We made it to the end! Woohoo! The last five psalms are known as the “Final Hallel”. If you remember from my sermon “hallel” means “praise”, so these five last psalms are the final praise. In the last psalm, Psalm 150, the verb “praise” occurs thirteen times! So we end with praise and a lot of it!
We have been on a adventure. We have explored a range of human emotions. We have gone to dark places and come out the other end. We have hidden in fear and stood boldly before God. We have been wise and we have been fools. We have heaped ashes on ourselves and we have danced with joy! We have done it all on our adventure. And through it all we will praise the Lord because we can trust in the Lord, our Rock, Shelter, Hiding Place, Savior, Strong Tower, Deliver, Shepheard, Fortress…the list goes on and on! Praise God!
We are coming to the end. In fact tomorrow is the end. Today I want to talk about Psalm 145. It is speculated that psalm 145 was the original ending of the Psalter. You will find psalms 146 to 150 to be a wonderful doxological closing, possibly added later in history.
Psalm 145 is an important psalm for the Jewish people. It appears in the Jewish prayer book more than any other psalm. There is also evidence that it was encourage that this psalm was to be recited, like the shema (Deut. 6:4-5) three times a day. It clearly is a hymn of praise and is beautiful. Enjoy reading it and the first two of the closing psalms of the Psalter. I will see you in the video!
List what you think are the characteristics of God. Have you seen these in your lives or in the lives of others?
What has been your favorite thing about the Psalm Study?
What had been your least favorite thing about the Psalm Study?
Activity for the Day: Review your journal from the study. Review your favorite psalms. Consider posting some of your favorite on your bathroom mirror or on the door to your garage so you can read them in the morning or evening or on your way from your home.
At the beginning of this study of the Psalms, I wrote another devotional with the same title, Shepherd, Refugee, and King. Yet, here we are toward the end of the study of Psalms and we encounter three Psalms by the same writer, David. It is hard for me to imagine what David was like in real life. He started as a humble shepherd (ignored by his family, not even called to be present when Samuel came to town to worship with Jesse’s family.) Then he moved to be a musician for King Saul, hero as he defeated Goliath and consequently marrying King’s Saul’s daughter, best friend of Jonathan, and then refugee, persecuted by his father-in-law. As a refugee he even pretended to be insane to escape his enemies. Eventually, he becomes king, but it was not to be happily ever after. His life was ridden with conflict and failures. Psalm 142 and 143 sound like someone in a depression of sorts, seeking help from God maybe abandoned by friends. I would have loved to meet David. I imagine him a person of impressive personality. Dramatic at times, confident on certain occasions, humble and compassionate when needed. What is it that makes David have a “heart” for God? Maybe Psalm 144 is a clue, “Praise the Lord, who is my rock,” or “I will sing a new song to the Lord,” and it ends with a benediction of sorts for those who trust in God. In summary, I just think that whatever your personality, God has room for all of us. We can be dramatic, quiet, confident, or reserved, yet we can all find shelter in God. What hope!!
Do you know someone who might be feeling lonely or depressed? Is there something you can do to assure them they are not alone?
Activity for the Day: Think of someone who has a completely different personality than your own. Thank God for their gifts and strengths. Take time to praise God that he is faithful to all of us, no matter who we are.
Psalm 141 is another psalm asking God to help control our speech. Imagine that! I guess this has been an ongoing problem for humanity. I guess it makes me feel a little better, that we, collectively, as a people have been struggling to say nice things to each other for such a long time. However, you would think that we would be getting better at it by now.
I also think that this psalm warns against how easy it is to fall into the habit of gossip or tearing other people down. It is easy, to be pulled into listening to the story about something awful about someone, the drama! We put far less into the stories of building people up. We only need to look at the nightly news to see this playing out before our eyes. It is hard to find any positive stories. The stories that pull us in are stories that tear someone else down. It is then just a short step to ourselves being the one who is tearing the person down. Our mouths seem to love to do this. I will see you in the video to talk a little more about this.
Has God ever sent someone to you to help keep you accountable for something?
Activity for the Day: Plan a day of silence. Set aside a date when you will commit to not speak for the entire day. You might also plan this to be a day for extra devotion, Bible reading, prayer and time outdoors. When the day is over break your speaking fast with a special meal (at sundown) and a conversation with someone special. Talk about what you experienced during the day.
I have done a lot of writing and talking about how the psalms allow us to say things and give things to God that we would never actually say or do. Well today is the psalm that really drives that home. When I first read this psalm, in Seminary, I was shocked. How in the world was Psalm 137 even in the Bible? I thought today of passing it by, because I know it will be painful for many people to read. I also know that it will bring up many questions in the minds of readers. However, that is why I am going to talk about it, because questions are good. Pushing against the text is good. Trying to understand what and why these words are written is good. Don’t forget to read Psalms 136 and 138 as well, and then I will see you in the video to talk about 137.
