Good Times, Bad Times
“I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations” (1).
Read Psalm 89
1 I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever;
with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known
through all generations.
2 I will declare that your love stands firm forever,
that you have established your faithfulness in heaven itself.
3 You said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one,
I have sworn to David my servant,
4 ‘I will establish your line forever
and make your throne firm through all generations.’”
5 The heavens praise your wonders, Lord,
your faithfulness too, in the assembly of the holy ones.
6 For who in the skies above can compare with the Lord?
Who is like the Lord among the heavenly beings?
7 In the council of the holy ones God is greatly feared;
he is more awesome than all who surround him.
8 Who is like you, Lord God Almighty?
You, Lord, are mighty, and your faithfulness surrounds you.
9 You rule over the surging sea;
when its waves mount up, you still them.
10 You crushed Rahab like one of the slain;
with your strong arm you scattered your enemies.
11 The heavens are yours, and yours also the earth;
you founded the world and all that is in it.
12 You created the north and the south;
Tabor and Hermon sing for joy at your name.
13 Your arm is endowed with power;
your hand is strong, your right hand exalted.
14 Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne;
love and faithfulness go before you.
15 Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you,
who walk in the light of your presence, Lord.
16 They rejoice in your name all day long;
they celebrate your righteousness.
17 For you are their glory and strength,
and by your favor you exalt our horn.
18 Indeed, our shield belongs to the Lord,
our king to the Holy One of Israel.
19 Once you spoke in a vision,
to your faithful people you said:
“I have bestowed strength on a warrior;
I have raised up a young man from among the people.
20 I have found David my servant;
with my sacred oil I have anointed him.
21 My hand will sustain him;
surely my arm will strengthen him.
22 The enemy will not get the better of him;
the wicked will not oppress him.
23 I will crush his foes before him
and strike down his adversaries.
24 My faithful love will be with him,
and through my name his horn will be exalted.
25 I will set his hand over the sea,
his right hand over the rivers.
26 He will call out to me, ‘You are my Father,
my God, the Rock my Savior.’
27 And I will appoint him to be my firstborn,
the most exalted of the kings of the earth.
28 I will maintain my love to him forever,
and my covenant with him will never fail.
29 I will establish his line forever,
his throne as long as the heavens endure.
30 “If his sons forsake my law
and do not follow my statutes,
31 if they violate my decrees
and fail to keep my commands,
32 I will punish their sin with the rod,
their iniquity with flogging;
33 but I will not take my love from him,
nor will I ever betray my faithfulness.
34 I will not violate my covenant
or alter what my lips have uttered.
35 Once for all, I have sworn by my holiness—
and I will not lie to David—
36 that his line will continue forever
and his throne endure before me like the sun;
37 it will be established forever like the moon,
the faithful witness in the sky.”
38 But you have rejected, you have spurned,
you have been very angry with your anointed one.
39 You have renounced the covenant with your servant
and have defiled his crown in the dust.
40 You have broken through all his walls
and reduced his strongholds to ruins.
41 All who pass by have plundered him;
he has become the scorn of his neighbors.
42 You have exalted the right hand of his foes;
you have made all his enemies rejoice.
43 Indeed, you have turned back the edge of his sword
and have not supported him in battle.
44 You have put an end to his splendor
and cast his throne to the ground.
45 You have cut short the days of his youth;
you have covered him with a mantle of shame.
46 How long, Lord? Will you hide yourself forever?
How long will your wrath burn like fire?
47 Remember how fleeting is my life.
For what futility you have created all humanity!
48 Who can live and not see death,
or who can escape the power of the grave?
49 Lord, where is your former great love,
which in your faithfulness you swore to David?
50 Remember, Lord, how your servant has been mocked,
how I bear in my heart the taunts of all the nations,
51 the taunts with which your enemies, Lord, have mocked,
with which they have mocked every step of your anointed one.
