The Necessity Of Neediness.

Psalm 70 – Day 1

"But as for me, I am poor and needy; please hurry to my aid, O God. You are my helper and my savior; O Lord, do not delay." – Psalm 70:5 NLT

Who knew David could be a man of few words, but in this Psalm we see him cut to the chase and make his point to God in record time. He doesn't beat around the bush, but instead comes right out and tells God what he wants. "Please God, rescue me!" (Psalm 70:1 NLT). And he asks God to do it quickly. Evidently, David's need is pressing and he feels the pressure to demand immediate action by God. In a Psalm of so few words, it is interesting to note what David took the time to say. He expressed his need for God's salvation, his desire for justice for his enemies and, lastly, but probably most importantly, his awareness of his own condition. David says,"I am poor and needy." This short phrase speaks volumes about David's awareness of his condition. There is no hint of pride or self-sufficiency. You see no arrogance in this statement. Instead, it reveals a man who is painfully aware of his status and unashamed to admit it to God. He is the king of Israel, the commander of a great army, living in a beautiful palace surrounded by rich treasures. But inwardly, David knows he is needy, destitute, and unable to meet his real needs. He cannot save himself. He needs God. The key for any of us seeing God work in our lives is coming to the realization that we need Him. And before that can happen, we have to come to the same place David did – where we are ready to acknowledge our need. But that is harder than it sounds for most of us. We tend to want to solve our problems and meet our own needs. We want to rescue ourselves and then pat ourselves on the back for a job well done. It is hard to help someone who refuses to see their need for help. But David had reached the point where he was no longer going to let pride stand in his way. He knew that God was his helper and savior. He knew that there was nothing he could do to solve his problem. He needed God. So he called to Him. And David knew from experience that those who call on God are seldom, if ever, disappointed. "But may all who search for you be filled with joy and gladness in you. May those who love your salvation repeatedly shout, 'God is great!'" (Psalm 70:4 NLT).

Father, it seems the longer I live the more I recognize my true neediness. I guess it is that I am slowly learning the valuable lesson that I cannot save myself. I am not smart enough or powerful enough to rescue myself from the troubles of life. I need You. Thanks for the daily reminders of my own neediness. Help me to keep turning to You for help. Amen

Ken Miller Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

It's Never So Bad That God Can't Do Good. (Based on Psalm 69)

Psalm 69 – Day 2

Save me, O God, For the waters of difficulty are flooding my soul. It's like I am sinking into a bottomless mud pit, I find myself in deep waters that flow over my head. I have been calling for help so long my throat hurts and I am exhausted, Even my eyes grow weary looking for your salvation to come. It seems like there are more people who hate me without cause Than there are hairs on my head. These enemies who would destroy me, even though I don't deserve it, They make me pay back a debt I never owed. O God, You know every foolish thing I've ever done, And none of my sins are hidden from You. Don't let all those who hope in and wait on You be disappointed because of me, Don't let those who seek You be ashamed because of me. For it's because of You that I suffer all this contempt, It is for Your sake that I am disgraced. I am like a stranger to those who I used to call friends, And a foreigner to my own family. My unbridled love for Your house has ended up devouring me, And all the scorn they have for You is now directed at me. Even when I cry and fast, all I get is insults. I mourn my circumstances, and they ridicule me. The well-respected gossip about me, While the drunks make up songs about me. But as for me, I pray to You and ask that Your answer come at a favorable time, Show me mercy, answer me by showing me Your salvation. Rescue me out of the mud and don't let me sink any further. Deliver me out of the deep water, from those who hate me without cause. Don't let the waters of adversity overcome me, Don't let me be swallowed up or sink down. Hear me, O God, because of Your love, Turn to me and rescue me out of Your great compassion. Don't turn Your face away from Your servant, I am in trouble; hear me and answer quickly. Draw near to my soul and deliver it, Redeem it, and rescue me from my enemies. You understand full well all that I am going through, The insults, reproach, shame and dishonor. You're very familiar with all my enemies, because they are Yours, too. I am brokenhearted because of the constant scorn, My soul is sick, and I long for someone to show me pity. I long for compassion, but there in none coming. Instead, they feed me a steady diet of venom, They give me vinegar to drink. May what they serve up to me become a trap for them. And may all they hoped to gain from this turn against them. Blind their eyes, let them shake with fear. Pour out Your divine judgment on them; Let them experience Your just anger. May their homes become desolate and their tents empty. For they take joy in harassing the one You have chosen to discipline, And they gossip about the one You have punished. Repay them to the same degree they have paid me, Don't let any of them enjoy Your salvation. Don't let their names be written in the Book of Life, blot them out. But I am poor and in pain, so let Your salvation deliver me. When You do, I will praise You in song and give You thanks, Which will please You more than any sacrifice I could make. Others who are weak and powerless will see this and be glad, And they will be encouraged to seek You as well. For You hear those in need and do not ignore those imprisoned by pain. Let heaven and earth praise You, the oceans and everything in them. For You will save Zion and build the cities of Judah, So that Your people can live there and call it their permanent possession. The descendants of Your servants will inherit it, And all those who love Your name will live there.

The Heart of a Fool. (Based on Psalm 53)

Psalms 53-54 – Day 2

The Heart of a Fool. (Based on Psalm 53)

It takes a real fool to try and convince themselves, "There is no God!"

Which is why they end up all twisted, doing nothing but evil,

And never doing anything that is good in God's eyes.

It's like God is looking down on men from His place in heaven,

In an attempt to see if anybody gets it, if anybody has a desire to seek Him.

But they've all left Him long ago.

Every one of them is corrupt morally and spiritually.

Not a single, solitary one of them does what God considers good.

Are these individuals who consume God's people like bread completely unaware?

Is it that they don't know Me that they refuse to call on Me?

They don't fear God now, but one day they will.

God will one day destroy them all, leaving them completely disappointed,

Because He will reject them in the end.

But I long for salvation to come from the Lord.

I look forward to the day when He restores His people.

When He does, everyone, including me, will shout with joy.

The Hope of a Believer. (Based on Psalm 54)

Save me God, in keeping with Your righteous reputation.

Use Your incredible power to vindicate me.

Hear me when I pray to You,

Listen to what I have to say.

People I don't even know have taken a stand against me,

Terrible people are out for my life.

These are people who have no place for God in their lives.

But You are my helper,

And You show up through those who support me.

You'll pay back my enemies, giving them what they deserve.

Which is why I worship You freely and gladly,

I praise You because Your good reputation has been proven in my life.

You have always provided a way out of all my troubles,

And allowed me to view my enemies from Your perspective.

