Thou Art My God!

Psalm 31:13-14.

For I have heard the slander of many: fear was on every side: while they took counsel together against me, they devised to take away my life.

But I trusted in thee, O LORD: I said, Thou art my God.

So much of what David says brings to mind what Jesus experienced as He took the path to the cross. This graphic certainly reflects what David wrote. He was experiencing fear.

I know that Jesus experienced fear as He faced the moment His Father had to turn away because Jesus became sin for us, Who knew no sin. Did He fear the physical pain and humiliation? We are not told so in the scriptures, but He was wholly God AND wholly man. What man would not dread the scourging, the total exposure of the body as he hung helpless before a derisive crowd. Everything I’ve read indicates that there was no loincloth to preserve modesty. The victims were humiliated as completely as possible, with no mercy. The tortures of death by crucifixion are at the root of our word excruciating, indicating the worst pain imaginable.

David knew he was slandered. Slander, if it is generally believed, can destroy one’s life.

The Pharisees had been slandering Jesus from the moment they heard of His birth! He was, after all, a bastard child, in their opinion. Probably the result of a liaison between Mary and some Roman soldier. Such slander followed Him all through His ministry. People do tend to be persuaded by their leaders.

David bore the lash of slander, sometimes from his own family.

Jesus’ enemies “devised to take His life.” They wanted Him killed, in the most painful and humiliating way possible. Therefore, it had to be Rome that killed Jesus, because the Jews were not allowed, by Roman law, to crucify their own criminals.

David did not die at the hands of his enemies, but he knew they were always plotting and planning ways to destroy him–again, even his own son was involved in such treachery.

Jesus prayed to the point of sweat and blood before the process of His arrest and execution began. He knew what He was facing. He knew He was the only One Who could fulfill God’s promise of a Redeemer.

In v. 14, David called upon God, and knew that his life was in God’s hands.

If only we, in the worst of our trials, could find peace in knowing that our lives are in His hands!

Consumed with Grief

Psalm 31:9-12.

Have mercy upon me, O LORD, for I am in trouble: mine eye is consumed with grief, yea, my soul and my belly.

For my life is spent with grief, and my years with sighing: my strength faileth because of mine iniquity, and my bones are consumed.

I was a reproach among all mine enemies, but especially among my neighbours, and a fear to mine acquaintance: they that did see me without fled from me.

I am forgotten as a dead man out of mind: I am like a broken vessel.

Have you noticed that David seems to sway back and forth between blessing and begging? When we are in deep trouble, deep despair, it’s very hard not to point it out to God–as if He didn’t already know.

Poet that he was, David tells God that “his eye is consumed with grief.” Some of you, my readers, will understand that statement. When the tears just won’t stop, although your eyes are red and sore with weeping? At that point your eye is consumed with grief. It seems that the acute mourning will never stop.

Why was David so consumed with grief? I think one important factor is that his own son, Absalom, had betrayed him. Others that he had considered close companions deserted him.

However, it is in v. 10 that we see the real cause of his grieving: His iniquity. He was guilty of great sin, resulting in the death of his first-born son with Bathsheba. That wasn’t the only time he had sinned against God and man, and his grief was exacerbated by his thoughts of those times when he was far from God. Being far from God–that alone would increase his grief. Not for the first time, he mentions that his bones were eaten up by his grief.

It seemed to David as if everyone–friends, neighbors, enemies–all of them were against him. Here’s a quote that says it very well:

If anyone strives after patience and humility, he is a hypocrite. If he allows himself in the pleasures of this world, he is a glutton. If he seeks justice, he is impatient; if he seeks it not, he is a fool. If he would be prudent, he is stingy; if he would make others happy, he is dissolute. If he gives himself up to prayer, he is vainglorious. And this is the great loss of the church, that by means like these many are held back from goodness in which the Psalmist lamenting says, ‘I became a reproof among all mine enemies

(Chrysostom, cited in Spurgeon)

I’m sure we have all felt, at times, as if we can’t do anything right. People in leadership tend to discover that no matter how well things are going, there is always someone who disapproves.

In v. 12, David says he is as a dead man, completely out of the minds of his people. He is a broken vessel, discarded and useless.

But stay with me. Things will look better tomorrow.

Sunday Afternoon Coffee: Blessings

Today was our annual “Sacrificial Sunday” at our church. What that means is that a goal is set, and this year there are four ministries to which we contribute the proceeds of our offering today. The recipients change from year to year.

We set the goal for $20,000. The Sunday morning offering today was $28,000! It’s not a large congregation, and many people are retirement age, so we were delighted to get such a good offering. God has blessed our church over and over again, and I believe part of the reason for that is our willingness to support other ministries, both local and around the world. So that was a blessing this morning.

