Keep Yourselves From Idols

O God, You are my God;

Early will I seek You;

My soul thirsts for You;

My flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land

Where there is no water.

–Psalm 63:1 (NKJV)

I started memorizing Psalm 63 yesterday.  I’ve loved this passage for many years, and it’s been on my list of passages to memorize for quite a while.  As I was meditating on the first verse while walking Buster early yesterday evening, I realized that there’s another way to look at that verse.  No doubt David was drawing upon his circumstances and compared His longing for God to being in the arid wilderness to which he had been forced to flee – and in that comparison, he paints a very clear picture of the desire of a man after God’s own heart.  And with that picture in the background, whenever I have pondered this passage, I have mostly thought: “Someday, I’ll long for God in that way.  Someday I’ll seek after Him like I would for a drop of water after being stranded in a desert for a few days.”  Because, if I’m honest, I don’t often feel that kind of urgency in my pursuit of God.

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Oh Give Thanks!

Psalm 118 (ESV)

1 Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever! 2 Let Israel say, “His steadfast love endures forever.” 3 Let the house of Aaron say, “His steadfast love endures forever.” 4 Let those who fear the LORD say, “His steadfast love endures forever.” 5 Out of my distress I called on the LORD; the LORD answered me and set me free. 6 The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? 7 The LORD is on my side as my helper; I shall look in triumph on those who hate me. 8 It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man. 9 It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes. 10 All nations surrounded me; in the name of the LORD I cut them off! 11 They surrounded me, surrounded me on every side; in the name of the LORD I cut them off! 12 They surrounded me like bees; they went out like fire among thorns; in the name of the LORD I cut them off! 13 I was pushed hard, so that I was falling, but the LORD helped me. 14 The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. 15 Glad songs of salvation are in the tents of the righteous: “The right hand of the LORD does valiantly, 16 the right hand of the LORD exalts, the right hand of the LORD does valiantly!” 17 I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the LORD. 18 The LORD has disciplined me severely, but he has not given me over to death. 19 Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the LORD. 20 This is the gate of the LORD; the righteous shall enter through it. 21 I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation. 22 The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.23 This is the LORD’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. 24 This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.  25 Save us, we pray, O LORD! O LORD, we pray, give us success! 26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD! We bless you from the house of the LORD. 27 The LORD is God, and he has made his light to shine upon us. Bind the festal sacrifice with cords, up to the horns of the altar! 28 You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God; I will extol you. 29 Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!

A matter of the heart

Driving home from visiting with family over Thanksgiving (yes, I started this post over a week ago and am just now getting around to finishing it), I was thinking about Ps. 119:1-2 and 36-37, which I memorized a couple of months ago:

1 Blessed are the undefiled in the way,
Who walk in the law of the LORD!
2 Blessed are those who keep His testimonies,
Who seek Him with the whole heart! (NKJV)

36 Incline my heart to Your testimonies,
And not to covetousness.
37 Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things,
And revive me in Your way. (NKJV)

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More observations on Ps. 144:2

Ps 144:2 My lovingkindness and my fortress, my high tower and my defense, my shield and the One in whom I take refuge, who subdues my people under me. (NKJV)

I woke up real early this morning and couldn’t fall back asleep, so I started reviewing memory verses while lying in bed, not sleeping. I suddenly realized that though I had previously noticed what looks to me like the use of parallelism in Hebrew poetry, which Danny talked about here, I hadn’t taken that observation far enough. It’s easy to see the parallelism (I hope I’m correct here! Danny?) in the 2nd and 3rd parts of this verse, but it hadn’t yet sunk in that the first part also follows this formula: my X and my Y, where Y redefines, or is another way to look at X. (And then there’s the fact that each of the 4 parts reinforces the others – they all define and contrast different aspects of God as protector or refuge. Calvin helps in understanding how to fit “who subdues my people under me” in with the rest of the verse.)

It’s more evident that God, as my “high tower”, is my defense, and that I can take refuge in (behind) God who is my shield – but God my lovingkindness = my fortress? Somehow, I kept separate the fact that God being my lovingkindness (or goodness, or mercy) is a fortress! How could I not have seen that redefinition? I’ve even written about these verses a couple of times before – here and here – but I didn’t notice this connection: I can dwell securely in God’s lovingkindness in the midst of life’s trials because He is my fortress. God being my lovingkindness defines Him as a fortress.

Blessed be the name of the Lord!

(It’s very possible that thoughts percolating in my head from the Perfect Storm men’s conference I attended this past weekend helped me connect the dots here. I’ll probably write about the conference soon.)

Memory verses: killing sin

I memorized these verses a month or so ago – they are great ones to learn to help with killing sin:

1 Blessed be the Lord, my Rock, Who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle–
2 My lovingkindness and my fortress, my high tower and my deliverer, my shield and the One in whom I take refuge, Who subdues my people under me.
3 Lord, what is man, that You take knowledge of him? Or the son of man, that You are mindful of him?
4 Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow.
Ps 144:1-4 (NKJV)

Killing sin is a war! A war against the “old man”, a pitched battle for the heart and mind. But God, my Rock (I don’t know if this is supposed to be a foreshadowing of Jesus, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to think so!) trains my hands for war and my fingers for battle! Of course, David was talking about real, physical warfare, but this is a beautiful verse to apply to spiritual warfare. He follows the first verse with the comfort of the second – and then a reminder of who we are compared to God. Nothing like some good perspective when thinking about how much He can help in our time of need!

Awesome verses.

The Thought of God

I recently started reading The Thought of God, which has been on my list of books to read for a couple of years now. It’s a collection of articles by Maurice Roberts which were published as editorials in The Banner of Truth magazine. Based on the first few chapters/articles, I’ll be writing a number of posts on what I glean from this book.

For example, in the first article, The Thought of God, after stating that our first thought in times of trial and difficulty should be of God, Roberts says:

There is a difference, alas, between things as they are and things as we perceive them. Our perceptions of God suffer more than our perceptions of natural things because we are depraved and do not make it our life’s work daily to enrich our idea of God from the fountainhead of Scripture. It is our folly that we allow ourselves to look at life’s problems as if they were somehow isolated from God. As soon as we see our problems in the light of God’s being and perfection, we are emancipated from alarm and terror.

and later,

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God’s lovingkindness and tender mercies

As I was going over some memory verses this morning, I (finally) saw a connection which I hadn’t seen until this morning:

Ps. 103:4 Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, (NKJV)

Ps. 144:2 My lovingkindness and my fortress,
My high tower and my deliverer,
My shield and the One in whom I take refuge,
Who subdues my people under me. (NKJV)

God not only crowns me with lovingkindness (ESV: steadfast love)–not to mention tender mercies (ESV: compassion)–in 103:4, He is my lovingkindness in 144:2! And in order to bless me eternally, He sent Jesus, who wore a crown of thorns and died in my place. Words fail me.

Spurgeon, in his Treasury of David, wrote this about Ps. 103:4b:

Who crowneth thee with loving kindness and tender mercies. Our Lord does nothing by halves, he will not stay his hand till he has gone to the uttermost with his people. Cleansing, healing, redemption, are not enough, he must needs make them kings and crown them, and the crown Continue reading