Psalm 110 – We Need A… 

The Psalmist sees something. He sees someone. Someone he knows his audience needs. Not just a swashbuckling hero, not a muscle bound strongman. 

It requires a ruler who will exercise righteousness and justice. It requires a priest to meditate the peace. It requires a judge to dispel the wickedness and apply the cause for the marginalised. 

The Psalmist sees him. He celebrates the Father for him.

Do you see him? 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

Psalm 109 – Sort Them Out, God 

It should be apparent by this stage in the collection that the Psalms covers a wide range of human experience and emotion. It is not there to just be pretty in praising and saying how beautiful God is. Sometimes it’s raw and brutal. This Psalm is one of them. 

From the start we are aware of the travails that the Psalmist is going through, but it is his response to his hardship that should arrest us in our tracks. For the grief and evil he has endured for no reason at all from those who He extended friendship to, the writer is clear what should happen to them and it is fairly forceful consequences – death and misery before it. For such great pain caused, great pain should be their lot. It is a far cry from someone looking for forgiveness whilst suffering on a cross. Yet before we decry the message in the Psalm, there are two things to remember. 

Firstly, this Psalm is referenced by Peter when it comes to time to replace Judas as the twelfth Apostle (Acts 1:20). That would give credence to the place of such outpouring for the fate of a traitor. (That’s not permission to go looking for hurt for those who betrayed you.) Secondly, Jesus Himself wasn’t backwards in coming to the point of what would happen to the one who would betray Him (Matthew 26:24). So the same Jesus that forgives does not let the wicked go unpunished. 

Therein lies a good place to take a stand even as the Psalmist does at the end of the piece. His desire is to be in a position of praise to the assembling of the saints because God will rescue him – which is the pressing issue and meanwhile God can be trusted to deal with the wicked, whatever contributions we may want to give God in advising Him how to sort them out. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

Psalm 108 – Ways to Win the Warfare

We were playing a board game. I wasn’t doing so well, but being the peace loving and peace making sort that I am, I merely proclaimed that I would vanquish them all anyway because God was on my side. Obviously in the light of such bold proclamations I finished up in last place. 

The Bible has violence and has a stream of military and conflict language throughout. It is unavoidable. The man after God’s own heart was a man marked by military exploits. It’s no surprise then that there’s a Psalm that goes from the place of praise to the place of conflict. Unsurprisingly, some will jump on this as corroboration for a bloodthirsty God. Others will cling to this as reason to claim is on their side in their own conflict – and it does not have to be military at all. 

What’s often missing in these thoughts and proclamation is the relationship that underpins everything. Hearing what God has to say on a matter is pivotal in this Psalm. Knowing this Word in the context of His plans for His people I’d critical. Understanding His heart in these affairs is the engine driving the action. 

By the time we reach the exultant climax of the piece, this is not reason for us to hope that God will get rid of a boss we don’t like or help us in warfare against another country. This is about what God wants triumphing over all who oppose it. That should lead us to wonder what God really wants. That should prompt us to explore a relationship with Him to really know Him, love Him for His beauty, wonder, holiness and righteousness. 

That way we  can flow from the place of praise to the purpose He has for us to see His Kingdom come and will done on earth as it is in heaven. A purpose that sees His enemies conquered even as they were on the cross, in the grave, in the empty tomb and in an exalted Saviour at the right hand of the Father. 

It will also stop us from thinking it will give us the win in a board game. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

Psalm 29 – Something About His Voice 

Credit where credit’s due. 

James Earl Jones had a brilliant voice. The guy who gave us the menace in the utterances of  Darth Vader was a masterful orator in his own way. Morgan Freeman has distinctive tones that also does much for the listener. For these and other noted speakers it is something about the way they command respect through the authority in their delivery. Even in the reassuring way they sooth you with their soft dulcet tones they command in a compelling way that others cannot match with all the hollering, screeching or bellowing. 

Credit where credit’s due. 

For all these folks with great voices, this Psalm expresses adoration for one with a voice even greater. A voice that can rearrange mighty pieces of creation. A voice that shatters that which appears indestructible. A voice that makes the bravest souls quiver in dread. A voice so awesome that all at the sound of it acknowledge the glory therein. 

Such knowledge of this voice is worthwhile for those difficulties in life. Some situations seem insurmountable, some issues appear to be so well embedded any sign of change is considered a fantasy. We are told that’s the way things are and that’s the way things will stay. Yet knowing the voice of the Lord can make all the difference even in that situation. 

It reminds me of an episode where a group of fishermen were in a tough spot as far as the weather was concerned to the point they thought they would die. They woke up their snoozing passenger who commanded the elements to be still by the power in his voice. He did not shout or scream, they all sweetly obeyed His will. 

Oh to be closer wrapped up in adoration of the one whose voice makes the difference in those situations. 

Credit where credit’s due. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

Psalm 23 – Green Pastures 

The 23rd Psalm is arguably the most well-known. 

You talk of scriptures to memorise and this one is right up there. So familiar is it that sometimes we can take it for granted and think we know it when there may be more to it than that. 

This is why it remains worthwhile reflecting and meditating on it. The imagery of the shepherd and the sheep. Nurtured, fed, rested and led is an evocative one. From being beside still waters to a table prepared before the enemy there is so much rich visuals that pop up when you consider the Psalm. 

As you might have gathered, the aspect of the Psalm that grabs my attention presently is that of the green pastures. Very simple image. Being made to lie down in them suggests the best place for them to rest. The best place for them to be restored. Sometimes the imagery to me is one of tranquillity, but either way it is one of safety. It’s a safe place for restoration. It’s safe because it’s space the shepherd has deliberately chosen for rest for the sheep. It’s safe because he has made it so. 

