The 365 Day Devotional Commentary


Reading 113


Psalms 50–56 “Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall” (Ps. 55:22).Seven psalms of David teach us how to respond when we bring trouble on ourselves, and when others betray us.


Through Asaph God spoke to His people and to the wicked (Ps. 50). David modeled confession (Ps. 51), and in three psalms expressed his response to betrayal by others (Pss. 52–54). David then recorded a prayer for the distressed (Ps. 55) and for the afraid (Ps. 56).

Understanding the Text

Psalm 50:

God as Judge.

God speaks through this poem penned by a temple musician to His own people and to the wicked. “The Lord, speaks and summons the earth” Ps. 50:1–6. An image from Israel’s legal system pictures God, speaking from heaven, announcing His righteous judgments. “O My people” Ps. 50:7–15. God’s message to His own is simple. “Fulfill your vows to the Most High, and call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor Me.” As we are faithful to the Lord, He will be faithful to us. “But to the wicked” Ps. 50:16–22. The wicked should not misconstrue God’s silence as indifference. God will condemn the righteous “to your face.” In a sense, the psalms of David that follow Asaph’s prophetic poem illustrate its theme. In view of the fact that God is Judge, David shows us how we are to respond in various situations. Psalm 51: Confession of Sin. David’s confession after his affair with Bathsheba shows us how to respect God as Judge when we sin. (See DEVOTIONAL.) Psalm 52: Betrayed by an Enemy. David took comfort in reviewing how different he was from his enemy. “Doeg the Edomite” Ps. 52 superscription. When David fled for his life from Saul, he paused at Nob and took the sword of Goliath from the priests there (1 Sam. 21:1–9). Doeg, one of Saul’s officials, saw him and later reported to Saul. The furious king charged the priestly family with treason; Doeg himself executed 85 innocent priests and their families (22:6–19). When David heard this from the sole-surviving member of the family, he took responsibility, for he had seen Doeg there and knew he would surely tell Saul (v. 20). Yet David never suspected that the half-mad king ordered the execution of these men of God. Psalm 52 commemorates that day, and finds comfort in the fact that God will ultimately judge. “You love evil” Ps. 52:1–7. Doeg’s acts were a disgrace, an attempt to win Saul’s favor at the price of others’ lives. David says, “Surely God will bring you down to everlasting ruin.” “But I am like an olive tree” Ps. 52:8–9. The critical difference between Doeg and David was that “I trust in God’s unfailing love.” Because David, despite his mistake, honored God, his future was secure. The one person the betrayer surely has betrayed is himself! Psalm 53: The Fate of Fools. Evildoers never learn. God is watching, and will judge. “The fool says in his heart” Ps. 53:1–5. The person whose heart is closed to God becomes morally corrupt (see Ps. 14). Yet God is observing him, and the dread in his own heart testifies against him. “Oh, that salvation would come” Ps. 53:6. Despite the fact that David knew the fate awaiting evildoers, he yearned for God to act soon. Psalm 54: Betrayal by Friends. Most painful of all is betrayal by those whom we have called our friends. “The Ziphites”: Ps. 54 superscription. The introduction to this psalm too gives us a historical setting. While fleeing Saul, David’s band of men occupied southern Judah’s hill country. There they even fought to save such cities as Keilah from marauding bands of Philistines (cf. 1 Sam. 23:1–18). Yet when David’s company hid in the rugged range of hills known as Ziph, the Ziphites twice went to Saul and volunteered to betray his hiding place (vv. 19–25; 26:1–4). “Save me, O God” Ps. 54:1–7. In an earlier psalm David described the wickedness of an enemy who betrayed him (Ps. 52). Here David said little against those fellow-countrymen who showed such ingratitude in betraying him twice! His only imprecation was, “Let evil recoil on those who slander me.” David wisely chose to focus on God Himself, His help, and the One who sustained him. It’s especially painful when a friend turns against us. When that happens we would be wise to follow David’s lead. Don’t dwell on the betrayal. Let God mete out any appropriate punishment. Released from any thoughts of hurt or revenge, David praised God, and remembered how the Lord “delivered me from all my troubles.” Psalm 55: Prayer When in Distress. David did feel betrayal—deeply. In this psalm he reminds us that however great our distress, we can cast our cares on the Lord and He will sustain us. “My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught” Ps. 55:1–8. David again proved himself an emotional man, who freely expressed his feelings in prayer. When you or I are shaken or in despair, it helps to read a psalm like this one and pray along with David. Such psalms help us realize that when we are hurting God does care, and that we can come to the Lord as we are. “Let death take my enemies by surprise” Ps. 55:9–15. David hardly wished the wicked well! Yet he was not being vindictive. The wicked are characterized by violence, strife, malice, and abuse. Such actions surely merit the judgment of God. “But I call to God” Ps. 55:16–23. David’s anguish and his anger both led him to the Lord. He could do nothing to alter God’s timing. What he could do was to remember that God, “who is enthroned forever,” will surely bring the wicked down. In view of this, David penned one of the most wonderful promises in Scripture. “Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you” (v. 22). Until God acts to destroy the wicked, He will surely sustain His own. He will never let the righteous fall. Psalm 56: Prayer When Afraid. David saw fear not as an evil, but as an opportunity to trust. “When the Philistines had seized him” Ps. 56 superscription. The setting for this psalm is David’s flight to Gath. Depressed and certain that he would lose his life if he stayed in Israel, David went to the land of the Philistines. There he was recognized and seized. David pretended to be insane and was released (1 Sam. 21:10–15). The whole incident is electric with the fear that David experienced—fear that caused him to flee in the first place, fear when taken captive, certainly fear as he returned to his homeland still a fugitive. “Be merciful to me” Ps. 56:1–13. David’s sense of being surrounded by enemies was no paranoia. He was alone, and his enemies were all too real. Yet through this terrifying experience David came to see fear as a friend, rather than as an enemy. How is fear a friend? Fear is a friend because it is only when we are afraid that we plumb the depths of trust. We cannot know what trust means unless we live through experiences in which the Lord is all we have to hold on to. Through his experience of fear, David became able to share a great and wonderful discovery with us. When I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God, whose Word I praise, In God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me? When trust releases us from our fear of others, we are truly free to “walk before God in the light of life.”


