A Bible Lesson on Psalm 46

Scripture taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version.  Copyright 2000; 2001, by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.

This lesson is a slight variant of one taught February 25, 2017 at Grand Avenue Baptist Church in Ames, Iowa.

This morning we pause from our Colossians study and consider a glorious Old Testament text, Psalm 46.  We mediated last Sunday on Colossians 1:5 and the wonderful “hope laid up laid up for you in heaven” belonging to Christian people in the Gospel of Christ.  This Psalm provides a look at a different facet of that same core reality.  It teaches us about the guarantee of our hope.

Psalm 46 was the inspiration for Luther’s “A Mighty Fortress.”  Its occasion is not stated or known, but the tone makes clear that it was written in a time of trouble.  As such, it stands as a grand and substantial statement of faith in God, and as encouragement to us as things around us seem to be coming unglued.  Luther said “We sing this psalm to the praise of God, because God is with us and powerfully and miraculously preserves His church and His word against all fanatical spirits, against the gates of hell, against the implacable hatred of the devil, and against all assaults of the world, the flesh, and sin.”  Thank God for Psalm 46.

What we will do this morning is this.  I’m going to start by admitting together with you our context as we come to this Psalm.  Then, in response and contrast I’ll read the text aloud and offer a brief prayer.  Then we’ll meditate on Psalm 46 a phrase at a time.

So, where are our heads as you and I as we come to this text?  Well, Christian people are the most realistic people in the world.  So … we know that the world is broken and there is no hope of humans fixing it.  We know that we and ones we care about are going to experience pain and potentially know real disaster.  We know there is the possibility of withering debilitating illness, and some of us and those we love are living with it right now.  We know that there is no certainty in our national economy.  We know that our national politics are full of acrimony and profound selfishness and coarseness.  We know that the Christian heritage of western nations is fading and awful practices like the killing of unborn children are widely sanctioned.  We know that believing people around the world are suffering horrible persecution for faith in Christ.  And we know (or will know in a few years) that our bodies are decaying, and that life on earth is short and full of trouble.  All this is true, but not at all the main point.  This is the temporal bad news.

Please stand and I’ll read the eternal good news that IS the main point, and pray, and then we’ll work on the text.  Christians, hear Psalm 46.

Psalm 46:1  To the choirmaster. Of the Sons of Korah. According to Alamoth. A Song.  God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

2  Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,

3  though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.   Selah

4  There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High.

5  God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns.

6  The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts.

7  The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.   Selah

8  Come, behold the works of the Lord, how he has brought desolations on the earth.

9  He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;  he burns the chariots with fire.

10  “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

11  The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

Father, we thank You for Your holy Word.  We thank You for telling us what is true about You, and Your world, and us.  We ask to have hearing ears and hearts to rejoice.  We pray that You will be honored as we meditate on Your Word.  Help me, I ask, as I speak to do so with humility and grace, that Your people would be encouraged, I pray in Jesus.  Amen.

It has been a great pleasure to prepare to teach Psalm 46.  It has done my soul good.  In some ways, Psalm 46 is completely straightforward, saying what it says.  If you want a brief summary of its message, you can take the first and last verses.  God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.  …  The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.  This is the guarantee of our hope.  This is the “plain facts” message of the Psalm.  But rolling it over in our minds a phrase at a time can serve to make those facts bloom into heart-felt praise.  So let’s do that.

The Psalm breaks naturally into 3 stanzas, separated by the “Selah’s.”  Derek Kidner titled 1-3 “God in the tumult,” 4-7 “God in His city,” and 8-11 “God exalted in the earth.”

First, God in the tumult:

Psalm 46:1  To the choirmaster. Of the Sons of Korah. According to Alamoth. A Song. God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

From one perspective, God cares for His people in two ways.  He first protects His own from much trouble and harm, and second, in the trouble and difficulty that He does allow, He is there with them, being their only help and hope. He is both refuge and strength in those senses.

From a slightly different perspective, “refuge” speaks of external protection.  It alludes to a stronghold into which we can flee in a time of danger.  It is a fortress, a high tower, a shelter, or fort.  He is our refuge.

“strength” speaks of internal empowerment.  God gives courage to the weak heart.  Barnes put it this way, ” God is the source of strength to those who are weak and defenseless … we may rely on his strength ‘as if’ it were our own … we may feel as safe in his strength as though we had that strength ourselves. We may make it the basis of our confidence.”   God protects His own and is with them in trouble.  In both the external and the internal, He is their only help.

The fact that God is a “present” help speaks of His accessibility and willingness to be found, and His adequacy for all situations. He has been found to be and always continues to be “enough” in trouble.  And this is “very” much the case.  This is a superlative.  It is emphatically or exceedingly true that He aids His people.  He is a very present help in trouble.  And that being the case

2  Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,

3  though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah

Therefore, because of who He is and how He acts, we will not fear.  We will not fear, no matter what, period.  Nothing will cause us to fear.  Brothers and sisters, what is described in verses 2 and 3 is the most fundamental trouble that could possibly be, the complete unhinging of the natural order, the very reversal of God’s work on the 3rd day of creation.  It is the apparent undoing of what Paul tells us about Christ’s sustaining work in Colossians 1:17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.  When it seems like pre-creation chaos is coming back, we will not fear.  When the most solid things we know of in this physical world, the earth and the mountains, are rocked and the sea threatens to engulf them, we will not fear.  We will not fear, because God is our refuge and strength, an accessible and fully sufficient help.

Think about this.  If it were that there was literally no place to stand, the whole of God’s universe were seemingly to become unglued … the Psalmist says that God’s people would not fear.  Now, put our temporal concerns (the kind of things I mentioned before we read the Psalm) up against this picture.  They are nothing in comparison.  Ought these troubles come to our minds?  Sure.  We’re human.  But is there reason they should control us, that we ought to genuinely fear?  No.  Our troubles and others even more serious, times even (as Barnes put it) ” … when commotions and revolutions are occurring in the earth, and when everything sacred, true, and valuable seems to be in danger” will not cause God’s people to fear.

A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing.  Our helper He amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing.

Now, “God in His city”:

4  There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High.

In verse 3, there is chaos, and the wild sea water threatens to swallow up even the mountains.  But put up against that is this wonderful picture of a life-giving river of water in the city of God, Jerusalem.  But from the perspective of a Christian, it’s more than Jerusalem, it’s the church of the redeemed, and eventually the new Jerusalem, God’s heaven.  The river in it is from God Himself, and God is in the midst of the city.

Revelation 21:1  Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.

2  And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

3  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.

4  He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”


Revelation 22:1  Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb

2  through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

3  No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him.


Psalm 46:4  There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High.

5  God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns.

How is it that Old Testament Jerusalem or the New Testament church of God is immovable/unshakable?  How can there be stability when the very foundations of the earth seem to be coming unglued?  It is that God is in the midst of her.  He is her Chief Resident.  That’s a very present and comforting reality.

In verse 2, the very mountains will be moved, and in verse 6 the word rendered “totter” is the same word as this “moved” in verse 5.  The mountains and the kingdoms will be moved, but the city of God stands immovable, because He is in her.

God will help her “right early”/”when the morning dawns.”  This is wonderful poetry and reminder of wonderful deliverances God has given His people.  In Exodus 14:27 it was at the break of day when the Red Sea rushed back in to drown Pharaoh’s army.  In 2Kings 19:35 when Hezekiah and the people of Jerusalem got up in the morning, they found 185,000 dead Assyrian soldiers outside the city walls in their siege camp.  And it was early in the morning on the first day of the week that the women went to the tomb and found it empty in Luke 24:1.

Of course, God’s working is not limited to the early morning hours, but there is something especially beautiful and moving in pictures of the misery of a dark time fading away and the dawn bringing evidence of His deliverance.

6  The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts.

From chaos in the natural world to political upheaval and war and international conflict, none of that shakes the city of God.  Worldwide economic turmoil and the dissolution of governments do not shake the city of God.

