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Relief Rescues the Righteous

Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have given me relief when I was in distress. Be gracious to me and hear my prayer! O men, how long shall my honor be turned into shame? How long will you love vain words and seek after lies? Selah But know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself; the Lord hears when I call to him. Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the Lord. There are many who say, “Who will show us some good? Lift up the light of your face upon us, O Lord!” You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound. In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. Psalm 4:1-8 ESV

The Lord’s mercy answers our desperate cries with unhindered sanctified joy.  David goes to the Holy Judge first even when it is ultimately against men that he files his complaint.  In the middle of a raging battle, he receives peace. [i] When we are in distress, there is only One that can completely understand our hearts.  It is the same One who alone has the power to change the hearts of others.

David goes to the Lord when he is in anguish, even though it is men who are the cause of his distress.  The king of Israel goes to the King of kings in prayer with humility yet boldness and calming trust. David’s confidence is not in himself or an army of men, but in the covenant relationship, he has with the LORD, and His steadfast love.  David knew God intimately for he had seen His past faithfulness.  In Him, we can rest in safety even while the adversary wages war to devour us.  David found security and rest because God reigned supreme.[ii]  Then, after he brings his case to God, he pleads with men.  Spurgeon urges us to do likewise, “Surely we should all speak the more boldly to men if we had more constant converse with God. He who dares to face his Maker will not tremble before the sons of men.”[iii]

When David addresses his adversaries, he exhorts them onto repentance.  David pleads for them to come to the Lord and put away their anger and bitterness.  Is this how we  respond when people oppose us for righteousness?  To do so is a demonstration of genuine humility.  When others persecute us for Christ sake, we can’t focus on the wrong against us, but recognize it is a greater opposition toward the Lord.  We should not take offenses personal but seek to lead our enemies to reconciliation with God.  David has a clear conscience.  We too must diligently come against sin in confession and repentance to cleanse our conscience and find rest for our souls.  The Lord is the one who bestows or withdraws favor and allows persecution to refine us.  Moreover, David knew He was in God’s will and could with confidence, say, “The Lord sets apart the godly for himself.”  Can we also say that to oppose us is to go against God?

Abba, Father, You are near when we call, may those around us, even our enemies, stand reverently silenced to see Your mighty hand of deliverance during the trials and persecutions in our lives, and turn to you for salvation.  May your name in us ever be praised.

[i] Varner, Will.  Awake O Harp.  (Crossway, 2001), 18.

[ii] Lawson, Steve.  Holman Old Testament Commentary: Psalms 1-75. (Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 33.

[iii] Spurgeon, Charles.  “Charles A. Spurgeon’s A Treasury of David.” https://www.christianity.com/bible/commentary.php?com=spur&b=19&c=4.  (Accessed 5/30/19).

Finding Sweet Sleep during the Hour of Terror

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I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me. I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around. Arise, O Lord! Save me, O my God! For you strike all my enemies on the cheek; you break the teeth of the wicked. Salvation belongs to the Lord; your blessing be on your people! Selah Psalm 3:5-8 ESV

The first line of this Psalm initially sounded humorous as I pened the blog after laying awake till 3A.M, “I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me.” Usually, if I’m struggling to sleep (which is rare), I start to pray from bed and drift off, but my ears kept sharply attuned to every creak of the walls and hung to each sound in the neighborhood. My mind kept racing through the night. Our water heater had just broken so I even went outside to check on it. Relived that it had not somehow caught on fire as the gas company warned, I came back and tried to get some rest. Next, Nathan woke up having had a bad dream and wanted to sleep with me. Now both of us lay awake tossing and turning and the clock kept ticking Silently, I asked God what He would have me do. The thought of blogging came to mind. Then, my computer started making loud noises so I thought, “Well if you want me to write I can’t do it with Nathan in the room.” Seconds later Nathan tells me he’s scared of my room—for the first time—ever! I ask if he wants to go back upstairs to his room and he submissively obliges.  That was what God used to encourage me to write and I pray that He uses it to edify and encourage the saints for His glory.

