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Psalm 32 April 27, 2019

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Here are my thoughts on Psalm 32.

Summary: In this passage, David asserts that those who have been forgiven by God are “lucky bums.” He then recounts an instance where he:

  • refused to acknowledge his sins to God
  • was weighed down by his obstinacy
  • acknowledged his sins to God.

At that point, God forgave him.

In light of that experience, he prays that all of the people of God would acknowledge their sins to Him – and find refuge in Him. He concludes by asserting that God will guide and protect His people; thus, they should praise Him and be joyful.

Thoughts: In verse 5, David acknowledges his sins to God, and God forgives him. Spurgeon offers some thoughts on this point:

After long lingering, the broken heart bethought itself of what it ought to have done at the first, and laid bare its heart before the Lord…We must confess the guilt as well as the fact of sin. It is useless to conceal it, for it is well known to God; it is beneficial to us to own it, for a full confession softens and humbles the heart.

Whenever I offend someone with my words and/or deeds, I readily confess that sin before God. Yet I struggle to acknowledge my transgression to the one whom I have offended and ask them to forgive me. This may stem from the fact that I detest awkward feelings, which usually arise when I ask for forgiveness (since I seek to conceal my shortcomings). Yet this passage reminds me to take ownership of my sins; moreover, if I fail to ask for forgiveness, then that will damage my relationship with 1) the one whom I offended and 2) God Himself.

Verse 7 forms the basis of “You Are My Hiding Place”. A quick Google search reveals:

  • that this song was written by Michael Ledner
  • posts including this one that provide the context for this song.

I hope to meet Ledner at some point and query him on these points:

  • the context of verse 7 is that David found refuge in God after he confessed his sins to Him; did Ledner consider that context when composing these memorable lyrics?
  • did he consider weaving other sections of this passage into that song?

On a related note, as modern-day believers, we should evaluate verse 7; do we truly seek refuge in God after we sin? How does God “surround [us] with songs of deliverance” after we confess our sins to Him?

Psalm 31 April 26, 2019

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Here are my thoughts on Psalm 31.

Summary: In this passage, David prays that God would save him from his enemies, since he:

  • lives righteously
  • trusts in Him
  • reveres Him.

Now his enemies seek to kill him; although they have not achieved their objective, he has been weakened – physically and emotionally. Thus, he prays that God would punish them and save him.

He then praises God for blessing those who trust in Him and revere Him. He concludes by exhorting the people of God to trust in Him.

Thoughts: In verse 2, David calls on God to save him from his enemies. Spurgeon offers some thoughts on this point:

How very simply does the good man pray, and yet with what weight of meaning! He uses no ornamental flourishes, he is too deeply in earnest to be otherwise than plain; it were well if all who engage in public prayer would observe the same rule.

I am often tempted to use “ornamental flourishes” while praying with others, as I enjoy hearing my own voice on those occasions. Indeed, my sinful nature wants to impress fellow believers, spurring me to present eloquent arguments to God concerning their requests. Now I worry that if I only present simple prayers to God, then I am not honoring their requests. Clearly I need to pray publicly in a manner that glorifies God; how can I make progress in that regard? How can I pray more simply and effectively?

Verses 19 and 20 form the basis of “How Great Is Your Goodness”. A quick Google search reveals that this song was written by Ed Kerr. I hope to meet him at some point and learn how he composed those memorable lyrics. How did this passage inspire him at that time? Since this passage was inspired by David’s struggles with his enemies – who slandered him and even sought to kill him – did Kerr consider that context while composing these lyrics? Did he consider weaving other sections of this passage into that song? On a related note, as modern-day believers, we should evaluate verses 19 and 20; when we are being persecuted for our faith, do we find solace in God’s presence? Or do we bemoan our lot and blame God for enabling our persecutors?

In verse 22, David states that while he was besieged, he believed that God had abandoned him. Spurgeon offers some thoughts on this point:

This was an unworthy speech; but unbelief will have a corner in the heart of the firmest believer, and out of that corner it will vent many spiteful things against the Lord if the course of providence be not quite so smooth as nature might desire. No saint ever was, or ever could be, cut off from before the eyes of God, and yet no doubt many have thought so, and more than one have said so. Forever be such dark suspicions banished from our minds.

