A weaned child… Templates… Highest praise… What goes around… Tension is normal…
DAY ONE – Psalms 131, 138, 139, 143, 144, 145
The depth of King David’s relationship with Yahweh God lights up these psalms. No wonder he was called by God ‘a man after my own heart.’ David seems to have clear vision of and ‘righteousness,’ and ‘wickedness’ what we would call right and wrong. And though we can point to a few wicked things David did, we would still refer to him as a righteous man; why is that? Because God revealed Himself to David throughout his lifetime in significant situations that resulted in life or death. The result of REVELATION was DEVOTION. Over time David came to KNOW GOD in character and attributes. WHO is God? WHAT is He like? HOW does He deal with humankind? Track with David through his songwriting and you will see what He saw, or should I say WHOM he saw. So deeply devoted was David to the Lord that he described his contentment ‘like a weaned child with his mother.’ Can we describe our contentment in those terms? Do we, as David, praise the Lord for all the world to see? Do we, as David, really believe that God searches us and knows us? That He understands us because He made us? That He is truly leading us through life, in the good and bad times? That His thoughts toward us cannot be numbered–we are that important to Him? These are not emotional outbursts from David; they are settled convictions within his inner person that provide foundational centeredness and strength. God really IS who He says; He really DOES what He says; so says David, again and again. So whether David was in the palace or on the field of war, his unbroken fellowship with God sustained him and continued to grow within him. We might say, then, that having been broken, humbled and repentant, David arrived at a settled place of relationship with the Sovereign Creator God.
You are hearing my heart as well. Pursuing God for the last seventy years or so, I am finally coming to terms with what it means to live as a human being in a broken, fallen world that is seemingly in endless struggle with God. Perhaps the greatest revelation in my spirit is that God has, and always has had, a loving plan to save the world. That He would include me is the height of grace and mercy. That He would promise to guide me through my journey here, protecting and providing, doing what I could NEVER do, saving and delivering me, only adds to my devotion to Him. David has become a trusted ally, a friend and coach, my encourager to trust God all the time, and so to serve Him. That’s why I repeatedly return to the Psalms and give my voice a clear expression of thanksgiving and praise!
DAY TWO – 1 Chronicles 27-29, Psalm 68
I love templates. A template is a working piece or model of anything from which many of the same item may be produced. Having read these chapters, we have seen a template of good government. David has produced a template, and now he is showing the template to his entire cabinet and staff–all the leaders of government. Not only that, but David says clearly that his template was given him by the Spirit of the Lord, along with the plans for the temple to be built in Jerusalem. We have a saying, “No need to reinvent the wheel.” In coming generations, the kings of Judah and Israel would be compared with David–those who walked in the ways of David their father and those who did not. And Israel’s fortunes would rise and fall accordingly. Solomon, who was already anointed king in David’s place, stood before his famous father to hear the charge… 1 Chronicles 28:9-10 You, Solomon my son, know the God of your father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind; for Yahweh searches all hearts, and understands all the imaginations of the thoughts. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will cast you off forever. 10 Take heed now; for Yahweh has chosen you to build a house for the sanctuary. Be strong, and do it.” 1 Chronicles 29:1 David the king said to all the assembly, “Solomon my son, whom alone God has chosen, is yet young and tender, and the work is great; for the palace is not for man, but for Yahweh God. So Solomon ascended the throne and sat in the place of David, blessed by God and exalted as royalty as never before.
What we see in David’s administration is the way heaven is run. Jesus came from heaven. He is God the Son and Son of God. When He taught us to pray He said, “Pray… Our Father in heaven… your kingdom come, your will be done, as in heaven, so on earth.” Heaven provided David a template by the Holy Spirit. From this template we get an idea of how things should look. Our world doesn’t look like that. Does your church? Does your family? Is God the Sovereign of our life, our Supreme Commander? Do we pray as Jesus taught us, and then do we look for heaven on earth? Since we are coming closer to heaven than ever before, may we study heaven’s template and order our lives accordingly.
DAY THREE – Psalms 111 – 118
A continuous note sounds in these psalms — Praise Yahweh! Again and again they herald Yahweh as the Sovereign and Great God who revealed Himself, first to Adam and Eve at original creation; then to Abram (Abraham); then to Moses, and on and on. The True God (Yahweh by name) is self-existing–without beginning or end; Sovereign–the Most High God, Creator of heavens and earth; Gracious–involving Himself lovingly in the affairs of mankind from the beginning. Israel’s history simply doesn’t exist without Yahweh; He is seen calling Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, entering into covenant with them, and preserving and building the race through them. Yahweh God is present at every intersection of human development, observing and directing human affairs according to His loving plans to save the world. He responds to Israel’s pitiful plight of slavery by reaching down into Egypt and defeating the pagan gods of the Egyptians while leading Israel to freedom and a hopeful future. He marches through history with Israel until such time as His Son Jesus Christ can be born into this world and bring heaven to earth. Jesus is Yah-Shua (God our Savior), fulfilling and completing God’s loving plan to save the world. Praise Yahweh!
