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Posts Tagged ‘Psalms’

Psalms – An Introduction

The name of the book of Psalms in Hebrew means “Praises” or “Book of Praises.” Those credited with writing the Psalms are David, 73; Moses, 1 (90th); Solomon, 2; Sons of Korah, 11; Asaph, 12, Heman, 1 (88th); Ethan, 1 (89th); Hezekiah, 10. (J. Vernon McGee, Outline of Psalms)

“The collection of 150 individual psalms is organized into five books. Psalms is not a continuous, chronologically arranged story like we find in the historical books. Unlike prophecy, Psalms has no continuing message developed chronologically or thematically. And unlike epistles (letter), Psalms has no continuous unifying teaching or train of thought throughout the book. The book is an anthology–a collection of 150 different prayers, praises, or songs.

Each psalm is a unit of expression, composed during a moment of need or desire. Each has a unique purpose, although many can be grouped in categories, like the psalms of ascents.

As you study the psalms, remember that they are poems. Hebrew poetry does not contain rhyme and meter like much English poetry. Instead, Hebrew poetry’s distinctive feature is parallelism of some form–one line relates to another in various ways. Usually the poetic lines are composed of two (sometimes three) segments in which the second segment repeats, contrasts, or completes the first. Psalms vary in design. Some are acrostics, with each verse or stanza beginning with the next letter from the Hebrew alphabet. (Praising God through Prayer and Worship, Kay Arthur, Pete DeLacy, Harvest House 2008)

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Here’s a great post written by a friend of mine from high school.  It offers encouragement to those who are facing difficult circumstances.

The Ultimate Rescue Operation

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One of the purposes of this blog is to provide accurate information about the Bible in an easy-to-understand format.

The following are links to the posts in the  Bible Basics – Old Testament Overview series:

Bible Basics (Part 1)

Bible Basics (Part 2)

Bible Basics (Part 3)

Bible Basics (Part 4)

Bible Basics (Part 5)

Bible Basics (Part 6)

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David tells us of his relationship with the LORD, I sought the LORD, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.  Psalm 34:4.  The things we learn about God from this verse are

  • God hears
  • God responds when He hears
  • God delivers us from ALL of our fears

One of the reasons God hears us is because He stays near to us.  God tells us in Jer 23:23, “Am I a God near at hand . . . and not a God afar off?”

Not only does God hear us, but He then does not leave us where we were.  God tells us, through the prophet Jeremiah, “Call to me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.  Jer. 33:3.  Some people like to say that this is God’s telephone number.

In Psalm 40:1-2, we read the Psalmist saying, “I waited patiently for the LORD; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry.  He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps.”    We learns some additional things from this verse including:

  • I may have to wait for God (I should do so patiently)
  • God moves closer to me to hear me and is not unmoved by my cries
  • God delivers me from the places that I have allowed myself to fall
  • God puts me on a firm spot, a rock (Jesus is the Rock)
  • God gets me started on my way and makes paths for me to walk in

In thinking over the scriptures that I wanted to use for this post, I realized that the God who hears makes the best deliverer.  The last thing you want in your time of trouble when you are calling out to God is a God who has a hearing impairment.   On the other side of the coin, having a God who hears well, but ignores me or makes my deliverance a low priority on His list is also distressing.  Praise God that He hears well, sees well and desires to deliver me out of my trouble and calamity.   Blessed be the name of the LORD!

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Have you sung that song “As the Deer Panteth for the waters so my soul longeth after thee . . ?”   I was thinking about that line today, about the thirsty deer.  Does the deer drink and then go away for a week before returning to drink again?  Does the deer drink because it thinks the other deer are watching it?   Does the deer fill its cantine and walk away from the stream for a time in the desert only returning when it is near death from thirst?  No.  The deer comes daily and throughout the day and drinks when it experiences genuine thirst.  It stays near the stream and doesn’t wander so far as to not be able to get back when it experiences thirst.  It does not try to take care of future thirst or worry from where the next drink will come.  The deer relies on its heavenly Father to tell it when it thirsts and to provide a means to satisfy that thirst.

So what spiritual lessons is the Psalmist teaching me in describing this thirst like the deer?