Spurgeon’s thoughts are encouraging, as they indicate that I am not alone in doubting God and His goodness in the midst of severe trials. We are reminded that our doubts constitute a human reaction to adverse circumstances. Now the question that we must answer is: will we indulge our doubts, or will we wrestle with them in light of our knowledge of God and His promises? Can we sense that God continues to work – in both large and small ways – while we are in the midst of our trials? Can we draw strength and encouragement from that fact?

Psalm 30 April 21, 2019

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Here are my thoughts on Psalm 30.

Summary: In this passage, David praises God – as He has preserved his life during a severe trial. He recounts his anguish during that trial, stating that he beseeched God to rescue him – as that would grant him more opportunities to praise Him. He exhorts the people of God to praise Him for His eternal favor, and he reaffirms his hymn of divine preservation.

Thoughts: Verses 5, 11 and 12 form the basis of “Mourning Into Dancing”. A quick Google search reveals that this song was written by Tommy Walker. I hope to meet him at some point and learn how he composed those memorable lyrics. How did this passage inspire him at that time? Based on the note that I cited in my post on Psalm 16, it appears that this passage was inspired by God’s deliverance of David from a severe illness; did Walker consider that context while composing these lyrics? Did he consider weaving other sections of this passage into that song? On a related note, as modern-day believers, we should evaluate verses 5, 11 and 12; do we genuinely rejoice in God after a severe trial? During a severe trial, do we maintain our confidence that He will enable us to overcome it in His (good) timing? Will we be able to “praise [Him] forever,” or will we eventually lose our trust in Him?

In verse 9, David argues with God that He should deliver him from death – enabling him to continue praising Him in this life. Spurgeon offers some thoughts on this point:

In this verse we learn the form and method of David’s prayer. It was an argument with God, an urging of reasons, a pleading of his cause. Head and heart, judgment and affections, memory and intellect were all at work to spread the case aright before the Lord of love.

David’s argument raises a challenging question: when is the “right” time for us to depart from this life? Clearly, while we are alive, we have the opportunity to praise Him with our words and deeds. Yet we know that we cannot avoid the grave (unless our death is forestalled by the Second Coming); in light of this fact, when have we offered “sufficient praises” to Him? How does He know when we have fulfilled our calling in this life? Some believers may expire “before their time,” causing us to wonder how they would have honored Him if their lives had not been “cut short.” I would say that while we can identify with David’s argument, we must be prepared for Him to bring us home at any point. That being said, I still wrestle with God’s sovereignty in this matter…

Psalm 29 April 19, 2019

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Here are my thoughts on Psalm 29.

Summary: In this passage, David exhorts those who hear this psalm to proclaim God’s glory and worship Him. He then praises God for exercising His sovereignty over His creation; for example, He works through the thunder to ravage trees and rattle deserts. In light of this, he marvels at the fact that He condescends to bless His people.

Thoughts: Verses 1 and 2 form the basis of “Come and Sing Praises”. A quick Google search reveals that this song was written by Greg Massanari and Morris Chapman. I hope to meet them at some point and learn how they composed those memorable lyrics. How did this passage inspire them at that time? Were they overcome by a sense of the sovereignty – and grandeur – of God? How did they compose the chorus, especially as this passage makes no mention of Jesus? Did they consider weaving other sections of this passage into that song? On a related note, as modern-day believers, we should evaluate verses 1 and 2; do we truly proclaim the glory and strength of God? Do our words – and our deeds – reveal a genuine desire to proclaim His glory to others?

This passage depicts the power of God’s voice, as He uses it to exercise His dominion over His creation. Spurgeon offers some thoughts on this point in his commentary on verse 9:

Those who were worshiping in the temple were led to speak of the greatness of Jehovah as they heard the repeated thunder-claps. The whole world is also a temple for God, and when he rides abroad upon the wings of the wind, all things are vocal in his praise. We too, the redeemed of the Lord, who are living temples for his Spirit, as we see the wonders of his power in creation, and feel them in grace, unite to magnify his name.

While I readily marvel at the wisdom and strength of God when I behold other aspects of His creation, e.g. mountains and tarns, I typically refrain from praising Him in the midst of a thunderstorm. This may stem from the fact that I am frightened by thunderclaps; when I see a flash of lightning, I reflexively brace for the ensuing impact upon my eardrums. Yet this passage reminds me that I must praise Him in the midst of a thunderstorm, as the thunder and the lightning glorify Him. I must ask Him for calmness in those instances, enabling me to be mindful of Him instead of dwelling on my fears.

Psalm 28 April 14, 2019

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Here are my thoughts on Psalm 28.

