The Journey with Ron Moore

Happy New Year! This year, we’re going to stay focused in the book of the Psalms. I have not attempted to do expositional work on each psalm. There are excellent books by seasoned scholars for that. My aim has been to provide daily devotionals purposed to challenge, convict, comfort, encourage, and inspire.

The Psalms are real and raw. The writers hold nothing back. There are times of great praise and thanksgiving when the writers seem unable to contain their worship. There are also times of questioning when the pain is unbearable. Through the Psalms our fears, anxieties, and disappointments are countered by God’s strength, peace, and encouragement. In each song, prayer, and lament the psalmist is pouring his heart out to God. The invitation is for us to do the same.

Come with me on a journey through the Psalms. The Father will walk with his children each step of the way; the Shepherd leads us through the varying terrain. God alone stays close to the joyful, sometimes weary, always expectant traveler. The best part of the journey is just ahead and the destination is heaven itself!

Psalm 1

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers. Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.

Someone has said that every person should live a life that demands an explanation. A person whose heart has been transformed by Jesus should demonstrate a refreshing difference that causes people to ask, “What’s up with that?” The book of Psalms begins with contrasting the two paths that a person can take—the path that demands an explanation or the common and crowded path that needs no clarification.

The person on the path that demands an explanation reads and studies the Bible. They don’t forget God’s Word after reading a few verses. In fact, they think about it—meditate over it—throughout the day. They hang out with the right people as well. They don’t take the counsel of those headed in the wrong direction. This results in a grounded life with deep roots that produces good fruit and God’s blessings. God’s eyes are always on them.

Those on the crowded path live lives with no eternal value. They are like chaff, the worthless husks of grain blown away by the wind in the process of winnowing. People on the crowded path may seem to prosper. They may even do good things. But in the end God will separate those who know Him from those who don’t. Those who walk on the path that leads away from God will finally discover that the common, crowded path leads to eternal destruction.

Father, as we begin this journey through the Psalms, show us clearly what path we are on. Help us determine in the depths of our hearts if we have trusted in Jesus alone as the only way to You. Help us exhibit evidence of the new life that You have given. Help us begin this year with the assurance that we belong to You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Psalm 2:1-6

Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain?  The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed, saying,  “Let us break their chains and throw off their shackles.”  The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them.  He rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying,  “I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain.”

In the book of Psalms there are eleven messianic or royal psalms—songs written for a king. Many of these psalms are quoted in the New Testament in direct reference to Jesus. While these do look forward to Jesus, many Old Testament kings used them during their coronation celebrations. So these psalms carry double duty. They were used to crown Israel’s kings and also looked ahead to the coming of the King of Kings.  

The psalmist begins by expressing his utter amazement that people would have the audacity to plot against God. The nations stand together and make great plans to defeat God and His people. But the “One enthroned in heaven” is first humored by their hubris, and then He terrifies them into utter defeat.

Today God has enthroned His King in our hearts. And He is just as humored at those who try to oppose Him. Satan cannot steal us away. The world cannot lure us away. We cannot, in our weakness, overthrow the King. The believer is secure. The King has been installed and reigns in our hearts. The King’s Spirit gives us everything we need to serve Him well, stay on the right path, and fend off the enemy. The believer can say with confidence, “The King is enthroned in my heart.” Because of God’s presence and power, we can laugh at our enemies.

Father, too often we, Your children, feel helpless. Lord, remind us of Whose we are. Don’t let us be defeated by the enemy. Help us to stand in Your power. Remind us everyday…every minute of every day…that You have installed the King in our hearts. Our confidence is in the King. We pray in His name. Amen.

Psalm 2:7-12

I will proclaim the Lord’s decree: He said to me, “You are my son; today I have become your father.  Ask me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.  You will break them with a rod of iron; you will dash them to pieces like pottery.” Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth.  Serve the Lord with fear and celebrate his rule with trembling.   Kiss his son, or he will be angry and your way will lead to your destruction, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

Psalm 2 is a messianic or royal psalm written for the coronation of an Old Testament king but it also looked forward to the crowning of King Jesus. This portion of the psalm begins with two declarations and ends with an exhortation.

