Wednesday's Word

Wednesday’s Word ~ Psalm 50

ps 50

Psalm 50

The Mighty One, God the Lord,
    speaks and summons the earth
    from the rising of the sun to its setting.
Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty,
    God shines forth.

Our God comes; he does not keep silence;
    before him is a devouring fire,
    around him a mighty tempest.
He calls to the heavens above
    and to the earth, that he may judge his people:
“Gather to me my faithful ones,
    who made a covenant with me by sacrifice!”
The heavens declare his righteousness,
    for God himself is judge! Selah

“Hear, O my people, and I will speak;
    O Israel, I will testify against you.
    I am God, your God.
Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you;
    your burnt offerings are continually before me.
I will not accept a bull from your house
    or goats from your folds.
10 For every beast of the forest is mine,
    the cattle on a thousand hills.
11 I know all the birds of the hills,
    and all that moves in the field is mine.

12 “If I were hungry, I would not tell you,
    for the world and its fullness are mine.
13 Do I eat the flesh of bulls
    or drink the blood of goats?
14 Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving,
    and perform your vows to the Most High,
15 and call upon me in the day of trouble;
    I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”

16 But to the wicked God says:
    “What right have you to recite my statutes
    or take my covenant on your lips?
17 For you hate discipline,
    and you cast my words behind you.
18 If you see a thief, you are pleased with him,
    and you keep company with adulterers.

19 “You give your mouth free rein for evil,
    and your tongue frames deceit.
20 You sit and speak against your brother;
    you slander your own mother’s son.
21 These things you have done, and I have been silent;
    you thought that I was one like yourself.
But now I rebuke you and lay the charge before you.

22 “Mark this, then, you who forget God,
    lest I tear you apart, and there be none to deliver!
23 The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me;
    to one who orders his way rightly
    I will show the salvation of God!”

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers

Wednesday's Word

Wednesday’s Word ~ Psalm 139

darkness

Psalm 139

Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
    you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
    and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
    behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
    and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
    it is high; I cannot attain it.

Where shall I go from your Spirit?
    Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
    If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
    and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
    and your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
    and the light about me be night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
    the night is bright as the day,
    for darkness is as light with you.

13 For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,
    when as yet there was none of them.

17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
    I awake, and I am still with you.

19 Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God!
    O men of blood, depart from me!
20 They speak against you with malicious intent;
    your enemies take your name in vain.
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord?
    And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
22 I hate them with complete hatred;
    I count them my enemies.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart!
    Try me and know my thoughts!
24 And see if there be any grievous way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting!

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers

Bible, Law- Old Testament, Old Testament, Sunday School

Loving God’s Word: Psalm 119 ~ Sunday School Lesson ~ 6-8-14

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These are my notes from my ladies’ Sunday School class this morning. I’ll be posting the notes from my class here each week. Click here for last week’s lesson.

Through the Bible in 2014 ~ Week 23 ~ June 1-7
Psalm 119:89-176, Song of Solomon 1-8, Proverbs 1-15
Loving God’s Word: Psalm 119

Last week and this week, we read through Psalm 119, the longest psalm and the longest chapter in the Bible. Today, I thought we would go a little “old school” — “old” as in “Old Testament.” It was not uncommon at various times of worship in the temple or synagogue for the people to listen to lengthy portions of Scripture being read. (In fact, when we get to Nehemiah 8, you’ll have a completely new perspective on what constitutes a “lengthy” passage of Scripture or a “long” sermon!). But it’s an aspect of worship and teaching the church has lost as the years have gone by. So today, we’re going to start at verse 1 of Psalm 119 and see how far we can get. I have some brief notes on some of the verses/sections that I’ll share with you, and I encourage you to ask questions and comment as we read.

Note to blog readers: This is one of those “ya kinda had to be there” lessons. I’m happy to report that we ended up making it all the way through the chapter and even had some great discussion along the way! 

 

Psalm 119

1-8-The importance of obedience.

9-16- The importance of God’s word. We cannot be obedient to Him without His word, because His word tells us what He requires of us.

14, 16- The psalmist calls God’s word a “delight”. This was at a time when most of his “Bible” consisted of the Pentateuch, which was mostly law. He delighted in it, not primarily because of the do’s and dont’s, but because these were the words from the mouth of God. Also because the non-law portions reflected the greatness, power, mercy, and other attributes of God.

