Dec. 12. Psalms of Praise Continued

Ps. 146:1-148:14

The psalmist stated a purpose for one’s existence. “While I live I will praise the Lord…” Mortal man is an unreliable refuge. He leaves us when we need him the most. His good intentions are only temporary as they die with him in death. Only God, the Creator of all things is the eternal source of help and hope for the righteous. The wicked are the recipients of His wrath.

Man, consumed by the hustle and bustle of life easily forgets the source of his blessings. God does not need us, but we need Him. However, He does desire to hear praise and thanksgiving from us. The psalmist recognized the Lord’s care for the exiles who had returned from Babylon to Jerusalem. He continues that care for mankind today through the laws of nature. Man and all of God’s other creatures praise Him. It is also our responsibility to praise Him in humble obedience to His word.

“Hallelujah, praise Jehovah.” Those are the opening words of a popular hymn that is based upon this psalm of praise. ALL of God’s creation shows His handiwork and is called upon to sing His praises. That comes naturally for all except man. Mankind, from all walks of life, male or female—the least to the greatest, either forgets to praise the Lord or simply rebels against Him. Let us resolve to, “Praise the Lord.”

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Dec. 11. Praise Psalms Continued

Ps. 136:1-26; 145:1-21

This psalm consists of a series of thanksgiving phrases listing various aspects of God, the Creator of the universe, Deliverer of Israel from slavery, Fighter of their wars and Rescuer from their enemies. Each phrase is followed by the refrain, “For His mercy endures forever.” We live under different circumstances from those of the Israelites, but we have many God given blessings for which to be thankful. Do we give Him the proper respect and thanks, for His mercy does endure forever?

David was credited for having written this psalm of praise to God. He proclaimed the Lord’s greatness as so immense that it is beyond the ability of man to understand. Through the eye of faith, man declares to following generations His powerful works. One may imagine that God in His power is ready to immediately punish the wickedness of man. However, the psalmist stated, “The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, Slow to anger and great in mercy.” The world still stands because the Lord, “Is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (II Pet. 3:9) If one would only open his eyes, he could see His works and praise Him. Without him, no one could have the necessities of life. He is near to all of His children who call upon Him in truth, but He will destroy the wicked.

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Dec. 10. More Psalms of Praise

Ps. 118:1-29; 135:1-21

“Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.” God’s goodness and eternal mercy were foremost in the thoughts of the psalmist. From the entire nation of Israel through the ruling house of Aaron to those individuals who fear God, that admonition rang out. The writer personally attested to his confidence in God and the protection that he had received at His hands. Man’s help may let us down, but God is always present. However, those promises and blessings are only available to the righteous. Many years later, Jesus was referred to as the chief cornerstone that was rejected by the builders (Jews). We should be thankful for life just as the writer stated that, “This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.” This highly quoted psalm ended as it had started, with praises for God’s goodness and eternal mercy.

As the psalmist continued his praises to God, he called upon all of His servants to praise Him. Israel had a rich history of the Lord’s blessings. Their father, Jacob had been specially chosen to bless all nations. That was eventually fulfilled through the life, death, burial, resurrection of Christ and the establishment of His church. God’s power is seen as He controls the actions of nature. He had fought their wars from their deliverance from Egypt through the conquest of the nations of Canaan. God continues to be with His servants. What idol could have accomplished those feats? The writer repeated his previous contrast between God and the gods of man and called upon all to bless Him. “Blessed be the Lord…Praise the Lord!”

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Dec. 9. Psalms of Praise Continued

Ps. 115:1-117:2

“You shall have no other gods before Me.” That was the first of ten commandments that God laid down in the Law of Moses in the wilderness after freeing Israel from Egypt. All through the journey with His people, the greatest displeasure from God came through their failure to obey that one command. He is to be NUMBER ONE. There is no second god to be worshipped. He is unseen in heaven, but He sees all; hears all and knows all. Manmade gods can be seen and may look like they have the strength and vital senses to perform, but the psalmist stated emphatically that they do not speak, see, hear, smell, handle nor walk. Those who trust idols are like them in that they also are false and without power. He called upon Israel to trust in the true God and to reject those manmade idols. They can do nothing, but all blessings come from God. We should praise Him while we are still alive because the dead are in speechless silence.

