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BIBLE READ-THROUGH: DAY 19 REFLECTION (PSALMS 1-72)

“40 Days and 40 Nights of God’s Word”

DAY 19: AUGUST 10

PSALMS 1-72

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’ve skimmed through what I call fly-over scripture, particularly in the genealogies and parts of the law pertaining to animal sacrifice and so on. But today’s reading I soaked up every word. Maybe it’s the former literature major in me, but I can’t get enough of the psalms, especially David’s (no surprise there! ;D). They’re like poetry to me. I’m like that deer that pants for God’s Word and then finds a cool, clear, pure running stream of it in the psalms. This morning I lapped it up and then plunged my whole face into it, coming up only to breathe.

  • The psalms are probably the most accessible part of the Bible to believers and non-believers alike. Even as an atheist, I had a nodding acquaintance with “the Lord is my shepherd”, though I had no idea what it meant. Now I’m living it.
  • At some point, while there’s still time, I’d like to go through all of David’s psalms and write a reflection on each one in my blog, but for today I’m just going to cherry-pick either whole psalms or lines that jumped out at me for whatever reason.
  • If you didn’t have the time or inclination to lap up every word of today’s reading, let me give you the Coles Notes version: Those who put their trust in God will be protected by God and blessed by God. God himself will go to battle for them. If you love and trust and obey God, enemies will be all around you all the time, but God will protect you; you will have afflictions, but God will get you through them. No matter how bad things are, praise the Lord and give thanks to him, and he will rescue you. There is no down-side to trusting and serving the Lord.
  • I hadn’t noticed before that Psalm 14 and Psalm 53 are the same psalm with only slightly different wording. All the years I’ve been reading the psalms, and I just noticed this morning they were both the same. Not sure what the story is there, but I thought it was interesting. Lines are often repeated from one psalm to another, but not the entire thing. Maybe there will be more instances of this in the rest of the psalms. We’ll find out over the next few days. By the way, all of the psalms in today’s reading were written by David, except for one that was written by Asaph.
  • Jesus quoted the psalms a lot, even as he was dying on the cross. Psalm 22 pretty much lays out the crucifixion scene, with Jesus’ dying words “MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAST THOU FORSAKEN ME?” as the opening line. Jesus quoted the psalm to show all who were present that what was happening to him had to happen according to scripture. Some people have taken it to mean that David saw the crucifixion scene in a vision and that Jesus cried out in actual despair, but Jesus was very clear about doing things in accordance with scripture (and he was never in despair). He purposely did and said certain things because scripture stated that the Messiah would do or say this or that, and so he did and said this or that. And he also purposely quoted the opening lines of Psalm 22 to let those within earshot (as well as those reading about the crucifixion years later) know that it had to happen the way it did in order to fulfill scripture.
  • It’s worth noting that only Matthew and Mark mention Jesus quoting the opening lines of Psalm 22. Luke mentions Jesus quoting another line (“Into thy hands I commend my spirit”), which is also in today’s reading (“commend” is translated to “commit” in the KJV), along with the Messiah being given vinegar to drink (done to Jesus on the cross).
  • In fact, there are numerous references to Jesus in the first 72 psalms. I’m not going to go through them here, but if you’ve done the reading today, you’ve likely seen them yourselves. As I said, at some point over the next few months I’m going to do a reflection on each of the psalms and talk about how they relate to Jesus. The whole Bible, in fact, relates to Jesus, but some lines and verses are more overt.
  • I love all the psalms, but those that speak to me in particular are Psalm 27, which I learned to sing in ancient Hebrew without understanding a word (lol), except for ADONAI; Psalm 30 (“O Lord my God, I cried unto thee, and thou hast healed me”), which is one of the first psalms that spoke directly to my heart when I was a bouncing baby newborn-again; and Psalm 68, which I mentioned in an earlier reflection quoted Moses in the opening lines (the same lines which terrify the fallen beings whenever they’re spoken in sincerity). I also like Psalm 23 for its simplicity and brevity (which makes it easy to memorize and recite when you need it most), and because it pretty much describes the life of a believer. Which psalms are your favourites or speak directly to your heart in some way?
  • As we know, David was a musician as well as a poet, and the psalms were sung in performance, not spoken. They certainly weren’t written solely to be read silently. The original music is no longer available to the general public (although some people may have access to it still). To make up for that loss, a few musicians have set the psalms to their own compositions. I found a recording of Psalm 27 in ancient Hebrew on a YouTube video a few years ago, and set to learning it. I did (mostly) learn it, but I have no idea what I’m singing without sneaking a peek at the English translation. Even so, it’s fun to sing along. I’ve posted the psalm below for anyone who wants to try their hand at singing ancient Hebrew!

