Psalm 56-58

These Psalms were written during a dark period of David’s life. He lived in caves, being ruthlessley and wrongfully hunted. It’s no wonder these passages are full of prayers for vindication and retribution.
What is surprising, is how glorious the worshipful injections are.

“I will praise you, LORD, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth.” (57:9-11)

“But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble. You are my strength, I sing praise to you; you, God, are my fortress, my God on whom I can rely.” (59:16-17)
I can testify, over and over, the times the LORD has been a fortress and a refuge to me. He is endlessly reliable. What truly inspires me, is the heart to see Him exalted over all the earth, above all else. 

No matter what happens to me, let the nations know the glory of God.

There is great freedom in prioritizing the LORD, great wisdom in depending on the One unshakable foundation. A few psalms ago, God promised He will be exalted among the nations. It is an unchangeable fact. He is naturally above and all powerful. 

I will sing of your strength. He controls Kings, the weather, stops the sun in the sky, spoke creation into existence and holds humanity together. 

I will sing of your love. He pursues, shows mercy, protects, provides, gives good gifts, creates beauty and pleasure, forgives and brings peace to our tired souls.  

Simultaneously considering His infinite power and deep intimacy is difficult. We tend to lean one way or the other, but we can’t count out either. 

Let us praise Him together, today, for all that He is and all that He does. No matter our current circumstance, it is the perfect time to do so. 

-Bethany 

Psalms 53-55

Chapter 55 describes the pain of someone who has experienced deep betrayal in an intimate relationship.

“It is not an enemy who taunts me-I could bear that. It is not my foes who so arrogantly insult me-I could have hidden from them. Instead, it is you-my equal, my companion and close friend. What good fellowship we once enjoyed as we walked together to the house of God.” 55:12

Have you ever prayed this prayer? Describing the violation of betrayal from someone you should be able to deeply trust? Maybe a parent, a spouse, a friend or a leader has failed you. Hurt you.

“Fear and trembling overwhelm me, and I can’t stop shaking.” (55:5)

If you know anything about David’s relationship with Saul (check out 1 Samuel), you know David gets it; he knows this type of intimate betrayal all too well. But I love that this doesn’t stop him from having a deeply intimate relationship with the Lord. He is definitely entitled to indulging in some trust issues, but instead he dives further into his trust in God:

“But I will call on God, and the Lord will rescue me. Morning, noon and night I cry out in my distress, and the Lord hears my voice.” 55:16

Jesus was well aware of our wavering loyalties, our fickle hearts and our tendency to fail him. Yet still he loves us, pursues us and engages in a relationship with us. In John 2:24 it reads: “Because of the miraculous signs Jesus did in Jerusalem at the Passover celebration, many began to trust him. But Jesus didn’t trust them, because he knew human nature. No one needed to tell him what mankind was really like.”

Isn’t that interesting? Jesus loves us, even if he doesn’t trust our human tendencies (and who could blame him). What a beautiful example of healthy, godly boundaries. The book of Proverbs is cluttered with warnings of relying on discernment and wisdom; steering clear of the foolish. Are we called to unconditionally and relentlessly loving someone? Yes. Does this mean it’s okay when someone betrays or violates us? No.

There’s a lot to say on this topic, and this chapter definitely got me thinking about my tendency to guard myself from relational pain. But I love the example David sets for us when people fail him: collapse into the net of God’s unfailing love.

 

-Carly

Psalms 50-52

“Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving.” (50:14)

“The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies Me.” (50:23)

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” (51:17)

“I will thank you forever, because you have done it. I will wait for your name, for it is good, in the presence of the godly.” (52:9)

He doesn’t need any material thing from me, only gratitude.  I’ve gotta say, I’m thankful for that. 

Today, as I travel back to the US, I feel pretty spent. I don’t have anything more to give. But I love my Lord, and my weary heart desires to be drawn into a worshipful presence of God. So as I settle in for an overnight in Istanbul’s Ataturk airport, I’m going to make a list of all I’m thankful for:

  • The family and friends I’m coming home to
  • My YWAM base releasing me these 3 months to explore a future work in Europe
  • The Syrian family I was welcomed into
  • The Apostolic Church which made me feel so welcomed and wanted
  • Clean drinking water
  • A really great apartment to live in the whole time
  • My team of prayer warriors
  • Answered prayers
  • Gyros and gelato
  • Syrian food
  • The NGOs and UN who are working so hard to house, feed and relocate the refugees
  • All the countries who are opening their boarders for my tired friends.
  • God’s glorious mercy and grace.
  • Salvation achieved by Jesus on my behalf
  • An aptly timed season in the Psalms.
  • The sweet Nigerian ladies stuck in the transit terminal with me, keeping me company
  • My supporters
  • Montavilla
  • Card games 
  • The small amount of Arabic I learned that allows me to eavesdrop on conversations no one would suspect I could understand 
  • The testament to God’s power and faithfulness, demonstrated in the fact Istanbul still exists even though it’s been in the middle of most everything throughout history 
  • The fact God isn’t intimidated by our questions or small views and opinions of Him
  • That He is altogether different than I am: never afraid, tired, rude or wrong
  • He created many nations and cultures, and His image can be found in them all
  • God forgave David for his sin with Bathsheba (what 51 references) and He forgives me and can forgive anyone 
  • He is with me, no matter where I am

What are you thankful for today?

-Bethany 

Psalm 47-49

It’s been interesting to read a little medley of the psalms each day. I like to see how they connect, whether or not they do or are intended to.

