A few things jumped out at me in this Psalm that I wanted to talk about today. The first verse that caught my attention happens right as the psalm begins.
Psalm 33:1 Shout for joy in the Lord, O you righteous! Praise befits the upright.
I recently wrote about the wonderful privilege of praising and worshiping our God. Honestly, I could write about it again because I just love it so deeply. But really, it’s the second sentence in this verse that I wanted to focus on. Praise befits the upright.
The Bible is incredible because it constantly presents me with ideas I’ve never considered before. Praise befits the upright. What does that mean, exactly? Befit means that it’s appropriate for, or suited for, so this verse is saying that an upright person is well suited to praise God. It means that if we’re walking upright, if we’re walking the good path, the God path, that praising God should be something that comes naturally to us. It’s an activity that’s made for us.
Isn’t that an awesome thought? I’ve talked about worshiping and praising God as a privilege before, but I’ve never thought about it being a characteristic before. As faithful followers of Christ, praising God should be a character trait we have. The thing about character traits is that they’re intangibles, they’re instinctual. I’m good with simple math, it’s just part of my brain. If my total is $13.24 and I hand a cashier a $20 I know instantly that I should get back $6.76. This isn’t a studied skill, it’s innate to who I am. And as a follower of Christ, as a lover of His ways, praising God is innate within me. It’s part of who we are as believers. And I just find that to be incredibly beautiful.
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I don’t know about you guys, but I run out of energy a lot. Whatever resources are within me can run dry pretty fast. My motivation to clean my house, the motivation to do my job, my energy to walk on the treadmill, sometimes my supply of these internal resources is pathetically shallow. I was thinking about that as I read this next verse.
Psalm 33:4-5 For the word of the Lord is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness. 5 He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord.
There are so many things to love about those two verses, but the thing that really just jumped off the page at me is the fact that God’s love isn’t a dwindling resource. Unlike me, God doesn’t run out of His internal resources. He doesn’t use up his allotted amount of blessings and miracles in a day and then have to wait for the next day to get some more. This verse doesn’t say that God’s love is present in Texas but not California, it doesn’t say that Lithuania has some of the Lord’s love but there’s none in Bulgaria. It says that the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord. It’s everywhere! God’s love is the crisp winter air, it’s the gorgeous red and orange leaves of the tree in my neighbor’s yard, it’s the breath in my lungs. When you’re walking in victory, eyes lifted above the chaos of daily life and focused on God and the things of God, you really do see His love alive in everything.
The day I studied this psalm I was driving home from seeing a movie for my job. As I crested a hill and started to get onto the highway I saw the most gorgeous evening sky on display before me. Off to the right was this gorgeous sunset, shooting rays of orange and pink light into the sky. And masterfully painted across the rest of the darkening sky were these clouds that were perfectly fluffy. It was a masterpiece, painted by a masterful creator. As I marveled at this unparalleled display of beauty, I just couldn’t believe that people don’t believe in God. Because as I continued to stare at the sky (I’m lucky I didn’t wreck, to be honest with you) all I saw was God. It’s all I saw up there. His beauty, His creativity, His love, His magnificence. The earth is full of Him, He’s on display everywhere.
If you’re not seeing the beauty, glory, and love of God in the world around you then I’d have to say you’re not looking hard enough. Either that, or your focus is on the wrong things. When I crested that hill I could’ve seen the traffic. I could’ve had my mood soured as I thought about all the bad drivers I was about to have to merge with and contend with. When I crested that hill I could’ve thought about the work I was rushing home to do. I could’ve started to assemble my movie review in my head, focused on my job and the to do list of journalism that was waiting for me on my computer.
Focus has been a recurring theme as I studied the Bible recently. Everything that happens can either be a reason for stressing or a reason for blessing. I wrote a few weeks back about how car, computer, and money problems had been a huge blessing for me because they made me realize how blessed I am, how loved and taken care of I was even in the tough times. It’s all a matter of focus. I could’ve missed the sunset, I’m sure I’ve missed thousands of them before. But that day my focus was true, and I was so blessed to witness my God’s glory spread across the sky for all to see.
I said a few paragraphs ago that I didn’t understand how anyone could’ve seen that sunset and not immediately praised the great beautiful God that made it. In verse 8 and 9 of this Psalm it touches upon that same idea.
Psalm 33:8-9 Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him! 9 For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded and it stood firm.
We should all stand in awe and reverence of God. Why? Because He is the maker and author of all creation.
As I close this out I’ll leave you with The Message interpretation of verses 8 and 9, as I really enjoy how it puts it.
Psalm 33:8-9 (The Message) Earth-creatures, bow before God; world-dwellers—down on your knees! Here’s why: he spoke and there it was, in place the moment he said so.
PRAYER AND CLOSING
Father God, today I find myself so thankful that you’re not a God who hides. You’re not a King who stays locked away in the throne room. When my focus is true, I don’t have to search the world wide to find you. Your beauty and your love and testaments to your glory are everywhere. What a love you have for us, to sign your name in the world all around us. You showed me love through the changing of the leaves on my neighbor’s tree, you encouraged me through the rays of a sunset. What other god could ever hope to match your beauty? Lord, as this year comes to a close, I want to pray right now for focus. For myself, for those around me, for anyone reading this blog, I just pray for a divine focus to come into our lives. Pull our eyes off of the chaos, pull our eyes off of the traffic, pull our eyes off of the problems, and let us fix them upon the savior who sits above all the earth. A man focused upon you and living in your ways cannot be stopped. In 2016, I want to be that man, and it’s my prayer that everyone in my life become that type of person as well. Lord, I thank you so deeply for drawing me back to you in 2015. You and I have talked about how sorry I am for the wasted years, and I’ll never forget that overwhelming love that flooded me when I said that to you. I remember the place, it felt like the moment of reconciliation. Father, I thank you so much for that moment, and every mighty thing that came after. If 2015 was the year of my return to you, then Lord, I want to declare right now that 2016 is the year of my triumph in you. Continue to work in my life. Embolden me, strengthen me, and please please Lord, use me in mighty ways. Use me to help others, work through me to spread your love to those who desperately need it. I’ve lived apart from you God, I know the hopelessness that comes from it. I say never again to that life, and I say forever and always to you, Jesus. Use me to bring those who have drifted away from you back to your side, just as you used people to do that for me this past summer. Mighty God, let 2016 be a year filled with your love and victories. In Jesus’ precious name I pray, amen.
I love each and every one of you, but my love pales in comparison to the love God has for each and every one of you. Don’t let the sun go down in 2015 without taking a moment to speak with Him. No matter what your relationship status is with the Lord, I’d ask that you take just a few moments and just speak with Him tonight. Everyone be safe tonight, make good decisions, and let the love of God radiate from you!