Sometimes it takes tragedy or near death for a person to realize his need and dependence upon God. The psalmist seems to have experienced a time in which he was at the point of death. However, God heard his cries and spared his life. The writer expressed his thanksgiving and praise for God’s deliverance and vowed to walk in His ways. How often do we make similar vows and after a period of time fall back into our old habits of sinful living? Pleasures of sin are temporary, but unless one repents, his separation from God is eternal.

In a time when only Israel enjoyed special blessings from God, the psalmist called upon all people, including the Gentiles to praise Him. Today, it is not only Jews, but Gentiles as well who are called to obey. There is no respecter of persons with God. All who obey Him have equal access to His salvation. “Praise the Lord!”

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Dec. 8. Psalms of Praise

Ps. 111:1-114:8

“His praise endures forever.” The psalmist expressed his praise of the Lord wholeheartedly as he enumerated the many glorious aspects of God’s blessings. His blessings encompass His great works of love, care and compassion. It is likely that the writer was thinking of God’s deliverance and care of Israel as they had been delivered from Egyptian slavery many years earlier. However, His providential care extends far beyond that rescue as “His righteousness endures forever” even to sending His Son to save all of mankind if we will accept His terms and conditions. The wise person will understand His covenant and keep His commandments.

As the psalmist continued his praise of God, he expressed the wisdom and blessings of righteous living. “Blessed is the man who fears the Lord…” In contrast to the fruitfulness of the righteous, “The desire of the wicked shall perish.”

Many times, one seems to rejoice and praise God only when recovering from some great calamity. However, the psalmist pointed out that praise is due the Lord at all times—“From the rising of the sun to its going down.” He is to be exalted above all people and all things. All people are to be as servants in humble submission before Him. A proud man may not be able to see the needs of the poor, but even though He is exalted, God knows and cares for the needs of all people of His earth.

Think that God is weak and powerless? What stopped the waters of the Red Sea while the Israelites crossed over on dry land? What stopped the Jordan River from flowing while they crossed it on dry land? What caused water to flow from a hard dry rock in the desert when the Israelites were thirsty? Not what but Who? GOD!!

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Dec. 7. Psalms of Praise and Thanksgiving

Ps. 104:1-35; 107:1-43

“Bless the Lord, O my soul!” The psalmist continued from that exclamation of praise to a highly figurative account of God’s creation of the earth and how it provides for its inhabitants. He began by describing God as light and proclaiming His universal presence. A poetic description of the separation of water from land to form the seas and streams to provide for man and animals shows His providential care for His creation. All things necessary for the sustaining of life are provided, but if God were to hide His face from His creation, it would die. The writer closed his psalm with a description of God’s glory and a prayer for the elimination of sin from the earth. “Bless the Lord, O my soul! Praise the Lord!”

The Lord has seen His people in all kinds of distress and oppression brought about by their own haughty disobedience to His commandments. However, when they turned to Him in humble repentance and obedience, He rescued them and gave them peace. The same salvation and peace are available to penitent man today except in a greater measure than that received by the Israelites. We have the forgiving blood of Christ to take our sins away completely. The psalmist was profuse in his thanks for God’s goodness for His people. “For His mercy endures forever.”

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Dec. 6. Songs of Ascent Concluded

Ps. 132:1-134:3

The psalmist presented a review of David’s intense desire to construct a permanent dwelling place for God and to return the Ark of the Covenant to its rightful place. However, he was not permitted to build the temple because of the blood that he had shed during the many wars that he was in. He did get to oversee the return of the Ark to the tabernacle before his death. God had promised him that his descendants would rule over Israel if they remained faithful to Him. David’s fleshly sons did not continue in their faith, but David’s spiritual throne of Israel in heaven is being occupied by his descendant, the Son of God after His cruel death, burial and resurrection.

“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brethren to dwell together in unity!” What can be better in this world than scriptural unity and peace among all mankind? The psalmist described it as an anointing of abundant fragrant oil upon the high priest and heavy dew in a dry land. However, unity to be pleasing to God must be directed toward Him. If we properly bless the Lord, He will in turn bless us.