20 (John 1:1)- “My soul is consumed with longing for your rules at all times.” The psalmist has a genuine love for, and godly obsession with, God’s rules/statutes/ordinances/commands. It is not just a love for the rules themselves; a desire to obey them is inextricably interwoven throughout that love. The reason the Christian has a natural love for, and obsession with, God’s word is that Christ IS that word (John 1:1)

25-32- The psalmist realizes that only God’s word gives life, strengthens the sorrowing soul, and transforms the heart and behavior, therefore, he “clings” to them. He asks God to teach him His ways and give him understanding of His word.

32 (John 8:34-37)- “I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart!” (for you set my heart free). Rather than seeing God’s law as confining or burdensome, the psalmist says they set his heart free. This is one of the core differences between the genuinely regenerated and those who are not. Christians, while we may struggle to understand and obey God’s word at times, know that it is His word that sets us free (if the Son sets you free, you are free indeed- John 8- This is, in fact, why we struggle to obey it instead of struggling against obeying it.). Lost people see God’s word as confining, enslaving, a prison. This is why, when coming face to face with God’s word, they rebel against it.

59- 60- “When I think on my ways, I turn my feet to Your testimonies.” The solution for sin is found in God’s word. Our shame over our sin should drive us TO His word, not away from it.

63- We make our friendships with those who keep His law.65-72- This passage extols God’s goodness even in times of hardship and attack. God’s word is the psalmist’s comfort and reassurance. Even in difficult times, he values God’s word more than great riches.

75- “In faithfulness You have afflicted me” The psalmist isn’t blaming God or accusing Him of wrong. He knows that what God does, He does for our best. He has already, in the preceding passage shown that affliction was valuable in teaching him to keep God’s commands. He goes on to say in v. 92 that he would have perished in his affliction if it had not been for his delight in God’s word.

81-88- Even when we know God is good and He afflicts us in faithfulness, it gets old and wearisome. The psalmist (88) asks God to ease up, not for his own personal comfort or gain, but so that he will be better able to keep God’s word.

97-104 (Proverbs 1:7)- This passage echoes what we studied in Proverbs this week about wisdom. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” (Proverbs 1) The psalmist shows us that the knowledge of God’s word and the wisdom gained from it surpasses any other form of knowledge or wisdom: the craftiness of the enemy (98), academic knowledge (99), and the wisdom of age and experience (100).

129-136- The psalmist’s deep love for God and His word is palpable. It runs so deep he can scarcely convey it, even with so many descriptions in so many verses. He loves the Lord so much that it breaks his heart for others to continue in sin. This is the love that should fuel our evangelism. God’s testimonies are wonderful (129). They enlighten and give wisdom to even the simplest person (130), yet people throw them away in favor of their sin. It is incomprehensible to the psalmist.

137-144- God has laid down his precepts in righteousness. They are righteous and He is righteous.

158 (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)- We often look at “the faithless” (lost people) with disgust because they do not keep God’s commandments, but we must keep in mind that that’s what lost people do. (That’s what we did before we were saved!- 1 Corinthians 6) They are slaves to sin and need Jesus to set them free.

As we continue to study God’s word,
we will grow to love Christ more and love His word more.

Open my eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. Psalm 119:18

Forgiveness, Obedience, Old Testament, Sin, Sunday School

David’s Sin: You da Man! ~ Sunday School Lesson ~ 5-18-14

sunday school

These are my notes from my ladies’ Sunday School class this morning. I’ll be posting the notes from my class here each week. Click here for last week’s lesson.

Through the Bible in 2014 ~ Week 20 ~ May 11-17
1 Chronicles 19-20, 2 Samuel 10-18, Psalm 20, 65-67, 69-70, 32, 51, 86, 122, 3-4, 12-13, 28, 55
David’s Sin: You da Man!

 

www-St-Takla-org--david

How could David, a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14), sink to the level of committing adultery and murder? What was he thinking? How did he respond to being confronted by Nathan? What can we learn about how to deal with our own sin?

