Wednesday With The Psalms (Psalm 33)


Psalm 33 is a psalm of praise made up of three distinct sections.1 In verses 1-3 we have a traditional call to praise which is a common feature at the beginning of the praise psalms. Then in verses 4-19, the psalmist list for us all the reasons we should praise God, or the cause for our praise. And finally, in verses 20-22, we have the conclusion, which describes for us the appropriate response for those who are convinced of all the things the psalmist has described about God in this psalm. Let’s begin by looking at the the call to praise in verses 1-3.

Call to Praise (vv. 1-3)

1 Shout for joy in the LORD, O you righteous! Praise befits the upright. 2 Give thanks to the LORD with the lyre; make melody to him with the harp of ten strings! 3 Sing to him a new song; play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts. (Psalms 33:1–3 ESV)

In these verses the psalmist (who is not identified by a superscription or title) calls upon the people of God to sing a song of praise to the LORD. He says we should do this with loud shouts that are accompanied by stringed instruments like the harp and lyre. And he tells us at the end of verse 1 that these shouts of praise are the appropriate response for those who follow and serve God faithfully.

Notice in verse 3 that the song should be a “new song”! New songs, with stringed instruments, and no mention of a piano! He must have been the Old Testament version of the contemporary worship leader. In all seriousness, the words “new song” here more than likely mean singing as someone who has recently experienced the grace of God in a new way.2 The idea is that when we come together each week to worship God, we should sing all the songs (old and new) in a new way because of the fresh experiences of God’s grace we have experienced in our lives during the week that has just passed. In other words, don’t let your praise become rote and routine.

And so, with this call to praise issued, the psalmist now moves into verses 4-19 which describe for us the reasons we should praise God in this way.

Reasons for Praise (vv. 4-19)

This section begins in verses 4 and 5 with a brief summary of four reasons for which we should praise God.3 The psalmist will develop and expound upon these reasons in the verses that follow, but he begins with this summary to let us know where he is headed. And so, we’ll begin by reading these summary verses and identifying the four reasons for praise he outlines in them. Then we’ll work through the psalmist’s detailed explanation of these four reasons of praise in the remaining verses the psalm. Verses 4 and 5 say:

4 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. (Psalms 33:4–5 ESV)

So the four reasons for praise that the psalmist list for us in verses 4 and 5 are:

  1. For the word of the LORD is upright (v. 4a)
  2. All his work is done in faithfulness (v. 4b)
  3. He loves righteousness and justice (v. 5a)
  4. The earth is full of the steadfast love of the LORD (v. 5b)

The Word Of The LORD Is Upright (vv. 4a, 6-9)

Let’s continue by reading verses 6-9 where the psalmist explains in detail what he meant when he said in the first half of verse 4 that the word of the LORD is upright. According to the psalmist, the word of the LORD is upright because:

6 By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host. 7 He gathers the waters of the sea as a heap; he puts the deeps in storehouses.

8 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. (Psalms 33:6–9 ESV)

In other words, using nothing more than the words of his mouth, the LORD created everything. We are reminded here that by only uttering simple commands, God created the heavens and he made all the hosts of heaven, meaning all the stars and planets and/or all the angelic beings (both are true).

In verse 7 we are also reminded that “God controls the seas by his word and can use them as he sees fit.”4 On the third day of creation, God commanded the seas to separate from the land, and the seas obeyed (Genesis 1:9-10). The fact is, as we see in verse 9, “[God] spoke, and it came to be.” And so, we are told in verse 8 that the psalmist’s expectation is that all the people of the earth would fear this powerful and awesome God and give him the praise he deserves. He says, “Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him!” And yet, for the most part the people of this world pretend like God isn’t even there. Sadly this is often true even in the church. But a day is coming soon where we will not be able to ignore him any longer. We will see the power of his commands with our very own eyes.

So the first reason the psalmist gives for praising God is that his Word is upright. Meaning that they are straight and true and, therefore, always accomplish what God intends and what is best.

All His Work Is Done In Faithfulness (vv. 4b, 10-12)

And the second reason the psalmist gives us for praising God is found at the end of verse 4. According to the psalmist we should praise God because “all his work is done in faithfulness.” And he explains this in more detail in verses 10-12. Let’s take a look at them now.

10 The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples. 11 The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations. 12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage! (Psalms 33:10–12 ESV)

In verses 10 and 11 we are reminded that “the God who made the world also rules it according to his own purposes”5 and that his purposes are often at odds with the plans and intentions of the people in this world who do not submit themselves to God. While the plans of these people are often thwarted by God, God’s plans stand forever. And so, as we see in verse 12, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!” When God’s plans are our plans, we are blessed because his plans will always succeed. And so, as those whom God has chosen to be his own possession, we should enthusiastically praise him with shouts of joy and songs of praise.

So, in verses 10-12 we have seen that the second reason the psalmist tells us to praise God is because all his work is done in faithfulness. And in verses 13-15, we will see that the third reason we should praise God is, as we were told at the beginning of verse 5, because “He loves righteousness and justice.”

He Loves Righteousness And Justice (vv. 5a, 13-15)

Let’s read verses 13-15 now.

13 The LORD looks down from heaven; he sees all the children of man; 14 from where he sits enthroned he looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth, 15 he who fashions the hearts of them all and observes all their deeds. (Psalms 33:13–15 ESV)

What we learn in these verses is that because God loves righteousness and justice he looks down from heaven and “evaluates all people according the standard of his righteousness.”6 He has fashioned our hearts and he observes all our deeds. And because he loves his righteousness and his justice, that is his standard. And because he sees into our hearts and minds, his right and just demands apply even to our thoughts and desires.

God is, thus, worthy of our praise because he is not like humankind. He is in every way righteous and just. And he is able to see past the outward facade that people of the earth are often so impressed with. God is able to see and judge the hearts and men and women. And he is to be praised because, unlike human rulers and kings, God’s judgements are always right and fair. They are always perfect because he is perfect and he has perfect information about each and every one of us.

So the psalmist has told us to praise God first of all because the word of the LORD is upright and second of all because all his work is done in faithfulness. And the third reason we should praise God according to verses 13-15 is that, “He loves righteousness and justice.” And the final reason the psalmist lists in this psalm for why we should praise God is found at the end of verse 5 where he says, “The earth is full of the steadfast love of the LORD.”

