We are living history this year. I know – we have said so before – many times. As often in history world events or disasters have tremendous impact on the life of the individual. We read about it and maybe experience something of it in the books and movies about it. We might get a general idea from afar of the destruction and disarray of everyday life.
At the moment it is a pandemic and unrest on the streets. In various countries people are impacted in different ways. The events are global and cause widespread confusion and fear.
How do we respond? We are part of this movement they call Christianity. We are different. We are citizens of the Kingdom of God. We know how to handle this, simply because we know our God and our God reigns. (Isaiah 52:7)
The world is grappling for answers. One can see it in every newscast everyday. Politicians reach for possible answers from experts and scientists on every level of society. The medical world is fighting tooth and nail to stay ahead of disease and death. The people are heartbroken, angry, frustrated, anxious, panicky, ungrateful and unmannered. There is so much pain and heartache to handle – nations are hurting and in mourning. The death toll are just a block on the TV screen or a number on the internet for some, but for others a sharp knife in their heart.
What is our response? We cannot look to the things that are happening. Our eye is on Jesus, so much so that the earth and its misery grow dim in the light of his glory and grace. We look to Man of whom CS Lewis says:
“I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer. You are yourself the answer. Before your face questions die away?”
Christianity at its best is the hearts of people turned towards their God in adoration and thanksgiving. It is heavenly living in earthly brokenness. We worship a God that is greater than the damndest of this world!
That is what we need to know – always and in everything.
I hope all of you are happily writing your Psalms. It is an amazing liberation to put the words on paper, pushing them around, rearranging and replacing with all the adjectives and synonyms that our limited language can conjure to sing the praises of the God of an infinite universe.
What do you write in a Song of Praise?
When you praise the Lord – do you sing what He needs to know or what you need to know?
The words are for your benefit. You write what you need to know. We write so that we know how big God is and who He is, so that our faith and trust grow while it is challenged in our circumstances.
God is good and His mercy endures forever.
This is a refrain throughout all the songs and praise sayings. God himself said it. This is what the people needed to hear after the fiasco with the golden calf. [Pebbles 184)
When Moses asked to SEE God, God passed by and said of himself:
And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth… (Exodus 34:6)
Moses SAW God, but he saw character, not image. When the people asked him what God looked like, Moses said the word: hessed, which means righteousness, love and compassion.
When you know who God is, you would want to be with him. Praise prepares your heart for his presence and leads you to him.
…and indeed it came to pass, when the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the Lord, and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised the Lord, saying:
“For He is good,
For His mercy endures forever,”
that the house, the house of the Lord, was filled with a cloud, 14 so that the priests could not continue ministering because of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord filled the house of God. (2 Chronicles 5:13,14)
God inhabits the praises of his people. It is a real experience. A cloud is the rich, abundant splendour of God. The result was that the priests were on the floor and God was at work. In his presence the normal religious rituals cannot abide – God works and the focus is on him. Remember this in the experiential dimension of revival. The full attention of the worshipper is on God, never on the “sign” of his presence.
When Jehoshaphat had to fight the battle against the armies of Moab, he called out a fast and a consecration of the people before God. He prayed a beautiful long prayer. (2 Chronicles 20)
Then came the prophetic word:
Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, in the midst of the assembly.
And he said, “Listen, all you of Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and you, King Jehoshaphat!
Thus says the Lord to you: ‘Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. Tomorrow go down against them. They will surely come up by the Ascent of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the brook before the Wilderness of Jeruel. You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem!’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you.”
The battle is God’s. You will not need to fight. Position yourself. Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord. Beautiful words indeed.
The Levites responded with praise in strong voices. Their song was called the thehillah – the song that invites the presence of God and enthrone him forever.
But You are holy,
Enthroned in the praises of Israel. (Psalms 22:3)
Back to Chronicles and Jehoshaphat :
So they rose early in the morning and went out into the Wilderness of Tekoa; and as they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Hear me, O Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem: Believe in the Lord your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper.” 21 And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed those who should sing to the Lord, and who should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army and were saying:
“Praise the Lord,
For His mercy endures forever.”
War by music! Indeed! The worship leaders were leading, quite literally! That is where they should be – right in the first line of combat. The miracle was spectacular!
The song of the people confounded three enemy armies. Some scholars say that the ambush involved angelic actions, others say that confusion turned the enemy upon themselves. Whatever it may be, the result of the praise and worship was a spectacular victory. Make a picture of God fighting on your side. Elijah’s servant had to “see” with spiritual eyes what is really going on.
And when the servant of the man of God arose early and went out, there was an army, surrounding the city with horses and chariots. And his servant said to him, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” [Panic attack]
So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
And Elisha prayed, and said, “Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. (2 Kings 6:15-17)
A mountain full of horses and chariots of fire! God is fighting for you. Not because of your faultless life, but because his mercy endures forever.
Psalm 34 is a spontaneous song of praise. It is like making melody in your heart to God. (Ephesians 5:19). Let praise flow from our mouths (Matthew 12:34.
Singing is a transforming remedy for fear – filling the heart with faith and boldness.
I will bless the Lord at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
2 My soul shall make its boast in the Lord;
The humble shall hear of it and be glad.
3 Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
And let us exalt His name together.
4 I sought the Lord, and He heard me,
And delivered me from all my fears.
5 They looked to Him and were radiant,
And their faces were not ashamed.
6 This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him,
And saved him out of all his troubles.
7 The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him,
And delivers them.
8 Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good;
Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!
9 Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints!
There is no want to those who fear Him.
10 The young lions lack and suffer hunger;
But those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing.
11 Come, you children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
12 Who is the man who desires life,
And loves many days, that he may see good?
13 Keep your tongue from evil,
And your lips from speaking deceit.
14 Depart from evil and do good;
Seek peace and pursue it.
15 The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, ,
[Remember you are righteous because of Jesus – not your own efforts]
And His ears are open to their cry.
16 The face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
To cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.
17 The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears,
And delivers them out of all their troubles.
18 The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart,
And saves such as have a contrite spirit.
19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
But the Lord delivers him out of them all.
20 He guards all his bones;
Not one of them is broken.
21 Evil shall slay the wicked,
And those who hate the righteous shall be condemned.
22 The Lord redeems the soul of His servants,
And none of those who trust in Him shall be condemned.
Praise the Lord and be cured form blindness. We will soar like eagles and see God working in our messy, cruel world. He will not fail us – ever.
Write Pebblepals – and sing…