There are some outstanding teens, young adults, and little kids. at our church. This morning as I entered the women’s restroom, I saw one of my little friends and had a big hug with her when she suddenly quoted a verse. I wish I could remember which verse, because it was so funny. It was along the lines of “Be sure your sin will find you out.” We all got a good laugh over it, and my little friend didn’t seem a bit embarrassed. I always enjoys connecting with the teens and college-age kids. I love their energy, and they’re all very open and willing to chat with an old granny 🙂

This morning we started singing Christmas songs. I always love hearing and singing these wonderful, scripture-filled songs of the season.

Pastor Farr started a series appropriate to the season. Today he talked about Mary, the mother of Jesus. He had a lot of good things to say. The one that has lodged in my mind and heart is the grace that Mary received from God, and how she needed that grace as He came closer to Calvary. Pastor Farr said, “We need to be willing to open our hearts to the grace we may need in the future.” That process may be painful, but, as a favorite song of mine says, “He giveth more grace when the burden grows greater.”

I’ve posted this song before, but I’m posting here again. Please take the time to listen to the story behind the song. You will be blessed!


Saturday Soliloquy: More Changes!

On Thursday, our son and his wife had settlement on their new house. They’ve been with us since mid-February, so when they actually move in to their new place, I think it’s going to feel a bit empty here for a while. Not that I’m unhappy about all this, you understand. They’ll be only 20 minutes or so from us.

They won’t need a therapist. After all, they have MEEEEeeeeeee 🙂

The next big thing is that their shipping container will be delivered to their new place on Monday, and once that’s unloaded, they can start setting up housekeeping for themselves.

Mike came home from work a couple of days ago, feeling extremely tired, and a little dizzy. He’s been sleeping a lot, feels better now.

Yesterday, I came home from teaching at our homeschool co-op feeling extremely tired and a little dizzy. I had trouble staying awake on the drive home, so I started singing at top volume just to stay alert! I slept for two hours once I got home, then slept nearly nine hours overnight. Feeling better today, so far. Glad I’m not the one moving and setting up housekeeping Lots of work.

It’s been over 28 years since we moved into this house. That’s the longest I’ve ever lived in one place. I dread the very idea of packing up 28 years’ worth of STUFF. Terry and I both talk about starting to sort through and discard what we no longer use, but so far we’ve done very little in that direction. Maybe we’ll make it a New Year’s resolution. Uhuh 🙂 Seriously, my main motivation is not wanting my kids to have to deal with all of it. There’s a lot we could take care of now to save them a huge headache later.

I know we’re not alone in this. Feel free to tell me what you have done or plan to do if you’re in the same situation we are. Maybe I’ll get motivated to actually get started.


Abide in Me

Psalm 31: 7-8.

I will be glad and rejoice in Thy mercy: for Thou hast considered my trouble; Thou hast known my soul in adversities;

And hast not shut me up into the hand of the enemy: Thou hast set my feet in a large room.

In verse 7, David bows to God’s mercy in protecting him. He is thankful for God’s mercy. He acknowledges that God has known him in his perils through which he has traveled. David continues, in verse 8, to b thankful that God has delivered him from the terrors of falling into the hands of his enemies.

Then he says, “Thou hast set my feet in a large room.” So I wondered what that meant? A palace? A mountain top? A huge, hidden cavern?

It becomes clear when compared to the first part of the verse. The hand of the enemy was a place of danger and probably death for David. In God’s hand however, David knew he was in a place of safety and security. It translates as a broad or roomy place of comfort and safety.

It made me think of John 15: 4-11 (NKJV). To abide means to pitch ones’ tent; to live there, to dwell there permanently.

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you[a] will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.

11 “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.

Thou art my Strength

Psalm 31:4-6.

Pull me out of the net that they have laid privily for me: for Thou art my strength.

Into Thine hand I commit my spirit: Thou hast redeemed me, O LORD God of truth.

I have hated them that regard lying vanities: but I trust in the LORD.

Verse 5 is one of the verses quoted elsewhere in scripture, most notably by Jesus just before He gave His life up to the Father on behalf of all of us. I chose this image because it is dark, gruesome, and realistic. Jesus’ suffering was not a beautiful thing, but the heart that endured it was indeed beautiful. Amazing. Wonderful grace.

