Deep Pit

Proverb 8: 8

All the utterances of my mouth are in righteousness; there is nothing crooked or perverted in them.

King David wrote in Psalm 17: 3 that he purposed that his mouth would not transgress. That is a noble goal. Maybe setting that goal was enough for David to be able to accomplish it. For others of us, though, some tools may come in handy. Today’s verse is just such a tool and it might be a good one for one of those index cards.

The eighth proverb is a message from wisdom. She is crying out in the streets trying to get our attention, trying to help us. We are to seek wisdom, only a fool wouldn’t. Well, when we seek and find wisdom we get all that she is and she tells us that her mouth only utters righteousness. Surely that is wisdom, speaking nothing but righteousness. Now here is how you can use this verse as a tool for yourself even though it is wisdom speaking. Because you seek wisdom you can make this same declaration. If you have purposed in your heart that your mouth will not transgress then confess that all of the utterances of your mouth are righteous. After a while your brain will catch on. Then it will begin to regulate your mouth. 

Honestly, if you do not transgress with your mouth then you are a holy person indeed. Our mouths are deep pits into which we fall. Keep your mouth straight and you will find your paths straight too. Let God’s power help you to cover over that deep pit and make a straight way for you.

Clean Hands

Psalm 18: 24

Therefore, the Lord has recompensed me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in His eyes.

There are a few Old Testament prophets who have New Testament eyes and spirits. David and Isaiah are chief among these. David wrote most of the psalms and he wrote this one specifically. As an interesting side note, many people barely consider the psalms as part of the Old Testament. Many New Testament Bibles include the books of Psalms and Proverbs. I have known people who would scarcely acknowledge that the Bible contained anything more than Matthew through Revelation but who would read the psalms. The reason for this, at least in part, might be because David had such a big revelation of who God is.

Today’s passage screams New Testament dispensation to me. It has Jesus’ blood all over it. Hallelujah! You see, the passage is a little frightening until you get to the last three words. Then, all of a sudden, we are on shouting ground! I get fired up over this because I do not want to be judged or compensated according to my righteousness. That would end up worse than a lump of coal in my Christmas stocking. I am all too happy, though, to receive of God through the filters of His eyes. Yahoo! He recompenses us according to the how He sees us, according to the glory which covers us through Jesus. Come on, that is worth a shout, an Amen or something.

Give God praise. Give Him glory. He has laid aside a reward for you based on Jesus’ righteousness. Glory to God!

Bad Advice

2 Samuel 19: 5 – 6

Then Joab came into the house to the king and said, “Today you have covered with shame the faces of all your servants, who today have saved your life and the lives of your sons and daughters, the lives of your wives, and the lives of your concubines, by loving those who hate you.”

Absalom was one of King David’s sons. Though David loved him Absalom plotted against David to take the throne of his father. He was successful in usurping his father so David fled from Jerusalem. Not satisfied though, and the recipient of bad advice, Absalom pursued David to kill him. Absalom was killed in the conflict and when news of his death was delivered to David, David wept bitterly. Some of David’s followers and specifically his general, Joab, were chagrined that David wept for their enemy. David was God’s friend though and the character of God had rubbed off on him. So, although Absalom had rebelled against him and plotted his overthrow, David still loved him.

In the margin of my Bible, next to this passage I have written, “See the advice of the world.” I was struck by how this Old Testament episode marks the problems we encounter today. The world tells us we should hate our enemies but David was a Kingdom man. He knew God and had learned to see through God’s eyes. David loved his son Absalom even though Absalom was not worthy of David’s love and devotion. That is how the Father of all treats us. Although we are unworthy, he loves us unquestioningly. In David’s grief he said, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you” (2 Samuel 18: 33). This is an exact representation of the Father’s love for us.

One thing I have discovered about the world’s advice is that it usually sounds good. It will always contradict with God’s view though. That is why, if we do not know the Father, we can easily be misled. Here is one rule, though, that we can always go by; that is the rule of love. If you are ever in doubt and one option is love then that is the way because God is love. His counsel will always bring you back to love. Every time! Where there is hate and anger you will not find God or His will. His way is grace and mercy. David understood this intrinsically and that is why he was called a friend of God.

