Saturday, May 8, 2010

We Trust in the Name of the Lord Our God



The song is mostly from verse 7:
7 Some nations boast of their chariots and horses,
but we boast in the name of the Lord our God.

Psalm 20
For the choir director: A psalm of David.


1 In times of trouble, may the Lord answer your cry.
May the name of the God of Jacob keep you safe from all harm.
2 May he send you help from his sanctuary
and strengthen you from Jerusalem.[a]
3 May he remember all your gifts
and look favorably on your burnt offerings.Interlude

4 May he grant your heart’s desires
and make all your plans succeed.
5 May we shout for joy when we hear of your victory
and raise a victory banner in the name of our God.
May the Lord answer all your prayers.

6 Now I know that the Lord rescues his anointed king.
He will answer him from his holy heaven
and rescue him by his great power.
7 Some nations boast of their chariots and horses,
but we boast in the name of the Lord our God.
8 Those nations will fall down and collapse,
but we will rise up and stand firm.

9 Give victory to our king, O Lord!
Answer our cry for help.

I will always proclaim what God has done.



Psalm 75
For the choir director: A psalm of Asaph. A song to be sung to the tune “Do Not Destroy!”


1 We thank you, O God!
We give thanks because you are near.
People everywhere tell of your wonderful deeds.

2 God says, “At the time I have planned,
I will bring justice against the wicked.
3 When the earth quakes and its people live in turmoil,
I am the one who keeps its foundations firm.Interlude

4 “I warned the proud, ‘Stop your boasting!’
I told the wicked, ‘Don’t raise your fists!
5 Don’t raise your fists in defiance at the heavens
or speak with such arrogance.’”
6 For no one on earth—from east or west,
or even from the wilderness—
should raise a defiant fist.[a]
7 It is God alone who judges;
he decides who will rise and who will fall.
8 For the Lord holds a cup in his hand
that is full of foaming wine mixed with spices.
He pours out the wine in judgment,
and all the wicked must drink it,
draining it to the dregs.

9 But as for me, I will always proclaim what God has done;
I will sing praises to the God of Jacob.
10 For God says, “I will break the strength of the wicked,
but I will increase the power of the godly.”

(I love the video. I understand it. Don't you?)

Trample!



Psalm 60
For the choir director: A psalm of David useful for teaching, regarding the time David fought Aram-naharaim and Aram-zobah, and Joab returned and killed 12,000 Edomites in the Valley of Salt. To be sung to the tune “Lily of the Testimony.”


1 You have rejected us, O God, and broken our defenses.
You have been angry with us; now restore us to your favor.
2 You have shaken our land and split it open.
Seal the cracks, for the land trembles.
3 You have been very hard on us,
making us drink wine that sent us reeling.
4 But you have raised a banner for those who fear you—
a rallying point in the face of attack.Interlude

5 Now rescue your beloved people.
Answer and save us by your power.
6 God has promised this by his holiness[a]:
“I will divide up Shechem with joy.
I will measure out the valley of Succoth.
7 Gilead is mine,
and Manasseh, too.
Ephraim, my helmet, will produce my warriors,
and Judah, my scepter, will produce my kings.
8 But Moab, my washbasin, will become my servant,
and I will wipe my feet on Edom
and shout in triumph over Philistia.”

9 Who will bring me into the fortified city?
Who will bring me victory over Edom?
10 Have you rejected us, O God?
Will you no longer march with our armies?
11 Oh, please help us against our enemies,
for all human help is useless.
12 With God’s help we will do mighty things,
for he will trample down our foes."

(Did you recognize the tune, "Lily of the Testimony")

The Fool Has Said in his Heart - There is No God!



Psalm 53
For the choir director: A meditation; a psalm[a] of David.


1 Only fools say in their hearts,
“There is no God.”
They are corrupt, and their actions are evil;
not one of them does good!

2 God looks down from heaven
on the entire human race;
he looks to see if anyone is truly wise,
if anyone seeks God.
3 But no, all have turned away;
all have become corrupt.[b]
No one does good,
not a single one!

4 Will those who do evil never learn?
They eat up my people like bread
and wouldn’t think of praying to God.
5 Terror will grip them,
terror like they have never known before.
God will scatter the bones of your enemies.
You will put them to shame, for God has rejected them.

6 Who will come from Mount Zion to rescue Israel?
When God restores his people,
Jacob will shout with joy, and Israel will rejoice.

Ziba to care for Mephibosheth and Micah


King David had a noble streak.
Here he fulfills his promise to his dead friend Jonathan. As a young man he promised he would take care of Jonathan's family after David became king.
Now he does so...

2 Samuel 9
David’s Kindness to Mephibosheth
1 One day David asked, “Is anyone in Saul’s family still alive—anyone to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” 2 He summoned a man named Ziba, who had been one of Saul’s servants. “Are you Ziba?” the king asked.

“Yes sir, I am,” Ziba replied.

3 The king then asked him, “Is anyone still alive from Saul’s family? If so, I want to show God’s kindness to them.”

Ziba replied, “Yes, one of Jonathan’s sons is still alive. He is crippled in both feet.”

4 “Where is he?” the king asked.

“In Lo-debar,” Ziba told him, “at the home of Makir son of Ammiel.”

5 So David sent for him and brought him from Makir’s home. 6 His name was Mephibosheth[h]; he was Jonathan’s son and Saul’s grandson. When he came to David, he bowed low to the ground in deep respect. David said, “Greetings, Mephibosheth.”

Mephibosheth replied, “I am your servant.”

7 “Don’t be afraid!” David said. “I intend to show kindness to you because of my promise to your father, Jonathan. I will give you all the property that once belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will eat here with me at the king’s table!”

8 Mephibosheth bowed respectfully and exclaimed, “Who is your servant, that you should show such kindness to a dead dog like me?”

9 Then the king summoned Saul’s servant Ziba and said, “I have given your master’s grandson everything that belonged to Saul and his family. 10 You and your sons and servants are to farm the land for him to produce food for your master’s household.[i] But Mephibosheth, your master’s grandson, will eat here at my table.” (Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants.)

Ziba replied, 11 “Yes, my lord the king; I am your servant, and I will do all that you have commanded.” And from that time on, Mephibosheth ate regularly at David’s table,[j] like one of the king’s own sons.

12 Mephibosheth had a young son named Mica. From then on, all the members of Ziba’s household were Mephibosheth’s servants. 13 And Mephibosheth, who was crippled in both feet, lived in Jerusalem and ate regularly at the king’s table."

I suspect Mephibosheth came thinking he was going to be executed.
Instead he was cared for - for the rest of his life.

David - Ruthless to his enemies, Just to his people



War is never a nice thing.
Historically, the benefits of winning war were enormous, the loss suffered at losing war were devastating.

So David was on top of the heap. The most accomplished warrior of the time. He was, however, ruthless. This following segment is hard to read. However, the Bible does not sugarcoat it at all.

(For mature audiences only...)

2 Samuel 8:1 "After this, David defeated and subdued the Philistines by conquering Gath, their largest town.[a] 2 David also conquered the land of Moab. He made the people lie down on the ground in a row, and he measured them off in groups with a length of rope. He measured off two groups to be executed for every one group to be spared. The Moabites who were spared became David’s subjects and paid him tribute money.