Something Worth Talking About. (Based on Psalm 40)

Psalm 40 – Day 2

I expectantly waited on God,

And hearing my cry for help, He turned toward me.

He brought me up out of dark place,

Where I was stuck, and unable to free myself.

But He put me back on solid ground,

And gave me a firm path for my feet.

He put a new song in my mouth,

A song of thanksgiving to our God.

For many who hear it, it will result in a reverence for God,

Causing them to trust Him more.

Happy is the man who refuses to follow the way of the proud,

Or turns aside to believe their lies,

But instead puts his trust in God.

All the wonderful things You've done for us God are too great to count,

I couldn't even begin to tell about all the plans You have arranged for us,

Sacrifices and offerings are not what You want from us.

I can hear You clearly now,

And burnt offerings and sin offerings are not what You are asking for.

Then I said, "I come before You because of what is written in Your word,

I find joy in doing what You want me to do,

Because Your law is written on my heart.

I have talked about Your righteousness to large crowds,

And You know I didn't hold anything back, Lord.

I didn't keep what I know of Your righteousness to myself,

But I have openly talked about Your faithfulness and salvation.

I didn't try to hide news of Your mercy and truth from anyone.

So I ask You not to withhold Your compassion from me, Lord.

Let Your mercy and truth continually guard and preserve me,

Because I find myself surrounded by all kinds of bad things,

The guilt of my sins has overtaken me, I can't even see clearly any more.

The number of my sins seems greater than the hairs on my head,

And I have lost all hope.

I beg You Lord to find it in Your heart to save me,

I need You to hurry up and help me.

Let those who would want to harm me be sorely disappointed.

Let those who wish me ill-will be turned aside in humiliation.

Let their shouts of joy over my demise be turned to devastation.

But let all of us who seek our security in You find joy and gladness.

May all of us who love Your salvation be able to say repeatedly,

"The Lord is great!" Yet here I am, poor and needy, and the Lord takes notice of me,

He is my help and source of deliverance.

So don't hesitate for a second Lord! Act now!

Experience the Goodness of God. (Based on Psalm 34)

Psalm 34 – Day 2

I am going to praise God constantly,

Because I have plenty of reasons to do so.

My entire life will be a display of God's glory. E

veryone who finds themselves in trouble will be encouraged.

Let's tell of God’s greatness together;

And brag about His reputation, fame and renown.

I looked to God for help and He heard me.

He released me from all the fears that controlled and captivated me.

The faces of those who turn to God will be filled with joy, not shame.

I was in a sorry state when I called to God,

nd He heard me and rescued me.

God sends His angels to guard those who fear Him,

Surrounding and protecting them.

The goodness of God is something you have to experience.

When you take refuge in God, you discover true joy.

Those who have been chosen by God should fear Him,

Recognizing that He provides all that they need.

Even a ferocious lion gets hungry at times and in need of food.

But everyone who puts their trust in God never does without.

So listen to what I have to say children,

I will teach you what it really means to fear God.

If you want to live a long and successful life,

Learn to control your tongue and watch what you say.

Resist doing what is wrong and instead do what is right.

Do everything to live a life of peace.

God has his eyes on those who love this way.

He listens to their cries for help.

But as for those who live in opposition to God, He turns away from them,

And everyone forgets they ever existed.

But His people have His full and undivided attention.

He delivers them from every predicament and problem.

When you find yourself heartsick and hopeless, God will be there.

He encourages the discouraged.

The reality is that even the godly will face tough times.

But God will be there to rescue them each and every time.

Because He protects the righteous,

Even keeping their bones from breaking if necessary.

But as for the wicked, they can expect everything to go wrong,

Those who are God-haters will be punished.

But those who love and serve God will be set free.

Instead of condemnation, they will find refuge.

Waiting On God.

Psalm 27-28 – Day 1

“Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the LORD." – Psalm 27:14 NLT

Prayer and patience. Two things that don't come easily to most of us. We may pray regularly, but we probably wait for God's answers impatiently. We don't like to wait. We have a hard time understanding God's delays, especially when we've already told Him what we want Him to do. What could He be waiting for? Why doesn't He just go ahead and give us our request – just like we shared it? But David had a confidence in God that was based on his understanding of the character of God. In the midst of difficulty, David could experience rest and a lack of fear, because he knew that God would save and protect him. If he found himself surrounded by the enemy and even under attach, he would not fear, but remain confident – because he could trust God. Waiting on God's answer had become second nature to David. The circumstances that surrounded David were only important to David in that they provided him with an opportunity to trust God and spend time in communion with Him. They gave him the chance to talk to God personally and intimately. While he waited for his answer, he just continued to spend time with God. "Hear me as I pray, O Lord. Be merciful and answer me! My heart has heard you say, 'Come and talk with me.' And my heart responds, 'Lord, I am coming.'" (Psalm 27:7-8 NLT).

David wanted more from God than just rescue. He wanted a relationship. He desired to have God teach him, not just bail him out of trouble. He wanted God to lead him, not just provide him with a trouble-free life. David seemed to understand that the trials of life were there to help him turn to and trust in God. They were opportunities for him to see God work. So he prayed to God. He put his confidence in God. He looked to God as his source of strength and protection. He knew God would provide him with salvation as well as direction. So he was willing to wait patiently on Him. And he could encourage others to do the same. "Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord" (Psalm 27:14 NLT). God is faithful. Like a shepherd who lovingly holds his sheep in his protective arms, God carries and cares for us. He is our source of strength, safety, security, and salvation from anything and anyone that comes against us. So why should we be afraid? Why should we become impatient?

Father, what a great reminder of who You are. My fear and impatience are nothing more than a reflection of my own doubt and ignorance of who You really are. I see my troubles as greater than You are. I see my circumstances as too much for You to handle. When I fear and doubt, I am casting aspersions on Your love and faithfulness. I am saying You either won't or can't save me in my time of need. But You are always faithful and loving. Help me to wait patiently and confidently in You. Help me to be brave and courageous because of the reality of who You are. Amen


God Sees. God Knows. God Acts.

Psalms 11-12 – Day 1

“But the Lord is in his holy Temple; the Lord still rules from heaven. He watches everyone closely, examining every person on earth." – Psalm 11:4 NLT

We are surrounded by uncertainty. There seems to be nothing and no one we can count on any more. Politicians fail us, corporate leaders deceive us, friends disappoint us, and it seems as if everywhere we look someone is out to take advantage of us. But David knew he could trust God. Why? Because God was holy, righteous and just. David found comfort in the realization that God was still in control, sitting on His throne in heaven where He saw all that was going on down here on earth. Yes, David felt the effects of living in a sinful world. He faced opposition, had his fair share of enemies, listened to threats, suffered injustice, and witnessed the attacks of the unjust against the just. From a human perspective, David felt like all was lost. He even asked, "What can the righteous do?" In the face of all that is going on around us and happening to us, what are those of us who love God supposed to do to make a difference?