2 Samuel 11, 12:1-15, Psalm 51

2 Samuel 11- Setting the Stage for Sin

v. 1- “But David remained at Jerusalem.”
As we’ve read about David’s previous battles, where did we always find David when the fighting was going on? Back at the palace? No. He was out there with his men, leading things. This time, he was somewhere he wasn’t supposed to be. Can you think of a time when you were somewhere you knew you shouldn’t have been, which led to temptation?

v. 3- Eliam and Uriah: Mighty Men (2 Samuel 23:34, 39)
Both Eliam and Uriah were part of David’s mighty men. These weren’t just nameless, faceless Joe Blows in his army, but part of his inner circle who had been with him through thick and thin with fierce loyalty.

v. 4- The paternity test
Lest there be any question that maybe this was Uriah’s baby after all, verse 4 makes clear that the reason David saw Bathsheba bathing was that she was cleansing herself after “that time of the month.” David took her afterwards and Uriah was miles away at the battle, so only David could have been the father.

v. 8- Making Whoopee
(If you don’t know what that means, you’re not old enough to remember “The Newlywed Game” from the 1960s-70s. YouTube it.) “Go down to your house and wash your feet.” Since washing was done right before bed, this idiom meant for Uriah to go home and enjoy “knowing” his wife in the biblical sense.

thv. 9-13- A man of valor
Uriah, possibly inspired by David’s past honorable leadership, acted more valiantly and loyally here than his king did.

v. 4, 26- A willing participant?
Notice that this passage doesn’t tell us anything about what Bathsheba was thinking or feeling about all this. Remember, David was the king. You didn’t say no to the king if you wanted to live, especially if you were a woman. And furthermore, she knew he was “God’s anointed.” Surely such a man wouldn’t lead her to do anything wrong, would he? So, even if Bathsheba had been attracted to David, there was some level of coercion and advantage taking going on here on David’s part. Verse 26 makes a special point of telling us that she lamented over her husband. She loved him. David didn’t just sin with Bathsheba, he also sinned against her.

v. 27- Evil
I think in this case, the HCSB captures this verse better than the ESV (my preferred/usual translation): “The Lord considered what David had done to be evil.” That pretty much sums up what David had done, and it sums up our sin in God’s eyes as well. Evil.

 

2 Samuel 12:1-15- A Guilty Verdict

v. 1- Confronathan
Nathan wasn’t just a prophet; he was David’s friend and adviser. God sent him to confront David about his sin, and gave him the wisdom and the words to do it in exactly the right way.

v.1-4- The cast of characters
The rich man represented David. The poor man represented Uriah. The lamb represented Bathsheba. What do you think the traveler represented?

v. 4- Leaving out the welcome mat for temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13)
The traveler represented David’s temptation. Temptation is a lot like a visit from a traveling salesman. It comes and goes, it shows up unexpectedly, and it always tries to get you to spend more than you want to on something that seems fabulous but never lives up to the hype. When temptation rang David’s doorbell, he flung open the door and welcomed it in as an invited guest. As new creatures in Christ, we don’t have to do that. 1 Corinthians 10 says God will always provide a way for us to escape temptation.

One of those ways of escape is to not be home to answer the door. As I mentioned earlier, David wasn’t even supposed to be home when that temptation came around. He was supposed to be out on the battlefield with his troops. One way to avoid temptation is to be where you’re supposed to be and not be where you’re not supposed to be.

v. 4- Offering sacrifices to the idol of self
We also see in verse 4 that the rich man not only refused to send the traveler away and welcomed him in, but he also slaughtered a lamb to feed the traveler. The Israelites did slaughter lambs for food, but what else did they slaughter lambs for? Sacrifices.

David didn’t just welcome temptation in, he sacrificed for it. He was no longer sacrificing to honor God, but to gratify his own selfish desires. He sacrificed things that belonged to him—his integrity, his morals, his reputation, his example to his people, and his relationship with God. But he also sacrificed Bathsheba and Uriah who did NOT belong to him.

What are some ways we might sacrifice things, or others, for sin?

v. 5-6- The log in his eye (Matthew 7:3-5)
Isn’t it interesting how we can so clearly see the sin of others while simultaneously being blind to our own sin? “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” (Matt. 7:3)

“He had no pity.” David never considered how his actions would affect Uriah and Bathsheba. He only thought about himself. Temptation and sin blind us to what we’re doing to ourselves, others, and God.

v. 7ff- Faithful are the wounds of a friend (Proverbs 27:6, Galatians 6:1-2, John 15:13)
Nathan was acting in three roles here. He was David’s friend, his brother in the Lord, and the man of God, and he loved David in all three capacities by showing him his sin. In the same way, we are to love our friends, our sisters in Christ, E1221909136and those under our spiritual leadership or influence. We care enough about them to help them out of sin, even at the risk of the relationship (Gal. 6)

