who love your name may rejoice in you.
For surely, O Lord, you bless the righteous;
you surround them with your favor as with a shield.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Project 4:4--Day One Hundred Eight

Day One Hundred-Eight, I Chron. 26-29

More unpronounceable names, more duties assigned.

Appointment of treasurers; appointment of officials and judges; appointment of military commanders; appointment of tribal officers; overseers of possessions; appointment of close advisors.

HOWEVER—as boring as today’s reading starts out, it ends just as impressively!

There is an assembly of all the officials in Israel. There in front of all this gathering of important people in David’s country, Solomon is named as the successor to the throne. David gives him this charge:

“And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve Him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever. Consider now, for the Lord has chosen you to build a temple as a sanctuary. Be strong and do the work.”

Wow. Reminds me of our promise that if we, also, seek Him, we will find Him; if we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us. Also reminds me of the tragedy that Saul’s reign ended in. For Saul, also, was chosen by the Lord. However, when Saul forgot the Lord, the Lord rejected him, and his life tailspinned into a mess of mistakes and excuses.

At this assembly, David solicits contributions for the materials to build the temple for the Lord. The people are incredibly generous, and David is incredibly grateful. Here is located one of my favorite prayers, as David recognizes that God is ultimately the giver of all good things anyway. (This, to me, is reminiscent of the fact that every good and perfect thing is from the Lord.)

In David’s prayer, says, “Yours, O Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name. But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from You, and we have given You only what comes from Your hand.”


Project 4:4--Day One Hundred Seven

Day One Hundred-Seven, I Chron. 23-26

Sorry, nothing really inspirational from today’s reading.

There is a national convention, in which the Levites are assembled and their duties are changed. There are priests that are divided up and assigned various duties—singers were appointed; gatekeepers were appointed.

As I’ve expressed honestly on here before, today’s reading consisted of a long list of unpronounceable names and the specific duties they were assigned.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Project 4:4--Day One Hundred Six

Day One Hundred Six, II Sam. 21, 24, I Chron. 21-22, Psalm 30

Today's reading has some interesting events regarding the Lord's justice/punishment.

We are told there is a famine in the land based on the fact that Saul mistreated the people of Gibeon. These are the people that you may recall tricked the Israelites into making a treaty with them when they first entered into the promised land many, many years before. Because the Israelites did not inquire of the Lord, they were deceived into entering into a treaty to be allies with the Gibeonites.

However, because Saul was not faithful to the promise they had made--he tried to eradicate the Gibeonites--the Lord now--during the reign of David--brings a famine on the land. This, to me, seems to be a reminder that our sin can have lasting consequences. There may not seem to be any immediate danger associated with our sin, but rest assured, the danger is there.

Also, we see an example where David sins by taking a census of his army--relying on his own strength and the strength of his army, rather than the strength of his God. So the Lord gives him a choice of his punishment: 3 years of famine, 3 months of being devoured by the sword of your enemies, or 3 days of the Lord's wrath.

One thing that I've constantly been amazed at is David's trust in the Lord's mercy. I mentioned this earlier, when I wrote about the fact that David fasted, hoping that the Lord would be gracious and let his son live. This time, I look at David's choice, and to be honest, when I think of the Lord's wrath, I think of fire-and-brimstone, Sodom-and-Gomorrah-type punishment.

David's response? "I am in deep distress. Let me fall into the hands of the Lord, for His mercy is very great; but do not let me fall into the hands of men."

Today's reading ends with David's charge to Solomon to build the Lord's temple. There is also recorded a psalm he wrote for the dedication of the temple. In it, he includes these beautiful lines:

"Sing to the Lord, you saints of His;
Praise His holy name.
For His anger lasts only a moment,
But His favor lasts a lifetime;
Weeping may remain for a night,
But rejoicing comes in the morning."

Project 4:4--Day One Hundred Five

Day One Hundred Five, II Sam. 19-20,

Lots going on in today's reading, but a couple of things are interesting to me.

The first irony is that when David is mourning for Absalom, our friend Joab (the one who killed Absalom!) seems to rebuke him. He says, "Today you have humiliated all your men, who have just saved your life and the lives of your sons and daughters and the lives of your wives and concubines. You love those who hate you and hate those who love you. You have made it clear today that the commanders and their men mean nothing to you. I see that you would be pleased if Absalom were alive today and all of us were dead. Now go out and encourage your men."

