Category Archives: The Psalms

psalm 37

It’s a really good thing this isn’t my full-time job because I would be broke.

#inconsistent

Yet here I am again. Psalm 37. One of the most improperly used verses of my life come from this psalm. So gird yourselves friends. I could get a lil saucey.

For actual context, this psalm is a wisdom meditation. It’s more like a proverb – not a promise. A guide for living that will increase your chances for living in the midst of God’s flourishing.

But for those of us that grew up with Bible verses plastered to t-shirts and posters in youth rooms, we got a nice little nugget from this one that, for me at least, really distorted how I viewed God and what walking through life with Him meant:

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Psalm 37:4 (NIV, for youth group throwback purposes)

Teenage Kayla was taught that all she had to do was take great delight in the Lord and she would get everything she ever wanted. 20 year old Kayla remembers vividly a night in her dorm room, weeping because she had just broken up with a boy for the 17th time in the midst of an on-again-off-again relationship, confused because she thought she was delighting in the Lord, yet she wasn’t getting anything she wanted. Even now I have to intentionally fight against the urge to believe that I’m just not delighting enough in the Lord and that’s why I don’t have the desires of my heart.

What so many of us miss with this psalm is, well, the rest of it.

This psalm does a beautiful job of showing us that it is better to stay loyal to the Lord – to live with loyalty that is expressed in contentment, honesty, and generosity that finds its roots in Him. And what God does with that, in His own good, perfect time, is make a clear distinction between the godless and the faithful.

The faithful must wait. Patiently.
And they will receive the desires of their heart.
And their desire will be for the Lord, not for a better job, a spouse, a [fill in the blank here].

Day by day the Lord takes care of the innocent, and they will receive an inheritance that lasts forever. They will not be disgraced in hard times; even in famine they will have more than enough.

The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.

Psalm 37:18-19, 23-24

What teenage, 20 year old, and present day Kayla need to hear is that the Lord delights in her. He takes her by the hand. He walks with her in the good days, the frustrating days, the sad days, and the days that are overflowing with joy.

His love and blessing is not contingent on what she offers Him.
His love and blessing is not contingent on her delight meter on a random Wednesday.
His love and blessing is contingent on His faithfulness and love toward His people, of whom she is apart of.

The promise of God offered to His people in this psalm is that they will find shelter in Him.

And honestly, that’s the deepest desire my heart could ever long for.

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psalm 36

As one might do on a Wednesday night, I started to go through photos on my phone to delete unnecessary screen shots and memes that have already been shared with my friends. I wasn’t expecting to stumble upon notes from a podcast I listened to in January that brought me to tears:

notes from the podcast “Fun Therapy” with guest Annie F. Downs

Side note: if you don’t have a whiteboard somewhere in your living quarters, were you even raised by a coach?!

“God is not eager to dissappoint* me.”

*don’t judge me for my hasty spelling

I have used the word “eager” a lot this week. Merriam-Webster defines the word as: marked by enthusiastic or impatient desire or interest.

I have very impatient interest in a lot of things currently. I am looking forward with great eagerness for moments on the horizon. And what January Kayla reminded April Kayla of tonight is that, in the midst of my anxious eager energy, God’s eagerness for me is way more kind that my eagerness for myself.

He is not eager to disappoint.

Psalm 36:7-9 says, “How precious is your unfailing love, O God! All humanity finds shelter in the shadow of your wings. You feed them from the abundance of your own house, letting them drink from your river of delights. For you are the fountain of life, the light by which we see.”

God is eager for my good. He has enthusiastic desire to shelter me, care for me, pour out His abundance on me.

Often, in my own self-pity, I can project the belief that God is eager to let me down. Like a playground punk that takes every slide, swing, and climbing wall out from under me.

But that’s just not His character.

His character is that of a loving, kind, generous Father that allows His children to drink deeply from His fountain of life.

So tonight, I’m saying thank you to past-Kayla because she has ministered to present-Kayla’s heart. And I’m going to curl up under the wings of a faithful, loving, kind Shelter who is eager for my good.

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psalm 35

A couple years ago I started writing through the Psalms in an effort to work out my finger muscles and then, well, I just got lazy and stopped.

So I thought tonight would be a great night to pick it back up with Psalm 35.

This psalm shows how the faithful people of God should pray when malicious people are seeking to harm them. It’s an interesting one to open up to on a day like today, where our nation’s capital has, essentially, been attacked.

It would be easy for me to take these verses and put a nice American twist on them, focusing on how God should rescue America from those that scheme against us (and let you interpret for yourself who the schemers are). But, may I remind us that God is not under America’s control. America is under God’s control. Because all of time and place is under God’s control. And the Bible does not exist to justify, or satisfy, our political or national agendas.

The plea of verse 1 – “Content, O Lord, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me!” – has nothing to do with national imprecation.
Sure, David was singing this song of prayer while he was being pursued by enemies. He was crying out for his God to intervene and save his life. But David is not America.

This psalm does, however, have everything to do with God’s people being confident enough in the One who says He will, and already has, fight for His people. The One who defeated death so that we might have life. And, follower of Jesus, you belong to a Kingdom that America will never fully understand.

The cry of verse 1 is that God will take up the cause of His people.

This feels really disjointed and floppy and just not well written, but my finger muscles are starting to get worked out again and sometimes the first workout back is always the choppiest.

