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Watching Daily At My Gates

Please note that these devotionals are designed to increase your familiarity with our Psalter. Your devotions will be greatly enhanced if you read the text and sing or read the corresponding Psalter number. I hope they can also be used in our schools with the children.

February 1 Read Psalm 5:7

Verse 7 completes the first part of this psalm which establishes the grounds for the approach of the mere man David to the sovereign and holy God. The title of Psalter #10 describes this verse well. Our knowledge of who God is compels every child of God to be mindful of redemption in Christ before speaking with our God. When we see ourselves cleansed from sin, when we consider the great mercy of God, then we come to God as a child who walks freely into the house of his father. There, in the house of God, in the consciousness of His love and fellowship, we humbly express our gratitude in thankful obedience and songs of praise. Sing Psalter #10:1.

February 2 Read Psalm 5:8

“Lead me in thy righteousness,…make thy way before me plain,” David prays and we sing in Psalters 9 and 10. This verse is summarized in the title of Psalter #9. It is dark, the eyes of the wicked, sin, and death glow all around him. David is afraid, but he knows God has established a path for him. David has come to the house of his heavenly Father to ask for help. The way of God for His children is the way of blessedness, the way of knowing God’s love and righteousness through the trials of life, the way that leads to heaven. Does sin stare back at you no matter which way you look? Do you need a guiding hand and light to shine on the path? Come to God in prayer. Meditate upon His word. Sing Psalter #9:3.

February 3 Read Psalm 5:9

Wicked to the core are those outside of Christ. You will not find a more graphic description of the wicked. These are first of all the words of Christ because He alone was without sin and surrounded by sinners. Paul quotes this verse when he describes the depraved nature of every man. “Their throat is an open sepulchre,…the poison of asps under their lips…mouth is full of cursing and bitterness…feet swift to shed blood…the way of peace have they not known…no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:13-18). But the elect are “justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (verse 24). Let us praise God for so great a salvation. Sing Psalter #10:2.

February 4 Read Psalm 5:10

Is it right for us to pray for the destruction of our enemies? Does not Christ exhort us to love our enemies and forgive them? Yes, we must forgive our enemies, but we can not forgive God’s enemies. We know our God to be the just judge of all the earth who will not let sin go unpunished. God must destroy “for against Thee and Thy law they have set themselves to fight.” Christ had to die because He took upon Himself the iniquity of His people. Open your Psalter and notice that the words of Psalter numbers 9-11 can all be sung with any of the three tunes. Try singing the second half of Psalter #10:1 with either 9 or 11.

February 5 Read Psalm 5:11

From death we turn again to life. The Psalms are full of the antithesis. From the putrid belching of throat sepulchres we turn to the refreshing sounds of the joyful shout and rejoicing. We enter again into the house and fellowship of our God and shut the door on the hellish snarling beasts without. God is our shelter and defense. In Him we put our trust. Whence springs this life out of death? Only in Christ who has crushed the head of the serpent and destroyed the power of death. Pray that God will strengthen your faith and put your trust in Him. There you will find peace and security. Sing Psalter #11:3.

February 6 Read Psalm 5:11

The last two and first three verses of this psalm are put together in Psalter #11 leaving out all the verses that speak of the wicked. Something very important is missing if we sing this number by itself because we need to know how great our sins and miseries are before we can find joy in salvation. One way to sing this whole psalm with some variety in tune is to begin with 11:1 and 2, then sing 9:2 and 3, 10:2, and finish with the beautiful words of 11:4. God’s grace and favor is a shield that completely surrounds us. No matter what accusations the enemy might fling at us, we can turn to God’s grace for an answer. When the enemy casts our own sins before us as proof that we also are forsaken of God, we find shelter in God’s grace and favor. That is the only explanation of our salvation.

February 7 Read Psalm 6:1

Does your spiritual life feel at times like a roller coaster? From the delightful fellowship within God’s house David now wallows in tears under the chastening hand of God. David reminds us of a small child who one minute plays happily, but the next, having strayed into mischief, cries out under the angry face and hard hand of his father. David has fallen into great sin, and now guilt wells up within as he hears the word of God by Nathan the prophet. David sees God’s face red with anger and can not stand it. David knows he deserves the wrath of God, but he wants the assurance that he is being chastened, not in anger, but in covenant love. Like Jeremiah, David wants to be corrected, but not in anger (Jer. 10:24). He wants some sign of God’s love, so he prays for healing. Sing Psalter 12:1.

