There is a River

Psalm 46:4. There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.

It’s a short post this morning–I have a busy day ahead and need to get ready for it.

The first line of this verse put this song in my head. I hope it blesses you as it does me.

Our Refuge and Strength!

Psalm 46:1-3.

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;

Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.

Because I have an inquiring mind, I did some research this morning before starting to write. Verse two of today’s passage made me stop and picture what it would look like if the whole earth moved, and all the ranges of mountains around the world were moved into the water.

It’s hard to imagine such a calamity. We talk about the strength of the high mountains. Can we imagine that strength being simply swallowed up by the roaring waters of the earth?

I knew that islands are, with very few exceptions, the tops of mountains that are largely under the water. That concept was hard for me when I first learned it, because some island are quite mountainous. If their visible landmass is so high and broad, what must the rest of that mountain that is under the water actually look like?

And all those islands are connected to the earth, way under the water. You can’t swim under them (there are, of course, always a couple of exceptions–just giving you the broad outlines here.) So, I asked myself, what is the difference between an island and a continent? The answer is simple, but boggles the mind: The only difference is size.

That means that continents, too, are simply above-water land masses supported by massive underwater eruptions of the earth. If all of this fascinates you, as it does me, there is a wealth of information available. I think, however, that a lot of the formation of islands and continents occurred during the Flood, when we read in the Bible that the fountains of the earth broke forth. I don’t think we can begin to imagine the violence that took place as massive underwater fountains broke open and spewed unimaginable torrents of water upward to meet the curtains of water descending on the earth from above. There is also the possibility that some of those fountains of the deep spewed magma, forming what we know today as the surface of the earth.

Here’s something else around which to wrap your mind. This vast globe, encircled by vast amounts of oceans and mighty mountain ranges, is going to be completely consumed. It will burn with a “fervent heat” (II Peter 3:10-12). Lots of people want to explain that passage away with the event of nuclear warfare. I don’t think so. Our God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29). He will not need man’s assistance in fulfilling prophecy. He, after all, created everything without man’s help. When the time comes, He will also destroy what man has defiled without man’s help. I’m not talking about pollution and “climate change” here. I’m talking about the sin in the hearts of all mankind; the sin that turns our hearts away from God and denies His power and His very existence.

God is our Refuge. He is our Strength, He is our very present Help in time of trouble. Think of that (Selah!)

God Blest Forever!

Psalm 45:1-2.

My heart is inditing a good matter: I speak of the things which I have made touching the King: my tongue is the pen of a ready writer.

Thou art fairer than the children of men: grace is poured into Thy lips: therefore God hath blessed Thee for ever.

According to Strong’s numbers, the word inditing in Hebrew means to keep moving; to stir. So David is saying that his heart is moved about something good.

The introduction to this psalm would seem to indicate that it is a song of praise to some unnamed king in Israel. Some commentators believe it was for Solomon when he married the Princess of Egypt. Almost all agree that it also foresees the coming of the King of Kings, the Lord Jesus Christ, Who is fairer than all the fairest.

I especially love the statement, “My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.” Some point to this sentence as David claiming a special inspiration in writing this psalm. His heart was moved, stirred, full of something very good, and he was ready to sing this song of praise, perhaps knowing that his words would be preserved down through time.

Who else but Jesus is fairer than all the children of men? Who else has grace pouring from His lips? Who else can be said to be blessed by God forever? Lily of the Valley, bright and morning star, fairest of ten thousand.

I believe that when David sang this psalm, he was overwhelmed with the beauty, love, grace and majesty of the Lord.

God My Rock

Psalm 42:9-11.

I will say unto God my Rock, Why hast Thou forgotten me? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?

As with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me; while they say daily unto me, Where is thy God?

Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise Him, Who is the health of my countenance, and my God.

I love mountains. I was born in Colorado, and though I grew up mostly in Minnesota, I loved going back to Colorado on vacations and seeing the vastly different landscape of those immense mountains. There is such a sense of changelessness, strength, and protection in those massive ranges.

In these verses, David repeats his questioning of the disquiet of his soul. He then responds to that disquiet in the same way he did in the early verses of this Psalm. He trusts in God, his Rock, his Fortress, Who is unchanging no matter what trials may come.

I couldn’t find absolute confirmation, but I wonder if these last few verses of this psalm are prophetic. I think of Jesus crying out from the cross, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” He knew, of course, that God would never forsake Him, but in the worst of His suffering He felt the burden of fear and despair as He bore the sins of all mankind.

Later, after He had died, a soldier thrust his spear into Jesus’ side, confirming that He had already died. Before He died, they had mocked Him, asking Him where His God was now? Both of these events are reflected in v. 10.

Deep Calleth unto Deep

Psalm 42: 7-8.

Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of Thy waterspouts: all Thy waves and Thy billows are gone over me.

Yet the LORD will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.

When I was 10 years old, we moved from Minneapolis, where the Mississippi River held sway, to Portland, OR. For the first time, that summer, I saw an ocean. I was speechless. although I did try to write a poem to express my complete amazement. I was overwhelmed with the power of so much water! I remember, possibly on that first trip to the coast, being on my stomach on a high overlook. I watched the huge waves crashing into the rocks that were possibly as high as a 10-story building, thankful it was all happening far below me. I thought of stories I had read, like Robinson Crusoe and The Swiss Family Robinson. Those stories included accounts of broken ships that were picked up by mighty waves and cast like toys against the cliffs and rocks. The height of the waves and the depths of the troughs they crashed into were beyond my experience, for sure.

I’ve wondered exactly what “deep calling unto deep” actually means. I can tell you that the ocean, along the coast of Oregon, can be louder than I ever expected. When the wind is wild, so is the ocean.

