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The Song of Zion

A Psalter-Psalm Devotional of Praise to Our Sovereign Covenant God

May 1 Read Luke 1:67-75

Psalm 132:17 & 18 This psalm concludes with God’s promise to make the horn of David to bud. Picture for a moment a male deer, who in early spring looks very ordinary and harmless as his female counterpart. But soon his horns begin to bud and in approximately ten weeks he has a large and powerful set of antlers. The church, too, though a remnant and seemingly helpless, yet culminates in Christ, the Anointed One, Who is all powerful. He is the lamp or light of the world, His kingdom shall flourish, but all of His enemies will be covered with shame. What assurance and comfort for the church! In Him we also are the light of the world. Will you hide that light today? Or will you strive to let it shine, that your Father in heaven may be glorified? Sing Psalter 367:5.

May 2 Read Psalm 133

Psalm 133:1 Whatever may have been the special occasion at one time for the composition of this psalm, we do not know for sure, but the essence of it is the blessedness when brethren dwell together in harmony and unity. This can apply to various situations and groups, such as a family, a kingdom, or especially a congregation. How many families are rent by feuds? How many kingdoms are destroyed by rivalries and jealousies? How many churches experience unrest and schisms because of bitter animosities amongst them? This doesn’t mean that we may overlook sin just to keep a false peace. Never may we do that. But we certainly must follow Scriptural mandates and treat one another with love and patience, esteeming each other better than ourselves. Being at peace with one another—what a good and pleasant blessing! Sing Psalter 369:1.

May 3 Read Ephesians 4:1-6

Psalm 133:2 & 3 These verses give us two pictures of the benefits when brethren dwell together in peace and unity. One is the precious ointment which was poured on the head of the High Priest at his ordination. This fragrant oil was diffused over the priest’s entire body, from the top of his head, then down his face and flowed to the bottom edge of his garment. In the true worship of God, the peace which springs from Christ as the Head descends upon the entire church. The other figure was the refreshing dew of Mount Hermon which descended upon Mount Zion, which denotes that a holy unity is productive of good results, as the dew moistens the earth to sustain life and growth. God commands His blessing where peace is cultivated. Let each of us do his or her part in promoting and maintaining true unity in Christ. Sing Psalter 371:1 & 2.

May 4 Read Psalm 134

Psalm 134:1 & 2 This short psalm is the last of the ones called gradual psalms or songs of degrees. It is a psalm of benediction and could likely refer to worshippers leaving the temple at the end of the day. They speak to the priests and Levites who came on duty at sunset. They encourage them in the service of the Lord with the exclamation: “Behold!” or “Take notice!” Then the temple servants are exhorted to be busy with their hands, hearts and mouths as they labor in God’s house. Now of course, this exhortation comes to us as well every day of our lives. Psalm 103 tells us to “Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.” As we said before, to bless means to praise or speak well of. Did you consciously bless the Lord as you arose from your bed this morning? Did you bless Him for the food He provided or for the strength to work today? Do not cease to bless and praise God, and you will experience His love and grace in your heart. Sing Psalter 372:1.

May 5 Read Numbers 6:22-27

Psalm 134:3 Yesterday we saw that the servants of the Lord who labor in His house were told to bless the Lord. Now in this last verse we find the priest responding to those who were departing from the temple. And he says: “The Lord that made heaven and earth bless thee out of Zion,” a beautiful benediction from one who represents Christ Himself. Two things are mentioned here. The first is the title of Creator to set forth His power. And secondly the term Zion, which was a symbol of God’s nearness to His people. By looking to Zion, His dwelling place, they looked to their loving Father. What a rich blessing! And this blessing is not restricted to just one period in history. God has always bestowed His priestly blessing on His church. He does so today. Pay attention to your pastor at the close of your worship services and bow your head in thanks. Sing Psalter 372:2.

May 6 Read Psalm 135

Psalm 135:1 & 2 This psalm has no title and is mainly made up of selections from other Scriptures. It begins with an exhortation to praise Jehovah for His goodness, for His electing love, for His greatness. It continues then to recount His judgments, His unchanging character, His denunciation of idols, and ends with more exhortations to praise His name. Three times in the first verse are we called to praise Jehovah and the setting is in the house of God. Pay heed to the importance of this, people of God! God calls us to this holy duty of praise and in this way He wills to be worshipped. Some congregations tomorrow will attempt to worship Him with drama, dances, and entertainment. This is not pleasing to God. He has instructed us in the proper manner of worship. Let us walk today in the light of His Word and prepare ourselves to praise Him tomorrow in the assembly of the saints. Sing Psalter 373:1.

