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September 8 – Don’t Fret

Read Psalm 37:1-11

Psalm 37 is another acrostic psalm.  It contains eight precepts, six of which are found in verses 1—8.  The psalm begins with this two-part command: Do not fret because of evildoers: do not envy them.  The sixth precept, which is found in verse 8, is similar: “Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.”

I sometimes tell my children, “Don’t fret.”  I say that when they are anxious about something trivial or something that’s out of their control, and I want them to stop worrying.  But “fret” as it’s used in these passages has a slightly different meaning.  It means, “Do not get hot with anger.”  This kind of fretting is fuming, fuming that kindles the fire of envy.  Why should we not envy the wicked?  Because “evildoers shall be cut off” (v. 9).  The wicked who disregard God’s law and live only for their own pleasure are like animals who are fattened in order that they might be slaughtered (James 5:5).  “But those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth” (v. 9).  There in that inheritance his saints “shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace” (v. 11).

Sing or pray Psalter #95.

 

September 9 – Trust and Do

Read James 2:14—26

In Psalm 37:3 we’re commanded: “Trust in the Lord, and do good.”  In other words, we’re called to have an active faith in our covenant God: we’re called to demonstrate our faith in word and deed.  The glorious truth of the gospel is that we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.  Our works don’t save us, but we were saved to do good works!  Titus 2:14 teaches that Jesus Christ “gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” Eph. 2:8-10a reads, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works…”  We’re called not only to trust, but also to do: “Faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone” (James 2:17).

Is your life consistent with your profession to be a follower of Christ?  “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16).

Sing or pray Psalter #95.

 

September 10 – Delight in the Lord

Read Isaiah 55

The third precept contained in Psalm 37 is this: “Delight thyself also in the Lord.”  We’ve noted previously in our study of the psalms that the righteous man delights in the law of God.  The good works that he does are driven by that delight.  In this text we’re called to seek our happiness in God himself: in his being, his perfections, his friendship, and his love (Barnes).  Do you find joy in meditating upon God?  Does your heart cry out, “I will love thee, O LORD, my strength” (Ps. 18:1)?

There’s a promise attached to this command: “and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.”  One who delights in God desires above all to know him more and more.  That’s a request God never denies!  He has mercy upon those who seek him; he abundantly pardons those who forsake their wicked ways.  As to your other desires, “the fact that you seek your happiness in him will regulate your desires, so that you will be ‘disposed’ to ask only those things which it will be proper for him to grant” (Barnes).

Sing or pray Psalter #95.

 

 

 

September 11 – Arise, My Fair One

Read Song of Solomon 2

Most women can readily rattle off a number of things they don’t like about their face and figure.  If they are married, those self-preoccupied thoughts usually don’t encourage intimacy with their husbands.  Instead, they lead them to resolutions to diet, exercise, whiten their teeth, or dye their hair.  If the Christian wife of a godly husband would instead focus on delighting in her husband, he would likely soon dispel her insecurities with his reassurance that he finds her beautiful and desirable.

Spiritually speaking, we must know how great our sin and misery is.  We aren’t just flawed: we’re totally depraved!  But we don’t stop there.  Focusing on our sins and sinfulness only drives us to despair or to thinking that we must work harder in order to save ourselves.  We must move on to focus on our Savior, our heavenly Husband, to delight in his being, his perfections, his friendship, and his love.  His righteousness has been imputed to us, making us beautiful in his sight.  To us he says, “Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.”  Sit “down under his shadow with great delight.”

Sing or pray Psalter #95.

 

September 12 – Commit Thy Way unto the Lord

Read 1 Peter 5

What is the fourth precept found in Psalm 37?  “Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass” (v. 5).  1 Pet. 5:7 echoes this command.  We must roll the heavy burden of our cares and concerns onto the mighty shoulders of our God.  That’s how we commit our way unto him:

Thy way, not mine, O Lord, however dark it be;
Lead me by thine own hand, choose out the path for me.