Nathan confronted David wisely. Remember, David was the king—he could do (and had done) whatever he wanted to do, and he had already killed one man. Nathan knew this going in. Nathan also acted lovingly, boldly, and firmly. His commitment to what God had told him to do was greater than the love of his own life (John 15) or the love of his relationship with David. How often do we look the other way to keep the peace or preserve a relationship with someone instead of obeying what God has told us to do?

v. 7-9- Against Thee, Thee only…
I, I, I, I… Notice how many times God refers to Himself in these three verses? He is making it clear—and David gets the message as we will see in Psalm 51:4—that it is primarily God against whom David has sinned. Though others may be casualties or collateral damage (as Uriah and Bathsheba were), when we sin, we set ourselves up as enemies of God and wage war against Him.

v. 8- Gimme, gimme (Hebrews 13:5)
If all God had blessed him with had not been enough, God would have given him more. The fact that God had not given him more shows us that God had given David exactly what He wanted him to have. But David was not content with all the blessings God had given him. He selfishly wanted things God didn’t want him to have.

v. 9-10- Hatred for God’s word = Hatred for God
“Despised” and “evil”- When we sin, no matter how “small” it is, we are showing hatred for God’s word. Hating God’s word is evil. Notice in v. 9, “you have despised the word of the Lord,” and in v. 10, “you have despised me.” To despise God’s word is to despise God Himself.

v. 11-12- Public discipline for private sin? (Numbers 32:23)
Why did God discipline David publicly when he had sinned privately?

First, David had not sinned completely privately. Many people knew at least part of what he had done: the servants he sent to take Bathsheba in the first place (4), the servants who were in the house at the time(s) of the affair, Joab, likely several of the soldiers serving directly under Joab and with Uriah, probably the messenger who brought word of Uriah’s death, Nathan, and of course, Bathsheba herself. And you can bet that a lot of those people didn’t keep what they knew to themselves. “Your sin will find you out,” (Num. 32) is certainly true, especially for sins of this magnitude.

With all those people knowing what David had done, how would it reflect on God if He disciplined David privately? It would look as though God had given him a pass, that certain, special people were above God’s law. That’s how things were for kings of pagan nations. Israel and Israel’s God were different, not like the other nations. Furthermore, it would have diminished God’s justice in the eyes of Israel if God disciplined David privately and Israel couldn’t see it. How could they trust His justice if it looked like His justice was inconsistent?

Second, David was famous, highly visible. Like it or not, he set an example for the people. When he did right, it was a good example. Here, he did wrong and it was a bad example. Through his actions and God’s visible discipline, the people learned what not to do in their own lives.

v. 13- Admission of guilt
David didn’t try to justify his sin or retaliate against Nathan. It is precisely because he was a man after God’s own heart that he simply and humbly confessed, “I have sinned.”

v. 13-14- God’s merciful forgiveness
Because David confessed his sin and repented of it, God mercifully forgave him. While David had said the “rich man” should die for his sin (5), and David was guilty of crimes deserving the death penalty, God removed that penalty from him. The consequences of his sin would remain (the death of the baby), but the punishment was taken away.

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Psalm 51- Repentance and Restoration

Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
    blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
    and cleanse me from my sin!

For I know my transgressions,
    and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
    and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
    and blameless in your judgment.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
    and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
    and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
    wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
    let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins,
    and blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
    and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
    and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
    and uphold me with a willing spirit.

Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
    and sinners will return to you.
Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
    O God of my salvation,
    and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
O Lord, open my lips,
    and my mouth will declare your praise.
For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
    you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

Do good to Zion in your good pleasure;
    build up the walls of Jerusalem;
then will you delight in right sacrifices,
    in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings;
    then bulls will be offered on your altar.

Sunday School, Trust

Looking Into the Mirror of Christ ~ Sunday School Lesson ~ 4-27-14

sunday school

These are my notes from my ladies’ Sunday School class this morning. I’ll be posting the notes from my class here each week. Click here for last week’s lesson.