3 David also destroyed the forces of Hadadezer son of Rehob, king of Zobah, when Hadadezer marched out to strengthen his control along the Euphrates River. 4 David captured 1,700 charioteers[b] and 20,000 foot soldiers. He crippled all the chariot horses except enough for 100 chariots.

5 When Arameans from Damascus arrived to help King Hadadezer, David killed 22,000 of them. 6 Then he placed several army garrisons in Damascus, the Aramean capital, and the Arameans became David’s subjects and paid him tribute money. So the Lord made David victorious wherever he went.

7 David brought the gold shields of Hadadezer’s officers to Jerusalem, 8 along with a large amount of bronze from Hadadezer’s towns of Tebah[c] and Berothai.

9 When King Toi of Hamath heard that David had destroyed the entire army of Hadadezer, 10 he sent his son Joram to congratulate King David for his successful campaign. Hadadezer and Toi had been enemies and were often at war. Joram presented David with many gifts of silver, gold, and bronze.

11 King David dedicated all these gifts to the Lord, as he did with the silver and gold from the other nations he had defeated—12 from Edom,[d] Moab, Ammon, Philistia, and Amalek—and from Hadadezer son of Rehob, king of Zobah.

13 So David became very famous. After his return he destroyed 18,000 Edomites[e] in the Valley of Salt. 14 He placed army garrisons throughout Edom, and all the Edomites became David’s subjects. In fact, the Lord made David victorious wherever he went.

15 So David reigned over all Israel and did what was just and right for all his people. 16 Joab son of Zeruiah was commander of the army. Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud was the royal historian. 17 Zadok son of Ahitub and Ahimelech son of Abiathar were the priests. Seraiah was the court secretary. 18 Benaiah son of Jehoiada was captain of the king’s bodyguard.[f] And David’s sons served as priestly leaders."

The Lord made David victorious.

Wow!

He was a good man. A righteous man. A deeply devoted man.

But it sure sucked to be one of his enemies!

We are merely moving shadows... A traveller passing through...



Psalm 39
For Jeduthun, the choir director: A psalm of David.


1 I said to myself, “I will watch what I do
and not sin in what I say.
I will hold my tongue
when the ungodly are around me.”
2 But as I stood there in silence—
not even speaking of good things—
the turmoil within me grew worse.
3 The more I thought about it,
the hotter I got,
igniting a fire of words:
4 “Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be.
Remind me that my days are numbered—
how fleeting my life is.
5 You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand.
My entire lifetime is just a moment to you;
at best, each of us is but a breath.”Interlude

6 We are merely moving shadows,
and all our busy rushing ends in nothing.
We heap up wealth,
not knowing who will spend it.
7 And so, Lord, where do I put my hope?
My only hope is in you.
8 Rescue me from my rebellion.
Do not let fools mock me.
9 I am silent before you; I won’t say a word,
for my punishment is from you.
10 But please stop striking me!
I am exhausted by the blows from your hand.
11 When you discipline us for our sins,
you consume like a moth what is precious to us.
Each of us is but a breath.Interlude

12 Hear my prayer, O Lord!
Listen to my cries for help!
Don’t ignore my tears.
For I am your guest—
a traveler passing through,
as my ancestors were before me.
13 Leave me alone so I can smile again
before I am gone and exist no more.

Your Love, Oh Lord, Reaches to the Heavens!



Psalm 36
For the choir director: A psalm of David, the servant of the Lord.


1 "Sin whispers to the wicked, deep within their hearts.
They have no fear of God at all.
2 In their blind conceit,
they cannot see how wicked they really are.
3 Everything they say is crooked and deceitful.
They refuse to act wisely or do good.
4 They lie awake at night, hatching sinful plots.
Their actions are never good.
They make no attempt to turn from evil.

5 Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as vast as the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds.
6 Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,
your justice like the ocean depths.
You care for people and animals alike, O Lord.
7 How precious is your unfailing love, O God!
All humanity finds shelter
in the shadow of your wings.
8 You feed them from the abundance of your own house,
letting them drink from your river of delights.
9 For you are the fountain of life,
the light by which we see.

10 Pour out your unfailing love on those who love you;
give justice to those with honest hearts.
11 Don’t let the proud trample me
or the wicked push me around.
12 Look! Those who do evil have fallen!
They are thrown down, never to rise again."

Let the Godly Sing for Joy



Psalm 33
1 "Let the godly sing for joy to the Lord;
it is fitting for the pure to praise him.
2 Praise the Lord with melodies on the lyre;
make music for him on the ten-stringed harp.
3 Sing a new song of praise to him;
play skillfully on the harp, and sing with joy.
4 For the word of the Lord holds true,
and we can trust everything he does.
5 He loves whatever is just and good;
the unfailing love of the Lord fills the earth.

6 The Lord merely spoke,
and the heavens were created.
He breathed the word,
and all the stars were born.
7 He assigned the sea its boundaries
and locked the oceans in vast reservoirs.
8 Let the whole world fear the Lord,
and let everyone stand in awe of him.
9 For when he spoke, the world began!
It appeared at his command.

10 The Lord frustrates the plans of the nations
and thwarts all their schemes.
11 But the Lord’s plans stand firm forever;
his intentions can never be shaken.

12 What joy for the nation whose God is the Lord,
whose people he has chosen as his inheritance.

13 The Lord looks down from heaven
and sees the whole human race.
14 From his throne he observes
all who live on the earth.
15 He made their hearts,
so he understands everything they do.
16 The best-equipped army cannot save a king,
nor is great strength enough to save a warrior.
17 Don’t count on your warhorse to give you victory—
for all its strength, it cannot save you.

18 But the Lord watches over those who fear him,
those who rely on his unfailing love.
19 He rescues them from death
and keeps them alive in times of famine.

20 We put our hope in the Lord.
He is our help and our shield.
21 In him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in his holy name.
22 Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord,
for our hope is in you alone."

In Your Love Remember Me!



Psalm 25
[a]A psalm of David.

1 "O Lord, I give my life to you.
2 I trust in you, my God!
Do not let me be disgraced,
or let my enemies rejoice in my defeat.
3 No one who trusts in you will ever be disgraced,
but disgrace comes to those who try to deceive others.

4 Show me the right path, O Lord;
point out the road for me to follow.
5 Lead me by your truth and teach me,
for you are the God who saves me.
All day long I put my hope in you.
6 Remember, O Lord, your compassion and unfailing love,
which you have shown from long ages past.
7 Do not remember the rebellious sins of my youth.
Remember me in the light of your unfailing love,
for you are merciful, O Lord.

8 The Lord is good and does what is right;
he shows the proper path to those who go astray.
9 He leads the humble in doing right,
teaching them his way.
10 The Lord leads with unfailing love and faithfulness
all who keep his covenant and obey his demands.

11 For the honor of your name, O Lord,
forgive my many, many sins.
12 Who are those who fear the Lord?
He will show them the path they should choose.
13 They will live in prosperity,
and their children will inherit the land.
14 The Lord is a friend to those who fear him.
He teaches them his covenant.
15 My eyes are always on the Lord,
for he rescues me from the traps of my enemies.

16 Turn to me and have mercy,
for I am alone and in deep distress.
17 My problems go from bad to worse.
Oh, save me from them all!
18 Feel my pain and see my trouble.
Forgive all my sins.
19 See how many enemies I have
and how viciously they hate me!
20 Protect me! Rescue my life from them!
Do not let me be disgraced, for in you I take refuge.
21 May integrity and honesty protect me,
for I put my hope in you.