Night and Day (Ps. 51)

Perhaps our most troubling times come when we are faced with the realization that we have sinned. How we deal with that sin makes all the difference in the world. It’s like the difference between night and day. The difference between a crushing sense of guilt, and the buoyant realization that our heart is pure. This well-known psalm celebrating God’s forgiveness was written by David after he committed adultery with Bathsheba, and then arranged for the death of her husband in battle. The first half of the psalm portrays the dark side of our experience. The second half the bright newness God offers believers who confess their sins to Him. Verses 1–9 feature words from the Old Testament’s vocabulary of sin. David’s usage draws together the entire Old Testament concept by using three major Hebrew terms. Hata˒ (“sin”) is the failure to live up to God’s established standard. Pesha˒ (“transgression”) is conscious rebellion against that standard, while ˒awon (“iniquity”) is deviation from or a twisting of the standard. Somehow the seeds of sin are rooted deeply in David’s very nature, and have grown into a tangled, thorny thicket of willful and unintentional sins which have drawn the psalmist into acts that repel his better self. There is a dark side to all our natures; a side expressed in acts of sin that cry out for forgiveness. Yet David and you and I have hope. There is a bright side, revealed in verses 10–19. Aware of the darkness within him, David cried out, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” God, who spoke light into existence, can do a creative work in us and make our soiled hearts pure. And when that happens? Then again there is joy in salvation. Then again we are able to “teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners will turn back to You.” From the purified heart pour forth hymns of praise, and from the humble acknowledgment of what we are comes something new; a life of holiness.

Personal Application

When we expose sin in confession, God makes our darkness light.


“If only there were some evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”—Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

The 365 Day Devotional Commentary


Reading 112


“My soul thirsts for God, for the living God” (Ps. 42:2).Temple musicians, descendants of a rebel priest who died at God’s hand, help us explore mysteries of our faith.


Book II.

Most believe this second collection of psalms was assembled during the time of Solomon. While containing other authors it, features works of David. The sons of Korah. Korah rebelled during the Exodus and was killed (Num. 16). But his children were spared. One branch of his descendants became temple guardians (cf. 1 Chron. 9:17ff), while another branch served as temple singers and musicians (cf. 6:31, 33, 39, 44). These descendants of Korah contributed 12 works to the Book of Psalms, most of which may have been used in temple liturgy.


The sons of Korah probed deeply, to help us examine love for God (Ps. 42), divine vindication (Ps. 43), and the mystery of national defeat (Ps. 44). A wedding song conveys messianic truth (Ps. 45), while “God with us” is exalted as our fortress (Ps. 46). The last three psalms celebrate God’s rule (Ps. 47), His eternal city (Ps. 48), and redemption from this transient world (Ps. 49).

Understanding the Text

Psalm 42:

