Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Reflections on Psalms 108

 Psalms 108(Contemporary English Version)
  1. (A song and a psalm by David.) Our God, I am faithful to you with all my heart, and you can trust me. I will sing and play music for you with all that I am.
  2. I will start playing my harps before the sun rises.
  3. I will praise you, LORD, for everyone to hear; I will sing hymns to you in every nation.
  4. Your love reaches higher than the heavens, and your loyalty extends beyond the clouds.
  5. Our God, may you be honored above the heavens; may your glory be seen everywhere on earth.
  6. Answer my prayers and use your powerful arm to give us victory. Then the people you love will be safe.
  7. Our God, from your holy place you made this promise: "I will gladly divide up the city of Shechem and give away Succoth Valley piece by piece.
  8. The lands of Gilead and Manasseh are mine. Ephraim is my war helmet, and Judah is my symbol of royal power.
  9. Moab is merely my washbasin, and Edom belongs to me. I shout with victory over the Philistines."
  10. Our God, who will bring me to the fortress or lead me to Edom?
  11. Have you rejected us? You don't lead our armies.
  12. Help us defeat our enemies! No one else can rescue us.
  13. You are the one who gives us victory and crushes our enemies.

Whatever the occasion for the use of Psalms 108, it must have been similar to two other occasions when David wrote Psalms 57 and Psalms 60. No doubt David's thoughts in this psalm reflected his thoughts on many other occasions. They also reflect my own thoughts on a number of occasions.

David had experienced God's intervention and deliverance on a number of occasions previous to this psalm and opened the psalm with praise to God for His faithful love and power to save. In his praise he wanted to greet the dawn with the playing of his harp and lyre and sing praises before the peoples of Israel as well as the peoples of other nations. David was not ashamed to give praise to the Lord.

He felt at this time, though, that God was withholding Himself from Israel's armies when they went out to battle. God was not helping them, and left to their own resources they were not being victorious over their enemies. It led David to ask, "Have You not rejected us, God?" (108:11) David may have wondered that out of all the previous times God had helped Israel be victorious had He now chosen to reject her and leave her on her own against the enemy? This, at least, seems to be the nugget of doubt that was troubling David.

In David's times of worship in the sanctuary he had heard God speak of His sovereignty over all the nations. He accepted God's sovereignty over his present situation and petitioned God to come to Israel's aid against the foe for without God they were helpless. On their own, they were worthless, but with God's help they could perform valiantly.

If David's thoughts were similar to mine on such an occasion when the odds seemed to be stacking up against me, he had faith that God would deliver Israel from her enemy, but the longer God withheld His help doubt began to raise its head. He didn't want to give in to the doubt, he just wanted God to hurry up and give them victory. I am convinced that God purposely withholds His help for a period and let's us wait on Him so our faith will grow. Little faith is required if God always shows up on time. At least on time according to our timetable. Stronger faith is necessary, however, when we have to wait on Him to act according to His timetable. Not only does it require greater faith on our part, it provides a greater demonstration of God's intervention.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Reflections on Psalms 107

 Psalms 107(Contemporary English Version)
  1. Shout praises to the LORD! He is good to us, and his love never fails.
  2. Everyone the LORD has rescued from trouble should praise him,
  3. everyone he has brought from the east and the west, the north and the south.
  4. Some of you were lost in the scorching desert, far from a town.
  5. You were hungry and thirsty and about to give up.
  6. You were in serious trouble, but you prayed to the LORD, and he rescued you.
  7. Right away he brought you to a town.
  8. You should praise the LORD for his love and for the wonderful things he does for all of us.
  9. To everyone who is thirsty, he gives something to drink; to everyone who is hungry, he gives good things to eat.
  10. Some of you were prisoners suffering in deepest darkness and bound by chains,
  11. because you had rebelled against God Most High and refused his advice.
  12. You were worn out from working like slaves, and no one came to help.
  13. You were in serious trouble, but you prayed to the LORD, and he rescued you.
  14. He brought you out of the deepest darkness and broke your chains.
  15. You should praise the LORD for his love and for the wonderful things he does for all of us.
  16. He breaks down bronze gates and shatters iron locks.
  17. Some of you had foolishly committed a lot of sins and were in terrible pain.
  18. The very thought of food was disgusting to you, and you were almost dead.
  19. You were in serious trouble, but you prayed to the LORD, and he rescued you.
  20. By the power of his own word, he healed you and saved you from destruction.
  21. You should praise the LORD for his love and for the wonderful things he does for all of us.
  22. You should celebrate by offering sacrifices and singing joyful songs to tell what he has done.
  23. Some of you made a living by sailing the mighty sea,
  24. and you saw the miracles the LORD performed there.
  25. At his command a storm arose, and waves covered the sea.
  26. You were tossed to the sky and to the ocean depths, until things looked so bad that you lost your courage.
  27. You staggered like drunkards and gave up all hope.
  28. You were in serious trouble, but you prayed to the LORD, and he rescued you.
  29. He made the storm stop and the sea be quiet.
  30. You were happy because of this, and he brought you to the port where you wanted to go.
  31. You should praise the LORD for his love and for the wonderful things he does for all of us.
  32. Honor the LORD when you and your leaders meet to worship.
  33. If you start doing wrong, the LORD will turn rivers into deserts,
  34. flowing streams into scorched land, and fruitful fields into beds of salt.
  35. But the LORD can also turn deserts into lakes and scorched land into flowing streams.
  36. If you are hungry, you can settle there and build a town.
  37. You can plant fields and vineyards that produce a good harvest.
  38. The LORD will bless you with many children and with herds of cattle.
  39. Sometimes you may be crushed by troubles and sorrows, until only a few of you are left to survive.
  40. But the LORD will take revenge on those who conquer you, and he will make them wander across desert sands.
  41. When you are suffering and in need, he will come to your rescue, and your families will grow as fast as a herd of sheep.
  42. You will see this because you obey the LORD, but everyone who is wicked will be silenced.
  43. Be wise! Remember this and think about the kindness of the LORD.

The psalmist calls for the redeemed of the Lord to give Him thanks for His goodness and His love that endures forever. The redemption to which the writer refers is both physical and spiritual. He gives four examples, and in each the subjects were in peril because of their sin of rebellion against God. They eventually came to their senses and called out to the Lord for help and He delivered them from the peril. Spiritual redemption, repentance of sin and restoration of fellowship with the Lord, led to their physical redemption, deliverance from the peril.