Smooth let it be or rough, it will be still the best;
Winding or straight, it leads right onward to thy rest.

I dare not choose my lot; I would not, if I might;
Choose thou for me, my God, so I shall walk aright.

Take thou my cup, and it with joy or sorrow fill,
As best to thee may seem; choose thou my good and ill.

Choose thou for me my friends, my sickness or my health;
Choose thou my cares for me my poverty or wealth.

The kingdom that I seek is thine: so let the way
That leads to it be thine, else I must surely stray.

Not mine, not mine the choice in things or great or small;
Be thou my Guide, my Strength, my Wisdom, and my All.

Sing or pray Psalter #96.

 

September 13 – Rest in the Lord

Read Leviticus 10:1—11

God chose Aaron and his four sons to minister before him in the priests’ office.  When Nadab and Abihu failed to sanctify God before the congregation, God’s judgment was immediate and severe: he devoured them with fire.  But Aaron wasn’t permitted even the customary signs of mourning: his appearance and behavior were to testify to the justice of God’s punishment upon his sons.  How did Aaron respond?  He “held his peace.”

Rom 15:4 teaches us that “whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.”  Psalm 37:7 commands us to hold our peace as Aaron did: “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him.”  The word translated “rest” there means “to be silent before the Lord.”  That silence is a humble acknowledgement that God is God.  It’s a hopeful, patient quietness of soul that is possible only by the work of the Holy Spirit.  Do you face the trials in your life with a quiet heart?  “Thus saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel; in returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength” (Is. 30:15).

Sing or pray Psalter #96.

September 14 – Better than Riches

Read 1 Timothy 6

“A little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked” (Ps. 37:16).  That’s a truth that’s easy to confess but difficult to live.  My children will sometimes work hard to save their money for a special toy.  As soon as they buy it, they have their eyes on something better.  We adults are no different.  The Scriptures teach that godliness with contentment is great gain, yet Christian contentment is a “rare jewel.”  “A Christian comes to contentment, not so much by way of addition as by way of subtraction…Contentment does not come by adding to what you have, but by subtracting from what you desire. The world says that you will find contentment when your possessions rise to meet the level of your desires…The Christian has another way to contentment, that is, he can bring his desires down to his possessions” (Jeremiah Burroughs).  Yesterday we considered the Christian’s calling to be quiet before the Lord.  “Better is an handful with quietness, than both the hands full with travail and vexation of spirit” (Ecc. 4:6).

Can you say this with the apostle Paul? “I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content” (Phil. 4:11).

Sing or pray Psalter #97.

 

September 15 – The Art of Discontent

Read Luke 12:13—21

Christians must not only learn to be content: we must learn to be discontent.  The rich fool was satisfied with his “much goods laid up for many years.”  When we have all the earthly things we desire, we must long for the spiritual treasures that alone can satisfy.  “Believers ought to see to it that after they have learned that this life will soon vanish like a dream, they transfer the things they want truly to enjoy to a place where they will have life unceasing.  We ought, then, to imitate what people do who determine to migrate to another place, where they have chosen a lasting abode. They send before them all their resources, and do not grieve over lacking them for a time, for they deem themselves the happier the more goods they have where they will be for a long time” (Calvin).

Do you “desire a better country, that is, an heavenly”?  Then God is not ashamed to be called your God: for he has prepared for you a city.  Lay up your treasures there.

Sing or pray Psalter #97.

 

 

September 16 – Christ is More to Me

Read Luke 16:1—13

This week my children are learning about the parable of the unjust steward in their Sunday school lesson.  The steward in Luke 16 is not only unjust, he’s shrewd.  He believes that this world is all there is to live for, and he acts accordingly.  In contrast we who are the children of light say that our home is in heaven, but we spend the majority of our time and resources pursuing earthly treasures.  We forget that we are stewards of the mysteries of God (1 Cor. 4:1) and that only our works that cannot be destroyed by fire will endure (1 Cor. 3:11-15).  “Moreover, it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful” (1 Cor. 4:2).

