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Psalm 119

This is the sixth and  final devotion taken from Psalm 1119.  I hope you’ve enjoyed this series. Today we conclude with four, not three, stanzas. In Hebrew, the letters are Qoph,  Resh, Sin and Shin, and Taw.  So many of these verses have been memorized and recited millions and millions of times of the past 3000 years, that I am sure quite a few will be familiar to you today.

ק Qoph

“I call with all my heart; answer me, Lord, and I will obey your decrees.

I call out to you; save me and I will keep your statutes. 

I rise before dawn and cry for help;  I have put my hope in your word. 

My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promises. 

Hear my voice in accordance with your love; preserve my life, Lord, according to your laws.

Those who devise wicked schemes are near,  but they are far from your law.

Yet you are near, Lord, and all your commands are true.

Long ago I learned from your statutes that you established them to last forever.”

David’s got things in his life in proper order, so he rests and does not fret.  But how much time do we waste worrying about what we should be talking to God about?  How much joy has been lost by rubbing your hands and fretting!  In a recent study of over 1000 people, on average, people admitted to spend an incredible 1 hour and 50 minutes fretting over something daily!    A French philosopher once said that, “There were many terrible things in my life…. and most of them never happened.” (Michel de Montaigne)  It’s been suggested that 90% of what we worry about never happen.  So replace worry, anxiety and anxiousness with prayer—-BEGIN your day, as David did, seeking God with all your heart and watch how anxiousness dissipates.

Do you recall when you were a little boy or little girl how you could not wait till the break of dawn on Christmas morning?  As a boy, I never found any  reason for excitement to wake up early, for  any day, except Christmas morning.  I could not wait to get up, and some how I never woke up (quite early) Christmas morning, in a bad mood!  It was an exciting time, and I was not about to miss all the excitement or be the last one up!

Now I am not saying that each morning I wake up with that same burst of energy because Santa Clause came last night, but neither can I imagine sleeping through the morning and missing my time with Him  each morning.  This past week some urgent matters came my way very early one morning, and my time with the Lord was cut short.  I’m not superstitious or afraid that God will smite me because I may miss my time with Him, and I am certain, and  without a doubt, that He understands that emergencies do come,  and He knows I would rather spend time with Him than be attending another urgent matter!  But all day I long I knew that I had missed the time that I like the most—-and long for and wait for all night. God knows this—-and I am not saying it to display my own piety, but to confess my love for Him and my dependence upon Him—-that’s what David is doing here also.

Personally, I do not think that is possible for a person can be a authentic disciple of Jesus Christ and not have an intimate time of prayer— first thing in the morning.  I know of no Christian hero that did not begin their day in prayerful solitude with God each morning.  If you want to grow in your faith and find peace, joy, and spiritual power throughout the day, begin with Him.  Worship Him and see what happens in your heart.

C.S. Lewis once said that, ”The most valuable thing the Psalms do for me is to express the same delight in  God which made David dance!  Your see, we were not born to be free—we were born to adore and obey.”   You will have a happy heart and cheery outlook if He is your first appointment each morning.

ר Resh 

“Look on my suffering and deliver me, for I have not forgotten your law.

Defend my cause and redeem me; preserve my life according to your promise.

Salvation is far from the wicked, for they do not seek out your decrees. 

Your compassion, Lord, is great; preserve my life according to your laws. 

Many are the foes who persecute me, but I have not turned from your statutes. 

I look on the faithless with loathing, for they do not obey your word. 

See how I love your precepts; preserve my life, Lord, in accordance with your love. 

All your words are true;  all your righteous laws are eternal.”

This past week my youngest, Tyler,  got sick.  Coughing, runny nose, no appetite or energy, sleeping most of the day—it’s going around.  I rarely go to “urgent care”, but  I spent two hours there this past Thursday— Tyler was just miserable. Each evening he slept on the couch in my room, coughing and sobbing all night about how his throat was burning, his head was aching,  how he was hurting all over.   Between his crying he begged me to help him.   But what could I do? Urgent care could’t help any more than I was, and it was 3:00 am.—but I could not stand it.  So I sincerely prayed to God to heal him or let me have his pain!  And I meant it!  Please let me suffer!, but take this suffering away from my little boy.   His weeping and unhappy frame of mind was far worse, in my mind, for him than if I had the pain.