In Love with God. Love for God lifts the downcast spirit and revives hope. “My soul pants for You” Ps. 42:1–5. The image is one of a lover separated for a time from his beloved. He can think of nothing but her, and misses her terribly. This is the love-driven emotion of the temple musician, away for a time from Jerusalem, yearning to once again lead “the procession to the house of God.” His only comfort is the hope that soon he will return to praise God there again. “I will remember You” Ps. 42:6–11. The sense of separation is unbearable, yet the writer knows that the Lord “directs His love” to him. The separation hurts, yet the writer consoles himself that “I will yet praise Him, my Saviour and my God.” For this son of Korah, the temple symbolized God’s presence, and he wished to be as close to God as possible. How wonderful that you and I can simply close our eyes, shut out the world, and be immediately in the presence of our Lord. When your soul thirsts for God, go to Him. He is there, with you, only a thought away. Psalm 43: A Plea for Vindication. In the end, God will prove that our faith has been well-placed. “Vindicate me” Ps. 43:1. The psalmist envisioned God as Judge, taking his side in court against wicked men who had him in their power. The basis for his plea was that “You are God my stronghold.” “Why?” Ps. 43:2 Yet if God is ours, why must we suffer oppression? Why does He seem to reject us? Such feelings are common when troubles come. We wonder why, and even question God’s commitment to us. In fact, we can never understand the why. But the psalmist does have a solution. “Send forth Your light and Your truth” Ps. 43:3–5. God’s light and truth, images here for His Word, do not so much explain our troubles as lead us back to God Himself. “Then I will go to the altar of God,” the psalmist said, and praise Him. What we need most when hurting is not answers, or even relief. What we need is to come into God’s presence, there to find hope and to offer praise. Psalm 44: The Mystery of Defeat. History teaches that God gives victory when His people obey. Why, now that Israel remains faithful, has defeat come? “We have heard” Ps. 44:1–8. Scripture testifies of the victories God won for Israel during the Conquest. “But now” Ps. 44:9–22. Recent defeats puzzled the psalmist, for Israel had not forgotten God or violated His covenant. Why then did God not act? “Awake, O Lord!” Ps. 44:23–26 Puzzled and pained, the psalmist begged God to “rise up and help us.” The psalm does present a puzzle, yet a common one. Why does God sometimes permit His most faithful servants to suffer? While Psalm 44 offers no specific answer, there may be a hint in verse 22. “For Your sake we face death all day long.” Not all suffering is punishment. Some suffering may be the price we pay for remaining loyal to God in a hostile world. As Peter reminds us, to this we were called, “Because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps” (1 Peter 2:21). Psalm 45: A Wedding Psalm. The celebration of a royal wedding shifts focus to offer triumphant praise to the coming Messiah. “At your right hand is the royal bride” Ps. 45:1–9. Many things in this world are shadows cast by realities to be found in the world to come. The joy of the wedding feast transports us to visions of the heavenly union awaiting God and Israel, Christ and His church. The New Testament quotes verses 6–7, making it clear that this psalm truly is intended to transport us from earthly to heavenly celebration, enabling us to sense something of the joy we will know when our Lord returns (cf. Heb. 1:9). Psalm 46: God Our Fortress. With God our refuge and strength, an ever-present help, we need never fear. Psalm 47: Celebrating God’s Rule. If you belong to God, clap your hands in joy, for He is the great King of all the earth. The stone ramparts of Israel’s walled cities rose high above the ground. Massive and secure, designed to frustrate any attacker, they conveyed an image of security to all who lived nearby. One needed only look up from his fields and see the nearby fortress to feel safe. Psalm 46 repeats this image, to convey to us the peace we can find through our relationship with “our fortress,” the Lord Almighty. “The great King” Ps. 47:1–9. In ancient times “great King” was a unique title which was given only to world conquerors like Nebuchadnezzar or Cyrus. A ruler who added “great” to his title would be ridiculed, unless his might was overwhelming. How right the psalmist is to title God the “great King.” He subdued nations, and gave Israel her inheritance. He reigns over the nations even now. All the kings of this earth are subject to Him, and He is greatly exalted. Remember this psalm the next time you feel discouraged or downhearted. Our God is the “great King.” There is nothing that He cannot do, or will not do, for you and me. Psalm 48: The Eternal City. Just beyond the earthly Jerusalem, the psalmist envisioned the citadels of the eternal city of God. “The city of our God” Ps. 48:1–8. As the psalmist walked the walls of ancient Jerusalem he saw more than mighty stones. The city God had chosen represented all God’s acts in history which revealed how precious Zion and Israel were to the Lord. “Within Your temple, O God” Ps. 48:9–14. The setting for the rest of the psalm is within the temple, at worship. There the psalmist in his imagination walked the walls of God’s eternal city, far more real and lasting, and far more splendid, than the solid rock of Jerusalem’s ramparts. The walls of the earthly city, unknown to the psalmist, were destined to be thrown down by conquering armies. But the eternal city remains, for “this God is our God forever and ever; He will be our guide even to the end.”


Sic Transit Gloria (Ps. 49)

Successful Roman generals were sometimes granted a “triumph.” They were permitted to parade their armies, with gangs of captives and wagons filled with loot, through the very streets of Rome. But in the chariot of the general, standing just behind him, was an officer whose duty it was to whisper constantly in his ear, “You are but a man.” Psalm 49 serves much the same purpose. It is God’s whisper in our ear, reminding us that no matter how much success we or others have, we are but men. All too soon we will die, and any worldly wealth or glory will pass away with us. As the psalmist said, “Do not be overawed when a man grows rich, when the splendor of his house increases; for he will take nothing with him when he dies.” And, “Though while he lived he counted himself blessed . . . he will join the generation of his fathers, who will never see the light of life.” Why such a dreary psalm here, among others that lift our hearts and stimulate us to praise? Probably because this is not a dreary psalm at all, but one vibrant with hope. Here, almost hidden among words of warning to the thoughtless who are captivated by the vision of glory or wealth in this world, is this promise: “God will redeem my soul from the grave; He will surely take me to Himself” (v. 15). Our hope is not in riches, or in anything that this world has to offer. The glory of this world passes away, for we are but men, and all too soon we leave its changing scene. Our hope is in God, who redeems our souls from the grave, and surely takes us to Himself.

