Learning From the Psalms Part 3

Psalms3I hope you have enjoyed this series so far about Learning From the Psalms. Until I started looking closer at some of these beautiful writings, I never realized just how much we could learn from them and even though they were written several thousand years ago they still have subject content that is current for today’s world. I hope you will enjoy and learn something from Part 3 of this series and pass the entire series onto other people. We begin Part 3 with Psalm 56.

Psalm 56

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in God.”  (Psalm 56:3)

Fear is an emotion that can be extremely powerful and for some people it can even be crippling. Fear, if we let it can override any logical thinking and it can produce irrational behavior. However, true Christians really don’t have to let fear of anything such as people and situations rule our actions if we simply put all of our trust and hope in God. Just like in Psalm 56 we can boldly stand and say “When I am afraid, I put my trust in God.”

When we take this stand against fear it empowers us to continue on in life with the guidance of God and this stand is also consistent with the Bible’s instructions to us to “trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). By reading Psalm 56 we are being taught how to stand up bravely and fight off the illogical responses that fear causes because we trust in the Lord and that alone should give us strength. When we try to lean on our own understanding of the world around us it can lead us to overestimate the object of our fear and then underestimate God’s power. When we’re afraid, we can depend on God’s understanding and trust in His love for us that will drive out the fear. So, the next time you feel fear start to creep into your life, don’t panic over it because God can be trusted even in the darkness of fear.

Note: In this particular Psalm, David is more than likely referring to a situation recorded in 1 Samuel 21:12 when he feared for his life at the hands of Achish king of Gath, where he truly was afraid.

Psalm 63

“O God, you are my God for you I long! For you my body yearns; for you my soul thirsts. Like a land parched, lifeless and without water.”  (Psalm 63:2)

In this Psalm we are being taught about thirsting and longing for God and how we need to slowly meditate on His word. Far too often we treat God’s Word as if it were some express buffet. We chow it down as fast as we can and then wonder why we don’t seem to have learned very much from any of it. Just like physical food, our spiritual food needs slow chewing and not just inhaling it. For those of us who have been Christians all of our lives may unfortunately have a tendency to “speed read” through the passages of the Bible that we’ve ready before. But when we do this we are missing what God is meaning to show us each time we read a certain passage, He’s not always trying to tell us the same thing over and over again and if we speed through it we could be missing the point of it all. A sure sign that we are doing this is that when we learn nothing from the passage we’ve read. David reminds us that we need to meditate on God’s precepts and consider His ways.

So, we need to slow down when we come to the Bible and not treat it like some express buffet. It is only by meditating on God’s Word that we will get the most value out of what He is saying and it will be best for our overall spiritual well-being.

Psalm 66

“Shout for joy to God, all the earth.”  (Psalm 66:1)

Psalm 66 teaches us that to worship God you don’t always need the support of the choir in church, others in the church and so on. In fact sometimes all you need to worship Him is some alone time with Him which includes prayer. Here is what Psalm 66 tells us “I cried to the Lord with my mouth; His praise was on my tongue. If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer. Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld His love from me!”  (Psalm 66:17-20). Here the psalmist was crying out in praise to God. He came to God with a pure heart which was cleansed by confession of his sins. Because of this he was confident that God was truly listening to him and that God had accepted his prayer and then He lavished His love on the person who was praying. Worship here included praise, a pure heart and simply communicating with God and then there was God’s affirmation and love that was poured out.

When you worship by prayer you receive spiritual advantage and at the same time you honor God. You can do this anytime or anyplace, pray to God and worship Him in this manner and He will bless you always.

Psalm 68

“Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.”  (Psalm 68:19)

In Psalm 68 we see David reviewing the many different ways that God had cared for His people on a daily basis. After surveying God’s faithfulness he called out “Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens!” This came from a heart that was overflowing with love for the Lord, David gave thanks quite often to God for all the blessings God bestowed upon him because he knew that God lightened his load of burdens and provided him with all that he needed each and every day.

Sad to say however, this is not so true of us in today’s world. In fact, to be honest, that seems to be the exception now to see people giving thanks to God, especially in public, as if they were embarrassed to do so. We seem to have become a very self-indulgent and very ungrateful society. Shouldn’t we respond the same way as David did? Should we not give thanks for every blessing God has so freely given us? Shouldn’t we express to Him our gratitude at all times no matter where we are?

So, let’s stop and remember to give thanks to God for our daily supply of blessings, even if that means right in the middle of a crowded restaurant!

Psalm 73

“I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.”  (Psalm 73:3)

Psalm 73 is trying to teach us that even though the wicked seem to be steeped in prosperity it does not mean that in the end they will continue to have such luxury. There is no doubt however, that we have felt that life can be unfair and forget what this Psalm is trying to teach us. It can be easy to get frustrated when people who don’t seem to care about God seem to do so very well in life while you stand on the sidelines struggling. For example, the businessman who cheats but then wins a large contract, or the guy who parties all the time is robust and healthy while you or someone you love struggles with finances or medical problems. It can make you feel cheated, like maybe you’ve been good for no reason at all.

If you have felt like that then you are in good company when it comes to Psalm 73, because the writer of this Psalm feels exactly the same way. However, his mind is changed once he spends time alone with God in His sanctuary. Then he can see the truth behind it and realize what their final destiny will be.

Whenever we spend time alone with God and then see things from His point of view, it changes our whole perspective on things. We may be jealous of non believers for now, but we won’t be at the time of judgment.

The psalmist tells us to praise God for His presence in this life and His promise to us for the life to come. He is all we need, even when life does seem unfair.

Psalm 77

“You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.”  (Psalm 77:20)

This Psalm teaches us that we are all part of God’s flock and the biblical image of God as our shepherd is a very powerful reminder of just how much we actually need each other in the community of faith. As part of God’s flock, we who have put our trust in Christ are under His guiding, protecting hand while being surrounded by the shielding presence of others in His flock. We are part of a larger body of believers in which there is great safety as well as accountability and this is something we desperately need, especially accountability.

Even though we don’t give up our own personal responsibility for thought and action as members of the flock, we are however, to embrace the concept of “we” rather than “me” in our daily lives. When we have Christ as our Shepherd and with fellow believers around us, we will always find safety in His flock.

Psalm 78

“We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord.”  (Psalm 78:4)

Jewish men before and during the time of Christ had the responsibility to tell the children about the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, they passed down the ancient stories from generation to generation, that’s just how it was done, they knew the children needed to learn about God and His faithfulness, love and grace for His people. It was something that was passed on from parents to children over the years. Psalm 78 expresses the importance of teaching the children about God.

In today’s world, it’s sad to see how few children ever get that opportunity to learn about God in such a personal manner if at all. But, our children need to know about God. They too, like the Jewish children of centuries ago, need to learn from us, the older generation, about His love, His faithfulness, and His grace. They need to hear from us about the times He stepped into our lives to protect us and provide for us.

So, talk to your children and grandchildren about God, relate to them how God has worked in your life. Fulfill your responsibility and teach the children of this world about God and all His goodness.

Psalm 86

“Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on Your faithfulness.”  (Psalm 86:11)

Here we are being taught by David that even though he proclaimed his faithfulness to God he still asked Him to teach him His way and to teach him to always rely upon the faithfulness of God and not his own way. It can too often be very easy for us to go on and live our lives doing what we want and thinking that our own ways and instincts are right on target, when in the end our ways and instincts are never on target at all. Proverbs 14:12 warns: “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.” 

Sure, sometimes it may feel right to seek out revenge, to hoard money, chase after pleasurable things, or yell at those who yell at us. But God’s ways are quite different from our own. What He has done is paint a bull’s eye on forgiving those who have hurt us, on giving generously to those in need, on living to please Him instead of ourselves, and on turning the other cheek. We need to be more like David and pray, “Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on Your faithfulness.” Then after that we need to aim to follow His ways in all that we do and say.

We all need help to aim at the right target. Thankfully the bull’s eye is already painted in the brushstrokes of God’s truth revealed through His Word. When we learn to aim our lives at God’s Word, then we’ll discover that His ways are right on target each and every time.

Psalm 91

“I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.'”  (Psalm 91:2)

Psalm 91 talks about a lot of different frightening situations in which any of us would need the assistance of someone much stronger than we are to get through them all. This psalm teaches us that God is our fortress, our stronghold and refuge. Here in this Psalm the psalmist tells about when many troubles assailed him from all around he knew there was only one place to go, only one he could rely on and so he went to the One who was strong and unmovable like a fortress, God. He clung to God for his very survival, because he had learned that whenever trouble created waves in his life, he could always find safety and help from the Lord.

If you find yourself in troubling times and feel like you have nowhere to turn, nowhere to find refuge refer to Psalm 91 and run to Him and cling to Him who is your refuge and fortress, run to the almighty God of the universe, He is the only one to hold onto for life.

Psalm 94

“In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul.”  (Psalm 94:19)

Psalm 94 is one that gives hope to even those who may feel as if their faith is faltering and filled with anxieties but can still find comfort in the arms of God. There’s no doubt that we’ve all passed through times when we were tired of body and sick of heart. Times when we have found it difficult to focus our minds on all those biblical promises. There probably have been times when we’ve even found it difficult to pray. If you have felt that way, don’t write yourself off as some spiritual castaway, because you aren’t and you are in pretty good company of God’s people who experienced the same thing, experienced the dark night of the soul.

Whenever we fall into a situation such as this, feeling as if all hope is gone and your faith seems like it’s failing, all we need to do, all we must do is like still like a child in the arms of our heavenly Father. There are no words needed, He knows, He understands and like any comforting father He doesn’t expect you to make some long drawn out speech of how you are feeling, He totally understands. He knows we need His soothing care. When you are experiencing times of trouble, His mercy will hold you up. You can trust Him to carry you through that dark night of the soul and on into the light of dawn.

 

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