22 O God, ransom Israel
from all its troubles."

Who am I, O Sovereign Lord?

David had come a long way.
From shepherd boy to King.
From living in the fields, to a magnificent palace overlooking Jerusalem.

But because he routinely prayed and worshipped God, he did not forget the huge gap between the most accomplished man, and the eternal, everlasting Creator of Heaven and Earth!

18 "Then King David went in and sat before the Lord and prayed,


“Who am I, O Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? 19 And now, Sovereign Lord, in addition to everything else, you speak of giving your servant a lasting dynasty! Do you deal with everyone this way, O Sovereign Lord?[c]

20 “What more can I say to you? You know what your servant is really like, Sovereign Lord. 21 Because of your promise and according to your will, you have done all these great things and have made them known to your servant.

22 “How great you are, O Sovereign Lord! There is no one like you. We have never even heard of another God like you! 23 What other nation on earth is like your people Israel? What other nation, O God, have you redeemed from slavery to be your own people? You made a great name for yourself when you redeemed your people from Egypt. You performed awesome miracles and drove out the nations and gods that stood in their way.[d] 24 You made Israel your very own people forever, and you, O Lord, became their God.

25 “And now, O Lord God, I am your servant; do as you have promised concerning me and my family. Confirm it as a promise that will last forever. 26 And may your name be honored forever so that everyone will say, ‘The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is God over Israel!’ And may the house of your servant David continue before you forever.

27 “O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, God of Israel, I have been bold enough to pray this prayer to you because you have revealed all this to your servant, saying, ‘I will build a house for you—a dynasty of kings!’ 28 For you are God, O Sovereign Lord. Your words are truth, and you have promised these good things to your servant. 29 And now, may it please you to bless the house of your servant, so that it may continue forever before you. For you have spoken, and when you grant a blessing to your servant, O Sovereign Lord, it is an eternal blessing!”

David is in a Palace


David's in a palace
All comfortable and fine
While God's place is a tent
Odd digs for the sublime

This bothers David a lot
and he summons God's man
Gotta build God a spot
That is Sublime and grand

Nathan says "Yup"
Sounds good to me my king
That night God says "Stop"
"I don't need a thing

"David is a warrior
His hands are full of blood
I won't let him build me
A place to show his love."

(Psalm 151 Words and music by Phil Leng)



2 Samuel 7:1 When King David was settled in his palace and the Lord had given him rest from all the surrounding enemies, 2 the king summoned Nathan the prophet. “Look,” David said, “I am living in a beautiful cedar palace,[a] but the Ark of God is out there in a tent!”

3 Nathan replied to the king, “Go ahead and do whatever you have in mind, for the Lord is with you.”

4 But that same night the Lord said to Nathan,

5 “Go and tell my servant David, ‘This is what the Lord has declared: Are you the one to build a house for me to live in? 6 I have never lived in a house, from the day I brought the Israelites out of Egypt until this very day. I have always moved from one place to another with a tent and a Tabernacle as my dwelling. 7 Yet no matter where I have gone with the Israelites, I have never once complained to Israel’s tribal leaders, the shepherds of my people Israel. I have never asked them, “Why haven’t you built me a beautiful cedar house?”’

8 “Now go and say to my servant David, ‘This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies has declared: I took you from tending sheep in the pasture and selected you to be the leader of my people Israel. 9 I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have destroyed all your enemies before your eyes. Now I will make your name as famous as anyone who has ever lived on the earth! 10 And I will provide a homeland for my people Israel, planting them in a secure place where they will never be disturbed. Evil nations won’t oppress them as they’ve done in the past, 11 starting from the time I appointed judges to rule my people Israel. And I will give you rest from all your enemies.

“‘Furthermore, the Lord declares that he will make a house for you—a dynasty of kings! 12 For when you die and are buried with your ancestors, I will raise up one of your descendants, your own offspring, and I will make his kingdom strong. 13 He is the one who will build a house—a temple—for my name. And I will secure his royal throne forever. 14 I will be his father, and he will be my son. If he sins, I will correct and discipline him with the rod, like any father would do. 15 But my favor will not be taken from him as I took it from Saul, whom I removed from your sight. 16 Your house and your kingdom will continue before me[b] for all time, and your throne will be secure forever.’”

17 So Nathan went back to David and told him everything the Lord had said in this vision."

I have been with you wherever you have gone

Scenes from David's life:
Do you remember facing Goliath?
Do you remember dodging Saul's spear? No once but at least twice?
Do you remember being run out of your house? Saul's daughter helping you escape?
Do you remember Saul plotting to kill you? Jonathan the rightful heir your only inside ally?
Do you remember being broke and alone? The priest giving you holy bread so you wouldn't starve?
Do you remember fleeing to the Gathites? Acting crazy so as to not get killed?
Do you remember the entire Israelite army against you? Hiding behind rocks and caves for your life?
Do you remember Achish? Where all your family and all your possessions were stolen, presumed gone for ever?
David, do you remember all this?

I the Lord have been with you wherever you have gone.

2 Samuel 7:1 "When King David was settled in his palace and the Lord had given him rest from all the surrounding enemies, 2 the king summoned Nathan the prophet. “Look,” David said, “I am living in a beautiful cedar palace,[a] but the Ark of God is out there in a tent!”

3 Nathan replied to the king, “Go ahead and do whatever you have in mind, for the Lord is with you.”

4 But that same night the Lord said to Nathan,

5 “Go and tell my servant David, ‘This is what the Lord has declared: Are you the one to build a house for me to live in? 6 I have never lived in a house, from the day I brought the Israelites out of Egypt until this very day. I have always moved from one place to another with a tent and a Tabernacle as my dwelling. 7 Yet no matter where I have gone with the Israelites, I have never once complained to Israel’s tribal leaders, the shepherds of my people Israel. I have never asked them, “Why haven’t you built me a beautiful cedar house?”’
8 “Now go and say to my servant David, ‘This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies has declared: I took you from tending sheep in the pasture and selected you to be the leader of my people Israel. 9 I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have destroyed all your enemies before your eyes."

I have been with you wherever you have gone.

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Shepherd's Psalm


Every single word of this little Psalm became precious to me back 3 years ago when my financial world started to crumble.

That the Lord, the Lord Almighty, would by MY shepherd, my guide, watching out for my welfare, was and is amazing to me.

Psalm 23
A psalm of David.


1 "The Lord is my shepherd;
I have all that I need.
2 He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
3 He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to his name.
4 Even when I walk
through the darkest valley,[c]
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
protect and comfort me.
5 You prepare a feast for me
in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.
6 Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord
forever."

How to Please God...



Psalm 15

Did you ever wish for a list? A guide to follow to see if you are pleasing God or not?
Although legalism is not a way to please God, there are certain characteristics that do.
Here they are...

A psalm of David.

1 "Who may worship in your sanctuary, Lord?
Who may enter your presence on your holy hill?
2 Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right,
speaking the truth from sincere hearts.
3 Those who refuse to gossip
or harm their neighbors
or speak evil of their friends.
4 Those who despise flagrant sinners,
and honor the faithful followers of the Lord,
and keep their promises even when it hurts.
5 Those who lend money without charging interest,
and who cannot be bribed to lie about the innocent.
Such people will stand firm forever."

