My Psalm

My Psalm of Lament to God

1 O God in Heaven, I can not see you on Earth!
Satan drowns out your beauty
And the World distracts me from my prayers
2 Everywhere I turn I see hate, envy, greed, and temptation
From social media, music, movies and TV
It seems the goal of man is to erase your glory.
3 Friends and family have become distractions
And my own eyes and ears have turned against me
My body has become my enemy
4 My heart wants what Paul writes,
To die daily, to pick up my cross
But I let my mind control me instead of my love for You
5 Holy Spirit I need you now!
Renew my spirit with the breath of God!
6 Jesus I need you now!
I am a sinner and I need mercy and forgiveness!
7 Father God I need you now!
Create in me your kingdom on earth!
8 Give me the strength to overcome the issues that face us
today
If my strength is not enough then I will depend on yours
Only through you and by you can I overcome these obstacles

9 Political issues of our country and the world consume your people.
Though it is all part of your plan,
the media thrusts these problems into our vision.
10 They distract us from the Kingdom purpose that you have.
We are overwhelmed with stories of death and destruction.
We are confused by the constantly spun stories.
11 I beg you now God! Please renew the minds and hearts of your
children.
Create in us the strength and power to see through the lies.
Create in us a new calling and focus for your Word.
12 Clear our vision and give us the ability to see your hand
We know you are moving in all things
We know all things are from you and for you.
13 I await you with a clear faith in your power
Even as I lose my sight to temptations
Even as I turn to the left and right away from your plans
14 I know that you are with me. I know that your plans for me are
good.
My faith in you is renewed through prayer.
My faith is renewed through reading your Word.
15 I will choose that which is wholesome for my ears and my eyes.
Please have mercy on me when I fail.
Please forgive me when I come to you after the fall.

16 I do not deserve your mercy or your forgiveness.
This is a gift that God the Father has given through His Son
This gift is more valuable than anything on earth or above it
17 I praise you God for your forgiveness and mercy
I praise you with all of my spirit and soul
I praise you with my words, thoughts and deeds
18 Though the World may have made social media
Though celebrities and politicians may speak evil
I will praise you through this storm
19 I will use what man has made to praise you for your creation
My praise to you drowns out the greed of the lost
My praise to you drowns out the whispers of Satan
20 God will never leave me or forget me, he lifts me up when I am down
God may allow me to face trials and troubles
but, God always has a purpose.
21 God always has my best interest in mind,
he has great things for me planned.
Even before I existed God knew I would be used for His glory.
22 No matter what the World, or Satan, or man may put in my way
I know that God will use for his glory.
Father God, your will is perfect!
23 Thank you God for creating all of the universe for me to connect with
you
Thank you God for providing a way for man to connect to you
Even though we failed you; your grace saved us.

24 I praise you God for all that you provide for your children
Thank you for giving me the opportunities to grow
Thank you for giving me the patience to learn
25 Thank you God for giving me all of the advantages that I have
Thank you for reminding me that I am blessed
Thank you for reminding me that other’s are not
26 Father God, you are my everlasting Father.
You are my savior
You are my redeemer
27 Lord, you are my salvation and my security
You brighten the darkness in my hour of need!
You bring light into my heart when it is dark
28 My eyes have been opened and your glory is all around me
I see your beauty in the world around me
You are reflected in nature and in the kindness
and grace of man.
29 I will sing and shout and praise your name forever until time has ended
Until Heaven and Earth have been made whole.
Until all of your people have been whole.
30 With my whole body I praise you God
Forever and ever

 

 

A Close Reading of Psalm 70

How often do we forget important information? Or lose a piece of vital instruction because we neglected to write it down? I imagine that this is not a problem that has recently reared it’s head. The Bible is full of information and facts that were written down so that they would not be forgotten. So that they could be shared with future generations. King David was no exception to this. Psalm 70 is titled “A psalm of remembrance” and as I explain in the video it is an almost word for word copy of a portion of an earlier psalm of his. He wanted to have on hand a prayer that could be said to God in order to remind himself of what God does for His faithful people. I hope that the following video gives you a better understanding of, and a way to remember, who God is and what he does for his children.

