Learning from Psalms 73-80
73:1-28- It is so easy for us to lose our way - ‘my feet had almost stumbled’. We look at ‘the prosperity of the wicked’ and we become ‘envious of the arrogant’(2-3). What are we to do when the worldly attitude threatens to take control of us? We must remember the Lord, drawing near to Him in worship and standing up for Him in witness. When others are forgetting about God, we must continue to take our place in ‘the sanctuary of God’(17). In an age when so many show no interest in worshipping God, we must continue to say, ‘for me, it is good to be near God’. Our worship is not to end the moment we leave the place of worship. We are to tell others what the Lord ‘has done’ for us - ‘O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His Name together!’(28; 34:3).
74:1-23- We have been ‘redeemed’. God has brought ‘salvation’ to us (2,12). We rejoice in the Old Testament story of salvation: ‘the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt’(Deuteronomy 7:8). Through Christ, we rejoice with a much greater joy: “In Him we have redemption through His blood’. This is ‘the Gospel of our salvation’. It is ‘good news of a great joy’. Through faith in Christ, we ‘rejoice with unutterable and exalted joy’. Through faith in Christ, we look forward to ‘a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time... the salvation of our souls’(Ephesians 1:7,13; Luke 2:10; 1 Peter 1:5,8-9). ‘Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God’(Revelation 19:1).
75:1-76:12- ‘We give thanks to You, O God... I will rejoice for ever, I will sing praises to the God of Jacob... Make your vows to the Lord your God, and perform them...’(75:1,9; 76:11). True rejoicing in the Lord is more than singing praises to Him. We are to live what we sing. ‘Fill Thou our life, O Lord our God, in every part with praise’. ‘Take my life, and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee’. These are not words to be forgotten as soon as we leave the place of worship. ‘We ask... for a life made up of praise in every part’. ‘Take myself, and I will be ever, only, all for Thee’(Church Hymnary, 457, 462). Such words are not only for singing. They are for living. We must not only sing them. We must live them. ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’(Philippians 4:13).
77:1-20- Sometimes, we have more questions than answers (7-9). The questions keep flooding into our minds. We wonder where the answers are going to come from. What are we to do when this happens? We must remember what the Lord has done for us (11-12). Look back over the ‘years’- and remember how the ‘hand’ of the Lord has been upon you (5,10). Think of how the Lord has led you on your journey through life. He has been your ‘Shepherd’. He has led you ‘in paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake’. Let the memory of God’s many blessings fill you with strength - to face the future with confidence in Him: ‘Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the House of the Lord for ever’(19-20; 23:1,3,6). Trust in the Lord. He will make you truly happy.
78:1-39- ‘Can God spread a table in the wilderness?’(19). We are living in a spiritual wilderness. We wonder, ‘Can God continue to bless us in this wilderness?’. How does God’s Word answer our question? - ‘You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies’. In the ‘wilderness’, there are many ‘enemies’. There is also the ‘table’. At the ‘table’, God blesses us - ‘You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows’(23:5). We are in the ‘wilderness’, surrounded by many ‘enemies’. What are we to do? - We must come to the ‘table’- the Lord’s Table. We must come to Christ. We must drink from ‘the cup of salvation’(116:7). Come to the Saviour. Look to Him for His blessing. He will not disappoint you. You will be ‘anointed with the oil of gladness’. His blessing will be poured upon you ‘like precious oil’(45:7; 133:2). 78:40-72- ‘He brought His people out like a flock; He led them like sheep through the desert’(52). The Lord brought His people out of Egypt. He brought them safely through the wilderness to ‘His holy land’(42-43,51,54-55). He did great things for Israel. He does great things for us - ‘He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake’(23:3). Through faith in our Saviour, Jesus Christ, we have ‘peace with God’. Our sins have been forgiven. We now ‘stand’ in His ‘grace’. In our new life with Him, there will be times of ‘suffering’. None of us is exempt from suffering. It comes to all of us - without exception. In your suffering, remember this: We will not be disappointed in ‘our hope of sharing the glory of God’- ‘God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit...’(Romans 5:1-5).
79:1-13- We look at what’s going on in our world today. We hear the enemies of the Lord saying, ‘Where is their God?’. So many people are turning away from the Lord. They no longer worship Him. We wonder if things can be turned around. It would be so easy to give up and go the way of the world. This is what we must not do. We must keep on praying - ‘How long, O Lord? Will You be angry for ever?’ We must look to the Lord for help - ‘Help us, O God of our salvation’. We must look to ‘our Saviour’ for deliverance and forgiveness. We must pray that the Lord’s Name will be glorified. How is the Name of the Lord to be glorified in today’s world? It must begin with us - ‘We, Your people, the flock which You shepherd, will give thanks to You forever. We will praise You throughout every generation.’(5,9-10,13).
80:1-19- ‘Restore us, O God, make Your face shine upon us, that we may be saved’(3). This prayer for salvation is repeated with a growing sense of God’s greatness - ‘O God Almighty’(7), ‘O Lord God Almighty’(19). To those who are asking the question of salvation - ‘What must I do to be saved?’- , God gives His answer - ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved’(Acts 16:30-31). What does the Lord say to those who look to Christ for salvation? - ‘The Lord will bless you and watch over you. The Lord will smile on you and be kind to you. The Lord will look on you with favour and give you peace’(Numbers 6:24-26). Let us worship Him: ‘Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! Through Christ, God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing that heaven has to offer’(Ephesians 1:3).