The first declaration is echoed in Matthew 3, right after Jesus was baptized. As the Holy Spirit descends on Jesus, a voice from heaven says, “This is my Son….” God declares to the world His love for Jesus. The second declaration is found in John’s letter to the church in Thyatira (Rev. 2:27). Jesus holds authority over all the nations. Regardless of how chaotic things may seem, He will rule with undeniable power.

The ending exhortation is a call to surrender. All people are to serve the Lord with the awe and respect He deserves. He is God and we are not. But fearing the Lord is not a “cowering in the corner” type of emotion. Instead of running from Him we run to Him! In God alone we find refuge, protection, and shelter from the inevitable challenges of life.

Father, may I surrender to the King each day. Help me to serve Him with a full-out passion and demonstrate that He is the Lord of my life. In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

Psalm 3
A psalm of David. When he fled from his son Absalom.

Lord, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me!  Many are saying of me, “God will not deliver him.” But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.  I call out to the Lord, and he answers me from his holy mountain.  I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.  I will not fear though tens of thousands assail me on every side.  Arise, Lord! Deliver me, my God! Strike all my enemies on the jaw; break the teeth of the wicked. From the Lord comes deliverance. May your blessing be on your people.

It’s tough when you are involved in a serious conflict. It is devastating when that conflict is with one of your children. That’s where David found himself in today’s psalm. His son Absalom conspired against his father and gained a strong following. David and his household were forced to flee for their lives (2 Samuel 15-18).

David was on the run and the people in Israel were placing their bets on Absalom. But even as he fled, David trusted in God. He never doubted that God was his shield, his glory, “the One who lifts my head.” His confidence was grounded in the fact that God answered his calls for help. Even when he slept—a vulnerable state for someone on the run—God protected him. David prayed that God would deal a decisive blow on those attacking him. He was totally dependent on God for deliverance.

So, to you who are involved in a difficult conflict—with a boss, friend, parent, or even a child—David’s prayer is for you. Tell God that He is your shield and protection. Thank Him for His protection when you are most vulnerable. Thank Him for lifting up your head when you are discouraged. Turn your fears and your battle over to Him. He is the God who delivers His people.

Father, this conflict is too heavy for me to carry. The burden is painful and discouraging. I feel alone and defeated. But I proclaim You as my shield, protector, and deliverer. Right now, I hand over this battle to You. I call out to You and wait for Your answer. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Psalm 4
For the director of music. With stringed instruments. A psalm of David.

Answer me when I call to you, my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; have mercy on me and hear my prayer.  How long will you people turn my glory into shame? How long will you love delusions and seek false gods?  Know that the Lord has set apart his faithful servant for himself; the Lord hears when I call to him. Tremble and do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent.  Offer the sacrifices of the righteous and trust in the Lord. Many, Lord, are asking, “Who will bring us prosperity?” Let the light of your face shine on us.  Fill my heart with joy when their grain and new wine abound.  In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.

God is on your side! He brings relief. He delivers mercy. He hears your prayer. And…God does all things right. Others may try to discredit your reputation and spread lies. But know this—regardless of what others say, God says, “You are mine!” He has set you apart. He calls you “faithful servant.” The eternal God listens when you talk to Him.

The only thing to do for those who oppose you and God is to surrender. In the depth of their heart they know that battling the Almighty is futile. If they were wise, God’s enemies would worship and trust Him. People are never satisfied and always want more. But God satisfies us with His presence and fills our hearts with joy.

So live with God’s peace throughout the day and sleep well tonight. Even when you are vulnerable, God is watching out for you. He will surround you with His protection. His presence will be with you through this short life on earth and forever in heaven.

