Psalm 109… an Imprecatory Psalm

Last night, in our Mid-Week Study, we looked at Psalm 109.  This psalm doesn’t sound like a song David should be writing… nor does it sound like a song that would be fun to sing!  This psalm is an example of an imprecatory psalm… a psalm that calls down curses on someone.

I.  The Persecution  (v.1-5,22-25)

David felt as though he was being ruthlessly attacked.  A group of people were slandering him with horrible lies.  When he tried to do kindness toward them, they repaid it with treachery… evil for good, hatred for love.

The result was that David felt poor, needy, skin and bones… near death.  In fact, he’d prayed and fasted over the situation so often, he was starving himself to death!

II.  The Petition  (v.6-20)

To this point in the psalm, David had done what we would all expect him to do… he poured out his heart, honestly, before God.  But at this point of the psalm, David does the unexpected.  He prays a detailed list of things he hopes God will do to those who have been harassing David!

  • Give them a taste of their own medicine  (v.6,7a,16-20)
  • Don’t listen to their prayers  (v.7b)
  • Don’t bless their families  (v.8,9,10,12)
  • Don’t bless their finances  (v.11)
  • Blot out their family name  (v.13-15)

David wasn’t just wishing the worst on those who were against him; he also wished the worst on their wives, their parents, their children, future generations, and anyone who might know them!

David was angry!  And he wasn’t holding anything back!!

APP:  Most of us have been where David was.  We’ve felt lied about, been spoken hatefully to, and have had our good deeds not only go unnoticed but been repaid with evil.  Our heart was wounded.  There seemed to be no way to set the record straight.  So, what do we do?  There are some things we can learn from what David… and some things we would do well to avoid.

III.  The Protection  (v.21,22,26-31)

  • God’s Unfailing Love  (v.21,26,30,31)
  • God’s Unchallenged Power  (v.27-29)

Because David believed in a sovereign God, he rejoiced in spite of the attacks against Him.

 

What can we learn from this psalm?

  • We are not David… and may not have the right to pray as David prayed.

David was God’s chosen king of God’s chosen people.  When he spoke, he often spoke on behalf of God and God’s people… to God’s national enemies.  We may not have that right; instead, we have the privilege of forgiving personal enemies.

  • Honesty is always best… even when it’s honesty we should be ashamed of.
  • If we hope God will have mercy with us (as David expressed, even in this psalm), we must be willing to extend mercy to others… to forgive others… and to ask God to forgive others.
  • When you feel as David felt, express your feelings… and then  give God the opportunity to heal your wounded heart.
  • No matter how God might handle the situation, be sure to praise Him.

Spiritual Sneezes

In this week’s mid-week study, we looked at Psalm 102 (because it was the 102nd day of the year).

I.  The Psalmist’s Trouble  (v.1-11,23,24)

  • His Plea  (v.1,2,24)
  • His Problem  (v.3-11,23)     He had a problem with:

… his Flesh (v.3-7)

… his Foes (v.8,9) &

… his Friend (who was actually God!) (v.10,11,23)

 

II.  The Psalmist’s Testimony  (v.12-22,25-28)

The psalmist was about as low as he could feel.  But, through faith, the sound of praise became louder than the sound of pain.

He took the focus off himself and began to focus on:

  • God’s Eternal Nature  (v.12)
  • God’s Compassion  (v.13,14,16,18-22)
  • God’s Eventual Earthly Reign  (v.15)
  • God’s Faithfulness  (v.17)
  • God’s Omnipotence  (v.25)
  • God’s Unchanging Nature  (v.26-28)

APP:  Do you ever feel as the psalmist felt?  We all have!  Some days are just down days.  But, don’t dwell in the down days too long.  Don’t spend too much time focusing on yourself.  Instead, do what the psalmist did… look, by faith, to the Lord.  Things will look different when we compare your situation to God’s situation.

ILL:  Check out the 2 “spiritual sneezes” given in this psalm for your encouragement… v.12,27.  Both of these verses start with a spiritual sneeze: “But You…”

Your situation is temporary; God is forever!

Psalm 95

In our mid-week study this week, we looked at Psalm 95 (because it was the 95th day of the year!).  Here’s the outline we used…

I.  God is Great  (v.1-7a)

This part of the psalm is a call to worship; jubilant worship, not worship as usual.  The psalmist invites us to “shout joyfully” and to “kneel before the Lord”.

