“Make Thy way straight before my face.”

Ps 5:8

One could easily paraphrase this verse to say, ”Frustrate what I am planning to do and You take over. I don’t only need help, I need change.” The old religious verse”, Help me every day to be, just a little more like Thee”, has no basis in the Psalms, or even in the rest of Scripture. The Scriptures make it clear that as human beings we are by nature sinful and unclean and that we daily sin against our Lord by thought, word and deed. What we need is not help but a complete transformation. Is that not what we reaffirm each Sunday when we pray in church, “Create in me a clean heart, O God?” The heart that God gives is His creation, not ours.

What about that fact that you and I are Christians? Do not we, as Christians, need help to lead a more perfect life? We need more than help, we need a new life. In fact, the more the Scriptures teach us about the virtues of Christianity, the more glaring our faults and shortcomings become. Our need for renewal is emphasized by the fact, that because of our basic evil nature, we do not have the power to improve ourselves. A new life of faith is nothing we can accomplish, but is purely the work of God’s Holy Spirit.

How does the Spirit renew our faith? The Spirit does not jump out of heaven in response to our prayer. The Spirit works through the Word of God. It is through the Word of God that the Spirit points out our faults by telling us, “Don’t lust, don’t cheat, don’t lie, don’t deceive, and don’t commit adultery”. We, in turn, look to the forgiving love of the Lord God and say, “For Jesus’ sake, forgive me”. That is called repentance, and that will go on as long as we live.

If we are to grow in faith, we need a life of repentance, for without repentance there is not even the chance of Christian life. Each time the Spirit moves us to regret the urgings of our evil nature and to look to Jesus for forgiveness, our thankfulness to the Lord for His undeserved mercy is increased. And this is something people can see! Thankfulness shows itself in our Christian behavior, in what we say and think and do. You see, it is all God’s work, not ours. How much, then, do we not want to pray with the Psalmist, “Make Thy way straight before my face”.


“Whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” Ps 1:4

What an unbelievable promise! In Psalm 37 the Psalmist expresses this promise this way: “Commit thy way unto the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.” To whom does our Lord make this promise? Not to the self-righteous who would trade off their good works for God’s favor, or to some exalted saint, but to His humble children whom Dr. Luther taught to pray, “For into Thy hands I commend my body and soul and all things.” He makes this promise to the child of God whose “way” is based on the word of His heavenly Father. In seminary dogmatics this is called a promise of grace, not something we deserve, but something God out of his immeasurable love for his children does for them.

Though the Lord promises us prosperity, He no where promises that our lives will be easy. The “way of the righteous” always draws the scorn and ill will of the world. It is an up-hill battle. But the victory is assured. “Many are the afflictions of the righteous,” says the Psalmist, “but the Lord delivereth him from them all.” For the Lord, out of His love and mercy, in spite of apparent adversity, grants prosperity.

An excellent example of this promise in Scripture is King Hezekiah “And Hezekiah prospered in all his works”. Hezekiah’s life was not easy. Against unbelievable odds, he reformed the clergy, cleaned up the morals of the country and took on in battle the greatest power of his age, Sennacherib, king of Assyria. Hezekiah’s “way” was based on the word of His Lord, and did he prosper!—“exceeding much riches and honor…for God had given him substance very much” says the Scripture.

What an unbelievable promise! Whatever you set out to do will work out for you. The student and his school work, the mother and her home making, the worker and his job, the employer and his business. This is not an idle promise like the promises you receive in the mail that are not worth the paper they are printed on. This is a promise from the Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ, who has all power in heaven and earth. God says, “Trust me, it will happen!”


“Make Thy way straight before my face.”

Ps 5:8b

There is no doubt in any believer’s mind what God’s way is! We do not have to be told that God wants us to love each other, to be kind and gentle, to be faithful and in control of our lives. We know that already. In fact, if we were all these things, there would be no need for the Ten Commandments. When the Psalmist said, “Make Thy way straight before my face,” his problem was not that he did not know what God’s way was. His problem was that he could not do it!

This is also your problem and mine. Because of our inborn sinful nature, we have a way of our own. Immorality comes a lot easier than sexual purity; envy and hate far precede love; anger and fighting seem to always take the place of kindness and gentleness. If anyone needs to petition the Lord to lead us on the straight and narrow way, we do!

