Thanksgiving 2022 Prayer

Whipped sweet potatoes with brown sugar, pecans and marshmallows. Photo taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn.

Lord God, forgive us for how often we forget to praise and thank You. May we take time today to reflect on all that You have done for us.

Lord God, thank You and praise You for the gift of fellowship. Thank You Lord for the ability to give You thanks and praise with brothers and sisters all over the world. Lord God, may our thanks and praise be a pleasing aroma to You.

Lord, for our brothers and sisters who live in countries where evangelism is costly, may the lost smell Jesus on our fellow Christians as they live in praise and thanksgiving of who You are and what You have done in their lives. Lord may the Western church learn from the persecuted church as our time of suffering is coming. Thank You Lord for all the examples of Christian witnesses that have gone before us!

Lord God, thank You for this reader. Thank You for giving this reader worth because they are created in Your image. Lord God, thank You for the gift of salvation by grace, through faith in Christ alone.

Thank You Lord for the opportunity to love and serve You. May we serve You well each day that You give us. Help us Lord that when we mess up that may we confess our sin and praise You for the opportunity to walk on Your path again.

Thank You Holy Trinity that You are alive, that You are intimately involved in Your Creation and that You know Your people. Lord, thank You again for this reader! May they thank and praise You today! In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

June 2022 Prayer

Photo taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn.

Lord God, as You care for the flowers, birds and trees, so too will You care for Your people in this new month. Lord God, thank You that nothing is beyond Your control!

Lord God, help us to become more like Christ in this new month. Lord God, Your Word in both the Old and New Testament tell us not to be surprised or taken off guard by war, rumors of war, pestilence, disease, food shortages, famine and persecution.

Lord God, help Your people to endure trials and to be patient with people more this month. Father God, as the weather in the North heats up, help Your people to be agents of peace and reconciliation not sowers of discord and malice. Lord, help Your people to exercise reason and common sense so that cooler, tempered minds, hearts and hands may prevail.

Lord God, reveal to this reader and myself where we are starting to compromise and look more like the world. Reveal to us in this new month Lord what we are holding on too tightly. Lord God, root out anything in us that is keeping us from growing closer to You!

Lord God, give Your people increased wisdom and discernment in this new month. Lord, it is blatantly obvious that we are living in a post-Christian time period. Help us to be good stewards and witnesses for You as the time of Jesus’s return is nearer with each passing moment.

Lord God, prepare Your people for what they will face, not only this month but in the months to follow. Lord God, Your Word is life; it is our comfort and joy. Help us to apply Your Word this month so that we will be prepared to stand firm in the trials that we face.

Lord God, I pray for the reader who has wandered from the faith, Lord, stir their heart to return to You. Lord God, for the reader who is hostile to the faith, if You lead them to this prayer may You convict them of their sin and their need for a Savior. Regardless of where one positions themselves in regards to the elect/called/chosen/whomsoever, thank You and praise You Lord that You are the One who save us from start to finish. It is not our work or achievements but Christ crucified, buried, resurrected and ascended who is the Redeeming Savior for all those who trust and believe in Him.

Lord God, I am reminded in John 10 that You are the Good Shepherd. But before that, You say You are the Door/Gate for the sheep. So often Lord we want Your provision, protection and blessing as the Good Shepherd but we do not want Your exclusivity, we do not want to enter through the narrow door, walking the narrow path of obedience. Lord God, convict us of our arrogance, our hypocrisy and our lack of love and reverence for You. May we NEVER forget Jesus that You are the Way, the Truth and the Life and that no one comes to the Father except through You (John 14:6).

Lord God, thank You for this reader. Thank You that You know everything about this reader and what they will face this month. Strengthen and guide this reader Lord to lead the lost to You, to encourage believers and to glorify You. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

The King of Glory (Psalm 24)

Looking down on east side of the Temple Mount. 23 May 2017. Photo taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn.

24 A Psalm of David. 

1  The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, 

the world and those who dwell therein, 

for he has founded it upon the seas 

and established it upon the rivers. 

Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? 

And who shall stand in his holy place? 

He who has clean hands and a pure heart, 

who does not lift up his soul to what is false 

and does not swear deceitfully. 

He will receive blessing from the Lord 

and righteousness from the God of his salvation. 

Such is the generation of those who seek him, 

who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah 

Lift up your heads, O gates! 

And be lifted up, O ancient doors, 

that the King of glory may come in. 

Who is this King of glory? 

The Lord, strong and mighty, 

the Lord, mighty in battle! 

Lift up your heads, O gates! 

And lift them up, O ancient doors, 

that the King of glory may come in. 

10  Who is this King of glory? 

The Lord of hosts, 

he is the King of glory! Selah 

In light of Holy Week 2022, I cannot help but meditate on David’s hymn.

