Speaking to Kings

“I will speak to kings about Your laws,
    and I will not be ashamed.”
Psalm 119:46 NLT

When was the last time any of us had the chance to speak to a king? You know, the head of state in a monarchist nation. The guy who sits on a throne pontificating about national matters, and perhaps dispensing justice when appropriate. Here in the West, monarchies are rare, though we have democratically elected leaders who behave as though they are kings or queens in all but name. Sometimes I see the mess our leaders make or the shenanigans they get up to, and wish that a good old fashioned benign but Godly monarchy was re-established in our lands. But before I get slated by social media republican trolls, let me ask the question – if we had the chance to speak to a king, what would we say to them? The Psalmist was clear. No pleasantries here. No wasting time discussing what repeat was shown on television last night. No, the Psalmist went straight to the point, speaking to the king about God’s laws. But why would he be ashamed? I think he would have been ashamed if he hadn’t put God at the front of any royal conversation. Or wasted an opportunity to remind the king of God’s laws. In some times in history, putting God above the monarch was a capital offence. We read about such an event in Daniel 3, when the three Jewish lads refused to bow down to a gold idol erected by King Nebuchadnezzar. Reminding the king about the greater King and His laws might be something to be careful about. But perhaps the Psalmist had access to a local king, and had the desire to remind him about the importance of setting laws in line with God’s Law. 

So what relevance does this verse have to our modern day pilgrim in his or her life-journey? One response would be to ignore it, on the grounds that getting in front of royalty was never going to happen. Not in our lives. But we should remember that on occasion we call our leaders “law makers”. So let me substitute “leader” for “king”. Now that is more achievable, because our law-making leaders are much more accessible. We can at any opportunity write to them, ring their office, or even meet them face to face in one of their democratic surgeries. And we therefore have the opportunity to speak to them about God’s laws. Here in the UK there is an increasing tendency for our secular law makers to bring in legislation that is distinctly at odds with God’s laws. What do we do – put our heads in the sand, hoping that the problem won’t affect us? Or do we use our democratic right and “speak to kings about [God’s] laws“? A challenge to think about as we lurch from the Covid-ridden 2021 into a New Year?

The Love of Money

Give me an eagerness for your laws 
rather than a love for money! 
Turn my eyes from worthless things, 
and give me life through your word.
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭119:36-37‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Aah! The love of money. It is only a matter of time before it emerges from the dark recesses within a person’s heart. I suppose there is a spectrum, from the money-dominated Scrooge, gloating over his piles of cash, through to a money-denying monk living a life of austerity in a bare cell. But we are all on that spectrum somewhere. Money has its uses of course – it lubricates the wheels of life in our secular and materialistic societies, and we need it to survive – but it can dominate our thinking. If we let it.

The Psalmist sees the danger of a life with a pecuniary focus. He sees the importance of dwelling in a place of eternal currency rather than in a world populated by “worthless things“. It is interesting that the Revelation picture of the new Jerusalem includes so many precious jewels, pearls and gold. What is considered of value in today’s world will be considered building materials in the world to come. Ubiquitous items of little value when compared to our Almighty God. 

But for the pilgrim working his way through this life, what is the correct balance between money and God? Jesus could see the dangers of getting this wrong, and taught that the service of both at the same time was impossible. He said in Matthew 6:24, “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.” The key is in the use of the word He used to describe how we see and use money – “enslaved”. The Psalmist was trying to get to a place of the correct balance, where money would be used but not worshipped. A place where the value of money would be eclipsed by our great and glorious God and His Word. 

The pilgrim of course needs money to make his way through this life. But he must not succumb to the temptation to acquire more and more glittering temporal objects, call it “stuff” if you like, at the expense of the eternal jewels in God’s Word. The one will be left behind when we pass the Great Divide. The other will be waiting for us on the other side. Let us join the Psalmist in declaring our eagerness to mine those precious jewels and nuggets from His Word so that we can accumulate them in our hearts and lives. A last word today from Jesus. “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.


“Keep me from lying to myself; 
give me the privilege of knowing Your instructions.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭119:29‬ ‭NLT‬‬

We’re considering lying today. A bit out of context in this Psalm I know, but an important consideration none the less. The Psalmist had made an important discovery – he had a tendency to lie. About himself in this verse, but perhaps to others as well.

Telling lies is a sad human trait, which we adopt when in trouble or at a time when we think it will be more palatable than the truth. But we always need to tell the truth, no matter how painful it may be to us, because that is what God requires. Remember when we looked at Psalm 51? David knew the need for truth at the deepest level – verse 6 says, “Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being, And in the hidden part [of my heart] You will make me know wisdom.” (Psalm 51:6 AMP). 