I think it is clear that there is a conflict between our way and God’s way, something that St. Paul calls the conflict between the flesh and the Spirit. It is the Spirit that brings us to faith in Jesus Christ. It is the Spirit that gives us a clean conscience, and makes us sure we are going to heaven because our sins our forgiven. In this Psalm-verse we pray that the same Spirit that forgives us, would also take over our lives. We are asking the Spirit to keep us from doing the very things from which we have been forgiven.

When we pray, “Lord, make your way straight before my face,” we are asking our Lord to keep our eyes focused on the way of the Spirit. We asking Him to constantly remind us of the wonderful life God gives through His Spirit, and to supply the strength through the Gospel to live it. For the degree to which we are led by the Spirit, is the degree to which we will not carry out the desires of our flesh.


”For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous”

Ps 1:6

It is with the greatest awe and respect that we speak of the mind of a God that knows all! He knows what everybody is thinking; He knows the whereabouts and destiny of every creature on earth; He knows the forces of nature and the weather from now until the end of time. People of every age have tried to penetrate the mind of God, some by using ungodly means—witches, exorcists, and false prophets. They desperately want to find out what the future holds for them.

The believer knows what the future holds for him. First and foremost, he knows that he is a chosen child of God for Jesus’ sake destined for eternal life. He also knows that the world is winding down like a huge clock, destined to be destroyed by fire. He knows that mankind will see an increase in wars and rumors of war and moral depravity on an unheard of scale. He knows these things because God revealed them in His word. These are things we need to know to sustain us on our way to heaven.

Specific events in the future God has not revealed. As a matter of fact, would we really want to know what is going to happen to us tomorrow or the day after that? About this our Savior says: “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” But He says something else, too: “Seek first the kingdom of God.” We do not know what evil lies ahead, but we do know that our Lord is always present to keep us in His care.

That is the magnificent truth of this Psalm-verse: the Lord knows the way of His children. We do not have to consult witches and fortune tellers because our future is in the hands of God. We do not have to worry about the problems that lie ahead in our lives because our Lord will deliver us from them all, as the Psalmist says in another place, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivereth him from them all.” May we commend ourselves, body and soul, to the gracious care of our Lord, fully confident that there is no more secure place to be.


“My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.”

Ps 5:3

This Psalm verse is a tremendous encouragement for you and me to begin our day with prayer. When we visited grandpa on the farm over 50 years ago, we joined in his daily devotion just before breakfast every morning. Dr. Luther considered it important enough for us to start the day with prayer that he wrote us a special Morning Prayer.

The temptations and problems of daily life are so great that it is almost unthinkable that we would want to take on the new day without committing ourselves body and soul to the gracious care and direction of our Lord. I am afraid, however, that beginning each day with prayer is more of an ideal than anything else. The simple problem of getting out of bed joined with the mad scramble to get dressed and eat and go about our work leaves little time for prayer. It is not that we feel prayer is unimportant; it is just that we feel we do not have time!

What greater encouragement, then, can we find than the words of the Psalmist: “my voice shalt Thou hear in the morning, O Lord.” The Lord is listening. He is ready to hear. He is waiting to be asked. He is on hand to guide our lives in the very best way. “Just ask,” He says, “Ask Me directly. For My Son’s sake I have made you My children and I will do anything for you!”

Think of it! With a Lord like this, we can face each new day with an uplifted spirit. We can look up because we can trust Him to solve our problems. Isn’t that why we have problems? The Lord does not permit us troublesome situations so that we go around with a sad and downcast face. He permits the trials in our lives so that our faith has an opportunity to grow. Trials will never cease for the simple reason that perfect trust is never possible, but we can look up. By His Holy Spirit our Lord gives us the strength to smile through the tears and cheerfully look forward to the final deliverance from this vale of tears.


“For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous; but the way of the ungodly shall perish.” Ps 1:6

Is there a difference? Is it really “either-or?” Is there not a gray area? It is easy enough to identify the way of the grossly ungodly; the first verse of this Psalm does that. These are people whose lives are not governed by the Word of God, whose advice is wrong, whose language is foul, and whose idea of “fun” is to do that which is sinful. But what about those who do not have faith in the Savior, but who seem to do the right thing, whose language is clean and who are diligent and hard working. Are they ungodly?

Anyone who has not come to know Jesus as his Savior from sin is ungodly in the eyes of the Lord. Our Savior makes that clear when He tells us: “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life,” and again, He that honoreth not the Son, honoreth not the Father.” Those who do not honor God’s Son cannot honor God. O yes, a pious life is a wonderful thing and earns many blessings in this life, but it has no promise of everlasting life in heaven. There is a life and death difference between the child of God and the unbeliever.

Is that difference apparent in our lives? The Lord not only knows the righteous and the ungodly, but also the way in which they live. Our religion is more than talking about it and it is more than going to church. It is a way of life. What we say and what we do is a reflection of our faith. It is a sad commentary on our personal faith, however, if the way we live is no different than the world about us. If our language is as foul as that of the world, it means there is something wrong inside, “for out of the heart the mouth speaketh.” If we join the world in its immoral behavior, if we take part in its drunkenness and sexual immorality and defiance of authority, what sort of statement we are making about our faith? St. James reminds us that “the friendship of the world is enmity with God.”

One of the greatest dangers facing the believer is conformity to the thinking and behavior of the world, a danger from which not one of us is exempt. It is so hard to be different, but unless we are, there will be no difference. It is to fortify us in our struggle that the Psalmist reminds us of the help of the Lord, “The Lord knoweth the way of the righteous.” Our Lord knows our way and He recognizes our weaknesses. He does not cast us out, but promises us repentant sinners forgiveness through His Son. With forgiveness He gives us every other spiritual blessing: peace, contentment, and the hope of everlasting life. Is this not the greatest difference of all?


Give ear to my words, O Lord. Consider

my meditation. Ps 5:1

What is meditation? To meditate means to think about what things mean. Ever since there were philosophers, men meditated on life: “What does it mean?” “What are its purposes?”, “What are its values?” For all their meditation, they never could or did arrive at real meanings.

Today we ask our Lord to consider our meditations, but why should He? Namely, because our meditations are based on His Word. Spiritual meditation is important; without it, I’m afraid the words we speak would be just words without much meaning. There is not much point in simply rattling through the Commandments, or the Creed or the Lord’s Prayer. Dr. Luther recognized as much. Any grade school child knows the many times he was asked the question in the Catechism, “What does this mean?” Just because little children are not mature enough for meditation, Luther wrote a Small Catechism to explain what the Commandments and the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer mean. As our ability for meditation increases, our interest is shifted to the Bible passages and references on which the Catechism is based. In this way our attention is focused on the word of the Bible. It is interesting to note how the devil does everything in his power to keep us from meditation: a hectic pace of getting and spending and questionable diversions, like much of TV, that precludes any thought on our part.

As we grow older, life begins to take on deeper meaning; we find ourselves faced with problems that we as little children did not have. We begin to ask, “What is my life all about?” “Where am I headed?” “Why do I especially have so many problems?” The answers to all our problems are found in meditation on God’s Word. We learn to trust our Lord to care for us, to forgive our sins, and to give us strength for a new life. These are the meanings that the Lord himself supplies.

O Lord, consider Thou my meditation.


“Why do the heathen rage and the people imagine a vain thing?” Ps 2:1

What a strange question. What are the heathen angry about and what vain thing are people thinking? The Psalmist tells us in the next verses; they are angry about the Lord Jesus. They resent the fact that God has put his Son in charge and they will do anything in their power to overthrow His rule. It angers them that Christ calls them sinners and urges them to repent of their immoral behavior, and of their disobedience to the will of God in thought, word, and deed. They will not tolerate Christ’s claim to be the only way to heaven. And therefore they imagine a vain thing—they put Christ out of their minds by making sin something to be forgotten and not to be repented of. In the place of repentance they substitute a positive self-image; they urge people to feel good about themselves and imagine all negative feelings will go away.