APP:  I wonder why we – as believers – don’t do these 2 things more often than we do…

Why are we to do these 2 things?  Because God is great!  He is a great Creator and a great King, and we are privileged to be His people.

We are to praise God for:

  • His Creative Work  (v.4,5)

He made everything… and keeps it going.  Praise God!

  • His Redemptive Work  (v.1-3,6,7)

He is the Rock of Salvation… and the Shepherd of the Sheep.

 

II.  God is Grieved  (v.7b-11)

The opposite of a worshiping heart that pleases God is a hard heart that grieves God.  Imagine seeing God’s wonders and not submitting gladly to Him!  Yet, we do that much too often…

During the Exodus, the self-willed Jews paid a high price for their sin; they died in the wilderness and never entered the Promised Land.

  • The Terrible Rebellion  (v.8,9)

In spite of everything God did for them, they refused to obey Him.

  • The Tragic Results  (v.10,11)

They struggled and suffered throughout the 40 years… and for eternity afterwards!

 

CONCL:

Do you want to enjoy your life of faith?  Then take the time to appreciate the greatness of God… take time to praise Him.

Do you want to inherit all God has planned for you in this life?  Then be an active participant in worship and praise.

A hard heart leads to a hard life… so keep your heart soft toward God.

Psalm 81

In this week’s mid-week Bible Study, we looked at Psalm 81.

Asaph wrote this psalm… to the chief musician… to be played on the harp David brought back from Gath.

I.  The Things That Were  (v.1-10)

Asaph exhorted Israel to praise God for what He had done for them in their past… especially delivering them from Egypt.  He even gave 2 reasons for praising God:

  • Obedience… it was commanded by God as part of their feast days.
  • Gratitude… it was the least they could for all God had done for them.

APP:  How often do you look back at what God has done for you in your past?

II.  The Things That Are  (v.11,12)

Asaph complained about Israel’s stubborn independence.  In spite of all God did for His people, they would not listen to His Word nor do His will.  So, God chose to let them have their own way.

APP:  One of God’s most painful judgments is to simply allow us to have our own way.

III.  The Things That Might Have Been  (v.13-16)

Asaph described the blessings Israel forfeited because of their stubbornness.  Their lives could have been filled with blessings… and their obstacles would have been removed.

APP:  They could have looked back over their lives with rejoicing at every point; instead, they had to remember with regret.  But, here’s the hope that’s always available in God… the things that might have been can be today if we will let Him have His way.

Love Your Neighbor

9 times in the Bible, one command is said to sum up the Old Testament law: “Love your neighbor.”

It should be easy to love our neighbors.  After all, they’re the people closest to us in proximity.  Every neighborhood provides many potential possibilities for connecting with those around us.  We share the same schools and the same parks.  We attend the same meetings and are part of the same groups.  We live in the same apartment building, housing complex, and street.  We go to the same grocery stores, the same gas stations, the same hardware stores, and the same restaurants.  We have the same mayor, the same trash service, the same postman, and the same police department and fire station.  We might see our neighbors more than we see many people in our extended family!

It should be easy to love our neighbors.

But, just because we’re in the same place at many of the same times, it doesn’t mean we’re always connecting with those around us.  That decision is mostly up to us.  We’re the ones who decide whether or not we are going to be intentional about sharing God’s love with others.

Simply living in our mission field isn’t enough; we have to live their as a missionary.

Those people in your neighborhood are the people to whom God sent you.  It starts with saying “Hello”.

Sesame Street and Evangelism

You probably grew up watching Sesame Street on TV.  It’s a long-running PBS show (and has recently been in the news concerning budget cuts).  For many of us, Sesame Street was our first encounter with letters and numbers.  We loved watching Burt & Ernie, Big Bird, Grover, Cookie Monster, the Count, and Oscar the Grouch.  There were lots of other puppets, too… and even some real-life people.

We sang along with the songs sung by the characters who lived on Sesame Street; one of those songs asked the question, “Who are the people in your neighborhood?”  The song answered the question as puppets introduced us to the postman, the firefighter, the man at the market, etc.  As the song closed, it summarized the definition of who a neighbor is – “They’re the people that you meet as you’re walking down the street; they’re the people that you meet each day.”

Webster’s Dictionary defines your “neighbor” as ‘someone in close, natural proximity to yourself.’  Jesus defined who our neighbor is by telling the parable of the Good Samaritan.  Your neighbors are the people who live in your neighborhood… the people you should be meeting – and having conversations with – on a regular basis.