May 7 Read Deuteronomy 7:6-11

Psalm 135:3 & 4 Do you believe in the doctrine of election? Many people don’t, you know. They call it a cold doctrine that makes man nothing more than a puppet and that a loving God would never choose some and reject others. But in our passage today we read that the Lord has chosen Jacob unto himself and Israel for his peculiar treasure. This is election, the very heart of the gospel, and which affords unspeakable comfort to God’s people. (Take time to read the first head of doctrine in the Canons of Dordrecht) Because we have been chosen in Christ from eternity, we are able and willing to praise the Lord. God says this is good and this is pleasant. You will have many opportunities to praise God in your worship today. Be filled with praise in your singing, your giving, your prayers and hearing the gospel. Sing Psalter 373:2.

May 8 Read Job 28:23-28

Psalm 135:5-7 In these verses we read of a strong personal conviction from the author of this psalm that the Lord is great. He knows it! He is convinced of it! God is so great that He does whatsoever He pleases in the entire creation. Nothing, absolutely nothing happens without His will and power. People of God, do you see God’s hand in the clouds that are miraculously formed by vapours rising from the earth and descending again as rain? Do you see it in the storms, the lightning and rain? In short, do you see God’s mighty hand when you behold all of His creation? The psalmist certainly did and exclaims that this is another reason to praise His name. So let each of us personally, with conviction, take these words on our lips: “For I know that the Lord is great, and that our Lord is above all gods.” Sing Psalter 375:3 & 4.

May 9 Read Exodus 15:1-6

Psalm 135:8 & 9 We all know about the great plagues that God sent upon Egypt and Pharaoh its king. God is to be praised also in this display of divine judgment upon that rebellious nation, and in this act of love to His people Israel. Each plague had it own significance. They struck at the very heart of Egypt, at its various deities, and showed how impotent they were in the hands of a sovereign God. The plagues culminated in the death of all firstborn, both of man and beast. It was divine retribution for their tyrannical oppression and acts of murder. Now we must smite our own breasts and think of “the firstborn of every creature,” Jesus Christ, Who died for our sins. As we contemplate this great act of mercy, let us thank and praise God most fervently. Sing Psalter 373:5.

May 10 Read Deuteronomy 3:1-4

Psalm 135:10-12 We saw yesterday that God delivered His people from the bondage in Egypt and today’s verses show the reason. He did not leave them to wander indefinitely but brought them to Canaan the promised land. This land was occupied by nations whose cup of iniquity was full, and two mighty kings who first opposed them are mentioned by name. God, through Joshua destroyed those nations and led His people into the land of their inheritance. This typifies that all the foes of God’s people, namely Satan and the wicked world, shall be overthrown, for the greater Joshua, our Lord Jesus Christ, leads us as our conquering King and will surely bring us into that heavenly Canaan. Pray that you may be counted worthy to serve in His army, and by His power fight the good fight of faith. Sing Psalter 373:6.

May 11 Read Exodus 3:15-15

Psalm 135:13 & 14 We have just read that God’s name endureth forever. Implied in God’s name are all His virtues. To name just a few are His justice, mercy and love. Why is it important for us that God’s name is eternal? If His name ever perished, we would perish as well and be hopelessly lost. Today’s passage also informs us that God will judge His people and repent Himself concerning His servants. God is not a man that He should repent or change His mind, yet there is a change in the event itself. His people though chastened by trials will be vindicated and be objects of His pity. God is the same from generation to generation. He beholds His people in Christ. Because He is eternal, not one of His elect saints shall ever be lost. Praise Him for that glorious hope and cling to Him by faith. Sing Psalter 373:7.

May 12 Read Habakkuk 2:18-20

Psalm 135:15-18 We have a great contrast in these verses from the preceding ones. As we have seen, God’s name, His power, His mercy and justice were extolled as reasons and incentives to praise Him. Now we are shown the utter helplessness of heathen idols which men foolishly serve as their gods. We would never do that, would we? What about some of our pleasures that we love so much that they interfere with our spiritual duties? Could it possibly be said of us that we are lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God? We live in a materialistic society that makes gods of sports, careers, money and worldly possessions. Let’s not get caught up in these to the extent that our spiritual calling suffers. Many of these things are not sinful in themselves, but beware lest we put our trust and confidence in them rather than in the living God Who has called us to a life of obedience. Sing Psalter 373:8.