52 Praise be to the Lord forever!
Amen and Amen.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectI will sing of the lovingkindness of Jehovah for ever: With my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations. 2 For I have said, Mercy shall be built up for ever; Thy faithfulness wilt thou establish in the very heavens. 3 I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant: 4 Thy seed will I establish for ever, And build up thy throne to all generations. Selah 5 And the heavens shall praise thy wonders, O Jehovah; Thy faithfulness also in the assembly of the holy ones. 6 For who in the skies can be compared unto Jehovah? Who among the sons of the mighty is like unto Jehovah, 7 A God very terrible in the council of the holy ones, And to be feared above all them that are round about him? 8 O Jehovah God of hosts, Who is a mighty one, like unto thee, O Jehovah? And thy faithfulness is round about thee. 9 Thou rulest the pride of the sea: When the waves thereof arise, thou stillest them. 10 Thou hast broken Rahab in pieces, as one that is slain; Thou hast scattered thine enemies with the arm of thy strength. 11 The heavens are thine, the earth also is thine: The world and the fulness thereof, thou hast founded them. 12 The north and the south, thou hast created them: Tabor and Hermon rejoice in thy name. 13 Thou hast a mighty arm; Strong is thy hand, and high is thy right hand. 14 Righteousness and justice are the foundation of thy throne: Lovingkindness and truth go before thy face. 15 Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound: They walk, O Jehovah, in the light of thy countenance. 16 In thy name do they rejoice all the day; And in thy righteousness are they exalted. 17 For thou art the glory of their strength; And in thy favor our horn shall be exalted. 18 For our shield belongeth unto Jehovah; And our king to the Holy One of Israel. 19 Then thou spakest in vision to thy saints, And saidst, I have laid help upon one that is mighty; I have exalted one chosen out of the people. 20 I have found David my servant; With my holy oil have I anointed him: 21 With whom my hand shall be established; Mine arm also shall strengthen him. 22 The enemy shall not exact from him, Nor the son of wickedness afflict him. 23 And I will beat down his adversaries before him, And smite them that hate him. 24 But my faithfulness and my lovingkindness shall be with him; And in my name shall his horn be exalted. 25 I will set his hand also on the sea, And his right hand on the rivers. 26 He shall cry unto me, Thou art my Father, My God, and the rock of my salvation. 27 I also will make him my first-born, The highest of the kings of the earth. 28 My lovingkindness will I keep for him for evermore; And my covenant shall stand fast with him. 29 His seed also will I make to endure for ever, And his throne as the days of heaven. 30 If his children forsake my law, And walk not in mine ordinances; 31 If they break my statutes, And keep not my commandments; 32 Then will I visit their transgression with the rod, And their iniquity with stripes. 33 But my lovingkindness will I not utterly take from him, Nor suffer my faithfulness to fail. 34 My covenant will I not break, Nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips. 35 Once have I sworn by my holiness: I will not lie unto David: 36 His seed shall endure for ever, And his throne as the sun before me. 37 It shall be established for ever as the moon, And as the faithful witness in the sky. Selah 38 But thou hast cast off and rejected, Thou hast been wroth with thine anointed. 39 Thou hast abhorred the covenant of thy servant: Thou hast profaned his crown by casting it to the ground. 40 Thou hast broken down all his hedges; Thou hast brought his strongholds to ruin. 41 All that pass by the way rob him: He is become a reproach to his neighbors. 42 Thou hast exalted the right hand of his adversaries; Thou hast made all his enemies to rejoice. 43 Yea, thou turnest back the edge of his sword, And hast not made him to stand in the battle. 44 Thou hast made his brightness to cease, And cast his throne down to the ground. 45 The days of his youth hast thou shortened: Thou hast covered him with shame. Selah 46 How long, O Jehovah? wilt thou hide thyself for ever? How long shall thy wrath burn like fire? 47 Oh remember how short my time is: For what vanity hast thou created all the children of men! 48 What man is he that shall live and not see death, That shall deliver his soul from the power of Sheol? Selah 49 Lord, where are thy former lovingkindnesses, Which thou swarest unto David in thy faithfulness? 50 Remember, Lord, the reproach of thy servants; How I do bear in my bosom the reproach of all the mighty peoples, 51 Wherewith thine enemies have reproached, O Jehovah, Wherewith they have reproached the footsteps of thine anointed. 52 Blessed be Jehovah for evermore. Amen, and Amen.
Today’s reading begins and ends with executions. In most developed countries the church is marginalized, but our struggles with “new atheism” don’t usually involve death. For some of our persecuted brothers and sisters, however, this is indeed their story.
Violence motivated by religious hatred is at work. Herod uses it to hold on to power. Peter is imprisoned and is in danger of losing his life (2–4). Then God steps in.
Elements of this story might make us smile. Peter’s astonishment at the angel’s arrival, and his sleepy stumbling out to the street. Poor Rhoda’s amazement when Peter shows up at the door, too bewildered to let him in. The earnest pray-ers inside have been asking God for… what? We aren’t told. Would they have had the faith to ask that the prison doors would be opened, or were they praying that God would comfort Peter in what were possibly his last hours? What a surprise awaited them!
Don’t lose the force of the story of Peter’s release from chains. It was God’s supernatural intervention through an angel that secured his freedom. He is the same God. He can, and still does, intervene today, and he is Lord over all regimes, good and bad.
Have you ever been in bondage to offense? Forgive your oppressor and do so quickly. Christ died to set us free!
Pray today for the families of believers who have been put to death—even if you do not know their names or where they live.
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