The Holy Spirit - Learning from the Psalms
The Lord is ‘majestic’(Psalm 8:1,9). He does not remain remote. He does not keep His distance. He shows us His greatness, the greatness of His love. We feel forgotten. He remembers us. We feel unloved. He cares for us (Psalm 8:4). We are tempted. He will ‘still the enemy’(Psalm 8:2). We look beyond our creation (Psalm 8:5-8) to our salvation - ‘we see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, crowned with glory and honour because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone...that through death He might destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the devil’(Hebrews 2:8-9,14). This is ‘Majesty’- ‘Jesus, who died, now glorified, King of all kings’. The Name of the Lord is majestic ‘in all the earth’(Psalm 8:1, 9). To God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit - we pray, ‘Glorify Your Name in all the earth’(Mission Praise. 454,142).
The Psalmist had an earnest desire is to walk with God. He longed for a close walk with God in the centre of His will (Psalm 17:5). His prayer is sincere. It ‘does not rise from deceitful lips’(Psalm 17:1). He is painfully aware of ‘the onslaughts of the wicked’. His ‘enemies cluster round him, breathing hostility’(Psalm 17:9). Whatever troubles we may encounter, we must learn to pray with the Psalmist: ‘Hear, O Lord, my righteous plea; listen to my cry. Give ear to my prayer’(Psalm 17:1). As we call upon the Lord, He gives the assurance of His protection. Through His Word and Spirit, He assures us that He will ‘keep us as the apple of His eye’(Psalm 17:8). We are precious in His sight. He looks upon us in love. He does not see our sin. He sees us ‘in Christ’- ‘accepted in the Beloved’, ‘no condemnation’(Psalm 32:1; Ephesians 1:6; Romans 8:1).
Three times, the question is asked, ‘Why are you downcast, O my soul’. Three times, the answer is given, ‘Put your hope in God’. Three times, there is the response of faith: ‘I will yet praise Him, my Saviour and my God (Psalm 42:5,11; Psalm 43:5). Often, we are filled with questions. We must bring our questions to God. We must learn to listen for His answers. The Lord is speaking to us. Are we listening? God speaks to us through His Word. Are we taking time to read His Word? He wants us to come to Him with the prayer, ‘Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening’(1 Samuel 3:8-10). Listen to the Word of the Lord. Let His Word be your Guide: ‘Send forth Your light and Your truth, let them guide me...’(Psalm 43:5). ‘Deep calls to deep’(Psalm 42:7) - Let ‘the Spirit’ show you ‘the deep things of God’(1 Corinthians 2:10).
‘Be still, and know that I am God...Shout to God with loud songs of joy’(Psalm 46:10; Psalm 47:2). In our worship, there is to be both quiet trust and loud praise. We read the great words: ‘God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble’(Psalm 46:1). God’s Word brings peace - ‘in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength’. We must not keep God’s blessing to ourselves. We must share it with joy - ‘Sing to the Lord...let them shout from the top of the mountains. Let them give glory to the Lord, and declare His praise in the coastlands’(Isaiah 30:15; 42:10-12). The Lord is to be ‘exalted among the nations’. He is not only ‘our King’. He is ‘the King of all the earth’(Psalm 46:10; Psalm 47:6-7). ‘Father (Jesus/Spirit), we love You. We worship and adore You. Glorify Your Name in all the earth’(Mission Praise, 142).
‘He brought His people out like a flock; He led them like sheep through the desert’(Psalm 78:52). The Lord brought His people out of Egypt. He brought them safely through the wilderness to ‘His holy land’(Psalm 78:42-43,51,54-55). He did great things for Israel. He does great things for us - ‘He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake’(Psalm 23:3). Through faith in our Saviour, Jesus Christ, we have ‘peace with God’. Our sins have been forgiven. We now ‘stand’ in His ‘grace’. In our new life with Him, there will be times of ‘suffering’. None of us is exempt from suffering. It comes to all of us - without exception. In your suffering, remember this: We will not be disappointed in ‘our hope of sharing the glory of God’- ‘God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit...’(Romans 5:1-5).
‘Glorious things are said of you, O city of God... The Lord will write in the register of the peoples: “This one was born in Zion”. As they make music they will sing, “All my fountains are in You”’(Psalm 87:3,6-7). The ‘city of God’ is our glorious destination - ‘we are looking for the city that is to come’, ‘the Holy City’(Hebrews 13:14; Revelation 21:2). It is also the place of our heavenly birth - ‘This one was born in Zion’. The heavenly birth - This is where our journey to the ‘city of God’ begins: ‘No one can see the Kingdom of God without being born from above’(John 3:3). Between our heavenly birth and our glorious destination, there is life in the Spirit: The Psalmist says, ‘All my fountains are in You’. Jesus says, ‘Rivers of living water shall flow from the heart of anyone who believes in Me’(John7:38).