Let this Old Testament event speak to your heart today. You have people who are against you and situations that are challenging but if you will seek the way of truth, life, grace, love, non-judgment and mercy you will find yourself the victor every time. This is God’s way. Don’t let the world view taint your perceptions. We are called to love those who hate us just as our father does.

Redeemed From Fear

Psalm 56: 3 – 4

When I am afraid, I will put my trust in Thee, in God, whose word I praise, in God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me?

Who among us is not faced with fear at some time? It is a common human reaction to challenges in life. The first mention of fear appears in Genesis 3. It didn’t take long for mankind to find fear. However, they only became afraid after succumbing to the devil. Before Adam and Eve followed Satan and ate the forbidden fruit they knew not fear. Interesting. Since that time people have been plagued by fear. However, there is good news. God has provided a remedy for everything which plagues mankind, including fear. His remedy for fear is trust.

When I am afraid,” the psalmist writes, “I will put my trust in thee.” He doesn’t deny that he was afraid. He just determines not to let fear have him. We are not to abide in fear. We are to run into the arms of our loving father and envelope ourselves in an abiding, overcoming trust. Trusting Him is the solution for every fear. It seems, then, that overcoming fear requires a decision from us. It also requires action on our part. We must intentionally shift our minds and hearts from fear to trust in the Lord. That means you take your eyes off of that which frightens you and put them on the Lord of your salvation. Look upon Jesus and decide to believe Him and to believe in the Father’s love rather than to believe in that which frightens you.

Fear is slavery and Jesus has set us free from all of the shackles of bondage. If we allow fear to remain in our lives then we are effectively rejecting the gift of Christ. It is making his sacrifice of no effect. This is no place for Christians. Galatians 5: 1 reads, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” That seems pretty clear to me. It is a shout, a command that we should not allow ourselves to be victims of fear. We must stand firm against fear. Jesus came to give us abundant life, not a life shackled by fear.

The psalmist, David, gave praise to the word of God. It occurs to me that was another of his weapons against fear. He looked to the word and encouraged himself so that he could pronounce his faith in God’s saving ability. David trusted God and stood on God’s word. He determinedly put his trust in God and God’s promises and time after time God pulled him from certain defeat. Now David teaches us these valuable lessons. Let us declare as he did, “In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid.”

Remedy for Trouble

Psalm 27: 4

One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to meditate in His temple.

I have used this verse before but the Lord led me to it today and He showed me some new insights which I would like to share. First, though, let us look at the NIV version of it; “One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.” This psalm, not surprisingly, was written by David. As I read it today I reflected on all the trouble that David had to deal with. In order to really put this verse in perspective you should read the whole psalm or at least the verse before it and the verse after it. Both the preceding verse and the following verse reveal suffering and concerns of David. In the midst of those challenges, though, David focused on his Lord and God.

David experienced tribulation from every angle. His family was a clear thorn in his side. When we first learn about David his father has neglected to present him to the prophet Samuel who approached Jesse saying that one of his son’s would be king and that he, Samuel, had travelled there to anoint the chosen one. Then we see him at the battle lines with the Philistines. David’s brothers were serving in the army and his father sent him to deliver bread and grain to them. When David volunteered to fight Goliath the scripture records that his oldest brother became angry with him and insulted David. Later in life his own sons betrayed him, sought to kill him and take the throne. His wife hotly criticized him for his dancing before the Lord the day they brought the Ark to the city.

Then there is the whole conflict with Saul. David began his relationship with Saul when Saul asked that David be sent to him in order to play musical instruments and sing for him. David served Saul faithfully. He even refused to kill the tormenting Saul when on several occasions it appeared that God had delivered him into David’s hands. He was devoted to Saul but Saul persecuted him. Isn’t that the way of things?