We pick up the Psalms in chapter three verse four and David is being chased for his life by his own son and thousands of others that were supposed to be on his side. The text doesn’t say how long since he had slept, but the fact that he appreciates his ability to sleep suggest he had previously struggled to give rest to his eyes in fear of being overtaken at night. From 2 Samuel 15-16, we learn that David fled barefoot and weeping. He has been humiliated and overcome by sorrow. He now boldly rests in God’s strength. However, the situation has not changed, “I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around.” His son is still trying to kill him while he leads a revolt against his kingdom. I imagine his heart must have hurt knowing his own sin precipitated violence in his house to some degree. Yet, His hope was in God’s steadfast love. “Even the believer who suffers from wrong choices in his past, God causes all things to work together for the good for those who love him (Rom. 8:28)” (Dr. Lawson, Psalms 1-75, p. 31-32) Futhermore, David’s son was not only rebelling against him as an earthly father and king but railing against the King of kings—God himself.

As a mom, my most earnest prayer for my children is for them to come to faith in the only one who can save them from their sin— Christ. Even after watching my beloved suffer until he drew his last breath, some of the hardest times of heartache in the past have been times of despair over the spiritual state of my children. See, I know without a doubt that my husband is in heaven. David came to a place where he knew without a doubt that God would deliver him. In verse seven he does not question but proclaims, “Arise, O Lord! Save me, O my God! For you strike all my enemies on the cheek; you break the teeth of the wicked.” It also appears that David also got to a place where he longed to see God’s will before his own. Even though David may not have seen how his recent situation would work out for good not how we would get out of it, he trusted in God fully for salvation. The psalm closes with, “Salvation belongs to the Lord; your blessing be on your people! Selah” Thus, we too have trust in Him alone for salvation. When we lay down at night we don’t have to be overtaken by fear—we can lay our anxieties to rest upon our Savior! “There may be no way of escape; they may hem me in as the deer are surrounded by a circle of hunters; they may surround me on every side, but in the name of God I will dash through them; or, if I remain in the midst of them, yet shall they not hurt me; I shall be free in my very prison.” (Spurgeon, Treasury of David)

O God, in this life may our hearts ever be contrite like David’s in this psalm, that we never tire of crying out to you alone for salvation, in the small and big battles, and grant us the same degree of faith to match our pleas.

God’s Kingdom Beauty

“Listen, O daughter, give attention and incline your ear: Forget your people and your father’s house; Then the King will desire your beauty. Because He is your Lord, bow down to Him. The daughter of Tyre will come with a gift; The rich among the people will seek your favor. The King’s daughter is all glorious within; Her clothing is interwoven with gold. She will be led to the King in embroidered work; The virgins, her companions who follow her, Will be brought to You. They will be led forth with gladness and rejoicing; They will enter into the King’s palace. In place of your fathers will be your sons; You shall make them princes in all the earth. I will cause Your name to be remembered in all generations; Therefore the peoples will give You thanks forever and ever.” Psalm 45:10-17 NASB

How many times have you been disappointed in something you were so excited about, only to find it not turn out as dreamed? In this life, we will be utterly disappointed without God.  The unquenchable thirst deep in our souls is not for just the mere physical but for the eternal.  This is what we have to look forward to in the new heaven and the new earth.

God gives us a sweet foretaste of heaven’s bliss is in the portrait that marriage represents the church’s future union with Christ as our bridegroom.  We can admire its glory whether we are married or not.  We can honor the marriages of our friends and look for Christ to be exalted in them.  We should rejoice with them rather than envy them.  Marriage is not the end—it is simply a means of grace that is meant to point to our eternal redemption.  As a young single who has been blessed with a beautiful Christ-centered marriage in the past, I can say that marriage is wonderful and worthy to be desired.  Yet, it falls short.  According to WISER National Resource Center by age 65 nearly half of all woman become widows.  The fact that marriage ends is one way it pales in comparison with our union with Christ which is forever.

In this Psalm God teaches us, through the parable of a wedding, to draw our affections for His return.  First, the psalmist shows us the surpassing majesty of our King.  Then, we see the only fitting response of our anticipation to be wed to Him is to forsake all others, radiate His splendor, and cause His name to be remembered.