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Dec. 5. Songs of Ascent

Ps. 126:1-131:3

These words seem to have been written for the joyous occasion of the return from exile. There was much laughter and joy among the people as they praised and thanked God for their deliverance.

The psalmist pointed out the importance of depending upon God for His help in one’s life. Whether building a house for worship, a house for shelter or building a household, we need God. Children are God’s gift to man to ensure that his legacy continues. They must be taught to fear the Lord. Little children are precious to God and anyone who mistreats or murders one, whether in the womb or later in life is guilty of grievous sin. Parents should fear the Lord and set the proper examples of work, love and obedience before their children.

Israel had suffered afflictions at the hands of their enemies for many years. However, God had chosen them from the time of Abraham to be His people and had kept them from being totally destroyed. The psalmist prayed that their enemies would wither as the grass growing in shallow soil on a housetop. He also humbled himself and acknowledged his and Israel’s many sins and prayed for forgiveness, mercy and redemption from those sins. “O Israel, hope in the Lord From this time forth and forever.”

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Dec. 4. Songs of Ascent

Ps. 120:1-121:8; 123:1-125:5

It is thought that these psalms were sung as the people ascended the hill to worship at the newly rebuilt temple. Some are attributed to David and Solomon while others may have been written for that occasion. There was a renewed sense of rejoicing and worship among the returned exiles. These psalms consist of various praises and prayers to God.

The psalmist cried out to the Lord for deliverance from lying lips and the consequences of those who believed the lies. He called for peace with his enemies, but they only sought war. The source of one’s help is the Lord, the Creator—not the creation. Man is not able to succeed alone without the hand of God who never sleeps, to guide and protect him. God’s children are not immune to pain and suffering, but ultimately, if we remain faithful, salvation will come.

As servants are dependent upon their masters for sustenance and protection, man depends upon God for His mercy and care. The returned exiles had suffered intense scorn and hate from neighboring countries. It was God who had led them home. Without His protection and guidance, they would have been overwhelmed as a swollen stream consumes everything in its path. However, they were allowed to return to their homeland as a bird who has escaped from his captors. As the apostle, Paul stated many years later in Rom. 8:31, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” Those who trust in the Lord will be unmovable as a mountain and surrounded by Him as the mountains surround Jerusalem. The wicked will not prevail against them, but will ultimately be led to destruction.

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Dec. 3. Various Meditations Concluded

Ps. 119:145-176

The focal point of the psalmist’s meditations is God’s everlasting word and one’s proper respect and obedience of it. As the morning dawned, he kept it on his heart. Throughout the day, he meditated upon its truth. Knowing that God was near, he also cried out for His protection from those who followed wickedness. He lamented over the lost condition of the wicked who would not seek the laws of God and His tender mercies. One may find spiritual revival through God’s word, judgments and in His lovingkindness. His word is truth.

God’s followers are persecuted many times without a cause, but they continue joyfully in their faith and trust in Him. They hurt physically and emotionally, but they have an inner peace because of the hope of their eventual salvation. A child of God will desire to teach His word to others. Even though the psalmist was faithful and obedient to God’s word, he considered himself to be as a helpless lost sheep that had gone astray. His fervent plea, “Seek Your servant, for I do not forget Your commandments.”

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Dec. 2. Various Meditations Continued

Ps. 119:73-144

The psalmist called upon his/our Creator to help him to have proper understanding that he might meditate and know His commandments. One finds hope in God’s word. Obedience of it serves as a godly example and encouragement to others who are striving to serve Him. Our godly lives also exhibit proper examples to lead lost sinners to God.

There are times when we may feel like life is hopeless, but if we will continue in God’s unchanging word, His unlimited love will help us to prevail. The wicked may seek our destruction, but faithfulness to the eternal word will give eternal life. Faithful children of God love His law and His words are sweeter to them than honey. They make us wise and protect us from evil.

“Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.” In the darkness of life, one is not be able to see the complete scope of his surroundings. With the light of God’s guiding word, he can safely and successfully navigate his journey of life to the reward at the end.