In verse 4, the reference to the “net they have laid privily for me” makes David’s fear so clear. The practice, especially for hunting birds, was to lay a net on the ground, or in bushes or trees, that would not be seen by the birds flying straight into those nets. The word privily means privately, in secret. David knew his enemies were plotting against him, and he knew he could depend only upon God to disentangle him from the plots that were laid against him.

I try to stay away from politics on this blog. It is not my purpose to push my political views. I couldn’t help, though, thinking of Donald Trump as he has spent recent years dealing with the enemies who are so busy laying traps for him, hoping to bring him down by fair means or foul. It’s a scary place in which to be.

Lying vanities. Deceitful emptiness, uselessness. Everyone lies. It’s part of the sin nature that put Jesus on that cross. Some, however, make lying a lifestyle. Whatever gets them where they want to be, no matter how dishonest, devious, hurtful–if it works, that’s all that matters. Sometimes I have wondered if such people even know they are deceitful. It seems they don’t have to think about it because it has become so ingrained into their hearts and minds.

David hated lying vanities. Perhaps it is because he knew that he had committed a few of his own deceitful acts in trying to cover his sin.

God hates lying. Proverbs 6: 16-19:

16 These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto Him:

17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,

18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,

19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

The word abomination refers to the stench of a decaying human body. I’ve never had to experience that, but I’m told it is just about the worst thing you can imagine. Revolting, causing one’s stomach to heave up its contents.

If we could stop for just a moment to realize that our sin is that revolting to holy God, maybe it would help us to change our ways.

Praise and Prayer

Psalm 31:1-3.

 In Thee, O LORD, do I put my trust; let me never be ashamed: deliver me in Thy righteousness.

Bow down Thine ear to me; deliver me speedily: be Thou my strong Rock, for an house of defense to save me.

For Thou art my Rock and my Fortress; therefore for Thy Name’s sake lead me, and guide me.

This psalm is a combination of praise and pleading. Spurgeon says it better than I could:

Charles Spurgeon rightly said regarding the title of this psalm,“The dedication to the chief musician proves that this song of mingled measures and alternate strains of grief and woe was intended for public singing, and thus a deathblow is given to the notion that nothing but praise should be sung.” We have no definite marking place in David’s life for this psalm because he was so often in trouble. It resonates with deep and personal trust in God in the depths of difficulty.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon

David was constantly on guard against those who desired his demise. His own son, Absalom, attempted to overthrow his father and kill him; that attempt did not end well for Absalom! The point here is that David often turned to God to rescue him from those who desired his downfall.

It is noteworthy that this psalm is often quoted elsewhere in scripture: look at Psalm71; Jonah 2:8; Jeremiah 6:2520:320:1046:549:29, and Lamentations 2:22; I Cor. 16:13; Luke 23:46; and Acts 7:59. Men of God learned the scriptures well as children, and used them often in their given ministries.

In Ps. 31:1, David says “Let me not be ashamed.” I believe the meaning there is that David was not, and never wanted to be, ashamed to call on God for help. In the following verses, he called God his Rock, his Fortress, and his House of Defense.

He knew he could depend on God for guidance.

So can we.

Joy Comes in the Morning!

Psalm 30:5

For His anger endureth but a moment; in His favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.

Psalm 30 is a song of praise to God for getting David through a very difficult time in his life, in which his life could have been taken from him by his enemies, including his own son.

It is important to understand that night and morning are used here in a comparative sense. We all know that deep grief affects us for far longer than one night. We also know that after a night of sleeplessness and weeping, morning does not bring immediate joy.

David’s poetic meaning is clear, though. I have not endured the loss of my spouse–yet–but I have watched others go through this terrible loss. The weeping (night) is real, painful, and seems unendurable. But finally, there comes a time (morning) when the widow/widower begins to find peace and accepetance (morning) and the pain of the deep grief begins to heal just a little bit. Such a loss never completely fades into obscurity, but it does become bearable. The surviving spouse begins to dwell on the joy and love in the marriage, and memories become so precious.

The loss of a child was something David knew. The betrayal of his child was also a deep grief to him. David suffered terrible grief over his own sin ( I wonder, how many of us actually grieve and mourn over our own sin?) but he also experienced the overwhelming mercy and grace of his loving Father.

By the way, when someone you know is suffering deep, acute grief, please don’t tell that person things like, “You’ll feel better tomorrow!” or “Just pray it through!” or “Think happy thoughts!” Don’t start any sentence with the word just. Sometimes, it is better to simply sit with the person, cry with him, hold her hand, simply BE there. Words are not always appropriate. Placing a fresh box of tissues nearby or offering a cup of hot tea can be far more comforting than any verbal cliche we tend to use in such situations.

The LORD

Psalm 29.