We should longingly await the return of our beloved King and think upon the day when we partake in the marriage supper of the lamb.  As we wait and get excited for the day to draw near, what can we do make ourselves ready?  A bride does much to prepare herself for the big wedding day.  In this text, the royal bride needs to attend to one important matter of first importance. The psalmist makes it clear by repeatedly trying to get our attention with the words, “listen,” “give attention,” and “incline your ear.”  He reveals what will make the stately groom desire our beauty… forsaking our earthly ties.  He asks the bride to leave her people and her own father to cleave to her husband-to-be.  The Davidic King was marrying a foreign princess.  Regardless of where she was from, she needed to leave her country and follow God’s people just like Ruth, and Rahab.  It connotes the idea of repentance from a past life of alienation from God, to be given entirely to Him—leaving everything behind.  It is the essence of saving faith.  “Our beauty does not consist in own virtues or even the gifts we have received from God, by which we exercise our virtues and do everything that pertains to the life of the law.  It consists in this: if we apprehend Christ and believe in him, we are truly lovely, and Christ looks at that beauty alone and nothing besides.” Martin Luther

Forsaking all others and clinging to Jesus, we can focus intently on our betrothed.  As we meditate on the fact that He sacrificed His body on a cross and forsook his deity and divine privileges to win us as a bride onto Himself, we will be smitten.  With His love in our hearts, we radiate His splendor in the sparkle of our eyes.  We will have enthusiasm for a life surrender to His will.  We will gleam smiles of joy and thankfulness for His finished work on the cross.  With our lips, we will praise His name and tell of what He has done for us.

In the end, preoccupation in preparation for heaven causes His name is remembered on earth.  The same woman that left her father, will have sons in their place and they will bear the King’s name.  As mothers, we have the privilege of passing on the invaluable treasure of Christ to our children that they may declare His glory and praise to another generation.  As woman entrusted with the gospel, we can be winsome and make disciples of other ladies that will likewise entice more followers of Christ to bring about His kingdom.

Majestic King, we are left in utter awe at the thought of being your blood-bought bride.  Lord, we don’t deserve Your affections for we often soak in the mud of our folly.  Please have mercy on us, cleanse us by your word, and grant to us the wisdom to surrender all our earthly loves for a greater radiance of basking in Your glories to come.  O, come quickly Lord Jesus!

A Love Poem for You & Me

“You are the most handsome of the sons of men; grace is poured upon your lips; therefore God has blessed you forever.  Gird your sword on your thigh, O mighty one, in Your splendor and majesty! In your majesty ride out victoriously for the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness; let your right hand teach awesome deeds! Your arrows are sharp in the heart of the king’s enemies; the peoples fall under you.  Your throne, O God, is forever and ever.  The scepter of your kingdom us a scepter of uprightness; you have loved righteousness and hated wickedness.  Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions; your robes are all fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia. ”  Psalm 45:2-8 ESV

My first Valentine’s Day as a Christian I prayed to God for a date with a godly man.  The day approached with no suitors.  I ended up riding a trolley in San Diego alone.   My heart uttered a simple and honest cry, “God please show me how much you love me.”  My Beloved answered me with an overwhelming affirmation of His great love.  I was on my way back from the mall when I met a girl with a Forever 21 shopping bag.  I started a conversation and pointed to the Bible reference on the bottom of the bag, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16.   God’s presence filled my thirsty soul when I got to share the gospel with her.  I remember having so much joy on the ride home that I was moved to tears.  I praised God for a date with my Savior and His abounding love in giving up His Son for the forgiveness of my sins.

Four years later, God answered my prayer not just a date but for marriage.  The day after Valentine’s Day I married an amazing man of God named Josh.  He was the second greatest gift I received from the Lord, after my salvation.  The Lord gave, so my soul praised God.  Four years after that, God took Josh home to heaven from a rare genetic disease we had no idea about.  The Lord took away, and my soul still praised God.  His faithfulness supplies the grace to praise His name in any circumstance we find ourselves in this Valentine’s Day.