In the first example people were lost in the desert unable to find their way to a city where there was food and water. When their "spirits failed within them," they "cried out to the Lord," and "He rescued them from their distress." (107:5, 6) They should "give thanks to the LORD for His faithful love and His wonderful works." (107:8)

The next example is of those who were held prisoner because "they rebelled against God's commands and despised the counsel of the Most High." (107:11) Through hard labor their spirits were broken and they cried out to the Lord and He saved them. They, too, should "give thanks to the LORD for His faithful love and His wonderful works." (107:15)

A third example is of those who became ill because "of their rebellious ways and their sins." (107:17) The writer calls them fools. But when they "came near the gates of death" (107:18) they gained wisdom and cried out to the Lord. They joined those who should "give thanks to the LORD for His faithful love and His wonderful works." (107:21)

In the fourth example of those redeemed by the Lord, God's power was demonstrated both in bringing the peril upon them and in delivering them from it. Though their sin is not mentioned as the cause of this, the psalm implies that all of the examples follow this pattern of peril brought on by sin and deliverance or redemption given because of repentance. In this case, men were at sea shipping their goods and the Lord "spoke and raised a tempest that stirred up the waves of the sea." (107:25) The swells were so high it seemed the ship was raised to the sky. When each swell was past it was as if the ship sank "down to the depths." With each rise and fall "their courage melt(ed) away in anguish." They, too, cried out to the Lord and He brought them out of their distress by stilling the storm "to a murmur." The Lord controlled the elements both causing and stopping the storm. These sailors should also, "give thanks to the LORD for His faithful love and His wonderful works for the human race." (107:31)

The last section let's us know these examples are small in comparison to God's vast provisions for His people. In fact, there is nothing that we have in life that is not a provision of the Lord. From the provision of water and fruitful crops to deliverance from oppression. Those who are wise "pay attention" (107:43) to these things and consider that they come from the Lord. In so doing they will continue to receive His provisions. However, those who do not pay attention and do not see the Lord as their provider will forever wander in a desert wasteland.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Reflections on Psalms 106

 Psalms 106(Contemporary English Version)
  1. We will celebrate and praise you, LORD! You are good to us, and your love never fails.
  2. No one can praise you enough for all of the mighty things you have done.
  3. You bless those people who are honest and fair in everything they do.
  4. Remember me, LORD, when you show kindness by saving your people.
  5. Let me prosper with the rest of your chosen ones, as they celebrate with pride because they belong to you.
  6. We and our ancestors have sinned terribly.
  7. When they were in Egypt, they paid no attention to your marvelous deeds or your wonderful love. And they turned against you at the Red Sea.
  8. But you were true to your name, and you rescued them to prove how mighty you are.
  9. You said to the Red Sea, "Dry up!" Then you led your people across on land as dry as a desert.
  10. You saved all of them
  11. and drowned every one of their enemies.
  12. Then your people trusted you and sang your praises.
  13. But they soon forgot what you had done and rejected your advice.
  14. They became greedy for food and tested you there in the desert.
  15. So you gave them what they wanted, but later you destroyed them with a horrible disease.
  16. Everyone in camp was jealous of Moses and of Aaron, your chosen priest.
  17. Dathan and Abiram rebelled, and the earth opened up and swallowed them.
  18. Then fire broke out and destroyed all of their followers.
  19. At Horeb your people made and worshiped the statue
  20. of a bull, instead of you, their glorious God.
  21. You worked powerful miracles to save them from Egypt, but they forgot about you
  22. and the fearsome things you did at the Red Sea.
  23. You were angry and started to destroy them, but Moses, your chosen leader, begged you not to do it.
  24. They would not trust you, LORD, and they did not like the promised land.
  25. They would not obey you, and they grumbled in their tents.
  26. So you threatened them by saying, "I'll kill you out here in the desert!
  27. I'll scatter your children everywhere in the world."
  28. Your people became followers of a god named Baal Peor, and they ate sacrifices offered to the dead.
  29. They did such terrible things that you punished them with a deadly disease.
  30. But Phinehas helped them, and the sickness stopped.
  31. Now he will always be highly honored.
  32. At Meribah Spring they turned against you and made you furious.
  33. Then Moses got into trouble for speaking in anger.
  34. Our LORD, they disobeyed you by refusing to destroy the nations.
  35. Instead they were friendly with those foreigners and followed their customs.
  36. Then they fell into the trap of worshiping idols.
  37. They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to demons
  38. and to the gods of Canaan. Then they poured out the blood of these innocent children and made the land filthy.
  39. By doing such gruesome things, they also became filthy.
  40. Finally, LORD, you were angry and terribly disgusted with your people.
  41. So you put them in the power of nations that hated them.
  42. They were mistreated and abused by their enemies,
  43. but you saved them time after time. They were determined to rebel, and their sins caused their downfall.
  44. You answered their prayers when they were in trouble.
  45. You kept your agreement and were so merciful
  46. that their enemies had pity on them.
  47. Save us, LORD God! Bring us back from among the nations. Let us celebrate and shout in praise of your holy name.
  48. LORD God of Israel, you deserve to be praised forever and ever. Let everyone say, "Amen! Shout praises to the LORD!"

Psalms 106 is a confession of sin on behalf of Israel. Contrasted with Israel's sin is God's faithful love and mercy. The psalmist stated that God's "faithful love endures forever." (106:1) He then demonstrated this truth by recounting Israel's continuous cycle of rebellion starting at the Red Sea with her deliverance from Egypt. Throughout all of these cyles of rebellion, God's faithful love shown bright as He delivered them each time they repented. These cycles of rebellion continued through Israel's desert wanderings and into the land of Promise after God gave them victory over the inhabitants to gain possession of the land. Time after time they turned their backs on God and turned to sinful practices and even to other gods.

During their desert wanderings God used calamities such as plagues or poisonous snakes for punishment, but once they had possession of the promised land He often used oppression by their enemies as punishment. The ultimate punishment, though, was banishment from the land. Verse 47 suggests this was the case at the time this psalm was written. It is possible, even, that it was written during their Babylonian captivity. This ultimate punishment suggests that God's faithful love has limits, though this is not to say it runs out altogether. As the psalm says in verse 1, "His faithful love endures forever," and this was true with Israel. It finally hit a limit and Israel was banished from the land, but even then, God's faithful love did not stop. He allowed this banishment to go on long enough to get Israel's full attention, and the people never forgot it.

