“Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced,” Psalm 105:4-5 (NIV)
Memorial Day is a special day for remembering. We know that this day has been observed in the United States of America for more than one hundred years. It began after the Civil War and was at first called Decoration Day. But the idea of a special day for remembering is much older than that. We know that God prescribed memorials at several times in Bible days because He did not want His people to forget what He had done for them. Our verse today is one such reminder to remember. So today when we remember other important things like those who have given their lives while serving our country in wars, let’s be sure to remember also our God and the wonders He has done for us. What He has done is recorded in the Bible and is for all people. Let’s think too of how He has helped us in the past. All this will help us look to the Lord as we are reminded in our verse. Remember today and every day that God is with us helping us with every step we take.
Notes on Memorial Day in USA
“Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.” Psalm 33:22 (ESV)
The last verse in Psalm 33 is a short prayer. This is really a prayer of faith. When we think of God’s love as enduring and never failing, that is faith. We believe that God loves us and always will. The “steadfast love” can also be rendered as “unfailing love” and we can believe that God loves us and always will. Our verse also mentions our hope and of course that is not wishful thinking, it is expectation. When we expect God to show us His love that is also faith. So, in faith, let’s expect God to demonstrate his steadfast love to us. And, let’s expect it to be not a once in a while experience but a lasting all time experience. That’s what it means to have God’s love resting upon us all the time. God’s love is with us all the time, that is a promise God has given to us and we can trust in it with a hope that will not disappoint us – not ever.
“How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? … But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.” – Psalm 13:1, 5-6 (ESV)
The trial and testing faith believers in Jesus encounter are brought into our lives in order that we may know with certainty the faithfulness of our God. David had learned that God’s love never failed. He had gone through many different and difficult circumstances and consequently had come to know he could always sense that no matter what happened God always loved him and was always with him. Because of turmoil, many who believe in Jesus are fearful of what’s next. Evildoers seem to be taking over our world. And like David, we can know that God’s love for us is unfailing His promises are true. No matter what happens in our lives, our world, God still loves us. We can depend on it and we can trust in His love as David did. He’ll bring into our lives experiences which will be for our good. Then our hearts will rejoice as David’s heart did and like him we’ll sing to God. We have the same reason; we have the same promise of unfailing love and we can rest in the knowledge that God has promised and has been good to us just as He was to David.
“How blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in His commandments.” – Psalm 112:1 (NASB)
“He will not fear evil tidings; His heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.” – Psalm 112:7 (NASB)
“The wicked will see it and be vexed, he will gnash his teeth and melt away; the desire of the wicked will perish.” – Psalm 112:10
We have chosen three verses which reminded us of steadfast heart and how the world responds. Verse 1 encourages believers – those who fear the LORD God. They delight in God’s Word. Verse 7 describes a picture of a heart that is resting on something solid so that it is not shaken no matter what happens. There is no fear of the evil in the world. It is common today to hear the angst expressed by believers when they see that the world around us is unstable and coming apart. Our promise is that our hearts can remain unmoved. The verses today explain how this comes about. It is by trusting in the Lord. What else could provide a more solid foundation than our God? As we trust and fear the Lord we find satisfaction in his promises and commands. The wicked in the world will be disturbed by the believer’s steadfast faith. Gnashing of teeth they melt away. We won’t be bothered by things going on around us. Our feelings and our thoughts will always be steady knowing that God is faithful. Today, let’s be like the person in verses 7-9.
“What shall I render to the Lord For all His benefits toward me? I shall lift up the cup of salvation And call upon the name of the Lord.” – Psalm 116:12-13 (NASB)
The benefits we faith believers receive from the LORD are more numerous than what we can count or list. They are poured out upon His children because He is a merciful God, loving and without change. God needs nothing and puts no price on His free mercy and grace. Although many believe and strive to “be good enough” to earn God’s approval, such acts do nothing to secure their salvation. The psalmist says something interesting “I shall lift up the cup of salvation.” This is the only place in the Old Testament where this exact phrase is used. It might have the meaning of ‘the cup’ in Psalms 16:5; 23:5; which speak of the circumstances God provides to the redeemed. In contrast may be Psalm 75:8 and the cup of God’s wrath. Drink offerings were part of thank offerings in: Exodus 29:40-41. More likely it refers to that part of the sacrifice included with his thank offerings. Both grain and drink both expressed thanks for having received salvation – which delivered them death. The cup is lifted up in praise to the LORD of Hosts. Others hearing are edified, which is one of the purposes of public praise.
