April 17 – Devotion Sharing (Psalm 5)

Submitted by Kevan H. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church.

Psalm 5

(NLT)
7 Because of your unfailing love, I can enter your house;
I will worship at your Temple with deepest awe.

Indeed, O Lord, only because of Your unfailing love can I enter Your house and come before You. When I look at my heart and my natural inclinations, it’s clear that I am a sinner through and through. I am filled with my own desires, my own wants, and the words, “It’s my life,” come so naturally and resonate so deeply. Mired in this self-focus I would never have come into Your house. I would have ruined my life pursuing my own desires. But Your unfailing love through Jesus on the cross, the living and active Words I find in Scripture, and through the hands and feet of the people of Your church, these have all been your unfailing love humbling me with truth, and leading me into Your house. And so, Lord, help me always to remember that indeed, Your unfailing love leads me to enter into Your house and into Your presence.
Moreover, brief reflection over my life and my sinfulness shows me what a miracle You have worked in my heart to bring me to Yourself. You’ve led me to the cross to meet Jesus, to lay down my sins and pick up a new life that is now engaged in serving others, building the church, and leading others into eternal dwellings. You have given me a purpose for my aimless life, and You have given me back my dignity and freed me from sins that enslaved me; You have forgiven me my sins and reconciled me to Yourself. It causes me to worship at Your temple with awe. Thank You for reminding me of this fundamental truth and reality.

(NLT)
8 Lead me in the right path, O Lord,
or my enemies will conquer me.
Make your way plain for me to follow.

This is my prayer, God, “Lead me in the right path!” Your path is clearly laid out in Scripture, how I should live, what values I should place as gems in my heart, and how to decide and live out the different decisions I must face daily: how I should treat my friends, how I should respond to misunderstanding or insults, how I should respond to rejection, how I should respond to people who say mean things or treat me poorly; how I should receive truth from people rather than fighting them; how I should lay down my rights to serve others; how I should use my time and energies not to indulge my desires but to build Your church; how I should treasure people over things; and that I can have the spiritual eyes to see the responsibilities given me not as burden or mere duty, but as tremendous privilege and joy.
Lord, I ask you to lead me in the right path because the consequence of not living according to Your Word is that “my enemies will conquer me.” The enemies are my sinful nature, my old desires, my natural comfort-seeking, entertainment-seeking, self-preserving heart. This is the old self which I am daily trying to put off (cf. Eph 4). Lord, please lead me in the right path, and let your way be plain to me to follow. Help me to be well-grounded in Scripture, because Your word makes it plain, makes it clear for me how to follow You no matter what decisions or struggles I may have (cf. Psalm 119:105, Psalm 19:7-8).

(NIV84)
9?Not a word from their mouth can be trusted;
their heart is filled with destruction.
Their throat is an open grave;
with their tongue they speak deceit.

My enemies speak all sorts of words to me. My sinful nature, like the serpent in the garden, tells me,
–  “It’s ok, just slow down for a while. You have time to pursue God later. Just a little bit right now is okay.” Cf. Matt 11:12, Eph 5:15-17
–  “Spiritual life doesn’t need to be this hard. It’s not supposed to be this hard, something must be wrong. Spiritual life doesn’t work.” Cf. Galatians 5:16-25
– “A little bit of compromise won’t kill me.” James 1:15
– “Why do I have to serve others? Why do I feel like I keep giving my life to others?” Cf. Gal 5:13-14, 1 Pet 2:21

I can continue writing all the different words my enemies will tell me. But I affirm the truth of the words of the psalmist, that the words of my sinful nature and of Satan are filled with destruction, are an open grave, and are filled with deceit, intending to bring me to death. Help me Lord to cling to your words, to Your path outlined in Scripture, and to experience true life.
As I do this and take refuge in You, I will experience these verses:

11 But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
let them sing joyful praises forever.
Spread your protection over them,
that all who love your name may be filled with joy.
12 For you bless the godly, O Lord;
you surround them with your shield of love.

Praise the Lord and Amen.

Submitted by Hannah C. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Psalm 5

What does this Psalm teach me about God? 

God hears me when I pray. He pays attention to my groaning and need for help. When I bring my requests to God, I can have confidence that he is listening to me and does not neglect me.

God takes no pleasure in wickedness and cannot tolerate the sins of the wicked. The proud cannot stand in his presence because God hates all who do evil. He is not blind to what is going on in the world or in our hearts. Pride, wickedness and evil intents are apparent before God.

What exhortations, lessons, or warnings do I need to heed?

I can learn that God hears me when I pray. There are times when I wonder if he is listening. If there are no immediate answers to many of my prayers, I get discouraged and think that God does not care or hear. But David, who wrote this psalm, brought his requests to God each morning and waited expectantly. He never lost his childlike faith that God hears him and continued to pray and expected an answer. And this was while he was waiting for God to deliver him from the hands of Saul. He did not know if Saul would stop pursuing him or he would become king as he was promised, but he “[waited] expectantly” for God’s timing and answers. This is a picture of faith I want to emulate as an impatient person who expects answers quickly, situations to resolve fast and my sin issues to be fixed instantly. Rather than focusing on results or answers, I want to focus on lifting up honest prayers and requests and have confidence that God listens and wait for him expectantly.