God finally returned Israel to the land, but they were never again to enjoy the prosperity they had once known. By this time it had also become clear that man could not keep the law or be faithful to God by his own efforts. Regulations and rituals are powerless to save man. And man is powerless to observe them perfectly. So by the time God returned Israel to her land He began to set the stage for the next phase of His plan for mankind, the provision of a savior - the Messiah. Thus demonstrating that His faithful love does indeed endure forever.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Reflections on Psalms 105

 Psalms 105(Contemporary English Version)
  1. Praise the LORD and pray in his name! Tell everyone what he has done.
  2. Sing praises to the LORD! Tell about his miracles.
  3. Celebrate and worship his holy name with all your heart.
  4. Trust the LORD and his mighty power.
  5. Remember his miracles and all his wonders and his fair decisions.
  6. You belong to the family of Abraham, his servant; you are his chosen ones, the descendants of Jacob.
  7. The LORD is our God, bringing justice everywhere on earth.
  8. He will never forget his agreement or his promises, not in thousands of years. *
  9. God made an eternal promise
  10. to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,
  11. when he said, "I'll give you the land of Canaan."
  12. At the time there were only a few of us, and we were homeless.
  13. We wandered from nation to nation, from one country to another.
  14. God did not let anyone mistreat our people. Instead he protected us by punishing rulers
  15. and telling them, "Don't touch my chosen leaders or harm my prophets!"
  16. God kept crops from growing until food was scarce everywhere in the land.
  17. But he had already sent Joseph, sold as a slave into Egypt,
  18. with chains of iron around his legs and neck.
  19. Joseph remained a slave until his own words had come true, and the LORD had finished testing him.
  20. Then the king of Egypt set Joseph free
  21. and put him in charge of everything he owned.
  22. Joseph was in command of the officials, and he taught the leaders how to use wisdom.
  23. Jacob and his family came and settled in Egypt as foreigners.
  24. They were the LORD's people, so he let them grow stronger than their enemies.
  25. They served the LORD, and he made the Egyptians plan hateful things against them.
  26. God sent his servant Moses. He also chose and sent Aaron
  27. to his people in Egypt, and they worked miracles and wonders there.
  28. Moses and Aaron obeyed God, and he sent darkness to cover Egypt.
  29. God turned their rivers into streams of blood, and the fish all died.
  30. Frogs were everywhere, even in the royal palace.
  31. When God gave the command, flies and gnats swarmed all around.
  32. In place of rain, God sent hailstones and flashes of lightning.
  33. He destroyed their grapevines and their fig trees, and he made splinters of all the other trees.
  34. God gave the command, and more grasshoppers came than could be counted.
  35. They ate every green plant and all the crops that grew in the land of Egypt.
  36. Then God took the life of every first-born son.
  37. When God led Israel from Egypt, they took silver and gold, and no one was left behind.
  38. The Egyptians were afraid and gladly let them go.
  39. God hid them under a cloud and guided them by fire during the night.
  40. When they asked for food, he sent more birds than they could eat.
  41. God even split open a rock, and streams of water gushed into the desert.
  42. God never forgot his sacred promise to his servant Abraham.
  43. When the Lord rescued his chosen people from Egypt, they celebrated with songs.
  44. The Lord gave them the land and everything else the nations had worked for.
  45. He did this so that his people would obey all of his laws. Shout praises to the LORD!

Those who seek the Lord have reason to rejoice. Why? Because He remembers His promises to those who seek Him. The fulfillment of His promises are accompanied with wonderful works that demonstrate His power to accomplish anything on behalf of His people. He has redirected the course of nations and nature on behalf of His people.

The writer of this psalm was addressing Israel and his example of God's faithfulness to His promises was the common recounting of God leading Abraham and his offspring throughout the fulfillment of His promise of a land and a special relationship. Does that mean, then, that this is not relevant for non-Jews? Not at all, for their history is also the history of the Christian and the fulfillment of God's promises to them a fulfillment for us. Especially God's fulfillment of His promise of a Messiah who is our Savior. So all who seek God can read this psalm with the hope that the God who fulfilled His promises to Abraham will also fulfill His promises to us, for "He is the LORD our God; His judgments govern the whole earth." (105:7)

Beginning with verse 8, read through the recounting of God's fulfillment of His covenant with Abraham and reflect on its meaning to you personally. God made a covenant with Abraham that promised certain things to Abraham on the condition that he continue to follow God. The verses of this psalm describe how God's promise grew and grew until a large nation of Abraham's descendents had possession of the land God promised to Abraham. The path leading to this fulfillment had many twists and turns in it, often appearing that it had gotten off-course completely. But each twist and turn was actually a means of putting in place another necessary piece in the accomplishment of the promise. But we must not lose sight of the fact that this promise to Abraham was not just for him and his descendents, but that all people might know of God and His greatness and might also follow Him. Likewise, His promises to each of us of Abundant life in Christ, are not just for our benefit, but for the benefit of others. And He is faithful to fulfill these promises.

The psalmist concluded that, "All this happened so that they might keep His statutes and obey His laws. Hallelujah!" (105:45) And so it is with us. Keeping God's statutes and obeying His laws are not merely a condition for the fulfillment of His promises, they are also the means. For He can only do for us what we will allow Him to do by opening our lives to follow where His promise leads.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Reflections on Psalms 104

 Psalms 104(Contemporary English Version)
  1. I praise you, LORD God, with all my heart. You are glorious and majestic, dressed in royal robes
  2. and surrounded by light. You spread out the sky like a tent,
  3. and you built your home over the mighty ocean. The clouds are your chariot with the wind as its wings.
  4. The winds are your messengers, and flames of fire are your servants.
  5. You built foundations for the earth, and it will never be shaken.
  6. You covered the earth with the ocean that rose above the mountains.
  7. Then your voice thundered! And the water flowed
  8. down the mountains and through the valleys to the place you prepared.
  9. Now you have set boundaries, so that the water will never flood the earth again.
  10. You provide streams of water in the hills and valleys,
  11. so that the donkeys and other wild animals can satisfy their thirst.
  12. Birds build their nests nearby and sing in the trees.
  13. From your home above you send rain on the hills and water the earth.
  14. You let the earth produce grass for cattle, plants for our food,
  15. wine to cheer us up, olive oil for our skin, and grain for our health.
  16. Our LORD, your trees always have water, and so do the cedars you planted in Lebanon.
  17. Birds nest in those trees, and storks make their home in the fir trees.
  18. Wild goats find a home in the tall mountains, and small animals can hide between the rocks.
  19. You created the moon to tell us the seasons. The sun knows when to set,
  20. and you made the darkness, so the animals in the forest could come out at night.
  21. Lions roar as they hunt for the food you provide.
  22. But when morning comes, they return to their dens,
  23. then we go out to work until the end of day.
  24. Our LORD, by your wisdom you made so many things; the whole earth is covered with your living creatures.
  25. But what about the ocean so big and wide? It is alive with creatures, large and small.
  26. And there are the ships, as well as Leviathan, the monster you created to splash in the sea.
  27. All of these depend on you to provide them with food,
  28. and you feed each one with your own hand, until they are full.
  29. But when you turn away, they are terrified; when you end their life, they die and rot.
  30. You created all of them by your Spirit, and you give new life to the earth.
  31. Our LORD, we pray that your glory will last forever and that you will be pleased with what you have done.
  32. You look at the earth, and it trembles. You touch the mountains, and smoke goes up.
  33. As long as I live, I will sing and praise you, the LORD God.
  34. I hope my thoughts will please you, because you are the one who makes me glad.
  35. Destroy all wicked sinners from the earth once and for all. With all my heart I praise you, LORD! I praise you!

