The Song of Zion
“A Psalter–Psalm Devotional of Praise to Our Sovereign Covenant God”
July 16 Read Psalm 65
Psalm 65:11-13 We come to the end of this Psalm of praise to our God. We have seen many truths found in it. None is so precious to us than the truth of our salvation. We find this in these last verses as the harvest is discussed. The harvest comes at the end of time and God by his servants will gather the elect and bring them to glory. This truth should and must cause us to be joyful. It should help us be joyful when the way in which God leads us is hard and rocky. It should cause us to be joyful when the wicked seek to do us harm. We need to express the joy of our salvation to those who are around us. Our neighbors must know by our lives that we are indeed the blessed happy ones who have been chosen by God and redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. People of God are you shouting for joy; are you singing God’s praises? Sing Psalters 167: 3-4, 169:2-3, and 171:3.
July 17 Read Psalm 66
Psalm 66:1-2 Once again we have a song of praise before us. Once more we are called to make a joyful noise to our mighty God. The content of our songs are directed as well in these verses. We must only sing songs which proclaim the honor of God’s name. As we examine songs we hear in the church world today we see many kinds. We see those that proclaim a gospel other than that found in the Word of God. We find those that extol man and his glory. We find others which trivialize God and his attributes. These kinds of songs we may not use to worship God either in church or in our daily life. Our songs must only be those which extol the honor of God’s name and his works. Our praise of him must be glorious because he is the God of all glory. Songs about God are numerous. The number of songs which glorify God is less. Let us be discerning as we sing songs of praise and glory to the honor of God’s name. Sing Psalter 173:1.
July 18 Read Daniel 4:28-37
Psalm 66:3 This verse continues to show to us what the content of the praise of our God should be. It shows us that our God is so majestic that even the heathen must confess that he is God alone. In our Scripture reading today we see Nebuchadnezzar being forced to confess that Jehovah is God. He did not want to do it. It was not of himself that he said the words of Daniel 4. But even this great king saw that God alone was God of heaven and earth. What about us? Are our confessions forced? I hope not! I hope that by grace we can look at the wonders of God and be able to confess his greatness. Let us pray for that grace. Sing Psalter 173:2.
July 19 Read Isaiah 24:1-14
Psalm 66:4 The fact found in this verse of Psalm 66 and in the passage from Isaiah is that the world will worship and sing unto God. How is this possible? It is only possible as the gospel is spread throughout the world. God commanded the church in Acts 1 to preach to the uttermost parts of the earth. We are part of God’s church. This is our calling. Are we listening for calls for help? Are we looking to find the neighbor who needs the truths that God has given to us? It is easy for us to say all the world must praise God. Is it easy for us to know that God may and will use us to bring the gospel of his name to them? Let us make this part of our prayers today. Let us want to have God’s name spread to the four corners of the earth, and especially let us want those distinctive truths with which he has so graciously entrusted us, to be spread to all lands. Sing Psalter 173:3.
July 20 Read Revelation 7:9-17
Psalm 66:5 The Psalms are replete with commands for the child of God. Here is another one. We are commanded to come and see the works of the Lord. Yesterday we were called to the house of God. Did you go? Were you blessed with the goodness of the Lord in his house? We are also commanded to look around this world and see what God is doing. John was given a glimpse of the future while on the island of Patmos. We are given to see that activity and terrible works of God as we look for the day of Christ’s return. Even as I write this two months in advance, I am sure that something will happen in the world which should cause us to stop and notice the work of God upon man. Are you watching, people of God? Are you listening to what God is telling you through his works? Sing Psalter 173:4.
July 21 Read Exodus 14:21-31
Psalm 66:6 One of the reasons for the manner of the deliverance of the children of Israel from the Egyptians was for instruction. God’s people then were to learn from his marvelous ways so that they could rejoice in him. We, too, must learn from Israel’s journey through the Red Sea. We must know the history involved, and this means we must study. We must also seek to see God’s purpose in such a deliverance. Egypt did not learn through ten plagues upon its land. They still did not see God as God. There was no grace for them to do this. In Israel there were those who were hard-hearted and were not ready to confess that God was the I AM. Even in the church of today there are those who need this kind of instruction so that they can learn to rejoice in the God of our salvation. Are we studying? Are we learning? Are we rejoicing? Sing Psalter 173:5.
