PRAISE HIM OR FEAR HIM

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 Persecution2

ACKNOWLEDGE HIM    

We are usually admonished to praise God in these psalms.  But today the psalmist addressed God directly as a participant in the song of life.  To live for God we have to live with God, illustrating our trust for the world to see.  Like dark matter and dark energy we cannot measure the spiritual realm, but we know that it holds the universe together.  Someone is there for anyone who can see with the eyes of faith.

PSALM 108 (A Song or Psalm of David.)

O God, my heart is fixed; I will sing and give praise, even with my glory.   Awake, psaltery and harp: I myself will awake early.  I will praise thee, O LORD, among the people: and I will sing praises unto thee among the nations.  For thy mercy is great above the heavens: and thy truth reacheth unto the clouds.  Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens: and thy glory above all the earth;  Psalm 108: 1-5

I have joy in the morning because God has given me a day.  Since he has also given me eternal days I have even more reason to praise him.  Now I have a greater adventure because I can share that eternal gift with others.  All I have to do is to make sure I tell people about the gifts of God.  God’s mercy reaches all the people on the earth, and he can also reach those in orbit in space.  Remember Apollo 8 astronauts reading from Genisis?  We too can praise him today!

That thy beloved may be delivered: save with thy right hand, and answer me.  God hath spoken in his holiness; I will rejoice, I will divide Shechem, and mete out the valley of Succoth.  Gilead is mine; Manasseh is mine; Ephraim also is the strength of mine head; Judah is my lawgiver;  Moab is my washpot; over Edom will I cast out my shoe; over Philistia will I triumph.  Who will bring me into the strong city? who will lead me into Edom?  Psalm 108: 6-10

Lord, be glorified by my testimony to others so I too can be saved.  I will divide the lands of Seechem and deliver the property to its owners of Israel.  This same passage is found in Psalm 60.  David is assured of victory and ownership of the Canaan lands.  He is confident of victory over the enemies of Israel.

Wilt not thou, O God, who hast cast us off? and wilt not thou, O God, go forth with our hosts?  Give us help from trouble: for vain is the help of man.  Through God we shall do valiantly: for he it is that shall tread down our enemies. Psalm 108: 11-13

You, the God who threw us away, won’t you go into the battle with us now?  Our generals are only men, and their plans are feeble next to yours.  Now we will remember to call on you and with your help we will have our victory.  It is God who wins our battles for us, not our own works.

Oh my, this writer has been unemployed for over five years now, and I have no education of note.  But the trade skill that I have remains in reach and God has pointed out open doors to serve.  My plans are feeble, but I have seen deliverance.  We can invest in business or plant crops, but it is the Lord who will bring the harvest.

PSALM 109  (To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.)

Hold not thy peace, O God of my praise;  For the mouth of the wicked and the mouth of the deceitful are opened against me: they have spoken against me with a lying tongue.  They compassed me about also with words of hatred; and fought against me without a cause.  For my love they are my adversaries: but I give myself unto prayer.  And they have rewarded me evil for good, and hatred for my love.  Psalm 109: 1-5

Is there true evil in the world?  Do people allow their minds to imagine false accusations?  At times even the people of faith may be tempted to judge falsely without evidence or even an excuse for investigation.  Rumors are just as good as facts, and some even invent the rumors to serve their jealousy.  For these David asks God to be the judge.  David will not act against them except in prayer.  He will trust God to clear a safe path for him.

Set thou a wicked man over him: and let Satan stand at his right hand.  When he shall be judged, let him be condemned: and let his prayer become sin.  Let his days be few; and let another take his office.  Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.  Let his children be continually vagabonds, and beg: let them seek their bread also out of their desolate places. Psalm 109: 6-10

If these people love evil then give them a leader of their own kind.  Those who hear the dark ideas are listening to Satan and they are the leaders who will draw the evil men down to the lake of fire with their dark lord.  If they spawn like flies their children learn the ways of maggots, so the sins of the fathers will draw them into decay as well.

Let the extortioner catch all that he hath; and let the strangers spoil his labour.  Let there be none to extend mercy unto him: neither let there be any to favour his fatherless children.  Let his posterity be cut off; and in the generation following let their name be blotted out.  Let the iniquity of his fathers be remembered with the LORD; and let not the sin of his mother be blotted out.  Let them be before the LORD continually, that he may cut off the memory of them from the earth. Psalm 109: 11-15

Extortioners may be crude criminals or respected elected officials.  So evil men may suck the life blood of other evil men as they gather in dark cities.  The sins of fathers, sons, and grandchildren are all observed and noted by God.  They are already booked for prosecution.

Because that he remembered not to shew mercy, but persecuted the poor and needy man, that he might even slay the broken in heart.  As he loved cursing, so let it come unto him: as he delighted not in blessing, so let it be far from him.  As he clothed himself with cursing like as with his garment, so let it come into his bowels like water, and like oil into his bones.  Let it be unto him as the garment which covereth him, and for a girdle wherewith he is girded continually.  Let this be the reward of mine adversaries from the LORD, and of them that speak evil against my soul. Psalm 109: 16-20

These Are people who have a memory problem about mercy.  These people may have bible teaching, but the natural heart yearns for vengeance.  If they do not ask for supernatural help they may start a tale that turns into a lynch mob.  So David asks God to mark the works of evil “return to sender”.  So the cursing will become the covering of those who launched the attack.

But do thou for me, O GOD the Lord, for thy name’s sake: because thy mercy is good, deliver thou me.  For I am poor and needy, and my heart is wounded within me.  I am gone like the shadow when it declineth: I am tossed up and down as the locust.  My knees are weak through fasting; and my flesh faileth of fatness.  I became also a reproach unto them: when they looked upon me they shaked their heads. Psalm 109: 21-25

David has been a target, and he asks God to save him.  Later in the book of Esther we will see a demonstration that returns evil to the enemy of Esther and her uncle Mordecai.  They may have remembered this example that David has left for us during their crisis.

Help me, O LORD my God: O save me according to thy mercy:  That they may know that this is thy hand; that thou, LORD, hast done it.  Let them curse, but bless thou: when they arise, let them be ashamed; but let thy servant rejoice.  Let mine adversaries be clothed with shame, and let them cover themselves with their own confusion, as with a mantle.  I will greatly praise the LORD with my mouth; yea, I will praise him among the multitude.  For he shall stand at the right hand of the poor, to save him from those that condemn his soul. Psalm 109: 26-31

When your enemies know that God was their judge, they witness another form of praise.  This revelation is evidence of a mighty God.  Enemies will learn to fear God while the persecuted learn to praise God.  When the poor are delivered, they know that their God was their hope and their strength.  These are the witnesses that praise with sincerity.  Their testimony is the hope of the world around us

CAUSE AND EFFECT

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DRY SEA 

ACKNOWLEDGE HIM    

We are usually admonished to praise God in these psalms.  But today the psalmist addressed God directly as a participant in the song of life.  To live for God we have to live with God, illustrating our trust for the world to see.  Like dark matter and dark energy we cannot measure the spiritual realm, but we know that it holds the universe together.  Someone is there for anyone who can see with the eyes of faith.

O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.  Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy;  And gathered them out of the lands, from the east, and from the west, from the north, and from the south.  They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way; they found no city to dwell in.  Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them.  Psalm 107:1-5

To speak to God with gratitude acknowledges his participation in the conversation and in our conversion.  Acknowledgement to him and to our world confirms the source of safety to all who know they need to be saved from a spiritual enemy.  Everyone so redeemed still has a journey to reach a promised land, and it is still a hard road.  When I announce that God is my source and destination our fellow travelers know where to find what they are hungering for.

Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses.  And he led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city of habitation.  Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!  For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.  Such as sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, being bound in affliction and iron;  Psalm 107:6-10

Amazingly after all these lessons the people do remember who to turn to for help.  They find the right road through the hard times and arrive at the city of glory.  If people would just give honor and praise to God for the neighbors to learn about him!  He does deliver hope to the needy.  Those neighbors are bound in death by the mistakes that tear their lives apart.  Old fashioned mistakes like fornication and greed fail to build a good life.  Avoidable mistakes bring them disease, divorce, poverty, and prison.

Because they rebelled against the words of God, and contemned the counsel of the most High:  Therefore he brought down their heart with labour; they fell down, and there was none to help.  Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them out of their distresses.  He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and brake their bands in sunder.  Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!  For he hath broken the gates of brass, and cut the bars of iron in sunder.  Psalm 107:11-16

Because they rebelled…the cause is found in their choices.  Although God allowed the consequences they suffered, but only enough to be awakened.  We can all wake up and follow their example.  They cried to the Lord and he saved the people who didn’t deserve to be saved.  There was real pain and despair before that relief came, and we only need to remember to appreciate what God has offered us.  We should tell our neighbors who gives us mercy, grace, and wisdom for safety.  The Lord is good.

Fools because of their transgression, and because of their iniquities, are afflicted.  Their soul abhorreth all manner of meat; and they draw near unto the gates of death.  Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he saveth them out of their distresses.  He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions. Psalm 107:17-20

Who is punished?  Those who try to evade the natural laws of God.  Those who refuse to believe that they answer to a real God discover real distress until they hear that God is good.  Then they speak to God and discover mercy.  Israel repeated this cycle endlessly as an example to us.  Don’t we sometimes read the bible and wonder why they never learn?  They are our example for today.

Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!  And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing.  They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters;  These see the works of the LORD, and his wonders in the deep.  For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof. Psalm 107:21-25

So, church, it is our job to praise God to our friends so they remember his name.  Giving thanks is a sacrifice for them, a huge effort after actively ignoring him.  Once they start he joins them and inspires their rejoicing.  This pattern is also seen among the men who go to sea as sailors.  They witness the power of his works as the waves sink and rise to tower over them.  I took a canoe past a breakwater in Lake Huron once, and immediately felt the power of the lake pulling me away from the safety of land. I retreated quickly.

They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble.  They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits’ end.  Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses.  He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still.  Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven.  Psalm 107:26-30

Those stormy waves can still overpower the modern super freighters.  The oceans, and even the Great Lakes have broken the backs of steel leviathans.  Those men witness a ship capsizing and rolling like a toy while their legs forget where their balance is at.  These men remember what prayer is for, and God remembers to honor them.  There are many kinds of storms in life, and God is prepared to guard the coasts of your home as well.

Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!  Let them exalt him also in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders.  He turneth rivers into a wilderness, and the watersprings into dry ground;  A fruitful land into barrenness, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein.  He turneth the wilderness into a standing water, and dry ground into watersprings. Psalm 107:31-35

How can God bring them to the desired haven if no one is operating the lighthouse?  Who will publish a declaration of the safe haven in Jesus name?  God can turn the rivers and seas into a desert.  In Russia the Aral Sea has become a desert as our cover photo shows, but in Israel the desert has been made to bloom as the people of the land return.

And there he maketh the hungry to dwell, that they may prepare a city for habitation;  And sow the fields, and plant vineyards, which may yield fruits of increase.  He blesseth them also, so that they are multiplied greatly; and suffereth not their cattle to decrease.  Again, they are minished and brought low through oppression, affliction, and sorrow.  He poureth contempt upon princes, and causeth them to wander in the wilderness, where there is no way. Psalm 107:36-40

Where God created the waters he brought the hungry to build their city.  Even today God has planted the Jews in prosperous fields and they are blessed in Israel.  They do still see war and strife, but they will see their way to salvation in his time.  God has no respect for leaders who mislead or abuse their flocks so they are left in confusion.

Yet setteth he the poor on high from affliction, and maketh him families like a flock.  The righteous shall see it, and rejoice: and all iniquity shall stop her mouth.  Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the LORD. Psalm 107:41-43

While leaders are lost, their people are delivered from poverty and established their families as his own sheep.  Those who observe the deliverance of the oppressed will celebrate while evil will fall silent in fear.  Wisdom will have the spiritual view of all this and reflect the love that God would want, even as he gives.