Father, thank You for being on my side. Thank You for Your relief, mercy, and protection. Thank You for listening as I pray. Thank You for satisfying my soul. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Psalm 5:1-7
For the director of music. For pipes. A psalm of David.

Listen to my words, Lord, consider my lament. Hear my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray. In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly. For you are not a God who is pleased with wickedness; with you, evil people are not welcome. The arrogant cannot stand in your presence. You hate all who do wrong; you destroy those who tell lies. The bloodthirsty and deceitful you, Lord, detest. But I, by your great love, can come into your house; in reverence I bow down toward your holy temple.

There is no right time or wrong time to talk to God. In fact, we should always have Him on our hearts and minds. But there is great wisdom in starting each day with prayer. David’s repeated phrase of speaking with God “in the morning,” is a great model for us to follow.

David’s desperation for God’s help causes him to cry out. David knows that much of what will happen during the day is out of his control. So he lays his requests before God in an act of dependence and surrender. Then he waits “expectantly” for divine leadership.

David has confidence because of God’s character. God detests arrogance, lying, murder, wickedness, deceit, and evil of any kind. David knows that God will always do what is right. And he knows that because of God’s mercy, he—a sinner—can approach the living God and worship Him.  

Father, like David, my confidence is in Your character. You do all things right. I approach You today based on Your great love. I am desperate for You. I wait on You to lead me throughout the day. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Psalm 5:8-12
For the director of music. For pipes. A psalm of David.

Lead me, Lord, in your righteousness because of my enemies— make your way straight before me. Not a word from their mouth can be trusted; their heart is filled with malice. Their throat is an open grave; with their tongues they tell lies. Declare them guilty, O God! Let their intrigues be their downfall. Banish them for their many sins, for they have rebelled against you. But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you. Surely, Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.

Life’s path is filled with precarious stretches and wayward people. Like a child needs to be led by their parents, we need God to hold our hand and keep us on the right road. Enemies enter every onramp. They cannot be trusted. Following them leads to certain danger.

David prayed that God would judge his enemies and “banish them.” In effect, pull them off the highway! Sound harsh? Do you want to share the road (or have your loved ones share the road) with dangerous drivers?

So, follow hard after God. He will always lead you to a good place. “Our heart is at ease in our God.”[1] The path will not always be smooth. We have to watch our footing. But He is there and with Him by our side, gladness replaces gloom. Joy drives out dread. Those who follow God live under His protection and are surrounded by His grace.

Father, I love You and I take refuge in You. Inject gladness and joy into my heart. I pray that You protect me today from the Enemy, my enemies, and myself. Surround me with Your grace as if I were carrying a protective shield. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


[1] C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, (Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, MA: Vol 1). 49.

Psalm 6:1-5
For the director of music. With stringed instruments. According to sheminith. A psalm of David.

LORD, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath. Have mercy on me, LORD for I am faint; heal me, LORD, for my bones are in agony. My soul is in deep anguish. How long, LORD, how long? Turn, LORD, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love. Among the dead no one proclaims your name. Who praises you from the grave?

Sometimes sleep won’t come. Sometimes the pain seems unbearable. Sometimes anxiety attacks the soul. Sometimes we don’t know if we can make it another day. We cry out, “How long, Lord, how long?” We are confused and frustrated. We long for God’s healing.

That’s where David is in today’s psalm. The circumstance is not known but one thing is clear; David is in “deep anguish.” He feels that God is disciplining him. His body is weak. He doesn’t know how much longer he can make it. He is in great pain. He doesn’t know how much longer he can stand it. He is in distress. He doesn’t know how much longer he can take it.  He pleads for God’s mercy and deliverance.  

David’s cry for help is based on God’s “unfailing love.” This attribute of God comes from the Hebrew word chesed.  It is used thirty-three times in the psalms. It describes God’s loyal love, His love of covenant. It is a love that will never let  go. No matter how you feel, God will not abandon the believer. No matter how great the anguish, He is by your side. God will never leave you.  Hold on! He is there with you.