July 22 Read Acts 4:23-31
Psalm 66:7 God’s people have faced troublous times ever since sin entered this world. Abel had to undergo the torments of Cain and was eventually killed by Cain. Enoch was taken by God even as he preached the Word to the wicked world. Noah preached as he built the ark. This list goes on and on. The Scripture passage for today speaks of the persecution brought upon the early church. After Peter and John had been released from prison and returned to the church, they gave thanks for the deliverance that God had given them from the wicked. We, too, either are or will be oppressed by those that hate God. They are rebellious against him and his people. But we need not fear. God sees all those and he will protect us and bring us safely through each trial and tribulation that comes upon us. Sing Psalter 173:6.
July 23 Read Genesis 39:1-6
Psalm 66:8-9 Joseph must have felt very alone in Egypt. He had no one to turn to except God. But God was all he needed. God would not let Joseph’s soul be moved by any wickedness in Egypt. God would keep his feet on the path of life which would take him to heaven. We know little of Joseph’s worship except that he must have worshipped. This can be ascertained by his responses to his brothers when he revealed himself to them. Joseph must have blessed God daily and praised him for the strength that God gave him during his trying times. We can trust that God as well. He is our God. He will keep our souls and not allow our feet to be moved. Each day let us bless him and thank him for the goodness he has shown to us. Sing Psalter 175:1.
July 24 Read I Thessalonians 2:1-12
Psalm 66:10-12 These verses are a continuation of the way in which God leads his people. That way often contains many trials which afflict both our bodies and souls. He sometimes leads us on the way of sickness. Some of God’s people are riddled with cancer or some other disease. This takes faith to realize that it is for our profit. Others have trials of financial hardship. Some live in countries where the government is hostile toward God and his cause. Through these trials God refines his people even as a metal smith refines metal by the fire of the forge. God does not let us pass through these trials alone. No, he is right there by our sides taking us through these things and bringing us safely to the heavenly Jerusalem. We need to remember these things even as we lie on the sick bed, or we attend to the dying friend or relative. This is for our profit and for God’s glory. Sing Psalter 174:1.
July 25 Read Micah 6:6-16
Psalm 66:13-15 Tomorrow we go to church. That should give us great pleasure. What will be our attitude toward going to church and keeping the Sabbath. Are we desirous of those who use the Sabbath for their benefit and pleasure. Are we unhappy when we worship in the way God has commanded us? If we are, we have already forgotten the deliverance he has given to us in trials. We have forgotten all the benefits he has bestowed upon us starting with salvation and including physical good. Worship is a time of speaking well of our God. It is a time of bowing before our sovereign King in humble submission. God is the God who keeps us from all evil. How will we thank him tomorrow? David speaks often about worship in the Psalms. It must have weighed heavily upon his soul. Does it weigh upon ours? Are we content to worship the king in the way he has appointed? Sing the second stanzas of Psalters 174 and 175.
July 26 Read I Timothy 1:12-17
Psalm 66:16-17 How many of us can tell the story of our salvation like the apostle Paul? How many of us were murderers of God’s covenant people and became ministers of the gospel? Paul had quite a story to tell. So do we. Oh, outwardly we might not seem as bad as Paul, but our natures are the same. We would kill if we saw it would be for our benefit except God’s grace prevent us. We have a story to tell of our salvation. Do we tell it? Or do we hide the glorious truth of the gospel? What do your neighbors know about your church attendance today? Have you forgone some pleasure today in order to keep the fourth commandment? David was glad to tell of all that God had done for him. So was Paul. Are we? Sing Psalter 175:3.
July 27 Read Jonah 2
Psalm 66:18-19 I never tire of reading Jonah 2. I pray that I may be able to pray such a beautiful prayer of gratitude when God delivers me from my sin. I hope that I do not have to go through the depths that Jonah did. But if I do, I pray that God will be as gracious to me as he was to Jonah. God does hear our prayers. He also answers them. His answers may not be our wishes, but his answers will be good for us. Of that I am confident. As we begin another week of work let us put aside the sin that besets us. Let us go to God in prayer knowing that he will hear us and will answer us. His answer will be good and will be a blessing for us. Sing Psalter 174:3
July 28 Read Psalm 66
Psalm 66:20 We come to the end of this Psalm of praise. The psalmist has taken us through life’s trials, he has shown us our sin, and he has made known that deliverance is only by the hand of God. He ends the Psalm as he begins it. He praises God. Do we do that? Today is a week day. Do we remember that this is also a day that God has made? Do we remember that we are to rejoice and be glad in it for his sake? David could praise God because he had tasted of God’s goodness. Look around you, people of God, most of us must realize that we have more that we need. All of us must praise God for the realization of our salvation. Praising God must come easy to us no matter what our station and calling in this life is. Praise God, people of God. Praise him, young people. He has done wonderful things for us. Sing the fourth stanzas of Psalters 174 and 175.
