Tag Archives: David
I remember as a child, whenever we were sitting somewhere and waiting, I often didn’t have anything to do. Unlike my own kids who can play with a smart devise while we wait, or often will have entertainment provided in the form of a toy or gadget, I rarely had such a thing. I remember I would play with my parents’ hands, whoever it was that was near. My mom’s hands were always very soft and tender. Sometimes I would play with the ends of her fingernails or her thin fingers, but I can clearly remember how silky and soft they were. They were always very clean and pristine. My dad’s hands were quite the opposite. His hands were thick and calloused from the hard manual labor of construction. His nails were always trimmed very short, the skin thick and dry. His hands were strong. It’s not that they were dirty, but they felt rough and edgy. My mom and dad’s hands were reflected the work they did, but also of who they were. Mom was the nurturer and caregiver. Her hands were hard-working, but in the most tender ways possible. My dad was the main provider, his hands did the hard and difficult work. He was the disciplinary, but was always the first to be a rock of steadiness and encouragement as well.
Our hands reflect who we are and what we do. Perhaps one of my most favorite accounts about hands comes from the story of this famous art piece known as “The Praying Hands.”
Two Durer brothers, of eighteen children, shared the same dream to pursue their talent and love of art. Being from a poor and large family, neither of them could afford to pay for university. They decided to flip a coin, the winner would attend art school while the other worked in the mines to pay. When the winner had completed his schooling, then the other brother would support the latter to attend as well.
Albrecht Durer won the toss and went off to attend school. Albert worked in the mines in hard manual labor to support his brother, whose work at the academy was almost an immediate sensation. Albrecht showed great talent in various art forms and was beginning to make great money for various commissioned works.
When Albrecht returned home as his schooling was complete, the family celebrated with a great feast. Towards the end of the great celebration, Albrecht raised a toast to his brother Albert, who worked so hard in the mines to make it possible for him to gain his success. His closing words were, “And now, Albert, blessed brother of mine, now it is your turn. Now you can go to Nuremberg to pursue your dream, and I will take care of you.”
All eyes turned to Albert who sat weeping and shaking his head as he quietly said, “no…no…no…No brother, I cannot go on to school. It’s too late for me. Look at my hands. Four years in the mines have destroyed them. Each of my fingers have been crushed, they are thick with calluses, I can’t even lift this glass in your toast because of arthritis. It’s to late for me to learn the fine motor skills that it takes to create fine details in art.”
Albrecht went on to create many great works of art during his lifetime. His most famous work is the one seen here, known as “The Praying Hands.” This sketch he created to honor the sacrifice that Albert gave to him. This drawing of rough strong hands show not only sacrifice, but love, honor, and faithfulness.
Strong hands are not always rough hands, and likewise, soft hands are not always a sign of weakness.
Today I was reading about David in 1 Samuel 23. Most people are familiar with David of the Bible. His most famous account, both in art and literary interpretation, is the story of when he defeated the giant, Goliath. He was a young, attractive and fearless fellow. He was anointed to become the next king of Israel. People quickly adored and followed him, even King Saul’s own children, Jonathan and Michal. It didn’t take long for Saul to become jealous of David and set his face towards killing him. Everywhere David went, people helped him. He narrowly escaped death by spear many times. He learned to run to save his life.
His favorite place to hide from Saul was in the barren desert region of Judea. This was home to David. He knew the best places to hide. No doubt, he knew this place so well from his time as a shepherd. This dry and arid place was merely a place to pass through. The wilderness attracted those on the fringes—outcasts, shepherds, fugitives, hermits, and even fearful rulers. These were the people who became David’s most trusted men. (1 Samuel 22:2)
The desert served as a refiner’s fire for David. Early on, when it would be easy for him to become arrogant and puffed up, David learned to depend instead, fully on the care of God. He was pressed on every side. The enemies that lived in the land threatened him, and his own people of Israel had turned their back to him in order to serve King Saul. David met great success all around him, and yet he no doubt felt the frailness of his own life as Saul continually pursued him.
The “dry and weary land” served as a backdrop for David’s own weariness. And the lack of water around him illustrated an even deeper thirst he felt: “My soul thirsts for You” (Psalm 63:1).