David's answer? Trust God. Why? Because God is still on His throne. He is still in charge. He is wide awake and well aware of what is going on down here on earth. God sees – He perceives – He doesn't just look on in stunned shock, watching all the chaos taking place among men. He sees and He knows exactly what is happening, who is doing what to whom, and what needs to be done about it. His eyes are wide open and He sees into the hearts of ALL men, examining their motives and determining their fate. The Lord reminds us, "I have seen violence done to the helpless, and I have heard the groans of the poor. Now I will rise up to rescue them, as they have longed for me to do" (Psalm 12:5 NLT). God sees. God hears. God will act.

God is a just God who loves to do what is right. While everyone else is untrustworthy, undependable and unreliable, God is faithful, trustworthy and true. And He is powerful enough to back up His words with action. And not only is God aware of injustice, He is strong enough to do something about the it. We have to believe that God is aware of our circumstances. Even when all hope appears lost, we must rest in the reality that God has not turned His back on us. He sees. He knows. He loves. He despises wickedness and loves righteousness. He loves to do what is right. Everything about Him hates injustice and evil. It may appear that He is indifferent to it all when we look at all that is happening in the world, but we have to trust that one day God is going to set all things right. He may not do it in our time frame. We may not live to see it happen. But He WILL do what is right. Justice will be done. So we trust Him. We turn to Him. We wait for Him. God sees. God knows. And one day, He WILL act.

Father, some days I feel overwhelmed by all that is going on around me. Sometimes I feel as if it is just me against the world. I begin to lose hope and despair starts to set in. But today You reminded me that I can trust You. You know every detail of my live and are well aware of what is happening to me and around me. You see. And You are going to act. I can trust You. Amen


Let Me See You.

Psalm 3 – Day 2

Lord, sometimes I just don’t understand you;

I have a hard time seeing what you are doing.

My circumstances scream out, “He is not there!”

They tease me, “Your God does not care!”

But Your Word paints a different picture.

It reveals that You are in control and in love with me.

You watch over me, protect and provide for me.

You know my circumstances better than I do.

And You have a plan to perfect me through them.

I can choose to worry,

or I can choose to rest.

I can spend all my time staring at what is going on around me,

or I can fix my eyes on You.

Help me to see You in the midst of my circumstances,

but also in spite of them.

Teach me to trust You,

even when I don’t fully understand You.

Don’t let me judge Your goodness

by what I consider to be a bad situation.

Reveal Your strength through my weakness;

Your knowledge through my ignorance.

Open my eyes so that I can see You,

even if my circumstances never change.



The Lifter Of My Head.

Psalm 3 – Day 1

“But you, O Lord, are a shield around me; you are my glory, the one who holds my head high." – Psalm 3:3 NLT

David has had to abandon Jerusalem and his throne because his own son, Absalom, has taken over his kingdom. You can read about this tragic event in David's life in 2 Samuel 15. Psalm 3 was written at the time that all this was going on. So David was going through some significantly trying circumstances. He had lost everything, including his kingdom and the love of his own son. Everyone has seemingly turned against him. His enemies are taunting him that God will never rescue him from this predicament. But David knew something about his God. He had a confidence in God that came from experience. He knew that his God was a shield about him – a form of protection from attack. No matter how bad things got, David knew God to be as reliable as a shield a soldier used in battle to protect himself from certain death. David also knew that God was his glory – He was the one who gave David honor in the sight of others. David may have lost his throne, but he knew he was in God's hands. Others may have lost their respect for David, but he knew that ultimately any honor he received was from God and not from his position or possessions. It was God who gave David's life "weight," as the word glory can be translated. In other words, it was David's relationship with God that gave his life value – not his job, title, or resume. Finally, David knew that it was God who held his head high. It would have been easy for David to hang his head low under the circumstances. He was running away from his own son. He had abandoned his own throne and was hiding in the wilderness. But David knew that God was the lifter of heads. He would revive David and ultimately restore Him to his throne – if that was God's desire. As he left the city that day, David was able to say, "If the Lord sees fit, he will bring me back to see the Ark and the Tabernacle again. But if he is through with me, then let him do what seems best to him" (2 Samuel 15:25 NLT).

David knew his God. He had faith in his God. He could rest in his God. He had confidence in his God. So he cried out to his God. And then he waited. David was not going to let circumstances determine His view of God. A bad day was not going to alter his understanding of the goodness of God. Unexpected, unwelcome events should not cause us to doubt God, but should cause us to turn to Him for help, hope, and healing. Cry out. He answers.

Father, give me the confidence of David. Give me a view of you that is not determined by my circumstances. Help me to see Your faithfulness in the midst of difficulty. Help me to trust You even when things seem out of control, unfair, difficult to understand. You are my shield, glory, and the lifter of my head. Amen


Warriors, Not Just Worshipers.

Psalms 149-150

Let the praises of God be in their mouths, and a sharp sword in their hands. ­– Psalm 159:6 NLT

What an interesting phrase. "Let the praises of God be in their mouths, and a sharp sword in their hands -- to execute vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples, to bind their kings with shackles and their leaders with iron chains, to execute the judgment written against them" (Psalm 149:6-9 NLT). These last five psalms of the entire psalter are hymns of praise to God, encouraging us to praise Him for His power, provision, mercy and grace. But right in the middle of Psalm 149 the psalmist mixes in a little weaponry and war-like language with his call to worship. He tells the people of God to praise God with their lips, but to have a sword ready in their hand at the same time. I think we sometimes forget that our God has called us to be a part of His glorious army. We are at war. We are engaged in an epic battle between the dark forces of this world that have aligned themselves against the rule and reign of God Almighty. Jesus told us that the enemy (Satan) seeks to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). Paul reminds us that we have weapons we are to use in this battle – the weapons of our warfare. "We use God's mighty weapons, not mere worldly weapons, to knock down the Devil's strongholds" (2 Corinthians 7:4 NLT). Paul also tells us to equip ourselves with the armor of God. "Use every piece of God's armor to resist the enemy in the time of evil, so that after the battle you will still be standing firm" (Ephesians 6:13 NLT). This is not Disneyland. This is a battle field and there are casualties of war all around us. Every day we see marriages destroyed, relationships blown apart, children rebel, individuals succumb to addictions of all kinds, and fellow believers fall prey to the attacks of the enemy because they were ill-prepared for battle.