Summary: In this passage, David beseeches God to:

  • hear his prayer for deliverance – lest he perish
  • punish the wicked.

Indeed, he is confident that God will punish the wicked.

He then praises God – as He has heard his prayer for deliverance. He concludes by praying that God would always deliver His people.

Thoughts: In verse 3, David prays that God would not punish him along with the wicked. Spurgeon offers the following thought on this point:

They will be dragged off to hell like felons of old drawn on a hurdle to Tyburn.

My relatively weak understanding of English history compelled me to Google “Tyburn”; this link showed me that Tyburn was a noisome place. I am fascinated by Spurgeon’s quote (and his previous quote regarding Smithfield), as it compels me to understand the context of this commentary. While “Tyburn” may not impact a modern reader, it would have resonated among those who heard Spurgeon’s sermons on the Psalms. Each Crossway Classic commentary was written in a particular context; as a modern reader, I am spurred to understand that context – and gain a greater appreciation for each commentator in the process. Moreover, I pray that the knowledge that I acquire will spur me on to greater holiness.

Psalm 27 April 13, 2019

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Here are my thoughts on Psalm 27.

Summary: In this passage, David asserts that he is not afraid of his enemies – because God will protect him. He longs to be in the presence of his Protector; he will thank Him with sacrifices and praise songs.

He then prays that God would always:

  • hear his prayers
  • enable him to live righteously – especially as his enemies assert that he is living wickedly.

He concludes by reaffirming his trust in God – and exhorting others to imitate him in that regard.

Thoughts: Verse 4 forms the basis of “One Thing I Ask”. A quick Google search reveals that this song was written by Andy Park. I hope to meet him at some point and learn how he composed those memorable lyrics. How did this passage inspire him at that time? Based on verse 5, it seems that David’s desire to dwell in God’s presence was at least partially motivated by his confidence that He would protect him from his enemies; did Park consider that motive while composing these lyrics? Did he consider weaving other sections of this passage into that song? On a related note, as modern-day believers, we should evaluate verse 4; do we only desire to dwell in God’s presence? Or do we desire the things of this world (and secretly hope that He will not return before our earthly desires are fulfilled)?

In verse 12, David prays that God would not allow his enemies to capture him. Spurgeon offers a thought on this point:

God be thanked that our foes cannot have their way with us, or Smithfield would soon be ablaze again.

My relatively weak understanding of English history compelled me to Google “Smithfield.” After some sleuthing, I found this page, where I learned that many Protestant martyrs were burned at the stake in Smithfield during the reign of Mary I. This sobering fact spurred me to give thanks for my relatively fortunate state, as I live in a First World country that allows for the free exercise of religion. I do not need to fear state-sponsored persecution; in contrast, believers in other nations are in danger of losing their jobs, homes, etc. Thus, I – and other fortunate believers – need to pray for the advancement of God’s kingdom to the point where He reigns over the entire world, succoring our brothers and sisters who are currently suffering for their faith.

Psalm 26 April 13, 2019

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Here are my thoughts on Psalm 26.

Summary: In this passage, David calls on God to vindicate him, as he has lived righteously. Indeed, he has glorified Him – in lieu of living wickedly. Thus, he beseeches God to be merciful to him as He punishes those who live wickedly.

He concludes by reaffirming his righteousness – and his desire to glorify Him.

Thoughts: In verses 4 and 5, David asserts that he has shunned those who live wickedly. Spurgeon offers some thoughts on this point in his commentary on verse 4:

True citizens have no dealings with traitors. We need to see, and speak, and trade with people of the world, but we must on no account take our rest and solace in their empty society. Not only the profane but the vain are to be shunned by us. All those who live for this life only are quite unworthy of a Christian’s friendship.

I am discomfited by Spurgeon’s thoughts. On the one hand, Spurgeon’s point about not finding “rest and solace” in time spent with unbelievers has some merit. Indeed, unbelievers are (by definition) unconcerned with glorifying God and advancing His kingdom, while believers find ultimate satisfaction and fulfillment in striving towards these goals. On the other hand, if believers refrain from building relationships with unbelievers, how will these unbelievers be saved? I anticipate meeting Spurgeon in the next life and probing him on this point, since I make a point of spending time with unbelievers outside of work.

In verses 6 and 7, David asserts that he praises God. Spurgeon offers some thoughts on this point in his commentary on verse 7:

David does not mention the typical offering, but discerns the spiritual offering which was intended by it: to sound the worthy praises of God, which should be the everyday business of a pardoned sinner…And as people find great pleasure in talking about remarkable and astonishing things, so the saints rejoice to tell of the great things which the Lord has done for them.

