|Publisher:||B&H Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.20(w) x 7.10(h) x 1.40(d)|
|Age Range:||3 Months to 18 Years|
About the Author
Dorothy Kelley Patterson is professor of Theology in Women’s Studies at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. She is a homemaker, popular speaker, and successful writer, editor, and compiler of numerous books and coeditor of the Old Testament and New Testament volumes of the Women’s Evangelical Commentary. Her husband Paige is president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Rhonda Harrington Kelley is the president’s wife and adjunct professor of Women’s Ministry at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in New Orleans, Louisiana. She is a frequent speaker for women as well as the author of numerous books and coeditor of the Old Testament and New Testament volumes of the Women’s Evangelical Commentary. Her husband Chuck is president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
Read an Excerpt
Prosper in the New Year
"He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water ... And whatever he does shall prosper." (v. 3)
Happy New Year! As one year ends and another begins, Christians often take time to reassess their lives and make resolutions. Have you determined your resolutions? Do not get ahead of God; turn to His Word before you start planning. The Bible is the source of guidance for those who seek to follow God's will. So, consider God's Word as you make your plans for the future.
King David begins the book of Psalms with wisdom that could help with your resolutions. He contrasts the way of the righteous and the end of the unrighteous, describing their action plan. He clearly identifies the blessings of the godly life and gives directions for prosperity. To accomplish God's will and receive His blessings in the New Year and every day, believers must:
delight in the law of the Lord (v. 2);
meditate on His law day and night (v. 2); and
plant themselves firmly by the rivers of water (v. 3).
Total commitment to God's Word is necessary to bear fruit and prosper in life. A Christian grows and produces fruit when she seeks wisdom and guidance from God's Word. She can experience great joy in learning the truths of God. She must study the Bible regularly and meditate on it throughout the day. When planted firmly in God's Word, a believer has a continual supply from the Lord to flourish in life and ministry.
As this new year begins, I will make personal resolutions after I evaluate my progress during the past year. I will set several goals in each of these six areas: spiritual, physical, mental, social, family, and financial. I will seek to define goals that are specific and measurable. As a Christian, I will pray for wisdom and guidance from the Lord so my goals will help accomplish His purposes in and through my life. The study of His Word clarifies my path and keeps me firmly grounded in His will. I am so grateful for His continual supply of wisdom.
Do you want to prosper in the new year? Do you pray that your family and friends will prosper? If so, you must delight yourself in the law of the Lord. Find more joy in God's Word than any other source. Meditate on His truth day and night, so that His Word is a conscious part of your life. Encourage those you love to plant themselves by His rivers of water, the Word of God, so they can also experience the blessings of God. What a joy to know you can prosper and be fruitful in the New Year!
Prayer:Take time in prayer and Bible study as you make resolutions for a new year. Allow God's Word, not the world, to guide and direct you.
Lord, Help Me!
"But You, O Lord, are a shield for me, My glory and the One who lifts up my head. I cried to the Lord with my voice, And He heard me from His holy hill. Selah" (vv. 3–4)
The world is a mess! News agencies broadcast the violence, corruption, and terrorism in the world as well as our own communities. Loved ones face trouble — illness, loss, and death. At times, we ourselves suffer with physical, emotional, or spiritual problems. Some of these crises impact relationships with God and others. Christians are not exempt from the daily challenges of living. Life happens, but the Lord helps!
In Psalm 3, David cries out to the Lord in his personal despair. The king's life was torn apart by family turmoil and civil unrest. As a consequence of his adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband at the king's command, problems began with David's family (2 Sam. 12:9–12). His son Absalom attempted to usurp the throne and caused David to flee from Jerusalem (2 Sam. 15:13–37). In his despair, King David wrote the words of this song.
Many people opposed him, but David had confidence in God: He clung to the promises of God to be his shield (Ps. 3:3), his strength (v. 3), his sustainer (v. 5), and his salvation (vv. 7–8). David knew the importance of a shield for a warrior's protection from an enemy. He had experienced the strength of God in battle to lift him up and restore energy. David had depended on the Lord throughout his life and knew He would help again. Ultimately, he believed that salvation was a grace gift of God to rescue sinners from themselves and their enemies.
Have you ever been attacked by other people? Has someone been critical of you because of different opinions? Relationships in life can often become tense. Like King David, you may feel at war even with those you love. In your frustration and despair, call out to God for protection and guidance. I have learned the lesson personally. When the people closest to you are critical of you or your husband, it hurts! Call out to the Lord for help. He hears and heals and gives hope. The problems do not always disappear, but the Lord is your shield of protection and lifts up your head to give you strength. God has always been my present help in times of need!
