Chrysalis

Psalm 39:1

I said, “I will guard my ways that I may not sin with my tongue; I will guard my mouth as with a muzzle while the wicked are in my presence.”

You know, I was just missing David so here is a quip from a psalm of David. The more time I spend with David’s writings the more I like him and the more I learn. I told you that meditating on God’s goodness has a transformative effect on the inside of you. Well, the more time I spend with David, the more I see how close and personal a relationship with God can be. David’s walk with God illuminated his life and it now it is having that same effect upon us.

Learning to walk hand in hand with God has got to be the greatest joy of all time. David’s walk showed him, daily, the ways of God so that he could walk in them. On this day, David received a revelation about his words. A friend of mine once said that we need a Word of the Day on the words of our mouth weekly, if not daily. Probably, I need to be reminded daily that I am creating my world by the words of my mouth. Additionally, we sin with our mouths more than any other way, so it is wisdom which says to guard our mouths.

How do you guard your mouth though? First it is the simple recognition that the tongue can be a violent member and needs to be guarded. Second, of course, we pray asking God to help us with our mouths. These need to be daily steps: remind yourself to guard your mouth and ask for the Father’s assistance. Beyond that, these meditations on God the Father and His ways begin to set up positive strong holds within your spirit. When you read a verse like this one, the next step is to think about it for a few minutes. What does this verse mean? What were the circumstances in which David wrote these words and what circumstance do you see yourself in that would bring this verse to life? How will you guard your mouth?

These simple questions turn into ponderings and it is those ponderings (meditation) which change your inner self. The “work” of Christianity is personal transformation. We are supposed to be changing into the very image of Christ. This takes time but it also takes effort and that effort is putting your thoughts on Christ so that they impact who you are on the inside. You are daily becoming the butterfly when you allow God’s Chrysalis to do its work. The chrysalis is God’s word meditated on within your own heart.

Our greatest liability may be our tongues, but it is harnessed by the spirit of God residing within us. The power within us is far greater than the weakness of the flesh. As you meditate on Yahweh and how He can influence your day, the things of the world begin to lose power and you will find it easy to guard your tongue, your temper or anything else. It’s a process. Daily, you are being transformed into the picture of Jesus so ponder these scriptures. Plant them in the fertile soil of your spirit and let them grow within you.

Tend the Sheep

Luke 2: 8 – 9          NLV

In the same country there were shepherds in the fields. They were watching their flocks of sheep at night. The angel of the Lord came to them.

Did you ever wonder why the angel appeared to shepherds? Why not clergy or statesmen? If an angel came with a message today, to whom would he appear? The answer, to those who tend the sheep. Selah.

There is speculation about these shepherds. Who were they? I offer you, rather than answers, food to ponder. We know they were shepherds near Bethlehem who were keeping the night watch. That alone is enough to fuel the imagination as it conjures thoughts of the boy David who was lowly and humble. While his brothers were celebrated as soldiers, little David was out in the fields keeping watch over, “those few sheep,” (1 Samuel 17: 28) as his brother taunted him. Mock as you will, big brother, for what city was the Savior, Messiah born but in the city of David. And, who had to save the day, and the nation, when the soldiers all trembled in their boots at the giant Goliath, but the little shepherd boy, David.

Shepherds were not a favored group of people, part of a lower caste. It is interesting that the angel would appear to a group of people who did not rank well on the social ladder. Because they were not people who were looked up to they would seem the least likely to be able to get the message out about the new king. Who would listen to a group of dirty shepherds?

Of course, any mention of shepherds is incomplete without a discussion of Jesus who is the shepherd. Was God, showing us that this newborn child would turn out to be the great shepherd by revealing his coming to a group of shepherds? Another connection to shepherds is that Jesus is often referred to as meek and lowly. He certainly was not a proud or arrogant man. His connection to shepherds doesn’t end there though.

Some scholars speculate that this group of shepherds was tending a specific group of sheep, which would explain why they would be near the town of Bethlehem and why they would be tending sheep in the open fields in winter. This may have been a flock of sheep selected for the sacrifice. How poignant would it be if the angel appeared to a group of shepherds who were tending the sacrificial lambs in order to announce the coming of the lamb whose blood would be offered for the salvation of all people? That is a pretty powerful thought. I told you Easter is embedded in the fabric of Christmas. From the day baby Jesus was born, his sacrifice was revealed.

Jesus’ first heralds were the angels, but they were followed by a group of dusty, lowly, peasant class shepherds. Those shepherds proceeded immediately to Bethlehem to see this miracle birth and having seen the babe, began to tell the good news received from the angel.

