day 12 – put a psalm in my heart

Psalm 32-34 make up the menu for our heart today.

Morning. Psalm 32. It has been said that the most difficult thing to do on earth is to repent. If this is so, then to rightly confess one’s sins and to learn well from them is a part of that. There is much wisdom to be learned about both sin and forgiveness from those who confess their sins and who do so with sincerity. To do so is to make the trek toward thankfulness and to be, and become, a blessing. And that is what this psalm is all about.

Noon. Psalm 33. Many of us who have some familiarity with the Bible can complete this phrase: “the whole earth is full of his [God’s] _______.” If you said “glory” you did well; you’re channeling Isaiah (6.3). But, the author of this psalm completes the phrase differently, namely that the “earth is full of his unfailing love.” (vs. 5); his faithfulness (vs. 4). This psalmist declares that God’s unfailing, faithful love [Hebrew: hesed] is evident in (1) all his dealings with all that he has created (vs. 6-9), (2) the lives of all human beings and the happenings among them (what we call “history” – vs. 10-17), and (3) his special care given to those who honor, and hope in, him (vs. 18-19). We cannot “overdo it” in reminding ourselves of these three things for these are the truths that are the essential nutrients for our daily patience and perseverance, joy and trust, hope and prayers (vs. 20-22).

Night. Psalm 34. By now in our journey into the psalms we are well acquainted with songs/prayers of those expressing their deep gratefulness to the Lord for their deliverance from some great fear(s) (e.g. – Ps. 9-10,18,30,32). And this psalm is precisely that (vs. 4). However, this psalm goes on to explain that fearing the Lord is not at all like those other kind of fears (vs. 7-9,11). This too is a lesson we need to hear again and again for to “fear God” is about rightly honoring him deeply, supremely, and completely. It is not so much about being scared as it is about counting his name sacred. To this psalmist this is evident and true because of God’s character, his fundamental “goodness” (vs. 8). And so, let me encourage you to do this this little exercise: write down the good things this psalms says God gives to those who “fear” him. Here are the verses to focus on for that project: vs. 5,8,9-10,12,15,17,18,22. This is impressive and inspiring, no? You might want to save and review that list, er, this psalm, again and again through life.

And finally, a cautionary note on Ps. 34. These fantastic blessings laid out are not meant to be construed as some sort of “prosperity gospel” (i.e. – if you live right, God will give you good stuff and keep you from experiencing bad stuff, and so, if you’re experiencing bad stuff in life it is all your fault because, loser, you just don’t have enough faith). Sadly, I have very often heard the words of this psalm (or passages parallel with it) referenced so. This is more than just a little unfortunate for vs. 19 alone instructs us otherwise, directly so (i.e. – “the righteous person may have many troubles” – vs. 19). And if that statement is not enough, the use of vs. 20 by John the apostle regarding the very experience and death of Jesus our Lord on his cross (cf. John 19.26) preaches to us this same message, and vividly so.