July 29 Read Psalm 67
Psalm 67:1-2 Verse 1 makes a statement of desire. This should be the desire of all God’s people. We must desire the mercy, blessing, and favor of God. We need these things. The reason is given in the second verse. The reason is very different than what we might expect. We might think we need God’s favor in order to prosper or to endure upon this earth. We may even think that we need his favor for our salvation. This is true, but it is not the reason given here. We need God’s favor so that his name may be known through out the earth. This must be done so that Christ will come. This gives to us the impetus for mission work. Are we answering the call? Do we desire Jehovah’s favor so that we can spread his name to the four corners of the earth? We need to ponder this idea and respond to it so that God’s Name will be magnified. Sing the first stanza of Psalters 176, 177, and 178.
July 30 Read Matthew 25:31-46.
Psalm 67:3-5 Praising God seems like a good thing to do, doesn’t it? It even seems like it could be pretty easy to do most of the time. Singing for joy can be very enjoyable to the people of God. Think of the pleasure we get from hearing or singing some of the majestic songs of God. Do we sing for joy because God is coming as our judge? True, we know that he will judge the wicked, and this brings us much comfort, especially those of us who have to face persecution from the wicked. How ready are we to face our judge? How confident are we of hearing, “Well done thou good and faithful servant?” Will it be said of us that because we have helped the least of these we have helped Christ? Our praises can only be praises when our actions match the words that we sing. Sing the second stanza of Psalters 176 and 177 and stanzas 2 and 3 of Psalter 178.
July 31 Read Revelation 19:1-9
Psalm 67:6-7 What is the final outcome of our praising God in a proper way and with a proper heart? God will bless us. I am sure that this blessing is both physical and spiritual. Oh, we do not look on physical things the way the Old Testament saint had to. Christ has come and has fulfilled all of those ideas. But yet our life on this earth is affected by our attitude toward God and his commands. He also blesses us spiritually in this life. We receive comfort from reading and hearing God’s word. We also feel the assurance that our prayers have reached his ears. We also read that the ends of the earth will fear God. We saw this was a reason for the expressions found in the first verse of this Psalm. God wants his gospel to go forth and it will by way of God’s people bringing proper praise to their maker. Is this our prayer and desire? Sing the third stanza of Psalters 176 and 177 and stanza four of Psalter 178.
Devotional by Skip Hunter
Reprinted from August 1998.
Watching Daily At My Gates
The Song of Zion
“A Psalter–Psalm Devotional of Praise to Our Sovereign Covenant God”
August 1 Read Psalm 68:1-14
Psalm 68:1-2 One source says that this is a prayer at the moving of the ark. These first verses seem to indicate this as they parallel the words in Numbers 10:33-36. David moved the ark into Jerusalem soon after he became king. He wanted this symbol of God’s presence close to him and the center of his kingdom. It is a prayer they we need to consider even as God’s enemies make war on the church today and in the days to come. It seems as we are at peace, but it is a false peace. Satan is preparing his forces to wage all out war against God and his church. Let us prepare for such war by arming ourselves with the Sword of the Spirit. Let us include in our daily prayers the request that God destroy his enemies. With this prayer we also pray “Thy kingdom come.” Sing Psalter 179:1.
August 2 Read I Thessalonians 5:16-28
Psalm 68:3 Today’s verse stands in contrast with those of yesterday. We see this first of all by the word but with which the verse begins. We also see the contrast in the content of the materials. While God’s enemies are being destroyed, the righteous are rejoicing. Why is this the case? We rejoice not at the destruction of those who make our life miserable. That can never be the source of any exultation on our part. Our rejoicing is that God’s enemies are destroyed! By this destruction his name is glorified. He receives all power, and glory, and strength because he is God. We must rejoice in his exaltation. Today is his day. There is no better day to rejoice in God’s greatness. We must use this day for his good. We must never take this day for our pleasure or advancement. To do that is to despise the glory of the Lord. We need this admonition in this day and age. We easily fall in the trap of using Sunday for our own good. Let God’s name be exalted and let it be done all the day. Sing Psalter 179:1.