At the height of his emotional and physical distress, David sought refuge in his spiritual life.
He yearned for God. source
The biggest difference in David and Saul’s characters is seen at those most pressing moments. Saul easily gives in to the moment. He allows his desperation to control the outcome. David was driven by the understanding that God is greater and able to determine his reactions based on that. David defeats Goliath because God is greater and stronger. He doesn’t take Saul’s life because God is the giver of life. He bravely faces battle because he knows the battle belongs to the Lord.
But we all know there are times that the head and the heart don’t match up. The head knows the truth, but the heart believes the lie. The head knows God will provide, but the heart worries. The head knows God can heal, but the heart grows weak with illness. No matter the reality we know, the heart makes us weary in doubt and fear. The heart becomes dehydrated before our mind even thinks about thirst. From the inside out, we begin to die a little to our faith, especially the longer we endure in the unforgiving sun.
I love to read these stories of David. they are full of excitement and encouragement. Normally, when I have read over 1 Samuel in the past, I quickly read through 1 Samuel 23 trying to get to the part where David chooses to not kill Saul. The anticipation of David hiding in the very cave that Saul is in. I giggle a little to myself picturing Saul towards the mouth of the cave. The Bible gives the detail that he was “relieving himself,” which we will just leave at that. Little known to him, he has David trapped in this cave. He’s so preoccupied with reading the Readers Digest I guess, that he doesn’t even feel David sneak up and cut a part of his cloak off. Here is David’s chance to kill Saul, but instead he protects him from his own men.
David didn’t always know what to do. He wasn’t always the mighty warrior that he is most often memorialized as. He was indeed human. Like us all, in a dry land, he needed to be filled with living water.
Jonathan was one of Saul’s sons. He was in line to be the next king, however because Saul did not obey God (see 1 Samuel 15), he was rejected as king and God choose David to be the next king. Jonathan was not like his father, however. He trusted God to mightily fight for him in battle. Jonathan and David become extremely close. Jonathan is drawn to David’s faith in God, his courage in battle, and they form a unique friendship. Jonathan is not intimated by David’s greatness. They even promise to each other that they will protect and serve each other. Jonathan personally saves David many times, and his own father even tries to kill him because of his friendship to David. Jonathan knew that David would be the next king, and he didn’t allow his pride to destroy their friendship.
It’s during this time in the desert, as David is fleeing from Saul, that Jonathan, for one final time, will risk going to David. Jonathan plays in important role in the character of David, a self-love of a true friend. Although David is the star in the story that is unfolding, in the background we catch a glimpse of Jonathan’s friendship to David.
One day near Horesh, David received the news that Saul was on the way to Ziph to search for him and kill him. Jonathan went to find David and encouraged him to stay strong in his faith in God. 1 Samuel 23:15-16
Saul was in hot pursuit of David. He had nearly caught him just prior to this, change David up a mountain. David escaped only because Saul was called out to protect his own country from the Philistines. Jonathan, perhaps stirred by the Spirit, feels to urgency to go to David to encourage him in his faith. The imagery in verse 16 is just simply awesome. (sorry I don’t have a better adjective for that.) “Encourage him to stay strong in his faith” is literally “strengthened his hand in God.” Before, when I had read this passage, I would have skimmed over that and thought nothing more, but this time it was as if Jonathan was speaking that encouragement to me. It was almost as if the Spirit took me by my hands, holding them out and said, “strengthen your hands.”
About a year ago, we were studying the book of Hebrews in a ladies Bible study. Hebrews is a book full of super encouraging verses, that I affectionately call “Life Verses”. Words to live by; words to encourage one’s faith. We were sharing favorite verses as a group, and my friend that leads the study pointed out this verse:
This was a verse that never jumped out at me, but I immediately tucked it away in my heart to meditate and remember.