Emotions are a tricky thing, how do you think you handle your emotions?
Are there any emotions that you have a hard time dealing with? I have spoken a few times about my issues with being angry when I was younger. If you have had or do have issues with a particular emotion, how did you or could you work on that emotion?
Activity for the Day: I love to take walks to help me let go of things and give them to God. Take a walk today and give over to God the things that you don’t need to worry about, the things you don’t need to simmer about, the things that you don’t need to hold onto. Trust that God will deliver justice in Gods time.
Today we really begin to move towards the end of our Psalms study. Psalm 133 and 134 are the last two of the Psalms of Ascent. Psalm 135 is a wonderful Psalm of praise that recounts God’s deliverance of Israel from their captivity in Egypt. As you read the psalms today, watch the video, and ponder the questions, think about how God has delivered you from times of peril, struggle or personal grief. Then ask yourself how you can live into that deliverance to love and serve others.
Yesterday I had my annual dermatologist appointment. I praise God that most of the time for me is just a regular check-up. When I got to the doctor’s office, I was shocked to see how many people were there. Lots of people, some waiting, and others coming in and out. Somewhat normal for a busy dermatologist office. It seemed normal, if you ignored all the masks, the signs requiring masks, the hand sanitizer stations, and even a sign with someone shaking hands with a big X on it, warning to not shake hands with anyone. How sad. Yet human beings are the most adaptable beings in our world. When given no option, we adapt to weather, food, and whatever is required of us. It seems, today we are even adapting to wearing masks as I observed the multiple designs and types of masks. I understand though, that we are doing this to protect one another, so I adjust and live in this new world.
Psalm 130 is a psalm of ascent. Recited as the worshipper got near the place of worship, the place where God dwelt. He cried out, “Lord pay attention to my prayer.” Toward the end of the psalm, he reaffirms his faith and invites the listener to join in “O Israel, hope in the Lord; for with the Lord there is unfailing love.” Today, all followers of Christ are temples of the Holy Spirit. We do not have to climb up to Jerusalem to worship. Wherever we are, we can bring our praises and prayer requests to God. A modern reading of that psalm could be… “O fellow traveler in this new world… hope in the Lord; for with the Lord there is unfailing love.” I hope that as you go to your appointments, grocery shopping, or errands, wearing your mask, you remember that even in this new world, our hope is in the Lord who gives us unfailing love.” Be blessed!
Happy Wednesday to everyone. So I have a confession to make. Today when you watch the video I will not be out on my front porch, I will not have curly hair and I will not be in my regular outfit because I nearly forgot to write and film the devotion for today. When you watch the video I will explain the reason I nearly forgot. In the meantime let’s talk a little about the psalms for today. We are still in the Songs of Ascents. The first two psalms speak a lot about matters of the home and having God at the center. They both go together well. They both are clearly speaking to men, so ladies we will have to read them from that perspective. They also speak highly of having a household of children, so for those who chose or could not have children these psalms might be a little uncomfortable. However, there are other themes in the psalms that I am going to talk about in my video. See you after the reading.
In his letter to the Philippians, Paul wrote “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice,”(Phil. 4:4) but how could he rejoice being in prison? Maybe Psalm 126 might be a clue. Paul was literate in the Torah and understood the significance of the Psalms of Ascent. I can only envision a group of Jewish travelers climbing up toward Jerusalem singing Psalm 126, “When the Lord brought back his exiles to Jerusalem, it was like a dream! We were filled with laughter, and we sang for joy.” They memorized this short poem and sang it over and over again. It not only speaks of past joy, but also hope for the future, “Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy.” In the midst of that, there is a statement about the present, “The Lord has done great things for us, we are filled with joy” (NIV). Today, I invite you to read Psalm 126 a couple of times. Reflect on times of joy in your past and the hope you have for the future. Then repeat two or three times, “we are filled with joy, today.” How is God filling you with joy today? Then, you will be able to say with Paul, “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice!”
Yesterday you had a lot of reading but today, because we are in the Songs of Accents, you have very little reading. Remember they are purposely short so they are easy to memorize. While you are hiking up the hill on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem you don’t have the time or the energy to get out your song book. You have to have all the songs you are going to sing in your head. My older daughter Baylee and I love to go hiking and sometimes when the conversation runs out we just decide to sing. Singing is a wonderful way for a family or community to bind themselves together.
Have you ever felt like God was asleep? Write about that time in your journal.
God is never asleep, God is always keeping watch, both now and forever. What do those words mean to you? How do those words make you feel?
Activity for the Day: In my words for the day I talked about singing. I encourage you to spend some time today singing or at least listening to some praise music. A few weeks ago David introduced us to a new song in worship, Graves into Gardens by Elevation Worship. I can’t wait until I can sing it on Saturday night and Sunday morning. I belt it out at home on my own. Click here for the live version or click here for an acoustic version