4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and a thank offering and into His courts with praise! Be thankful and say so to Him, bless and affectionately praise His name!
Enter His gates with thanksgiving. Something caught my eye as I closed the car door in the parking lot. On the edge of the sidewalk, a Lilliputian flower lifted its tiny face to the sun. As I had done when my grandsons squatted to inspect each roly poly, ladybug and beetle that crossed our path, I leaned close and smiled. One-fourth the size of a dime, the dainty blossom was a miniature daisy. Nearby, nestled among stalks of grass, other closed buds or buds just starting to open perched atop slender stems. Only that one flower fully opened itself, receiving the benefits of facing the sun.
“Thank You, Father, for drawing my eye to this dainty flower. Forgive me for focusing on troubles lately instead of speaking my gratitude all day, each day. Thank You for moving me to stop and praise You and to ponder the wonders of Your creation.”
Have you found, like me, that when you take time during the day not only to thank God but also to praise Him, to verbalize His many marvelous qualities, to admire Him, to adore Him, to pause and ponder all He is doing for you – have you found it brings awareness of His presence? This is the pearl of wisdom in Psalm 100. Verse four tells us to approach Him first by giving thanks and then to enter into His presence by praising Him. We are to admire Him and express our appreciation of Him affectionately and gratefully. Psalm 22:3 tells us that God lives in the praises of His people. Somehow, I think a fresh part of His love, a living part of God Himself, might actually come down from heaven and merge with the part of His Spirit that lives in our spirit. In our thoughts and feelings of love toward Him we are one with Him.
May God grant us grace to keep our faces, like flowers, turned toward our loving Father, for He is ever looking toward us. He keeps watch over us with care, all day. Wherever we go He takes notice of us. This is our loving Father, our great and glorious but intimate King Who told Jacob:
“ And behold, I am with you and will keep (watch over you with care, take notice of) you wherever you may go, and I will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done all of which I have told you. Genesis 28:15 AMPC).
Oh, what blessings await us when we are mindful that God is with us!
In Parts One and Two, we saw that Psalm 93 and 94 reassure us of God’s sovereignty and tell us that God will give us the power to keep ourselves calm. With confidence that God will make a way, we can let our swords glint with the truths in this psalm:
- When world situations seem to be going badly and
- When external personal situations seem to be going badly, and
- When our internal world floods with doubt and fear and our grasp on hope weakens.
Outline of Part Three. Here is what we will cover in Part Three.
- Psalm 94, The message of Verses 16 through 23
- Who will stand up for me?
- God HELPS when we are desperate
- God promises to make it easier
- When I THOUGHT my foot had slipped
- In the midst of great fear, God comforts and cheers
- The way the wicked attacks
- Seek God the way He says to
- God’s strength
- And what about the wicked?
- Pray that God would grant the wicked repentance!
- As for the godly?
Psalm 94. The message of Verses 16 through 23. The last section of Psalm 94 (verses 16 through 23) shows that—while God is allowing the cup of His wrath to be filled–God stands up for us by offering refuge. His arms are always open toward His children, waiting for us to run into His shelter. Consider verse 22-23. The psalmist says “BUT. . .” –in spite of the attacks of the enemy and his great fear (all he spoke of in verses 1-21), God has become his High Tower and defense and the Rock of his refuge. How did the psalmist reach this place of trusting, strong confidence in God?
He learned to run to God, to let God be his Rock of refuge. In other words, he found the strength of God that comes when we take refuge in or lean on Him. Rock symbolizes strength and in Hebrew “of” can mean of, for, from or to. So, “Rock of refuge” can mean the strength of God that comes from taking refuge in Him.
God’s strength is made complete in our weakness as the strength of a man is made complete when a woman leans on a man. She can limp along the path, and eventually fall, even though he is inches away from her. But if she reaches out and leans on him and uses his strength, she can move forward and with much less effort. The superior physical strength of a man fulfills its purpose when he helps a woman. I do not fully understand it, but I believe the differences between genders is a parallel that models one way to draw on God’s strength. God tells us to lean on and rely on Him over and over and over yet again. It must be important!
