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Archive for June, 2013

Exploring Islam 12

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Exploring Islam

12. The Jesus of Islam

Part 3 – The Cross

In light of what we have previously outlined regarding the Islamic view of Jesus we are now going to finally consider what happened at the cross. For the Christian the crucifixion of Jesus is fundamental and indeed is ultimately why he came as the Saviour of the world. However, as we have seen previously regarding salvation in Islam no such atoning sacrifice is possible. Whilst the Qur’an does not deny the historical event of the crucifixion, it is does deny that it was the Islamic prophet Jesus who was killed.

Qur’an 4:157 – ‘“Indeed, we have killed the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, the messenger of Allah.” And they did not kill him, nor did they crucify him; but [another] was made to resemble him to them.’

This is a fascinating verse which many Muslims are aware of given the prominence of Jesus in discussions with Christians. It is reliant upon the understanding that Allah respects his chosen prophets to such a degree that a humiliating death by crucifixion would not be permitted. Nothing more is said regarding this matter in the Qur’an and it begs the question from a non-Muslim perspective of proof. Outside of this verse there seems to be no other supporting evidence that this was the case. And I guess this is to be expected as the concept itself suggests that all present at the crucifixion and presumably all the subsequent historians were hoodwinked into believing the opposite. Admittedly, Christianity faces a similar but I think less taxing burden of proof in their defence of a risen Jesus from the tomb on Easter morning.

So instead of dying on the cross, the Islamic Jesus was taken up into heaven during this mystical switch and remains there to this day. Again, this is a unique aspect of Jesus within Islam which no other prophet including Muhammad can claim. Jesus has a further role to play in the grand scheme of history according to Islam. At the end of time before judgement day comes, Jesus will return to the earth still as a physical man and successfully lead all those chosen by Allah into Islam. The Qur’an does not speak much of this aspect leaving Muslims to rely strongly on the traditions contained in the Hadith. Unlike in Christianity who affirms Jesus’ role in judgement, the Islamic Jesus finally dies before this happens and leaves Allah to judge the world.

So this marks the conclusion of the Exploring Islam series. I have enjoyed preparing and writing these podcasts and I hope that you have benefited from them. Remember my original goal was to dispel some of the misunderstandings of Islam which are so prevalent in Western societies and can be the source of much tension with our Muslim neighbours. Even though there are significant differences between Islam and Christianity I hope I have equally showed that there are similarities even bridges for discussion. I have found the best way to facilitate this is from the attitude of respect and friendship, things which Muslims themselves value highly.

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Participatory church

Food for thought!

Running Life

Here is my response to the conversations on Facebook & Twitter yesterday. I’m writing it in short spare moments and hence I apologise for the stream-of-consciousness style & not a neat argument. It’s probably wooly, and most probably drivel, ill informed, over-opinionated and ranty. Definitely ranty.

I love the Church of England. I love its variety of flavours and its divisions. I love its old buildings, seeped in prayer over centuries and I love its new buildings, the ones with working loos and heating. I love its priests for their absolute commitment to the idea that the C of E is the church for everyone – whether you want it or not, there’s someone in your neck of the woods charged with your spiritual welfare, and of showing, being Christ and his church to you. I love that there are priests who will baptise rampantly and I love that there…

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Scriptural Delight 25

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Conclusion

G’day! Welcome to Partake and the last in our series “Scriptural Delights!” As a way of concluding, let us take a look at what some people have said about this Psalm. We are going to engage with the minds of Augustine, John Calvin, Charles Spurgeon and CS Lewis: and they will give us some insight into this magnificent Psalm.

Augustine – “You will not labour long in listening to it, nor will the labour you devote to practicing it be without fruit. As its title indicates, it is a “song of steps.” Steps are either of ascent or descent, but as used in these Psalms, steps signify an ascent. Let us understand them, therefore, as ascending steps, and let us not seek to ascend with our feet and in a carnal manner but as suggested in another Psalm: “He has prepared ascents in his heart, in this valley of tears, in the place which He has fixed” (Psalm 83:6-7). Where then are these ascents? In the heart. From what should we ascend? From the valley of tears. In designating the place, the human tongue somehow fails us; one knows not how to speak of it nor even to think of it. You have previously heard this passage of St. Paul, that “eye has not seen, nor ear heard, and that it has not entered into the heart of man” (1 Corinthians 2:9). If it has not entered into the heart of man, then the heart of man ascends to it. There- fore, if “eye has not seen, if ear has not heard, if it has not entered into the heart of man,” how are we to say where we should ascend? So in his powerlessness to say where, the Prophet says to us: “To the place fixed.”