Some time had passed, I had been studying the book of Judges to teach the kids at church. I was reading about Gideon. He was an unlikely hero. Those are always my favorites. He was a man, who in his time, was part of a people who were forced to live in a harsh environment. He was preparing food, hiding in a wine-press, when he receives the call of God. He was addressed as “Mighty Warrior.” Someone who has to hide from fear is not usually looked upon as mighty. Gideon prepares an army for battle and is told he has too many men. After some narrowing down, he then is about to lead his tiny army of 300 men against thousands. The sun sets as his men make final preparations, and Gideon is told to sneak down into the enemy’s camp. If he is afraid or discouraged to go down to hear what the enemy is saying and so that “your hands will be strengthened.”
There is was a again. There is no doubt that this is a call to arms. It’s a call to prepare the battle line with a strong-arm, but I think for Christians it’s more than just to feel “mighty”. For Jonathan he came to David to encourage him to believe in God. He wasn’t saying, “you are strong and mighty and are able to kill my dad.” It was a message to trust in God’s protection.
Earlier this year I was reading through the book of Isaiah, and once again I came across this theme of weak hands. In Isaiah 35, their hands were weak. They had been in that desert time. A time when the people have been drained of life and hope. There hearts were a wasteland with no strength. In that moment of weakness, like a fresh rain, joy and life returns. Isaiah tells them to BE STRONG. FEAR NOT. God is coming to save them. Isaiah 35
Jonathan speaks truth to David. He has come for the purpose of encouraging David. It’s easy to think that people in great positions don’t need encouragement. We see them out there in the spotlight. They seem to have success in all they do, and it’s easy to think they are doing great. But that’s not the case. We need encouragement from others to press on. We need to know that what we are doing is important. We need to hear that even though life is extremely hard, God is there helping us. Working on us. We aren’t dying of thirst in the desert, but instead we are being refined. I’ve learned in my own refining moments this truth. Either the moment will refine me, or I will be refined in the moment. Whatever I am struggling with, I am not left alone to fight my way through. I can be strong; I can have strong hands, not because I am strong, but I serve a God who is stronger and HE is able to do it through me. and despite me.
This desert experience has part of the refining and preparations that David needed to become the greatest King of Israel. It was a time that taught him the importance to thirst. Not for things that only leave us lacking, but to thirst for that which really satisfies- the Living Water.
A psalm of David, regarding a time when David was in the wilderness of Judah.
O God, you are my God;
I earnestly search for you.
My soul thirsts for you;
my whole body longs for you
in this parched and weary land
where there is no water.
2 I have seen you in your sanctuary
and gazed upon your power and glory.
3 Your unfailing love is better than life itself;
how I praise you!
4 I will praise you as long as I live,
lifting up my hands to you in prayer.
5 You satisfy me more than the richest feast.
I will praise you with songs of joy.
6 I lie awake thinking of you,
meditating on you through the night.
7 Because you are my helper,
I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings.
8 I cling to you;
your strong right hand holds me securely.
9 But those plotting to destroy me will come to ruin.
They will go down into the depths of the earth.
10 They will die by the sword
and become the food of jackals.
11 But the king will rejoice in God.
All who swear to tell the truth will praise him,
while liars will be silenced.
click here for other verses about strengthening hands
Already half way through the month and as we near the home stretch before Christmas I feel both relief and stress. Relief because of all the things that have occurred parties, decorating, Christmas shopping, and stress because of what is left to come. It’s nice, for me to take them time though, and adore the King as I study the passages for the Jesse Tree. These are absolutely some of my favorite stories!
Day 8: Moses and the Law:
The inspiration behind this was taken from Deuteronomy 6 where we are told the importance to impress on our children the law of the Lord and to follow Him with all our hearts. It is the 10 commandments written to look like a finger print.
Day 9: The Promised Land:
This past year, I had focused on the theme of God as our shield. This passage below has inspired me to take some time in 2016 to study the theme of overcoming. I guess it’s very similar, but I can’t wait!
Day 10: Ruth and Boaz:
Day 11: King David:
This was hard for me to choose, because 1 Samuel 17 is a sort of “Lesson for Life”. God doesn’t see things like we see things.
Day 12: King Josiah finds the scroll:
The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.”
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
Then Jesse called Abinadab and had him pass in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, “The Lord has not chosen this one either.” Jesse then had Shammah pass by, but Samuel said, “Nor has the Lord chosen this one.” Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The Lord has not chosen these.” So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?”