A child is born, a humble birth, proclaimed by shepherds rather than church or cultural leaders. To this day, Jesus is the friend of the lowly and savior of all.

True Humility

Psalm 72: 8 – 9

May he also rule from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth. Let the nomads of the desert bow before him, and his enemies lick the dust.

You will undoubtedly sense a change of tone in this psalm. David didn’t write this one. It is written by his son, Solomon. The kingdom falls apart after Solomon, the kingdom that God gave to David for eternity. You begin to see the unravelling even here. Compare this psalm with the one’s David wrote.  Here, we find Solomon praying for himself, not about rescue from enemies, but increasing his holdings.

This is another example where one must really read the entire psalm to get the flavor. Solomon was concerned about his ability to rule the kingdom. At first glance his importuning of God for the wisdom to rule the country appears as humility, and at one level I believe it to be so. At a higher level, though, Solomon mirrors our prayers and feelings. Compared with the prayers and the songs of David, we see that humility is often a cloak for the real underlying demon – pride.

David didn’t have confidence in his ability to rule the kingdom either. He did, however, have confidence in the Father, and David trusted his friend and strong right hand to be with him and to rule through him. It may be a subtle shift, but this micron of perspective shift makes all the difference in the world. Solomon was overwhelmed with by the responsibility of leading the kingdom. The reason, though, is because his eyes were fixed on himself.

We can all become overwhelmed by what God has called us to do, but if we do it is because we are looking at our own abilities. We become focused on ourselves rather than on the Father. David told Goliath that he came in the name of the Lord and that the God of Israel would deliver the Philistine giant into his hands. David was looking for God to do something. If he had considered himself responsible for the victory, we would not have this great story to admire. He either would have been defeated, or, more likely, he would never have faced the giant. We know we cannot succeed in our own strength so we think God will anoint us with his strength and then we will prevail. In our spirits we know this is not quite right. The victory is not ours, but the Lord’s.

So, David spent less time in prayers like these and much more time praising the Lord and declaring His greatness. He focused his attention on the righteous kindness of God and His delivering power. He glorified God in song and in deed. Go back and look at the construction of David’s prayers. There is a real secret here. Our words show where we are in our walk with God. Solomon’s show that his eyes were on himself. He lacked confidence because he was looking at himself rather than at God. He prayed for God to make him a great king with much land. Perhaps, those breaths would have been better spent praising the real King.

All My Life

Psalm 71: 5 – 7, 14

For you are my only hope, Lord! I’ve hung on to you, trusting in you all my life. It was you who supported me from the day I was born, loving me, helping me through my life’s journey. You’ve made me into a miracle; no wonder I trust you and praise you forever! Many marvel at my success, but I know it is all because of you, my mighty protector! No matter what, I’ll trust in you to help me. Nothing will stop me from praising you to magnify your glory!

David wrote this as he was getting older. You will see that in the context of the entire psalm. By looking at the psalms in a concentrated way we have come to have a sense of David’s passions and his personality. Now, we begin to compare and contrast young David with an older, more seasoned version of himself. By this point in his life, he has lived out his theology. What may have been statements of faith earlier are now proven facts. He has seen the glory of the Lord. He has seen the power of God demonstrated in his life over and over. The Lord rescued him time after time and this David is not just a passionate believer but has earned his stripes as an ardent, convinced devotee of the Almighty.

In this psalm we see David looking back upon his life recognizing the fingerprints of Yahweh throughout his life. He trusted God when he was young and full of the verve of youth. By the time of this writing, David had, not only belief, but years of experiencing God’s victorious companionship.

I often ask what makes us different from David. His walk with God is enviable. I think it fair to say that throughout his life Yahweh was his best friend. Necessity required him to rely on God but before he was anointed as king, before Saul chased him around the desert, He slew a giant. He told Goliath that he came in the name of the Lord and that alone was sufficient for triumph. Did God continually show up in David’s life because of David’s attitude and faith? What of Daniel? When they pulled him from the lion’s den, there was not a scratch on him. What about Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego? Not even fire could separate them from the love of God?

What makes the lives of these individuals so spectacular? God is not respecter of persons (Acts 10: 34). Is the answer contained in these psalms? Is it portrayed in the life of David? What do you think made giants out of ordinary people? And more to the point, can we have this type of life now? Is God dead? Has He moved? Or is the God of David alive and well and just as much in love with us as He was with David? Click on the comment section and share your thoughts.

Quietly

Psalm 62: 1, 5         NLT

I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from him. Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him.

I hope you are enjoying Psalm Mondays. I am. We are, in a practical way, getting to look particularly at David’s thought life and relationship with God. Today’s verse gives a great insight to David’s success. It also may point out a liability that we deal with in the modern society which David was not hampered by.

