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June 8 – Answered Prayer

Read Psalm 21

Psalm 21, like Psalm 20, was written by David and again refers to “the king” in the third person.  In Psalm 20 the people prayed, “The Lord hear thee in the day of trouble…and…grant thee according to thine own heart.”  In Psalm 21 they exclaim, “Thou hast given him his heart’s desire, and hast not withholden the request of his lips.”

What was it that David desired of the Lord?  He asked for life and for deliverance from his enemies.  David’s requests were not motivated by selfishness, for God does not honor prayers driven by self-centeredness or greed, as the inspired apostle James notes in James 4:3, “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.”  Rather, David prayed for these things for the good of God’s people, so that Jehovah’s name would be exalted by them (see Psalm 21:13).

Is that the desire of our hearts and the motivation behind our petitions?  Then “this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us” (1 John 5:14).

Sing or pray Psalter #45.


June 9 – His Name Shall Endure Forever

Read Psalm 72

Psalm 21 brings Psalm 72 to my mind.  Psalm 72 is a prayer that David prays for another king, his successor and son, Solomon.  But ultimately, both Psalm 21 and Psalm 72 speak prophetically of the King, Jesus Christ.  It is through his prayers and under his rule that all of God’s people are “prevented with the blessings of goodness.” God has laid honor and majesty upon himHe is most blessed forever, the one to whom God has given “length of days for ever and ever.”  Not David’s name, not Solomon’s name, but, “His name shall endure forever: his name shall be continued as long as the sun: and men shall be blessed in him: all nations shall call him blessed” (Psalm 72:17).

Do you desire to share in the blessings of this King’s reign?  His rule is evident in your life already now when you desire to keep his law, as Solomon writes in Proverbs 3:1–2: “My son, forget not my law; but thine heart keep my commandments: for length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.”

Sing or pray Psalter #45.


June 10 – Prevented with the Blessings of Goodness

Read Psalm 21

What does the Psalmist mean when he writes, “Thou preventest him with the blessings of goodness”?

The meaning of the word prevent in this text is similar to that of the word precede.  It means “to go before.”  John Calvin notes, “The meaning is, that such will be the liberality and promptitude of God, in spontaneously bestowing blessings, that he will not only grant what is asked from him, but, anticipating the requests of the king, will load him with every kind of good things far beyond what he had ever expected.”  Matthew Henry adds, “But when God’s blessings come sooner, and prove richer than we imagine; when they are given before we prayed for them, before we were ready for them…then it may be truly said that he prevented, or went before us, with them.”

Perhaps God has prevented you with physical bounties.  He has certainly prevented all of his people with spiritual riches:  “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).

Sing or pray Psalter #45.



June 11 – Jehovah’s Fiery Judgement

Read 2 Thessalonians 1

While the first verses of Psalm 21 recount the prosperity of the King and his people, the latter verses reveal their inner prosperity’s necessary counterpart: Jehovah is his people’s strong defense.  He is the one who finds out all his enemies and judges them.  Like Sodom and Gomorrah, these enemies deserve their fiery end, “For they intended evil against thee: they imagined a mischievous device, which they are not able to perform” (Ps. 21:11).  They are those who trouble the saints of God and “obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess. 1:8).

While God’s “divine power ought justly to strike terror into the wicked, so it is described as full of the sweetest consolation to us, which ought to inspire us with joy, and incite us to celebrate it with songs of praise and thanksgiving” (Calvin).  When we battle sin and temptation, we can comfort ourselves with the knowledge that the Divine Archer has arrows aimed at our enemies (Ps. 21:12).  The health of our spiritual lives depends upon his protection.

Sing or pray Psalter #45.