‘Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord... Let us come before Him with thanksgiving... Come, let us bow down in worship...’(Psalm 95:1-2,6). We are to worship the Lord with joyful thanksgiving. We rejoice in the Lord. We give thanks for His love. He is ‘the great God’. He is ‘our God’. He is the God of creation - ‘In His hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to Him. The sea is His, for He made it, and His hands formed the dry land’. He is the God of salvation - ‘We are the people of His pasture, the flock under His care’(Psalm 95:3-5,7). If we are to learn to worship the Lord with joyful thanksgiving, we must open our hearts to Him: ‘Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts’(Psalm 95:7-8). When we hear the call to worship, we must open our hearts to the Spirit of worship.
In Psalm 106, we read here about sin and salvation. There is a very realistic description of Israel’s sin - ‘They soon forgot what He had done and did not wait for His counsel... They despised the pleasant land; they did not believe His promise... They grumbled in their tents and did not obey the Lord... They rebelled against the Spirit of God’(Psalm 106:13,24-25,33). This is not only ancient history. It’s the story of our life! We read this, and we must join in Israel’s confession of sin: ‘We have sinned, even as our fathers did; we have done wrong and acted wickedly’(Psalm 106:6). The history of Israel is not only a history of sin. It is also a history of salvation: ‘He saved them...’(Psalm 106:8,10). As we read of God’s salvation, we must echo the prayer of God’s people - ‘Save us, O Lord our God...’- and join with them in praising God - ‘Praise be to the Lord...’(Psalm 106:47-48).
‘The Lord says to my Lord: ‘Sit at My right hand...’(Psalm 110:1). These words direct our attention to our Lord Jesus Christ: When ‘He was taken up into heaven, He sat at the right hand of God’(Mark 16:19). When Jesus ascended to the Father’s right hand, the Holy Spirit was sent down from heaven to fill our lives with God’s blessing (John 7:37-39). Through the power of the Holy Spirit, our lives are changed: ‘In the Day of Your power, Your people will come to You willingly...’. We come to the Lord in our weakness, and He ‘renews our strength’. We come to Him in our weariness, and we are ‘refreshed’ by His ‘streams of living water’(Psalm 110:3,7). ‘Come, Thou Fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing Thy grace. Streams of mercy never ceasing call for songs of loudest praise’(Revised Church Hymnary, 435).
Through Christ our Saviour, we are led ‘in the way everlasting’: ‘God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son’ (Psalm 139:24; 1 John 5:11). God’s great purpose of eternal salvation seems ‘too wonderful’ - ‘too good to be true’! ‘It is a thing most wonderful, almost too wonderful to be, that God’s own Son should come from heaven and die to save a child like me, and yet I know that it is true...’ (Psalm 139:6; Church Hymnary, 385). God has a glorious future planned for us. We can hardly even begin to take it in: ‘Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain’. We know that ‘no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him’ yet we rejoice in this: ‘God has revealed it to us by His Spirit’ (Psalm 139:6; 1 Corinthians 2:9-10). ‘Lead me in the way everlasting!’(Psalm 139:24).
The Psalmist prays, ‘Rescue me from my enemies, O Lord’ (Psalm 143:9). He is not concerned only about his own welfare. He is concerned about the glory of God: ‘For Your Name’s sake, O Lord, preserve my life’ (Psalm 143:11). How does God lead us in victory? How is He glorified in our lives? He brings to us the teaching of His Word - ‘Let the morning bring me Word of Your unfailing love’ (Psalm 143:8). He gives to us the strength of His Spirit - ‘May Your good Spirit lead me in good paths’ (Psalm 143:10). Through His Word and Spirit, God shows us His ‘unfailing love’. He enables us to say, ‘You are my God’, ‘I have put my trust in You’ and ‘I am Your servant’. He ‘shows us the way we should go’. He ‘teaches us to do His will’. He gives us victory over our ‘enemies’ (Psalm 143:8,10,12).
‘The Lord builds up Jerusalem. He gathers the exiles of Israel. he heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds’ (Psalm 147:2-3). This is much more than the building of the city of Jerusalem with bricks and mortar. This is God building up His people in their ‘most holy faith’ (Jude 20). This is God blessing His people as they gather together to worship Him. In Christ, we are ‘being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit’ (Ephesians 2:22). The Lord draws us to Himself. He brings us into fellowship with His people. He calls us to worship Him: ‘Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving’. He ‘blesses’ us through ‘His Word’. He ‘blesses’ us in ‘the Spirit’: ‘He sends His Word... and the waters flow’ (Psalm 147:7,12-13,18; John 7:37-39).