Personal Application

Enjoy this world. But don’t become too attached to it.


” ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit’ means: ‘Blessed is the man who has realized his own utter helplessness, and who has put his whole trust in God.’ If a man has realized his own utter helplessness, and has put his whole trust in God, there will enter into his life two things which are opposite sides of the same thing. He will become completely detached from things, for he will know that things have not got it in them to bring happiness or security; and he will become completely attached to God, for he will know that God alone can bring him help, and hope, and strength. The man who is poor in spirit is the man who has realized that things mean nothing, and that God means everything.”—William Barclay

The 365 Day Devotional Commentary


Reading 111


Psalms 34–41“A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all” (Ps. 34:19).When difficulties overwhelm, the believer can turn to God. The Lord will listen as we express our feelings. Most important, He will act.


David expressed praise for deliverance (Ps. 34), followed by two psalms of imprecations directed against enemies (Pss. 35–36). Yet we can celebrate trust (Ps. 37), even when we are disciplined (Ps. 38) or have lost perspective (Ps. 39). Whatever the situation, we can appeal to God for mercy in our times of need (Pss. 40–41).

Understanding the Text

Psalm 34: God’s Unfailing Love. We are to praise God at all times, for in many ways we continually experience the unfailing love of our God. “When he feigned insanity.” The superscription gives us the setting of this psalm. David, giving in to despair, fled his homeland and went to the land of the Philistines. There he was recognized and escaped death only by pretending to be insane. Filled with relief, David’s thoughts turned to the Lord, and as he journeyed back to Israel and his destiny, he saw fresh evidence of God’s unfailing love. “At all times” Ps. 34:1–3. There may be a hint of embarrassment here. David’s flight to the land of the Philistines reveals fear, not faith. Let’s remember God’s love before we act foolishly, not after! “He answered” Ps. 34:4–7. Even when we have acted foolishly, God does not abandon us. As David reported, “This poor man called, and the Lord heard him, He saved him out of all his troubles.” “Taste and see” Ps. 34:8–22. David invites us to experience God’s goodness for ourselves. Let us commit ourselves to doing what is right. We may act foolishly at times, but if we are dedicated to pleasing Him, we can trust the Lord to deliver us. Psalm 35: Against Enemies. This imprecatory psalm called down curses on David’s enemies. “Contend, O Lord” Ps. 35:1–28. Is it right for the believer to call on God to act against his or her enemies? This and similar psalms grew out of the psalmist’s conviction that he had a covenant relationship with the Lord. As God’s servant, the believer is free to call on the Lord to deliver him, and to punish those who by acting against God’s own have set themselves against the Lord as well. There is another assumption in the imprecatory psalms. Those who seek to crush the godly are wicked. It is surely right for God to act against evil men. In this context David rightly cried: O Lord, You have seen this; be not silent. Do not be far from me, O Lord. Awake, and rise to my defense! Contend for me, my God and Lord. Vindicate me in Your righteousness, O Lord my God; do not let them gloat over me. When God does act to vindicate the righteous, He displays His love—and His righteousness. Psalm 36: A Word to the Wicked. David warned the wicked that a just God loves the upright in heart. “An oracle . . . concerning the sinfulness of the wicked” Ps. 36:1–4. The Hebrew has massa’, a message of judgment delivered with an overwhelming sense of divine authority. David was completely convinced that evildoers, as defined in these verses, will be “thrown down” by the Lord (v. 12). What characterizes the evil person? He does not respect God (v. 1) or even notice his own sin (v. 2). His words are deceitful (v. 3) and he is committed to a sinful course (v. 4). “Your righteousness . . . Your justice” Ps. 36:5–12. God is faithful, righteous, and just. He cares for both man and beast, and gives refuge to high and low. “Continue Your love to those who know You” Ps. 36:10–12. David’s conviction that the wicked must fail rested squarely on his understanding of who God is. Because of who God is, David’s heart assured him that the wicked will be judged. And God will continue to display love toward those who know Him. Psalm 37: In Praise of Trust. What are the characteristics and the benefits of trust in the Lord? This, one of the best-loved of the psalms, explains. (See DEVOTIONAL.) Psalm 38: A Prayer When Disciplined. Both Testaments tell us that the Lord disciplines those He loves. Here is a prayer for us when we are disciplined by the Lord. “I am feeble and utterly crushed” Ps. 38:1–12. The New Testament says, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful” (Heb. 12:11). Reading David’s description of his feelings, we sense how painful God’s discipline was for him. David felt wounded, weak, crushed, filled with searing pain. Some may speak lightly of God’s discipline. But anyone undergoing it knows how apt David’s imagery is. Yet consider. Rather than trying to hide, David came to God with his pain! And this is right. Like a little child who turns to Mommy for a hug after being spanked, we are to turn to God with arms held out. When we do, God, like any loving parent, will take us up in His arms and comfort us. “You will answer” Ps. 38:13–22. Despite the fact that David realized he was being disciplined for sin, he was confident that God would answer his plea. How could David be so sure? He told us, “I confess my iniquity; I am troubled by my sin.” David understood what 1 John 1:9 conveys to us as a promise: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us.” With his sin forgiven, David’s prayer was sure to be answered: O Lord, do not forsake me; be not far from me, O my God. Come quickly to help me, O Lord my Saviour. Psalm 39: A Prayer for Perspective. Frustrated by complaints he dared not utter, David begged God for perspective. “I will put a muzzle on my mouth” Ps. 39:1–3. David was unwilling to say anything against the Lord in the presence of the wicked. Yet he was upset and angry that God had not answered his prayer for help (cf. v. 12). We may feel the same frustration with God at times. David leads us then to a surprising way to deal with such feelings. “Show me, O Lord, my life’s end” Ps. 39:4–6. David didn’t ask to know the day of his death. He asked God to give him a sense of life’s brevity. What happens to us here on earth lacks ultimate importance. We need to look beyond time, to eternity. If we can only sense the fact that “each man’s life is but a breath,” we will gain perspective. The suffering that seems so terrible now lasts only for an instant. It is not unbearable after all. “But now, Lord, what do I look for?” Ps. 39:7 With this perspective, David could bear the waiting. Even so, he hoped for God to help him in his brief “now.” How wonderful that God considers our brief moment of life important enough to bless us in our present; that during the present time we “may rejoice again” before departing our world. Psalm 40: The Celebration of Mercy. David remembered all that God had done for him, and found freedom to cry out for new mercies. “He lifted me” Ps. 40:1–3. These words beautifully depict mercy. In the Old Testament “mercy” pictures a helpless individual, crying out for compassion to one who is able to give aid. The “slimy pit” graphically portrays man’s helplessness. God’s “lifting me out” is the intervention of God, and the “new song” of praise is the joy we find in realizing all the Lord has done. “O Lord my God” Ps. 40:4–11. The greatest blessing of the man “who makes the Lord his trust” is a righteousness found not in sacrifice and offering, but in One who came to do God’s will and so bring salvation. Verses 6 and 7 are messianic, quoted in the great exposition of the meaning of Christ’s sacrifice in Hebrews 10. In the One foreshadowed in David’s words we find the righteousness, faithfulness, and salvation of our God. “Do not withhold Your mercy from me” Ps. 40:11–17. It may seem strange, but it is the very fact that our sins overtake us, and our hearts fail, that qualifies us for mercy. Only one who senses his deep need will cry out to God for mercy. The man who shrugs off his sins, or persists in trying to dig himself out of sin’s “slimy pit,” will never look to God but will rely on his own supposed goodness. What a privilege for us to stand, with David, and cry out: I am poor and needy; may the Lord think of me. You are my help and my deliverer; O my God, do not delay. Psalm 41: Psalm of the Merciful. In another psalm which has messianic overtones, David expressed his confidence that the Lord will show mercy to the merciful. “He who has regard for the weak” Ps. 41:1–3. The merciful person is sensitive to those who are weak, and aids them. This quality, so richly displayed in God’s character, is pleasing to Him in you and me. David is sure that God will deliver the merciful man when that man has need of God’s mercy. “O Lord, have mercy on me” Ps. 41:4–13. What a great blessing when we cry out to the Lord for aid to “know that You are pleased with me.” Ultimately the words of this psalm are those of the Messiah (cf. v. 9; Matt. 26:17–25). Yet we too can know God is pleased with us when we trust and seek to serve Him, and can appeal confidently for His mercy.