So “love Christ more and you will love money less. When you have less you will find yourself saying, ‘I am learning to be content. Christ is more to me than all the world.’  When you have more you will say, ‘How can I use what I have to serve Christ? Because Christ is more to me than all the world’” (Pastor Colin Smith).  That’s a life that’s consistent with this confession: “A little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked.”

Sing or pray Psalter #97.

 

September 17 – The Steps of the Good Man

Read Psalm 37:12—26

A sister from our congregation visits the 3rd and 4th grade classroom at our school weekly to play her autoharp and teach the students new songs.  One of my daughter’s favorite songs from this past year was the words of Psalm 37:23—24 set to music: “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way.  Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand.”

Several days ago we considered the reality that the Lord directs our way.  More specifically, he providentially directs our every step.  We don’t know what this day holds, not to mention the coming week or year.  But God does.  “He does not always show [us our] way at a distance, but leads [us] step by step, as children are led, and so keeps [us] in a continual dependence upon his guidance” (Matthew Henry).  So we devise our future way mindful that only if the LORD wills will we live and do this or that.  What a comforting truth: for he orders all things for our good and directs our steps to an expected end.

Sing or pray Psalter #98.

 

September 18 – He Delights in My Way

Read Zephaniah 3

We must delight in the Lord, but what a wonder that he also delights in us!  He does so not because of anything that we have done.  By nature we’re like the Israelites of old: we refuse correction, don’t trust in the Lord, and don’t draw near to him (Zeph. 3:2).  All that we do is corrupt (v. 7).  But “the Lord hath taken away thy judgments, he hath cast out thine enemy” (v. 15). Instead, God himself dwells in us.  Not only does he rule over all the events that concern us in his providence: he directs us through the work of his Holy Spirit in our hearts.  He makes us sorry for our sins (v. 18) and causes us to bring forth “fruits meet for repentance” (Matt. 3:8).  Because he is mighty, “he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing” (Zeph. 3:17).  “The Lord taketh pleasure in his people: he will beautify the meek with salvation” (Ps. 149:4).

We live in a world that is hostile to all that is holy.  May we be comforted knowing that God delights in our way.

Sing or pray Psalter #98.

 

 

September 19 – Not Utterly Cast Down

Read Psalm 51:1—12

Psalm 37:24 says this about the righteous: “Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand.”  Canons of Dordt, Head 5, expounds this truth:

“Converts are not always so influenced and actuated by the Spirit of God, as not in some particular instances sinfully to deviate from the guidance of divine grace, so as to be seduced by and comply with the lusts of the flesh; they must, therefore, be constant in watching and prayer, that they be not led into temptation.  When these are neglected, they are…drawn into great and heinous sins…By such enormous sins, however, they very highly offend God, incur a deadly guilt, grieve the Holy Spirit, interrupt the exercise of faith, very grievously wound their consciences, and sometimes lose the sense of God’s favor for a time, until, on their returning into the right way of serious repentance, the light of God’s fatherly countenance again shines upon them.  But God…does not wholly withdraw the Holy Spirit from His own people, even in their melancholy falls, nor suffers them to proceed so far as to lose the grace of adoption and forfeit the state of justification…”

Sing or pray Psalter # 98.

 

September 20 – The Number of My Days

Read Psalm 90

As the sovereign Ruler over all, our heavenly Father determines the number of our days.  “The Lord knoweth the days of the upright” (Ps. 37:18a).  The Scriptures are full of metaphors that describe the fleeting nature of our earthly lives.  Whether we die when we are young or old, our lives are like a vapor, a shadow, a flower, and the grass that springs up and withers in a day.   Job 14: 5-6 reads, “Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months are with thee, thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass; turn from him, that he may rest, till he shall accomplish, as an hireling, his day.  You and I are hirelings, servants who serve their Master only for a short, set time (v.6).

Knowing that our lives are so brief, how should we live?  We should make this prayer of Moses ours: “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (Ps. 90:12).

Sing or pray Psalter #100.