The other interesting thing to me is that now that David is back in charge in Jerusalem, we have none other than Shimei, come to beg David's forgiveness for calling down curses on David. And you know what? David forgives least for the time being. David assures him that he will not die.

Then we have another "troublemaker" by the name of Sheba, who tries to usurp the throne of David. David acts pretty quickly to squash Sheba's rebellion, but in the process, Joab once again takes matters into his own hands and murders Amasa, the man that David had appointed as commander of the army in place of Joab.

Because of this, we'll see later exactly how David feels about Joab and what should happen. to him.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Project 4:4--Day One Hundred Four

Day One Hundred Four, II Sam. 16-19

A couple of things stand out to me in today’s reading. First of all, we see a fulfillment of the prophecy against David. The Lord had told David that “before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight. You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.” We see this happen, as Absalom takes David’s concubines for himself and lies with them.

Secondly, as a battle ensues between Absalom and David, David gives orders to “be gentle with the young man Absalom.” However, in the heat of battle, when Absalom is caught hanging in a tree by his hair (ouch!), Joab (there he is again, our trusted companion Joab) again takes matters into his own hands. He plunges three javelins into Absalom and kills him.

Finally, when David learns of the death of Absalom, his son who has tried to take his kingdom from him, his response is that of a father. He “covered his face and cried aloud, ‘O my son Absalom! O Absalom, my son, my son!’”

Project 4:4--Day One Hundred Three

Day One Hundred Three, II Sam. 14-16, Ps. 3

In today’s reading, Absalom is allowed to return to Jerusalem (thanks to some more scheming on the part of our friend, Joab) but David says, “He must go to his own house; he must not see the face of the king.”

And they live that way for two years, not seeing each other, not speaking to each other. Absalom finally demands that he wants to see the king, and they seem to reconcile. But then Absalom goes out and forms a conspiracy. He politics among the people of Israel, so that they fall in love with him and are willing to follow him. After four years, he goes to Hebron and declares himself king there.

When David hears word of this, he leaves Jerusalem and goes into exile. It is during this time that I’ve heard one of the most powerful lessons I’ve ever heard on forgiveness. While David is fleeing, a man named Shimei, a Benjamite, a descendant of Saul, calls down curses on David and pelts him with stones. David’s men are ready to kill Shimei, but David’s response is remarkable. He says, “Let him curse, for the Lord has told him to. It may be that the Lord will see my distress and repay me with good for the cursing I am receiving today.”

Later, we’ll also see that (spoiler alert!!!) when Absalom is dead and David returns to Jerusalem, we’ll find none other than Shimei first in line to say, “Long live the king!” as he begs for David’s forgiveness. And David grants it. David assures him he will not die for the way he treated him.

As my minister put it, if the story ended there, we’d have a lovely, feel-good lesson on forgiveness. For we’ve got David, a man after God’s own heart, who surely screwed up, but because of that, certainly no one knew the value of forgiveness like David! And here we’ve got a perfect example of David offering forgiveness to someone who doesn’t deserve it.

Or do we? Rather, if you look up the end of the story, in I Kings 2:8-9, David is giving his final instructions to Solomon. Here, based on what David tells Solomon, you’ll find that, rather, we’ve got an example of a man who has experienced God’s unfathomable grace in his own life, yet he is still angered with, and still struggles with forgiving, his fellow man.

Am I talking to anyone here? Can anyone else relate?

I just ask, because I’m afraid I can…all too well.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Project 4:4--Day One Hundred Two

Day One Hundred Two, II Sam. 12, I Chron. 3, II Sam. 13-14

For today’s reading, I’m going to lift some material again. I don’t think is directly from any notes over a particular lesson, but it is directly from my memory of what I’ve heard my preacher teach about this particular material on a few different occasions. (Did I mention that I love how he is able to teach in a way that gives me a better understanding, not just of what is going on, by maybe a little bit of insight into why it’s happening???)

If you recall in the reading a couple of days ago, the Lord assured David that because he’d done this evil, the sword would never depart from his household, and indeed, David’s life and family seems to be in disarray from that point forward.