The Joys of Trust (Ps. 37)

If you were to pick two psalms to memorize, the first would probably be the 23rd. But the second surely would be this great psalm in praise of trust. No psalm has more comforting verses, more verses inviting lengthy meditation. No psalm has more verses that speak so directly to the human heart. Because of this, it’s almost sacrilege to analyze this psalm: to break its thoughts apart, to look for similarities and themes. And yet, how much this psalm tells us about the nature, and about the benefits, of trust. If we seek to probe the nature of trust, we find in this psalm that trust is: *Looking to God and doing good (v. 3). *Delighting in the Lord (v. 4). *Committing our way to the Lord (v. 5). *Not fretting when the wicked succeed (v. 7). *Refraining from anger and wrath (v. 8). *Being satisfied with little (v. 16). *Giving generously to others (v. 21). *Turning from evil to do good (v. 27). *Planting God’s Law in our hearts (v. 31). *Waiting for the Lord (v. 34). *Keeping His way (v. 34). *Taking refuge in the Lord (v. 40). Trust is in fact a way of life, the way of life we choose when we commit ourselves to the Lord. This same psalm reveals the outcome of trust. One who actively commits himself to the Lord can expect these benefits: *To enjoy safe pastures (v. 3). *To receive the desires of his heart (v. 4). *To be vindicated (vv. 5–6). *To inherit the land (vv. 9, 22, 34). *To enjoy great peace (v. 11). *To be upheld by God (v. 17). *To gain an enduring inheritance (v. 18). *To enjoy plenty in days of famine (v. 19). *To be upheld by the Lord (v. 24). *To always live securely (v. 27). *To never be forsaken by God (v. 28). *To not slip (v. 31). *To see the wicked cut off (v. 34). *To have a future (v. 37). *To be helped and delivered by the Lord (v. 40). The beauty of this psalm aside, its teaching is vital to our well-being. Only by an active trust in God, expressed in the choices made each day of our lives, can we experience the many benefits of a personal relationship with the Lord.

