Word of the Day

Impassioned Cry

Psalm 7: 1 – 2

O Lord my God, in You I have taken refuge; save me from all those who pursue me, and deliver me, or he will tear my soul like a lion, dragging me away, while there is none to deliver.

This psalm is headed with, “A Shiggaion of David, which he sang to the Lord concerning Cush, a Benjamite.” I find these words as important as the song itself. A Shiggaion is a particular type of song or poem. Easton’s Bible Dictionary defines it as, “a lyrical poem composed under strong mental emotion; a song of impassioned imagination accompanied with suitable music; a dithyrambic ode.” Ah, but what is a dithyramb? A google search led me to this definition, “a Greek choral song or chant of vehement or wild character and of usually irregular form, originally in honor of Dionysus or Bacchus. Any poem or other composition having similar characteristics, as an impassioned or exalted theme or irregular form. Any wildly enthusiastic speech or writing.” This begins to show more clearly the characteristic of Psalm 7. The Strong’s concordance has this to say about Shiggaion, “perhaps a wild passionate song with rapid changes of rhythm.”

When we read the words of David having been translated into Greek and then to English, we certainly lose a great deal of his passion. The English language is not known for its ability to convey strong emotion anyway. Apparently, this psalm was wildly passionate and yet the words read as dry as week old bread. Can we put ourselves in David’s shoes and touch his passion?

David knew his only refuge was the Lord. His enemy was so powerful and venomous that David was not only fearful for his bodily survival but more so for his immortal soul. Can you imagine being that threatened, scared that your enemy would, with the force of a lion, rend your soul?

Let me take you a bit further. We learn from the definition of Shiggaion and dithyramb that this would have been a wildly impassioned lyric with similar accompanying rhythm. The melody might well have been irregular, perhaps even discordant. Now add dance movements to this concoction. Everything David was and everything he felt got poured into this song to the Lord. It was an expression of his body, soul and spirit. He emptied out his heart to the Lord as expressively as a human being can. His spirit wailed within him and he gave vent to that strong emotion.

It will be impossible for us to appreciate the poetic rhythm in the translated version. We would need to read it in the original language to see the meter. However, we can, perhaps, reach into our own souls and feel the anguish David felt and sought to express. His song cried out from within him, seeking the solace that he knew he could only find in God. He laid out his problems to his father, lord and benefactor and called on God to save him. Then as he so often did, he praised the lord. Seek the Lord, petition the help you need, praise the Lord; this is the formula we learn from David. Let your trust have the last word. Here is how the Passion translation records the last verse, “But I will give all my thanks to you, Lord, for you make everything right in the end. I will sing my highest praise to the God of the Highest Place!”

That is how we should remember David and it is a powerful lesson we can learn from his life. No matter how dire the circumstances, David always ended his impassioned, even desperate plea, with thanksgiving, praise and faith. Oh that we might be people of faith. Would that we might pour out our hearts as did David. Though many of us may fall short of David’s gift of expression, we all have the ability to fully believe in the saving power and grace of our dear Lord. Give Him praise. He is worthy indeed. Get crazy and shout out your trusting confidence in your Lord. Reach into the deepest part of your heart and find what is most passionate within and share it with your beloved God and Father.

Plea for Mercy

Psalm 6: 2 – 4              (TPT)

Please deal gently with me; show me mercy, for I’m sick and frail. I’m fading away with weakness. Heal me, for I’m falling apart. How long until you take away this pain in my body and in my soul? Lord, I’m trembling in fear! Turn to me and deliver my life because I know you love and desire to have me as your very own.

A friend of mine turned me on to the Passion Translation and I am so glad she did. I really love to read the psalms from it. I think you may be able to see why.

Have you ever felt like this, felt like you were falling apart both body and soul? I have and so I can relate to David’s cry for help. David had something many of us have not fully realized. He knew that God wanted him as His very own. Isn’t that a heartwarming thought? Can you truthfully say the same thing about yourself? I know it is true. God treasures you, but do you know it?

If you know that God loves you and desires to have you as His very own, does that give you greater confidence that He will answer your prayers? David was confident. Verses nine and ten from the God’s Word translation demonstrate this, “The Lord has heard my plea for mercy. The Lord accepts my prayer. All my enemies will be put to shame and deeply shaken with terror. In a moment they will retreat and be put to shame.” He really did trust that the Lord would meet whatever need presented itself. I can imagine David standing before his enemies saying, “In a moment you will retreat and be put to shame!” I think he believed it that strongly.

What will you say? What will you declare when you look into the mirror this morning? Do you believe the Lord will restore your soul? Is He going to heal your body? Will your enemies turn and flee in terror? Your declaration determines whether these are truths in your life or simply wishes. What is God’s role in your life? Is He a partner or a spectator?

