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Saturday, April 30, 2016

PSALM 76
 
Most think this psalm was written later and speaks of the divine intervention by God as told in
 II Kings  19.   This is an amazing story.  No wonder the psalmist says...


 
"God is known in Judah;
His name is great in Israel."
(verse 1)
 
 "Thou art more glorious and excellent than the mountain of prey." (KJV)
Thou art resplendent, More majestic than the mountains of prey." (NASV)
(verse 4)
(Mountains of prey: kingdoms acquired by violence, murder, and robbery.)
 
II Kings 19
 
What happened is Hezekiah was being bullied, intimidated by the king of Assyria. 
The bad king sent letters:


 
"Thus you shall say to Hezekiah king of Judah, 'Do not let your god in whom you trust deceive you saying, Jerusalem shall not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria..." (verse10)
 
"Hezekiah read it, and he went up to the house of the Lord and spread it out before the Lord.  And Hezekiah prayed before the Lord and said, 'O Lord, the God of Israel, who art enthroned above the cherubim, Thou art the God, Thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth.  Thou hast made heaven and earth...listen to the words of Sennacherib,  has sent to reproach the living God.  Truly, O Lord,  the kings of Assyria have devastated the nations and their lands and have cast their gods into the fire, for they were not gods but the work of men's hands, wood and stone.  So they have destroyed them.  And now, O Lord our God, I pray, deliver us from this hand that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that Thou alone, O  Lord, art God.'
(verses 14-19)


 
Isaiah put his two cents worth in with God on behalf of Hezekiah and the kingdom...
She has despised you and mocked you,
The virgin daughter of Zion;
She has shaken her head behind you,
The daughter of Jerusalem!
Whom have you reproached and blasphemed?
And against whom have you raised your voice,
And haughtily lifted up your eyes?
Against the Holy One of Israel!
Through your messengers you have reproached the Lord,
...But I know your sitting down,
And your going out and your coming in,
And your raging against me...
And because your arrogance has come up to My ears.
Therefore, I will put My hook in your nose,
And My bridle in your lips,
And I will turn you back by the way you came...
For I will defend this city to save it for My own sake
and for My servant David's sake.'
Then it happened that night that the angel of the Lord went out,
and struck 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians;
and when men rose early in the morning, behold all of them were dead.
So Sennacherib king of Assyria returned home."
(verses 21-35)

 
I would say that God despises arrogance, especially when it is spit out on his own. 
Like my husband likes to quote, "Don't tug on Superman's cape...or spit into the wind."

 
There are real enemies out there, there is genocide against Christians which seems far away, yet missionaries from Africa have recently asked for prayer for their ministry friends in Mozambique who are being attacked and killed systematically if caught out on the road.  It is not just in the Middle East, but in Sudan, Kenya, and as far as Mozambique  One of those who is in danger is a young man from Loma Rica--a friend of our sons-in-law-- who married a woman from Africa, and they are serving as missionaries. 
Is that close enough?
 
Do what Hezekiah did.  He spread it all out before the Lord and prayed.
Then "The stout-hearted are spoiled.  The boasting blasphemers, such as Sennacherib, Rabshakeh, and their master, the king of Assyria." 
 "It was not by any human means that his immense army was overthrown: it was by the power of God alone." 
(Adam Clarke)
 
 
Just a word of warning:
"With a remnant of wrath Thou shalt gird Thyself."
He is still dressed and ready to defend the humble.

It's like when it comes to your kids, you are like, "Mess with my kids, you mess with me."
Mama's got her "remnant of wrath" on, just in case it's needed.
What?  You don't have that wrapped around your middle?
Well, get it on!
At least call on God for help when needed.
 
 
 
 


Friday, April 29, 2016

PSALM 75




I woke up with heaviness, the burden, near constant prayer for our nation which is facing an election.  This psalm is about when David finally came to power.  The first thing he does is give thanks.  Then he chides those who do not reverence God who alone grants governments their power, "those who assume their authority and influence came by their own merit and for them they were accountable to none." (Adam Clarke) David affirms he will judge uprightly, rectify disorders.

 
"We give thanks to Thee, O God, we give thanks,
For thy name is near;
Men declare Thy wondrous works.
When I select an appoint time,
It is I who judge with equity.
The earth and all who dwell in it will melt;
It is I who have firmly set its pillars."
 