John Calvin – “Two things which the prophet mainly aims at; the exhorting of the children of God to follow godliness and a holy life; and the prescribing of the rule, and pointing out the form of the true worship of God, so that the faithful may devote themselves wholly to the study of the Law. Along with these he frequently blends promises for the purpose of animating the worshippers of God to live more justly and piously; and, at the same time, he introduces complaints respecting the impious contempt of the Law, lest they should become tainted by bad examples.”

Charles Spurgeon – “This psalm is a wonderful composition. Its expressions are many as the waves, but its testimony is one as the sea. It deals all along with one subject only; but although it consists of a considerable number of verses, some of which are very similar to others, yet throughout its one hundred and seventy-six stanzas the self-same thought is not repeated: there is always a shade of difference, even when the color of the. thought appears to be the same”. He then goes on to say “I admire in this psalm the singular commingling of testimony, prayer, and praise. In one verse the Psalmist bears witness; in a second verse he praises; in a third verse he prays. It is an incense made up of many spices; but they are wonderfully compounded and worked together, so as to form one perfect sweetness. The blending greatly increases the value of the whole. You would not like to have one-third of the psalm composed of prayer – marked up to the sixtieth verse, for instance; and then another part made up exclusively of praise; and yet a third portion of unmixed testimony. It is best to have all these divinely-sweet ingredients intermixed, and wrought into a sacred unity, as you have them in this thrice-hallowed psalm. Its prayers bear testimony, and its testimonies are fragrant with praise.”

CS Lewis : “Everyone has probably noticed that from the literary or technical point of view, it is the most formal and elaborate of them all. The technique consists in taking a series of words which are all, for purposes of this poem, more or less synonyms, and ringing the changes on them through each of its eight-verse sections – which themselves correspond to the letter of the alphabet. In other words, this poem is not, and does not pretend to be, a sudden outpouring of the heart like, say, Psalm 18. It is a pattern, a thing done like embroidery, stitch by stitch, through long, quiet hours, for love of the subject and for the delight in leisurely, disciplined craftsmanship. Now this, in itself, seems to me very important because it lets us into the mind and mood of the poet. We can guess at once that he felt about the Law somewhat as he felt about his poetry; both involved exact and loving conformity to an intricate pattern.”

A friend of mine, Sharona, commented to me about Psalm 119! This is her memory of the great Psalm! Years ago, I gave my boss a Bible. He had been telling me that he had never owned anything but a KJV and didn’t understand it at all. I gave him a hardback NIV pew Bible. He put it in his desk drawer but never looked at it.

One day I went into his office to find him shuffling through the pages of the Bible, clearly looking for something. I asked if I could help and he told me he had been watching a football game and someone held up a sign that said “John 3:16” so he was trying to find out what it said. I helped him find the verse.

Then he closed the Bible, opened it at random and read aloud, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” and I said “Psalm 119:105 !”. He looked at me in shock, and with sheer admiration in his voice said, “Oh, you’re good!”.

Then he closed the Bible, opened it at random and said “Let’s try again!”. Then he read a verse I had no idea where it came from, but it sounded a bit like it could have been Isaiah. I said tentatively, “Isaiah?”. He said, “No, think bullfrog…” And I said “Oh, Jeremiah!” and we both had a laugh about that.

OK, it’s random, but I have a laugh about that every time I think of that happening, him thinking I was such a brilliant biblical scholar, because I knew a verse from Psalm 119.

Thanks for that, Sharona – terrific story!

So lets sum up what each of these witnesses for Psalm 119 offer us in the 21st century.

For Augustine, the Psalm is like a staircase for ascending to a fixed place where God reigns!

