This joyful and reassuring post from Psalm 118 is a great reminder of God’s presence even in adversarial times. We can still trust in Him when the world is dark around us!
Today’s Bible post comes from Psalms, and is a tidy one-verse description of God’s eternal nature. Click to read!
Today’s post about prayer got some sizable edits, mainly for clarity’s sake, so it’s a lot easier to understand now. Take a (newish) look at Psalm 31 with me today!
Out of a section of psalms about being delivered from strife and oppression comes this verse, the refrain of Psalm 42 and 43. Though the speaker of this psalm is beset by enemies, he also knows where his hope should be placed–in God, the only One who has any power to save and protect. This refrain reminds him to keep his faith in God even when his very soul is disturbed and afraid.
As modern Christians, it’s tempting to think that once you’re saved, you should never have any doubts or problems again, that somehow Christians aren’t supposed to have times that try their faith. But the reality is that every Christian will face trials in their daily lives, and some of those trials are frightening, uncertain, and even dangerous. Fright, uncertainty, and danger do not exactly bolster our faith, especially not in a world that tells us we ought to be emotionally self-sufficient anyway and not “bother anyone” by talking about our troubles.
This verse, this refrain, shows us that even the most Godly of people (like the writers of this psalm) needed an occasional reminder–a reset button, if you will–that God was with them, that God had it all under control. To admit that you need God to still your worries and revive your faith does not mean you’ve lost your salvation; in fact, in that most humbling of moments, you are closer to God than ever, willing to trust Him completely. When we try to struggle on without God, we will inevitably falter, but when we “put our hope in God” in the scariest moments, we reset our faith and regain the serenity we need.
24 Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.
In this verse, the culmination of a buoyant psalm of praise to God, we see a final reminder: we Christians need to “be strong and take heart.”
Being strong, however, doesn’t mean never admitting our problems. Nor does it mean turning away from God and doing everything ourselves. In fact, “being strong” in God means looking pretty weak to the world–it means giving over control to God and relying on His strength, putting all our effort into faith that God will provide a way out of even the worst situations.
Once we become “strong” in this faith, then we will find it easier to “take heart”–to gain courage to face our life’s troubles, knowing that God is there with us riding out the storm. This verse reminds us that we can praise God and hope in Him because He is indeed capable to help us and faithful to do so (“mighty to save,” as the following song goes).
3 But you are a shield around me, O Lord; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head; 4 To the Lord I cry aloud, and he answers me from his holy hill.
Here, David speaks of God as a subject would speak of a king; this concept of the king “shielding” his people was common among the Israelites of the day, and appears many times in the Old Testament to describe God’s character. David’s words further paint God as a wise and benevolent ruler, whom he can depend upon for blessings and help. With God there, David can rest securely (as he writes in verses 5 and 6, not quoted here).
God does the same in our own lives–even when it feels like no one has our best interests in mind, or that the world is against us, God is our shield. Even if we pretend He’s not there and we’re doing this all on our own, God still provides us with opportunities and abilities we need. We can depend on God because, like the best of fathers, God wants His people to thrive and to have a strong relationship with Him. He has proven He is faithful to us, even if we cannot yet see the subtle glories He has bestowed on us.
12 Do not be far from me, my God;
come quickly, God, to help me.
This simple verse, couched within a psalm about trusting in God when old age comes and strength wanes, is a prayer that all Christians, new and established, young and old, can remember and repeat in times of trouble.
Ascribed to David because of the references to “enemies conspiring together” against the psalmist in verse 10, Psalm 71 is most especially about hope in God when the world has failed us. Though verse 12 seems desperate, as if the psalmist feels God is far away, the rest of the psalm expresses trust that no matter what happens, God will be there–God has been the “rock,” the “fortress,” the “hope” of the psalmist’s life before, and He will be again.
We, too, can call out to God with this same assurance, and God will be there. His rescue and help may not manifest in ways we expect, but it will always be perfectly timed, and the help we receive will always be enough to cover our needs. These were truths David knew firsthand from his earlier experiences, and they are truths we can still depend on today. Just ask anyone who has experienced God working in their lives!
