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Series Theme:   God in the Psalms Meditations

PART 2: Studies 18-34

Meditation Title: Overview




God whose words are flawless



God of unfailing love



God who looks down



God who dwells in the sanctuary



God who is good



God who assigns our portion



God at my right hand



God who probes



God who brings down.



God my strength



God who is a rock



God who rescues



God who rewards



God who is perfect



God who is fearful



God who answers distress calls



God who gives victories






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Meditation No. 18

Meditation Title:  God whose words are flawless


Psa 12:6 the words of the LORD are flawless, like silver refined in a furnace of clay,

purified seven times


In this Psalm in our verse today, we find something that seems so obvious and yet is something that few of us really believe. God is a God of communication. The Bible is all about God communicating. Verbal communication, communication with content, is a feature of humanity because we are made in God's image (Gen 1:26,27) and the trinity communicates between themselves, or God communicates with Himself if you prefer that. (Even in our minds we talk to ourselves). Even to bring the world into being the Lord spoke a word and it was (Gen 1:3,6,9,11,14,20,24,26), and then he spoke to man and gave instructions (Gen 1:28-30, 2:16,17). Even in bringing Eve into being, God spoke about it first (Gen 2:18). Thereafter we find records of God communicating with men of His choosing – after the Fall to Adam and Eve (3:9-19), subsequently to Cain (Gen 4:6-15), then in respect of the Flood and Noah (Gen 6:7 on), then to Abram (Gen 12:1 on), etc. When John refers to Jesus, he initially calls him “The Word” (Jn 1), a means of communications. The writer to the Hebrews starts his letter-book by, “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son” (Heb 1:1,2). Here is a wonderful truth – God speaks to His people.


Today God speaks to us through His word, the Scriptures (2 Tim 3:16,17) and directly by His Holy Spirit (e.g. Jn 14:26, 16:13). Why is it therefore that some of us are surprised at this thought and fear the thought of God speaking to us? Is it perhaps that we're not sure about His nature? Have you ever read C.S.Lewis's “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”? If you have, you may remember the talk about Aslan the Lion, who Lewis uses to portray Jesus. One of the children, Lucy, asks, “Is he safe?” to which the reply is given, “Safe? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you.” Some of us have the same fears as Lucy. We fear the Lord in the same way she feared Aslan – but, of course, that was before she knew him. She had yet to meet him and know that he was ‘good'. Everything about the Lord is good. You can be safe with Him. You can trust Him. Indeed when it comes to all that he says, you can trust it, because it is good and right – it is flawless!


When we talk about a diamond that is ‘flawless' we mean it is completely without defect of any kind, there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. Now do we realize that the same is true of all that the Lord says? He makes no mistakes. He is totally truthful and therefore never lies. He never distorts the truth. In fact, says David, God's words are like the most purified metals. Imagine the purifying process, taking out all the impurities from silver. Imagine the process being repeated and repeated until eventually there is absolutely nothing more of impurity to be removed, and it is now totally pure silver. That is what God's words are liked. There is nothing, but nothing, that is impure about them. They are perfect and they can be utterly trusted. So, if the Lord says He will protect the weak, He will! God never says anything that He will not do. If He's said it, He will do it! You can utterly rely on what he's said. Now this is vitally important to understand as we read God's word. We can believe it, we can trust it, and we can rely upon it. Remember, what God says, He will do. If it's conditional, remember, we may have a part to play.





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Meditation No. 19

Meditation Title:   God of Unfailing Love


Psa 12:5 But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.


We live in a world of disappointments and of rejection. Because of the sinfulness of mankind, we experience rejection, of being let-down. We live in a world of disappointments and of rejection. Because of the sinfulness of mankind, we experience rejection, of being let-down, of people failing us or not living up to expectation. A partner makes professions of love and then years or even months later, deserts us. We've learnt that you cannot trust people!


That's why David's declaration of trust is so helpful. He has come to a place in life where he has learned to trust the Lord, i.e. the Lord can be relied upon. You remember when David arrived at the army camp, facing the Philistines, especially a giant named Goliath. Eventually he gets to see King Saul and is able to say, “The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine." (1 Sam 17:37). He knew that he had experienced God's enabling in the past and that could be relied upon for the present. So too, in this present psalm, he is able to have this confident assurance (trust) that God will always be there for him.


But this trust has a focus, for it is trust in God's love. Possibly we take God's love for granted, so perhaps we should pause over it. John told us that “God IS love” (1 Jn 4:8) so that everything about God is love, His words, His thoughts and His actions. Everything that comes from God, every expression of God IS love, and in case you're not sure what love is (because someone professed it and it didn't come to fulfillment), it is a benign, strong commitment and regard for another. It's not just a mushy feeling. God's love is a much stronger thing than that.


It is first a commitment. That is why Moses was able to say, “Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.” (Deut 7:9). Note there, a “ covenant of love”. To help them appreciate it and trust it, God declares to this early people of His, that He covenants, or promises them, this love. It's a lasting or ongoing thing. But it's not merely a commitment to be around for you, it's a commitment of good for you. Love “is ever ready to believe the best of every person” (Amp. 1 Cor 13:7). Moreover, love means that God is for us (Rom 8:31), everything He does is for our well-being, and that means all the time!


Which brings us to David's description of this love: it is unfailing. If something is unfailing it means it is going on and on and can be relied upon. God will never withdraw His love because it is a natural part of Him Himself. Unlike the unfaithful partner, God will never leave you or forsake you, and because His very Being is love, you will always know His love. Now we do need to recognize that we can turn away from God and if we do that we will not be recipients of His love (Deut 7:12), but that isn't because He wishes to remove His love from you, it's simply because you moved away from Him and He is love and so you turned your back on love. As soon as you turn back to Him you encounter love again, because He is love. He is utterly unchanging and therefore whenever you encounter Him, you encounter love. David knew that when he encountered God, he encountered love and that love always brought salvation – which is simply God's rescuing process in whatever situation! Isn't that wonderful! Rejoice in it!