This psalm is a vivid reminder that we have been called to praise God, but to also be ready to fight for God. As Paul tells us, our enemies are spiritual, not physical. Our weapons are not made of steel and chrome. They are the Word of God and the power of faith in God. Paul tells us, "Be strong with the Lord's mighty power. Put on all of God's armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies and tricks of the Devil. For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:10-12 NLT). We have the promises of God's Word, the power of believing prayer, the presence of the Holy Spirit, the protection of our faith in God's love for us, and the peace-providing reality of our ultimate salvation and victory over the enemy. So praise God and be ready to defend the cause of God. One day His Son is going to return. This time He is not coming as an innocent, helpless baby in a manger. He is coming as the King of kings and Lord of lords. He is coming in might and power and He is bringing the army of heaven with Him. And He will put an end to this war once and for all. He will destroy the kingdom of Satan and restore the earth back to its former glory. We fight for the side that is going to win in the end! And that's something worth shouting about.

"Then I saw heaven opened, and a white horse was standing there. And the one sitting on the horse was named Faithful and True. For he judges fairly and then goes to war. His eyes were bright like flames of fire, and on his head were many crowns. A name was written on him, and only he knew what it meant. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and his title was the Word of God. The armies of heaven, dressed in pure white linen, followed him on white horses. From his mouth came a sharp sword, and with it he struck down the nations. He ruled them with an iron rod, and he trod the winepress of the fierce wrath of almighty God. On his robe and thigh was written this title: King of kings and Lord of lords." – Revelation 19:11-16 NLT

Father, we praise You, but we also want to be ready to fight alongside You in this earthly struggle between the kingdom of righteousness and the kingdom of wickedness. Never let us forget that we are at war. While we sing songs and worship You on Sunday, there are countless people dying at the hands of the enemy all around us. As we read our Bibles and study Your truths, there are people who are being destroyed by the enemy and his lies, and we have the means to rescue them. Show us how to be warriors, not just worshipers. Amen


Our Great and Gracious God.

Psalms 146-148

How great is our Lord! His power is absolute! His understanding is beyond comprehension! ­– Psalm 147:5 NLT

These three Psalms are three-fifths of the closing hymns of the entire psalter. They help wrap up this collection of songs by offering praise to God for His power, provision, grace, and mercy. They remind us of just how great a God we serve. He is not a mere concept or force, but a being of immense power and intelligence. He is a loving creator who made all that we see by simply speaking it into existence, and He sustains it all with ease. When we consider the immensity of God, it seems ludicrous to trust in men. God alone has the power to rescue, redeem, and restore. He brings healing to the brokenhearted, sight to the blind, support to the fatherless and widows, food for the hungry, freedom to the captives, support to the afflicted, and favor to those who fear Him. As followers of Christ, those phrases should sound familiar. On a visit to His hometown of Nazareth, Jesus stood in the synagogue and read from Isaiah chapter 61 the following words: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has appointed me to preach Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the downtrodden will be freed from their oppressors, and that the time of the Lord's favor has come" (Luke 4:18-19 NLT). Jesus Christ is the ultimate expression of God's grace and mercy. He is the real answer to oppression, illness, disease, inequity, spiritual blindness, hunger, affliction, fear, and even death.

God does not offer just temporary relief from the cares and concerns of life. He offers eternal salvation from the rule of sin and the penalty of death. He has provided a way for men to be restored to a right relationship to Him, in spite of their sin and rebellion against Him. He has made possible a way to remedy the results of the fall and restore mankind and the earth to their former glory. He not only created the earth and all it contains, He is one day going to recreate it – restore it to the way it was intended to be all along. Only God can do that. Any attempts by man to improve the earth and our lives on it are fleeting and temporary. In many cases, our attempts at improvement have resulted in greater devastation. From nuclear power that resulted in nuclear weapons to the combustion engine that has polluted our atmosphere, every "improvement" by man has ended up having a negative impact. God alone is our salvation. He alone has the power to provide us with hope and healing. So the Psalmist reminds us to praise Him. From the oldest to the youngest, the rich to the poor, the wealthy to the needy – everyone and everything should praise the Lord. "Let them all praise the name of the LORD. For his name is very great; his glory towers over the earth and heaven!" (Psalm 148:13 NLT).

Father, only You are worthy of our praise. Only You have the capacity to do anything about our neediness and hopelessness. I can praise You even before You answer because I know You will – You always do. You have sent Your Son as the answer to every single one of our problems and as the solution to all that's wrong with our planet and the people who occupy it. Even as I read the news this morning I am amazed at all that is wrong in our world. Earthquakes, riots, rebellions, murders, genocide, war, hatred, greed, and immorality of all kinds. But I can praise You because one day You are going to make all this right. You are going to restore Your creation to the way it was meant to be. And even in the midst of all this, You have given me hope through Jesus Christ, Your Son. He is the ultimate expression of Your favor to man. So I praise You! Amen


Unseen, But Far From Unappreciated.

Psalm 134

Oh, praise the Lord, all you servants of the Lord, you who serve at night in the house of the Lord. ­– Psalm 134:1 NLT

Just three verses long, this Psalm seems to be a short, simple conclusion or benediction to the Song of Ascents, the hymnbook used by pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem to celebrate the annual feasts of Passover, Pentecost and Booths. The Song of Ascents included Psalms 120-134. In this particular concluding Psalm the emphasis turns toward those who serve God in the Temple at night. Care for the Temple was an around-the-clock affair. While the people slept, the priests were busy caring for, cleaning, purifying and readying the Temple for the following day. It seems that there was a group of the Levites whose duty it was to perform some of the more mundane or less-than-glamorous duties associated with the Temple. According to 1 Chronicles 23, "The duty of the Levites was to help Aaron's descendants in the service of the temple of the LORD: to be in charge of the courtyards, the side rooms, the purification of all sacred things and the performance of other duties at the house of God. They were in charge of the bread set out on the table, the flour for the grain offerings, the unleavened wafers, the baking and the mixing, and all measurements of quantity and size.  They were also to stand every morning to thank and praise the LORD. They were to do the same in the evening, and whenever burnt offerings were presented to the LORD on Sabbaths and at New Moon festivals and at appointed feasts. They were to serve before the LORD regularly in the proper number and in the way prescribed for them (1 Chronicles 23:28-31 NLT).