Laments: Psalms from the Past and Present

Psalm 13: Lament Psalms from the Past and Present

The lament psalms are a special genre of psalm that is described as, “the psalmist’s cry when in great distress he has nowhere to turn but to God” (Longman, 26). Within these psalms there is a division of elements that are specific to the lament and describe a type of “coming to grips” for the psalmist. Beginning with a cry to the LORD and complaint but ending with confidence in God and praise the lament is the most human reaction to adversity and has definitely stood the test of time. We see laments throughout the Bible and even in today’s music and media.
Psalm 13 shows the elements within its content as follows:
v1-2: Invocation and complaint
v3-4: Plea for God to help
v5-6: Confidence in God’s response and hymn of praise
Of the seven elements within a lament I see only these five and within the verses of Psalm 13 these five elements are combined and compressed into each other. For instance, in verse one the invocation is only the first four words, “How long, O LORD?”. The rest of the verse is a complaint to God, David accuses God of forgetting him and hiding his face from him.
As we look at other laments, specifically Psalm 3, 4, and 6, we see a mirror of this same pattern for the most part. Firstly, in comparing Psalm 13 to these there is an immediate repetition of a questioning psalmist. Only Psalm 6 of the four psalms does not begin with an exclaiming question, in Psalm 3 and 4 David also asks for answers to his questions as the invocation of the psalm. One major difference I see in each of the psalms is a seemingly random order in which the first six elements of the lament are placed, all end in praise and/or confidence in God’s response.
In Psalm 3 the order appears to be: invocation(v 1), complaint(v 2), confidence in God’s response(v 3-6), plea to God for help(v 7), hymn of praise(v 8). Psalm 4 differs from this order: Invocation( v 1), plea to God for help( v 1), complaint( v 2), confidence in God’s response( v 3), complaint( v 4-6), hymn of praise (v 7-8). Finally we see Psalm 6 as an even more diverse order of elements: invocation and complaint (v 1), plea to God for help (v 2-5), complaint (v 6-7), confidence in God’s response (v 8-9), curse of enemies (v 10). While these seem random in order, aside from the first and the last elements, I believe there is a method to the madness. For one, God does nothing in confusion but everything is in His order.
While each of these psalms has a similar theme, they are all complaints about men fighting or speaking against David. They are all laments which call out to God for help in defense of David. Psalm 3 and 6 request attacks against his enemies by God (3:7b, 6:10) while the other two only asks for protection. One thing I like about my ESV Study Bible is that it titles each chapter of the Bible. These chapters are titled as Save Me, O My God (Psalm 3), Answer Me When I Call (Psalm 4), O LORD, Deliver My Life (Psalm 6), and How Long, O LORD (Psalm 13). There is an obvious pattern of distress in the psalm’s titles, but they always end with a praise hymn to God.
In looking at the way we read and examine the Psalm it is vitally important to recognize this in each lament. While some may think that the lament psalms and even the book of Job doesn’t belong in the Bible due to being written by man in a weakened state and questioning God’s existence and love for his people, I believe these books show the exact opposite. The lament psalms show man at their best, because they are at their worse. With nowhere to turn and being attacked on all sides the only option for defense is through God and his grace and in this way our weakness is his strength. Though there will always be darkness in our lives, due to the infestation of sin in the world, our end is only a bright beginning of our eternity with God.
True laments, while easy to find in the Old Testament, are hard to find in contemporary music. Johnny Cash’s “Spiritual” is one that comes to mind for me. Most modern music can only provide half of the solution though. It’s great at delivering the complaint or the curse, but the plea to God for help and the confidence in God’s response is almost always lacking. And when it comes to praising God in the midst of pain you could go blind trying to find a pop song that echoes those sentiments. The lyrics for “Spiritual” are below:
“Jesus
I don’t wanna die alone
Jesus, oh Jesus
I don’t wanna die alone
My love wasn’t true
Now all I have is you
Jesus oh Jesus
I don’t wanna die alone
Jesus
If you hear my last breath
Don’t leave me here
Left to die a lonely death
I know I have sinned but Lord I’m
Suffering
Jesus, oh Jesus
If you hear my last breath
Jesus
I don’t wanna die alone
Jesus, oh Jesus
I don’t wanna die alone
My love wasn’t true
Now all I have is you
Jesus, oh Jesus
I don’t wanna die alone
Jesus
Jesus
All my troubles
All my pain
Will leave me
Once again
All my troubles
All my pain
It’s gonna leave me once again
All my troubles
All my pain
It’s gonna leave me once again
Gonna leave me
Once again
The lyrics alone in no way do this song justice and I encourage you to search for it on YouTube in order to get the full effect of the song. You can see though, that while many of the elements are there; the invocation, plea for God’s help, confidence in God’s response, and confession of sin, what is lacking is the hymn of praise. As with many modern songs of lament, and I believe a big reason why so many teenagers relate to music so easily, there is much complaining and blaming but very little requesting aid from God or even acknowledging Him.
As I discussed in a previous exercise on psalms in modern music, I believe that God is in everything in this world. He created everything and my theology is that he inhabits a little part of everything and everyone we encounter, after all “if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that [emphasis mine]” (Luke 6:33). God uses everything to complete his plan to reunite us with Him. He used evil empires that attacked both the Israelites and their enemies to guide His people back to him and to correct their wrong paths. Why then can’t he use what we deem as secular music to show us an area we are lacking in or a new way to view his creation. If it makes you feel better, add on your own hymn of praise to the end of a modern lament that touches you but fails to give honor to God.