The Earth Is Full Of The Steadfast Love Of The LORD (vv. 5b, 16-19)

Let’s look now at verses 16-19 where the psalmist explains this in more detail. He says:

16 The king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength. 17 The war horse is a false hope for salvation, and by its great might it cannot rescue.

18 Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, 19 that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine. (Psalms 33:16–19 ESV)

In these verses we are reminded where our true hope lies as men and women whose hearts are fully exposed to the all-seeing and all-knowing God in heaven. Kings aren’t ultimately saved by armies. Soldiers are not ultimately delivered by their great strength. War horses and military force are only a false sense of salvation. God is the one who saves. God is the one who delivers. And as his people we must remember this. We must remember where our hope is really found.

The Bible tells us time and time again that the only place where certain security is to be found is within the steadfast, loyal, covenantal love that God has for his people. If we place our confidence and hope in those human inventions and institutions, that promise us security, we will soon find that we have placed our hope in something that could never deliver on its promises.

As we see in verse 18, God’s eye is on those who fear him. God’s protection is on those who place their hope in his steadfast love. And the way God has most clearly demonstrated his steadfast love to us is by putting on human flesh and coming to the cross to die in our place. God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8 ESV). Friend, if your hope and trust is in anything other than the cross of Jesus Christ, you are only going to be disappointed in the end. The cross of Christ is God’s means to deliver our souls from death and to sustain us in difficult times. Place your trust there and forget the cheap imitations that the world offers.

The Appropriate Response (vv. 20-22)

And so, as God’s people, what should our response be to these things? Well the psalmist tells us in verses 20-22. He says:

20 Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. 21 For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. 22 Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you. (Psalms 33:20–22 ESV)

Is that your prayer? “Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon [me], even as [I] hope in you. If not, I pray that it will be.

Let’s pray through this psalm together now.

O Father in Heaven, we want to enthusiastically praise you for who you are and what you have done for us.

O God, your Word is powerful and true. By nothing but the words of your mouth you have created a universe so vast our minds cannot comprehend it. You have created everything in it and given it a purpose. You have given us a beautiful place in this vast universe to live. And you have done it all with nothing more than the words of your mouth.

And God you have given us more of your words in written form. Words to convict us of sin and words to guide us to a Savior. You have given us words to lead us as your people. You have given us trustworthy words that describe for us the purpose of your church. And yet, so often we ignore them. Forgive us Father for ignoring the very words of the mouth of God. And Father we pray tonight that you would shine a light of understanding into the hearts of those people and those so-called churches who now reject the Bible as God’s Word. Make your word real to them and may they stand before you in fear and awe.

Father we are grateful that even as we live in a world that is set against you, that those plans will never ultimately succeed. We are grateful that you have made your plans and that your plans are good and that your plans will always succeed. We are grateful that no matter how hard we try, we can never thwart your good plans for us as your people. Grant that we might relinquish our own plans and adopt your plans as our own.

Father we praise you for being a righteous and just judge of humankind. We are thankful that you are not like human rulers who are so often corrupted by their power. We are thankful that absolute power does not absolutely corrupt as the saying goes. We are thankful that you alone have absolute power and that you are, at the same time, absolutely just and righteous.

And it is because of this Father, that we place our trust only in you. We know that all human-devised inventions and institutions that promises security will only disappoint when Jesus returns. And so tonight we reject all of those things and place our trust only in what Jesus accomplished for us on the cross. We trust in Jesus to deliver our souls from death.

And as his people we confidently and patiently wait on you to bring your plan of redemption to its ultimate conclusion. We find great joy and happiness as we trust in your holy name. Yes, “Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you.”



  1. Allen P. Ross, A Commentary on the Psalms: Volume 1 (1-41) (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2011), 723-724.
  2. Lane T. Dennis and Wayne Grudem, eds. The ESV Study Bible. Accordance electronic ed. (Wheaton: Crossway Bibles, 2008), n.p.; Ross, 730.
  3. Ross, 723.
  4. Ross, 733.
  5. Lane T. Dennis and Wayne Grudem, eds. The ESV Study Bible. Accordance electronic ed. (Wheaton: Crossway Bibles, 2008), n.p.
  6. Ross, 736.

Wednesday With The Psalms (Psalm 32)


Psalm 32 is a psalm about the joy that comes when we confess our hidden sins to God and receive his forgiveness. The joy of forgiveness is contrasted in this psalm with the spiritual depression and internal agony that accompanies a person’s refusal to confess their sin to God.1

Once again, the superscription (or title) at the beginning of this psalm attributes the psalm to King David. Many have suggested that Psalm 32 is a sequel of sorts to the well-known Psalm 51 where David records his personal prayer of confession and his plea for cleansing and forgiveness after he was confronted by the Prophet Nathan regarding his affair with Bathsheba and his murder of Bathsheba’s husband Uriah. While we can’t be sure about this connection, it is a helpful example of a time in David’s life when he was concealing a very grievous sin from God. Not concealing in the sense that God did not know about it, but concealing in the sense that David was refusing to acknowledge and confess the sin to God. As we will see, one of the main points to this psalm is that we should not be slow to confess our sin because it will only lead to spiritual and emotional suffering and will potentially lead to God’s hand of discipline upon us—by which he will forcibly bring about our submission and confession. Again, this fits well with the story of David and Bathsheba.

Freedom and Relief from Guilt (vv. 1-2)

Let’s begin by looking at verses 1-2.

1 Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 2 Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

The main point of these two verses is that there is great freedom and relief when we have confessed our sin and are certain that God has forgiven us and that our strained relationship with him has thus been repaired. David refers to a person who has lived this sort of experience as “Blessed.” They are joyfully blessed because their transgression against God has been forgiven (transgression meaning an intended and willful rebellion against God) and their sin (their failure to live up to God’s standard) has been covered or hidden by God from his sight—he remembers it no more. The word translated forgiveness here is the Hebrew word nasa (נָשָׂא) which means “to lift up.” This was an easy word to remember when practicing my Hebrew vocabulary in seminary because I simply associated it with the acronym NASA and thought of how they launch rockets into space. And there is a real sense here where when we confess our sin to God, he lifts it up from us and carries it far, far away. Much like the payload on a NASA rocket.