Does the Psalmist really want an answer to the question, “Why do the heathen rage?” More than likely he does not. It is rather a rhetorical statement: “Why, O why, are people angry with God?” We can ask ourselves the same question: Do we rage? Do we become angry because of the restrictions that God’s law places on our lives? The Apostle Paul tells us that that is precisely how our sinful nature will react. He says the law makes sin more sinful, with the result that we imagine a lot of vain things to justify the way we live. It is vain and foolish to imagine that God overlooks our sinful behavior because every one else behaves that way. It is vain and foolish to imagine that God overlooks the little things that are wrong, or that our sin will go away by itself.

There is only one answer to the Psalmist’s question: repentance. Not until the Holy Spirit leads us to confess that we are wrong and that God is right will our anger change to thankfulness. How could we be angry with a heavenly Father that loved us so much that He sacrificed His Son for our sins? It is appreciation for the mercy of God in forgiving our sins that changes our rage to love. With each repentant cry for forgiveness comes a growth in faith and a renewed desire to place His will above our own.

“Give ear to my words, O Lord!”

Ps 5;1

Like the Psalmist, we, too, pray, “O Lord, listen to what we have to say.” There is little point, however, in bringing our concerns to the Lord if we are not certain that He is listening. We have no assurance that the Lord will hear us just because we ask. Our Savior, Jesus, tells us as much when He says that not everyone who calls Him, “Lord,” will be heard.

How can we be certain that our prayer will be heard? Ask the Father in My name, Jesus says, and He will hear you. To ask in Jesus’ name, is to ask the Father in a spirit of humble faith, deeply aware that because of our sinful nature we deserve no answer whatsoever. To ask in Jesus’ name, however, means more. It means that because of Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins we can be fully confident the Lord not only will but also must hear what we have to say.

Are there not times in our lives when it seems that our Lord does not hear what we ask? We bring to Him our concerns about the moral collapse in government and society, and yet nothing gets better. We bring to Him our concerns about our health or our job or our family, but things don’t seem to change. It is like talking to a blank wall! When we feel this way, we are the ones Jesus is describing when He says, “O ye of little faith.” What we need to know is that behind every wall our gracious Lord is listening to every word that we speak. When the Psalmist prayed the words of this text he knew he was not speaking to thin air! He firmly trusted that his Lord listened!

When you know exactly how to help someone, and they ask someone else, you are disappointed, aren’t you? When they finally have enough confidence to ask you, your response is, “I never thought you would ask! I’m delighted to help you.” So it is with our Lord. He is delighted to help us. It may very well be that what seems to us like divine indifference to what we ask is our Lord’s way of encouraging us to ask not only once or twice. He wants us to give over our whole lives to Him in thankful prayer.

The amazing truth of it all is that our Lord has been answering everything we ask all along! With His answers He is molding our lives in ways so subtle that we are often not aware of it, but ways that lead us to everlasting life. May God’s Holy Spirit work in us the kind of faith that continues to pray and always trusts Him to answer.



“Yet have I set my King upon my holy hill of Zion.”

Ps 2:6

What power and glory! The Lord set his Son on His holy hill and proclaimed him King. Think of it. These words do more than describe something that went on long ago. They describe what is going on right now. Christ the King is at God’s right hand where He is ruling with all power and will continue to do so until end of time.

This can be a most comforting thought as well as a most terrifying one. It is very comforting to know that our Redeemer has all power in heaven and earth to direct every moment of our lives. But it can also be terrifying. Christ the King not only rules the world we live in, but He is also going to judge it. What Christ said in the parable He said to all, “But my enemies who did not want me to rule over them, bring them here and execute them in my sight.” Christ the King does not mince words! Referring to Himself as the Cornerstone, He said: “On whom this stone shall fall, it will grind him to powder.”

When lawyers bring a case to trial, they try to find out as much as they can about the jurors and even the judge. How well do you know Christ your King who will also be your Judge at the end of time? Those who despise Him resent anything He ever did or said. But what about you and me? The invitation is there: “Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me…” Search the Scriptures, He says, so that you may get to know Me better. Christ, our King, is not some distant monarch, but He is very close and personal. He loves His subjects so dearly that they love Him in return. He changes their lives with a Gospel message that gives them peace. He deals with them one-to-one by answering their prayers, solving their problems and directing their lives. Finally, He promises His believing subjects a “not guilty” verdict at the final judgment and warms their hearts with the hope of a perfect, unending life in heaven. What more compelling reason could we have to search the Scriptures to learn more about a King like that?