How Blessed is the Person

Oh the joys...
How Blessed...

Do not be:
"those who do not
follow the advice of the wicked,
or stand around with sinners,
or join in with mockers."

Do be:
2 "But they delight in the law of the Lord,
meditating on it day and night."

Result:
3 "They are like trees planted along the riverbank,
bearing fruit each season.
Their leaves never wither,
and they prosper in all they do."

Contrast of the Godly and the Wicked:
4 "But not the wicked!
They are like worthless chaff, scattered by the wind.
5 They will be condemned at the time of judgment.
Sinners will have no place among the godly.
6 For the Lord watches over the path of the godly,
but the path of the wicked leads to destruction."


Psalm 1
1 "Oh, the joys of those who do not
follow the advice of the wicked,
or stand around with sinners,
or join in with mockers.
2 But they delight in the law of the Lord,
meditating on it day and night.
3 They are like trees planted along the riverbank,
bearing fruit each season.
Their leaves never wither,
and they prosper in all they do.

4 But not the wicked!
They are like worthless chaff, scattered by the wind.
5 They will be condemned at the time of judgment.
Sinners will have no place among the godly.
6 For the Lord watches over the path of the godly,
but the path of the wicked leads to destruction."

How blessed is the person...

Thursday, May 6, 2010

It's OK Now!

King David was an emotional man.
He was very excited with the idea of bringing the Ark to Jerusalem.
He wanted to do it with panache.
God would be honored, the people would be happy. He would feel great about doing the right thing, and doing it with "over-the-top" celebration.

Then God - the very God he was trying to please and honor - ruined his parade.

He was confused. Hurt. Angry.

As well as royally embarassed!

Was he not supposed to be blessed by God?
Was this not for God's glory?
He wanted to praise and honor God in the most public way possible.

Instead he was humilliated in the most public way possible.

So he parks the Ark in a farmer's house near by, and goes back to Jerusalem sulking and disillusioned, and confused.

12 "Then King David was told, “The Lord has blessed Obed-edom’s household and everything he has because of the Ark of God.”

What?

"So David went there and brought the Ark of God from the house of Obed-edom to the City of David with a great celebration."

OK. So let's try this again. Maybe the disaster wasn't about David at all! Maybe it was about Uzzah and his presumption with touching something holy that God had said not to touch!

So - celebration, take two! But this time David was taking no chances about making sure God was pleased!

 13 "After the men who were carrying the Ark of the Lord had gone six steps, David sacrificed a bull and a fattened calf."

Take six steps. No fire from heaven? - Check!

Sacrifice a bull and fattened calf. Is God pleased? - Check!

OK. Let's rock and roll!!

 14 "And David danced before the Lord with all his might, wearing a priestly garment.[g] 15 So David and all the people of Israel brought up the Ark of the Lord with shouts of joy and the blowing of rams’ horns."

The celebration was complete. David went crazy in his praise, adoration, worship and physical expression of exhuberance before God.

They were probably singing and playing some of the favorite praise tunes he had made up. It was a time of pure joy for him...

0ops!!


Picture this:

The band is playing like crazy. The people are singing jubilantly.
30000 elite troops are marching in formation.
A large group of people have gathered for the great and exciting event.

The Nation of Israel, led by David their new king, is bringing the Ark of God to Jerusalem!

Emotions are high. Joy is in the air. The music is great!

Then:

6 "But when they arrived at the threshing floor of Nacon, the oxen stumbled, and Uzzah reached out his hand and steadied the Ark of God. 7 Then the Lord’s anger was aroused against Uzzah, and God struck him dead because of this.[f] So Uzzah died right there beside the Ark of God."

Zzzzzst!! Lighning struck from heaven!

One of the priests lay wretching and kicking his last gasp as smoke comes off his clothes.

The parade stops. The mood turns for extreme joy to horror!

8 "David was angry because the Lord’s anger had burst out against Uzzah. He named that place Perez-uzzah (which means “to burst out against Uzzah”), as it is still called today."

That was the end of the parade...

9 "David was now afraid of the Lord, and he asked, “How can I ever bring the Ark of the Lord back into my care?” 10 So David decided not to move the Ark of the Lord into the City of David. Instead, he took it to the house of Obed-edom of Gath. 11 The Ark of the Lord remained there in Obed-edom’s house for three months, and the Lord blessed Obed-edom and his entire household."

(Have you ever wondered where the imagery came for the expression, "God is going to zap you", or "Will God strike me dead", or "Is God going to send lightning from heaven to kill me"? It comes from this passage.)

Thankfully, this is not God's pattern. It only happened once like this in the Bible.

But it IS His perogative...

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A Major Worship Production



2 Samuel 6
Moving the Ark to Jerusalem

1 "Then David again gathered all the elite troops in Israel, 30,000 in all. 2 He led them to Baalah of Judah[c] to bring back the Ark of God, which bears the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies,[d] who is enthroned between the cherubim.

3 They placed the Ark of God on a new cart and brought it from Abinadab’s house, which was on a hill. Uzzah and Ahio, Abinadab’s sons, were guiding the cart as it left the house, 4 carrying the Ark of God. Ahio walked in front of the Ark.

5 David and all the people of Israel were celebrating before the Lord, singing songs[e] and playing all kinds of musical instruments—lyres, harps, tambourines, castanets, and cymbals".

Trouble!

David is loved for his praise songs and worship.
But he became famous and powerful for his courage and military ability.

He is no sooner settled in as king and the Philistines get all their forces together to wipe him out. His kingdom is going to be VERY short lived, and he will live the rest of his life as a slave.

17 "When the Philistines heard that David had been anointed king of Israel, they mobilized all their forces to capture him. But David was told they were coming, so he went into the stronghold. 18 The Philistines arrived and spread out across the valley of Rephaim. 19 So David asked the Lord, “Should I go out to fight the Philistines? Will you hand them over to me?”

The Lord replied to David, “Yes, go ahead. I will certainly hand them over to you.”

20 So David went to Baal-perazim and defeated the Philistines there. “The Lord did it!” David exclaimed. “He burst through my enemies like a raging flood!” So he named that place Baal-perazim (which means “the Lord who bursts through”). 21 The Philistines had abandoned their idols there, so David and his men confiscated them."

He prayed to God!
And fought like a his very life depended upon it!
They BURST through the Philistines and put the enemy on the run.

David did his part.
But he gave all the credit to God...

Give thanks to the Lord

This is long, but I could not cut it off!



Psalm 107

1 "Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
His faithful love endures forever.
2 Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out!
Tell others he has redeemed you from your enemies.
3 For he has gathered the exiles from many lands,
from east and west,
from north and south.

4 Some wandered in the wilderness,
lost and homeless.
5 Hungry and thirsty,
they nearly died.
6 “Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble,
and he rescued them from their distress.
7 He led them straight to safety,
to a city where they could live.
8 Let them praise the Lord for his great love
and for the wonderful things he has done for them.
9 For he satisfies the thirsty
and fills the hungry with good things.

10 Some sat in darkness and deepest gloom,
imprisoned in iron chains of misery.
11 They rebelled against the words of God,
scorning the counsel of the Most High.
12 That is why he broke them with hard labor;
they fell, and no one was there to help them.
13 “Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress.
14 He led them from the darkness and deepest gloom;
he snapped their chains.
15 Let them praise the Lord for his great love
and for the wonderful things he has done for them.
16 For he broke down their prison gates of bronze;
he cut apart their bars of iron.