 

September 21 – Till My Change Come

Read Job 14

Not only are our lives short: they are sinful.  “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one” (Job 14:4).  Furthermore, God, who numbers our steps, sees every sin (v. 16).  And the wages of our sin is death (Rom. 6:23).  But there is comfort for the upright in Psalm 37:18: “The LORD knoweth the days of the upright: and their inheritance shall be for ever.  And Job answers his own question – “If a man die, shall he live again?” – in faith: “All the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come.  Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee: thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands” (v. 14—15).  Not only Job, “but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Cor. 15:51—52).

How is that possible?  “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:23).

Sing or pray Psalter #100.

 

 

September 22 – Metamorphosis

Read 1 Corinthians 15:51-58

Two plastic jars sit on our kitchen window sill.  In one of them, five rapidly growing caterpillars squirm over each other, littering their cramped quarters with droppings at the same astonishing rate at which their food disappears.  In the other jar, three still, seemingly lifeless chrysalises dangle from the lid.  But something is taking place within those chrysalises: metamorphosis, “a profound change.”  During this pupal stage, the larvae that entered those chrysalises liquefy into a protein soup.  Out of those elements God creates a beautiful adult butterfly that emerges only a short week later.

Today I think about death – and about our metamorphosis – as I wash the dishes and watch our caterpillars.  As remarkable as it to see an earth-bound, creeping caterpillar transformed into a colorful butterfly, fluttering in the rays of the sun, the change that awaits us is far more glorious.  We are going to be changed profoundly.  “So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory…thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Sing or pray Psalter #29.

 

September 23 – Vessels Fit for Destruction

Read Matthew 25:31-46

Our children once found two swallowtail caterpillars in our garden.  They captured them, dutifully fed them until they pupated, and then waited eagerly for the beautiful ebony butterflies to emerge.  To our shock and dismay, two large, ugly wasps came out of the chrysalises instead.  They were parasites.  Injected into the body of the caterpillars as eggs, they ate them from within, waiting to kill them until they pupated.  The wasp larvae then went through their own metamorphosis before chewing their way out of the chrysalises.

Many assume that after death all people will be changed into a glorious body and live joyfully for eternity.  Matthew 25 and 2 Thessalonians 1 teach that “when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,” he will take “vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  They will be punished “with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.”  Their bodies will be changed into vile, ugly bodies suited for the terrible place in which they will spend eternity.  Thank God: that’s the punishment from which you and I have been saved.

Sing or pray Psalter #149.

 

September 24 – You are a Saint

Read Psalm 37:27—33

Charles Spurgeon calls Psalm 37:27-29 the quintessence of Psalm 37.  These verses contain the psalm’s seventh precept: “Depart from evil, and do good.”  The incentive to obey that command follows in verse 28: “For the Lord loveth judgment, and forsaketh not his saints; they are preserved for ever: but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off.”

The Lord does not forsake his saints.  Who are his saints?  Saints are not an exclusive group of apostles, martyrs, and others who attain a seemingly greater measure of holiness.  Sainthood is “a status into which God brings every believer.  All Christians are saints” (Jerry Bridges).  A saint is someone who has been sanctified, that is, set apart.  Saints are set apart by God, for God.  “For ye are bought with a price,” the inspired apostle writes in 1 Cor. 6:20.  What was the purchase price of your life?  “The precious blood of Christ” (1 Pet. 1:9).  We no longer serve sin: Christ is the Lord – the Owner – of our lives.  “Therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Cor. 6:20b.)  Or, in the words of Psalm 37, “Depart from evil, and do good.”

Sing or pray Psalter #100.