For Calvin, the Psalm encourages followers of God to follow godliness, live and study diligently what God has revealed. He also notes how the Psalmist frequently blends promises in order to animate worshippers of God to live more justly and humbly.

For Spurgeon, It is portrays a sacred unity, whereby prayers, testimony and praise intermingle, intermix and form a sweet incense! Psalm 119’s prayers bear testimony, and its testimonies are fragrant with praise.

For CS Lewis it was like an intricate embroidery, patterned, cunningly weaved and a labour of love for Almighty God and His Law.

What is it for you? Have you considered scripture as being like an elaborately intricate staircase to ascend, so that you can get to know your God more, in order to live a life worthy of him as your prayers bear testimony and your testimonies of God’s goodness bear the fruit of praise?

Hopefully as we are now at the end of these series of studies, you will have found a new delight in reading your Bible: all 66 books of it including perhaps some that you have never read before. Ask yourself how you view the Bible, how you read it, why you read it and do you listen to God speaking to you as you do so? Has your attitude and feelings changed towards the Bible as a whole? Do certain parts of the Bible now captivate you more than they did before?

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Scriptural Delight 24

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Taw

G’day! Welcome to Partake and our continuing series “Scriptural Delights!” Here is our twenty fourth podcast going through the wonder that is Psalm 119! Today we look at the twenty second of its twenty-two sections, Taw, and it is verses 169 to 176. Sharona is reading it for us today!

169 May my cry come before you, O LORD;

give me understanding according to your word.

170 May my supplication come before you;

deliver me according to your promise.

171 May my lips overflow with praise,

for you teach me your decrees.

172 May my tongue sing of your word,

for all your commands are righteous.

173 May your hand be ready to help me,

for I have chosen your precepts.

174 I long for your salvation, O LORD,

and your law is my delight.

175 Let me live that I may praise you,

and may your laws sustain me.

176 I have strayed like a lost sheep.

Seek your servant,

for I have not forgotten your commands.

Thanks Sharona! Once again, in verse 169, David the Psalmist repeats his inner desire to understand God’s word, law, decrees, statutes and wisdom! He is full of zeal for God and is earnestly yearning His God to reveal His promised wisdom and understanding to him. The Psalmist is in a relationship with God and seeks to get to know His God better and God has promised him that He will pass on wisdom to David through the law and the scriptures. God will enlighten His servant, the Psalmist, because He has promised to, and He who has promised is faithful to honour those promises. The Psalmist greatest desire is to understand the mind of God, developing his relationship with Him and to be guided by Him! The Psalmist desires that every facet of his life be guided by his great all-knowing and all-powerful God!

Part of this guidance, is the Psalmist praying to God in verse 170, making requests and seeking deliverance from the dangers and perils of his life! David, as we read in the Bible, often faced great dangers throughout his life. His God always delivered him from evil, because God honours his promises to those who are serving Him.

And now in verse 171, he is overflowing with praise! He is effervescent with praise, overflowing, bubbling over and ecstatic with joy for His God! The reason for this exuberance is that he wants to be imbued with heavenly wisdom as taught through the decrees and statutes of Almighty God! It gives the sense of a spontaneous outburst of praise just exploding from the Psalmist like spring water bubbling from the desert sands! Having been taught by the Lord in the practise of righteous obedience to the Law, the Psalmist is intent on teaching others! He is passing on to others, the wisdom he has learned and received! The sense here is of corporate singing of exultant choral praises of God or an echo of the angels singing of God’s awesome majesty, beauty and holiness!

Continuing, the Psalmist entreats God to personally help – nor my friends or your friends, O God – but you and you alone! Give me your hand O Lord and I will be rescued! Friends may let me down, discourage and betray me – but you O great God will never do that! Personally save me, the Psalmist is crying! By choosing God’s precepts, the Psalmist has dedicated himself to obeying his God and following Him closely. The Psalmist was keen to be found in full obedience to his God.

