SOAP – 29 April 2019 (Psalm 21)

For the king trusts in the LORD,
And through the lovingkindness of the Most High he will not be shaken.

Psalm 21:7

I have read and re-read this psalm and was not until this weekend that the final piece in my thinking fall into place.

The first time I read through this psalm, I very clearly saw David writing about himself. He is the king from whom God has not withheld the request of his lips and whom God has met with blessings. David had seen God defeat those who made themselves His (God’s) enemies time and again. And the psalm made sense. But it felt like I was missing something.

A reading or three later, I could see that this psalm might also apply to Jesus. Jesus is the King Who received length of days forever and ever. All that this psalm says of David can be commuted to Jesus. And the psalm made sense. But that did not give me any application.

It was over the weekend that it occurred to me that the New Testament refers to believers as both priests and kings. And I looked at the psalm again, wondering if the things written could apply to me as a believer. I can be glad in God’s strength and rejoice in His salvation. And He has promised that He will give me my heart’s desire when my heart is right with Him. He has met me with blessings of good things and Jesus explicitly said that He came that I might have life in abundance. The only glory I really have is God’s salvation and God does want to make me most blessed and to give me joy in His presence.

Item by item, it can all be applied to the believer here and now. We are kings in God’s kingdom. This psalm is not only about David and Jesus, but about all of God’s kings.

And the application fell into place.

Let me be glad in God’s strength and rejoice in His salvation. When he gives me the strength to overcome some trial or temptation, I should be glad and rejoice in Him.

Let me receive from Him the blessings of good things and the abundant life He wants to give me.

Let me trust in Him and stand firm in His mercy — which is how lovingkindness is sometimes translated.

And let me remember that God’s enemies will not stand. He will be victorious over them. There is no “if” to that, only “when.”

Father, thank You for the blessings You have already poured into my life. I have loving family, health, an occupation that You use to supply my family’s needs, food on the table, clothes on my back, a roof over my head, and the salvation You freely offered to me — truly I am blessed with good things. Please give me the wisdom to not only know the things Your Word says, but to be able to live them out. Please teach me how to be glad in Your strength and rejoice in Your salvation by teaching me to walk in Your strength through the trials of life and seeing You deliver me through them. Please teach me how to stand firm in Your mercy, not allowing myself to remain under the condemnation that my enemy and my flesh would put me under, but rising after I fall to stand again in Your mercy. Thank You that these are all things I am able to do through Your salvation, Your strength, and Your power.

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SOAP – 22 April 2019 (Psalm 20)

Some [boast] in chariots and some in horses,
But we will boast in the name of the LORD, our God.

Psalm 20:7

I have been reading this psalm over for almost a week. The meaning is straightforward enough: this psalm is a prayer for God’s intervention on one’s behalf. The application, however, has been difficult for me. And the why finally clarified this morning.

In verses 4-5, David writes:

4 May He grant you your heart’s desire
And fulfill all your counsel!
We will sing for joy over your victory,
And in the name of our God we will set up our banners.
May the LORD fulfill all your petitions.

 

It is the presence of the word all in those verses that gives me pause. Do I really want God to fulfill all [my] counsel and all [my] petitions? I often learn at a later time that some of my counsel and petitions were terrible ideas when weighed against what God had planned. Had God gone with my plans or given me what I asked, then things would not have turned out as well.

It is a sobering thought.

And it is this sobering thought that brings me to applying this psalm from a different angle. I do, as David writes, want God to answer in the day of trouble and send help when I call Him and want Him to give victory over the struggles in life that my fellow believers might hear of that victory and rejoice with me. All of this is desirable. Add to this the desire that, as stated in a previous psalm, the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart would be acceptable in God’s sight. To use the words of my Lord, I need to seek first God’s kingdom and righteousness. If I am ruled by Him and seeking His agenda, then my counsel and my petitions are much more likely to be in line with His.

Father, please change my heart so that it seeks after Your kingdom and Your righteousness before anything else. If that is what my heart seeks, then my counsel and petitions will fall in line.

SOAP Journal – 15 April 2019 (Psalm 19)

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in Your sight,
O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer.

Psalm 19:14

This psalm opens with a stanza about how the heavens — the sun, stars, and so forth — act as witnesses of God and His glory. And there is something about looking up at the skies that inspires wonder and awe; something about how innumerable the stars are that invites us to consider Who created those stars. And, in his boyhood shepherding duties, David would have had ample opportunity to lie under those stars and consider his Creator.

David then looks down at The Word of God. If the sun and stars and heavens generally speak of God and His glory, how much more does His Word. How much more clear God’s Word is about the character of its Author and what He requires of us. While the heavens invite us to ponder Him, His Word bids us know Him. And it is ultimately by God’s Word that we are instructed and given guidance regarding what God requires of us.

With such a pairing of witnesses — the heavens and God’s Word — David ends with the request that the words of his mouth and the meditations of his heart would be acceptable in God’s sight. And that is what this psalm invites me to ask of God. If the heavens generally speak of God and His Word speaks more specifically, then I, as His child, ought to be the most specific testimony of God available. My words should be reflective of His Word. And the things I habitually think about ought to be like the heavens, inviting others to be awed and amazed by my Creator and theirs.

Father, let me join with David his morning and pray simply, let the word of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, oh LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

SOAP Journal – 10 April 2019 (Psalm 18)

He brought me forth also into a broad place;
He rescued me, because He delighted in me.