Another thing I thought about is why the proud cannot stand in God’s presence. It might be because God represents everything opposite of pride. What God promotes is self-denial, goodness and humility. Even though he is the creator and almighty God, he wants to listen to our prayer and pay attention to our needs. Though we are insignificant and small, God finds us significant.  His other-centeredness is repulsive to the proud, and therefore the proud cannot stand in his presence. During the passion week, I thought about the responses of various people. The teachers of the law could not stand Jesus because they were only interested in promoting themselves. They were hostile to Jesus’ teaching because it contradicted what they wanted. But those who were repentant found hope in Jesus and thanked him for his sacrifice on the cross. This passage is a warning to me because I see how proud I am. My proud mind tells me that I should be respected and recognized as one of the older ones at our church, and that I should be over certain struggles by now. This kind of pride causes me to not be honest and hide, and what I am doing is essentially rejecting all that God wants. And with enough time, I will not be able to stand in God’s presence anymore. But the person who finds peace in God’s presence is the one who recognizes that it is only by God’s mercy that she can come into His house. Not because of merits or accomplishments, but only by God’s great mercy shown on the cross. This is such a simple and clear fact, which gets lost often in my proud heart. The truth is that no matter how old I get, my identity as a sinner will never change. But God does not condemn me and wants me to take refuge in him and humbly accept the fact. This is what I want to take to heart.

PRAYER:

Dear God, I affirm once again that the best place to be is at the foot of the cross where I am clear about my identity as a sinner. Please forgive of my pride that wants to exalt self. When you hear me pray, please listen to my cry for help and rescue me from myself. I want to be in your presence where I am humbled and recognize your great mercy. Thank you for being such a loving God who listens to me and knows me. Amen.

Submitted by Steven C. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Psalm 5

·     What does this Psalm teach me about God? 

-God is the one who hears my prayers (v.3)

-God does not delight in evil (v.4)

-God will destroy those “who tell lies” and hates “bloodthirsty and deceitful men” (v.6)

-God is the one who protects (v.11)

-God chooses to bless the righteous and surrounds them with pleasure (v.12)

·     What exhortations, lessons, or warnings do I need to heed?

Because of your unfailing love, I can enter your house; I will worship at your Temple with deepest awe. Lead me in the right path, O Lord, or my enemies will conquer me.  Make your way plain for me to follow.

God is the one who invites me into relationship.  There is no good in me, and the way to entering the house of God and a restored and forgiven relationship is only through the love and mercy of my God.  The hope of fellowship and relationship is not contingent upon any goodness or righteousness of my own.  So, the way to God cannot be found on my own, but must be found through God and sustained by following and obeying His leading.  If left to my own choices and desires, I would most certainly not follow the “right path” and the worries of life and the things of this world would surely conquer me.

·     What truths can I affirm, or what promises can I claim from this Psalm?  

God is not this distant and aloof being that is unaware of the plight and distresses of his people.  He is the one who hears our groans our pains, sees our silent tears and knows the darkness and doubts that swirl inside.  He is the one and only one that I can pray to and petition that life will not always be what it may seem.

  • What verse stands out that I want to remember or meditate on further?

12For surely, O Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.

God is one who desires to bless and grant favor.  He is not this killjoy, Grinch of a god, but he is one who blesses the righteous.  The way this happens is through taking refuge in God and no longer taking confidence in the things of the self.  It requires that God become the one who is in charge of my life.  To find refuge in God, means to come to God and claim to have him as the protector and master of my life.  But, so much of my natural self balks at God’s claim over every area.  Such a life of submission and surrender seems so depressing and restrictive, but it is precisely this submission to God and full surrender of our own wills and desires, that allows God to do something beautiful with my life.  The fact is, that God wants to bless and bless abundantly, but what it requires is that I’m no longer seeking blessings for my life.

PRAYER

Dear Heavenly Father,

Help me to pray to you each morning, with a newness of heart and a fresh resolve and understanding that you hear my prayers and pleas.  Lord, you hear my groans day and night, you know all the turmoil and different stresses of life, and your promise to me is that it will not always be.  Lord God, you know me, you know the deepest parts of my life and you know my greatest needs.  I do not have to go through this life alone, relying on my own strength and ability, because I’ve become so aware of how weak and frail I truly am.  Instead, God, into your refuge and your presence I go.  Lord, you are my King and My God and I wait expectantly for you to hear my prayers and cries.

Lead me in the right path, O Lord, or my enemies will conquer me. Make your way plain for me to follow.

God, you are the one I want to follow, but I confess that at times, it feels like it’s so hard to follow. The sufferings of this life, the things that I do in the name of obeying you, Oh Lord, let me know that they are not in vain.  Lord, show me the right path, the path that I am to stay on that leads to flourishing, blessing and life.  The life that I see before me, is the daily grime, I see my sins, I see my character flaws, I see my insecurities, I see the physical world, I see my lusts and desires and I wonder when it will all pass away.  God let me not take confidence in any of the things of myself, my abilities, my competencies, my education, my status, my anything, but instead wholly boast and find refuge in you.

11But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy.  Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you. 12For surely, O Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.

 

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