Tag Archives: David

Psalm 21 – Praise to the Lord for Victory

I seem to have used up my creativity in poetry this week and couldn’t think of a clever way to choose a Psalm, so again I’m just going in order of the next Psalm that I’ve never posted before. And that is Psalm 21. This is an awesome Psalm of David in praise for the blessings and victory He has granted to David as King. But it works as a prayer of praise for all believers. As verse 4 says, we have asked the Lord for life, and He has given it to us. Verse 6 reminds us that He has granted “eternal blessings” and that we can rejoice in being able to enjoy His presence in our lives.

Sometimes Psalm passages like verses 8-12 are hard to comprehend, because we don’t like to think of God as being angry and consuming people with fire. But when we remember that God knows the heart of every man and that this fate is reserved for His enemies, those who plot evil, then such passages are easier to understand and even bring comfort as they did to David.

Psalm 21

    For the director of music. A psalm of David.

 1 O LORD, the king rejoices in your strength.
   How great is his joy in the victories you give!
2 You have granted him the desire of his heart
   and have not withheld the request of his lips.
                         Selah

3 You welcomed him with rich blessings
   and placed a crown of pure gold on his head.
4 He asked you for life, and you gave it to him—
   length of days, for ever and ever.
5 Through the victories you gave, his glory is great;
   you have bestowed on him splendor and majesty.
6 Surely you have granted him eternal blessings
   and made him glad with the joy of your presence.
7 For the king trusts in the LORD;
   through the unfailing love of the Most High
   he will not be shaken.

 8 Your hand will lay hold on all your enemies;
   your right hand will seize your foes.
9 At the time of your appearing
   you will make them like a fiery furnace.
In his wrath the LORD will swallow them up,
   and his fire will consume them.
10 You will destroy their descendants from the earth,
   their posterity from mankind.
11 Though they plot evil against you
   and devise wicked schemes, they cannot succeed;
12 for you will make them turn their backs
   when you aim at them with drawn bow.

 13 Be exalted, O LORD, in your strength;
   we will sing and praise your might.

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Dancing with Joy – My Tuesday Three

I was on vacation all last week and did not have any time to read blogs, not even my favorites. I managed to post every day only because most of those posts were written and scheduled before I left. So once again My Tuesday Three will not showcase three blog posts. I promise I will get back to that, but I am thankful for more flexibility in discerning My Tuesday Three.

Yesterday as I thought about what to write, I came across a post by my fellow blogger Pastor Bryan Lowe titled Just One More Dance to Go. It got me thinking about how much I love to dance, and how dancing for the Lord is the best dance of all. I know there are some Christian denominations that frown upon dancing, but the Bible clearly indicates that dancing with the right attitude towards God is a good thing.

King David is one of the great figures of the Old Testament, considered a man after God’s own heart. David loved the Lord and did what was right in His sight. Although David did sin, when confronted with his sin David repented and sought God’s forgiveness. Scripture has this to say about David and dancing:

David, wearing a linen ephod, danced before the LORD with all his might, while he and the entire house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouts and the sound of trumpets.

As the ark of the LORD was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD, she despised him in her heart. 2 Samuel 6:14-16 (NIV).

I have always found it interesting that the Scriptures record Michal’s reaction to David’s dancing. As I read this passage, I see that God was pleased with David but not with Michal. To me, Michal represents those who don’t truly know the joy of the Lord as David did, and so despise and are jealous of those who have that joy and can express it outwardly as in dancing. Although dancing is an outward activity, it is the attitude of the heart that is most important.

David’s son Solomon was another great figure of the Old Testament. He prayed for wisdom and was granted his prayer and more. He shared much of his wisdom in Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. One of the most well-known passages of Ecclesiastes also supports that dancing, at the appropriate time and with the right attitude, is a good thing.

A Time for Everything

There is a time for everything,
   and a season for every activity under heaven:

a time to be born and a time to die,
   a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
   a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
   a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
   a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up,
   a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
   a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
   a time for war and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NIV).

Although I love to dance, I know that it is not always appropriate. One does not dance at a funeral or in a courtroom. One does not dance in history class or on the front lines of war. But when it is time to celebrate the blessings of the Lord such as a wedding or the birth of a child or the offer of a new job, then it is appropriate to dance. Even during a worship service in church I believe it can be appropriate to praise the Lord with dance. There is nothing cuter than to see a small child dancing in the aisle during an upbeat song at church.

