Psalm 129

They have greatly oppressed me from my youth, but they have not gained the victory over me.

Plowmen have plowed my back and made their furrows long – they have tried their hardest to beat me down.

But the Lord is righteous; He has cut me free from the cords of the wicked.

May all who hate those who follow You be turned back in shame.  May they wither like uprooted grass. May no one bless them.

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Psalm 128

Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in His ways.  Good things will come to those who respect God and follow His direction.

You will eat the fruit of your labor, blessings and prosperity will be yours.

Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house, your sons will be like olive shoots around your table.

So is the man blessed who hears and respects the Lord.

May the Lord bless you from Zion all the days of your life, may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem and may you live to see your grandchildren.

Peace be upon Israel.

Psalm 127

Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.  Whatever you build, it must be God’s plan.

Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.  Unless the Lord protects it, you won’t be able to prevent anything.

In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat – for the Lord grants sleep to those He loves.  No matter how hard you work, if God is not working with you, there’ll be no rest.

Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from Him. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth. The world can be conquered by a family working together.

Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.  They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate.

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Whatever we have in life, whatever we set our hand to do, if God is not the foundation, if God is not an integral part, it’s pointless.  God does most of the work.  We actually do very little.

Father, the verses about children are very difficult for the childless.

Psalm 126

When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion, we were like men restored to health.

We laughed, we sang for joy.  Everyone said, “The Lord has done great things for them.”

The Lord has done great things for us and we are filled with joy.

Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like streams in the desert.

Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.

He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him. The task starts tearfully, but the completion will have much joy.

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Remember, there is a long time (5-6 months) between seedtime and harvest.  We must be patient and not lose hope.

Psalm 125

Those who trust in the Lord (who rely on Him for everything) are like Mount Zion (the toughest mountain in the world) which cannot be shaken, but endures forever.

As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds His people – tall, strong, protective.  God surrounds now and forevermore.

The scepter of the wicked will not remain over the land allotted to the righteous, for then the righteous might use their hands to do evil.  God won’t allow the wicked to have the upper hand for long – this is to keep us from temptation.

Do good, O Lord, to those who are good, to those who are upright in heart, to those who try to follow and obey you.

But those who turn to crooked ways (not evil, just crooked) the Lord will banish with the evildoers.

Peace be upon us.

Just Listen and Obey

“And Manoah said, ‘Now when your words come to pass, what shall be the boy’s mode of life and his vocation?’  So the angel of the lord said to Manoah, ‘Let the woman pay attention to all that I said.  She should not eat anything that comes from the vine nor drink any wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing; let her observe all that I commanded.’”  Judges 13:12-14

The angel of the Lord has visited Manoah’s wife and told her she would conceive and give birth to a son.  In verse 5, he told her “no razor shall come upon his head, for the boy shall be a Nazarite to God from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver Israel from the hands of the Philistines.”  Manoah entreats the Lord and asks that the man of God come again to teach them what to do for the boy.  God sends the angel and Manoah asks his questions.

Manoah wants more details and apparently a confirmation.  After all, in that culture, women are not to be trusted as witnesses, and perhaps the thought crosses his mind that his wife who desperately wants a child has imagined the encounter.  Note that when Manoah entreats the Lord, he wants to learn what they are to do for the boy, but when the angel returns, his questions isn’t what they are to do for the boy, but what his mode of life and vocation will be.  Manoah’s wife had already told him the boy was to be a Nazarite (although like Eve, she leaves out the razor and adds “to the day of his death” (verse 7)).  Perhaps Manoah isn’t very thrilled with the idea of his firstborn son being dedicated to God instead of to the family heritage and his father’s vocation.

Apparently, the angel sees right through Manoah and repeats his instructions for the mother to be.  He diverts Manoah’s attention from the distant future and returns his focus to the present and the original instructions for the first step.  He never answers Manoah’s questions.

We’re the same way.  God tells us something we are to do and we’re asking questions about one, five, or ten years down the road.  Questions God never answers – and that fact can frustrate us to no end.  Just as with Manoah, God wants to focus on the present and the first step.  After all, how the future unfolds depends upon how faithful we are to carry out the beginning.  Let us be faithful to all God has told us to do so far and allow God to take care of the rest.  Quit questioning and start obeying!

 

Psalm 124

If the Lord had not been on our side when men attacked us, their anger flared against us, they would have swallowed us alive.

The flood would have engulfed us, the torrent would have swept over us, the raging waters would have swept us away.

Praise be to the Lord who has not let us be torn by their teeth.  We have escaped like a bird out of the fowler’s snare.  The snare has been broken and we have escaped.

Our help is in the name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.

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If Yahweh had not been on my side…

My, the list is long.  If Yahweh had not been on my side, I would have been struck and killed by a car in kindergarten.  (I wonder how many other close calls there have been in my life that I’m not even aware of.)  If Yahweh had not been on my side, I would not have survived divorce and its aftermath.  If Yahweh had not been on my side, I would not have experienced the emotional healing I have, I would not be where I am, have what I have, or be doing what I’m doing.  Most important of all, if Yahweh had not been on my side, I would be spending eternity in hell instead of in heaven.