David learned to be still, quiet, even silent before God and this is a major part of his success. I often think he learned this very important skill in fields tending sheep. While his big brothers were off fighting in wars, David was stuck keeping watch over the sheep. It is pretty boring out in the field, by yourself at night. In those quiet hours, though, he learned to speak with God and more importantly, to listen. One will never hear God without quiet. Psalm 46: 10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God!” The psalm makes a good point. We will find it difficult, if not impossible, to know Yahweh as God unless we learn to seek Him in the silent times. To know God as God; to have Him show up as God in your life, you have to be able to communicate with Him. If you can hear Him, you can be led, taught, guided and instructed in your everyday life. When we cannot hear Him, He can’t lead us. We need peace and we need to quiet in order to hear God’s voice.

The difference between David’s time and ours is technology. There are so many distractions in our lives. We have televisions, movies, music, computers, etc. David had stars and moonlight; and silence. In that silence he learned to hear God.

We could all do with a little silence. Unlike David, we have to create quiet in our lives. If we really want to have God be God in our lives, we need to wait quietly and patiently before him. That may be a bit of a lost art but worthy of rediscovering. Maybe we need to get some sheep and go live out in the fields with them. If not that, perhaps just setting aside time where we control our internal and external environment. Slow down, quiet down and let God lead you to victory.

Battle Strategy

Psalm 59: 16 – 17

But as for me, I shall sing of Your strength; yes, I shall joyfully sing of Your lovingkindness in the morning, for You have been my stronghold and a refuge in the day of my distress. O my strength, I will sing praises to You; for God is my stronghold, the God who shows me lovingkindness.

You may need to read the beginning of this psalm to get the full thrust of these last two verses. The backstory is familiar. Saul was in relentless pursuit of David. Saul’s men surrounded, besieged and attacked David and his men. Day and night, there were spies, sneak attacks and ambushes. David tells of the trials and persecutions through the first fifteen verses. At the end he says, “but as for me . . ..” In these last two verses, David reveals his battle plan.

No matter what the enemy’s tactics were; regardless of being outnumbered, trapped or under siege, the battle plan David employed was praise and complete confidence in our Lord. David’s confidence wasn’t just something he held in his breast, though. His faith in the Father was boldly declared from his lips. That is one thing which distinguished him from every other. Perhaps other people thought God was a stronghold and deliverer, but David made a career of proclaiming it.

How about you? Are your words like David’s? Perhaps we too can turn the tide with our words. You know the end of the story. God removed Saul from the throne and installed David in his place. As I have studied David’s life, I noted his continual boasting in the Lord. I think his success was tied to his proclamation. While others count their soldiers and array their weaponry, David installed his stronghold. His plan involved the power of the Almighty, his strategy relying on the promises of his Lord.

It seems, then, that David didn’t have anything we don’t have. That is what makes his story so attractive. We can do what he did. We can love the Lord and trust in His prowess as David did and enjoy the same success. The strategy that prevailed for David will work for us too. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and soul. Lean on Him and His understanding. Make joyful praise to the Lord and let His power arise in your battles.

Promises, Promises

1 Chronicles 1: 9

Now, O Lord God, Thy promise to my father David is fulfilled; for Thou has made me king over a people as numerous as the dust of the earth.

When God made that promise to David it probably seemed as impossible as any of the promises you have read in the Bible. Yet God was able to fulfill all He promised to David. David’s son Solomon bears witness to us that all has been fulfilled in his sight. In other words, we have an eye witness account that God did exactly what He said He would do.

The word “promise” in the above passage is even more accurately translated as “word.” That would make the sentence read, “Thy word to my father David is fulfilled.” I do not find it any coincidence that we call the Bible God’s “word.” To bring this verse forward to each of us, that would mean that God fulfills his word to you. That would include everything that He has said to you in His Word, the Bible. This is a very significant revelation. Just as God fulfilled His word to David, He is obligated to fulfill His word to you. You have an entire book of transcriptions of what God has said to you. Every word in God’s word is His obligation to you.

You should be encouraged, therefore. If God fulfilled His word to David, then He will fulfill His word to you because the Bible says that God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10: 34). In other words, He does not favor one child over another. As a matter of fact, the NIV version of Acts 10: 34 says that “God does not show favoritism.” What He was willing to do for one, He is willing to do for all.

Now you put a demand on the promise given you. That is what faith does. Expect God to be good to his word. Expect Him to meet your every need; emotional, physical, financial and spiritual. After all, He is the one that promised. We are just holding Him to His “word.”