Learning From the Psalms Part 1

psalmsAnyone who has ever read the Bible will admit the Psalms are some of the most beautiful things written in the Bible. Beautiful as they are, they are there for more than just beauty and comfort. The Psalms are also a teaching tool that each and every one of us can find a lesson in. So, let’s go through some of the Psalms and see what kinds of lessons we can learn from them that can help us grow as Christians.

Psalm 1:1

“Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked.”

Often Christians, especially young Christians think that one of the best ways in which to learn more about the “ungodly” and to help them is to walk among them, to experience what they are experiencing in order to understand them better so that they might know how to help them. But, this is the kind of thinking that will swallow up young and immature Christians and can actually in the end turn them against God. Yes, we are in this world to try and help everyone turn to God and change their ways, however, we need to be very careful that we don’t let exposure to these bad situations don’t lead us to eventually embracing “ungodly” philosophies and actions.

  1. We cannot allow our choices to be controlled by the counsel of the “ungodly”.
  2. We really should avoid putting ourselves in places where those who don’t know Jesus can influence the way we think.
  3. We cannot let ourselves become comfortable with those who mock God, His Word and His role in our lives, it should always make us feel uncomfortable.

If we begin to put trust in things that lead us away from God we could lose our way. So it is best to gain our knowledge from the Word of God, from those who believe in Him and love Him and not experiences.

Psalm 3:3

“But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.”

Here we see where David recognizes that God is His shield and will protect him from his enemies. This too is something that we all need to recognize and let Him know that we need Him as our shield in life. Because, if we know Him to be a shield in our lives we then know that whoever may rise against us whether it be a man or a spiritual foe, we will find our God standing between us and them. We must learn to trust the Lord to shield us from all our foes, just like David did.

Psalm 4:1

“Answer when I call, my saving God. In my troubles, you cleared a way; show me favor; hear my prayer.”

In this Psalm, David shows us how we can find comfort and joy in the comfort of knowing God. In Psalm 4 he takes several courses of action when he was feeling distressed and we can learn from him when we are distressed. If you read all of Psalm 4 you will discover the following:

  1. He took comfort in knowing that he was favored by God and that God heard him when he called.
  2. David was quiet before God.
  3. He did what was right and put his trust in God.
  4. He rested in the assurance of God’s peace and safety.
  5. David was confident that he would receive joy in his heart as a gift from God.

When we are in our low moments we need to learn to be more like David and look up to God. We need to ask Him for His peace and the same gladness that David experienced when he called on you in times of distress.

Psalm 5:3

“In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you.”

Here we see that David expressed his needs to God in the mornings. He went to God early in the morning to start off his day. This is something each of us can easily do each morning. It doesn’t require a lot of words or deep prayer. A simple “Good morning God, please help guide me through another day.” is a good way to start, or a simple thank you. Whatever it might be, we should learn to give recognition to God each morning before we start our day.

Psalm 6:9-10

“Away from me, all who do evil! The Lord has heard my weeping. The Lord has heard my prayer; the Lord takes up my plea.”

In the beginning of Psalm 6, David appears to wonder why his prayers have not been answered, much like we often feel when it seems that our prayers have not been heard. However, later in the Psalm is where David realizes that God has heard every one of his prayers and is listening to him at all times. We need to learn to have the same faith that David shows here in Psalm 6 so that we will never give up on praying.

Psalm 8:5-6

“What are humans that you are mindful of them, mere mortals that you care for them? Yet you have made them little less than a god, crowned them with glory and honor.”

David was in awe with how much value God put on human beings and he let God know how this amazed him. Just as David, we too should be amazed at such a wonder and we need to realize that if God puts such a high value on us, then we need to learn to put that same value on the people that He has brought into our lives. We need to bring these people before God in our prayers and ask Him to show us how each one of them are priceless.

Psalm 9:6, 10

“You rebuked the nations, you destroyed the wicked; their name you blotted out for all time. The lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.”

Here we see how powerful God is for He is the Creator, Ruler, and the Judge of all the universe. In Psalm 9 it tells us what will happen to those who think they can challenge His strength or put themselves above Him. At the same time, Psalm 9 shows another side of God and that is He is one that we can take refuge in. The same God who has the power to destroy evil also has the power to preserve the good. We need to understand both sides of our God and thank Him always for the power that He has over us all good and evil.

Psalm 10:3-6; 14-15

“The wicked even boast of their greed; these robbers curse and scorn the Lord. In their insolence the wicked boast; ‘God doesn’t care, doesn’t even exist. Yet their affairs always succeed; they ignore your judgment on high; they sneer at all who oppose them. They say in their hearts, ‘We will never fail.’ But you do see; you do observe this misery and sorrow; you take the matter in hand. To you the helpless can entrust their cause; you are the defender of orphans. Break the arms of the wicked and depraved; make them account for their crimes; let none of them survive.”