Personal Application

May we grasp the active nature of trust, and commit ourselves to faith’s way of responding to God.


“The African impala can jump to a height of over 10 feet and cover a distance of greater than 30 feet. Yet these magnificent creatures can be kept in an enclosure in any zoo with a 3-foot wall. The animals will not jump if they cannot see where their feet will fall. “Faith is the ability to trust what we cannot see, and with faith we are freed from the flimsy enclosures of life that only fear allows to entrap us.”—John Emmons

The 365 Day Devotional Commentary


Reading 110


Psalms 27–33 “The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear?” (Ps. 27:1)

We now join David in psalms that praise God for who He is, and learn what His wonderful qualities mean to those who trust in Him.


To David God is a stronghold (Ps. 27), our strength and shield (Ps. 28). He is King forever (Ps. 29), a healer (Ps. 30), a rock and fortress (Ps. 31). He forgives sin (Ps. 32) and watches over all who hope in His unfailing love (Ps. 33).

Understanding the Text

Psalm 27:

God our Stronghold. David focused our attention on the God who will never forsake us. “The Lord is” Ps. 27:1. Faith is not an emotion; not something we create from within ourselves. What makes faith real and vital is not “how much” of it we have. What makes faith real and vital is its object. Even a little faith, reposed in God, can transform. Not because we “have” it, but because of who our faith is in. As we come to this and the other psalms for today, we focus as David did on who the Lord is. When our trust and hope are fixed in Him, no matter how small our faith seems to be, God can and will come into our lives with a flood of strength and of joy. “When evil men” Ps. 27:2–3. David devoted just 2 verses of the 14 in this psalm to the dangers which threatened him. The rest share his thoughts of God. The proportion is about right. If we think on the Lord seven times as much as we worry, we too will find peace. “To gaze upon the beauty of the Lord” Ps. 27:4–14. These verses are among the most powerful in the psalter, and several cry out for memorization. “Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me” (v. 10), and “I am confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living” (v. 13), are promises you and I can claim. Psalm 28: God, Our Strength and Shield. At times when God does not seem to answer our prayers, trust alone helps. “Turn a deaf ear to me” Ps. 28:1–5. There are times when our prayers seem futile, launched toward a dull and silent heaven. God seems indifferent, willing to let us be dragged away with the wicked. Even at times like these, we are to remember that “the Lord is.” “The Lord is my strength and my shield” Ps. 28:6–9. How, when we cannot sense God’s presence, can we say confidently with David that “He has heard my cry for mercy”? The answer is in who God is. He is the source of our strength and our protector. As David remembered who God is, he said, “My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped.” The circumstances had not changed, but suddenly David found his heart leaping with unexplainable joy. What a wonderful gift from our wonderful God. Trust alone, anchored in our knowledge of who God is, helps. Psalm 29: God, King Forever. It is appropriate to worship the Lord, who is enthroned as King forever. “Ascribe to the Lord” Ps. 29:1–2. The Hebrew yahab is found only where “to the Lord” is part of the expression. It is a call to the purest kind of worship: giving praise to God for who He by nature is. “The voice of the Lord” Ps. 29:3–9. The voice of the Lord is His power to create and to destroy by speaking a word. Human beings have to use physical tools to build up and tear down. God has merely to voice His thoughts, and it is done. “The Lord sits enthroned” Ps. 29:10–11. The awesome power of God’s voice affirms His sovereignty over all. The Lord is King, forever. It is doubly awesome that this God “gives strength to His people” and “blesses His people with strength.” Psalm 30: God, Our Healer. God can heal physically. And He will heal spiritually all who cry to Him for mercy. “I will exalt You” Ps. 30:1–12. David praised God here for a physical healing. The phrase, “Going down into the pit,” is a common Hebrew euphemism for death and burial. While physical healing is primarily in view here, there is a clear spiritual application. God our Healer (v. 2) hears the cries of the penitent for mercy, and makes it possible for us to “give You thanks forever” (v. 12). Here again is a verse affirming who God is that brings us great comfort. God is one whose “anger lasts only a moment, but His favor lasts a lifetime.” Thus while “weeping may remain for a night,” we can be sure that “rejoicing comes in the morning” (v. 5). Psalm 31: Our Rock and Fortress. In powerful images David invited us to find shelter in God’s presence. “I have taken refuge” Ps. 31:1–5. As David fled from Saul, he found refuge in the rocky wilderness of Judah’s hill country. There on some mountain height David and his men camped in relative security. We can imagine David, seated by a campfire as his men watch the one or two approaches to his craggy fortress, sensing that for him, God is just such a “rock of refuge” (vv. 2, 4). David gladly committed himself into God’s hands, and found rest. “You saw my affliction” Ps. 31:6–18. David was pursued as an enemy by armies led by his father-in-law, King Saul. At times his situation seemed hopeless, and David was gripped by a despair that he expressed in verses 9–12. Yet, envisioning God as his fortress, David found grace to say, “I trust in You,” and, “My times are in Your hands.” This is perhaps the greatest challenge we face when hard-pressed. We want relief now. We don’t want to wait. We hate the pressure of our present need. Yet our times as well as we ourselves are in God’s hands. Until God acts, we must find grace to wait, holding tight to God as our refuge. “Goodness . . . stored up” Ps. 31:19–24. God is good. Because of this we can be sure that He has goodness stored up for us who fear Him. For now, we are safe. In the future, we will be doubly blessed. And so David concluded with a word of exhortation. “Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord” (v. 24). Psalm 32: God Forgives. Old Testament saints as well as New experienced the joy, and the transforming power, of God’s forgiveness. (See DEVOTIONAL.) Psalm 33: God’s Unfailing Love. Here is a bubbling spring of joy that will never run dry. God loves us—and has shown us love in so many ways. “Sing joyfully” Ps. 33:1–3. Praise brings joy, for praise focuses our hearts on the Lord. “His unfailing love” Ps. 33:4–19. What evidences of God’s love are appropriate in David’s—and our own—litany of praise? * He is faithful, and His Word is true. * He loves righteousness and justice. * He created the starry hosts. * His plans and purposes will come to pass. * He considers from heaven all men do. * He watches over those who fear Him, to protect them from disaster. “We wait in hope” Ps. 33:20–22. Because of these proofs of God’s unfailing love, we wait for Him in hope. And as we trust in Him, joy fills our hearts.


