Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!2 Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!3 Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his…
— Read on andy-brown.org/2021/05/25/thankful-christians-psalm-100-5/
Shout for joy to Yahweh, all you lands!2 Serve Yahweh with gladness. Come before his presence with singing.3 Know that Yahweh, he is God. It is he who has made us, and we are his. We are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.4 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts…
— Read on andy-brown.org/2021/05/19/shouting-christians-psalm-100-1/
On a recent blog post, a dear reader commented and use the phrase “sinfulness of sin “.￼
That reminded me of this post I wrote a few years ago. So I thought I would share it with you today! it considers a verse from Psalm 32, and there is a link to an audio message I gave on that same psalm which you can listen to.￼￼
Hope you enjoy, and I welcome your comments as ever! Thank you for reading.￼
I acknowledged my sin to thee, and my iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions to the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.Psalm 32:5 (WEB) The sinfulness of my sin… captivating title right? And I know what you are thinking – two blog posts in two…
— Read on andy-brown.org/2020/03/18/the-sinfulness-of-my-sin/
My family and I are experiencing a challenging time at the moment. this means I am blogging on the go, and so please excuse any formatting or lack thereof!
Over the past few days, I do not think I have stood still for one moment! My time with God has been seriously restricted, as has my time in his word.
Can you relate? Have you had similar seasons in life?
I rejoice that I have had opportunities to store God’s word in my heart in the past, and can draw on those resources now.
I strongly encourage you to hide God’s word in your heart during the sunny seasons in life. Life will always throw times of trouble at us, but we can prepare ahead of time.
This verse tells us that by hiding God’s word in our hearts, we will reduce the risk of sin. The more Bible we have within us, the stronger we will be to face temptation when it comes. And temptation is harder to resist during times of trouble, when we are tired or stressed.
What a dark title! Hope it did not put you off reading any further!
Psalm 36 is very much a psalm of two halves. The first four verses remind us of the wickedness of humanity, and the latter eight verses contrast the wonderous righteousness of our God. Today we focus on the first few verses, and consider the sinfulness of rebellious man – but hold on to hope for the goodness of God which follows another day.
For the Chief Musician. By David, the servant of Yahweh.
A revelation is within my heart about the disobedience of the wicked:
“There is no fear of God before his eyes.”
2 For he flatters himself in his own eyes,
too much to detect and hate his sin.
3 The words of his mouth are iniquity and deceit.
He has ceased to be wise and to do good.
4 He plots iniquity on his bed.
He sets himself in a way that is not good.
He doesn’t abhor evil.
Psalm 36:1-4 WEB
King David, the author of this psalm and many others, launches straight in with the core purpose of this section – namely, that he has had a revelation of the wickedness of mankind. He will elaborate in the coming verses, but this opening shows us that in his meditations on the Scripture and in his time with God, he has come to receive an understanding of the sinfulness of humanity.
This may not be the kind of revelation any of us want! Yet, I think it is rather crucial to grasping the Christian faith. I recall a time when I was sharing the Gospel with someone, and they simply could not accept what I was saying. On reflection, I realised that we were on totally different wavelengths. I had understood that humanity was wicked at heart, and without hope. They were starting from a point where people were basically good at heart, despite a few bad apples and common mistakes. This latter view is not the Christian perspective.
The heart is deceitful above all things
and it is exceedingly corrupt.
Who can know it?
Jeremiah 17:9 WEB
23 for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God;
Romans 3:23 WEB
Having stated that he has received this revelation, David then goes on to summarise what this really means. “There is no fear of God before his eyes.” This is at the heart of the matter for me; a lack of reverential fear of God. While God does not want us to be afraid of him, in a scared sort of way, He does want us to revere and respect Him. I do not fear electricity, but have a deep respect for it and know not to play around with it or misuse it. Likewise, we are not afraid of God, but we respect and understand that He is in charge and to be obeyed.
Verse two points out that wicked men flatter themselves so much so that they cannot see their own sin. We ought not to flatter ourselves, but instead be humble and look on ourselves with sober judgement.
Paul says in his letter to the Romans:
3 For I say through the grace that was given me, to every man who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think reasonably, as God has apportioned to each person a measure of faith.