17 Some were fools; they rebelled
and suffered for their sins.
18 They couldn’t stand the thought of food,
and they were knocking on death’s door.
19 “Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress.
20 He sent out his word and healed them,
snatching them from the door of death.
21 Let them praise the Lord for his great love
and for the wonderful things he has done for them.
22 Let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving
and sing joyfully about his glorious acts.

23 Some went off to sea in ships,
plying the trade routes of the world.
24 They, too, observed the Lord’s power in action,
his impressive works on the deepest seas.
25 He spoke, and the winds rose,
stirring up the waves.
26 Their ships were tossed to the heavens
and plunged again to the depths;
the sailors cringed in terror.
27 They reeled and staggered like drunkards
and were at their wits’ end.
28 “Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress.
29 He calmed the storm to a whisper
and stilled the waves.
30 What a blessing was that stillness
as he brought them safely into harbor!
31 Let them praise the Lord for his great love
and for the wonderful things he has done for them.
32 Let them exalt him publicly before the congregation
and before the leaders of the nation.

33 He changes rivers into deserts,
and springs of water into dry, thirsty land.
34 He turns the fruitful land into salty wastelands,
because of the wickedness of those who live there.
35 But he also turns deserts into pools of water,
the dry land into springs of water.
36 He brings the hungry to settle there
and to build their cities.
37 They sow their fields, plant their vineyards,
and harvest their bumper crops.
38 How he blesses them!
They raise large families there,
and their herds of livestock increase.

39 When they decrease in number and become impoverished
through oppression, trouble, and sorrow,
40 the Lord pours contempt on their princes,
causing them to wander in trackless wastelands.
41 But he rescues the poor from trouble
and increases their families like flocks of sheep.
42 The godly will see these things and be glad,
while the wicked are struck silent.
43 Those who are wise will take all this to heart;
they will see in our history the faithful love of the Lord."

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!

Harmony is precious



Psalm 133
A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem. A psalm of David.


1 "How wonderful and pleasant it is
when brothers live together in harmony!
2 For harmony is as precious as the anointing oil
that was poured over Aaron’s head,
that ran down his beard
and onto the border of his robe.
3 Harmony is as refreshing as the dew from Mount Hermon
that falls on the mountains of Zion.
And there the Lord has pronounced his blessing,
even life everlasting."

Harmony is wonderful and pleasant
Harmony is precious
Harmony is refreshing
There the Lord has pronounced His blessing

Praise

Psalm 104
1 Let all that I am praise the Lord.

O Lord my God, how great you are!
You are robed with honor and majesty.
2 You are dressed in a robe of light.
You stretch out the starry curtain of the heavens;
3 you lay out the rafters of your home in the rain clouds.
You make the clouds your chariot;
you ride upon the wings of the wind.
4 The winds are your messengers;
flames of fire are your servants.[b]

5 You placed the world on its foundation
so it would never be moved.
6 You clothed the earth with floods of water,
water that covered even the mountains.
7 At your command, the water fled;
at the sound of your thunder, it hurried away.
8 Mountains rose and valleys sank
to the levels you decreed.
9 Then you set a firm boundary for the seas,
so they would never again cover the earth.

10 You make springs pour water into the ravines,
so streams gush down from the mountains.
11 They provide water for all the animals,
and the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
12 The birds nest beside the streams
and sing among the branches of the trees.
13 You send rain on the mountains from your heavenly home,
and you fill the earth with the fruit of your labor.
14 You cause grass to grow for the livestock
and plants for people to use.
You allow them to produce food from the earth—
15 wine to make them glad,
olive oil to soothe their skin,
and bread to give them strength.
16 The trees of the Lord are well cared for—
the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.
17 There the birds make their nests,
and the storks make their homes in the cypresses.
18 High in the mountains live the wild goats,
and the rocks form a refuge for the hyraxes.[c]

19 You made the moon to mark the seasons,
and the sun knows when to set.
20 You send the darkness, and it becomes night,
when all the forest animals prowl about.
21 Then the young lions roar for their prey,
stalking the food provided by God.
22 At dawn they slink back
into their dens to rest.
23 Then people go off to their work,
where they labor until evening.

24 O Lord, what a variety of things you have made!
In wisdom you have made them all.
The earth is full of your creatures.
25 Here is the ocean, vast and wide,
teeming with life of every kind,
both large and small.
26 See the ships sailing along,
and Leviathan,[d] which you made to play in the sea.

27 They all depend on you
to give them food as they need it.
28 When you supply it, they gather it.
You open your hand to feed them,
and they are richly satisfied.
29 But if you turn away from them, they panic.
When you take away their breath,
they die and turn again to dust.
30 When you give them your breath,[e] life is created,
and you renew the face of the earth.

31 May the glory of the Lord continue forever!
The Lord takes pleasure in all he has made!
32 The earth trembles at his glance;
the mountains smoke at his touch.

33 I will sing to the Lord as long as I live.
I will praise my God to my last breath!
34 May all my thoughts be pleasing to him,
for I rejoice in the Lord.
35 Let all sinners vanish from the face of the earth;
let the wicked disappear forever.

Let all that I am praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord!

Let all that I am praise the Lord

David was an artist.
He could play music beautifully.
He could write poems, and music.
Like all artists, he felt things deeply,
and could express them powerfully.
He was also a warrior. Brave. Cruel.
He also was a worshipper.
He knew how to get above all the problems on earth,
by getting down on his knees
and lifting God high in worship!

Psalm 103


A psalm of David.

1 "Let all that I am praise the Lord;
with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name.
2 Let all that I am praise the Lord;
may I never forget the good things he does for me.
3 He forgives all my sins
and heals all my diseases.
4 He redeems me from death
and crowns me with love and tender mercies.
5 He fills my life with good things.
My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!

6 The Lord gives righteousness
and justice to all who are treated unfairly.

7 He revealed his character to Moses
and his deeds to the people of Israel.
8 The Lord is compassionate and merciful,
slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
9 He will not constantly accuse us,
nor remain angry forever.
10 He does not punish us for all our sins;
he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve.
11 For his unfailing love toward those who fear him
is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.
12 He has removed our sins as far from us
as the east is from the west.
13 The Lord is like a father to his children,
tender and compassionate to those who fear him.
14 For he knows how weak we are;
he remembers we are only dust.
15 Our days on earth are like grass;
like wildflowers, we bloom and die.
16 The wind blows, and we are gone—
as though we had never been here.
17 But the love of the Lord remains forever
with those who fear him.
His salvation extends to the children’s children
18 of those who are faithful to his covenant,
of those who obey his commandments!

19 The Lord has made the heavens his throne;
from there he rules over everything.

20 Praise the Lord, you angels,
you mighty ones who carry out his plans,
listening for each of his commands.
21 Yes, praise the Lord, you armies of angels
who serve him and do his will!
22 Praise the Lord, everything he has created,
everything in all his kingdom.

Let all that I am praise the Lord."

A prayer of one overwhelmed with trouble

My father suffered a fall during his long missionary career. From that second on, his life was never the same. After a month of life or death struggle, he ended up a parapalegic. He was told he would never walk again, but he did. However, he had little nerve control on one side of his body for the rest of his life.