“There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.”
Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.”
So he sent for him and had him brought in. He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features.
Then the Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.” -1 Samuel 16: 1, 7-12
Since the time of Ruth, much has happened in Israel’s history. The judges were not working out so well. The people, as a whole, refused to follow God’s laws. They didn’t want God to be their King, but choose to have a man instead. Samuel, who was the last judge, warned them that a king would mean taxes, military, political arguments, but they didn’t care. Samuel anointed Saul, who was a tall and handsome fella. He was very unsure of himself as king. Unsure is better than proud, I suppose. When he finally got some confidence, he broke God’s law about sacrifice and was then rejected by God as king. It’s not so much that he sinned, as it was that he didn’t regard God’s law and truly felt sorry for breaking it. He was sorry he was in trouble, but that was it.
Samuel is then sent out by God to anoint the new king. When Samuel arrives to Jesse’s house, they have a huge feast. Jesse brings out his oldest son. When Samuel see him he thinks, “surely he will make an awesome king.” However, God was not interested in what a king looked like. Saul had already been a tall strong king. God wanted the new king to be one that would honor him and his name by how he lived. After being shown all the sons, Samuel asked if there was any more. Yes, there was the youngest, still out taking care of chores.
When the young man came he had a youthful glow to him. He was handsome and healthy. As soon as Samuel saw him, he heard the voice of the Lord. “This is the one.”
David was still a young lad. He wasn’t even old enough to serve in the army yet. One day he goes to check on his brothers who have joined the military. They are camped on one side, opposite the Philistine opponents. As he is talking to his brothers, the largest, strongest Philistine came out to once again challenge the Israelites to a one-on-one battle, winner take all.
Goliath stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why do you come out and line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose a man and have him come down to me. If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us.” Then the Philistine said, “This day I defy the armies of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other.” On hearing the Philistine’s words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified. 1 Samuel 17:8-11
Now Saul should have been the man who would go out against the Philistine. Instead he said that the winner would be given a daughter of his to marry, great wealth, and would no longer be taxed.
David was seriously offended by Goliath. Even more so, he was offended that none of the Israelites would do anything. Goliath was insulting their Almighty God. David volunteers. Saul at first tried to reject the notion from this lad, but David assures him that he can handle it.
“Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.” 1 Samuel 17:34-37
At first Saul tries to dress David in his own armor, which doesn’t fit. David then makes preparations. He gathers 5 smooth stones from a creek and put them in his shepherd’s bag. Then he armed himself with his staff and slingshot. As David rushed out to meet his foe, Goliath is greatly offended. He comes this small lad with a stick to fight. Goliath curses the one true God and screams his bloody threats to David. David yells back, unshaken by what the giant has to say.
You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. 1 Samuel 17:45
They both rush out to the battle line, ready to strike each other down, both with strength and confidence. As David is rushing out, he reaches into his pouch, pulls out one stone, and before Goliath knows what hit him, he falls down dead, with a stone buried deep into his skull. David pulls Goliath’s sword from his own hand and cuts his head off as the final blow to sweet victory. The one true God wins.
Saul takes notice of this young man and quickly adds him to his closest group. David is assigned a special job to the king. Saul’s son, Jonathan becomes best friends with David. Each day that David serves the king faithfully Saul becomes more and more jealous. People begin to chant about the greatness of David, better than their own king. His son adores him. His own daughter is married and loves him. Jealousy overcomes him and David goes from most trusted man to the most wanted man.
Despite being anointed the next king, despite not doing anything wrong to Saul, David refuses to give in to the temptation of fighting Saul. He spends a good chunk of his life playing cat and mouse with King Saul. He always seems one step ahead of the King. A couple times he could have taken Saul’s life, but he didn’t. He believed that life was something only God had the right to take. In the fulness of time, he would one day he would take his place as King. He patiently waited.
After a terrible battle, it finally happens. David grieves the loss of Saul, but also his best friend Jonathan. David eventually becomes king over all of Israel. He has many wives and children. David is most remembered as the man after God’s own heart. Reading the Psalms it’s very clear that David LOVED the Lord.
