© 2016 Martin K.M.
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There are seasons in life when we could use some encouragement. This book highlights more than seventy uplifting verses with some notes to accompany each. The verses will renew your hope and strengthen your faith. You could read a verse each day and ponder what you’ve read or you can read one whenever you feel the need to be encouraged. Most times we are discouraged, it is usually because we have lost focus of the true source of our hope. It is my prayer that this book can remind you why you should still have hope, regardless of whatever you may be going through.
O God, Thou art my God, earnestly do I seek Thee, Thirsted for Thee hath my soul, Longed for Thee hath my flesh, in a land dry and weary, without waters.
Life has its seasons. When we are in the ‘dry’ season, we are in that place where life feels stale and nothing good seems to be happening. In this kind of season we thirst for God’s goodness and favour. At these times, we should not lose hope; God’s ‘silence’ is his way of teaching us to lean on him and trust him more. You can rest in the knowledge that just as surely as the natural seasons change, your season will change and it will get better.
Delight yourself in the LORD; and He shall give you the desires of your heart.
We all have petitions or requests we put before God. This verse shows us the key to having our prayers answered. To ‘delight in’ someone means you take pleasure in them. You want to be around that person whenever you can and they definitely mean a lot to you. If you delight in someone, you will always have time for them. Likewise, if we delight in God, we shall find personal time to spend with him; whether it’s reading his Word, worship or simply quiet reflection. These things will bring us closer to him and our faith will be strengthened and with this faith, our prayers will easily be answered.
The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger, but they that seek the LORD shall not lack any good thing.
The young lions (cubs) cannot hunt. They are therefore dependent on whatever the mature lions can kill for them. Sometimes the lions are successful in their hunt but many times they aren’t and the young lions go hungry. There is a big contrast between these young lions and the children of God. We are reminded that God’s provision is sure and if we seek him (put all our trust in him), we shall always be provided for and the good things we desire shall be ours.
But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children.
God’s love is unwavering, committed, persistent and faithful. Nothing can stop God from loving us. God’s love was there before we yet existed and will be there for eternity. For those who walk with God, there is a promise of his favour and righteousness being poured out on the third generation as a result of our own relationship with him. So whether we may feel it or not, this is what we should remember; God will always love us – always.
[_The God who loves me will help me; God will enable me to triumph over my enemies. _]
This verse comes from a Psalm of David. He had just been delivered from King Saul who intended to take his life. Saul’s men surrounded the house in which David dwelt but he managed to escape. It was a life-and-death scenario and God delivered him. The interesting part of this verse is where he says ‘God will enable me triumph over my enemies’. He said this while he was a fugitive being pursued by King Saul and in the natural, there was no reason for him to believe he could defeat Saul. Many years after however, David took over the throne of Saul and God indeed made him ‘triumph over his enemies’. We may not have the same kind of enemies that David had, but we can consider our challenges and everything that comes against as our enemy. God will make us triumph over all that is afflicting us and we should therefore always expect victory.
[_Praise ye the LORD. O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good, for his mercy endureth forever. _]
Mercy is something we need from day to day. We all make mistakes in life and sometimes do what we clearly know is wrong. One of the most beautiful things about God is his mercy. God is always willing to forgive, and for as long as we ask for it, we shall get this forgiveness. It doesn’t really matter what we’ve done, he will consistently forgive us. His mercy indeed has no end because he is merciful in his nature and loves us beyond what we could ever imagine.
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
The picture of the shepherd taking care of sheep is an image of God looking after his people. The shepherd finds pastures and water for the sheep, protects them from wild beasts and binds up their wounds when they get hurt. The shepherd is entirely responsible for the well-being of his sheep and at no point do the sheep have to be concerned about what they may require.
From our viewpoint, God will take care of our needs; both the spiritual and physical. God will protect us from all evil and God will comfort and heal us from our affliction. The important thing to note is that the sheep ‘trust’ their shepherd to take care of them and go wherever they are led. Therefore, we must also put our trust in God our Shepherd (even when we do not quite understand where he is leading us) and he will provide for us.
As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he is a Shield to all those that trust in him.