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Meditation No. 20

Meditation Title:   God who looks down


Psa 14:2 The LORD looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.


There are a variety of aspects of this verse that need considering. The first is the opening phrase: The LORD looks down from heaven. There is a sense here of the Lord who is enthroned in heaven, the Lord who reigns there, who is distinct, high and lifted up, separate, holy. The opening sense is of God who is distant and completely different from us. He is in heaven and we are on earth. He is superior and we are inferior. That is the clear divine order. But when we say looks down, we don't mean he looks on us negatively and demeans us. The Lord understands us, He knows our frailty and He is still there for us. No, when it says He looks down, it is simply emphasizing His position, a place where He oversees all that happens on the earth.


The Bible tells us that the Lord sees all that happens on the earth. A good example of this was God coming to Moses at the burning bush, where He says, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people… So I have come down” (Ex 3:7,8). There is the same sense in the Lord's words to Satan in Job, “Have you considered by servant Job (Job 1:8, 2:3). Satan had been roaming the earth and the Lord had looked down and seen Job. It is the Lord who reigns on high but sees all below. Indeed in David's words, we see that the Lord looks specifically on the sons of men , on mankind. He's not just looking at the wonder of the earth; He's specifically looking at mankind.


But then we're told that He's looking at men for a specific reason. The Lord is looking for those who are not corrupt (v.1), but who understand what is happening, who realize how awful it is, and who turn and seek after the Lord. There is in this, first of all a sense of the God who longs for fellowship. As we've previously noted, John wrote that God is love (1 Jn 4:8) and love is something that wants an object to express itself to. It is said that the Trinity communicated or fellowshipped between themselves even before they created the world. Fellowship and communication is a natural aspect of the Lord, and so it seems in Scripture that He is constantly looking to make Himself known to men and women, in order for them to have a relationship with Him.


But then comes something that is first of all quite terrible: He looks but cannot find anyone who fits that description. First of all we are told there is no one who does good (v.1). Then we're told, All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one. (v.3) This is the state of sinful mankind. Every one is tainted by this thing called sin. What is even worse, is that this includes Israel , the people called by God to be His people. They should be righteous, but again and again they fall away from the Lord. Will they not cry out?


The final verse of this Psalm reveals the true state of things: Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion ! When the LORD restores the fortunes of his people, let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad! (v.7). Did you see it? When the Lord restores the fortunes of his people. That is the truth: without Him they could do nothing. This is what is incredible: God who is perfect and holy, looks down on an imperfect and unholy people and takes action to bring them into a right place with Him. This was his work with Israel of old, and His work with us through Jesus. Without Him we're lost. He doesn't just look down; He comes down to bring salvation and blessing to us. How wonderful! Hallelujah!





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Meditation No.21

Meditation Title:   God who dwells in the sanctuary


Psa 15:1 LORD, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill?


When the psalmist asked this question, he was assuming something that was taken for granted: that God dwelt in the temple in Jerusalem. In Ex 25:8, speaking of the Tabernacle, the forerunner to the Temple, the Lord said, “have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them .” Thus the Tabernacle became referred to as ‘the sanctuary'. When Solomon eventually built the Temple we find, “ He partitioned off twenty cubits at the rear of the temple with cedar boards from floor to ceiling to form within the temple an inner sanctuary, the Most Holy Place(1 Kings 6:16) Thus the Most Holy Place (or ‘Holy of Holies' in older versions) became the innermost place of the Temple referred to as a sanctuary.


So what is a ‘sanctuary'? Well do you notice the similarity to the word sanct ify which means to set apart. A sanctuary is a place set apart for refuge, almost a hiding place. There is this sense to it – a place where God comes to dwell among men and women but is yet hidden away, a place where you have to go to seek Him out. Again and again in Scripture there is this sense of God being hidden away because of His holiness. Thus this ‘ Most Holy Place ', the innermost part of the Temple was special and “only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance(Heb 9:7) For most of the time the Jews simply referred to the whole of the Temple as ‘the sanctuary'.


But notice also the reference to God's holy hill. Yes, Jerusalem was sited on a number of hills and the Temple was located on one of them. A hill is a distinct prominence, a feature that stands out, a feature that requires effort to be climbed. Often in Scripture there is reference to the mountain of the Lord (usually Sinai) and the picture is of ‘going up' to the Lord, a symbolic picture of God being higher and separated off from the ordinary day to day life. The Temple is on a holy hill, a hill that is separated off for the purposes of God. We saw previously in Psa 2:6 “I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill.” God's dwelling place on earth was in an elevated location that required effort to get to. Thus David asks the question, who is worthy to live in the holy Temple on this holy hill? He then goes on to give a list of requirements of righteous behaviour that would be required of such a person. Yes, it was moral behaviour that gave access to God. The list of things that follow in the psalm are indeed a good list to attain to, but what about when we fail? This is where Scripture needs to be read as a whole. Failure was an accepted part of the life of Israel , and God provided for that by the sacrificial system. To approach God you had to come with a sacrifice that was given, first as means of your sin being transferred to it and to be carried into death (sin offerings), and then as a sign of your desire for friendship with the holy God (fellowship offerings).