February 8 Read Psalm 6:2

Sometimes guilt and shame so overwhelms us that we become physically ill. We may go through long periods of depression in which shame and sorrow press down until we can stand it no longer. The original may be read “I am one who droops.” His beauty and glory have faded like a withered flower. He is limp. Even his bones, the strength of his body, are vexed (shaken). Our Psalter reads “chastened sore I waste away.” Like a child having been chastened, he crumples to the ground, deflated, and sobbing. He is a physical wreak. May we also have the grace to humble ourselves before the rebuke of God, be it through the words of a brother or sister in the church, the preaching, or personal mediation upon the word of God. Sing Psalter #12:1.

February 9 Read Psalm 6:3

Words can hardly express the feelings of despair which fill the child of God who knows his guilt before God. “Sore vexed” means “violently shaken.” Jesus used the same expression in Matt. 26:38 when he said in the garden “my soul is exceeding sorrowful.” Our bodies may wilt under the afflictions of this earth, but when God’s love is hidden, then there is no more hope and our soul withers as well. David can sink no further, and so asks “O Jehovah, how long?” How long will it be before I see your face of love? Jesus cried out on the cross “my God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? These are the words of one cut off from covenant fellowship. Let us thank and praise God for sending His Son to take that guilt away. Sing Psalter #12:1.

February 10 Read Psalm 6:4, 5

Feeling as though God had forsaken him and left, David prays for His return. Nothing will revive his soul except the return of God, his Lord and Friend, to his side. Why should God return? Why come back to one who has despised you and trampled your name in the dirt? There is no reason apart from the mercy and love revealed in Christ. Mercy is to lift one who is low to a higher place. It is “loving-kindness” (Psalter). God is one who exalts the lowly. God has determined to reveal his attribute of mercy to the elect in Christ. In mercy, God has chosen his people from all eternity. God has so determined human life and the fall into sin that He demonstrates His mercy through our experiences of sin and guilt. David knows His covenant God and clings now to His mercy. He also expresses his desire to give thanks and praise once again to his God, something he is unable to do apart from God’s presence. Sing Psalter #12:2.

February 11 Read Psalm 6:6-7

Tears, tears, and more tears. Tears enough to make a bed swim and soak a couch. Tears that cause the eyes to swell, grow tired, and dim. The Lord who numbers the hairs of our head, also measures our tears in a bottle (Psalm 56:8). Not only does the child of God sorrow over sin, but in this weakened state, the wicked also mock and taunt “where now is the God in whom you trust? You are no better than the rest of us, God has forsaken you.” If it is not the wicked who salt our wounds of guilt, it is our own sinful nature that casts a shadow of doubt over our soul. They tempt us also to forsake God and find pleasure in sin. Weak and helpless in ourselves, we find our only strength in God. Sing Psalter #12:3

February 12 Read Psalm 6:8-10

Before his prayer is finished, God puts in David’s heart the assurance that the prayer is heard. It is one thing to confess our guilt and feeling of being forsaken, but it is quite another for the wicked to say that God has forsaken you. Though you may feel that God has forsaken you, God is really right there with you. Perhaps it takes the lies of the wicked to remind you of God’s true promises and cleansing in Christ. Three times David says “Jehovah has heard my prayer. “ God exposes their lies, and their accusations of guilt fall upon their own head. Sing Psalter #12:4.

February 13 Read Psalm 7

Have you suffered under slander? Someone whispers that you have done some shameful deed and soon your name wallows in the gutter. Slander is like poison, a deadly tool of the wicked. It makes even friends suspicious. In holy anger you can come only to God who knows the heart. This psalm is the response of David to the slander of Cush the Benjamite who stirred up Israel against David by saying that David was rebelling against Saul even though Saul had been good to David. The varied, jumpy style of this psalm in the original reflects the agitation of David. “Painful unrest, defiant self-confidence, triumphant ecstasy, calm trust, prophetic certainty – all these states of mind find expression in the irregular arrangement of the strophes of this Davidic dithyramb” (Keil & Delitzch 139). If anything, we should sing Psalter #13 with a fast tempo to convey the right mood.

February 14 Read Psalm 7:1-2

You know it is out there, but you can’t see it. Now and then you catch a glimpse of a shadow. You hear a noise, turn, and see nothing. You run, but footsteps follow even more closely. Any moment now, the enemy will make its final attack. With a paralyzing roar, it will leap and tear your soul to pieces. Such is the tension which builds within one who is the object of slander. Groups of friends hush when you draw near and then talk about the weather. You turn around and people look the other way. Some cast a furtive glance when you enter. With no one to trust, your soul is about to burst. To whom will you turn? Turn to Jehovah in prayer. Sing Psalter #13:1 “Jehovah my God, on Thy help I depend.” Pray also that you may never be one to slander your brother or sister in the Lord.