When our hearts long for a sweeter intimacy and a satisfying love may our Heavenly Father comfort our souls with His promises.  This psalm reflects of the beauty of marriage, likely a royal wedding of the Davidic lineage.  This first time I read it anew it caused a deep sense of sorrow for the loss of that blessed union I had with my husband.  Then, the Holy Spirit showed me that Christ is my all-sufficient betrothed, and opened my eyes to see Him in this love song.  Who is enthroned forever and ever? None other than the Lord Jesus Christ.

Christ is more attractive than any other of the sons of men.  Even Solomon in all his wisdom and splendor was merely a man.  Therefore this psalm does not only refer to any earthly king.  No matter the name of the celebrity or model—no human figure can top the beauty of this King. “So Christ should not be depicted with gall or a sword in his mouth, as they always portray him, unless it is to be understood spiritually.  He should be depicted in such a way that his lips seem to be pure sugar or honey.” (Martin Luther, Lecture on Psalm 45)

God bestowed an eternal blessing and anointed this King forever.  Furthermore, He is clothed in righteousness.  The divine Messiah is the only one who is completely pure in righteousness.  All of us are sinners.  When two sinners come together in marriage, it is sanctifying because we see our selfish tendencies all the more, and then beget more sinners that draw it out of us.  However, our heavenly bridegroom is perfect in holiness and so patient with our grievances.  And He is adorning His bride with that same holiness through His Spirit and the Word.  There is amazing joy at the thought of the church’s union with Christ, and it’s consummation in heavenly glory.

King of kings, my Beloved, You are more radiant than any man made of mere flesh and blood, in Your arms are the most blessedness found—convince us of Your love, and woo us with Your kindness we pray this day.

Salvation Comes from God Alone

O Lord, how many are my foes!  Many are rising against me; many are saying of my soul, “There is no salvation for him in God.” Selah  

But you, O Lord, you are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.  I cried aloud to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah

 Psalm 3:1-4 ESV

Have you fought a battle where the odds seem to be against you? Josh fought a war against cancer.  His body was brutally overcome by it, but his soul persevered to glory.  Soon after his death, someone close to my heart told me to stop praying to God since He didn’t keep Josh alive.  “There is no salvation for him in God.”  These were the same mocking words David heard during a desperate time when he needed to be encouraged in his faith.  He would have to find solace from God alone as he poured his raw emotions to the Lord in prayer.

David opens the psalm with an exclamation mark, which should draw us to feel his intense desperation.  We get a picture of him surrounded by enemies on all sides, and the opposition growing steadily.  He insists we take notice of just how many by his repetition of the word.  The fearless leader of an evil rebellion opposing his rightful authority is not from a foreign army but from within his people. The war is not from afar—it hit close to home. It came from his own house. We can verbally hear the mockery from others.  William S. Plumer in his commentary suggests the ones mocking him were David’s supposed friends.  The cruse is not just hurled at his poor soul, but at God himself and His people.  The distress would be insurmountable by human strength.  Pause and think about being in a situation like that…

The words “But you, O Lord” break the silence.  David turns to behold the Lord.  We get a picture of the king of Israel humbly broken to tears, bowed before the Lord who is lifted high above the heavens.  David does not see the Lord as far off but sitting on His glorious throne hearing His child’s cries.  Thus, he was sure of his deliverance.  “Faith is a living, daring confidence in God’s grace, so sure and certain, that a man could strike his life on it a thousand times.” Martin Luther

I wonder in amazement at David’s confidence.  Especially since the unraveling of his kingdom was at least in part of his own doing, as a consequence of his sin with Beersheba.  His confidence did not come in himself.  His faith was on God alone for his salvation.  It was not based on his own power, but on his position before God.  David heroically trusted hinged on the Lord choosing him to be His anointed.  His position anchors his faith to pray with boldness. “…he trusted God to restore his crumbling life and grant deliverance in the midst of his humbling experience.  Confidently, he claimed that the Lord would lift his head with courage and peace that only God could provide (Ps 9:13).” (Dr. Steve Lawson) If we walk by faith in Christ, we too, can have full confidence that the Lord will lift our head with joy.  He may not deliver us in this life, but ultimate deliverance will one day be won for His people.

