Watching Daily At My Gates

February 8 Read Psalm 32.

This psalm and its companion, Psalm 51, recount David’s journey back to blessedness after his sin concerning Bathsheba and Uriah.  Notice the first word of each of the first two verses.  We have encountered that word before, in Psalm 1, and it is also the first word of the each of the Beatitudes of Matthew 5.  That word can be translated “happy.”  True happiness can only be found when the sinner knows his sin, is forgiven of that sin, and can walk in a way of gratitude.  Does that sound familiar?  That is the structure of our beloved Heidelberg Catechism. God gives to us that happiness by showing to us the way of forgiveness. Sing Psalter 83


February 9 Read Psalm 33

While there is no title affixed to this psalm, it appears that it is a continuation of the previous psalm; therefore, it too is a psalm of David.  It is a psalm of praise at the beginning, and at the end it is a psalm of trust.  Those who have been forgiven of sins must both praise and trust God.  They must praise him in gratitude for the way of forgiveness afforded to them through the cross of Christ.  Our singing must consist of that thought.  Second, we must trust in him who cares for us in all aspects of our lives.  He will care for us not only spiritually, but he will care for us physically as well. Let us trust and praise the one who made heaven and earth. Sing Psalter 85.


February 10 Read Psalm 34

David writes this psalm while in trouble or having escaped from trouble.  Notice the number of times the words “the Lord” or as it is also known, “Jehovah” are used.  Jehovah is the name of God that refers to the covenant friendship that he has within himself but has also extended to his people.  David and we can call upon that friendship for help in times of despair and distress.  Notice that in verse 11 that friendship is also extends to children.  Our children are comprehended in that covenant of fellowship and friendship.  What a blessing this is for them and for the parents who have been blessed with children! Sing Psalter 90.


February 11 Read Psalm 35

Do our tongues speak of God’s righteousness and praise all day and every day?  This was David’s confession even after he poured out his heart to God because of the afflictions that he had endured at the hand of many enemies.  David realized that in these afflictions God was righteous.  We too are afflicted.  It may not be the physical afflictions at the hand of earthly enemies, but we are afflicted by many things and even by men.  In those afflictions we should speak of our heavenly Father and his great righteousness.  All kinds of men must hear his praise issue from our mouths. Let us do this in all the ways that God leads us. Sing Psalter 92.


February 12 Read Psalm 36

Do we pray for all of God’s people that he has placed in this world?  This is what we see in verse 10.  David not only sees wickedness around him, but he also sees God’s goodness towards his people.  David saw that many of those people were afflicted and needed God’s help.  This is our calling; we must include in our prayers petitions for those who need God.  When God’s people disapprove of the wickedness around them, they will incur the wrath of those who are performing that wickedness.  Prayer is the way that we can make known our needs unto God.  Let us pray and let us pray for others. Sing Psalter 94.


February 13 Read Psalm 37

In this psalm we see a description of the righteous man contrasted with the wicked man.  As you read it or reread it, look for those contrasts.  They are not put there so that we can gloat over the fate of the wicked.  Rather, they are there so that we can see how God cares for us even in troubles that seem to affect only those who love God.  Not only can we see the contrast in the lives of these two different kinds of people, but we also see their ends.  The end for God’s people is a peace that only his people can have.  It is a peace given only by grace.  Let us rest in that peace knowing that our Redeemer lives and will return for us. Sing Psalter 100.


February 14 Read Psalm 38.

This is one of the penitential psalms; that is, a psalm permeated with the idea of sin and forgiveness.  David was not always on the mountaintop of faith.  Sometimes he fell into the mire of sin and guilt.  Think, for example, of his sin with Bathsheba and Uriah.  We too are not always on the lofty mountaintop.  We too are fouled with the mud of sin and folly.  We, like David, can find forgiveness in God through Christ.  As David confessed in verse 14, we find our hope in God and we can pray with David, “Make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation.” Sing Psalter 102.


February 15 Read Psalm 39.

While Bible scholars are not agreed at the occasion of this psalm, it seems to be one written at some time of David’s distress, either personal or from the outside.  There are several verses that we might commit to memory for our profit.  Read through the Psalm again and see which one you might learn.  I like the first part of verse 12.  May God ever hear our prayers when we are in distress. Sing Psalter 105.


