Monthly Archives: October 2015

Singing with the King (60) – Be Exalted #2

Be exalted above the heavens, O God; let Your glory be above all the earth. (Psalm 57:5)

Last week I mentioned how context is critical to understanding and applying Scripture. I then showed the what the above verse was sandwiched in between:

viet nam battle sceneMy soul is among lions; I must lie among those who breathe forth fire, even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows and their tongue a sharp sword. Be exalted above the heavens, O God; let Your glory be above all the earth. They have prepared a net for my steps; my soul is bowed down; They dug a pit before me. (vs. 4-6)

Now how is it that David could exalt the LORD in the midst of a dangerous and desperate position? The words of another Psalm give us some insight:

I praise God for what he has promised; yes, I praise the Lord for what he has promised. I trust in God, so why should I be afraid? What can mere mortals do to me? (Psalm 56:11-12)

If we truly do trust the LORD, then hopefully we can say along with David, “What can man do to me?” But I also said the last time, I wanted to go a little further—and I meant that literally. Here’s more context to the “exalted” passage.

They have prepared a net for my steps; my soul is bowed down; they dug a pit before me; they themselves have fallen into the midst of it.(vs. 6)

And what did we learn from the additional context? Deliverance! And David goes further:

My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises!
Awake, my glory! Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn. I will give thanks to You, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to You among the nations. For Your lovingkindness is great to the heavens and Your truth to the clouds. Be exalted above the heavens, O God; Let Your glory be above all the earth
. (vs. 7-11)

David recaps this verse at the end of the Psalm (there is no more) because he has been delivered; those who thought to do ill to him, fell into their own traps. He then breaks out into full-tilt praise to the LORD, all the way to the end. He sings praise because God answered His prayer; he sings praise because He is thankful.Man prays to God

The story ends well here, and David sings the Lord’s praise. But don’t forget, when he exalted the Lord the first time, he was still in the middle of it. So regardless of the context, of what’s going on around you, exalt the LORD. And should He deliver you, remember to be thankful. Job had it right as well, even when He was in the middle of it:

Then Job got up and tore his clothes in grief. He shaved his head and threw himself face downward on the ground. He said, “I was born with nothing, and I will die with nothing. The Lord gave, and now he has taken away. May his name be praised!” In spite of everything that had happened, Job did not sin by blaming God. (Job 1:20-22)

Singing with the King (59) – Be Exalted #1

Be exalted above the heavens, O God; let Your glory be above all the earth. (Psalm 57:5)

Biblicak ContextContext is critical when it comes to determine the actual meaning of a scriptural passage, and how it is to be applied. I love getting wrapped up in individual words and their meanings and nuances, but if I lose sight of the context, then I commit a grave error as described in the idiom: “Can’t see the forest for the trees”, which reminds us that we need perspective, we need context.

So here is David crying out a reality about God’s existence, His presence and His glory. He IS exalted above the heavens; and His glory IS above all the earth. That is His nature, and David is sharing with us, that he gets it. But what is interesting about this Psalm, is what this verse is sandwiched in between.

My soul is among lions; I must lie among those who breathe forth fire, even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows and their tongue a sharp sword. Be exalted above the heavens, O God; let Your glory be above all the earth. They have prepared a net for my steps; my soul is bowed down; They dug a pit before me.

David is a dangerous place, surrounded by lions and dragons; and men whose teeth are like spears and arrows, and their tongues like sharp swords. And in the midst of this dangerous and even deadly place, David exalts the Lord. So an obvious question here would be, is there ever a time when it is NOT appropriate to worship the Lord? Oh by the way, David is weighed down, bent down, making it difficult to navigate around nets and pits, as well as lions, dragons and scary men.

Are you surrounded by enemies, by sickness, by loss, by sin? In the midst of all that, take David’s example to heart, and exalt the LORD.

Next time, we go a little further.

Singing with the King (58) – Number Your Days

 So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)

calculatorWisdom. It’s not something that is typically sought out; for rare indeed are those who think it useful. But Scripture tells us otherwise:

Joyful is the person who finds wisdom, the one who gains understanding. For wisdom is more profitable than silver, and her wages are better than gold. Wisdom is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. (Proverbs 3:14-15)

Respect and obey the Lord!  This is the beginning of wisdom. To have understanding, you must know the Holy God. (Proverbs 9:10)

For those who find wisdom, it will be more profitable and more precious than anything you desire. And through our respect and obedience for the Lord, it leads to a closer relationship and greater understanding.