But the inherent instability of evil implies tumult/the raging of nations and the tottering of kingdoms.  And it brings the judgment of God.  Sin inevitably brings its own misery and additionally God punishes sin.  God spoke and the world came into existence.  When He speaks in judgment, the earth melts away.  But none of this touches the church of God.

7  The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

The LORD of hosts is with us.  This is Jehovah Sabaoth, the I AM of armies/hosts.  He is with us. Luther: “Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing.  Were not the right man on our side, the man of God’s own choosing.  Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He.  Lord Sabaoth, his name.  From age to age the same.  And He must win the battle.”

The God of Jacob is our “fortress.”  Some versions render this “refuge,” but it’s not the same word as in verse 1.  This one implies an inaccessible height.  It is then something like “high stronghold” down from which God’s people look unscathed by what is going on below.

It is the God of “Jacob” mentioned here.  The point of this phrase is the nature of God, not the person of Jacob.  Jacob was not the model saint.  It took him a lifetime to really learn to trust God.  But He was God’s, chosen of God and ultimately loving God.  And God was with Him as He is with us.  The covenant-keeper was God, not Jacob.

The “LORD of hosts” is God’s title of divine power, the “God of Jacob” is His title of covenant relationship, and “God with us” is His name Emmanuel.  In this verse, His immeasurable power and His Fatherly love stand next to each other and we’re reminded of the same double truth that Eric pointed out in his sermons on Ruth.  He is both powerful and full of grace and covenant affection toward His people.

Now comes “God exalted in the earth.”  This is a vision of things to come.  It pictures God’s power over the whole warring world.

8  Come, behold the works of the LORD, how he has brought desolations on the earth.

Come, behold … come perceive/behold with the eye of a prophet.  What?  Come see God’s power to destroy!!!  That jars the sensibilities of post-moderns who are wrongly sure that the fact that God is love means that if we will just all hold hands and sing Kumbaya, everything will be rosy.  But this is the truth.

Kidner put it this way: “Although the outcome is peace, the process is judgment.  The reassuring words ‘he makes wars cease …’ are set in context not of gentle persuasion, but of a world devastated and forcibly disarmed.”  There will eventually be peace on earth, but not until Jesus returns in great power and judgment.  The I AM will deal with evil, and there will be peace.

9  He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire.

Boice says “God is not a peace negotiator, He is a conqueror.”  He imposes peace.  He breaks the bow, shatters the spear, and burns the chariots.  He disarms His foes and those who would attack His people.  There is the image here of the ruined army of Sennacherib and a siege camp in shambles becoming plunder for inhabitants of Jerusalem, protected by the LORD of hosts.  This is the image of the burning remains of an armored column decimated by superior air power as it attempts to withdraw from a city it has occupied.

10  “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

This is a command not primarily to God’s people but to His enemies.  The “be still” is not “be quiet and contemplative,” but rather “Quiet! Leave off! Enough!” “Drop your weapons and desist!”

Again quoting Kidner: ” … (it) is not in the first place comfort for the harassed, but a rebuke to a restless and turbulent world”  It’s much like the command of Jesus to the storm and lake “Peace! Be still!”  Know that I am God.  I will be exalted among the nations.  I will be exalted in the earth.  Stop your noise and recognize your Master.  Let God be God.

The Psalmist then comes back to where he was in verse 7.

11  The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

The fundamental here, the guarantee of Christian hope, is the presence with us of the promise-making and promise-keeping all-powerful God of creation and redemption.  He is our refuge and strength, a very present help in temporal trouble.  He is with us in all things, even to the end of the created order.  From His throne springs the eternal river whose streams make glad the city of God.

We are going to end this service by singing “A Mighty Fortress.”  Let’s do this with real rejoicing and energy.  This is very good news.

Here is a .pdf of this lesson.

Scripture taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version.  Copyright 2000; 2001, by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.

A Bible Lesson on Psalm 91

Scripture taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version.  Copyright 2000; 2001, by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.

This post is a slight variant of a lesson taught at Grand Avenue Baptist Church in Ames, Iowa, August 13, 2017.

Psalm 91 is one of the very most grand and memorable of the Psalms.  It just sings.  It does good to the souls of Christian believers.  I have been most blessed to live in it this week as I have prepared to teach.  I commend it to your meditation in the coming week.  The Psalm is, in short, encouragement that despite any appearances to the contrary, the basic safety of God’s people is never in doubt.

Calvin said “In this Psalm we are taught that God watches over the safety of His people, and never fails them in the hour of danger.  They are exhorted to advance through all perils, secure in the confidence of his protection.”

Derek Kidner called this “a Psalm for danger.”  He spoke of it as a Psalm “for times of being under attack or for openly opposing the forces of evil.”  You and I are rarely in the kind of open life-and-death-conflict faced by Moses or David or Calvin or Luther, or our persecuted modern brethren in closed countries.  Our temporal dangers are comparatively small.  But we can rejoice that this Psalm is universally true and relevant in all of life’s dangers, big and small.

Let me pray and then we’ll work through this Psalm line by line.

Father, we thank You for Your Holy Word.  Thank You for revealing to us who You are and who we are.  Encourage Your people as we meditate on this Psalm we pray in Christ’s name, Amen.

Psalm 91 divides into 3 sections according to changes of “person.”  Verses 1-2 Kidner called “My refuge” and the Psalmist speaks of himself.  Verses 3-13 might be called “Your refuge,” as the Psalmist speaks to (singular) “you.”  Calvin understood the Psalmist to be speaking to himself in these verses, preaching to His own heart.  But most commentators hear the Psalmist speaking to others in these middle verses.  He is speaking to us, one at a time.  Verses 14-16 might be called (again using Kidner’s language) “God’s pledge.”  God Himself speaks in promise to His people.

Consider with me the first two verses, “My refuge.”

Psalm 91:1  He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.

2  I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

The Psalmist states both the general truth in verse 1 and his personal experience and intention in verse 2.  God protects His own, and the Psalmist can personally attest to this.  The word rendered “to” in verse 2 could be rendered “concerning.”  That is it might be, “I will say ‘concerning’ the LORD.”  The ESV rendering emphasizes the Psalmist’s person-to-person experience with God.  He will speak “to” God.  The alternative has a grandeur about it, with the force of a kind of legal proclamation to all the listening universe.  In either case, this is far more than rote form.  This is personal.

God’s people like the Psalmist, “remain/live/abide” in Him.  They find continual dwelling/hospitality in Him.  They trust Him.  They live in Him and they rely on Him.

Look at the ways that the Psalmist describes God’s gracious protection in these two great verses.  He’s shelter, offering protection.  He’s shade from a withering desert sun, offering refreshment.  He’s “myrefuge/a place the Psalmist personally retreats to.  He’s a fortress, and in fact is the Psalmist’s fortress.  Shelter, shade, refuge, fortress: God is the complete embodiment of protection and relief for those who come to Him.

Look too at the names of God used in these verses.  He’s the Most High/the all-ruling God.  If this is true, then what threat can stand against Him?  He’s the Almighty/the God who intervenes in saving power when human strength is quite gone.  He is the LORD, the I AM, the self-existing, self-revealing, and self-defining One.  And He is “myGod.  That is, He is specially related to the Psalmist.  Again, if this is true, what threat can the person who knows Him face?  In a time of danger, the God of the Bible is all of these things to His people one at a time.  And all of these things ARE constantly true about His person.

There is a wonderful little book entitled The Person of Jesus consisting of transcripts of 5 radio addresses made in the 1930’s by J. Gresham Machen, one of the 20th century’s greatest defenders of orthodox historical Christianity.  At the end of his second chapter, Machen says this, speaking of Christ, the second person of the Trinity:

“We have trusted in Jesus.  But how far can we trust him? Just in this transitory life?  Just in this little speck we call the earth?  If we can trust him only thus far we are of all men most miserable.  We are surrounded by stupendous forces; we are surrounded by the immensity of the unknown.  After our little span of life there is a shelving brink with the infinite beyond.  And still we are subject to fear—not only fear of destruction but a more dreadful fear of meeting with the infinite and holy God.