According to these psalms Yahweh is good–intrinsically good. He is not good because He does good works; He does good works because He is good! And because He is good, He can be trusted; so we are exhorted to trust in the Lord (Yahweh). We are instructed to praise Him. We are encouraged to give thanks to Him. These songwriters are echoing the news from antiquity that will save the world–the Good News that God is Good. What part of that do we not understand? And if God is good, He must punish and destroy the evil that, without intervention, will ultimately destroy mankind. The evil that shows itself both in the cosmic world and in mankind’s behavior is openly hostile to our Good God and must be totally eradicated as part of God’s loving plan to save the world. We must conclude that our salvation is predicated on the victory over evil that began when Jesus Christ (Yah-shua) was raised out of death by His Father God, Yahweh. And it will continue until Jesus reigns as Lord of lords and King of kings. Praise Yahweh… and praise Yah-shua! For You are good, and your lovingkindness endures forever.
DAY FOUR – 1 Kings 1-2, Psalms 37, 71, 94
Adonijah was David’s son, Absalom’s brother. Even while David was still breathing, Adonijah decided to make himself king, hopeful that he could garner enough support to take over. It caused quite a stir but didn’t last long. When news reached David of what was going on, he quickly had Solomon brought forth, anointed, and placed on the throne to fulfill the Lord’s purposes. Then David died, and it was time to settle accounts with those whose hearts had been given over to evil–Joab, Adonijah, Shimei, and others who had defied God and the king. Solomon wisely extended mercy in such a way that final judgment would come at their own hands. Wickedness is a part of this world. It always seeks to dominate or destroy the good folks of the land, while seeking to aggrandize itself. It seems to feed on the lust for power and control. We see it, God sees it. We cannot always do anything about it. But this is what the Lord says for us to do…
- Trust in Yahweh and do good.
- Commit your way to Yahweh.
- Delight yourself in Yahweh.
- Rest in Yahweh and wait patiently for Him.
And then we are told what Yahweh does to the evil, even if it takes what seems to us like a very long time. It’s not a very long time when we realize that the Lord lives in the eternities–that’s a very long time! The four “do this” referenced above have kept me occupied most of my life, again and again, as I calm my spirit and find every way possible to Trust, Commit, Delight and Rest! It’s not once. It’s not a ‘thing.’ It’s a lifestyle, the shifting of attitudes, the building of faith, the accumulating of God’s words from the Bible into my nature. I give you thanks, O God, along with my praises, for your goodness. Let me become as you are, through Jesus our Savior. Amen.
DAY FIVE – Psalm 119:1-88
Tension–that’s the word that occurs to me as I read this first half of the longest chapter in the Bible. It’s all about the laws, commandments, testimonies and ordinances of Yahweh God. They are given to us for instruction, comfort, hope and enlightenment. They are meant to lead us, to influence us, to help us in relationship with God while we live in our broken world. This psalm is written by someone who wants to believe, to obey, to walk with God, to be helped along his way. And yet… yet there is tension, that feeling of being stretched. We can hear it, sense it in the very way it’s expressed; over and over again the writer asks for help. Is this unlike what we read from Paul the Apostle? Romans 7:14-25 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am fleshly, sold under sin. 15 For I don’t know what I am doing. For I don’t practice what I desire to do; but what I hate, that I do. 16 But if what I don’t desire, that I do, I consent to the law that it is good. 17 So now it is no more I that do it, but sin which dwells in me. 18 For I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwells no good thing. For desire is present with me, but I don’t find it doing that which is good. 19 For the good which I desire, I don’t do; but the evil which I don’t desire, that I practice. 20 But if what I don’t desire, that I do, it is no more I that do it, but sin which dwells in me. 21 I find then the law, that, to me, while I desire to do good, evil is present. 22 For I delight in God’s law after the inward man, 23 but I see a different law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity under the law of sin which is in my members. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will deliver me out of the body of this death? 25 I thank God through Jesus Christ, our Lord! So then with the mind, I myself serve God’s law, but with the flesh, the sin’s law.
And so it goes: tension, conflict, righteous desire, and the reality of what it actually is like to live godly in our world. Godly doesn’t mean I get it all right. Godly doesn’t mean that I grow into perfection; but neither does it mean that I give in to the pressure of the world and give up on righteousness. No, godly means that inwardly I desire to love and serve God more than anything else. It also means that I throw the weight of dependence upon God to work His ways and His will within my heart. Finally it means that I trust Him fully to implement in me a righteousness that comes from his heart to mine. Yes, I value the Words of God and embrace them fully as His expression of love and salvation, but then I give myself unreservedly to His gracious working in my life, accepting the tension as normal. While He is saving me, I myself am also working out my salvation with fear and trembling. This is no easy road; it is a lifetime of living and trusting our Lord to accomplish all He desires to do in us.