God’s way is always the best way. This verse is from a Psalm of David proclaiming the wisdom and goodness of God. He did this as he looked back on how God had wiped away all his enemies and established him on the throne. While he was running for his life, living in the wild and being tormented by the fear of being killed, God’s way did not seem so perfect. It only became clear to him in hindsight. When we are in the midst of our suffering and wondering where God is, it’s hard for us think of his ways as being the best. However, when we look back we usually see more clearly and will recognize that God always had our best interest at heart.
[_You lead me in the path of life; I experience absolute joy in your presence; you always give me sheer delight. _]
Experiencing the presence of God is truly unique. The presence of God makes everything complete. Usually when we spend quiet time with God or get absorbed in worship, we can sense and experience this presence. In it is a beautiful joy, a perfect peace with absolutely no worries or fears. The presence of God can manifest even in the most trying times of our lives and will give us the peace we need to carry us through. When we are in the presence of God, nothing is insurmountable.
The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.
The angel of the Lord is a messenger of God and bears his likeness. The Psalmist describes him as one who encamps around those who have a relationship with God. He is one but like God, he can be in more than one place at a time. This angel stands guard and delivers us from many evils, some of which we may know nothing about. It is reassuring to know we have angels that protect us consistently. He ‘encamps’ means he remains within our vicinity and will standby until there is need to help us.
Show me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths.
This is one prayer or request God would love to hear from anyone of us. The ‘ways’ of God can be found in his Word. In the New Covenant, Jesus gives us a representation of the character of God, but to get a continuous instruction on his ways, we need the guidance of the Holy Spirit. ‘He will teach you all things’ Jesus said of him. If we ask God to show us the path that he would have us take, it will come to us through his Word and his Spirit.
Blessed is the one who considers the poor! In the day of trouble the LORD delivers him.
God has a deep compassion for the poor and the suffering. The verse in this Psalm mirrors one in Isaiah that says ‘If you show compassion on the poor and those who are afflicted in their soul (suffering emotionally), then your light shall arise in the darkness and your gloom will become as bright as noon.’ God is saying; if we will remember to comfort the suffering and help the needy in the midst of our own pain, then we will soon experience deliverance from our troubles.
[_Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. _]
This verse is about choosing to depend on God when we may have other options. Sometimes we are waiting on God and when he does not seem to be moving according to our own timing we take matters into our own hands. Whether it’s out of fear or impatience, we try to solve the problem in our own way and in essence turn our backs on God’s helping hand. We are reminded to wait on God because he is our help and he is also our shield.
In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears.
If you are in a place of distress, be comforted, God hears your cry. The Psalmist says ‘my cry came before him, even to his ears.’ He had a vision of his desperate prayers reaching the very ears of God and was content. We do not have to experience this kind of vision to know that God hears us. The scriptures are full of verses which confirm God is always listening to the cry of the desperate and will always bring deliverance. We just need to remain in faith.
Now know I that the LORD saves his anointed; he will hear him from his holy heaven with the saving strength of his right hand.
Like in the preceding verse, the Psalmist declares – from his own experience, the power of the saving hand of God. Our help indeed comes from heavenly places and becomes manifest in the physical realm. Since this help is of a divine nature, there is no limit to what may be accomplished when God stretches out his hand towards us. We are challenged to trust the words of the Psalmist and see for ourselves the ‘strength of his right hand.’
Thou, who hast showed me great and sore troubles, shalt quicken me again, and shalt bring me up again from the depths of the earth.
There are times when we feel worn-out from the many troubles we may have faced in our lives. The Psalmist had himself experienced numerous trials and sufferings but was confident God was able to renew his soul and his life. God can renew us both physically and spiritually; he can give us a new joy and vitality we never thought we could have again. Let us believe that everything is possible with God and expect him to renew us.
I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.
As we well know, this refuge and fortress is not a physical place, in fact, we may be surrounded by real danger and still be in God’s safe haven. When we go to God in the middle of our troubles and commune with him through fervent prayer and reflection on his Word, we reach this spiritual refuge. We get encouraged and can endure whatever it is that we are facing. Although our situation may not change immediately, we feel safe in this place and we experience God’s divine protection. He also likens the Lord to a fortress which is the strong-point of any army; a place where the continuous attacks of the enemy can be withstood and ultimately extinguished.
I will be glad and rejoice in your mercy: for you have considered my trouble; you have known my soul in adversities.
