Sunday, September 18, 2011
Psalm 65 (NLT): What mighty praise, O God, belongs to you in Zion. We will fulfill our vows to you, for you answer our prayers. All of us must come to you. Though we are overwhelmed by our sins, you forgive them all. What joy for those you choose to bring near, those who live in your holy courts. What festivities await us inside your holy Temple. You faithfully answer our prayers with awesome deeds, O God our savior. You are the hope of everyone on earth, even those who sail on distant seas. You formed the mountains by your power and armed yourself with mighty strength. You quieted the raging oceans with their pounding waves and silenced the shouting of the nations. Those who live at the ends of the earth stand in awe of your wonders. From where the sun rises to where it sets, you inspire shouts of joy. You take care of the earth and water it, making it rich and fertile. The river of God has plenty of water; it provides a bountiful harvest of grain, for you have ordered it so. You drench the plowed ground with rain, melting the clods and leveling the ridges. You soften the earth with showers and bless its abundant crops. You crown the year with a bountiful harvest; even the hard pathways overflow with abundance. The grasslands of the wilderness become a lush pasture, and the hillsides blossom with joy. The meadows are clothed with flocks of sheep, and the valleys are carpeted with grain. They all shout and sing for joy!
So I celebrated my birthday this last week and one of my friends and former Bible college instructors, Dan Hammer, sent me a Scripture reference as a birthday blessing. This Scripture was Psalm 65:11(NASB): You have crowned the year with Your bounty, and Your paths drip with fatness. I read this and was encouraged by it and thanked Pastor Dan, but then like we do so often it slid from memory. Then at church Friday night Amanda R. brought it up saying how it encouraged her, so I looked it up again this time in my Bible and not online. (Disclaimer: while I love online bible resources, biblegateway.com being a well-used one, when you look up a single reference you can miss a lot in the context.) So I looked it up in my Bible and started looking at some of the contextual scripture and was even more encouraged. As I sat down this morning to continue my journey through the Book of Acts, I felt the Lord prompt me to go back to Psalm 65. I did my usual, “are You sure, because it has been several months and I have only gotten through Chapter 9?” like somehow He doesn’t know, but I had to be sure. So here are the highlights of what I was getting as I read. I also want to throw out another disclaimer or whatever you want to call it; I used the NLT above because I like how it read, if you notice that any other references I am using after this point don’t exactly match to what is above that is because they will probably be out of the NASB of the NKJV, my preferred versions.
So to me this whole chapter, song, or poem (whatever you want to call it) is very encouraging. It is a declaration of God’s greatness, love and ability as a provider. It also outlines the gospel message, starting with us being aware of our sin and Him providing us with forgiveness, which then allows us to come to Him and then He protects us, provides for us and we rejoice. Verse 4 actually says that when He chooses us He causes us to come to Him in His holy temple. How awesome is that? Not only does He cause us to come into His house but He provides for us.
One of the things about being in His holy temple that stood out to me is that there are many that call themselves Christians that still have the viewpoint of themselves that they are lowly sinners, worms even and they aren’t worthy. Their taking this stance denies that work that Christ provided for their lives; even here in the Psalm it says that He forgave our sins so that we could enter the Holy Temple, He made it possible to enter into His presence. 1 Corinthians 6:19 (NASB) Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For them to say they are still unworthy is a contradiction to the Scripture and if they indeed are still lowly sinners then the Holy Spirit would not be able to dwell within them. Isaiah 59:2 (NASB): But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear. It makes me sad that they limit themselves from receiving the fullness of all that Jesus has provided for them.
This Scripture also speaks of God’s control in tumultuous situations; it says that He can still the noise of the seas and the waves and the tumult of the people. It says in Psalm 107:28-30(NASB) Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and He brought them out of their distresses. He caused the storm to be still, So that the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad because they were quiet, So He guided them to their desired haven. In Matthew 8:26 Jesus rebukes the storm and brought a great calm, and Philippians 4:7 He gives peace that surpasses understanding.
Most of the rest talks of His provision. He provides water and grain, and the hills are covered with flocks. The waters flow from the mountain tops. The abundance is found on the hills, in the pastures and in the valleys. It is funny that we tend to strive for the mountain top experiences, but the life and sustenance is on the hills and in the valleys, that is where He provides.