Here in this Psalm we see that those who are wicked believe that there is no room for God. They do what they do because they don’t think that God will ever notice what they do. Murder and violence happen when people don’t think that God is going to see what they are doing. However, He does see and He will in His own time avenge the murder and violence against the innocent. God is still on His throne and we need to remember this. Evil men might think that they are getting away with murder or whatever other evil thing they might be doing, but rest assured that in the end, God’s justice will prevail.

Psalm 12:6

“Because they rob the weak, and the needy groan, I will now arise, says the Lord; I will grant safety to whoever longs for it.”

If you read all of Psalm 12 you might see that people back in the time of David were pretty much the same as they are today. Not much has changed, people lied, cheated, stole, murdered, you name it they did it. Evil was just as present then as we find it today. We might think it’s worse but in the end, evil is evil no matter when or where it takes place. David reminds us 3,000 years ago that evil is not just a 21st century problem. He also in this Psalm gives us all hope reminding us that God will take care of the evil doers and will give shelter and safety to the oppressed. Take a lesson from David and when you become discouraged about all the bad news in the world, cry out for Gods help. Then be confident in His assurance that He will take care of it because just like in Davids time, God is in control.

Psalm 13:2

“How long, Lord? Will you utterly forget me? How long will you hide your face from me? “

No doubt, we have all felt like David at one time or another. Often times when we are lost in our troubles and sorrows they can cloud our vision and we feel as if we can no longer see God. David felt exactly this way in Psalm 13. However, even though he felt as if God had left him, he realized that it was his troubles getting in his way and eventually he takes time out to remember times when he could see God and all the wonders that God had shown him. This blind faith is something that helped David get through some pretty tough times. We need to do the same thing when we find ourselves being swallowed up by our troubles and feel our faith faltering. We need to take time out and reflect back upon times where we personally witnessed Gods goodness in order to strengthen our faith.

Psalm 16:7

“I bless the Lord who counsels me; even at night my heart exhorts me.”

If you have read the Psalms then you already know that David spent a lot of dark and restless nights in his life due to so many different troubles and trials he went through. But in this Psalm we see that David never gave up and always praised God for His counsel. David was no different than us when it came to tossing and turning in the night worried about all his troubles. But he always reminded himself that God was there to listen to him and all his concerns and this would bring him comfort. When we have issues that may cost us sleepless nights we need to remember that we can talk to God about every single concern that we have and cast our cares onto His broad shoulders. We can talk to Him about our failures, the conflicts in our lives, the challenges we face, our anxieties and our frustrations. Let Him know everything and then listen to what He has to say to us in the quiet of the night.

Psalm 19:2

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the sky proclaims it’s builders craft.”

Psalm 19 helps us to remember who is the creator of all things. It asks us to listen to and look at all that is around us and take in God’s breathtaking creation. It tells us to marvel at all the splendor that God has bestowed upon us through His creation and how we need to spend more time in silence admiring His handiwork. Once we recognize the beauty in all of creation we we will find it much easier to know that He is God.

Psalm 22:2

“My, God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why so far from my call for help, from my cries of anguish?”

David must have really been desperate when he cried out to God in this fashion. Later in the New Testament, we even hear Jesus cry out from the cross quoting these same words in His own personal anguish. However, these words don’t mean that God turned away from either David or Jesus, they just were in the midst of dark moments that only lasted momentarily until they remembered the goodness of their Father in heaven. We’ve all been there, feeling as if God has abandoned us, looking up to heaven and wondering why God is ignoring us. But if you read Psalm 22 you will see that David, no matter how forsaken he felt, he would in turn still find something about God that would rescue him from his despondency. Through it all, David would continue to seek the Lord and seek His rescue. We too need to follow in David’s footsteps and never stop seeking God no matter how dark it might seem.

Psalm 23:4

“Even when I walk through the valley of death, I fear no harm for you are at my side; your rod and staff give me courage.”

It’s appropriate that Psalm 23 follows 22 because 23 is one of pure hope and we need hope to survive in this world. David refused to give into his fear, not because he knew that God would get rid of the evil surrounding him but because he knew that God gave him the confidence he needed to get through the difficult places he found himself in without fear of being deserted by God. Hope does not come from our strength, intelligence or circumstances that are favorable, no, hope comes from the Lord.

Psalm 25:8-9

“Good and upright is the Lord, who shows sinners the way. Guides the humble rightly and teaches the humble the way.”