Who will stand up for me? Psalm 94:16.
16 Who will rise up for me against the evildoers? Who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity?
Verse 16 concerns what had happened in verses 17-19. In considering how God helped him, the psalmist cries, in amazement, “Who could possibly have stood up for me against the evildoers? I was so very desperate, but God taught me to stay calm and let His ‘comforts cheer and delight’ my soul. Yet I had been truly desperate!”
God HELPS when we are desperate. Verse 17
17 Unless the Lord had been my help, I would soon have dwelt in [the land where there is] silence.
The psalmist says that things were so bad he felt like he would have died if God had not helped him. But God was his help. In Isaiah 41:10 God tells His desperate children: 10 Fear not [there is nothing to fear], for I am with you; do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen and harden you to difficulties, yes, I will help you; yes, I will hold you up and retain you with My [victorious] right hand of rightness and justice.” (AMPC)
God reassures us that He is with us and that, because we have chosen Him as our God, He will BE our God. The enemy may shoot fiery darts at your mind, lies like “you can’t make it. I’m going to win.” But God promises He will help you. A child trying to clean up a spilled box of toys alone soon becomes discouraged, but as soon as the parent stoops to his level and helps, the child brightens. He is no longer alone, and the one who is everything to him and loves him is helping, and that one always takes care of him. Just the presence of the parent helps. Even so, just being aware of God’s presence helps. And, God will help ease the burden – of everything we turn over to Him.
God promises to make it easier. And God promises to “harden you to difficulties”. After papa or mama help a little child pick up his toys a few times, that child learns it is not so bad. The child has become hardened to the difficulty of having to pick up his toys. It no longer upsets him so much. After God has gotten me out of emotional turmoil a few times, I am not as upset when it happens again. Why? Because God has strengthened and hardened me to that difficulty. No matter the difficulty God allows, He makes it easier for His child. He is always with us, always close, and very readily found. (Psalm 46:1)
23 The steps of a [good] man are directed and established by the Lord when He delights in his way [and He busies Himself with his every step]. 24 Though he falls, he shall not be utterly cast down, for the Lord grasps his hand in support and upholds him. (Psalm 37:23-24, AMPC)
God will help! Psalm 37. Reread verse 34 of Psalm 37 again. It says God will help His children who are good, or in right standing with Him. “Right standing” or righteousness does not mean perfect; it just means those who are following Him wholeheartedly. The definition of the simple word “help” encourages me. Help means to give support, to provide something necessary, or to make more pleasant or bearable. (Websters 1828 online dictionary). In the smallest or biggest thing you face today, God, your God, is right there beside you, waiting to help. And this applies even when you feel you are going under, when you feel yourself wobbling. Part of helping is holding us up even when we feel we have fallen so far as to be beyond help.
When I THOUGHT my foot had slipped. Verse 18.
18 When I said, My foot is slipping, Your mercy and loving-kindness, O Lord, held me up.
Notice that the psalmist is talking about how he felt before God comforted him, when he thought his foot was slipping. If we start believing we are falling, we are in true danger because, in so doing, we step into the snare of fear. And fear grows rapidly, like the invasive poisonous weed it is. Fear destroys faith, chokes out all good fruit of the spirit and plants seeds that can grow into sorrow, unrest, hasty actions, and self-centered harshness born of desperation.
Consider Psalm 91. God says that if we dwell in the secret place of the Most High, God promises to keep us stable and fixed because He, Whom no enemy can stand up against, will be hovering right above, overshadowing us. If we declare “He is my Refuge and my Fortress, my God; on Him I lean and rely, and in Him I [confidently] trust!” God says that THEN (which means if we do verses 1 and 2), then:
3 For [then] He will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. (Psalm 91:3, AMPC)
In Bible times, fowlers (trappers of wild birds) spread snares on the ground. Once a bird stepped into it, the snare closed and held the bird’s foot captive. If we live according to God’s will the best we can, we will less often step into fear because fear is never God’s desire for us. And, furthermore, when our feet of clay step off the path of light and into a snare, God promises to release our foot from the snare if we lean, rely, and confidently trust in Him (Psalm 91:1-3; Psalm 25:15).