Through the Bible in 2014 ~ Week 17 ~ Apr. 20-26
Psalm 121, 123-125, 128-130, 6, 8-10, 14, 16, 19, 21, 43, 45, 49, 84-85, 87, 73, 77-78,
2 Samuel 1-4, 1 Chronicles 1-5
Looking Into the Mirror of Christ

What is the purpose of a mirror? It’s for seeing what we look like on the outside. As women, we often look in the mirror to make sure our hair is behaving, to see that our make up is straight, to find out how we look in a certain outfit. But we MH900442449also look into “mirrors” to see what we look like on the inside. Often, the mirrors we turn to in times of trouble or use to measure our self worth—how many friends we have, what others say or think about us, what we think about ourselves, whether people feel sorry for us or compliment us, even the number of “likes” we get on a Facebook status—are like the mirrors in an amusement park fun house. We never get a true reflection of who we are on the inside because the mirror itself is distorted. The only way to get a true reflection is to take our eyes off the distorted mirrors and put them on the perfect mirror of Christ and His word.

Background
We usually think of the book of Psalms as having been written by David, but, in fact, of the 150 psalms, David wrote 73, 50 are anonymous (some possibly written by David), and the others were written by other authors. Psalms was the “hymnal” of biblical times, and, indeed, there are churches even today whose only worship songs are psalms set to music. As with our own worship music, Psalms covers a variety of topics from creation to the attributes and mighty works of God to laments and requests from God. Today, we’re going to take a look at some of the more personal psalms from different authors in which the psalmist is crying out to God about his own situation.

Psalm 121, 123

What kind of mirror does the psalmist hold up? (121:1-2, 123:1-2)
When we look into a regular mirror, we see ourselves reflected back. When we look into one of those fun house mt-haunted-mansion-nathan-timmirrors I mentioned, we see a distorted image of ourselves reflected back. But there’s another kind of mirror we can look into. Have you ever been on the “Haunted Mansion” ride at Disney World? At one point in the ride, you find yourself facing a mirror, but what you see reflected back is a hologram (a “ghost”) of one of the people who used to live there.

Where does the psalmist direct us to look in these two passages? To the Lord. Where do we find the Lord? In the mirror of His word. When we look into the mirror of the Word, what do we see? Ourselves? No. Kind of like that “Haunted Mansion” mirror, we see the Lord reflected back in all of His goodness and glory. Our eyes are not to be on ourselves – whether we measure up, whether we’re important enough or good enough or worthwhile human beings— but on the Lord.

What do we notice about the Lord’s reflection?

The Lord is sufficient in all things (121:2-4, 123:1)
He made heaven and earth (121:2), so He is all powerful (omnipotent) and capable of rightly handling all situations. He neither sleeps nor slumbers (121:3-4), so He is all knowing (omniscient). He is aware of and involved in every aspect of life. He is “enthroned in the heavens” (123:1). What is the rank of someone who is “enthroned”? A king. A king has sovereign jurisdiction over every inch of his kingdom. He has the final word in all things, and no one outranks him. What comprises God’s kingdom? The universe. He has perfect, final, and sovereign jurisdiction over every inch of the universe, and no one outranks Him. He is complete and sufficient. This is why we need only look to Him for all things, including a right view of ourselves.

Because He is sufficient in all things, the Lord is our help, stability, protection, provider, and mercy for the needs of our souls (121:1, 3, Psalm 62:2, 121:5-8, 123:2-4)

The Lord is our help (121:1). Notice that the psalmist does not qualify that statement. It is blanket, all encompassing. The Lord is our help in all situations. Others may turn away or be incapable when we need help. He will not.

The Lord is our stability (121:3). While the storms of life may rage around us and try to blow us over, He holds us firmly to Himself, the rock of our salvation (62:2). People are not stable. They can let us down and fail to be there for us. God will not.

The Lord is our eternal protector (121:5-8). He keeps us through the difficult times. Notice that the psalmist does not say that God will do away with the sun, the moon, evil, or even death, but that God will be our shade, he will protect from destruction by the sun and moon, and that He will keep our lives. He will keep our going out and coming in – every step we take—from this time forth and forever more. People are not capable of preserving us in this way, but God is.

The Lord is our provider (123:2). Just as an earthly slave would look to his master to provide everything: food, shelter, clothing, health care, etc., we are to look to and depend on our kind and gracious Master who never fails to provide us with all we need. It is not the job of friends or family to provide us with self worth or fulfill our need for emotional support. That is God’s job, and He does it perfectly. That is why we look to Him for those things.

The Lord is our mercy (123:2-4). God sees all aspects of our lives, and He alone is able to provide us with merciful relief from difficult situations, or merciful grace to see us through those situations. And He’s not only capable of doing so, He will do so. Notice (2) that the psalmist doesn’t say “our eyes look to the Lord…hoping, perchance, that He might have mercy,” but “till He has mercy.” The psalmist is confident that it is God’s intention to show mercy. People cannot alleviate our circumstances or carry us through them, nor would they always be willing to do so even if they could, in fact, sometimes the people we would look to in difficult times can actually be the cause of those difficult times (4). Only God can mercifully take away or see us through tough situations.