The Psalmist uses the favour God showed him in the past to encourage himself and believe that he can be delivered once again. God always responds to faith and if we believe (even when we cannot see the way out) he will undoubtedly make a way. We can also consider the many instances of the Psalms (notice how many times God delivered David), and be encouraged that he can also deliver us. God used him as an illustration of his saving power (Isaiah 55:3-4).
The LORD is righteous in all his ways and holy in all his works.
God is always good. Most people cannot say this with conviction. In our daily lives, when senseless tragedies occur, when we look at the injustice in life and when terrible things happen to good people, we are tempted to ask: ‘Can a good God permit all this?’ David was a good person that experienced so much adversity; King Saul consistently tried to kill him, his truest friend died in battle and later-on his own son tried to dethrone him (and lost his life). David experienced all sorts of adversity and still said; ‘the Lord is right in all his ways’.
So, how do we make sense of, or answer the profound question of why God permits so much evil in the world. In the book of Job this question is asked and the answer Job got was this; there is so much we don’t know and therefore it is hard for us to determine what is fair or not. God on the other hand knows everything (and everyone’s heart) and his actions are based on this knowledge. God’s actions are also based on his wisdom which is perfect and just. From a different perspective, God has given us free will and sometimes the tragedies we see are simply people misusing that free will.
All said and done, God’s ways are always found to be good and he has no hand in the evil we see. He will sometimes allow troubles or affliction (for a season) to come our way but only to accomplish what is good.
[_[Unity is]As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life forevermore. _]
Harmony among God’s people is one thing that David treasured immensely. This isn’t surprising given that he had seen so much conflict and war. This communal harmony he talks about is also very pleasing to God. Where there is strife or disunity among God’s people, there is always the occasion for evil to thrive. We are meant to be an example to the world so they can know that we serve a good God and that there are many benefits to this service. Strife hinders the strength of the body of Christ and makes us unfruitful.
Let Israel hope in the LORD: for with the LORD there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption.
This is a request for the nation of Israel to put their hope in God. Sometimes we face trials as individuals but other times it may be a national crisis. Our hope must at these times be placed in God and not in men. God is able to resolve national crises as easily as he does our personal problems and so we should pray and believe that he will resolve whatever we may be facing on a national level.
The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoices; and with my song will I praise him.
My heart trusted in him… I am helped… I rejoice. This is what always happens when we put our trust in God. So what about those times when we felt we put our trust in him and nothing happened? The question then is did we really trust God when we said we did? If we truly trust God, we must take our hands off and not have any ‘just in case God doesn’t come-through’ plans. We roll the challenge over to God, leave it there and consider it taken care of. We are either trusting God or someone/thing else but we can’t have it both ways. When we do this, God will come-through for us – always.
O LORD, your loyal love reaches to the sky, your faithfulness to the clouds.
Who can truly understand the extent to which God loves us? God is infinite in his love for us and the Psalmist says ‘your love reaches the sky’ to try and make this point. We may not be able to comprehend the extent to which God loves us but we have a good demonstration of just how much he does. God sacrificed the life of his beloved Son Jesus for our sake. He gave us His very best; there can be no greater sacrifice he could have made. Jesus took our sin upon him and received the punishment on our behalf so we could be free of judgement. That is Great Love and that is God’s Love.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
This verse gives us a picture of someone being trailed by goodness and mercy through-out their life. Who wouldn’t want this for themselves? Well, it is available to anyone who trusts God to lead them in their lives. The Psalmist had experienced God’s blessing and deliverance so many times that he came to this conclusion; God will bless us with good and make good come out of every evil we may experience. God also knows we will make mistakes and therefore he has provided his mercy from which we can draw whenever we need to.
The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.
This is an affirmation of the reliability and truthfulness of the Word of God (written and spoken). The Word of God is completely dependable and when we believe and hold on to a promise written in the scriptures, we can be sure that it will not fail. The Psalmist likens it to silver has already stood the test of a hot furnace and is pure; there is no dross in it. God’s word, he says, is like silver tested numerous times that has never been found lacking. We can depend on the Word of God, so if he said it, it’s invariably true.