Though the writer of Psalms 104 is not identified, the psalm begins as did Psalms 103, "My soul, praise the Lord!" Following this opening statement of praise the writer proclaims that God is great which is based on His role as Creator. The psalms then proceeds to detail God's acts of creating and sustaining all that exists.
God is described as being clothed in the majesty and splendor of His creation. He is wrapped in light as a robe under the spreading canopy of the sky. His palace is established on the waters that are above, making the "clouds His chariot" and walking on the "wings of the wind." The winds are His messengers and flames of fire His servants. In establishing the earth on its foundations He made it to last forever - "it will never be shaken." Whatever is to happen to the earth, it will not be destroyed.

Following this description of God's majesty, we are given select details of His acts of creation. First, He brought order to the waters that covered the earth and they receded to their appointed places making visible the mountains and valleys. In doing this, God set boundaries for the waters that cannot be crossed allowing the waters to again cover the earth. Water plays a prominent role in creation. It must be subdued to allow for other life to emerge, and then it must be made to flow by way of springs and rivers to sustain the forms of life that cover the earth including vegetation that feeds the livestock, crops that produce food for man, and trees that provide nesting places for the birds. The high mountains provide a home for goats, and the cliffs a refuge for hyraxes.

Beyond the earth are the moon and sun that provide light and darkness, marking the seasons and establishing a time frame for man and animals. The forest animals use the darkness of night while man uses the light of day. Then there is the sea which is "vast and wide" which God has filled with creatures beyond number. All of it is dependent on God to provide food at the right time. God holds the key to life and death for all these creatures. In fact, for all of creation. God's acts of creation did not end when man was made, but continues throughout time as He renews life everyday, over and over again.

The thought of all this should cause man to "sing praise to the Lord" throughout his lifetime. We should be continually awed by God's greatness. Nothing has escaped His consideration. He has provided for every need. He is never caught by surprise. "My soul, praise the Lord! Hallelujah!"

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Reflections on Psalms 103

 Psalms 103(Contemporary English Version)
  1. (By David.) With all my heart I praise the LORD, and with all that I am I praise his holy name!
  2. With all my heart I praise the LORD! I will never forget how kind he has been.
  3. The LORD forgives our sins, heals us when we are sick,
  4. and protects us from death. His kindness and love are a crown on our heads.
  5. Each day that we live, he provides for our needs and gives us the strength of a young eagle.
  6. For all who are mistreated, the LORD brings justice.
  7. He taught his Law to Moses and showed all Israel what he could do.
  8. The LORD is merciful! He is kind and patient, and his love never fails.
  9. The LORD won't always be angry and point out our sins;
  10. he doesn't punish us as our sins deserve.
  11. How great is God's love for all who worship him? Greater than the distance between heaven and earth!
  12. How far has the LORD taken our sins from us? Farther than the distance from east to west!
  13. Just as parents are kind to their children, the LORD is kind to all who worship him,
  14. because he knows we are made of dust.
  15. We humans are like grass or wild flowers that quickly bloom.
  16. But a scorching wind blows, and they quickly wither to be forever forgotten.
  17. The LORD is always kind to those who worship him, and he keeps his promises to their descendants
  18. who faithfully obey him.
  19. God has set up his kingdom in heaven, and he rules the whole creation.
  20. All of you mighty angels, who obey God's commands, come and praise your LORD!
  21. All of you thousands who serve and obey God, come and praise your LORD!
  22. All of God's creation and all that he rules, come and praise your LORD! With all my heart I praise the LORD!

David was overwhelmed by God's benefits to all those who fear Him having experienced them firsthand. Psalms 103 is a great psalm of praise and worship expressing for us what we may have difficulty putting into words. Verses 3-5 enumerate some of God's benefits to us. He forgives our sin, heals our diseases, redeems our lives, crowns us with love and compassion, satisfies us with His goodness, and renews our youth.

I am especially drawn to the next section, however, as David speaks of the Lord's compassion toward us. Out of His compassion He is slow to anger and full of love toward us. He does not deal with our sins as they truly deserve. His love toward us is "as high as the heavens are above the earth." (103:11) And when He forgives our sins, He removes the transgression "as far as the east is from the west." How far is that? The distance is infinite. His compassion toward us is compared to that of a father toward his children. This comparison may not work for many, though, whose fathers have little or no compassion toward their children. But it is intended to depict great compassion. In the Lord's compassion and patience toward us He remembers "that we are dust" having limited capacity. But He, on the other hand, is eternal and has unlimited capacity. Therefore His love is never-ending from generation to generation.