And because when we confess our sin, God takes it away, launching it far away from us, hiding it not only from our eyes but from his eyes as well, this sin is not counted against us in any way. We see this in verse 2 where we are told that it is also a joyful blessing to be among those whom God does not count their iniquity against them. The word translated “count” or “credit” or “reckon” or “impute” in this verse is an accounting term. Not only does God lift away our sins and hide them from his eyes, he also makes sure their is no official or legal record of them. In fact, for us as Christians, our sin was applied to Christ’s account, a debt he paid on the cross, and his righteousness has been credited to our account as a surplus we will enjoy for all eternity.

But as we see at the end of verse 2, this blessing is only for those “in whose spirit there is no deceit,” meaning that when we confess our sins, we must fully acknowledge them and not hold back or deny part of them in any way.2 In other words, our confession must be genuine and heartfelt, accompanied by an true intention to turn away from our sinful way of living, and not simply going through the motions.3 The person who seeks God’s forgiveness by acknowledging their sin and turning away from it in this way, is someone who is joyfully blessed and knows it.

Guilt’s Misery (vv. 3-5)

But the opposite is true for the man or woman who keeps silent about his or her sin and refuses to confess it to God. In verses 3-4, David describes the misery that accompanied him throughout this time in his life where he was slow to confess his sin to God. Let’s read verses 3 and 4. David says:

3 For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. 4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.

In these verses we see that our refusal to confess our sin sometimes results in God’s hand of discipline coming upon us. In verse 4 David talks about God’s hand being heavy upon him because of his refusal to confess his sin. The point is that while God is patient with his people, and waits for them realize their error and confess their sin to him on their own, he will, when necessary, use disciplinary means to encourage them to fall to their knees and seek his forgiveness.4

And the discipline David poetically and figuratively describes here does not sound enjoyable. He says in verse 3 that when he kept silent about his sin, “my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.” And he says in verse 4 that because of God’s heavy hand upon him day and night, his “strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.” Anyone who has worked outside in Alabama during the summer knows what it feels like to have your strength sucked out of you by the heat of the sun. Because of his unconfessed sin, David’s strength for living was evaporating from him. He was spiritually depressed and feeling the agony of being under God’s discipline.

But we see in verse 5, that this was only until God’s discipline accomplished its purpose and led David to confess. Let’s read verse 5. David says:

5 I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.

And with God’s forgiveness would have come the relief David was seeking. Much like walking in from mowing the grass in the heat of the summer into a 70 degree air-conditioned room where a glass of sweet tea is waiting to bring you relief.

Avoid A Flood of Troubles (vv. 6-7)

And David is so happy about his experience of forgiveness and the relief that accompanied it, he wants to help others avoid the misery he endured while he kept his sin secret. So he say in verses 6 and 7:

6 Therefore let everyone who is godly offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found; surely in the rush of great waters, they shall not reach him. 7 You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance.

In verse 6, David urges us to pray for God’s forgiveness before it’s too late. David knows that sometimes God’s prompts to seek him for forgiveness, go away.5 Therefore, David wants us to understand, that when we find ourselves under the Holy Spirit’s conviction, we need to be quick to confess our sin before our hearts become hard to it, and then we find ourselves in the midst of many troubles David describes for us as a “rush of great waters.” David knows that that by being quick to confess our sins we will often be able to avoid the troubles that normally accompany sin. When “the rush of great waters,” or the flood of troubles, follow behind our sin, David knows that our preemptive prayers of forgiveness will keep us from being swept away by them.

This is why, in verse 7, David calls God his “hiding place.” Now that David has confessed his sin, God is once again a place of protection for him. David is grateful that God once again preserves his life from the troubles that are all around him and that he is able to once again joyfully hear the shouts of deliverance in the congregation of God’s people. In other words, with his guilt gone, and God’s hand of discipline removed, David has his life back.

Instruction (vv. 8-11)

And now, in verses 8 and 9 it seems as if David is passing on to God’s people some specific and valuable instruction that he received from God.6 The instruction is this:

8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. 9 Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you.

What we are taught in these two verses is that God will guide us and instruct us as his people, and that we should not, therefore, be stubborn and resistant to his teaching. Nor should we be stubborn and resistant when it comes to confession. The example used here is of a horse or mule which can only be controlled and led using a bit and bridle. This is an example of what we should not be like. God should not have to force his people (though he will) to follow his instruction like a rider has to sometimes force a horse to do something against its will. God should not have to force us to our knees in confession either (thought out of his love for us he often will). Instead, as God’s people we should willingly and happily obey and quickly and willingly confess our sins as the Holy Spirit leads us through our lives by opening our eyes to understand Scripture.

The truth is as we see at the beginning of verse 10, “Many are the sorrows of the wicked.” In other words, those who stubbornly resist God—the wicked and the ungodly—will eventually encounter only trouble and sorrow. Those who stubbornly refuse to acknowledge their sin and turn from it should anticipate nothing but great trouble in their future. As we are told in Psalm 1: “the way of the wicked will perish” (Psalms 1:6 ESV).

But according to the end of verse 10, “steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the LORD.” Those who trust the LORD, will find themselves surrounded by his special, covenantal love that he has reserved for his people. Those who are quick to acknowledge their sin against God will experience full forgiveness and great assurance in this life. This is not to say that God’s people will not encounter many difficulties in this life, but when we do, we can be confident that God’s love is always near and that our future is secure.

And so, the command in verse 11 is for us:

11 Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous [ones], and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!


The truth is brothers and sisters when we fully understand that because of what Jesus Christ has done for us on the cross it is possible for our sins to be truly forgiven, we have a lot to be glad about. We have a lot to rejoice about. And we really do have a very good reason to shout for joy. And as God’s people we can experience this joy of forgiveness everyday, as we honestly acknowledge our sins to him, and trust his promise that “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9 ESV). There is truly much joy to be found in God’s forgiveness through faith in Jesus Christ. We should not, therefore, put off confessing any sin we have been reluctant to acknowledge before God in prayer.

  1. Allen P. Ross, A Commentary on the Psalms: Volume 1 (1-41) (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2011), 705.
  2. Ross, 711.
  3. Ross, 711.
  4. Ross, 712.
  5. Ross, 715-716.
  6. Derek Kidner, Psalms 1–72: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 15 of Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries. IVP/Accordance electronic ed. (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1973), 152; Ross, 717.

