Tag Archives: Context

Singing with the King (88) – Context 1.1

Cease Striving and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10)

Riot and FireLast time, we discovered that the context of this verse places you squarely  in the middle of a war. Maybe it’s for soldiers who are literally in the midst of a battle; or maybe it IS the end of the world as we know it; or it could be the spiritual battles that you’re in the midst of, which are seeking to overwhelm your soul and your heart. But Cease Striving does not merely call you to stop in the middle of a busy day; it calls you to stop whatever you’re doing, even in the midst of warfare.

So what is God doing around this verse, which should cause us to Cease Striving?

The nations made an uproar, the kingdoms tottered; He raised His voice, the earth melted. The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah. Come, behold the works of the Lord, Who has wrought desolations in the earth. He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariots with fire. (vs. 6-9)

The first thing that our great God does in an apocalyptic, world-ending, cataclysmic kind of way is that he raised his voice and the earth melted. Earth is a very common word in the Hebrew, occurring well over 2000 times. Most of the time it is translated as land, and the next most translation is earth. It could mean countries, it could mean countryside, and even the ground we walk on. But it can also be translated as world. Now melted only occurs 17 times in the OT and it literally means to melt, and dissolve. It also means to faint, and be fainthearted. So rather than literally melting, it could mean that the hearts of those who are in this event melted. Now whether it was (or is) a local, or global, or personal event, God thundered, and everything came to a screeching halt.

valley of bonesThe next thing that God brought was desolations in the earth. Now this word can also be translated as destruction, horror, and waste. Pretty intense. And why does he do this? To end the wars.

Now I gotta admit, that seems a bit over the top; more like overkill. Why not just cause things to stop, to cease? Why bring about desolation and destruction? Well, you know the answer. Just putting the brakes on would be enough to get our attention, but it wouldn’t be enough to get us to change. Just getting us to stop would not bring about repentance in our lives. But losing everything? Yeah, that could.

Next time… So why does God go to such extremes?

Singing with the King (74) – Praise Enough?

Dancing in the Sun1Praise the Lord! Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! His faithful love endures forever.  Who can list the glorious miracles of the Lord? Who can ever praise Him enough? (Ps 106:1-2)

I’ve probably said this somewhere in this blog, but every time you see the phrase “Praise the LORD!”, it’s literally the English translation of the word Hallelujah! That’s not only a great way to begin the Psalm, it’s a great way to begin your day, because it puts your day into the proper context. The Lord is your focus, the Lord is your purpose, and your thoughts, words, deeds, and emotions are permeated with praise.

Since the Lord is our focus, and our purpose, we discover that the object of this praise and thanks (at least in this Psalm) is: He is good. And His faithful love endure forever. That’s something worth hanging onto, especially when surrounded by the uncertainties, sorrows, and pain that life brings. We need to remember “Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.” (Psalm 30:5) And “The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)

When you ponder that verse from Lamentations, about a love that never ends, about mercies never cease, you then realize what the psalmist was writing in verse two: Who can list the glorious miracles of the Lord? Who can ever praise him enough? Those are what you call rhetorical questions, because we can never list His glorious miracles, nor will we ever praise him enough.

There’s an old hymn called The Love of God, the final verse goes like this:

Could we with ink the ocean fill, and were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill, and every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole, though stretched from sky to sky
.

And notice that that’s just writing about the love of God. What about His other attributes? Such as His goodness, and His faithfulness. The end of the Gospel of John says something quantitatively similar:

This is the disciple who is testifying to these things and wrote these things, and we know that His testimony is true. And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written. (John 21:24-25)

May you begin your day with His praise. Because His love endures forever, you may discover that His praise may occupy your day.

 

Singing with the King (72) – Understanding

When I pondered to understand this, it was troublesome in my sight until I came into the sanctuary of God; then I perceived their end. (Psalm 73:25)

waiting3This Psalm was written by Asaph, who was a Levite in the service of King David. He was also a drummer, and spent a lot of time serving before the ark of the LORD.

So the singers, Heman, Asaph and Ethan were appointed to sound aloud cymbals of bronze. (1 Chronicles 15:19

So he [King David] left Asaph and his relatives there before the ark of the covenant of the LORD to minister before the ark continually, as every day’s work required. (1 Chronicles 16:37)

Let’s face it, life is filled with things we don’t understand. No,  I’m not talking about formulae, or equations, or theorems. I’m talking life problems— the kind that cause you anguish, misery, and as Asaph said, trouble.

Now the fact that he was a singer AND a drummer pretty much explains his confusion (oops—sorry). And what he was confused about was that he, as a righteous person, was constantly being punished and under affliction, which he thought, was from the Lord. The other side of this problem was that wicked people flourished, and they never seemed to have any problems. He had wrestled with this long enough to where he wanted to throw up his hands, declare “I don’t care”, and give up. But rather than giving up, he did something important. He entered the sanctuary of God.

Another way I would put it, is that he put himself, his life, and his world, within God’s context. So what’s God’s perspective like?

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.   For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”(Isaiah 55:8-9)

Sounds pretty out of reach and inscrutable. Until you read what Paul has to say about it.

The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned… “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:14,16) You have the mind of Christ!

If you’re facing an unfathomable or agonizing problem, go into the sanctuary of God, and get His perspective.

Singing with the King (68) – Context

I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will never be shaken. (Psalm 62:1-2)

quietly waitLife often pulls us in opposite directions. Verse 2 in this Psalm is actually repeated by David in verse 6. And reading it, you may get the sense that David is patiently waiting on the LORD, just being still. But between verse 2 and 6 are verses 3 and 4, and here we discover the context:

So many enemies against one man— all of them trying to kill me. To them I’m just a broken-down wall or a tottering fence. They plan to topple me from my high position. They delight in telling lies about me. They praise me to my face but curse me in their hearts.

Think about this neck-wrenching turn David made—from peace and worship to murder and mayhem. Now granted, David was a godly king, and it seemed that somebody always had it out for him, including members of his own family! Then add border disputes, evil empires, jealousy in the courts, and it’s amazing that David got any God-time at all.

Now we don’t have nearly the notoriety, but we should still expect similar evils: Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. (2 Timothy 3:12) There you go—something we have in common with David. But realize there is one greater with whom we have something in common: Jesus.

If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first.  The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you. (John 15:18-19)

So gather up your expectations and realize that persecution and hatred will be coming, just because we love Jesus. But because of that love we will, as David said, have victory.

But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. (Romans 8:37)

Remember David’s context: regardless of the turmoil, regardless of the suffering, regardless of wicked words and evil actions—even in the midst of all these—we must turn our attention and worship to Him:

My victory and honor come from God alone. He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me. O my people, trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge. (Psalm 62:7-8)

Singing with the King (62) – Every Bone

Then I will rejoice in the Lord. I will be glad because he rescues me. With every bone in my body I will praise him: “Lord, who can compare with you? (Psalm 35:9-10)

Woman healedWith every bone in my body. When I looked up the word for bone in the Hebrew, it meant…bone. But it also means (as secondary translations) body, limbs, self and strength. That’s a pretty significant commitment for praise. And when you add the word every, which is also translated as whole, all, completely, anything, whatever and whenever, the praise become totally consuming.

When’s the last time you praised the LORD with every bone in your body? With all that you are? David did so after the Lord delivered him. That’s a good reason to be “all in.” Being saved is another. And thinking about how God saved us, is there ever a time when praise for that gets old? I hope not.

Another question is: is that kind of depth and commitment of praise beyond you? Well it’s not that the Lord isn’t deserving of such praise, whether it is a result of what He has done for us, or just because He is who He is. So when it comes to praising God with every bone in my body, the problem lies completely within us. What can we do?

The Apostle Paul has some counsel which should help: Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. Did you catch those sweeping generalities? Always… never…all circumstances. In order to do that requires we spend serious time in His presence. Did I say serious? I meant ALL time. Now that’s no big deal for God. He is, after all, omnipresent and omniscient. But imagine how your life would change if you lived your life always in His proximity, always in His Presence, and always with His perspective. You’d certainly be more practiced with your praise. But showing up once a week ain’t gonna do it. However, the more you praise, will help you to praise with more—even with every bone.

Keeping your life within God’s context will help you to praise Him even in the unexpected, and the overwhelming. And being thankful in all things may even get all you bones involved.

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 (38) – Context (2)

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

night skyLast week I mentioned how context is critical to understanding and applying Scripture. I then showed the what the above verse was 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. (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 provides insight:

In God, whose word I praise, in the LORD, whose word I praise, in God I have put my trust, I shall not be afraid. What can man 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 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.

And what did we learn from the additional context? Deliverance! And David goes on 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 sings 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.

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.

One other thing regarding context. Who did David see when He looked up, even when he was in the midst of his troubles? Who did David see when He looked up after his deliverance? The LORD. We must always see our lives and live our lives in the context of the LORD.

Singing with the King (37) – Context (1)

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

sunrise earth2

Context is critical when it comes to discerning the actual meaning of the Scriptural passage, and how we are to apply it to our lives. I love getting wrapped up in individual words with their meanings, definitions, and nuances; and sometimes, if I lose sight of the context, then I have committed 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 (34) – My God (2)

The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. (Psalm 18:1,2)

Alone at sunrise

Last time we talked about the seagulls from Finding Nemo, and how we could identify with them. Like them, we can be very selfish creatures. But then I asked you consider the “my’s” of King David. Here are the remainder.

My Rock— this is a different word from the previous one, and has a whole different range of meanings: to confine, secure, to shut in, besiege, to shut up, and to enclose. God does indeed do those things for us, for our good, and for our protection.

My Shield—The word shield means to cover, surround, or defend.

The horn of My salvation—horn has to do with power and might. So when David speaks of the Lord as being his horn of salvation, it is a powerful salvation, a mighty salvation.

My Stronghold— Another place of security, safety, and refuge. The stronghold by definition is a high place; indeed one of its translations is a high tower. It is a place of defense.

David gave us the right perspective.

So when you think about the Lord, how many “my’s” can you come up with? How many ways can you relate to Him? How many roles does He play in your life? How many needs does He fulfill? I know David could have gone on much more than eight. Can you?

What is it like to live you live in God’s context? To have His perspective? Well, the LORD should be not only all you need, but all you got.

Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. (Psalm 73:25)