Slippery Slopes

Psalm 94

Have you ever sung that song where the line goes, “When the world’s “all as it should be, Blessed be Your name.” This is definitely not one of those songs.

For the salmist the world is not running the way it should be. In fact it is running diametrically opposed to the way many of us think the world should run. Here the psalmist is honest enough to pray his emotions. He feels angry about his situation. Even in the midst of his anguish the Psalmist appeals to dual concepts of a Just Judge and God of Vengeance (seen in Deut. 32:35; Gen. 18:25).

Psa. 94:1 O LORD, God of vengeance,
O God of vengeance, shine forth!
Psa. 94:2 Rise up, O judge of the earth;
repay to the proud what they deserve!

Often when we hear the terms vengeance and wrath we feel that this cannot reconcile with the way we think the world should run, let alone how God should operate.

God’s love and his wrath are intrinsically linked; any de-coupling of these two concepts makes him less than loving and less than just.  If we simply look at the human analogy of a loving relationship between a father and an alcoholic son.  The more a father loves a son, the more this said father will be opposed to the drink and the lying that is destroying his son.  In fact we would think the father to be unloving if he were not diametrically opposed and even upset at that which was destroying his son.

The Psalm then ends showing us how God often allows his divine displeasure to come forth. It is actually one of the most loving things he can do. Ultimately he will not force a people to love him who choose to hate. The Psalmist describes this divine displeasure as “passive wrath.” The Lord chooses to allow the proud and the unloving to fall into the very pits they have dug for themselves(v13). Even the Psalmist saw his own heart headed in this same slippery direction (v.18). But God intervened and rescued him and prevented his foot from slipping.

CS Lewis put it brilliantly when he said, “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.” All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. Those who knock it is opened. ”

Home and The End of Exile






Psa. 90:1 Lord, you have been our dwelling place
in all generations.
Psa. 90:2 Before the mountains were brought forth,
or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

Home evokes a lot of ideas  and memories. “Home” is the place that truly fits and suits us. We were made to know and serve God, to live in his presence and enjoy his love and beauty.

However, because we wanted to be our own Saviors and Lords, we lost God, and therefore we wander in the world and experience what the philosopher Heidegger called unheimlichkeit. The word is translates as “eeriness” or “uncanniness” but literally it means “away from home.” Heidegger is referring to the anxiety and spiritual nausea that comes from never feeling at home in the world.

Psa. 90:3 You return man to dust
and say, “Return, O children of man!”
Psa. 90:4 For a thousand years in your sight
are but as yesterday when it is past,
or as a watch in the night.
Psa. 90:5 You sweep them away as with a flood; they are like a dream,
like grass that is renewed in the morning:
Psa. 90:6 in the morning it flourishes and is renewed;
in the evening it fades and withers.

This world doesn’t address the needs of our heart. We long for a love that can’t be lost, for escape from death, for the triumph of justice over wrong. But such things will never be found here.

Psa. 90:16 Let your work be shown to your servants,
and your glorious power to their children.
Psa. 90:17 Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,
and establish the work of our hands upon us;
yes, establish the work of our hands!

When we find home, it is indeed the end of exile.


Marvelous Darling, Absolutely Marvelous

Psa. 86:10     For you are great and do marvelous deeds;

you alone are God.

Miracles: Awe Inspiring Moments

Have you ever tried to define a miracle? Is it the violation of a natural law? It would imply that God is inconsistent. Would you define it as supernatural intervention into the natural order? It would imply that God is not daily, moment by moment supernaturally sustaining and upholding the universe by “His powerful Word”(Heb 1:3).

There are many different definitions of a miracle, but the best one is often this simple phrase, “A miracle is a less common operation of God in which he inspires wonder, worship and awe and brings glory to Himself” (John Frame).

In this third book of the Psalter, we find this lonely Psalm of David. It is the only one in this whole book.  It is a psalm of supplication. David is hard pressed, “poor and needy.” It opens and closes with a supplication punctuated in the middle with a deliberate praise—yes deliberate because there seems to be not easing to the pressure, no sign of abatement.

