Gravy Train

Psalm 68


1 God shall arise, his enemies shall be scattered;

and those who hate him shall flee before him!

18 You ascended on high,

leading a host of captives in your train

and receiving gifts among men,

even among the rebellious, that the LORD God may dwell there.

19 Blessed be the Lord,

who daily bears us up;

God is our salvation. Selah

34 Ascribe power to God,

whose majesty is over Israel,

and whose power is in the skies.

35 Awesome is God from his sanctuary;

the God of Israel—he is the one who gives power and strength to his people.

Blessed be God!

(Read the whole Psalm 68)


The Ark of the Presence

This rushing waterfall of a psalm, some commentators believe (see Kidner, Tyndale Commentary), may have been composed for David’s procession with the ark ‘from the house of Obed-Edom to the city of Dvid with rejoicing’ (2 Sam. 6:12). The opening lines echo of the words with which the ark set out on all its journeys (Num. 10:35), and finds its climax in God’s ascent of ‘the high mount’ which he has chosen for his dwelling.

The  psalm tells the story, firstly, of God’s victorious march from Egypt, with its culmination at Jerusalem (7–18), and, secondly, the power and majesty of his reign seen in the taking His rightful place before his people, the flow of worshippers and the vassals to his footstool (19–31).

The Foreign Raiders

One of the most striking things about this psalm is God is anything but invisible and his enemies are anything but solid. So it is with God’s revealed presences.(v. 2) Hills skip like calve and mountains melt like wax. (Ps 97:5; Ps 29:6). The enemy who once threatening, is now peaceful and subdued. “You ascended on high, leading a host of captives in your train and receiving gifts among men, even among the rebellious,”(v. 18)

The Mount of Glory

This history and prophecy of salvation, set out in Israelite terms, is presented in Ephesians 4:7–16 as a miniature of a far greater ascension, in which Christ led captivity captive, to share out better spoils of victory than these, in the gift (and gifts) of the Spirit. (see Acts 2:33). Consequently in Christian history this has been from early times a psalm for Pentecost – as indeed it was in the Jewish synagogue for the harvest feast of that name, the Feast of Weeks.

 Christ our King has given us gifts, to live lives that “Ascribe power to God,” so that every act of valor, strength, goodness or meaning will declare, “He is the one who gives power and strength to his people.”(v 34, 35)

Freedom from Fear

“Freedom from Fear” by Norman Rockwell

Psalm 64

For the director of music. A psalm of David.

Hear me, my God, as I voice my complaint;
protect my life from the threat of the enemy.

Hide me from the conspiracy of the wicked,
from the plots of evildoers.
They sharpen their tongues like swords
and aim cruel words like deadly arrows.
They shoot from ambush at the innocent;
they shoot suddenly, without fear.

They encourage each other in evil plans,
they talk about hiding their snares;
they say, “Who will see it?”
They plot injustice and say,
“We have devised a perfect plan!”
Surely the human mind and heart are cunning.

But God will shoot them with his arrows;
they will suddenly be struck down.
He will turn their own tongues against them
and bring them to ruin;
all who see them will shake their heads in scorn.
All people will fear;
they will proclaim the works of God
and ponder what he has done.

10 The righteous will rejoice in the Lord
and take refuge in him;
all the upright in heart will glory in him!

The Nature of Fear

“Mister Skinny Legs!” shouts Sophia my 3 and half year old. For the next few minutes her attention will be singly focused on dealing with the large spider in the room. She will not think about anything else, she will not talk about anything else, not will she do anything else until the large spider has been dealt with.

One of the concepts we have most difficulty unpacking in the vocabulary and lexicon of the bible is the word fear. But what do the Scriptures teach about fear? The easisest way to understand what the Biblical meaning of fear is just as Sophia will think of nothing else in her life, do nothing else in her life until that spider in the room is dealt with so humanity has sole focus known as “fear”. So in this Psalm we see that the Psalmist has two very different types of fear. Fear about anything and everything other than God (v 1-8) and then that most liberating fear of all, the fear of God (v 9-10).