  • It is a thirst that longs for and can be satisfied by the water. I should thirst for the living water, the Word of God, the Holy Spirit and seek to be satisfied by the Word and the Holy Spirit.  It is a natural law that appetite is developed by eating.  Thirst, too can be developed by drinking.  I should drink of the living water and thereby develop a thirst which it alone can quench.
  • It is a thirst that seeks quenching daily, hourly and as the need arises. I should seek to slake (ally or reduce by satisfying) my thirst daily and hourly, if need be, by coming to the font of living water, to Jesus who promises to satisfy my thirst.  I should stay close to the source of living water.
  • It is a thirst that has no other motive than to satisfy the basic need. When I come to the water to drink, my motive should be to quench my thirst, not to fulfill some man-made obligation or ritual or the expectations of others.
  • It is a thirst that trusts in the creator to provide a means of satisfying it. I must come to quench my thirst to the one who created it.  I must trust God to provide the means for satisfying my thirst and not seek to have that need filled somewhere else.

May you be like the deer who pants for the water brooks.  May your genuine thirst for God be quenched by the living water of the Word and fellowship with the One who promises to bring forth rivers of living water from the lives of those who believe in Him.

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Psalm 84, verse 5 says, “Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, Whose heart is set on pilgrimage.” We looked at the first part of verse 5 of Psalm 84 in the last post.  We examined what it means for a man’s strength to be in God.   The second part of the verse is really the part that drew my attention as I was reading.  I began to think about what it means for one’s heart to be set on pilgrimage.

Usually, my heart is set on permanence.  I want to have a home, “to put down roots” in a community, to be part of something.   At first glance, permanence seems to be the opposite of what the “blessed man” seeks after.  That led me to explore the term “pilgrimage”.

“Pilgrimage” according to the dictionary is “a journey, especially a long one, made to some sacred place as an act of religious devotion” or “any long journey, especially one undertaken as a quest or for a votive (dedicated in accordance with a vow) purpose, as to pay homage.”

The word “pilgrimage” packs a lot of meaning:

  • It is a type of long journey
  • Destination is a sacred place
  • Purpose is to show religious devotion or to honor a vow (to God)

What does the Psalmist mean when he uses “pilgrimage’ here?

  • What is the long journey?    Is he talking about a life lived walking daily with God, what Enoch, Abraham or Paul had?  Is this a journey that is never complete this side of eternity?
  • What is the sacred place to which the man is traveling or journeying?    Is it Heaven?  Eternal Life with God?
  • What is the devotion or vow which the man is to show by the journey?  Is it simply devotion to God?  Is it the promise to take up the cross of Jesus and follow after Him?

I think this idea of a heart set on pilgrimage requires more consideration and mediation.  I know that it speaks to traveling light and not being at home here in the world.  One who is on a pilgrimage has his primary focus on the object of his devotion.  As I live my life, my pilgrimage, I need to keep my primary focus on God, the object of my devotion, the one to whom I made the vow to be a bond servant.

I invite you to share any additional thoughts you might have regarding what it means to have your heart set on pilgrimage.  The blog is a two-way communication.  Send me a post!

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Psalm 84 – A Closer Look

I ran across a verse in Psalm 84 that I don’t remember noticing before.  I love that about the Bible.  I can read it from cover to cover every year, and still God has surprises and “new” things to show me.

In Psalm 84, verse 5, the Psalmist states, “Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, whose heart is set on pilgrimage.”  I noticed two parts of the description of this blessed man:

  1. His strength is in God
  2. His heart is set on pilgrimage

I thought about what it meant to have one’s strength be in God.  It seems to me the strength here can be compared to the strength of an army:

  • God is his fortress
  • God is his strong tower
  • God is his rear guard
  • God is his shield and buckler (his weapons of defense)

It could also be that strength here has the meaning of the one who “strengthens” the man, who cares for and befriends the man, who makes sure his physical and emotional needs are met:

  • God is his provision
  • God is his guide, the light to his path
  • God is his comfort
  • God is his hope (gives him the will to go on)

It could also be that God is his strength because God makes him stronger:

  • God is the father who chastens his beloved son
  • God is the refining fire that purifies him

With God, strength can mean so many things.  When my strength is in God, I don’t rely on my own reasoning, my own resources or my own abilities.  I cast myself entirely on my God, keeping no area of my life in which I am “strong” apart from God.  May the LORD bless you and may He be your only strength.

I will have to save the discussion of the second part of the verse, “whose heart is set on pilgrimage”  for my next post.

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