David makes it clear that the earth belongs to Yahweh and that He is the Creator and Sovereign overall (vv 1-2). David’s understanding of creation theology is the antithesis of how Israel’s neighbors understood creation. For most of the Ancient Near East (ANE), they viewed the earth as flat and floating on a cosmic ocean. Water in the ANE was signified with chaos and disorder. (Each ANE civilization had a defeated sea god. For example: the Ugaritic (Canaanite) Baal was the storm/fertility god who defeated the sea god Yamm). To David, “these words signify that the Lord has manifested his wisdom in creating an orderly world, and therefore he rules over all. The biblical perspective is opposed to the deification of nature, for, while everything is glorious, its glory is derived from the glorious Creator” (W. VanGemeren, Psalms REBC, 2008, p. 258).

“Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place?” (v 3). The hill that David is speaking of is Mount Zion. “The temple of Yahweh was built on a hilltop above the rest of the city. Thus, going to worship at the temple involved a modest ascent. The Temple Mount was the place of God’s throne, which is relevant in this psalm’s call to praise God’s kingship” (J. Hilber, “Psalms” ZIBBC, 2009, p. 342). While the temple was not constructed in David’s lifetime, I love what VanGemeren says, “The hymn instructs God’s people wherever they may be to live in the presence of the Creator-King in order to receive his blessing” (p. 260).

Holiness is required to enter the Lord’s presence! Only those with clean hands and a pure heart, who neither lift up their soul (life source) to what is false nor swear deceitfully (v 4), will “receive blessing from the Lord” (v 5). The Lord requires us to be solely and only devoted to Him. We cannot serve God and something or someone else. It was impossible in the Old Testament and it is impossible today!

“Purity of ‘hands’ and ‘heart’ is the condition of living before God in accordance with his precepts and out of the desire of his heart…The one who has ‘clean hands’ is innocent of wrongdoing and readily asks for forgiveness when he or she has sinned against God. In contrast is the sinner, whose ‘hands are full of blood’ and who needs cleansing, forgiveness, and reconciliation” (VanGemeren, p. 260).

Only a fool would enter the Creator-King’s Holy presence in a manner that is contrary to His Character and Workings. The people of God need to be sensitive and mindful of the condition of their hands and hearts when they enter into His presence. Failure to do so will lead to discipline rather than blessing.

For the “generation of those who seek him” they are the legitimate children of Jacob (v 6). Seek here is a Hebrew participle denoting continuous action. “To ‘seek him’ is an expression of a sincere desire to live in accordance with God’s standards so as to live in the presence of his ‘face'” (p. 260).

Scholars are not in agreement as to what David is referring to in verses 7 and 9. It could be that David is literally commanding the gates and doors of the temple to open or it could be referring to the ancient city of Jerusalem itself. Since the temple was not built in David’s time, I am more inclined to go with the latter; however, I am not dogmatic on this! As VanGemeren states, “Regardless of the referent, the point remains that Jerusalem had been a Jebusite city with a long history…over which Melchizedek ruled in Abraham’s days. It became the city of God because God chose to dwell in it. Consequently, both the city and the people were called on to receive with joy and anticipation the Great King. The repetition in v. 9…bears out the importance of proper preparation for ‘the King of glory'” (p. 262).

Verses 8 and 10 are verbless clauses where the people cry out, “Who is this King of Glory?” The answer is the Lord, Yahweh. “He brings blessing, victory, and vindication to his people because he is their God and Savior” (p. 262). Yahweh is the Divine Warrior (a significant theme in the Old Testament) who fights for Israel rather than against her. David describes the Lord’s divine power as “strong and mighty” and “mighty in battle!”

The Lord of Hosts (ebāʾôt) is also translated Almighty. “The Great King has at his command innumerable heavenly ‘hosts,’ reflecting the glory and splendor of undisputed lordship. He is the Divine Warrior, the Commander of all powers in heaven and earth. His battles always win him victory…The presence of the divine Warrior among his people is the ground for tranquillity that drives out fear” (p.263).

In Psalm 24, David celebrates the entrance of the great Divine Warrior, the King of Glory, the Lord Almighty Himself coming into Zion. Yesterday, April 10, 2022 Protestants remembered the Triumphal entry of Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a colt, where the crowds met Jesus with palm branches, spreading their cloaks on the road, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” (John 12:12; c.f. Ps 118:25-26).

Only a few days later these same people along with their chief priests and religious leaders cried out for Pilate to “crucify” Him (Luke 23:21; John 19:6). In prophetic irony, Pilate put an inscription on Jesus’s cross which read, “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” (John 19:19). Onlookers who were coming to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover would have seen this sign. For three hours Jesus suffered before succumbing to death. His body was then taken down and buried in a new, yet borrowed tomb (v 41); however, this was not the end, because on the third day, Jesus rose from the grave! This Overcoming King of Glory defeated death, the grave and Satan forever!