[_As for you, O LORD, you will not restrain your mercy from me; your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me! _]
Genuine love has a way of making troubles seem to vanish. Most times we suffer; it is not so much about the pain as it is the feeling of being alone or unloved in our suffering. If we all had a million people loving and cheering us in our hardest times, we would easily overcome what we are challenged with. That is the power of real love. Unfortunately, we cannot all have a million people cheering us on. What we do have is the great Love of God. The more time you spend with God, the more you will know the reality of this love. God will express his love to you in ways that you can feel and even see and this love will enable you overcome your adversity.
But you do see, for you note injustice and anger, that you may take it into your hands; to you the helpless commits himself; you have been the helper of the fatherless.
Whatever pain we may experience as a result of other people ill-treating us is noted by God. He will deliver us from those that cause us suffering. He is also the saviour of those who may have no one to defend them; the needy widows, orphans, the poor and the helpless. All we have to do is pray to him and he will fight for us. We do not have to fight back, let us leave it in God’s hands and he will bring us the justice we crave.
[_I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds. _]
How many times have we heard people say we should count our blessings? Well, they are right; gratitude is very good for us. Being grateful not only makes us recognize all that God has blessed us with, it also strengthens our faith and helps us believe he can do more. Like the Psalmist, we should recollect all the good in our lives (as far as we can remember) and acknowledge God for everything. If you have never done this, you will be amazed at how much good there is in your life. Count all your blessings beginning with the fact that you are still breathing.
Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.
This verse is a reminder that we are to put God first in everything we do. As children of God, we need to seek his guidance and not be wise in our own eyes. We should seek the approval and counsel of God before venturing into anything and let him guide us on how to go about it. We are then to patiently trust him to bring it to fruition and we shall have success in all we do.
For you have been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy.
God is indeed a strong tower against the Adversary. When we are facing hard times, we should move closer to God because this is territory that evil cannot reach. Although the tower is a high and fortified place, the enemy will still try to ‘shoot arrows’ towards it. Our part is to remain within our tower until the battle is won by God. The challenge is to stay close to God no matter what we may be facing. Keep reading his Word, keep praying and keep trusting him.
In pastures of tender grass He causes me to lie down, by quiet waters He doth lead me.
This verse gives us the perfect picture of peace. We can imagine the Psalmist lying down on the tender green grass without any worries on his mind and then walking besides a peaceful calm river. What’s important here is that he is being led by God. When we are led by God, we will have inner peace irrespective of the circumstances around us. On the other hand when we choose to go in our own direction it will usually result in frustration and a lack of peace. Let’s always try to walk in the path that God wants us to.
This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.
Today may or may not be a good day for you. If it is, then the timing is perfect and if not, it’s still perfect timing. Why? Because there is both the good we can see and the good we cannot see. The Psalmist is trying to tell us that as children of God, our steps are always being directed towards good and because of that we should always rejoice. The very fact that we have a loving, caring God who prepares for us a new day and allows us to see it is reason to be happy. So, what is good about today? God is with you, God loves you and God has a good plan for your life.
I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds.
A good way to lift up our faith when we are discouraged is to think about the greatness of our God. We can remind ourselves of all the mighty things he has done since the beginning of time. Let’s start with the creation. Look all around you; consider the earth and all its life forms. Think about the sky, the sun, the moon and all the heavenly bodies and remember that God spoke them into existence. We can then consider the mighty works of God through-out History. The wonders he showed as he delivered the Israelites from Pharaoh; the parting of the sea, manna from heaven and the fulfilment of his oath to Abraham as Israel reached the Promised Land. We can then reflect on how God worked through the lives of Joshua, Samson, Samuel, Job, David, Solomon, Daniel, Esther and so many others mentioned in the Bible. Further still, we can think about the time God came down to live among us; the life of Jesus and that most important event at the cross. To bring it closer to home, we think about the lasting legacy Jesus and his disciples have left us; the churches established worldwide, the written Scriptures, the countless songs composed and most importantly, the lives transformed because of the Gospel. He is indeed a Mighty God!
[_And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee. _]
When we choose to put our trust in God, the one thing we can be sure of is that whatever we say believe will be tested. Circumstances will test our faith and if not circumstances then we will face the test of time. As we trust God, we will have many opportunities to wonder if he has forsaken us. Listen to the Psalmist; God does not forsake those who put their trust in him. It may take longer that you thought, it may be harder than you expected but in the end God will do what he promised.
Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.
The Psalmist (David in this case) had his share of troubles and declared that as God’s children, we will face many trials and tribulations. This is something that Jesus also said (John 16:33), however they both continue by using the word but… The Psalmist says ‘but the Lord delivers him out of them all and Jesus says’ but be of good cheer I have overcome the world.’ What we see here is that God will always deliver us as long as we trust him. In essence these afflictions are harmless to us because God has a solution (or deliverance plan) for each and every one of them.
You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness.
There is nothing quite like the feeling we get when God lifts us out of a place of sorrow and sets us in a place of joy and delight. The Psalmist says he feels like he is ‘clothed in gladness.’ God did it for him and he can do the same for any of us. Never look at your situation and think you are too disheartened to ever have joy again. God can make you ‘dance’ for joy if you trust him and walk in his ways. No matter how long and dark your night has been, God can bring to you the brilliance of a beautiful morning.
[_Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted in the earth! _]
A reminder to you that God has not lost his power. He is still the God of Heaven and Earth. Where there is an all-sovereign, all-powerful and loving God on the throne, there is great Hope. Do not be discouraged by what your eyes may see; God remains in control and can change things for the better in the twinkling of an eye. Know that he is God and nothing is impossible with him and because of that, believe that everything will be okay.
The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.
There is no limit to the benefits that the Word of God can bring us. God’s Word is wisdom beyond anything we can ever get from the world. It is complete with everything we may need in life from the spiritual to the physical. It helps open our eyes to things we would otherwise be unable to discern. It gives us confidence and trust in God. The Word of God is a source of hope, peace and joy. God’s Word is also living and therefore he can use it to speak to us when we need to hear from him. The Word of God keeps us safe by showing us what is good for us and what isn’t. Through the Word, God’s character is revealed to us and we find our identity in him.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
We must all at some point in our lives walk through this ‘valley of the shadow of death’. It is an image of those times in our lives when we are in a place so dark and so distressing that we are not sure if we have the strength to make it through. It is in this place that God will carry us and when we feel we can’t go-on; he will be our strength. The Psalmist says ‘I will fear no evil because you are with me’ This is what we have to remember, God is with us and no matter how bad it seems, he will comfort and deliver us if we keep trusting him.
My flesh and my heart faileth, but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever.
Our heart can carry our joy and hope in one moment and in another ‘betray’ us and make us feel overcome with fear and anxiety. When we are faced with unexpected trials, the heart fails us and becomes the source of great weakness and despair. The Psalmist challenges us to disregard our own thoughts and emotions and look to another source for strength. We need to look to God. We must not focus on what we see or feel but rather on God who is able to bring us through and ultimately make those fears evaporate.
Though the LORD be high, yet has He respect unto the lowly: but the proud He knows afar off.
God is indeed almighty, supreme and exalted beyond anything we can imagine. In Biblical accounts, when individuals met with angels, most of them were in complete awe and greatly feared; imagine if they had encountered God himself! That said, in all his majesty, God is drawn to the humble at heart and will give special attention to them. The humble know that they cannot help themselves and are willing to ask for God’s help. The proud however are self-sufficient and feel they can take care of themselves and in so doing, distance themselves from God. He however still loves them and waits for them to have a change of heart.
The LORD is good to all, _][_and has compassion on all he has made.
God is indeed good to all; to the righteous and the unrighteous, the grateful and the ungrateful, the saint and the sinner, to the believer and to the atheist. This is the compassion and mercy of God; that he should love all the people regardless of who they are. As a result of this love, God’s arms are always open to those who may not know him and he gives them an opportunity to get to know him. We as believers are called to be like our Father in Heaven who lets his sun shine on the unrighteous and on the righteous (Mathew 5:45).
I cling to your testimonies, O LORD; let me not be put to shame!
Sometimes we have to literally cling to the Word of God and his promises. There will be times when everything seems to be coming against us and we feel like giving in and letting go of what we believe. There is nothing wrong with desperately holding on to the promises of God even when it looks like you are going to be greatly embarrassed ‘if’ God doesn’t come-through for you. Do not worry, as long as you continue to trust him, you will not be embarrassed. God never fails those who trust him to the very end. It’s normal to doubt a bit, but quickly get back on track and keep believing.