September 25 – The Meek Shall Inherit the Earth

Read Psalm 37:34-40

Psalm 37:34 commands: “Wait on the LORD, and keep his way.”  For “evil doers shall be cut off,” “but the meek shall inherit the earth” (v. 9, 11).  Our Lord Jesus quoted this psalm in his sermon on the mount.  We saints, the citizens of the kingdom of heaven, must be characterized by meekness.  One who is meek esteems others better than himself.  He is mindful of all that he’s been forgiven and is ready to forgive others.  That means he is characterized by self-control and is not quick to retaliate when he is wronged.  One who is meek humbly receives rebuke and reproof.  He is teachable: he longs to learn the way of Jehovah.   “The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek he will teach his way” (Ps. 25:9).  That meekness is the work of the Holy Spirit by the Word.

By nature we equate meekness with weakness.  In this life the strong seem to conquer.  But “the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God…therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours.”  All things, including “the world,” “things present,” and “things to come.”  How can that be?  “Ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s” (1 Cor. 3:19—23).

Sing or pray Psalter #100.

 

September 26 – A Prayer of Lament

Read Psalm 38

The psalms are prayer songs.  Psalm 37, the psalm that we just considered, is one of the Wisdom Psalms.  Like the Proverbs, it instructs believers regarding the fear of the Lord.  Psalm 38 is a psalm of lament: a sorrowful, heartfelt prayer of complaint addressed to our sovereign, gracious heavenly Father.

We’re commanded in the Bible to pray without ceasing, to cast our burdens upon the Lord, to “seek the Lord and his strength, seek his face continually” (1 Chron. 16:11).  According the Heidelberg Catechism, prayer is “the chief part of thankfulness that God requires of us.”  But praying is hard work.  Do you find that your prayers are sometimes thoughtless, self-centered, or repetitive?  I do.  That’s when it can be beneficial to use the words of Scripture to stimulate and direct our prayers.   As we study Psalm 38, I intend to use the words of this inspired prayer of David as a guide for my own prayers.  I would like you do the same.

Sing or pray Psalter #102.

 

September 27 – A Burden Too Heavy

Read Psalm 38: 1—4

The psalmist cries to Jehovah because he is overwhelmed by two things: God’s anger and his own sin.  His sin is a flood that has gone over his head and a burden that is too heavy for him to bear.  I am thankful he does not specify the sin or “foolishness” for which he is chastised.  By nature we’d like to know, wouldn’t we?  It’s easier for us to focus on another’s sins than it is to apply the words of Scripture to our own hearts and lives.

Instead, let’s each take a moment to consider our own sins.  Too often we make light of our sins: we excuse the transgressions for which our Savior died.  When we rightly assess our sinful state and the chastisement that God has sent on account of our wickedness, we should be overwhelmed.  Pray Psalm 38:1-14 as you consider you sins, and thank God that you do not have to bear the punishment due to you for them.  “And when I think, that God, Son not sparing, sent him to die, I scarce can take it in.  That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing, he bled and died to take away my sin!”

Sing or pray Psalter #102.

 

 

September 28 – A Disquieted Heart

Read Psalm 38:5—8

The consequences and the chastisement that have come upon the psalmist as a result of his sin compound his grief.  Is his lament hyperbolic, or is he really suffering from stinking wounds and a loathsome disease?  “Whatever his horrible condition was, he makes it clear that it was caused by his ‘folly’” (Ross).  He writhes, is brought down, mourns, and is restless.

Can you discern the Lord’s chastening in your life?  I hope so, “for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth” (Heb. 12:6).  Perhaps a certain sin leaves you plagued with guilt or a loss of peace.  Sometimes God chastises our sins with tense or broken relationships, unpleasant circumstances, or spiritual laziness or weakness.  Perhaps your marriage is suffering because you refuse to love or to submit.  Perhaps your child wanders because you refused to discipline them.  Too often we complain about circumstances without considering whether or not they are the consequences of our sin and the Lord’s discipline for that sin.  Consider your chastisements as you pray the words of Psalm 38:5-8, and thank God for the one who bore chastisement for our peace.  With his stripes we are healed (Is. 53:5).

Sing or pray Psalter #102.