Get excited about the God of your life. Meditate on His love and desire for you. Let that thought fill you. He will hear your plea for mercy and help and rush to your aid. That is the Father, your real father, the one who created you before the beginning of time.

Blessed Refuge

Psalm 5: 11 – 12

Let all who take refuge in you rejoice. Let them sing with joy forever. Protect them, and let those who love your name triumph in you. You bless righteous people, O Lord. Like a large shield, you surround them with your favor.

I hope you are enjoying this sojourn through the psalms. David reminds us, today, that there is blessing, success, victory, protection, joy and favor for those who take refuge in the Lord.

David found his respite in the Lord.  He had a way of intertwining his existence with that of God and that was an uncommon space for the Old Testament believer. I love reading David for this reason. He had an enviable relationship with the Lord. We get to peer into this relationship through the songs written by David. Can’t you almost hear his heart soar as he sings, “Let them sing with joy forever.” As he wrote these words, I believe he was basking in the presence of the Lord. You can hear the praise and reverence in David’s lyrics but you also sense the deep intimacy he had with Yahweh.

As you read this psalm, you hear about the favor of God surrounding you. You may even rejoice at the simple acceptance that God blesses us, His righteousness. Most of all, though, today I hope that you will not only hear the substance of David’s song but even more so the tone of his conversation with the Lord. I hope that through these words, you will glimpse the heart and passion of David seeing the inspiration of his affection for the Lord. I think if we will take our time with these words, we will find our own hearts stirred. Maybe we will raise our voices or pen a beautiful lyric of our own. Maybe you can write a love song to the Lord. If you do, I hope you will share it with the rest of us.

Have a blessed day in the Lord. Rejoice in Him.

Good Sleep

Psalm 4: 8

I fall asleep in peace the moment I lie down because you alone O Lord, enable me to live securely.

This psalm is titled, “Evening Prayer of Trust in God.” That is a sermon unto itself. This is a good way to end the day, but it also makes me think of bookending my day with a companion prayer in the morning.

I hear two promises in today’s verse. First, there are the obvious trust expressions. David rested in the security that he had in the Lord. He was so convinced of the Father’s protection that he could lie down and sleep without fear. Of course this is from a man who was hunted so it is a loud representation of trust he enjoyed in the Lord.

The second promise is one of sleep. This passage is literally about the trust David had in the Lord’s protection. None the less, I pull this first phase about sleep out separately because I believe it is a promise from my Father to me. I have had trouble going to sleep all my life. As a child, I used to play music at night to help me fall asleep. I even tried singing myself to sleep once. Now, I have a promise from my father that I lie down in peace and fall asleep the moment I lie down.

Theologically, you have to deal with the context of David’s message. His message is that he can fall asleep easily and quickly because he knows the Father protects him. When I saw this passage, though, the Father quickened in my heart that I can have this and use this as a sleep passage, apart from trust issues. If I have any qualms about that at all, I can take it to Him in prayer. I can also journal it.

That is a big lesson about understanding of scripture and its use. We must begin with the passage in its context. We can’t just rip sentences out of context and retain the meaning. We can, however, rely upon the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit quickens something to your spirit you can see and appreciate nuances from the original text and assumptions. It is okay to follow where the Holy Spirit leads. In this case, there is an implication that David has no trouble sleeping apart from the potential of enemies disturbing his sleep. That is the issue he answers in his faith statement.

Also, the Spirit will always confirm the Word to you and if you are unsure, you can always ask him to confirm it. He is the Spirit of revelation. The Father wants to reveal Himself to you. There is life and joy in the Word and much richness. Dive into it and enjoy His feasts.

Shield of Faith

Psalm 3: 3 – 4

But You, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the One who lifts my head. I was crying to the Lord with my voice, and He answered me from His holy mountain. Selah.

In verses one and two David decries the number and aggressiveness of his enemies. This psalm was written when David’s son was chasing him. How forlorn David must have been. His own son had turned against him in a grab for power. Though David spent the first two verses lamenting his dire situation, by verse three his spirit arose to declare the goodness and faithfulness of God.

He recognized Yahweh as a shield which surrounded him, guarding him from the menace of his many enemies. Though he must have gone around for some time with his head hanging low, God embraced him and held his head high. There is no shame because our God is our Father. He causes us to hold up our head when others would be bowed low.

The Passion translation of verse 4 is beautiful, “I have cried out to you, Yahweh, from your holy presence. You send me a Father’s help. Pause in his presence.” This is a good place to pause and consider. David had real trouble, real enemies. His problems eclipse most of ours. At least most of us don’t have people pursuing us to kill us. Despite his troubles, and in the very depth of them, he recognized the voice and hand of a loving Father. My point is that if David can receive the love of God in the midst of his dangerous circumstances, then we can too.

David triumphed over his enemies time and time again because he recognized that God was his hero. He trusted in God as his shield and that brought him the victory. Though he may have spent a little time mourning his situation, he never remained in that pitiful state. He would always put his mouth to work declaring God’s goodness. In the end, it was his belief in God’s faithfulness that delivered him. It will work for us too.

Rebellion, Ha!

Psalm 2: 1 – 3             (TPT)

How dare the nations plan a rebellion. Their foolish plots are futile! Look at how the power brokers of the world rise up to hold their summit as the rulers scheme and confer together against Yahweh and his Anointed King, saying: “Let’s come together and break away from the Creator.”

This psalm was written circa 1044 B.C. That is a long time ago, and yet, doesn’t it sound like it was written for now? I recommend you read the entire psalm in The Passion translation. It isn’t long. Despite these rulers’ intentional attempts to root Yahweh out of life and government, God has it well in hand. Verse four says He laughs at their vanity.

Let us not be fooled. There is intentional conduct aimed at tearing God’s influence out of our lives. For our part, the first thing we can do is pray every day for our countries and rulers. Don’t mislead yourself, or others into thinking, that every governmental official is an unbeliever. That’s just not true. What is perhaps true is that we probably do not support those believing governmental workers and officers sufficiently with prayer. I confess my guilt but today is a new day and we get a do over. We can start today praying for our government and countries. Secondly, pray for the leaders who are not saved. It’s not important that you decide who is who, just pray for them all. That makes it easy. Our efforts are best employed blessing people.

That is not to say, however, that we shouldn’t push back a little. How do we do that? It is never by speaking against someone. It is in becoming a blessing. If you walk around blessing people and flowing in the power of God then you will become an attractive force in your town. People want success. They want to be happy. If you can bring them that, then they will not wish to divorce themselves from God. This is the most important thing we can learn.

We have gone awry trying to flex political muscle by our numbers. We need to become a spiritual powerhouse rather than a political one, and this from a political science major and attorney. I have a new revelation of political power and it is minuscule and trumped by spiritual power. That is why Yahweh sits upon his throne and scoffs at the efforts of rulers and principalities. In the end their effort is in vain. However, in the meantime, people lives can be so much better if we will stand upon our covenant and proclaim the name and the favorable year of the Lord. If we will stand up and walk in the power, and the grace, of our dear Lord, then we will not have a political battle on our hands. We will only have the thousands of thousands seeking what we have. Let us come together and proclaim the good news of our Lord through demonstrations of his love and power.

The Righteous person

Psalm 1: 3

And he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither, and in whatever he does he prospers.

An idea came to me today that I believe we will enjoy. Let’s take a trip, you and me, a journey of songs, as it were. Beginning today let us sojourn through the Psalms. Each day I will send you a verse out of a psalm beginning with Psalm One and continuing until Yahweh says, “Halt.” There are 150 Psalms. I do not intend that we do them all but perhaps we will do a couple of weeks’ worth. We’ll see but through this little adventure, I think we will get a better flavor of the Psalms. Sometimes you need to not bounce around so much in reading the Bible because you get a truer sense when you hang out in a book for a while. So, let’s jump in and see how we like this. Send me your comments. It might even be fun for you to anticipate which verse I will send the following day and who knows, if you send me your favorite verse in advance, well, maybe that will be the pick for the next day. So, tomorrow we will look at a verse from Psalm two. Which verse do you like?

Today’s verse is such a fun one. The psalms begin by characterizing the difference between a righteous person’s experience and a “wicked” person’s life. The righteous person is firmly planted. You can stop right there and shout. What image do these words paint in your mind? Being firmly planted means that the storms of life do not cause you to topple. You are not that tree that gets blown down in the storm. You have the ability to bend and flow with the wind all the while your roots, which run deep, firmly grasp the earth. They don’t strain to hold onto life in the tempest because you are simply rooted. You are so grounded that the winds of change or even turmoil do not disturb you.

You are firmly rooted near streams of water. That means that no matter how dry the season, or how infrequent the rain, you are planted at the stream where your roots do not have to search for water. You always have an ample supply because you are constantly resupplied by the flow of water past your roots. Go deeper in your celebration that you are planted by the stream because the stream represents the Holy Spirit of God. Meditate on that a little while.

You always produce fruit when you are supposed to. You are steady and reliable. Everyone knows they can look to you for fruit. You shall not wither and die. Your leaf remains young and supple. You provide shade and nourishment for all who come under your boughs.

Lastly, the piece de resistance, everything you do prospers. Write that one on a 3 X 5 card. Heck, make a poster of it. That is some good news, at least to all who believe it.