Someday dancing before the Lord will be appropriate for all as we celebrate the blessings of the new heaven and new earth. The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah wrote of a time when the Lord would return all of His people to Him, a time that is still yet to come.

For the LORD will ransom Jacob
   and redeem them from the hand of those stronger than they.
They will come and shout for joy on the heights of Zion;
   they will rejoice in the bounty of the LORD—
the grain, the new wine and the oil,
   the young of the flocks and herds.
They will be like a well-watered garden,
   and they will sorrow no more.
Then maidens will dance and be glad,
   young men and old as well.
I will turn their mourning into gladness;
   I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.
Jeremiah 31:11-13 (NIV).

The Lord Jesus has already come to ransom Jacob (Israel). The time will come when all the children of Abraham, including the Gentiles who have been grafted in, will be gathered to the Lord. All “will dance and be glad.” Oh, what a dance that will be, filled with the joy of the Lord, when sorrow will be no more. That is the dance Pastor Bryan looks forward to in his post. It is the dance I look forward to as well. In the meantime, I’ll keep dancing with joy to celebrate the blessings of our God.

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Sin, Redemption, and Grace – My Tuesday Three

This is week two of “My Tuesday Three,” and I am so excited about what I’ve found for this week. As I determined to find three separate but related posts, I was blessed to have God lead me to the perfect three for this week. They all touch on the themes of sin, redemption, and grace, but from different perspectives. I am pleased to share these posts with all of you, and hope you are as blessed by the message of hope that they bring as I was.

The first post I want to showcase is titled Saddened by My Fallenness by Pastor Bryan Lowe over at Broken Believers. I’ve been reading Bryan’s blog for quite some time, and he has a wonderful ministry for Christians struggling with mental illness, though his posts are equally uplifting for all Christians. This particular post really spoke to me in its brutal honesty. From the first paragraph Bryan revealed such truth about what I have come to know about myself without God:

Scripture never flatters the human heart.  It acts on us directly, “dividing the spirit from the soul.”  I find no glowing review of our common humanity, nothing leads me to draw any other conclusion.  At our deepest essence, we are depraved, separated from truth and goodness.

He goes on to explain that it is those who recognize and mourn their own sinful and depraved heart whom Christ came to save and whom God comforts and heals. We must never think that we are completely cured of our depravity, but must continually turn to God for strength and healing. Bryan concludes with a wonderful quote from Martin Luther, but you’ll have to go check out the post to read it.

The second post that I want to showcase is titled The Good Shepherd: Tending a Blemished Flock by Chris Yeager at Chris Yeager Writes Blog. I found Chris’ blog because he submitted a poem to Idylls for the King, the Christian literary blog I contribute to. I read a few of his posts, which were all wonderful. But this one in particular struck me as one I wanted to include in My Tuesday Three because it fit so well with Bryan’s post, and then the third post I found later fit wonderfully, too. This post also includes the cutest picture of his young daughter and a story of her getting in trouble and locking herself in the bathroom that perfectly illustrates our relationship with God when we sin and don’t know how we will ever be able to make it right. Chris writes:

It is very easy for us to lock ourselves away from God and fear what He will think of us if we open up the door.  Our sin or disobedience can seem so great that we would rather try to hide it away and hope that He will ignore us.  But God is a seeker…He is a good shepherd who finds His sheep wherever they may try to lose themselves. He is the healer and redeemer, cleansing us of our blemishes so we can stand before Him unashamed. 

It is when we know we have done wrong, and that we can’t do anything to make it better on our own, that we must turn to God for redemption. God knows our depraved hearts, and yet He loves us enough to send His only Son to die for our sins so that we could be redeemed.

The third post that I want to showcase is titled Abraham and David: Saved By Grace by Loren at Answers From The Book. I’ve been reading Loren’s blog for some time, and always learn something new. His posts are well supported by scripture and always encouraging. This post rounds out My Tuesday Three by reminding us of how we, depraved as we are, can nonetheless be justified before God through His grace. He starts with the Old Testament stories of Abraham and David that Paul points to in Romans 4. Neither Abraham nor David was perfect, but both were justified by faith in God. Loren points out that both of these men were perfect examples to cite to the Jews Paul was writing to, because no Jew would have argued that either was not justified before God.