We pursued every avenue of divine healing, but that was not to be. He also pursued all avenues of medical recovery, including long hours of painful physical therapy.

That was his story of suffering.

Patti and I watched the movie, "The Pursuit of Happyness" again the other day. It is the story of a young man who struggled to make ends meet as a salesman. As the months dragged on with little success, his wife left him. He demanded to keep their son. Then they lost their apartment. Then they lost their car. He took on an internship at a brokerage firm for no pay. They became homeless. It is a true story of struggle and trouble.

Now listen to the prayer of another person who is in deep distress...

Psalm 102

A prayer of one overwhelmed with trouble, pouring out problems before the Lord.

1 "Lord, hear my prayer!
Listen to my plea!

2 Don’t turn away from me
in my time of distress.
Bend down to listen,
and answer me quickly when I call to you.
3 For my days disappear like smoke,
and my bones burn like red-hot coals.
4 My heart is sick, withered like grass,
and I have lost my appetite.
5 Because of my groaning,
I am reduced to skin and bones.
6 I am like an owl in the desert,
like a little owl in a far-off wilderness.
7 I lie awake,
lonely as a solitary bird on the roof.
8 My enemies taunt me day after day.
They mock and curse me.
9 I eat ashes for food.
My tears run down into my drink
10 because of your anger and wrath.
For you have picked me up and thrown me out.
11 My life passes as swiftly as the evening shadows.
I am withering away like grass.

12 But you, O Lord, will sit on your throne forever.
Your fame will endure to every generation.
13 You will arise and have mercy on Jerusalem[a]—
and now is the time to pity her,
now is the time you promised to help.
14 For your people love every stone in her walls
and cherish even the dust in her streets.
15 Then the nations will tremble before the Lord.
The kings of the earth will tremble before his glory.
16 For the Lord will rebuild Jerusalem.
He will appear in his glory.
17 He will listen to the prayers of the destitute.
He will not reject their pleas.

18 Let this be recorded for future generations,
so that a people not yet born will praise the Lord.
19 Tell them the Lord looked down
from his heavenly sanctuary.
He looked down to earth from heaven
20 to hear the groans of the prisoners,
to release those condemned to die.
21 And so the Lord’s fame will be celebrated in Zion,
his praises in Jerusalem,
22 when multitudes gather together
and kingdoms come to worship the Lord.

23 He broke my strength in midlife,
cutting short my days.

24 But I cried to him, “O my God, who lives forever,
don’t take my life while I am so young!
25 Long ago you laid the foundation of the earth
and made the heavens with your hands.
26 They will perish, but you remain forever;
they will wear out like old clothing.
You will change them like a garment
and discard them.
27 But you are always the same;
you will live forever.
28 The children of your people
will live in security.
Their children’s children
will thrive in your presence.”

It starts with a focus on personal agony.
Next he looks up, and focuses on God and His greatness.
Then he concludes by bringing the great God back into his situation, with renewed hope.

Are you overwhelmed with trouble?
This is a prayer for you...

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

David - King at last! Conquers Jerusalem.

David became king at 30 years old
It had been a hard 13 years! It started when he killed Goliath. Then he was moved into the royal household.
Then he was chased and hunted down.

Now finally he is back as king of Israel.

2 Samuel 5


David Becomes King of All Israel
1 Then all the tribes of Israel went to David at Hebron and told him, “We are your own flesh and blood. 2 In the past,[a] when Saul was our king, you were the one who really led the forces of Israel. And the Lord told you, ‘You will be the shepherd of my people Israel. You will be Israel’s leader.’”

3 So there at Hebron, King David made a covenant before the Lord with all the elders of Israel. And they anointed him king of Israel.

4 David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years in all. 5 He had reigned over Judah from Hebron for seven years and six months, and from Jerusalem he reigned over all Israel and Judah for thirty-three years.

David Captures Jerusalem
6 David then led his men to Jerusalem to fight against the Jebusites, the original inhabitants of the land who were living there. The Jebusites taunted David, saying, “You’ll never get in here! Even the blind and lame could keep you out!” For the Jebusites thought they were safe. 7 But David captured the fortress of Zion, which is now called the City of David.

8 On the day of the attack, David said to his troops, “I hate those ‘lame’ and ‘blind’ Jebusites.[b] Whoever attacks them should strike by going into the city through the water tunnel.[c]” That is the origin of the saying, “The blind and the lame may not enter the house.”[d]

9 So David made the fortress his home, and he called it the City of David. He extended the city, starting at the supporting terraces[e] and working inward. 10 And David became more and more powerful, because the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies was with him."

King at last!
 
Many times during those 13 years he thought it would never happen...
 
I heard a saying. "God is seldom early, but never late."
 
That is true, if you are on God's timeline. We, of course, are on our own timeline.
 
But David was king for 40 years. I wonder if he reflected after being king for 13 years. "I have now been king for the same amount of time I was first drawn into, then expelled out of, Saul's household!!!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Ephraim had two lousy sons and an amazing daughter

Old man Ephraim had 9 sons. Was he a bad father? Or did he just have two rotten sons? We don't know exactly.

However, two of his sons were cattle rustlers. That didn't go over well in the West in the USA. It didn't go over well in Bible times either. They were killed one time when they were stealing cattle.

20 "The descendants of Ephraim were Shuthelah, Bered, Tahath, Eleadah, Tahath, 21 Zabad, Shuthelah, Ezer, and Elead. These two were killed trying to steal livestock from the local farmers near Gath. 22 Their father, Ephraim, mourned for them a long time, and his relatives came to comfort him. 23 Afterward Ephraim slept with his wife, and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. Ephraim named him Beriah[d] because of the tragedy his family had suffered."

So he lost two sons, and gave birth to another.

The interesting news is his daughter Sheerah.

 24 "He had a daughter named Sheerah. She built the towns of Lower and Upper Beth-horon and Uzzen-sheerah."

This girl was amazing! Came from the same family. But instead of stealing to avoid work, she got to work and built two towns!

Don't blame your environment, or your messed up family.

Get to work and make things happen!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Peresh and Sheresh were brothers

Descendants of Manasseh

14 "The descendants of Manasseh through his Aramean concubine included Asriel. She also bore Makir, the father of Gilead. 15 Makir found wives for[c] Huppim and Shuppim. Makir had a sister named Maacah. One of his descendants was Zelophehad, who had only daughters.
16 Makir’s wife, Maacah, gave birth to a son whom she named Peresh. His brother’s name was Sheresh. The sons of Peresh were Ulam and Rakem. 17 The son of Ulam was Bedan. All these were considered Gileadites, descendants of Makir son of Manasseh.
18 Makir’s sister Hammoleketh gave birth to Ishhod, Abiezer, and Mahlah.
19 The sons of Shemida were Ahian, Shechem, Likhi, and Aniam."

It is not polite to make fun of people's names.

So, with my apologies, I am going to do just that...

Manasseh had a girlfriend
It happens now as well.
They done had a baby
His name was Asriel

Couldn't call him Israel
That name already taken
So what to call this little guy
Asriel is what was shakin

A second little guy popped out
This one they called him Makir
He said one day with a shout
That woman's mine, I'll take her!

Makir got legit and married
Not like his old man
Had two boys, Huppim and Shuppim
Found them wives bim bam

What could Makir do for Sis?
Who's name was Maa - ca -h(a)
She wanted sum a dat wedded bliss
But Makir couldn't make ha.