Faithless Fears

The first 8 verses of this Psalm deal with David’s fear of enemies, bodily harm, war, and injustice. Then the theme of fear is radically refocused in verses 9-10. David unpacks how fear operates in our life. When anything other than God becomes our main focus, it will have the effect of becoming the most dominating thought in our life. When David does not make God the centre of his thinking, he discovers that other things become the almost obsessive focus of his life. Then in verse 9 we see an exultant transformation and a thoughtful reflection on not only the nature of fear, but the object of fear.

Fear of Nothing But the Loss of You

David finds courage and freedom from fear when the dominant thought of his life is no longer his worries, but rather his God. We hear verses such as those in Proverbs, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”(Provervs 1:7). Other places in Scripture we are praised if we fear the Lord.  “Praise the Lord. Blessed are those who fear the Lord, who find great delight in his commands.”(Psalm 112:1). ‘ David in verse 9 becomes a God-fearer. He makes thoughtful reflection on his deliverance by God the central focus of his life. How much more should we be a people full of the knowledge of the “works of God”(v.9) wrought on the Cross. May it turn into exultation and refuge for us as we reflect on his glorious rescue from the fear of sin and death through Jesus’ wonderful resurrection.

A prayer for the day…

“Most loving Father, whose will it is for us to give thanks for
all things, to fear nothing but the loss of you, and to cast all
our care on you who care for us: Preserve us from faithless
fears and worldly anxieties, that no clouds of this mortal life
may hide from us the light of that love which is immortal,
and which you have manifested to us in your Son Jesus Christ
our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the
Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.” (Collect for the Eighth Sunday After Epiphany)

One Thing Remains

One thing remains

Higher than the mountains that I face

Stronger than the power of the grave

Constant in the trial and the change,

One thing… remains


On and on and on and on it goes

It overwhelms and satisfies my soul

And I never, ever, have to be afraid

this one thing.. remains (2x)


Your love never fails,

never gives up

never runs out on me (3x)


In death, In life, I’m confident and

Covered by, the power of Your great love

My debt is paid, there’s nothing that

Can separate my heart from Your great love

By: Brian Johnson, Jeremy Riddle, Christa Black-Gifford
© 2010 Bethel Music Publishing

This song is a relatively new song and yet it’s theme is ancient. In less than three years of its composition, as a minister I have sung it at more gravesides than I care to remember. Sometimes I have sung it without wavering in tone or pitch. Other times I have been powerless to utter these words of timeless through the tears.

It is a song that is as poignant as it is powerful. We cannot sing these words without hearing Hosea and Paul through the centuries thundering, “Death where is your victory? Death where is your sting?”(1 Cor 15:55; Hos 13:14)

The song strikes a chord at the centre of the human heart. We are frail, we are weak, and our time on this earth is but a breath. “For He knows our frame; [The Lord] remembers that we are but dust.”(Psa. 103:14) Yet we acknowledge that there must be more to life. Death is not the ultimate end or outcome.

Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.” (John 8:51). His words have always struck me. Note Our Lord did not say, “Falsely, falsely.” His promise is sure, “Truly, Truly [you] will never see death.”

There is a bond between Christ and His Church that not even death can break. Paul reminds us of this in Romans 8:38-39 “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. ”

It is this invincible love that gives us courage to face each day, (“And I never, ever, have to be afraid”). It is this surety that overwhelms us as breakers in the ocean of His love.

“The world desperately needs the courage and the Christ of fearless Christians who know they will never taste death. Be one.” – John Piper

Terrible Beauty

Psalm 50


1 The Mighty One, God the LORD,

speaks and summons the earth

from the rising of the sun to its setting.

2 Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty,

God shines forth.

3 Our God comes; he does not keep silence;

before him is a devouring fire,

around him a mighty tempest.

4 He calls to the heavens above

and to the earth, that he may judge his people:

5 “Gather to me my faithful ones,

who made a covenant with me by sacrifice!”