"God votes for us, the devil votes against us.  We cast the deciding vote."

"But God is the Judge;
He puts down one,
and exalts another."
(verse 6)


 
I pray for a godly one to rule.  That is our choice before us.  People vote for their pocketbook when we should vote for a godly ruler, one who takes a stand for righteousness, for the unborn.  The next leader's biggest influence will be the appointment of the Supreme Court justices.  We have before us those who face criminal charges, one who claims to be a Christian but has no idea what repentance is, the one who brags about his adultery, whose third wife has posed for porn (naked on the cover of GQ magazine), the one who has no moral compass thus his opinions blow with the wind, yet evangelicals line up behind him.  To me it is incomprehensible.  God will allow us to drink from the cup we have chosen.  Woe to us. 

 

 
"For a cup is in the hand of the Lord,
and the wine foams;
It is well mixed, and He pours out of this;
Surely all the wicked of the earth must drain
and drink down its dregs."
(verse 8)


 
I do not drink.  I will soon visit them-thar hills  in Tennessee where my great-great grandpa hid his stills from the revenuers, the brew that kept him and his under the influence, that almost caused him to kill a man over them.  We will soon visit the place where even the relatives who were considered well established in the late 1700's to early 1800's left their stills in their will to their descendants.  However, there is a cup that all must partake.  It is passed down through all generations, around to each and everyone of us, straight from God's hand.   



 "The Psalmist uses an elegant comparison, comparing God to the master of a feast, who invites and entertains all kinds of men at his table; who has a cup of mixed wine in his hand, by which he  represents the miseries of this life.  To all God reaches this cup; and every one drinks of it, some more, some less...The wine is red, He gives to all; some even to his own children.  All must drink of this cup.  But the...dregs of it all the wicked of the earth shall wring out.  Those who are incorrigible have afflictions without benefit...On them God's judgments fall without mitigation." (Adam Clarke)



Matthew Henry says, "He, who is infinitely wise, holy, and good, has power to set up and put down whom, and when, and how he pleases.  That from God alone all must receive their doom (v.8): In the hand of the Lord there is a cup, which he puts into the hands of the children of men, a cup of providence mixed up of many ingredients.  The sufferings of Christ are called a cup, (Matthew 20:22; John 17:11)  The cup is red, denoting the wrath of God, which is infused into the judgments executed on sinners.  It is red as fire for it burns.  It is full of mixture.  There are mixtures of mercy and grace in the in the cup of affliction when it is put into the hands of God's own people, mixtures of the curse when it is put into the hands of the wicked; it is wine mingled with gall.  Some drops of this wrath may light on good people; they have their share in common calamities; but the dregs of the cup are reserved for the wicked. The calamity itself is but the vehicle into which the curse is infused...but the sediment is pure wrath, and that shall fall to the share of sinners." 
 


"But as for me,
I will declare it forever;
I will sing praises to the God of Jacob."
(verse 9)

 
This is the cup believed to have belonged to Gorm of Old,
the first Viking king, the one who we trace our ancestry to.
 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

PSALM 74

 

 
My man works for Teen Challenge in their Crisis Center, crisis as in mothers and wives and girlfriends sobbing to get their loved one entered into the program, sometimes knowing death is certain if they go back onto the streets.  As he works there, he has come to realize that a vast majority of those he works with have been basically fatherless.  It is the reason many have sought a "tribe" of sorts on the street and turned to self-medicating.  Some tribes in our society are called gangs.  Hillary Clinton ridiculously said that we need to offer good gangs to men instead of the bad.  The only gang people should seek is the welcoming tribe of God's people.  That's a good one.



"Remember Thy congregation,
which Thou hast purchased of old,
Which Thou hast redeemed to be
the tribe of Thine inheritance."
(verse 2)

 
 
"They have burned all the meeting places of God in the land"
(old Nebucadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem
 and again it was destroyed by the Romans in 70AD
just as Jesus prophesied it would)...
"There is no longer any prophet."
(verses 8 & 9)



"When wilt Thou once, Lord, end this shame,
And cease Thine en'mies strong?
Shall they always blaspheme Thy name,
And rail on Thee so long?

Why dost Thou draw Thy hand aback,
And hide it in Thy lap?
O pluck it out, and be not slack,
To give Thy foes a rap!"
(An old metrical version formed from the original text.)
 
With the psalmist we can say...

