Read the Bible in 2011 ◊ Week 2: Wednesday
Mid-week on Wednesday, I turned back to the Psalms. Today’s reading is Psalm 3–5: David asks for deliverance from foes, relief from distress, and he cries for help because of his foes. Within these Psalms he affirms who God is: Psalm 3: “a shield around me, my glory,” Psalm 4: “the One who lifts my head high; my righteous God;” Psalm 5: “my King and my God.”
As I go through and look at phrases within these Psalms, I find:
He speaks of what God does on his behalf:
Psalm 3: “He answers me, the LORD sustains me, From the LORD comes deliverance;”
Psalm 4: “the LORD has set apart his faithful servant for himself, the LORD hears when I call to him, you alone, LORD, make me dwell in safety;”
Psalm 5: “you hear my voice, it is You who blesses the righteous man, O LORD, You surround him with favor as with a shield.”
And he cries out:
Psalm 3: “Arise, O LORD; save me, O my God!”
Psalm 4: “Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!”
Psalm 5: “Hold them guilty, O God; By their own devices let them fall!”
There’s far more to those Psalms—read them and be blessed!
The Psalms speak to so many of us. We see David expressing his genuine feelings and thoughts in the midst of all kinds of circumstances. We see him affirm over and over again who God is in His character and His care for David. think the Psalms sustain and increase our faith because we find here a man dealing with realities and calling on God. We have hope that when we are in the midst of the same realities, we can call on God. We see God’s love for David, and David’s love for God, and we are encouraged to love God.
I sometimes wonder what reactions would be in churches today if someone like David walked into their midst. There is no pretense in David. He tell exactly what it’s like to live in a sinful world and to struggle with your own sin, and he affirms who God is and worships Him in praise. For some reason, we seem to think that if we know God and worship Him, then we will no longer feel pain. We build up false pictures of life and not only impose them on ourselves, but impose them on others. When reality cracks those pictures, we don’t know what to do. Sometimes we don’t offer the love others need because what we see going on in their lives threatens to crack our façade. The Bible tells us of a real God who offers real hope for real life.
One of the classic works on the Psalms is Charles Spurgeon’s The Treasury of David. Spurgeon was a famous preacher in England in the last half of the nineteenth century. His writings are still published and read because Spurgeon continually proclaimed Christ through his preaching with a rare combination of truth and passion. (Read the Psalms before you read Spurgeon, however!)
His commentary on the Psalms is considered his magnum opus1. He wrote it as someone who knew a real God who gave him real hope in the midst of a real life. Lewis Drummond, in his massive biography, Spurgeon: Prince of Preachers, writes:
“All through life he experienced trials that drove him to despair and thus to his knees. He confessed in Bunyan’s allegorical style, “There are dungeons underneath the Castle of Despair as dreary as the abodes of the lost, and some of us have been in them.””2
Not only did Spurgeon know problems within, but he also knew attacks from without, but he held true to God and to His Word. It is no wonder he wrote with such eloquence of the Psalms.
Spurgeon persevered in faithfulness to the end of his life. Lewis Drummond opens the first chapter of Spurgeon’s biography with this descriptive quote from John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress.3
“Who would true valour see,
Let him come hither;
One here will constant be,
Come wind, come weather
There’s no discouragement
Shall make him once relent
His first avowed intent
To be a pilgrim.”
In the Psalms we find encouragement—come wind, come weather—to enable us to never relent our own avowed intent to be a pilgrim.
Isaiah 42 Photograph: ChristianPhotos.net – Free High Resolution Photos for Christian Publications
1The Spurgeon Archive, The Treasury of David.
2Lewis A. Drummond, Spurgeon: Prince of Preachers, p. 29.
Spurgeon was referring to John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress, in which Christian and Hopeful are imprisoned and beaten by Giant Despair, the owner of Doubting Castle. They remain in the dungeon until Christian remembers he holds the key, Promise, that will open any lock in Doubting Castle.
3Lewis A. Drummond, Spurgeon: Prince of Preachers, p. 19.
The stanza is part of a poem spoken by Mr. Valiant-for-Truth in the fourth section of the second part of The Pilgrim’s Progress, the story of Christian’s wife and children. You can read The Pilgrims’s Progress online at Wikisource.
Original content: Copyright ©2011 Iwana Carpenter