Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep

peace_4205cA child prays, “Now I lay me down to sleep,” echoing David’s confidence in Psalm 4. But we may find it hard to sleep at times.

Cry out to your God! Turn to God when you need him. The problems that threatened David may have been Absalom’s rebellion (as in Psalm 3), his persecution by Saul, or possibly famine (see verse 7). God does not promise his people a problem free life as long as we live in this world that is under the curse, but he does want you to cry out to him. Turn to the Lord in your distress. Cry out to him with the knowledge that he does hear and answer. Cry out, knowing that the Second Adam offered prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears during his work on earth, Hebrews 5:7,8.

Understand the character of your God. Understanding the character of your God makes a profound difference in how you live each day. He is righteous. Even the opening petition makes clear that there is a connection between the righteousness of God and that of his people. The connection between God’s righteousness and yours is found by faith–and involves the offering of right sacrifices. David is looking ahead by faith to the One who is the sacrifice for the sins of his people. In the face of the delusional idolatry of verse 2, David points you to God’s setting apart of his people, verse 3. Skeptics doubt, but David points you to the covenantal faithfulness of the Lord, echoing the Aaronic benediction, verse 6. He provides abundantly for your needs, v. 7. Continue reading “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep”

Don’t Settle for Survival!

isaiah_8767cTom (not his real name) was, from my perspective, seeking godly peace in the midst of a very difficult and complex instance of church conflict. When asked how things were going, a term he used to characterize the attitude of those involved was “hopelessness.”. I thought about Tom as I began to prepare to preach on Psalm 3, and how this Psalm might encourage him. Then I also had to preach it to myself. Now I am preaching it to you, because you also need the encouragement and exhortation that this Psalm gives.

Will God help when things are hopeless? Recognize that you are involved in a battle. David faced Absalom’s rebellion. 2 Samuel 15-19 describes the rebellion, David’s flight, the defeat of Absalom, and David’s restoration to his throne. The conflict was an intensely personal one for David, but it also involved him in his office as king, and affected the covenant people over whom he ruled. This Psalm is David’s, but it is also intended for God’s people to use in worship. It is the song of the king, anticipating the One who would some day sit on his throne. The ultimate singer of the Psalms is the Lord Jesus Christ. And in him, this Psalm is intended for you. You are involved in conflict. You have been in the dominion of darkness, Colossians 1:13 until rescued by the Son. You are victors, but there are times that you may feel overwhelmed by problems, trials, and even enemies. That ought to be a call to worship. “As circumstances feel overwhelming and hopeless, it is normal to focus energy, time, and emotions on the conflict issues rather than on worshiping God. . . . Focusing on God and celebrating God’s eternal work in our church provide sources of joy, hope, and encouragement when we are in conflict This perspective also give us, and all of the members of our church, unity about a common vision, passion and mission; it helps make sense of the conflicts so as to bear up under them. Also, because conflict is so discouraging and all-encompassing, we may even begin to believe lies (such as God has abandoned us because we just can’t seem to get through these issues). Seeing evidence of his grace will comfort us, reminding us that he is still with us and that he is passionately at work in his church full of sinners saved by grace.” (Tara Barthel and David Edling, Redeeming Church Conflicts, pp. 50-51). Continue reading “Don’t Settle for Survival!”

Rejoice with Trembling

Ayear0810pcWe are at war. I don’t mean the primary debates or even the ongoing military actions in various parts of the world. It is not the culture wars. Rather, it is the conflict described in Psalm 2, a battle between the kings of the earth and the One who sits enthroned in the heavens.

Tremble at the presence of the Lord. Appreciate the majestic kingship of your God. The primary action comes from the One enthroned in heaven. That contrasts with the kings of the earth who rebel. The great King acts by installing his King on Zion. Psalm 2 is linked with Psalm 1. They have even been treated as one Psalm. Note the intertwined themes of judgment and blessing. Continue reading “Rejoice with Trembling”

How Blessed Are You?

apple_3149cHow blessed are you? And how do you measure being blessed? Is it a good job, a wonderful family? Are you blessed when you have just received a pink slip, or when your family life is less than idea? Psalm 1 calls you blessed if you, united with your Redeemer, walk in the way of the righteous.

Live in the richness of God’s blessing. Blessing involves avoiding evil. This Psalm sets up a contrast between the righteous man and the wicked one. But the contrast is not just between individuals. Two groups are represented. Ultimately there are two kingdoms doing battle. Don’t loose sight of the corporate character of the Psalms. Sing them as the body of Christ! Shun evil! Note the progression in verse 1: avoid walking in the counsel (advice, plans) of the wicked; don’t stand in the path of the sinners; and avoid sitting in the seat of the mockers. Sitting (as Lot did in the gate of Sodom) involves taking part in their plans and attitudes. Guard your daily life. As God’s people you may not, you must not, be conformed to the sinfulness of the world around him. Continue reading “How Blessed Are You?”