This Psalm was meant to be an expression of encouragement to those who serve the Lord at night, in relative obscurity – serving Him joyfully, offering Him praise even in the midst of their nightly duties. It was a reminder to the pilgrims and the priests that the role these priests played was far from unimportant. While no one saw what they did, God was watching. Their duties were just as important as those of the priests who offered up the sacrifices in the courtyard. Without their careful purification of the utensils and objects used in the sacrificial system, the sacrifices offered up to God would have been considered unclean and unacceptable. I can only imagine the cleanup job each evening after a full day of sacrifices with the blood of thousands of animals having flowed within the grounds of the Temple. Everything had to be cleaned and purified. These men played a critical role in the sacrificial system of Israel. And their efforts were a blessing to God.

What a reminder to us that there are those who serve the body of Christ in obscurity, doing roles that many of us would think are unglamorous and even unimportant. I think of the men and women who serve each week on our Parking Posse, overseeing the flow of cars on to and off of our campus each week. Without their efforts, the chaos that would ensue would be unbearable. Yet many don't even notice these people are there. I think of the hundreds of Sunday School teachers and volunteers who serve each and every Sunday throughout the year, caring for and teaching our children. We take them for granted. We come to church knowing they will be there to provide our children a safe environment in which to learn and grow in their knowledge of God and His Word. What about the maintenance staff who work all throughout the week, caring for the buildings and grounds, ensuring they are clean and that everything works properly? They operate behind the scenes, invisible and unknown to most of us. But just think about how their efforts enhance our worship of God on Sunday.

From those who design and print the worship folders each Sunday to those who prepare the coffee, countless individuals serve behind the scenes in an effort to make our worship of God as comfortable and hassle-free as possible. May God bless them for their efforts. And may we learn to thank them for all that they do.

Father, thank You for reminding me of all those who serve You selflessly each week. Create in me a heart of gratitude, expressing my thanks to them for all that they do to enhance our worship experience each week. May You bless them Father for their willingness to serve in ways that many of would not do. Amen


His love endures forever.

Psalm 136

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. "His love endures forever." ­– Psalm 136:1 NLT

In this Psalm we are encouraged repeatedly to give thanks to God. But we are also given the reasons why. Over and over again, the psalmist provides us with the countless examples of God's love that we encounter each and every day. The word the psalmist uses that is translated love in The New Living Translation and mercy in The New American Standard version is chesed, which means "the grace, favor, and mercy of God toward man." The things the psalmist lists are examples of God's favor and mercy toward us. His creation is an example of His grace, mercy and favor. His redemption of Israel from captivity in Egypt is an expression of His grace, mercy and favor. His splitting of the Red Sea and miraculously rescuing the Israelites from certain destruction at the hands of the Egyptians was an expression of His grace, mercy and favor. His provision and protection of the Israelites during all their years of wandering in the wilderness was an expression of His grace, mercy and favor. His victories over the enemies who occupied the Promised Land was an expression of His grace, mercy and favor. His provision of the land was an expression of His grace, mercy and favor. His recognition of Israel's weakness and inability to save themselves, then stepping in and redeeming and rescuing them, is an expression of His grace, mercy and favor.

Over and over again, the psalmist paints a picture of God's unending grace, mercy and favor expressed to the people of God in a variety of ways. And what should our response be to all this? Thanks! Gratitude! A recognition that God has been and is at work in and around our lives in so many ways. Some obvious, and some not so obvious. The very creation of the world in which we live is an expression of God's love for us. The provision of the food we eat is an expression of God's love for us. But how often do we thank Him for our meals or for the beauty we see all around us? We take it all for granted. One of the problems the Israelites faced was that when they finally got into the land and enjoyed all that God had given them, they would take credit for it all and forget God. And God knew this was going to be temptation for them. Listen to His warning to them just before they entered the land. "When the LORD your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you--a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant--then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery" (Deuteronomy 6:10-12 NLT). Cities you did not build, good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, vineyards and groves you did not plant … all of these things were provided by God in His great grace, mercy and favor. They were undeserved and unmerited. God gives us so many things each and every day that we do not deserve. We enjoy so much that is just a result of His unmerited favor toward us. And our response should be (1) a recognition of it as an expression of God's love, and (2) thankfulness to God for His love. God's love is everlasting and everywhere we look. It surrounds us. It protects us. It provides for us. It sustains us. And for that we should be eternally grateful.

Father, thank You for Your everlasting, undeserved love that You shower on me day after day in so many ways. Thank You for my health, my home, my cars I drive, the clothes I wear, the wife I love, they children You have given me, the job I go to each day, the paychecks I cash, the food I eat, the friends I enjoy … they all come from You. Because You love me. Amen


Praise the Lord!

Psalms 111-114

Praise the LORD! I will thank the LORD with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. ­– Psalm 111:1 NLT

Have you ever had trouble finding things to praise God for? If you're like me, you probably have no problem coming up with things to complain to Him about. It seems that there are always an abundance of issues we feel we need to bring to God that we are unhappy about or desire to have Him change. But why is it we can't see to come up with much to praise Him for? The writer of today's Psalms didn't seem to have that problem. He virtually flowed with praise as he recalled all that God had done in his life and the corporate life of the people of God. He said, "How amazing are the deeds of the LORD! All who delight in him should ponder them" (Psalms 111:2 NLT). That seems to be the key. We need to ponder and think about the things that God has done – take the time to dwell on all the great things that He has done and is doing in and around our lives. I must confess that this is something I don't do enough.

The Psalmist dwells on every act of God – from the mundane to the miraculous. God is the one who divided the Red Sea and allowed the people to cross on dry land. But He is also the one who provides us with food each day. It seems that a byproduct of praising the Lord is a growing fear and reverence for the Lord. As we dwell on and recognize the many things He does that deserve our praise, we grow in our admiration of and reverence for Him. That turns into a more willing desire to obey and serve Him. "Praise the LORD! Happy are those who fear the LORD. Yes, happy are those who delight in doing what he commands" (Psalm 112:1 NLT). And obedience brings blessing. In God's grand economy, it seems that the more we praise Him, the more we end up being blessed by Him. As we praise God we discover just how incomparable He is. There is no one and nothing else like Him. Our praise of Him increases our admiration for Him. His worth increases in our eyes as we concentrate on all that He is and all that He does. But that takes time. It takes concentrated effort. It might be a worthwhile effort to regularly sit down and just write out all the things you have to praise God for. Make a list. Start with the simple, then move on to the more spectacular. When we begin to realize that NOTHING we have that is of any value comes from anywhere but Him, we just might begin to understand just how great He is and just how blessed we really are.