When Jesus died on the Cross at Calvary, something particularly significant happened: “At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom(Mt 27:51). That immensely thick curtain that separated off God's refuge from His people, was divinely split (it was too thick to be done by a man). Suddenly the way is open into God's presence because Jesus has dealt with all causes of separation from Him in us. No longer do we have to strive to achieve worthiness to come to God, no longer do we have to appease with sacrifices. The sanctuary is opened to us by Jesus. Hallelujah!







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Meditation No. 22

Meditation Title:  God the only good thing


Psa 16:2 I said to the LORD, "You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing."


The idea that God is good almost seems too obvious to comment upon, but therein is the very reason we should meditate upon it, because very often we take things for granted so don't think about them and don't appreciate what we read. A dictionary defines ‘good' as “having suitable or desirable qualities; promoting health, welfare or happiness; benevolent, not troublesome ” and goes on to give reams more uses of ‘good.' ‘Good' signifies in our thinking something that is pleasant, something positive that we are happy with.


When David brought the ark into Jerusalem the song (psalm) he composed spoke of God in a variety of positive ways and in one line he declared, “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.” (1 Chron 16:4). When Solomon finished the temple, they sang of the Lord this single refrain, "He is good; his love endures forever." (2 Chron 5:13). When they sacrificed and fire came down to consume it at the dedication of the Temple , again they sang this single refrain of the Lord, "He is good; his love endures forever." (2 Chron 7:3). When Zerubbabel laid the foundations of the new temple this refrain was yet again used, "He is good; his love to Israel endures forever ." (Ezra 3:11), a refrain that cropped up various times in the Psalms (Psa 106:1. 107:1, 118:1,29, 136:1). When Jeremiah prophesied restoration, one of the signs of it would be that this refrain would be heard again (Jer 33:11).


David reminded himself of this truth when he needed lifting up: “according to your love remember me, for you are good, O LORD.” (Psa 25:7), “Taste and see that the LORD is good ” (Psa 34:8), “You are forgiving and good, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call to you (Psa 86:5), “You are good, and what you do is good” ( Psa 119:68), “Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good” (Psa 135:3). In the midst of his terrible prophecies of judgment, Nahum declared, “The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble (Nahum 1:7). Jesus emphasized this when he replied, “Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good--except God alone” (Mk 10:18). Peter knew something of this when he wrote: “now that you have tasted that the Lord is goo(1 Pet 2:3). It is a truth that is repeated again and again


The result of this, we should see is that, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father” (Jas 1:17) – everything that comes from God is good! Moses declared, “He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he” (Deut 32:4) and all of that description could be summed up in, “He is good!” Everything that God thinks, says and does IS good. Now this must challenge all casual talk about why does God allow evil, why isn't God doing something. We may not know full answers this side of heaven but Habakkuk's declaration, “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD” (Hab 3:17,18) emphasises what he had learnt, the truth that God is good and can be trusted in the face of adversity! We feel negative when we look at the world around us, at what people are saying and doing and we realize than sinful mankind is not good, and we have to agree with David, “apart from you I have no good thing”. But we do have the Lord, and He IS good! Hallelujah!






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Meditation No. 23

Meditation Title:  God who assigns our portion


Psa 16:5,6 LORD, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.


There are two opposite beliefs that are both wrong according to the Bible. On one hand there is ‘determinism', the belief that everything is predetermined and we therefore can have no say in our destiny. The opposite extreme is the belief that there is nothing that directs life and that we are completely free agents in a free world. Now the latter belief runs contrary to psychology which observes that our behaviour and therefore our outcomes are partially genetically predisposed (i.e. because of genetic makeup we have a tendency to behave in certain ways – but don't have to) and partly formed by the experiences that we have had in life (but note again that we don't HAVE to respond in predetermined ways!).


But there is a middle way, according to the Bible, which involves God. The Bible shows us that God gives us free will (otherwise there would be no point in Him saying do this or don't do that, and then us doing the opposite – see the life of Israel), but that he also speaks and acts into this world and does things that change both us and our future. Does God speak and work in such a way that we have no alternative but to go His way, that His provision for us is such that we will go His way. The answer is probably mid-way between yes and no. There are clearly those who do not turn to the Lord at any time in their life, but David was not one of those. Later in the psalm he said, “ I have set the LORD always before me” (v.8) indicating that he had entered into a relationship with the Lord and because of that, now a number of things followed. The first we saw in the previous meditation – that he had come to an understanding the God alone was good, and that God was his refuge (we've seen that idea in earlier meditations). Now he has this sense that God has allocated a certain secure life for him.


The apostle Paul when writing to the church at Ephesus, said, “we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Eph 2:10). How far we take this depends on our faith level. The very least it means is that God has designed the lifestyle of Christians. i.e. when we become a Christian, the Holy Spirit will convict us and teach us the way to go (Jn 14:16,17, 26). It is then for us to obey Him and apply what He says. But it may also be that God who knows you through and through, who knows your gifts and talents and capabilities, also knows how you will be most fulfilled and so has plans for you that He wants to lead you into. This fits more into what David is saying.


Another expression of this same thing is seen in Psa 37:4, “Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heartWhat this says is that if you make God your total focus, He will put desires upon your heart (that fit who you are) and will then lead you and bring those desires about. Do you see this lovely combination of God's activity harmonizing with your heart desires? Yes, as we make the Lord the centre of our lives, we can, in a very real way, have a sense of being led into a life that is good, a life that is designed to match us perfectly, so that we have a great sense of fulfilment, a great sense of being in God's will which is good! (see also Rom 12;1,2). Thus we can say with David, “I'm in a good place because God has brought me here!







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Meditation No. 24

Meditation Title:   God at my right hand


Psa 16:8 I have set the LORD always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.