I used Strong’s numbers and learned that “deep” refers to “deep (of subterranean waters)” or “the sea, abysses (of sea).” We know that there are places in the ocean that we have measured for depth only recently. The deepest place so far known is Challenger Deep and is located beneath the western Pacific Ocean in the southern end of the Mariana Trench, as far as we know now, it is 35,876 feet in depth. That is equivalent to 6.794697 miles.

The actual word used in v. 7 is better translated as waterfalls rather than waterspouts. So think, now, of that incredible depth of the ocean. Think of the power of a waterfall (a strong wave, perhaps?) that is so powerful that it plunges all the way to the bottom of the Challenger Deep, carrying everything it has picked up along the way, down to the very depths of the sea.

Remember that David was a poet–an artist who used words to paint a perfect picture of the despair and helplessness he felt as he was plunged into the depths by a power too strong for him to resist.

Then, consider the next verse, in which he acknowledges that no matter the depths of his despair and trouble, His lovingkindness will preserve David in the daytime, and His song will encourage David in the dark night of his suffering. David will always remember to pray, and find comfort in knowing that God hears him. God will give him a song in the darkest night.

As usual, there is music in my head:

O My Soul!

Psalm 43:5-6.

Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance.

O my God, my soul is cast down within me: therefore will I remember Thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar.

Didn’t David have some perfectly understandable reasons to be “cast down”? And what does that really mean?

Another way to say it would be “my soul is brought low.” I’m discouraged, unhappy, defeated, without hope. Let’s take a look at what is really going on here.

Yes, David had cause to be discouraged:

(from David Guzik, BlueLetterBible.com)

From the context, it would seem that David, while he is discouraged, is also reminding himself of how often God had saved him from danger; from enemies; and from his own despair. I believe that David’s question is one that challenges his own thinking. He had learned that when he succumbed to his Eeyore tendencies, things did indeed not go well.

So he reminds himself to trust God; to seek God; to praise God for his salvation.

I had a young friend who died of cancer when she was only 36. The last time I saw her was just a couple of days before she died, and she remained steadfast in her attitude of looking forward to heaven. She knew it wouldn’t be long, and she was willing to go. The last thing she said to me was, “I’ll see you in heaven.”

That is the best attitude to have, even when you’re in trouble. Always looking forward, knowing that God is indeed in control.

Where is thy God?

Psalm 42:3. “My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God?”

Have you ever felt that God was nowhere to be found? That you were surrounded by evil in every direction? You’re certainly not alone!

I think, as Adam and Eve exited Eden in disgrace, that they wondered if God were still present in their lives. Satan certainly seemed to have won a victory!

David was often in despair, wondering if God were truly on his side. His own children had turned on him, betraying him and joining with his enemies to remove him from the throne.

Jesus Himself cried out from the cross, asking why God has forsaken Him. Yet he did not sin!

One of the tricks Satan uses from his playbook is to establish that sense of isolation from God, and from all who have claimed to be our friends. In fact, tyrannical governments have long used isolation to break down resistance, one person at a time. We are a social people. We need others around us to encourage, enable, strengthen, teach, edify us. When that connection with other people is broken, it works on our thinking and from there to our emotions and even our faith in God.

So, is there a good answer to the mocking question, “Where is your God?”

The Bible says that He will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). It says, “Lo, I am with you always. . . .” (Matthew 28:20).

When we seek Him with our whole hearts, He will be found. (Jeremiah 29:13).

As the Deer

Psalm 42:1-2.

As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.

My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?

As the deer panteth for the water

So my soul longs after Thee;

You alone are my heart’s desire

And I long to worship Thee.

You alone are my strength, my shield

To You alone may my spirit yield!

You alone are my heart’s desire

And I long to worship Thee

You’re my friend and You’re my brother

Even though you are a King .

I love You more than any other

So much more than anything.

. You alone are my strength, my shield,

To You alone may my spirit yield.

You alone are my heart’s desire

And I long to worship Thee.

.I want You more than gold or silver

Only You can satisfy.

You alone are the real joy giver

And the apple of my eye.

You alone are my strength, my shield,

To You alone may my spirit yield!

You alone are my heart’s desire

And I long to worship Thee

(Author: Marty Nystrom, 1981)

Blessed be the Lord God Almighty!

Psalm 41:13. “Blessed be the LORD God of Israel from everlasting, and to everlasting. Amen, and Amen.”

This psalm begins with these words: “Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble.”

Those words are a clear call for us to reach out to those in need whenever, however, we are able.

The psalm goes on to beseech God’s blessing; to ask for His protection; and to praise Him over and over for His consistent delivering of David from the hands of his enemies.

The psalm ends with a blessing on Almight God, Who is the God of Israel—and of all who believe in Him and claim Him as God, Lord Jesus Christ, Savior.

The music I’ve posted today has been on a continuous cycle in my head for the last couple of days. I even woke up around 2 a.m. this morning with this music playing in my head. I hope it will bless you as it blesses me.

I Delight to do Thy Will!

Psalm 40:6-8.  

Sacrifice and offering Thou didst not desire; mine ears hast Thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast Thou not required. 

Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of Me, 

 I delight to do Thy will, O my God: yea, Thy law is within My heart.

This passage sets the stage for the rest of the psalm. Here, David not only declares his own desire and delight to perform the whole will of God; he also speaks prophetically of the coming of Jesus Christ.

Jesus knew what was in store for Him. He understood that His path would lead Him to Calvary. It would be marked with scorn, mocking, derision, gossip, hatred, false accusation and loneliness. Yet He could say, “I delight to do Thy will!”

I wonder, if I knew I would face all that along with an excruciating and shameful death, if I would be able to say, “I delight to do Thy will!”