The need most desperate – Psalm 63

What is it you really, really want? For the teenager sitting an exam, it’s to pass. For the lonely, it’s someone to share life with. Some needs are desperate. But one of our most pressing requirements for life itself, is water. In the UK, we are rarely more than an hour away from a tap; we have no idea of the urgent, burning, desperate need experienced by the truly thirsty, “in a dry and weary land where there is no water”, as described in Psalm 63.

David, the psalmist, had spent time in the wilderness. He knew the searing sensation of what it was like not to have access to this vital commodity. And that was how desperately he wanted God’s presence.

Those of us who live in the relative luxury of comfortable western civilisation, have little idea of what it is to truly ‘need’. Maybe that is why we don’t long for God either, with that deep, desperate longing that David had. I’m praying that God puts that thirst, that hunger, that desperate need within me, for his presence. Because I know that when I do, “my soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods.” 

I’ve had glimpses of times, when I “think of him through the watches of the night”, knowing his help, “singing in the shadow of his wings.” But so far, they’ve only been a taster.

I want more, please Lord!

Psalm 63

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Rest for the weary – Psalm 62

Exhausted beyond coping. Bone weary. Wondering if I can make it up the stairs one more time. Many of us go through periods of life feeling like that, either through illness, or having to care for someone, or from too many demands. I remember clearly one phase giving 24 hour care unabating, week in, week out. Feeling that total drain, putting one foot in front of the other.

Then I would stop, and call out to God. Just wait there, until his strength came. And come it did. Every time. I would feel that sense of his presence like at no other time in my life: lifting, supporting, enabling. Then I’d go on, and climb those stairs again.

Choosing a case for my phone, the words from the beginning of Psalm 62 spoke out clearly. Great to have these words close by me, reminding me that when the going gets tough, the Word remains true. Thank you Lord!

This psalm speaks, too, of another sort of rest – freedom from fear. Verses 11 and 12 are so encouraging. God is big enough to deal with anything. He loves me, and knows where I’m at. He can sort it. Rest – it’s OK.

Psalm 62

Psalm 62

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Don’t wait for trouble – Psalm 61

When a plane is about to crash, there aren’t many atheists on board. There are times in life, when it is instinctive to cry out to God.

In difficult times, we will either turn to God and improve our prayer life, or turn away and blame him for our misfortunes. But in times of full-on disaster there’s no time for ambivalence. When we know God is our only hope, it’s natural to run to him and discover his loving arms waiting for us.

This is where David was in Psalm 61. What comfort seeking refuge in the ‘Rock that is higher than I’. How grateful that he had been brought up in a culture that introduced him to such a loving God. How earnest that he might use the rest of his appointed days to praise and serve the One who loved and protected him.

Being in a place of utmost danger is a wake-up call that makes you realise these things. But why wait for that? Right now, problems or not, we can enjoy the refuge and shelter from the harsher aspects of life he provides us with; we can bask in the warmth of his love and protection; we can revel in worshipping the One who has done so much for us. Don’t wait for trouble; don’t waste a minute.Psalm 61

 

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Don’t go it alone – Psalm 60

I was recently given a photo of myself when I was a tiny person. So cute! And as I look back over the years since that shot was taken, I am amazed at all the things I have learned and accomplished in the intervening years. Not that I’ve done anything that extraordinary, but that all that potential was stored up in that little me, growing and developing into the person that I have become.

In Psalm 60, David was reflecting on the damage that his nation had suffered;  because they had not obeyed God they had lost his protection and got themselves into a mighty mess. But David recognised that with God, there is always a way back. If we stay in the mess, it’s our own choice. God always loves us, and is always willing to help us back – but he will not accompany us if we insist on living life wrong.

God had helped them to defeat the Canaanites against huge odds, when they were just a small group of people. Now they had a fully fledged, powerful army – but for all that, they still needed God on their side. Natural ability is great, but far from everything we need.

It reminded me of 1 Corinthians 13 passage about love – I might be the most gifted person on earth, but without love, I am nothing. And God is love. No matter how clever I am, or how powerful I have become, regardless of anything I have achieved, if I don’t do it with God, it’s nothing.