There are probably many times when we read Scripture but just don't take in what it means. What does he is at my right hand mean? Perhaps we'd better look, first of all, at general references to the right hand:


Gen 48:14 “But Israel reached out his right hand and put it on Ephraim's head, though he was the younger.” Israel put his right hand to make a special blessing. The right hand was seen as the hand of authority Joseph saw what his father was doing and recognized its significance.


Ex 15:6 “Your right hand, O LORD, was majestic in power. Your right hand, O LORD, shattered the enemy.” Israel saw God's destruction of Pharaoh as an act of His right hand. It is seen as the hand of power. See similarly Psa 17:7, 20:6, 21:8 etc.


Ex 29:20 “Slaughter it, take some of its blood and put it on the lobes of the right ears of Aaron and his sons, on the thumbs of their right hands”. The right side was the side designated hold, to be cleansed. The right hand was to be holy.


Psa 110:1 “The LORD says to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand ” Jesus is seated at God's right hand in heaven. It is the place of intimacy with the Father and a place of rule. This intimacy is seen also in Psa 73:23, “Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand Have you seen pictures of little children holding the hand of their parent? There is a safety and security and intimacy there.


It is this last reference that perhaps impinges most on our verse from Psalm 16. It is first a sense of safety, closeness or intimacy. He first says, I have set the LORD always before me , which is an act of will on David's part, a determination of attitude. It's like that which Paul says, “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” ( Col 3:2). For David, his heart is open to the Lord at all times (v.7), he seeks to have a God-awareness or, if you like, a God-consciousness, at all times.


When he knows the Lord's presence is with him, he knows that God's authority, power and rule are there, working on his behalf. Because of this he will not be shaken, and he will rest secure (v.9). Because of this he knows that the Lord will not let death come prematurely (v.10). When he knows the presence of the Lord, he knows there will also be joy (v.11), because the Lord isn't just there, He's there to bless. That's what David means when he speaks of the Lord who has “ eternal pleasures at your right hand ” (v.11). God's right hand is also a hand of provision.


Do you see the two sided aspect of this? We have been considering all these pictures conveying all these things at God's right hand, but David is referring in our verse above to his own right hand. He has an awareness that in all these aspects, God is there close to Him. When it comes to his own authority and power, his own safety and security, his own provision, they all exist because of the intimacy that He knows – the closeness of the Lord to Him. He purposes to ensure this: I have set the LORD always before me. He puts the awareness of the Lord in the foreground of his life, to ensure that he is always conscious of the Lord's presence. Yet, to give the whole picture, his psalms indicate the reality of life – sometimes we lose that sense of God's presence and have to step aside, be quiet, wait on Him, until we regain it. He is what he is, because God's there, close!






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Meditation No. 25

Meditation Title:  God who probes


Psa 17:3 Though you probe my heart and examine me at night, though you test me, you will find nothing; I have resolved that my mouth will not sin


What a staggering claim before God : you will find nothing . I suspect many insecure Christians would balk at this. To be able to say if God tests me for sin He will find nothing? Yet that is the truth! Let's examine this verse more fully.


God who probes our heart? Yes, the Bible says similar things a number of times: “O LORD Almighty, you who examine the righteous and probe the heart and mind” (Jer 20:12), “acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts(1 Chron 28:9), “The lamp of the LORD searches the spirit of a man;it searches out his inmost being” (Prov 20:27), “And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit” (Rom 8:27), “all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds” (Rev 2:23).


These verses show us a particular truth that must be very nervy – that God sees us through and through and nothing in us is hidden from Him. He knows every thought. The nearest thing we have in science fiction is telepaths, who can read the mind. We probably don't think about this most of the time, that if Jesus was standing in front of us in the flesh, he would know exactly what we were thinking and feeling: “Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, "Why are you thinking these things in your hearts (Lk 5:22), “they watched him closely to see if he would heal on the Sabbath. But Jesus knew what they were thinking ” (Lk 6:8), “Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them” ( Lk 11:17). Oh yes, you were unwise to stand before Jesus and think wrong thoughts!


But it's more than this: though you test me! The idea of the Lord testing us also appears in Scripture a number of times: Ex 16:4 – “In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions” said the Lord to Moses about the people and the way they should collect the manna. Deut 8:2 - “Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commandsJudges 2:21,22 – “I will no longer drive out before them any of the nations Joshua left when he died. I will use them to test Israel and see whether they will keep the way of the LORD and walk in it as their forefathers did.” The intriguing thing about these three examples is that you would expect the Lord to know how the people would respond, but it is as if He wants their response to be publicly seen, so there is no question about how He dealt with them. The purpose of a test therefore is to reveal the true state of affairs. When the Lord tests our hearts, He wants to reveal their state – so that we too know our state!


It's then that we come to David's assertion – you will find nothing. David was so sure that he had sought the Lord and put any thought of sin from him, that there was nothing left for the Lord to find. The New Testament challenges us with this. John wrote: “I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin” (1 Jn 2:1) i.e. he didn't expect to find us sinning. Paul also wrote similarly, “ Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” (Rom 6:1,2). The Christian today should be free of Sin; that's what the combined work of the Cross and the Spirit is about.







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Meditation No. 26

Meditation Title: God who brings down


Psa 17:13 Rise up, O LORD, confront them, bring them down; rescue me from the wicked by your sword.


In this verse we see a very different aspect of the Lord – One who acts against His enemies and does something about them! But we must take it piece by piece.