So with that in mind, I end with this prayer:
Holy, Just, and Righteous God – take up the cause of Your people. Give me, and those reading, consistent desire to hand our cause over to You – to be molded by Your Word, Your Spirit, and Your Father heart for us. When we ask, “How long, O Lord, will you look on?”, remind us that you are continually with us – that nothing catches You off guard. Remind us that You are still God and You are still good. That your mercy endures forever. That You will not be put to shame. And that Your Kingdom will reign eternal.
Amen.

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psalm 34

psalm 34
Have you ever seen the movie, We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story?
That’s what I feel like a lil bit, not having written in a hot minute.
And if you haven’t – go watch it right now. One of the more underrated animated movies of 1993.
Back to the point, Smith.
Hello, world. We continue with your regularly scheduled programming of a look through the Psalms.
Psalm 34.
The header of this psalm in most Bibles is: Taste and See That the Lord Is Good.
If I could describe my greatest desire for the people in my life, it is that they would taste and see that the Lord is good.
A few years ago I had the honor of being on a panel at my church, discussing the importance of reading scripture and why it is such an important part of my relationship with God.
One of the final questions asked was, “What draws you in to Scripture?”
My answer, through tears, was, “I’ve experienced Jesus and I’ve experienced His goodness, and I can’t stay away. I am changed. I am a different person because of the truth of Scripture.”
And the truth is, I truly am a different person because of Jesus.
His Word changes me.
The angel of the Lord encamps around me and delivers me.
The Lord is near to me – the brokenhearted and crushed in spirit.
He delivers me out of all afflictions.
But the trouble in my heart comes when I read David writing things like, “I will bless the Lord at all times…My soul makes its boast in the Lord…”
Because that is def.in.ite.ly not true of me.
Often, I bless myself.
I boast in my own accomplishments.
OR (and this one cuts deep) I wallow in my own self-pity.
My woe-is-me temperament takes full control and all I want to do is sit in a pit of despair, begging for others to join me in my demise.
But then.
I consider Jesus.
And I know in the deepest part of my soul that He truly is near to the brokenhearted.
As Peter said, “Lord, where else should I go? You have the words of eternal life!”
I know David’s words to be true.
I know that God is nearer than any.
I know that He is truer than any.
I know that His mercies are new every morning.
I know that He is more steadfast than I can even wrap my brain around.
And yet.
I doubt His goodness.
Often, because I’ve lost my taste.
I’ve decided to eat the bread that the world offers instead of feasting from the Bread of Life.
On good days, I can proclaim with full confidence that I will hunger no more because of the sustenance that God offers through redemption in Jesus.
On bad days, I can softly whisper that I am fighting to reach the crumbs on the floor – crawling to get back to Jesus’ table side – because I know that only there will I find fullness of life.
But the crawl might give me scrapes on my knees.
The effort often seems too daunting.
It’s hard to comprehend that it’ll be worth it.
Yet.
I have tasted and seen that the Lord is good.
So I’m going to keep fighting for that meal.
Cut up knees and all, I want to keep tasting and seeing that the Lord truly is good.
I will bless the Lord at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
let the humble hear and be glad.
Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
and let us exalt his name together!
I sought the Lord, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant,
and their faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
and saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints,
for those who fear him have no lack!
The young lions suffer want and hunger;
but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
Come, O children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
What man is there who desires life
and loves many days, that he may see good?
Keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from speaking deceit.
Turn away from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.
The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous
and his ears toward their cry.
The face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears
and delivers them out of all their troubles.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit.
Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
but the Lord delivers him out of them all.
He keeps all his bones;
not one of them is broken.
Affliction will slay the wicked,
and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.
The Lord redeems the life of his servants;
none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.
Psalm 34
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my silence vs. God (psalm 33)

psalm 33

I’ve had writer’s block for a few weeks now.
When I say “writer’s block” what I mean is “laziness.”

I just haven’t put in the discipline. Which seems to be a theme over the past few months. Not just in writing, but sometimes in life.

I came across this note in my phone from September 6, 2017: “My silence won’t keep God from being God.”

I truly have zero context around why I wrote this note in my phone on that night. I mean, it’s good truth, but I have no clue what inspired that truth to come out. ‘Cept Holy Spirit, of course.

Then, I come to tonight, and by my meticulous bookkeeping abilities (meaning I can look on a website and see what the last psalm I wrote about was…) I see that up in the order of psalms is numero thirty-three. All about the steadfast love of the Lord.

Remember when I said that discipline is hard for me sometimes?
Remember when I said that my silence won’t keep God from being God?

I can get into this mode of thinking that if I give God the cold shoulder He’ll shape up and bend toward my preferences and desires. That, if I give Him the silent treatment, He’ll start paying more attention to me. I get frustrated and stubborn, wondering why He just won’t figure.it.outand get with my program.

My hope moves away from God and toward my silence.
I put my trust in my passive aggressiveness and cease to rely on the steadfast love of the Lord.
I lose joy because my mind is more affixed to my name than His holy one.

Then I read a note from 6 months ago.
And read a psalm that is all about God and not about me.

And I’m reminded that my silence doesn’t keep God from being God.
It doesn’t keep Him from being sovereign over all creation.
It doesn’t keep Him from pursuing me.
It doesn’t keep Him from giving me love and grace and mercy, moment by moment throughout each day.

Our soul waits for the Lord;
He is our help and our shield.
For our heart is glad in Him,
because we trust in His holy name.
Let Your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us,
even as we hope in you.

psalm 33:20-22

I’m so glad that even in my silence, God’s steadfast love doesn’t leave me. I
t is always upon me, always helping me.

Lord, may Your steadfast love always be upon me, especially when I’m a silent little punk who thinks she can have hope in something other than You.

 

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