You have multiplied, O LORD my God,

   your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us;

   none can compare with you!

I will proclaim and tell of them,

   yet they are more than can be told.

Psalm 40: 5

Silenced! Dumbstruck! Overwhelmed! These expressions of the way that David was impacted by the Lord’s engagement with his life are simple and weak in comparison to the actual feelings that must have formed up inside of his heart and mind. God’s grace, mercy, favor, and salvation had been granted to the author on too many occasions for him to not be amazed by it all. Now it seems to have happened again, and David can barely get the words out of his mouth to describe God’s gracious favor; yet, at the same time, he cannot hold his words in, either. He needs to tell the world all about the Lord and give us the details of when, how, and what God has accomplished for the sake of His servant.

So, David speaks out to tell everyone who might listen about the wonders of the Lord. He wants us to understand that God does everything because of His love, and He operates freely in our world because of His sovereignty over all of creation. There is nothing that David or that any of us are involved in that the Lord does not know about, and there is nowhere that we might go where He cannot operate with full knowledge and strength. Additionally, in every instance and upon each occasion that comes about in my journey through life, the Lord has both my best interests and the furtherance of His kingdom in mind and set as objectives. This was true for David, and it has remained so for all of the years that have passed by since. Care, engagement, and participation in the lives of His people have continued to be God’s desire and operating modality, and they are the Lord’s promise to us for all of time to come.

We too can join with David is shouting out praise to God for the way that He loves and cares for us. These shouts are expressions of worship and thanksgiving, and they are also uttered as a means of letting others know that they, too, can be the recipients of this form of eternal grace that does overcome all of the evil in this world. By God’s love, we are forgiven all of our sins, in Christ’s blood we are made eternally clean and proclaimed righteous before God, and through the Spirit’s leading we are granted opportunities to live out the fullest possible expression of our skills, talents, and gifts during the hours that we are granted to dwell upon this earth. As my identity is now found in Christ, so too are my feeble words of praise to God replaced by following the Spirit’s direction as I enter into loving others and caring for and about their needs in ways that would not exist without the Lord’s transformative work upon me. The Lord multiplies His wondrous works and expresses His loving thoughts toward the world through His people; so, let me be a follower that lives for Christ today and through all of those hours of life that God’s grace has granted to me.          

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I will sing to the LORD,

   because he has dealt bountifully with me.

Psalm 13: 6 

When David set out these words, his life was not going well. We don’t know the exact circumstances that surrounded him, but we certainly are aware of enough hard and challenging times that came his way for us to understand that he could be at the end of his ability to handle whatever it was that he faced. Yet, the song that starts out, “How long, O LORD, will you forget me forever?”, ends with this statement of recognition of the Lord’s care and provision and joyously hopeful note of thanksgiving. Had something changed in David’s life during the time of his reflection, or was it more a matter of his working through his fears, doubts, and concerns so that the Lord could respond to him with words of truth that bring with them the encouragement that his heart so badly needed? 

There is real value in doing what David did in this song, for speaking out to the Lord about the things that are troubling us is more than simply therapeutic. This act of engaging in honest conversation with God gets thoughts and feelings that we have working on our inner beings and it sets them out into the clear air of God’s realm of providing us with reason and order. The pain that we are experiencing, whether physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual, may not end at that time; however, talking it all over with the Lord does tend to grant a form of respite from the burden of carrying whatever it is that is so heavily weighting down the heart. The ability to manage pain, to calm a mind that is swirling in turmoil, or to find order in a jumble of confusion and chaos is something that comes most readily from the source of all order and peace in the universe, and that creator and source is God.

It seems to me that David is actually suggesting that he will sing a song of thanksgiving to the Lord even though the issues that are troubling him are still present and very real to him. There is no process of resolution mentioned in these six short verses; instead, we see David’s personal resolution to take all that is troubling him to the Lord with his mind and heart focused upon the many ways that God has taken care of him in the past and with genuine anticipation of the way that this same God will deal with what is going on at this time. This is an example of faith that is active and realized in the middle of the crisis. David expresses a form of trust in the Lord that grants its bearer the realization of peace that allows for him to think more clearly and to endure the moment more readily than would be the case without this tangible understanding of the presence of the Lord with him. David sings about God’s bounty as it has been poured out upon him over the course of his life, and he invites us to do the same as we travel hard roads and navigate the churning waters of our own times of asking, “How long?”  

O LORD, make me know my end

and what is the measure of my days;

let me know how fleeting I am!

