Category Archives: Psalms

Psalm 10

Greetings!  We’ll study Psalms 10-12 this week then move on to Galatians. 

This is a good example of how Psalms, while being God’s inspired Word, do not necessarily reflect his views.  He has them in the Bible for a reason, though.  They show the honest thoughts of feelings of the Psalmists (and many of us) who ask things like, “Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” 

Does God really hide?  No, but it can feel like that.  Many Psalms take this pattern of crying out with human feelings then coming around to see things from God’s perspective.

God will judge the evil in his perfect timing.  As 1 Timothy 6 points out, we brought nothing into the world and we can take nothing out of it. 

Having too much money and material possessions can be a curse because it can make us thing we are self-sufficient.  consider Proverbs 30:7-9: “Two things I ask of you, O Lord; do not refuse me before I die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.”

Psalm 10

 1 Why, O LORD, do you stand far off?
       Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?

 2 In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak,
       who are caught in the schemes he devises.

 3 He boasts of the cravings of his heart;
       he blesses the greedy and reviles the LORD.

 4 In his pride the wicked does not seek him;
       in all his thoughts there is no room for God.

 5 His ways are always prosperous;
       he is haughty and your laws are far from him;
       he sneers at all his enemies.

 6 He says to himself, “Nothing will shake me;
       I’ll always be happy and never have trouble.”

 7 His mouth is full of curses and lies and threats;
       trouble and evil are under his tongue.

 8 He lies in wait near the villages;
       from ambush he murders the innocent,
       watching in secret for his victims.

 9 He lies in wait like a lion in cover;
       he lies in wait to catch the helpless;
       he catches the helpless and drags them off in his net.

 10 His victims are crushed, they collapse;
       they fall under his strength.

 11 He says to himself, “God has forgotten;
       he covers his face and never sees.”

 12 Arise, LORD! Lift up your hand, O God.
       Do not forget the helpless.

 13 Why does the wicked man revile God?
       Why does he say to himself,
       “He won’t call me to account”?

 14 But you, O God, do see trouble and grief;
       you consider it to take it in hand.
       The victim commits himself to you;
       you are the helper of the fatherless.

 15 Break the arm of the wicked and evil man;
       call him to account for his wickedness
       that would not be found out.

 16 The LORD is King for ever and ever;
       the nations will perish from his land.

 17 You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted;
       you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,

 18 defending the fatherless and the oppressed,
       in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more.

Psalms 9 and 10 may have been originally a single acrostic poem, the stanzas of which begin with the successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet. In the Septuagint they constitute one psalm.

Reflect on what stood out to you in this reading and share your comments and questions if you like.

Psalm 9

Greetings!

Trivia facts: Psalms 9 and 10 may have been combined at one point, as they were in the Septuagint, a Greek version of the Old Testament.  Each stanza begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

Try reading this Psalm out loud.  When I did it I was forced to slow down and notice more things.  It is easy to breeze through verse 1, but think about how hard that is: Do I really praise God with all my heart?  Do I tell of all his wonders? 

Verse 15 seems timely.  Parts of our society are digging their own pits.  I often remind my girls that the first thing to do when you realize you have dug yourself a hole is to stop digging.  If we will just stop digging we can turn back to the ways of God.

A recurring theme in the Psalms and the Bible is that God is our refuge and strength and that we can turn to him in times of trouble (and in good times).  We can trust the He will be the perfect judge, even though we don’t always understand his timing.

A psalm of David.

 1 I will praise you, O LORD, with all my heart;
       I will tell of all your wonders.

 2 I will be glad and rejoice in you;
       I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.

 3 My enemies turn back;
       they stumble and perish before you.

 4 For you have upheld my right and my cause;
       you have sat on your throne, judging righteously.

 5 You have rebuked the nations and destroyed the wicked;
       you have blotted out their name for ever and ever.

 6 Endless ruin has overtaken the enemy,
       you have uprooted their cities;
       even the memory of them has perished.