Wednesday With The Psalms (Psalm 31:9-24)


In our time together last week we covered the first 8 verses of Psalm 31. We discussed how Psalm 31 begs to be prayed and we spent some time together last week praying through the first 8 verses of this psalm. Tonight we will pick back up in verse 9, but before we do let’s remind ourselves of what we saw last week.

Remember that verses 1 and 2 made up what was sort of an introductory cry for help. Neither of these two verses provided us with any real detail regarding the psalmist’s (who is identified as David in the psalm’s superscription) trouble. All we saw in these two verses was that the psalmist was indeed in trouble and that he needed the LORD to help him quickly by not allowing him to be put to shame by his enemies. Then, in verses 3-8, we saw how that before David got to the specifics of his request (which we will see tonight), he expressed his overall confidence in the LORD to deliver him. In verses 3 and 4 we saw that David’s basis for this confidence in God was that God had proven himself to be David’s “rock” and “fortress” in the past. And in verses 5 and 6 David made clear to God that, while David’s enemies were trusting in false gods to give them success, he was trusting in the one true God who had proven himself faithful to David time and time again. And we saw how David rightly took a great deal of confidence in that fact. So much confidence that we saw in verses 7 and 8 that David began to speak about how he will react and respond once God has delivered him. David was so confident in God’s deliverance that he spoke in verses 7 and 8 as if the deliverance he was anticipating, had already happened. In those verses David said, “you have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy; you have set my feet in a broad place.”

David’s Lament (vv. 9-13)

And again, it is only after this expression of confidence that we get to the heart of David’s prayer which begins in verse 9. Verses 9-13 contain what we would call the lament section of this psalm. In this section David outlines the lamentable or regrettable situation he is in. These verses identify for us the specific situation that necessitates David’s petition that will come in the next section. This is a description of the situation David is going to ask God to change. Let’s look at this section closely now beginning first with verses 9 and 10. David says,

9 Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am in distress; my eye is wasted from grief; my soul and my body also. 10 For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my iniquity, and my bones waste away. (Psalms 31:9–10 ESV)

After beginning his lament with a request for God to be gracious to him, David states very clearly that he is in distress. But the phrase that follows his acknowledgement of distress, is a bit cryptic for us. What does David mean when he says, “my eye is wasted from grief; my soul and my body also”? Well, the verb translated “wasted” gives us a bit of a hint. Allen Ross explains that this word is often used to describe the deterioration of clothing that has been worn and washed many times.1 In other words, David is so consumed with his grief that he is, as we would say, “coming apart at the seams.” And, because the look in a person’s eye is often a good indicator of a person’s over all well-being, David says that his eye is wasted from this grief that is destroying the rest of his body as well. And we see in verse 10 that this grief is accompanied by a life of sorrow, which is filled with sighs and groans.

While it is not the major emphasis of this psalm, David does indicate in verse 10, that while his grief was primarily due to the threats of his adversaries, his grief was also in some way a result of his own iniquity. We don’t have the specifics and so we won’t speculate what the iniquity he briefly mentions was. Besides, the main point of the psalm is not about David’s sin, it is about God faithfully delivering his people from their distress, not matter what the cause. The point in verse 10 is that David’s grief is so severe, that his strength is failing and he is physically wasting away. And if God does not intervene, David believes he will die as a result.

And then, to make matters worse, in verses 11-13 we see that, as a result of his enemies plotting and scheming against him and speaking slanderously of him, David’s neighbors and acquaintances began to have concerns and suspicions about him as well. Let’s read verses 11-13. David says,

11 Because of all my adversaries I have become a reproach, especially to my neighbors, and an object of dread to my acquaintances; those who see me in the street flee from me. 12 I have been forgotten like one who is dead; I have become like a broken vessel. 13 For I hear the whispering of many— terror on every side!— as they scheme together against me, as they plot to take my life. (Psalms 31:11–13 ESV)

At the beginning of verse 11 David says that his becoming a reproach to his neighbors and an object of dread to his acquaintances is “because of all my adversaries.” In other words, because of the plotting and scheming of his enemies, others were beginning to become suspicious of David and are doing whatever they can to avoid him. We see in verse 12 that David felt as if he was completely alone and forgotten as someone who is no longer living or like a cup or bowl that is broken and no longer useable. And then, in verse 13, we see that the situation is much more serious than simply feeling ostracized and rejected. We see that these enemies are actually plotting and scheming to kill David—which was probably one of the reasons his neighbors were avoiding him.

And so all of this is what David was lamenting. This whole situation of rejection and being ostracized and being threatened by his adversaries with death, is what David is presenting to the LORD for his consideration. This is the situation David wants God to change. And in verses 14-18, David makes his petition or his actual request to God where he outlines exactly what he wants God to do. Let’s look at it piece by piece.

David’s Petition (vv. 14-18)

Let’s begin with verse 14 and the first half of verse 15.

14 But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, “You are my God.” 15 My times are in your hand; (Psalms 31:14–15a ESV)

First of all, we see that even though all this difficulty has come upon David, his trust in God has not wavered. My adversaries are plotting to take my life, my neighbors are repulsed by me and are avoiding me, I am deeply grieved and coming apart at the seams over all this, “But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, ‘You are my God.’” He also goes on to acknowledge that even in the midst of this difficult situation, God is in control. At the beginning of verse 15 David says, “My times are in your hand.” And this is not only an expression of confidence and trust, it is also an expression of submission. By saying, “My times are in your hand,” David is expressing his willingness to submit himself to God’s decisions about his life.

This can be hard in difficult times. But if we can reach the place in our lives where we trust that God is in control no matter where life takes us, the adversity in our lives becomes much easier to accept because we know it is not by chance that we are in the situation we are in.2 In verse 5 of this psalm, David said, “Into your hand I commit my spirit,” and he is basically restating that in verse 15 before he gets to his specific requests.

But at the end of verse 15, David does begin outlining what he wants God to do for him. Look with me at the end of verse 15 through the end of verse 16. David says,

15 rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors! 16 Make your face shine on your servant; save me in your steadfast love! (Psalms 31:15–16 ESV)

Remember that earlier in verse 15 David said to God, “My times are in your hand.” So when David asks here for God to rescue him “from the hand of my enemies,” he is basically saying, “God, I want your hand to determine my future, not the the evil hand of my enemies.” And then in verse 16 David appeals to God’s special, covenant love for him. He asks God to not be like his neighbors in verse 14, who were described as fleeing from David, but to make his face shine upon David. What David intends by this is for God to show him divine favor,3 and rescue him from his enemies and his persecutors.