Kiss the Son

27770168-7894-4bec-9980-e5124c3243b2“‘I will tell of the decree: The Lord said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.” Psalm 2:7-12 ESV

A father with his new baby is the sweetest thing to watch. Josh was present at the birth of our youngest son. He cried the minute Nathan entered our world. There was a gleam in his eyes.  If I could read his mind, it would probably be filled with all that he wanted to give his son. The first order of business was to give him a bath. However, Josh would have provided anything for his beloved children. It makes me wonder how much more a Heavenly Father would want to give to His divine Son. Not only is God merely desirous to give His Son whatever He asks, God is also able to grant any request. Josh was just a man plagued with his mortality. Although his heart was to give our son all his love for all his days, he was sadly unable to do so for long.

God the Father is all-powerful and everlasting. His supreme authority points us to the loftiness of His Son—the anticipated Messiah. The Father is capable of giving His Son all the nations of the world for all eternity. Ultimately, redemption from His enemies will be gloriously given to Christ along with the title deed to the earth. “Here he declares that his very enemies are his inheritance. To their face, he declares this decree, and ‘Lo! here,’ cries the Anointed One, as he holds aloft in that once pierced hand the scepter of his power, ‘He hath given me this, not only the right to be a king, but the power to conquer.’” Charles H. Spurgeon’s Treasury of David.

Before pride swells up and we, like the Pharisees, think we Jesus comes to right all our wrongs and set our enemies straight, let us remember where we come from, and make sure of where we are heading. Who are Jesus’ enemies that will be dashed to pieces? We are. Without God’s choosing to take us from the kingdom of darkness into His kingdom of light, we are doomed. We are not natural born heirs like Jesus. We first stand as his enemies, deserving death and torment for our rebellion. Jesus died for us while we were yet sinners (Romans 5:8.) You and I must kiss the Son to be pardoned freely. He has every right to be angry at us.  Even toward us who have been saved if we trample the Son of God and take lightly His blood shed with our persistent sin (Hebrews 10:29.)

Our whole-hearted adoration is the only acceptable response. When we are tempted to abandon ship due to the weight of our problems, may we repent of our unbelief. Let us hold fast to Jesus as our refuge. When life seems full of scars and raging wars, he is our healing resting place. When our circumstances are utterly contrary to our hearts deepest longings, we can look beyond it, to a satisfying reward—Christ himself. All who find Him to be our consolation are promised a blessing in this passage. Friend, I pray we would not harden our hearts, but serve Him with fear and rejoicing.

Why the World Hates Christians

“Why do the nations rage and the peoples’ plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.” Psalm 2:1-6 ESV

All around us people reject God, and actually do everything in their power to come against all He stands for, and all that stand for Him. The world scoffs at Christians because they scoff at Jesus. “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.’” John 15:19-20a.

Followers of Christ will not be left in shame at the coming of our glorious King.  One out one person will die.  Every day we get older and closer to the day we breathe our last.  Those who do not follow Christ, follow Satan headlong to the peril of death in hell.  God reaches His mighty hand and calls us to repent from the rebellion that mankind ensued even since the day Adam and Eve sinned.  Whoever doesn’t heed this warning, rejects God who not only is Creator but even Himself died that we would be free of our own unraveling.  If you are scoffing at him and there will be a day that He will scoff at you.  If you have trusted in Jesus as your Savior there will come a day when you will no longer be the object of contempt of ridicule… We will be joyful subjects of the glorious King. We get to hail Him and take part in His heavenly Kingdom.

As children of God, we don’t fear shouting our Father’s praises no matter how much the world tried to silence our song.  Christians are told to keep their faith to themselves.  We are being pressured to keep our religion in our hearts, our homes, and our pews.  No matter where God leads, we have a story to tell of our redemption and God’s work in our lives.  Even amidst the walls of a hospital at the end of our lives, or at the end of ourselves, believers can boldly proclaim Christ and look forward to our heavenly reward.  We were at one time walking in darkness, like the rest of the world—headed for hell! God saved us and he’s coming soon.  He is on His way! How could we possibly keep this a secret?! God has done, is doing, and will continue to do wonderful things through His people.  May we be excited to see His providences with eyes of faith, and to tell of them to all around us!