Psalm 67 - The Greater Purpose of God's Blessing

Written by: Tim Wood

May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine on us—2 so that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations. 3 May the peoples praise you, God; may all the peoples praise you.4 May the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you rule the peoples with equity and guide the nations of the earth. 5 May the peoples praise you, God; may all the peoples praise you. 6 The land yields its harvest; God, our God, blesses us. 7 May God bless us still, so that all the ends of the earth will fear him.

It is the nature of God to bless us. I love verse 6 of this Psalm, “God, our God, blesses us.”  However we need to understand that God’s purpose in blessing us is greater than we think. His ultimate goal encompasses far more than simply making us happy, peaceful, protected, and prosperous. In fact, it’s never the Lord’s intention for His blessings to end with us. Rather, He wants them to flow out to others as part of His plan for the whole earth.

The first two verses splice together two of the most important texts in the Hebrew Scripture: the Aaronic benediction (the benediction by Aaron) and the promise to Abraham. Aaron’s benediction is found in Numbers 6:22-23, “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you.” The other text verses 1 and 2 refer to is God’s promise to Abraham, because God said to Abraham, “I will bless you that you might be a blessing to all the nations on the face of the earth.” Look. It’s a splicing together of these two things: “May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us …” Why? “… That your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations.”

Here’s the principle. This is the fact: God never blesses you except that you might be a blessing to others. God never blesses you just to fill up your happiness tanks, so whenever you want you can go and dip out and have a drink. Rather, God blesses you to fill up the tank of the engine of your life, and fuel you, and compel you to go out into the world in sacrificial service. God’s blessing has to be shared or it spoils, like the Manna in the wilderness. The Lord blesses us so that His salvation, His ways, and His justice may be known by every nation and people group around the globe (verses 3-4 and 7). He’s always acting with this larger picture in mind—even while working personally in each believer’s life.

Knowing this should fill us with an awesome yet humbling sense of significance. Every Christian has a part in helping others know and understand the one true God. Each blessing that benefits us personally is also intended to help further His plans for the kingdom. On the other hand, we sometimes may not receive things we want because they don’t contribute to God’s higher purpose. But if we fit our requests into the Lord’s greater plans, we position ourselves to be used mightily by Him.

When your Father blesses you, He’s not only doing something for you; He’s also doing something in and through you to affect the lives of others. Don’t let the pleasures and comforts of His blessings blind you to their intended purpose. Ask the Lord how to use His kindnesses as a way to point people to Him.

Psalm 63:6-11 - Your identity in the desert

Written by: Tim Wood

Psalm 63: 6-11 - Your identity in the desert

 A psalm of David. When he was in the Desert of Judah.

 On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. 7 Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings.8 I cling to you; your right hand upholds me. 9 Those who want to kill me will be destroyed; they will go down to the depths of the earth. 10 They will be given over to the sword and become food for jackals.11 but the king will rejoice in God; all who swear by God will glory in him, while the mouths of liars will be silenced.

 David finds himself physically, emotionally and spiritually in the desert in this Psalm. It’s dry. It’s lonely. It’s confusing. Remarkably, he’s able to connect with God while he’s experiencing this dryness. He seeks God and praises God with all his heart.  In verse 1, he writes, “earnestly I seek you.”  The word earnestly can also be translated early.  When you couple that with verse 6, “On my bed I remember you” we see that David is seeking God early in the day and late at night.  What a lesson for us.  Start the day seeking God and end the day remembering Him. Think of Him all through the day. Be perceptive to seeing God’s hand throughout your day and remember Him when you go to bed.

In verse 11 we see the power of worshiping God when David writes, “But the king will rejoice in God.” This is astounding because David is seeing himself as God sees him. David is the God anointed king. Nothing in his life, at this time, would suggest he is a king, but that was God’s calling on his life.  Notice he doesn’t say, “I will rejoice in God” but he says, “The king will rejoice in God.”  The desert experience becomes a reaffirmation of his real identity. David isn’t letting his circumstances define him; he comes back to God’s calling on his life. That’s the power of worshiping God. Derek Kidner in his commentary on this Psalm writes, “David’s term for himself, ‘The king,’ is a clue to the meaning of the psalm. It is surely more than a synonym for ‘I’ or ‘me.’ Written from his banishment at the hands of Absalom, it becomes a reassertion of his calling. God made David a king…he called him as a king. And he comes back to that calling even though his life is falling apart.”  David is crushed, broken in spirit, confused in his mind, but he has a breakthrough by worshiping God. Oh, the power of worshiping God.