Father, forgive me for failing to praise You. I seem to have no problem complaining to You or demanding that You fix all my problems, according to my plan and my time frame. But then, even when You do, instead of praising You, I either take it for granted or take credit for it myself. Help me to see all that You do and praise You as You deserve. You are truly a great God and worthy of my praise. Amen


Unless the Lord…

Psalm 127

Unless the LORD builds a house, the work of the builders is useless. Unless the LORD protects a city, guarding it with sentries will do no good. ­– Psalm 127:1 NLT

This is a psalm written by Solomon, the son of David who ascended to the throne after him. Solomon was the one who had the privilege and responsibility of building the temple that David had proposed and done all the preparation for. Solomon, as you might recall, was also considered the wisest man who ever lived. Which is significant to think about when you read this short psalm. In it he reminds us that unless the Lord builds a house, the work of the builders is useless. I have to believe he wasn't just thinking about any house. I think he probably had the temple in mind. That was one of the crowning achievements of his reign – constructing the house of God in Jerusalem. And I am sure that this message had been drummed into his head by his father David. David had made sure that Solomon knew the success of his reign was directly tied to his faithfulness to God. Solomon had been taught that without God everything becomes worthless and valueless, no matter how grand and impressive it may appear. A powerful kingdom without the power of God behind it was destined to failure. A city protected by a wall and surrounded by watchmen was more than vulnerable to defeat without the presence of God in their midst. Rising at the crack of dawn and putting in a full day of hard work would be fruitless and prove unnecessary when God could provide for you even while you were asleep.

The main theme to this little psalm is the uselessness of life without God. But it also talks about the many blessings involved with a life in which God is intimately involved. He uses the example of children and reminds us that they are a gift from God. They are of far greater value than a house or city we might build, or a career we might pursue. Yet oftentimes we can see our children as burdens rather than blessings. Yet with the help of God and a mindset that recognizes that they are given to us by Him, we can see great benefits and blessings in our lives as we raise them to walk in His ways. Unless the Lord builds a house or builds a family, the work of the builders in useless. Unless I recognize that I cannot build a healthy family without the help of God, no amount of energy or effort I exert will assure future success. This psalm is not advocating complacency or inactivity, it is reminding us of the essential nature of God's presence in everything we do – in all of life. I must make Him an integral part of every aspect of my life. To not do so, the psalmist teaches us, would be to court disaster and ensure our ultimate failure. Whether we're building a house, protecting our home, raising a family, or pursuing a career, we need to include our heavenly Father in all that we do.

Father, I have done a lot over the years without including You at all. And I can attest to the fact that it is useless and ultimately worthless. Even my greatest achievements accomplished without Your help have proven to be short-lived and not all that enjoyable. But anything I have done in my life where You were at the center of it has proved to be a blessing. Help me to see that life without You is worthless so that I will want to include You all the time and in everything. Amen


Great Is Our God!

Psalms 143-145

Great is the LORD! He is most worthy of praise! His greatness is beyond discovery! ­– Psalm 145:3 NLT

Christian singer and songwriter, Chris Tomlin, has a song out that we sing often in church. It is one of my favorites.

The splendor of a King,

clothed in majesty

Let all the earth rejoice, all the earth rejoice

He wraps himself in light,

and darkness tries to hide

it trembles at his voice, trembles at his voice

How great is our God,

sing with me How great is our God,

and all will see How great

How great is our God

And age to age He stands

and time is in His Hands

Beginning and the End,

Beginning and the End

The Godhead, three in one

Father, Spirit, Son,

the Lion and the Lamb,

the Lion and the Lamb

Name above all names

Worthy of all praise

My heart will sing

how great is our God

Name above all names

you are worthy of all praise

and my heart will sing

how great is our God

How great is our God. Great song and a great question. But just how great is He? Have you ever thought about it? If you had to describe the greatness of God, what words would you use? What examples from personal experience could you bring up? The Psalms remind us constantly of His greatness and how He deserves our praise. But why? What do we have to praise Him for? Do we really believe He is great or are they just words we sing without really thinking about what we say? As I read these three Psalms this morning, it struck me how little I think about God's greatness. The Psalmist says, "Let each generation tell its children of your mighty acts. I will meditate on your majestic, glorious splendor and your wonderful miracles. Your awe-inspiring deeds will be on every tongue; I will proclaim your greatness. Everyone will share the story of your wonderful goodness; they will sing with joy of your righteousness" (Psalms 145:4-7 NLT). Do I do that? Do I tell my kids about the greatness of God – from personal experience? Do I think about his majesty and splendor? Do I find myself talking about His awe-inspiring deeds to those around me? The answer to all those questions is "No." Too much of the time God is a concept to me, rather than a personal and powerful presence in my life. I study and read about Him. I even pray to Him. But His majesty, power, greatness and goodness are more academic than experiential. Part of the problem is that I don't think about Him enough. I don't look for Him in my day. I don't recognize Him in my daily life. I have learned to operate as if He is not even there. I include Him when necessary, but I have basically learned to live life without Him. I fail to recognize His mercy, compassion and kindness. I don't realize that the next breath I breathe is a gift from Him. My very existence is completely up to Him. Every meal I eat is due to His kindness. The home I live in was provided by Him, not me. The family I was born into and the wife and children I live with were all given to me by God. God's greatness and goodness are all around me, but I have learned to ignore it or look right past it.

Praise is a habit. The more you practice praise, the more you see that is praiseworthy. The Psalmist said, "I will praise you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever. I will bless you every day, and I will praise you forever" (Psalms 145:1-2 NLT). He made a habit of praising God. He looked for things to be thankful for. He learned to thank God for past examples of His greatness. I need to do the same thing. I need to begin praising Him more, thanking Him more, and looking for His greatness all around me. Because my God truly is great.

Father, You are great and greatly to be praised. Forgive me for not recognizing Your greatness enough. For not talking about it and thanking You for the countless examples that surround my life every day. Give me eyes to see what You are doing in and around my life. Give me breath to speak of your greatness to my wife and kids and all those in my life who need to here just how great You really are. May praising You become a daily habit for me. Amen


He Knows Me!

Psalms 131; 138-139

O LORD, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my every thought when far away. You chart the path ahead of me and tell me where to stop and rest. Every moment you know where I am. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, LORD. ­– Psalm 139:1-4 NLT

God knows you. He knows everything about you. He know things about you that you don't even know about yourself. Isn't that amazing? Doesn't that boggle your mind? It does mine. Because I struggle so much just with knowing a little bit about God. Sure, I know a lot of facts about God, but I wrestle with just how much I truly know Him. His knowledge of me is intimate and vast. After all, He made me. The Scriptures tell me He even knows the numbers of hairs on my head – even the ones I've lost! But do I know Him like that? No. But it is incredible to think that He knows me so well and is so deeply interested in me. David said that God knows my thoughts – even when I am far away. He knows where I am every minute of every day. You would think God is too busy to worry about where I am. But no, He is never too busy for me. He even knows what I am going to say before I say it. I agree with David when he says, "Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to know!" (Psalm 139:6 NLT).