Spurgeon’s thoughts are relevant today, especially his observation that “people find great pleasure in talking about remarkable and astonishing things.” This reminds believers to encourage each other by recounting how God has blessed them in myriad ways. Indeed, I have found that recounting how God has sustained me – especially in the midst of difficulties – has refreshed others as they struggle to draw closer to Him. I pray that God would continue to enable me to tell of His goodness, glorifying Him in the process.

Psalm 25 April 7, 2019

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Here are my thoughts on Psalm 25.

Summary: In this passage, David places his confidence in God as he confronts his enemies. He calls on Him to disregard his past transgressions and instruct him in leading a righteous life.

He then praises Him for maintaining His covenant relationship with His people, instructing them in leading righteous lives and blessing them (and their posterity). In light of this fact, he calls on Him to deliver him from his enemies. In addition, he implores Him to deliver all Israel from their enemies.

Thoughts: In verse 3, David asserts that those who place their trust in God will never be ashamed of that decision. Spurgeon offers some thoughts on a tangential point:

Suffering enlarges the heart by creating the power to sympathize. If we pray eagerly for ourselves, we shall not long be able to forget our fellow-sufferers. We ought to be grateful for occasional griefs if they preserve us from chronic hardheartedness; for of all afflictions, an unkind heart is the worst. Prayer when it is of the Holy Spirit’s teaching is never selfish; the believer would have everyone in a similar state to partake of divine mercy with him.

Spurgeon’s thoughts resonate with me in light of recent trials. Lately, I have mulled over the experiences of others who endured similar struggles several years ago; how did God grant them the strength to live for Him on a daily basis? I have also been praying for others who are confronting similar difficulties, as my struggles allow me to empathize with them. Indeed, I pray that God would enable them to count their blessings on a daily basis – just as He has allowed me to see Him at work in myriad ways.

In verse 5, David proclaims the constancy of his hope in God. Spurgeon offers some thoughts on this point:

We cheerfully wait when we are certain that we shall not wait in vain. It is our duty and our privilege to wait upon the Lord in service, in worship, in expectancy, in trust all the days of our life. Our faith will be tried, and if it be of the true kind it will bear continued trial without yielding. We shall not grow weary of waiting upon God if we remember how long and how graciously he once waited for us.

Spurgeon’s claim that it is “our privilege to wait upon the Lord” is intriguing. Waiting upon God is often spiritually exhausting, and we are tempted to blame Him for being uncaring and refusing to hear our prayers (especially when we are confident that we are presenting legitimate requests to Him). Are we genuinely joyful when we wait upon Him? Do we believe that waiting upon Him is a blessing – as opposed to an exercise in futility? I sense that I need to meditate upon Spurgeon’s claim…

In verses 12 and 13, David asserts that “those who fear the Lord…will spend their days in prosperity.” I must admit that when I read these verses, I instinctively recoiled at the mention of “prosperity,” as the prosperity gospel has been panned by many believers. While I know that believers should interpret these verses as promises of spiritual – not necessarily material – prosperity for those who truly worship God, I wrestle with the fact that in the Old Testament, God did bestow material blessings on those who worshiped Him (here, I am ignoring His prophets, as many of them suffered throughout their ministries). Since believers in the Old Testament were the primary audience for these verses, did any of them hear this passage and ponder the concept of spiritual prosperity?

Psalm 24 April 6, 2019

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Here are my thoughts on Psalm 24.

Summary: In this passage, David proclaims the sovereignty of God over the world – as He created it. He then declares that only those who live righteously can enter His presence; moreover, He will bless them. He concludes with an anthropomorphism, commanding the gates of Jerusalem to open for God – the victorious King who has defeated His enemies.

Thoughts: Verses 4 and 6 form the basis of “Give Us Clean Hands”. A quick Google search reveals that this song was written by Charlie Hall. I hope to meet him at some point and learn how he composed those memorable lyrics. How did this passage inspire him at that time? How does he interpret verse 4, given that in general, modern-day believers are not tempted to worship actual carved images? How does he interpret verse 6, especially the phrase “seek your face, God of Jacob”? Did he consider weaving other sections of this passage into that song? On a related note, as modern-day believers, we should evaluate verses 4 and 6; do these verses spur us to draw closer to God? How do we seek God’s face today?