Daily Devotional – Fragrant Prayer Part IV

What Does Psalm 141:2 Mean?

PSALM 141

Final Plea and Praise


CONTEXT

David was in distress when he penned this psalm, pursued, it is most likely, by Saul, that violent man. Is any distressed? Let him pray; David did so, and had the comfort of it.

      • I. He prays for God’s favourable acceptance (v. 1- 2).
      • II. For his powerful assistance (v. 3,-4).
      • III. That others might be instrumental of good to his soul, as he hoped to be to the souls of others (v. 5- 6).
      • IV. That he and his friends being now brought to the last extremity God would graciously appear for their relief and rescue (v. 7-10).

The mercy and grace of God are as necessary to us as they were to him, and therefore we should be humbly earnest for them in singing this psalm. – Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary 

In the first installment we looked at Praying for God’s favorable acceptance. The second part of the series was entitled petitioning for His assistance, and yesterday we explored Praying to God for othersToday we close the series by looking at the final 4 verses with the theme of a Final Plea and Praise. 


Breakdown

v.7Our bones are scattered at the grave’s mouth, as when one cutteth and cleaveth wood upon the earth.

We have all had moments when life seems hopeless, like we have one foot near the grave. When nothing seems to be cohesive, nothing seems to be able to go in our favor, life is like a bunch of splitters of wood  cast about haphazardly. 

v.8 But mine eyes are unto thee, O God the Lord: in thee is my trust; leave not my soul destitute. 

What to do when life seems so desperate? David’s response, Praise and  focus on God,  mine eyes are unto thee,  have faith in God,  in thee is my trust, focus on the eternal, leave not my soul destitute.  This last one to me is most significant. In times of trouble we have a tendency to focus on the present storm, when our eternal destiny is really much more important. 

Mine eyes are unto thee, O GOD the Lord. If you would keep your mind fixed in prayer, keep your eye fixed. Much vanity comes in at the eye. When the eyes wander in prayer, the heart wanders. To think to keep the heart fixed in prayer, and yet let the eyes gaze abroad, is as if one should think to keep his house sate, yet let the windows be open.—Thomas Watson.

v.9 & 10Keep me from the snares which they have laid for me, and the gins of the workers of iniquity.  Let the wicked fall into their own nets, whilst that I withal escape. David makes a final plea for safety from his persecutors. 

Snares, Gins, Nets. The usual method of capturing or killing the lion in Palestine was by pitfalls or nets, to both of which there are many references in the Scriptures. The mode of hunting the lion with nets was identical with that which is practised in India at the present time. The precise locality of the lion’s dwelling place having been discovered, a circular wall of net is arranged round it, or if only a few nets can be obtained, they are set in a curved form, the concave side being towards the lion. They then send dogs into the thicket, hurl stones and sticks at the den, shoot arrows into it, fling burning torches at it, and so irritate and alarm the animal that it rushes against the net, which is so made that it falls down and envelops the animal in its folds. If the nets be few, the drivers go to the opposite side of the den, and induce the lion to escape in the direction where he sees no foes, but where he is sure to run against the treacherous net. Other large and dangerous animals were also captured by the same means. Another and more common, because an easier and a cheaper method, was, by digging a deep pit, covering the mouth with a slight covering of sticks and earth, and driving the animal upon the treacherous covering. It is an easier method than the net, because after the pit is once dug, the only trouble lies in throwing the covering over its mouth. But it is not so well adapted for taking beasts alive, as they are likely to be damaged, either by the fall into the pit, or by the means used in getting them out again. Animals, therefore, that are caught in pits are generally, though not always, killed before they are taken out. The net, however, envelops the animal so perfectly, and renders it so helpless, that it can be easily bound and taken away. The hunting net is very expensive, and requires a large staff of men to work it, so that none but a rich man could use the net in hunting. Besides the net, several other modes of bird catching were used by the ancient Jews, just as is the case at the present day. Boys, for example, who catch birds for their own consumption, and not for the market, can do so by means of various traps, most of which are made on the principle of the noose, or snare. Sometimes a great number of hair nooses are set in places to which the birds are decoyed, so that in hopping about, many of them are sure to be entangled in the snares. Sometimes the noose is ingeniously suspended in a narrow passage which the birds are likely to traverse, and sometimes a simple fall trap is employed.—J. G. Wood.


APPLICATION

If you are a Truly Converted Christian and actively engaged in the biblical mandate to share the Good News you will experience difficulties in this life for like Christ the world will HATE us.    

We have choices, give up, fight on our own or like David, fight with Fragrant Prayer to the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, the Conqueror of Death.