But what did David claim was the basis for his Justification before God? Certainly not works or strict adherence to the Law. David had committed murder and adultery (2 Samuel, Chapter 11). Yet in Psalm 32 . . . he described the blessed man not as the one who was without sin, nor the one who had worked to earn God’s favor, but the one whose iniquities were forgiven and whose sins were covered.

In spite of our depraved heart and the sins we commit, we can be justified before God because of His abounding grace; because Jesus has forgiven and covered our sins. Our salvation is a gift from God and He alone is glorified when we are saved by grace alone.

Taken together, these three posts tell the whole story. Mankind is depraved and sinful by nature, and though we think we can hide from God or try to repay our own debt, the truth is that our redemption is only available because of the grace of God offered to those who recognize their sinful condition and need for a savior, and choose to rely in faith on Jesus Christ.

I know I cannot save myself, and neither can you. But God loves us anyway and has made a way for us to be redeemed through faith. Do you understand the wickedness of your own heart? Have you tried to hide from God or turned to Him for redemption and healing? Are you trying to earn your own salvation or do you know the joy of being justified by grace alone? I pray that, if you don’t yet know the grace of God, you will read these three wonderful posts and that the Holy Spirit will grant you understanding of the awesome truths they reveal.

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Focus on the Inside

This morning one of my fellow bloggers posted a comment with a question about this quote from Friedrich Nietzsche: “The Christian resolution to find the world ugly and bad has made the world ugly and bad.” She asked, “Are the Christians the only ones who see the ‘ugly and bad’ side of the world?” I posted an answer to her question in a reply comment, but the more I thought about it I realized this was a question that was worthy of a regular blog post.

The question brought up memories of reading Nietzsche in college. I never like his writing. Something else he wrote is that God did not create man, man created God. He was definitely an atheist, and though I didn’t realize why at the time, his writing always made me feel uneasy. I couldn’t avoid reading it  because I was a political science major and it was required. But no one could make me like it.

I disagree with the quote my friend found. There is no Christian resolution to find the world ugly and bad, but rather Christians are resolved to find God holy, good, and merciful. As Christians, we do recognize the sinful nature of mankind, but that is not what makes mankind sinful – or “ugly and bad.” Consider this, if I see the grass as green, that is not what makes it green, even if someone else does not see what color it is at all. There is evil and ugliness in the world. The fact that I and generations of Christians have seen it isn’t what brought it into existence.

I also don’t think Christians are the only ones who see the evil in the world. Even Nietzsche could see that there was something ugly and bad in the world. But Christians are often (though not always) the ones who can see the evil in our own hearts. Non-believers can easily point to others and see their evil and blame the ugly and bad in the world on them. This is essentially what Nietzsche has done in this quote. He saw external ugliness and blamed it on Christians, but never saw the evil in his own heart.

We have no control to change others and are often powerless to do anything about the evil and ugliness outside ourselves. But we can do something about the evil within; we can invite the Holy Spirit to help us overcome the ugly and bad in our own hearts. That is the Christian resolution – to rely on God to help us overcome our own evil.

“God knows people’s hearts.” Acts 15:8a. Only God knows how we have grappled with our own sinful desires and turned to Him for redemption. The prophet Samuel learned this when he thought one of Jesse’s older, taller, stronger sons would be anointed King of Israel.

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7.

God had David, the youngest and smallest of Jesse’s sons in mind to be king. He saw David as a man after His own heart. Acts 13:22. Though David was not perfect, he consistently saw his own sinfulness and repented. He was able to look within his own heart and see the evil and ugliness therein; he grappled with his sinful desires and turned to God for redemption.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to grasp Nietzsche’s view and blame evil on everyone else. Rather, I want to be like David and confess the ugliness in my own heart, casting my lot on God for redemption and healing. If every person grasped the Christian resolution to not “worry about a speck in my friend’s eye when I have a log in my own” (Matthew 7:3) and sought the power and wisdom of the Holy Spirit to overcome my own sinful nature, then imagine what a wonderful place the world would be.