June 12– Perfect Through Sufferings

Read Psalm 22:1–21

We confess that the Bible is the inspired and inerrant word of God.  It is the holy book of which Jesus said, “Search the scriptures…they are they which testify of me” (John 5:39).  That truth is clearly evident in Psalm 22, in which David prophetically describes the sufferings of our Lord.  This passage gives us access into our Savior’s inner agony as he suffered for our sakes.  His humiliation is described in striking detail, including his disciples’ forsaking of him, the mocking of the multitudes, the piercing of his hands and feet, and the casting of lots for his garment.  The fourth of Jesus’ seven crosswords, which are recorded for us in the gospel accounts, is a direct quotation of Psalm 22:1: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46).

Are you filled with awe as you read this Psalm?  The one who was forsaken by the Holy One of Israel is himself holy.  But God “made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Cor. 5:21).

Sing or pray Psalter #47.


June 13 – Not Ashamed to Call Us Brethren

Read Heb. 2:10–18

In the first 21 verses of Psalm 22, Christ speaks as he humbles himself unto death, even the death of the cross.  In verses 22 and following he speaks as our risen and exalted Lord.  Verse 22 is quoted in Hebrews 2:12, “I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.”  Christ is not ashamed to call us “brethren,” for he assumed the same human nature that is ours.  He was made like us in all things, sin excepted.  When we endure trials, we can comfort ourselves with the knowledge that he also suffered and that “the servant is not greater than his lord” (John 15:20).  Our merciful and faithful High Priest not only made propitiation for our sins; as one who suffered, he is able to help us in our troubles.

All humans have the same nature, and all men, women, and children experience the bitter consequences of Adam’s fall.  Does this make us all Christ’s brethren?  No.  His “brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it” (Luke 8:21).

Sing or pray Psalter #47.





June 14 – In the Midst of the Congregation

Read Psalm 22:22–26

Our next-door neighbors belong to the growing number of Christians who are not members of an instituted church; instead, they worship at home each Sunday.  But in Psalm 22 David – and through him, Christ – declares Jehovah’s name to his brethren and praises him “in the midst of the congregation.”  This congregation is not a small gathering of people.  Verse 25 reads, “My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation: I will pay my vows before them that fear him.”  The psalmist exhorts all those who are gathered together with him to praise, glorify, and fear Jehovah.  Why?  “For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard” (v. 24).  Those who are gathered together encourage and edify one another.  There, in the congregation, the meek are fed – and filled – not with earthly bread, by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord (v. 26).

Some of God’s saints are unable to meet together for public worship.  Do you pray for them?  And do you consider public worship a privilege?  Is it a regular, important part of your life?

Sing or pray Psalter #51.


June 15 – All the Ends of the World

Read Psalm 22:27–31

The church of Jesus Christ is comprised of people from all the ends of the world and all the ages of history.  Our risen, victorious Lord is head of a body in which small and great, rich and poor, bond and free, male and female, Jew and Gentile are fitly joined together.  Revelation 21 describes the breathtaking beauty of that bride as that of the city that has “the glory of God” and light “like unto a stone most precious.” What joy to be a citizen of that city!

Christ hasn’t come yet because some of his church must still be gathered.  So he rides the white horse over all the world, sending forth the sure, sharp arrows of his word through those who heed his call to “preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15), and in answer to the prayers of those who, unable to reach the mission fields on their feet, reach them on their knees.  Some members of his church have yet to be born.  Perhaps those include our children, or our children’s children.  To them we must show the “praise of the Lord, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done” (Psalm 78:4).

Sing or pray Psalter #49.


June 16 – The Lord is My Shepherd

Read Psalm 23:1–3

Throughout my childhood, my dad kept a flock of sheep that roamed freely around our farmyard.  One Sunday, as we hurriedly left for the morning worship service, we saw a ewe with her head stuck in the fence that separated our farmyard from the cornfield.  True to cliché, the grass on the other side had looked greener to her.  She had now finished gorging herself, but she wasn’t smart enough to turn her head in order to wriggle back out of the opening.  Dad decided to free her when we got home.  But by the time we returned, she had lain down on the grass, and, too stubborn or too foolish to stand back up, had strangled herself on the fence wire.

God refers to us as sheep throughout the Bible.  That metaphor is not a compliment to us.  Rather, it’s a picture that emphasizes our helplessness.  If left to ourselves, we would foolishly and stubbornly pursue our own spiritual death.  But we are Jehovah’s sheep.  His Son is the good Shepherd who laid down his life for us.  If you belong to him, you will never want.

Sing or pray Psalter #53.



June 17 – Comfort in the Valley

Read Psalm 23:4

Have you experienced the death of someone whom you loved very much?  Three of my dear grandparents, my baby sister, and other church members and more distant relatives have died in my lifetime.  They are buried in the cemetery that overlooks my childhood hometown.  It’s a beautiful place, bordered by rolling cornfields.  The wind is always whispering – or rushing, as the case may be – through its lofty pine trees.  The Rock River rambles below.  Yet there, on that lovely hill, I’ve faced the grief of the valley of the shadow of death.

If you are a sheep of the Good Shepherd, you will never want, not even in the valley of the shadow.  That’s true because He will walk with you there.  There His Spirit will comfort you with the knowledge that you are not your own, but belong unto your faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.  He will be your constant companion throughout your life, guiding with his staff and disciplining with his rod.  When we rest in that comfort by faith, you and I can even face death with these confident words on our lips: “I will fear no evil.”

Sing or pray Psalter #53.


June 18 – God’s Garden

Read 1 Cor. 15:35–58

Last week my children and I planted the first seeds of the year in our garden.  This morning we noticed a few little lettuce plants emerging from the ground.

At my grandma’s funeral a couple of months ago, as we stood in the cemetery that I described yesterday, Rev. Engelsma reminded us that our forefathers referred to the graveyard as “God’s Garden.”  There we sow the seeds of the dead bodies of those whom we love.  Unless the Lord returns before you and I die, someday our bodies will be buried, too.  But like the seeds that we plant in our gardens, our bodies will rise again!  And just like a lettuce plant is far more wonderful than its tiny, brown seed, so our resurrected bodies will be far more glorious than these bodies—bodies that get hungry and thirsty, weak and weary, bodies that are dying.

When we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we can say, “I will fear no evil,” because we know that God has given us the victory over death through our Lord Jesus Christ.  We will rise!

Sing or pray Psalter #53.


June 19 – A Table Prepared

Read Song of Solomon 2

In recent years, the importance of family mealtime has been touted by a variety of sources.  Researches credit regularly eating together as a family with a variety things, from a superior vocabulary to a healthier body weight.  Even more importantly, mealtime is usually a Christian family’s opportunity to feed their souls in family worship as well.

Shared meals symbolize unity and fellowship.  That’s why the Pharisees accused Jesus when he ate with publicans and sinners (Luke 5:30).  That’s also why there’s abundant significance in Psalm 23:5a, “Thou preparest a table before me,” and Song of Solomon 2:4, “He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.”  Those passages celebrate the communion with God and the abundance of blessings that are ours, thanks to sacrifice of our Good Shepherd.  We are more than his sheep: we are his children and members of his beloved bride, who are seated at His table.  That’s also the significance of the Lord’s Supper, which symbolizes our partaking of our Savior’s body and blood and our unity with the members of his Bride.

There’s some “food for thought” to “chew on” the next time your family gathers for a meal!

Sing or pray Psalter #53.


June 20 – Eating In the Presence of the Enemy

Read Psalm 23:5

David exults in the reality that his Shepherd prepares a table before him in the presence of his enemies.  Our family once borrowed a children’s picture book from the library that illustrated Psalm 23.  That book depicted a small sheep eating in the safety of a barn while wolves lurked outside its shepherd-guarded door. Perhaps David had in mind a feast that would follow a battle, a meal at which a king and his men would gather to celebrate their victory in full view of their newly-conquered hostages.

Both of those pictures are fitting to life of the Christian.  We are like the little sheep: we enjoy abundant spiritual blessings even as the devil prowls about like lion, seeking to devour us.  We eat and are filled on the feast of God’s word even while living in the middle of a wicked world.  And we look forward to the day when our victorious King will return.  On that day we’ll be ushered into the great marriage feast of the Lamb before the eyes of our enemies—a feast prepared and earned for us by our Good Shepherd.

Sing or pray Psalter #55.


June 21 – My Cup Overflows

Read Numbers 5:11–31

Our Good Shepherd not only prepares us a table in the presence of our enemies, but also anoints our heads with the oil of gladness and gives us an overflowing cup.

The metaphor of a cup is common in scripture.   Many passages speak of a figurative cup of judgement or blessing (see Ps. 11:6 and Ps. 16:5).  In Numbers 5, God commands that a woman suspected of adultery drink a literal cup of water mixed with dust.  The effect that the contents of the cup had upon that woman would either clear her name or condemn her as guilty of unfaithfulness.

According to God’s word, every sin that you and I commit is spiritual adultery against our heavenly husband, who is eternally jealous for our holiness and our love.  If we were to drink the cup of the cursing, we would be condemned.  But that cup was drunk for us by our Savior, though consideration of its horror wrung bloody sweat from him in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Because that cup did not pass from him, our cup of cursing has become a cup of blessings, blessings that overflow.  What are some of the blessing with which he’s filled your cup?

Sing or pray Psalter #55.


June 22 – Nothing Over

Read 2 Corinthians 8:1–15

Wouldn’t it be enough if God gave us a full cup?  Why does he give us a cup that overflows?

Our overflowing cups teach us about God.  He is rich in mercy, and he loves us with great love.  Throughout the ages to come he will continue to show us “the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:7).

Negatively, God does not bless us with abundance so that we, like the rich fool in Luke 12, hoard all that he has given us to ourselves.  Rather, he wills that we share what he has entrusted to us with those who have less.  Those of us who live in the Western world are rich in material things.  We are also the recipients of a rich theological and ecclesiastical heritage.  Each of us has been given time and our own particular talents to use to the praise of God and for the good of others.  Seeing we abound in these things, let’s see to it that we abound in the grace of giving also.

Sing or pray Psalter #55.




June 23 – Where Your Treasure Is

Read Matt. 6:19–34

When we give of what God has entrusted to us to needy neighbors and kingdom causes, we lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven.  Missionary Jim Elliot said it well: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

Our treasure tends to follow our hearts.  The things on which we spend our time and money reveal a lot about us.  Do I think happiness can be found in earthly possessions?  I’ll likely be planning my next purchase as soon as the previous transaction has taken place.  Do you believe that the world’s endless entertainments will satisfy your soul?  You’ll spend precious hours surfing the Internet, following sports teams, or sitting in front of the TV.  But we can also make sanctified decisions regarding the use of our treasure, deliberately leading our hearts.  Do you wish you had more of an interest in missions or PR special education?  Give of your money to those causes, and your heart will follow.  Does the Christian school or the needy saint in your congregation mean little to you?  Invest your time in the school or that individual, and your heart will follow.

Sing or pray Psalter #52




June 24 – Beset Behind and Before

Read Psalm 23:6

Several days ago we considered this phrase from Psalm 21: “Thou preventest him with the blessings of goodness.”  I noted that the word prevent there means precede.  Not only does goodness go before the child of God; according to Psalm 23:6, goodness and mercy also follow him.  This following is not a leisurely shadowing, either; it’s an intense pursuit.  Our God pursues us like a protective Father who never lets us out of his sight.  He pursues us like a jealous husband with his unfailing covenant love.    It’s true that sometimes he manifests his encompassing mercy and goodness in the way of chastisement.  That’s because he would have his goodness and mercy follow you all of the days of your life – not only the days of your earthly pilgrimage, but on into eternity.