Father I am barely holding on. Please come to my aid. Please come soon. Because of Jesus I know Your unfailing love. I am holding on and trusting. Give me Your strength. I trust in You alone for deliverance. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Psalm 6:6-10

I am worn out from my groaning. All night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears. My eyes grow weak with sorrow; they fail because of all my foes. Away from me, all you who do evil, for the LORD has heard my weeping. The LORD has heard my cry for mercy; the LORD accepts my prayer. All my enemies will be overwhelmed with shame and anguish; they will turn back and suddenly be put to shame.

Sorrow is exhausting. The emotion wears us out. Pain takes its toll. Tears come at unexpected times knocking us over like a rogue wave. Nights are often the hardest. Agony seems more acute in the dark, in the stillness, in the aloneness. That was the case with David. The night brought tears; the day brought swollen and tired eyes.

We considered the first part of David’s lament yesterday. His body and soul were in agony. He cried out, “How long, Lord, how long?” He cried out for mercy and based his pleas on God’s “unfailing love.” Now, as the psalm ends, David’s renewed confidence begins. He knows that God has heard his weeping and his cries for mercy. He knows that God has accepted his prayer. He is certain that God will come to his aid.

The same goes with you. God knows your pain. He sees your tears. And He is able to turn your cries into confidence. I can’t promise the illness will go away, the relationship will be restored, or the child will come back home. I can promise that in the midst of it all, God will give you everything you need to do what He is calling you to do. That’s comfort and confidence!

Father, I am weak. I need Your strength. I am anxious. I need Your peace. I am fearful. I need Your confidence. I dread the night. Please meet me here. The days are long. Stay by my side. Thank You for the promise that You will give me all I need to do what You are calling me to do. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Psalm 7:1-9
A shiggaion of David, which he sang to the LORD concerning Cush, a Benjamite

LORD my God, I take refuge in you; save and deliver me from all who pursue me, or they will tear me apart like a lion and rip me to pieces with no one to rescue me. LORD my God, if I have done this and there is guilt on my hands —if I have repaid my ally with evil or without cause have robbed my foe—then let my enemy pursue and overtake me; let him trample my life to the ground and make me sleep in the dust. Arise, LORD, in your anger; rise up against the rage of my enemies. Awake, my God; decree justice. Let the assembled peoples gather around you, while you sit enthroned over them on high. Let the LORD judge the peoples. Vindicate me, LORD, according to my righteousness, according to my integrity, O Most High. Bring to an end the violence of the wicked and make the righteous secure—you, the righteous God who probes minds and hearts.

David was on the run through no fault of his own. Jealous King Saul was in hot pursuit intent on putting him to death. David’s ragtag army was no match for Saul’s elite soldiers. David knew that if they ever caught him they would most certainly tear him apart like a lion.

Have you ever been unjustly accused…at work, by friends, or even in your home? You admit that you’re not perfect. You know you can say things that others misunderstand. But this time, at least, you are innocent. Your accusers are not intent on ripping you to pieces like David’s, but they are out to get you nonetheless. What do you do? Retaliate? Make similar accusations? Spread rumors? Mount an all out social media attack? No. Do what David did.

David found protection in God alone. God was his refuge so he made his appeal to the One who will “judge the peoples.” He is the One who knows your heart and will bring vindication. He is the righteous and just God. Can you trust God with accusations against you? He is more than capable to deliver you and deliver justice.

Father, I like to strike back at those who attack me. I like to take matters into my own hands. I want to make sure everyone sees my innocence. But I trust You—the righteous and just God. I trust You to deliver me and bring justice. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Psalm 7:10-17

My shield is God Most High, who saves the upright in heart. God is a righteous judge, a God who displays his wrath every day. If he does not relent, he will sharpen his sword; he will bend and string his bow. He has prepared his deadly weapons; he makes ready his flaming arrows. Whoever is pregnant with evil conceives trouble and gives birth to disillusionment. Whoever digs a hole and scoops it out falls into the pit they have made. The trouble they cause recoils on them; their violence comes down on their own heads. I will give thanks to the LORD because of his righteousness; I will sing the praises of the name of the LORD Most High.