…and then there’s Bathsheba. Without going over then entire story, I would like to point out the difference in David and Saul. David was completely in the wrong. He wasn’t in battle (where he was supposed to be), envied and coveted, basically forced Bathsheba to be with him, lied, and murdered her husband. So there is no doubt that David sinned. (There are also other times that David disobeyed God, as well). So how could he be considered a man after God’s own heart when all Saul did was kill the sacrificially animal?
I think the most important difference is in their reactions. When Samuel questioned Saul about what he did, he quickly gave a bunch of excuses. He wasn’t sorry that he disobeyed; he was sorry that he was busted. His heart had been filled with pride and position. He felt he was above the law of God.
When David is confronted we have the opposite reaction.
I have sinned against the Lord -2 Samuel 12:13
David knew he was in the wrong. He broke God’s law and was going to be punished. Another life would be taken, his own son. The rest of his time as king would be a time of great loss and fighting. Everyone in the nation will know and see the notorious acts that his own son would do.
The main difference between David and Saul was that David repented. He knew what he did was wrong. He heart had changed. No longer was he puffed up with pride, but saw his actions and sins for what they were. There is no excuse for breaking God’s law, except that we want the control. Being a man after God’s heart doesn’t mean you’re perfect. It means that you seek out to know God more so that you can get rid of the things that displease him and live in a way that honors his name.
David loved the Lord with all his heart, all his soul and all his strength. It pleased the Lord to bless him. David was given as special promise. From his line a King would come. This King would always honor the Lord. This king would unlike every other king. He would be the Messiah, the Promised one of God, come to save us from our sins.
gather things around your house that could be use as weapons to protect, it’s better if they are toys than real weapons. shield, light sabers, water guns, etc. Bible and ornament
Ask the kids to choose what would be the best weapon to have to protect themselves (or super power). Read the passage above about David and Goliath. What weapons did David have to fight the big strong Goliath? What did David say was the one thing he would use to win? (The name of the Lord). Pray together, thanking God that he protects us and is a mighty God.
Seems like the end of the school year is so busy. One of the traditions that I like are the class pictures. It is a right of passage in elementary school to have that keep sake of your friends and classmates all together. As a mom, I appreciate being able to put faces to the names I have heard all year. One name/face in particular I was glad to place together from Sweet T.’s class.
Lillian K. Bittle
When the weather started warming up in the afternoons, Sweet T. loved to roll down her window in the car on the ride home. She loved to roll it down and shout “Curse you Lillian K. Bittle.” She wouldn’t say it just once and not even in the same way. The entire ride home she would shout out her window over and over and in different pitches.
Curse you, Lillian K Bittle
Curse you, Lillian K Bittle
Curse you, Lillian K Bittle
Curse you, Lillian K Bittle
Curse you, Lillian K Bittle
Curse you, Lillian K Bittle
She would make me laugh. Oh sure, I tried to talk to her about what cursing someone really meant. She would always assure me that she was being silly. She even told her friend about it. Lillian has a kindred spirit. She thought it was funny too.
Sometimes, in life, it seems like someone is cursing my life away- but not in the fun, teasing way that Sweet T. meant it. I’m sure everyone, at some point, has felt the sting. You know the feeling, that no matter what great effort you go to, there is that one person who despises everything you do. At least it feels like they do. Maybe they even actually do call out curses to you.
I think that is why I love the Psalms so much. They relate to life on a real and honest way. On many occasions the writers (more often than not it was King David) would mention the angst that they felt. The daily grind scraping away at my life. They knew that they were being cursed.
O Lord, how many are my foes!
How many rise up against me!
Many are saying of me,
“God will not deliver him.” (Psalm 3:1-2)
Do you hear it? “Curse you Lillian K Bittle.” I can even see David’s enemies shaking their fist at him as they shout out. On several occasions David’s enemies were people he trusted and knew quite well. This particular account, the person yelling out curses on him was his own son, Absalom. I suppose to call them an “enemy” is not exactly accurate. Although, yes they wanted to see David suffer. Yes, they wanted him to die. Yes, they probably even disliked him; I wonder if David really considered his own son an “enemy”.
Later in the Psalm David prays this over those who bid him harm,
Arise, O Lord!
