Lifes Chorus (Psalm 1)

The Psalms are not merely word melodies, but sparks from the anvil of life. Sledgehammer trials had moulded David, the author of so many, into a vessel meet for God’s treasure. A richness of personal experience emerges that answered the unspoken questions in his life.

The unsettled issues of eternity and meaningful matters of time unfold in these catalogues of praise. Should Satan depress, the flesh discourage and friends disown, then David faced them all. He had slain, conquered and ridden in triumph over his circumstances and his foes; see then how he opens up and displays his own testimony for our encouragement and peace of mind.

The godly man “does not walk, stand or sit,” but lays himself within the heartbeat of a loving God and finds this better than 10,000 laughs with wicked men. These are they who turn their worthless scorn upon the priceless law of heaven and undercost the value of a rugged cross, exchanging life’s full span of thankful praise for hollow jests that mock Golgotha’s crimson stream. This “sounding brass” from godless men is but the swelling of an empty cloud that runs before the sifting breeze of truth. The ransomed heart, in prostrate trust, discards the shallowness of earthly praise and covets not the friendship of unthankful men.

The fear of God has touched his heart with wisdom’s reverential care; has taught his seeking soul to dwell inside a fissured rock and view the scene of prattling men like slowly shifting sand. Their vain advice dissuades pursuing souls, but his faith secures, above all earthly ties, a fellowship with God that rejects the contagion of worldly-minded men, discarding pretentious speech that taunts the smitten Lord. His faith turns an upward ear to catch the whisper wrapped in a loving smile and sees the golden prospect of an earthly pilgrimage spread with divine delight as God himself steps out to tread a coupled path that leads to perfect peace.

Amid the technological turmoil and mournful mechanism of this industrial age, pure laughter is rare but the musical ring of this happy man is a symphony of praise to God, for “his delight is the law.” Even within the church, black morbidity from sanctimonious men can blight the brightest day, but who can stay the cheerful chuckl of a holy life?

To live according to the “law and the testimony” can bring some men into bondage – they try too hard! But the harpist describes this blissful man like unto a tree, and when did you last see a tree work? It quietly puts down and grows up a sturdy multiplication of strength over numerous seasons. It stands tall with towering toughness above the diverse currents of life, king of the plant realm.

Sad sinners, like brittle reeds, soon snap before the driving wind, but a tree simply shakes its emerald crown and rustles a song through the heavens. Similarly, there is nothing to compare with the rippling joy of a ransomed soul when the gusts of God are blowing through their life. By rooting deep at the water’s edge, a tree blooms with fruitful fullness, for it is not only “planted” but also fixed by “rivers of water.” If “his delight is in the law,” then his dependence must be on the Spirit.

The glowing growing shall “never wither.” The man who rests in God and rejoices in His testimony takes on conformity to the “tree of life”, whereas the rootless man will tumble like “rolling thistledown upon the mountains of the Lord” when Jesus comes with judgement. “The way of the ungodly will perish”, but the righteous will see the salvation of the Lord in the morning of eternity. All shall crash and crumble, but through the dissolution of time a new era will emerge that will outlast the confines of man’s measure. Limitless association with a God of love will be nothing less than prosperity, the central promise of the Psalm. The man who lays himself on God, laughs and lasts!


Friend of God

Last Sunday our Associate Minister, Greg Pratt, preached an excellent sermon that reminded us of our position in Christ and he gave ten stances or titles within the Christian Life. Many people are not sure what their standing in life really is, and this reminder was to fortify us in the days that lie ahead in case doubt and disappointment stalks our pilgrim way. During the sermon he quoted the words of a song we sing by Israel Houghton,

Who am I that you are mindful of me
That you hear me, when I call
Is it true that you are thinking of me
How you love me, it’s amazing (Who am I Lord)

Indeed, who are we, as we boast in the things of God; and so the list developed and our hearts were stirred. And, if we had extended that list by one, we could have added “I am a friend of God” and isn’t that a thrilling thought and correspondingly wonderful experience?

However as we closed the meeting and sang our last song, the thought suddenly came to me “A bakers dozen” which is usually 13 loaves and my mind did a flip as I thought of what Greg had just given in those 12 thoughts, not 10, [how I managed that leap of perception I really don’t know!] so how about an extra or 13th one, and lets sing about it, “I am a friend of God,” but the pianist of the day didn’t know it and the person who first introduced it, went blank, so we stumbled through it halfheartedly and closed the meeting laughing. So 10 became 12 and then 13 — Nonsense by any stretch of the imagination!

Abraham was called the “friend of God” (Jas 2:23) “and the scripture was fulfilled which said, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the friend of God;” friend because he believed God. Men may call us many things, but one of the highest appellations must be that one — God said: “Abraham my friend.” [Isa. 41:8]. He could have said Abram the sinner, or Abram the Syrian, or Abraham the man of faith, but he used this title for the quality he showed in life. We tend to worry about what we do for God, but who we are strikes a cord with Him.

Job pining for previous days said this: “Just as I was in the days of my prime, when the friendly counsel of God was over my tent;”

[Job 29:4]. Job’s life had been interrupted by trials so intense he almost died, in fact the disease he had was so great it rotted his teeth from the inside. “My bone clings to my skin and to my flesh, and I have escaped by the skin of my teeth” [Job 19:20]. He valued God’s friendship above all other aspects of life, even his wealth and health. The Psalms are replete with advice, so with proverbs: “The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray” [Prov 12:26]. As parents we tend to view the friendships our children make with circumspection or perhaps suspicion, wanting only their best.

The New Testament enforces this aspect of living when Jesus said to His disciples they were not slaves but friends. “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are my friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends” [John 15:13-15]. The Greek for friend is someone who is close, a dear one or beloved who is no mere acquaintance. They have depths of understanding and care, yet are able to discern reality in the context of life; thus their advice is paramount. Someone you can lean on and accept their unbiased advice which is for your ultimate good. That’s what God does.

The world has derived many quotations to explain friendship and here is but one: “A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow” [William Shakespeare]. Isn’t that last one Just like Jesus? He overlooks faults and undergirds our weaknesses. “He sticks closer than a brother” [Prov. 18:24]. Human brothers can let us down, some lie against us, they can enter into combined duplicity and they did that to Joseph of old [Gen. 37:19], but God, and there we have it. When God is our friend and we His, we have the best of life. He can turn improbable and impossible circumstances into victory. He thinks the best of us at all times.

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