Thursday, December 13, 2012

Daily Bible Reading: Psalms 40-42 and James 5

Psalm 40 – “I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire” (40:1-2).

“He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God” (40:3).

“You take no delight in sacrifices or offerings. Now that you have made me listen, I finally understand – you don’t require burnt offerings or sin offerings” (40:6).

“I take joy in doing your will, my God, for your instructions are written on my heart. I have told all your people about your justice. I have not been afraid to speak out, as you, O Lord, well know. I have not kept the good news of your justice hidden in my heart; I have talked about your faithfulness and saving power” (40:9-10).

While this psalm starts out as a celebration of the Lord’s comfort, the tone turns at this point and seems burdened with near-despair. “Lord, don’t hold back your tender mercies from me. Let your unfailing love and faithfulness always protect me. For troubles surround me – too many to count! My sins pile up so high I can’t see my way out. They outnumber the hairs on my heard. I have lost all courage. Please, Lord rescue me! Come quickly, Lord, and help me” (40:11-13). Some terrible crisis must have come upon the writer. He is definitely both worried and hopeful that in the end the Lord will help him.

“You are my helper and my savior. O my God, do not delay” (40:17).

Psalm 41 – “Oh, the joys of those who are kind to the poor. The Lord rescues them when they are in trouble. The Lord protects them and keeps them alive. He gives them prosperity in the land and rescues them from their enemies” (41:1-2).

“[M]y enemies say nothing but evil about me. ‘How soon will he die and be forgotten?’ they ask. They visit me as if they were my friends, but all the while they gather gossip, and when they leave, they spread it everywhere” (41:5-6).

Even his best friend has turn against him. “I know you are pleased with me, for you have not let my enemies triumph over me. You have preserved my life because I am innocent; you have brought me into your presence forever” (41:11-12).

Psalm 42 – “As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God. I thirst for God, the living God. When can I go and stand before him?” (42:1-2).

“Day and night I have only tears for food, while my enemies continually taunt me, saying, ‘Where is this God of yours?’ My heart is breaking as I remember how it used to be: I walked among the crowds of worshipers, leading a great procession to the house of God, singing for joy and giving thanks” (42:3-4).

“Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God. I will praise him again – my Savior and my God” (42:5).

“O my God, my soul is cast down within me: therefore will I remember you” (42:6). “I hear the tumult of the raging seas as your waves and surging tides sweep over me. But each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing his songs, praying to God who gives me life” (42:7-8).

James 5 – Those who are rich should realize that their lives are “a mist,” their plans subject to God’s will. They should not exploit their workers.

Those who are really faithful must be patient for the Lord to come and bring justice. “See how patient a farmer is as he waits for his land to produce precious crops. He waits patiently for the autumn and spring rains. You also must be patient. Keep your hopes high, for the day of the Lord’s coming is near” (5:7-8)

You should never swear. Be simply honest – people whose words mean what they say. And pray in confidence that the Lord will hear you. “The prayer of a good person has a powerful effect” (5:16).

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