In reading and reflecting on this psalm, we, too, are led to praise the Lord with all that is within us.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Reflections on Psalms 102

 Psalms 102(Contemporary English Version)
  1. (A prayer for someone who hurts and needs to ask the LORD for help.) I pray to you, LORD! Please listen.
  2. Don't hide from me in my time of trouble. Pay attention to my prayer and quickly give an answer.
  3. My days disappear like smoke, and my bones are burning as though in a furnace.
  4. I am wasting away like grass, and my appetite is gone.
  5. My groaning never stops, and my bones can be seen through my skin.
  6. I am like a lonely owl in the desert
  7. or a restless sparrow alone on a roof.
  8. My enemies insult me all day, and they use my name for a curse word.
  9. Instead of food, I have ashes to eat and tears to drink,
  10. because you are furious and have thrown me aside.
  11. My life fades like a shadow at the end of day and withers like grass.
  12. Our LORD, you are King forever and will always be famous.
  13. You will show pity to Zion because the time has come.
  14. We, your servants, love each stone in the city, and we are sad to see them lying in the dirt.
  15. Our LORD, the nations will honor you, and all kings on earth will praise your glory.
  16. You will rebuild the city of Zion. Your glory will be seen,
  17. and the prayers of the homeless will be answered.
  18. Future generations must also praise the LORD, so write this for them:
  19. "From his holy temple, the LORD looked down at the earth.
  20. He listened to the groans of prisoners, and he rescued everyone who was doomed to die."
  21. All Jerusalem should praise you, our LORD,
  22. when people from every nation meet to worship you.
  23. I should still be strong, but you, LORD, have made an old person of me.
  24. You will live forever! Years mean nothing to you. Don't cut my life in half!
  25. In the beginning, LORD, you laid the earth's foundation and created the heavens.
  26. They will all disappear and wear out like clothes. You change them, as you would a coat, but you last forever.
  27. You are always the same. Years cannot change you.
  28. Every generation of those who serve you will live in your presence.

Psalms 102 is the prayer of one who had suffered for a lengthy period of time and felt that God had "picked me up and thrown me aside." (102:10) Though he felt his suffering was a result of God's "indignation and wrath," (102:10) he also felt that God was the only one to whom he could turn for help. It is logical to appeal to the source of suffering for relief. No clue is given, however, to why he thought this. Was it a result of sin? If so, there is no repentance or other reason given for why the Lord should relieve his suffering other than "it is time to show favor" to Zion and "Your servants take delight in its (Zion's) stones and favor its dust." (102:13, 14)

The appeal to the Lord's favor toward relieving his suffering seems to be based not any worth on his part but on God's witness to the people of the earth. For when He rescues Zion "the nations will fear the name of the Lord, and all the kings of the earth Your glory." (102:15) Also, later generations will read of how He "looked down from His holy heights . . . to hear a prisoner's groaning, to set free those condemned to die," (102:19, 20) and they will praise Him.

As for the psalmist, his strength had been broken in "midcourse," and he anticipated that his days had been shortened. But he pleaded with the Lord to extend his days and not "take me in the middle of my life!" (102:24) By contrast, the Lord is eternal, His "years continue through all generations." Though the heavens and the earth will perish, the Lord "will endure." "You are the same, and Your years will never end." (102:26, 27) The psalmist was expressing confidence in the Lord's ability to rescue him and extend his life. The One who is everlasting was capable of adding years to his lifetime.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Reflections on Psalms 101

 Psalms 101(Contemporary English Version)
  1. (A psalm by David.) I will sing to you, LORD! I will celebrate your kindness and your justice.
  2. Please help me learn to do the right thing, and I will be honest and fair in my own kingdom.
  3. I refuse to be corrupt or to take part in anything crooked,
  4. and I won't be dishonest or deceitful.
  5. Anyone who spreads gossip will be silenced, and no one who is conceited will be my friend.
  6. I will find trustworthy people to serve as my advisors, and only an honest person will serve as an official.
  7. No one who cheats or lies will have a position in my royal court.
  8. Each morning I will silence any lawbreakers I find in the countryside or in the city of the LORD.

In this Davidic psalm, David vows to be a person of integrity who gathers other persons of integrity around him to make up his royal court. He begins by extolling faithful love and justice. These are qualities he sees in the Lord and therefore sings praise to the Lord. But they are qualities he would like to have reproduced in himself. As a person of faithful love and justice he vows to "pay attention to the way of integrity." (101:2) He will begin by being a person of integrity in his own house. This denotes true integrity. Were he to display a character of integrity in his duties as king but not at home in the palace, he would not, in fact, be a person of integrity. This would be to live as a hypocrite rather than with integrity.

Beginning with verse 3 he tells how he will live out his integrity. First, he will avoid anything godless. To do so would draw him away of his vow. He can only live with integrity as he focuses on God and what is godly. Likewise, he will have nothing to do with transgression or a devious heart or be involved with evil. As for those who serve in his court, he will not tolerate those who "secretly slanders his neighbor" or anyone with haughty eyes or an arrogant heart. Such people are proud and arrogant and seek to serve themselves rather than the king or those in his kingdom.

The prerequisite for those who serve him will be faithfulness and integrity. Any who are deceitful and liars will be eliminated from serving in his court. And in carrying out justice in his kingdom, he will get rid of the wicked and of evildoers.

From this desire to be upright in both his personal and public life we can see why he prospered more as king than any other who ruled in Israel. Though he did not always succeed in adhering to this vow of integrity, he always returned to it.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Reflections on Psalms 100

 Psalms 100(Contemporary English Version)
  1. (A psalm of praise.) Shout praises to the LORD, everyone on this earth.
  2. Be joyful and sing as you come in to worship the LORD!
  3. You know the LORD is God! He created us, and we belong to him; we are his people, the sheep in his pasture.
  4. Be thankful and praise the LORD as you enter his temple.
  5. The LORD is good! His love and faithfulness will last forever.

The hundredth psalm is one of the most prominently known psalms in the psalter due in part to the hymns based on it. It is a call to all the earth to give thanks to the Lord, and to do so trimphantly. Though it was written for use in Israel's worship in the temple with the sacrifices of praise, its call to "all the earth" points to the fact that praising the God of Israel is not, and never was, intended for Israel alone but for all people. For we are all, "His people, the sheep of His pasture." (100:3)

Verse 3 brings together the wonderful reality of our relationship with God. First we are told that the Lord is God who has made us. As our Creator He is far above us, and as God He is unapproachable. But then we are told that we are His people, the sheep of His pasture, which brings Him near to us and approachable. This is reason to be glad and to be thankful. Therefore, we should "Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise." (100:4)

In the closing verse we are given further reason to give thanks and praise, "For the LORD is good, and His love is eternal."

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Reflections on Psalms 99

 Psalms 99(Contemporary English Version)
  1. Our LORD, you are King! You rule from your throne above the winged creatures, as people tremble and the earth shakes.
  2. You are praised in Zion, and you control all nations.
  3. Only you are God! And your power alone, so great and fearsome, is worthy of praise.
  4. You are our mighty King, a lover of fairness, who sees that justice is done everywhere in Israel.
  5. Our LORD and our God, we praise you and kneel down to worship you, the God of holiness!
  6. Moses and Aaron were two of your priests. Samuel was also one of those who prayed in your name, and you, our LORD, answered their prayers.
  7. You spoke to them from a thick cloud, and they obeyed your laws.
  8. Our LORD and our God, you answered their prayers and forgave their sins, but when they did wrong, you punished them.
  9. We praise you, LORD God, and we worship you at your sacred mountain. Only you are God!

This psalm opens with the proclamation, "The Lord reigns!" Our response should be to exalt Him above all else and praise His "awe-inspiring name." Two reasons we are given for exalting Him are that He is holy and He answers the prayers of His people. A third reason is that He administers justice and righteousness.

Three references are made to God answering the prayers of His people. There was Moses and Aaron, and then Samuel. They called on His name and He answered them. These men were no different than any others, for they, too, were sinful men who required God's forgiveness. Though God punished their misdeeds, He forgave them. And He answered their prayer because they were obedient. They "kept His decrees and the statutes He gave them." (99:7)

Having given His reasons for exalting the Lord, the psalmist again calls on the people to "Exalt the Lord our God . . .for the Lord our God is holy." (99:9)

Monday, April 14, 2014

Reflections on Psalms 98

 Psalms 98(Contemporary English Version)

  1. Sing a new song to the LORD! He has worked miracles, and with his own powerful arm, he has won the victory.
  2. The LORD has shown the nations that he has the power to save and to bring justice.
  3. God has been faithful in his love for Israel, and his saving power is seen everywhere on earth.
  4. Tell everyone on this earth to sing happy songs in praise of the LORD.
  5. Make music for him on harps. Play beautiful melodies!
  6. Sound the trumpets and horns and celebrate with joyful songs for our LORD and King!
  7. Command the ocean to roar with all of its creatures, and the earth to shout with all of its people.
  8. Order the rivers to clap their hands, and all of the hills to sing together.
  9. Let them worship the LORD! He is coming to judge everyone on the earth, and he will be honest and fair.

In this psalm the whole earth is called upon to praise the Lord for the wonders He has performed and the victory He has won. These wonders and victories have been on behalf of Israel but have been revealed "in the sight of the nations." (98:2) God's purpose in choosing Israel was to provide a witness to all people of His wonders and victories. Through this witness all people could choose to worship Him.

In verse 4 the psalmist extends his invitation to "all the earth" to shout to the Lord and be jubilant. One who is a gentile might wonder why he should praise the Lord for His love and faithfulness to "the house of Israel," but the focus here is on the Lord's love and faithfulness and His wonders and victories, not on Israel. What He did for Israel was just a demonstration of what He will do for all people. It is available to all.

In verses 8 & 9 all creation is brought into the invitation to "shout together for joy before the Lord." This is because He is "coming to judge the earth." Our typical thoughts of judgment would not evoke rejoicing, but for those who worship the Lord, it is a good thing, for "He will judge the world righteously and the peoples fairly." (98:9) This means that all of the injustice that has gone on in the world will be set right. Those who have contributed to the injustice have reason to fear the Lord's coming, but those who have suffered from the injustice have reason to rejoice.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Reflections on Psalms 97

 Psalms 97(Contemporary English Version)
  1. The LORD is King! Tell the earth to celebrate and all islands to shout.
  2. Dark clouds surround him, and his throne is supported by justice and fairness.
  3. Fire leaps from his throne, destroying his enemies,
  4. and his lightning is so bright that the earth sees it and trembles.
  5. Mountains melt away like wax in the presence of the LORD of all the earth.
  6. The heavens announce, "The LORD brings justice!" Everyone sees God's glory.
  7. Those who brag about the useless idols they worship are terribly ashamed, and all the false gods bow down to the LORD.
  8. When the people of Zion and of the towns of Judah hear that God brings justice, they will celebrate.
  9. The LORD rules the whole earth, and he is more glorious than all the false gods.
  10. Love the LORD and hate evil! God protects his loyal people and rescues them from violence.
  11. If you obey and do right, a light will show you the way and fill you with happiness.
  12. You are the LORD's people! So celebrate and praise the only God.

The psalmist envisions the Lord coming in all His splendor for all people to see. His coming will be awe-inspiring, for fire will go before Him and lightning will light up the world. It will be so awesome that the earth will see and tremble and the mountains will melt like wax at His presence. No one will doubt the Lord's existence or power. All those who have worshiped idols will be put to shame, realizing the object of their worship has amounted to nothing.

Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne which means that not all will rejoice at the Lord's appearance. Those who have acknowledged Him and worshiped Him will be glad, but those who have done evil will find that the Lord's justice does not bode well for them, for the Lord will uphold and protect "the lives of His godly ones," and will "rescue them from the hand of the wicked." (97:10) The wicked will be dealt with. Though the wicked may have had the upper hand to this point, now "Light dawns for the righteous, gladness for the upright in heart." Righteousness will prevail! Therefore, the psalmist proclaims, "Be glad in the LORD, you righteous ones, and praise His holy name." (97:12)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Reflections on Psalms 96

 Psalms 96(Contemporary English Version)
  1. Sing a new song to the LORD! Everyone on this earth, sing praises to the LORD,
  2. sing and praise his name. Day after day announce, "The LORD has saved us!"
  3. Tell every nation on earth, "The LORD is wonderful and does marvelous things!
  4. The LORD is great and deserves our greatest praise! He is the only God worthy of our worship.
  5. Other nations worship idols, but the LORD created the heavens.
  6. Give honor and praise to the LORD, whose power and beauty fill his holy temple."
  7. Tell everyone of every nation, "Praise the glorious power of the LORD.
  8. He is wonderful! Praise him and bring an offering into his temple.
  9. Everyone on earth, now tremble and worship the LORD, majestic and holy."
  10. Announce to the nations, "The LORD is King! The world stands firm, never to be shaken, and he will judge its people with fairness."
  11. Tell the heavens and the earth to be glad and celebrate! Command the ocean to roar with all of its creatures
  12. and the fields to rejoice with all of their crops. Then every tree in the forest will sing joyful songs
  13. to the LORD. He is coming to judge all people on earth with fairness and truth.

Psalms 96 is a general psalm of praise calling the people to "Sing a new song to the Lord." This suggests the psalmist is calling them to praise Him for new mercies received rather than repeating praises for old mercies.

There is a progression to the psalm. First the people are called to sing praises to the Lord. Then they are told to declare His glory to other people, "among the nations." The Lord is greater than the idols worshiped by other nations. Next, they are to ascribe to the Lord glory and strength, both in their own worship and as they proclaim Him to other nations. Therefore, all people of the earth are called on to worship the Lord. Finally, along with the people of the earth, all nature is called to join them in worship. The heavens and the sea, the fields and the trees of the forest are all called upon to "shout for joy before the Lord." With the addition of all nature in this worship, a new aspect is introduced. Now the worship has the element of joy in anticipation of the Lord's coming. In His coming, "He will judge the world with righteousness and the peoples with His faithfulness." (96:13)

When the Lord comes and judges the world with His righteousness, there will no longer be injustice in the world. There will no longer be fighting among people. All things will be made right. This is the result of every knee bowing before the Lord and every heart being made new. There will be no religious systems which are often more barrier than aid to connecting with God. There will only be our direct relationship to God, with no pretense. It will be such that not only are all people right with God, but are also right with each other, a condition that is only possible when we are right with God.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Reflections on Psalms 95

 Psalms 95(Contemporary English Version)
  1. Sing joyful songs to the LORD! Praise the mighty rock where we are safe.
  2. Come to worship him with thankful hearts and songs of praise.
  3. The LORD is the greatest God, king over all other gods.
  4. He holds the deepest part of the earth in his hands, and the mountain peaks belong to him.
  5. The ocean is the Lord's because he made it, and with his own hands he formed the dry land.
  6. Bow down and worship the LORD our Creator!
  7. The LORD is our God, and we are his people, the sheep he takes care of in his own pasture. Listen to God's voice today!
  8. Don't be stubborn and rebel as your ancestors did at Meribah and Massah out in the desert.
  9. For forty years they tested God and saw the things he did.
  10. Then God got tired of them and said, "You never show good sense, and you don't understand what I want you to do."
  11. In his anger, God told them, "You people will never enter my place of rest."

Psalm 95 opens with a call to worship the Lord who is sovereign over every force, real or imagined. He is sovereign over the earth and the sea and the mountains, for He has made them. And He is sovereign over any so-called god that man can imagine. In other words, He is greater than we can even imagine. Therefore, whenever God doesn't meet up to our expectations it is because our imaginations are not great enough to comprehend Him. So we are called by the psalmist to "Come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD our Maker." (95:6)

Lest any are tempted to ignore this call to worship the Lord, the psalmist gives a reminder of what happened to the unbelievers in Israel during their journey to their land of promise. Even though the Israelites had seen the Lord perform mighty works on their behalf, they tested the Lord wanting Him to keep proving Himself to them. The Lord finally had enough and He "swore in My anger, 'They will not enter My rest.'" (95:11) As a result they were not allowed to enter the land of promise.

We are to remember that "He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, the sheep under His care." (95:7) So when He calls to us we are not to harden our hearts as the Israelites did at Massah in the wilderness with the result that they did not enter the Lord's rest, meaning they did not enter the promised land. A similar warning is given to Christians in Hebrews 3:7-11. In this passage the writer of Hebrews quotes Psalm 95:7-11 and then adds, "Watch out, brothers, so that there won't be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart that departs from the living God. But encourage each other daily, while it is still called today, so that none of you is hardened by sin's deception. " (Hebrews 3:12-13)

Monday, April 7, 2014

Reflections on Psalms 94

 Psalms 94(Contemporary English Version)
  1. LORD God, you punish the guilty. Show what you are like and punish them now.
  2. You judge the earth. Come and help us! Pay back those proud people for what they have done.
  3. How long will the wicked celebrate and be glad?
  4. All of those cruel people strut and boast,
  5. and they crush and wound your chosen nation, LORD.
  6. They murder widows, foreigners, and orphans.
  7. Then they say, "The LORD God of Jacob doesn't see or know."
  8. Can't you fools see? Won't you ever learn?
  9. God gave us ears and eyes! Can't he hear and see?
  10. God instructs the nations and gives knowledge to us all. Won't he also correct us?
  11. The LORD knows how useless our plans really are.
  12. Our LORD, you bless everyone that you instruct and teach by using your Law.
  13. You give them rest from their troubles, until a pit can be dug for the wicked.
  14. You won't turn your back on your chosen nation.
  15. Justice and fairness will go hand in hand, and all who do right will follow along.
  16. Who will stand up for me against those cruel people?
  17. If you had not helped me, LORD, I would soon have gone to the land of silence.
  18. When I felt my feet slipping, you came with your love and kept me steady.
  19. And when I was burdened with worries, you comforted me and made me feel secure.
  20. But you are opposed to dishonest lawmakers
  21. who gang up to murder innocent victims.
  22. You, LORD God, are my fortress, that mighty rock where I am safe.
  23. You will pay back my enemies, and you will wipe them out for the evil they did.

The unidentified psalmist went to the Lord for help against those who were persecuting him and others. He recognized that vengeance belongs to the Lord and is not ours to wield. He identified the Lord as the "God of vengeance." This may be troubling to some leaving them uncertain how to reconcile a God of vengeance with a God of love. But such difficulty points out an incomplete understanding of love. We will not complete our understanding of love through our own reasoning or from any worldly definition, but only from God who is love. (1 John 4:8) There cannot be love without vengeance and wrath to uphold it. Allowing wickedness and hate to run free without dealing with it is not to love either the victims or the wielders of wickedness and hate.

As is characteristic of the wicked, they gloated over their actions taking pride in the power they had over others. But as typical bullies, they afflicted those who could not defend themselves. And they persisted in their persecution because they thought God didn't see what they were doing. The psalmist pointed out to these foolish people the folly of their thinking by asking if the One who shaped the ear and formed the eye could neither hear nor see. Furthermore, he asked, does the One who instructs nations and teaches man knowledge not also discipline?

Then the psalmist added a new thought: vengeance also serves as discipline and discipline is a positive thing, for "happy is the man You (the Lord) discipline and teach from Your law." (94:12) If God did not address wickedness, how would the wicked or anyone else learn otherwise? But the psalmist points out another aspect in this, and that is that persecution can serve to discipline and teach those who are persecuted providing them "relief from troubled times" until the time when God deals with the wicked. As we grapple with this concept we should keep in mind that "discipline" means to instruct and is akin to the word "disciple" which refers to being the pupil of someone.

