Archives: Psalms

Psalms 113-118 – Psalm 117-118 The confidence of God’s children on their God

This past week I needed a device installed on a vehicle very urgently……

No fitment centre was available to help so I just walked into one of them and begged.

The gentleman at the front desk went into office upstairs and returned with the news “sorry we cannot help”.

I then said, “Can I go and ask myself?” They said, “No, but if you insist, then go, but nothing is going to change”.

We cannot help you……

At this time I sensed strongly that God will soften the person upstairs, so I told the front desk, “I am going and I am going to come back with a positive answer, wait for it…..the God I serve walks with me”.

At this, the front desk gentleman followed behind me to see what will happen…..

I told the lady upstairs that I know that she is fully booked, but Jesus says “ask and it shall be given”

So I am here to ask……

The answer – “OK, please make sure that your vehicle is here first thing tomorrow morning”.

When we have seen God at work in our lives, we grow in confidence in our trust to his unfailing love…..

Today we are focussing on the confidence of God’s children…..so let’s have a look at it – we noted this last week:

Because of the steadfast love of the Lord, the Psalmist calls for all (117:1) to praise the Lord.

That is to dedicate their lives to Him……

The Love of God can also be seen in the fact that the cries of God’s children never go into deaf ears.

As a result of this fact, the Psalmist declares his confidence in God.

  1. God’s children have confidence in their God (see 118:6-14)

So he says – “The Lord is with me, therefore I will not be afraid” (what can man do to me?); and

“The Lord is with me as my helper, I will look in triumph on my enemies”.

He goes into great details about how he will prevail over his enemies…….

The enemies he is talking about is not a reference to someone that you just don’t like…..this person for whom you have a personality clash (maybe they never greet you; used your milk in the fridge at work without asking for it etc)…..

The enemy he has in mind, is someone who stands against God……

It’s someone who opposes the plans and purposes of God…….

It’s those who oppose the gospel…..

You see he stands as the servant of God……in a mission of God, thus he can declare that his enemies will not stand…..

Because he has seen God at work in the past……his confidence in God is stronger and thus he can declare to anyone that, (Vs.8-9) “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in a princess”.

This person is able to declare this because he has a testimony of God’s kindness over his life…..

He has seen God in the past. (Vs.10-14) In the past he had opposition from every side, he describes as having “swarmed around me like bees”.

In the name of the Lord, he was able to fight them back……and defeat them…..

Thus he can declare not only vs.8-9, he can also declare:

  • vs.14 “The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation”.

This is where I am saved in life….when I am attacked, when I am pushed back and about to fall”.

My Saviour is God…….

  • Vs.15 shouts of joy and victory resound in the tents of the righteous.”

Those who are covered by God’s righteousness sing songs of joy and victory over the enemies of God…..

As God works in their lives, they cannot help but sing the songs of joy and victory…..

Just in case someone thinks that victory means “a life free of trouble”….

The Psalmist declares, “because I am a child of God despite the fact that he disciplined me, (when God allows difficulties)”.

God has not allowed this to destroy me (vs.18).

Therefore, (vs.17) “I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done.”

All this comes from the realization that God is close to his own children……he stays close to them…..

Their prayers are never wasted….

The Lord has been with him in the past……at the point of falling apart (the enemy did not succeed).

I believe, for those of us who believe that God is our Father because of Jesus Christ……can also have confidence in God, that he will give us victory over our enemy Satan……

Though we know that there are times when he may allow Satan to seem to be winning – for example:-

  • The case of Job.
  • The case of Paul with his thorn in the flesh (see 2 Cor.12:8). God had given him a thorn in the flesh, three times he pleaded with God and the answer “my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

You see what is happening, sometimes God allows our weaknesses to prevail so that his power will carry us.”

So that all may see the power of God in us and praise God that despite our weakness we are standing……

Do you see that often the charismatics are misleading people, when they tell them, “You will always succeed if you follow God. You will always be healed when you have faith…..

You will be millionaires if you have enough faith to declare yourself to be a millionaire”.

Yes, God will grant success to his children and we must trust Him for this; but we must accept that there are times when God allows evil to seem to be having the upper hand……

The psalmist has also declared this in vs.18, but then when he allows this, it is not to destroy us…..

Conclusion:

You must not waiver in confidence and faith in God, no matter what.