And he yearned for full salvation from his God – he had tasted it in part before but was waiting for it to be complete, as if in expectation of some form of greater salvation. He had been saved from his enemies, those who betrayed him and from wild animals. His present salvation was assured as God had promised him, but so was a future salvation, a salvation of his soul! Hence, there is his longing to delight in all of God’s words and works. This future salvation of the soul, filled with life, preserved so he may praise God! God’s judgments sustained and helped the Psalmist! Seeing God at work in his life gave him a hope – a hope that promised a future praising God for all God has done, is doing and will continue to do! God’s judgement helped the Psalmist to live an obedient life and a life that was close to God, walking and talking with Him!

Then finally, we have the climax of the Psalm! There is almost an urgent need to be fulfilled. The lost sheep needs to be found, to be preserved and to be delivered. For all his knowledge of Scripture, his obedience to God and his own righteousness – the Psalmist knew that it was only because God had promised to find him that he would be saved. He was relying on God to assure him of the salvation of his soul. As a shepherd, he knew that if a sheep was lost, it was his job to find that sheep and restore it to the fold. So he uses this analogy, to symbolise his need of God’s salvation. His own righteousness and obedience to the Law couldn’t save his soul – only God could do that. God would seek him, find him and restore him. Here was the king, King David, recognizes his need to be a servant of God and wanting God to find him. He recognizes he needs to be obedient to God in response to being saved by God’s grace and mercy.

How about you? How are you doing in regards to your praise? Is praise bubbling from you like water from a living stream? Are you being fully reliant on God alone for the salvation of your soul and not trusting in your own righteousness, obedience or strength? God’s grace and that alone is what saves you. Not God’s love. Not God’s mercy. But God’s grace and that grace alone. What is your delight, your ultimate delight? Your delight should be in being guided by God in every facet of your life and being in a devoted obedient relationship with Him. Ask Him and he will help. Raise your hand and ask for help, just as Peter did when sinking in the water and Jesus rescued him. In response to this grace and the salvation that is yours assured, go and live a life of obedience to God – wherever that takes you as His servant.

Thank you!

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Scriptural Delight 23

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Shin

G’day! Welcome to Partake and our continuing series “Scriptural Delights!” Here is our twenty third podcast going through the wonder that is Psalm 119! Today we look at the twenty first of its twenty-two sections, Shin, and it is verses 161 to 168. Betty reads it for us! So over to you, Betty!


161 Rulers persecute me without cause,

but my heart trembles at your word.

162 I rejoice in your promise

like one who finds great spoil.

163 I hate and abhor falsehood

but I love your law.

164 Seven times a day I praise you

for your righteous laws.

165 Great peace have they who love your law,

and nothing can make them stumble.

166 I wait for your salvation, O LORD,

and I follow your commands.

167 I obey your statutes,

for I love them greatly.

168 I obey your precepts and your statutes,

for all my ways are known to you.


Thanks Betty! That was great! We only have to read of David’s life in the Scriptures to know that he had enemies and persecutors from all walks of life. He was betrayed by close friends and attacked by people from both those within his own nation and those outside it. Here the people that are persecuting him are princes. Princes usually protect the innocent and bring justice to the oppressed. Princes usually act with honour, decorum and nobility – but not these ones! No! These princes are out to cause David, the Psalmist, harm and without a justifiable reason! Committing perjury against him and threatening his life. And what is David’s reaction? Is it to run and hide with fear and trembling from these persecuting princes? No! David’s fear is not from mere mortal men! David’s reverent fear is at God speaking! He is in awe of God’s Word. Mere mortals may harm the body, but only God can harm the soul and therefore the Psalmist is not disheartened by persecution, oppression or injustice.


And the reason he is in awe and reverent fear of God’s Word is because it gives nourishment to him! He rejoices in the promises found! He has great joy at finding the treasures within God’s written word! He values these treasures as more valuable than the spoils of war! The Psalmist fights for truth, battles for justice and feeds his hungry soul on all God’s Word – not just his favourite parts! He loathes and abhors lies, perjury and false talk. They are bitter to him and a total contrast to the sweet honey of the Law and God’s written Word. He loves it, feeding from it and gaining strength and nourishment – because it is solid Truth..