The same can happen for us. We can “sing in the shadow of God’s wings" even when our life seems to be falling apart.  Our souls were meant to “cling” to God (v.8).  Our souls are designed to stick with God no matter what. Seek Him. Praise Him. And watch Him restore your identity even when you’re in the desert!

Psalm 63: 3-5-Praising God in the desert

Written by: Tim Wood

A Psalm of David. When he was in the Desert of Judah

Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.      (Psalm 63:3-5)

Remember that David is the desert because of his son’s rebellion. He’s most likely confused and afraid. He’s probably filled with paranoia. So what does he do?  Last week we saw that he seeks the Lord’s glory and power.  This week we see that David begins to praise the Lord. Even in the middle of the desert we can praise the Lord, just like David.  What are the elements of praising God?

Valuing – (v.3) in verse 3 he’s moving from recalling the power and glory of God to valuing it. “Your love is better than life” “It’s better than life”.  He’s treasuring the Lord. David is not just saying something about God; he’s putting a value on God. For example; God’s power.  In verse 2 he says, “I beheld your power.” Valuing God’s power says, “Since you are powerful I don’t need to be afraid. You’re power is better than life.  In valuing the Lord he’s saying…Since you are powerful, why I am afraid? Why am I worried?  That’s better than my life. Because God loves me I don’t need to be ashamed or guilty. You’re love is better than life.  Part of praise is to appraise. I’m appraising the value of God’s character and when I do, He is better than life.

Expressing – (v. 4-5). David talks about glorifying God with his words. Singing praises and lifting his hands in his name.  When you treasure something, it creates a joy you can’t get at until you get it out, until you express it.  C. S. Lewis wrote, “The most obvious fact about praise had escaped me. I thought of praise as compliments and as approval. I had never noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise. The world rings with praise … lovers praising their mistresses, readers praising their favorite poet, walkers praising the countryside. But here’s what my mistake was. We delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise does not merely express but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliments that lovers keep telling each other how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it’s expressed. Fully to enjoy is to glorify, and so in commanding us to glorify him, God is simply inviting us to enjoy him.”

Being satisfied – (v.5) David’s soul is satisfied because he’s experiencing God, like tasting rich food. No one wipes chocolate on their arm and says, “Isn’t this good?” NO.  We taste it and enjoy it and it satisfies our whole being.

David praised God in the desert by valuing him – He’s better than life. By expressing his praise – he got at the joy of God by getting out the joy God. This lead to deep soul satisfaction in David’s life and it will do the same for us.

Lord, our soul finds satisfaction in worshiping you.

 

 

Psalm 63: Seeking God in the desert

Written by: Tim Wood

A psalm of David. When he was in the Desert of Judah.

1 You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land where there is no water.
2 I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.

The superscription informs us that David was in the desert of Judah when he wrote this psalm. It’s amazing that some of David’s best worship songs were written during the most difficult times in his life. He wrote this during his son’s rebellion (Absalom) against him and the kingdom (2 Samuel 15:23). David didn’t look back in regret at the mistakes he had made as a father, nor did he look around in fear or complaint about the desert. Instead he looked up to the LORD and reaffirmed his faith and love for Him.  We will look at the Psalm in sections. David is able to seek God in the desert and to praise God in the desert. How does David seek God in the desert?

David remembers his relationship with God. He sings, “God, you are my God.” He remembers he is in a covenant relationship with God. God isn’t “a” God or “the” God; but God is “my” God. This intimate relationship is what characterizes our covenant relationship with God. “I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God” (Exodus 6:7); “I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people” (Lev. 26:12). David thirsted for God. Being in the desert, he no doubt experienced physical thirst. But his spiritual thirst was more intense. His whole being is thirsting for the living God.  Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled” (Matthew 5:6). When we thirst for God he will fill us.

David seeks God earnestly. This means that David sought the LORD with diligence and passion. He wasn’t going to give up on seeking the LORD in his life. The Hebrew word of earnest is also translated “early” in some versions. I believe there are many layers to seeking God early. Seek God early in the day. The best way to start the day is to seek God. Seek God early in a difficult time. David is seeking God early in his desert experience. Don’t wait and see if it gets better. As soon as you face a difficulty seek God, seek His presence, and seek his counsel and wisdom. Be earnest and early in seeking the LORD.

David remembers God’s power and glory in the desert (verse 2). He recalls the “sanctuary” of God. David couldn’t enter that place because he wasn’t a Levite but he had seen the power and glory of God in that place and he is recalling it in his life. What a great reminder for us. Recall the power and glory of God in your life.  The power and glory of God can happen in a church worship experience or in a private worship experience. I’ll never forget how strong and real I felt the presence of God in a Promise Keepers Pastor’s Conference in Atlanta, Ga. God was so near me I was able to completely receive his grace and forgiveness. That was over 25 years ago but I can still recall it and know that God will strengthen me with his power and glory through any desert in my life.

Anyone at anytime can wake up in the morning and feel like you are in a desert. David, in Psalm 63 tells us what to do. Tell God that He is your God. You are in a covenant relationship with him. Say it to Him, “God, you are my God.” If you are in the desert today know this: what you’re thirsty for is God. He’s your living water. He’s your oasis. Say it to Him, “God, you are my water, I thirst for you.” Seek God earnestly. Seek God early. Recollect his power and glory in your life. You don’t have to be in a “sanctuary” to experience God’s power and glory. You can experience it in the desert. Just like David did.

 

Psalm 57 - Turning a cave into a chapel

Written by: Tim Wood

For the director of music. To the tune of “Do Not Destroy.” Of David. A miktam. When he had fled from Saul into the cave.

1 Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me, for in you I take refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed. 2 I cry out to God Most High, to God, who vindicates me. 3 He sends from heaven and saves me, rebuking those who hotly pursue me— God sends forth his love and his faithfulness. 4 I am in the midst of lions; I am forced to dwell among ravenous beasts—men whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords. 5 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth. 6 They spread a net for my feet—I was bowed down in distress. They dug a pit in my path—but they have fallen into it themselves.7 My heart, O God, is steadfast, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and make music.8 Awake, my soul! Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn. 9 I will praise you, Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. 10 For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. 11 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth.

 David is running for his life again. The superscription tells us he is running from Saul and hiding in a cave. Caves were familiar territory for David. This cave was most likely the cave of Addulam (1 Samuel 22:1 ff). He also hid in a cave at En Gedi (1 Samuel 24).  Someone wrote, “It’s better to be in a cave under God’s protection than in a palace outside the will of God.” I agree.  David knew how to turn his negative physical experiences into positive spiritual experiences. David knew how to turn a cave into a chapel. This psalm shows us how David prays his way to praise.

First, David acknowledged that God was his ultimate refuge. In verse one David prays, “For in you I take refuge.” David knew that God was his protector, his security, his shelter in the time of storm. God would be David’s provider of strength and help and David acknowledged that truth.

Second, David claims the promise of God. In verse two he prays, “to God, who vindicates me.”  The word for vindicate means to bring to an end. In the King James Version it’s translated “perform”.  God will perform all things for me. In the New American Standard the translation is accomplishes. God will accomplish all things for me. David knows that God will bring his trial to an end for the glory of God. This reminds me of the great promise of God in Philippians 1:6, “Being confident of this, that He who began the good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Third, David expects God to give him victory. In verse three David know that God will send his love and faithfulness. Points two and three go hand in hand. Not only did David claim the promise of God, he expected the promise of God to happen.  “My soul waits silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him” (Psalm 62:5 NKJV).

Fourth, David fixed his attention on God. In verse seven, “My heart, O God, is steadfast, my heart is steadfast.” Some translations read “fixed” rather than steadfast. A steadfast heart is intentionally fixed upon God and his goodness. A steadfast heart is fixed on things above and not on things of earth. A steadfast heart is fixed on the blessings that we have in heavenly places because of Jesus Christ. David attached himself to the power of God in his life and it made a difference in the cave.

Lastly, David erupts in praise to God. “Awake my soul”, he prays in verse eight.  In verse nine he praises God for his great love and faithfulness. “Be exalted, O God above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth” (verse 11).

Whatever is going on in your life today, you can turn it into a chapel. God is your refuge. Claim and expect the promise of God. Intentionally fix your attention on God and praise him. Praising God unlocks all of heaven for you. God inhabits the praises of His people. Turn your cave into a chapel today!