This Week’s Readings
Monday, May 28: 2 Samuel 21-24
Tuesday, May 29: Psalm 26-29, Proverbs 11
Wednesday, May 30: Psalm 30-33, Proverbs 12
Thursday, May 31: Psalm 34-37, Proverbs 13
Friday, June 1: Psalm 38-41, Proverbs 14
The overall year’s plan is here.
This psalm provides a great picture of waiting for the Lord. His anger is only for a moment, but his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping only lasts for a night, but in the morning there will be a shout of joy. He turns our mourning to dancing, takes our sackcloth off of us, and dresses us in gladness.
Our job is to stay steadfast until deliverance comes. Trials produce patience and that patience will make us complete (Jam. 1:2-5; Rom. 5:3-4). I’m sure we all realize that it is often those who have suffered most, especially if that suffering was without complaint, who have the most depth as a person.
And here David gives us an example of how he waited on the Lord. He spends time crying out to be delivered from his situation. His life is spent in sorrow, and he’s become a reproach and an object of dread so that when people see him they flee from him. He’s slandered, terrified, and his enemies are scheming to kill him (vv. 10-13).
But David says, "You are my God," and he acknowledges that his times are in the hand of the Lord.
After his prayers for deliverance and his expressions of trust, he says, "How great is your goodness, which you have stored up for those that fear you" (v. 19, NASB). He confidently knows his deliverance is coming, and throughout his life that is exactly what he experienced. His dark days of fleeing and trouble—and even sin—always came to an end, and he became the standard for all future kings.
Verses 3 through 5 explain why it’s so important for us to confess our sins, and sometimes that means not only to God but to each other (Jam. 5:16). Our hearts can only have peace when our consciences are clear, and followers of Christ with a clear conscience are empowered and free. A guilty conscience is crippling to a disciple.
I love verse 7 and the picture of God as our hiding place. He even ‘surrounds us with songs of deliverance.’ It reminds me of Zephaniah 3:17, which says that not only is God mighty to save, but he will rejoice over us with singing!
Verses 8 and 9 are a picture to me of the New Covenant. We should be continually instructed by God. We live by the words that proceed (present tense) from his mouth, not just the words that proceeded from his mouth two to three thousand years ago and are recorded in the Bible (Matt. 4:4). Isaiah 50:4 says that God will waken us morning by morning so that we can listen the way the learned do.
This is what it means, in my opinion, to be instructed, taught, and counseled by God. The bit and bridle, on the other hand, is the Law, the Old Covenant, where we live by the letter rather than by the Spirit, threatened with punishment to keep us under control. When we live by the Spirit we turn our eyes to Christ when we are tempted, and the mind set on the Spirit provides life and peace (Rom. 8:5).
In verse 11, I want to point out once again the difference between the righteous in heart and the upright, even though those are usually the same people. Being upright in heart depends on us. We have to "repent, turn to God, and do works suitable to repentance" (Acts 26:20). This is uprightness.
Uprightness is not enough.
Righteousness of heart is provided by the grace of God, and he will give righteousness as a gift to the upright in heart (Ps. 36:10).
Also in verse 11, we have to realize that rejoicing and being glad in the Lord are not just privileges, but commands (e.g., Php. 4:4). That doesn’t mean that we should simply force ourselves to act joyful. It means that like David, we should meditate on the goodness of the Lord, building trust in our hearts, and we will have good cause for joy!
Have you ever thought about what verse 1 says? Praise is "becoming to the upright" (NASB). The word means beautiful or appropriate.
Verse 3 mentions a shout of joy again. That’s the third time we’ve seen this in two days, as shouts of joy were mentioned in Psalm 27 and 32 as well.
I have been a part of prayer meetings—in fact, this applies to most prayer meetings I have been part of—where praise to God is expressed in words like, "We praise you, Lord," and "praise the Lord."
If someone came to you and said, "I praise you," wouldn’t you ask why?
Saying "I praise you" is not praise. Praise is something like, "You did a great job on that project yesterday."
Most of us don’t know how to praise the Lord, but Psalms can teach us. This is a superb psalm of praise. It recounts his works, how he made everything, and it expresses awe at his power and deliverance.
We need to be taught by these psalms so that we not only state that we are praising him ("I praise you, Lord"), but we actually praise him!
I try to limit my comments on Proverbs, but I have to comment on verse 1. The NASB reads, "He who hates reproof is stupid."
All of us hate reproof by nature. You will not overcome this without effort. However, the effort is critical. The very purpose of the Scriptures—contrary to the opinions of so many who are addicted to doctrinal debate and division—is teaching, reproof and correction that is geared towards equipping us for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
However hard it is, we must become those who love discipline and accept reproof.
Otherwise we’re stupid.
Verse 9 can be applied to spiritual things. It is results that matter. It is not those who honor themselves by talking about spiritual things who are approved by God, but it is those who live in obedience to God and produce fruit.
Verse 11 has a lot of application to the modern era. We have more temptations to amusement and idleness than any generation in history. It is very, very easy in the 21st century to apply ourselves to "worthless things" rather than tilling the land and having plenty of bread.
Tilling the land and having plenty of bread can be applied to actual work and income, of course, but it can also be applied to spiritual things. Amusements don’t build us up spiritually (in most cases). We have to till the land, meditating on the Word of God, being in fellowship with one another, getting before God in prayer. This will produce "plenty of bread," and our bread is obeying the Word of God, which is what it means to do the will of the Father (Jn. 4:34).