So we should be if we had but a human Christ.  But now is Christ our Savior, the one who says “Your sins are forgiven,” revealed as very God.  And we believe.  Such a faith is a mystery to us who possess it; it seems folly to those who have it not.  But if possessed it delivers us forever from fear.  The world to us is all unknown; it is engulfed in an ocean of infinity.  But it contains no mysteries to our Savior.  He is on the throne.  He pervades the remotest bounds.  He inhabits infinity.  With such a Savior we are safe.”

In a fundamental sense, every human ever born as a son or daughter of Adam is in the profoundest of cosmic danger.  If not in our temporal lives, surely in eternity we need shelter.  The Psalmist declares that those who seek shelter in the real God find real protection.  Though the Psalmist couldn’t see it in detail when he wrote, the work of Christ is the ground/basis/foundation of that safety.  Believing people are genuinely safe in Christ.

The Psalmist now begins to speak of God’s protection for “you.”  The discussion is not about “I” but now about “you.”  He will protect you.  Calvin thought that the Psalmist was preaching to his own soul.  Even if he was correct about this, these truths really are for each individual person who will trust/abide in God.  They are for the likes of us.

3  For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence.

The snare of the fowler is a word picture for a trap that comes unaware on both the strong and the weak.  Deadly pestilence is deadly sickness that you can’t even see.  God protects His own from the subtle plans of unknown enemies and from silent deadly infections, things of which they may not even be aware to ask for or acknowledge His deliverance.  As one is saved from these things, he or she may not even know it!

Most importantly and in its fullest New Testament sense, God delivers His own from the snares of the evil one and the deadly sickness of sin.  In present time and space, God at times supernaturally spares His people attacks of human enemies and the ravages of disease and misery.  But always and forever He protects those who are His from eternal misery that otherwise would of necessity follow from our sin.

4  He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.

Is this verse we see pictured the care of a mother bird for her young.  It is the same tender figure used by Jesus in lamenting over Jerusalem in Luke 13:34b when He said “How often would I have gathered your children as a hen gathers her brood under her wings …”  But unlike wayward Jerusalem, the Psalmist sees God’s people welcoming the shelter of God’s care.

In verse 4, God’s faithfulness is likened to pieces of armor, first a large shield that covers the majority of the body.  The second is variously rendered as a “buckler” or “rampart.”  If it is the first, it’s a small mobile shield 6-18 inches in diameter gripped in the center.  If it is the second, it’s part of a fortress.  In either case, God’s care has both the personal warmth pictured in the first part of the verse and also the hard, unyielding nature of armor.  Christian, we need both.  Warmth without real strength is ultimately of no help in danger.

His “faithfulness,” is real toughness that gives His care for His people substance and has to do with His whole character.  The King James Version renders the word “faithfulness” as “truth.”  These two English words have the same Hebrew behind them, and we should know that this guarantee of God’s care has to do with His fidelity to His word, to His promises.  It is His nature, and the fact that He can be trusted to be and do exactly as He has said, that is ultimately the believer’s tough, tempered protection in all of existence.

5  You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day,

6  nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.

God’s protection of His people is a 24/7 and completely comprehensive matter.  He never sleeps nor goes on break.  He’s there in the night and He’s there at high noon.  He saves His people from stuff visible and invisible, natural and supernatural, human, bacterial, and demonic.  So, of course “You will not fear … !”

Mathew Henry said, “God by His grace will keep thee from disquieting fear (that fear which hath torment) in the midst of the greatest dangers.  Wisdom shall keep thee from being causelessly afraid, and faith shall keep thee from being inordinately afraid. … A believer needs not fear, and therefore should not fear any arrow, because the point is off, the poison is out.  Whatever is done, our heavenly Father’s will is done; and we have no reason to fear that.”

7  A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.

8  You will only look with your eyes and see the recompense of the wicked.

The “you” in verse 7 is emphatic.  To you it will not come near.  The picture in verses 7 and 8 is one of complete devastation and carnage, and the child of God standing in the midst of it, unscathed, viewing God’s judgment on sin.  What is it that saves redeemed people from God’s judgment, that protects them from the “recompense of the wicked” that lays waste thousands and ten thousands all around them?  It is His faithfulness to His Word and to His people, made plain to the universe at Calvary.

Verses 7 and 8 are no temporal promise that the righteous will never die in a calamity or military conflict.  They are rather a promise that they will not do so as God’s judgment on their sin (that has been dealt with on the cross of Christ).  And they are a promise that God’s providence is at work on a very minute level.  It works protecting every one of His own.  And it works bringing judgment on every one of those who are in rebellion against Him.

The rest of this part of the Psalm (v9-13) is a series of wonderful promises of God’s care.  But they are not unconditional.  The condition is in verse 9.

9  Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place– the Most High, who is my refuge—

The condition on the protection the Psalm promises is that the individual has the Most High as his “dwelling place.”  James Boice said, “This is more than merely believing in God or coming to God occasionally when danger threatens.  It means resting in God continually and trusting Him at all times.  It means living all of life ‘in God.’  Martin Luther wrote that this refers to ‘one who really dwells and does not merely appear to dwell and does not just imagine that he dwells’ in God.”

It’s in this context, where the LORD is a person’s real constant dwelling place, that the Psalmist says

10  no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent.

There is a beautiful little contrast in the promises of this verse.  That is the laying side-by-side this blessed person’s temporal “tent” in verse 10 and his eternal “dwelling place” in God in verse 9.  His real constant dwelling place is God, and that being true, his present tent is secure.  If all is fundamentally well, it is surely well in the here and now.

11  For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.

12  On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.

13  You will tread on the lion and the adder; the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.

This is, of course, a passage partially quoted by Satan at the temptation of Christ.  If you compare Matthew 4, you’ll find that Satan quotes verses 11 and 12, but purposely leaves out the phrase “in all your ways.”  That is because it is understood that “all your ways” for a person whose dwelling place is the LORD, are ways ordered and directed by the LORD.  They are not ways chosen by a person to suit his or her whim.  The temptation for Christ to toss Himself off the temple and to test God’s care was a temptation to step outside a life “in God.”  It was a temptation to leave off making the Father His dwelling place.

In some sense, it is perfectly obvious that if God is who He says He is, and one’s life is hidden in Him–is truly lived in complete reliance upon Him–one is effectively “invincible” in a proper understanding of the word.  Whatever comes, pleasant or unpleasant, is meant for and will produce good, both for an individual and for the kingdom of God, bringing glory to God.  For the child of God, things are exactly as the answer to the first question of the Heidelberg Catechism asserts.

Q1:  What is your only comfort in life and death?

A1:  That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with His precious blood, and has set me free from all the power of the devil. He also preserves me in such a way that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, all things must work together for my salvation.  Therefore, by His Holy Spirit He also assures me of eternal life and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live for Him.

Our frailty and fallen natures make the “all your ways” phrase of verse 11 impossible for you and me in and of ourselves.  The good news of the Gospel is that our lives are Christ’s life, His righteousness is our righteousness.  All of Christ’s virtue, His perfect willing obedience to the Father, all of it is ours.  All His ways are the Father’s ways, and because of this, in Him we are perfectly protected from all harm.  We are completely safe.

We have a hard time keeping all this straight and in focus.  We know that God miraculously and graciously spares His children many hard things, and in fact He spares us all things that would crush us.  We know that in all things He graciously gives us strength.  We sometimes have sense enough to recognize His care for us and give thanks for His daily “ordinary” mercies, and our hearts soar as we read the great Biblical promises of a Psalm like this.  We rejoice as we read 2 Kings 6:15-17 and remember Elisha’s words to his servant when the Syrian army surrounded Dothan and threatened to arrest the prophet “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them” and recall the young man’s eyes being opened to see an army of fiery angels on the surrounding mountains. We remember the Apostle Paul in Acts 28 shaking the venomous snake off of his hand into the fire without harm (after the shipwreck on Malta) and say “Amen!” We praise God when we hear of modern miracles of God’s deliverance of His persecuted saints and rightly give Him thanks.