But how do we lie to ourselves? One way is that we try and rationalise our actions. We think about what we have done, or are about to do, and dream up ways of how we can reconcile a wrong thought or action with a conscience that is starting to stir and make us feel uncomfortable. And our enemy, the devil, who Jesus referred to as the “father of lies” (John 8:44), will do what he can to add to our delusions. Jeremiah 17:9 (AMP) reads, “The heart is deceitful above all things. And it is extremely sick; who can understand it fully and know its secret motives?” Who indeed. The problem is that our thinking on its own can be, and often is, just plain wrong. And without some way of checking it out, we will end up in a fog of self-delusion. The second part of the verse we read today gives us the answer to our dilemma – we need the help of truths contained within the Bible. We need “the privilege of knowing [God’s] instructions”. Another good Scripture to drop in at this point is from Proverbs 3, “Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take”. We find God’s will for us through His Word, the Bible, through prayer, from Holy Spirit revelation, and through the counsel of Godly people. As we echo the anguished cry of the Psalmist for help from God, our prayer will not go unanswered by our loving Heavenly Father.


“How can a young person stay pure? 
By obeying your word. 
I have hidden your word in my heart, 
that I might not sin against you. 
Open my eyes to see 
the wonderful truths in your instructions.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭119:9, 11, 18‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Now here’s a young person desiring to live a life without fault in God’s eyes. He wasn’t just saying that – you can tell he was really serious in his question. And the next line shows that he knows the answer – by obeying God’s Word. So that’s it – problem solved and life sorted. But hang on a minute! God’s Word starts with Genesis and ends with Revelation – how can I ever get my mind around all that, what it means, and how to apply it in my thoughts and actions, so that my life is sinless and pure. An impossible ask, I think you will agree. It’s a relief to know that God doesn’t expect that of us. Through Jesus, He shows us a better way. 

But verse 11 is key. We need to read the Bible regularly. Because then the life-words will spring out of the pages straight into our hearts, and there they will reside waiting for the Holy Spirit to bring them to our remembrance when we need them. But transitioning from an impure to pure life-state is not an instant process. If only it was. It takes a lifetime and more besides. God’s grace is amazing though. Like a parent with a toddler, God takes our hands and leads us step by step. Hear the gentle whispers, “Not that way” or “This way is better”. Remember the words read from the Scriptures, bringing us wisdom, keeping us on the right paths. Yes, we will from time to time stumble over the boulders and hurdles in our way, leaving us sprawling in the mud of our sins. But our loving Heavenly Father won’t leave us there. He picks us up, dusts us off, wipes away the tears of hurt and frustration, and that gentle whisper again – “My way is better”. If we listen to Him and let Him. So we pray with the Psalmist, “Open our eyes to see”. Amen.

The Spirit-filled Life

Oh, that my actions would consistently 
reflect Your decrees! 
Then I will not be ashamed 
when I compare my life with Your commands.
Psalms‬ ‭119:5-6‬ ‭NLT‬‬

In our pilgrimage through life why is that we inevitably do things that we shouldn’t? Intuitively we have a good idea of what we should be doing. Much of the time we know what the Bible says about the way we should or shouldn’t live. At other times we receive a disturbing nudge from our consciences. But come what may, we still end up frustrated with ourselves because we did wrong. The Bible calls this dilemma sin. I’m sure we’ve all been in this place, and we will come up against it again in tomorrow’s part of our journey, but that is of small comfort. As I said earlier – we inevitably do things we shouldn’t. The Psalmist in today’s verses was equally frustrated. We don’t know what he’d done to cause his cry of exasperation, but it was something that didn’t line up with God’s ways. And it was something he was ashamed of, so perhaps there was a public element about his actions.

The Apostle Paul expressed a similar degree of annoyance with himself. He said in Romans 7:21, “I have discovered this principle of life – that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong.” Sound familiar? He goes on to say, “Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.” 

Thankfully Paul’s journey didn’t end in verse 24 of Romans 7. We read in the next chapter, “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.”

At this time of year we remember the coming of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. The Son of God was born into this world, where He experienced all the problems and temptations that we do. And because of that He understands our issues of life. He understands our constant battles with sin. He was here Himself, but he didn’t sin. In fact, at Calvary He took on all our sins Himself to free us to live in line with the Holy Spirit life to which we have been called.