 

September 29 – Groaning Not Hid

Read Psalm 38:9—10

To whom do you turn when you are troubled?  The writer of Psalm 38 knows that the only one to whom he can turn in his trouble is the one who chastens him.  Nothing is hidden from the Lord: not only is he omniscient, he has sovereignly decreed all things from eternity.  And yet, the psalmist understands that he is responsible for his sin.  A young woman once asked Charles Spurgeon if it was possible to reconcile God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility.  “Young woman,” said he, “you don’t reconcile friends.”  It is impossible for us fully to grasp these two truths, yet they are inseparably woven throughout Scripture.

The psalmist tells God that his strength is failing and his vision is declining.  Does he refer to a literal loss of sight or lost perspective?  2 Corinthians 4:17 gives us perspective when we are enduring trials:  “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory…for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”  Let those truths guide you as you pray today.

Sing or pray Psalter #103.

 

September 30 – Our Sympathetic High Priest

Read Psalm 38:11—14

The psalms are God-breathed: they are the words of the “Word made flesh.”  Our Savior prayed the psalms even as he hung on the cross.  “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Ps. 22:1a).  “My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God” (Ps. 42:2a).  For our sakes he was abandoned by friend and kinsman.  His enemies sought after his life; they conspired and falsely accused him.  Throughout his mock trial and during his crucifixion, they added insult to injury.  “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth” (Is. 53:7).

Does your three-fold enemy seek to add insult to your injury?  “We have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.  Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:15—16).

Sing or pray Psalter #103.

 

October 1 – God Hears the Repentant

Read Psalm 38: 15—20

As we near the end of Psalm 38, the psalmist’s sorrow persists.  His enemies are lively and strong.  But he hopes in God, and he is confident that the Lord will hear him.  How can he be confident?  His sorrow is not a worldly sorrow, it is the godly sorrow that works repentance (2 Cor. 7:9).  What is the difference between worldly and godly sorrow?  “The sorrow of the world is, when men despond in consequence of earthly afflictions, and are overwhelmed with grief; while sorrow according to God is that which has an eye to God, while they reckon it the one misery — to have lost the favor of God; when, impressed with fear of His judgment, they mourn over their sins. This sorrow Paul makes the cause and origin of repentance” (Calvin).  Repentance, remember, is a change of heart and a subsequent turning from sin to walk in the way of righteousness.  God has granted the psalmist true repentance: he has confessed his sin and now follows that which is good.

Pray today mindful that “he that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy” (Prov. 28:13).

Sing or pray Psalter #103.

 

October 2 – The Basis of our Prayer

Read Psalm 38:21—22

The basis for the psalmist’s prayer is his covenant relationship with Jehovah.  The psalmist first refers to that relationship negatively: “Forsake me not,” he says.  Moses, before he died, spoke these words to God’s chosen people:  “Be strong and of a good courage…for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee” (Deut. 31:6).  In our Savior Christ Jesus, of whom Moses was only a type, God says, “And I will betroth thee unto me forever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies.  I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness…” (Hosea 2:19-20).  The psalmist goes on to plead God’s nearness and help: “The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth (Ps. 145:18).  Finally, he names the Lord: “my salvation.”

The result of the psalmist’s discipline is renewed faith and a restored relationship with God.  Nor does his sin hold him captive any longer.  Do you see that fruit of God’s discipline in your life?  Express your confidence in and thanksgiving to him as you pray.

Sing or pray Psalter #62.

 

October 3 – To Bring to Remembrance

Read Isaiah 38

Psalm 38 is entitled: “A psalm of David, to bring to remembrance.”  Like the words that Hezekiah penned after God had healed him, David wrote Psalm 38 to bring to his own remembrance his sorrow and God’s salvation.  How quickly we minimize or forget our sins, their chastisements, and God’s faithfulness to us!  Perhaps we should follow the example of David and Hezekiah and write down those experiences so that we remember them better.

But these men didn’t record their experiences only for their own benefit: they did so to instruct and encourage fellow saints.  Likewise, God “comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God” (2 Cor. 1:4).  Finally, they wrote these prayers to remind God of his promises.  God cannot forget his covenant with us, but he delights to bless us in the way of our making our requests to him in prayer.  To us he says, “I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins. Put me in remembrance: let us plead together…” (Is. 43:26).

