Is the Lord going to get tired of me? Is he going to stop helping me? Is he going to turn his back and ignore me? No, of course not; that would be the complete opposite of his character.
Psalm 103 gives us a glimpse into how merciful, compassionate, and gracious the Lord is toward you and me. Verses 8-11 say, “The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever. He does not punish us for all our sins; he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve. For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.”
This Psalm is a reminder of God’s grace. We do not get what we deserve; we get far more! In his grace, we can find freedom in Christ. The Lord removes our guilt and replaces it with his peace. He removes the guilt from past mistakes and replaces it with a hope for a better future. When you think of your past, do you concentrate on the guilt of past mistakes or the peace of Christ’s forgiveness?
He was taking a stroll on the rooftop, looking over the kingdom he ruled, when someone caught his eye. She was beautiful, and he longed to spend some time with her. He sent for her, and she spent the night with him in the palace. The next morning, with the one-night stand over, he sent her home.
Some time later, she sent him a message informing him they were expecting a child. This was a problem because her husband had been on the battlefield for a long period of time, so the king thought he could trick the man into coming home and spending the night with his wife. After all, this would keep their affair secret. It didn’t work, so David eventually gave orders for Uriah to be killed in battle, and Bathsheba became his wife.
The Bible tells us the Lord sent Nathan to David to deliver a rebuke for his sins. It seems David is filled with guilt and shame because of his actions, and after Nathan’s visit, David pleads for forgiveness as he writes Psalm 51.
“Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love, because of your great compassion,” David writes. “Blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean of my guilt. Purify me from my sin. For I recognize my rebellion, for it haunts me day and night. Against you, and you alone, I have sinned. I have done what is evil in your sight. You will be proved right in what you say, and your judgment against me is just…. Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean. Wash me and I will be whiter than snow. O, give me back my joy again. You have broken me, now let me rejoice. Don’t keep looking at my sins; remove the stain of my guilt. Create in me a clean heart, O God, renew a loyal spirit within me.”
David realized he messed up. In recognizing his mistake, David understood the Lord would forgive him, so David asked for forgiveness. We read in the Bible the Lord did forgive David, and he will forgive us as well.
We know we’ve messed up, and the Lord invites us to exchange that guilt for the peace he offers. Jesus invites us to exchange our heavy load of guilt for his light load of peace (Matthew 11:28-30), so make that exchange today.
“Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!
The Lord gives righteousness and justice to all who are treated unfairly.”
Think about the picture these words paint of God. Dwell on his forgiveness and mercy. This Psalm goes on to remind us the Lord can take away our guilt, so challenge yourself to allow the God described above to be the Lord of life today.
As he watched, the priest wondered if she was drunk. She was at the temple, and it appeared as if she was praying. But the priest thought there was something odd about her appearance. Her mouth was moving but no words were coming out, and was she weeping? He approached her and boldly asked, “Are you drunk?”
She explained that she was sober. She was just so involved in her prayer that he thought she was under the influence. Her name is Hannah, and we read her story in 1 Samuel 1. We find out she is going through a really hard time, and she has come to the temple to pour her heart out to the Lord.
The Bible encourages us to pray without stopping; we should always be communicating with the Lord. In the best of times and in the worst of times, the Lord wants to help us, and we can talk with him through prayer just like Hannah, and just like David.
David exhorts in Psalm 62:8, “O my people trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge.”
When David and Hannah were going through rough times, they poured their hearts out to the Lord. When they were in the best of times, they thanked God in prayer. They always prayed and left a mark in history challenging us to do the same.
Our prayers are just conversations with the Lord. They don’t have to be fancy, and we don’t have to be overwhelmed by the idea we may say the wrong thing. You see, we’re having a conversation with a great friend who doesn’t judge us by the words we use, but by what is in our heart. The Lord is always listening and always desiring to hear from us.
Spend some time talking with the Lord today. Share your thoughts with him. Ask for guidance as you plan tomorrow. Ask for help with your struggles. Don’t be afraid. He is your friend who wants to hear from you.