And in your steadfast love you will cut off my enemies, and you will destroy all the adversaries of my soul, for I am your servant.
This verse puts emphasis on the ‘enemies’ of the soul. The Psalmist had been overwhelmed with sorrow and as a result, many negative thoughts arose in his mind. The Adversary will always take advantage of those times when we are cast-down in spirit but God can help us overcome these negative thoughts. He has a solution for every challenge that we face and therefore can deal with the thoughts that try to bring us down. We should be like the Psalmist and trust God to destroy all the enemies of our soul.
_He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. _
When we are physically hurt, most times we will heal easily and forget about the pain. However, when we are emotionally hurt, it always seems to take longer. Someone can say one ‘little’ thing to us and we won’t forget it for years. Emotional pain is hard to deal with but surprisingly most people leave God out of this part of their lives. We tend to feel we can deal with it on our own and are rarely successful. In other instances people will say ‘I can never get over this’ and they carry it for the rest of their lives. The Psalmist is telling us un-categorically that God can heal our soul if we let him. God can take away the hurt so much so that you no longer feel any pain at all, but like everything else, God requires your faith and cooperation.
What is man, that thou art mindful of him? the son of man, that thou visitest him? And causest him to lack a little of Godhead, And with honour and majesty encompass him.
The Psalmist looks up at the heavens, at the sky, the moon, and the stars then asks; what is man that you care so much about him? The God who created the universe and all that’s in it values and loves us over all that he created. We have to remember that God is sufficient for himself and does not need us and yet he both wants and loves us so dearly. He made us in his own likeness and when we turned away from him, gave the life of his beloved Son Jesus so that we may be reconciled to him.
PSALMS 8:4 & 5
Blessed is the man whom you discipline, O LORD, and whom you teach out of your law.
Like a loving parent, the Lord always corrects us. It is a mark of his love and he will consistently show us where we have gone wrong so as to direct us towards the right path. God corrects us in a gentle and kind manner. We may get correction through his written Word or he may choose to speak directly into our hearts or even through circumstances. Whichever way he chooses to speak, he will get the message across and it will be up to us to receive it or disregard it. At the end of the day, the choice is ours but the Psalmist viewed God’s discipline as an act of his love.
[_Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident. _]
It is important that we declare what we believe. Even if we may not say it out-loud, we should at least speak to our own hearts. When we speak positively, we strengthen our faith and keep our mind focused on victory. When God hears our utterances of faith, he is pleased and our words oblige him to stretch out his helping hand towards us. We should not be moved by what we see but rather by what we know. The Psalmist says even if he is surrounded by an army, he shall not be afraid; he will not let what he sees affect what he knows about God.
[_Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. _]
For every one of us there is an inner-life and an outer-life. Our inner-life is personal and our outer-life is what we generally allow people to know about us. God is more concerned about our inner-life and desires that we are open and honest with him about everything that goes on there. God is not asking for perfection. Just that we tell him our personal struggles and allow him to help us overcome them. He already knows everything in our thoughts but he wants us to acknowledge what may not be okay and then he can lead us into the right paths.
Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
God is always willing to cleanse us of all our sins, however ‘severe’ they may be. He is a merciful God and even when we find it hard to forgive ourselves, God is willing to wash us clean. When we confess our sin to God, we are forgiven whether we feel cleansed or not. We must remember that every sin was paid for on the cross and we must not try to earn God’s forgiveness, the price has already been paid.
I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.
This verse from a Psalm of David is meant to reassure us that God has never, and will never, forsake anyone who puts their trust in him. David tells us that through-out his long life he never saw the righteous forsaken, not it even once. You are not the exception, if you completely trust God, there can be only one outcome; the good you expect will come to you. There will be challenges; it may take longer than expected, it may start to look impossible but if you keep-on believing, God will do what he promised.
[He is the Lord] who forgives all your iniquities; who heals all your diseases.
It is interesting that in this verse the Psalmist makes a connection between our sin and healing. We are reminded of the time Jesus told the paralytic he should refrain from living in sin ‘now that he had been made well.’ Our sin-consciousness can be a barrier to us receiving our healing; it makes us believe we are not worthy to be healed. When Jesus healed the multitudes, he did not choose those who were righteous and leave out the unrighteous, he healed them all. The Psalmist gives us good news, ‘he forgives all your sins and also heals all your diseases.’ If we have any sin, we simply confess and then pray for healing with confidence.