February 15 Read Psalm 7:3-5

An oath is a serious matter. The “selah” directs us to pause and consider this matter, the musical tone changes to accent this courageous confession. God is called upon to search whether or not your heart is true in all that you say. David cried out to Saul after he had left the cave and said to him “I have not sinned against thee; yet thou huntest my soul to take it. The Lord judge between me and thee, and the Lord avenge me of thee.” And Saul replied “Thou art more righteous than I: for thou hast rewarded me good, wheras I have rewarded thee evil” (1 Samuel 24:12, 17). Let us also take care that our actions are right and true before the eyes of God. Let us take care to live all of our life in Christ. Sing Psalter #13:2.

February 16 Read Psalm 7:6-7

Are we not roused up in anger when we hear about heartless hijackers shooting people pointblank, mothers who kill their unborn children, or kidnapers who snatch children from their homes? Do not we demand that such be punished? How much more is God angered when his creatures rebel against Him, hate one another, and persecute those whom He has redeemed and made His own children! Our God does not shrug His shoulders at injustice, He does not ignore the hatred and pride of man, He is angry with the wicked. He does not wring His hands in frustration, but He justly punishes the sinner with hell. There are few today who are willing to sing praises to this God of justice. Sing His praises in Psalter #13:3.

February 17 Read Psalter #13:4, Psalm 7:8

Who but Christ could ever say “judge me, O Jehovah, according to my righteousness, and according to mine integrity that is in me.” Yes, and that righteousness of Christ the Head is imputed to the church, His body. David speaks here as a type of Christ, and also as a saint who knows by faith that God’s own work of righteousness dwells within him. “As if a burning and shining candle should say, Judge me according to the flame which is upon me, that is, not that wherewith I am myself, but that whereby I shine enkindled of thee” (Augustine). Does your light also shine in the world? Let us also come boldly to the throne of grace and sing the words of this verse in Psalter #13:4.

February 18 Read Psalm 7:9, 10

“Establish the righteous” we sing. Build them up, make them strong and enduring. Build them up upon the solid rock of Christ like the wise man built his house which stood firm in the storm. The foolish man built his house of pride, haughty rebellion against God, persecution of the righteous, and wickedness upon the sands of disobedience. May that house come to ruin after it is built up as a lofty tower. Then at last we will be free from the fearful stalking and violent attacks of Satan. God will do this because he looks into the heart, and even to the reins (the seat of the emotions) of His people in Christ, and finds them to be pure. May you also find this confidence that your sins are cleansed. Put your trust in God, our shield and defense. Sing Psalter #13:5.

February 19 Read Psalm 7:11-16

Do we not find perfect justice in the story of wicked Haman’s death by the gallows which he made out of envy for righteous Mordecai? Such is the justice which David seeks for the wicked who persecute him. The wicked one who is pregnant with iniquity devotes all his energy to bring forth lies for the destruction of the truth. He digs a pit and carefully disguises it as innocence and truth so that the righteous may fall into it and be destroyed. But God who is sovereign over all things, even the wicked deeds of men, is angry with the wicked every day and will cause them to fall into their own pits of destruction. The cup of iniquity is not yet full, but God has sharpened His sword of judgment, and has bent His bow with the arrow ready. Except one repent, he will surely perish in the judgment. Stand in awe before our holy God and sing Psalter #13:5.

February 20 Read Psalm 7:17

The hard, bloody language of our righteous God is cause for singing in the heart of him who knows what sin is all about. We sing to our God who has revealed Himself as the almighty Judge, the gracious Deliverer, whose name is Jehovah, the covenant God who changes not and is forever. How could we know these depths of our God except in the way of sin and suffering in this life. Comforted that we belong to our faithful Savior Jesus Christ, we can live and die happily knowing how great our sins and miseries are, how we are delivered, and how to express our gratitude. Express your gratitude now and the rest of the day by singing Psalter #13:7.

February 21 Read Psalm 8

Are you weary of all the struggles with your sin and wicked men? God has provided an oasis which every child of God can visit and refresh himself, and forget for a while the troubles of this life. Step outside some cloudless night, or drive out into the country away from the city lights and look up at the moon and stars. Your jumbled thoughts will be drawn back into perspective. When David found this oasis, he was filled with delight and sang a joyful song to Jehovah. The heading of this Psalm recommends that this Psalm be accompanied by the Gittith, an instrument that gives forth a joyous sound. Our Psalter has two numbers for this Psalm entitled “The Name of the Lord,” and “God’s Glory in His Works.” These titles are fitting because this Psalm begins and ends exclaiming the excellency of God’s name, and that name is His glory revealed in His works. Sing Psalter #15:1.