And the way he wants God to do this is by shaming and silencing his enemies. Look with me now at verses 17 and 18. David says,

17 O LORD, let me not be put to shame, for I call upon you; let the wicked be put to shame; let them go silently to Sheol. 18 Let the lying lips be mute, which speak insolently against the righteous in pride and contempt. (Psalms 31:17–18 ESV)

David wants the wicked to be put to shame by God defeating them and sending them to the grave. And in this way, their lying lips will be silenced. Now this seems a bit harsh for us. Maybe not something that we should pray as Christians. But that is probably because we don’t have people who are plotting and scheming to take our lives. Imagine yourself as a Christian in another country where ISIS is rounding up Christians and beheading them for their faith. Imagine you are captured by them and awaiting the inevitable. Do you think this might be easier for you to pray then? Probably so.

But also, as I have said before, while most of us do not have people who are plotting and scheming to take our lives, we do have spiritual enemies who are plotting and scheming to take our lives. And so we can certainly pray that God would destroy them and bring shame upon them and that he would silence them by sending them to their eternal dwelling place. This is exactly what he has promised to do anyway, right?

Praise for Answered Prayer

Well, David ends this psalm, in verses 19-24, with what appears to be his praise for God answering his prayers contained in the preceding verses. Remember the psalms were usually written after the fact, not in the middle of the distress. And so what seems to have taken place here is that after God answers David’s prayers for deliverance recorded in this psalm, David goes into the sanctuary and offers the praise to God in front of the congregation (who will themselves be strengthened in their faith when they here David’s report).4 Verses 19-24 are likely a summary of this praise he offered.

So with this understanding of how these final verses most likely fit into the picture, let’s just read them and let them stand as is without any further explanation.

19 Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind! 20 In the cover of your presence you hide them from the plots of men; you store them in your shelter from the strife of tongues.

21 Blessed be the LORD, for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me when I was in a besieged city. 22 I had said in my alarm, “I am cut off from your sight.” But you heard the voice of my pleas for mercy when I cried to you for help.

23 Love the LORD, all you his saints! The LORD preserves the faithful but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride. 24 Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD! (Psalms 31:19–24 ESV)


To conclude, let me simply say that this psalm is a reminder to us, that in this world and in our lives we will, as Christians, encounter those who are opposed to us. Our adversaries may be human, they may be institutional, they may be demonic, but we will have enemies and adversaries who are fighting to destroy our faith and even our lives. And so, this psalm teaches us, that the way we face these adversaries and their schemes, is through prayer.

The life of Jesus Christ is a model of this way of living. As Allen Ross says in his commentary on this psalm: “[Jesus Christ] was opposed and persecuted by the wicked more than any other person; he suffered at their hands more than any other person; and he had greater faith and confidence in the plan of God than any other person.”5 Dr. Ross also points out that this is why, when he was on the cross, Jesus “chose the central them of this psalm and applied it to himself: ‘Into your hands I commit my spirit (Luke 23:46).”6

And so, as Christians who have taken up our own crosses and followed after Jesus, we would be wise to surrender ourselves to God in a similar way. Let us pray now to that end:

O Blessed LORD, be gracious to us. As Christians we frequently find ourselves in times of distress that can be emotionally and even physically exhausting to us. And we ask you to hear our cries for mercy. O LORD, we also have brothers and sisters around the world who, because of persecution, have lives full of sighs and sorrows. And we pray, O LORD, that you would give them strength to endure.

LORD, even in our own relatively safe part of the world, our culture is turning more and more against us. We are learning day by day what it means to become a reproach to our neighbors and an object of dread to our acquaintances. We are learning more and more what it is going to mean for our culture to see the church as a dead institution that is no longer relevant in modern times. There truly is, O LORD, an active assault on the church taking place before our very eyes.

BUT… We trust in you O LORD. You are our God. And we know that our future is secure in your hands. And so we confidently pray that you would preserve the church from those who are against it. We pray that you would preserve us individually from those spiritual enemies who are seeking to destroy us. Turn to us and grant us favor. Because of your covenant love for your church, God, save us. Do not let us be shamed by our adversaries, but bring their plans against us to an end and expose their errors for the whole world to see.

Show your steadfast love to us in the midst of these difficult times—difficult times when it sometimes seems that you are far away. Grant that we might trust that you are hearing our pleas for mercy. And demonstrate to us that you are not only hearing them but that you are doing something about them.

Preserve your church O LORD. Help us to be strong and take courage. Help us to confidently wait on you to act.

We ask all of these things in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.


  1. Allen P. Ross, A Commentary on the Psalms: Volume 1 (1-41) (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2011), 692.
  2. Derek Kidner, Psalms 1–72: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 15 of Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries. IVP/Accordance electronic ed. (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1973), 149.
  3. Ross, 696.
  4. Ross, 697.
  5. Ross, 700-701.
  6. Ross, 701.

Wednesday With The Psalms (Psalm 31:1-8)


Psalm 31 is one of those psalms that begs to be prayed. In this psalm, David is desperately crying out to God for help while at the same time expressing both his trust in God and his confidence that God will help him. And, therefore, by reading this psalm and studying this psalm, we discover a treasure trove of help for our own times of affliction. Because in this psalm we are instructed both in how to pray to God in times of trouble and how to express our to trust in God in these times of trouble. And so, this is not simply going to be an exercise in learning factual and historical information about this psalm. But it is my hope that, by studying this psalm together, we will all be instructed and encouraged in our own personal prayer lives.

Introductory Cry (vv. 1-2)

Let’s begin by looking at verses 1-2.

1 In you, O LORD, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me! 2 Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily! Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me! (Psalms 31:1–2 ESV)

David begins his prayer with a quick expression of confidence (something he will pick back up in verses 3-8). He begins by saying, “In you, O LORD, do I take refuge.” By this expression of confidence and trust, David makes clear from the outset that he is comfortable with his life being in God’s hands. This is a good way to begin a prayer because that is exactly the sort of person God finds delight in helping.