The same God who has been with you in the past, will be with you in the future.

Those enemies who want to stand in the way of God’s plan for your life will not succeed…..

But we must also remember that his message to us may be the same as that of Paul whom God said, “You will go through the thorn, but my grace will be with you”.

You will go through the fire as if the devil is winning, but remember my grace is sufficient for you…..

Gods’ message for you today:

Trust in him who has been with his own in the past…..

He will thrash the devil and all God’s enemies under his feet.

Even if he doesn’t grant the success you were expecting, accept that God’s grace is with you moving forward

Psalms 113-118 – Psalm 116 – Clearly discerned Hand of God

When I lived in Port Shepstone, I enjoyed driving to and from Durban…..

Whether it was winter or summer, (the beautiful green hills of sugar cane) were just amazing to behold…..

There were other times when I would however drive with one thing on my mind – get to my destination.

But otherwise, other times it was a beauty to behold…..

I think life is like that; it can either be 200km back and forth or 80km, where you ponder and behold the beauty of God….

The beauty of the hand of God upon your life…..

I think that life today can be so busy in such a way that we never stop to consider the beauty of the hand of God in our lives…..

These are the best moments of living…..the best moments of walking with God…..meditating and perceiving the hand of God in your life……

The psalmist calls us to join with him as he discerns the hand of God over his life/ their lives as God’s people:

We have said that these (113-118)….. Psalms are called Egyptian Hillel / praise…..praising God for the Egyptian exodus….

  1. The hand of God discerned

The writer recalls and cites acts of God that he had clearly seen in his life, perhaps here he speaks in singular but really representing the covenant people of God…..

God heard my voice and my pleas for mercy…..

Vs. 1 “heard my voice and my pleas for mercy”

Just like you and I, the Psalmist knows the times of great pressure in his life…….where you don’t know where to turn, what to do? Importantly the Psalmist turns to God in prayer, he cries out, he pleads for mercy……

There is no better space in times of great trouble than to turn to our God for mercy….

And the cry is just “Lord have mercy on me”. “Lord be merciful to me”. Our minds and our hearts keep on crying “Lord have mercy”…..

You say Lord have mercy, because you know that, there is nothing you can offer to God (your righteousness is not good enough)….your works cannot even begin to stand in God’s presence…..

So as the words of the song would say “nothing in my hand I bring” simply to the cross I cling……

There is a story that fits what we talking about here…..found in (2 Samuel 24:1ff). David had sinned against God by pointing a finger at himself…..rather than God…..

The anger of God was very much kindled against David, he took the glory which belonged to God and placed it upon himself……

So he was given a choice in vs.12 as a punishment from God:

  1. Three years of famine in the land
  2. Three months of fleeing from your enemies
  3. Three days of plague in your land

David’s response there shows a man who knew the mercy of God.

Vs.14 “David said to God, “I am in deep distress. Let us fall into the hands of the LORD, for his mercy is great; but do not let me fall into the hands of men.”

Do you see the point there? Let me fall into the hands of God, for his mercy is great….

I would rather fall in the hands of God, for God does not treat us as our sins deserve…..he deals with us in mercy…..

We need to capture this afresh – (God does not treat us as our sins deserve) instead of punishment, he embraces us and he says “my son it will be ok, this will too will pass”.

“My grace is sufficient for you”.

The psalmist here also pleads with God for mercy……

God heard his pleading for mercy…..he heard his voice……his cries were because whatever matter were pressing (it was a matter of life and death).

God saved him from death……that was :

Vs.3 “saved from death” READ

Whether the enemy was pressing against him to kill him or there was a sickness we don’t know but what we do know is that the issue he faced was a matter of life and death…..

There the psalmist, having cried out to God for mercy, doesn’t then turn around and credit someone else……

Credit must be given to where is due….

God must receive credit…..he is the one that doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve….

He is the one that saves us from all calamities…..

The Psalmist says death seemed real…….the grave seemed to be knocking at my door…..but then the grace of God knocked first and stayed….

I cannot hide this he says, I was overcome by trouble and sorrow.

Then in vs.4, I called on the name of the Lord “O LORD save me”.

Vs.5-6 READ

Gracious, righteous, and full of compassion is our God, he shields the simple hearted…..