Psalm 39: 4

 

Let me say that David must have been in a very odd mood on the day that he set out these words. This is just not the sort of thing that I would want God to reveal for me, and David doesn’t strike me as a person who was more morbid than I am or than most others are either. Yet, he asks for an image, a picture, of where this life comes to its end as if that would appear on his calendar as one of those automatic prompts that self-populate mine. That would be strange and troubling; it might look somewhat like this, “Last Hour of Final Day of Life, Start: 4:00 P.M. End: 5:00 P.M.” In fact, I think that David is actually doing something very different than reflecting on the end of his days here; rather, he is actually entering into living his life more righteously and with clearer God-directed purpose.

 

This Psalm is a lament. The author is distressed and troubled by the way that his life is going, and he is also taking responsibility for the ways that it has gone off track. God has a plan for David’s life just as He has one for each of us. David admits to his own sinfulness and owns his frustrations with the outcome of those departures from righteous thought and action. As we read his thoughts, we are invited to join David in reflecting upon our own lives, and we are guided into owning the ways that we are turning away from God as we conduct life in a manner that we have determined and that we attempt to control outside of submission to God’s Word, His will, and the Spirit’s direction. So, considering the end of it all is of very real importance.

 

This is that point that we all will face where we no longer can change any of the course of our life. What we have done is completed, and the way that we will be remembered is established by those expressed thoughts and emotions, the deeds completed, and the others that were left undone. This is not stated as a form of defeatist resignation, but, instead, I see this sort of process as one in which we look at the place where we are in life, own the sin that is there, and submit it and the other aspects of our existence to following Christ in service to His Gospel. The place where we are on that track through our days doesn’t matter. If this is the last of those allotted hours, let them be lived in praise to God and for His glory. If there are thousands of days to go until that end, let them all be ones that are committed to Christ and to proclaiming Him in thought, word, and action. The specific moment of that final breath does not matter, what does count is the way that each of our breaths sing out praise and glory to the Lord!

 

 

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart

be acceptable in your sight,

O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.

Psalm 19: 14

 

We might think that words are a small thing in the grand course of the affairs of our world. They are so easy to throw out, and there certainly are many of them in the air at all times. Even the ones that are written down in some form or other are as numerous as those ancient sands on the beach. Most of us say things that we do not really mean, and we enter into discussions wherein the way that we engage with others is not well considered or given much weight. We humans just tend to be careless with our words. But carelessness is really no excuse, and thoughtlessness is no reason for us to put out words that are harsh, demeaning, and rudely inconsiderate. I don’t think that it is accidental that David not only prays for the words that he speaks but links them to the things that his heart contemplates. Our words are a reflection of the state of the heart, and the state of our hearts is influenced greatly by what we say and how we say it.

 

With the wonderful complexity of the languages that God has given to us for use in expressing ourselves, there is really no excuse at all for using words and expressions that are demeaning or imprecise unless that is exactly what we intend to do. So, when someone makes reference to others in ways that set them apart as inferior or as undesirable, this is not a casual event or just a picturesque way of speaking; rather, it is a deliberate attempt to set up the speaker as the superior being and the object of the statement as the lesser form of humanity. This sort of thing is directly opposed to the way that God views others and it is also a specific contradiction of the manner that Christ has instructed us to view them. In simple terms, thinking and speaking of people in a derogatory manner is sinful and stands under God’s condemnation as such.

 

Like all sin, there is grace for the sinner and repentance brings that person under the restorative care of Christ. But that is the only answer to this pervasive problem in our world. The use of our words for the sake of diminishing others and thus for building up ourselves, the application of coarse and vulgar speech, and the harsh nature of our rhetoric is a pervasive concern in our day. This sort of sinful behavior is coming out of the mouths or presidents and kings, and it has infiltrated into our houses of governance and of worship. It is time for us all to repent of this sort of thinking and the words that flow out of it. It is time to say “enough, stop!” to all of this sort of interchange. We do not need to listen to it, and we certainly must not engage in it. All who do engage in this sort of behavior are sinning in the eyes of God and their thoughts and words should be rejected as those of the ungodly so long as they continue in this manner. Human nature is no excuse, and passion is not a valid reason for this sort of thing, for the Lord has granted to us His Word of life and His words for use in expressing love, edification, encouragement, and praise. Let’s make those Godly thoughts and words what we reflect upon and the manner of expressing what our heart contemplates.

 

I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart;

I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.

I will be glad and exult in you;

I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.

Psalm 9: 1, 2

 

When David wrote these words, I don’t think that he was setting out any conditions to their application other than the fact that they were the truth about the way that God interacted with all of his life. There is no note of saying that I am thankful now that I am not a poor youngest son of a shepherd, or that he is appreciative for the current state of peace in his kingdom, or even that David can express his joy in the current depth of his spiritual life. David is saying that he is thankful for it all, for the good, the bad, the joyous and the sorrowful, the times of wealth and the depths of poverty, for dwelling in a palace and for the damp ground of a cave’s floor. Like David, Jesus knew them all; for He experienced all of the highs and the lows of living, and He goes with each of us through all of it. Even before Jesus made it literally true, David seems to have understood the reality of a God who walks with us and who takes us through every step of life.