6 The heavens declare his righteousness,

for God himself is judge! Selah

7 “Hear, O my people, and I will speak;

O Israel, I will testify against you.

I am God, your God.

8 Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you;

your burnt offerings are continually before me.

9 I will not accept a bull from your house

or goats from your folds.

10 For every beast of the forest is mine,

the cattle on a thousand hills.

11 I know all the birds of the hills,

and all that moves in the field is mine.

12 “If I were hungry, I would not tell you,

for the world and its fullness are mine.

13 Do I eat the flesh of bulls

or drink the blood of goats?

14 Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving,

and perform your vows to the Most High,

15 and call upon me in the day of trouble;

I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”

Read more of Psalm 50


“Surely it was the day of mine espousals”

– George Whitefield, writing on the day of his conversion.


Terrible Beauty

This Psalm is a summons to appear as a witness in court. The court is the courtroom of the Universe. The issue that is to be decided is a family dispute, you could almost say it is between a bride and groom. “Gather to me my faithful ones, who made a covenant with me.” (v. 5)

The term, “The Mighty One, God, The Lord” only appears twice in all the scriptures and both times it is a summons to witness. (Josh 22; Psalm 50).

The beautiful groom beckons us, “Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth.”

However we have a tremendous problem.

Tremendous Problem

In this relationship we want to bring to the table more than our partner is brining to the table. Yahweh knows full well this is silly. “The cattle on a thousand hills are mine” (v. 10). You actually can’t give to me what is already mine.

The community of faith at the writing of this Psalms was very keen to worship God, not unlike you and I. Much like them we offer God sacrifices that are often unnecessary. What the Psalmist begs us do is, “Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and perform your vows to the Most High,” (v.14).

The only sacrifice that the Lord requires is his people is that that they fulfill their covenant vow to Him.

This tremendous problem scares us. The idea that God would bring judgment seems like a scary concept. However, it soon appears that the judgment scene is not for passing sentence but for bringing truth to light and sinners to repentance.

Terrific Answer

This magnificent husband does not come to bring judgment, but to bear judgment. “You thought that I was one like yourself” (v.21). Often the idea of judgment scares us because we think God is like us. Voltaire jokingly said, “God made man in his image, and we returned the favour.” But this Loyal Love, this Perfect Husband says to his people “I will deliver you” (v.15), “I will show you salvation” (v.23). He is so unlike us that his perfection of beauty is Terrible Beauty.

Faith is this magnificent wedding ring by which we are espoused to Christ. Martin Luther puts it this way:

“Christ and the Soul are one flesh…[I]t follows that all they have becomes theirs in common, as well good things as evil things; so that whatsoever Christ possesses, that the believing soul may take to itself and boast of as its own, and whatever belongs to the soul, that Christ claims as his.”

On the Cross Christ says to us, “All that I have is yours.”

Let us respond to The Lover’s gracious overtures…

Peace, Be Still

Psa. 46


1 God is our refuge and strength,

a very present help in trouble.

2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,

though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,

3 though its waters roar and foam,

though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah

4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,

the holy habitation of the Most High.

5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;

God will help her when morning dawns.

6 The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;

he utters his voice, the earth melts.

7 The LORD of hosts is with us;

the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

8 Come, behold the works of the LORD,

how he has brought desolations on the earth.

9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;

he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;

he burns the chariots with fire.

10 “Be still, and know that I am God.

I will be exalted among the nations,

I will be exalted in the earth!”

11 The LORD of hosts is with us;

the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah


Luther’s battle-hymn, Ein’ feste Burg, took its starting-point from this psalm, catching its indomitable spirit but striking out in new directions. The psalm for its part proclaims the ascendancy of God in one sphere after another: his power over nature (1–3), over the attackers of his city (4–7) and over the whole warring world (8–11). Its robust, defiant tone suggests that it was composed at a time of crisis, which makes the confession of faith doubly impressive.


Power over Nature


This God who has power over nature, is the one who bids our fears to cease. “Be still!” are the words that Jesus speaks on that tempestuous Lake of Galilee. The wind and the waves recognize the voice- why should they not- it is the same voice that called them into being aeons ago.