February 16 Read Psalm 40.

Here we have a psalm penned after some kind of deliverance.  We have a psalm of trust, and we have a psalm with messianic notes within it.  Can you find all three?  Do we delight to do God’s will?  That answer is easy until God’s will is a hard way for us to follow.  But then we must remember it is God’s will and not ours.  Think of our Savior.  As he sweated in the garden, he had to pray “…nevertheless, thy will be done.”  Is this our prayer?  Is Jehovah’s law in our hearts all of the time?  Do we rely on that law to help us in a time of trouble?  May we sing a new song each day because God’s mercies are new every morning.  Great is his faithfulness! Sing Psalter 111.


February 17 Read Psalm 41.

This psalm, as evidenced by the last verse, forms a close to the first of the five “books” found within the psalms.  Here David is sick.  It appears that this sickness comes from the emotional distress caused by one of his familiar friends turning against him.  Therefore this psalm has a messianic character, as the friend is a prophecy of the treachery of Judas Iscariot.  Even in his distress David turns to God, as we see in the final three verses of the Psalm.  We too must learn from this when we become sick from either physical or emotional causes. Sing Psalter 113.


February 18 Read Psalm 42.

This seems to be a psalm of David written as he had been chased from the land of God’s dwelling place.  Like a deer seeking water, David wishes to return to God’s house and worship him there.  Do we have similar feelings when we are absent from God’s house on Sunday?  God will send to us these feelings.  Do we ignore them and spend his day in our own pleasures?  Read through the psalm again and see the depths of David’s desire for God’s house, and then examine your desire.  Is it as strong? Sing Psalter 416.


February 19 Read Psalm 43.

From the words of verses two and five, this seems to be a continuation of the previous psalm.  The writer is still plagued by some affliction and seeks God’s help.  Notice his prayer in verse three.  No matter what trouble we may have, the only solution is to pray for God to lead us out of that trouble.  How does he do that?  Through his word that draws us to his holy sanctuary.  Neglecting the means of grace is serious; it is so serious that that sin will lead us deeper into affliction.  Look for the Sabbath, people of God, and seek for the rest that is found there. Sing Psalter 120.


February 20 Read Psalm 44.

Bible scholars do not seem able to pin down the writer or occasion for this psalm.  We do not need to waste our energies doing so.  It is obviously applicable for the church of all ages.  The church has been and will be scattered by enemies of all kinds.  Look at the nuggets of comfort found in the psalm.  God is our king, and we can boast in him.  We pray that he will send out his light and salvation, Christ, to rescue us.  We can know that God will arise and deliver us, not because of what we have done, but for his tender mercies’ sake.  This psalm deserves reading often in our lives. Sing Psalter 121.


February 21 Read Psalm 45.

While the author of this psalm may be unknown, the subject and theme is not.  Christ is that subject, and love between Christ and his church is the theme.  Notice all the phrases rich with symbolism that describe our groom, Christ.  Do we seek him?  Can we seek this him?  The answer to the second question is not in our own strength or desire.  What is our answer to the first question?  Do we seek the perfect groom, or are their others who have taken Christ’s place in our lives?  Sing Psalter 125.


February 22 Read Psalm 46

It is fitting that I write these words the day before Reformation Day 2012.  It is fitting because it seems that this psalm was Martin Luther’s favorite.  The author and circumstances of the writing of this psalm are unknown, but it can fit in any time period and at any stage of the church’s life.  David could have said it.  The Old Testament church in its later history may have thought of God, its refuge.  This psalm should be dear to our hearts.  How often do we not need a refuge from the storm of life?  How often do we need to hear the words, “Be still and know”?  Read this psalm often, people of God, and profit from it, as many before you have done. Sing Psalter 128.


February 23 Read Psalm 47.

The circumstances of this psalm are unknown.  It is obviously a psalm of praise.  Some think that it was penned at the time the ark was brought to Jerusalem.  Others look at it as a prophetic psalm pointing to Christ’s ascension into heaven.  God’s people are called to praise him.  He is to be praised because he is the God of limitless majesty.  This is the reason given in the first part of the psalm.  In the second we see him ruling as the supreme and sovereign king over all the earth.  God is our king; let us praise him now and look for the day when we will praise him in glory. Sing Psalter 129.