August 3 Read Revelation 5:1-14
Psalm 68:4 This verse gives to us the manner in which we are to be glad and rejoice before God. We are to do it by singing. The verse also gives the content of such singing. We are to extol the God of the heavens and earth. We are to make sure that his greatness permeates every word of the songs that we sing in praise to his name. We see the word JAH in the verse. According to my research this is an abbreviation of God’s covenant name Jehovah. Therefore our songs are not just about any god, they are about and for the God who has called us by name and has promised to us eternal life. This is a precious heritage. We must sing about it daily. Our songs serve to glorify him and to thank him for the wonderful work of salvation which he has done for us. Let us sing to Jehovah our God! Sing Psalter 179:2.
August 4 Read I Kings 17:17-24
Psalm 68:5 If it is not enough that our God is creator of all things, if it is not enough that our God is sovereign over all that occurs on this earth, if it is not enough that our God has established a gracious covenant with us, our God cares for those in distress. We see in this verse this typified in widows and orphans. A widow’s lot was very difficult in Israel. This was so because man’s sin caused him to disobey God’s commands concerning widows. If you are distressed in this life, do not despair. God is on your side. He hears your prayers in heaven. Pray to him. Cast your burdens upon him. Call upon his holy name in heaven. He will hear you. He will judge your cause and do it righteously. Cast your cares upon God for he whose eye is on the sparrow cares for you. Sing Psalter 179:3.
August 5 Read Obadiah 1-9
Psalm 68:6 We will be reading this short book during this month. For some of us it might be the first time. There are some thoughts which we would do well to contemplate and take to heart. Edom, Esau’s ancestors, were a constant thorn in the flesh to Israel. It was Edom who formed the cheering section as Babylon destroyed Jerusalem and took Israel into captivity. It was Edom’s lot to live in the dry wilderness southeast of Israel. It was his lot precisely because of whom he was. Esau is the epitome of the reprobate. It is of Edom that God says he hates them. It was Edom through Esau who sold the birthright blessing. Rebellious Edom was sentenced to live in a dry land. It was dry physically, but it was also dry spiritually. Edom serves in contrast to the people of God. God’s people have the blessedness of covenant communion with God and each other. God’s people have been redeemed from the confinement of sin. For this we must be thankful. We can do this even as we pray the prayer of this Psalm. Sing Psalter 179:4.
August 6 Read Numbers 10:33-36
Psalm 68:7 This verse is linked to verse 8. David confesses that it was God who led Israel through the wilderness. It was God that was its leader and guide. Today’s reading was alluded to earlier this month. This small ceremony took place every time Israel moved at God’s command. It is worthwhile that we too realize that God is our leader and guide. Decisions made about our futures must only be made after calling upon Jehovah. As our college-age young people prepare for the coming year, they must see that career decisions must only be made in accordance to God’s will. They and their parents must call upon his name before they make plans for the future. Fathers must ask God to go before them as they lead their families down life’s paths. People of God, do you confess God as your leader? Then call upon him daily to guide you and obey his commands. Sing Psalter 180:1.
August 7 Read Habakkuk 3:1-13
Psalm 68:8 At the close of the previous verse the word Selah is found in our Bibles. It is thought that this word was used to indicate a pause or musical interlude. The next thought of David is that as God led Israel the whole earth trembled at his majesty. Even Mt. Sinai acknowledged that the Lord he is God. God’s presence going before us is an awesome force. Nothing can stand in his way. We must acknowledge his presence in our lives. We do this by going to him in prayer. We do this by reading and meditating upon his word. We do this by singing and listening to the songs of Zion. And after doing all these things, we obey him. The heavens, the earth, and even mountains obey the sovereign God. We must as well. Sing Psalter 180:1.
August 8 Read James 5:7-11
Psalm 68:9 Those of us who live in areas in which rain or the lack of it is significant can understand this verse of Scripture very well. As Israel lived in an area in which rain was intermittent at best, they, too, could understand God’s message to them. As they lived in the time of types and shadows, rain was a very clear picture of God’s blessing. They needed both the early and latter rain to insure the success of their crops. When the time without rain stretched longer and longer the people began to weary of life. When God sent that needed rain, Israel was reassured that their God was Jehovah. While we no longer live in the time of the types and shadows, we still need the blessing of Jehovah. Periods of times without the sense of that blessing may weary us. Receiving that blessing helps to confirm us in knowing that we are God’s inheritance. Let us pray for spiritual rain to refresh our lives. Sing Psalter 180:2.