Power over Human Nature


The waters which once threatened the very “heart of the sea” (v. 2) are now a source of joy and strength. “There is a river which makes glad the city of God.” (v. 4).


As the wind and waves subside and the calm falls upon the waters with the command “Be still”(v. 10), a very different storm erupts into the hearts of James, and John and Peter. Here in these times of troubles the steadfast fortress, YHWH Tzvaot, the God of Angel Armies (v.11) reminds that it is not enough to be still. We must, “Be still,” and recognize “that [He] is God.”


It is this Jesus who can tame the wildest ocean and the wildest heart.


“Peace, Be Still” (Mark 4:39)


Listen Up, Buddy

Psalm 42


1 As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.

2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?

3 My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?”

4 These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival.

5 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation

6 and my God. My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar.

7 Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your waves have gone over me.

8 By day the LORD commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.

9 I say to God, my rock: “Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”

10 As with a deadly wound in my bones, my adversaries taunt me, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?”

11 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.


Listen up, buddy

“Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself?” – Martyn Lloyd-Jones (Spiritual Depression, pp 20-21)

One of the prominent emotional conditions in the Psalms is spiritual depression. Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote a book titled Spiritual Depression and based it on Psalm 42. “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?”

The Psalmist admits the reality of his spiritual state, the rut of his condition and the release that God brings.

The Reality

The Psalmist acknowledges that his condition is one of dryness. He gives us the visual imagery of deer and deep desire to drink. This Psalmist is a professional musician who used to be in the employ of the temple court leading festal throngs and joyous processions. Unlike other psalms his condition is not brought on by any gross, unconfessed sin. His condition is just a reality of living in a broken world with a broken soul.

The Rut

The reality of his spiritual depression he admits come from three potential causes. Firstly he experiences a disruption of human community.  He used to be in the Jerusalem, but now due to circumstances unknown to us he I geographically separated from the community he loves. Secondly he suffers disillusionment with the turn of events in his life. The onset of spiritual depression has cause him to question the nature and character of his faith and the nature and character of God. Thirdly he experiences deprivation. What was once a only spiritual condition has now become a physical condition. He cries. He cannot sleep. He cannot eat. “My tears have been my food day and night,” (42:3)

The Response

His response involves is a beautiful pouring out of his soul. He is not simply wallowing. He is processing his pleas before his Redeemer. He then remembers specific covenant moments of God’s loyal love (I remember…how I would go with the throng…to the house of God”(42:4). He then analyses his hopes, Are his deepest hopes in God or in other good things, but not the Ultimate Good. Lastly, he preaches to himself. He resolutely tells himself about grace, time and time again. As part of the artistic community of singers and poets he uses illustrations and language that ring his bell and bring grace to bear on his situation. The imagery of God’s overwhelming, billowing grace is clearly evident in the pictures he paints to himself. This Psalm points to the one who truly said “I thirst” (Ps 42:1; John 19:28). It points to The One whose adversaries taunted in His spiritual depression  saying, “Where is your God” (Psalm 42:10; Matt 27:43).

This surety of grace will give us the boldness just as this Son of Korah had. With determination we can say, “Hope in God, for I shall again praise him.” This professional musician says “I will definitely pick my lyre up again…”


Miracle Cures


1 O LORD, rebuke me not in your anger,

nor discipline me in your wrath!

2 For your arrows have sunk into me,

and your hand has come down on me.

3 There is no soundness in my flesh

because of your indignation;

there is no health in my bones

because of my sin.

9 O Lord, all my longing is before you;

my sighing is not hidden from you.

10 My heart throbs; my strength fails me,

and the light of my eyes—it also has gone from me.

11 My friends and companions stand aloof from my plague,

and my nearest kin stand far off.


15 But for you, O LORD, do I wait;

it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer.

18 I confess my iniquity;

I am sorry for my sin.


21 Do not forsake me, O LORD!

O my God, be not far from me!