Now that’s the same thing God heard and saw when David wrote this Psalm.  God’s epiphany to me, as I lay in my bed, begging for God to let Tyler’s pain and suffering fall on me, was that this is precisely what my Lord did at calvary.  He cried to God, as it were, “Let all the pain and suffering, the separation from you and agony your children suffer, the eternal consequence of every soul that calls upon You to fall upon Me! Let me suffer in their place!”  Such was the love that Christ has for you and me, and such is the compassion the Father had when He let His beloved Son take on our coughs, headaches, runny noses….and death on that dark Friday.

I understand, a little bit better, the love of God, because of how my imperfect heart was breaking for Tyler this past week.  The compassion I had for my little boy is no different, just infinitely  more diluted, than the compassionate love that God has for you.  But you’ve got to ask for His help—cry out like Tyler did to the Father… and see if He does not respond and hold you in His arms and whisper the very things your heart is yearning to hear!

ש Sin and Shin 

“Rulers persecute me without cause,  but my heart trembles at your word. 

I rejoice in your promise like one who finds great spoil. 

I hate and detest falsehood  but I love your law. 

Seven times a day I praise you  for your righteous laws. 

Great peace have those who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.

I wait for your salvation, Lord, and I follow your commands. 

I obey your statutes,  for I love them greatly.

I obey your precepts and your statutes, for all my ways are known to you.”

David makes it a point that he has reasons, good causes, to fear men—there were those that want to destroy him.  But it is what God wants, expects, and commands that gets David’s attention each morning. He correctly  fears the consequences of being unpleasing to  God—and shows little regard to the fear of displeasing men. He’s got it right. And so should we that are mothers or fathers—-and for crying out loud so should those that we elect officials this fall.  Are we electing folks that have a sober understanding of God’s expectations for those that lead, or are we voting for me and women that are gifted orators?

ת Taw

“May my cry come before you, Lord; give me understanding according to your word. 

May my supplication come before you;  deliver me according to your promise.

May my lips overflow with praise, for you teach me your decrees.

May my tongue sing of your word, for all your commands are righteous. 

May your hand be ready to help me,  for I have chosen your precepts. 

I long for your salvation, Lord, and your law gives me delight. 

Let me live that I may praise you, and may your laws sustain me.

I have strayed like a lost sheep. Seek your servant, for I have not forgotten your commands.”

Let me repeat something that we, as body of believers, should hold fast to:”Let me live that I may praise you.…”.  Has God let you live….has He saved you?  In the past have you found yourself sinking the mud, and then found that He heard your cry and put your feet on dry ground?  Has He answered your prayers, time after time, when you cried out to Him?  Well, if you truly know Him, the answer is a resounding, YES HE HAS!  And praise God that He has—but are you praising Him? ….”Let me live that I may praise you”….That should be our vow to Him!  But are you praising Him with heart, voice and spirit?  As we sang this morning were you praising Him—or do you think that it’s the choir, or this talented worship leader’s job to praise  Him?

We are imagined by God for the purpose of worshipping Him and praising Him and our lives are empty and unfulfilled any day we fail to praise Him.  Tozer once said, "Without worship, we go about miserable."   True worshipers aren't just moved by powerful music. They are moved by the weight of God's glory. They are hushed by the.magnitude of His presence.

Ok, but in the last very last verse there’s an interesting point.  Throughout this long, long Psalm, David talks about how he has been blameless, and sought God and not associated with people that ignore God’s precepts,  but here, in the very last verse he admits something very telling: “I have strayed like a lost sheep. Seek your servant….”   David did not always walk perfectly … .and at other times he did not seek direction from God. He lost His way during his life!   And God, I think, delights in that confession! We  all,  like sheep, have gone astray!   I once had 40 sheep, and they’re the most beautiful livestock to raise in the world, in my opinion.  But what silly, disobedient and stupid animals they can be.   We had green, watered, fenced in pastures, but certain ones were always complaining and trying to  find a way to get out…. and then bleat for rescue as they looked for better grass in the worst parts of the land that surrounded us!

You’re going to have times when you go the wrong way, make a dumb decision, falter in your witness.   You will have storms and darks days in your life friends!  But in the darkest times of your life, your praise to God away—that’s when we should shouting the the Lord the loudest! “Let the enemy know you re not afraid of the dark.”  (Stormie Omartian). A private relationship of worshiping God is the most essential element of spiritual fitness—don’t miss your morning workouts.

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