“I love the LORD, because He hears My voice and my supplications. Because He has inclined His ear to me, Therefore I shall call upon Him as long as I live.” Psalm 116:1-2 (NASB)
What reasons come to our minds when we think about why we love the LORD God? This is an intensely personal “thank you” Psalm to the Lord for saving the psalmist from death. The occasion and author are unknown, although the language used by Jonah in his prayer from the fish’s stomach is remarkably similar. Compare Psalm 116:3-4 with Jonah 2:5-6. In these words in this song the psalmist tells how he reacted to the way the Lord responded to his call for help. These words may well also express our feelings in reaction to how God responses when we cry for mercy. It’s surely true that when the Lord responds by turning his ear to our call for help our hearts respond in love for Him. Yes He is a wonderful, faithful Lord and we do love Him. And isn’t it true that when God does hear our prayer it encourages us to again and again call on Him whenever we need help? This is a habit we want to have throughout our lives. Let’s join with the psalmist, saying what he said in our verse “I will call on him as long as I live.”
“Many are saying, “Who will show us any good?” Lift up the light of Your countenance upon us, O Lord! You have put gladness in my heart, More than when their grain and new wine abound. In peace I will both lie down and sleep, For You alone, O Lord, make me to dwell in safety.” – Psalm 4:6-8 (NASB)
There are many today who are skeptical of those who believe in Jesus as Savior and Lord. Some make comments about how our faith is in someone who does not exist. They are saying, “You’re believing is something that can’t do you any good.” David had many of these critics, the taunting skeptics, but he cut them off with his testimony. He called on God shine on him with the light of His countenance. That is, he asked for God’s face to be reflected in his own face. As a result, David acknowledged that God was the true source of his heartfelt gladness. Only God can give us such authentic gladness so that is shines forth from our face. This is gladness that springs from our heart when we are at peace with God. It is not gladness that comes from abundance of food and “new-wine,” the evidence of provisions provided. It is the knowledge that God is the source of peace. When problems, conflict, and skeptics face us, and no matter how threatening our world is, we can lie down and sleep because we dwell in the safety God gives to us.
“Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!” Psalm 115:1 (ESV)
We would be right to understand that nothing we can do that is greater than giving God the Glory He deserve*. Many of the songs in the Psalms remind us of the reasons we have for thanking and for praising our Lord. We notice that the very act of giving praise to God is the way we are to give Him glory. We do not worship God in order to generate good feelings within ourselves – although sincere praise does bring satisfaction and joy to us. Our verse teaches us that the reason we have any reason for thankfulness and praise is because of God’s love and because of His faithfulness. It is true, isn’t it? The reason God helps us and does so much for his children is His love for us. His love is steadfast, it is the lovingkindness that he has for us. When God does something for us, if He answers our prayers and meets our needs because of His love, not our merit. God also helps us because He is faithful to His promises and to His character also. He can be depended on, what He says, He will do.
What is Glory of God?
You have also given me the shield of Your salvation, And Your right hand upholds me; And Your gentleness makes me great.” – Psalm 18:35 (NASB)
What is the shield that protects us from the evil forces? References to the ‘right hand’ in Scripture often refer literally in the way we use the term about one’s dominant hand. The term is also used as a metaphor to prominence and strength. In our verse today is David describes God’s power and gentleness that is employed for our benefit and His glory. The psalm, written “in the day that the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul.” Throughout the 50 verses David gives praise and acknowledges the LORD as his deliverer. “Right hand” is also used when God speaks of holding our right hand or giving our right-hand strength. We also find the right hand of God as a symbol of protection, presence, and saving power. We can rejoice that God promises to both hold us up by His right hand and to hold onto us by our right hand. Besides the use of God’s right hand as a source of His power in our lives we also have a shield He has given to us. That shield is His salvation promised and given to us.
“For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock.” – Psalm 27:5 (ESV)
Isn’t it true that one of our greatest desires is to live in security? But, we don’t always, and we need protection now and again. The Psalmist, in this song, is seeking help and finds the close presence and fellowship of God. If we read the first verse we find a fitting title; “The LORD Is My Light and My Salvation.” David’s conclusions about the result of such fellowship is that those who abide with God are safe. This is true even if physical harm comes our way but our spiritual life is hidden in his shelter when we are in the midst of trouble in this world. The dangers we face come from both physical and spiritual sources. We may succumb to the results or effects of physical assaults and our adversaries may intend to take us down, they can only affect what is our temporal being. Our spiritual lives with God are safe for He has lifted us out of the danger and sets us upon a high rock well out of the reach of the enemy. The LORD God is our Light and our Salvation, He has promised us that!