In the remainder of verse 1, David gives us a preview of the requests that will come later in his prayer. First, he asks God to not allow him to be put to shame by his enemies. Meaning that if God allowed David’s enemies to overtake him, David’s faith in God would be proven to be worthless in the eyes of his enemies, and that would be shameful to David. And second, David asks God to answer this first request, to not be put to shame, by delivering him from whatever situation he is now in.

And we see in verse 2 that this is apparently an urgent situation. David asks God to pay attention to his requests and to rescue him “speedily!” And his requests for God to “be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me!” at the end of verse 2, simply means that David wants God to demonstrate his ability to mightily protect him and provide him with safety and security from his enemies. That’s what it means to be a “rock of refuge” and a “strong fortress.”

Confidence (vv. 3-8)

Then, David moves on in verses 3-8, to express his confidence that God will do the things he is requesting. Let’s begin by looking at verses 3 and 4.

3 For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me; 4 you take me out of the net they have hidden for me, for you are my refuge. (Psalms 31:3–4 ESV)

In verses 3 and 4 we see that David’s basis for confidence in God is that God has proven himself to be David’s “rock” and “fortress” in the past. So all David is asking God for in this prayer is to be for David who he has always been. God has always been David’s rock and fortress. And David has no reason to expect anything else from God now.

But David also knows that it is not for his own sake that God leads him and guides him, but that it is for the sake of God’s name that God leads and guides and rescues David time and time again. And this is an important concept for us to understand in prayer. We are wise to follow David’s lead here, and elsewhere in the Psalms, by appealing to God on the basis of his own reputation. David fully expects for God to display his righteousness by delivering him from the hidden traps set for him by his enemies. (As I’ve said before, when we are reading and praying psalms like these, it is often helpful to think of our spiritual enemies who are constantly scheming and making plans to destroy our lives and our faith.)

Look with me now at verses 5 and 6.

5 Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God. 6 I hate those who pay regard to worthless idols, but I trust in the LORD. (Psalms 31:5–6 ESV)

In these two verses David is making clear that he is not like his enemies who look to worthless idols for help, but that he looks only to the one true God who has proven himself faithful time and time again. At the beginning of verse 5 David says, “Into your hand I commit my spirit.” These words, you may remember, were uttered by Jesus on the cross just before he died (see Luke 23:46). God has rescued or redeemed David out of trouble before, and David is confident that he will do it again. And as Christians, who have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ, we can have the same confidence in this faithful God.

David knows he is in a much different situation than those who in verse 6 “pay regard to worthless idols.” In other words, while David’s enemies are trusting in false gods to give them success, David is trusting in the one true God who has proven himself faithful to David time and time again. And David rightly takes a great deal of confidence in this fact. So much confidence that we see in verses 7 and 8 that David begins to speak about how he will respond when God has delivered him.

Let’s read verses 7 and 8 now.

7 I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love, because you have seen my affliction; you have known the distress of my soul, 8 and you have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy; you have set my feet in a broad place. (Psalms 31:7–8 ESV)

Again, David fully believes that God is going to deliver him and he fully expects to praise God for his steadfast, covenantal love toward him. As we see in verse 7, David knows that there isn’t any affliction in his life that God is not aware of. And David reminds us that God also knows the distress of our souls. And this is even more true for us on this side of Christ’s coming to earth and living an earthly life in human flesh. The author of Hebrews reminds us that “we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses.” (Hebrews 4:15 ESV).

But why would God take the time to notice our afflictions? Why would God concern himself with the distress of our souls? Why would God put on human flesh and enter into a distorted and fallen version of the perfect world he created before the sin of Adam ruined it? The answer to each of those questions is: Because he loves his people with a special steadfast love. And it is this special covenantal love that God has for his people, along with the way God delivers and guides the people he loves, that David promises to rejoice over and praise God for when God answers his prayers for deliverance.

And notice in verse 8 that, because of David’s certainty in God’s steadfast love for him, he speaks of the deliverance he is anticipating, as if it has already happened. David says, “you have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy; you have set my feet in a broad place.” David is confident that God is not going to allow his enemies to overtake him. When David says, “you have set my feet in a broad place,” what he envisions is God removing him from his present situation where he is hemmed in (either literally or figuratively) by his enemies, and placing him in a place of safety.


There is still a lot left in this psalm, and we will pick back up with it next week. But since I mentioned at the beginning, that Psalm 31 was a psalm that begs to be prayed, let’s pray the first 8 verses of this psalm together before we close.

O Lord we take great comfort knowing that you hold our lives in your hands. We take great comfort knowing that you provide security and protection for your people.

Father in the midst of the many difficulties that the church in our country is facing today, we pray that you will make clear to all, that our faith is not in vain and that our belief and trust in you is not worthless. Hear this request O God, and answer it quickly. Be what you have always been to your church… a rock and a refuge. We currently find ourselves in the crosshairs of our culture, and we need you to protect your church as you have always done during difficult times.

And Father, we do not make these requests for our own sakes, we make them for the sake of your name… for your glory… for the fame of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth. So lead us and guide us, as your church, during this difficult moment in history. Do not let us fall into the many traps that our Great Enemy has set for us. Keep your church from believing the lies that we must water down your word or compromise our beliefs if we want to remain relevant in our culture. Instead, let us trust in you. Let us commit our futures to you, knowing that we are your redeemed people and that you are a faithful God who will keep his promises to make us prosper.

Father give your church a renewed confidence in the fact that what we are trusting in is secure. What we are trusting in is wholly trustworthy, while those who oppose your church are doing so on the basis of vain lies. They are deceived into believing your word is out of date, that it can’t be relied upon, that it is dangerous. O God, open their eyes to the truth. Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do. Shine the light of faith into their hearts, O God.

Father, we don’t know when or how you will answer these prayers. Be we are confident that you will. We are confident that you are fully aware of our afflictions and that you know the distress your church is under. And we are fully confident that one day we will rejoice and be glad in the deliverance you have provided for us because of the steadfast love you have for your people. We know God, that because of what Jesus has done for us on the cross, that we will not be delivered into the hands of the enemy. And we know God, that one day you are going to remove your church from the dangers of a world that is set against us, and that you are going set us in a place of eternal safety and security.

But we pray, Father, that in the meantime, you will help us to always trust in you. Grant that we will always remember that you are our strength and security, and that you are totally trustworthy. Remind us that the place we can hear from you when we are confused, is in the Bible. Give us an insatiable desire for your word.