Romans 12:3 WEB
The NIV translation renders this verse at to look at yourself with “sober judgement.” This is not to beat ourselves up, nor to think we are the greatest thing since sliced bread. Rather, it is to be honest about our shortcomings and the true inclination of our heart without Christ.
When we do not do this, we deceive ourselves, and become blind to our own sin. We are broken creatures (without Christ) and we have a flesh (sinful nature) which craves to please itself and not the things of God. We cannot be complacent, nor can we compare ourselves to others. Our only comparison is to Jesus Himself, and we fall woefully short. Let us have open eyes when it comes to our true hearts, and be not ignorant of our sinfulness. The more we understand the depths of our sin, the more we realise our need for a Saviour – Jesus Christ.
The more we understand the depths of our #sin, the more we realise our need for a Saviour – #Jesus #Christ. #Bible
Verse three turns to our words. I like the directness of this translation; it doesn’t say the words are full of iniquity or deceit, but are iniquity and deceit! As Jesus taught us, a good tree cannot produce bad fruit, and also that out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. Sinful words come from sinful hearts. Words of deceit flow forth from a heart that is deceived. If we think we are without sin, then we do indeed deceive ourselves as the Apostle John teaches us from his first letter.
Words are indeed powerful, both for good and for ill. My post entitled – Words Can Be Atom Bombs – is relevant here. Words can start wars, words can tear down, and words can inflict deep harm. The wicked care little for the effect of their words, and to them, talk is cheap. We know that God created all things in the power of His words, and so we must use our words for creation and not destruction.
The latter half of verse three and verse four also sets out what this “wicked man” will do. Let each of us examine these sayings in turn, and be sure they do not apply to us who believe.
The wicked and rebellious have ceased to be wise, and therefore stop doing good. It is indeed foolish to abandon good ways and seek to fulfil the lust of our flesh. To do so is to shun God and His ways, and such a path leads only to death. That is truly unwise!
The rebellious plot sin on their beds. As they lay there, staring up at the ceiling, they think of things they might do and say. We Christians are not so immune to this as we may think. For instance, have you ever rehearsed an argument you were going to have with someone while laying awake at night? “If they start, I’m going to tell them what for! And if they say this, then I’m going to say that… And if they then say this, I’m really going to say that!” Sounds daft, yet perhaps a little familiar if we are honest. Let us not plot to do evil, nor rehearse it in our minds.
The wicked set themselves in a way that is not good. What does this mean? Perhaps another translation will help us here.
They lie awake at night, hatching sinful plots.
Their actions are never good.
They make no attempt to turn from evil.
Psalm 36:4 NLT
Put very straightforwardly here, their actions are never good. I think this means they put themselves in a posture to do wrong, i.e. they play with fire and are frequently burned. To set yourself up to do something, good or bad, you must get yourself into a position where you can do it. For example, recovering alcoholics do not venture into bars because they know that the temptation is too great. They have set themselves against drinking by staying away. Those who set themselves to do evil may go looking for a fight, or deliberately stay late at the office to be alone with their assistant. You cannot do anything with your body unless your mind has gone there first.
Finally, verse four says that the wicked do not abhor evil. The NLT is rather weaker in its words, saying they merely do not turn from evil. However, to abhor evil is rather stronger. Plotting evil on your bed is often rather direct, whereas not hating evil is somehow more passive. Yet, it is something the wicked do. If someone were to attack my wife or children, and I just stood there shaking my head and muttering, “How awful!” You would think me a terrible coward! You may also question my love for my family, and no doubt (and rightly so) brand me a wicked man. It is not enough for us to stand idly by and passively watch the sin of the world. We must abhor it. We do not hate the sinner, of course, but sin and wickedness is not something we should tolerate as believers.
All in all, I know this is something of a bleak post – focussing entirely on the wicked and rebellious! Yet, I hope there are lessons for all of us here. It can be all too easy to think of ourselves – followers of Christ – as being far removed from sin and iniquity. However, I think the difference between us and the world is not always as stark as it should be. If, like me, you read some of David’s descriptions above and some of them ring vaguely true in your life, may I humbly suggest it is time for a heart inspection.
We must not be wicked, but instead fear God for His justice and recognising Who He is. We cannot flatter ourselves, and end up being blind to our own failings. Our words should be pure, building others up and singing the praises of our God. Let us be wise, and do good. Let us not plot to do wrong, nor set ourselves towards sin. We must hate and abhor what is evil, and cling to what is good.
May you join me in meditating on these verses, and bear them in mind as we approach the rest of this psalm, and the stunning contrast between evil man and awesome God.
is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
delighting in the Lord’s perfections
and meditating in his Temple.
Psalm 27:4 (WEB)
I recall a time when I was speaking to a group of students about what heaven might be like. One of them thought it would be like a perpetual praise service, with unending worship, music and dancing. Another student thought that sounded more like torture than paradise!
In this verse from the Psalms, King David is making a request. He does not ask for gold or silver, victory in battle nor wives and children. Instead, he requests that he might live in the house of the Lord all the days of his life.
Does that sound like something you would want?
Sometimes we are guilty of wanting the gifts more than the Giver, and for seeking God’s presents instead of His presence. The Lord Himself is our reward though, and far greater than any gift we could want.
The psalm points out two things we might do in His presence.
The first is to delight! Delight is a wonderful word, and means to have a “high degree of pleasure or enjoyment.” That sounds like something we want to do more of! Delighting in what though? In the Lord’s perfections. We might think of this as delighting in God’s character or attributes.
God is an infinite God, with wonders beyond measure. A day dwelling on who He is and enjoying His character is a day well spent in my book. How often do you set aside time to do nothing else but simply enjoy the Lord?
The second thing is meditation. Meditation is not emptying one’s mind of thought, but instead it is filling it with the wonders of God and His Word. It is said that meditation is like rumination, which is the action of a cow chewing the grass over and over again. When we meditate on God, we are deploying our thinking on all the goodness of His character and ways.
To meditate on the Lord is, I believe, to begin to delight in Him also. One leads to the other. The more we meditate, the more delighted we become, and the more delighted we are, the more we want to dwell on who He is.
Paul says, in Philippians:
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Philippians 4:8 (NIV)
You need not think about everything that pops into your head, but can direct your thoughts on to Jesus.
You need not #think about everything that pops into your head, but can direct your thoughts on to #Jesus. #Bible
Set aside some time when you can, even if it is just fifteen minutes, and delight yourself in the Lord. Make a list of all the good things He has done for you, and note down the aspects of His character which most excite you. It will be time well spent indeed!
For more thoughts on Philippians 4:8, check out my post – Pure vs OK
Do you want to sin against God? The obvious answer is no! No one who calls themselves a follower of Jesus Christ does. Yet, what steps do we take to avoid the trap of sin in our lives? If we do nothing, then we will find ourselves drifting into sin’s clutches. To avoid sin, we must be deliberate and decisive.
There are many reasons to read the Bible, and here is a compelling one from Psalm 119.
I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
Psalm 119:11 (NIV)
My post today may be short, simple and straight to the point. If you want to avoid sin, then you must be dedicated to God’s Word.
The one who spends their time storing God’s Word in their heart is the one who will have the best chance of defeating temptation and not falling into sin.
In God’s Word we learn what is and is not sin, and how we – as His people – should conduct our lives. We also gain spiritual nourishment so that we might be strong in our faith. As we read and study the Bible, our minds are renewed and the better we think, the better we will act.
You will never grow as a Christian if you do not take the time necessary to get to know God’s Word.
Hide it in your heart, and speak it out of your mouth. Memorise it, meditate on it, and marinate in it!
Sin is deadly. Do not be deceived, and do not falsely believe you can “get away” with it. Jesus defeated the temptation of the devil by quoting the Scriptures. When you are likewise tempted, you too can draw on the Scriptures you have stored in your heart.
Reading a few verses on a Sunday in church isn’t enough. Take time each and every day to consume the Bible. It takes effort, of course, but it is well worth it!
May God bless you richly as you engage with the Word today.
How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? 2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?
3 Look on me and answer, Lord my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death, 4 and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
5 But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. 6 I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.
Psalm 13 (NIV)
How long, Lord! David cries out in the opening words of this psalm. How many of you have ever felt like that? I know that I have. We face trouble or trial, and we cry out to the Lord wondering where He is or what we’ve done wrong.
David’s words are challenging. He pulls no punches when he speaks with His God. Few of us might dare to speak to God with such fervour. He borders on irreverence it seems, demanding an answer from the God who has seemingly let him down.
In the press we read of celebrities who mock our Lord. Stephen Fry is a well known example of this; only a wicked or evil God could allow such hatred and suffering in the world, he says. He boldly claims that he will demand answers from God when he stands before Him, if He even exists… Yet the sheer hubris of this is galling. To even imagine that we could stand before the Creator of all things and “demand answers” would be amusing if not so sad. We will demand nothing from God when we stand before Him. We will bow the knee, willingly or not, before the One who shaped the universe with His very words.
David asks God why He is hiding from him. He asks the Lord how long He will allow his enemies to triumph. In verse 3, David even insists the Lord answer him. IS David another Stephen Fry – certainly not!
So how can the psalmist speak to God with such words? Firstly, he speaks from a position of intimacy. David is not complaining about God to another person, rather is engaging directly with the God he knows and loves.
David can be so bold and so honest because he has relationship with God. This is not some foreign or unknown god, but the One who sticks closer than a brother (see Proverbs 18:24). Such words are not permitted between strangers. Imagine if I walked up to someone on the street I did not know, and informed them that I did not like their outfit. How do you think they would react? Not well! Yet, if I had a close friend, I might be in a position to offer advice or opinion (appropriately of course) without causing offence.
We, too, can be honest with our Lord. We can tell Him how we feel, and part of being in close relationship with Him is all about sharing ourselves with Him.
Intimacy is not the only prerequisite for David being able to speak to God in this way. The other is security. David knows that God is not easily offended, nor is He likely to react badly to his uncovered feelings. The psalmist is secure in His relationship with God. He knows that God knows precisely what is happening, and won’t reject David for his cries of anguish.
David’s security came from his intimacy with God. Only one who knew God so well could be so vulnerable before Him. Similarly, we have that same security, and if anything, ours is even more secure. We have security in Christ. Unlike David, we know that God came down as a Man and bled and died for each of us. A God who would do that for us, Who has experienced the same pains that we face, will not turn His back on us or reject us.
Verse 5 of this little psalm sees a sudden turn around. David, having poured out his heart before God, suddenly shifts gears. The psalm turns on a single word – “But…” All of what David has said in verses 1-4 remain true, “but” David knows other truths as well.
Despite his circumstances, and despite his obvious pain, David places his trust in God’s unfailing love. This is no whimsical love that comes and goes with the wind, this is a love that never changes or shifts. David draws on that love to enjoy that security we discussed a moment ago. Despite the circumstances he faces, David knows that God’s love conquers all.
When we face such trouble and pain, we may well ask “Does God not love me anymore?” The answer to this question is that He absolutely does love us! He proved that love at the cross of Calvary. The trouble is indeed real, as is the pain, and yet God’s love is far more so. David can survive this trial by placing his trust in the unchanging love of God.
Alongside God’s love, David rejoices in the salvation of the Lord. David knows that he will indeed see God’s salvation; salvation from his enemies, from his sorrowful thoughts and from all the other things he mentions in the opening verses. Perhaps David had in mind an earthly salvation, that is that he believed God would save him from his enemies and worldly problems.
For us, we too can trust in God’s saving work. Because of what Christ did at the cross, we know that no matter the troubles of this life, all will be restored in the next. That is not to say our life here must be terrible and we’ll enjoy the wonders of heaven, but even if this life is indeed truly awful, we know that heaven is ample compensation.
David, having focused on the unfailing love of God and His salvation, responds by singing praises to God. We may not be able to sing in our church right now (due to COVID) but we can sing in our hearts and in our homes. If we turn our focus off of our problems and on to the Lord, then we can lift our voices in true joy and thanksgiving.
David does not minimise or dismiss his troubles, and lays them out before God. He does not stop there though, and having done it, turns to the goodness of God. We can do the same. By all means, be honest with God and share your feelings with Him. Once you have done so though, remember His love, salvation and goodness, and use it as a vehicle to shape your praise.