God's promise to David is your promise today: God is with you, to protect you and give you strength. Cling to the promises of God. Call out to Him for help. And, give Him the glory for your salvation. You can be confident in the Lord's provision when you call out to Him: "Lord, help me!"
Prayer:Ask the Lord to forgive you of your sin and protect you from your enemies. Claim the promises of God to be your shield, strength, sustainer, and salvation.
Take a Deep Breath
"Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still. Selah Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, And put your trust in the Lord." (vv. 4–5)
Do you trust God to hear your cries and answer your prayers? David expressed his faith in God in Psalm 4, expecting God to hear and extend mercy. The king knew that even though he was the ruler, he needed the intervention of Almighty God in his life. Despite his own personal failures and relentless opposition by his enemies, David had been set apart by God to be king. Because of his anointed position, his life and leadership needed to be characterized by godliness.
In Psalm 4:4–5, David issued a fourfold command for godly living to himself and his people: (1) "Be angry, and do not sin"; (2) "Meditate within your heart, and be still"; (3) "Offer the sacrifices of righteousness"; and (4) "put your trust in the Lord." What profound wisdom for yesterday and today! People who follow these guidelines will live godly lives and give God glory.
An interesting word punctuates verse 4. The Hebrew word Selah appears here and seventy other times in the book of Psalms as well as three times in Habakkuk. While the exact meaning is unknown, this term is thought to have musical significance in singing the psalms. Selah most likely indicates a pause for silence or a period of interlude. It may also provide helpful guidance for dealing with the tensions of life — when you are angry, take a breath. A pause for silence is good in singing and in life.
Do you ever get angry at yourself or others? If you are alive, you have inevitably experienced anger. Some of us control our anger more effectively than others. All of us can handle our anger with the help of the Holy Spirit. David's inclusion of Selah in his psalms instructs us to take a breath when our emotions swell. Allow the Lord to calm your spirit and guard your tongue.
I am usually patient with others though impatient with myself. In the first year of marriage, I became furious when I could not mash my undercooked potatoes with my hand mixer. My sweet husband innocently walked into the kitchen as my anger exploded, and I flung potatoes across the room. In an effort to calm my anger, Chuck gave me a very nice electric mixer, which he says saved our marriage. As a young bride, I was embarrassed by my behavior and disappointed by my husband's practical gift of an appliance for the first Christmas in our marriage. I have learned to control my emotions with the help of the Lord and a deep breath.
What about you? Do you sin by becoming angry? If so, take a deep breath and meditate within your heart. Selah. When you put your trust in God, He tempers your emotions and encourages righteous living.
Prayer:Spend a few moments crying out to God. Confess to Him any anger or other sin. Be still and meditate in your heart as you renew your trust in Him.
A Countenance of Joy
"You have put gladness in my heart, More than in the season that their grain and wine increased. I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; For You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety." (vv. 7–8)
One rainy Monday in New Orleans, I needed to run my errands. So, I donned my rain slicker and rain boots as I headed out with my list. I popped into the card store and greeted the clerk: "Happy Monday morning!" She immediately asked why I was smiling on such a miserable day. Without hesitation, I replied, "The weather doesn't determine my mood; the Lord does. He has given me joy despite the rain." My joyful countenance and positive words gave me an opportunity to be a witness on an otherwise miserable day.
In the last three verses of Psalm 4, King David petitions the Lord to reveal the light of His countenance. The word countenance is not a popular word in contemporary vernacular, but it is an important biblical word. Several Hebrew and Greek expressions are translated in the Bible with the noun countenance. The term has a deeper meaning than outward appearance. It actually reflects inward character and feelings of the heart. David asked the Lord to reveal His nature, to radiate His very being for all to see. Created in the image of God, believers should look like Him, reflecting His likeness. Christians are to be like Him and look like Him.
How can you have a godly countenance? How can your love of God and true character be reflected in your face? King David explained the source of his joy in verses 7 and 8. God put gladness in his heart. In times of harvest or famine, David could sleep in peace because he was safe in the presence of the Lord. You can have a heart of peace and a countenance of joy despite the circumstances when you trust in the Lord.
Take a look in the mirror. Is your face a joyful reflection of the peace you have in God? Do your eyes sparkle with hope and your lips smile with love? When you trust in God and depend upon Him, your face and tone of voice should express your confidence in Him despite the circumstances. Be conscious of the power of your feelings. Inward joy should be reflected outwardly.
Your countenance matters because you may be the only Bible some people will ever read. The first impression of your facial expression can speak more loudly than your words as you relate to others. So, witness with your face. Have a joyful countenance and a face of faith.