“Are we there yet?” Anyone who’s traveled with kids has heard this question. The excitement of arriving at a destination and the boredom of sitting in a car, train, or plane causes this question to be asked. Truthfully, no one likes to wait. None of us are giddy at the thought of long checkout lines or waiting at the doctor’s office. Patience is a hard virtue.
This is especially true when we are going through a difficult time. We just want it to end! But it seems no matter how hard we work or how hard we pray, the difficulty persists. The doctor’s phone call with test results doesn’t come soon enough. We can’t shake the agony caused by this lonely feeling quick enough. It doesn’t seem like this rough patch in life will ever end.
David could relate. He had several rough patches in life lasting an extended period of time. As he was searching and praying for an end, he came to this conclusion.
“Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken. My victory and honor come from the Lord alone. He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me” (Psalm 62:5-7).
We can echo David’s conclusion. The Lord is:
Therefore, the rough times in life can’t swallow us. The rough times will most definitely come and try to consume us, but they will not be victorious. As David says, our victory is in the Lord. We need only to wait before him in prayer.
Know a friend who is struggling right now? Share this as a source of encouragement.
He was stunned by what he was hearing. The words coming out of the other person’s mouth cut deep. They stabbed directly to the heart. He was being told he wasn’t good enough, that he wasn’t measuring up to the other person’s standard. Hearing this hurt a great deal.
She was visibly shaken by the string of insults being launched at her. The insults were directed at her character, her physical appearance, and every other aspect of her life. Hearing this hurt a great deal.
These incidents may describe you. Perhaps you’ve been in this situation. David was. His enemies taunting and insulting him in every way possible. Amid these insults, David pinned the words of Psalm 62; look at what he says in the first two verses.
“Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress and I will never be shaken.”
Amid everything that was happening and everything David’s enemies were telling him, he could stand on the rock, the fortress, of the Lord. David understood the opinions of his enemies did not matter; he understood the only opinion that mattered was the Lord’s. David could find rest in knowing the Lord was his rock and his fortress.
Our world is saturated with social media, and everyone has an opinion. It is highly likely we’ve been the individuals described above – we’ve been deeply wounded by someone’s opinion or words. When we are the recipients of such harshness, may we remember the only opinion that matters is the Lord’s. Our safety and security are not found in the comments under our Facebook post or the number of likes our picture receives on Instagram. Our rock and fortress are the Lord who gives us salvation. His opinion is the only one that matters.
The question posed to the college speech class was, “What are your priorities?” Students were to compose a 1-to-2-minute speech listing their top 3 priorities. The next class meeting did not bring shocking answers. There were those which were well-thought, and some that were probably written on the walk to class. Family, significant others, and friends made many lists, and at the top of many lists was God and/or faith. At the end of the class, the professor reminded the students ordering one’s priorities will dictate how we act in life.
As Christians, Psalm 37 helps us align our priorities. Verse 4 says, “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires.” David recommends we put the Lord at the top and center of everything we do. The Lord will then plant desires in our hearts, and he will help us align our priorities for a peaceful and satisfying life. Living out David’s recommendation puts our focus on the Lord’s plan and purpose rather than shiny things we believe will bring satisfaction apart from God.
So, ask yourself the question posed in the speech class. What are your priorities?
We pulled into the Bob Evans parking lot, and our daughter noticed a gentleman standing between the parking lot and street. He was holding a sign at the intersection of two busy roads. She read the sign and asked if we could give him some money. His sign was requesting money for food.
How were we going to respond to his request?
We didn’t know the man or s of his situation, but we were faced with a choice. This is just one example of an everyday occurrence; each day we are given the choice of how to respond to various situations. Whether it is the guy in the parking lot with a sign or the lady in front of us in line, we have to choose how to interact. We have to decide how to respond to that driver who cut us off in traffic or that grouchy person who bumped into us on the bus. Each day brings a new set of opportunities needing our response, and Psalm 37 gives us a pattern to follow.
Verse 3 says, “Trust in the Lord and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.”
The Psalmist encourages us to use these opportunities to do good. As we trust in the Lord, we should allow our faith to drive us to doing what is right even if others are doing what is wrong. We should allow our faith to guide us to do what is good. We may not know every detail of each situation, but the Lord does. When these opportunities come, our response should always be to do good.
As for the guy in the Bob Evans parking lot, we didn’t know his situation. All we knew is he was holding a sign asking for help, so we gave him enough money for a meal. He said thank you, and we went on our way. We’ll probably never cross paths again, but I hope by our doing good, the man at least saw a glimpse of Christ’s grace.
Found in Psalm 37, these words of David are a promise which should bring us great encouragement. David says, “The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.”
This promise reminds us the Lord is with us in every step of our lives. The Lord is directing our lives just like he did Moses.
Moses was born at a difficult time in history. Egypt had enslaved the Israelites, and an edict was issued to control the Israelite population. Newborn males were not to be treated well, but the Lord intervened. Moses’ parents hid him for a while before placing him in a waterproof basket on the Nile. The Lord directed the basket to float to some reeds, where Pharoah’s daughter found it. She was instantly fond of the baby in the basket, and guess what…
His sister, Miriam, was her personal servant. Miriam was sent to find an Israelite mother to help care for the child, so she brought back her mom. Of course, this was also Moses’ mom. And, this was only the beginning of God directing the steps of Moses’ life.
As time marched on, the Lord enabled Moses to learn Egyptian customs by allowing him to grow up in Pharoah’s palace, trained Moses in the ways of the desert by having him shepherd sheep before becoming the shepherd of Israel, and by giving him the strength to stand before Pharoah proclaiming the power of the Lord. God guided Moses through each phase of life.
God can guide us through each phase of life as well. “Trust him,” the Bible says, “and he will guide your steps and make your paths straight.” And notice, David says, “Though they stumble….” We don’t have to be perfect. The Lord does not wait for us to lead a mistake free life before he starts guiding us.
He sure didn’t wait for Moses to be perfect before guiding him. Moses made his share of mistakes in Egypt, in the desert, and even after becoming the leader of God’s people. Even though Moses made mistakes, the Lord still offered him guidance.
Mistakes and all, the Lord offers us guidance. He meets our stumbles with a hand so we don’t fall. As we’re promised in Jeremiah, the Lord knows the plans he has for us. We just have to trust he will guide us each step of the way.
“Has the Lord rejected me forever? Will he never again be kind to me? Is his unfailing love gone forever? Have his promises permanently failed? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he slammed the door on his compassion?”
These words of Psalm 77 are like those of a personal journal. The Psalmist’s ink quail puts to paper the truth of his thoughts. They may be private thoughts; embarrassment would come if anyone else knew how he felt. However, they are relatable thoughts. Many ask the same questions amid life’s troubles. In fact, you may have noticed the questions and wondered how I knew what you were thinking.
It seems we ask these questions in hard times, feeling the answer may be yes, but Scripture reminds us the Lord is always faithful, always keeping his promises. As Hebrews 4 says, the Lord will never leave us, and Isaiah 64 states the Lord works for those who wait for him. The Psalmist said he asked these questions, but found hope in remembering the Lord.
He says in verse 11, “But then I recall all you have done, O Lord.” As he remembered the Lord, the Psalmist hope was restored.
We too can find hope in remembering the Lord.
We can find hope in remembering his deeds.
In verses 11-12, the Psalmist says, “I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago. They are constantly in my thoughts. I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works.”
Remember all the deeds of the Lord: how he brought the Israelites out of Egypt, how he helped Israel with the overwhelming task of conquering Canaan, and how he come walking out of the tomb. The Lord has always provided an answer to his people. Our hope can be restored by remembering his deeds.
We can find hope in remembering his character.
The Lord is holy. The Lord is merciful, gracious, loving, compassionate, faithful, and more! Remembering his character can bring us great hope.
We can find hope in remembering his power
The Psalmist proclaims in verse 14, “You are the God of great wonders! You demonstrate your awesome power among the nations.”
God’s power has been on display throughout history. It was visible when he brought Israel out of Egypt, parted the Red Sea, toppled the walls of Jericho, and calmed the storm with a single word. The Lord’s power is awesome, and he works for those who wait for him. Remembering the Lord’s power restores our hope.
The Lord’s deeds, character, and power can provide us with much hope. The next time you feel rejected, failed, or as if the Lord has turned his back on you, restore your hope by remembering his deeds, character, and power.