Pray The Bible: Promoting, Encouraging, and Assisting God's People in Biblical Prayer

All my bones shall say, “O LORD, who is like you!” Psalm 35:10(ESV) For you keep the bones, and not one of them is broken. Psalm 34:20(ESV)

I lay down and sleep, for you, LORD, make me to dwell in safety. Psalm 3:5(ESV)

You have commanded your angels concerning me, to guard me in all my ways; to bear me up in their hands, lest I strike my foot against a stone. Psalm 91:11-12(ESV) And they are all ministering spirits, sent out to serve for the good of those who are to inherit salvation. Hebrews 1:14(ESV)

When perhaps there has been but a step between me and death, 1 Samuel 20:3(ESV) and when I have felt that I have received the sentence of death, 2 Corinthians 1:9(ESV) and have been ready to say, “In the middle of my days I must depart; I am consigned to the gates of Sheol for the rest of my years”; Isaiah 38:10(ESV) yet in love you have delivered my life from the pit of destruction and cast all my sins behind your back. Isaiah 38:17(ESV)

When the snares of death have encompassed me and the pangs of Sheol have laid hold on me, I have called on the name of the LORD and have found that gracious is the LORD, and righteous, yes, my God is merciful; I have been brought low, and he has saved me, Psalm 116:3-6(ESV) and has delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, and my feet from stumbling. I will therefore walk before the LORD in the land of the living. Psalm 116:8-9(ESV)

Daily Devotional – God’s Workman

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AMP and RVR 1960


CONTEXT:

The book of Colossians is another of Paul’s writings while he was incarcerated. He writes to the church at Colosse, concerning the Gnostic and Judaeo heresies getting intermixed with the Christian faith they had been taught. 

In Chapters 1-2 he related his thankfulness for the faithful that have not scummed to these false teachings. Then in Chapter 3 Paul sends a clear message to v.2 focus on God. He then divides this into two themes, sections or categories, self; that is the new creation in Christ v.1-17, and life; that is living out the Christian Character v.18-28.

Our text is found in both sections in v.17 and v.23


BREAKDOWN:

And whatsoever ye do, – It must be noted that most commentaries agree on two things this is in agreement with verse 17 and it is directly referencing servants mentioned in  v.22.  

Whatever you do, If you have ever seen the Movie “Patton” General George Patton makes the now famous line “shoveling shit in Louisiana” was made famous as a vulgar line used by U.S. General George S. Patton in a motivation speech to his troops on June 5th, 1944 (the day before D-Day).1 While this may seem an unusual example to site in a Devotional, Patton was making a point similar to Paul.

If you are going to serve your country he was saying, Paul says if you are going to serve God…

do it heartily, – From the depths of your soul! For those who have served in the Armed Forces first God Bless you, you understand this. You have seen those you join not out of duty but for what they think is an easy ticket to education money or some such. When it becomes crunch time they are all but useless. Their heart and soul is not in it. 

Unfortunately there are many today running around calling themselves “Christians” who are exactly the same way. They are willing to give God all the eye (look like faithful believers) and lip (talk like faithful believers) service they have; but when it becomes crunch time they too, are all but useless.

as to the Lord, – In the last two devotionals Who’s Approval and Approved Workman I pray we have done a good job of pointing out that it is God and God alone whom believers work for and to please. 

 and not unto men; –  The Westminister Shorter Catechism asks the question, “What is the chief end of man?” The answer “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”  So the self imposed question must be whom are you working for, God or Man? 


APPLICATION:

I may have relayed this story before but it is worth repeating.

After Hurricane Katrina most of the sewage system along the Coast of SE Mississippi was destroyed (along with everything else). You could flush toilets, but only liquid waste no solids of any kind at all. 

The Ministry I served Rebuild Lakeshore, had a system set up where daily a couple of volunteers would collect these 5 Gallon buckets and burn the contents (Yup reminded me of the Army too). It was a dirty, smelly job but one that had to be done for about 4 years before the grinders were up and running again.

I will not embarrass the individual but there was one teenage boy who really seemed to enjoy doing this and when I asked him about it he quoted Colossians 3:23 to me. I later used it as opening remarks to every group of volunteers that came through. 

The moral or lesson from that encounter was simple. No matter the task even one as unpopular or disgusting as cleaning poop buckets can and must be done to God’s Glory. 

So the question is simple what can you be doing to glorify God today as God’s Workman? 