I loved chapter 47 and my heart skipped a beat at the sentence “the rulers of the world have gathered together with the people of the God of Abraham. For all the kings of the earth belong to God. He is highly honored everywhere.” Oh, how I want that to be true.

Yesterday my husband told me he needs help this next week. More specifically, grace. We have a very busy schedule, he has a ton going on at work and we have quite a few family commitments going on. Later, singing along to a worship song, I realized how healthy it would be to do that in my relationship with God a little more. Ask for grace when I know I need it. The lyrics of the song that I’ve had stuck in my head is “anchor of my soul, don’t let me drift away. Jesus, I will stay with you.” 

But sometimes I don’t, and I do indeed drift. Selfish swells in my heart and I tend to my own selfish desires over my need to draw near to God.

Does the last paragraph in 49 convict you? Take a minute to take inventory of what you’re pursuing, protecting and prioritizing most in this life. Lest we forget that we will return to the ground and become dust.

There is no condemnation or shame for asking God for his help in your relationship with him. It’s healthy, it’s humble and it’s normal. We are not perfect companions, and we are not expected to be. Read chapter 47 again with a grateful heart and take God up on his promise to offer us new mercies every morning (Lamentations 3:22).

 

-Carly

 

Psalms 44-46

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” (46:10)
When I begin to think maybe myself or my fellow man can rise up and save the world (if only we could get ourselves together), I get anxious. 

There are too many obstacles, governments are too corrupt, and beyond them the Rockefellers and Rothschilds… who knows. Either way, if Facebook has taught us anything, it’s that there’s a million things to worry about and most seem entirely insurmountable. If we ever managed to organize ourselves we would probably just do something stupid again, like build a tower to defy God.

Thankfully, He tells us to be still and know that He is in control. He’s not asking us to take on His job, but in a lot of ways, He let’s us join Him for the ride.

In 44 David recounts all the stories he’s heard of the miraculous ways the LORD taught for His people in the past. Will you do something now? He wonders. Have you seen the current situation? 

“The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; He utters His voice, the earth melts. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” (46:6-7‬)

All of mankinds raging efforts can’t withstand a mumble from God. 

Do I fear Him, or do I let other things terrorize me?

Oh LORD, I sit before you as still as my aching body will let me. I admit I have been very stressed lately. So much of my world has been turned upside down, except for when it comes to You. You are gloriously the same. Beautifully constant. Good. Wise. Loving. True. Perfect. Thank you for your wonderful commandment to rest. 

How can you be still and know today?

-Bethany

Psalm 41-43

So many verses from today’s chapters remind me of some of my favorite worship songs.

“Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me. Let them lead me to your holy mountain, to the place where you live. There I will go to the altar of God, to God, my exceeding joy. I will praise with my harp, O God, my God.” 43:3-4

Today I inadvertently watched the news (why can’t the Animal Planet be aired at the gym in the mornings? Just wondering.) Mostly post-election coverage. A story about a man fighting for his life in the ICU after being hit by a car and left for dead in the street. Another about a women and children’s shelter that was robbed of precious donated resources last night. Typical rate-raising stories that prompt fear and discouragement. I cast my eyes down at my phone instead and read the psalms.

Whoever wrote Psalm 43 was greatly distressed, weighed down my oppression and grief. Yet still they praised God, claimed him as their only safe haven.

When your job is hard, when your kids wear you down, when your relationship is strained, when your body is failing, when your heart is burdened, pause and worship. God is available to be our exceeding joy, no matter the circumstances!

Never underestimate the power of a singing along to a few of your favorite worship songs. As you wash dishes, with headphones at your desk or in your car. It’s a great way to reset your heart. My go-to these days are an old hymns playlist, Josh White or JJ Heller. What about you?

 

-Carly

 

Psalms 38-40

“I waited patiently for the LORD; He inclined to me and heard my cry.”‭‭(40:1‬)

Wasn’t it nice of the LORD to give us, not only a detailed record of David’s life, but also, a poetic glimpse into his soul? David takes up a large section of the Old Testament. We get a pretty wholistic picture of this “man after God’s own heart”. 

A theme I noticed in the Psalms today, is something I see over and over in his narrative (found in the books of Samuel and Chronicles): David waits on the LORD, above all else, for

  • Peace
  • Vindication
  • Mercy
  • Wisdom
  • Favor
  • Hope
  • Joy
  • Success
  • Love
  • Guidance
  • Salvation 

Of course, this list is not exhaustive, but you get the picture. David had friends, companions, wives, brothers, parents, fellow soldiers, children and eventually subjects. I find it interesting he doesn’t run to any of these to fulfill an item on this list.

In all major breakdowns we quickly discover whether or not we’ve slipped into idolatry. When our world comes crashing down, we’re either brought to the heart of David in the Psalms, or we despair, because something else took the LORD’s ultimate place. 

It’s so easy to get caught up. It’s easy to make loved ones more than they’re intended to be. Each day I want to come before the LORD and set Him in His rightful place in my life. 

Am I looking to Him and trusting Him, even if that looks like waiting?

Patience is the red headed step child of the fruits of the Spirit, in my opinion. I am terribly impulsive. Now, especially in our culture of instant gratification, it’s difficult to wait on the LORD for something, but He’s truly our only hope for satisfaction on these levels. Much of the hurt we inflict on each other is due to disappointment in our inability to meet these expectations intended for the LORD. 

Let’s give each other a break and place the LORD above each other. Then, be ready to wait. 

-Bethany