Resulting from this nourishment and this Truth, the Psalmist gains strength to be at prayerful praise during the day! This perfect God he sought to praise perfectly! When his perjuring persecutors came to mind, the Psalmist turned to praise and sang to the God of truth and salvation! He wasn’t going to let these oppressive princes rob him of the joy of singing praise to his Almighty and righteous God! For he knows that God’s laws are righteous and those that love God’s law in obedience have great peace! This peace is not faltering as if built on sand! No! This peace is solid, reliable and true because it is based on God and His Law. Perfect peace for those who love God’s Law and Words. Those that love God’s Law are striving wholeheartedly to walk in obedience to God! When persecution comes, they have perfect peace, given by a God of peace. Because their peace is based on a God of perfect peace, they will not stumble or fall.

While the Law was important and obedience to it produced from love, it could not provide salvation! Salvation could only come from the God and that through grace and grace alone. Because he had salvation assured, the Psalmist sought to show it by being obedient to God’s commands and laws. This love he has for God’s statues, testimonies and precepts is as a result of his great God saving, rescuing and redeeming him from all his enemies. The Psalmist, David, obeyed God’s statutes because he both loved them, but also loved his God. He strove to show his love for his God by being obedient to Him! His outer life which people see is a reflection of his inner spiritual life. Despite the traumas, tribulations and tests that come his way, the Psalmist knows that his salvation is assured, because his God has promised him and God always keeps his promises. The Psalmist knows the mind of God through reading, studying, digesting and loving God’s written word – it is the basis for his life of obedience to God.

How are you doing? How are you coping when the tests and rigours of life in the 21st century come knocking on your day and wanting to disrupt you? Are you concentrating on them and worrying about them? Are they debilitating and corrupting you? What about when people perjure you, lie about you and betray you? How should we react? Fear not what mortal people can do! We are to be like the Psalmist and be at peace! If you are a Christian, you have an advocate before God the Father and you have the Holy Spirit as a comforter living inside you! That advocate is God the Son, Jesus Christ, the perfect Prince of peace! Unlike the princes who were persecuting the Psalmist, this Prince of Peace gives perfect peace to those who follow Him!


Cast your cares, burdens, and worries upon Him and let Him handle them. Let Him give you wisdom to deal and battle with those that seek to perjure and persecute you. Read what God has said in the Bible, follow it and obey it! Obedience, not as a means to salvation, because salvation can only be through God’s gift of grace and that grace alone! Obedience to Almighty God is in order to reflect your inner peace with Him. Jesus said, “Love God and love others, for all the Law is summed up in those 2 commandments”. Work out your salvation, as the Psalmist did, with reverent fear. Acknowledge God in all areas of your life and allow the Prince of peace to give you peace – peace in you, with you, on you and emanating from you! Seek the treasures in the Bible that are waiting for you to discover them. God is trustworthy, faithful and true! Don’t just read your favourite passages, but all 66 books! It is worth it! Go in peace to love and server the Lord! Amen!

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Scriptural Delight 22

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Resh

G’day! Welcome to Partake and our continuing series “Scriptural Delights!” Here is our twenty second podcast going through the wonder that is Psalm 119! Today we look at the twentieth of its twenty-two letters, Resh, and its verses 153 to 160. Sharona reads it for us!

153 Look upon my suffering and deliver me,

for I have not forgotten your law.

154 Defend my cause and redeem me;

preserve my life according to your promise.

155 Salvation is far from the wicked,

for they do not seek out your decrees.

156 Your compassion is great, O LORD;

preserve my life according to your laws.

157 Many are the foes who persecute me,

but I have not turned from your statutes.

158 I look on the faithless with loathing,

for they do not obey your word.

159 See how I love your precepts;

preserve my life, O LORD, according to your love.

160 All your words are true;

all your righteous laws are eternal.

Thanks Sharona, that was great! Once again the Psalmist is in danger of losing his life! He is seeking to be delivered from his pains and rescued! He is one of God’s servants and seeks to show that by remembering God’s law, God’s words and behaving as one of God’s servants, devoted in fear, reverence and love of Almighty God! And because he hasn’t forgotten God’s law, he pleads for God to consider and remember him. He is not so distracted by his own problems, that he has forgotten the beauty of God and God’s Law! He is faithful to God, because he knows that God is faithful to him!