August 9 Read John 12:1-8
Psalm 68:10 These words are fitting for us to consider on this Lord’s Day. Most of us have opportunity to contribute to the cause of the care of the poor. With what attitude are we giving today? Are we like the widow who gave her all, or are we like the Pharisee who gave so that all could see him? God cares for the poor. He cares for them both spiritually and physically. He has prepared for us poor sinners a place in his inheritance. What is our expression of gratitude for such a place? Are we giving from the heart? Let us examine our giving in this day. Let us look at both the gift and the motive. We must remember what God has given us and then thank him from whom all blessings flows. Sing Psalter 180:2.
August 10 Read John 1:1-14
Psalm 68:11 The Word is a wonderful thing. It is the speech of God. He has revealed it to us in his Son. We have it written for us in the inspired Scriptures. That Word is powerful. Scripture testifies that it is sharper than a two-edged sword. By that Word the worlds were created. By that Word salvation was wrought for the elect. Are you among the company of those who publish that word? Do you speak of those things which you heard in the house of God yesterday? The minister is not the only one commanded to speak the Word of God. He is ordained to office of ministry. One of the important callings of that office is to speak that Word officially on the Sabbath. But all of God’s people have the office of all believers. One of the important callings of that office is to speak the Word day in and day out. Are you speaking the Word? Sing Psalter 180:3.
August 11 Read Judges 4:10-17
Psalm 68:12 One of our thoughts yesterday was that God’s Word is powerful. Reading through Israel’s history will give much evidence of that fact. Our verse for today talks about kings fleeing. It was very evident to Israel and should be evident to us that it was by God’s Word that this was accomplished. Today our enemies will flee at the use of God’s Word. Jesus showed us the way as He answered the devil with the Word. We must learn that Word so that we can be ready to answer all those who oppose us. There is reward for faithful Bible study. It will not be the physical rewards that Israel received, but it will be the spiritual blessing of those who conquer God’s and their enemies by using the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. Sing Psalter 180:4.
August 12 Read Psalm 68:1-14
Psalm 68:13-14 These verses need some research in order to decipher the various expressions found in them. I will leave that for you to do. Maybe that will be a good Sabbath day exercise? The thrust of the verse, however, is that it was only by the power of Jehovah that Israel was successful in its battles with the wicked kings. There were times in which it looked as if there was no hope, but then Israel won. Think of the battle of Ai. Because of sin Israel lost. But when God was acknowledged as God, they were victorious over their enemies. We must ponder and take these truths to heart. We must put the truth that God is God into action in our lives. God will not be pleased with a life that ignores him and his decrees. Daily we need to pray for guidance in this matter. If we leave God and his commands out of our lives, he will leave us. For the child of God he will return, but often he will return in the way of chastisement. Think on these things, people of God. Keep God and his decrees at the forefront of your lives and thoughts. Sing Psalter 180:5.
August 13 Read Psalm 68:15-27
Psalm 68:15 David begins a new section with this verse. He speaks of the hill of God. This hill is Zion. This is the place where Abraham offered up Isaac. This is the place where the angel of death stopped during the plague punishing David and Israel for the sin of numbering the people. The hill of Bashan was reported to be one of fertile lands and beautiful scenery. Spiritually Zion, the church, is fertile and beautiful. David moved the ark to this place because he wanted the symbol of God’s presence found on this place. Is the church a beautiful place for us? Do we long to enter its doors? It is beautiful because God is there. Let us look forward to our day of worship in that place. Sing Psalter 180:6.
August 14 Read Psalm 24
Psalm 68:16 David continues his discussion on the hill of God. There are those who look down upon the church. They say there is salvation in other ways and in other religions. There are those who say that salvation does not necessarily have to come through the blood of the Lamb. Some want to disregard the idea of the church as the body of Christ, and they wish to worship in other places or in other ways than he has commanded. This verse tells us that God has chosen Zion in which to dwell. God has ordained the place and manner of worship. Even when those around us tell us that to worship in the God-ordained way is not necessary, we must remember that God desires to dwell in Zion. Sing Psalter 180:6.
August 15 Read II Kings 6:8-18
Psalm 68:17 The world likes to boast in numbers. They look at the size of their armies and the numbers of their weapons. The rich man likes to boast of the amount of his wealth. We could add much to this list of the abundance of things. We, too, fall into this sin. We either think that because we have a multitude of something we will prosper, or we despair because we see nothing but trouble ahead of us. Scripture, in countless places, speaks of the multitudes of God’s angels. These angels watch over and protect his church. They sang at creation, they witnessed the giving of the law at Sinai, and they rejoiced over the death and resurrection of Christ. They await the day in which God brings all the church together into heaven. Do not despair, people of God. He has given his angels charge over us, and they will keep us even unto the end. Sing Psalter 180:7.