Your neighbors are your most immediate mission field.

A Missionary Psalm

This past Wednesday night, in our mid-week study, we looked at Psalm 67.

The 67th psalm is an anonymous psalm, written to the Chief Musician, intended to be played on stringed instruments.  It is also a missionary psalm that exhorts its readers/singers to get the message of God’s love out to all the nations of the world.

Why?  Because:

  •  They Need Light  (v.1,2)

Those who don’t have a relationship with God walk around in darkness and need the light of God’s face to shine on them.  They have lost their way and are headed for eternal separation from God.

  • They Need Joy  (v.3,4a)

Sin can be fun… but only for a little while.  Sin always takes us farther than we want to go, keeps us longer than we want to stay, and costs us more than we want to pay.  Sin gives a temporary “high”, but in Christ there are pleasures forevermore!

  • They Need Righteousness  (v.4b)

True righteousness only comes through faith in Jesus.  Man’s sense of right-and-wrong… the  morality of the moment… will never be truly just and can never satisfy the demands of God’s holy law.

  • They Need Life  (v.5-7)

The purpose of missions is to reach “the people“… “all the people“.  If every believer were doing what you do about missions, would all the people of the earth be praising the Lord?

Being a Missionary at School or at Work

You may have never considered yourself to be a missionary at your school… or at your job.  But, you are.

Being a missionary in your school or workplace can be tricky.  We can’t do a Bible Study instead of what we are there to do.  We can’t spend our morning going from office to office or classroom to classroom; we are there to do a job or to learn.  We can’t call everyone together to pray before a big test or before a board meeting.  We can’t stand up to proclaim Christ instead of giving or oral report or instead of telling the crew what needs to be done that day.  Yet, whether it’s school or work – whether you’re paying to be there or getting paid to be there – you are to be there on mission.  So, how do you do that?

It happens “in the gaps” of your regular routine: in the lunchroom, during breaks, as you’re going from one station to another.  We can usually find time to talk about our favorite sports team, the TV show we watched last night, what’s happening with the family.  If we can find time to talk to others about those things, we can find time to talk to others about Jesus.

Did you start your day at school praying for God to open an opportunity for you to be a missionary?  Do you consider your 9-5 job as your mission field?

Wherever you are… and whatever you do… on your Monday through Friday vocation, God has put you there.  And He’s put you there for a reason.  He’s put you there to live out your mission.

Foes & Friends of God

In our mid-week study last night, we looked at Psalm 53.

Psalm 53 was written by David… to the Chief Musician.  It was intended to be a psalm to be contemplated… and played to a tune on a lute or a lyre.  It is almost identical to Psalm 14.

I.  God & His Foolish Foes  (v.1-5)

What a person thinks about God goes far in determining his/her character and conduct.  David was concerned about the state of humanity:

  • Their Atheism  (v.1a)  Only a fool would deny the existence of God.
  • Their Apostasy  (v.1b-3)  Everywhere David looked, he saw people who were completely corrupt and had turned their backs on God.
  • Their Attacks  (v.4)  They chewed at God’s people the way they might chew bread.
  • Their Annihilation  (v.5)  God will have the last word…

 

II.  God & His Faithful Friends  (v.6)

  •  The Desire  (v.6a)  David desired that God would rescue His people.
  • The Delight  (v.6b)  When God would eventually restore His people, they will rejoice.

You Are a Paid Missionary!

If you are a Christian, you have also been called to be a missionary.  The life you live is the life God has given you… and the specific locations in which you live that life are the locations to which He has sent you.  Everything you do… everyone you meet… every opportunity you have… is part of your specific vocation – you “calling” assigned by God.

That calling should give special meaning to every meeting you attend, every group project you’re a part of, every chemistry lab, every workshop, every classroom.  In our vocation, we build relationships.  In our vocation, we love, serve, and bless people.  We pray for those around us.

God provides our calling… and He also supports us in it.  If you are still in school, God is providing for your vocation through tax dollars and government-provided schools.  If you are in college, God is providing for your vocation through scholarships and part-time jobs.  If you are in the workplace, God is providing for your vocation through your paycheck.  Regardless of the name on the paycheck, God is routing His resources to you through them… so that you can be paid full-time ministry where He has sent you.

You have possibly assumed you are going to school or working your job so you can afford to pay for the expenses of living life.  You are actually going to school or working your job as a way to remain on your mission field!

Look around on your mission field; what do you think God would have you do today?