God is on your side. God Most High has your back. Even if you feel like you are fighting for your life or running for your life—like David was when he wrote this psalm (see yesterday’s devotion)—God is your protective shield. He will come to your aid and save you. Everything He does is right “because of his righteousness.”

Those who don’t know Christ have no such confidence. Their minds and hearts are far from God. They conceive trouble. They live disappointed and disheartened lives. Don’t let their smiles, bravado, and independence fool you. They are fooling themselves. Whoever digs a hole of evil digs a hole of trouble that comes back at them like a spring that has been stretched to its max by two people and then one lets go. Their actions that hurt others will boomerang back and come “down on their own heads.”

So, remember, God is on your side.  All He does is right. All He does is good. He’s got your back. How does one respond to such a God—the God Most High? David answers the question for us. He finds confidence in God and says, “I will give thanks to the Lord…I will sing the praises of the name of the Lord Most High.” Let’s follow David’s example.

 Father, thank You for always being on my side. Thank You for always having my back. Thank You for always taking care of me. Thank You for sending Your Son to die on the cross for my sins. Thank You for the promise that I will always be Your child and nothing can separate me from Your love. Thank You for always doing what is right. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Psalm 8  
To the choirmaster: according to The Gittith. A Psalm of David.

O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger. When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas. O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! (ESV)

What comes to your mind when you hear the name Abraham Lincoln? Or Steve Jobs? Or Adolph Hitler? Names are more than a collection of letters. A name brings to our mind a person’s accomplishments and character. So it is with the name of God. In today’s psalm, we see that the name (accomplishments and character) of God is magnificent and filled with splendor. The Person of God is exalted above all creation. And here’s the amazing truth—the majestic God chooses to work through humans…people like you and me!

David marvels that God uses the weakest and most vulnerable to demonstrate His strength. Babies and infants prove that His miracle of mankind continues. David is astounded to think that the God who made the heavens thinks about humans. He crowned us with significance (“glory and honor”) and gives us the responsibility to rule over and take care of His creation.

When you are down…look up! The magnificent God has you on His mind. The Creator has chosen you as His representative. The maker of all things is the lover of our souls. God loves you so much that He sent His Son to pay sin’s penalty. Through Jesus you are significant! Accepted! Forgiven! Look up! God has His eyes focused on you.

Father, sometimes I can feel very insignificant. My identity gets wrapped up in things I have and things I do. I compare myself with others and feel far behind. But today I am looking up. I know that You are looking at me, loving me, and living in me! I am blown away that You—the Creator of the heavens and earth—choose to work through me. Thank You for the privilege of representing You on this earth. In Jesus’ name. Amen.  

Psalm 9:1-6  
To the choirmaster: according to Muthlabben. A Psalm of David.

I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds. I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High. When my enemies turn back, they stumble and perish before your presence. For you have maintained my just cause; you have sat on the throne, giving righteous judgment. You have rebuked the nations; you have made the wicked perish; you have blotted out their name forever and ever. The enemy came to an end in everlasting ruins; their cities you rooted out; the very memory of them has perished. (ESV)

Thanksgiving is neither conditional nor compartmentalized. Thanksgiving does not say, “I will thank you if…” or “I thank you, God, for this but not for that.” Thanksgiving does not hold out or hold back. Thanksgiving is the expression of the “whole heart.”

We can praise God with all we have because He is always on our side. He will turn back the enemies that attack us. Through Jesus, the unavoidable enemy has been defeated. Death was destroyed at the cross and through the glorious resurrection. The final enemy has come to “an end in everlasting ruins.”

I don’t know what you are up against. Maybe it is an uncertain future, a challenging relationship, a health issue that is slowing you down, or an illness that seems unbeatable. I don’t know how God will choose to work in your situation. But I do know this: Jesus has defeated death, our final enemy. Our present may be shaking, but through Him our eternity is unshakeable. 