What jumped out at you today? Did you notice something in these 72 psalms that you hadn’t noticed before? Share it with us, if you feel so inclined.

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A PDF schedule of the BIBLE READ-THROUGH is directly below:

DO YOU MICROMANAGE GOD?

You can’t see me, but I’m raising my hand high and nodding in agreement. Yes, I’m guilty of trying to micromanage God on occasion, making vast and detailed plans that I expect him to follow to the letter. Of course I know I should wait for his inspiration to plan anything, but I still sometimes find myself galloping ahead at full speed and then looking over my shoulder wondering where God is and what’s taking him so long to catch up.

Well, God is right here where he’s always been, and when I do the galloping thing, he’s not going to catch up with me. He’s going to let me keep going on my own until I run out of steam, and then he’s going to very gently haul me back to the starting line and remind me again to wait for his cue and his blessing before I start my run.

Many of us find ourselves running on our own steam, wondering where God is and why he isn’t blessing our efforts. I see this especially in new Christians, just as I saw it in myself when I was first born-again. Truth be told, I was so prone to galloping off in all different directions as a newborn-again that God took away my ability to write for three years. I went from generating a dozen or so pages a day pre-rebirth to generating nothing longer than a grocery list post-rebirth. It was the strangest thing, but I didn’t fight it or question it. When the words finally came again, God gave me the funds to take a year off from work, and I wrote a book called Faith Revolution. I had to learn how to write by the inspiration of God’s Holy Spirit rather than the goading of the fallen spirits. I never did publish the book in its entirety, but I’ve used parts of it in this blog.

God is a great planner, and we’ve inherited that drive from him. I love making plans so much that I have to remind myself again and again to wait for God’s blessing before formulating the plans past the fantasy stage. If the plans are inspired by God, they come with God’s blessing baked in. That means you don’t have to ask for his blessing; the plans will come pre-approved and everything will fall into place. It’s only when we move ahead without God’s inspiration and therefore without God’s blessing that we fall into trouble.

Jesus did nothing without God’s inspiration. Everything he did was blessed by God because Jesus waited for God’s go-ahead before acting rather than running ahead and expecting God to bless his efforts after the fact. The one time that Jesus got ahead of himself was when he left his parents without telling them and went to Jerusalem to hang out with the temple elders. His parents were frantic, looking everywhere for him and thinking something horrible had happened to him. This is not the outcome of plans blessed by God.

Jesus never did that again to his parents, and I believe it was a very teachable moment for him about the importance of waiting for God’s signal. In fact, he learned his lesson so well that years later, when the time actually came for him to start his ministry work, his mother had to gently push him to start. The outcome was his first miracle of turning water into wine.

We need to wait for God’s inspiration and direction if we want similarly good outcomes for our efforts. It’s OK to make plans (sometimes there’s more pleasure in making plans than in actually doing them), but before you put anything into action, make sure it’s inspired by God and not just a figment of your imagination. You’ll know it’s inspired by God because it will unfold easily and without resistance. Things will just fall into place as if they were meant to be, because they are.

Your job in God’s great and perfect plan is to be ready and willing for whatever God knows you can handle. Let him know you’re waiting for his signal, and then leave the details and timing to God.

Wait on the Lord:

Be of good courage, and he will strengthen thine heart:

Wait, I say, on the Lord.  (Psalm 27)