And not only does it get ugly, but it also gets a little complicated here, so try to keep up. Two of David’s sons were Amnon and Absalom (each by different mothers). Absalom had a sister (Amnon’s half-sister) named Tamar. Amnon wanted Tamar. Desperately. He took the advice of his friend (who was also his cousin) Jonadab, which was to feign illness so she would come and care for him. And when she did, he raped her. He utterly disgraced her, then had her thrown out to the curb.

Absalom was infuriated with Amnon and did not speak to him. He took Tamar into his home and took care of her. A couple of years later, Absalom lured Amnon out at sheep-shearing time. Absalom, Amnon, and all the kings sons went out. Then, when Amnon was drunk, he gave orders to his men to kill him. After Amnon was dead, Absalom ran away.

Well, you know how word travels, and you know how rumors spread, and by the time the Telephone Game ended with David, the news was that Absalom had killed all of the kings sons. David was distraught, tore his clothes, fell facedown. Never fear, though! Our friend Jonadab (whose bright idea it was to lure Tamar in the first place) showed up in time to give David a more accurate report: only Amnon is dead. The rest of David’s sons returned home, and they all grieved for Amnon.

Meanwhile, Absalom has run to granddaddy. He went to Talmai, king of Geshur (his mother’s father) and stayed there three years. Scripture says David wanted to go to him. So why didn’t he?

That’s a good question? Why didn’t David do a lot of things throughout this episode. I mean, a couple of years passed between the time that Amnon raped Tamar and the time that Absalom killed Amnon. What did David do when that first happened? Well, Scripture says when David heard of Amnon’s actions toward Tamar, he was furious. And??? And that’s all it says. And what about after Absalom killed Amnon? He lets Absalom run home to grandpa and doesn’t speak to him for three years??? One has to seriously wonder why a father doesn’t address such actions with his sons.

Until, as I heard it so brilliantly put…can you imagine what was going on in David’s mind? Perhaps the guilt of David’s own sin prevented him from addressing these things. I mean, what’s he supposed to say to Amnon, “Listen, son, you can’t just have any woman you want.”??? “Really, Dad???? You did.” Or to Absalom, “Look son, you can’t settle your problems with physical violence”??? “Why not, Dad??? You did.”

When I first heard those ideas taught, I couldn’t help but just be shocked as I realized that’s a very real possibility, and it just highlighted for me how destructive sin really is. It highlighted for me how David’s sins might’ve affected how he handled (or didn’t handle, in this case) future situations, which just led to even more sin.

But also, it was a wake up call to the reality that sin still works the same way. It is destructive. It leads to even more sin. It has consequences that can last a lifetime. I can’t help but think of the passage in James 1 that says that when we are dragged away and enticed by our own evil desires, they give birth to sin. And when sin is full-grown, it gives birth to death.

Project 4:4--Day One Hundred One

Day One Hundred One, II Sam. 12, II Sam. 8, I Chron. 18, I Chron. 11, I Sam. 23

The most profound part of today’s reading for me was David’s trust in the Lord’s mercy.

After David had sinned, Nathan said to him, “The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. But because by doing this you have made the enemies of the Lord show utter contempt, the son born to you will die.”

When David’s son becomes sick, David lays facedown on the ground, fasting and praying, refusing to get up or eat anything. However, when David hears that his son is dead, he gets up, washes himself, goes to worship the Lord, then goes home to have something to eat.

His servants don’t understand why he is behaving this way. They think that it seems backwards for him to be less upset now that the child is dead. David’s response?

“While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, ‘Who knows? The Lord may be gracious to me and let the child live.’ But now that he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.”

Project 4:4--Day One Hundred (Part II)

Day One Hundred (Part II), II Sam. 21, I Chron. 18-19, Ps. 60, II Sam. 11-12, Ps. 51

For all that David did to disappoint us at the beginning of today’s reading, you’ve gotta respect his reaction, when he finally comes face-to-face with the ugliness of his sin.

When the prophet Nathan comes to David to confront him, he first tells him a story, as a type of metaphor for David’s sin. David listens objectively to Nathan’s story about a rich man who stole and killed the one little ewe lamb that had belonged to a poor man. When David hears this, he is infuriated. “This man deserves to die!”

Then comes Nathan’s words, “You are the man!” God basically says to him (I’m paraphrasing) “I gave you more than you ever dreamed of. And if all that had not been enough, I would’ve given you more!!! But you did this evil in taking what was not yours and killing Uriah.”

