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Psalm 15 February 23, 2019

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Here are my thoughts on Psalm 15.

Summary: In this passage, David poses the following question: who can enter the presence of God? The answer is: those whose words and deeds reflect their desire to seek the best interests of others.

Thoughts: Here, David asserts that righteousness is a salient feature of the presence of God. After strolling through this psalm, I pondered the following thought: believers often struggle to maintain their integrity. For example, assume that in a meeting at work, colleague A unfairly disparages colleague B who is not present; should you avoid defending colleague B at that time, especially if you are conflict-averse? Also, assume that you are preparing a presentation at work, and you discover that a bug in your simulation invalidates your main result; should you pretend that your main result is still valid? I must admit that I have fallen short in similar situations, and I need His grace to honor Him even when I must pay a steep price.

Psalm 14 February 17, 2019

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Here are my thoughts on Psalm 14.

Summary: In this passage, David asserts that humans are inherently wicked. For example, the enemies of Israel reject God and attempt to destroy His people. Yet David is confident that God will foil their plans and save His people.

Thoughts: In verse 1, David refers to those who deny the existence of God as fools. Spurgeon offers some thoughts on this point:

To say there is no God is to belie the plainest evidence, which is obstinacy; to oppose the common consent of mankind, which is stupidity; to stifle consciousness, which is madness.

I disagree with Spurgeon’s opinion that it is “obstinacy” to reject “the plainest evidence.” In general, we are aware of the existence of the universe. We are then called to answer the following question: what is the ultimate cause of the existence of the universe? Careful thought will reveal that there are multiple viable answers to this query, leading to the next question: what is the most likely cause of the existence of the universe? I believe that God is the answer to that query. Others, including atheists, would provide different answers to that query; I conjecture that their inferences from the available evidence are incorrect, but I would not assert that they are being obstinate – since I cannot prove (using human methods) that my inference is correct. Perhaps this is the essence of faith; while we cannot prove that the universe is caused by God, something intangible in our hearts prevents us from rejecting that inference…

Psalm 13 February 10, 2019

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Here are my thoughts on Psalm 13.

Summary: In this passage, David laments God’s apparent unconcern about his struggles. He prays that He would deliver him from his current predicament – lest his enemies extol his demise. He then reaffirms his trust in God – in light of His blessings.

Thoughts: In verse 1, David assumes that God has abandoned him. Spurgeon offers some thoughts on this point:

Ah, David, how like a fool you talk! Can God forget his own beloved child? Let us drive away the thought, and hear the word of our covenant God by the mouth of the prophet (Isaiah 49:14-16).

While I agree with Spurgeon’s assertion that God never forgets His children, I think that he is being somewhat uncharitable to David in this instance. When believers are confronted with severe trials, they naturally respond by wrestling with feelings of fear and doubt. While these feelings may be irrational in light of Scripture (e.g. “he will never leave you nor forsake you,” as noted in Deuteronomy 31:6), we are necessarily subject to them in this life. Thus, instead of regarding David as a “fool” in this instance, I empathize with him, knowing that even great faith cannot banish earthly thoughts from our earthly minds. The challenge for us, as believers, is this: how should we respond to these earthly thoughts?

Psalm 12 February 10, 2019

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Here are my thoughts on Psalm 12.

Summary: In this passage, David implores God to punish those who use their words to oppress others. Although these oppressors are convinced of God’s inability to punish them, David declares that God will punish them – while vindicating those whom they oppress.

Thoughts: This psalm concludes on a relatively somber note, where David comments on the arrogance of those who oppose God. I believe that the psalms that precede this one have all concluded on relatively pleasant notes, where the psalmists praise God and affirm their confidence in Him. Was David feeling particularly burdened when he wrote this psalm? If so, did his feelings compel him to conclude this psalm on this somber note? Perhaps this somber note actually highlights the eternal relevance of the Psalms. Believers throughout the ages have experienced dry spells in their relationship with God, where feelings of doubt and frustration are not readily dismissed.

Psalm 11 February 8, 2019

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Here are my thoughts on Psalm 11.

Summary: In this passage, David rebukes those who advise him to flee from his enemies. In particular, he asserts that:

  • God is acutely aware of the wicked deeds of his enemies
  • He has resolved to punish them for these wicked deeds
  • He has resolved to bless him – and all others whom He regards as being righteous.

Thoughts: Here, David declares his confidence in God even while his enemies plot against him. This psalm, then, furnishes another example of David’s fundamental trust in God. Now we know from 1 and 2 Samuel that God consistently punished David’s enemies (whether foreign or domestic). Thus, I wonder: were any psalms composed by people of faith who maintained their trust in God even if He did not deliver them from their trials? If so, it could be argued that those psalms would be more compelling testimonies than those composed by David. On a related note, since God does not always deliver us from our trials in this life, we need even greater faith than that of David in order to trust Him in the midst of hardships.

Psalm 10 February 7, 2019

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Here are my thoughts on Psalm 10.

Summary: In this passage, David begins by wrestling with God over His seeming aloofness. He then levels the charges of pride and cruelty against the wicked man, presenting evidence to support his claims. This spurs him to beseech God to render His judgment on the wicked man. He concludes by declaring his confidence in God as the One who:

  • judges the wicked man
  • delivers those whom the wicked man oppresses.

Thoughts: In verse 1, David struggles with God’s apparent absence in the midst of his trials. Spurgeon offers some insights on this point:

Should the parent comfort his child while he is correcting him? It is only felt affliction that can become blest affliction. If we were carried in the arms of God over every stream, where would be the trial, and where the experience, which trouble is meant to teach us?

I still struggle in this regard, as I constantly wrestle with God – and my inability to sense His presence – during my trials. Indeed, the concept of a trial as “pure joy” (as noted in James 1:2) fails to resonate with me. Instead, I find trials to be stressful and painful. Lately, though, I sense that God has been enabling me to make progress in this regard in two ways. First, I have begun to mull over the following idea: it is natural for believers (as humans) to worry. If David, a man of great faith, wrestled with God’s apparent absence in the midst of his trials, why should I expect to sense God’s presence throughout my trials? Second, I have begun to “count my blessings” on a daily basis – even in the midst of trials. I have found that this exercise has been somewhat helpful in terms of maintaining my fundamental trust in God; indeed, God may be using feelings of thankfulness as a means of sustaining me in the midst of my trials.

In this passage, the wicked man is confident that God will not judge him for his pride and cruelty. Spurgeon offers some thoughts on this point in his commentary on verse 6:

The man thinks himself immutable, and omnipotent too, for he is never to be in adversity. But let us remember that this man’s house is built upon the sand, upon a foundation no more substantial than the rolling waves of the sea. Be humble, for you are mortal, and your lot is mutable.

As modern-day believers, we are keenly aware of oppression throughout the world. Oppressors constantly harm others, causing believers to infer that God will not punish them for their deeds. We wrestle with God, asking, “do you feel the pain of the oppressed? Why do you fail to punish their oppressors?” We believe that God is just, omniscient and omnipotent; thus, we fail to reconcile these truths with His apparent inaction regarding oppression. Moreover, we may even begin to doubt these truths. We know that He calls us to trust in His timing in this regard – yet the ubiquity of evil and suffering challenges our faith on a daily basis.