May 13 Read I Chronicles 29:10-13

Psalm 135:19-21 This psalm comes to a close with exhortations to bless the Lord. In Psalm 115 we have similar verses, only there we read the word “trust” instead of “bless.” To trust is to confide in, or rely upon. When we bless God we speak well of Him. When God blesses us, He bestows good upon us. All are called to bless God. First Israel, the church, is addressed, then the ministers of the sanctuary and their attendants. Finally, all men everywhere who fear the Lord are called to bless Him. The Lord delights in His people and is pleased when they praise and bless His name. They can do this only by His work of grace in their hearts. In the final verse, we see blessing constantly ascending from Zion to God and God perpetually blessing His people by dwelling with them in Zion. No wonder the psalmist exclaims “Praise ye the Lord” or “Hallelujah.” Sing Psalter 373:9 & 10.

May 14 Read II Chronicles 7:1-3

Psalm 136:1-3 Of all the psalms in Scripture this one is unique in its structure. From the striking form of it, and because we read in II Chronicles that it was sung at the dedication of Solomon’s temple and by the armies of Jehoshaphat, we may infer that it was very popular among God’s people. It is a psalm of praise. The first line of each verse gives the theme and the second line is the response or refrain. Our verses for today exhort us to thank the Lord, Who is described as the God of gods and Lord of lords. He is the Supreme Being, the very essence of perfection, dominion and power. People of God, we are privileged to serve this great King and hear His Word today in divine worship. Let us contemplate His holiness, think on His lovingkindnesses, and break forth in the chorus: O give thanks unto the Lord, for His mercy endures forever. Sing Psalter 376:1.

May 15 Read Jeremiah 10:10-12

Psalm 136:4-6 Have you ever pondered the question: Why did God make the heavens and earth and all that they contain? Unbelieving man denies this truth, of course. They do not want to be accountable to a just and holy God and will propose any and all theories to suit their own foolish ends. To answer our question we turn to the refrain of each verse, “for his mercy endureth forever.” He made all things in His mercy for His church and for His own glory. From all eternity He chose in Christ a people to be born and nurtured in His creation and for their sakes alone. The wicked are mere scaffolding in His hands and will be destroyed as the tares which grew up with the wheat. “For all things are for your sakes…to the glory of God.” II Cor. 4:15. Sing Psalter 376:2.

May 16 Read Genesis 1:14-18

Psalm 136:7-9 The psalmist continues to extol the power of the Creator. We take for granted that the sun will rise each day, that the moon will appear at night along with the grand array of stars. Can we possibly grasp the complexity and vastness of the solar system? Men try to explore and explain it without God, even though creation itself testifies of God, so they are without excuse. God is in complete control every moment. He created light which is the life and soul of the universe and His lights rule both the day and the night. He does all this for His own glory and for His elect’s sake because His mercy endures forever. People of God, walk in the light. Look in faith to your redeemer, Jesus Christ, Who said: “I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.” John 12:46. Sing Psalter 377:4 & 5.

May 17 Read Exodus 12:29-26

Psalm 136:10-12 What does the deliverance of an ancient people who were slaves in the power of a cruel king mean to you? Perhaps nothing, you might venture to say. Yet, it is so important! It is so important that every Sunday we hear about it when the Law of God is read. Of course it was Israel, God’s chosen people, whom He delivered from the house of bondage. It took a strong hand and a stretched out arm—a symbol of God’s power. It was accomplished by the death of Egypt’s firstborn. This is a picture of our deliverance from the bondage of sin and at what a cost! It took the death of Christ, The Firstborn, to redeem us out of that bondage. Why did God do that? Because He loved us and because His mercy endureth forever. Praise and thank Him for that great deliverance. Sing Psalter 376:3.

May 18 Read Exodus 12:21-28

Psalm 136:13-15 The psalmist continues to recount God’s display of extraordinary wonders, this time the dividing of the Red Sea so Israel could pass through it on dry ground. The world in foolish unbelief tries to vainly explain this phenomenon as some natural happening. But by faith, we know that this amazing miracle, as all of God’s wonders, had a special significance. It pointed to the antithesis, for one thing, between God’s people and the world. Israel was saved but Egypt perished in judgment. In the prayer of our baptism form we read that the obstinate Pharaoh and his host were drowned in the Red Sea, but God led His people through on dry ground by which baptism was signified. People of God, cherish your incorporation into that covenant of grace which marks you as separate from the unbelieving world. Walk accordingly then and thank Him Whose mercy endureth forever. Sing Psalter 376:4.

May 19 Read Deuteronomy 8:1-6

Psalm 136:16 Our verse today is very short but it covers forty years of God’s guidance of Israel through the wilderness. Much history was made. Many grievous sins were committed. Many miracles were wrought. Many people perished. But through it all, God was faithful and Israel was led with unerring wisdom. He provided manna, symbolic of Christ the living bread. He gave them water from the rock and that Rock was Christ! Their clothes and shoes never wore out and they never lost their way. This same God leads us today. The day of special miracles is past but we have God’s Word to lead us and His Spirit to dwell in us. We are refreshed by the means of grace as we travel in our wilderness. Through the ministers of the gospel, God is pleased to provide us with the bread and water of life. Be careful to follow this Guide and you will never lose your way, for His mercy endureth forever. Sing Psalter 377:2.

May 20 Read Psalm 2

Psalm 136:17-22 Once again we encounter Og, king of Bashan, and Sihon, king of the Amorites. These were formidable adversaries whose territories stood in the way of Israel’s entrance into the promised land. Sihon had conquered Moab previously and had acquired all their land. Og was a giant and Scripture tells us that his bedstead was made of iron and measured thirteen and one half feet by six feet. Talk about a king sized bed! But who can stand before the King of all the earth? We read in Isaiah 40:22, “It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers.” What a comfort this history is for us. The battle is the Lord’s, and our inheritance in those heavenly mansions being prepared is secure because His mercy endureth forever. Sing Psalter 376:5.

May 21 Read John 15:16-19

Psalm 136:23 & 24 You have probably heard this statement made on occasion to describe someone: “He doesn’t have an enemy in the world,” meaning presumably that this person is friendly and good natured. But how true is this? It isn’t true at all, really. Every one of us has enemies. In fact, one of our creeds tells us that we have mortal enemies, namely the devil, the world, and our own flesh that constantly assault us. Add to this our depraved nature and you can understand how well one of our verses for today describes our condition—that of a low estate. But thankfully we are not left there. God remembers us and redeems us in Christ. You will hear of that redemption today as you take your place in God’s house. Listen attentively and pray that your hearing may be mixed with faith—a gift from Him whose mercy endures forever. Sing Psalter 377:6.

May 22 Read Isaiah 54:7-10

Psalm 136:25 & 26 The psalm closes with a final statement regarding God’s providence to all His creatures. He giveth food to all flesh, both man and beast. We have recounted throughout this psalm the greatness and might of God. We saw His power as creator, deliverer, leader and conqueror. Now we see Him as a loving Father Who provides His creatures with their daily needs. All because His mercy endures forever. O no, He doesn’t give food to the wicked in His mercy. To be sure, He gives good gifts to them such as food, rain and sunshine, but never in His mercy and grace. In fact He is angry with them every day (Ps. 7:11). People of God, put your trust in Him alone and echo with the psalmist: “O give thanks unto the God of heaven: for his mercy endureth forever.” Sing Psalter 378:3.

May 23 Read Lamentations 1:1-5

Psalm 137:1 & 2 This psalm depicts the unutterable sorrow and sense of desolation which the people of God experienced when they were forcibly removed from their land, especially their beloved Zion. To be denied the comforts of their homes and surroundings was bad enough, but to be deprived of their worship in God’s house was to them unspeakable sorrow. Even though they sat upon the banks of the rivers shaded by willow trees, their minds were too heavily wounded by God’s chastening to take up their instruments of music. How would we react if we were in the same circumstances, namely to be deprived of gathering in God’s house? Think about it people of God, be thankful for this privilege and be faithful and diligent in your worship. Sing Psalter 379:1.

May 24 Read Lamentations 1:6-9

Psalm 137:3 & 4 Yesterday we saw the depths of sorrow into which the Jewish exiles were plunged when they were taken captive to the land of Chaldea and how they wept when they remembered Zion. Now to greatly increase their misery, their captors demanded them to sing the songs of their beloved Zion. These songs meant nothing to their captors, but they wished to reproach God’s people and blaspheme their God. Their refusal to do so is humbly worded by being put in the form of a question. Chaldea and its inhabitants are not worthy of the honor of having God’s praises sung in it. They will certainly be willing to sing God’s praises again, but in the way of waiting for God’s deliverance and restoration of public worship. People of God, we still have the privilege to sing the songs of Zion personally and in corporate worship. Don’t take this for granted. God is pleased with this aspect of our worship. Sing, for He is worthy! Sing Psalter 379:2 & 3.

May 25 Read Isaiah 35:4-10

Psalm 137:5 & 6 To sing Zion’s songs for the pleasure of Zion’s foes would be to forget Jerusalem. The psalmist changes the “we” in the preceding verses to the personal pronoun “I.” Each of God’s people in captivity pledges to remember Jerusalem, a symbol of God’s dwelling place. They emphasize this by asserting that it were better to have a useless hand or a mouth turned to silence, so that they could never play or sing again, than to forget Jerusalem their chiefest joy. What a confession! Young people, is this your confession too? Can you really say that God’s house, His worship, and His people are your greatest joy? Parents, is the means of grace and the communion of saints the most important and joyful aspect of your life? It should be, it must be, and by God’s grace it is! Sing Psalter 379:4 & 5.