But we then lose focus and jump to the incorrect conclusion that universal freedom from difficulty and the misery of the present effects of the fall is promised, that such deliverances are our right.  This is not so.  What is promised is that fundamentally all is well.  What is promised is that when lives are “in God” there is truly nothing to fear, that God’s purposes for us and for His creation will not be thwarted.  Truly, in His purposes and His contexts and His time, His people will tread on the lion and adder, the young lion and serpent, the most subtle and strongest of opposition.  The angels of God will aid and protect His own.  The very gates of hell will not prevail against His church, for His purposes, and in His time.  This is true at the same time that it is true that some of His people will suffer and die hard deaths in difficult circumstances for His sake.

We are further tempted to treat the promises of verses 11-13 presumptuously, exactly as Christ did not.

Derek Kidner said, “It was characteristic of the devil to read this promise (11f) as an invitation to arrogance.  It was characteristic of God, Father and Son, that angelic help was sent when it was most needed, accepted as strength for service, and refused for self-advantage.”

We don’t call the shots and cannot presume upon God’s validation of our random foolishness.  If we jump off the pinnacle of the temple to demonstrate our “faith,” we’ll break every bone in our bodies.  But humbly walking the ways He leads us, trusting Him in everything, no real harm can come to us.

In the last 3 verses of the Psalm, God speaks to the one who dwells in Him and personally graciously promises aid.  The Psalm opened with the statement of facts and recitation of the Psalmist’s experience.  It proceeded to the Psalmist preaching to himself or us to believe the truth.  Now God Himself pledges His loving protection.

14  “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name.

God says that the one who dwells in Him holds fast to Him in love.  This person sets his heart on/cleaves affectionately to God.  This one who dwells in God “knows my name.”  This person understands what God has revealed about Himself.  This knowing is knowing in truth and in person.  This individual is not worshiping a figment of his or her imagination, but rather the real God of all that is.  This person genuinely knows the I AM, the triune God of the Bible.  Consistent with real whole-hearted and rightly-informed reliance upon God, God will deliver and God will protect.

We should not read this holding fast and having true knowledge of God in verse 14 as human causes of God’s protection.  Further, we should not read them as having human origin.  They are ours, not by our own effort, but in the mercy of Christ.  Christ perfectly loves and holds fast to the Father and knows the Father.  It’s in Christ that Christian people fully hold fast to God and truly know Him.  These are ultimately His gifts in Jesus to His people, and His deliverance and protection in this life are simply consistent with these gifts.  Christ holds fast in love and we are blessed.

It is the testimony of the Scriptures and of the believing church in every age, that God protects and preserves His people, that finally all is well in this life and the next.  He keeps His promise to deliver and protect.

15  When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him.

Those who dwell continually in God call to Him.  They flee to Him in prayer.  Those who have made the LORD their dwelling place will cry out to Him, and He will answer.  He will be with His people in trouble.  Jesus, God in the flesh chose to join the likes of you and me in our trouble and rescue us.  This is basic Bible theology.  The I AM is with His people and answers them when they cry to Him.  The helpless will call to their only Helper, and in grace He will rescue, and He will honor those who are His.

16  With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”

With long life He will satisfy those who dwell in Him and show them His salvation.  Old Testament saints like the Psalmist could only see dimly what you and I know is the full gospel truth here, and the end of life described in this Psalm.  Through and in Christ, His people cleave to Him, know Him in truth, and flee to Him in prayer.  The triune God of the Bible delivers, protects, answers, joins them in trouble, rescues, honors, and ultimately saves them eternally and satisfies them forever in His own presence.  Eternal life with God starts now and never ends … such is truly long permanent blessed life.

Glory to the Holy One.  This is exceedingly wonderful.  In a few moments we are going to sing a closing hymn essentially confessing together that this is all God’s doing and is most precious.  But before we do so, let me do two other things.  Let me first read a New Testament passage that comes to the same conclusion as this Psalm.  Then let me leave us with some exhortations consistent with the Scriptures.

Hear the words of Romans 8, beginning at verse 28.

Romans 8:28  And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 

29  For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 

30  And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. 

31  What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 

32  He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 

33  Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 

34  Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 

35  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 

36  As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 

37  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 

38  For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 

39  nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

The Psalmist didn’t know the details, but He knew in general terms that this was coming.  Thanks be to God!

In light of Psalm 91, hear now these exhortations, first for those of us who believe, then for those who do not yet believe.

Christians, dwell wholly in God.  Trust completely in His Son.  Don’t fear.  Give thanks for His gracious protection and go about the life He gives you, doing what He puts before you in complete confidence that all is well.  It really is.  Talk to yourself and to others about this, and make the fame of God great.

If you are here this morning as an inquirer into the Christian faith and nothing that has been said here describes you or your experience, I urge you to flee to Christ.  There is eternal safety in Him and only in Him.  The wonderful condition of life “in God” described Psalm 91 is real.  This is not some fairy story or mystical condition, or mind game, but is instead the way things are.  So too is the eternal real danger outside His forgiveness and protection.  I implore you to cast yourself on His mercy without delay.  The invitation to dwell in the shelter of the Most High and to abide in the shadow of the Almighty is open to you through the work of Christ.  Flee to Him while there is life.

Let me close in prayer, and we’ll sing.

Father, again thank You for Your Holy Word.  Thank You for Your constant care and gracious protection.  Bring Yourself glory as we believe and live Your Word, we pray in Jesus.  It’s in His Name and for His sake we ask.  Amen and Amen.

Here is a .pdf of this lesson.

Scripture taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version.  Copyright 2000; 2001, by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.

A Bible Lesson on Psalm 95

Scripture taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Copyright 2000; 2001, by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

This is a most familiar Psalm, a wonderful call to worship. We post-moderns like the first 6.5 verses best, and some liberal commentators even go so far as to want to separate them from the last 4.5. But it is the last 4.5 that are commented on extensively in Hebrews 3 and 4. We’ll do well to hear the Psalm as a whole and heed all of it.

Psalm 95:1 Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!

The Psalmist invites us to sing to the I AM, the self-existent and self-revealing One. He invites joyful noise on the basis that this I AM is also the Provider and Guarantor of our salvation, both in time and in eternity.

2 Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!

Real worship will include expression of thanksgiving: thanksgiving for our very existence, thanksgiving for a great salvation that has set us right with the very Ground of Being. Real thanksgiving will be accompanied by joy in the person of God and praise to Him. Genuine praise is of necessity built on an accurate Biblical understanding of who He is, what He has done, and how we are to relate to Him. Otherwise, it’s not His presence we enter, but rather that of an imaginary and unreal “god.”

3 For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods.

Who is the I AM? He is a “great” God and absolute Sovereign over all that is. It seems the ESV translators hear the first phrase of this verse to speak of majesty of His person. He is the most honored and worthy person imaginable. And truly, while there really is no other “god” in the universe, all pretenders (or ones we would treat as “gods”) are not close to being in His class. He is the exalted King over/above all He has created. He is the absolute Monarch of the universe. Who else could claim to be King of everything?

4 In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also.

The entirety of all that exists is His. Our notions of vastness fail in capturing the extent of His rule and reign, the extent of His sustaining power. Every inch of all that is, the natural world that we hold to be wondrous, vast and even forbidding are but things that He made, sustains, and figuratively holds in His hand. They are nothing in comparison to their Maker.

5 The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.

Sea and dry ground, every bit of earth’s surface were called into being by Him. They have the form they have because He made them and sustains them. He made and is the rightful Owner of all. Of course He’s King! All we see is His to begin with. In light of that:

6 Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!

This is a call for humanity to prostrate ourselves before the I AM, our Owner and King. Our English meaning of “worship” is first “attributing worth” to one. Apparently the Hebrew (and Greek) meaning is much less abstract and far more focused on making a concrete public act of grateful intimate homage to our God who has so graciously saved. It’s really “bow down.” It really is “kneel.” In light of what really is, if we feel that such would be too much to ask, a bit too hard on our pride, then we don’t get it. Humans will bow before “important” people. Someone far bigger than a mere human is here. This is the I AM.