Sing or pray Psalter #217.

 

October 4 – Think Before You Speak

Read Psalm 39

Psalm 39 is another psalm in which the Psalmist is experiencing severe chastening.  In verse eight he prays for deliverance from his transgressions, and in verses 10—11 he pleads with God, “Remove thy stroke away from me: I am consumed by the blow of thine hand.  When thou with rebukes dost correct man for iniquity, thou makest his beauty to consume away like a moth…”  But before he cries out to God, he determines that he will hold his tongue.  Why?

A war rages within the psalmist.  He knows that if he would speak while fighting anger and doubt, the words that he would say would likely give unbelievers an occasion to ridicule his faith and his God.  Instead, he keeps his mouth as though it were muzzled.  (“Muzzle” is a better translation than the word “bridle” here.)  Are you able to control your tongue like the psalmist did?  “If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain,” (James 1:26).  When you are troubled, do not disclose the thoughts of your heart before men.  Instead, go to your heavenly Father in prayer.

Sing or pray Psalter #104:1—6.

 

October 5 – But That which is Good

Read Ephesians 4:17—32

The psalmist in Psalm 39 is so fearful of sinning with his tongue that he resolves not say anything at all, not even anything good.  “In trying to avoid one fault, he fell into another. To use the tongue against God is a sin of commission, but not to use it at all involves an evident sin of omission” (Spurgeon).  That’s why Ephesians 4 commands us not only to put away lying, but also to speak truth.  And, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”  Similarly, we must not only refrain from profaning the name of God: we must use his name to confess and worship him.

Sometimes the good that we speak will be words of rebuke.  In Isaiah 50, Isaiah lays the sins of God’s people before them.  But then he reminds them of God’s greatness and says, “The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary” (Is. 50:4).  Let’s pray today for wisdom to use our tongues for good.

Sing or pray Psalter #386:1—6.

 

October 6 – A Transient

Read Psalm 39:1—6

Now the psalmist is alone before the Lord.  His sorrow and anger have simmered within him until he is compelled to speak.  Does he accuse God of injustice?  No.  Instead, he begs, “Lord, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am.”  And as soon as he speaks, he knows the answer: his life is transient.

A transient is a homeless person, someone who works or stays in a place only for a short time.  To say that our lives are transient is to say that they are fleeting.  There’s comfort in knowing that the lives of the wicked are fleeting: “Fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings. For the moth shall eat them up like a garment, and the worm shall eat them like wool: but my righteousness shall be forever, and my salvation from generation to generation” (Is. 51:7—8).  To those of us who know righteousness, the understanding that our lives are transient entails this admonition: “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time…” (Eph. 5:15-16).

Sing or pray Psalter #106.

 

October 7 – A Sojourner with God

Read Psalm 39:7-11

The seventh verse of Psalm 39 marks its turning point.  The psalmist’s lament becomes an expression of patient endurance.  Like the psalmist in Psalm 38, he recognizes that the sovereign God has decreed his chastisement, yet he doesn’t shun his responsibility, either.  He prays, “Deliver me from all my transgressions.”  Transgressions are presumptuous sins: sins that are willfully and knowingly committed.   He also acknowledges God’s correction of his iniquity.  Iniquities are deeply rooted sins in which men persist without repentance.

God does not leave the psalmist to wallow in his sin.  His chastisement is severe – it eats away at the psalmist’s strength and beauty – but God hears his prayer and gathers his tears, for the psalmist is a stranger and a sojourner with him.  Not to God, but with God.  Jehovah steadies his steps, and does not let iniquity – or despair – have dominion over him (Ps. 119:133).  Do you walk with God today?  This is the word he whispers to you in Jesus Christ: “I will be merciful to your unrighteousness, and your sins and your iniquities will I remember no more” (Heb. 8:12).

Sing or pray Psalter #107.