Monthly Archives: August 2017

Singing with the King (91) – Precious

Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His godly ones. (Psalm 116:10)

jesuschild9I believe this is the Old Testament precursor of a passage from Revelation:

And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, “Write, ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!’” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “so that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them.”

I first ran across this latter verse when I performed the Brahms Requiem with the Philadelphia Orchestra. Now don’t get all impressed with me. I was just a Bass in  a choir of about 150 singers. There are seven movements in the great work, and the one based on the above verse is the final movement, which makes sense. And at the end of this post, you’ll hear this movement. Now back to the Psalm.

From a contextual point of view, verse 10 is rather interesting, because it is the only one dealing with someone actually dying. The remainder of the other 18 verses speak of one that has been delivered from the grasp of death.

The cords of death encompassed me and the terrors of Sheol came upon me; I found distress and sorrow.  Then I called upon the name of the LORD:  “O LORD, I beseech You, save my life!”  Gracious is the LORD, and righteous;  Yes, our God is compassionate.  The LORD preserves the simple;  I was brought low, and He saved me.  Return to your rest, O my soul, for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you.  For You have rescued my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling. (v. 3-8)

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So why insert this verse about death, when all the others are about escaping from it (and being   thankful)? I think the key is in verse 8: For You have rescued my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling. You see, for those who have lost a loved one, their eyes have shed many tears, and they have stumbled. But the Psalmist gives them a glimmer of hope when he tells them that their loved one is one of the Lord’s godly ones, and their death is precious in His sight.

Some of the meanings of the Hebrew word for precious are: prized, rare, highly valued and influential. And all those describe my friend Mark. For those who knew him, and many much better than I, you can see those words describing Mark. But the most important aspect of Mark 20245779_10154842661725872_4178047506386990472_nis that he was and is one of  the Lord’s godly ones. And since his death is precious to God, I have no doubt that it grieved our Heavenly Father—or rather—our Heavenly Father grieves for Mark’s wife Lorri, and their families; because Mark is now with Him, probably shooting videos—and the resolution is out of this world.

So for those who have grieved, cried and stumbled, know two things (at least):

And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14)

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.. (Philippians 4:12-14)

Because Mark is one of His godly ones, we DO have hope. And despite our tears and stumbling, we need to continue to press on. For like him, we too will one day rest from our labors.


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Singing with the King (90) – My Shepherd

The LORD is my Shepherd. (Psalm 23:1)

Good Shepherd2Years ago, I heard a preacher—I don’t know if it was live or on the radio— who talked about the choices we make and the paths we take. So there you are, walking along with God, side by side, fellowshipping with Him, following Him, just being WITH Him. And then you decide to take a right turn, and go off in your direction. Now this is not without biblical precedence.

Note what He has done for us:

  • He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed. (Isa 53: 4-5)

And what do we do after all this?

  • We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way. (v.6a)

So yeah, wandering off is in our nature. Now, back to the sermon. This preacher talks about us wandering off, to go down our own path, probably to do something sinful, something selfish, something displeasing to God. And the picture he painted was that God remained on the chosen path, while we trotted off on our own. And when we finally come to our senses, like the prodigal son did, we then turn around and go back to the path, and find God patiently waiting there for us.

THAT IS WRONG! And here’s why.

Does a shepherd just let his sheep wander off? Or does he go get them? He goes and gets them, because He knows we are too stupid, or too lost, to find our way home. Now granted, we may be off on this little tangent, this little side trip, and be totally unaware that He is with us—but He is. Because The LORD is our Shepherd. (Who by the way, laid down His life for us – John 10:11)

Also consider His nature.

Where could I go to escape from you? Where could I get away from your presence? If I went up to heaven, you would be there; if I lay down in the world of the dead, you would be there. If I flew away beyond the east or lived in the farthest place in the west, you would be there to lead me, you would be there to help me. I could ask the darkness to hide me or the light around me to turn into night, but even darkness is not dark for you, and the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are the same to you. (Psalm 139:7-12) With the exception of Hell, the is no place He is not.

Omnipresence is pretty tough to escape.

So, a role He willingly embraces, and a divine characteristic which is tough to get by (pun intended). God is not waiting at the beginning of your detour with arms crossed and foot tapping. He is with you. Now, you may not know that He is with you, because you’re trying to avoid Him, or ignore Him, or forget Him. But He is with you, and He always will be.

Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you. (Hebrew 13:5)

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)


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