June 26 — Tolerated Evil — Psalms 97-103. I was struck with the statement about what our attitudes should be regarding evil: “O you who love the LORD, hate evil!” (97:10). Who doesn’t easily hate evil?! If we are still bold enough to watch the news on TV, we are appalled with the hideous things that are being done around the world with wars, murders, rapes, theft, etc. As I read on to David’s Ps. 101, I saw a different picture of evil: evil things I do and often excuse, things that happen even within my own home. What God wants me to always do is to “walk with integrity of heart within my house; I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless … I will know nothing of evil” (101:2-4). Think of this when you are deciding what to watch on TV in your own home: “I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless.” We must not tolerate evil—coming from the outside or welling up from the inside.
June 27 — Sweeping History — Psalms 104-106. All three of these psalms are historical, recounting God’s works in creation and the experiences of His people. As pointed out by the ESV Study Bible, Ps. 104 roughly summarizes the six days of creation (see chart below). Ps. 105 is a sweeping historical psalm that begins at the Patriarchs’ promise of the land, continues to the plight of Joseph that brought the Hebrews into Egypt, their deliverance through the plagues in Egypt, and their entrance into the Promised Land. Ps. 106 focuses on the wandering of the rebellious Israelites in the wilderness and their continuing sinful practices in the Promised Land.
|Day 2||1:6-8||Divided waters||104:2b–4|
|Day 3||1:9-13||Divided land with plants||104:5–18|
|Day 4||1:14-19||Heavenly bodies||104:19–24|
|Day 5||1:20-23||Fish and fowl||104:25–26|
|Day 6||1:24-31||Animals and humans||104:27–30|
June 28 — Book 5 — Psalms 107-111. We begin Book 5 of Psalms today. Of those 44 psalms, only 15 of them reveal the writer’s name, 14 from David and one from Solomon. Scattered throughout our reading for today, there are four similar verses about giving thanks to God in the presence of other people: “Let the redeemed of the LORD say so …” (107:2), “I will give thanks to you, O LORD, among the peoples …” (108:3), “… in the midst of the throng …” (109:30), and “… in the company of the upright …” (111:1). We should not only praise God among other Christians but “the peoples” around us also need to hear our thanks for what we know God has done in creation, in circumstances, and in our personal lives.
June 29 — Acrostically Blessed Commandments — Psalms 112-118. Both Ps. 111 and 112 are acrostic poems, having each line begin with successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet. I noticed something surprising as I began reading today in Ps. 112:1, “Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who greatly delights in his commandments!” It is not natural to like being told what to do but that is what God wants from us regarding His commandments. If we take God’s “unnatural” way by delighting in those commands, we are “blessed” or “happy” as a result. Another “unnatural” statement comes in Ps. 112:5: “It is well with the man who deals generously and lends.” We usually resist being generous but it goes “well” with us when we do. God’s way often goes against what is “natural” to us but it is always the best way.
June 30 — Good Affliction — Psalm 119 is unique in many ways. It is the longest psalm and the longest chapter in the Bible, longer than several other books. It has an acrostic structure par excellence, with 22 stanzas, one for each letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Each stanza has 8 verses and the first word of each of those verses begins with the same alphabet letter. Like Ps. 19, the primary focus of Ps. 119 is the Word of God. It is called many things: commandments, decrees, laws, precepts, promises, rules, statutes, testimonies, ways, and words (in alphabetical order!). Almost every verse uses at least one of these words. One thing that struck me as I read was this: “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word” (119:67). Affliction can get our attention and remind us about our need for God. He can even give us affliction to lead us back to His Word: “in faithfulness you have afflicted me” (119:75). Later, we can appreciate how God used it to help us focus on Him: “It was good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes” (119:71). I thought it was significant that I had the hiccups throughout this reading, which was a small affliction but enough to remind me that it is difficult to concentrate on anything, even God, when our body is calling to us in pain, discomfort, or annoyance.
July 1 — Ascents —Psalms 120-132. The title of each of these short psalms is “Song of Ascents,” which refers to traveling to the temple (or tabernacle) in elevated Jerusalem for worship. “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the LORD’”
July 2 — Give Thanks — Psalms 133-139. The antiphonal song of Ps. 136 repeats 26 times this expression: “for his steadfast love endures forever,” providing the reason or support for each previous statement. The psalm begins with, “Give thanks to the LORD” and ends with, “Give thanks to the God of heaven.” As those of us in America enter this annual time of celebrating the official birth of our nation, let us remember to give thanks to God for the great ways in which He has helped and sustained us in spite of the sinful actions of many of our people and leaders.