Many, Lord my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us. None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare.
Here, David is praising God for doing great things (“wonders”) for the Israelite nation, as well as humanity itself. This declaration, however, comes in the midst of David’s plea for help that forms most of Psalm 40–but this is not counter-intuitive. In fact, because David knows that God has done great works before, he knows he can trust God to work wonders in his life even now; he knows God is who He says He is, and will give comfort and aid to the faithful.
We, too, have reason to praise God even when we are going through trials, as David did. Though God may not feel nearby, rest assured He is there–often, our own whirls of emotion and dark, despairing thoughts keep us from feeling His presence. The existence of trials in our lives does not mean God does not exist; He is greater than all problems and supports us through each one we face. If we were to try to “speak and tell of God’s deeds” in our lives, all the little things He takes care of for us each day, we, like David, would find them “too many to declare.” Yet they, too, are wonders, inexplicable except by the grace of God.
David’s Psalm 40, and this verse in particular, reminds us that even when we are in trouble, we can praise God for His greatness and providence, because He has proven over and over that He is able and willing to take care of us.
10 The Lord foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. 11 But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.
With words like “foil” and “thwart,” a casual reader may take this excerpt to mean that God spitefully strikes down our plans in favor of His own. That is definitively not the case. Our schemes and thoughts are merely flimsy and limited in scope; we simply are not God, Who is omniscient and omnipotent, all-knowing and almighty.
This is an alien idea, especially to our modern culture. We tend to give the most rewards to those who are self-sufficient, those who have ambition and drive; unfortunately, neither personal ambition and drive, when taken to extremes, allow much room for God. This is where many of us can get into trouble, because we begin to trust our own knowledge too much, and we leave God out of the planning of our lives.
These two verses serve as a reminder to us: keep God as Priority #1 when looking ahead to the future, and you will be placing your faith in Someone whose plans “stand firm forever.” Even as your world shakes around you, changing for the worse every day, you can still trust God and know that He ultimately has the best interests of the entire world in mind, because His plans are unshakable.
This is a comfort to us; we will not always have a life full of roses and sunshine, but God will be there when the storms come and the blossoms wilt, too, and His plans will carry us through.
1 Shout with joy to God, all the earth! 2 Sing the glory of his name; make his praise glorious! 3 Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds! So great is your power that your enemies cringe before you. 4 All the earth bows down to you; they sing praise to you, they sing the praises of your name.” 5 Come and see what God has done, how awesome his works in man’s behalf!
This psalm calls us all to praise God for the wonderful works He has done and continues to do. But it might surprise us to know just how many “wonderful works” God does in our lives every day–in fact, there are likely thousands of little miracles that happen to us each day, without us ever noticing.
I used to think that there were simply “happy coincidences” that led me to run into an old friend who’d been on my mind earlier, or which made me just a few minutes later leaving the house, and kept me from being in the path of a dangerous person. I have since come to realize that these “happy coincidences” are indeed God’s works, just as much as the “big miracles” of healing, rescue from peril, and grand opportunities. Every time we get behind the wheel and end up where we intend to go in one piece, that’s a little miracle, after all.
If we paused in our daily prayers long enough to praise God for all the miracles He does for us every day, we would never stop praising Him. Since I reconnected with God and realized how much He works for our benefit, I’ve taken to praising him when I narrowly avoid an accident on the highway, or when I hear from an old friend after a long time, as well as when someone at church is healed from major disease. His works are indeed “awesome”–we can’t comprehend how much God does for each one of us, and how perfectly He works everything out.
Praising God in this way, taking time to remember all the little things that went right as well as all the big prayer requests that were answered, has really bolstered my faith. I face life with a much more positive attitude than I used to–which, considering how much of a complainer I used to be, is saying something. Now, I still have worries and I still fret about things sometimes, but when I remember all the tiny details He’s already taken care of for me, how can I not trust Him to carry me through the big problems, too?