Father, I thank You with my whole heart for all the things in my life. I admit it is hard to thank You for some of the circumstances I am going through but I know that somehow You are working everything out for good. Thank You for the certainty that my final enemy has come to an end in everlasting ruins. Thank You in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Psalm 9:7-12  

But the LORD sits enthroned forever; he has established his throne for justice, and he judges the world with righteousness; he judges the peoples with uprightness. The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you. Sing praises to the LORD, who sits enthroned in Zion! Tell among the peoples his deeds! For he who avenges blood is mindful of them; he does not forget the cry of the afflicted.

There is no getting around it…the journey of life will take us through some stormy stretches. From unmet expectations to unfilled dreams; from personal battles with illness to the death of those we love; from disappointment to discouragement to disillusionment to depression, we will experience times of trouble.

Stormy stretches are never traveled alone. Our trust is in the One who sits enthroned forever. Our constant companion is our traveling refuge. God never ignores those who look to Him for help. He “does not forget the cry of the afflicted.”

God is sovereign over all. God is a stronghold. God will never forsake you. God will never forget you. With your heart cry out to Him! Tell Him all about your situation. Tell Him how you are feeling. Tell Him your fears. God never leaves His children. When we remind ourselves of who God is and cry out for His help, we open our hearts to experience His presence. That’s what we were longing for all along.

It is stormy today, Lord. Discouragement saturates my soul like a steady rain from dark clouds. I can relate to the words “oppressed, “trouble,” and “afflicted” in today’s psalm, so I claim the promise of this psalm. I am seeking You; I know You will not forsake me. I am crying out to You; I know You have not forgotten me. I open my heart to You; help me experience Your presence. Be my stronghold. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Psalm 9:13-20  

LORD, see how my enemies persecute me! Have mercy and lift me up from the gates of death, that I may declare your praises in the gates of Daughter Zion, and there rejoice in your salvation. The nations have fallen into the pit they have dug; their feet are caught in the net they have hidden. The Lord is known by his acts of justice; the wicked are ensnared by the work of their hands. The wicked go down to the realm of the dead, all the nations that forget God. But God will never forget the needy; the hope of the afflicted will never perish. Arise, LORD, do not let mortals triumph; let the nations be judged in your presence. Strike them with terror, LORD; let the nations know they are only mortal.

David had his share of enemies. The nations that surrounded Israel were intent on bringing him down and taking over his kingdom. As David wrote this psalm, it seems his rivals were getting uncomfortably close. He called on God to have mercy and rescue him from the “gates of death.” David prayed that God would “strike them with terror” and deflate their hubris.

All believers will have enemies. There are some people who would like nothing better than to see us fall. If fact, they are more than willing to be involved in the process of bringing us down. Let’s face it, offices, schools, neighborhoods, and sometimes, even families, are populated by people that feel the need to put us down in order to elevate themselves. Maybe you are experiencing one of those attacks today.

Here is the great promise of God found in today’s psalm: “God will never forget the needy.” He is well aware of your situation. Your enemies may dupe others but they cannot deceive God. Be patient. God will lead them to the pit they have dug and entrap them in the net they have hidden. Pray. Wait. And watch.

Father, like David, enemies surround me. When I walk with You there are many who want to see me fall. So, Lord I pray for Your mercy as my enemies come near. Protect me from their gossip. Deliver me from their schemes. Guard my reputation from their attacks. My confidence is in Your promise that You will never forget the needy. And, Lord, I am needy. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Psalm 10:1-11  

Why, LORD, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak, who are caught in the schemes he devises. He boasts about the cravings of his heart; he blesses the greedy and reviles the LORD. In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God. His ways are always prosperous; your laws are rejected by him; he sneers at all his enemies. He says to himself, “Nothing will ever shake me.” He swears, “No one will ever do me harm.” His mouth is full of lies and threats; trouble and evil are under his tongue. He lies in wait near the villages; from ambush he murders the innocent. His eyes watch in secret for his victims; like a lion in cover he lies in wait. He lies in wait to catch the helpless; he catches the helpless and drags them off in his net. His victims are crushed, they collapse; they fall under his strength. He says to himself, “God will never notice; he covers his face and never sees.”