February 24 Read Psalm 48.

In this psalm, obviously meant to be sung, rings triumphant praise for God.  God is to be praised for all that he has done for his people.  He is to be praised because he is the majestic one, ruling over all the earth.  But this psalm also identifies his people.  His people are likened unto Mt. Zion, that mountain upon which Jerusalem was built.  The church is called to examine its history and see the victories God has wrought in them and for them.  God has given to his people this refuge.  Because he is there, there is no refuge to be found anywhere else.  Read the last verse again.  Do we need any other reason to trust in our God, who is worth of all praise? Sing Psalter133.


February 25 Read Psalm 49

After reading this psalm, we can see several things.  First, the writer has suffered some distress at the hands of another.  Like the subjects in the book of James, this oppressor seems to be rich.  Second, the writer works at showing that the end of the wicked rich is much different from that of the oppressed righteous.  He spends considerable time showing that all the rich has is for naught at the moment he closes his eyes in death.  Third, comfort is found in the psalm for the child of God.  This is found in verse 15.  It begins with that key little word “but.”  Read that verse again and know that God is the redeemer whom we need to prepare us for the life to come. Sing Psalter 135.


February 26 Read Psalm 50.

Like the previous psalm, this one is also a psalm of instruction.  We can see two main themes.  First—and this one is important—there are two ways of carrying out our religious life.  We can do it outwardly but not take into our souls the real meaning of loving God.  This was Israel as they brought sacrifice after sacrifice, but their hearts were not right with God.  This could be us attending church Sunday after Sunday, but making it only an outward appearance and not one from the heart.  Second, as is found in the New Testament, we can use our songs of praise to God to instruct those around us.  May we sing and make melody in our hearts for God’s glory and the good of those who hear us sing. Sing Psalter 137


February 27 Read Psalm 51

The context of this psalm is easy to deduce.  The title attests to it, and the psalm’s words do as well.  This is a penitential psalm; it is one from which all Christians can gain instruction.  The sinner must repent of his sin.  In the way of that repentance comes a peace that can not be found from any catharsis on this earth.  God gives to his people that peace.  Finding forgiveness, it behooves the forgiven sinner to thank God in words and in actions.  This is the intent of the often-forgotten last part of this wonderful psalm. Sing Psalter140.


February 28 Read Psalm 52.

David in fleeing from Saul occasions the murder of the priests at the hands of Doeg.  David laments their deaths and speaks his mind about Doeg’s treachery.  But yet we see God’s hand in this as well.  Those priests were descendants of Eli.  God had marked them for this event himself because of Eli’s weaknesses concerning his son.  Does this excuse Doeg?  It does not; all men are responsible for the evils that they commit.  As David ends this psalm, he gives thanks to God for the mercies shown to him and promises to look to God for his help, as we must as well. Sing Psalter 145.


March 1 Read Psalm 53.

This psalm is very similar to Psalm 14.  There are many theories why this is so.  But one thing is certain: if God repeats himself, we must listen.  Is the psalmist talking about an enemy or about his own people?  Either or both can be true.  The word “fool” is not usually used for the people of God, but there are times when we act foolishly.  The hope is found in the final voice.  Whether help is needed against an enemy or to remove sin from our lives, salvation comes only from Jehovah.  May that last verse be a constant part of our prayers. Sing Psalter 146.


March 2 Read Psalm 54.

From the title we learn that David wrote this after being betrayed by the Ziphim, or people from the town of Ziph.  These people were his relatives.  They were from the tribe of Judah, but they had not embraced David as one chosen by God.  This prayer is one we can take upon our lips and hearts when we are in trouble.  Jehovah is our help; he will save us in times of trouble.  Our response to this salvation should be one of praise, as we see in the last part of the psalm.  Let us pray and let us praise him from whom all blessings flow. Sing Psalter 147.


March 3 Read Psalm 55.