[God will] Grant thee according to your own heart, and fulfil all thy counsel.
Do you believe that God wants to grant your prayers according to your heart? He really does want to give you what you asked for. The exception of course is if we pray with wrong motives. You can easily check your motives by being truly honest with yourself and asking ‘Why do I really want what I am asking for?’ Otherwise if there is nothing wrong with your motives, you can be sure that God takes pleasure in granting us exactly what we prayed for. Jesus said: ‘which of you parents will give your child a stone when he asks for bread?’ If earthly parents know how to give good gifts to their children, how much more will God give good gifts to his children?
[_…In his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. _]
The morning always follows the night. Even if the dark period of our lives seems to be lasting much longer than we expected, we should know that our morning will come. God will bring us out of the gloom and fill us with new joy. As much as we do not like these dark seasons, God uses them to make us grow but they are not meant to last. They are just meant to build our faith in him and teach us that we can rely on him.
Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and perform your vows to the Most High, and call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.
We see once again the importance of thanksgiving and relating to God with a truthful heart. Jesus said we must worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:23). He did not say we have to be perfect, he just said we have to be honest towards God and ourselves. In this verse, God says being thankful and truthful will put us in position to receive his deliverance. He is giving us an incentive to stand on his Word and get deliverance when we need it.
The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.
We usually view commandments or rules in a negative light but the Psalmist reminds us that God’s laws are actually guidelines meant to benefit us and not to take away from us. They enlighten us so we may differentiate what is good from what will harm us. They enable us have the best life we possibly can and as a result of these guidelines we will be successful in whatever we do. They are also the only path to genuine happiness and fulfilment. As we are now part of the New Covenant established by Christ, the laws of God are fulfilled through love (Galatians 5:14).
Righteousness and Justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you.
Everything God does proceeds from the foundation of righteousness and truth. God cannot be unfair nor can any falsehood come from him because he is truth itself. He is a righteous Judge and yet is full of compassion and mercy. The Psalmist says his love and faithfulness go before us. God’s goodness is always ahead of us, he prepares the way we should follow so as to dwell in his blessings and righteousness. The thoughts of God towards us are only good.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea. …The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.
Sometimes God has to allow the earth be ‘removed’ from beneath our feet in order for us to completely trust him. Have you ever felt your world was literally falling apart in all directions? I believe the Psalmist had this kind of experience. He had absolutely nothing to lean on but God. He relied on God, was delivered and now he boldly says ‘we will not fear, though the earth be removed, though the mountains be carried into the sea.’ So, fear not, the Lord is with you.
PSALMS 46:2 & 7
I will not violate My Covenant or alter the Word that went forth from My lips. [Says the Lord]
In this verse, God’s Word confirms the reliability of his Word. He says he will not break his covenant or change the words he has spoken in oath. We can think of God’s promise as something unchangeable or irreversible. The words that leave his lips have power and go forth to accomplish whatever he has declared (Isaiah 55:11). Therefore what God has said in oath is as good as already done.
_All in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence. _
The Psalmist was looking back on his faithfulness to God and wondering if it had been worth it. Times of adversity can make us doubt everything we believe and sometimes we even go as far as to doubt the very existence of God. Even when we doubt, we should not remain in the realm of unbelief. We should go back to the Word and strengthen our faith. We should also remember that we cannot be tested by the things we expect, if our lives would always go as we hoped then we wouldn’t need faith. Your faith is being tested (and strengthened) by the unexpected.
He heals the broken in heart, and binds up their wounds.
We live in a world full of hurting people. So many people are emotionally distressed by their experiences in relationships. Whether it is something that happened in their childhood or in their adult life, there are simply too many hurting people. If you have been deeply hurt, betrayed or deserted by someone, take heart, God loves you and is for you. It grieves him to see you suffer and he can heal you. We however have an important part to play – the part of forgiveness. Letting go of the bitterness is a vital part of healing and if we can choose to do this, then God will do the rest for us. He will not only heal us but make some good come out of it all.