There is no place I can go to escape from God. I can't hide from Him, even though I have tried. I can't keep anything from Him, but that hasn't stopped me from trying. I can never get away from His presence. Why? Because He is everywhere all the time? No, because He cares for me. Now that is amazing. He won't let me out of His sight. This one who cares for me so much is the same one who made me. He crafted me into exactly the person He wanted me to be. He knew what He was doing when He made my body, gave me my talents and abilities, and placed me in the time and place where I am living. Nothing was a mistake. Nothing about my life was not blind luck or fate. I have a God who made me, cares for me, watches over me, and has a plan for my life. Now that really is too great for me to know. But I need the reminder to consider just how much God loves me and cares for me. I lose sight of that fact easily and regularly. I can start to feel lonely and isolated, alone and distant from the God who created me. I can try to hide from Him because I think I've disappointed Him. I can begin to believe that He doesn't even know I exist. Then I read the words of David and am reminded that nothing could be further from the truth. "This is too much, too wonderful - I can't take it all in!" (Psalm 139:6 MSG).

Father, help me remember what I've read today. Help me to believe it, think about it, stake my life on it. Because it is as true about me as it was about David when he wrote it. Forgive me for the many times I try to hide from You, embarrassed over my behavior and fearful of Your reaction to it. Help me to understand that I can't hide anything from You, because You are always there. You know me better than I know myself. You are never surprised by my actions or words. Because You know. And in spite of what You know about me, You love me. You care for me. And You never let me out of Your sight. Thank You! Amen


He Reigns and He's Going To Return.

Psalm 110

The LORD will extend your mighty scepter from Zion; you will rule in the midst of your enemies. ­– Psalm 110:2 NLT

This is a Messianic Psalm. It predicts the coming return and reign of Christ on earth. It is short and sweet, painting in just a few lines the future rule of Christ. It establishes Jesus as not only a descendant of David, but His Lord and Master. He is the Messiah. This Psalm should be a comfort to all of us who call ourselves Christ-followers. It is a reminder of how the story ends. Even though we see a lot of suffering in the world and even question how this whole mess is going to get worked out in the end, David reminds us that Christ still reigns and rules in heaven, and one day He is going to return and put all things right. Jesus may have come as an innocent baby the first time, but He isn't going to return that way. He will be the conquering king and warrior who defeats all the enemies of God and sets up His righteous rule here on earth. That is not a hope. It is a certainty. It is going to happen. We can count on it. It is all part of God's perfect divine plan. When He returns, Jesus will judge the nations – justly and righteously. He will make all things right. And that future hope should bring us present peace.

Father, thank You for reminding me that Your plan is still in place. You are not done yet. Your Son will return one day. He will set up His rule right here on earth. Justice will be done. Righteousness will be the rule of the day. Help me to keep my mind focused on that reality. Amen


An Uncomfortable, But Honest Prayer.

Psalms 108-109

May his children become fatherless, and may his wife become a widow. May his children wander as beggars; may they be evicted from their ruined homes. May creditors seize his entire estate, and strangers take all he has earned. Let no one be kind to him; let no one pity his fatherless children. May all his offspring die. May his family name be blotted out in a single generation. ­– Psalm 109:9-13 NLT

One word comes to mind when I read a Psalm like this: Uncomfortable. Or maybe even shocking. I read it and am surprised that these words came out of the mouth of David, the man after God's own heart. But there they are in black and white for all to see and read. Psalm 109 is what is known as an imprecatory prayer. It is a prayer for evil or misfortune to come on someone else – usually an enemy. In the Bible, an imprecatory prayer is the prayer of a righteous man who is asking God to carry out justice by bringing punishment or destruction on those who have done evil and have been mistreating or abusing him. A first read of this Psalm can be a little disconcerting. The requests of David are severe and seem to be motivated by an extreme hatred. He is obviously upset and has been suffering greatly at the hands of this enemy. We are not told who this person or persons is, but David wishes nothing but ill-will against them. He makes it painfully clear what he would like God to do to them. He basically wants him dead, leaving his wife a widow and his children to beg. Is David wrong for praying this prayer? Is he letting his anger get the best of him? If so, why does God include this Psalm in the Bible?

While the things David requests may make us a bit uncomfortable, we can probably relate at some level. We have all had someone in our lives who we wished evil upon. We may not have put it in the form of a prayer, but we thought about it, even dreamed about it. We may not have been quite as harsh as David was, but we probably wanted to see some kind of harm come to the one who had harmed us. This is a purely human reaction. We want revenge. We want vengeance to be done. This is not necessarily wrong. Especially if the evil done to us is truly evil and sinful. But David knew something we all need to know: Vengeance is God's business, not ours. That's why David took his issue to God. I think there is a point at which David knew that what this person had done to him was in direct opposition to the will of God. David had shown them love and their response had been nothing but evil. "I love them, but they try to destroy me -- even as I am praying for them! They return evil for good, and hatred for my love" (Psalm 109:4-5 NLT). Their actions were sinful and ungodly, and he knew that God was opposed to everything they had done to him. So he took his case to God and pleaded for justice in the form of vengeance. He was only asking God to do to this individual the same thing he had done to David and probably others. Basically David was asking God to let this man reap what he sowed. Where it gets really uncomfortable for most of us is when David starts asking for bad things to happen to the guys wife and kids. This seems a bit extreme. But this does not mean David had unbridled hatred for the man's family. It only reveals David's understanding of how things worked in their society. These are the natural consequences of life in the culture of David's day. A man and his offspring were inseparably linked. The actions of one directly influenced the other. The sins of this man and their punishment would be felt by his wife, children, and ancestors. That was the way things worked in their society. So David is really praying out the consequences of this man's deserved punishment.

David knew that God hated sin and injustice and so his prayer is not inappropriate or sinful. He is simply expressing a hatred for sin that mirrored that of God. He wants to see God's will be done. Sure, he is not shy in expressing his own opinion as to what that will should be, but at the end of the day, he wants to see God mete out justice and vengeance on this person who was not only David's enemy, but an enemy of God. But what balances this Psalm out is David's request that God express His love and faithfulness to him. "But deal well with me, O Sovereign LORD, for the sake of your own reputation! Rescue me because you are so faithful and good" (Psalm 109:21 NLT). David understands that God wants to bless the righteous and punish the wicked. That is what this prayer is all about. It is a request for God to be God and do what only God can do. Only God can rescue David and turn the evil this person has done to him into blessing. Only God can punish this individual justly and righteously, returning on him the kind of evil he has been dishing out.