7 For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. Today, if you hear his voice,

This is the One who made and owns us. We are no more independent of Him than are sheep of a shepherd. We are completely dependent on Him and his good will and gracious protection. Shepherds direct and care for their sheep. So it is absolutely appropriate and natural that hearing what God says and obeying Him is essential to real worship. Post-moderns don’t really like this so much. We like things on our own terms, not His. But this Psalm makes clear that all real worship will be on God’s terms. Without obedience, there is none. And if there is to be obedience we’ve got to hear His voice.

8 do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness,

Meribah and Massah are literally “Dispute” and “Testing.” These places represent humans going their own way, presuming to have a better way than God. That, in light of what has been said about God, was simple insanity. Really? I’ve got a better idea than the I AM? I dare to ignore His revealed Word?

9 when your fathers put me to the test and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work.

Biblical religion is a religion built on a history of revelation and the acts of God. The history of the Israelites is that they had been shown God’s great deliverance from bondage … and presumed to have a better idea. The writer of Hebrews points at this Psalm and essentially says “Like your ancestors, you’ve experienced the great salvation of Christ, and now you have a better idea?” This is truly dangerous stuff, and not some light thing. It’s not light here and it’s not light in Hebrews 3 and 4.

10 For forty years I loathed that generation and said, “They are a people who go astray in their heart, and they have not known my ways.”

Kidner says that exactly the right tone of what the ESV renders as “loathed” is “was disgusted with.” He says “It is deeply personal, but has no suggestion of caprice, only an outraged sense of what is fitting and what is shameful.” The point is that in light of what has been said in the first 6.5 verses, to be indifferent and disobedient to His Word would be just outrageous. To be disobedient is to not really know Him.

11 Therefore I swore in my wrath, “They shall not enter my rest.”

There was no promised land for the rebellious Israelites. Even Moses paid the price for the nation’s rebellion. The writer of Hebrews says the same of Christians that would turn back and decide that they have a better idea. God has revealed Himself and acted to save us in Christ. To ignore His Word means that is being ignored and there is no real worship. And in that case, there is no good end, no Gospel rest.

Here is a .pdf of this lesson.

Scripture taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Copyright 2000; 2001, by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

A Bible Lesson on Psalm 146

Scripture taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version.  Copyright 2000; 2001, by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.

This is a Bible lesson on a passage not in the current ISSL schedule, Psalm 146.  The last 5 Psalms are one group of “Hallel” psalms, psalms of praise to God.  They all begin with “Hallelu Yah,” praise the LORD, praise the I AM, praise the God of the Bible.

James Boice said, “In the earlier psalms, we have studied the writers’ griefs, shames, sins, doubts, and fears.  We have witnessed the people of God in their defeats and victories, their ups and downs in life.  We have encountered rebellious words and struggling faith.  All this is behind us now.  In these final psalms every word is praise.

Praise is where all true religious contemplation should end.  When all is said, the hearts of those who are truly God’s people beat their last praising God.  Do we understand all that God is doing in our lives or in the world?  Of course not, but we understand enough about the nature of God to praise him in spite of the difficulties.

Particularly as our lives move toward their inevitable earthly ends, they should be full of praise.  In The Treasury of David Charles Spurgeon reports that on his deathbed a man named John Janeway cried out:

‘Come, help me with praises. …  Let every thing that hath being help me to praise God.  Hallelujah!  Hallelujah!  Hallelujah!  Praise is now my life work, and I shall be engaged in this sweet work now and for ever.  Bring the Bible; turn to David’s psalms, and let us sing a psalm of praise.  Come, let us lift up our voices in the praises of the Most High.  I will sing with you as long as my breath doth last, and when I have none, I shall do it better.’ ”

Psalm 146:1  Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD, O my soul!

Here is the psalmist, talking to both himself and us.  The call is plural.  There is resolve/determination in this.  This is to be done.  This is no matter of simply being caught up in a wave of emotion or good cheer.  Isaac Watts wrote a fine hymn based on this Psalm and it begins “I’ll praise my Maker.”  The psalmist is going to put his will and his mind to this fundamental and most basic task.  The Westminster confession says that the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him eternally.  The psalmist is a mature believer and knows that this is true and is not conditional on anything, not on circumstance, and surely not on his frame of mind or emotional state.  Praise the I AM, Yahweh, the God of the Bible, O my soul.

 2 I will praise the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.

 I will praise.  I will sing.  There is an emphatic ring here.  The Jerusalem Bible renders this “I mean to praise … I mean to sing”  Once more, this is more than emotion or some passing feeling.  This is a statement about the psalmist’s whole being and life and purpose.  And this purpose will last into eternity.  At every time as long as the psalmist has being, he intends to praise the I AM.  What is the proper limit of this?  There is none.  When does this have an end?  Never.  If you and I are indeed eternal creatures, you and I will forever praise the Creator and sing His praises.  Of course!  And if that is our eternal destiny and work, the psalmist intends to stir himself and others to be about it.

3 Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.

This is surely not a non-sequitur.  But logically, how do we get from dedication to a life of praising God to this instruction to not trust in man?  Well, that’s really quite easy.  As a result of the fall, you and I get distracted.  Our attention is not on God, but on ourselves and those around us.  We worship/value/attribute worth to humans, rather than to God.  As Paul says in Romans, we worship creatures rather than the Creator.  So the psalmist says to himself and to us, “Worship God, not man!”  Don’t trust in even the most important of humans, the princes, the influential.  Don’t look to your politicians for your security and hope.  Don’t look to one who is a “son of man.”  That is, don’t look to one who is of the nature of a human being.  Such persons simply do not have the goods!  They won’t come through.  They simply cannot come through in any consistent or lasting way (and wouldn’t do so if they could!  They are far more interested in themselves!).  Since we cannot see God, we get suckered into the error of thinking that the most important of those we can see must be the ones we should look to for help.  But there’s no help in them.  Truly, your help is not in Washington, but in the I AM.

4 When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish.

This is completely obvious if we will open our eyes, and here is proof.  Where are even the greatest/most decent of human leaders of the past?  Where is Winston Churchill?  Where is Ronald Reagan?  Or even where is John Calvin, or Martin Luther?  They are in the grave, dead and gone from our presence.  There is a Hebrew play on words here emphasizing this hard fact in that the word for “man” and “earth” are very close.  Don’t trust in ones who are made of earth, they will return to it.  As a result of the fall, we are dust and to dust our bodies return.

Genesis 3:19  By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

So if we are foolish enough to count on aid from even the best of humans, we’re leaning on a false hope.  There ought to be no worship of humans in us.

Now even unbelieving people can on occasion see the futility of trusting in humans and their institutions.  But where does that leave them?  It leaves them only cynicism and despair.  Really, if my only hope is in the fine work of the republican party or the democratic party or the communist party or the king or the benevolence of a great philanthropist, or democracy, or capitalism or whatever, I’m doomed!  These have had all of human history to usher in utopia.  And they have none of them dealt with my basic sin problem!  But there is this.

5 Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God,

Happy/blessed is the one who is of the mind of the psalmist, determined to with all his life praise the I AM, who counts only on the ultimate help of the I AM.  Of course this is true.  It’s only because we are fallen and rebellious that this is news.  If we have no independent existence, if we are creatures living in a world made by a real omnipotent Creator, where else do we expect to find any real help?  Where else could there be any hope and comfort?   Humans can put their fingers in their ears, close their eyes, and ignore the reality of their finiteness and mortality if they insist, but if there is to be any help, it must come from the King of creation.

6 who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, who keeps faith forever;

This God of the Bible actually has the goods.  In contrast to ones who are of the nature of human beings and can affect no permanent help or good, this One made heaven and earth and all that is in them.  He has all power.  Cynicism and despair are not the only honest options open to human beings.  There is the option to bow the knee and worship the real and eternal King.  But there is a serious potential problem there.  What if that King is not favorably disposed towards us?  Then we’re in a world of hurt.  Thanks be to Him, the good news is that He keeps faith forever.  He’s the God of Jacob.  He’s the One who has made promises of love to Abraham Isaac, and Jacob.  And His nature is that He’s completely reliable and trustworthy.  He’s got the goods and He loves us!  That’s amazing and simply wonderful!