So a grandson named Zelophehad
Couldn't have any boys
He kept on saying "He wished he had"
But kept buying dolls as toys.

Makir's wife was Maacah two
And they had two more boys
One "if you don't obey - you'll Peresh"
Two "I'll spank you if you don't Sheresh"

This story I'm telling goes on and on
Makirs sis was called Hammoleketh
Her kid Mahlah composed a song
Its name was "Now I'm Done With Eth"


Psalm 93
1 The Lord is king! He is robed in majesty.
Indeed, the Lord is robed in majesty and armed with strength.
The world stands firm
and cannot be shaken.

2 Your throne, O Lord, has stood from time immemorial.
You yourself are from the everlasting past.
3 The floods have risen up, O Lord.
The floods have roared like thunder;
the floods have lifted their pounding waves.
4 But mightier than the violent raging of the seas,
mightier than the breakers on the shore—
the Lord above is mightier than these!
5 Your royal laws cannot be changed.
Your reign, O Lord, is holy forever and ever."

A Song for the Sabbath

Psalm 92

A psalm. A song to be sung on the Sabbath Day.

1 "It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
to sing praises to the Most High.
2 It is good to proclaim your unfailing love in the morning,
your faithfulness in the evening,
3 accompanied by the ten-stringed harp
and the melody of the lyre.

4 "You thrill me, Lord, with all you have done for me!
I sing for joy because of what you have done.
5 O Lord, what great works you do!
And how deep are your thoughts.
6 Only a simpleton would not know,
and only a fool would not understand this:
7 Though the wicked sprout like weeds
and evildoers flourish,
they will be destroyed forever.

8 "But you, O Lord, will be exalted forever.
9 Your enemies, Lord, will surely perish;
all evildoers will be scattered.
10 But you have made me as strong as a wild ox.
You have anointed me with the finest oil.
11 My eyes have seen the downfall of my enemies;
my ears have heard the defeat of my wicked opponents.
12 But the godly will flourish like palm trees
and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon.
13 For they are transplanted to the Lord’s own house.
They flourish in the courts of our God.
14 Even in old age they will still produce fruit;
they will remain vital and green.
15 They will declare, “The Lord is just!
He is my rock!
There is no evil in him!”

Simple. Joyful. Worship!






Words and Music by Asaph (copyright)

Asaph was an accomplished song writer.
He made a lot of the songs that made it into Psalms and the Bible.
(How many of YOU have people singing your songs 4000 years after you die?)

Psalm 81

For the choir director: A psalm of Asaph, to be accompanied by a stringed instrument.

1 "Sing praises to God, our strength.
Sing to the God of Jacob.

2 Sing! Beat the tambourine.
Play the sweet lyre and the harp.

3 Blow the ram’s horn at new moon,
and again at full moon to call a festival!
4 For this is required by the decrees of Israel;
it is a regulation of the God of Jacob.
5 He made it a law for Israel[b]
when he attacked Egypt to set us free.

I heard an unknown voice say,

6 “Now I will take the load from your shoulders;
I will free your hands from their heavy tasks.
7 You cried to me in trouble, and I saved you;
I answered out of the thundercloud
and tested your faith when there was no water at Meribah.

Interlude

8 “Listen to me, O my people, while I give you stern warnings.
O Israel, if you would only listen to me!
9 You must never have a foreign god;
you must not bow down before a false god.
10 For it was I, the Lord your God,
who rescued you from the land of Egypt.
Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it with good things.

11 “But no, my people wouldn’t listen.
Israel did not want me around.
12 So I let them follow their own stubborn desires,
living according to their own ideas.
13 Oh, that my people would listen to me!
Oh, that Israel would follow me, walking in my paths!
14 How quickly I would then subdue their enemies!
How soon my hands would be upon their foes!
15 Those who hate the Lord would cringe before him;
they would be doomed forever.
16 But I would feed you with the finest wheat.
I would satisfy you with wild honey from the rock.”

This was a man with a clear musical talent.
But also a serious walk with God...

He man the musician


Music has always been a tool in the worship of God.
It still is...

31 "David assigned the following men to lead the music at the house of the Lord after the Ark was placed there. 32 They ministered with music at the Tabernacle[h] until Solomon built the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem. They carried out their work, following all the regulations handed down to them. 33 These are the men who served, along with their sons:

I especially get a kick out of "He Man", the Musician!

"Heman the musician was from the clan of Kohath. His genealogy was traced back through Joel, Samuel, 34 Elkanah...

39 "Heman’s first assistant was Asaph from the clan of Gershon...

48 "Their fellow Levites were appointed to various other tasks in the Tabernacle, the house of God."

Powerful music to worship a powerful God!

Distress!

Psalm 77

For Jeduthun, the choir director: A psalm of Asaph.

1 "I cry out to God; yes, I shout.
Oh, that God would listen to me!

2 "When I was in deep trouble,
I searched for the Lord.
All night long I prayed, with hands lifted toward heaven,
but my soul was not comforted.
3 I think of God, and I moan,
overwhelmed with longing for his help.

Interlude

4 "You don’t let me sleep.
I am too distressed even to pray!
5 I think of the good old days,
long since ended,
6 when my nights were filled with joyful songs.
I search my soul and ponder the difference now.
7 Has the Lord rejected me forever?
Will he never again be kind to me?
8 Is his unfailing love gone forever?
Have his promises permanently failed?
9 Has God forgotten to be gracious?
Has he slammed the door on his compassion?"

Interlude

10 "And I said, “This is my fate;
the Most High has turned his hand against me.”
11 But then I recall all you have done, O Lord;
I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago.
12 They are constantly in my thoughts.
I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works.

13 "O God, your ways are holy.
Is there any god as mighty as you?
14 You are the God of great wonders!
You demonstrate your awesome power among the nations.
15 By your strong arm, you redeemed your people,
the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.

Interlude

16 "When the Red Sea[a] saw you, O God,
its waters looked and trembled!
The sea quaked to its very depths.
17 The clouds poured down rain;
the thunder rumbled in the sky.
Your arrows of lightning flashed.
18 Your thunder roared from the whirlwind;
the lightning lit up the world!
The earth trembled and shook.19 Your road led through the sea,
your pathway through the mighty waters—
a pathway no one knew was there!
20 You led your people along that road like a flock of sheep,
with Moses and Aaron as their shepherds."

Why does God allow us to go through deep waters?
Why does He allow them to go so high?
Why does He allow us to be convinced we are going to drown?
Why are they so cold. So scary?
Why are we bobbing in deep waters so long?

Yet God can part the Red Sea.
Make a pathway through the mighty waters.
A pathway no one knew was there.
He can lead us along that road like a flock of (defenseless) sheep...

The most comforting prayer in the Bible


"When Bad Things Happen to Good People (ISBN 1-4000-3472-8) is a 1981 book by Harold Kushner, a Conservative rabbi. Kushner addresses in the book one of the principal problems of theodicy, the conundrum of why, if the universe was created and is governed by a God who is of a good and loving nature, there is nonetheless so much suffering and pain in it—essentially, the evidential problem of evil.

The book is dedicated to the memory of his young son, Aaron, who died at age 14 in 1977 of the incurable genetic disease progeria. [1] Rabbi Kushner's book was a New York Times bestseller for many months in the "nonfiction" category." Wikipedia

Kushner was not the first one to deeply ponder that difficult question...