We don’t have to worry or fret because the shepherd has ensured this is safe space. There in the wide open we are able to relax and enjoy the environment and be served right there. 

As I dwell on that image I also recognise that now the promise of green pastures is not primarily about a physical location, helpful though that can be. The promise is relational even as another shepherd invites us to come to Him if we are weary and heavy laden to find rest in Him. His presence within us as we find ourselves in Him can usher in that safety to be and rest in Him. 

This quality is so crucial in a day and age where finding that rest appears so distant. It is a quality, however, that is available if we just believe in the good shepherd who cares for His sheep. 

Not only that, but those of us who have found rest in Him get to share with others the good news of the peace and rest to be found in this good shepherd. Not only sharing the good news, but demonstrating it as the peacemakers He calls us to be. Through our Christ-centred character we too can be ambassadors of this Kingdom of Peace where there are plenty of green pastures in which people can find rest. 

Thank God for the good shepherd who makes us lie down in green Pastures. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

Psalm 22 – Where Were You When I Needed You?

Like some of the Psalms that’s been covered so far, this one takes on the comparison between the light and dark of the relationship with God.

Light is seen towards the end – just like the whole weeping enduring for the night and joy coming in the morning. That morning side is very clear as we read the final ten or so verses of the Psalm. That’s great to know. That’s reassuring to hold onto for those times when things are not looking so good. It’s great to know that the sun will rise in the morning and all the darkness will disappear because the darkness cannot overcome the light.

That is all great and is the essential hope we offer the world.

There are references we see fulfilled in the life and death of Jesus. From the opening question in the first verse to the casting lots over garments in verse 18. There is a lot to be seen in what Jesus would do and endure. It’s hugely prophetic in that sense and that’s great to know. It’s important to see the Christ-centred role of the Psalm itself..

Yet also in this Psalm is a LOT of talking about how bleak the night is. You check those first 18 verses out. This is not something that the Psalmist just came across as something to write that would be good to put to music. This is another expression of the Psalmist and his life and engagement with God. It is one that rightly points out that sometimes it appears as though God hasn’t answered us in our affliction. Surrounded by menacing circumstances and time running out, sometimes it appears as though God has forsaken us – sure we read the word, but then we have the experience and for a moment it really does feel like the heaviness of the darkness of abandonment is upon us.

The Psalmist is not the only one to have those experiences. Many who struggle under various life challenges that appear to be overwhelming and swamp them can identify with that despair we read scattered throughout those first 18 verses. It’s reassuring that someone can put that to song and express that. It gives license for us to be honest in our own interaction with God in what appears to be the midnight hour of life.

It is not a lack of faith to cry out that it feels like you’re in the dark at times. On the contrary, sometimes it’s an expression of faith to at least cry out to Him even when it appears as though He is not listening. Cry out! Press your concern into the seeming darkness. Don’t hide it, don’t ignore it, don’t even think it’s a demonic attack because that’s not always the truth of the matter. Some of these times of darkness, loss and absence are the very episodes in which we are taught to truly trust God in the middle of uncertainty. That trust is expressed through at least crying out to Him and letting Him know your situation.

Sure, aspects of the Christian faith want to emphasise on the morning experiences – the joy, the light, the hope, the love, the peace that we have in Christ. In Christ, however, there is also the ability to deal with and actively engage in the reality of the times when we’re not living in the morning. In Christ we see how He dealt with the darkness that would overwhelm Him from Gethsemane to Calvary. In the anguish and agony that we can express, we also see in Christ the key to this expression in one of the last things He could do in His situation – committing Himself to the Father once more.

When we’ve run out of tears, when our knuckles are bruised after banging, the only real option we have left is to commit ourselves into the hands of a Father who even in the darkness and seeming absence, is actually still our heavenly and loving Father.

You may detect a sense of particular resonance I share with this Psalm. That’s because I know what it’s like to feel in the depths of seeming abandonment and loss. I dare not blankly criticise and condemn anyone struggling with darkness, depression and despair. I dare not glibly suggest they are weak or lack in faith. I know what it’s like to feel it and there are few words to truly encapsulate how dark it gets when you even think God has forgotten all about you. That’s why it’s so good to have Psalms like this that start off with that question and give full license to unburden about the state of the night.

It’s crucial to know Psalms like this, clinging on as the Psalmist does to that knowledge of who God is. Hold on to that knowledge, however fragile and dim prospects may appear. Hold on. He is right there with you as you hold on.

That’s where He is when you needed Him.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Psalm 19 – The Wonder of Revelation 

Awe. It’s quite a word. 

One thing that comes across to me reading Psalm 19 is how awestruck the Psalmist is. He looks at creation, he considers the written word of God and He has the same awe. Isn’t awesome how God has spoken. Not only has He spoken but that He has spoken. 

In how He has spoken He reveals Himself and His glory. In how He speaks He indicates how we can live to reflect His character and His glory. He has not left anything to chance at all, He has made it quite clear in nature and in His Word that He longs to show us just who He is and who we were created to be in the light of Him. That picture is a glorious one if we but had the sense to behold it and be captivated. 

That awe influences that last verse which now more than ever sounds like the request of a child to a father to help her make sure everything she does is right so she can enjoy everything made for her. Similarly we can enjoy the life we were made for as we ensure what is in the heart and flows out of the mouth is something reflective of this glorious God in whom we should be in awe. 

To see that awe then take on human flesh and walk among us and die for us to rise from the dead and offer life eternal through faith in Him is all the more awe-inspiring and truly embracing that provokes a heart desperate to know Him, love Him and live for Him. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden