Tag Archives: psalms

Dwelling on the Holy Mountain: My journey thorough Psalms (15)

Psalm 15

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Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent?

Great question, probably the single most asked question of children and adults aside from ‘is God real’, ‘how do you know if you will go to heaven when you die’? Well, this list is sums it up.

  • Your walk must be blameless
  • You must be righteous
  • You must speak truth from your heart
  • Your tongue must speak truth
  • You must treat your neighbors right
  • You must respect others, honor those who fear the Lord and despise the vile
  • You must keep your promises even when it hurts
  • You must not be two faced
  • You must give money to the poor without interest
  • You must not accept bribes

That’s quite a daunting list. Frankly, keeping them all—all the time, seems impossible. Because though I like to think of myself as an honest person, I can’t say that my tongue speaks truth all the time and I’m certainly not 100% blameless. So it’s hopeless.

Not exactly. There are two things I think might be misinterpreted in this psalm by many and most.

First, I don’t think ‘dwelling in the sacred tent’ actually means heaven.  And second, of course we can’t do any of these things on our own, but with Jesus and repentance. Well, that’s when the impossible always becomes possible.

This is my personal theology speaking here, but dwelling in the sacred place and on the holy mountain with God seems metaphoric with being in God’s holy presence—which prior to the blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ required ritualistic cleansing. But like any relationship, if there is some kind of conflict, it will set up a barrier between the two parties. In this case, God and you. God doesn’t kick you out or leave—but you do. You’ve made a conscious decision to step away from what you know is right and godly, thereby stepping away from the holy mountain.

Fortunately, there is Jesus. Because of God’s infinite mercy, we are able to come back to the holy mountain and re-enter the sacred tent and commune with him through repentance because of our acceptance of a relationship with his Son, Jesus. This forgiveness resets our tables and since we are wiped clean, we are able to claim each of these bullets once more.

But it’s a process—relationships are dynamic and as they grow and change we must constantly grow and change with them. Even though it may be a one and done acceptance and saving grace, we won’t ever experience the true presence of God here on Earth if we aren’t keeping our life in spiritual order through this process of cleansing and resetting the table to claim these bullet points. It’s the only way to live on the holy mountain. And how great is it that we get to do that now, rather than waiting till after death?

No one said it would be easy, but nothing worth having ever is.


Questions to ponder:

1) Have I accepted Jesus as my savior so that I can live with God on the holy mountain?

2) Is there anything on this bulleted list (remember the bulleted list is broad on purpose, think about what it could mean specific to your life) that I need to deal with so I can step back into the holy tent?

3) Why is it better to live in God’s presence now rather than thinking I should wait till I get to heaven?

Quit Fighting Battles that Aren’t Yours to Fight: Psalms 13-14

Psalm 13-14
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How long will I wrestle with my thoughts?
I’ve always been my own worst enemy. Cliché, I know, but it’s true. Perhaps that is why I don’t like conflict with other people, because I have enough in my own mind that having it outside my head is just too overwhelming.
Each day we wake up to a spiritual battle field, an unseen war waging all around us. Some people are more in tune with it than others, and the only hope we have in in the triumph of God.
Last night I had a dream. It was so vivid I woke up, gasping at the reality of the imagery. I don’t think the dream is coming true, but there is prodigious truth in dreams regardless of their ‘coming true’ or not. I was swimming in a pool with a little girl, and it didn’t occur to me until after I woke up that this little girl looked remarkably like me as a child. Adult me and child me swimming together. Child me squealing in delight, adult me cautiously watching; ensuring that child me doesn’t drown. And then I look up. In the sky a rocket has just launched into space, but something went wrong and instead of heading into space, it’s heading straight for our pool.
Yes, I recognize the randomness of a rocket heading for a pool with two people swimming in it, but I step back from the literal and begin to think about it on other levels too. I don’t dare begin to interpret it, but just to think about how I reacted in the dream. I watched as this rocket came straight toward us, and I could have screamed, run, cried, or even cursed. I could have woken up. I didn’t do any of these things. I stared as the rocket came closer and thought, hm, this is not how I imagined meeting Jesus. Then I closed my eyes, grabbed the little girl and hugged her tight, and waited praying a simple prayer of: hold us in your arms, Jesus.
I don’t pretend like this is how I might actually act in this situation, but when I did wake up upon impact, I stared into the darkness of my bedroom and adjusted to the reality that I wasn’t actually dead.
I have spent most of my life wanting other people to accept me, seeking validation in what the world says I have to be or who I have to appear to be, but it is exhausting. I’ve spent this week rehashing through some wounds, curses, and influences and I’m ready to be free.
In Psalm 13, the author asks “How long will my enemy triumph over me?” and I realize that my own worst enemy is, well, me. How long will I let this war wage in me? When will I just grab my inner child, hold her to me, pray that simple prayer and let God have full control?
While Psalm 13 ends with trust, Psalm 14 starts with fools–The fool says in his heart there is no God. This juxtaposition shows the consequences of continuing in your foolish ways and not learning from the lessons God teaches.

