Daily Psalms – Psalm 76

Daily Psalm Reading – Psalm 76-80

Thank you to those who have reached out over the last week. It was pretty crazy with travel and family commitments. But now we return to our (mostly) daily posts from Psalms. Today we focus on Psalm 76.

Psalm 76 is a song of peace and salvation, though it may not look like it upon initial reading. It’s easy to read about Zion here and think this song is only about Jerusalem, the promised land, or some battle fought there. But we forget that Zion serves as a symbol for God’s sovereignty in all times and all places. That includes the world we live in today, as well as the new heavens and new earth to come (Rev. 21:1-4).

With this view of the Psalm, we are introduced to a God who is sovereign and is on a mission!

There he shatters the bow’s flaming arrows,
the shield, the sword, and the weapons of war.

Psalm 76:3 CSB

Where God is sovereign (which is everywhere) he is in the business of peace. This includes caring after the widow, orphan, and foreigner (Deut. 10:18), but also includes ending, and eliminating war (Isa. 2:4). It is God who shelters us and shatters the enemies efforts.

In verse 6 the psalmist reminds us of God’s efforts in the past, specifically the Exodus when Israel couldn’t fight, but God fought for them hurling horse and rider in the sea (Ex. 15:1). We are reminded through verses 7-10 of God’s might and justice that cannot be stopped (“Who can stand before you?”). And finally the summarizing point of the psalm:

Make and keep your vows
to the LORD your God;
let all who are around him bring tribute
to the awe-inspiring one.
He humbles the spirit of leaders;
he is feared by the kings of the earth.

Psalm 76:11-12 CSB

We must respond to the fact that God is sovereign in all the world! This isn’t some nugget of knowledge to stash away in our brains for future use. This is a call to live our lives in submission to him. God’s sovereignty should affect our interactions with others, our approach to the world, our pursuit of peace, the way we lead, the way we govern, the way we worship…the list is endless. God’s sovereignty should touch every aspect of our lives. And if it doesn’t, then we are living in rebellion against God. I’d like to share a quote from the New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary on this psalm:

“…Psalm 76 is finally an invitation to live under God’s sovereignty (v. 11), to adopt God’s values and God’s ways (vv. 8-9). But to stand for justice and peace in a world filled with war and injustice requires a particular understanding of sovereignty. God’s sovereignty is exercised not as sheer force but as the power of love. The world does not understand this kind of power, but it is power nonetheless (see 1 Cor 1:25). The invitation in v. 11 is ultimately an invitation to respond to God’s love.”

New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary – Vol. III, pg. 514

We have been invited to stand with God, or stand against him. To live under his reign, or in opposition to it. The choice is ours. To quote the old hymn, “What will your answer be?”

Daily Psalms – Psalm 49

Daily Psalm Reading – Psalm 46-50

Our reading started today with the following proclamation:

God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.

Psalm 46:1 NIV

The reading for today seems to focus around this theme. It is God who helps us. It is God who provides for us. It is God who reigns. It is God who is worthy of praise. It is God who saves. And Psalm 49 is a clear reminder that we cannot save ourselves.

When we moved here to Snyder several years ago, we got rid of many things we determined we no longer needed. We didn’t have room to move everything out here, so we sold, or gave away a great amount of stuff. Since we have moved here there have been boxes full of things in my storage building that have yet to be opened. It seems I didn’t even need all the things we moved out here!

We’re in a season of purging, asking ourselves if we really need the things we have. Do I really need all the clothes I have, or can I sell/donate most of them and just keep a few outfits for all occasions? Do I really need to pay for a streaming service when I rarely sit to watch TV? Do I really even need a TV? Does our joy and sense of identity really depend on a bunch of stuff sitting in our house, or is it found elsewhere?

I think these are the things the psalmist wants us to reflect upon in Psalm 49. The words are spoken for both rich and poor because both of us face the same reality:

People, despite their wealth, do not endure;
they are like the beasts that perish.
This is the fate of those who trust in themselves,
and of their followers, who approve their sayings.

Psalm 49:12-13 NIV

Now if those last two verses don’t speak to our culture, I don’t know what will. We get so excited and focused on people we don’t even know, wanting to “follow” them on social media. We pay a lot of attention to people, and things that really don’t matter. The end result of this all is death and decay. The question we need to ask ourselves is, “What am I living for?”

Do not be overawed when others grow rich,
when the splendor of their houses increases;
for they will take nothing with them when they die,
their splendor will not descend with them.

Psalm 49:16-17 NIV

As we approach a time of worship tomorrow morning, focus on what really matters. Not on my stuff. Not on my schedule. Not on my wishes and desires. Not on my job.

What really matters is my relationship with the only one who can conquer death.

But God will redeem me from the realm of the dead;
He will surely take me to himself.

Psalm 49:15 NIV

If you can’t truly say verse 15 about your present relationship with God, then that’s where your focus needs to be. Because in the end, nothing else matters.

Assured Salvation

Our Gospel reading this week comes from John 5 – 6:21. In this article I would like to focus on the words of Jesus that address a struggle many people seem to face: “Can I really know that I am saved?”

John’s Gospel shows more than any other gospel writer that true believers in submission to Jesus are saved now. It’s not something we have to wring our hands over, and worry that if we’re “good enough” God might save us. That type of teaching borders on heresy because Scripture is full of clear statements concerning this (Rom. 8:1, Col. 3:3, 1 John 5:13, etc.) But here, John includes language by Jesus himself that contradicts this misguided teaching.

“I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” – John 5:24

What’s important about 5:24, as well as several other texts in John, is that we do not have to wait until judgement day to know how we stand with the Lord. You can know in the present that you are saved! Notice how Jesus uses present tense language in describing this: “..has eternal life…”, not will have…HAS!

Far too many live in doubt of their salvation instead of living confidently and victoriously in the present time. Some believe we can never know about our salvation until the final judgement. But think about that belief for a moment. Can you know that you are lost? If so, why can’t you know you are saved? How can you know one and not know the other?

In one of his letters, John puts it this way:

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” – 1 John 5:13

Is that clear? “…you may know that you have eternal life.” Not “you will know someday.” You may know now! John is very clear on this. The use of present tense in 1 John, as well as John 5:24 clearly shows that salvation in Christ can be known and experienced now, not just in the future. Does that mean that there’s nothing left to experience in the future? Absolutely not. Salvation is experienced both now, and in the future. The fullness of our salvation will only be experienced at the return of Jesus, but rest assured that you can know that you are saved, and that knowledge and freedom should affect how you live now!

Saved people don’t sit and worry about their salvation. Instead, they tell others about their salvation, what Christ has done in their life, how it has freed them from evil, and how others can experience the same blessing in Christ. Perhaps this is why we struggle so much with evangelism…we’re not sure anyone else wants what we have because we’re not sure we have it ourselves! To use the metaphor from recent sermons, if you’ve been through the water then you’re God’s child. Start living like it!

“I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” – John 5:24

Grand Opening

Many people wonder why God doesnʼt send big, visual, miracles our way anymore. They read about people speaking in tongues, miraculous healing, casting out demons, and they wonder why God seems so distant. We read about the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. Why are none of us recipients of the miraculous empowerment of the Holy Spirit? Why isnʼt God allowing his people to perform miracles here and now? Well, we can find out in the book of Hebrews.

Hebrews 2:3b-4 – This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.

According to the writer of Hebrews, God used signs, wonders, miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit as a way of testifying that his son, Jesus, did in fact bring salvation to those who chose to obey him. The signs were a way for God to indicate to humans that this shift in the way of doing things was divinely orchestrated! Simply put, God was using the empowerment of the Holy Spirit and the miracles kind of like a grand opening at a new store. Letʼs say that a store that has been around for quite a while is purchased by some new owners, and they come in and renovate. Of course they want everyone to know about the changes, so they do this by having a big grand opening where they give away prizes, and do big and very showy things to alert the people of the changes. Now the grand opening doesnʼt last forever, and it doesnʼt need to. Thereʼs no reason for you to have a grand opening several years after the fact because it serves a purpose, and then itʼs no longer needed. The same is true with the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, and miracles in Godʼs church.

These people were so used to the Old Testament way of doing things that when Godʼs people were bought by the blood of Christ, and they were now under new ownership, God wanted to get the message out. He had a grand opening with all kinds of wonderful and very visual miracles, healings and the like that announced to the world once and for all that a new way of doing things was here. Out with the old covenant (or old testament) and in with the new covenant (or new testament)! So what about us today? We donʼt need the grand opening. Instead, we need to be looking forward to the time when the store gets relocated into itʼs permanent location in Heaven. Until then, we are the word of mouth. We are the means by which Godʼs church keeps growing and developing new members.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.