[_He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield. _]
The picture the Psalmist gives us is one not only of protection but of closeness to God. For us to be under his wings, we need to be very close to him. In order to get close to God, we need to spend time with him. We need to ponder over his Word, speak to him consistently and make him a part of our day-to-day life. This will bring us close to him and by default we will be under the protection of his wings.
He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.
If you have been a believer for a while, you must have at least once encountered someone who made fun of your trust and belief in God. Isn’t it nice to know that you are not the only one who has experienced this? Every servant of God in the Biblical accounts experienced some kind of ridicule at some point in their lives. It is a part of being a believer and many times, those who mock you are used by the Adversary to try and discourage you and make you give-up. Just like the Psalmist, you should talk to God about it and let him encourage you through his Word.
Nevertheless I am continually with thee; You have held me by my right hand.
Reminder: God has never left your side. He said he would never leave you nor forsake you and he meant it. He also said ‘I am with you always’ (Mathew 28:20). The troubles in our lives can make us lose sight of this but we should always remember he is right here with us. We do not need a sign from Heaven, we should believe God’s Word and then the manifestation of his presence and deliverance will reassure us.
O LORD, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear.
The Psalmist was reminding himself that God knows the need of the afflicted and gives them strength of heart. He was afflicted himself but from prior experience, he knew that God would hear him. It is clear that God was silent and the Psalmist had to look beyond this silence and reassure himself that God had heard him. That is what faith is all about, we believe what we have not seen and what we believe will come to pass.
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
Have you ever walked in a dark room and tried to find something before you put on the light? Well that’s what life is like when you are not being led by God. We ‘feel around’ for the way and for whatever it is we are searching for. On the other hand, when we follow God’s Word, we are led by the light of his infinite knowledge. We will reach our destination effortlessly because God knows where everything is and the best way to get there.
The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
If God is for you then who can stand against you? The Psalmist emphatically declares he has absolutely nothing and no one to fear. When God is on your side, you need not be afraid of anything. It is obviously much easier to say it than to live it, but the truth is we really do have nothing to fear. When we see God come-through for us over and over again, we begin to get the same attitude as the Psalmist. All of a sudden we see our worries as a waste of time because we know God can and will bring deliverance.
[_They repay me evil for the good I have done; I am overwhelmed with sorrow. _]
Betrayal is painful. The pain sinks deep into our soul and the unfairness that comes with it is usually hard to deal with. It makes us feel strangely inadequate and pours scorn on all the good we may have done. The worst thing we can do is try to ‘balance the scales’ and carry out vengeance of any kind. God knows the pain we feel and sees the injustice of it all but we have to do it his way. Forgiveness is crucial for our own good and required from God’s viewpoint. As for the injustice of the experience, leave it to God because he has said ‘vengeance is mine’ (Romans 12:19). He will make it right for you somehow.
The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
The Psalmist refers to God here as the Lord of Hosts. We can otherwise say the Lord of countless armies/angels. Elisha would know exactly what the Lord of Hosts means because he saw the armies of God and chariots of fire (2 Kings 6:17). It should be encouraging for us to know that God and his host are for us and with us. If we really believe this, we should be more than confident that God can fight our battles and we have nothing to worry about.
Blessed is everyone that fears the LORD; that walks in his ways. For you shall eat the labour of your hands; happy shall you be, and it shall be well with you.
Happy are you who are led by God. If God is at the centre of your life and you look to him for guidance then blessed are you. He shall bless whatever you do and your life will be good. You will live in safety and peace and your dreams will come true. He will exalt you and recompense you for all the hardship you endured. He will give you justice for the injustice you suffered and he will give you joy beyond anything you’ve ever known.
The Book of Psalms has always been looked at as a good source of encouragement. Most of the Psalms are from David and about his own life. It is amazing how many times he cried out to God and how many times God delivered him. It is comforting to be able to relate to many of the troubles he went through; we know exactly what he is talking about. If you read the Book of Psalms, you will notice that there is virtually no scenario you can have that David did not experience in one way or another. In this Book, I pick out verses from some of the Psalms and make some notes on each. As you read, I encourage you to think about what every verse means to your own situation and even try to find your own understanding of the verse. The Word of God is multifaceted and you may be able to discern much more than what I noted. At the end of the day, this book is intended not only to encourage you, but also inspire you to spend more quiet time with God.