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God Loves the Imperfect

Christians are often criticized when they sin, as if we are somehow supposed to be perfect. Perhaps that is due to the legalistic nature of some Christian denominations that spend all their time focusing on hellfire and brimstone, or because we can sometimes be a bit judgmental ourselves. Jesus said, ” Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” Matthew 7:1. I guess He was right. When we criticize the imperfection of others they will expect perfection from us.

But Christians aren’t perfect, at least I know I’m not. Lately I’ve been struggling with my tendency to be easily irritated by others. Perhaps it was two weeks in New York, and missing three Sundays of fellowship with my church family as well as two weeks of reading my Bible and my favorite Christian blogs. I’m feeling irritable and critical, and am having a hard time shaking that feeling.

So I have turned to God in prayer, asking Him to forgive me and to help me be less irritable and unforgiving of others. He has reminded me of a few things to help in that regard. First, when hanging on the cross, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34. If Jesus could ask God to forgive those who crucified Him, should I not be able to forgive those who merely irritate me? Second, I thought of the teaching of Paul, who said, “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:13.

Finally, God reminded me that He loves even the imperfect among us. So even though I am not perfect, He loves me still. And perhaps it is my recognition that I am not perfect and my confession of my own sin that makes Him love me all the more.

Consider King David, who was called a man after God’s own heart. Acts 13:22. David was far from perfect. He essentially murdered Uriah by sending him to the front lines of a battle so that David could take Uriah’s wife Bathsheba for his own. 2 Samuel 12:9. The Lord send the prophet Nathan to rebuke David, and in response David replied, “I have sinned against the LORD.” 2 Samuel 12:13. Because David was repentant, the Lord spared his life and David was yet considered beloved by God.

Consider also Peter, the disciple of Jesus. In the night in which Jesus was tried and crucified, Peter denied him three times that he even knew Jesus. John 18:15-17, 25-27. Peter, who had declared he would die with Jesus, now denied any relationship between them. Peter was despondent over having done just as Jesus had predicted he would do. But even so, Jesus loved Peter. After His resurrection, Jesus restored their relationship and charged Peter to feed and care for His flock of followers and believers. John 21:15-19.

There are many other examples in scripture of those who loved God, and whom God loved in return, but who were not perfect. The entire nation of Israel is a perfect example. Though they turned from God time and time again, God kept calling them back because He loved them. In the same way, though we may stray time and time again, God, through His Son Jesus, calls us back to Him because He loves us even if we are not perfect. As Paul wrote to the church in Rome, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8.

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God’s Deliverance

Whenever I come up against a difficult person who seems to oppose me, a “foe” if you will, I am drawn to the Psalms. Today was such a day. I was prepared for what I knew was coming because I spent time with my Lord this morning asking for wisdom and the right words to say in whatever circumstance I faced. And everything went fine, but still I feel a bit exhausted and frustrated by the opposition that seems to illogical to me.

So I went to www.biblegateway.com and started reading through the Psalms. I found just what I needed to read in Psalm 3:

1 O LORD, how many are my foes!
       How many rise up against me!

Okay, so I don’t have many foes like David did. This verse put my situation in perspective. But it also reminded me of who to cry out to when I face opposition of any kind, and that is my Lord Jesus.

 2 Many are saying of me,
       “God will not deliver him.”      Selah

 3 But you are a shield around me, O LORD;
       you bestow glory on me and lift up my head.

I’m not sure those who make up the opposition I face even have God in mind, much less are they concerned about whether He will deliver me. But He was my shield today. He gave me wisdom as I asked, and the right things to say so that praise and glory were bestowed on me. Now I know that all that glory belongs to Him, and Him alone, but since God is not on the minds of many whom I dealt with today I doubt they are aware of this.

 4 To the LORD I cry aloud,
       and he answers me from his holy hill.       Selah

 5 I lie down and sleep;
       I wake again, because the LORD sustains me.

 6 I will not fear the tens of thousands
       drawn up against me on every side.

In spite of the exhausting day, I felt no fear. It wasn’t “tens of thousands” that I faced, only a few, but I knew God was with me. His peace reigned in my heart today.

 7 Arise, O LORD!
       Deliver me, O my God!
       Strike all my enemies on the jaw;
       break the teeth of the wicked.