February 22 Read Psalm 8:1

When we look at the stars at night, we see the glory of God. The glory of God is His beauty, honor, and majesty. We can also read the text “who hast covered the heavens with thy glory!” A poster has recently gone into print showing a nebula (beautiful cluster of stars and glowing gas) viewed through a powerful telescope. It is truly a majestic and glorious picture. This nebula looks like fingers of a hand and the poster is entitled “The Hand of God.” Man can find no other words to describe the beauty of the stars than words which point them to the very name of God. The name of God is His Being as He is revealed to us. God created those stars with His Word. He is infinite in power and wisdom and beauty. This is Jehovah, our covenant God, and Lord. With the whole church of God sing Psalter #14:1.

February 23 Read Psalm 8:2

The words of little children have power to silence the ungodly scientists who devote their lives to a study of the stars in the heavens but with high sounding learned words vehemently deny and fight against the truth of God’s glorious name. God is pleased to create victorious power for Himself out of the mouths of children that confess His name. God hath chosen that which is foolish and weak in the eyes of the world to put to shame the wise and that which is strong. While the scientist next door pours over data late into the night using million dollar equipment and supercomputers, may the light sweet voice of our children singing this Psalm as they look out their bedroom window at the stars drift into his ears and reveal the answer. With childlike faith sing Psalter #14:2.

February 24 Read Psalm 8:3-4

As we look at the stars and begin to consider their great number, distance, and magnitude, then we begin to feel how small we are. All the thoughts of pride which had lifted you up throughout the day and roused up feelings of anger when others looked down upon you begin to bring shame to your soul. I am nothing! I am but a speck of dust in this big universe! And, even more astounding, the glorious God Whose name I see exalted high above all creation, is always thinking about me with fatherly love and remembering me! God’s love for me and my salvation is really the only thing that is important. All the petty little worries and squabbles melt away in this wonderful oasis. Sing Psalter #15:2 & 14:3, 4.

February 25 Read Psalm 8:5

Yes, God is mindful of His people. He never forsook them throughout the Old Testament and in the time appointed, sent His Son to visit and redeem us for heavenly glory. Though very small and frail in the vast creation, God created man in His image so that he could enter into covenant fellowship with Him. Our Psalter interprets the words “lower than the angels” in terms of God giving His wisdom to man and power that is nearly divine. God has crowned man as king with glory and honor. David is thinking of the position that Adam was given in Paradise in light of God’s promise that man will be exalted to an even more glorious state in the coming Redeemer (cf. Hebrews 2:6-8). “Man” in this text refers to the church which is composed of men and women from every tribe, tongue, and nation. That is why the Psalm begins with “O LORD our Lord.” This is the song of the church. Let us sing Psalter #14:5.

February 26 Read Psalm 8:6-8

Not only does man have an exalted position in relation to God, man is also given dominion over all creation. When God created the world, He made all things ready for man before creating man and placing him in the creation. The vast expanse of the stars in heaven was made for man. Man is so small and insignificant, yet at the same time he is created to enter into fellowship with God. This incomprehensible wonder only points us to our God and the glory of His name. The magnitude of the universe which was created for man is a picture of the overflowing abundance of grace which God has for His people. Humble yourself before God and with a thankful heart sing Psalter #14:6.

February 27 Read 1 Cor. 15:25-27, cf. Eph. 1:22

We do not always feel like kings of creation. Man does not have dominion, glory, and honor of himself. We are nothing in ourselves. Our honor, glory, and dominion comes only in connection with God being mindful of us and visiting us. David sang Psalm 8 in the hope of God’s promise. We sing it knowing that God has fulfilled His promise in Christ. Christ, who has destroyed death does have glory, honor, and dominion over all things. We have a beginning of this glory and dominion on this earth when we fight against sin and by God’s grace draw closer to Him. When the church is taken to heaven, then we will have this glory and dominion in full. Do you long for that day? Sing Psalter #15:3.

February 28 Read Psalm 8:9

The Psalm ends with the same words found in verse one “O Jehovah our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth.” John Calvin writes in his commentary “The sum is this: God, in creating man, gave a demonstration of his infinite grace and more than fatherly love towards him.” When God reveals His grace and love in Christ to His elect children, we can do nothing but praise Him. Our praise for God must arise out of a correct understanding of His grace and love. There is nothing worthy of praise in a grace that is powerless to save or a love that is powerless to draw the children of God irresistibly. Thank God that He has given unto us faithful preachers who preach the truth of sovereign grace. Sing Psalter #14:7.