Psalm 31

For this week I am taking the advice of my professor and uploading my latest close reading analysis here. I pray that this touches your heart and opens your mind to looking for new ways to experience God’s word.

The Lord is Close…

We recently lost a student at the school I work at. A loving, kind young man who was in the Special Education class that I assist in. Stephan “Jap” Thomas is known throughout Benjamin Russell High School and the town of Alexander City as a die-hard BRHS Wildcat fan. He cheered at every sporting event that he could get to. Jap graduated before this year but due to the policies for students in Special Education he was allowed to return for continued education with us, this would have been his final year under the policy.

Every student and teacher in the Alex City School System either knows or has heard of Jap. He was an honorary Wildcat football player the year he graduated and ran on the field with the football team. He is never happier than when he is at a pep rally and he has a great sense of humor that he shared with his classmates everyday. His teachers and the administration at BRHS thought of him as family and he was a beloved son or brother to all.

I have personally been struggling with the best way to support my fellow educators through this loss. I did not know Jap very well; this is my first year in the classroom and I am not a native of Alex City. I have been doing my best to offer my condolences, lead when the teachers need to mourn in their own way, and offer counseling to the students who want it.

I hope this small offering of words from Psalms will touch those who are hurting and remind them that God is always here and offers His comfort to all who ask:

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit”(Pslam 34:18).

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3).

And perhaps the most important of all, in Revelation 21:4 Jesus reminds us that soon God will take away all of our pain, “‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away’”.

Rest easy Jap…we will see you soon. I can’t wait to see you shoot 10 free throws, run 10 miles, and tell me how you weigh 10 pounds. We love you buddy.

…and again I say rejoice

I don’t know if it’s the shortest verse in the Bible, but, to me, it is one of the most important,  “Rejoice always.” (1 Thess ‭5:16). 

Paul is ending his letter to the church in Thessalonica and giving them final instructions that include praying, thankfulness to God, and abstaining from all evil. The verse that sticks out to me though is 5:16. In all things rejoice, at all times rejoice, “rejoice always”! When it’s rough, when you have a bad day, when nothing goes your way, “Rejoice”! 

Because no matter how bad the day is, no matter what mistake you make, no matter your plans, God loves you. God loves you so much he sent his one and only Son to Earth. He sent his perfect, sinless Son to show us how to live. God sent Jesus to be the Light and guide for our lives. Jesus came to Earth and offered himself as a sacrifice in order to end all other sacrifices. He carried His Father’s love to us in order to show us how to share it with the world.

So, rejoice always! We are set free from the legalistic rules and regulations that we could never satisfy. We are set free with God’s love and Jesus’ sacrifice. Rejoice forever and always!!