22 Make haste to help me,

O Lord, my salvation!

Miracle Cures

Every few months a new vaccine or treatment is hailed as being an answer to some form of ailment. The cutting edge of medicine in our day seeks cures for cancer, AIDS, Hepatitis C, and other harmful if not lethal illnesses. Our modern day is not too far distant from that of our ancestors. They sought miracle cures, and we seek miracle drugs.

This is one Psalm of which some commentators believe to be part of what are psalms for healing. In medieval Judaism and Christianity this psalm was used by chaplains at many a sick-bed.  David offers us plaintive prayer for healing with three main emphases:

1. Overbearing Burden

The Psalmist clearly faces an overwhelming burden of both the physical and spiritual nature. Physical Ill health is not directly linked in every occasion to spiritual ill heath. Often sickness and disease is simply the product of living in a world that has been thrown into cosmic disarray and often not of our own choosing. “For creation was subjected to futility, not willingly,” (Rom. 8:20).

However, David in this Psalm believes his sickness to be rightly merited. “O LORD, rebuke me not in your anger, nor discipline me in your wrath!” (v. 1). He is aware, as even our common sense will tell us, that actions have consequences. The psalm is penitential yet gives us no context. There is no descriptor like so many other David Psalms which give us a glimpse into the poetry behind each situation. But it seems to indicate that he has an external skin ailment that “stinks and festers” (v.5).

A pompous and pedantic theorist might argue that prayer detailing one’s sickness is superfluous in view of God’s omniscience(v.9); but our Lord points out that only faithless chatter is superfluous (Matt. 6:7ff.).

2. Outcast man

David’s physical ailment is in some sense a parable of his deep inner ailment.

The word plague is perhaps chosen for its associations with leprosy (e.g. four times in Lev. 13:3,), for this is how his friends were treating David. He is experiencing being a social outcast, a physical outcast and ultimately a spiritual outcast. David feels like an outcast not only from his human friends but  from his ultimate friend, the God of Israel.

3. Only Hope

Hope is our patient awaiting for an expected outcome. David is outstanding in any company for his ability to wait (15) for God. His fugitive years, his Hebron period and his attitude to Absalom’s revolt, all proved the sincerity of his prayer in 15f., and of his advice in Psalm 37. His hopes have never been in military might, family success, or a nation’s acclaim. His hope is in YHWH the “The Lord who will answer”(v. 15)

This final plea, with its pathetic urgency, shows that David’s capacity to wait God’s time, mentioned at the start of this section, owed nothing to a placid disposition or to a situation well in hand, but everything to the God he knew by name (Yahweh, 21a) and by covenant (my God), and as Master and Saviour (22b).

Despite the feelings of pain and suffering and abandonment the Psalmist does not end with a hopeless cry such as “Do not rebuke me.” v.1 and “Do not forsake me.” v.21.  His final cry and only hope is in the Lord, ‘[his] salvation. (v.22). He knows that God will never forsake him for the sake of the Forsaken, Crucified One.

David realizes that the deepest healing he needs is not physical healing – though nice – it is a deep inner spiritual healing: the Healing of Forgiveness.

May we walk in the healing of forgiveness.

Close Calls


Close Call
Close Call

Psalm 34


1 I will bless the LORD at all times;

his praise shall continually be in my mouth.

10 The young lions suffer want and hunger;

but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.

11 Come, O children, listen to me;

I will teach you the fear of the LORD.

18 The LORD is near to the brokenhearted

and saves the crushed in spirit.

19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous,

but the LORD delivers him out of them all.

20 He keeps all his bones;

not one of them is broken.

22 The LORD redeems the life of his servants;

none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.


Part of the beauty and charm of driving down the backroads of the Scottish Highlands are the passing lanes. These roads are fun and yet they can be harrowing. This Psalm has a quick superscript telling us that is one of those close calls for David. He ingeniously “changed his behavior,” or better said, pretended to be “bonkers” in order to avoid the wrath of the king of Gath.

David offers us two quick ideas in this psalm of thanksgiving 1. Rejoice with me (1-10). 2. Learn from me (11-22).(see Derek Kidner, IVP Psalms)

Rejoice with me

Life is filled with these crazy moments of divine rescue and human ingenuity. This is Davids story. “This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles.”(v6) David referring to himself as a ‘poor man’ is a positive acknowledgment of humility and selfless enthusiasm. He gives us the secret of contentment. “I will bless the Lord at all times.”(v1)  Much like Paul, we can almost hear David say “Rejoice at all times”(1 Thes 5:18).

Learn from me

In verse 11 the psalmist doesn’t want us to simply have a moment of ecstatic enjoyment, rather he is looking for ecstatic engagement. He wants us to learn the secret of contentment. “Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD.” (v11). Often in Hebrew wisdom literature the teacher or schoolmaster (whether in Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, or the Psalms) would refer to his pupils as benim [Hebrew for children]. The Psalmist clearly wants us to learn from him.

The last twelve verses bid us reflect on our circumstances and learn about the “awe of the LORD” (v11). These close calls are not just coincidental near misses, they remind us of a caring Father who knows us full well. This amazing divine rescue confirms to David what his heart already knows, that “all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”(Romans 8:28)

David prophetically and unknowingly speaks about the greatest event, where not just near misses, but actual distress and catastrophe still work together for good. “He keeps all his bones; / not one of them is broken.”

The New Testament authors understood this Psalm to be fulfilled in Jesus on the cross. The trials that crushed Jesus will now no longer have power to break us. Christ has delivered us. Now no matter what happens to us, God will not allow us to be broken, only molded.

Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!

Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! (v8)


This is the secret of contentment.

Attitude of Gratitude – Hymn of the Week








Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;

Praise him, all creatures here below;

Praise him above, ye heavenly host;

Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.

(words by Thomas Ken, 1674)


Songs have Backstories

“I am dying,” Bishop Thomas Ken wrote, “In the Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Faith professed by the whole Church before the disunion of East and West; and, more particularly, in the Communion of the Church of England, as it stands distinguished from both Papal and Protestant innovation, and adheres to the Doctrine of the Cross.” There is no finer statement of “mere Christianity” to be found anywhere.

Bishop Ken died on 19 March 1711 and at dawn the following day, whilst his faithful friends sang the tune of this hymn, Bishop Ken’s remains were laid to rest beneath the East Window of the Church of St. John in Frome – the nearest parish in his old Diocese of Bath and Wells.

Songs have Meaning

This well-known hymn falls in a category known as “doxology’ [lit. words that give glory from the Greek ‘doxa’ – glory and ‘logos’ word].  It follows in the vain of many Jewish and Christian Doxologies (see Rom 11:36; Rev 5:13b; 1 Tim 1:17) with its many variations and expansions: “To whom/him/you (be/is) the glory for ever. Amen.”

Jews and Christians typically used such doxologies as a conclusion to a prayer, a sermon, a letter, or a part of any of these. These were an expression of monotheistic worship. It is the One God of Israel to whom glory belongs eternally.

Songs bring Challenge

Bishop Ken’s doxology brings a challenge. Avoid old silliness and avoid new silliness, “adhere to the Doctrine of the Cross”. The oldest innovation in the book is the idea of independence. Notice the opening line “Praise God from whom ALL blessings flow.” This hymn bids us to acknowledge our dependence. Every single benefit in our life is a product of God’s goodness and not our own. It is not a begrudging dependence but a spirit of thankfulness and praise.

The newest innovation Ken warns us against is the idea of materialism. By this it is not the idea of consumerism and material goods but the idea that life is only what we can observe and perceive with our natural senses. The Common Doxology tells us the best way to recapture the wonder of worship is to get a glimpse of Glory. When we see the universe not as simply a material machine, but a canvas awash with the wonder of its Author. This eternal perspective will allow us to praise as both “creatures below” and join in with “heavenly host[s]”

Reflect on your past experience of worship. Do you experience genuine, fulfilling worship each Sunday? How much time is specifically allotted to worship (narrowly defined)—that is, to times of praise and thanksgiving to God? Would you like the time to be longer? What aspects of the worship time do you find most meaningful? Which aspects are least meaningful? How could you take steps to strengthen and deepen your experience of worship?