 

The close and intimate nature of this relationship gives purpose to living, and it provides a focus for my day that takes me outside of my problems, challenges, and concerns. The Lord also brings a powerful sense of hope into my heart. The presence of His Spirit in me continually encourages and motivates me to see the potential in every situation and for each day of my life. As I look at God and focus deeply on who He is and on how He is involved with me, I experience a sense of peace that is centered deep within my heart, and this peace brings freedom to every aspect of my being.

 

As I lift my voice in praise to God, nothing else matters. As I look at His wondrous love and grace, all of my failings and inadequacies are removed; and as my heart sings with the sounds of worship for my Savior, the freedom that He has purchased for me resonates through every fiber of my body. When I turn my mind and my heart away from the things that I am facing in my day and focus on the glorious gift that God has given to me through His love for me and by walking every step of my life with me, my spirits are lifted, my load becomes lighter, and the future becomes framed in the limitlessness of eternity.

 

I cry out to God Most High,

to God who fulfills his purpose for me.

Psalm 57: 2

 

There are times in the course of life where things get to be very stressful and confusing. What may have seemed like it was God’s will and desire for my days is all pushed aside by what is actually going on in my world. At this point in his life, David found himself in a similar situation. God had selected him and lifted him out of a life of service to his family as the caretaker of their sheep, and the Lord had placed the young man into the center of the his nation’s governance and rule in the house of the king, himself. But now that king, Saul, had turned on David, and the young man who had seemed to have all of life before him was now running and hiding in order to preserve what he had.

 

This is David’s perspective when he calls out to God. He is certainly asking for protection and for deliverance in this process, but he is also saying much more than just his desired outcomes. David expresses an underlying faith in God, and he also proclaims his trust in the Lord’s continuing drive to bring about the plans and the purposes that He set forth for this young future king. David possesses an unusually mature understanding of the fact that all that he is to accomplish in life and everything good and holy that he will be known for are to come about because of the Lord’s work in him and by virtue of God’s provision of the means to make it so. David already knows that his life belongs to God, and he also realizes that this state of being a servant to the Lord is the best one that he could possibly dwell within.

 

As I look at David’s view of his situation from within the stark walls of his hiding place as he waits for Saul’s merciless sword to strike him, I am humbled by his faith and inspired by his trust in the Lord. I too can look out at my day and view my world with the same realization as David had. The Lord does have a plan and a purpose for the days of my life. That roadway may be obscured by debris or by smoke and haze, but it is there because the Lord has promised it to me and to all of His people. He does have plans and purposes for our lives (Jer. 29: 11) that He will bring about. These times of struggle and trial are often ones in which we are asked to simply ride it out as we turn to the Lord as our singular resource and source of hope. We can place all of our trust in Christ, for He has saved us for all of eternity, and He also will fulfill all that He has set out for us as His people during the days of our lives.

My soul clings to you;

your right hand upholds me.

Psalm 63: 8

 

It is interesting to me that David, from so far back in the history of God’s relationship with humanity, seems to fully understand what it means to live as a follower of Christ. Let me explain what I mean by this. For me Christ exists in a place or at a level of my being that is far deeper than just understanding or comprehension. He is a part of who and of what I am in a manner that redefines me from the molecular structure of my body and from the total nature of my soul. It is at this very deep and essential place that my relationship with Christ is rooted. Jesus Christ is in me, and my soul holds onto Him through all days and in every way.

 

Likewise, I am assured by God’s Word and by the testimony of experience that Christ clings to me through every twist and turn of my life. He does not waiver in His commitment to me and to my purpose as His follower. This is true even when I turn away from Him or when I lose sight of Christ’s love, grace, righteousness, or calling for my life. He is there with me, and He is the one who holds me up and sets me back onto His path of service to His kingdom. All of my strength of will and of intellect are useless in these times of trial or struggle, but the overcoming strength of Christ’s grace and love surround me and lift me up so that I can stand again in the full expression of His life in me.

 

This life throws many challenging situations and troublesome days at me. There is no way that I would be able to successfully travel the journey of life that the world tries to dictate without the presence of Christ in me. He speaks truth to my heart, and He provides wisdom that my mind can rely upon to determine a righteous course to take during each of my days. All of my strength, wisdom, and courage come from Christ. He is my hope and He takes me into the glory of His purpose for my life. Christ is the real truth that I can cling to, and He is the lover of my soul who will never release His embrace of me.