May 26 Read Obadiah 1:8-15

Psalm 137:7-9 This psalm which began in expressions of sorrow and sadness now breaks forth in burning indignation and imprecations upon the adversaries of Israel who destroyed Jerusalem and carried them captive to Babylon. Edom, who because of kinship to Israel and who should have been friendly, is singled out for judgment because of his wicked conspiracy with Babylon. He willingly helped in tearing down the walls of Jerusalem and exulted in their terrible calamity. Babylon is told that she will be destroyed and will receive just retribution for her unspeakable cruelties. God is terrible in His judgments upon the wicked. They will say to the mountains and rocks: “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne.” Revelation 6:16. Although God’s people may and will suffer persecution, the Lord knoweth those who are His and will surely save them in the way of faith and obedience. Sing Psalter 379:6.

May 27 Read Psalm 138

Psalm 138:1 & 2 This psalm begins with a familiar but important phrase, “I will praise thee with my whole heart.” Can you make these words your own? When you praise God do you engage in it half heartedly? Tomorrow morning, the first words you will utter in divine worship will be “Praise God from Whom all blessings flow.” Will you be wide awake and ready to extol His name with enthusiasm? This is what God requires and He is not pleased with anything less. God is worthy to be praised for innumerable reasons, but the psalmist names two—His lovingkindness and truth. He is merciful to us in Christ even though we are undeserving of that love. He is a God of truth, integrity and uprightness and can never change. Live in that comfort and assurance and praise Him then with your whole heart. Sing Psalter 381:1.

May 28 Read Philippians 4:4-7

Psalm 138:3 Prayer is a wonderful gift of God. It is the chief part of true thankfulness which God requires of us. Some prayers are joyful expressions of praise. Others are words which can scarcely be uttered from trembling lips and broken hearts. The psalmist states that he cried to the Lord and was answered with strength to his soul. No, the Lord will not always give us the desires that we as humans feel we should have. But He will give to us peace and strength in our souls amid our trials even as He said to the apostle Paul, “My grace is sufficient for thee.” Today we are called to attend God’s house of prayer. Do so with a prayer in your soul, a song in your heart, and a mind ready to receive God’s Word. Sing Psalter 381:2.

May 29 Read Psalm 72:8-11

Psalm 138:4 & 5 Those who praise the Lord and sing of His glory are not limited to one class of people. In our verses for today we read of the kings of the earth who engage in this holy practice. If we look at the various rulers in the world today, we don’t see much evidence that they are God-fearing and sincere in praising Him. But there have been many kings in the history of the world who served the Lord. We also read about earthly kings who pay homage to God in Psalms 68, 72 and 102. God’s praises can be heard from the youngest child to the most aged saint. They can be heard from the lowest servant to the highest ruler. The one thing that they all have in common is the Holy Spirit working faith in their hearts. Do you, dear reader, possess this faith? Then you can’t help but praise Him, and He will be glorified. Sing Psalter 381:1 & 2.

May 30 Read Ephesians 4:1-6

Psalm 138:6 What is your status in life, dear reader? Do you rate yourself as lowly, or do you perhaps upgrade this status a bit and consider yourself higher up on the scale? Our verse today tells us that although God is transcendent in the highest glory, yet he has respect to the humble and lowly. In contrast, He is far from the proud, although He knows their evil ways afar off. By nature we are proud and haughty. But thanks be to Him, we are made lowly by His regenerating Spirit in our hearts. We realize our wretched condition and pray, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” Our Savior was the very epitome of this virtue for He said, “Take my yoke upon you and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” (Matt. 11:29) Let us seek for that rest by humbling ourselves under His mighty hand. Sing Psalter 381:3.

May 31 Read Philippians 1:1-6

Psalm 138:7 & 8 This psalm closes with a statement of utter confidence in the Lord’s work. If the Lord in His wisdom has begun to work grace in the heart of a person, it is impossible that He will not complete it. He cannot deny Himself. Because of His everlasting mercy, He will never forsake the works of His own hands. We read in Psalm 27 that even if our father or mother should forsake us, then the Lord will take us up. Do you have that assurance? Do you desire to have your sins forgiven? Do you love God’s Word? Do you strive to live a Godly life in the midst of a sinful world? Even though we have only a small beginning of that new obedience in our hearts, rest assured that it is God’s work and He will surely save us. All glory to His name! Sing Psalter 381:4.