Cleanse Thou Me

Psalm 19:12. Who can understand his errors? cleanse Thou me from secret faults.”

As many times as I’ve read Psalm 19, this verse has never caught my attention in quite the same way as it did this morning. It reminded me, of course, of Jeremiah 17:9: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: Who can know it?” Our hearts are so deceitful that we can deceive ourselves into thinking we are blameless; it is everyone else who is at fault.

Only God is capable of being a candle in my heart that exposes the dark places of my own secret sins. Nothing is hidden from Him. We fool ourselves into believing that no one else knows, but we forget that God knows.

We cannot hide from God.

Here’s a song I learned in Sunday school 70 years ago. It’s old, but still carries a good message:

Good, Better, Best

Psalm 19:10-11.

More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.

Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.

The words of God, His testimony, His statutes, His judgment, are more precious than much gold; sweeter than honey.

Many years ago, I went to England with my son Mike. One of my favorite memories is of the two rooms in the Tower in which there were cases filled with silver in one room, gold in another. To see just one piece of such treasure is amazing. To see a whole room filled with gold is overwhelming. The rich beauty holds one’s attention.

Every time I read today’s verses, I am reminded of the beauty of all that gold. Yet, God’s words, thoughts, and laws are of far more value than a hundred rooms filled with gold.

His words are sweeter than honey taken right from the comb. If you’ve never had that treat, you are missing out! Yet, the words of God are far sweeter than any honey. If we could only understand how precious, how sweet it is, to learn and understand His words–His Word–our lives would be more enriched, far sweeter, than we can ever imagine.

To read His Word is good. To meditate on His Word is better. To apply His Word to our lives is best.

Perfect, Right, and Clean

Psalm 19: 7-9.

The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.

The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.

The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.

I can’t read these verses without hearing this music in my head. Learned years ago, when I was probably around 30 years old, this song has stayed with me for 45 years. And that’s the way God intended for David’s poetry to be—memorable, giving all the praise and glory to God, giving peace and restoring the soul.

Law of the Lord: the direction, instruction.

Perfect: Whole, complete, mature; needing nothing to make it better.

Converting: Turning back to God.

The Soul: that which breathes, the breathing substance or being, soul, the inner being of man.

Testimony: Witness

Sure: Faithful, established, verified.

Statutes: Precepts, commandments.

Right: Straight, righteous.

Heart: Mind, understanding.

Commandments: Precepts, laws.

Pure: Clear, sincere.

Enlightened: Giving light or understanding.

Fear: This word connotes both deep respect and reverence and true fear or terror of Who God is when we are arrogant enough to ignore Him.

Clean: pure morally, ethically, and physically

Judgment: There are several meanings here, depending upon the context. In this case, I think decisions or discretion are equally appropriate.

True: Reliable, faithful.

Righteous altogether: Completely and unalterably true, right, and faithful.

Words mean things. In studying God’s word, it is helpful to have a clear understanding of the words in the context in which they are used. Some of our most frequent controversies over scriptural things arise because we are taking the meanings out of their original context, not using them as God intended, but to uphold our own opinions.

God is never ambiguous. His words, and His Word, can always be most clearly understood when we don’t try to add our own opinions to what He has said.

A Tabernacle for the Sun

Psalm 19:4-6.

Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath He set a tabernacle for the sun,

Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race.

His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.

Their line: The message of God, carried by all the wonders of His creation. Line, in this verse, translates as cord, line, or measuring line. There are no boundaries that God has not reached in establishing the message of His creation. So vast is His power that He has designated the heavens as a dwelling place for the sun. It is His power that keeps the sun exactly in place for our needs.

Every day since the moment God created the sun, it has come out of its nighttime dwelling place (tabernacle) like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, rejoicing. The sun is like a strong man who takes joy in running a race until the day is done, when he goes back into his “tabernacle.” I wish I could read this as David wrote it, in the Hebrew language, to get the full beauty of the poetry of this passage.

The circuit of the sun reaches all the ends of the universe. Its rays touch every part of the heavens, just as the power and creation of God is open and obvious to every creature.

The Glory of God

Psalm 19:1-3.

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth His handywork.

Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.

There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.

This psalm is regarded by many as one of the most beautiful pieces of poetry in all of the book of Psalms. What stands out to me at the outset is that David was clearly speaking of the physical heavens and the earth itself, the amazing creation of God that declared His greatness for all of mankind to see. Clearly, David recognized the reality of God in the glory of His creation.