The Lord looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. I don’t want him to find me wanting. I want him to be well pleased.


Questions to ponder:
1) What battles are you fighting that you can give over to the Lord?
2) How can you teach the lessons you have learned from God to the next generation?
3) Why is giving over control so hard?

Standing Strong: My Journey through Psalms (11-12)

Psalm 11-12

Help, Lord, for the godly are no more.(12:1)
The wicked freely strut about when what is vile is honored among men. (12:8)

Looking at the bookends of Psalm 12 is like spitting out the attitude I’ve had for a lot of my life. I look around at this fallen and broken world and instead of feeling hope, I feel despair. Where are the redeemed? It seems every time I hear of one good thing a human does I hear a dozen more terrible things humans do to destroy one another. And I know that much of that is perception, and much of it is the enemy playing on my fears and doubts. The media sensationalizes the worst of humanity (fair and balanced hasn’t truly described any media outlet, maybe ever, but certainly not in the past 20 years). The other day I was watching the news and after much of the gruesome, they showed a YouTube video of a puppy and a bunny doing something cute, which I guess was supposed to be comic relief–but when did we begin living in a play where comic relief is fed to us in between the drastic bits of life? Not to balance out what we see in humanity, but just to soften the perception of reality; in a way to desensitize us to the seriousness of the vile among men.
But that’s not the worst of it.
Since when do we heroize villains and honor them?

I’m not against all secular television, don’t get me wrong, but some of what we call ‘entertainment’ is really frightening. And vile. And it is honored among men.
The thing is, God hasn’t changed since the beginning of time (I think the fact that this applies to our time every bit as much as it did to Davidic times proves that), and he doesn’t appreciate these things. And I know what happens when the vile are honored–God withdraws his protection and his people are scattered. Which is why it is important to draw closer and closer to him each and ever day.
Psalm 11 offers that hope, and provides a warning.

In the Lord I take refuge. (11:1a)

Because there is no one else who can provide shelter from the current or future storm.

How then can you say to me: Flee like a bird to your mountain? (11:1b)

The Psalmist takes a stand, he doesn’t flee. He doesn’t run into his local church and stay there, barricading the doors against the evils of the world. He takes refuge in the world, takes a stand and let’s the arrows fly around him. That is a beautiful image and one I feel is important for me to hold onto. Escapism, whatever form it takes, is awfully tempting. Running seems like a good idea. Sheltering yourself from the evils, sure that might work.


But if all God’s people flee, who will stand against the enemy?


Romans tells us we are MORE THAN conquerors through Him who loved us. MORE THAN, beyond. It is our duty and our right to fight for the Lord’s presence even in times of honor the vile. (Romans 8:35-39)

For the Lord is righteous, he loves justice. Upright men will see his face. (11:7)

And that’s the only promise I need to hold on to.