If you want your life to count for something, invite God into everything you do. Don’t hold him at arm’s length, or ignore his ways. “With God, we shall gain the victory.” Don’t try going it alone, however good you think you are.Psalm 60:1Psalm 60:1-12

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When fear bites – Psalm 59

In the last post before one Christmas,  a disturbing official letter arrived, which suggested that I had claimed a benefit illegally. There wasn’t a shred of truth in it, but that didn’t make it any less upsetting. I couldn’t get in touch with anyone to deal with it as all the offices were then closed for the whole holiday period. When I finally managed to speak to someone in January, the issue was quickly and easily cleared up. I asked for the name of the office manager, and wrote them a very stiff letter, expressing how much I had been affected by their erroneous action Eventually I did receive a wholehearted apology, with assurances they were changing their policy with regards to sending out such letters just before an office closure.

But why did I lose sleep over a false accusation? I knew it was totally unfounded and easily refuted, yet it bothered me a lot.

David was in a very difficult and dangerous situation in the story you can read in 1 Samuel 19:11-16,  and it was only through his wife’s quick thinking that he survived. But here in Psalm 59, we have David’s personal thoughts and feelings in that time. We can track his anxiety, fear, pleading with God, anger, and eventual trust as he worked his way through his emotional turbulence.

My situation was nothing to compare, but it did cause anxiety. If David, in his dangerous and vulnerable predicament could work his way through into trusting God, how much more should I, in the everyday issues of my life’s turbulence? David knew God was his strength and fortress, his refuge in times of trouble because of past experience. God had proven himself trustworthy.

As we go through life, there may be times we don’t feel God is coming through for us. But the end of a chapter is not the end of the book, and we haven’t yet seen how our story ends yet. David was not yet in a place of safety when he chose to trust. And we do know his story ended well.

God is faithful. He makes all things beautiful in his time.

Psalm 59:1-9Psalm 59:9-17

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We want justice! – Psalm 58

My family wasn’t wealthy. My mum made all our clothes, and I thought it wasn’t at all fair, that as the 3rd daughter, I had so many hand-me-down clothes. My friend across the road was an only child, and she had all new, bought-from-a-shop clothes. Not fair at all! Now, as an adult looking back, I can see that I had the best deal – parents who worked hard and valued education for girls, and lots of happy, secure, family fun.

Across our world, there are so many injustices. Not kids’ stuff, like having to suffer the indignity of second-hand clothes, but oppression, not having enough to eat, little or no education, not having any opportunities to improve… And when one’s own government is doing the oppressing, when justice cannot be obtained, it leads people into bitterness and rebellion.

As Christians, we have the most powerful weapon against such injustice – the power of prayer – if we apply it consistently and accurately, with the help of the Holy Spirit. This is the message of Psalm 58, that injustice is a profoundly evil thing, but that God is still on the throne. He is the ultimate judge, and will bring in the rule of righteousness. In the meantime, let us not neglect to pray for those in our world who are facing overwhelmingly difficult times.

I’m praying too, that we might be  ‘grown-up’ in our perspectives – not moaning about tiny first-world problems, but actively aware of those in our world who need powerful overcoming prayer, in the name of the One who is called “Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end”. (Isaiah 9:6-7) That’s what our world needs. Let’s pray it in.

Psalm 58:1-11Psalm 58:11

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Rules of self-defence – Psalm 57

One of the first rules of self-defence, is – Don’t be a victim. Walking confidently and not looking people in the eye, means they are less likely to pick on you. Easier to say than do, but worth practising when you are feeling a bit vulnerable.

In Psalm 57, David was feeling very vulnerable. He reminded himself that God was his protection. He didn’t look at the problem, he didn’t look at his attackers, he focused on God, and reminded himself that no assailant could get past this mighty defender.

Then he operated another strange ‘rule’ – the power of praise. In that bleakest of situations, he worshipped God, he exalted God, he sang and played to the glory of God. That didn’t stop him experiencing the odd wobbler in the middle of it (v6); David was human just like us. But then he got his eyes right back on God. No victim mentality. He knew he could live on to proclaim the wonder and majesty of Almighty God.

Life can throw us many challenges, some life-threatening, some peace-threatening. At those times, remember God is in the room. Walk tall and worship.

Psalm 57:1 Psalm 57:1-11

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