Psalm 73
A psalm of Asaph.

1 "Truly God is good to Israel,
to those whose hearts are pure.

2 But as for me, I almost lost my footing.
My feet were slipping, and I was almost gone.
3 For I envied the proud
when I saw them prosper despite their wickedness.
4 They seem to live such painless lives;
their bodies are so healthy and strong.
5 They don’t have troubles like other people;
they’re not plagued with problems like everyone else.
6 They wear pride like a jeweled necklace
and clothe themselves with cruelty.
7 These fat cats have everything
their hearts could ever wish for!
8 They scoff and speak only evil;
in their pride they seek to crush others.
9 They boast against the very heavens,
and their words strut throughout the earth.
10 And so the people are dismayed and confused,
drinking in all their words.
11 “What does God know?” they ask.
“Does the Most High even know what’s happening?”
12 Look at these wicked people—
enjoying a life of ease while their riches multiply.

13 Did I keep my heart pure for nothing?
Did I keep myself innocent for no reason?
14 I get nothing but trouble all day long;
every morning brings me pain.

15 If I had really spoken this way to others,
I would have been a traitor to your people.
16 So I tried to understand why the wicked prosper.

But what a difficult task it is!

17 Then I went into your sanctuary, O God,
and I finally understood the destiny of the wicked.
18 Truly, you put them on a slippery path
and send them sliding over the cliff to destruction.
19 In an instant they are destroyed,
swept away by terrors.
20 When you arise, O Lord,
you will laugh at their silly ideas
as a person laughs at dreams in the morning.
21 Then I realized that my heart was bitter,
and I was all torn up inside.
22 I was so foolish and ignorant—
I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you.
23 Yet I still belong to you;
you hold my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
leading me to a glorious destiny.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
I desire you more than anything on earth.
26 My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak,
but God remains the strength of my heart;
he is mine forever.
27 Those who desert him will perish,
for you destroy those who abandon you.
28 But as for me, how good it is to be near God!
I have made the Sovereign Lord my shelter,
and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do."

Comforting thoughts.
Comforting words.
Comforting reality...

War gives - and War takes away

Here is war on a bigger scale.

God uses war to bring punishment on the pagan peoples of the people east of Jordan.

18 "There were 44,760 capable warriors in the armies of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh. They were all skilled in combat and armed with shields, swords, and bows. 19 They waged war against the Hagrites, the Jeturites, the Naphishites, and the Nodabites. 20 They cried out to God during the battle, and he answered their prayer because they trusted in him. So the Hagrites and all their allies were defeated. 21 The plunder taken from the Hagrites included 50,000 camels, 250,000 sheep and goats, 2,000 donkeys, and 100,000 captives. 22 Many of the Hagrites were killed in the battle because God was fighting against them. The people of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh lived in their land until they were taken into exile.


23 "The half-tribe of Manasseh was very large and spread through the land from Bashan to Baal-hermon, Senir, and Mount Hermon. 24 These were the leaders of their clans: Epher,[y] Ishi, Eliel, Azriel, Jeremiah, Hodaviah, and Jahdiel. These men had a great reputation as mighty warriors and leaders of their clans."

Then He uses war to bring punishment to His own people!

25 "But these tribes were unfaithful to the God of their ancestors. They worshiped the gods of the nations that God had destroyed. 26 So the God of Israel caused King Pul of Assyria (also known as Tiglath-pileser) to invade the land and take away the people of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh as captives. The Assyrians exiled them to Halah, Habor, Hara, and the Gozan River, where they remain to this day."

This is all a bit puzzling.

God is in control, and He always has the big picture in mind.

We live inside the little picture.

Greed leads to Murder!

Buried in the lists of names is this little story. I don't remember ever reading it, although I must have at some point.

38 "These were the names of some of the leaders of Simeon’s wealthy clans. Their families grew."

They are prospering, and need more room to feed their increasingly large flocks.

 39 "and they traveled to the region of Gerar,[s] in the east part of the valley, seeking pastureland for their flocks. 40 They found lush pastures there, and the land was quiet and peaceful."

So far, so good. God has prospered them. They find this wonderful area, with lush pastures and a quiet and peaceful people. So what do they do?

Kill them all! Of course...


"Some of Ham’s descendants had been living in that region. 41 But during the reign of King Hezekiah of Judah, these leaders of Simeon invaded the region and completely destroyed[t] the homes of the descendants of Ham and of the Meunites. No trace of them remains today. They killed everyone who lived there and took the land for themselves, because they wanted its good pastureland for their flocks. 42 Five hundred of these invaders from the tribe of Simeon went to Mount Seir, led by Pelatiah, Neari-ah, Rephaiah, and Uzziel—all sons of Ishi. 43 They destroyed the few Amalekites who had survived, and they have lived there ever since."

End of story.

You have what I want.

I kill you and everyone around you.

I take your stuff.

You are dead and I am happy!

David picks up 7 wives and 10 concubines


1 Chronicles 3:1 "These are the sons of David who were born in Hebron:
The oldest was Amnon, whose mother was Ahinoam from Jezreel.
The second was Daniel, whose mother was Abigail from Carmel.
2 The third was Absalom, whose mother was Maacah, the daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur.
The fourth was Adonijah, whose mother was Haggith.
3 The fifth was Shephatiah, whose mother was Abital.
The sixth was Ithream, whose mother was Eglah, David’s wife.
4 These six sons were born to David in Hebron, where he reigned seven and a half years.

Then David reigned another thirty-three years in Jerusalem. 5 The sons born to David in Jerusalem included Shammua,[a] Shobab, Nathan, and Solomon. Their mother was Bathsheba,[b] the daughter of Ammiel. 6 David also had nine other sons: Ibhar, Elishua,[c] Elpelet,[d] 7 Nogah, Nepheg, Japhia, 8 Elishama, Eliada, and Eliphelet.

9 These were the sons of David, not including his sons born to his concubines. Their sister was named Tamar."

One of the ways we know the Bible is true, is that it does not embellish the main characters. The heroes, if you will.

If this guy was living today he would be put in jail.

It didn't go so swimmingly for him even back then. His sons did not come up as exemplary, and family squabbles were part of his life.

Wife number seven - Bathsheba - was to die for!
Except it was her husband that ended up dying, so David could have her!

This was not the best part of David's life...

Why go to church?

Can't you worship God when you are hiking, or snow skiing, or riding your bicycle around the area?

Why go to church?

Here is David's answer:

First he is troubled.

Psalm 43:1 "Declare me innocent, O God!
Defend me against these ungodly people.
Rescue me from these unjust liars.
2 For you are God, my only safe haven.
Why have you tossed me aside?
Why must I wander around in grief,
oppressed by my enemies?"

He appeals to God.

3 "Send out your light and your truth;
let them guide me.
Let them lead me to your holy mountain,
to the place where you live."

And identifies his joy in being in God's presence, and worshipping Him.

4 "There I will go to the altar of God,
to God—the source of all my joy.
I will praise you with my harp,
O God, my God!"
Although not explicit, implicit in the psalm is that praising God surrounded by His saints brings hope and renewal.

5 "Why am I discouraged?
Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God!
I will praise him again—
my Savior and my God!"

Church - the gathering of believers congregated to worship God and renew hope!