Give unto the LORD, O ye mighty, give unto the LORD glory and strength.

Give unto the LORD the glory due unto His Name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.

The voice of the LORD is upon the waters: the God of glory thundereth: the LORD is upon many waters.

The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.

The voice of the LORD breaketh the cedars; yea, the LORD breaketh the cedars of Lebanon.

He maketh them also to skip like a calf; Lebanon and Sirion like a young unicorn.

The voice of the LORD divideth the flames of fire.

The voice of the LORD shaketh the wilderness; the LORD shaketh the wilderness of Kadesh.

The voice of the LORD maketh the hinds to calve, and discovereth the forests: and in His temple doth every one speak of His glory.

The LORD sitteth upon the flood; yea, the LORD sitteth King for ever.

The LORD will give strength unto His people; the LORD will bless His people with peace.

This Psalm is full of the power and glory of the LORD. When LORD is written in all capital letters, it signifies that the Hebrew word used was the Name of God, Jehovah, pronounced “Ya-way.” I was taught that when the scribes came to that word, they would take a bath and put on clean clothing before they trimmed a new pen and dipped in into new ink to write the word. So sacred was that Name that any human pollution that could be removed was removed!

So sacred is that Name that I do not know of any child who has ever been named Jehovah. Nor am I aware of any society in which the gods of their religion are called Jehovah. I just did a short search, and could find no incidence of either of the above. It may be that I’m wrong. I’ve just never heard of it.

Verse two says we are to worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness. The word beauty indicates glory, or holy. adornment. And holiness is set apart, sacred. We need to worship Him with joy, with gladness; and with the knowledge that He alone is God! Worship is serious business.

Thunder. I have a clear memory of walking home from school in St. James, MN, with a group of girls my age. I was 14. It was in southern Minnesota farm country, where storms can blow up in a hurry. It was spring. Always windy, on this particular day we could hear the wind whistling around buildings, and knew the darkening clouds meant a storm. We wanted to get home before we got soaked.

Suddenly, a BOOM of thunder had most of the girls running for shelter, screaming and covering their ears. If you’ve never been caught in a prairie thunder storm, you won’t understand how incredibly loud it was! I, however, was new to the area. I’ve always loved storms, and thunder didn’t scare me. I thought it was exciting. I loved the feeling of the wind making a mess of my hair 🙂 Of course, I knew that lightning was something to fear, but I was only 14, and I was enthralled with the power of the storm developing all around us. The other girls yelled at me to get under cover, which was probably good advice. The immense thunderhead clouds; the wind, the distant lightning–I was totally caught up in it all. I did make it home just in time as the clouds began to dump their load of rain.

When I read this verse this morning, that memory came back instantly. The voice of the LORD is like the loudest thunder you can imagine. His power can control the storms, because He is greater than His creation.

I would love to know what melody David plucked out of his harp as he sang this amazing psalm!

I hope you will carefully read the entire psalm, and find excitement, awe, and wonder in the words of His power, majesty, and greatness.

Sunday Morning Coffee: Happenings

It’s shaping up to be a (normal) busy December. Mike and Janan will have closing on their new house, delivery of their shipping container from the warehouse in New Jersey, and settling back in to their own routine in their own place.

In recent years, I’ve not done well at all with the Christmas card routine. I’m going to try to do better this year, starting tomorrow. I remember how my mother-in-law sat down with her list and her new cards every year on the day after Thanksgiving. I’m pretty sure her cards were the first ones all her acquaintances received!

My Christmas shopping is under way. It’s not nearly as big a job as it used to be. I don’t decorate as much as I used to, either. With all the kids and (most of the) grandkids grown up and on their own, our house is pretty quiet. And that’s fine with me. The rickety old back doesn’t tolerate all that busy-ness very well nowadays.

I do love Christmas music, and have already started to enjoy it. I’m looking forward to a book of arrangements from The Piano Guys that should be coming soon. I’m continuing to enjoy my piano lessons, working on music I never would have tried without having an excellent teacher. Taking lessons and being a part of the Piano by Pictures Academy has rekindled my love of music and broadened my repertoire. Last night, I was playing through my favorite Chopin nocturne, and Terry commented on how much better it is now than when I first started working on it. Warms my heart 🙂 I love this melody. The video, obviously, is NOT me 🙂

All this to-do makes for a wonderful time of year with all the tradition and beauty and amazing food. I love it, but in a whole different way at this point in my life. I tend to value the quietness of the season these days more than I do all the hustle and bustle.

Seasons change. Life changes. Perspectives change. It’s all good.

May you all enjoy this last Sunday in November.