 7 The LORD reigns forever;
       he has established his throne for judgment.

 8 He will judge the world in righteousness;
       he will govern the peoples with justice.

 9 The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed,
       a stronghold in times of trouble.

 10 Those who know your name will trust in you,
       for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.

 11 Sing praises to the LORD, enthroned in Zion;
       proclaim among the nations what he has done.

 12 For he who avenges blood remembers;
       he does not ignore the cry of the afflicted.

 13 O LORD, see how my enemies persecute me!
       Have mercy and lift me up from the gates of death,

 14 that I may declare your praises
       in the gates of the Daughter of Zion
       and there rejoice in your salvation.

 15 The nations have fallen into the pit they have dug;
       their feet are caught in the net they have hidden.

 16 The LORD is known by his justice;
       the wicked are ensnared by the work of their hands.
       Higgaion [possibly a musical notation].  Selah

 17 The wicked return to the grave, 
       all the nations that forget God.

 18 But the needy will not always be forgotten,
       nor the hope of the afflicted ever perish.

 19 Arise, O LORD, let not man triumph;
       let the nations be judged in your presence.

 20 Strike them with terror, O LORD;
       let the nations know they are but men.
       Selah

 Reflect on what stood out to you in this reading and share your comments and questions if you like.

Psalm 8

Greetings! 

There are many interesting things in this short Psalm.  It starts and ends with praise for the Lord’s name. 

The first line, “O Lord, our Lord” uses two versions of God’s name, his personal name “Yahweh” and “the sovereign or master.” 

David is amazed that God would let us have an honored role as to be responsible for his creation.  We should ask God for wisdom and discernment to carry out this role wisely.

A psalm of David.

 1 O LORD, our Lord,
       how majestic is your name in all the earth!
       You have set your glory
       above the heavens.

 2 From the lips of children and infants
       you have ordained praise 
       because of your enemies,
       to silence the foe and the avenger.

 3 When I consider your heavens,
       the work of your fingers,
       the moon and the stars,
       which you have set in place,

 4 what is man that you are mindful of him,
       the son of man that you care for him?

 5 You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings 
       and crowned him with glory and honor.

 6 You made him ruler over the works of your hands;
       you put everything under his feet:

 7 all flocks and herds,
       and the beasts of the field,

 8 the birds of the air,
       and the fish of the sea,
       all that swim the paths of the seas.

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

Reflect on what stood out to you in this reading and share your comments and questions if you like.

Psalm 7

Greetings!  I thought we’d do Psalms this week then tackle Leviticus (Yes, Leviticus!).  Here’s  an overview of Psalms.

This is a Psalm of King David, who wrote it when he was being pursued by King Saul’s men (King Saul initially liked David but later became insanely jealous and tried to kill him).  David is confident in his innocence in this matter and asks for God’s judgment against his enemies. 

The Bible Knowledge Commentary pointed out that verse 2 is the first of many instances in the Psalms where the author cries out for God to rescue him. 

God notices every injustice and asks us to let him take vengeance (Romans 12:19 Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord).  Note that He does give governments authority to punish (Romans 13 and other places).  We can trust him as our shield and give him thanks for all He has done, is doing and will do for us.

1 O Lord my God, I take refuge in you; save and deliver me from all who pursue me,

2 or they will tear me like a lion and rip me to pieces with no one to rescue me.

3 O Lord my God, if I have done this and there is guilt on my hands—

4 if I have done evil to him who is at peace with me or without cause have robbed my foe—

5 then let my enemy pursue and overtake me; let him trample my life to the ground

and make me sleep in the dust. Selah

6 Arise, O Lord, in your anger; rise up against the rage of my enemies.

Awake, my God; decree justice.

7 Let the assembled peoples gather around you.  Rule over them from on high;

8 let the Lord judge the peoples.  Judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness,

according to my integrity, O Most High.

9 O righteous God, who searches minds and hearts, bring to an end the violence of the wicked and make the righteous secure.

10 My shield is God Most High, who saves the upright in heart.

11 God is a righteous judge, a God who expresses his wrath every day.

12 If he does not relent, he will sharpen his sword;  he will bend and string his bow.

13 He has prepared his deadly weapons; he makes ready his flaming arrows.

14 He who is pregnant with evil and conceives trouble gives birth to disillusionment.

15 He who digs a hole and scoops it out falls into the pit he has made.

16 The trouble he causes recoils on himself; his violence comes down on his own head.

17 I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High.

Reflect on what stood out to you in this reading and share your comments and questions if you like.

Psalm 6

Greetings!  This reading is Psalm 6.

Psalm 6  A psalm of David.

O Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath. Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am faint; O Lord, heal me, for my bones are in agony. My soul is in anguish. How long, O Lord, how long?

Turn, O Lord, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love. No one remembers you when he is dead. Who praises you from the grave?

I am worn out from groaning; all night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears. My eyes grow weak with sorrow; they fail because of all my foes.

Away from me, all you who do evil, for the Lord has heard my weeping. The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer. All my enemies will be ashamed and dismayed; they will turn back in sudden disgrace.

  • Justice = getting what you deserve (punishment)
  • Mercy = not getting what you deserve (avoiding punishment)
  • Grace = getting what you don’t deserve (getting a fabulous gift . . . like spending eternity with the one true God, who loved you enough to die for you.)  
  • God is perfectly just, so He demands punishment for sin.  Yet He is perfectly merciful, so He came to earth and took the punishment for us, if only we will accept his free gift of grace.  As humans, we often want justice for others and mercy and grace for ourselves.     

    This is called a “penitential” psalm, where the writer realizes his problem, confesses his sin and recommits himself to God.  Feel the passion of David as he pours out his heart to God in true repentance. 

    Reflect on what stood out to you in this reading and share your comments and questions if you like.

    The next reading is an overview of Proverbs.

    Psalm 5

    Greetings! 

    Psalm 5 For the director of music. For flutes. A psalm of David.

    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, in 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.

    Notice David’s approach of talking with God and expecting an answer to his prayers.  Psalms are excellent models for how we can pray to God.  I used to be very uncomfortable praying, because I felt so unworthy and wanted to be sure to say the right things.  But God already knows what you are thinking, so you can be free to express your deepest feelings and fears.  

    David didn’t pretend to be perfect himself.  He knew that it was by God’s mercy that we can come to him.  He wasn’t arrogant; he willingly bowed down to God.

    God hates lying, yet how many times do we do that?  Think about what a powerful metaphor it is to say a throat can be an open grave.  David calls for judgment against his enemies.  God may or may not exercise his judgment in the way David asked, but it is ok to ask.  Ask Romans 12:19 says,

    Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.

    If you have been wounded and want revenge, read the 2nd half of Romans 12.   

    Reflect on what stood out to you in this reading and share your comments and questions if you like.

    The next reading is Psalm 6.

    Psalm 4

    Greetings!  I thought we’d do a few Psalms this week.  Here is a quick overview of Psalms.  This reading is Psalm 4.

    Psalm 4 For the director of music. With stringed instruments. A psalm of David.

    Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; be merciful to me and hear my prayer.

    How long, O men, will you turn my glory into shame? How long will you love delusions and seek false gods? Selah

    Know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself; the Lord will hear when I call to him. In your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent. Selah

    Offer right sacrifices and trust in the Lord. Many are asking, “Who can show us any good?” Let the light of your face shine upon us, O Lord.

    You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound. I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.

    David was in despair.  This was possibly written when Absalom, David’s son, had temporarily taken over the throne of Israel.

    David points out the folly of seeking false gods.  He gives great advice in saying, “In your anger do not sin.”  He acknowledges that we will become angry but points out that sinning isn’t the answer. 

    David asked God to hear him, then later notes his confidence that God will hear his prayer.  We can be sure that God hears all our prayers and answers them.  The answers may be, “yes,” “no,” “later” or a variation of what we asked.  God loves with a perfect love, so He will never answer a prayer in a way that would not be for our long term good. 

    The last portion distinguishes between the happiness of prosperity, which can be fleeting, and the joy of trusting in God, which is permanent.  David spent many years being chased and persecuted, but he could sleep well due to his trust in God.  Meditating on God’s perfection and  sovereign control of the universe can be a good way to end the day so that we can sleep in peace.

    Reflect on what stood out to you in this reading and share your comments and questions if you like.

    The next reading is Psalm 5.

    Psalm 3

    This reading is Psalm 3. The words in bold are introductory comments from my Bible. This references a story from 2 Samuel 15 and forward.

    A psalm of David. When he fled from his son Absalom. O Lord, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me! Many are saying of me, “God will not deliver him.” Selah But you are a shield around me, O Lord; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head. To the Lord I cry aloud, and he answers me from his holy hill. Selah I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me. I will not fear the tens of thousands drawn up against me on every side. Arise, O Lord! Deliver me, O my God! Strike all my enemies on the jaw; break the teeth of the wicked. From the Lord comes deliverance. May your blessing be on your people. Selah

    The word “Selah” is interesting. My footnotes say it is a word of uncertain meaning occuring frequently in the Psalms, and is perhaps a musical term. I like to think of it as an exclamation, as in, “Yeah! Selah!”

    Many people have heard of David’s battle with Goliath and his adultery with Bathsheba and subsequent murder of her husband. But the Bible records many other dramatic incidents about David, including being on the run from King Saul (his predecessor) for many years. Later, David’s son Absalom tries to take over the throne in Israel and David is forced to flee.

    David was confident that God would answer him in this emergency. It is amazing that he could sleep under these circumstances, but David’s confidence was in God. A great way to end the day is to pray and think about how God is in control of the universe so we can sleep in peace.

    This is an example of a Psalm where the writers bear their deepest feelings about what they want God to do.

    The next reading is Daniel 1. I’ll take a day to introduce Daniel then proceed chapter by chapter.

    Psalm 2

    This reading is Psalm 2.

    Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One. “Let us break their chains,” they say, “and throw off their fetters.” The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. Then he rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, “I have installed my King in Zion, my holy hill.” I will proclaim the decree of the Lord: He said to me, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. You will rule them with an iron scepter; you will dash them to pieces like pottery.” Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you be destroyed in your way, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

    There are different categories of Psalms. This is considered a Messianic Psalm, meaning that it points to Jesus, the Messiah. It isn’t the “nice, friendly, safe” Jesus that is often proclaimed in churches, but the real Jesus who is King of the universe and who rules with power and might while at the same time being full of love and grace. The phrase, “Kiss the Son” means to surrender and submit to him.

    Doesn’t the part about the “kings of the earth” sum up the state of our world rather nicely? Countless people mock God at every turn. We make ourselves gods by inventing rationalizations for breaking God’s laws. But He is in control at every moment. This reminds me of Romans 9:20-21 – “But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?”

    I thought this was an interesting phrase: “Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling.” I usually don’t associate fear / rejoicing / trembling in that way. But fear is the foundation of our relationship with God; this is a common Old Testament theme. One question we all must answer is whether we fear God more than we fear man.

    The next reading is Psalm 3.

    Psalm 1

    This reading is Psalm 1. It is so short that I’ll also post it here in full:

    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.

    There is great wisdom here. Think of all the evils and problems we cause ourselves when we give into peer pressure and the alleged wisdom of the world (“the counsel of the wicked”).

    Note how in v. 1 that the expressions go from “walk” to “stand” to “sit.” The Bible Knowledge Commentary said it showed the transition from the casual influence of ungodly people to collusion with them, then finally to scorning the righteous along with them.

    The righteous are those who delight in his Word and meditate on it.

    The notion of prospering doesn’t mean it happens immediately, just as everything that grows has its season. It reminds me of Galatians 6:7-8:

    Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

    The next reading is Psalm 2.

    Psalms overview

    Hi,

    There are 150 Psalms, so don’t panic – we won’t be doing them all at once. Since each one can stand alone, I thought I would mix in a few here and there. So this is Psalms week. I plan to cover 1-3. We’ll cover a chapter of Proverbs now and then as well instead of doing it as a whole book.

    The Book of Psalms is a collection of songs and prayers that covers the range of human emotions. It is cliche’-free. Some are confessions, others are requests, others are full of praise, and many are a mix. People go to the Psalms for comfort, to learn about God, to praise God, to thank God and more.

    I’m continuing to aim at three to four posts per week on this blog. Hopefully that is a good pace for everyone. At this rate we’ll get through the whole Bible in about eight years. Seriously. We’ll probably pick up the pace when doing the historical books like Samuel, Kings and Chronicles.

    In Him,
    Neil