David starts with this call to the Lord to “Rise Up”. This has two aspects to it: first that the Lord is in a place of rest as he rules, and second there is a need to move to bring change. This is a common call: Psa 3:7 “Arise, O LORD! Deliver me, O my God!” One thing precedes the other by necessity. Psa 7:6 “ Arise, O LORD, in your anger; rise up against the rage of my enemies. Awak, my God; decree justice There is a double call implying the same thing. Psa 9:19 “Arise, O LORD, let not man triumph” There it's a case of rise up to take action to stop something. Psa 10:12 “Arise, LORD! Lift up your hand, O God”. There it's rise up so that you can act. In every case it is a call to the Lord to change from a state of inactivity to a place of action.


In our verse here, the call is to come from a position of inactivity to face up the people David is concerned about (the wicked) with their wrongs and then to bring them down so that they will no longer prevail over David or dominate him. Again this idea of the wicked being brought down is a common one: Psa 36:12 “See how the evildoers lie fallen-- thrown down, not able to rise!” Psa 52:5, speaking of the wicked, “Surely God will bring you down to everlasting ruin” Psa 55:22,23 “he will never let the righteous fall. But you, O God, will bring down the wicked” There are many more similar references.


The picture that is conveyed is of the wicked who are full of pride and think they are in a strong and secure position as they carry on their wicked acts. It's like they think they are in a high unassailable position and they impose harm on others and appear to be getting away with it. Thus we look at well known figures in the news and wonder how long they will get away which is clearly unrighteousness. From our hearts must come a similar cry, which is the cry of righteousness – bring them down Lord, pull them down from their high place of scorning you, your laws and indeed, scorning goodness, bring them down. It is a righteous cry because they are offending God and they are offending justice and they are offending the weak and the good. They continue to harm God's world by what they say and do. It is right that we cry for their downfall. Now that may include, hopefully, them turning to the Lord in repentance and receiving a new life, but if they won't they need stopping because they are not only doing harm, they are leading others astray.


But there is a simple, central truth here that sometimes those of us who are Christians question: God does deal with the wicked! David knew it, experienced it and now asked for it. God DOES act into His world and He does bring discipline and judgment upon those who flout His design for His world. The Lord does not just sit back and let people get away with it. If He does He is doing it for a purpose and because He wants to use people to achieve His ends and that means taking time of He is not to offend the right He's given them of sovereignty of will. It may take time and, indeed, it may be the other side of the grace on occasion, but the Lord WILL deal with the unrighteous and the wicked and the evil of this world. Establish that clearly in your belief system!








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Series Theme:   God in the Psalms Meditations

Meditation No. 27

Meditation Title:   God my strength


Psa 18:1 I love you, O LORD, my strength .


Such a simple description: my strength. In a world that sees so many people stressed, this must surely be a most important meditation. What is stress? It is the inability to cope with the pressures of life or work or family difficulties. The presence of stress means that we have run out of personal resources that would enable us to cope well. Stress means that we are being pushes further than our physical resources can cope with. Stress means we are being pushed beyond what our mental resources can cope with, and stress means we are being pushed beyond what our emotional resources can cope with. Oh yes, we mustn't forget one other area, stress is being pushed beyond what our spiritual resources can cope with. But actually our lives are one and all these interact within us – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. If we get ourselves into circumstances that are beyond our God-designed resources, we are into stress.


I have a busy day and the demands upon me may be many. I am at a time of life when my physical strength and stamina is not what it was when I was thirty years younger. Therefore I have to be wiser in conserving what I have and the way I use it, but if I believe my circumstances are God-given and God-guided, then like the apostle Paul, I must trust that the Lord will provide my physical strength: “I can do everything through him who gives me strength(Phil 4:13). But the key here, is checking that all the things I allow to come and make a call on my life are things I believe are God sent. Sometimes I may have to reject some things. I also need to ensure I have a healthy lifestyle – healthy food, reasonable exercise and no late nights and early mornings!


Then there are difficulties to be overcome, problems to be solved, things that challenge my mind, and I need mental strength to be able to work at these without worry creeping in. Are these problems my responsibility? Are they things the Lord wants me to deal with? They appear to be things that require knowledge, wisdom, understanding and possibly insight, things which God said Jesus would have (Isa 11:2) and now because Jesus lives in me, must be resources available to me. All I have to do is commit it to him: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:6,7). Ah, look what is in there in the midst of that, a promise of peace, i.e. emotional strength ! How did that come about? It came by turning to God, by seeking Him, and by pouring out my heart to Him. Therein is spiritual strength. Yes, He does live within us, but spiritual strength and stamina come by conscious awareness of His presence, by seeking Him and finding Him and knowing Him and finding that His glory is reflected in us (2 Cor 3:18).


Later on in this Psalm 18 David says, “It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights. He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze (v.32-34) There he links strength with the way ahead being made perfect. When we are weak, we may stumble and fall, but with God's strength we can walk or run steadily and surely (like the deer), and we find a new strength there that enables us to fight the battles that confront us. You can't explain his strength really, you just ask for it, and then suddenly you realize you have it and step out to do His will for your life and find you can do it; the strength is there physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, and you achieve His purposes!









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Meditation No. 28

Meditation Title:  God who is a rock


Psa 18:2 The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.


In this verse David pours out a number of descriptions of the Lord. We've previously considered the Lord as our fortress (or stronghold) and as our deliverer and so now we focus on the Lord as our rock. Perhaps the best way to remind ourselves of the nature of a rock is to remember Jesus' parable of the two house builders (Mt 7:24-27), “everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock (v.24). In the parable when the floods came the house built on sand was washed away but the one built on rock remained firm. New York is a city which is built on rock which is why so many of its buildings go so high – they have a strong foundation. The picture conveyed is of a firm, fixed and stable foundation.