Why is the middle of this Psalm of supplication an act of worship? David sees the “marvelous deeds”(v.10) of God and responds in worship. His confidence is such that he even worships in view of a promised future miracle, his bodily resurrection, “For great is your love toward me;     you have delivered me from the depths, from the realm of the dead.”(v.13)

David’s plea is for a miracle that is so awe-inspiring and worship inducing that it will, “give [him] an undivided heart, that [he] may fear Your name.”(v.11)

A Prayer for today

            “God would you so surprise me with grace that I would be gripped by the promise of your immediate goodness , that all I can do is fall in awestruck wonder at your marvelous deeds. Give me an undivided heart that I may revere your name.”


‘gods’ on trial

Psalm 82:1 God has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods he holds judgment:

‘gods’ on trial


Idolatry is looking to anything in creation to answer questions about you the Creator has already answered. –Judy Dabler

Often we ask some created thing, many times a good thing, to answer questions about us. We ask our jobs, our families, our hobbies, out looks, our intellect, or our skills to answer fundamental questions about us that God has already answered. We ask these created things to not only answer questions about us but to pass value judgment on us.

This Psalm of Asaph is a story about a judge and jury who are one and the same. God is passing judgment(v. 1, v. 8) on all the idols that hold sway over our life. Whenever we ask some created thing to answer questions of meaning, value, acceptance we grant them the ability to pass a verdict over us. God looks on man’s search for meaning and lovingly calls it as he sees it.(v.5) In His infinite mercy He describes us as, “weak,” “fatherless,” and “destitute.”(v.3) He does this as only a caring Father could. His desire is to adopt us, empower us, and grant us an inheritance. (v.8)

God the Father has passed judgment over us. Jesus Christ has accepted us and redeemed us. “Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”(Romans 15;7)  If God has already answered questions about us why would we look to anything else?

Losing your voice

Psa. 81:1 Sing aloud to God our strength;

shout for joy to the God of Jacob!

Sing It Out!

Losing your voice.

This month the GP’s, surgeries, pharmacies are all offering flu jabs. There is nothing more frustrating when you are trying to communicate with someone than  losing your voice.

The first three verses describe the events that would happen every year at the pinnacle of the festival calendar. The people of Israel would celebrate the new year (rosh hashana), ten days later the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) and then on the fifteenth day Feast of Tabernacles.

Somehow, though they had made promises to trust God and follow Him, the hustle and bustle of the year would crowd out their memory of what God had done for them and prevent them from rejoicing in his salvation. During these fifteen days they would retell the story or redemption from creation to salvation from slavery to the giving of the covenant on Mount Sinai.


The people of Israel discovered their voice again by remembering (v4 -10) God’s great deeds of the past. When the Psalmist used the words blow the trumpet, Israel was reminded of the trumpet blasts at Jericho’s walls. As Asaph uttered the words, “Hear, O my People,” the singers of this psalm were transported back to those beautiful words in Deut 6:4 “Hear O, Israel, The Lord your God, The Lord is One.”


On the last and greatest day of this Feast many years later, Jesus would call His people back to Himself. His call for repentance and our need for washing and cleansing would lead to joyful response of overflow. As we remember God’s goodness towards us our only response is joyful obedience and celebration. So the psalm ends with a strong reminder of God’s grace and resource. The One whom Israel distrusts is neither stingy nor powerless: he gives the best, and brings sweetness out of what is harsh, forbidding and wholly unpromising.

Let us celebrate the new life that Jesus provided for us on the Day of Atonement.

Sighs and Songs


Psa. 79:1 O God, the nations have come into your inheritance;

they have defiled your holy temple;

they have laid Jerusalem in ruins.

Psa. 79:13          But we your people, the sheep of your pasture,

will give thanks to you forever;

from generation to generation we will recount your praise.

About a year ago I got a fever that lasted about 5 days. During the day it was manageable, a little bit of a temperature some aches and pains. Almost like clockwork my tonsils would begin to hurt by 9pm. By 10pm I could barely talk and by 11pm I knew another sleepless night with high temperatures and shivers was upon me. It was in these moments that I had some of my best prayer times. They were not very flowery, well put together, or carefully constructed dialogues with God. In fact, if the sighs ever became words, the only words I uttered were O, God. This simplest prayer was probably some of the most sincere and heartfelt prayers I have ever prayed.

This Psalm falls somewhere after 586 BCE. The very beginning of the Psalm talks about the destruction of the Temple. The Psalmist feels powerless before his enemies. Even worse, he feels powerless before God. The Almighty creator of the heavens seems to be powerless to prevent his sacred temple from being defiled. The psalmist pours out his prayers, his desperation and even anger in prayer. He says things that no self-respecting, religious person will utter. “I wish you would pay my enemies back sevenfold.”(v12).

Gloriously, after a heart wrenching prayer, the psalmist no longer seeks revenge, or self pity he seeks only songs. “We will give thanks to you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise.”(v13) The psalmist’s sigh cocoons and morphs into a beautiful song that will last from generation to generation





You are Going to Hear Me Roar: Psalm 76

Psa. 76:1 In Judah God is known;

his name is great in Israel.

Psa. 76:2    His abode has been established in Salem,

his dwelling place in Zion.

Nothing can be more local and quaint than this opening verse, “In Judah God is known”(v1). Though at first glance this psalm may seem very parochial it is anything far from it. It is rightly place within a genre called “battle psalms” recounting God’s victory. This psalm tells us that God is objectively ours.


These first 6 verses seem local and defensive. God’s earthly residence is under attack. Judah and Israel are under siege. Salem and Zion, God’s abode, are surrounded. This God is actively ours. Most translations miss the poetic nature of the word “abode,” God’s earthly dwelling. In this Psalm abode should better be translated as “den.” God is a protective lion. This is a Lion who will roar if anything harmful comes towards his cubs.

The four personal words Judah, Israel, Salem, and Zion denote a nearness and a tenderness that seems directed to the Lord’s covenant people. The people singing this psalm are praising God for being “theirs.” They are singing of a personal affection and relation.This God can be trusted as being theirs because they point to the miraculous. It is not some metaphorical illustration. Miracles are actual and datable, not picturesque statements of general truth (Kidner, Tyndale Commentary). God can be trusted because he is “ours.” More importantly, he is trustworthy because he is objectively ours.


The psalm changes from a narrow and local description of God to a God of universal proportions. His objective deliverance, “All the men of war were unable to use their hands,” is a direct reference to Isaiah 37 and God’s objective miracle of rescuing Judah from Sennacherib and his Assyrian Army.

God’s local rescue is a foretaste that He will restore the world to its righteous working order. The psalmist is so convinced of this that he actually uses the past tense verb to describe this beautiful consummation of history. “God arose to establish judgment, to save all the humble of the earth. Selah”(v. 9) The beauty of this verse is that the psalmist is using the past perfect verb tense. God has decisively acted that even future promises of God’s goodness are prophetically declared as already being accomplished. St Paul describes this ability of trusting Jesus’ objective, past action on the cross allows us to live in the “downpayment” or “first fruits” of God’s future glory planned for us.(Rom 8:18,23)

God is objectively and actively ours.

A Prayer:

Gracious Lord, I will receive the cup of salvation,  and call upon the Name of the Lord.  I will pay my vows now in the presence of all his people,  in the courts of the Lord’s house;  even in the midst of thee, O Jerusalem.  Praise the Lord.  Glory be to the Father,  and to the Son,  and to the Holy Ghost;  As it was in the beginning, is now,  and ever shall be, world without end.  Amen.

Dashed Dreams and Resurrection Reality

Psalm 74:1     Why have you rejected us forever, O God?

Why does your anger smolder against the sheep of your pasture?

2       Remember the people you purchased of old,

the tribe of your inheritance, whom you redeemed—

Mount Zion, where you dwelt.

22            Rise up, O God, and defend your cause;

remember how fools mock you all day long.

23     Do not ignore the clamor of your adversaries,

the uproar of your enemies, which rises continually.


Deafening Silence

“Why have you rejected us forever, O God?”(v1)

Have you ever felt like your dreams were dashed to pieces? The psalmist is recounting in vivid detail his dreams being shattered along with the gates and glory of Jerusalem.

Most commentators place this Psalm somewhere in the vicinity of 587 BC. The palpably real account of the destruction of Jerusalem and the “assembly place” (v.8) is only paralleled in this poetic and descriptive manner in one other place (Lamentations 2:5-9).