Deliver me, O my God!
Strike all my enemies on the jaw;
break the teeth of the wicked.” Psalm 3:7
Not exactly the kind of prayer I would recommend, but I love it! David is being honest about his feelings. He isn’t wearing a facade of holiness and perfection. He is not happy about his circumstance. In fact, he is miserable, angry, sad, defeated, broken, weak, fearful, and frustrated. That’s just scratching the surface.
Of course this is one of those rare times that we actually know more about the story behind this Psalm. What we see when we read 2 Samuel 15-19 is that David never acts out of his feelings. He never wants to hurt his son. He even warns his army to not harm Absalom. I don’t think it is because the enemy happened to be his son (although- that is part of the reason.) When King Saul was chasing David down, David had many opportunities to kill Saul. He was the rightful heir to the throne. Instead he choose to protect the king’s life. Instead of allowing the curses to seep into his own heart and destroy him, he turned it over and reacted in the opposite way.
I think the reason David never acts out from his feelings is because of what we see in the real heart of Psalm 3:
“BUT YOU are a shield around me, O Lord;
YOU bestow glory on me
(YOU) lift up my head.
To the Lord I cry aloud,
AND HE ANSWERS ME FROM HIS HOLY HILL.” Psalm 3:3-4
David knew that his enemy (whoever that enemy seems to be) was nothing. Nothing David could say or do would keep him from feeling cursed. It was only in knowing God that David would feel “uncursed”. God is the shield that protects us from the cursing of others. God is the one who pours out glory when we feel cursing. And it is God who picks up our heads in the midst of our sorrow or shame and speaks love to the innermost beings of our soul. He answers us with promises that HIS love is unchanging. He answers back.
When David comes to this realization, his perspective changes. Instead of fear, anger, hurt, pain, suffering, shame (and so on), David finds rest.
“I lie down and sleep; No more sleepless nights from worrying
I awake again, because the Lord sustains me He doesn’t have to fear death. Sustains literally means “holds”
I will not fear the tens of thousands drawn up against me on every side Our circumstances may not change, but our outlook can.” Psalm 3:5-6
This is the second part to a study on worship. Please read the post “The Lord is Good.”
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
His love endures forever.
This is a common theme in several Psalms. The Psalms are the worship of Israel. The are vast ranges in emotions and expressions. They make great honest prayers!!!
Psalm 107 is a great example of the verse above demonstrating the expression of thanks as God pours out his love on us. The psalm is divided into four main themes how the redeemed can sing an expression of thanks to God. Keep in mind the two ideas 1. God’s unfailing love and 2. his wonderful deeds for people.
The first “need” that God meets is found in verses 6-9. This part of the psalm is a reminder for the desperate. Those who have no job, no money, no clothes. Their very lives are hanging by the thread. Perhaps they are even plagued with illness. Whatever it is, they are troubled. They cry to the Lord and are delivered from their distress. It says, the Lord leads them to a straight path and a city where they can settle. God provides peace to the weary. Why give thanks when you have nothing? “he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.
The second “need” that God meets is found in verses 10-14. Some find themselves in deep depression. It becomes a prison that binds us to darkness. This usually comes from rebellion against the word of God. On our own we stumble with no help. But God, who is so faithful, comes to our aid. All we need to do is call out to him. He comes, pulls us out of the darkness, and breaks the chains. Why give thanks to God while I dwell in the darkest pit of despair? That he breaks down the bars and gates that hold us captive, giving us freedom to dwell in His light.
The third “need” found in this Psalm is found in 17-21. This is for those who have become foolish because of their rebelliousness. Sin leads to more sin. Hunger not for food, but the sin of self-indulgence to the point of physical starvation. I picture (although this is not limited to) some drug addict that would rather get the fix of drugs than food. The picture is that you stop caring for your body so that you can have some fixation in sin. The sin leads to trouble, the brink of death. With nowhere to turn, they call to God, and he rescues them. Not only does he save them, but sends his word (the very thing they rebelled against) and heals them. I for one am so thankful for that. Have you ever been in rebellion, and turned to him and felt the healing and cleansing of His holy word? It is so wonderful. So how do these express thanks to God? Sacrifice thanks offerings and tells of God’s works through songs of joy.