Then He says, (word for word), “Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised Me…Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity upon you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight. You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.”

David’s response to that is, “I have sinned against the Lord.”

Next in the reading is included one of the most beautiful psalms, a prayer for David’s forgiveness, which is actually a song that we sing occasionally. I’ll leave you with the words to that song, “Create In Me a Clean Heart”:

“Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a right spirit within me.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a right spirit within me.

And cast me not away from Your Presence, O Lord,
And take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore unto me the joy of your salvation,
And renew a right spirit within me.”

Monday, May 3, 2010

Project 4:4--Day One Hundred! (Part I)

Day One Hundred, II Sam. 21, I Chron. 18-19, Ps. 60, II Sam. 11-12, Ps. 51

Today’s reading contains what is, for me, the saddest reading of all about David.

The man after God’s own heart made the mistake of putting his own desires before those of the Lord, which led him on a downward spiral into a pit of sin that destroyed his family.

David sees something he wants…and because he can…he takes it. Even though it’s not his for the taking.

And he gets away with it. Or at least, it feels that way, for awhile. Then word comes to him, “David, I’m pregnant.”

Can you imagine how David’s heart must’ve pounded at that news? Surely the man of God, now facing the consequence of his sin with Bathsheba, will come clean. Surely the man after God’s own heart will pour out his heart to the Lord, asking for His forgiveness, trusting that the Lord is good! Right???

But he doesn’t. Instead, he lets that heart-pounding fear drive him deeper into sin. He tries to cover it up. He brings Bathsheba’s husband home from battle, tries to get him to sleep with her. After all, then everyone will just think the baby is her husband’s.

But it doesn’t work. Uriah, loyal to his brothers who are fighting in the field, refuses to go to the comfort of his own home and sleep with his wife. Sleeps instead outside the entrance to the palace.

David’s gotta be frustrated at this point. His scheme isn’t going quite like he planned. Plan B…get Uriah drunk, so he’s not thinking clearly. Then he’ll go home and sleep with his wife. But again, it doesn’t work. Uriah still refuses to go home. (And just as an aside, my wonderful preaching minister’s comment on this whole episode with Uriah refusing to go home: “It proves only that, at least at this point in David’s life, Uriah is a better man drunk than David is sober.” True that.)

Can you imagine David’s frustration at this point??? Now that Uriah is home and David has tried to scheme and plan and cover up the ugliness that is his sin and it hasn’t worked…isn’t now the time for him to come clean, not only before his God, but before Uriah, the man whose wife he has taken??? Now’s his chance to tell Uriah the truth, face-to-face, like the man of God that he, up until this point, has been known to be.

But he lets us down yet again. Instead of confessing to the Lord and to Uriah, whom he has wronged. He schemes to have Uriah killed. He gives Joab (remember Joab, the commander of David’s army, he gives me a really uneasy feeling) instructions to put Uriah on the frontlines of battle and then withdraw from him, so that Uriah will certainly be killed.

David puts this message in an envelope, seals it, and lets Uriah hand-deliver it to Joab.

Joab follows David’s instructions.

After unsuccessfully covering up his sin, David succeeds in murdering Uriah.

Joab sends messengers to report back to David. “If he starts to get upset with the amount of damage or the loss of life that you’re reporting back to him, be sure to tell him, ‘Uriah, the Hittite, is dead.’” So they follow Joab’s instructions.

Then, some of the most disheartening words in this whole reading…at least for me. David hears the reports of the messengers…and he feigns remorse and a message of encouragement to send back to Joab. After orchestrating the whole, sad ordeal, David offers the messengers a fake pep talk to give to Joab with these words, “Don’t let this upset you; the sword devours one as well as another.”

That’s not all of my thoughts on today’s reading. But time prevents me from devoting the attention deserved to the second half of today’s reading. So I’ll end here for now and will try to pick up with the rest of this day’s reading in the next blog.

Project 4:4--Day Ninety-Nine

Day Ninety-Nine, I Chron. 16, II Sam. 6, 8-9, I Chron. 17, II Sam. 7

Today we see the reaction David got from his dancing in the streets…at least, we see what his wife Michal had to say about it. She rebukes him for basically making an idiot of himself before the people. His response? “It was before the Lord, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when He appointed me ruler over the Lord’s people Israel—I will celebrate before the Lord.” Gotta love a man who loves his God so much that he can’t help expressing that…regardless of what others think or say.