Psalm 18:19

This psalm is a repeat of the contents of 1 Samuel 22:1-51, but there is a theme in here that bears note and verse nineteen perfectly encapsulates that theme. God brings us into broad places and rescues us, because He delights in us.

There are other parts of this psalm wherein David speaks as if his righteousness was worth anything on its own when it really is not. Our purest acts of righteousness, as Isaiah wrote, are comparable to menstrual cloths (Isaiah 64:6). He rescues me, not because of any righteous thing I have done, but because He delights in me. This is not to say that my efforts to live righteously are without value to God. My efforts are most certainly valuable to Him, just as the efforts of any child are valuable to their parent. My children have tried, and often not done very well, to do something to bless me. I see things as they are. I know that the plants “pruned” may never fully recover and that the task would take me only a fraction of the time if I did it myself. But my children are motivated by love for their daddy and I see this, too. I try to keep this at the forefront of my thoughts. God does not need to try. He sees our deeds for the filth that they are and also sees the love that motivates those deeds. He responds to the love. If God ever did, as David wrote, [reward] me according to my righteousness (v. 20), then I would be in sad shape.

God rescues me and brings me into broad places not because I deserve it, but because He delights in me. He delights to bless His children and to give to us from the generosity of His heart. The Bible tells me so and my experience affirms it.

My application this morning is simply this: I need to take a moment to recognize that all of my efforts are judged on the heart behind them and all of my blessings are because God delights in me, not because I have done anything exceptionally well.

Father, thank You for Your generous heart and for giving abundantly from that heart. Thank You for not judging me on my righteousness, but on Christ’s. And thank You for seeing the heart behind the sad excuses for righteous deeds.

SOAP Journal – 05 April 2019 (Psalm 17)

As for me, I shall behold Your face in righteousness;
I will be satisfied with Your likeness when I awake.

Psalm 17:15

I have been returning to this psalm every morning for a few days now.

Its structure is simple enough: 3 stanzas with each one addressing an idea.

The first stanza (vv 1-5) contains the idea of being tried and tested by God and found innocent. David, as far as he could perceive, had done nothing wrong in the circumstances that prompted this psalm.

The second stanza (vv 6-12) contains the idea of seeking God’s protection and knowing that God will hear your call. David knew from experience that God would answer when he (David) called.

The third stanza (vv 13-15) contains the idea of God’s deliverance and the compensation of both the wicked and the righteous. While the wicked seems to do well, that is limited to this life. David says that he will be satisfied with God’s likeness when he (David) awakes.

Sometimes, we will be wrongly accused. And God knows that. God will hear when His children call to Him. He always has and He always will. And God is our part and our portion, not any thing in this world.

Taken in reverse order, the ideas of this psalm seem more applicable. Because God is my portion, I can go to Him and know that He will listen to me and vindicate me when I am wrongly accused. I may not be vindicated in the here and now, but I will be vindicated.

Father, thank You for being the part and portion of Your people. Thank You for testing us and trying us so that You can vindicate us and we will come out of our tests and trials purified. Please teach me how to see the events of my life through the lens of You being my reward.

SOAP Journal – 01 April 2019 (Psalm 16)

You will make known to me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.

Psalm 16:11

This psalm opens with David saying to God that he (David) has made the LORD his (David’s) Lord and Master. He goes on to say that those who have chosen to submit to God are his delight while those who worship other gods will have increasing sorrows. And there is much truth in this. The people I know who have a life that evidences God’s power at work are generally the most contented people I know. They are a delight to be around. In contrast, those who pursue other things often have empty lives. It is not that they lack for comforts or material wealth, but they, in my experience, are not fulfilled by the things they thought would fulfill them.

David goes on to speak of God’s support and how pleasant his (David’s) heritage is to him. And I can agree. A heritage of parents who follow the LORD, however imperfectly, is wonderful. To live among a people who worship the LORD is something that I cannot comprehend, but it seems like it would be a delight.

David closes the psalm talking about the LORD counseling him and instructing him. The last thought being that fellowship with God is the most pleasant and fulfilling way to live. While I cannot say that I walk continually in the awareness of God’s presence or that I am always as close to Him as I ought to be, I can say that I have experienced the peace and joy that He promises when I have drawn near to Him. I have been able to sense His guidance when I was still. The problem I run into is that I am so seldom still. I live in a time when every facet of life seems to conspire together to take away stillness. Between TV, radio, movies, the internet, and “smart” devices all vying for my attention, I have hardly any time without a distraction. As I wrote that, I was pleasantly surprised to note that people were not included on the list. I sometimes feel like people distract me from the moment; from the task at hand. But people are, if I actually believe my Bible, what God is all about. He loves people; loves us so much that He was willing to take on human flesh, live a perfect life, and die the death that we all deserve so that we could accept His work as the only way to Heaven and live with Him forever.

I agree with David that [the] lines have fallen to me in pleasant places. The inheritance that God has prepared for me is delight. Or, as C.S. Lewis wrote, “joy is the serious business of Heaven.”

Father, thank You that what You desire to give me is all of Yourself. Thank You for desiring better for me than I could have wanted without You intervening on my behalf. Please work in me that I might lay hold of that for which You laid hold of me. Please stir up desire in me to have more of You until I have all of You, that You might have all of me.