For the sake of Jesus Christ, we pray all of these things. Amen.

Wednesday With The Psalms (Psalm 30)


I suspect many of us are familiar with the phrase: “God’s anger is only for a moment, but his favor is for a lifetime.” Well that phrase comes directly from the fifth verse of Psalm 30. That verse, along with this whole psalm, has proven to be a wonderful source of comfort for God’s people throughout the centuries. It is indeed a wonderful reminder that whenever we find ourselves in seasons of suffering and pain, that no matter how long it seems to be lasting, it will, in fact, turn out to be only a brief moment in God’s eternal scheme. This is true even when—as we see in this psalm—the pain and suffering we are enduring in this life is directly related to the sins we have committed. Even in those situations, as God’s people, we can be confident that suffering is only temporary because a new day is coming.

Let’s read this psalm now.

1 I will extol you, O LORD, for you have drawn me up and have not let my foes rejoice over me. 2 O LORD my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me. 3 O LORD, you have brought up my soul from Sheol; you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit.

4 Sing praises to the LORD, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name. 5 For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.

6 As for me, I said in my prosperity, “I shall never be moved.” 7 By your favor, O LORD, you made my mountain stand strong; you hid your face; I was dismayed.

8 To you, O LORD, I cry, and to the Lord I plead for mercy: 9 “What profit is there in my death, if I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it tell of your faithfulness? 10 Hear, O LORD, and be merciful to me! O LORD, be my helper!”

11 You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, 12 that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever! (Psalms 30:0–12 ESV)

Praise for Deliverance (vv. 1-5)

In verses 1-5 the psalmist is reflecting on a time where God delivered him from certain death. In verse 3 the psalmist, who the psalm’s title identifies as King David, says, “O LORD, you have brought up my soul from Sheol; you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit.” In other words: “LORD I was on the brink of death and you saved me. You kept me alive!” And we see in verse 2 that God did this because David cried to him for help. In other words, David prayed. And it is because of this deliverance that David is promising to praise God in verse 1 and encouraging others to praise God in verse 4.

And in verse 5 we get our first glimpse that David’s suffering is in someway related to God’s anger or discipline toward David. Reflecting back on this situation, David acknowledges in verse 5 that “[God’s] anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime.” So God was apparently showing anger toward David because of his sin. But David says, “when I consider this period of my life, where I found myself out of God’s favor because of my sin, it was only a brief moment in comparison with the amount of time I have spent and will spend in God’s favor.” Yes, as we see at the end of verse 5, for God’s covenant people, “weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Psalms 30:5 NLT-SE). As God’s people we can always take comfort in that promise.

Recounting of a period of sinful complacency (vv. 6-10)

Well, in verses 6 and 7, David speaks of the sin in his life that God was angry about. We see in these two verses that the reason God had decided to turn away from David for a time, and withhold his divine favor from him, was because David began to pridefully trust in himself and believe that the success and security he was enjoying on this earth was the result of his own achievements. And as we see in verse 7, it was only when God removed his favor from David for this brief time that David became terrifyingly aware of his sin. Yes, God was disciplining David here, and the discipline was apparently severe enough that David was in a situation where he was about to die (maybe on the battlefield?). But God’s intention in discipline is always restoration. And that is exactly how things played out here.

We see in verses 8-10 that once David realized the seriousness of what was taking place, that he cried out to God in prayer asking for God to rescue him from certain death. And I love how he prays here. In verse 9 he prays:

What profit is there in my death, if I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it tell of your faithfulness?

In other words, “God what do you have to gain from me dying?” And the answer he wants God to reach is: Nothing. David is “not engaging in crass bargaining here with God, but he is saying that if God delivers him from dying then he would have every reason to go to the sanctuary and tell everyone of God’s faithfulness.”1 So in verse 10 he asks for God to hear his prayer, to show him mercy, and to be his helper.

Praise for Answered Prayer (vv. 11-12)

And in verses 11 and 12 David makes very clear that God has indeed answered his prayer. He says that his mourning has turned into dancing and that God has replaced his garments of mourning with garments of gladness.

But, as we see in verse 12, David acknowledges that God has done this for a reason. God has not done this just for David’s sake. David should not rejoice silently over this. God has done this so that David will sing God’s praises in the presence of the rest of God’s people. And so David promises, at the end of verse 12, that he will give thanks to God forever.

Praying Psalm 30

Now I’d like to conclude our study of this psalm by discussing how you could take your Bible, and open it to Psalm 30 and pray it for yourself. I am interested in doing this because I have found in my own life that I am most satisfied with my prayer life when I am using the psalms to guide my prayers. Or when, as one author describes it, I am using the psalms as my main prayer list.2

The fact is, not many people pray the Psalms anymore. I’d like to help us recover that practice in our own lives. So let’s pray this Psalm together. You are welcome to follow along in your Bible as I pray or just focus on the prayer… whichever you prefer is fine. But there is no need to separate Scripture from prayer.

O God we want to thank you now that many times and in many ways you have drawn us up out of the traps of death that our spiritual foes, Satan and his demonic co-workers, have set for us. Father, many times in these situations we have cried out to you for help, and you have spiritually or physically healed us. For each of us here tonight, there was a time when we were spiritually dead, and when we were headed for eternal death, but you rescued us. You gave us new life in Jesus Christ. Thank you Lord. For each of these things we praise you O God.

Father we also know there are times in our lives when you discipline us. Times when for our own good you turn away from us and place us in a situation where we become desperate for you. And we thank you for these times, because you always intended for them to result in our restoration. And usually Father we come out of these times with a deeper and stronger faith in you. Father for anyone in this room who is experiencing your divine discipline tonight, I pray Father that they would turn back from you. And for anyone in this room tonight who is in the midst of a season of pain and suffering for any reason, Father I pray that they will remember that the difficult season will one day pass and that your favor is just around the corner. Joy is coming with the morning. Thank you Father for this promise. It sustains us in difficult times.

Father, never let us believe for any moment that we are self-sufficient. Grant that we might always remember you are the one who makes our lives secure. Forgive us Father when we forget these things. And sustain our lives in spite of these false beliefs. Do this Father so that we might realize the error of our ways and praise you when we come to our senses. Be merciful to us God when we sin and help us in our times of desperation. Do this for the sake of your name.

