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.

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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.

Psalm 123

I lift up my eyes to You – I look to You, I seek You.  You whose throne is in heaven.

As the eyes of the slave looks to the hand of his master, as the eyes of a maid look to the hand of her mistress.  To anticipate the next request, to watch for a need to fill, to beware of punishment, to look for reward and praise.  So our eyes look to the Lord our God, until He shows us His mercy.

Have mercy on us, O Lord.  For we have endured much contempt.  We have endured much ridicule from the proud, much contempt from the arrogant.

Psalm 122

I rejoiced – was glad, couldn’t wait, looked forward to going to God’s house.  (In those days it’s possible that going to the temple at Jerusalem could only be done once a year at the most.)

The tribes of Israel go to praise God.

Pray for the peace of God’s city.

May those who love God’s house be secure.

For the sake of God’s house, seek for the prosperity of the city.

Psalm 121

I lift up my eyes to the hills.  I stop looking at my level and my point of view and look up to God’s level and point of view.

I need help.  Where does it come from?  Not from me – I cannot help myself.  Not from other people – they’re just like me – flawed and limited.

My help comes from God – the Maker of heaven and earth.Gid

God will not let my foot slip.  I will walk sure and steady.  God watches over me and never slumbers or sleeps.

God watches over me.  He shades me from the hot sun.

The sun will not harm me during the day and He will also keep me safe at night.

God will keep me from all harm.  He will watch over my life. My coming and going, my every movement, now and forevermore.

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“The Hebrew word for “keep” is repeated six tomes in eight verses.  It is also translated as “preserve” or “watch”.  The Lord our Keeper is one of the Old Testament names of God.  In all of this deliberate wording the Lord assures us of His constant personal protection;  it is not just a general concept.”  Anchor Devotional 7/22/13

Keep – shamar (shaw-mar’) – To hedge about (as with thorns, i.e., guard; protect, tend to.  Verb meaning to watch, keep, preserve , guard, be careful, watch carefully over, be on one’s guard, care for.

Yahweh Shamar

God place hedges of protection around us.  A hedge of thorns.  The thorns are on both sides of the hedge – to keep predators from attacking us and to keep us from wandering into danger.  When we step too close to the danger, when we worry and have anxious thoughts, we are pricked and stabbed.  It’s best for us to rest inside the hedge and let God deal with our predators.