 


¹ (Warning Profane Language) Patton’s Speech 

Worshiping in Pain

The Master's Seminary Blog

Worshiping in Pain

Brian Fairchild | 

It’s difficult to recall the number of perplexed looks I’ve received over the past two-and-a-half years as I have explained to people my doctoral research project. Some have mused that wrestling with lament for this long must be disheartening.

I have experienced the opposite.

My intrigue with lament in the psalter was born from deep grief in my life. I was struggling to adore God with my soul while my wife and I were wading through a miscarriage, the loss of a child that had long been anticipated and prayed for. As this season of struggle continued in my life, it became obvious my trials were not unique. It became apparent that most in our church were in pain, in some form or another. The psalms of lament became something of a somber, unifying anthem for my congregation and I.

Nothing is more helpful to the human soul than to grasp theology that bears immediate impact. As hurting people surrounded by hurting people, our hearts should yearn to connect the Word of God to the hearts of His people. (Emphasis Mine) In a culture of consumerism and neo-positivity, the psalms of lament bring a refreshing balance of reality to our lives as we seek to treasure God from the darkest of valleys.

I would offer the following encouragement to consider revisiting the psalms of lament:

Psalms of lament ground the church theologically

In the psalms of lament, we encounter life and theology in their most raw forms. When the trials of life strike, there is no room for useless theological banter. Sorrow forces us to come to grips with the realities of this world and, more importantly, the beauty and benevolence of the God who reigns.

Reading the psalms of lament is a massive theological distillation process. All the hypotheticals or wrongly held beliefs are stripped away by the shockingly honest heart cries of the psalmist. They expose both man and God for who they are. Theology is too often relegated to musty seminary halls or to the dwindling minds of introverts, but theology belongs in the darkness and pain of life.


The psalms of lament remind us that theology is satisfyingly real


People need this brand of theology coursing through their veins, and so do pastors. So dwell on them, use them to cry out to the Lord, and care for others with them.

Psalms of lament make you a better shepherd

I recently conducted a survey among my church members. I was humbled by the results. Sixty-five percent of my church family indicated they were currently facing a trial in their life. How could I not have known this? I was hurt by my own deficiencies as a shepherd. These are the people I love most; they were hurting, and I knew nothing of the majority of their pain. As a congregation, we began to work our way through the psalms of lament. Sorrow found its way into worship, and more and more hurt began to become evident within our church family. People became less afraid to speak of their struggles. Deep and slow healing began to course through the veins of my church.

The psalms of lament open the hearts of people; they direct the cries of the people to the throne of God; and they help shepherds become more aware of hurting sheep.

Psalms of lament prepare you and your church for the inevitable


We live in a fallen world with expectations only Heaven can satisfy.
Don’t underestimate the danger this poses


If we are not feeling the effects of this broken world now, we soon will be. How can we sustain worship when life becomes difficult, if not impossible? The psalms of lament fortify those who are momentarily happy for the inexpressible brokenness life so assuredly will bring. We are not fulfilling our role as shepherds if we do not prepare our people with an honest assessment of life and care for their needs in their hours of pain.

Jesus Himself prepared His disciples for tribulation and trials; should we not follow His example? What better way to care for others than with the theologically sorrowful, insightful psalms of lament? Prepare people for pain with the Psalms.

Psalms of lament focus people solely upon God

If we as pastors could focus our people’s attention on one object, to give them one driving passion, what would it be? I think we would all agree that “thing” would be the glories and majesty of God. Certainly, all of Scripture points us to the admiration of God. But there are times, if we are honest, that our expositions of long books of the Bible can lose their focus. This is the fault of our exposition, not the content of Scripture. It is a wake-up call that we are struggling in our preaching to focus our people on the glory of God.

When we circle around frequently (as I believe we should) to preaching the psalms of lament, we are forced to focus on the glory of God. Lament strips away our focus on lesser things and draws us to the Great Comforter. The Psalms of lament offer its readers inerrant dosages of the glory of God within the context of suffering.


To lament is to be human; to worship with lament
is the mandate and provision of the Divine King


Connecting the glory of God to the suffering of His people seems a difficult task for the shepherd, but there is a reason these Psalms are included in the sufficient Word of God. As we read the Psalms, may our hearts be softened, His people strengthened, and God exalted as supreme.

To learn more about everything from hermeneutics to homiletics, see our guide: Handling Scripture.

[Editor’s note: This post was originally posted in May, 2018 and has been updated.]


Corporate Worship and the Psalms

Worship God Through the Psalms

Learn the importance of the Psalms in worship with Phil Webb, Matt Boswell, Tom Pennington, Ligon Duncan, Bob Kauflin, Steve Lawson, and more in a self-paced, interactive format.

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