The picture of a deity as a means of support was not uncommon. Moses comparing the Lord with the gods of other nations, said, “For their rock is not like our Rock” (Deut 32:31). In similar vein Isaiah wrote of the Lord saying, “Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one ” (Isa 44:8). Even more, the picture of a rock is of an enduring or lasting support. When we look at mountains made of hard rocks we realize they have been there a long time! Isaiah wrote: “Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal(Isa 26:4). When all else is shaky or moving, God can be depended upon to be the same, unmovable : “Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go” (Psa 71:3).


The heading over this psalm speak of it being written by David when he had just escaped from Saul. In the historical context we find, “David stayed in the desert strongholds and in the hills of the Desert of Ziph. Day after day Saul searched for him, but God did not give David into his hands ” (1 Sam 23:14) and “Saul and his men began the search, and when David was told about it, he went down to the rock and stayed in the Desert of Maon ” (1 Sam 23:25). The place of refuge for David was evidently a rocky outcrop in the midst of a desert. What a picture! All around is sandy wasteland that is barren and unstable, and David finds his security in a rocky outcrop. Thus is the Lord to us, a rocky, stable outcrop in the midst of a dry and barren and unstable world.


In the world everything is constantly changing. The early part of the twenty-first century has been characterized by natural disasters as well as human wars and conflicts and terrorist activity around the world. It is an unstable place. Postmodernism is a way of thinking that doubts and questions the assurances of the previous scientific age. Cynicism is a common characteristic. The old adage of “Been there, done it, got the tee-shirt” might now be changed to “Been there, done it, and it doesn't work.” People have tried alternative life-styles, for example cohabitation instead of marriage – and are finding it doesn't work! Constant change is because we have been unhappy or even disillusioned over what has gone before. Where is something that is stable, unchanging and trustworthy? Here He is! The Lord, our Rock. All else changes but the Lord is unchanging. When we speak of the Lord's love, His goodness, His kindness or whatever other characteristic that He has, it is ALWAYS there, it never changes. We may drift away from the Lord but when we come back, we find He is still there, unchanging, still as faithful as ever, with his arms of love reaching to us. He is our Rock! Hallelujah!






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Meditation No. 29

Meditation Title:  God who rescues


Psa 18:16-19 He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the LORD was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.


In a previous meditation we considered the God who delivers, and the concept of the God who rescues is very similar, but worth considering again. Indeed, the concept of rescue is far more familiar to us than that of deliverance. People stuck down pot-holes need rescuing. People stuck on mountain sides need rescuing. People in boats wrecked on the rocks need rescuing. A company drifting towards insolvency needs rescuing. A great man turning to drink needs rescuing. Someone who's car has broken down miles from anywhere needs rescuing. Oh yes, we're very familiar with the concept of ‘rescue'.


In each case the person needs rescuing from something. For David in the verses above, he saw himself in ‘deep waters'. We speak of ‘being out of our depth' meaning being in a place where our feet can't touch the bottom, where we're not able to be in control, not secure and safe. Then he speaks about a ‘powerful enemy'. The comment before the psalm talk of him writing it after he has escaped Saul's army. He was confronted by those more powerful than himself. It was a ‘day of disaster' a day of potential destruction.


Do not these three descriptions fit the needs of mankind and show the reason Jesus came? First, out of our depth. Most of the time people declare that they are ‘all right', they are in control and feel they are masters of their destiny. Then, every now and then something happens that makes them realize that they are not, they are not in control, they are out of their depth in the situation. It may be circumstances going bad, it may simply be an illness or an infirmity. Aches and pains – back ache, tooth ache, arthritis or sprains – have the ability to cripple and weaken a person. One minute strong, the next minute vulnerable. Second, confronted by an enemy. The world today has taken to speaking about a person's ‘demons'. What they mean by these are the things that we fear or the ‘nasty' things in humanity that we battle against and which make us less than we could be. Finally, the potential of destruction. When we are out of control and we are threatened by forces stronger than us, our very lives are at risk. There is one who seeks to destroy us. It is a very real threat. Spiritually, morally and even physically, the threat is very real. So there we were – helpless – and then we cried out.


We've quoted it before but it fits most perfectly here, Paul's description of what God has done: “he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves” ( Col 1:13). There it is in its simplicity: we were doomed in the dominion of the devil, a prey to his suggestions and his activities, our very lives threatened and then, when in our desperation we cried out, God reached down and rescued us from the darkness of the pothole, from the cold of the mountainside, from the threat of drowning, from going utterly bankrupt, and from the loneliness of broken down isolation, and brought us into a safe and secure and warm place where the Son rules over our circumstances and provides everything we need. It's a marvelous feat of transformation and we are rescued!









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Meditation No. 30

Meditation Title:  God who Rewards


Psa 18:24 The LORD has rewarded me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight.


In the West at least we know of rewards. Rewards are given for finding lost pets, or providing information leading to convictions of criminals, or even for being loyal to a particular supermarket chain. A reward is something given in return for something good done, a way of saying thank-you. So what does the Bible say about rewards and God?


“God listened to Leah, and she became pregnant and bore Jacob a fifth son. Then Leah said, "God has rewarded me for giving my maidservant to my husband." (Gen 30:17,18). Leah saw that seeking to bless her husband and come back on her by her also being rewarded with a child herself. “Then men will say, "Surely the righteous still are rewarded; surely there is a God who judges the earth." (Psa 58:11) Here the concept of God rewarding the righteous comes right out in the open as God assesses people's lives and rewards those who are good.


Solomon wrote: “The faithless will be fully repaid for their ways, and the good man rewarded for his” (Prov 14:14) which is another way of saying, “God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows ” (Gal 6:7). The apostle Paul had this in mind when he also wrote: “ The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor” (1 Cor 3:8), a hint that we will be given according to what we do.


Paul also had this in mind when he was expounding his foundation for salvation: “God will give to each person according to what he has done. To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger(Rom 2:6-8) where he quoted Psa 62:12 and Prov 24:12. We thus see that receiving according to what you do is a very common Scriptural teaching.


In the Beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5:3-10) Jesus indicates rewards for different people, e.g. the meek will inherit the earth (v.5), the pure in heart will see God (v.8). At the end of time this principle will be applied: “Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books (Rev 20:11,12) and "Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done” (Rev 22:12).


David was able to say, The LORD has rewarded me according to my righteousness and the same will be true for us. David was not claiming perfection; simply that, unlike his enemies, he had faithfully sought the Lord. We who are Christians today have been declared righteous through the work of Christ on the Cross when we came to Him. It is this righteousness that is the basis for the rewards we have been considering. For a classic example of rewards being apportioned, read Rev 2 & 3 and see Jesus' words to the seven churches of Asia Minor, especially his promises to those who overcome (2:7,11,17,26-28, 3:5,12,21); these are clear rewards for faithfulness, which is what we are called to.









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Meditation No. 31

Meditation Title:   God who is perfect


Psa 18:30 As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless.


We have previously considered God who is good and God whose words are flawless, but because we so often struggle with this concept we consider it more widely with this verse now. Why do we struggle with the idea that God is perfect? Because we often don't understand what is going on in life and we can't see the whole picture and so we wonder why God doesn't turn up and do something. Perhaps it's also because we have had negative experiences in life, especially when we are young, and those experiences act like a stain or scar on our lives and the hurt of them distorts our thinking and makes us question God's goodness. This questioning is not unusual.


Gideon did it: “But sir," Gideon replied, "if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our fathers told us about ” (Judges 6:13) He looked at their circumstances and concluded that God could not be with them. Abraham struggled similarly: “Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, "Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?" And Abraham said to God, "If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!” (Gen 17:17) and this after he had previously believed and been declared righteous (Gen 15:6), and later his wife similarly struggled, “Then the LORD said, "I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son." Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him…..Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, "After I am worn out and my master is old, will I now have this pleasure?" Then the LORD said to Abraham, "…..anything too hard for the LORD? I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son." (Gen 18:10-14). When confronted with what seems impossible, we wonder and question, but God is perfect and when God says something He means it!


This idea of God being perfect comes out many times in Scripture: “He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.” (Deut 32:4) God is entirely dependable (a rock) because everything He does is utterly good. “The law of the LORD is perfect” (Psa 19:7). All of God's decrees are perfect. “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5:48). Perfect here means complete, whole, lacking in nothing. Whereas we may look at our own lives or the lives of people around us and see that they lack a lot (strength, grace, wisdom, humility, love, gentleness, peace – the list goes on and on!) NOTHING is missing from God. Think of any good characteristic and He has it. When John wrote, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear” (1 Jn 4:18) the perfect love he was referring to was God.


But our verse above speaks of the way of the Lord. The Lord's way refers to the way God thinks, moves, acts, lives and works. It's all about the way He expresses Himself and interacts with us. This is why this is so important. It's not only that He himself is perfect but it's about how He relates to us. We may not understand what is happening, either because it is too complex for us to work out, or because we can't see the whole picture, but our call is simply to trust Him, that because He IS perfect, He is working the best for us in it. We may not be able to see that fully until we get to heaven, but for now we have to learn to accept this amazing truth. It will transform us!









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Meditation No. 32

Meditation Title:   God who is fearful


Psa 19:9 The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever.


The fear of the Lord is a strange thing. It is one of those concepts that makes people dive for cover, yet it is so common in Scripture. So often we define this fear as an awesome respect, but it's actually stronger than just respect. It is awesome. Consider what one of the psalmists said: “Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the people of the world revere him.” (Psa 33:8). There is the basic call to fear or revere God, but it was then followed by reasons: “For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm. The LORD foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations(v.9-11)


Do you catch the awesome sense of concrete existence and purpose, God's sovereignty in those following verses? When God speaks, things happen. When God plans, it happens! If people try to stand against His plans, they still happen! God's presence and plans are like a gigantic steamroller before which nothing can stand. Unless you are blind and stupid, to be confronted with this bearing down on you is awesome, fearful. When a steamroller comes, you get out the way or you'll be crushed. That is a healthy sort of fear! It's not that the steamroller has evil designs on you; it's just simply that it's so big it will crush you if you stand in front of it while it's moving.


Having this awareness means our lives are changed. Consder some of the things Moses said to Israel in their early days of experiencing the Lord: “Moses said to the people, "Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning" Ex 20:20. At Sinai Israel had their first encounter with the Lord and it scared the life out of them! It's OK, said Moses, just let this awareness, this fear, keep you from doing wrong. Then he taught them the Law: “Do not take advantage of each other, but fear your God. I am the LORD your God ” Lev 25:17. Again and again he said, this is how you are to live, with this awareness, this fear, reminding you why you are to do it.


Again he quoted the Lord: “Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever (Deut 5:28,29). God wanted to bless them and blessing came when they were rightly related to the ‘steamroller', and that meant following His design for them.. Indeed keeping God's laws was the sign or expression of this awareness: “you, your children and their children after them may fear the LORD your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life” (Deut 6:2). This awareness, this fear was expressed by lovingly serving the Lord whole heartedly: “And now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the LORD's commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good” (Deut 10:12,13)


The ‘fear of the Lord' is therefore not some abstract thing that the Lord seeks to impose on His people to subdue them. It is simply the recognition of the awesome greatness of the Lord and when we have it, it helps provoke us into living according to His design for us, so that all of His blessings come to us. How wonderful!