In my time of great need – the Lord saved me.

The Psalmist has testified of God’s hand upon him and now preaches the truth to himself (sometimes there is a need for that, for you and I to preach to ourselves).

Vs.7

Find rest my soul for the Lord has been good to you……

But then look down at vs.15

People who are able to discern the hand of God and respond are those:

  1. Those who know that God is sovereign over their lives (every little detail of their lives where God is at work)

They have this trust that though the road seems full of midst…..you cannot see clearly…..

They know God who is in charge over their lives, they turn to him for mercy…..

  1. Those who think through issues and meditate, their lives are not driven at 200 km as it were….

They ponder, they consider, they pause, they turn to God’s Spirit and his word for guidance.

The Psalmist knew the sovereignty of God, knew that there was a need to consider and ponder what is happening in our lives….

Hence he cried out, hence he saw the hand of God…..

But you know what? – he is not just blinded by God’s mercy in this life…..

He knows that God’s prevails even in death……

But he also knows that even if God had allowed him to be swallowed up by death as someday it will happen…..

He strongly believes that.

Vs.15 “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints…..”

It’s precious because God takes them to be with him….. it’s precious because the mercy of God leads God’s children even beyond the grave to the grace of God in heaven…..

Even if he doesn’t save me from death now…..I know that when we die in the Lord we are not separated from the King whom we have served.

Think through the words of our Lord Jesus Christ – John 11:25-26

The discerned hand of God upon us should have an impact in our lives in such a way that our lives are never the same…..

You can’t see God and remain as you were yesterday…..

You cannot see the mercy and the grace of God and remain standing.

  1. The response

Vs.12 is key to this Psalm, “What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits”

Vs.1 “I love the Lord”

He doesn’t hide his commitment to God as a result of his mercy…..he declares this publicly.

Baptism is a public declaration of God’s hand upon our lives…..

Vs. 2 “I will call on him as long as I live”.

Though we know that God is the one that holds us closer to him all the time, we too must commit ourselves to him…..

The Psalmist says, come what may, the song I want to sing, the song I will sing…..

No matter our tomorrow be filled with good or ill, we will rise to bless God still.

Vs.7 “Return on my soul to your rest”.

Be at peace o my peace……don’t fret, but see the hand of God.

Vs.10 “I believed” even when I had said all man are liars.

Despite all that had taken place, “having accepted that I was greatly afflicted”, having been in dismay and accepted that all man are liars…….

Despite all this “I believed”.

I put my trust in the Lord.

Therefore my life will tell a story of thanksgiving…..

A story of faithfulness to my God…..

For I have seen the hand of God in my life….

Conclusion:

The mercy of God…..

The grace of God in his Son our Lord….

Have you seen that? How can your life be the same again?

Shouldn’t your life be transformed from inside out…..?

Shouldn’t your life tell a story of a man or woman who will declare “no matter what our tomorrow be filled with good or ill, will triumph through our sorrows and rise to bless God still.”

May that be our story…..

Psalms 113-118 – Psalms 113 and 114 – Who is like the Lord our God?

In a village, there was a competition between what each group believed to be a real God……

Each was to present their perception of God in a miraculous fashion.

The first group then had their first chance – prepared a bull, had it cut into pieces, placed on the wood but would not light it. They called to their gods for hours and hours but nothing happened…..

Then the other person said to this first group;

“Shout louder, perhaps your god is deep in thought ((meditating), or busy, or travelling and there is no network where he is?”

This went on for hours and hours again, nothing happened, then……they gave up….

The other person who was alone, then had his chance…..

He prepared his bull, and demanded that water be poured on his altar (three times)….then he called once to his God…

And the fire of God came from heaven and burned up the sacrifice.  When the people saw this, they cried out “The LORD, – he is God. The LORD – He is God.”

Today, I would like you to think and not just end there but also decide today for whom shall your life be lived, whom shall you serve?

Is such a God not deserving to be served?

Just like Elijah, here is a psalm that presents God……you must decide whether he is worth your worship….

Turn with me to Psalm 113 & 114 (Some background)

Psalm 113 – 118 form part of what is known as the Egyptian Hallel / praise.

Psalms 113 -114 are known as descriptive psalms whilst 115 may be classified as communal confidence.

116 on the other hand is an individual thanksgiving hymn.