The Call to Confession (Ps. 32)

Owning up when we do something wrong really hurts. There’s the shame. There’s the fear that if we confess we’ll be punished. There’s the awful feeling that if we admit we’ve done wrong, we make ourselves vulnerable and lose some important part of ourselves. Perhaps that’s why Psalm 32 is so important. David, drawing from his own experience, shows us that while confessing to any sin may feel like loss, it is actually gain. What does David have to share with us? After beginning with the affirmation that the forgiven man is blessed, David goes on to show us why. Keeping silent is painful (vv. 3–4). Unconfessed sin lodges in our consciences and festers there. Like pus forming under a boil, unconfessed sin creates terrible pressure. Unconfessed sin seemed to sap David’s strength; it felt like a heavy weight pressing down on him. This is a first, important reason for confession. Unconfessed sin causes sickness in our souls. Unacknowledged sin is unforgiven sin (v. 5). God is always ready and eager to forgive sin. But He cannot take away our sin until we release it to Him. This is what confession does: it brings our sin into the open; it holds sin up, fully exposed, to God. And then—wonder of wonders!—God does not punish, but forgives “the guilt of my sin”! Forgiveness restores relationships (vv. 6–7). Sin makes us hide from God. Confession restores us to fellowship so that we can hide in God. With our sins forgiven, we are assured that God will protect us from trouble and “surround [us] with songs of deliverance.” Restored fellowship makes divine guidance possible again (vv. 8–10). God now is again able to instruct us in the way we should go because we again trust Him and are ready to respond to His leading. We are again sensitive to the Lord, so that He can now guide us gently rather than be forced to jerk us back onto His pathway as if we were some stubborn animal that can only be controlled with bit and bridle. No wonder David, his restoration now complete, cried out in joy and gladness at this psalm’s end. What a message for each of us. Unconfessed sin distorts our relationship with the Lord. But when we acknowledge our sin, He not only forgives us, He restores us to intimate fellowship with Him. Once again He leads us in His ways.

Personal Application

If you are troubled with a sense of guilt, joy is only a prayer of confession away.


This is the debt I pay Just for one riotous day, Years of regret and grief, Sorrow without relief. Pay it I will to the end— Until the grave my friend, Gives me a true release— Gives me the clasp of peace. Slight was the thing I bought, Small was the debt I thought, Poor was the loan at best— God! But the interest!—Paul Laurence Dunbar

The 365 Day Devotional Commentary


Reading 109


“Your hand will lay hold on all your enemies; your right hand will seize your foes” (Ps. 21:8).God has blessings for His own. We can claim these blessings now, as well as look forward to the time of Messiah’s glory.


A prayer for blessing (Ps. 20) and a celebration of blessings received (Ps. 21) are followed by three psalms which span the career of the Messiah (Pss. 22–24). David reminds us that God guides and guards (Ps. 25), as His Word leads us to level ground (Ps. 26).

Understanding the Text

Psalm 20: A Prayer for Blessing.

