“I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep; for Thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety.”

Ps 4:8

What a singular expression of faith! The Psalmist could lie down and sleep because his heart was at peace. He was not full of fears and worries about the coming day because He trusted that His Lord would keep him. Who else but the Lord could promise to carry the burden of his sins, to put His angels in charge, to make everything work out?

When we read this beautiful text we are almost envious of the Psalmist for being able to sleep. We realize that God is essential in our lives and we, too, have heard again and again the promises of His gracious care. Yet we are fearful.

Do you remember the time that Jesus was asleep in the middle of a storm at sea? The storm was so severe that the disciples were afraid for their lives. In desperation, they woke the Lord up and He stilled the stormy waters. One could reasonably have expected, in a situation like this, that the Savior would have said, “It is a good thing that you woke me up.” It comes almost as shock, however, when we hear the real words of our Savior: “What has happened to your faith?” Our Lord wanted them to know that there was no situation in which He would not care for them, just as He would have us know that there is no situation in which He will not care for us.

Yet fearful creatures that we are, we find it hard not to worry. Our sinful inner nature constantly deceives us into believing that we must control our own lives. It was that way with the disciples. The situation at sea was so bad that they were overcome with fear and worry. Please note, however, that their Savior did not despise them. He recognized their weakness and solved their problem. It was only after the storm was gone that He encouraged them to a stronger faith.

Our Lord knows our frailty. He knows what weak and fearful creatures we are. That is why He encourages us in page after page of the Bible: “Don’t worry about tomorrow. Your heavenly Father will take care of your needs. Cast all your care upon Him. Commit your way unto the Lord.”

How wonderfully the Psalmist sums it all up in the 127th Psalm, where he wrote: “It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows; for so He giveth His beloved sleep.” What a wonderful gift for you and me, His beloved!


“…the Lord hath said unto me, ‘Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten Thee.'” Ps 2:7

In this Psalm we are privileged to hear the Father in heaven speak to His holy Son; He said, “This day I have begotten Thee.” When was this? The Nicene Creed has the answer: begotten of His Father before all worlds. God’s Son has no past; He is the eternal “begotten One.” Who can understand this? What mortal can begin to comprehend God?

This creed, however, suggests another answer to our question, When was this? We also read there: conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary. God, the Spirit, through the Virgin Mary, conceived the eternally Begotten of the Father. Who can understand this? It is the great and mighty wonder of Christmas. Mary, a chaste and humble sinner, was chosen by the Almighty to give birth to His Son.

The very thought of a virgin birth was a great mystery to Mary. She asked, “How shall this be!” The angel answered: “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee…therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” The angel did not really explain how this would be, but simply said, ” God will do it.”

While we, too, do not understand how it happened, we do know what happened. What Mary carried in her body and gave birth to was the holy Son of God. As great as is the mystery of the conception of the Savior, so is the mystery of His incarnation; the Babe in the Manger is the Son of God in human form, altogether human and altogether divine.

The reason for the wonderful birth of Jesus, however, is no mystery. He had to be true God so He could lead a sinless life for us and He had to be true man so that He could take our place. The angel of the Lord explained to Joseph very plainly before the child was born “He shall save His people from their sins.” It is faith in what this Child came to do that makes all the difference in our lives. Faith in Jesus means forgiveness and peace and the hope of everlasting life. The manger scene, viewed with the eye of faith, is a joyful reminder of the begotten One, come to earth for our sins. Viewed any other way, the scene becomes an empty symbol. When the baby in swaddling clothes is a mere baby and not also the Son of God, all the blessings of Christmas are lost.

Since all He comes to ransom,

By all be He adored,

The Infant born in Beth’lem,

The Savior and the Lord.


“Kiss the Son, lest He be angry and ye perish from the way when His wrath is

kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him.

Ps 2:12

The Psalmist says, “Kiss the Son.” Isn’t this exactly what a certain woman did in New Testament times? She kissed His feet, anointed them with tears and dried them with her hair. What an act of faith! She believed that Jesus had the power to remove the misery of her sinful life and she trusted that He would do it. What an act of humility! She anointed His feet with tears! She had nothing to bring Him except tears of regret brought on by her sins. She did not need someone to tell her, “Kiss the Son,” for the Son of God was the only answer to her problems. Anointing His feet was her way of honoring and thanking Him. What a wonderful assurance her Redeemer gave her: “Your sins are forgiven.”

Only one other person in the New Testament, namely Judas Iscariot, kissed the Son of Man while He was on earth. This person approached the Lord, kissed Him, and said, “Hail Master.” What to all the world was supposed to look like an act of honor and respect was really an act of hypocrisy. It was a kiss prompted by greed and not by devotion or faith. As a result the Lord could not assure him of forgiveness, but instead gave the dreadful judgment, “Woe unto that man!”

Woe unto anyone whose life is not built on the Son of God. This warning was written first of all to kings and rulers who trusted their might and power and would never think of humbling  themselves before God’s Son. But it is also written to you and me. The degree to which we think we are in control of our lives is the degree to which we need to hear, “Kiss the Son!” It does not really matter whether we are young or old, whether we have much money or no money at all, we need the direction of our Savior with every step we take.

Satan himself inspires the idea that we seem to be doing so well without Christ, that we can do what we want without any consequences. Then, if ever, we need the warning of this text, “Kiss the Son before His anger is aroused, even a little bit.”

The greatest thing that happens to us daily is that the Holy Spirit brings us to our knees. It is His mercy that He shatters our pride with commandments we cannot keep, so that we find our only hope in kissing the Savior’s feet, in honoring Him as our Redeemer. As we daily pray, “Forgive us our trespasses,” so we daily also have the assurance of every blessing that the Father can bestow on His children. “Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him.”


“Thou satest in the throne judging right”

Ps 9:4b

(You have sat on your throne, judging righteously – NIV)

What a terrifying text! The Almighty Lord, Jesus Christ, is looking over your shoulder judging everything that you do! On what basis? He has left no one in doubt. He has inscribed His rules of conduct into everyone’s heart. St. Paul tells us that even those who do not know the Bible show the work of the law in their hearts, their consciences bearing witness. Love your Lord with all your heart, honor and obey your parents, lead a clean and decent life, don’t steal, don’t lie, don’t covet. This is God’s will, and He does not ask us whether we like it or whether it interferes with the way we want to live. He simply says, “This is what I require. You violate what I say and I will remember and eventually punish you with everlasting death.”

One of the great deceptions of the devil is to convince us that there is no reason to be afraid when we do what we know is wrong. After all, to quote the Psalmist, “How does God know?” In reality this is like whistling in the dark. Our conscience is still there to terrify us, much as we would like to wipe it out.

An even greater satanic deception is to convince us that the divine Judge is open to bribery. Certainly, that is often true of earthly judges. In one place the Psalmist complains, “Their right hand is full of bribes.” The favor of the holy Lord Jesus, however, cannot be bought. Yet that is what people have been trying to do throughout the ages. The only way to get on the good side of the Lord, they feel, is to show Him how good they really are, and how they try to keep His standards at every turn. Anyone familiar with Jesus’ word to us in the Bible knows that such attempts at bribery are totally unacceptable: “for all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.”

Is there any hope? It lies in the last words of the text, judging righteously. These are words that tell us that God’s judgment not only is right and unchangeable, but that it is radically changed by the perfect life and death of Jesus Christ. When God judges righteously, He judges us on the basis of this work of His Son. The Son of God has met the standards that no one can meet so that faith in Jesus is the difference between guilty or not guilty, between life or death. St. Paul calls this our righteousness before God.

Are you terrified by this text? As a child of God there is nothing to be afraid of. Because of the righteousness of Christ, the heavenly Judge does not terrify you but speaks only kind words of love and forgiveness and everlasting life.


“He forgetteth not the cry of the humble”

Ps 9:13b

Who are the humble? These are people described in the Bible as the poor and lowly, the despised and rejected. It is very important, however, that we keep in mind that the Psalmist is not speaking here of all poor and lowly people. Nowhere does our Lord promise to hear the cry of someone just because he is poor or despised. The Psalmist is speaking here of the spiritually humble, people that Jesus describes in Matthew 5 where it is written, “Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.”

We recognize at once that the “spiritually humble” includes you and me and every other believer in Jesus Christ. When it comes to our salvation we have nothing to be proud about. We certainly cannot be proud of our faith. St. Paul doubly emphasizes that truth when he tells us that the credit for our faith belongs solely to God, lest any man should boast. We certainly cannot be proud of our works, for they are totally the work of the Holy Spirit within us. For it is not I that do them but Christ that liveth in me, says the Apostle. We certainly cannot boast that we have earned eternal life, for on judgment day the Savior will not say, “Come, merit,” but, “come, inherit the kingdom prepared for you! ”

We know all these truths and yet the pride that is so deeply ingrained in our basic nature leads us to want to create our own religion or to expect our Lord to accommodate Himself to the way we want to live. It is not until our Lord humbles us with His word that we cry out, “Help!” “Renew a right spirit inside me; take not your Holy Spirit from me.” For all the ranting of the world telling us that we must find inner peace and happiness in ourselves, we find only doubt and insecurity. We need help. Nowhere is this more forcefully demonstrated than in the answer of the father who exclaimed to our Savior in tears: “Lord, I believe. Help Thou mine unbelief.”