Questions to Ponder:

  1. What vile things do I need to take a stand against in my life?
  2. How do I continue to stand up for God without alienating myself from the world?
  3. How can I remember to take refuge in God rather than fleeing like a bird? l-373970

Hubris: My Journey through Psalms (10)

Psalm 10

Hubris, the greatest flaw of every hero be it tragic, epic, or romantic, throughout literature and history excessive pride always goes before the fall of almost every man or nation.

Which begs the question: why do we still allow ourselves to be puffed up with egos the size of the Chrysler building?
Because it feels good. It feels right. It is our natural inclination.

But it is also our natural inclination to sin, so just because it feels good and feels right, doesn’t mean it is what is good and right for our benefit or for God’s glory.

In his pride the wicked man does not seek him [the Lord]; in all his thoughts there is no room for God. His ways are prosperous; your laws are rejected by him; he sneers at all his enemies. He says to himself, ” Nothing will ever shake me.” He swears, “Now one will ever do me harm.” His mouth is full of lies and threats. trouble and evil are under his tongue. […] He says to himself, “God will never notice; he covers his face and never sees.” Psalm 10: 4-7;  11
They say pride goes before a fall. True. But pride also separates us from the Lord, because when we puff ourselves up, we push out all the other things in our lives that used to have priority. The Lord is the first to go, because he is supposed to have first priority, now we do. Then our family, friends, and the things we used to love to make time for. Slowly our identity shifts and we barely recognize ourselves–though we still physically may be the same person we’ve been consumed by greed and pride and become a vile creature, unacceptable to God and to the people who once were so important in our lives.

Excessive pride isolates, changes and extorts from us the value and peace of our purposeful lives. And it doesn’t look pretty in the end.



Macbeth had his head cut off.
Oedipus scratched his own eyes out.
Arthur’s brains oozed from his head.
Beowulf was killed by a dragon.
Nebuchadnezzar wandered for over 5 years (7? 8?), insane in the desert.


All because of pride.

If nothing else, Psalm 10 teaches us to take a look at our own lives and see where the excessive pride is and eliminate it. Have we been struggling with a problem that we need help with but are too stubborn to ask for guidance on? Do we need to confess something to a life group, partner, or friend? Have we built up a personal empire and rely on that wealth to protect us rather than God? Do we put more faith in something other than God to sustain us? Where is the pride in our lives?

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Questions to ponder:
It’s not a matter of if I have excessive pride but where is the excessive pride in my life?
Who can be an accountability partner to help eliminate and guard against the pride taking over my life?
Why is it important to continually guard against pride (especially in the first world)?

Healthy Respect: my journey through Psalms (9)

Psalm 9
Sometimes the world worries me. I read the news, I listen to political debates, and I shudder to think what will happen next. What could happen next? How far can we really fall as a nation? As a people?
And then I read something like Psalm 9. Verse 15 states that the nations fall into the pit they have dug. And sure enough, many of the problems in our world are a direct result of problems we created ourselves. We fall into the pit of our own iniquities. Instead of trying to right a wrong, we try to look out for the bottom line, or material productiveness. We don’t ask how can I make things better, we ask how can I profit from this. It is a direct result of this narcissism that has led to an unraveling of our egotistical minds.
When the psalmist declares in the end ‘strike them with terror, Lord; let the nations know they are only mortal’. I close my eyes and breathe deep. That is a terrible price the nations must pay to learn that we are not gods, but a part of the creation. And every time an earthquake, tsunami, or other natural disaster occurs striking down millions, we are reminded of our mortality–not that it is God striking fear into the world, but it is a stark reminder that we do not control everything ergo we should stop pretending that we can or even that we should.
A healthy respect for the world, for God and for each other is the only way we will ever really achieve any kind of peace on earth. And unfortunately, many are unwilling to do even one of these three things, let alone all three.
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Questions to ponder:
1) Do I have a healthy respect for the world, its guidelines and rules and my role in it?
2) Do I give thanks to God regularly for his presence, wisdom, guidance, and protection in the world?
3) Do I have a healthy respect for ALL people in the world and their roles in it?