God also pursues the wicked: he pursues them with the flood of his just judgement (Nah. 1:8).  Like a tsunami wave, it will overwhelm and destroy them.  But the goodness and mercy with which he pursues his children bears them safely to the golden shore, there to abide in everlasting joy for endless days.

Sing or pray Psalter #52.


June 25 – Home Forever

Read John 14:1–11

David concludes Psalm 23 with this beautiful declaration: “And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”  As we noted a couple of days ago, a shared meal can be a time of truly enjoyable fellowship.  But have you ever invited someone over for a meal, only to wonder if they would ever leave?  Or perhaps, like me, you’ve been the embarrassed guest who realizes too late that you’ve overstayed your welcome!  With our God, we never have to worry about overstaying our welcome.  That’s true because the Lord doesn’t invite us to his banqueting table for a single meal: he has prepared a home for us that we never have to leave.  It’s one thing to enjoy a meal at someone’s house: it’s another thing to stay there for the rest of your life. But that’s the glorious future of those whom God has adopted to be his sons and daughters.  His heavenly home is now our home, a house of many mansions that we will never have to leave.  Jesus Christ is there now, preparing a place for you.  Is your heart filled with longing for that home?

Sing or pray Psalter #52.


June 26 – Who Shall Ascend?

Read Psalm 24

Psalm 24 was likely sung as the ark of the covenant was brought back to the tabernacle through the gates of Jerusalem. That day – and this psalm – are full of prophetic meaning for us.  Psalm 24:3 echoes Psalm 15:1: “Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place?”  The answer?  “He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.”  In other words, not you or I as we are by nature, for we are the children of Adam and Eve.

When Adam and Eve fell, God drove them out of Eden, the beautiful garden where he walked and talked with them.  The entrance to paradise was barred and the tree of life guarded by cherubim with flaming swords.  Similarly, cherubim were embroidered on the veil that separated the holy place of the tabernacle from the most holy place, and they guarded the atonement cover of ark of the covenant. Yet the return of the ark to Jerusalem was reason for celebration, for it signified God’s merciful presence with his people, and pointed to the glorious King who was to come.

Sing or Pray Psalter #58.


June 27 – The Ascended King of Glory

Read Psalm 24

The garden of Eden and the most holy place were barred to the human race.  But that is not all.  The gates of heaven were shut and locked against any sinner who would enter in.  Thanks be to God for our Mediator, the man with clean hands and a pure heart, who receives “the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.”  He is the King “mighty in battle,” for he sustained God’s just wrath against our sin and prevailed over Satan and his hosts.  At the moment of his victory, the veil of the temple was torn in two, and the way into God’s presence was opened for all those who have faith in him.  He is the King of glory who went up with a shout (Ps. 47:5), and the gates of heaven gave way.

Now that King of glory sits at the right hand of God.  He governs all things, and by his Holy Spirit pours out heavenly graces upon us, his members.  He will continue to defend and preserve us against all of our enemies until the day that he returns to take us to live with him in paradise forever (Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 19).

Sing or pray Psalter #58


June 28 – The Lord of Hosts

Read 2 Kings 6:8–23

Psalm 24:10 reads, “Who is this King of glory?  The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory.”

“The Lord of hosts” – or Jehovah Sabaoth – is a name of God that teaches us that we serve a God who is far greater than any of our enemies, trials, or troubles.  Jehovah Sabaoth rules over the host of creation: “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein” (Ps. 24:1).  He commands legions of mighty angels, whom he charges to keep you in all your ways (Ps. 91:11).  This is the mighty God in whose name David confronted Goliath: “Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts” (1 Sam. 17:45).  This is the God whose armies surrounded Elisha and his fearful servant: “Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them” (2 Kings 6:16).  Do not fear!  The Lord of hosts is with us!  In him we are more than conquerors, for nothing shall be able to separate us from his love (Rom. 8:35ff).