For those who believe in Christ, we know that Jesus is the Soon Returning Conquering King who will enter the holy city of Jerusalem bringing His reward with Him (Rev 22:12). For those who believe in Christ we know that our reward is being with our Triune God forever. For those who do not know Christ, their reward is separation from God and eternal torment (see Matthew 25). In a world full of uncertainty and zero guarantees, Jesus’s return is certain. None of us are promised tomorrow, please seek Jesus while there is still time!

Jesus is the ultimate Davidic King. Jesus is the Messiah. Jesus is the King of Glory, the One who fights on behalf of His people. May we allow Jesus’s death, burial and resurrection take root more in our lives this year. For the reader who is a part from Christ, do not spend another day without Jesus being Your Redeemer, Savior and King. All glory to Jesus both now and forevermore.

Father God, prepare our hearts to worship You both now and in eternity. Thank You Jesus for coming to earth, being born of a virgin, living among sinful man, being crucified, dead and buried, rising on the third day so as to reconcile Your repentant sinful people to Yourself for the glory of God the Father. Holy Spirit, thank You for indwelling and sealing Your people. Thank You Holy Spirit for helping us to become more like Jesus each and every day. Help us to want more of You and less of ourselves. Lord God, help Your people to have clean hands and a pure heart. May we never forget that we come to You and stand in Your presence because of Your grace and mercy and not because of anything good in us. Lord God, may we never forget that salvation has always been by grace through faith, never because of our works! Lord God, help Your people to be a generation who seeks Your face. Lord God, help believers to not lift their soul to what is false nor swear deceitfully. Lord God, thank You for this reader! Lord God, You are strong and mighty in battle and NOTHING is too great for You. Thank You Lord that nothing will stop Your will from being accomplished. Thank You for this reader. Lead and guide this reader to love You more each and every day. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

 

Contentment Irony

Photo taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn

One of my assignments for this week is to contrast secular contentment with biblical contentment. I have to confess, I have little contentment and joy with this writing class. In fact, taking this class reminds me of how much I hated scholastic writing when I was younger!

The weather where I live is finally starting to feel like Spring. My Okame Cherry tree is starting to bud; yet, I am a malcontent. Everywhere I turn people (myself included) are trying to process how to deal with all the changes that are occurring in our world.

Contentment is truly a learned behavior. Patience is definitely not the first word (nor the top 50 words) that my family and friends would use to describe me. If they were also asked to rate my level of contentment, it would also be really, really low.

We all know the Apostle Paul learned to be content with little or with much (Phil 4:11-12). Contentment is the context of Philippians 4:13 where Paul can do all things through Christ who strengthens him. I will be honest, I keep preaching to myself, “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things (Phil 4:8 ESV); yet my mind is still set on myself and not God.

I praise God there will be a day when all this discontentment, anger and strife will cease. I praise God for the fact that the Kingdom that is coming has NO room for invaders, usurpers, exploiters, oppressors and con artists. I praise God that even when I am a malcontent that the Holy Spirit continues to call me to Himself.

Please folks, do NOT think that I have it all together! The person that I am online, is the same in person. God hates falsity and I do not ever want to have to stand before the Lord and hear Him say that my walk, talk and presence were inconsistent.

There is much in this world to dislike. Each day I am reminded of how little control I have over anything. Areas like thoughts and emotions where God calls me to exercise self-control, I am failing. I know that God is good. I know that God is Sovereign and that God is in control. Even though I absolutely loathe this one class, I know that God will help me see me through.

The greatest indictment on my demeanor at this moment is that I am choosing to have a mindset of a person who has no hope. I tell myself all the time that Christ is enough for me. But if that were true, I would be content “both in [my] circumstances and with [my] circumstances” (S. Ferguson, emphasis original).

Dear reader, how present is contentment in your life?!

Lord God, thank You for Your grace and mercy! Thank You Lord that You are greater than our fears, anxieties and circumstances. Lord God, help Your people to look to You rather than our circumstances. Lord God, help us to trust You as this world spirals more and more out of control. Lord God, as geopolitical alliances change daily, help us to focus on Your Kingdom that is coming, and not on the kingdoms of the world. Lord God, I ask that You bring more people to Yourself through these events. Lord God, help those who are truly lost and hopeless to know they have a hope and home in Christ. Lord God, may we never forget that it is in Christ and for Christ that we live, breathe and have our being. Lord God, thank You for this reader. Lord God, help this reader to cling to You today. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Nazirite Vow

My reading today was from Numbers 6 and the Nazirite vow (vv 1-21). When I think of the Nazirite vow, I think of Samson (Judges 13) and John the Baptist (Luke 1:15-17) who were Nazirites for life (Samuel was also under the vow in 1 Samuel 1). I also think of Paul being temporarily under the Nazirite vow in Acts (vv 18:18; 21:17-26). I have heard people try to connect Nazirite with Nazarene and in the Hebrew it is very clear that Nazirite is not at all affiliated with the Nazarenes or the place of Nazareth.

“And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When either a man or a woman makes a special vow, the vow of a Nazirite, to separate himself to the LORD…” (Num 6:1-2). “The term Nazirite describes the person who has marked out a specific period for personal separation or consecration, a special time for unusual devotion to God. This text speaks of a restricted period of time for the Nazirite vow, though some persons took the vow for a lifetime” (R. Allen, Numbers REBC, 2012, p. 138).

I have read Numbers 6 NUMEROUS times and NEVER noticed that women were included in making this extraordinary vow to the Lord. “Though issues related to women are often subsumed under the heading of man (=humankind), the context explicitly emphasizes the potential of women entering into this consecration service to Yahweh. Women could not serve as priests in the Israelite cultus, but this manner of service was open to them and could fulfill their desire for holiness and special service to the Lord” (R.D. Cole, Numbers NAC, 2000, p. 121).

What were those under the Nazirite vow separating themselves from? “(1) absolute abstinence from all produce of the vine, (2) total forswearing of trimming of (and likely all caring for) the hair, and (3) utter separation from contamination by any contact with a dead body. Thus three areas of life were regulated for the Nazirite during the period of his vow: diet (ordinary pleasure), appearance (ordinary care), and associations (ordinary obligation). Every Israelite was under regulations in these general areas, but for the Nazirite each of these regulations was heightened” (Allen, pp. 138-139).

Numbers 30:1-16 does give fathers of young women and husbands permission to cancel/oppose a woman’s vow to the Lord. I am fascinated by the Bible resources that I have that do NOT mention that women are included in the Nazirite vow in Numbers 6; to not mention this is dishonest to the text.

This also has me wondering what would it look like for Israelite women to make a Nazirite vow?! Premenstral young women or postmenopausal women would be free to make this vow unless their fathers or husbands opposed it. Women of menstruating age would have to be VERY sensitive to the timing of this vow so as to not conflict with purity rituals, cleanness laws etc.

I need to do more research on this because, I am really curious to learn how often pregnant Israelite women would have made/put themselves under a Nazirite vow to the Lord?! Pregnant women would have months to devote themselves to the Lord without having to deal with their monthly period. Manoah’s wife (Samson’s mom) was put under the Nazirite vow by the angel of the Lord in which she was to be careful to not drink strong drink, to not eat anything unclean and to not eat anything that comes from the vine (see Judges 13:4, 7, 14).

I am so glad the Lord brought this to my attention today! I have often wondered about the vows Jewish women would have made in the Ancient Near East (ANE). While I am glad that women were able to partake in the Nazarite vow, I am SO glad and thankful that women TODAY have even more access to the Triune God by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

Lord God, thank You that the path to salvation is made clear in Your Word. Thank You Lord that what You began in the Old Testament (Covenant) is now completed in the New! Lord God, thank You and praise You for women! Thank You for the unique giftings and experiences that You have given women to glorify You and serve Your people, leading the lost to Christ. Lord God, thank You and praise You there will be NO sex and gender disputes in Heaven! Lord God, thank You for ALL the godly men in the world who are doing their best to live for You in this darkening world. Lord God, help Your men to lead well. Lord God, may Your people, males and females help each other to make You known in this lost and dying world. Thank You Lord for this reader! Thank You for their grace and patience with me as I share what You have put on my heart. Lord, lead this reader today. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

On my way!

Sunrise, 24 January 2022. Photo taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn.

For the first time in I don’t know how long, there was NO airport security line! While it is 47f in St Pete, FL as I type this, that sounds a whole lot better than the 25F in Lancaster, PA!

God willing, I will be with my mom today until early Thursday morning and then I will fly from Tampa to LA to visit with friends until next Monday. I am SO excited and appreciative to God for this opportunity! I am thankful that my dad and another friend will hangout with PQ while Nathan is at work! I am thankful for Nathan for supporting me in visiting my mom and our friends in SOCAL (Lord, please let it be warm there!!!).

Thank you dear reader for adventuring with me. We were never meant to travel on this Jesus road alone. I have never in my life thought I would make such great connections with folks through this blog. Please know that I love you and that it’s a joy and an honor to pray for you.

Lord God, thank You for this opportunity! Lord God, thank You for this reader! Lord God, take this reader on an adventure in Your Word. Lord God, may this reader read Acts and all the journeys that Paul went on. Or may they read Exodus and journey with Israel through the Red Sea or journey in Numbers through the wilderness. Lord God, may we all adventure through the Psalms feeling the grief, joy and hope of the psalmists. Lord, praise You that in Revelation You bless Your people who read it. May we live in confidence knowing that the road for those who are in Christ is leading us to victory regardless of what happens in this life.