May our lives be a living Doxology:

Deep honor and bright glory

to the King of All Time—

One God, Immortal, Invisible,

ever and always.

Oh, yes!

1Tim. 1:17

listen to Dave Crowder Band perform “Doxology

God Save the King!

Psalm 20


1 May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble!

May the name of the God of Jacob protect you!

2  May he send you help from the sanctuary

and give you support from Zion!

3 May he remember all your offerings

and regard with favor your burnt sacrifices! Selah

4 May he grant you your heart’s desire

and fulfill all your plans!

5 May we shout for joy over your salvation,

and in the name of our God set up our banners!

May the LORD fulfill all your petitions!

6 Now I know that the LORD saves his anointed;

he will answer him from his holy heaven

with the saving might of his right hand.

7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses,

but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.

8 They collapse and fall,

but we rise and stand upright.

9 O LORD, save the king!

May he answer us when we call.

God Save the King!

Plato once remarked, “Only the dead have seen the end of war.”

The psalm presupposes that a battle or military campaign is about to begin, though no details are provided. From a military perspective, such a battle required careful planning, well-trained troops, superior military resources (e.g. chariotry) to those of the enemy, and the courage to fight. But in Israel, something more was required before departure for battle. It was fundamental to the faith of the Hebrews that success in battle depended primarily upon God, not only upon military planning and strategy. And so, before a campaign could commence, there must first be a retreat to the temple.

This passage tells us three contrasting things about the community of believers: 1) We are fighting but we have won (we are militant and triumphant) 2. We are a small part of the big picture (we are a particular expression of the universal church) 3. The are deeper things at work than our eyes can see (we are part of the visible and invisible church).

A fundamental characteristic of the experience of ancient Israel was the frequency of warfare. It characterized the historical experience of Israel, as it did that of all nations in the ancient (and modern) world. The practice of warfare in ancient Israel was intimately related to religion; the Lord, a “Warrior” or “Man in Battle,” participated with his people in the experience of warfare (Exod 15:3).

1. We are militant, yet triumphant

The first verse is a statement of the difficulties of life (“day of trouble”), and yet it honestly realizes that in the midst of trial there is triumph (“May the Lord deliver you”).

2. We are a particular body of believers, yet part of the universal body of believers

Every Israelite would have been arrayed for a fight, yet each one would have had a particular task and a particular expression that was unique to them and necessary for the proper functioning of Israel. Modern denominationalism can be much like this ancient tribalism, acknowledging that each tribe may have its emblem and standard but meanwhile centring around the Banner of Christ. Regardless of their expertise or their tribal affiliations each swore allegiance and sought help from the Messiah (lit. “anointed”)(v6). Any help sought from Zion (v2) is now seen as sent from heaven itself.

3. The Invisible intersects with the Visible

Israel through this psalm acknowledges that it must “retreat to advance.” Before Israel can face their enemy, they must face their God. Any soldier worth his weight would weigh up a situation and come up with a plan taking into account the enemies capabilities (“some trust in chariots and some in horses”). Chariots and horses were the most formidable force of ancient times, but they brought memories to Israel of miraculous victories, e.g. at the Red Sea and the river Kishon (Exod. 14; Judg. 4). Israel recognises that their weakness is in fact their strength.

We see the invisible intersect with the visible supremely on the Cross. The victories of our King are imputed to us, our defeats and shame are laid on him. Our Champion has won the day and we did not even lift a finger in our struggle. The Psalm ends with the phrase which it coined and is immortalised in almost every western coronation service:  “God Save the King!”

May we see the King and His Kingdom intersect with our lives. May we see his triumph in the midst of our trials. May we see our particular story collide with God’s Great Story. “God Save the King!”