As the psalmist continued his meditations, he expressed his dislike for double-mindedness. He proclaimed his love of God’s law and his commitment to its obedience. Many years later, Jesus called double-minded people hypocrites and expressed the same disdain. They are play actors pretending to be righteous when they are actually living in sin. Hypocrites may deceive others, but in the end, they will be rejected by God.

The psalmist praised God for His eternal righteousness and recognized his own limitations. He plead to God to reward his righteousness with protection from his oppressors. One may think that he has full knowledge of God’s laws, but he needs to continue to seek the treasure of new understanding. He prayed further that God would direct his steps by His word. Without the light of His word, man is an aimless wanderer seeking, but not finding. A righteous person grieves because others do not keep the law. “Give me understanding, and I shall live.”

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Dec. 1. Various Meditations of the Psalmist

Ps. 119:1-72

This psalm consists of a series of thoughts regarding the joyful blessings that come to both old and young from obedience to God’s word. One must seek God and His word in order to be informed of the proper way to follow Him. After finding the way, it is necessary to continue to concentrate upon keeping it. The psalmist realized that he needed God to help him to understand and keep His word. He also needed assistance in removing evil from his life. After learning God’s way, the writer promised to keep and to walk in it. However, it is not enough to only walk in His way, it is needful to be able to answer those who would persecute us or desire to know how to obtain that same hope. When one is persecuted, he can take comfort in knowing of the hope that he has through God’s word. A faithful follower of God is grieved when others refuse to obey His commands. No one can have complete knowledge of His word without continuous study and teaching. When we suffer afflictions as God’s children, we must remember that hardship brings strength to endure and that His word is priceless.

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Nov. 30. Blessing and Safety with God

Ps. 1:1-6; 91:1-16

Following the return of Israel/Judah from exile, the people had a renewed sense of worship and adoration of God. They used various psalms as methods of expressing their praise to the Deliverer. Among those were “wisdom psalms,” The first psalm that is found in the Bible is one of those psalms of wisdom.

One can readily observe the sharp contrast between righteous and unrighteous men. The righteous man heeds godly instructions and keeps them on his mind constantly, refusing to follow the ways of sinners. He is likened to a tree growing near abundant water that bears a bountiful harvest. On the other hand, the unrighteous are compared to the fluffy waste from the grain harvest. God will reward the godly, but the ungodly will perish.

The psalmist expressed his confidence in the protection of God. One may face many physical challenges in this life. We are not promised protection from all of those difficulties. Righteous living does prevent many of the consequences brought about by various sins. However, the faithful child of God can look forward to warmth and protection from ultimate spiritual destruction under His wings.

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Nov. 29. A Mother’s Wisdom

Prov. 31:1-31

King Lemuel is another person who is unknown to us except as he was introduced at the beginning of this dissertation. There are two women who are greatly influential in the lives of most great men. The first of those is his mother. Lemuel shared the wisdom that he had received from his mother’s teaching. She had advised him to avoid women and strong drink. One doesn’t need to look far in order to see prominent men who have been destroyed by the unwise use of either or both of those in their lives.

The second woman of greatness to a man is his wife. One of the more popular Scriptures in the entire Bible is the description of the “virtuous wife” recorded at the close of Proverbs. The virtuous wife and mother sets proper examples as she fulfills God’s purpose in her life. She is priceless, trustworthy, industrious, energetic, resourceful, caring, supporting, strong, wise, kind, respected, godly and ultimately praised. “Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.”

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Nov. 28. Wisdom of Augur

Prov. 30:1-33

Augur is an obscure person of whom nothing is known except that which is recorded at the beginning of these wise statements. He introduced his writing with a series of rhetorical questions with God and His Son being the obvious answers. God’s word is complete and must not have any additions from man. The writer prayed for truth and sufficiency in his life—neither riches which make a man deny God nor poverty which leads to thievery.

Man is proud and right in his own eyes and insatiable—never satisfied as he seeks to amass more. Augur continued by listing a series of various characteristics found among creatures that symbolizes man’s character. He concluded by stating obvious consequences from various actions to admonish his readers to turn from foolish pride and evil.

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