This verse in particular spoke to me. It says to me that God is in control. I am not in a position to strike my enemies or “break the teeth of the wicked.” Since I cannot, like God, see the hearts of men I do not even know for sure who the truly wicked are. But God knows and He will answer this plea with justice and mercy as He sees fit. My job is to trust Him with the result.

 8 From the LORD comes deliverance.
       May your blessing be on your people.      Selah

Nothing I can do will bring me deliverance from the opposition I face. Only God can do that. His blessings will be on His people, and because He can see into the hearts of men He knows who His people are.

Opposition will come to us all through different people, and sometimes from within our own soul. But we need not fear for He is our shield and our deliverer. Are you facing opposition today? Turn to the Psalms and pray for God to uphold you and to resolve the conflict with your enemies in the way that He sees fit. Then may His blessings be upon you.

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Is Servant Leadership an Oxymoron?

Are you in a leadership position? Do you administer a ministry in your church? Do you manage a group of employees for your job? Do you have kids that you are called to lead and train? If you think about it, most people are in a leadership position of some sort, whether it be large or small. We may not all be CEOs of multi-billion dollar corporations, but most of us are in charge of directing someone else at one time or another.

The Bible provides some great insight for effective leadership. Last night I was reading the story of when King Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, became king of all Israel after Solomon’s death. The people came to King Rehoboam complaining of the heavy burden King Solomon had put on them and asking that he lessen their burden, saying they would always be loyal if he did. Before he answered the people, King Rehoboam sought the advice of his father’s wise elder advisors.

They replied, “If today you will be a servant to these people and serve them and give them a favorable answer, they will always be your servants.” 1 Kings 12:7.

King Rehoboam also sought advice from his younger advisors.

The young men who had grown up with him replied, “Tell these people who have said to you, ‘Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but make our yoke lighter’ -tell them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist.  My father laid on you a heavy yoke; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.’ ” 1 Kings 12:10-11.

Ultimately, King Rehoboam took the advice of his young friends and did not heed the advise of the wise elders. The result was that the people revolted and he lost all of the kingdom of Israel except Judah. After King David had served the people of Israel so well for so long, “only the tribe of Judah remained loyal to the house of David” after King Rehoboam took the throne. 1 Kings 12:20b.

Servant leadership is a hard concept to grasp. As one in power, it is easy to be filled with the pride of leadership and seek to succeed on the backs of those one leads. This is often seen in industry and business in our society, as CEOs get rich while the pay and benefits afforded to the workers is slashed.

But servant leadership is exactly what Jesus modeled. Although He was God incarnate and clearly their superior, Jesus became the disciples’ servant when He washed their feet at the last supper before His death. See John 13:1-17. Even after His resurrection, Jesus continued to be a servant leader to the disciples. As they hauled in a miraculous catch of fish, He was on the shore building a fire and cooking them breakfast. See John 21:1-14. It seems that the disciples should have been making breakfast for their risen Lord, but Jesus was the kind of servant leader who turned such thoughts on their heads.

When He knew that the disciples had been arguing about who was the greatest, Jesus said something to them that has always intrigued me:

They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.

 Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.”

He took a little child and had him stand among them. Taking him in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.” Mark 9:33-37.

To be first, you must be the very last! Not just towards the end of the line, but the very last. You must put others, including children who you teach and lead, ahead of you. This can be a particularly difficult concept to put into practice with kids. My son has complained several times over the years that adults who are supposed to be his teachers or youth leaders at church don’t listen to him or take him seriously. These adults have failed to grasp the concept of servant leadership when it comes to the kids who cross their path on a regular basis.

In the various capacities in which I lead others, both adults and kids, I try to keep this principle of servant leadership in mind. Being a servant leader serves both to encourage others to follow and to allow them to succeed in the endeavor you are asking them to embark on. I don’t always succeed in putting this principle into practice, but because of my servant leader Jesus I am improving in my efforts to do so.

Think about those you lead, and be creative in making that list. Then think about how you have treated them. Have you acted as a servant leader to them, or have you, like Rehoboam, made their burden heavier just because you have the power to do so? If the Creator of all things can humble Himself to be a servant so that He might be a better leader, perhaps His example is worth following.

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