All of these torments were by the people that loved David. Can you imagine how painful this was for David? And supposedly these were not even his foes but rather his friends, his family. But David had other trials too. First as a warrior and then as king David knew what it meant to have many enemies. There is no author who wrote about being surrounded by enemies as much as did David and there is no author who is more inspiring in his expressions of trusting the Lord through the trials.

Imagine yourself surrounded on every side by enemies and then add to that all of the betrayal by friends and family. That is the context in which David writes these inspired words. I believe that he is saying that the only way for him to survive this turmoil is to put his eyes fixedly on the Lord. David’s response to these attacks was to run into the presence of the Lord. In this context re-read today’s verse. Can you see that David learned that the only way to deal with the enemies and challenges of life is to dwell in the presence of God? I doubt that any of us has ever been under more intense pressure than was David and this is the way God taught him to not only survive all of the threats but to triumph. It is no accident, either, that no other Old Testament author speaks about the Holy Spirit as insightfully or as often as does David. He learned that the only way to deal with these kinds of overwhelming problems is to focus all of your life energy on the Lord. You cannot fight all of the battles. You could never have the strength. And you certainly cannot win. There is only one solution. Jesus! He is the way, the truth and the life. He is the breath that we breathe and the morning sun.

David survived impossible odds. Yes, he made some mistakes, even some big ones but I think you will find that the throne of David has been established and will endure forever and the reason why is because he knew who his strength was and he loved the Lord with all his heart.

This is, I believe, what David is teaching us. Don’t fight the battles. Don’t put your eyes on the enemy. Turn your face to God the Father. Let Him be your righteous sword, your unassailable champion. Even when it looks like the battle is lost and you are going down for the third time, keep your trust and faith in your Father. Do not waiver. Run into his presence, lock yourself in the sanctuary of your heart and behold your salvation.

Show Me the Way

Psalm 51: 10 – 12

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Thy presence, and do not take thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation, and sustain me with a willing spirit.

Although David lived before the Messiah came and claimed victory, he is in so many ways a New Testament person. When you read his writings you see that he not only had a revelation of the Holy Spirit but that he also had a relationship with him. In today’s passage you see the essence of the New Testament regenerate child of God and the process of renewal.

God cleaned us by the sacrifice of Jesus. We were literally washed clean of all of our transgressions. He recreated us into the glorious version of ourselves that we were ordained into at the beginning of time. The footnote for “clean heart” says “upright heart”. Our hearts have been made upright before God. We are upright, or righteous, before God because of the cleansing of our hearts wrought by Jesus. But salvation did not end there as you can so plainly see from this text.

God, next, renewed our spirits. Imagine the joy our spirits experienced when the rejuvenating power of the Holy Spirit came into us and renewed our own spirits. Our spirits are cast in the same image of the Holy Spirit and we are truly part of him. David says renew my spirit in that image so that I am steadfast, unwavering and strong. We, like David, can stand surely and steadfastly in the grace and honor of our Lord knowing who we are because our spirits have been renewed in Christ Jesus. 

And then David makes this oh so interesting comment, “Do not take thy Holy Spirit from me.” David knew what it meant to live with the Holy Spirit of God. That was a very uncommon occurrence before Jesus came. David also knew that the Holy Spirit and his walk with him accounted for the great successes he enjoyed as well as the blessings. The Holy Spirit protected him under some very difficult circumstances and David had a revelation of how to walk daily with him. This statement reflects the next step of our regenerated life. We are renewed in Christ and move into close personal fellowship with all three persons of the trinity. Our cleaned hearts are now fit habitation for the Holy Spirit so we can invite him to come live within us and be our daily guide and teacher. It does require an invitation of course. The Holy Spirit is a good house guest. He will come if asked but would never invite himself.