These were sung during the Passover celebration as a reminder of God’s great wonders amongst his people during their time in Egypt.

113 -114 were sung before the eating;

115- 118 were sung after the meal;

Which makes these psalms of particular interest as we note that on the last Passover that Jesus and his disciples had, these were the psalms that they would have sung.

Today we are looking at Psalm 113 & 114.

Who is like the Lord our God?

The psalmist starts by

  1. A call to praise Him at all times (vs.2-3)

This psalm opens and closes with a call to all who serve the Lord to praise him.

To praise him, means that each dedicates his or her life to the honour of God…..

You tell of God’s goodness, you tell of God’s kindness……you tell of his wonders…..

You are unambiguous about what and to whom your life owes its being, in other words, all the benefits and blessings are credited to God……

You cannot begin to have a worship or praise that comes from the heart and that is acceptable in the sight of God unless you can tell what God has done in your life……

Are there things which bear witness to God’s goodness in your life?

If you can’t find anything, then let me show you what the Psalmist calls to mind to his recipients.

  1. Praise him for he is worthy to be praised

Vs.4-9 He is the Sovereign God (over all) yet stoops down to care for the needs of his people……….

Read vs.4-9

That is what the Psalmist brings to the fore……

God is over all, he is in charge over your life and my life…..in charge over every detail of your life….

Even in times of confusion, it helps to remember that God is still God…..God has lost his Throne…..

God will not lose his throne……God still sits and reigns over all. Will you remember this today? Will you rise from your ashes as it were and praise Him, He is still the Lord?

You may not see the full picture, but will you remember and will you hold on to the fact that he is in charge over all?

Such a great reminder of such a great God evokes this – vs.5 “Who is like the Lord?

Yes, enthroned above all and yet stoops down to meet the needs of his people……

Vs.7-8 “poor and needy” and he rescues them and he sits them with princes (Israel knew that)

Vs.9 – many in the history of God’s people – Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Hannah……..these were blessed with children of their own……

Every little detail…..God stoops down and he cares about these……

Whether you have food, you have money for the house, money for school, able to have a child…..able to call a child your daughter…..

You will do well today to remember that God cares about your every detail of your life…..

Where else do you find God presented as the one who stoops down and as the God that sustains all things yet stoops down?

Do you remember these words said about our Lord Jesus Christ?

Hebrews 1:1-3 ; Read

Philippians 2:5-8

Here is God in every way……he is presented as the very God in heaven…..presented as the one who sustains all things (thus sovereign over all).

He stoops down takes the form of a servant and he even dies (death on the cross).

Just so that he meets the needs of his people…..just so that you can God (My Father).

You can cry out in your time of need (knowing that somebody out there sees and cares about my life).

His death on the cross has achieved this…..

The Psalmist says that is the reason we must praise him (he stoops down to care for you).

Further reason we are called to praise is given in Psalm 114.

Why should we praise Him?

The nature listens to him? Vs.3-8

Here the Psalmist calls to mind the great miracles of God upon his people when he rescued them from Egypt……

Vs.3-6 & 8

What God is this who does such things? Who is like our God? Can we actually compare any God to this?

What have they done?

Which God has stooped down and died so that he meets the needs of his people (so that he pays for their sins)

Which God summons the seas and rivers and rocks to do as he pleases?

Which God can even be seen centuries later doing the same things?

Speaking to the nature so that it listens to him.

Was this not the Lord Jesus Christ presented by Mark in 4:35?

He is with his disciples and is asleep and a storm (heavy and rough storm) begins.

He is in a boat with his disciples and they are afraid and they cry out “do you not care that we die?”

The one who stoop down because he cares about his people – is asked “do you not care that we drown and die?”

He wakes up and rebukes the storm “Be quiet” and it’s quiet.

And they asked the question – who is this man that even the storms listen to?

Beloved, this is the God who illustrates such care for us that he stoops down and dies on the cross…

This the God in charge over all, the God who sustains all things by his powerful word.

Conclusion:

What response deserves such a God?

Vs. 7

Bow before Him……for there is none like Him…..there is no God beside Him……

Offer your life to him…..dedicate all that has to do with your life to this God….

Even when you don’t see the direction…..remember “He stoops down to meet your needs”.

He left heaven and died for you……how much proof do you need?