In light of this, the psalmist can look around at a very messy world with rock steady confidence.  He’s not going to be shaken by the first instance of evil or injustice he sees.  He knows that in the end, the King is going to set things completely right.  Again, of course!  An all-powerful and good King will both intervene in the present and in the end set all things right.  He’s not going to let rebels permanently run amok in His creation.

Here follow a series of blessings He executes both now in some measure and ultimately in completeness.

7 who executes justice for the oppressed, who gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets the prisoners free;

The LORD, the I AM, the real King of Creation will deal with oppressors.  His weakest subjects will not be mistreated forever by the strong.  He will settle accounts.

And it’s the I AM who feeds the hungry.  There will be no permanent lack.

Those held captive will have permanent freedom.  It’s the LORD who keeps faith and whom the psalmist praises, who he knows will do these things.

8 the LORD opens the eyes of the blind. The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down; the LORD loves the righteous.

It’s the LORD who gives sight.  It’s the LORD who lifts up those who are bowed down.

9 The LORD watches over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.

It’s the LORD who watches over the sojourners, the widow and the fatherless.  It’s the LORD, it’s the LORD, it’s the LORD, not any other person, no other little “g” “god,” not any institution.  It’s the LORD.

And Kidner so wisely said, “like Father like Son.”

Luke 4:18  “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed,

19  to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Luke 7:21  In that hour he healed many people of diseases and plagues and evil spirits, and on many who were blind he bestowed sight.

22 And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them.

These blessings of justice are of necessity double-edged.  There is good in store for the righteous and there is ruin for the wicked.  It can’t be otherwise and indeed, we shouldn’t want it to be otherwise.

10 The LORD will reign forever, your God, O Zion, to all generations. Praise the LORD!

Boice commented, “God alone is utterly good, utterly powerful, and utterly trustworthy.”  He has always been this and always will be this.  That necessarily implies that He will then be praised forever by His adoring creatures, the ones whose God He is.  That, believer, is our eternal destiny.  We will praise God while we have being.

Here is a .pdf of this lesson.

Scripture taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version.  Copyright 2000; 2001, by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.

A Bible Lesson on Psalm 145

Scripture taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version.  Copyright 2000; 2001, by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.

This is a Bible lesson on a passage outside the current ISSL schedule, Psalm 145.  It is the last of the Psalms of David in the canon.  It is, so to speak, David’s last will and testament.  For what it’s worth, it’s an acrostic Psalm (the last of them).  Lines begin with consecutive letters of the Hebrew alphabet.  Some translations don’t have verse 13b, because it isn’t in some manuscripts, but it IS in the Septuagint and some important manuscripts and without it, there’s a letter missing from the alphabet.  hat seems like pretty good reason to assume that it should be there.  Appropriately, David’s last words in the canon are words of praise.

Psalm 145:1 A Song of Praise. Of David. I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever.

2 Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever.

David says that he will “extol,” “bless,” and “praise” his God and king.  David is king over Israel, but recognizes that he is subject to the one great true King of the universe.  In fact, at its heart, this is what true praise of God is, honest recognition and affirmation of the way things really are.  It is honest recognition and affirmation of who God really is.  Even well-meaning Christian people in our time feel as if they need to be “creative” in their concoction of words of “praise” to God, as if it is something that we manufacture.  That’s not so.  Real praise of God is humble and joyful recognition and affirmation of the truth about God revealed in the Scriptures.  We think about “praise” of humans in terms of figuring out what are their good points and needing to emphasize those and gloss over their faults.  But God is not a human.  His praise is something else.  It is, again, humble affirmation of the absolutely good and perfect truth about His nature and His works.

David says that his adoration and praise of God is both constant and extending throughout all eternity.  It’s every day.  It’s forever and forever.  Life in this fallen world should teach us to wonder at the prospect of an eternity where all is right, all is as it should be.  Joy at that prospect should pour forth from us in constant and grateful verbal recognition of the “name” i.e. person and great nature of our Creator and Sustainer.

3 Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.

David admits that anything he can comprehend or express is but a shadow or fraction of the full truth.  The beauty of God is far beyond our complete comprehension or description.  Great is the I AM/Yahweh/Jehovah.  Our place is only to recognize Him for who He is.

4 One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.

David has a frame of reference that says he’s not only personally going to eternally affirm the beauty of the I AM, but he’s part of a great line of those who have recounted and will for all eternity recount what is true about God.  We know about God because of what He says about Himself in the Scriptures.  And those things become concrete to us as we reflect on and recount how He has acted.  If I don’t value the testimony of those who have gone before, I don’t have the whole picture.

5 On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.

David says he constantly mulls over the excellence of God’s person and the evidence of that in all that he knows of what God has done.  This is no spasmodic pursuit on David’s part.  It is his constant frame of reference.  Everything he says, thinks, and does is in the context of who the I AM has revealed Himself to be.

6 They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds, and I will declare your greatness.

“They shall speak.”  Again, a heart that is truly captured by the goodness of God is not one that just takes those truths out and plays with them for an hour or two per week and then otherwise goes on as if there were some other sane frame of reference.  Generations of those who know the God of the Bible speak to successive generations of who He is and what He has done.

7 They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.

David could only see ahead to Christ in shadows.  But he knew that God is both completely kind and gracious to us and completely righteous/upright.  We that have come after him have more complete revelation.  If David and his forbearers were to pour forth the fame of God’s abundant goodness, how much more should we.

8 The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

At Sinai there was

Exodus 33:18 Moses said, “Please show me your glory.”

19 And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.

Then the Lord responded

Exodus 34:6 The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,

Who is God?  The God of the Bible is the LORD, Yahweh/Jehovah/the I AM/the self-existent One.  What is His nature?  He’s merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.  That He’s all-powerful, all-knowing, all-present is perhaps not surprising.  That He’s merciful and slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, we never would have guessed and never could have adequately understood outside the sacrifice of Christ on our behalf!

9 The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.

The LORD is good to all, all humans, both those who love Him and those who hate Him, and to all the rest of His creation as well.  He cares for all.  His kindness is evident everywhere one looks.

10 All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord, and all your saints shall bless you!

Paul speaks of all creation waiting anxiously for end times and God’s final setting of all things right

Romans 8:19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.

20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope

21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.

22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.

The extent to which this “giving thanks” (really, more accurately, “declaring Him”)  by creation is both literal as well as figurative, we don’t know.  We do know that through all eternity, those humans who have been redeemed by God’s great mercy will sing about His excellence and His kindness towards us.

11 They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom and tell of your power,

12 to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.

Again, for anyone who knows Him, praise is not something that has to be contrived or forced or manufactured.  It is simply the natural declaration of who He is and what He has done, by those whose are grateful for His mercy.

13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations. [The Lord is faithful in all his words and kind in all his works.]

David spoke in verse 9 about the universal nature of God’s rule and reign.  It is also a permanent rule and reign.  God was, is, and is to come.  Every human that will ever live will benefit from that good rule and reign, whether he or she chooses to submit to that rule or not.  God’s revealed nature is both constant and kind.

14 The Lord upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down.

15 The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season.

16 You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing.

David sees God actively at work at all times in His creation on behalf of His creatures.  He upholds all.  He raises up all.  The eyes of all look to Him.  He satisfies the desire of every living thing, and

17 The Lord is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works.

God, as the only source of morality in the universe, is of course, morally right in what He does.  But the intent here in verse 17 is that David sees Him acting justly, and kindly towards those who need His care and mercy.

 18 The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.

The I AM is all-present.  It is not in this sense that David talks about Him being near in verse 17.  Instead, he is testifying that He does not ignore those who call on Him.  He’s near in the sense of paying attention to and responding to and interacting with those who call upon Him, to those who call upon Him in truth.  God is not obligated to those who refuse the light they’ve been given about His nature and His deeds, but

19 He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them.

The I AM is the Savior of those who come to Him humbly.  To presume to come any other way is an affront to the great King.  We understand that in human relationships.  We don’t presume to approach great people in a familiar, arrogant kind of way.  How much more is it appropriate/necessary that we revere the Holy One.