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Meditation No. 33

Meditation Title:   God who answers distress calls


Psa 20:1   May the LORD answer you when you are in distress


Imagine a little boat in a storm, surrounded by mountainous waves, the mast broken, the rudder missing, drifting in the enormity of the ocean, lost! In the heaving cabin a figure is at a small radio set, with a microphone in his hand, crying out that well-known international distress call, “May Day, May Day, is there anyone out there”. As the battery gets weaker and weaker, hope begins to falter. There is no one out there! But still the call goes out, “May Day, May Day!” And then, almost at the point of giving up, there is a crackle from the receiver and a voice answers, “Distressed vessel, we have you on our radar, we should be with you in half an hour.” Relief! We've been heard! Some one knows! They are coming! Who they are doesn't matter; they've heard us, they are responding to us, we're no longer alone in this. Half an hour later an enormous ocean going tanker appears dwarfing even the mountainous waves. Rescue has come!


David knew ‘distress', David knew times when he seemed alone, facing huge odds, in peril, desperately needing help. The second half of the above verse is interesting: “ may the name of the God of Jacob protect you It's possible that in this psalm he was addressing his men. They went out in the name of the Lord; they were the Lord's people, and therefore they may assume that when they cry out in distress, the Lord will pay special attention to them. Do you remember the occasion when Jesus stayed on the hillside to pray and sent the disciples across the lake (Mt 14:23,24)? The disciples were out on the lake buffeted by the wind and the waves, going nowhere! Yet Jesus on his hillside viewing point, sees their distress and goes out to them! They are his disciples so he keeps his eye on them and will be there for them when they need him. If we are God's children, let's remember that the Father is there for us; we're His family!


Have you ever noticed this, that when we're in distress, all you need is the Lord's voice breaking through? All we need is to know that He knows and when in the midst of the trial, His voice breaks through, that is enough! To hear God's voice and to know it is Him, is the most wonderful thing! He's there, He knows, He's responded! It's all right!


But it doesn't stop there. David continues in the second verse: “May he send you help from the sanctuary and grant you support from Zion When you're in distress and you cry out, the Lord will answer, that's the first bit, but He'll also do something and send you help! At the point of distress we don't care what help as long as it is help. At the point of distress we come to place complete reliance and trust in the Lord. However He's going to do it, we don't care, as long as He does it. We'll just trust and rejoice in the help whatever it is, and however it comes. When you're desperate you're like that!


Later in the psalm David reiterates his trust: “Now I know that the LORD saves his anointed; he answers him from his holy heaven with the saving power of his right hand (v.6). Note in this that David knows who he is. He knows he is God's anointed one, the one chosen by God to lead. For us, as we said above, we're to know we are God's children, and know that because we are, our Father in heaven who watches over us, will see and hear and answer and come on our behalf. He may leave us for a bit, while we learn some things, but He will come. You have doubts about this? If you have children think back to times when there were small (perhaps they still are) and cried out in distress. Did you just stand there? No, you responded to their distress! So does God!









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Meditation No. 34

Meditation Title:    God who gives victories


Psa 21:1 O LORD, the king rejoices in your strength. How great is his joy in the victories you give!


Victories are all about battles. The battle may be one football team against another, one basketball team against another, one fencer against another but in every case there is a victor and a loser after a battle. Historically, depending where we come from in the world, we can look back to days gone by of great battles in wars. At the present time we look back to the past hundred years and, seeing two wars that engulfed the globe, hope we will never have such things again. Yet David still lived in a time when there were those who sought to fight against him to bring him down. In the face of this he turned to the Lord and the Lord gave him victories, and it was in this he now rejoiced.


Many Christians don't realize this dimension in their lives. The apostle Paul spoke about this in Ephesians 6 when he started speaking about our ‘armour'. He said, “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms ” (Eph 6:12). Yes, this is the truth; we don't fight a physical battle but a spiritual one. This battle is waged at two levels. First there is the obvious external battle, then there is the internal one.


The external battle is people who, under the enemy's prompting, come against us. It may be with words, it may be with actions. Whichever it is, it comes as hostility and it's probably because we are Christians. Hopefully we did nothing to bring it on; we were just targeted by the enemy. It happens. It's a battle where he seeks to wear us down and bring us down. But there will also be an inward battle going on whereby the enemy tries to make us give up, tries to get us to respond badly, tries to get us to respond using the same ungodly and unrighteous methods that he uses. If he can do that we are no longer representing Jesus. The battle on the Cross was Satan trying to get Jesus to rail out against humanity, to curse us – be he remained sinless, he had the victory!


So how does God give us victory? When temptations come, He shows us a way out (1 Cor 10:13). Sometimes he gives us the wisdom to know how to act in the face of it, the knowledge of what to speak (Acts 7:10), but sometimes that wisdom is just simply to flee the thing (Gen 39:12). In any and every situation God's grace is there for us (2 Cor 9:8). Grace, that thing that Paul wanted for his readers in every letter he wrote, is simply the divine ability in us to overcome, to handle the situation like Jesus, with the goodness of Jesus or the kindness or gentleness or truth or love of Jesus. These are the things we use to overcome because ours is not a physical battle but a spiritual one.


There was something else that Paul wrote in Eph 6 that is pertinent here: “put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then” (v.13,14). Do you see that? Three times he says stand. You see the truth is that we have been given a position to hold, ground to hold onto. Our role in this battle is to hold on to what we've been given. What is that? Sonship! We are children of God, temples of the Holy Spirit and therefore holy people. Satan will try to get us to forget that and think and act just any unbeliever. The battle is to hold onto that, and you know what? God is working to give us the victory by His Spirit within and by sovereign acts without! Let's rejoice in that!