While God is getting us out of snares we step into—whether a passing or lingering mood, a chosen lifestyle or circumstances we did not create—we can calm our soul and “Give thanks to the Lord, FOR He is good. His mercy and love endures forever.” (Psalm 136:1, NIV). God’s mercy and loving-kindness holds us up.
Keeping our mind fixed on God’s mercy and loving kindness is life-giving. Perhaps that is why God had the writer of Psalm 136 repeat “His mercy and loving kindness endures forever” in each of the 26 verses in Psalm 136. This favorite temple psalm was chanted responsively, with the people responding “His mercy and loving kindness endures forever!” each time the priest made a statement about God’s mercy, loving kindness, goodness and faithfulness to Israel. I find it strengthening to read Psalm 136 out loud, slowly, pondering how God’s relationship to Israel parallels my own. I ponder how He rules over His beautiful creation into which He has placed me, how He set me free from enslavement to sin, how He led me, and continues leading me, through the process of maturity, how He helps me learn to possess the victorious life He promised, and so many more mercies!
Pause and ponder what mercy and loving kindness mean. Mercy can mean lenient or compassionate treatment, a fortunate circumstance or compassionate treatment of those in distress. Kindness means of a sympathetic or helpful nature, gentle, giving pleasure and relief, affectionate and loving. (Websters 1828 online dictionary). A wife can walk through the hard circumstances of her day with peace and strength if she knows her strong, merciful, loving and kind husband will be home at close of day to be with her. So can a child better endure daily trials because he knows he will soon be safe in a loving home, with loving parents and family. In trials of all kinds, we can know that He has promised help and relief, deliverance and His presence—and that is all day long, for He is ever with us when we are with Him. (2 Chronicles 15:2)
In the midst of great fear, God comforts and cheers. Verse 19.
19 In the multitude of my [anxious] thoughts within me, Your comforts cheer and delight my soul!
In verse 19, it sounds like the psalmist is still in the snare of fear, with a multitude of anxious thoughts swarming his mind. A seed of fear has multiplied into a multitude of anxious thoughts. As looking into a multitude of anything is visually confusing, so facing a multitude of anxious thoughts breeds confusion. You are carried along with the multitude of negative thoughts and feelings as they swirl and build even as one fish is carried along with the school of other fish. Yet even then, God sends comforts that cheer and delight His tormented child. God’s comforts bring “renewed hope and cheer” ((NLT).
One of God’s richest never-failing comforts is truths from His Word that He brings to mind. The writer of Psalm 119 said “This is my comfort and consolation in my affliction: that Your word has revived me and given me life. (Psalm 119:50, AMPC)”. Even though proud and arrogant men were mocking him (verse 51) he says “When I have [earnestly] recalled Your ordinances from of old, O Lord, I have taken comfort.” (verse 52, emphasis added).
How much better if we can keep ourselves calm and refused to be seized with alarm (Freda!) How much better if we can follow Paul’s example and let God comfort and encourage us “and confidently and boldly say, The Lord is my Helper; I will not be seized with alarm [I will not fear or dread or be terrified]. What can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5, AMPC)
But when we do fall into the pit of fear or any state of non-calmness, we can declare the Word that we need! The sooner we identify the thing we are fearing and neutralize that fear with Biblical truth, the sooner we will be released from the snare. We can learn to speak declarations, like this one by Amy Duggins, “out loud and with authority!” “Fear, I see you. I refuse to partner with you and I command you to leave right now in the name of Jesus.”
Then we can neutralize that lie with God’s truth “7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7, AMPC).