These verses are an answer to the question, “What about people who have never heard about Jesus?” The heavens and the earth themselves declare the existence and the glory of Almighty God.

Day unto day utters speech: In the Hebrew text, this phrase is much more descriptive than it is in English. In Hebrew, the phrase describes a gushing spring that pours out the sweet, refreshing waters of the knowledge and revelation of God. His creation is the evidence of His existence, His power, His unfathomable majesty and sovereignty.

This is a beautiful psalm, and I’m looking forward to studying the rest of it. I hope you will enjoy it, as well.

Sunday Afternoon Tea: The Wonderful and the Awful

What’s wonderful is that our second son, Ken, is here. So, so good to see him! He’ll be here for a week. He and Mike are off on a jaunt to Philly to see a friend of Ken’s. They’ll have a great time, just the two of them, on the way down and back, as they catch up with each other.

So, what could be awful? Not the weather–it’s been great lately 🙂

I stood up from my recliner last night to head to bed, and got a jarring jolt of nasty pain. It was completely unexpected. I’ve been doing quite well since my last injections a couple of months ago. Sigh.

I had to just stand and wait for several minutes while things settled down and I felt I could walk. Terry brought me my walker. When it’s bad like this, just getting into bed is a trial. Once I’m there, and have taken my meds, I can relax. I turned on the vibration in my adjustable mattress and focused on releasing tension. Surprising how hard that can be. I know how to use breathing to focus and relax. And while that was going on, I talked to the Lord.

I’ve known for a long time that prayer is simply talking with God. I’m still learning about that, though. Just having a conversation with Him is a wonderful way to relax. Talking and then pausing to listen as He brings scripture to mind that comforts and encourages me during these times is such a blessing. I don’t always remember the references, but here are a few of the whispers I heard last night:

If God sees a little sparrow fall, then surely He will care for you.

His thoughts for me are for good, and not for evil; thoughts to give me a hope and a future.

His yoke is easy, and His burden is light.

I can do (bear, endure) ALL things through Christ Who strengthens me.

Joy comes in the morning.

In everything give thanks!

He gives me the peace that passes understanding.

I am sheltered under His wings!

There was more, and I think I drifted off to sleep being thankful for all the zillions of verses I’ve memorized over the years.

Saturday Soliloquy: Learning to Wait

A couple of months ago, when I turned 75, someone asked me what I’ve learned along the way. My first thought was, “I’ve learned not to tell people what I’ve learned” 🙂 But the question was asked sincerely, and I told the person I’d have to think about that. My thinking was that I’ve learned a whole lot of stuff, but she was looking for some gem of wisdom and not an encyclopedia of random trivia.

I haven’t junked all the vital info in my brain yet, but this tickled my funny bone. Age does have its down side, but humor is a great antidote 🙂

Anyway, learning to wait. Remember when Christmas was only a month a way and you really didn’t think you could last that long? The waiting seemed like forever. Or your first date was coming up, and you stressed about it for days, excited and nervous and terrified all at once. Or your first pregnancy seemed to stretch way longer than nine months. Well, three out of four of mine actually did keep me waiting for an extra two weeks. Rotten kids 🙂

I’m sure you remember the agony and ecstasy of waiting for summer vacation, and then waiting for the first day of school. Whether you loved school or hated it, you waited.

Maybe you weren’t like I was. Maybe you lived in the moment and just enjoyed each hour of each day when you were a kid, not worrying yourself over tomorrow or next week or next year. I think you were a little bit weird if you were like that. It has taken me a long time to figure out how to do that. In fact, I’m waiting right now for our second-oldest son to be here some time this evening, and I still have that sense of anticipation that I had about Christmas when I was little.

I really have learned, however, to take each day as it comes and to let tomorrow take care of itself. I do plan, prepare, and try to cover all my bases for the next few days, or weeks, or months–depending upon the event–but I don’t stress about it any more.

A popular song some time ago had the words, “Don’t Worry, be Happy.”

Matthew 6:34 says, “Take no thought for tomorrow; sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”

We waste a good deal of energy by thinking too much of the next day or the next. We need to learn to deal with each day as it unfolds, to enjoy everything we can, and to quit worrying about something we cannot change.

At this stage of my life, I find myself eagerly awaiting heaven. Whether I go to meet Him in the air or I die before His return is not something I can control. So I live my life the best I can, always with the thought in mind that He could come for believers at any moment, or I could live to a ripe old age before I take my final breath. Whichever way it happens, the biggest event in my future is when I see Jesus!

I can’t wait! But I can 🙂

He Hears our Prayer

Psalm 18:6. “In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried unto my God: He heard my voice out of His temple, and my cry came before Him, even into His ears.”

I had a client in my counseling office years ago who called this kind of prayer “carpet praying.” Flat on one’s face on the floor, nowhere else to turn, unable to stand or even sit before God, we can still prostrate ourselves before Him and cry out to Him. When we have come to the end of our own resources and are finally willing to admit it, we can cry out to Him. And when we have reached that point, God sees and knows our desperation, and He will hear.

Notice that David said “I cried unto MY God.” It was personal for him. He didn’t just throw a plea for help out into the universe, hoping that help would come from somewhere. He knew God on a personal level, and he addressed his prayer directly to God.

God loves to give His children what they need (Matt. 7:11; James 1:17). It is easy for us to forget that He loves us more than we are capable of loving Him. His plans for us are for good, and not to harm us (Jeremiah 29:11. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

As high and as holy as God is, He hears our desperate pleas for help.

Rock, Fortress, Deliverer

Psalm 18:2.

The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.

David has been delivered from Saul. His enemies have suffered defeat. In this Psalm, David sings praise to God for His victory. In verse 2, David uses several images to describe God.

Rock: The picture here is of a high place, nearly impossible for the enemy to reach; it is a crag, or a high cliff. I’m not sure of the location of the cliffs in the picture, and couldn’t find it for sure in a Google search. It is suggested that it may be the narrow pass of Petra in which the Jews will find shelter during the Tribulation. It certainly gives a sense of safety and protection.

Fortress: A fortress is a fastness, and stronghold that is well defended and provides safety and security.

Deliverer: a champion, one who saves and protects his people. God is that for all believers, because He has delivered us from sin and death.

My God: The sense here is absolute sovereignty, Lordship, complete and unquestioned.

My strength: a Rock that cannot be moved.

Buckler: This is a small round shield used in close battle. It is worn near the wrist, often covering the hand that holds it.

Horn of my Salvation: The horn here is a flask, often used for healing oils. It is, in this context, that which holds the healing oil of salvation.

High Tower: The idea here is of a place higher than all that surrounds it; impregnable, safe from all attack.

Under His Wings

Psalm 17:7-8.

Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of Thy wings,

From the wicked that oppress me, from my deadly enemies, who compass me about.

Psalm 17 is largely an expression of praise to God, and a prayer for His continuous watch-care over David. The expression the apple of the eye is one that always intrigued me, even as a child when I first heard it. I did not understand the figurative use of the phrase when I was little, but now I do, and it has come to mean even more than I realized.

It is in the Bible that the phrase ‘apple of my eye’ is first used figuratively. The apple of the eye was a favourite idiom of the Old Testament writers to indicate something, and particularly a person, that one values above all other things.

The phrase comes from a Hebrew expression that literally means ‘little man of the eye.’ It refers to the tiny reflection of yourself that you can see in other people’s pupils. To be the apple of someone’s eye clearly means that you are being focused on and watched closely by that person. Your very image is central in the eyes of that person!

This biblical meaning of ‘the apple of your eye’ comes to us quite independently of Shakespeare’s use of the term. They are two completely different usages of the phrase.

Years ago, I heard a wonderful story about “hide me under the shadow of Thy wings:

There was a farmer whose barn caught fire and burned to the ground, spreading to the outbuildings nearby. His chicken coop was also destroyed. After the fire was saturated and no longer dangerous, the farmer plodded through the mess. He didn’t expect to find anything that had survived. Heartsick, he noticed the charred remains of a hen that had taken shelter by the wheel of a tractor. He pushed the carcass with the toe of his boot. He was shocked to see several little chicks come out from under what was left of her wings–the only survivors of the fire. She had steadfastly protected the peeps by sacrificing her own life.

The farmer scooped up the tiny chicks with his calloused hands, holding them gently as they nestled against his chest. And of course, he thought of this song: