May 28th - Psalm 111-115

This devotional is penned by Mark Jones.

In today’s reading we saw a collection of relatively short Psalms.

All of these Psalms are listed anonymously, so we don’t know exactly who penned each one. What we can say though is that there is a lot of encouragement included in these five Psalms.

In today’s devotion I’ll be focusing on Psalm 111. Last year I spoke on Psalm 111 at the evening service for South Hylton IM’s. Psalm 111 packs a powerful punch for just being 10 verses long, for me personally it does remind me of the old cliché that you can say a lot with very few words.

In essence, the writer of Psalm 111 appears to be trying to convey that God’s works are great, marvellous, too much for words to contain. This is and should be a powerful reminder to us.

This Psalm can easily be summarised into four short sections of thought:

1. Begin with Worship and Praise (v1)

2. Remember God’s Great Works (v2-5)

3. Rely on God’s Word (v6-9)

4. Obey His Will (v10)

The first point is to Begin with Worship and Praise. When Jesus was approached by His disciples and asked to teach them how to pray, He showed them how to pray in what we refer to today as the Lord’s Prayer, which starts with “our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be Your name” (Matthew 6:9, Luke 11:2). Jesus, in that example, issued a praise to God the Father, showing us that when we come to God in prayer we ought to do the same. The Psalmist of Psalm 111 does something very similar, starting this Psalm, which is quite clearly a Psalm of praise, by offering praise to God when he states “I will extol the Lord with all my heart in the council of the upright and in the assembly”. The Psalmist begins with a commitment to worship God. The question this raises for us is do we do the same whenever we enter God’s Holy presence.

The second point is to Remember God’s Great Works. Straight after declaring his commitment to worship God, the Psalmist continues by telling all who would eventually read this Psalm that “great are the works of the Lord; they are pondered by all who delight in them”. The Psalmist continues by telling us that the works of God are glorious and majestic, and that God has caused His wonders to be remembered. I have absolutely no doubt in mind that that is most certainly true. A number of folk at church will know this, but growing up my family would go somewhere in the Lake District most weekends and spend the Saturday there. Be it walking around lakes like Buttermere and Grasmere, climbing the stairs and sitting on Bowderstone, or walking around towns like Keswick and Penrith, my family has always had a love for the Lakes. So much so that when my father passed away, we decided to scatter his ashes at one of our favourite spots in Keswick just by Lake Derwentwater as that place holds many a special memory for us. There’s a spot on the walking route for Latrigg where you can see the whole of Keswick and Lake Derwentwater, it is in my mind one of the most serene and beautiful views one could see in this country. To me this is one of the best ways to see the wonder and beauty of God’s creation, bringing to mind for me that his wonderful deeds will always be remembered as all we need to do to see His wonders more often than not is to simply to look out the window and look at all that God has made. This section does not end though, as we are reminded that God’s righteousness will endure forever, that He provides food for those who fear Him and that He will remember His covenant forever. These three things remind us that God will always do what is right, that He will always provide just what we need if we are walking with Him, and that He will not go back on His promises. How amazing is that.

The third point I raised was to Rely on God’s Word. This is an all important point for us to remember. When I read this Psalm and some of the thoughts around it, I think this Psalmist is writing this from a place of experiencing some kind of hardship. There is something about this Psalm to me that screams that the Psalmist here has been through something very difficult and he is using this Psalm as a means of reminding himself just how good God is. I don’t know about you, but sometimes when I’ve gone through something difficult, I need this reminder too. I need to be reminded that God is good and that His promises for me are as true today as they have ever been. I get a sense that the Psalmist here is in the same boat. During this time, we may need to be reminded that God’s word is eternal, and His faithfulness endures forever. Verse 9 tells us specifically that God’s covenant will remain forever. But what exactly is His covenant? For us today, it is the promise that through the blood of Jesus Christ, shed on the cross for us, we can come into an eternal relationship with Him if we accept His offer of grace and the forgiveness of our sins.

The fourth and final point is for us to Obey His Will. This comes from one verse, verse 10, where it says “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow His precepts have good understanding. To Him belongs eternal praise”. Notice here that the verse starts by stating that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. But what exactly is the fear of the Lord? Is it to be scared of what God can do? To be honest I don’t think so. When I look at this statement I’m reminded of what the word awful used to mean, today we use this word to describe something bad, but in Old English this word meant that whatever was awful was in fact worthy of respect. The word awe in itself indicates fear, terror and great reverence. This indicates to me that this concept of the fear of the Lord can and should combine these three elements, God is an all powerful and supreme being. Therefore as such, we should full of awe at who He is and what He can do. It is notable that the Psalmist concludes this particular Psalm with this reminder. It reminds us that although God is supremely loving, kind and gracious, He is powerful and awe-inspiring. This is a gentle reminder that we should see God as He is fully, and to not ignore His greatness in favour of His kindness.

This Psalm is quite a powerful one for being just 10 verses long. I’m trying to keep this short, but as I wrote this down, I noticed this is the longest devotion I’ve penned so far, as there is so much to it.

As we read through the rest of today’s readings, let us remember that God is a great and glorious God. His faithfulness lasts from generation to generation. He is gracious and merciful, He provides for us. And let us remember that to be in awe of the wonder and majesty of God is the first step to being truly wise. True wisdom comes from understanding just how amazing and powerful God is.

May God bless the reading of His word today.

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