Whether the condition of non-calm comes because of blatant sin, the weakness of our flesh or an attack from the enemy, it helps to identify the lie. That forces it out of the darkness of the subconscious and into the light of conscious awareness. Then we can see clearly what truths we need to speak and meditate upon. I have found that repenting of past failures with those specific kinds of thoughts, as Amy suggests, is a powerful act of obedience. And God helps us form new habits of hand and heart.
The way the wicked attack. Verses 20-21
20 Shall the throne of iniquity have fellowship with You—they who frame and hide their unrighteous doings under [the sacred name of] law? 21 They band themselves together against the life of the [consistently] righteous and condemn the innocent to death.
The vicious, death seeking nature of Satan is the same in attacking us individually and in attacking our world. For a present-day example of verses 20 and 21 working in our world, look no further than daily news. Radical socialist progressive liberals now ruling our country are calling evil good and good evil (Isaiah 5:20). They call the murder of unborn children, sexual mutilation and perversion of children by teachers, open borders allowing drug and human sex trafficking, and a host of other evils good. They join together and speak a unified message of hatred and they join together in making and administering laws that harm and seek to destroy conservatives, and even more so those who follow God.
For sources that encourage by telling of the things God is doing—which mainstream media does not—see the “What is happening in our world today?” page of this website.
Back to verses 20-21 . . . Notice, though, that despite their boasting, the evil ones currently on the throne of our nation have no likeness with God; they are nothing like him. Their supposed “throne” is nothing like God’s actual throne. Remember the theme of Psalm 93 and 94? God IS sovereign. His vengeance is certain. Look at the woes in Isaiah 5:20-23. God says woe to them because they have “rejected the law of the Lord Almighty and spurned the word of the Holy One of Israel” (Isaiah 5:24b, NIV) God’s anger burns against them. Unbelievers may joke about the wrath of God but in their hearts they have an idea of what great sorrows and distress and tribulations await them.
Seek God the way He says to. God longs to be my High Tower and my Defense. He wants me to remain safe in Him, in the place of running to Him, while He wipes out the wicked.
22 But the Lord has become my High Tower and Defense, and my God the Rock of my refuge. 23 And He will turn back upon them their own iniquity and will wipe them out by means of their own wickedness; the Lord our God will wipe them out.
The psalmist links verses 20-21 with 22-23. He says that the wicked are attacking, BUT the Lord has become his refuge. Although he is being attacked, he is safe because he has run into the High Tower that is the name of the Lord. “The name of the Lord is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe. (Proverbs 18:10, NIV)”
The psalmist is safe because he is depending on God. He has, after a wilderness experience, learned to lean on his Beloved (Solomon 8:5). His dependence on and obedience to God have led him into the shelter of loving and serving God. He has acquired the strength that comes from turning to God.
As surely as any child ever stands behind his father, trusting him to fight for him, so the believer who is depending on the nature, or name, of God is safe and can be at peace.
God’s strength. Psalm 18 praises and explains God’s strength for David. It was written after God had delivered him from all his enemies, including Saul. Psalm 18 teaches us that God’s way is perfect, and that we can also become “perfect”, as far as we can in our humanity, by becoming complete. God makes our way of living complete when we learn to let Him give us his strength by leaning on Him. When we lean on Him, God grants the ability to stand and move forward even during seasons of testing and trouble. He gives us the nimble feet of mountain goats.
As for God, His way is perfect! The word of the Lord is tested and tried; He is a shield to all those who take refuge and put their trust in Him. 31 For who is God except the Lord? Or who is the Rock save our God, 32 The God who girds me with strength and makes my way perfect?
33 He makes my feet like hinds’ feet [able to stand firmly or make progress on the dangerous heights of testing and trouble]; He sets me securely upon my high places. (Psalm 18:30-33, AMPC, emphasis added)
No matter what the enemy says or threatens, God can give us the power to stay calm. This is our heritage from God.