20 The Lord preserves all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy.

Verse 19 tells us to come to God with reverence.  Verse 20 tells us to come with love.  Those things are inseparable in Biblical theology.  If one is lacking, we aren’t worshiping the true God, but rather one of our own making.  And those who hate God, He will eventually cast out.  How could it be otherwise?  Post-moderns don’t like that, but what would be the alternative?

21 My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord, and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.

Amen.  That’s David’s “last word.”  May it be ours as well.

Here is a .pdf of this lesson.

Scripture taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version.  Copyright 2000; 2001, by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.

A Bible Lesson on Psalm 139

Scripture taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version.  Copyright 2000; 2001, by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.

This is a Bible lesson on a passage outside the current ISSL schedule, Psalm 139.  This is a truly wonderful expression of one who knows God.  It is beautiful poetry and impeccable theology that deals with the omniscience of God, the omnipresence of God, the omnipotence God, and the two possible human reactions to these truths about God.  But it is not in any sense an abstract treatise, nor a piece of poetry for poetry’s sake.  Instead, it is the testimony and adoration of one who truly knows Him in the Biblical sense of having a relationship with Him, one whose entire being is gripped by the truths that the Psalm sings.

Psalm 139:1 O Lord, you have searched me and known me!

O LORD, O Yahweh/Jehovah/I AM, O God, the self-existent One, You know everything there is to know about me.  Of course.  You know all.  You are omniscient.   There is no detail of anything that is that is unknown to You.  We inevitably run into that truth when we consider what details of our existences are our private business.  There are none.

2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar.

You know.  The “You”/Thou is emphatic.  You, God, know every detail of my life.  You know the seemingly trivial details of when I rise and when I go to bed.  You know what I’m thinking/what are my intentions at every moment, in fact “from afar” in the sense of “long before.”  And it’s not simply as if there is some grand video recorder that is passively capturing everything that is happening, with no real concern about what is known.  No, God, You know me in an intensely personal way.

3 You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.

You search out/sift/winnow my path.  Every detail of life is open before You and completely known to You, O God.  “my path” and “my ways” You have actively considered and examined.  And it’s even more profound than that.  You know them from before they take shape!  And You know them better than I know them myself.  You know them exhaustively.

4 Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.

Before I speak, You know exactly, precisely, completely what I will say.  It’s not “just” that I owe my existence to You, O God, as if after that fact I somehow have a life independent of You.  No, at every moment and in every way You know, from before I do, or say, or think.

5 You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.

You, O God, surround me in every dimension of time and space.  You, O God, have me hemmed in.  And again it is not in an impersonal way!  Your very hand is upon me.

6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.

This is the way it is, and neither David nor any of the rest of us can really fathom it!  Paul put it this way in the New Testament:

Romans 11:33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

7 Where shall I go from your Spirit?  Or where shall I flee from your presence?

Technically, the Psalm shifts from contemplating the omniscience of God, to wondering at His omnipresence.  But these are only different facets of the same wonderful jewel.  We come up against these “different” aspects of the nature of God as part of the same whole, any time we presume to be independent of Him.  He knows all, and is in all places at all times.  As an hypothetical, David says “If I wanted to get away from You, where would I go?”  Jonah was foolish enough to try that and learned the hard way that there is no hiding from God.  God is no cosmic clock maker, who set this all in motion and then stepped back to let it run its course.  No, He presently sustains all that is.  He is intimately involved in all that is.  He is in all places.

8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!

There is no place up or down where God is not.  The New Testament tells us that Christ descended into Sheol on our behalf!

9 If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,

Here is the picture of the sun rising in the east and its rays racing across Israel to the Mediterranean.  If I could move as fast as light breaking across the eastern sky, I couldn’t outrun You, God.  If I could pull a “super-Jonah” and do it at the speed of light, God, You’d be there when I got there.  In fact,

10 even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.

If I were to head out to sea at the speed of light, I’d find that I didn’t get out to sea on my own, but rather, it was Your leading and direction.  It’s the gracious right hand of God that sustains and protects me in all.  In the times my actions are wise, and in the times they are foolish, God is always there, and His work is protective and benevolent towards me.  This omnipresence of God is a worry to me only if I want to play Adam, and try to hide from Him.

11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,”

There’s no going high or low, east or west to escape God’s presence and rule and grace.  There’s no hiding in the dark.

12 even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.

God made light.  He called it into being at the beginning.  Jesus IS the light and He doesn’t need some other source of light to see or know.  He is both all-knowing and all-present.  And He is all-powerful.  I understand that in relation to my own being.

13 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.

Here, as in verse 2, the “You” is emphatic.  “You” formed.  One’s very existence is testimony to the great power and benevolence of God.  David looks at how a little baby grows in its mother’s womb, how its body comes together, how it is given life.  He knows that incredible work was done to give him life, and his only sensible and right response is to break forth in praise to God.

14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

All of us carry around in our own persons evidence of and testimony to the wonderful creative power of God.  We have no way to fully fathom how it is that God gives us physical life and spirit.  That we have these amazing bodies and are in His image, these are testimony to His power and grace.  If we are at all observant and honest, we join David and say “my soul knows it very well.”  It’s just obvious.  Exactly how it is, is beyond us, that it is, is cause for praise.

And again, this business of my existence isn’t something God made up as He was going along or that came to be independent of Him.

15 My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them.

From before I was, God knew all about me.  Every detail of my being and my life were known to Him from before I was conceived.  There is nothing about me that is a surprise to Him.  If I want to be independent of Him, that is a problem.  If I fundamentally want to be a rebel and want to hide my sin from Him, that’s a scary fact.  But if I love Him and want to please Him, that is a great comfort.  Despite my shortcomings and sin, His hand is still on me.  The days that were formed for me He wrote.  His providence is at work in every step I take, and He loves me even having complete knowledge of who I am, what I’ve done, and what I will do.  Again

17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!

These things are both unfathomable/vast and “precious.”  It is a truly good and wonderful thing that I am never outside the gracious care of my Creator, that there is no tiny part of my life that is not or has not been known to Him from before I was.

18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you.

All this is beyond my reckoning, just as the number of grains of sand in the world is beyond my reckoning.  But because of this, I am sure that from eternity past into eternity future, I am safe in His hand.  I awake, daily, and also on the other side of the grave, and I am still with You.

This is reality.  This is the way things really are.  There are only two basic reactions to this reality.  One is the reaction of David.  The other is denial, rebellion, and wickedness.  David looks at those who hate God and have in all likelihood caused him personal difficulty  and says

19 Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God! O men of blood, depart from me!

There is no place for David, or anyone whose heart is truly captured by the glory of God, to then be indifferent to sin/rebellion against the gracious Sovereign of the universe.  If one loves God, one will hate rebellion against Him.  David wants no part of an uprising against God.  He doesn’t want to be associated with the rebels.  Notice that this isn’t a request for personal vengeance on David’s part.  It is also not necessarily an easy path he’s asking to take.  Those who hate God may very well be influential and powerful.  And it may very well be that part of the reason he wants to be separated from those who hate God is that he doesn’t trust himself around them.  Note also that David appeals to God to set things right.  He doesn’t assume that it’s his job to do so!

20 They speak against you with malicious intent; your enemies take your name in vain!

21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?

22 I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies.

This makes post-moderns squirm.  But again, those who love God cannot be indifferent to sin and those who hate Him.  Sin is rebellion against the great and gracious King, who is Himself the very definition of goodness.  There is no sane place of neutrality in the cosmic war between God and those who hate Him, and David chooses friendship with God the all-knowing, all-present, and all-powerful One who loves and sustains him in spite of his human frailty, to friendship with the rebels.  But even so

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!

David (and we with him) doesn’t really know his own heart and real motivations.  In light of all this, David invites God (who does know his heart) to correct and reprove him.  David realizes that while he can see rebellion in others, seeing his own is not so easy.  And this is not some small matter, but rather life and death, heaven and hell.

24 And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!

In light of who God is, and recognizing the possibility of fooling oneself and being in rebellion against Him while thinking oneself quite pious, David asks for God’s work in himself, to the end of eternal life.  Amen.  May it be also thus with us.

Here is a .pdf of this lesson.

Scripture taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version.  Copyright 2000; 2001, by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.

A Bible Lesson on Psalm 103

Scripture taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version.  Copyright 2000; 2001, by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.

This is a Bible lesson on a passage outside the current ISSL schedule, Psalm 103.  This is a psalm of praise, of a mature man who has lived long, and deeply understands the depth of God’s grace towards us.  It begins with praise to God for His benefits enjoyed by an individual.  It turns to God’s mercy evidenced to all people, with Israel as chief example.  And it ends with a call for all creatures to praise God.

Psalm 103:1  Of David. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!

David begins talking to himself.  He tells himself, all that he is, his whole self, to praise God, the God of the Bible, Yahweh, the self-existent One, the great I AM.

The first, overarching, characteristic of God that David finds himself moved to recognize and mention is God’s holiness.  That’s where David begins, and that’s where we will begin if we have any sense.  The whole rest of this Psalm is most precious and deep, exactly because unlike us, God is absolutely perfectly righteous and holy, separate from us and the rest of His creation.

2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits,

David, and we, have adequate reason to thank God for undeserved benefits.  David sets the grateful praise of God up against forgetfulness as opposites.  Indifference and forgetfulness ARE ingratitude.  Gratitude will find a voice.  If we forget or are indifferent, we are ungrateful.

3 who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases,

David says “your.” It’s David’s soul.  David is talking to himself.  When David begins listing what God has done for him (and equally what he has done for us), he begins with God’s provision for sin and sinfulness!

“Forgives all your iniquity” is clear.  “Who heals all your diseases” has double meaning.  It surely includes physical healing.  But, more importantly and completely, it addresses our sinful nature.  Verse 3 deals with His ultimate curing of our tendency to sin/our very nature.

4 who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,

God redeems David’s life from the pit.  God does deliver us from the trials of this life, but ultimately and completely, He delivers us from the just punishment for our sin.  He forgives us, restoring/allowing relationship.  He ultimately delivers/changes us from our tendency to sin, and He spares us the just recompense for our sins.

The word “redeems” here is profound.  The Old Testament had the concept of a “kinsman redeemer.”  This was a next of kin that would step in and voluntarily assume the responsibilities of the helpless.  Boaz was such a person to Ruth and Naomi.  The LORD, although He is holy and we are not, makes us His kin, and steps in, shouldering the responsibility for our sin!!!  He crowns us with steadfast love and mercy.  He assures us of His constant fidelity and empathizes with our human frailty.

5 who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Notice that it is only in the context of understanding God’s primary work for him, the provision for his sin, that David mentions with gratitude “good things.”  If indeed these “good things” are meant to refer to material blessings, David has established that whatever He has given us is completely undeserved, and we ought then be thankful for God’s grace in providing it.

God provides that which gives David (and us) strength.

Now David begins to talk about that which God has provided to His people more generally (as opposed to himself specifically).

6 The LORD works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed.

The LORD “works righteousness.”  This a general/universal statement about God’s sovereignty.  In the Psalms God’s “working righteousness” typically refers to the faithfulness and reliability with which He acts.  He works justice for all the oppressed.  This is true, whether or not we think so or see it come to pass in our time in this life.  Ultimately, God does not tolerate injustice in His world, and will right the wrongs.

7 He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel.

The outstanding Old Testament example of God’s faithfulness and reliability in providing justice to an oppressed people is His deliverance of the children of Israel from Egypt through the leadership of Moses.

8 The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

This is a quote from Exodus 34:6-7 and God’s revelation of Himself to Moses at the giving of the law and the second tablets of stone.  The people had blown it and worshiped the golden calf while Moses was on the mountain the first time.  Concrete evidence that this is true is the fact that any of them were still alive!  Concrete evidence that this is true is the fact that you and I are at this moment not receiving the just punishment for our rebellion towards God.  David knows (and we should too) that if God weren’t merciful, the fact that He is holy (see verse 1) would be our immediate and complete undoing.  Jonathan Edwards’ famous sermon “sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” (which, by the way, is a fabulous sermon) hammers this point.  It is only the great mercy of God that holds any sinner from immediate horrible total loss.

9 He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever.

These are not statements that God is going to somehow reform and quit behaving in an unappealing way.  The word rendered “chide” is more literally “contend” as in a court of law.  The point is that God could justly accuse us every moment for our sinfulness and selfishness.  But He doesn’t constantly do so!  His just anger towards our sin will not be held and remembered for all eternity.  God absolutely does have a white hot anger toward sin.  He couldn’t be holy and not have anger!  But it is not the mean-spirited, hateful kind of thing that we humans typically know as anger.  It is part of His complete perfect holiness.

10 He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.

Again, the fact that we are all not in eternal punishment at this very moment is evidence of the truth of this.  We want (and get) mercy from God, not His (perfect, terrible) judgment.  He doesn’t deal with us according to our sins/our outward acts of wrong doing.  He doesn’t repay us according to our iniquities/the inner corruptions of our fallen nature.  How can that possibly be?  The next verse has the answer.

11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;

His steadfast love is toward those that fear (that is, honor, reverence, obey) Him.  The love of God is not indiscriminate.  It is available to all, but its most fundamental benefits, those of salvation, are for those who “fear” Him.  To those He acts in an unfathomably loving way.  Just how big is such a love?  The biggest distance that David or his contemporaries could imagine was the distance from earth to the heavenly bodies.  God’s love is of that magnitude.

12 as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.

The fact is that David recognizes that the distance from earth to the heavenly bodies isn’t even big enough to correctly describe the size of God’s love and mercy.  It is infinite in size!  David says so!  How far is the east from the west?  As far as David knows, the earth is flat and east and west are infinitely far apart, and that’s how far God has moved our transgressions/our willful rebellions from us.

“our” is God’s people.  David is thinking of Israel as God’s chosen people.  We know it to mean all those that have put real trust in God through Jesus.

13 As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.

This verse begins another section that dwells on God’s compassion towards us because of our frailness as mortals.  God is the perfect Father, tender towards His children, showing compassion.  The word rendered “compassion” apparently has the same root as the word “womb,” so we have God the Father loving us with a mother’s love.

14 For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.

God knows who we are, so to speak what we are made of.  After all, He was there!  He knows that we are weak, frail created beings.

15 As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field;

16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.

Truly, we are mortal.  Our times are as brief as the life of the grass in Israel, that sprouts in the arid land with the spring rains, but has withered, died, and disappeared within a few weeks.

As if the shortness of our lives weren’t bad enough, most of us are going to be forgotten about very quickly after we are gone.  The image in verse 16 is of a field covered with flowers.  When one withers and dies, you can’t even see that it is gone/missing.  Another one grows and takes its place.  The original one is immediately forgotten.

17 But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children,

In contrast to our mortality, there is God’s immortality and the eternal nature of His mercy.  He is from everlasting to everlasting.  And His love, in contrast to our frailty, spans that eternity.  His mercy is ageless, ever fresh, always extended to those who keep His words and commands.  That love is with those who rightly fear/honor/reverence/obey Him.

Again, His righteousness refers (as in verse 6) to the faithfulness and reliability with which He acts.  That faithfulness and reliability is not only true for this generation, it is true for all generations.

18 to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.

That love and faithfulness can be counted on by those who, in recognizing God’s holiness, are moved to reverence Him and consequently obey Him.

19 The LORD has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.

The 3-word paraphrase is “God is sovereign!”

David, in the light of all this, quits talking to himself alone and quite appropriately turns to all of creation and invites it to join him in praising God.

20 Bless the LORD, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word!

21 Bless the LORD, all his hosts, his ministers, who do his will!

22 Bless the LORD, all his works, in all places of his dominion. Bless the LORD, O my soul!

In the end, David comes back to speaking to himself.  All there is ought to praise God.  Frankly, the rest of creation is more reliable than we humans in this matter.  But David controls his own soul, and it is his own soul that he finally again calls on.  He ends where he began:  Bless the LORD, O my soul!

Here is a .pdf of this lesson.

Scripture taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version.  Copyright 2000; 2001, by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.