Next we see an episode where David summons Ziba, who was a servant of Saul’s household. David was looking for someone to show kindness to on behalf of Jonathan. You know the story…Ziba has been taking care of Jonathan’s crippled son, Mephibosheth. David takes Mephibosheth into his household and has him eat at the king’s table for all the rest of his days. But look at what David first says to Ziba, “Is there no one still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show God’s kindness?” David didn’t just sit around till he knew someone needed help. He went LOOKING for someone to show God’s kindness to. Can you imagine how much more peaceful this would would be if we, as Christians, would actively look for a way to show God’s kindness to someone each day.

Finally, watch as David, a man after God’s own heart, recognizes that he’s got a beautiful palace, while the Lord doesn’t have a permanent dwelling. So he has it in his heart to build a permanent dwelling place, a Temple, for the Lord Almighty. Nathan, the prophet, has recognized God’s hand in David’s life thus far, so he encourages David in this desire of his to build the Lord’s Temple. However, that night, the word of the Lord comes to Nathan and tells him that David is not the one to build the Temple. God promises He will raise up one of David’s offspring to build Him a Temple…but David is not the man to do it.
Can you imagine what that felt like? To have the purest of intentions; feeling that the Lord is with you in whatever you’re doing; having your heart set on a work that is good and that will please the Lord; and then having the Lord, for reasons of his own, pull the plug on whatever it is you so desired??? A less mature person, not being allowed to accomplish their good plans, might be tempted to sulk before the Lord.

Not David. Scripture says he “went in and sat before the Lord.” He prayed things like, “Who am I, O Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that You have brought me this far? And as if this were not enough in Your sight, O Sovereign Lord, You have also spoken about the future of the house of your servant……How great you are, O Sovereign Lord! There is no one like you, and there is no God but You…And who is like Your people Israel…whom You redeemed…You have established your people Israel as your very own forever, and you, O Lord, have become their God. And now, Lord God, keep forever the promise you have made concerning your servant and his house…O Sovereign Lord, You are God! Your words are trustworthy, and You have promised these good things to Your servant…with Your blessing the house of Your servant will be blessed forever.”


Sunday, May 2, 2010

Project 4:4--Day Ninety-Eight

Day Ninety-Eight, II Sam. 6, I Chron. 15-16, Ps. 96

In today’s reading, some time has passed and David is reminded of the ark of the covenant. He is told of how the Lord has blessed Obed-Edom. So David decides it’s time to bring the ark to Jerusalem. But this time, he makes sure it’s done right.

I love the celebration that accompanies the return of the ark of the covenant. David and all the people celebrated with shouts, sounding of horns and cymbals, and playing of lyres and harps. Scripture describes David as dancing with all his might. He’s basically stripped down to his underwear and is dancing in the streets.

Makes ya wonder what kind of a reaction that got…

Stay tuned for that tomorrow. :)

Project 4:4--Day Ninety-Seven

Day Ninety-Seven, II Sam. 5, I Chron. 11, 13-14, II Sam. 22, Ps. 18

In today’s reading David takes over the city of Jerusalem, which is the city he will rule from for most of his reign. It is in this reading that David decides to bring the ark of the Lord back, to the city of Jerusalem. However, the Israelites aren’t following God’s guidelines in transporting the ark. You know the story: they have it on a cart, being pulled by oxen; the oxen stumbles; the ark starts to fall; poor Uzzah reaches up to steady it, and BAM! Or as the NIV puts it, “The Lord’s anger burned against Uzzah, and He struck him down because he had put his hand on the ark. So he died there before God.”

I’m not even going to go into all the discussion that I’ve heard over the years regarding this incident, as it’s been used numerous times in the tribe I’m a part of. More interesting to me in this reading is David’s reaction. Bible says he was angry because of the Lord’s wrath. Also says he was afraid of God at that point.

So afraid, in fact, that he puts a halt on Operation: Transport the Ark to Jerusalem. Instead, they take it aside to the house of Obed-Edom, the Gittite. Coincidentally, the entire time the ark is there, Obed-Edom’s household and everything that he had was blessed by the Lord.