The final “need’ is found in 22-32. Those who go along in life day after day. In this Psalm it is represented by sailors. They are floating along the sea. They start off amazed by God’s creation, but suddenly it turns into a terrible storm. Nearly all is lost, but at their wit’s end they cry to the Lord. He answers by causing the storm to be a whisper. Not only did God cause the storm to disappear, but he led them on the way to go. How are they to give thanks to God? By exalting him in an assembly and praising him in the leadership of the church.
The Psalm continues to show this pattern of our need and God’s provision. Every time we lack or have need, God is waiting. He anticipates our call to him so he can pour out his love. All that God does for us is an expression of His love. I am always amazed as I ponder how he loves the unlovely. How could I not be thankful for his love that he gave ultimately in His Son.
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good
His love endures forever.
I shared the following study about worship with some very dear friends of mine a little over a year ago. Alan said (at the time) that I needed to start a blog. I thought I would share this here with you
I have been reading through Chronicles which starts rough, but gets easier once you are past the building of the temple and the genealogy. Today I noticed a theme (other than the 2 Chron 7:14) that I had not seen before. When David was preparing for the building of the temple during his reign, he established for the nation a centrality in worship of God alone. This is not really anything new, just reading through Psalms any person could see that. But he set up a very specific theme of worship. When they bring the Ark to Jerusalem (and David dances wildly before the Lord) he shared a great Psalm of Thanks. This is the first occurrence and it is found in 1 Chron. 16:34. “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” David sets up worship again for the first time in years in the tabernacle. Asaph and his family are in charge of worship, Zadok and team are in charge of offerings, and it says in 16:41 that David appoints a team in charge of giving thanks to proclaim repeatedly “his love endures forever”. It makes me wonder what would please God more than if we had a team in our churches that spent their time only in giving thanks to God.
Anyway… Flash forward in time to Solomon. After 20 years, the Temple is finally finished. They bring the Ark into the temple to its final resting place. The priests withdraw from the Holy Place (where God dwells), and everyone breaks out in song. It says in 2 Chron. 5:13 that they did so with one voice. What did they proclaim? “He is good, his love endures forever.” The temple was filled with a cloud, and they could not complete their service because the glory of the Lord filled the temple.
Again at the dedication of the temple, after Solomon finished praying, fire fell from heaven. When the people saw the fire fall from heaven, they all fell prostrate before Him. It says in 2 Chron 7:3 they worshiped, and gave thanks saying “he is good; His love endures forever.”
Flash forward again to the time of Jehoshaphat. He was king over the Southern Kingdom, Judah. He followed the Lord, much like David. They people are about to be attacked by an army much larger than theirs. Everyone young and old gathered in the cliffs. They cried out to God, literally saying “we don’t know what to do, but our eyes are upon you.” 2 Chron. 20:12 In this desperate moment worship breaks out. A prophesy comes from the Lord that they will not have to fight. The next morning, Jehoshaphat leads the army out. Not with a battle cry, but again in worship. What is the song they sing? “Give thanks to Lord, for his love endures forever.” As they sing, the Lord sets an ambush. By time the army gets to the battle lines all they see are dead bodies everywhere. It takes them 3 days to gather the plunder.
Of course the people of Judah do not always stay faithful to the Lord. In fact, God calls their turning away from him prostitution. Very strong words!!! They are sent into exile. During Jeremiah’s time he prophesies about the restoration of Israel. In the beautiful Jeremiah 33 we find “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable thing you did not know.” (Jer 33:3) He goes on to tell the people of God’s promise to bring them back to a time when they seek him alone and worship only the one true God. When they will bring sacrifices again, and sing “Give thanks to the LORD Almighty, for the LORD is good; his love endures forever.” This is central in their worship to the one true God.
This prophesy is fulfilled in Ezra 3:11. As the builders finish the foundation to the temple, they all stop for a time of worship. It says, as prescribed by David. “He is good, his love to Israel endures forever.”
I have more to share on this, but I will have to finish it another time. So rich is the word of God.
Give thanks to Him, my sisters, for he is good. His love endures forever