His persecutors are surrounding him, circling with menace so the Psalmist asks for his God to be his advocate, his redeemer! The Psalmists enemies are spouting lies, ensnaring, oppressing and committing perjury against him, so he calls for his advocate and defender! He also asks that his Almighty God preserve him according to God’s own promise. He knows that God always fulfils his promises to those who follow him. The promises of God are as a soft healing balm to the frustrations and wounds of the Psalmist.

And while the Psalmist has a hope in his God, those who persecute, oppress and endanger him are bound for destruction! These wicked oppressors can never find salvation because they are removed from God, ignore God’s decrees and commit blasphemous acts in defiance of God’s decrees! The Psalmists persecutors are only interested in their own wisdom instead of seeking the wisdom of God.

In contrast to these wicked people, the Psalmist has not strayed from God’s righteous statutes! He knows Almighty God is compassionate, a great help in times of trouble and preserver of life – nothing can happen to the Psalmist unless God allows it, and God wont do that because of His tremendous promises found in His Law. The mercies of the Lord endure forever and ever – they are innumerable, immeasurable, immense, tender and true.

When he sees the wicked persecuting oppressors disavowing God, actively being wicked in disobedience, the Psalmist is full of righteous indignation and loathing! In contrast to the unrighteous who are against him, is the Psalmist who loves God’s precepts, commands and Law. He knows that the Lord’s anger is slow to burn and that the Lord is quick to love those who actively follow him. All of God’s words are true, all of God’s laws are righteous, exclaims the Psalmist! All of them from beginning to end and from top to bottom! This was a man willing to stand up for God with zeal, passion and righteous indignation – even if it cost him his very life!

How are you doing in your appreciation for what God has done for you? How are you doing when the world around through the media or people you know, seek to discredit your Christian belief in Almighty God? Are you sometimes filled with zealous indignation when Christians and Christianity are perjured against in the media or your workplace? Who is your advocate before God that defends you, wants to redeem you, deliver you from your enemies and those who would seek to bring you down and cause you to lose heart? As Christians, Jesus Christ is our advocate before God the Father. Do you know the promises of God, which can be found in the Bible? Read the Bible and when praying, have your Bible open and tell God what you are reading! All of Scripture, the Old Testament and the New Testament, is reliable and true- from beginning to end – just as the Psalmist exclaims for the portion that he had at the time.

In doing so, you develop an intimacy with God the Father, through God the Son in the power of God the Holy Spirit who lives inside you! This engenders a love for all of the Bible and not just your favourite parts! Be prepared to worship God in all manner of styles and not just your favourite style. Yet sometimes we have those in the church who like to discourage, perjure and hyper-criticize. No need to go far to find other Christians perjuring and espousing misleading words against us – particularly in the area of worship! Too many Christians today are perjuring others, being one-dimensional in their acts of church worship, short in their bible reading and are living stunted Christian lives because of it.

Just because another person experiences the Holy Spirit in a way different to you, doesn’t invalidate that way, but rather reflects the unique way God the Holy Spirit is working in the life of that person! Rejoice when that other person is worshipping Almighty God, even if the style of worship is not your own particular choice! Don’t restrict the Holy Spirit’s activity in your own life and do not grieve Him by trying to restrict and criticise His activity in another Christian’s life – to do is blasphemous and to call unclean that which is clean! Go and rejoice in the freedom of the Gospel for all people to worship in Spirit and truth and in many different styles – reflecting the manifold mercies of an ever-gracious God! A God who is gracious to save and merciful to be worshipped and adored! A jealous God worthy of zealous followers!

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Scriptural Delight 21

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Qoph

G’day! Welcome to Partake and our continuing series “Scriptural Delights!” We should have been looking at the eighteenth letter Tsadhe (ts-th) but Jim Harris is unable to do that for a couple of days. Here is our twenty first podcast going through the wonder that is Psalm 119! Today we look at the nineteenth of its twenty-two letters, Qoph, and its verses 145 to 152. Sharona reads it for us!

145 I call with all my heart; answer me, O LORD,

and I will obey your decrees.

146 I call out to you; save me

and I will keep your statutes.