The Psalmist felt and expressed that heart cry – how can I live God’s way without polluting it with my sin? And in answer he tried to line his life with God’s decrees. A form of legalism? But sadly, it’s a trap we too can fall into. We try and live by our own efforts to avoid having to come as a repentant sinner into God’s presence. By setting ourselves rules and regulations that we can keep, and that makes us feel holy and righteous. But there is no alternative to living under God’s grace, living the Spirit-filled life. So instead of living by rules, we live our lives infused with the Holy Spirit, allowing Him to lead and guide us, allowing Him to bring to the surface all our sins and allowing us to repent of them. Living a life walking close to God, not through our efforts trying to live by His rules. Jesus said, “… I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full (John 10:10). That’s the only way to live.


“I am tired of living among people who hate peace. 
I search for peace; but when I speak of peace, 
they want war!
Psalms‬ ‭120:6-7‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Pick up a newspaper or switch on the News at 10 and I can guarantee two things – most of what we see or read will be bad news, with very little good news, and there will be news reports about wars, bloodshed and strife between nations. The Psalmist was fed up with negatives. Most of us, I’m sure, have been around negative people. Ever been involved in a conversation like this?

Me: “It’s nice seeing some sunshine today.”
You: “Ah, but I think it will rain later”.

Perhaps the Psalmist was involved in a conversation like this.

Psalmist: “Both those nations have a claim on that piece of land but it’s far better to negotiate a
peaceful settlement.
People: “That’s rubbish – we don’t care what they say or claim – if they don’t back off we’ll go to war.”

If that was the situation, then the Psalmist must have been despairing. I can relate to where the Psalmist is coming from when he talks about being “tired of living among people who hate peace.” 

Jesus taught about peace. In Matthew 5:9 we read, “God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.” Perhaps one interpretation of this verse is about the responsibility God’s people have in promoting peace. Conflict is never far away from us, in our families, amongst our friends, in our communities and nations, so perhaps we need to be pourers of oil on troubled waters, helping to put things right, helping to restore relationships. 

But there is another peaceful place to be and that is in our relationship with God. James 4:4 highlights the issue of how we war against God. It says, “Don’t you realise that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God”. He goes on to say in verse 8, “Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world”. 

It might be appropriate to consider God saying our verse from Psalm 120 today. God’s love for us is such that he yearns for us to be at peace with Him, but when we go off into preferring a sinful world to our relationship with Him, we are effectively declaring war on God Himself. A scary place to be, folks! 

At this time of year, we consider the Prince of Peace, Jesus Himself. The Messianic prophecy in Isaiah 9:6 shines like a beacon of peace in the warring verses around it. And the following verse gives us hope, “His government and its peace will never end…”. We have read the last chapter in the book – peace wins in the end.

The Messiah Comes

“The Lord swore an oath to David
    with a promise He will never take back:
“I will place one of your descendants
    on your throne.
If your descendants obey the terms of My covenant
    and the laws that I teach them,
then your royal line
    will continue forever and ever.”
For the Lord has chosen Jerusalem;
    He has desired it for His home.
“This is My resting place forever,” he said.
    “I will live here, for this is the home I desired.
I will bless this city and make it prosperous;
    I will satisfy its poor with food.
I will clothe its priests with godliness;
    its faithful servants will sing for joy.
Here I will increase the power of David;
    My Anointed One will be a light for My people.””
Psalm 132:11-17 NLT

It’s Christmas Day, Folks. And believe it or not, there were prophetic verses in the Psalms that pointed forward to the coming Messiah. Part of the prophesy in these verses has been realised. For example, David was an ancestor of Jesus and His genealogy can be seen in Mathew 1. But other verses are yet to come to fruition – puzzling until we realise that Jesus is going to come again. And in this context we see that He will make His home in Jerusalem. It will be a prosperous city, spiritually rich with Godly priests, full of joy and singing and Jesus will be the Light for all. 

But today we celebrate the first coming of Jesus. That amazing event when God Himself, through the Person of His Son, came to this earth, taking on a human body, starting His life as a baby, living a life like us. All because we were a lost people, part of the human race, heading through a sin-filled life into a lost eternity. He came first to His own people, but taught that God loved everyone and wanted none to perish and come to a dark and dismal end. 

Sadly, today, this day of remembrance has turned into a materialistic cacophony of tinsel and turkey, crackers and crackling, drinking and dozing, giblets and gadgets, where even the “Happy Christmas” has been replaced by “Happy Holiday”. The spirit of the world doesn’t want the challenge of having to face into the reality that Jesus, God’s Son, was born as a human being with one mission – to reconcile them to God Himself – if they would only accept His invitation. So today, as we enjoy a meal together with our loved ones, perhaps we should remember that Jesus is the Light, sent to guide us on our pilgrimage through life to a time when we can join Him. He was the first born of many brothers and sisters – He has gone before us to prepare a place where “His faithful servants will sing for joy“. Don’t forget that there will be others around us who perhaps are on their own this Christmas, and who would like the Light of the World, Jesus, to illuminate their lives too.  If you are one of them, remember that you are not alone – there are three other People with you – Jesus, Father God and the Holy Spirit. Oh – thinking about Jesus being the Light of the World – are we not His torch bearers?