As you read through this psalm, which verses did you choose to be most comforting?  There are several that the Christian may take to heart to sustain him when he is under affliction.  Obviously David wrote this when under duress from some enemy.  From the thoughts in verses 12–14, it appears that Ahithophel is spoken of, and that this was written concerning Absalom’s rebellion.  David tells us to pray often in verse 17.  Is this our habit?  Do we bring all of our cares and troubles to God in prayer?  Verse 22 provides a comfort that can only come from Christ who bears our burdens.  He calls his weary ones of to himself and takes their burdens from them.  Let us do this daily in the way of prayer and supplication.  Sing Psalter 150.


March 4 Read Psalm 56.

Have you noticed that when David was in deepest affliction, he takes up his harp and pen and writes beautiful music that ascribes praise to God and trust in him?  This psalm, according to the title, was written when he was in Gath the first time.  When he realizes his foolishness in being there and the hopelessness of his situation because of his solution to his trouble, then he prays the beautiful words of verses 3 and 10.  Do we take these words upon our lips?  As we lie on our beds at night, do we think of God when we cannot sleep because of the worry that has descended upon us?  Both Psalms 55 and 56 give to the child of God great comfort and great hope in affliction. Sing Psalter 151.


March 5 Read Psalm 57.

As we can see from the title, David pens this psalm as he is fleeing from Saul.  It seems that he is trapped in the cave at Engedi with no hope of escape.  David does what we must all do when in trouble: we must turn to our God.  God is our refuge and strength; he will deliver us from any troubles in which we may find ourselves.  We also see the confidence that David has in God as he breaks forth in beautiful words of praise.  Are our hearts fixed on God?  Will we praise him with our whole being all the days of our lives? Sing Psalter 155.


March 6 Read Psalm 58.

Here we have one of the imprecatory psalms of David.  An imprecatory psalm is one in which God’s vengeance is called down upon the wicked.  David has felt the stings of the wicked in many forms.  In the psalms he uses many pictures to show God’s wrath coming upon those wicked.  Why did David use such a tactic?  Why may we read and pray such prayers?  The answer is found in the last few verses.  One reason is for our comfort as we battle Satan and his hosts.  The second is that so God’s name may be glorified by his acts of vengeance upon those who hurt his people. Sing Psalter 156.


March 7 Read Psalm 59.

We can divide this psalm into three parts.  The first is David’s announcement of enemies who would do him harm.  The second is his prayer to God for vengeance upon such enemies whom he sees as harming God’s church.  Finally, we see David rejoicing in God, who will care for him.  This Psalm is both messianic and imprecatory in nature.  God’s church has seen enemies since Cain killed Abel.  We must pray for help in fighting against those enemies, and then we must give thanks for God’s goodness in such help. Sing Psalter 157.


March 8 Read Psalm 60.

This psalm seems to have been written after David had become king.  Israel has gone through a period of departure from God and has had to be brought back to the truth, whose banner they must wave and carry into battle.  After winning many battles, they look to solidify their kingdom with a victory over Edom, that type of the reprobate.  David and Israel have learned to trust in God for help because man cannot provide help of his own doing.  May we carry the banner of truth in our battles against Satan and sin, and may we call upon God alone for help in fighting those battles. Sing Psalter 158.


March 9 Read Psalm 61.

Here we find the formula for the Christian in distress.  The first thing that must be done is turning to God in prayer.  We know that “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”  These prayers for deliverance must be repeated.  We cannot pray once and then hope that God will help us.  We must bring our needs to the throne of grace often.  We must “pray without ceasing.”  The basis of our prayers must be the work of God himself.  David brings to remembrance past mercies of God bestowed upon him.  Of course, the greatest of those mercies is the sacrifice of Christ for our sins.  Assured of an answer, we can look forward to lifting our voices to God in thanksgiving.  Let us pray and let us sing. Sing Psalter 159.


March 10 Read Psalm 62.

Twice in this psalm the child of God is exhorted to wait upon him.  This is not easy for us, especially in the busy world in which we live.  We expect instant answers to our questions.  We want instant solutions to our problems.  David had many questions and problems; he had to learn to wait on God for the answers and the solutions.  When we wait patiently, we find that we can trust Jehovah.  He will deliver us from all troubles.  The last verse can be applied two ways.  First, we can be patient because God will render to the wicked according to their ways.  Second, we must be diligent in seeking him because he will render to us according to our ways. Sing Psalter 161.