147 I rise before dawn and cry for help;

I have put my hope in your word.

148 My eyes stay open through the watches of the night,

that I may meditate on your promises.

149 Hear my voice in accordance with your love;

preserve my life, O LORD, according to your laws.

150 Those who devise wicked schemes are near,

but they are far from your law.

151 Yet you are near, O LORD,

and all your commands are true.

152 Long ago I learned from your statutes

that you established them to last forever.

Thanks for the reading, Sharona – that was great! Here the Psalmist starts this section with two impassioned calls or loud cries! These are not necessarily loud audible cries but rather the inner desires of the heart and a bending of the will calling out to God. The first time is for God to hear him! His whole begin – body, mind and soul – are crying out go God, pleading with Him with full mental, emotional and spiritual energy. These are impassioned pleas. And the Psalmists knows that God will hear him, particularly if he is listening out for the Lord to speak, hence the being obedient to the decrees of Almighty God! Our Psalmist, David, is determined to live a life that is pleasing to God. To life a life that is worthy of being called God’s servant.

Not only was it impassioned prayer, but also it was prayer borne out of determination. He knows his need to be rescued, so he cries out to the one who can save him – Almighty God. As a result of being saved by God, the Psalmist pledges to be obedient to God the rescuer. The Psalmist promises to follow God’s instructions and statutes in full obedience.

Now for the third time, the Psalmist mentions that he has cried, pleaded, begged passionately for God. The Psalmist’s prayers are frequent, intense and strong. So strong are his desires are that the moment he awakes, he is in prayer. A key element of his prayers is hope. Here the Psalmist David has put his hope in God and God’s word. God is faithful, as the Psalmist has said throughout, and God’s words are also faithful and true – they can be relied upon to encourage and give hope. So intense is his prayer life, that not only is he up early in the morning, but late at night he can be found to be mediating on the promises that God has made! The Psalmist’s prayers were all day long! From before dawn till after dusk! He prayed to and worshipped His God all day and with great fervour and eagerness! He knows God will hear his voice, his pleadings as he maintains an attitude of hope, worship and adoration.

And to reaffirm that, he knows that God is a great God of love and a God of great love! Here in verse 149, it’s an audible prayer, not through any merit of his own, but of the merits of God! This God is loving, kind and preserver! This God fulfils the promises He makes! He gives strength in order to overcome the burdens faced by the Psalmist! When the Psalmist is faced with death, the God he serves, gives more life! WOW! The Psalmist doesn’t concentrate on himself or his own voice, but rather on this God and His voice, particularly His voice as seen in the laws.

He will be rescued before his enemies can kill him. These wicked people are the opposite of the Psalmist. Where the Psalmist is close to God, listening to God with open obedience and hoping in God’s promises, the scheming enemies are far away from God, from God’s laws even though they are near to the Psalmist. His enemies are only after mischief and troublemaking, not for the things of God!

Yet as near as his enemies are, the Psalmist knows that God is even closer! His God is watching over him, to preserve, love and watch over. God’s commandments are true, worthy of obedience and trustworthy. God is near, He is true and the Psalmist is safe. This loving and living God sees His servants under oppression and burdened and draws even closer to them to give them aid, assistance, comfort and encouragement. No wonder the Psalmist is keen to be obedient to his Worthy God!

In verse 152, we get the idea that the Psalmist, David, is now an old man when writing this. Long ago in his youth, he learnt God’s word and the stories, commandments, testimonies of God and those who followed God. The Psalmist built upon this rock, this established base and is seeking earnestly to live a life of utter obedience to this living God – a living God who does not and cannot change! WOW!!

This is an encouragement to us! How is our prayer life? Is it only on Sundays during church that we seek to connect with God? This God we pray to, seek to worship and obey, is worthy of our attention all day, every day! Are you burdened with something and feeling weighed down? Then ask and implore your God to take your burden, give you extra strength and vitality! He is true! He has promised! He will do it, if you allow Him to. Pray in the morning and the evening! Worship Him with a life of obedience to Him! Pray with your Bible open and let Him speak to you through it. The Bible is trustworthy and so is the God who gave it!

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