Sing or pray Psalter #58.




June 29 – Teach Me

Read Psalm 25

Did you know that even if you are on summer break (and even if you are not yet or are no longer a student) you are still enrolled in God’s school?  The chief purpose of the Christian’s life is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.  We’re only able to do that as we grow in knowledge of him and of his way.  The prayer of Psalm 25:4–5 must be our own: “Show me thy ways, O Lord; teach me thy paths.  Lead me in thy truth, and teach me.”

The Holy Spirit of God is the perfect teacher.  He guides us into all truth: that is, he guides us as we study the Holy Scriptures, which are profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:15).  But are we sorry for our sins, and do we love the Lord so much that we are fearful of doing anything that would offend him?  (Ps. 25:8, 12)  He will teach us if we have students’ hearts: “The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way” (vs. 9).  And when all our lessons are learned, we’ll graduate…to glory.

Sing or pray Psalter #60.



June 30 – Lead Me

Read Psalm 25:1–5

Our youngest child is just beginning to take a few hesitant steps.  He clings to my hand as he shuffles along, trusting that I will direct him past any obstacles and catch him if he falls. He giggles with delight all the way. That’s a beautiful picture of the Christian life. We noted yesterday that the Holy Spirit teaches those who are meek.  Jesus said, “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:3).  You and I do not know even what the remainder of this day holds for us.  Why, then, do we so stubbornly attempt to walk alone?  Why are we so quick to claim exemptions for ourselves from God’s word, either as we study it or hear it preached?  His vision reaches farther than ours.  He knows what obstacles lie in the way.  We’re called to cling to him with childlike faith as we walk through this life.

When you walk that way, the God of hope will “fill you with all joy and peace in believing” (Rom. 15:13).  Do you trust your heavenly Father to lead you step-by-step?

Sing or pray Psalter #60.


July 1 – Sins of Youth

Read Psalm 25:6–11

Job 12:12 declares, “With the ancient is wisdom; and in length of days understanding.”  Part of that understanding in the life of the aging child of God is an increased understanding of and awareness of one’s own sin.  When I reflect on my youth, I remember many sins that still bring me shame and grief.  If you are an adult, the same is likely true of you.  Some of the sins of youth result in bitter consequences that last for the length of one’s life: be warned, young people!  Though painful, that reality is something for which we must be thankful, for the Lord strengthens our faith and sanctifies us in the way of chastisement.

Yet we are not to dwell on sins that God has forgiven.  When the sins of your youth trouble you, pray with David, “Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions” (Ps. 25:7).  If the Lord would mark our iniquities, not one of us would stand.  Be there is forgiveness with him, that he may be feared (Ps. 130:3-4).  May your praise continually be of him who has been your trust from your youth (Ps. 71:5).

Sing or pray Psalter #61.



July 2 – Be An Example

Read 2 Timothy 2

Our culture idolizes youth.  As each year of my life passes, I’m more aware of society’s pressure to look young and to act young.  The Bible, in contrast, admonishes those who are young (and those who haven’t grown up, even though they’ve aged): “Flee youthful lusts!” (2 Tim. 2:22).  The world in general also excuses teenagers from responsibility and accountability.  But the Bible doesn’t recognize such a stage: God’s word speaks of children and adults.  The apostle Paul wrote, “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things” (1 Cor. 13:11).

Young people, Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (2 Tim. 4:12).  “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way?” you ask.  By taking heed to God’s word.  May this be your confession: “With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Ps. 119:9–11).

Sing or pray Psalter #61.


July 3 – The Secret of the Lord

Read Psalm 25:12–22

Hebrew parallelism is common in the Bible.  Parallel poetry is comprised of two phrases that balance one another.  Those phrases can be antithetical—“He that keepeth the commandment keepeth his own soul; but he that despiseth his ways shall die” (Prov. 19:16)—or synonymous:“The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him, and he will show them his covenant” (Ps. 25:14).  Whether synonymous or antithetical, the two parallel phrases help us discern the meaning of many texts.

The Bible uses the word covenant to describe God’s relationship with his people.  Psalm 25:14 teaches that God’s covenant is like a secret shared between two close friends.   It is not a cold, conditional agreement.  Those of us who have grown up in Christian homes have likely experienced that friends sometimes come and go, but we experience an abiding closeness with our family members.  God’s covenant is friendship among family members: we are God’s children, the siblings of our elder Brother, and members of Christ’s bride.  To us our covenant God whispers, “Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.” (Is. 43:1).

Sing or pray Psalter #65.


July 4 – There is a Friend

Read Proverbs 18

Before we move on to Psalm 26, I’d like to consider two texts from Proverbs.  In the KJV Prov. 18:24 reads, “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.”

Is that text an example of antithetical or synonymous parallelism?  Different translations render it very differently.  The ESV reads, “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”  The editors of the Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible comment, “The idea is either that to have friends one must make friends, or that having multiple friends, without a close one, will result in disappointment.”  I suggest that the two very different translations can be reconciled: a man who would have friends must come to ruin, that is, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).  That would make the parallelism synonymous, for the friend who sticks closer than a brother is the one who laid down his life for many friends.  He is Jesus, the firstborn among many brethren, the mediator of the covenant.

Sing or pray Psalter #65.


July 5 – Born for Adversity

Read Proverbs 17

I once thought Prov. 17:17 was an example of antithetical parallelism: “A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”  Doesn’t that read like an observation of the sad reality that we sometimes treat our acquaintances better than those who live under the same roof?

But the two phrases are actually synonymous.  Think of it this way: “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born to help in times of adversity.”  That brings the marriage vows to my mind.  Husband and wife promise to cherish and to honor for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health.  That’s the kind of love we’re called to have not only for our relatives, but for all those who are our brothers and sisters in Christ.  When we see our spouse, sibling, or church member in need, we must not shy away from them.  Instead, this must be our attitude: “I was born to help them!  That’s why I’m here!”

That’s the example Jesus set for us.  He came into the world to save sinners: he was born to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself (1 Tim. 1:15; Heb. 9:26).

Sing or pray Psalter #65.


July 6 – Judge Me, O Lord

Read Psalm 26:1–3

I’m ashamed to say that I spend way too much time wondering about what other people think of me.  Prov. 29:25 teaches, “The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe.” When we fear men, we make our decisions based on others’ opinions (or what we perceive their opinions to be).  When we fear men, we’ll allow the judgements of men to dictate everything from our family size to how we clothe ourselves.  But when we fear God, we act according to the unchanging principles set forth in his infallible word.  Why do we fear men?  We ought to fear God, who said, “I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings” (Jer. 17:10).

David begins Psalm 26 with the prayer that the Lord judge him and examine his heart.  How often do you examine your heart, holding up your thoughts and motives before the penetrating gaze of God’s word?  Do you ask the searcher of hearts to examine you?

Sing or pray Psalter #70.


July 7 – Walk with Wise Men

Read Psalm 26

David asks God to judge him and examine his heart because he is confident that he has walked in the way of integrity.  His thoughts and actions were consistent with his profession that he loved and belonged to the Lord.  One of the ways in which David proved his integrity was by refusing to keep company with vain people, hypocrites, evil doers, wicked men, and those who loved violence.

Who are your friends?  When you choose your friends, do you keep in mind Solomon’s words to his son in Prov. 13:20: “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed”?  What about Prov. 22:24–25: Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul”?  Asaph understood that God sets the wicked in slippery places; he justly casts them down into destruction.  But David loved God’s people.  His friends were fellow saints.  That’s why he could say, “My foot standeth in an even place: in the congregations will I bless the Lord” (Ps. 26:12).

Sing or pray Psalter #70.