The psalms remind us that prayer is not religious talk; it is real conversation with God. Prayer is not robotic recitation; it is the pouring out of our raw feelings and emotions. God must laugh at our duplicity when He sees the chaos in our hearts and then hears the smooth prayer talk coming out of our mouths.

David’s communication with his Father is unfiltered. He tells God what the wicked are up to. They are arrogant, boasting about their depravity and rejecting God’s laws. They are liars and murderers. They lie in wait like a lion and pounce on the weak and innocent. They are convinced that God will never notice their actions. David protests that God’s actions seem to prove them right. He argues that God seems to be keeping His distance and hiding Himself from the trouble.

As believers we get frustrated with life, weighed down by our situations. We are moved by injustice. We wonder, “Why?” when the wicked seem to prevail and the arrogant get their way. David teaches us that prayer is telling God what’s on our hearts and minds. Honoring God means being honest with God.

Father, I admit that many times when my emotions are running deep my prayer is shallow. There seems to be in my soul a “prayer-switch” that I turn to disconnect what I say from what I feel as if You don’t know what I am really feeling. Help me to be real in my conversations with You. Remind me that honoring You means being honest. In Jesus’ name. Amen.   

Psalm 10:12-18  

Arise, LORD! Lift up your hand, O God. Do not forget the helpless. Why does the wicked man revile God? Why does he say to himself, “He won’t call me to account”? But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand. The victims commit themselves to you; you are the helper of the fatherless. Break the arm of the wicked man; call the evildoer to account for his wickedness that would not otherwise be found out. The LORD is King for ever and ever; the nations will perish from his land. You, LORD, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, so that mere earthly mortals will never again strike terror.

Ishmael is an orphan. He never knew his mother or father. Instead he knows the emptiness of being fatherless and motherless. One day a family took him in…to replace their son that had died. Ishmael’s presence could not assuage their deep grief so they “returned” him like a pair of pants that didn’t fit. But God saw his trouble.

The day he was returned, two board members from ANA Panama were in the office for other business. When they learned of the boy’s situation, now orphaned twice, they decided to place him in one of their transition homes. Now Ishmael is thriving in a home where he experiences love from adults who promise not to send him back and sees the example of the love of Christ who promises to be with him forever.

Prayers for God to come to the aid of others do not exclude our willingness to get involved in the process. When we pray for God to “hear the desire of the afflicted,” “encourage them,” “listen to their cry,” “defend the fatherless and the oppressed,” we must add, “And Lord please use me to be Your hands and feet.” Conversation with God is not a passive plea for God to go “fix it.” Prayer includes the willingness to participate in the fix.

Father, I don’t want to be passive in my praying. Show me where I can get involved as Your instrument. I want to be a part of the answer to the prayer I am praying. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Psalm 11  
For the director of music. Of David

In the LORD I take refuge. How then can you say to me: “Flee like a bird to your mountain. For look, the wicked bend their bows; they set their arrows against the strings to shoot from the shadows at the upright in heart. When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” The LORD is in his holy temple; the LORD is on his heavenly throne. He observes everyone on earth; his eyes examine them. The LORD examines the righteous, but the wicked, those who love violence, he hates with a passion. On the wicked he will rain fiery coals and burning sulfur; a scorching wind will be their lot. For the LORD is righteous, he loves justice; the upright will see his face.

God is our refuge, our place of protection, and encouragement. He sees all that is going on in our lives and is sovereignly involved. He is the Lord who sits on His heavenly throne. So remember…

When discouragement barges through the front door of your heart…Take refuge in the Lord.

When you feel insignificant and alone… Take refuge in the Lord.

When you feel like tomorrow’s meeting is “do or die” for your career… Take refuge in the Lord.

When your child jettisons the faith… Take refuge in the Lord.

When you are waiting for the test results… Take refuge in the Lord.

When you are grieving the death of a loved one… Take refuge in the Lord.

When you are grieving the death of a dream… Take refuge in the Lord.

Father, my weaknesses keep me one step away from doing something foolish. My propensity to sin calls me to places I shouldn’t go. Anxiety fills my soul at a moment’s notice. Dread weighs me down. Grief pains and paralyzes my heart. Fear removes my desire for spiritual impact. Lord, I run to You as my place of protection and encouragement. Take away the things that hold me back and push me forward. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Psalm 12  
For the director of music. According to sheminith. A psalm of David

Help, LORD, for no one is faithful anymore; those who are loyal have vanished from the human race. Everyone lies to their neighbor; they flatter with their lips but harbor deception in their hearts. May the LORD silence all flattering lips and every boastful tongue—those who say, “By our tongues we will prevail; our own lips will defend us—who is lord over us?” “Because the poor are plundered and the needy groan, I will now arise,” says the LORD. “I will protect them from those who malign them.” And the words of the LORD are flawless, like silver purified in a crucible, like gold refined seven times. You, LORD, will keep the needy safe and will protect us forever from the wicked, who freely strut about when what is vile is honored by the human race.

Ever had one of those days when you feel like you are the last Christian standing? That’s where David was when he wrote today’s psalm. He felt that the last faithful and loyal person had disappeared from the face of the earth. Liars and deceivers had replaced them. David looked around to see the shameful being honored by, what seemed to be, the entire human race. David was in a bad spot. So…he prayed.

David’s prayer is short and to the point—“Help, Lord….” And God answered his prayer. He assured David that He would “arise” and “protect” David from all his enemies. With this promise David’s complaint turns into confidence. He knew that God would fulfill all of His promises because “the words of the Lord are flawless.”

Today you may be where David was when he wrote this psalm. You feel like you are the only one in your office, school, family, or neighborhood who cares about the things of God. You feel like the godly are gone, the faithful have retreated, and those who oppose God have taken over. It’s time to pray. A simple prayer of “Help, Lord…” will do. It’s time to gain confidence from God’s impeccable word.  Our confidence is this: God will protect us forever from the wicked.

Father, there are times I feel like I am the last one standing. Politicians, the media, and neighbors down the street honor revolting and disgusting things. My prayer to You is short—Help! Help me gain perspective. Protect me from those who oppose You. I am needy. Please come to my aid. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Psalm 13  
For the director of music. A psalm of David

How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? Look on me and answer, LORD my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death, and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall. But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the LORD ’s praise, for he has been good to me.

David’s words are straight from the heart, real and raw. Where are You, Lord? How long will You turn Your back on me? How long do I have to try to figure this out on my own? My situation is desperate. My efforts are getting me nowhere. I am losing the battle. The match is all but finished. The referee is just about ready to raise my enemy’s hand declaring him the victor. If You don’t come soon, it’s going to be too late. My enemies are Your enemies. They are preparing to celebrate our defeat.

Maybe David just prayed your prayer. The good fight is wearing you out. Your runner’s legs are buckling long before the finish line. You are trying to keep the faith but feel it slipping away. You lost something you loved. Or received something you dreaded. You are begging God to come…soon! You don’t know how much longer you can hold on.

I don’t know your situation but I do know this: Hang on! Help is on the way! Keep trusting! His love will not fail you. Keep rejoicing! He is the One who saved you. Keep singing!  God gives good things to His children. Hang on! He is not finished with you. 

Father, my prayer is David’s prayer. I am losing my grip. I feel like I am ready to fall. Enemies surround me. Disease, brokenness, failure, disappointment, depression are coming straight at me preparing for—what feels like—a final assault. But I trust You. Please give me the strength to keep trusting. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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