Here we can learn that if God walks by our side, or I should say, if we let Him walk by our side He will teach us much and He will show us the right way to go. However, so many of us choose to go it alone, to walk down the path of life trying to do it on our own. Here we are taught that we need to let Him walk with us and guide us in our daily lives. He doesn’t care about our sins, as long as we acknowledge them to Him and He doesn’t care about out failures because He knows that He can teach us to learn from them. We need to stop trying to do it on our own. Just let the Lord walk by our sides and listen to His guidance.

Psalm 26:2

“Test me, Lord, and try me; search my heart and mind.”

As followers of Christ, this Psalm reminds us that we need to check on ourselves on a regular basis and the way that we can do that is to invite Him to examine every part of our lives, our relationships with other Christians, our relationships with others we meet, how well we obey the Word of God and how we testify for Him in our lives. If we discover through His guidance that we fall short anywhere in these vital areas of our lives then we need to ask Him for guidance on how we can change these things. If we do this on a regular basis it will help prevent any disapproval from God. Let Psalm 26 be your checklist for integrity.

Psalm 27:6

“Even now my head is held high above my enemies on every side! I will offer in His tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing and chant praise to the Lord.”

David worshiped God often and gave Him constant praise. Many may feel there is no need for “worship”. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. This Psalm teaches us the importance of worship. We all need to worship because we are unique creatures who have been created in the image of God. We were made for God by God and in order to have the right kind of relationship with God, we need to worship Him. We need to realize that when we gather together with other Christians to worship, our hearts are lifted out of this world and put into the eternal world of God. When we worship our conscience is quickened by the holiness of God, our mind is fed by the truth of God, our heart is opened to the love of God, and our will is devoted to the will of God.

Psalm 30:13

“With my whole being I sing endless praise to you. O Lord, my God, forever will I give you thanks.”

David went through many dark times, many times of doubt, much like us,in Psalm 30, he teaches us that no matter what happens in our lives we still need to sing God praises and to always remember to give Him thanks no matter what the circumstances might be. We need to learn to become more like David and even in our darkest times call out to the Lord for help and then never forget to give Him thanks. We need to make sure that we don’t have ungrateful response to the graciousness of our Lord. We need to remember to be more like David and endlessly praise and thank Him for all that is good and not so good in our lives.

Psalm 32:1

“Happy the sinner whose fault is removed, whose sin is forgiven.”

Forgiveness is something we all struggle with. We often find it difficult to forgive both ourselves and others. But the biggest thing that we often find difficult to believe is that we are forgiven by God. Psalm 32 tries to remind us the joy that we will discover the moment that we realize and believe that God has forgiven us. Christ over and over again forgave everyone He came into contact with. In fact He would forgive them of their sins before He would physically heal them for He knew that ridding the soul of its sin was the only way to physically heal the person. We need to believe there is happiness granted to us once we believe that our sins are forgiven. So often we find this the most difficult part of the process of forgiveness and the main reason for that is that Satan doesn’t want us to believe we are forgiven, he relishes in trying to whisper doubt and lies about the forgiveness of God that weakens our faith. We need to take hold of Psalm 32 and keep it in our hearts so that we can fight off the whispers of doubt that Satan tries to fill our hearts with. Forgiveness is real, accept it and you will find true happiness.

Psalm 33:1-3

“Rejoice, you just, in the Lord; praise from the upright is fitting. Give thanks to the Lord on the harp; on the ten stringed lyre offer praise. Sing to God a new song; skillfully play with joyful chant.”

You might think that singing to God is not a form of worship or prayer, but in Psalm 33 it reminds us of just how important it is to sing joyfully to the Lord. God loves to hear us sing Him praises, He loves to hear the joy that comes from music that is centered around Him. Music is a very important part of worship and prayer, in fact St. Augustine once said “Singing is like praying twice.” How great is that? Not only is singing to God a wonderful way in which to give Him praise but it is good for us. Not only does it feed the soul with joy but it feeds the body and leaves you feeling refreshed and joy filled. Whether it is among others singing or if you are alone, especially if your heart feels burdened, sing a song of praise that will lighten your heart. You might be amazed at just how good you feel after singing a song of joy to God.

Psalm 38:13-14

“Those who seek my life lay snares for me; they seek my misfortune, they speak of ruin; they plot treachery all the day. But I am like the deaf, hearing nothing, like the dumb, saying nothing.”

Here David shows us that even though others may be wishing you harm and misfortune and plotting against you that it is best to not return insults for insults. Often it is better just to turn a deaf ear to those who are plotting against you or saying things that aren’t true. David could have lashed out at those who were talking and plotting against him but he decided not to and instead of responding to them he turned to the Lord and put all of his hope in Him. Not always an easy thing to do however, it is the right thing to do, no matter what the situation.

Lord, help us to be as wise as David. Help us to maintain our dignity by trusting in You when others might try to take unfair advantage of us. Help us to restrain ourselves and let You be the one who has the final word.

Amen

 

Part Two next week.

 

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