Amazing, Ancient Exploits

“But you, O God, are my king from of old.” (v. 12)

Somehow in the midst of this tremendous ordeal, the bard begins to sing of ancient exploits. He recounts the deeds of a  God who has subdued seas, provided for his people plenteously, and rescued his people. Suddenly, the deafening silence is not as terrifying as Asaph once thought it.

Continuous Struggle

Now, in the final verses, Asaph sings of his ordeals and laments the destruction of the Kingdom of Judah, but with less desperation. His “King from of Old” has punched a whole through death and made a way in the desert. The ordeals which once held sway over him and threatened violence are nothing but a shadow. The Psalmists’ enemies can no longer execute violence against him. The fears and threats are only “haunts of violence”(v20). Much as David said centuries before, this Psalmist need not fear death, for death is only a shadow. God, the Shepherd of Israel, has destroyed death by his death on the Cross and His resurrection life.

Not even the death of our dearest dreams can threaten the security we have in our King’s hand.

A Prayer

Almighty God, who in death has destroyed death, resurrect our dreams that we may with full confidence realize that the day and the battle are yours. May we live in the hope of your new creation for your praise and glory, through Jesus Christ. Amen


SELAH – A month of rest and reflection in the Psalms Devotional

Psa. 72:20 The prayers of David, the son of Jesse, are ended.

From the 1st of August until the 31st of August we will pause the Psalms Devotional. It will allow us to have a some time of reflection and rest in the Psalms Devotional series.

This  was the final verse of yesterday’s reflection. In the Hebrew Psalter, this is the ending of one of the five “books” within the larger book of Psalms. All of August it is our hope that we will have a ‘Selah’ moment. Selah,  which occurs 71 times in 39 psalms (also in Hab 3:3, 9, 13) remains unexplained. The Greek, where it occurs 92 times, translates it as diapsalma, which means an instrumental interlude.

Often in this modern day and age of noise we feel uncomfortable with silence.

Let us allow God to speak to us during this period of instrumental interlude.


Peter Tepper


Harmonious Wholeness

Psalm 72 – Harmonious Wholesness


1 Give the king your justice, O God,

and your righteousness to the royal son!

2 May he judge your people with righteousness,

and your poor with justice!

3 Let the mountains bear prosperity for the people,

and the hills, in righteousness!

4 May he defend the cause of the poor of the people,

give deliverance to the children of the needy,

and crush the oppressor!

18 Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel,

who alone does wondrous things.

19 Blessed be his glorious name forever;

may the whole earth be filled with his glory!

Amen and Amen!

Do you know what your name means? Solomon or “Shelomo” is given his name in 1 Chr 22:9 indicating that Yahweh “will give ‘shalom’ (peace) and quiet to Israel in his days.” Solomon only gives us two Psalms out of the whole Psalter, yet both of them bid us to lift up our eyes as we see the ascended king (Psalm 72) and lift up our eyes as a risen and empowered people (Psalm 127).

The main theme running through this Psalm is that it is an “Accession Psalm.” It is a Psalm which Solomon may have composed when he ascended to the throne of Israel, or perhaps to be sung every year on the anniversary of his enthronement.  The words are moving, poignant and strike a chord at the centre of the human heart – harmonious wholeness. This is what the Hebrew word “shalom” means.

So often in church we “share the peace” with one another. We utter words like “Peace be with you.” But what does peace really mean. What is this peace that Solomon is speaking about? Peppered throughout this passage are the words justice, righteousness, and peace. Solomon upon coming to the throne acknowledges that his world is not rightly ordered, it is not peaceful and it is not harmoniously whole. This is why the Scripture tells us that Solomon’s first prayer was not for riches, fame, or glory, but rather wisdom. He prays for wisdom to discern the right way in which the world should be ordered and how he should seek and dispense justice as part of God’s covenant people.

The language of this Psalm grows to such a crescendo that both Jewish and Christian commentators begin to realize that it cannot be a description of Solomon’s reign alone, but the beginning of the reign of the Messiah. The language is so lofty that it nearly matches the language of Isaiah 11:3b-4:

“He shall not judge by what his eyes see,

or decide disputes by what his ears hear,

but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,

and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;”

Solomon points us to the real, Prince of Peace who takes upon himself our brokenness and lack of peace to bring harmonious wholeness by his self-substitution.

“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way.” (2Th. 3:16)