Thank You and praise You Lord for this reader. May they be encouraged by who You are and how You work. May this reader embrace their journey with You knowing that without You life makes NO sense. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Deception of Jacob’s Sons

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29 When Reuben returned to the pit and saw that Joseph was not in the pit, he tore his clothes 30 and returned to his brothers and said, “The boy is gone, and I, where shall I go?” 31 Then they took Joseph’s robe and slaughtered a goat and dipped the robe in the blood. 32 And they sent the robe of many colors and brought it to their father and said, “This we have found; please identify whether it is your son’s robe or not.” 33 And he identified it and said, “It is my son’s robe. A fierce animal has devoured him. Joseph is without doubt torn to pieces.” 34 Then Jacob tore his garments and put sackcloth on his loins and mourned for his son many days. 35 All his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted and said, “No, I shall go down to Sheol to my son, mourning.” Thus his father wept for him. 36 Meanwhile the Midianites had sold him in Egypt to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard. 

Genesis 37:29-36 ESV

(Disclaimer: I love Jacob and I am in no way out to malign his character nor call into question his favored position with God by sharing this.) I am always amazed how Jacob responds to Joseph’s plight. While Jacob has been both the deceiver (Gen 27) and deceived (by Laban Gen 29 and in this passage), the deception that occurs in Genesis 37:29-36 is both tragic and prophetic.

Isaac, due to his failing eyesight questioned Jacob numerous times to hear and feel if he was really Esau (Gen 27). Jacob questioned Laban’s deceit in marrying Leah (Gen 29:25). Yet, no questions were asked in Genesis 37:29-36. Jacob’s sons commanded him to identify (hiphil, imperative, 2ms) if this was his’s sons robe or not (v 32). Jacob identifies it and automatically without doubt assumes that Joseph was devoured by a fierce animal and torn to pieces (v 33). Jacob does not ask one question. Jacob blindly accepts that what he sees is the truth. Jacob does not give any consideration to the fact that he is being deceived. Due to the sons hatred for Joseph they willfully deceive their father. The sons could have alleviated Jacob’s heartache by confessing “they sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver” (37:28) and that the blood on Joseph’s robe belongs to a goat (37:32).

This perception of the truth results in Jacob tearing his own garment and putting sackcloth literally on his loins and mourned (v 34); refusing to be comforted (v 35). Mathews states, “Jacob performed the traditional acts of mourning the dead. Scruffy “sackcloth” was worn (here, lit., “on his loins”) by mourners to inflict on themselves biting discomfort…That Jacob refused his children’s consolation was uncommon, revealing the intensity of his grief (cf. Isa 22:4), for his rejection of comforters meant the most aggravated anguish (e.g., Ps 69:20[21])…Typically, a period of mourning would be appointed (e.g., 27:41; 50:4; Deut 34:8), but in Jacob’s mind no end to his sorrow is possible (e.g., Isa 51:19); therefore he believes he will die “in [the state of] mourning” (v. 35), finding relief only in meeting his deceased son “in Sheol” (K. Mathews, Genesis 11:27-50:26 NAC, 2005, p. 701).

For 22 years Jacob believed that Joseph was dead. But God, in His mercy allows Jacob to reunite with Joseph after 22 years! (For my thoughts on Jospeh and Potiphar click on the hyperlink.) “What happens to Joseph foreshadows all that will happen to the sons of Jacob. They will be carried into Egypt and will be put into slavery. In this sense, then, Jacob’s final words set the focus of the narratives to follow: “in mourning will I go down to the grave [Sheol] to my son” (v. 35). Ironically, the narratives about Joseph conclude with Jacob’s going down (46:3–4) to Egypt to see his son and then end with his own death (50:24–26)” (J. Sailhamer, “Genesis” REBC, 2008, p. 275).

What happened with Jacob is again, tragic and prophetic. It is equally tragic and prophetic that the sons (children) of God are being deceived today. There is no question that end time deception is upon us and Jesus’s words are coming to life in real time: “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household” (Matt 10:34-36). Not all family members share in our joy of our faith in Christ. Not all family members accept that we hold the Bible as our standard of Truth. Not all family members have the same view of current events.

We are living in a time where it is easy to be manipulated. Dear reader, you do not need me to tell you that we have access to information at rates never before imagined. Not every act of deception is intentional and nefarious (some really are unintentional); however, now more than ever do believers need to ask questions about what they see, read and hear. We need to exercise wisdom, discernment and common sense when it comes to what we take in and what we share with others.

It is concerning to me how often believers share information without checking to see who wrote the article and if what they are sharing is valid. 22 years is a long time to wait before asking questions. The way this world is moving we may not have 22 years to wait to find out the truth like Jacob did and learning that Joseph was alive.

We need to start asking questions now. We need to be like the Bereans and examine if what we are hearing is in line with Scripture (Acts 17:11). Truth be told, it is always easier to see how someone else is being deceived rather than self-reflecting if our own beliefs/thoughts/perceptions are true. There is no longer any excuse, the time has come for each believer to “test the spirits to see if they are from God” (1 John 4:1).

Lord God, thank You for Your Word. Thank You Lord that in Your Word we learn who You are, who we are and what You require of Your people. Lord God, have mercy on believers. Lord God, fill those of us who are in Christ with wisdom, discernment and common sense. Lord God, for those whom You have called to be watchmen, help them to be vigilant in being on guard. For those who You have called to shepherd Your people, may they lead, feed and protect Your people well. Lord God, help us to what information to take in and what information to discard. Help us to investigate to the best we can if what we are reading, hearing and seeing is true.

Lord God, thank You for this reader. Lord God, for the reader who is in Christ may they set their hearts and minds on You and not the things of this world. Lord God, for the reader who does not know Christ, I ask with a heavy and burdened heart for today to be the day of their salvation. Lord God, You abhor sin. You abhor deceitful scales and lying tongues. Lord, help Your people to be Ambassadors of Christ today: pointing the lost to Jesus and building up Your Body. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

 

Psalm 119

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Psalm 119 encourages believers to love the Word of God and to walk in obedience according to the Word of God. Psalm 119 encourages us to be the Lord’s students and servants. Wise is the person who takes the Lord’s Word to heart, walking in its ways.

Lord God, thank You for this study on Psalm 119. Lord God, may this study be an encouragement to believers and conviction to those who are not. Lord God, thank You for this reader. May this reader grow closer to You through Your Word. Thank You and praise You Holy Trinity to live in such a time to share Your Word online. Thank You again Lord for this reader. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Introduction to Psalm 119

Psalm 119:1-8

Psalm 119:9-16

Psalm 119:17-24

Psalm 119:25-32

Psalm 119:33-40

Psalm 119:41-48

Psalm 119:49-56

Psalm 119:57-64

Psalm 119:65-72

Psalm 119:73-80

Psalm 119:81-88

Psalm 119:89-96

Psalm 119:97-104

Psalm 119:105-112

Psalm 119:113-120

Psalm 119:121-128

Psalm 119:129-136

Psalm 119:137-144

Psalm 119:145-152

Psalm 119:153-160

Psalm 119:161-168

Psalm 119:169-176

Psalm 119:169-176

Photo taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn

Taw
169 Let my cry come before you, O Lord;
give me understanding according to your word!
170 Let my plea come before you;
deliver me according to your word.
171 My lips will pour forth praise,
for you teach me your statutes.
172 My tongue will sing of your word,
for all your commandments are right.
173 Let your hand be ready to help me,
for I have chosen your precepts.
174 I long for your salvation, O Lord,
and your law is my delight.
175 Let my soul live and praise you,
and let your rules help me.
176 I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek your servant,
for I do not forget your commandments.

The psalmist ends this last stanza with his cry coming before the Lord (v 169a). He petitions the Lord to cause him to have understanding according to His Word (v 169b). This is an intensely deep and passionate cry for the Lord’s help. The psalmist asks for his plea to come before God alone and that again God would deliver him according to His Word (v 170). “Here the provision of deliverance from outward circumstances would give him freedom to learn and apply God’s word; and accordingly, provision of understanding would enable him to discover God’s promise and provision of deliverance in the word” (A. Ross, A Commentary on the Psalms 90-150 KEL, 2016, p. 592).

In verses 171-172 the psalmist’s lips and tongue will praise and sing of the Lord’s Word. “For the final time in Psalm 119, the psalmist in v. 171 presents himself as God’s student. He wants his lips that are now full of petitions to be repurposed for praise, as his inner enjoyment of the Lord’s instruction fills his heart and bubbles up into verbal public praise for him. He wants others to appreciate what he has learned from the Lord, that his commands are righteous, just as the Lord in his character is righteous” (D. Estes, Psalms 73-150 NAC, 2019, p. 439).

The psalmist uses anthropomorphism to refer to God’s Hand as power. The psalmist is requesting the Lord’s power to help him because he has chosen His precepts (v 173). “In v. 73 the hands of the Lord created and formed the psalmist, and how he wants the Lord to offer his hand to help him, implying that he cannot manage his adversity on his own…As he asks for the Lord’s help, he reaffirms that he genuinely values what the Lord has prescribed in his precepts” (Estes, p. 439).

The psalmist both longs for the Lord’s salvation and loves His Law (v 174). The psalmist’s “delight in God’s instruction is a constant that is not conditioned by his circumstances. His joy comes from doing what God has said, not from enjoying a life full of pleasant experiences apart from obeying the Lord” (Estes, p. 439). Oh that the people of God would have joy from doing what God has said today! As this world grows darker and more chaotic may believers in the Lord Jesus Christ long for His salvation and love His Word.

It is only fitting with an attitude of longing and love for the Lord that in his penultimate verse the psalmist states to let his life source (soul) live and praise the Lord (v 175). “In the OT, praise for the Lord is limited to one’s lifetime, so the psalmist’s petition, “Let me live, and I will praise you,” may well imply that he feels threatened and at the verge of death. If the Lord intervenes so that he can continue to live, then he will be able to keep praising the Lord, as is his practice (cf. v. 164). As he has called on the Lord’s hand to help him (v. 173), so he longs for the Lord’s word to help him as well” (Estes, p. 439).

The psalmist ends this psalm with a picture of him being a lost sheep who has gone astray (v 176). Thankfully, the psalmist knows the Good Shepherd whom he cries out to “seek His servant” on the basis that he does not forget the Lord’s commandments. It must be stated, “The last note of the psalm is a cry from a broken spirit rather than a confession of apostasy” (W. VanGemeren, Psalms REBC, 2008, p. 890). The psalmist has stated in previous verses that he is prone to wander from the Lord which causes him to be lost (vv 10, 21, 67, 110, 118); however, he ends this psalm with the commitment to not forget the Lord’s Commandments. May the people of God make that same commitment today!

Lord God, may our cries come before You and You alone. Lord God, cause us to have understanding according to Your Word. Lord, give us wisdom and discernment as we practice common sense and reason. Lord God, we offer our pleas and petitions to You. Lord God help us wait in confident expectation for Your deliverance. May our lips pour out praises to You and may our tongues sing of Your Word even in the midst of the darkness and chaos that surrounds us today. Lord God, teach us Your statutes because all Your commandments are right. Thank You that You are a Holy and Just God and that none of us are above Your discipline and correction.

Lord God, may Your Hand be ready to help us in our time of need. Lord God, come near to this reader who is hurting and struggling and is wandering like a lost sheep. May we long for Your Salvation, delighting in Your Law. Your Instruction is wise Lord and wise people keep it. Lord God, teach us to be wise. Teach us to love You, letting our souls live so that we may praise You. Lord God, may we live to praise You and not satisfy our flesh! Lord God, Your rules help us to obey and when we obey You we know that we are doing Your Will. Lord God, we are all prone to wander, leaving the God we love, bind our hearts Lord, seek and seal Your servants, may we commit ourselves like this psalmist to not forget Your Commandments.

Lord God, thank You and praise You for this reader! Thank You for bringing this reader alongside me on this journey through Psalm 119, whether it was from the Introduction to now or just this stanza, thank You Lord for the grace and time this reader has shown me. Lord God, may this reader love You and Your Word more today. Lord, for the reader who does not know Christ may they know today they are never too far for You to reach them. For the reader who does not know Christ may today be their day for salvation. Lord God, thank You and praise You for the opportunity to share Your Word online. Lord, thank You again for this reader. May the Peace of Your Presence lead them by still waters. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Psalm 119:161-168

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Sin and Shin
161 Princes persecute me without cause,
but my heart stands in awe of your words.
162 I rejoice at your word
like one who finds great spoil.
163 I hate and abhor falsehood,
but I love your law.
164 Seven times a day I praise you
for your righteous rules.
165 Great peace have those who love your law;
nothing can make them stumble.
166 I hope for your salvation, O Lord,
and I do your commandments.
167 My soul keeps your testimonies;
I love them exceedingly.
168 I keep your precepts and testimonies,
for all my ways are before you.

The psalmist begins his penultimate stanza stating princes or civil authorities are persecuting him without cause (v 161a). The Israelite elites cannot keep the psalmist’s heart (mind, will and emotions) from standing in awe of God’s Words (v 161b). The psalmist continually rejoices at His Word like a person who finds great spoil (v 162). The psalmist “values God’s word as others would value the spoils of war, for it is like discovered treasure to one who loves it (D. Estes, Psalms 73-150 NAC, 2019, p. 437). Goldingay is correct when he states, “Finding plunder results from winning a great victory; it is quite something that the psalm can speak of such exulting when threatened with devastating defeat (v. 161)” (Psalms 90-150 BCOT, 2006, p. 439).

The psalmist goes on to contrast how he hates and abhors falsehood but loves His torah (v 163). God’s Word is truthful (see also vv 143, 151, 160) which is the opposite of falsehood. Seven times a day the psalmist praises the Lord for His righteous rules (v 164). “A person of faith gives praise to Yhwh morning and evening, the times of the offerings. A person of great faith might pray a third time, presumably in the middle of the day, like Daniel (Dan. 6; cf. Ps. 55:17), or even in the middle of the night (cf. v. 62). Hyperbolically, the psalmist claims to have given praise seven times a day for Yhwh’s faithful decisions, which again both give direction for life and promise that blessing will issue from following them” (Goldingay, p. 439). The psalmist’s way of living is in worship and verbal praise to the Lord (see v 175). “As he prays during the day and night (vv. 147–148), so his praise for the Lord punctuates his entire day” (Estes, p. 437).

For those who continually love God’s torah they have great and abundant peace, nothing can make them fall (v 165). “Loving God’s instruction yields the reward of great shalom, a rich Hebrew term encompassing well-being, prosperity, and satisfaction in life, for true life comes from loving and living God’s word” (Estes, p. 437). The ESV translates mikšôl as stumble; however, the wording here “does not suggest losing one’s footing in a way that might be momentary, but falling so as not to be able to recover. The psalm again presupposes the image of the way that we walk. For all the hazards of the path, we will be able to walk it” (Goldingay, p. 440). Praise God that Shalom is a Person and His Name is Jesus. Praise God His Word is a lamp to His peoples feet and a light to their path (v 105). Praise God that for those who are in Christ, though they stumble, they do not fall.

The psalmist hopes (looks for) the Lord’s salvation and acts on His commands (v 166). The psalmist is not hoping in vain! He is actively looking and is actively doing the Lord’s commands. “His faith in the Lord prompts his faithfulness to his word, so he practices consistent obedience as he keeps trusting the Lord to rescue him” (Estes, p. 438). The Hebrew literally reads my inner being keeps Your testimonies (v 167a). This is not a shallow commitment and observance, but reaches to the psalmist’s inner most parts of him. Why? Because he loves God’s testimonies and so he obeys and keeps them. “This is what it looks like to love the Lord “with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength” (Deut 6:5)” (Estes, p. 438).

The psalmist ends this stanza with keeping/observing the Lord’s precepts and testimonies, for all his ways are before Him (v 168). This verse reminds this author of the children’s song “O be careful little eyes what you see.” How often do the people today, believers and unbelievers meditate upon the fact that all our ways are indeed before Holy God; that what we see, hear, say and do are all before Him? “The psalmist lives under the authority of the Lord and his word (cf. v. 4), as his pattern of life aligns with God’s precepts and decrees. He also lives before God, in constant awareness that the Lord sees and knows all that he does. How the Lord evaluates his life is all-important to him, and it prompts him to a life of obedience to the Lord” (Estes, p. 438).

Lord God, times of persecution are increasing all over the world by those who are hostile to You. Lord God give strength and mercy to those who are experiencing persecution; having done nothing wrong, they are persecuted for identify themselves with You. Lord, help those who are in the midst of fiery trails and those who are not to stand in awe of Your Word. Help us to stand in awe of who Jesus is: our Victorious and Overcoming Savior, Soon Returning King and what He has done for us.

Lord, I rejoice along with my brothers and sisters at Your Word. For those of us who are in Christ we know that when we read and meditate on Your Word it is like finding great treasure. Lord, help us to hold, hide and treasure Your Word in our hearts and souls so that it will strengthen us on the day of persecution. Lord God, thank You that Your Word breaks strongholds; gives victory to those who obey, practice and apply Your Word.

Lord God, I absolutely hate and abhor falsehood. Lord God, convict us where we are fake, false and phony. Lord God, You know the last thing this world needs is another fake believer. Lord God, search us and test us, reveal to us where we are on the stray path, where there is deception in us and where we are following lies rather than Your Truth. Lord, may we love Your Word more than the lies and falsehoods of this world. Lord, help us to cultivate a lifestyle of worship and praise to You. May we praise You personally and publicly. Lord, may we praise You in the morning, afternoon, evening, night. May we praise You because we love Your rules. Lord, may we never forget that Your ways bring life and not death. May we be reminded that Your yoke is easy and burden is light. Your Word is not drudgery unlike the colorful sin and deception that this world heaps on its people.

Praise You Holy Trinity that Peace is a Person and His Name is Jesus! Praise You Jesus that for those who are in Christ they know Peace with You, themselves and others. Lord God, for the reader who is not in Christ, Lord may they understand that no matter how good life may be for them or how good they think they are, they have no peace without Christ. Lord God, “Your Law is Love and Your Gospel is Peace” are beautiful and truthful song lyrics. May You use Christmas Carols to encourage Your people and lead others to You. Thank You that You do not let Your people fall and that when we stumble, You are there to dust us off and set us on the narrow path.

Lord God, help us to actively do and apply Your Word. Looking out in hopeful exception for Your Salvation! Lord God, may our souls, our inner beings love Your Word. May our hearts: mind, will and emotions love and seek Your Word. Lord God, may we NEVER forget that we are under Your authority. You know everything that happens to us before it even occurs. Lord God, may we NEVER think that You will dismiss the sin in our own lives while convicting and judging the sin in others. Lord God, may we never forget there is NOWHERE we can go to escape You. This is true for the believer and the unbeliever. Lord God, help us to live our lives as a pleasing aroma to You. Lord God, thank You for this reader. Lead this reader Lord in the way everlasting today and everyday for Your Glory. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.