7 But no weapon that is formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue that shall rise against you in judgment you shall show to be in the wrong. This [peace, righteousness, security, triumph over opposition] is the heritage of the servants of the Lord [those in whom the ideal Servant of the Lord is reproduced]; this is the righteousness or the vindication which they obtain from Me [this is that which I impart to them as their justification], says the Lord. (Isaiah 54:17, AMPC, emphasis added)
And what about the wicked? While the righteous trusting ones are safe, trusting in their God, God will turn back upon the wicked their own iniquity and “. . . will wipe them out by means of their own wickedness; the Lord our God will wipe them out.” (Psalm 94:23, AMPC)
God warns us all very clearly. His Word teaches that God is merciful beyond human understanding but He is also just. Galations 6:7 tells us “Do not be misled–you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant.” (NLT)
6 For He will render to every man according to his works [justly, as his deeds deserve]: 7 To those who by patient persistence in well-doing [springing from piety] seek [unseen but sure] glory and honor and [he eternal blessedness of] immortality, He will give eternal life.
8 But for those who are self-seeking and self-willed and disobedient to the Truth but responsive to wickedness, there will be indignation and wrath.9 [And] there will be tribulation and anguish and calamity and constraint for every soul of man who [habitually] does evil . . . (Romans 2:6-9a, AMPC)
Those who habitually do evil, who reject God’s repeated warnings, will get what they deserve. The evil they inflicted and planned to inflict on others will come upon them. “Whoever digs a pit [for another man’s feet] shall fall into it himself, and he who rolls a stone [up a height to do mischief], it will return upon him. (Proverbs 26:27, AMPC)” The NLT says “If you set a trap for others, you will be caught in it yourself.”
Pray that God would grant the wicked repentance! Far from rejoicing over the soon-coming fate of the wicked, we grieve for them and pray for them, that God may grant them repentance, resulting in salvation.
“. . . in the hope that God may grant that they will repent and come to know the Truth [that they will perceive and recognize and become accurately acquainted with and acknowledge it], 26 And that they may come to their senses [and] escape out of the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him, [henceforth] to do His [God’s] will. (2 Timothy 2:25b-26, AMPC)
We are obligated to pray for the wicked. 2 Timothy 2:25 tells us to pray for those who oppose us “ that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” (NIV). Intercessors for America is an excellent resource for prayer and for people with whom to partner in prayer. Go to www.intercessorsforamerica.org.
As for the godly? God promises to restore what the enemy destroyed and what he stole.
“ Instead of your shame
you will receive a double portion,
and instead of disgrace
you will rejoice in your inheritance.
And so you will inherit a double portion in your land,
and everlasting joy will be yours.
8 “For I, the Lord, love justice;
I hate robbery and wrongdoing.
In my faithfulness I will reward my people
and make an everlasting covenant with them.
9 Their descendants will be known among the nations
and their offspring among the peoples.
All who see them will acknowledge
that they are a people the Lord has blessed.”
10 I delight greatly in the Lord;
my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11 For as the soil makes the sprout come up
and a garden causes seeds to grow,
so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness
and praise spring up before all nations. (Isaiah 61:7-11, NIV)
Dear friend, whatever storm you are in, whether caused by our present evil world, circumstances of your life or an internal struggle, rest in these truths:
- God is with you.
- He adores you.
- God uses the trials of this life to mature us. He never wastes anything. He IS sovereign. Whatever is happening did not surprise Him.
- He has already made the way so that you can stay perfectly at peace.
- He is reaching out his hand, hovering over you in love, this moment.
- He will treat you fairly – and so so so much more than fairly!
- He hurts wherever you hurt. He feels with you and for you and He has made the way for you to be comforted in His presence while he deals with the attacks of the enemy. His tender mercies never, no never, no never fail!
May we imprint on our heart that . . .
8 The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and abounding in mercy and loving-kindness. 9 The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works [the entirety of things created].
10 All Your works shall praise You, O Lord, and Your loving ones shall bless You [affectionately and gratefully shall Your saints confess and praise You]! (Psalm 145:8-10, AMPC)