One can almost hear the insistent, almost desperate tone, in David’s voice when he says, “Do not take thy Holy Spirit from me.” He knew that the Holy Spirit’s presence in his life was saving grace and he realized how much he needed that presence in order to live. David was immensely successful in many ways but he also lived in very dangerous times. One of his sons usurped the throne at one time and David’s life was again in peril as it so often was during his lifetime. So David understood that all of his riches and his throne were because of the power of the Holy Spirit but he also knew that his very life was sustained through the power of God’s Spirit. Without that grace guarding his life he would not have survived to old age. Therefore, when David recognizes the presence of the Holy Spirit in his life and prays to the Lord for that presence to remain ever with him we can understand that his prayer is one of deep sincerity, appreciation and understanding. In fact, David shows an understanding of life with the Holy Spirit that few New Testament believers demonstrate even though this indwelling of the Holy Spirit is part of our inheritance through Jesus and part of our salvation package, part of the regeneration and renewal of our lives.

Salvation is a big thing. It is a process by which we are continually growing into the Father. Every day we can participate in this renewal by Christ and importantly we can celebrate these great gifts from the Father by acknowledging them through prayer and in thanksgiving. In Jesus we truly can experience the joy of salvation.

From Sling to King

1 Samuel 17: 45

Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted.”

Imagine being on the sidelines the day that David entered the battlefield against the giant, Goliath. As you look upon the mammoth Goliath not only would you be impressed by his towering physique but also his armor and weaponry which must have been quite impressive. He was armed with a sword, a spear and a javelin. I strongly suspect that all three were exquisite as far as weapons go. As if that was not enough, Goliath also had someone trailing him who carried his shield.

You turn your attention to the other end of the field where enters a youth, just a boy, who is clothed in shepherd’s garb. He has neither fancy armor nor fine weapons. Suspended from the cord tied around his waist you see a pouch and a sling; in his hand, a stick. In vain you continue to search for a viable opponent who will separate himself to fight Goliath. No, the only one moving forward is the boy.

The giant is insulted that Israel would send a runt armed with a stick to face the mighty Philistine warrior and so he hurls insults and taunts at the young defender of Israel’s pride. It is surprising, is it not, that King Saul and the strong, brave commanders of the Israelite army would even allow a young boy to face the champion of Philistia but no one other than the youth seems to respond to the insults of the Philistine. David boldly answered Goliath saying, “This day the Lord will deliver you up into my hands, and I will strike you down and remove your head from you” (v. 46). Goliath must have been amused and perhaps even the soldiers of Israel thought David’s statements ludicrous because no one was taking into account David’s real weapon. He declared it from the beginning mocking Goliath as he did so. “You,” he said, “come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts. ” 

More powerful than any weapon ever forged is the name of the Lord. More devastating even than modern armament is the glorious name of our Lord. David knew this. He wasn’t just hoping. His was not just an empty boast. He knew that our God is awesome and a mighty force who is always on our side and able to overcome any adversity. So convinced was this diminutive warrior that when Goliath drew up to the battle line he actually ran quickly to meet his adversary (v. 48). David was not afraid. Wow! He was bold, courageous and convinced of God’s potent assistance. So, I ask you, who really was the giant that day? I suggest that the little Israelite shepherd boy was a great giant of faith.

What are the giants in your life? Of what are you afraid? Are there things in your life that threaten to overcome you, even annihilate you? You need to take a page out of David’s book. There is a reason he would later write so many psalms about the Lord being a refuge and a strong tower and about trusting the Lord. He witnessed time and time again the saving power of our God. He proclaimed in the face of his adversary the outcome declaring boldly that God will win the day. His confession preceded his victory because he steadfastly believed in our God. 

I, therefore, encourage you today. The same God is standing beside you. You have as much right to the name of the Lord as did David. As a matter of fact, your covenant with the Almighty is actually better than David’s but he understood his and he relied on it. He became the greatest king of Israel, his throne enduring throughout eternity because he knew how to trust God. It wasn’t the rock that killed Goliath. It was faith in the name of our Lord. It was the mighty hand of the Lord that delivered Goliath into the David’s hands and God will do the same to your giants too. David was not focused on his might and his ability with a sling. Instead he relied on his God and he prevailed against overwhelming odds. You can too.