April 8 Psalms 7; 27; 31; 34; 52
April 9 Psalms 56; 120; 140-142
April 10 1 Samuel 25-27; Psalms 17, 73
April 11 Psalms 35; 54; 63; 18
April 12 1 Samuel 28-31; 1 Chronicles 10
April 13 Psalms 121; 123-125; 128-130
This week was a week full of Psalms – songs of praise, joy, anguish, fear, defeat, and hope. I find it interesting to have the Psalms interspersed and placed into their historical context.
David is being chased all over the place by Saul, who is determined to kill him. Saul was God’s anointed ruler, but because of his actions, God removed the anointing and placed the mantle on David instead. David was a superior musician, good looking, and an excellent warrior. Saul became jealous of David when the people sang about David’s ten thousands and Saul’s measly thousands. But through all the trials, David knows that God is in control.
The Lord judges the peoples; judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness and according to the integrity that is in me. Psalms 7:8 (ESV)
It’s comforting because it underscores God’s judgment of each person on their own actions. However, it did give me pause. Do I really want God to judge me by my righteousness? As I read this Psalm I was reminded that the time to get serious with God is now.
But David wasn’t just worried about judgment. He was also grateful for what God had done for him. He knew with absolute certainty that God was with him, and because of that knowledge, he could say
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Psalms 27:1 (ESV)
And finally, on Resurrection Morning, as we read Psalm 27, we see a great parallel:
Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God. Psalms 31:5 (ESV)
Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” Luke 23:46 (ESV)
What a beautiful picture of faithfulness to God! David’s cries of anguish, hope and faith to Jesus’ last words. Can you commit today to commit your spirit to God’s hands?
Over and over we see David’s anguish as he is pursued by Saul and his soldiers. David’s response is to announce his trust in God.
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. 4 In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me? Psalms 56:3-4 (ESV)
When you are in trouble – your kids are driving you crazy, your spouse is getting on your nerves, you are afraid of losing your job or your home, what is your first response? Yelling, cursing and acting like the sky is falling – or can you say, like David, “What can flesh do to me?” I plan to memorize these verses to remind me Who is lovingly looking out for me.
In the midst of David’s trouble, we see the story of Nabal (which means fool). This man was very wealthy, but we see that he is also very selfish, churlish, and uncaring. David and his army were hungry and tired. Although they were near Nabal’s fields and pastures, they never took a single thing for themselves. David sent a group of men to ask Nabal for the scraps from their table on feast day, but Nabal refused. I find it interesting that David, the man who wrote beautiful Psalms of trust, decided to take matters into his own hands and attack Nabal. Fortunately, calmer minds prevailed, and Nabal’s wife Abigail was able to appease David and bring him some much needed provisions. Nabal dies 10 days later, and David marries Abigail – and Ahinam. Later, we see the town of Ziklag raided and both David’s wives captured and returned to David.
Meanwhile, David is still being chased by Saul. Although David has opportunity to kill Saul, he refuses to do so because Saul is God’s anointed. After Saul saw that David had opportunity to kill him, but chose not to, an uneasy truce was reached and David left for the Philistine territory. He remained there for 16 months (that’s when Abigail was kidnapped).
After the story of Nabal, we read two contrasting Psalms. In Psalm 17, David proclaims his righteousness and asks for defense from the Lord. In Psalm 73, we see David admit that he nearly stumbled in his dealings with Nabal.
Isn’t it wonderful that God allowed His Word to show a complete picture of humans? It gives me great hope to know that when we stumble, God is there to pick us up, to protect us, and to help us return to the path He has made for us. We can admit our failures to God. He already knows – and He loves us anyway! We can be like David, who said:
When my soul was embittered, when I was pricked in heart, 22 I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast toward you. 23 Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. 24 You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. 25 Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalms 73:21-26 (ESV)
O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. 2 So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. 3 Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. 4 So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands. Psalms 63:1-4 (ESV)
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. Psalms 18:2 (ESV)
And then we have a sad story which underscores God’s command that we don’t dabble in the occult. He calls it an abomination.
There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer 11 or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, 12 for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord. Deut 18:10-12 (ESV)
You shall not permit a sorceress to live. Ex 22:18 (ESV)
Saul has done the right thing. He’s removed the mediums and witches from the land. But when Samuel dies, Saul wants to talk to him one more time. He finds a medium in Endor, convinces her that he won’t put her to death if she helps him, and she conjures up the spirit of Samuel. Saul definitely didn’t want to hear what Samuel had to say! He was told that God would soon fulfill his promise to remove Saul’s kingdom – AND that his sons would die the next day!
Friend, do you dabble in the occult? Do you think it’s okay to read the horoscope – just for fun? At Halloween time do you display “cutesy” pictures of witches, ghosts and skeletons? If you do, please talk to God about it in light of these passages. Don’t risk your eternal soul for a few seconds of worldly fun.
Saul and his sons die on the same day and David takes the reins of the kingdom. We see his response in the final Psalms for this week. My help comes from God (121); God show us favor (123); If the Lord had not been on our side … but He WAS! (124); trust in the Lord (125); Happy are those who fear the Lord (128); They have attacked since my youth, but God is righteous (129); I cried for help! I put my hope in You, faithful and true and Who redeems from sin (130).
The Psalms have some many beautiful and easy to memorize verses. Many, of course, have been turned into songs sung week after week in churches all around the world. I challenge you to memorize one passage from a Psalm this week. Which one will you pick? I’ve picked Psalm 63:1-4.
We’ve come a long way in the last few months. What has blessed you the most? Which parts of Scripture challenged you the most? I’d love to hear from you. Comment away – whether you speak of something I’ve written, or have questions or thoughts that you’d like others to discuss – this blog is for YOU! Leave a comment, or email me privately with a question or prayer request. We can learn more through seeing the Bible through others’ eyes. You may have seen something that I missed. I’d like your input!
We CAN read the Bible in 2012 – together! See you next week.