As we can see, people are often undependable or incapable of giving us what we need emotionally, and completely unable to provide for our spiritual needs. This is why God’s word never directs us to look to the mirror of ourselves or to others for our inner needs or fulfillment, but rather to the mirror of His word and the reflection of Christ. Only God is capable of being, and wants to be, our sufficiency in all areas of life. We must look to God and depend on Him for these things.

Psalm 77

In times of trouble, we look back to the mighty deeds of God in the past.
The first nine verses of this psalm are a lament. Asaph doesn’t explain exactly what’s going on in his life—and maybe that’s beneficial to us because we can all relate to what he’s feeling here regardless of the specific circumstances—but he’s going through a really gut-wrenching time.

Where does Asaph turn? He starts out determined to cry out to the Lord over his situation. He knows in his mind that the Lord “will hear me” (1), but as he begins to pray, he takes his eyes off the Lord, begins to focus on the problems themselves (3- I moan…my spirit faints), and gets overwhelmed. Notice that when he looks back to the mirror of better circumstances (5) or happier times (6- “my song in the night”) or looks to himself (6- let me meditate in my heart) for the solution to his troubles, he only despairs more (7-9).

Finally, Asaph realizes that the only thing that will help is to focus on the Lord Himself (9- His hand), His power (9- “Right hand” is a metaphor for strength), and His deliverance in years gone by (9- the years). He looks into the mirror of God’s steadfast faithfulness.

Asaph doesn’t just recount the details (11- deeds) of what God has done in the past, he also recalls that God’s works evoke a sense of wonder (11,14) for both those who witnessed them and those who think back on them. And Asaph doesn’t merely recall and regurgitate the details of these deeds, he ponders them. He meditates on them (12). He turns them over and over in his mind, considering how they reflect God’s might (12, 14), His holiness, greatness, and superiority to other gods (13). Asaph thinks about how God redeemed His people (15) and would redeem him from his troubles, God’s 1185602_570889882972492_1155182179_npower over nature (16-18) and His power over Asaph’s situation. And even though Israel couldn’t see God Himself, He still led them (19-20), the same way he would lead Asaph, though unseen. If God was powerful enough to redeem Israel, have power over nature, and lead Israel, He was powerful enough to handle Asaph’s situation.

When we face difficult times, Asaph sets a great example for us. We look not to ourselves, others, or circumstances, we look to God, determined to cry out to Him. We ponder His wonder, holiness, power, and greatness. We look at what He has done in the past in His word and in our own lives, knowing that if He was powerful enough to handle those situations, He is powerful enough to handle the present one. We remember that as God has been faithful in the past, He will continue to be faithful in the future.

Psalm 130

There is hope in the Lord (1 John 1:9)
Finally, we turn to the Lord, because in Him, and in no other, is hope.

There is hope of His forgiveness (2-4). When we cry out to God for mercy, He has promised to forgive us (1 John). With Christ, we do not have to stand hopeless and condemned in our sin.

There is hope in His word (5). Not only can we find hope in God’s great and mighty deeds from the past in His word, but we can also find hope in the attributes of God described by the Bible (His goodness, holiness, mercy, compassion, etc.), and in the promises He has made in His word (He will provide, He hears our prayers, He will never leave us, etc.), because we know He will never break them. We cannot find this kind of perfect hope in others.

There is hope because the Lord is trustworthy (5-6). “I wait,” the psalmist says, “more than the watchmen for the morning.” The watchmen knew the morning was coming. How much more does the psalmist know that the Lord will answer him with hope?

There is hope in God’s steadfast love and His plentiful redemption (7-8). The psalmist wasn’t hoping for fleeting things like riches or temporary happiness. He was looking at the big picture. The spiritual picture: God’s eternal love and His redemption from sin. This is our hope as well.

As we face difficult times, like the psalmist, we must keep our eyes focused on the Lord as He is reflected in the mirror of His word, not on our own reflection or the way others reflect us. The Lord is the only one powerful enough to give us the help, stability, protection, provision, and mercy to meet the needs of our souls. Others will let us down, but as we look to God’s faithfulness in the past, we find hope for the present and the future.