In the midst of persecution the psalmist found that the Lord's faithful love gave him support. When he was filled with cares, the Lord's comfort brought him joy. The Lord was his refuge and rock of protection and would, in time, destroy the wicked.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Reflections on Psalms 93

 Psalms 93(Contemporary English Version)
  1. Our LORD, you are King! Majesty and power are your royal robes. You put the world in place, and it will never be moved.
  2. You have always ruled, and you are eternal.
  3. The ocean is roaring, LORD! The sea is pounding hard.
  4. Its mighty waves are majestic, but you are more majestic, and you rule over all.
  5. Your decisions are firm, and your temple will always be beautiful and holy.

Psalms 93 celebrates the Lord's reign over the earth. It may be intended to lift up the Lord over the gods of other nations - particularly Baal - but it also envisions a time when He will have dominion over all moral and legal orders of life and all people will submit to His rule. The firm establishment of the Lord's reign is the subject of the first two verses.

Verses 3-4 contrast the Lord's power over that of Baal, or any other supposed god. In the pagan Canaanite mythology, Baal overcame Prince Yamm, which is the sea, to gain power over the sea. But this psalm praises the Lord and not Baal as having power over the sea.

In another contrast of the Lord over other gods, verse 5 praises the reliability of God's testimonies and the holiness of His sanctuary. Other gods are capricious and unreliable, which is not surprising since they are the product of the imaginations of capricious and unreliable mankind. The same is true of the holiness of the Lord's sanctuary compared to the corruptness of the temple of Baal and other gods who are the products of corrupt people. Only God is holy.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Reflections on Psalms 92

 Psalms 92(Contemporary English Version)
  1. (A psalm and a song for the Sabbath.) It is wonderful to be grateful and to sing your praises, LORD Most High!
  2. It is wonderful each morning to tell about your love and at night to announce how faithful you are.
  3. I enjoy praising your name to the music of harps,
  4. because everything you do makes me happy, and I sing joyful songs.
  5. You do great things, LORD. Your thoughts are too deep
  6. for an ignorant fool to know or understand.
  7. Though the wicked sprout and spread like grass, they will be pulled up by their roots.
  8. But you will rule over all of us forever,
  9. and your hateful enemies will be scattered and then destroyed.
  10. You have given me the strength of a wild ox, and you have chosen me to be your very own.
  11. My eyes have seen, and my ears have heard the doom and destruction of my terrible enemies.
  12. Good people will prosper like palm trees, and they will grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon.
  13. They will take root in your house, LORD God, and they will do well.
  14. They will be like trees that stay healthy and fruitful, even when they are old.
  15. And they will say about you, "The LORD always does right! God is our mighty rock." 

This "song for the Sabbath day" proclaims that "It is good to praise the Lord." (92:1) This is true in so many ways. Certainly it is good to praise your Maker and Provider. But it is also good for it gives the person a right perspective on life and and a right relationship with God. Regardless of a person's intelligence or standing in life, he acts as one who is "stupid" and a "fool" when he does not acknowledge God. He lacks understanding of life because he does not understand the workings of his Creator.

The psalmist says to the Lord, "You have made me rejoice, LORD, by what You have done; I will shout for joy because of the works of Your hands." (92:4) But the magnificent works of the Lord make no sense to the one who is fool enough not to acknowledge God. He also does not understand that his life is like grass that sprouts and flourishes and then is "eternally destroyed." (92:7) Such is an enemy of God and His enemies "will perish." (92:9)

By contrast, the righteous, those in right relationship with God, will "thrive like a palm tree and grow like a cedar tree in Lebanon." For they are "Planted in the house of the LORD." (92:12,13) Furthermore, even in old age they will continue to bear fruit and be "healthy and green." (92:14) So the righteous are called to declare: "The LORD is just; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him." (92:15)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Reflections on Psalms 91

 Psalms 91(Contemporary English Version)
  1. Live under the protection of God Most High and stay in the shadow of God All-Powerful.
  2. Then you will say to the LORD, "You are my fortress, my place of safety; you are my God, and I trust you."
  3. The Lord will keep you safe from secret traps and deadly diseases.
  4. He will spread his wings over you and keep you secure. His faithfulness is like a shield or a city wall.
  5. You won't need to worry about dangers at night or arrows during the day.
  6. And you won't fear diseases that strike in the dark or sudden disaster at noon.
  7. You will not be harmed, though thousands fall all around you.
  8. And with your own eyes you will see the punishment of the wicked.
  9. The LORD Most High is your fortress. Run to him for safety,
  10. and no terrible disasters will strike you or your home.
  11. God will command his angels to protect you wherever you go.
  12. They will carry you in their arms, and you won't hurt your feet on the stones.
  13. You will overpower the strongest lions and the most deadly snakes.
  14. The Lord says, "If you love me and truly know who I am, I will rescue you and keep you safe.
  15. When you are in trouble, call out to me. I will answer and be there to protect and honor you.
  16. You will live a long life and see my saving power."

Psalms 91 is summarized in verse 1: "The one who lives under the protection of the Most High dwells in the shadow of the Almighty." With this thought in mind, the unknown psalmist makes his commitment to the Lord in verse 2," I will say to the LORD, 'My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.'"

The Lord's protection is depicted in two ways. First, the Lord Himself will protect the one whose trust is in Him with His faithfulness as a protective shield around them, much as a bird covers its young with its wing. In other words, God's promise of protection serves as a shield of protection. The second way in which the Lord's protection is depicted is by sending His angels to our aid: "For He will give His angels orders concerning you, to protect you in all your ways." (91:11)

Examples are given of dangers from which the Lord protects the one who trusts in Him. They include delivery from "the hunter's net," "the terror of the night," "the arrow that flies by day," "the plague that stalks in darkness," "the pestilence that ravages at noon," "the young lion and the serpent." These may be representative of the types of dangers from which the Lord provides protection, or they may suggest the Lord's protection from all dangers. I lean toward the latter.

In the last three verses the psalmist writes as if the Lord is speaking to him, and the Lord said to him, "Because he is lovingly devoted to Me, I will deliver him; I will exalt him because he knows My name." (91:14) Furthermore, the Lord said to him, "When he calls out to Me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble. I will rescue him and give him honor. I will satisfy him with a long life and show him My salvation." (91:15-16)

In verse two the psalmist declared his loving devotion to the Lord when he said to Him, "My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust." These words convey more than a mental assent to the concept of trusting the Lord. They speak of a way of life that is lived in God's care. This does not mean that he lives life as he choses and trusts the Lord to protect him as he goes his way, but rather that he follows the Lord's instruction and guidance as the foundation of that protection.