Here’s a guide to extending our “best wishes” to another in prayer. “May the Lord” Ps. 20:1. David’s trust in God rather than chariots (v. 7) is expressed in his conviction that blessing comes from God. We who share David’s belief will express our best wishes for others in prayers like his (cf. vv. 1–5). Psalm 21: For Blessings Received. Remembering what God has done for us is a continual source of joy. Notice the litany of blessings David lists: “The victories won” (v. 1) “Desires granted” (v. 2) “Prayers answered” (v. 2) “Presence welcomed” (v. 3) “Crown given” (v. 3) “Life-forever and ever” (v. 4) “Glory bestowed” (v. 5) “Joy in God’s presence” (v. 6) “Unfailing love” (v. 7) David, knowing God’s power and sure of his ultimate triumph, knew that these and other blessings were his forever (vv. 8–13). You and I will do well to follow David’s example and make a list of our own blessings from the Lord. Psalm 22: The Suffering Messiah. Jesus the Messiah is unveiled in this poetic description of David’s own experience. “Why have You forsaken me?” Ps. 22:1–8 The opening words of this psalm, quoted by Jesus on the cross (Matt. 27:46), and the clear reflection of Isaiah 53 in Psalm 22:6–7, mark this psalm as a preview of Messiah’s suffering and death. “They have pierced my hands and my feet” Ps. 22:9–21. Other clear references to the cross are found in verses 16–18. “All the ends of the earth will . . . turn to the Lord” Ps. 22:22–31. Out of Messiah’s suffering will come praise for the Lord, and those who turn to the Lord will live forever. Anyone who grasps the horror of crucifixion as a way of execution, or who senses what it must have meant for the holy Son of God to be made “sin for us” (2 Cor. 5:21) can see something of Jesus’ emotions the day of His death. Yet by meditating on this psalm we enter much more deeply into the sufferings of Jesus on Calvary. How good to read on, as we pass the 21st verse to find that what seemed a tragedy was in fact a triumph! Through Christ’s suffering, “The poor will eat and be satisfied; they who seek the Lord will praise Him—may your hearts live forever!” Psalm 23: Our Shepherd’s Care. Even in the shadow of death David, the Messiah, and you and I, all find comfort in our Shepherd’s care. Psalm 24: Messiah’s Coming Glory. At history’s end the suffering Messiah will be revealed as the Lord Almighty, the King of Glory. The shepherd was a familiar figure in Israel, and his love for his sheep was legendary. Day and night the shepherd watched over sheep which he knew individually, by name. The image of God as Shepherd, ever present with His people, remains Scripture’s most comforting picture of the believer’s relationship with his God. “The earth is the Lord’s” Ps. 24:1–2. One basis for certainty that the Messiah will ultimately be vindicated is the fact that God is Sovereign. The earth, and everything in it, belongs to the Lord. “He who has clean hands” Ps. 24:3–6. Another basis for certainty is the Messiah’s pure and sinless life. He will surely be blessed by the Lord. This King of glory” Ps. 24:7–10. A final basis for certainty is the identity of the Messiah. He who comes is actually the Lord, the very King of glory! Psalm 25: God’s Guidance and Goodness. David had confidence that those who hope in the Lord will never be put to shame. (See DEVOTIONAL.) Psalm 26: Level Ground. A godly life keeps the believer secure. “I have led a blameless life” Ps. 26:1–8. The “blameless” life of Old Testament saints was not without sin. It was, however, characterized by a deep inner dedication to God that found expression in a godly way of life. This psalm beautifully describes the attitude which keeps believers of every age from sin. It is marked by unwavering trust in God (v. 1), and by constant love for Him (v. 3). It is expressed by daily obedience to God’s truth (v. 3), with rejection of the wicked as well as wickedness (vv. 4–5). And trust also finds expression in worship (v. 6) and praise (vv. 7–8). Such dedication alone can produce that “blameless life” which the psalmist describes as “level ground.” Why level ground? Much of the Holy Land is steep and rocky, dangerous for travelers whose feet were shod not in modern climbing boots but in loose sandals. It was so easy to slip and fall, so easy to twist an ankle. But level ground was safe for the traveler. And so the image is clear: the one who loves the Lord enough to live a blameless life travels through this life safe and secure.


Hope and Shame(Ps. 25)

The ideas of “hope” and “shame” are often found together in the Old Testament. “Hope” is a confident outlook, not because a person knows the future, but because the believer knows God and trusts in His character. “Shame” is disgrace caused by a failure of some sort which exposes an individual to the ridicule of others. Thus the thought expressed in this psalm is that the one who puts his hope in God will never be exposed to ridicule, because God will never fail him! What can we expect from God that will deliver us from shame? First, we can expect God to show us His way, guiding and teaching us by His truth (vv. 4–5). Second, we can expect God to forgive us, freeing us from the burden of our past and purifying us (vv. 6–7). Because the Lord is good, He guides the humble into what is right (vv. 8–10). Because He is gracious, He forgives even great iniquity (v. 11). What does the Lord have for those who experience His forgiveness, and go on to live in His will? There is a prosperity and sense of His presence (vv. 12–15) that remain with us despite loneliness, troubles, and even affliction (vv. 16–19). As we take refuge in the Lord, and live upright lives, we can face the future confidently. And without fear of being put to shame. What a wonderful God we have!

Personal Application

God guides the forgiven man or woman into a life that is pleasing to Him—a life that never exposes one to shame.


“Christianity has never been tried, the cliche runs. And of course it’s true, but so is it true that Christianity has checked the movements of millions of men and women who but for the pull of dogma would know no vital brake upon their behavior. Sometimes the brake is effective, sometimes it is not. But that it should be there outweighs any concern over the excesses of Jimmy Swaggart or the ayatollah or the Mormon extremist or the Venezuelan savage—or the European relativist.”—William F. Buckley, Jr.

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