Day 140: The Sweet Spot of Prayer Time: Deep Calls to Deep (Psalm 42)

Through the Bible Reading: Psalm 5, 38, 41, 42

Hank Aaron in 1974, Getty Images

7 Deep calls to deep
    at the roar of your waterfalls;
all your breakers and your waves
    have gone over me.
8 By day the Lord commands his steadfast love,
    and at night his song is with me,
    a prayer to the God of my life.
Psalm 42:7-8

In baseball, there’s the idea of hitting the sweet spot. It’s when the player makes contact with the dead center of the ball with the fattest part of the bat over the middle of the plate at the at the maximum peak of his swing. When all those factors come together, it’s goodbye, Mr. Spalding. Sportscasters often refer to it as “going deep.”

In Psalm 42, David describes going deep with God. He finds the sweet spot. Now, It isn’t necessarily a place he wants to be. He is probably in exile, no longer able to go”with the throng to the house of God” (v. 4). He is writing from the other side of the Jordan River, “from the land of Jordan and of Hermon” (v. 6). Scholars connect this Psalm to the period of David’s life in which he fled Jerusalem after Absalom’s coup. His soul is cast down and in turmoil. His tears have become his food day and night (v. 3). His enemies are attacking him and his foes are taunting him. He wonders if God has forgotten him.

And this is when he finds the sweet spot.

Deep calls to deep
    at the roar of your waterfalls;
all your breakers and your waves
    have gone over me.

The Hebrew word for “deep” here refers to the deepest known depths of the sea. It’s the same word Jonah used in his prayer from the belly of the fish.

“I called out to the Lord, out of my distress,
    and he answered me;
out of the belly of Sheol I cried,
    and you heard my voice.
3 For you cast me into the deep,
    into the heart of the seas,
    and the flood surrounded me;
all your waves and your billows
    passed over me.
Jonah 2:3

By the way, did you notice how Jonah used almost the exact same language of Psalm 42? This isn’t a coincidence. Jonah knew Scripture, and he quoted this prayer, from the belly of a fish! Talk about having God’s Word in your heart!

So deep calling out to deep is when someone’s deepest need is met by God’s deepest grace. When the profound depth of our distress is answered by the unfathomable depth of God’s love for us. This is the sweet spot.

I love this quote from the GotQuestions article on Psalm 42:7:

“The deep of man’s need calleth unto the deep of God’s fulness; and the deep of God’s fulness calleth unto the deep of man’s need. Between our emptiness and His all-sufficiency there is a great gulf. . . . Deep calleth unto deep. The deep mercy of God needs our emptiness, into which it might pour itself. . . . Nothing can fully meet the depth of our need but the depth of His Almighty fulness”

James Smith and Robert Lee, Handfuls of Purpose for Christian Workers and Bible Students, Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1971. Vol. 8, p. 11

The picture I put at the top of this blog is of when my childhood hero Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run, breaking Babe Ruth’s record. Hammerin’ Hank went deep 755 times in his career. And he did it without performance enhancing drugs. Which is why he’s in the Hall of Fame, while other players with more home runs are not. There are no short cuts to finding the sweet spot. It comes from discipline, longevity, and hours and hours of batting practice.

Hitting that sweet spot with the Lord doesn’t come easy either. We rarely get to the point of “deep calling out to deep” when things are going great in our lives. Maybe it takes being estranged from your family. Maybe it takes facing the consequences of your sin. This is what it took for David. Maybe it takes getting swallowed by a fish, like it did for Jonah.

But when you get to the end of yourself, when you’ve run as far as you can, sunk as low as you can, and hit the bottom of rock bottom, that’s when deep really calls out to deep.

And paradoxically, that’s the sweet spot.

Day 138: A Tottering Fence (Psalm 62)

62 For God alone my soul waits in silence;
    from him comes my salvation.
2 He alone is my rock and my salvation,
    my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.

3 How long will all of you attack a man
    to batter him,
    like a leaning wall, a tottering fence?

Psalm 62:1-3

Through the Bible reading plan: Psalm 26, 40, 58, 61, 62, 64

Yesterday, we read about how, when David fled Jerusalem at the start of Absalom’s coup, a random Benjamite named Shimei threw stones at him and cursed him. 2 Samuel 16:6-7 reads,

“And he threw stones at David and at all the servants of King David, and all the people and all the mighty men were on his right hand and on his left. And Shimei said as he cursed, “Get out, get out, you man of blood, you worthless man!”

In today’s reading, Psalm 62 seems to be about this part of David’s life. If it is, I have to chuckle a little at the double meaning of verse 2: David writes that “God alone is my rock… I shall not be greatly shaken.” In other words, these little rocks Shimei threw at David weren’t going to shake him, because when God is your one and only rock, the rocks thrown by others don’t faze you.

Except when they do. No matter how solid your faith in God your rock might be, the little petty criticisms from others inevitably get to you. Maybe that’s why David goes on to write,

“How long will all of you attack a man to batter him, like a leaning wall, a tottering fence?” Psalm 62:3 ESV

There is a lot of variation among English translations of this verse, because it isn’t clear who David is saying is like a “leaning wall or a tottering fence.”  Was it David himself or his enemies? King James took it to mean David’s enemies: “How long will you attack a man? You shall be slain, all of you, Like a leaning wall and a tottering fence.”

The NIV, though, makes it sound as though David is describing himself: “How long will you assault me? Would all of you throw me down– this leaning wall, this tottering fence?”

Other translations acknowledge that the Hebrew is ambiguous, so they make it a generic third person:  “How long will you assail a man, That you may murder him, all of you, Like a leaning wall, like a tottering fence?” (ESV, NASB, CSB all go this route).

Knowing what we know about where David is at this point, I think David is describing himself. David is dealing with all the consequences of that sin. He’s battered and broken down like an old wall or rickety fence. He’s being attacked from all sides: his son, Absalom, his most trusted advisor Ahithophel, even random passers-by like Shimei.

But what I love about the Psalm in context is that there’s a bigger reality that trumps how David feels. He might feel like a leaning wall and tottering fence. His enemies might even believe that themselves— “Let’s attack when he is at his most vulnerable.”

But David also expresses the truth:

  • God alone is my rock and my salvation (v2, v6)
  • He is my hope (v5).
  • He is My fortress,
  • My salvation,
  • My glory;
  • My mighty rock.
  • My refuge (vs 5-7).

Beloved, when we feel most defenseless, know that the Lord has never been more secure. Hide behind your own flimsy fence, and you are vulnerable. Take shelter in God as your fortress, and you will never be shaken.

Day 135: The High Cost of Passivity (2 Samuel 13-15)

When King David heard of all these things, he was very angry. But Absalom spoke to Amnon neither good nor bad, for Absalom hated Amnon, because he had violated his sister Tamar. After two full years Absalom had sheepshearers at Baal-hazor, which is near Ephraim, and Absalom invited all the king's sons. (2  Samuel 13:21-23)

So Absalom fled and went to Geshur, and was there three years.  And the spirit of the king longed to go out to Absalom, because he was comforted about Amnon, since he was dead. (2 Samuel 13:38-39)

So Absalom lived two full years in Jerusalem, without coming into the king's presence. Then Absalom sent for Joab, to send him to the king, but Joab would not come to him. And he sent a second time, but Joab would not come. (2 Samuel 14:28-29)

And at the end of four years Absalom said to the king, “Please let me go and pay my vow, which I have vowed to the Lord, in Hebron. (2 Samuel 15:7)

An old saying tells us that revenge is a dish best served cold. And the story of Absalom’s revenge on his brother for the rape of his sister certainly seems to bear that out. But while that advice may be popular, it is by no means biblical.

Sadly, the whole tragic story of 2 Samuel 13-15 has more to teach us about the dangers of passivity than it does about how and when to take revenge. Let’s look at the events that take place, and the time it took to deal with them.

Scene 1: Amnon rapes Tamar, his half sister (2 Samuel 13:1-14). In verse 21, we read that David is “very angry” about this. But crucially, the king does nothing. He doesn’t punish Amnon. He doesn’t warn Absalom not to take matters into his own hands. And after two years, Absalom takes his revenge and has his brother killed. Time since Amnon raped Tamar: Two years

Scene 2: Absalom flees to Geshur (2 Samuel 13:34-39). Geshur, in modern day Syria, was across the Jordan, about 50 miles northeast of Jerusalem. Absalom stays there for three years as a fugitive. Verse 39 is curious. It says that the spirit of King David “longed to go out to Absalom, because he was comforted about Amnon, since he was dead.” Does this mean that David saw the killing of Amnon as just, so he was prepared to forgive Absalom? If so, why didn’t he go to him to restore him? Maybe he was waiting for the public furor to die down. Or maybe he just didn’t want to deal with hit. Whatever the reason, once again David does nothing. For three years. Time since Amnon raped Tamar: Five years

Scene Three: Absalom returns to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 14:1-28). After much drama, Joab gets the king to allow Absalom to come back to Jerusalem, with the stipulation that Absalom was not permitted to see King David (verse 24). So he was kinda-sorta restored, but not really. Even though David allowed him back in town, for two full years, David does nothing to even acknowledge his son is back home. Time since Amnon raped Tamar: Seven years

Scene Four: Absalom burns Joab’s crops (2 Samuel 14:29-33). Frustrated that his father won’t see him, and believing that Joab is the bouncer denying him access, Absalom sets Joab’s field on fire. This gets Joab’s attention, David finally grants Absalom an audience, and David seems to restore his son. Problem solved, right? Not so fast. There is no confronting. There’s no discussion about mistakes made. There’s superficial reconciliation, but no one is dealing with the issues. This leads us to…

Scene Five: Absalom Attempts a Coup (2 Samuel 15:1-12) For the next four years, Absalom stations himself at the city gate, and whenever someone comes into town for an audience with the king, Absalom convinces him that if Absalom were king, he would get justice, but that he shouldn’t expect much from old, weak, King David. And after four years, Absalom makes his move. Believing that he has fully “stolen the hearts of the men of Israel” (verse 6), he launches his rebellion against his father. Total time since Amnon raped Tamar: Eleven Years.

Eleven years of inaction and passivity. Eleven years of failure to address a problem. Eleven years of a leader kicking a can down the road and hoping a family crisis would blow over.

How might the history of Israel have been different if David had dealt with the issue quickly? If he had punished Amnon, perhaps Absalom would not have taken matters into his own hands. We will never know. What we do know is that strong leadership is not passive. Strong leadership resolves conflict quickly. David’s inaction brought ruin to his house, and it was only God’s faithfulness to His own promise that kept a son of David on the throne in Jerusalem for the next four hundred years.

What about you? How often do you hope conflict will blow over? How willing are you to sweep things under the rug, hoping that offended parties will patch things up on their own? If you are a leader on any level, you can’t afford to be passive in confronting conflict. If a confrontation is inevitable, then you need to work to make it immediate. Do it with all the grace and prudence and discernment God gives you, but don’t delay doing it.

Because while revenge might be best served cold, nobody likes warmed-over resolution.

Day 127: Gimme Six Steps (2 Samuel 6)

Read Through the Bible Plan: 2 Samuel 6-7; 1 Chronicles 17

James J. Tissot, ‘David Dances before the Ark’ (1896-1902), gouache on board, The Jewish Museum, New York.
12 ...So David went and had the ark of God brought up from Obed-edom’s house to the city of David with rejoicing. 13 When those carrying the ark of the Lord advanced six steps, he sacrificed an ox and a fattened calf. (2 Samuel 6:12-13)

Today was another rabbit chasing day. I noticed for the first time that when David brought the ark back to Jerusalem, he stopped after six steps and made a sacrifice. And I wondered why.

The text does not give a reason, so as Tara-Leigh often says, we hold this with an open hand. But there’s at least two possibilities.

One is that David was acting out of fear. Remember that this was right after Uzzah got struck dead on the spot for reaching out and touching the ark (see Day 124: Wazzup With Uzzah?). And the text explicitly says that David was afraid, and wan’t willing to move the ark any further for three months after that (see verses 9-11). So when David finally did muster up the courage to move the ark, maybe these first six steps were tentative, waiting to see if anything would happen.

Another possibility is that David was acting out of reverence for the Sabbath. Remember the creation account. After six days, God rested. So if the ark was the visible representation of God’s Presence, then it is possible that David stopped after six steps to give the ark a Sabbath.

Which leads to another question. Did David stop and make a sacrifice every six steps, or only after the first six steps? Again, the text is not clear one way or the other. Scholars have interpreted the Hebrew both ways. The New International Commentary on the Old Testament suggests that “repeated sacrifices in relation to processions accompanying the transfer and installation of gods” are common in non-bliblical ancient near East literature.  

However, others argue that stopping every six steps to make a sacrifice would not have been practical for the distance between Obed-Edom’s house and Jerusalem. One blogger notes that it was about 12-15 kilometers to Mt. Zion from Obed-Edom’s house. That would be about 30,000 steps. Would David have really stopped to make 5,000 sacrifices? And if it was an ox and a fattened calf each time, that would be 10,000 sacrifices!

No pun intended, but holy cow.

This sounded extreme to me, until I looked ahead and saw that a generation later when Solomon dedicated the Temple, he sacrificed 22,000 cattle and 120,000 sheep and goats (see 1 Kings 8:63; 2 Chron. 7:5)! So perhaps 10,000 oxen and calves isn’t so extreme after all.

A blogger named Gareth Lowe offers this amazing insight on his blog The Diamond Tree:

Imagine how David felt as he went through this bloody routine over, and over, and over again. As Rick Joyner says, “From Obed-edom’s house to Mount Zion, the procession left in its wake a trail of blood and guts as far as the eye could see. It was not a pretty picture. No wonder David was dancing with all his might when they finally made it through the gates!”

Gareth Lowe, Sacrificing Every Six Steps

If David really did stop every six steps to make a sacrifice, then this provides an unbelievable contrast to the finished work of Christ on the cross. You see, our sins have required a sacrifice from the moment God made skins from animals to cover the shame of Adam and Eve in the Garden. In Lowe’s words, the history of humankind has been one long trail of blood and guts, as far as the eye can see, stretching from Eden to Zion. Because the blood of bulls and goats could never freely, fully, and finally atone for our sins (Hebrews 10:4-6).

But then came Jesus as the final sacrifice. On Calvary, Jesus shed His blood once and for all. At Calvary, the bloody trail came to an end. Hebrews 10:12-14 puts it this way:

12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

Oh, my God. In the face of such a sacrifice, how can we not dance like David?

Day 111: Not Really Loving David Today, and Why I’m Not Supposed To (2 Samuel 1-4)

26 Then Abner called to Joab, “Shall the sword devour forever? Do you not know that the end will be bitter? How long will it be before you tell your people to turn from the pursuit of their brothers?” (2 Samuel 2:26)

2 Samuel begins with a lot of senseless bloodshed. On two separate occasions, messengers who believed they were bringing good news to David are killed because of the message they bring (See 2 Samuel 1:14-16 and 4:9-12).

Then, in 2:12-17, twenty-four soldiers all seem to die at once when the armies of Ish-bosheth and David meet at the pool of Gibeon. The language of the narrative just seems to highlight the stupidity of it:

12 Abner the son of Ner, and the servants of Ish-bosheth the son of Saul, went out from Mahanaim to Gibeon. 13 And Joab the son of Zeruiah and the servants of David went out and met them at the pool of Gibeon. And they sat down, the one on the one side of the pool, and the other on the other side of the pool. 14 And Abner said to Joab, “Let the young men arise and compete before us.” And Joab said, “Let them arise.” 15 Then they arose and passed over by number, twelve for Benjamin and Ish-bosheth the son of Saul, and twelve of the servants of David. 16 And each caught his opponent by the head and thrust his sword in his opponent's side, so they fell down together. Therefore that place was called Helkath-hazzurim, which is at Gibeon.

After that, in what may be the first recorded case of road rage, Abner kills Asahel, apparently for following too closely:

9 And Asahel pursued Abner, and as he went, he turned neither to the right hand nor to the left from following Abner. 20 Then Abner looked behind him and said, “Is it you, Asahel?” And he answered, “It is I.” 21 Abner said to him, “Turn aside to your right hand or to your left, and seize one of the young men and take his spoil.” But Asahel would not turn aside from following him. 22 And Abner said again to Asahel, “Turn aside from following me. Why should I strike you to the ground? How then could I lift up my face to your brother Joab?” 23 But he refused to turn aside. Therefore Abner struck him in the stomach with the butt of his spear, so that the spear came out at his back. And he fell there and died where he was. And all who came to the place where Asahel had fallen and died, stood still.

And it just goes on. In 3:26-30, Joab kills Abner dishonorably. Using the pretense of a private conversation, he pulls him off to the side and stabs him in the stomach. Then, in chapter 4, Ish-bosheth is murdered in his own bed.

In the midst of this, Chapter 3 notes that David has six sons from six women. Then he insists that Michal, Saul’s daughter who is by this point married to another man, is brought back to him as a spoil of war. There’s no sense that he loves Michal; only that he wants her (2 Sam. 6:23 says that she and David did not have any children together, so this demand to bring her back apparently was not because he missed his wife. It just seems petty). And we know that a few chapters from now, David is going to take an eighth wife, Bathsheba, after killing her husband.

Geez. The only thing that keeps this from seeming excessive is that David’s son Solomon had 700 wives. Maybe the song should have said, “David has married his thousands, and Solomon his ten thousands.” Or maybe that was the second verse.

So, these episodes don’t read like glorious war stories from a godly kingdom but like gangland executions. and soap opera intrigue. And they remind us that Scripture is often descriptive and not prescriptive. The first chapters of 2 Samuel describe how human beings are: messy, violent, rage-filled, petty.

Even when we are talking about David, the man who was supposed to be a man after God’s own heart, we are reminded that there is only one true Hero in all of Scripture. Every human being falls short. Every human being has blood on his hands.

Only Jesus is lifted up. Jesus didn’t have blood on His hands. Instead blood came from his hands. His head. His feet. Sorrow and love flow mingled down.

And covers all my warfare and my wickedness.

Day 108: Deja Vu All Over Again (Psalm 63)

Daily Reading: Psalm 17, 35, 54, 63

A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah.

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
    my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
    as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. (Psalm 63:1)

With all due respect to the good folks at Blue Letter Bible for this excellent chronological reading plan, I think they might have made a mistake with today’s reading plan. Let me explain:

Today we covered Psalm 63 because we assume that David was reflecting on the time he spent in the wilderness of Judah while he was on the run from Saul. This was after he had been anointed king, but before he took the throne after the death of Saul.

However, about thirty years later, David found himself in the desert again, on the run from his son Absalom (see 2 Samuel 15-18). So scholars are divided on which time David is reflecting on. The one clue that it could be referring to the second one is verse 11, when David refers to himself as the king who will rejoice in God. As long as Saul was alive, David didn’t think of himself as the king.

We can’t say for sure either way, but in my opinion the Psalm is richer and more meaningful for where I am in my life if it goes with the later period. I’m 55 years old. Sometimes I go through a desert season through no fault of my own. But more often I’m there because of my own sin (as was the case in David’s life when he fled Absalom). And during those times, I can beat myself up for making the same dumb mistakes over and over, or I can remember God’s faithfulness to me in the past.

This is what David does in verse 2: “I have seen You in Your sanctuary.” And again in verse 7: “you have been my help.”

This gives him hope for the future: “My soul will be satisfied.” (V 5). “I will sing for joy” (v 7) For David, God’s past performance reassures him of Gods future faithfulness.

So again, I could be wrong, and it doesn’t change anything about the truth of the psalm to place it at the beginning of David’s career. But if Psalm 63 is about the second Judah refuge, it’s all the more rich because there was a first one. David’s been in the desert before, and that gives him confidence that God will be his help again.

For a deeper dive into this Psalm, check out a sermon I preached a couple of years ago on Psalm 63.

Day 107: Abigail in the Gap (1 Samuel 25-27)

“David Meeting Abigail” by Peter Paul Reubens
32 And David said to Abigail, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me! 33 Blessed be your discretion, and blessed be you, who have kept me this day from bloodguilt and from working salvation with my own hand! 34 For as surely as the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, who has restrained me from hurting you, unless you had hurried and come to meet me, truly by morning there had not been left to Nabal so much as one male.” 1 Samuel 25:32-34

Up to this point in our read through, the only other person the Bible has described as discerning is Joseph (see Genesis 41:33). Tara-Leigh describes both Joseph and Abigail as “entering into chaos and bringing peace.” I love that phrase. Both Joseph and Abigail stood in the breach and brought peace.

Joseph did it twice. First, he provided the way for the sons of Israel to be spared from destruction, so that they didn’t perish in the famine (See Genesis 41-44). Then, he does it again by speaking peace and forgiveness to his brothers. He had every right to get revenge on his brothers for the wrong they had done to Joseph. Instead, he forgave them, and assured them that what they had meant for evil, God meant for good, “to bring about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today (Genesis 50:20).

In a similar way, Abigail also brought about that many people should be kept alive. She turned David from the evil he was planning against the house of Nabal.

What jumped out to me today, though, was David’s praise of Abigail. David blesses her because she kept him from “working salvation with [his] own hand.” With this one phrase, I see where Christ is foreshadowed in this story.

David and Nabal were at enmity. David had treated Nabal’s household with justice and fairness. Under his watch, the shepherds of Nabal were kept safe. All he asked for in return was a little hospitality. Instead, Nabal scorned and despised David. He showed contempt for David, and thus became the object of David’s wrath.

This is where all of us are apart from Christ. We are enemies of God (Romans 5:10) and objects of His wrath (Romans 1:18). And like David, we often try to work salvation with our own hand. But our efforts to be our own agents of salvation always fall short, and they usually make things worse. This would have been the case had David acted out against Nabal.

Instead, Abigail stands in the gap. She bakes the bread and pours out the wine and slaughters the sheep so that David’s wrath will be turned away from Nabal. Thus, not only does she save Nabal, but she also saves David from bringing guilt on himself by attempting to work his own salvation.

And this is Jesus.

19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. Luke 22:19-20)

Abigail brought peace in the midst of chaos, bridging the gap between David and Nabal.

  • Abigail baked the bread for David. Jesus is the bread, broken for us.
  • Abigail poured the wine for David. Jesus’ blood is the wine of the new covenant
  • Abigail slaughters the lambs. Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (see John 1:29)
  • Abigail brokered peace between David and foolish Nabal. Jesus, the Son of David, makes peace with God available to sinful man.
14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility (Ephesians 2:14)

Thank God for Abigail. When David could not accomplish his own salvation, Abigail accomplished it for him.

Just. Like. Jesus.

For an even more in-depth article about Abigail as a type of Christ, check out this article: Twelve Ways Abigail is a Type and Shadow of Christ

Day 103: When The Foundations are Shaken (1 Samuel 18-20; Psalm 11, 59)

“For look, the wicked bend their bows; they set their arrows against the strings to shoot from the shadows at the upright in heart. When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” Psalm 11:2-3, NIV

For several years I’ve tried to maintain the discipline of reading through the Psalms each month, doing it the way Billy Graham did: on the first day of the month, reading Psalms 1, 31, 61, 91, and 121; and so on throughout the month. YouVersion has a plan organized this way, which also adds in a chapter of Proverbs each day for good measure. You can access it by clicking here.

Which means, on the 11th day of every month, I read Psalm 11.

September 11, 2001 was the worst 11th day. All of us can remember where we were and what we were thinking when we saw the towers of the World Trade Center fall. I remembered my reading from that morning: “the wicked shoot from the shadows at the upright in heart. When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?”

The wickedness of men shakes us to our foundations. All that David had built his life on—devotion to God; loyalty to King Saul, confidence that character would be recognized and courage would be honored— all of that must have felt like it was unsteady beneath his feet when Saul shot at him from the shadows. What could the righteous do?

When we feel rocked to our foundations we can read the rest of the Psalm.

“The Lord is in His holy temple, and His eyes see” (v 5). God sees: He is omniscient.

“The Lord will rain coals on the wicked—fire and sulfur” (v 6; and yes, I admit this comforted me on 9/11). God is just: He will not let the guilty go unpunished.

“The Lord is righteous; He loves righteous deeds” (v 7). God is good: I can trust His character.

David wrote this Psalm at a time when his own foundations were rocked. He had lived his life uprightly before both God and Saul. What could the righteous do? For David the answer was to ret on what you know about God when there is so much you don’t know about everything else.

Whether the ground feels unsteady because of world events or personal tragedy, we can take comfort in these same words. The psalmist has been there. He knows the feeling of the ground shifting beneath one’s feet. But he also knows that steadying one’s gaze on the righteous Lord can also steady the shaking, calm one’s steps, and firm up one’s footing.  

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