Prayer:Lift your head up to the Lord and ask Him to show you His glory. As you receive His joy and rest in His peace, you will be secure in His arms and be a testimony of His grace.
Go to God for Guidance
"My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord; In the morning I will direct it to You, And I will look up." (v. 3)
To whom do you go for guidance? Women today turn to many different sources for help — television, magazines, books, friends, and even themselves. While some helpful counsel is offered by these people, God is the most accurate and reliable source of guidance. His wisdom is available through prayer and the study of His Word. Daily pursuit of God can keep you on the right track.
Psalm 5 is David's prayer for guidance. It is one of the consecutive psalms of David written to be performed under the leadership of the "chief musician" or "choir director" (Pss. 4; 5; and 6). Each of the three psalms begins with an imperative verb demonstrating confidence in approaching God in prayer or song. Whether performed in public or prayed in private, this psalm voices confidence in God and commitment to His will.
The first stanza of this song seeks God's attention to the words and the heart of the soloist (Ps. 5:1). King David cries out to the King of kings and Lord of lords for guidance (v. 2). Despite his power and position, David needs the wise counsel of the one true God. He begins the day in prayer, talking directly to God. "In the morning" is mentioned twice in verse 3, emphasizing the importance of daily guidance and renewed hope.
I am not a morning person, so I have always struggled with scheduling my quiet time early in the morning. In fact, I confess to reading several translations of the Bible before finding one that uses "earnestly," or "eagerly," instead of "early" in Psalm 63:1, "Earnestly I seek you" (NASB and ESV). I do understand the necessity of starting each day in prayer so God will guide me.
Morning brings with it newness and hope. At daybreak, each person has the opportunity to begin again. The promise of a new day begins, and only God knows how the minutes will unfold. David knew his need to seek God every morning, though at times he did take matters into his own hands and go ahead of God. In Psalm 5, King David renews his commitment to go to God for guidance every day. All Christians should pray his prayer and sing his song.
Prayer:Renew your own commitment to seek God's guidance as each new day begins. Listen to Him, not others, for direction in life.
Trust in God and Rejoice
"But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; Let those also who love Your name Be joyful in You." (v. 11)
Psalm 5 begins with David's personal pursuit of God's guidance. Then, like many songs, this psalm changes its timbre. This chapter is the first of several imprecatory psalms, which invoke a curse or call on God to bring misfortune and disaster on one's enemies (see also Pss. 11; 17; 35; 55; 59; 69; 109; 137; and 140). They are included in the book of Psalms to remind us that God knows our hearts completely.
How can God, who teaches His children to love their enemies, respond to their prayers for retribution? David struggled to love those who opposed him while also seeking their destruction. God wants His children to bear their souls to Him while trusting Him for divine justice.
How can believers today understand these imprecatory psalms, which are divinely inspired yet seemingly inconsistent with the love of God? Keep these biblical truths in mind:
Scripture never contradicts Scripture.
Expression of human emotion honestly to God in prayer is always acceptable.
Vengeance belongs to the Lord.
The wicked will ultimately be judged by God.
God loves His children and will act in their best interests.
David obviously felt confident in expressing his deepest emotions to the Lord. He did not tell God what to do; he asked the sovereign God to judge the unrighteous. After his passionate plea in Psalm 5:9–10, the king resumed his song of praise. He called on all who trust in God to rejoice, shout for joy, and be joyful in Him (v. 11). He knew God would bless the righteous with His favor and protect them with a shield (v. 12).
Who are the righteous? Simply speaking, the righteous are those who live in right relationship with the Lord. The Bible clearly teaches that God alone is all righteous (Ps. 119:137). Jesus was the only human being to live without sin and be fully righteous (2 Cor. 5:21). And, the Bible states firmly that human beings cannot achieve righteousness in their own efforts (Rom. 3:20). People receive righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ and seek to become more righteous through the power of the Holy Spirit. Repentance of sin is necessary for righteousness (1 John 1:9); it is not the result of good works. While on earth, believers should seek to become righteous. When in heaven, every believer will be wholly righteous in the presence of the Holy God.
David had every reason to rejoice! He trusted in God with his whole heart. You can rejoice today in the presence of your enemies, when you trust in God. Cry out to the Lord to do what is right; do not give Him directives to follow.
Prayer:Ask God to forgive you of your own sin and deal justly with your enemies. Trust Him by faith and rejoice in His blessings.
Excerpted from "The Psalms and Proverbs Devotional for Women"
Copyright © 2017 Rhonda Harrington Kelley and Dorothy Kelley Patterson.
Excerpted by permission of B&H Publishing Group.
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