 
"Yet God is my king from of old,
Who works deeds of deliverance in the midst of the earth.
Thou didst divide the sea by Thy strength;
Thou didst break the heads of the sea monsters in the waters,
Thou didst crush the heads of Leviathan (sea monster);
Thou didst give him as food for the creatures of the wilderness."
(verses 8, 12-14)


 
Hmm.  Do you believe in sea monsters? 
I do.
They are used as an example of the thing men were most afraid of.
God is greater.  He created the terrifying things.
In this passage they are reminders of when
 Pharaoh and his armies were drowned.
They are mentioned several places in the Bible.
Job even dedicated a whole chapter to them...


 
"Can you draw out Leviathan with a fishhook?
Or press down his tongue with a cord?
Can you put a rope in his nose?
Or pierce his jaw with a hook?
Will he make many supplications to you?
Will he speak to you soft words?
Will he make a covenant with you?
Will you take him for a servant forever?
Will you play with him as with a bird?
Or will you bind him for your maidens?
Will the traders bargain over him?
Will they divide him among the merchants?
Can you fill his hide with harpoons,
Or his head with fishing spears?
Lay your hand on him;
Remember the battle; you will not do it again!
Behold, your expectation is false;
Will you be laid low even at the sight of him?
No one is so fierce that he dares to arouse him;


 


Who then is he that can stand before Me?
Who has given to Me that I should repay him?
Whatever is under the whole heaven is Mine.
I will not keep silence concerning his limbs,
Or his mighty strength, or his orderly frame.
Who can strip off his outer armor?
Who can come with his double mail?
Who can open the doors of his face?
Around his teeth there is terror.
His strong scales are his pride,
Shut up as with a tight seal.
One is so near to another,
That no air can come between them.
They are joined one to another;
They clasp each other and cannot be separated.



 
He sneezes flash forth light,
And his eyes are like the eyelids of the morning.
Out of his mouth go burning torches;
Sparks of fire leap forth.
Out of his nostrils smoke goes forth,
As from a boiling pot and burning rushes.
His breath kindles coals,
And a flame goes forth from his mouth.
In his neck lodges strength,
And dismay leaps before him.
The fold of his flesh are joined together,
Firm on him and immovable.
His heart is as hard as a stone;
Even as hard as a lower millstone.
When he raises up, the mighty fear;





Because of the crashing they are bewildered.
The word that reaches him cannot avail;
Nor the spear, the dart, or the javelin.
He regards iron as straw,
Bronze as rotten wood.
The arrow cannot make him flee;
Slingstones are turned into stubble for him.
Clubs are regarded as stubble;
He laughs at the rattling of the javelin.
His underparts are like sharp potsherds;
He spreads out like a threshing sledge on the mire.
He makes the depths boil like a pot;
He makes the sea like a jar of ointment.
Behind him he makes a wake shine;
One would think the deep to be gray-haired.
Nothing on earth is like him,
One made without fear.
He looks on everything that is high;
He is king over all the sons of pride."
(Job 41)



(By the way it is scientifically explainable how creatures could breathe fire.  For example, the half inch Bombadier Beetle combines two chemicals, one of which is hydrogen peroxide, and sparks an explosion that sends fire out from his rear that reaches 100 degrees centigrade.  Gnashing teeth could send sparks that could ignite gas on fire in larger creatures such as a sea monster.  Remember, even cows breathe so much gas that extreme environmentalist say they harm the environment.  It's a good thing that their teeth are made to chew cud, not gnash.)


 
"There is the sea, great and broad...
There the ships move along,
And Leviathan, which Thou
has formed to sport in it."
(Psalm 104:26)


 
"In that day, the Lord will punish
Leviathan the fleeing serpent,
With His fierce and great and mighty sword,
Even Leviathan the twisted serpent;
And He will kill the dragon who lives in the sea."
(Isaiah 27:1)


 
The Smothers Brothers, a pair of comedians for you young'uns, used to sing a song...
 
"O the Slitheredee,
he climbed out of the sea.
He may catch all the others,
but he won't catch me!
No, he won't catch me
you stupid ol'Slitheredee.
You may catch all the others
but you won't...
(swallowing sound ensued)




Yep.  That's an old, old kind of tune.  When men are afraid, they kill something
before they are killed.  Who wants to be eaten by a sea serpent?  Thus, the sea serpents are all extinct, except for a sighting here and there. It would be hard to totally exterminate something that can survive in the vastness of the ocean. (As I said before, my straight-edge parents--not given to whims or superstitions--secretly told us that they had both seen one  off the Morro Bay coast line, but were afraid to tell anyone lest they be thought crazy.)  Hmm.