That’s just an interesting contrast to me: the Lord whose anger burns against someone vs. the Lord who longs to bless us. Sometimes I have difficulty wrapping my brain around both of those aspects of our God.

Project 4:4--Day Ninety-Six

Day Ninety-Six, II Sam. 2-5, I Chron. 11-12

In today’s reading, David becomes king of Judah, and he reigns for several years in Hebron. However, civil war breaks out between the followers of David and the followers of Ish-Bosheth, a son of Saul.

It’s during this time that we learn a little bit about the kind of person who is the leader of David’s army. His name is Joab. I’ll confess that I’ve not studied much of Joab, he’s not one that’s usually considered a MAJOR character in the Bible. I’ve always just thought of him as one of the “good guys” because he was on David’s team. He has a lot of influence in the events surrounding David’s life. But just by my most recent observations, he’s the kind of guy that’s always up to something…probably very opinionated…and the kind of guy that, if he doesn’t like the way David has handled a situation, he won’t hesitate to take matters into his own hands.

He did a couple of things for his own personal gain, against his king David’s wishes, and I’m not sure how I feel about that. Joab…he’s the guy that you’ll wanna keep your eye on.

Project 4:4--Day Ninety-Five

Day Ninety-Five, I Sam. 28, 31, I Chron. 10, II Sam. 1

Today’s reading includes some SERIOUS weirdness, and I’m just not sure what to make of it. I promised you that although Samuel was dead, we’ve not heard the last of him. And today is the day.

As Saul is about to be attacked by the Philistine army, he is afraid, so he inquires of the Lord. But the Lord has been displeased with Saul for quite some time now, and the Lord does not answer Saul as to what he is to do. So again, Saul takes matters into his own hands, consulting a witch, asking her to conjure up the spirit of Samuel.

This is where I get confused. I don’t know if this woman was for real or not. I don’t know enough about the spiritual forces in the heavenly realms to say one way or the other, only that they exist (Eph. 6). I do believe, however, that for whatever reason, God used this opportunity to communicate to Saul what was to happen to him as a result of his disobedience. Samuel lets Saul know that tomorrow his army will be overtaken by the Philistines, and both he and his sons will die at the hands of the Philistines.

Surely enough, both Saul and David’s dear friend Jonathan died the next day. Interesting to me is David’s response…his crying out, not only for the death of his dear friend Jonathan, but also his lament for his enemy Saul.

Project 4:4--Day Ninety-Four

Day Ninety-Four, I Sam. 25-26, I Chron. 12, I Sam. 27, 29-30

Today’s reading was a hodgepodge of different events that have happened to David. We have some info about a time that David spent living among the Philistines, and we have an episode where the Amalekites raided the encampment of David and his men, taking all the women and children hostage while David and his men were away. But the main part of this reading that I want to focus on is the story of David and Abigail, which is followed immediately by another instance in which David spares Saul’s life. That’ll be the main focus of this blog, mainly because my incredible preaching minister preached a sermon on this that just gave me a better understanding why this was written the way that it was, and I love him for that.

So anything that you learn from this blog is not my own…it is lifted directly from my notes on that sermon. Chuck described this episode with David, Nabal, and Abigail, sandwiched between two instances in which David spared Saul’s life, as a “story-within-a-story.” He names five specific points that this story highlights, which ultimately give us a better understanding of the conflict between David and Saul.

1. Nabal’s character and attitude toward David and sudden death at the Lord’s hand all parallel Saul—Saul’s character and attitude toward David, and ultimately, what will be Saul’s sudden death at the hand of the Lord.
2. David’s vengeful attitude toward Nabal displays what his truly natural instincts were—and it highlights the remarkable restraint he was showing toward Saul, the Lord’s anointed.
3. Abigail’s prudent action prevents David from using his power as a leader of his group for personal vengeance—the very thing Saul was doing, as he used his power as king of Israel to seek personal vengeance against David.
4. Abigail’s confident acknowledgement of David’s future ascension to the throne anticipates the Lord’s commitment establish David’s house as a lasting dynasty—as He would surely place David on the throne as king over Israel, and then later a Son of David would become King of Kings.
5. Abigail’s marriage to David provides him with a wise and worthy wife, even as Saul is giving away David’s wife Michal to another man—illustrating how the Lord counters every move Saul makes against David.