Imprecations are effective only when we see sin as God does and when we ask Him to deal with sin as He has promised to deal with it in His Word. David was simply praying back to God what he knew to be true about God and His divine view of sin. David was praying the kind of punishment for sin that God had already expressed as proper and just. And the most important point is that David was praying with a clean and innocent heart. He had done nothing to deserve the treatment he was receiving. He was innocent. That is a critical point in praying an imprecatory prayer. Had David been guilty of mistreatment of this man, his prayers would have been improper and unheeded by God. He stood guiltless before God and was suffering unjustly, so he knew that God would step into that kind of situation. God protects His own. He defends His sheep. David's prayer came out of a firm understanding of who God was and what He stood for more than a hatred for his enemy. His prayer was driven by a desire to see justice done and God intervene. "Help me, O LORD my God! Save me because of your unfailing love. Let them see that this is your doing, that you yourself have done it, LORD" (Psalm 109:26-27 NLT). David wanted to see God's will done and His power manifested to all those around him. God's glory was David's foremost desire.

Father, give me a hatred for evil that is more powerful than my hatred for any particular individual and what they might do to me. May I learn to see any injustice done to me as an injustice done to You. This is more about You than me. May I learn to desire Your glory by seeing Your will be done – in my life and circumstances. Give me a greater understanding of Your hatred of evil and the manner in which You punish it, so that I might pray according to Your will and not mine. Amen


Recognition. Repentance. Responsibility.

2 Samuel 24; Psalm 30

David's conscience began to bother him. And he said to the LORD, "I have sinned greatly and shouldn't have taken the census. Please forgive me, LORD, for doing this foolish thing." ­– 2 Samuel 24:10 NLT

This is a fascinating passage and one that is full of confusing and seemingly contradictory content. It starts out with God angry at Israel. We're not tol why, but He is upset enough that He takes action against them and He chooses to use David as a tool to accomplish His will. We are told that God "incited Dvaid against them." I don't think this means that David suddenly got angry with Israel and set out to harm them. But David made a decision, in the divine pan of God, that would bring harm to Israel. Over in 1 Chronicles 21, the companion passage to this one, we are told that "Satan rose up against Israel and caused David to take a census of the Israelites" (1 Chronicles 21:1 NLT). So now it appears as if Satan is involved. But the word for Satan can also simply mean adversary. With that in mind, the New English Translation renders this verse "An adversary opposed Israel, inciting David to count how many warriors Israel had." Whether Satan himself was involved or not, it would seem that David has tempted to take a census in order to find out just how many troops he had so that he could face a possible war with confidence. In essence, he was checking the balance on his checking account before making a significant purchase. So was this wrong? Was David sinning in taking a census? Even Jesus, in one of His parables, tells the story of a king who sat down and took stock of his troops before going to battle. "…what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand?" (Luke 14:31 NASB).

So what is going on? God is angry with Israel. He determines to somehow use David to punish them. And David, in reaction to a possible threat of battle, finds himself tempted to take a census in order to determine just how many battle-ready soldiers he has. But consider this: David's sin was not in taking the census. It was in failing to trust God. It's obvious that David took the census to determine his military strength, and this was not necessarily sin. After all, we have other accounts in Scripture where God directed Moses to take a census of the people (cf. Exod. 30:11-12; Num. 1:1-2). So census taking was not the problem. It seems that David's sin was placing confidence in the number of his soldiers rather than in the Lord. Now keep in mind, this is the same David who wrote the words, "Some nations boast of their armies and weapons, but we boast in the LORD our God" (Psalm 20:7 NLT). For whatever reason, at this point late in his reign, he finds himself doubting God and turning to an earthly source for his protection and confidence. God would use David's decision to punish the people of Israel. David's sin would have consequences on the entire nation.

The result is a plague sent from God that destroys 70,000 of the people. David is horrified and pleads to God. He recognizes his sin and takes responsibility for it. He repents. He even asks God to spare the people and pour out His wrath on him. "I am the one who has sinned and done wrong! But these people are innocent -- what have they done? Let your anger fall against me and my family" (2 Samuel 24:17 NLT). God commands David to offer up a sacrifice as a payment for his sin. It required him to buy a piece of land where he could erect an altar to the Lord. When the land owner offers the land free of charge and all the animals to make the sacrifice at no cost, David refuses. "No, I insist on buying it, for I cannot present burnt offerings to the LORD my God that have cost me nothing" (2 Samuel 24:24 NLT). David knew that his sacrifice had to be just that – a sacrifice. It had to cost him something. For his sacrifice to have value, it had to be worth something. A sacrifice that costs nothing is no sacrifice at all.

In his commentary on this passage, Dr. Thomas L. Constable says, "Whenever someone whom God has chosen for special blessing sins he or she becomes the target of God's discipline, and he or she also becomes a channel of judgment to others. Only repentance will turn the situation around. When David agreed to obey God's will revealed through Gad, he began at once to become a source of blessing again." This reveals a lot about David and shows why he was considered a man after God's own heart. While other men would have become angry at God over His punishment of Israel or simply allowed the people to continue to die as long as his own family was safe, David took responsibility for his role in the whole affair. He knew he was responsible for the well-being of the people as their shepherd. He also knew he was responsible for their suffering. He owned up to his role in the situation. He repented and made restitution. He restored his relationship with God and God relented.

What's fascinating is that God would use His punishment of Israel to bring them future blessing. The very land that David bought to erect his altar to God would become the site on which Solomon's temple would be built. Dr. Constable goes on to say, "Solomon's temple became the centerpiece of Israel for hundreds of years. It was the place where God met with His people and they worshipped Him corporately, the center of their spiritual and national life. Therefore the mention of the purchase of Araunah's threshing floor was the first step in the building of the temple, the source of incalculable blessing to come (Genesis 23:3-16).

Isn't that the way God works? He is angry with Israel over some sin they have committed. He uses the pride and self-sufficiency of their king to bring punishment on them. That same man, whom God had chosen to begin with, recognizes his sin and repents. He obediently listens to God and buys a tract of land in order to sacrifice to God, and God uses that very same land to have His temple constructed. Just coincidence? I don't think so. God had a plan all along and He was working it to perfection. He can even use our sins and disobedience to accomplish His divine will. He can bring blessing out of our rebellion.

Father, You are always working Your will. Nothing I do can get in the way. My sins don't diminish it, distract from it, or derail it. You even bring blessing out of our rebellion. You can turn our sin into opportunities to shower us with Your grace and mercy. The key is repentance. Keep me repentant Father. Don't let me become hard of heart and stubborn in my response to sin. May I quickly recognize it, take ownership for it, then repent of it. Amen