And God we vow to always praise you when you have delivered us from seasons of mourning. We vow to praise you when you forgive us and turn your face back toward us. And Father most of all, we vow to praise you for all eternity because through Jesus Christ you have delivered us from our sin and from an eternity apart from you.

And it is in his name, we pray all of this things. Amen.


  1. Allen P. Ross, A Commentary on the Psalms: Volume 1 (1-41) (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2011), 676.
  2. T.M. Moore, God’s Prayer Program: Passionately Using the Psalms in Prayer (Ross-shire, U.K.: Christian Focus Publishing, 2005), 158.

Bible Reading Plans / ESV Reader’s Bible

Well… It is that time of year again. Everywhere you look someone is posting a list of Bible Reading Plans for 2015. Actually, I am probably a little late to the game seeing that there are only a couple of more hours left in 2014 (depending on where you are in the world), but as they say, “better late than never.”

Several months ago on this site I touted the new ESV Reader’s Bible in an article I called “We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Verse Numbers!” Since that time I have only come to appreciate and enjoy the ESV Reader’s Bible more and more. One of the things I quickly discovered about the design of the ESV Reader’s Bible is that it encourages you to open your Bible to a certain book and read it from start to finish, maybe in a single sitting. Because this is a different sort of reading than what is required by most Bible Reading Plans, tonight I would like to mention two Bible Reading Plans that I have found to be perfectly suited for use with the ESV Reader’s Bible. Actually, I am not sure that the term Bible Reading Plan best describes the two methods I plan to share, but I won’t get bogged down with semantics.

I will begin with what I am currently doing. Earlier this year I ran across this little tool I have really enjoyed using—particularly with my ESV Reader’s Bible. Instead of being like a traditional Bible Reading Plan, it is more of a tracker that helps you keep up with what you have read in the Bible and let’s you set your own pace in your readings. I have found that I enjoy this because, if I am going to be honest, the truth is that there are just some days I have more time to read than I do on other days. I also like it because I don’t feel pressured to stay on track with a timeline forced on me by a traditional Bible Reading Plan. This allows me to take my time and read at a pace suitable for meditation and prayer. And best of all, because it is not a plan with a schedule, there is no way to get behind!

This tool (which I found on a site called Rural Theologian and was attributed to a friend of the site owner’s named Seth Brown) basically lists every chapter in the Bible on page smaller than an 8 1/2″ x 11″ piece of paper. The intent is that you place this little sheet of paper in your Bible and mark off the chapters as you read them. No schedule. Just set your own pace and use this tool to keep up with what you have read. I keep it in the back of my ESV Reader’s Bible and get it out and mark it off everyday when I read. I have alternated between reading a single book at a time and reading a book from the Old Testament and New Testament simultaneously. Some days I read several chapters. Other days I end up spending a lot of time in one or two chapters. I just do what I want to do (or what the Holy Spirit leads me to do each particular day) and I will probably make it through the Bible in a year and a half to two years.

So if this sounds like something you are interested in, use the link to the Rural Theologian site above to download a copy of Seth Brown’s Bible reading tracker. Or you can grab it from me using this link.

The other plan I’d like to mention is one that I have used a few variations of in the past. Like the Bible reading tracker I just mentioned, it will work very well with the ESV Reader’s Bible because part of the method is to ignore the chapter and verse divisions focusing instead on each book as one coherent unit. I think the most helpful version and description of this method can be found in a post by Joe Carter on the Gospel Coalition website entitled How To Change Your Mind. I originally found Joe’s description of this method at the beginning of last year, but Joe reposted it last week in preparation for the New Year. It is a plan I have used in the past and even a bit with the ESV Reader’s Bible.

Joe describes this method in four simple steps:

1. Choose a book of the Bible.
2. Read it in its entirety.
3. Repeat step #2 twenty times.
4. Repeat this process for all books of the Bible.

Now, the advantages of this method should be pretty obvious. By the time you finish reading a book 20 times, you are going to have a pretty good grasp on what it contains. And by the time you get through the whole Bible using this method (which admittedly will take a while), you are going to have good understanding of the Bible as a whole.

Now I won’t reiterate everything Joe says in his article because I want you to go read it for yourself. In it he offers some very practical tips for applying this method to your own Bible reading time. But, I think you will find that it shares some of the same advantages of using the Bible reading tracker I mentioned previously. Again, there is no schedule that requires you to stick to a pace that you may find difficult if you are trying to read the Bible prayerfully and meditatively. And again, there is no way to get behind!

I’d also like to make available a little chart in PDF format that I have used with this reading plan in the past that helps you keep up with how many times you have read each book.

Now, the truth is, there are many different methods you can use for reading the Bible in 2015. What really matters is that you are reading it. I hope that you will. But I also hope that some of you will find one of these two methods helpful and will experience and enjoy the Bible in a whole new way this year.

Happy New Year and May the Lord Bless You and Keep You!

Wednesday With The Psalms (Psalm 119:143)

“Trouble and anguish have found me out, but your commandments are my delight.” (Psalm 119:143)

Trouble and anguish are the lot of every man, woman, boy, and girl who walks on this earth. Whether it be trouble and anguish related to the toils and difficulties of making a living (which according to Genesis 3:17-19 is part of the curse of this fallen world), or trouble and anguish in our family relationships (which according to Genesis 3:16 is also a part of the curse of this fallen world), or trouble and anguish experienced as a result of poor health (which is part and parcel of death entering the world through sin which we see in Genesis 3:19 and Romans 5:12), or some other bit of trouble and anguish that is common to us as human beings, we should not be surprised when trouble and anguish seeks us out, finds us, and sets up shop.

But while trouble and anguish are part of the cards we have dealt to ourselves in this world, they do not have to have the last word. No, according to the psalmist, we should let God’s Word have the last word. The psalmist does not allow trouble and anguish to rule the day, but instead finds his delight in the commandments of God. Life is short and uncertain; God’s Word is eternal and sure. The trouble and anguish of this world cannot rob us of our delight if our delight is bound up in the life giving commandments of God found in the Bible.

Christian, do not let the trouble and anguish of this world rule the day. This too shall pass. But God’s Word remains. It is sure and it is certain. Let it fill your heart with delight in the midst of the trouble and anguish you are facing today.