 

 
I'm a believer.
He said it, I believe it.
God is my King from of old.
He will slay my dragons.
I belong to His tribe.



 
 
 
 
 
 


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

PSALM 73 continued
 

Like a child, I cry, "Hold you!"

 

One of my very, very favorite Scriptures...
 
"Whom have I in heaven but Thee?
And besides Thee,
I desire nothing on earth."
(verse 25)





 
This is one that is always in a pocket of my heart ready to pull out when everything else has left me unable to breathe, an oxygen mask to pull down when the airplane I'm on is on a downward spiral.  This is what I have to say when everything else is stripped away, boiled dry.  Sometimes it is good to have tunnel vision, especially when there is a light at the end of the tunnel.


 
"All is well if God be mine."
 
"Our drawing near to God takes rise from His drawing near to us,
and it is the happy meeting that makes the bliss."
(Matthew Henry)
 
 
I  desire not anything on this round earth except the beauty of God where it will all be perfected in heaven.  This sphere is just a hint of what is to come.  It can never fill the void in the heart, a God-sized void, that can only be filled by the Creator Himself.  Only He can breathe life into our being. Haven't you had that achy-breaky heart?
 
 
 

 
Somehow these verses make me picture a small hand reaching up
and a strong hand reaching down

 
The previous verse 23 says,
"Nevertheless, I am continually with Thee;
Thou hast taken hold of my right hand." 
"They are tenderly led by the hand of a loving father."
(Adam Clarke)

 
"My flesh and my heart may fail,
But God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever...
But as for me, the nearness of God is my good;
I have made the Lord God my refuge,
That I may tell of all Thy works."
(verses 26, 28)

 
"He speaks as one careless of the body (let that fail, there is no remedy), but as one concerned about the soul, to be strengthened in the inner man."
(Matthew Henry)


 
"God is the strength (literally, the rock) of my heart."
 
this is opposed to the earlier verse in between (verse 27)
"All them who go a whoring from thee."





 
It is a matter of the heart, for one who cleaves to the lover of his soul.  We dare not trust in the physical chambers of the heart which all will fail, no matter how much exercise, how healthy a diet, no matter how amazing the medical miracles achieved.  The heart should beat out of our chest with love for God, and Him alone.

 
"Cleave to God."



Tuesday, April 26, 2016

PSALM 73
 
 
 

 
"Surely God is good to Israel,
To those who are pure in heart.
But as for me, my feet came close to stumbling;
My steps had almost slipped.
For I was envious of the arrogant,
As I saw the prosperity of the wicked...
And their body is fat...
Their eye bulges from fatness;
The imaginations of their heart run riot."
(selections from verses 1-7)

 
Oh, Ezra. 
My five year old grandson was mad, had a little fit, that he didn't get more ice cream.  He said, "The bad king is the best.  Jesus is annoying."
Hmm.




This is just a snapshot of what we all have gone through from time to time, wanting more, 
 jealous when it seems the bad guys have all the fun,
get all the good stuff.
Yep.

Yet...


"Surely God is good to Israel,
To those who are pure in heart."
(verse 1)
"Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they shall see God."
(Matt. 5:8)

More ice cream can make the body fat.
Make our eye bulge from fatness.
So why are we jealous?


In the old days, I mean Bible old days, to be fat was a sign of wealth.  Poor people were skinny, not because they were on the Adkins diet or drank Slim Fast, but because they knew what it was to hunger, truly hunger. 

"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they shall be filled."
(Matt. 5:6)

 
It's all in one's perspective,
in the health of our heart,
our heart towards God.
 

We don't have to be envious of the arrogant,
 be jealous of the prosperity of the wicked, 
wish for the ice cream that makes them fat.

"Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
(Matt. 5:3)

We have a kingdom,
we can be rich in God when poor in spirit,
can receive good things from God, be blessed,
 when we are pure in heart.


The bad king is not the best.
Jesus is not annoying:
the struggle within each and every heart
is for a kingdom
whose good king wants to bless us.



That's all I can chew on today.