14 May 2016

Stone 19 - Psalms

Last week we took a look at Job and his suffering. This week we will take a brief look at Psalms.

Some interesting facts... Psalms is the largest book in the Bible complete with 150 chapters. Of those 150 chapters, Psalm 119 is the largest of all individual chapters in the Bible as well with 176 verses. We can also find the smallest chapter of the Bible in Psalms - Psalm 117 has only two verses.

That little bit of fun aside - I want to try and just share some thoughts on portions of this enormous book.

**I have always been amazed at how often the Bible, despite how old it is, shares information that is still very reflective of today in regards to culture and behavior. Psalms, the prayer book full of songs is no different.

**Psalms is divided into five smaller books - due to the large nature of the book, This post will begin with Book 1 and the rest of the books will be added over time.

Book 1 - Psalms 1-41

Psalm 1
Aptly titled 'The Two Ways', we find a very straight-forward message. It is an 'either/or' message. A very black and white message with no grey area. There are two ways to go - the way of the righteous or the way of the wicked. We all fall into one of these categories.

Psalm 2
Such a great question to start the Psalm! "Why do the nations rebel and the peoples plot in vain?" Verse 12 here says his anger may ignite at any moment. This reminds me of Matthew 24:36-44 where we are basically told that we do not know when he will come so be prepared.

Psalm 3
A note here indicates that this is a psalm of David as he fled Absalom. However, when I read this I cannot help but think about the spiritual battle that we fight. I think about how when we accept Christ as our Lord and savior that we instantly increase the number of foes we have. Their focus becomes us and to tear us down. Remain in Him. He is our shield and encouragement (v. 3).

Psalm 4
Trust in the Lord and follow his ways. Find joy and peace through Him.

Psalm 5
Consider now a moment longer, Psalms 3 and 4. Our foes increasing and trusting in the Lord for peace. Psalm 5 offers a powerful example of prayer when we are struggling with the enemy. Pray. Communicate to the Lord who is your refuge and your strength in times of trouble. Common theme. Wise words.

Psalm 6
Here we have more prayer but the focus is on sin. We must recognize this and earnestly seek God to deliver us from that sin. Repent. They say the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. 'Hello, my name is Greg and I am broken and in need of a savior.' Cry out to God that he may give relief from the enemy.

Psalm 7
Continued prayer. God come and fight for me and vindicate me against the wicked. I read verse 16 and think about a common saying about someone digging themselves a hole. Isn't it amazing how much can be found in the Bible?

Psalm 8
I am reminded of an old favorite song with this psalm. Why shouldn't we give credit where credit is due? So low and insignificant are we in light of Him!

Psalm 9
Give thanks to God when He protects you in times of trouble.

Psalm 10
Verse 4 - what a warning for those who view morality as subjective - that right and wrong are relative!

Psalm 11
When the foundations of this world are in ruin, we can still have strong footing in the Lord!

Psalm 12
In the end, we can find safety from our oppressors through the Lord!

Psalm 13
Even when it seems that God is distant or not listening and the enemy appears to be winning, we can still have trust that He will answer and be there on His timing - not ours.

Psalm 14
This would seem to describe the non-believer. The imagery seems to appear harsh but we often view everything we do in light of the world and what our culture says is right and good rather than viewing what we do and say in light of what God says is right and good. To be clear - we are all sinners - even the believers. Hopefully, those who believe are striving to do what is right in the eyes of the Lord.

Psalm 15
A contrast to Psalm 14 - this describes the godly person.

Psalm 16
This is a declaration of confidence in the Lord. Verse 4 is clear that those who worship other gods simply ask for more trouble.

Psalm 17
Another call out to God for protection when faced with enemies. In the time of David this may very well have meant for protection and deliverance from foreign armies. This does not mean that it cannot apply to us today though our enemies may be different in nature.

Psalm 18
I had actually thought of another song that is a bit more current when reading this psalm - mostly because of verse 7 but later because of the deliverance that Jesus provided for us paralleled witht he deliverance of the Lord in the psalm as a whole. Praise his name!

Psalm 19
Verse 12 - Wow! Do we not always think that we know so much? That we are soooo smart? Reveal to us, Oh Lord, the wicked ways of our hearts that we may seek cleansing in your name. God has revealed himself to us through His creation. We have but to respond in some way - recall that Psalm 1 informs that there are only two ways to choose.

Psalm 20
A prayer of deliverance in battle.

Psalm 21
A song of praise for the victory with the Lord's help.

Psalm 22
An amazing parallel to Christ and his work on the cross.

Psalm 23
Probably one of the more well known Psalms. It is a message of contentment in the presence of the Lord. He protects and provides.

Psalm 24
He is the Lord of all! Open up and let Him in!

Psalm 25
Seek the Lord in times of trouble. Repent and seek deliverance in the One who is able to provide it.

Psalm 26
A call for protection. Verse 2 is calling here. We should continually seek to know the faults of our hearts that they might be cleansed. While the author appears to think that he is faithful, he asks that his heart and mind be tested.

Psalm 27
Seek God when you are afraid. Be patient and wait on his timing.

Psalm 28
God knows our hearts. Verse 3 provides a cautionary tale in a way. It calls them wicked and evildoers to be one way on the outside and another on the inside. You cannot escape - God knows the heart. Reveal to us, Lord, the evil of our hearts.

Psalm 29
Recognition of the power of the Lord.

Psalm 30
I thought of this song as I read this psalm. Give it all to God! The trials and persecutions of this life are fleeting - there is hope in the Lord!

Psalm 31
Protect us, God - we trust in you! Stress will come. Be prepared.

Psalm 32
The Lord offers forgiveness of sins. We need only to confess them to him and repent. Follow his commands and endeavor to be like Christ.

Psalm 33
Acknowledgement of the Creator.

Psalm 34
Verse 19 informs us that following the Lord is not all smooth sailing. It was never promised that the road would be an easy one to walk. It is, however, a worthwhile road to travel in the end.

Psalm 35
Verse 20 - Deceit runs rampant still to this day - does it not? Seek God for victory in these circumstances.

Psalm 36
Sin is subtle. So much so that we are often deceived to the point of being unable to recognize our own sin and even go to such lengths and to seek it out and plan it. But, Oh Lord, Your love is good!

Psalm 37
Words of wisdom and a call to righteousness. Turn from evil and do what is right in the eyes of the Lord. How many times have we heard this now? Must be important! Listen up!

Psalm 38
Recognition of one's own sin and a plea for mercy and help.

Psalm 39
You have often heard the phrase "You only live once!". In our culture this is generally meant to mean that we ought to then live for the moment and to have fun and be happy. Let me start by saying that having fun or being happy are not bad things in and of themselves. It is the disregard and reckless abandon of all that is good in pursuit of that which might create a fleeting moment of happiness.

I would encourage a different idea here. "You only live once! Live it for the Lord!" You only have one chance to live this life right. Instead of seeking the pleasure of the moment seek the Joy of eternal. As G.K. Chesterton penned - "There are many ways to fall down, but only one way to stand up straight."

Our lives are but a blip on the timeline of eternity - Make it count - not for the blip - but for eternity.

Psalm 40
Again, following God was never promised to be an easy task. We will undoubtedly enconter problems and trials. We must cry out and trust in God's timing. Another song came to mind while reading this one.

Psalm 41
This last psalm in the first of the five books touches on betrayal. Even those of this world in whom we trust may betray us. God, however, is worthy of our trust and will not forsake us.

**One more song to wrap up this section based on Psalm 18.3

Next week we will look at Proverbs and the wisdom found within. I will continue to add to this entry over the next several weeks to finish up Psalms. Be sure to check back.

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