But how does numbering our days help us? It was a lesson I learned years ago.looking at watch

It was summer before my senior year in college, and I was in the Northwest finding concert venues for our choir tour during spring break. It turns out that the music director of a large downtown Church had been my sister’s high school choir director, and his wife had been my first grade Sunday School teacher. And their daughter, who was in the same grade, was my best bud.

Her Mom and Dad promised that she would get to our concert in the Spring, and I even sent a couple of notes telling her I looked forward to seeing her again, even after 15 years. So September comes, and I’m thoroughly immersed in classes, ensembles, and recitals; and I get a letter from Portland.

I opened the envelope and inside was a newspaper clipping from the Oregonian, reporting an accident where a young woman was hit by a car and killed, while riding her bicycle. I was stunned. And even though I hadn’t seen her in years, I still felt a great sense of loss. Loss of re-connecting with an old friend. Loss over hoped-for conversations about Jesus and music. And great pain for her folks.

timefliesCatching up, picking up; plans and conversations… gone. And it wasn’t just an reunion that was gone, a friend was gone. A daughter was gone. I don’t know how God gave me this verse, but it arrived in the midst of my grief. And I learned an indelible lesson on numbering my days. I learned to count each day, every day, every conversation, every person as precious, and that tomorrow (or several months hence) wasn’t promised.

So is the passing of the day just a blur? Does it drag by, filled with excruciating pain with each and every breath? time is a blurOr is it a gift from God? I pray that it would be the latter. One more day to experience His mercy, grace, and love. One more day to celebrate His creation. And one more day to walk with and embrace His people.

Or maybe it’s one more day to discover Who He is, and how much He loves you. Remember: In the Scriptures God says, “When the time came,  I listened to you, and when you needed help,  I came to save you.” That time has come. This is the day for you to be saved. (1 Corinthians 6:12)

So, how are you numbering your days?

Singing with the King (57) – Have You Lost Your Voice?

Their hands have no feeling, their legs don’t move, and they can’t make a sound. Everyone who made the idols and all who trust them are just as helpless as those useless gods. (Psalm 115:7-8)

False3Idols. Useless gods. Do you serve any useless gods? When God with His own finger wrote out the 10 Commandments for Moses, the first of them was:  Do not worship any god except me. Do not make idols that look like anything in the sky or on earth or in the ocean under the earth.  Don’t bow down and worship idols. I am the Lord your God, and I demand all your love. (Exodus 20:3-5)

Now the thing about idols is that they are no longer relegated to the wood, stone, precious metal composition. They can be intangible; such as philosophies, ideologies, pursuits, careers, seemingly harmless (yet all-consuming) goals. Even religion can be an idol. I think the Pharisees of Jesus time would be the consummate example for that. Another idol is evolution. Another pervasive one is SELF. And what about the government? Well, whatever the flavor-of-the-month your idol is, you are going to become like it. For the past couple of weeks we’ve focused on verse 8. But this time I want to focus on a specific characteristic the idol has passed down: no voice. Now you may not be completely mute, but whatever you say, won’t matter.

I had old man in a beda mentor named Rick when I was at the Conservatory. He was a retired Baptist missionary, and was now on the payroll of a large hospital in the Central Valley as their chaplain. Whenever there was a difficult situation, Rick was called in to minister to the family, and help the patient to step into eternity to meet Jesus. There was this one old man who had just hours to live, and the hospital asked Rick to visit him. He had no family, he was alone, and Rick chose to sit and wait with him.

After a rather pain-filled conversation with this patient, Rick discovered that the man was Jewish. So Rick asked if he could read the Old Testament to him. The man nodded, so Rick read Isaiah 53:

Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?  For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; and when we see Him, There is no beauty that we should desire Him.  He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.  Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.  But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.   (Isaiah 53:1-5)

Rick heard something, looked up and saw the man weeping. The words of the prophet had obviously touched this man, so Rick leaned forward and said, “You know, Isaiah was talking about Jesus.” But the man, shaking his head, said with his last few breaths, “I don’t understand, I don’t understand.” Rick tried to explain using other verses from the Old Testament, but the man still weeping said one last time, “I don’t understand.” And he passed into eternity without knowing his Messiah.

He needed to cry our like Peter. “Lord save me!” (Matthew 14:30) But he did not. He had no understanding, and he had no words. Now I don’t know what his particular idol was, but it left him without the right words to say.

Consider this warning from Christ:  “Work hard to enter the narrow door to God’s Kingdom, for many will try to enter but will fail. When the master of the house has locked the door, it will be too late. You will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Lord, open the door for us!’ But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’ Then you will say, ‘But we ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’  And he will reply, ‘I tell you, I don’t know you or where you come from. Get away from me, all you who do evil.’ (Luke 13:24-37)

May the Lord give you the right words to say, before it is too late.