Will the Lord hear our cry for help? Listen to the text: “He does not forget the cry of the humble.” He promises to hear our cry because His Son “humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death on the cross.” The humility of Jesus in dying for our sins covers our lack of humility and works in us the humble faith that cries to the Lord for help. Can you think of a better way to begin each Sunday service than with the wonderful assurance, “Our help is in the name of the Lord?”


“The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times”

Ps 12:6

God’s word is solid silver leaving any and all impurities behind, refined 7 times. In the Bible, 7 times is as complete as you can get! This is an incredible assurance for the child of God whose whole hope for the future is based on the promises made to him in God’s word. God’s word is pure, actually the only reliable word in the world.

This is the information age, if you will. There is more knowledge available and more words floating around than ever before, but when it comes to the matters of the soul, only God’s word is solid silver. For example, knowing that a dragonfly only lives 24 hours is an interesting statistic, but it does nothing for my soul.

There is also a flood of theological knowledge available today in books and pamphlets and on the Internet. Unfortunately, not all of it is silver. You see, people in their pride cannot keep from trying to improve on God’s word with the impurities of their own reason. They find God’s arithmetic horrible: 1 + 1 + 1 = 1! To them God’s logic defies common sense: The righteous are saved by grace but the wicked “worketh his own destruction.” The result is a theology that corrupts God’s word to make it reasonable and pleasing. That was true even at the time of our Lord. Jesus roundly condemned the theology of the religious leaders of His day because they dramatically contaminated the Word with human wisdom.

The age of the Apostle Paul was an “information age” too. Greek philosophers and psychologists were employing every brain cell to discover what was really true. It was as important then as it is today to rule out all the impurities of reason by simply clinging to the pure Word. That is why that little congregation founded by St. Paul at Berea has been such a wonderful example. It is reported “they searched the Scriptures daily whether those things (that the Apostle preached) were so.” God’s word was pure silver to them.

How are we to decide what to believe? Pray the Spirit to etch these words firmly on your heart: “The words of the Lord are pure words. That is why we hear them and learn them and meditate on them. If some words seem puzzling, the problem is with our limited faith and not with the pure word. God did not give us his word to puzzle us, but to strengthen our faith in Him. If, after searching the Scriptures, we still have questions, we know that we can ask our Lord when we are finally with Him in heaven.


“I will sing unto the Lord, because he hath dealt bountifully with me.”

Ps 13:6

How often have not you and I exclaimed these words, “God hath dealt bountifully with me.” When we get up each morning, blessed with the gift of new life and health, we may not sing it but we say it with a joyful heart, “O God, how good you are to me!” When we step out into nature and see the marvels of God’s creation, we burst out, “What a wonderful God I have for placing me here.” When we consider how God has directed our paths in the right way despite our contrary nature, we cannot help but feel a deep and sincere, “Thank you!”

God has not only been good to us; He has been bountiful with His blessings. He has showered them upon us, more than we have any right or reason to expect. You know, this Psalm-verse comes at the end of a very sad Psalm. David was so depressed with his problems that he thought he might die. He felt sad and forsaken and alone. And then, like a breath of fresh air, he began to sing!

How could he do this? It was all based on the Lord’s mercy. He knew that he had no reason to expect God’s help. At the same time, he knew that God had to help him, but not because he was such a great and wonderful person. God had to help him because he was His adopted son through Jesus Christ. God in His mercy had forgiven him his sins, and promised him every blessing that a heavenly Father can bestow on His earthly children. Now that is reason to sing!

It goes without saying, doesn’t it, that our Lord is bountiful to us for the same reasons. However, it does not stop there. The Psalmist says in Psalm 119, “Deal bountifully with thy servant that I may live and keep Thy word.” The reason that our Lord showers His goodness upon us is that we, too, might live with a joyful spirit, and in thankful faith, keep His word in the way we live and in the things we do.


“There is none that doeth good, no not one.”

Ps 14:3b

What a devastating indictment! It does not matter at all whether we are compassionate or hateful; whether we are charitable or are selfish and self-willed. It does not even matter whether we are Christian or unchristian. No living soul can claim to be worth anything before God, not on God’s terms. He set down the rules by which we must live with Him and with each other. He set them down in the 10 Commandments, but none of us can keep them. That is why the Psalmist is correct in saying that in God’s eyes “there is none that does good.” The law only proves our worthlessness.

