June 19 — Insomnia — Psalms 60-67. I hesitated to write about this because I don’t want to be tested with a poor night’s sleep but God seemed to emphasize it to me as I read today. David said, “my mouth will praise you with joyful lips when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night” (63:5-6). Insomnia is a frustrating experience, yet David praised and meditated on God at night “with joyful lips.” He even sang for joy (63:7) on his bed. That might not sound like a good remedy for getting back to sleep but it does provide a great opportunity to be satisfied (“joyful … joy”) with praise to our Creator and Savior. And who knows, being satisfied, we might find the peace needed to get the remainder of the sleep we need.
June 20 — Delight in War — Psalms 68-71. David prayed that God would “scatter the peoples who delight in war” (68:30). The passing of time has not changed that tragic situation. It is probably even worse now, and Jesus said that “wars and rumors of wars” (Matt. 24:6) would precede “the end.” As I write this, there are 67 countries involved in wars in our world plus 761 ongoing conflicts between militias, guerrillas, and terrorist-type groups (http://www.warsintheworld.com). Why? Sin. Selfishness and the desire for power, wealth, and religious dominance drive this striving against others. But another part of David’s prayer is that God would bring these warring nations to know Him: “…kings shall bear gifts to you” (68:29) and “Nobles shall come from Egypt; Cush shall hasten to stretch out her hands to God” (68:31-32). Our world situation is desperate, but not hopeless. Let us pray with David that warring peoples around the world will hear of, and submit to, the God of peace.
June 21 — Asaph — Psalms 72-76. The last verse of Ps. 72 concludes Book 2, ending the bulk (75%) of David’s psalms. Of the psalms in Book 3, Asaph wrote 10, the sons of Korah wrote 4, David wrote 1, and Ethan wrote his only psalm. Asaph, the son of Berechiah, wrote the first four psalms of Book 3 that we read today. He was a contemporary of David, the chief Levite who ministered before the ark of the covenant and a singer who also played the cymbals (1 Chron. 15-16). I liked his expression that he “almost stumbled” and “nearly slipped” when he “was envious of the arrogant” and “saw the prosperity of the wicked” (73:2-3). That is a great picture of temptation. Human nature is attracted to the confidence and wealth of other people. We “almost” stumble, but don’t because we know better. We know that true confidence relies on God’s strength and true riches are found in Him.
June 22 — Glorious Deeds of Yahweh — Psalms 77-78. The long Ps. 78 is a “historical” song, a category not listed in Fee and Stuart’s book I mentioned earlier (June 16). When I was in seminary, one of my good friends took a class focused on Psalm 78 and felt it was one of the best classes he had in seminary. The psalm is a look back to the history of Israel from the time of the Exodus. It challenges people to “tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD” (78:4). Yet, in spite of all the miraculous things God did for them, “they sinned still more against him” (78:17). So, God punished them, and “they sought him; they repented and sought God earnestly” (78:34). But their repentance was either short-lived or insincere: “They flattered him with their mouths; they lied to him with their tongues” (78:36). How important it is for us to remember the past deeds of God, to genuinely turn from our sins, and to submit to our Shepherd for guidance and protection!
June 23 — Is God in Control? — Psalms 79-85. Ps. 81:11-16 shows the struggle between the will of God and the will of His people. A loving God wanted to “subdue their enemies” (:14) and “feed you with the finest of wheat” (v. 16). On the other hand, the determined will of His people was to “not listen to my voice … not submit to me” (v. 11). But rather than forcing them to obey Him, God “gave them over to their stubborn hearts, to follow their own counsels” (v. 12). In a sense, God is not in control of everything, because He allows mankind to go their own way if they so choose, and suffer the consequences of missing out on intended blessings and having to endure hardships. How much better it is for His followers to “listen to me … walk in my ways!” (v. 13). His continuing promise is that “No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly” (84:11).
June 24 — Rock Solid — Psalm 86-89. When God appeared to Moses on Mt. Sinai to give him the second set of commandment tablets, the Lord declared that He was “a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Ex. 34:6). Throughout the psalms we read today, we see these ideas of God’s steadfast love and faithfulness (Ps. 86:5, 15; 89:2, 14, 24). Then, the psalmist poses the question, “Lord, where is your steadfast love of old, which by your faithfulness you swore to David?” (Ps. 89:49). Do you sometimes also wonder why God doesn’t show His steadfast love and faithfulness? Me too, but He is still steadfastly loving and faithful. He just has His own good reasons and timing. We may need those “dry times” to strengthen our faith to believe Him when we don’t feel Him.
June 25 — Useful Old People — Psalms 90-96. Book 4 contains 17 psalms but only three of them have authors named in the titles (two are from David). The first one (Ps. 90) is a psalm of Moses, the only one attributed to him in the entire book of Psalms. There is a flavor of the wilderness wandering experience in Book 4, where Moses is mentioned six times. Moses was 120 years old when his life ended just short of the Promised Land, yet he declared that the average lifespan was much less: “The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty” (90:10). The relative shortness of life is emphasized, being like grass that flourishes in the morning but “in the evening it fades and withers” (90:6). So, what are we to do with this short life? Moses asked God to “teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” (90:12). Make the most of your days! I have now passed that upper-average age of 80 but Moses gives me hope by saying that the righteous “shall bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green, to declare that the LORD is upright” (90:14-15). Even old men and women have a purpose: to grow, to praise God, and to declare His greatness to others. “Sing to the LORD, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!” (96:2-3).