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#psalms

Note: I wrote the following in August of 2022 in my journal. Many words were written in that journal that will not be published. Some were too personal, some too dark. But the following I believe should see the light of day.


Even the darkness is not dark to you;
The night is bright as the day,
For darkness is as light with you.
Psalm 139:12

I don’t want to wallow in this valley. I don’t want to become friends with the untamable beasts that prowl outside my sight. I don’t intend to be here forever, to turn my encampment into a fort.

Dark is not dark for the Lord. What a delicious verse. The Psalmist leads us here with questions of where can he hide that the Lord cannot find him. That before a word is on his tongue, the Lord knows it. In the darkest places, the Lord is there and can see what comes next, for the darkness is not dark to Him. The night is bright as the day.

I do not camp in this valley alone. Even when the fire goes out and the shadows casted become all-encompassing, You are here and know what comes next.

Sometimes a song starts playing and you have to drop what you were doing, pull a chord chart, and join in.

I adore Psalm 57. Fell in love with it while taking shelter in caves surrounded by dragons. I wrote a series of articles last year on a sermon Spurgeon gave on Psalm 57, quoted it in one of my Christmas articles in December, and have referenced it in many other posts in passing.

This is a really good setting of Psalm 57 from The Worship Initiative and their Writers Well. Give it a listen.

Be merciful to me my King
There’s a darkness in this cave surrounding me
When the swords are drawn and spears and arrows fly
Be merciful to me my King

You have saved me from the roaring lions
Awake my soul to love You  Awake my soul to sing

Awake My Soul (Psalm 57)

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As a father of three, my heart is breaking with all the news coming this last week. I’m finding peace in Christ, settling myself into the Psalms.

For lo! The time is short for them
The wicked ones will be no more
Though carefully, you search them out
You’ll find them not, they’ll vanish, all

But look and see! The meek shall dwell
In fullness of the land, and will
In peace, abundant, peace full well
Delight themselves forevermore

Vengance belongs to the Lord. I am not bloodthirsty, for repaying pain for pain, ill for ill, horror for horror, leaves us with nothing but a shell.

As a Christian, I thirst for justice and at times that means war.

I am thankful that I am not in a position where I have to make the decisions that are having to be made in Israel this week, that I am not having to stiffle my own want for vengence as I bury my family. For those that are, know that we are praying for you. It’s what we have and it’s what we will give.

In the end, God will take care of the wicked.

I am on a bit of a kick for the Psalmist of Ogden Brian Sauvé this week. Heck, much of February and March was me just swimming through the Psalms, so it makes sense.

Fret not thyself at evil men
Nor envy those who worketh wrong
For they will soon fade like the grass
And wither like the new-cut herb

Fret Not Thyself At Evil Men (Psalm 37:1-11)

I am on a bit of a kick for the Psalmist of Ogden Brian Sauvé this week. Heck, much of February and March was me just swimming through the Psalms, so it makes sense.

Fret not thyself at evil men
Nor envy those who worketh wrong
For they will soon fade like the grass
And wither like the new-cut herb

Fret Not Thyself At Evil Men (Psalm 37:1-11)

By the Waters of Babylon

By the waters of Babylon,
there we sat down and wept,
when we remembered Zion.
On the willows there
we hung up our lyres.
For there our captors
required of us songs,
and our tormentors, mirth, saying,
“Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”

Psalm 137 1-3

I wrote about a song called Even If the other day. This morning I’m reading through my Bible and land on this psalm. This mirrors that song in many ways. We Christians are far from home, for we Christians are a nomadic, homeless religion. Unlike the Jews, we have no land until the Lord returns. And so often, we find outselves where, as Psalm 69 says, “[m]ore in number than the hairs of my head are those who hate me without cause.”

How shall we sing the Lord’s song
in a foreign land?
If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
let my right hand forget its skill!
Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth,
if I do not remember you,
if I do not set Jerusalem
above my highest joy!

Psalm 137 4-6

I would rather lob my right hand off than sing at their altars.

But also let the reverse of verse 5 be true. Let my right hand never forget its skill, as I, Lord, never lose sight of your coming Glory and the Kingdom.

When we are held to the flame, when we are in the midst of our enemies, when their mocking voices demand that we kowtow to them and deny our God, it can be hard to raise our voices. But don’t hang up your lyre, oh Christian. If they demand that you worship their gods, if they demand that you forget your own:

Awake, O harp and lyre!
I will awake the dawn!
I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples;
I will sing praises to you among the nations.

Psalm 57:8b-9

Wake the dawn. Don’t worship at their altars. Your God is not one of many, but the Only. The Name above all. Shout that.

Now pardon me— or don’t, as no pardon is required— as I go riff on I’ll Fly Away on my mandolin. Time to wake the dawn.

There is something about sitting by a campfire that soothes. There is something about sitting by a campfire with an instrument in hand that imbues. Yesterday we lit the firepit— a nice addition to our lovely home, complete with a grilling top— and grilled up tons— 5-6 pounds, really— of meat. We like having food for the days ahead. After dinner, storytime, teeth brushing, after the kiddos went off to bed, as the sun went down, I went out with my mando and sat by the simmering coals. Just enough warmth and light.

And I sat in awesome wonder.

June 24th was a major victory. A battle won in a war long-waged. Just one victory— albeit a large one— in a war that is not over. But that is just the background, really. That victory is not ours, it is not a moment to pat ourselves on the backs. As Bill Maher’s guest stated clearly, this was just luck. A “happy accident”. Had Ruth Bader Ginsburg retired under Obama, this may not have happened. Had Hillary Clinton won in 2016, this may not have happened.

Here we are. A “happy accident”, just luck.

But I don’t believe in luck. I believe in sovereignty. I believe in a Living God seated on a celestial throne. I don’t believe in accidents. I don’t believe in mistakes.

But the world does.

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him?

Psalm 8:3-4

One of our elders at church preached yesterday morning from Psalm 8. Two words are used in verse 4 to describe mankind. “What is man (enosh)” and “the son of man (ben adam)”. Enosh often points to our mortality and frailty, while ben adam means “son of dirt”.

All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return.

Ecclesiastes 3:20

In Genesis, the Creator makes us from dirt. Adam, the name of the first man, is literally dirt, which the Creator breathed life into. And the world doesn’t believe much different today. Our universe is one big accident. Your very existence is a chain of events, not driven with purpose, but with no direction whatsoever.

And your life? Meaningless.

The world has no definition of what life is. When it begins. When it ends. What is in between the beginning and the end is without meaning. Enjoy it while you can, get out of it what you want, and expire into the nothingness at the end of this.

It’s no wonder that the world rages against anyone that says that one shouldn’t live a specific way or enjoy certain pleasures. Why stop one from doing so? It’s all meaningless anyway. The void doesn’t care.

But.

For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.

Psalm 139:13-14

You weren’t made without purpose. You are not an accident. Nothing is. Our Lord, the Maker of the universe, the Creator of the stars and worlds untouched, the One that knows the number of hairs on your head, yet holds the Sun in his hand: He made you for a reason.

Oh Lord, my God
When I, in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder
Thy power throughout the universe displayed

Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee
How great Thou art, how great Thou art

I sat by the fire last night. Awesome wonder. As darkness crept over the earth. I considered. As the light of my fire glowed. My soul sang. His majesty is great, His power mighty, and His sovereignty complete. He has a plan. Every step is known. And He is owed the glory.

And He somehow cares for us. Despite us being mere mortals, frail. Despite us being made from dirt. He cares. He hears us. He is with us.

O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Psalm 8:9