It all seems very hopeless, until God’s Holy Spirit enters our hearts. You see, it is only the Holy Spirit that can bring us to realize that we not only can do no good but that there is nothing we can do about it. One of the great temptations of the devil is to deceive us into trusting ourselves, and our well-meaing intentions and our achievements. He wants us to feel good about what we can do by ourselves. If he can succeed in that, what need is there to trust God? There can be no trust in the Lord until we abandon all trust in ourselves. The first step, and it is a big one, is that the Holy Spirit enters our hearts with these words of the Psalmist, ”There is none that does good.”

When we are brought to that conviction, the work of Jesus Christ shines like a bright light. There is indeed One that did good, namely, the Son of God who took on human form and shed His blood to make up for our lack of goodness. The heavenly Father says to you and me in His word: Trust Me, not yourselves. If I did not hesitate to spare My own Son for your eternal salvation, can you not trust me with everything in your life?

What a remarkable transformation! Once trust in the Lord replaces trust in ourselves, we are changed from sinners who can do no good to saints who do no wrong. Oh yes, we children of God sin daily and deserve nothing but punishment, but our sins are covered by the blood of the Savior and our lives are changed. Thankful faith now replaces selfish pride, and our hope of the future does not rest on what we can do for ourselves, but on all the wonderful things the heavenly Father continues to do for us.


“Lord, who shall abide in Thy tabernacle?… He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart.”

Ps 15:1,2

This is a description of what it is like to live in God’s house, literally, God’s tent. Where is God’s house? Is it a church building? Not really! Otherwise we all would move there so that we could be with God all the time. Our Savior answered this question for us when He said, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” The Savior makes it plain that where God lives is a spiritual house. This all sounds a little strange, doesn’t it? I am God’s house? Indeed, you are! Since through the Holy Spirit God lives in every believer’s heart, our heart is His house.

Notice carefully that here the Psalmist asks the Lord a question and then promptly answers it himself! It is as if he knew the answer before he asked. What is this person like who lives in God’s house? He walks, he works and he speaks. He “walketh not in the counsel of the ungoldly,” but is directed in His life by the holy will of God; he “worketh not evil in the sight of the Lord,” but does with his hands those things that are pleasing to his heavenly Father; he ”speaketh not lies,” but his heart is filled with the truth of God’s word.

What a beautiful description of the wonderful things that the Spirit works in the child of God. His motives, his actions and his words are God-pleasing and right. The only reason that we fall so short of this spiritual ideal is because of the carnal forces constantly at work to draw us away. The devil, the world and our own sinful desires move us to do anything but what is spiritual and right in God’s eyes. Because we are thankful to our God for saving us, we desperately try to please Him, but even our best spiritual efforts are tainted by sin. It would be hopeless if it were not for the work of our Lord Jesus Christ through which we can please God. No one has summarized this truth better than the Apostle Peter when he wrote: “Ye are built up a spiritual house…to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.”


“The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.” Ps 16:6

Do you know where the property of your neighbor begins? Every parcel of land has a property line that is placed there by a surveyor and is recorded in government books. When the Psalmist says here, “The lines are fallen unto me,” he is not talking about property lines but about spiritual lines. God is the surveyor who sets the lines for each of us, lines that show the boundaries where He rules.

When you think about it for a moment, you realize at once what those boundaries are. The Psalmist is talking about our hearts. That is our Lord’s property. There He rules with His love, and there is the most pleasant place on earth. Is there any place more pleasant than the forgiven heart wiped clean from sin by the forgiveness won by Jesus Christ? Is there any place more pleasant than the trusting heart that casts all its cares on the Lord? Is there any place more pleasant than the joyful heart that is confident of everlasting life? To live with a heart where God sets the lines of His love is pure pleasure.

This picture is so pleasant and so beautiful that it does not seem possible for fearful hearts like ours. Do we deserve that kind of pleasure? No one does! But we can count on it. We can say with all the certainty of the Psalmist, “Indeed, I have a goodly heritage.” When the Holy Spirit made us God’s children through faith, we also inherited all the pleasures that faith brings.

What about the trials and problems in our lives? Can our heart still be a pleasant place in spite of them? The writer to the Hebrews expresses our feelings when he says that no “chastening” seems pleasant at the time. In fact, it is very unpleasant. But when each trial is over, we can look back in faith and actually take pleasure in our affliction because our Lord has taught us, through it all, that He means only good for us.

What a contrast is our spiritual joy to the world where pure pleasure is nothing more that satisfying every sinful lust. Unfortunately, it is that way with you and me, too, because of our sinful inner nature. It is only when the lines of God’s love blot out our rebellious self that our heart once more becomes a pleasant place and a goodly heritage. Then the pure pleasure of faith is ours, and we can confess with the Psalmist: “in Thy presence is fulness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures forevermore.”