Praise the Lord

“Praise the Lord, all you nations. 
Praise Him, all you people of the earth. 
For His unfailing love for us is powerful; 
the Lord’s faithfulness endures forever. 
Praise the Lord!”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭117:1-2‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Now here’s a short Psalm. Just two verses. But it’s very clear in its content. In its exhortation, everyone is instructed to “Praise the Lord”. No exceptions. No time off for doing other things. And the Psalmist seriously lays out the reason for the praise – the powerful nature of God’s love for us, and the everlasting, eternal, nature of His faithfulness. If we look closely we can see that both His love and His faithfulness are not just passing whims, sputtering out after a while like a candle at the end of its usefulness; God’s love and faithfulness are unfailing and enduring. They go on for ever. Regardless of circumstances.

In case we miss the point of these two verses and consign them to history as being Old Testament, we have an example of God’s love and its extent laid out in the first century AD. The Apostle Paul reminded the early Roman church about the love of God. He wrote in Romans 5:8, “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” And he goes on to say, “So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.” How can we ever get our minds around the fact that God loved us so much, even when He endured so much abuse from sinners, and yet He still pressed through in displaying and implementing a love for us beyond comprehension. That is truly “powerful” love. And regarding God’s faithfulness, Paul again writing to his protégé Timothy, said, “If we are unfaithful, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny who He is.” (‭‭2 Timothy‬ ‭2:13‬).

So there we have it. The loving and faithful God working through the centuries. Never changing. Never leaving us. Day after day. Problem after problem. We can see why the psalmist finished this Psalm with a “Praise the Lord!”. Let’s do the same.


“Your Word is a lamp to guide my feet 
and a light for my path.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭119:105‬ ‭NLT‬‬

This is a verse often quoted because it clearly states how important the Scriptures are in the life of our Christian pilgrim. The picture rises before us, of a person making their way along a dark path as it twists and turns through a forest or valley. A dangerous place where a light is essential. There are all sorts of boulders and other hazards in the way, but the pilgrim holds a lantern, perhaps on the end of a pole, which dimly lights  a small area of the path in front.

In our Western societies, total blackness, a total absence of a light source, is unusual. There are street lights, or glowing windows, or passing vehicles, or there is enough heavenly illumination to provide some light for a walk outside. But on several occasions I have experienced total blackness where there has been no ambient light at all. Typically this can happen in geographically remote places and under skies darkly obscured by a heavy cloud layer. It is a strange feeling. 

As we take this analogy into our spiritual lives, we too can visualise a place of total darkness, where God’s light is absent. Some people think a total absence of the light of God is a description of hell. But God’s light is all around us. We probably have no idea how well illuminated our lives are. His light holds back the dark forces of evil that are so prevalent, that are waiting in the wings, so to speak, to wreak their nefarious ways on unsuspecting people. 

From that perspective, we need access to some form of ambient light, and the Bible, God’s Word, is just that. Furthermore, in the Gospel of John, we read that the Word was Jesus. John 1:4-5, “The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” So when we couple together our verse today from Psalm 119 with John 1, we immediately see that the Christian pilgrim has to be a Jesus-follower. Jesus is our Light. He is the One who illuminates our path through life. And it is only by following Him that we can avoid the problems and hazards in the darkness that surrounds us. At Christmas time we celebrate the coming of Jesus into this world; another verse from John 1, “The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, [is] coming into the world.”

There’s not much more to say about our verse from Psalm 119 today, except that we have a choice – we follow Jesus and His teachings, His ways, or we stumble around in the darkness, succumbing to all sorts of hazards. Surely a place without Jesus is a scary place to be.


All you who fear the Lord, trust the Lord! 
He is your helper and your shield. 
He will bless those who fear the Lord, 
both great and lowly. 
May the Lord richly bless both you and your children.
The dead cannot sing praises to the Lord, 
or they have gone into the silence of the grave. 
But we can praise the Lord 
both now and forever! 
Praise the Lord!”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭115:11, 13-14, 17-18‬ ‭NLT‬‬

After expounding the attributes of God, answering the question he had obviously been asked by those around them – “Where is your God?” – the Psalmist continues by contrasting idols, inert lumps of precious metal, with the vibrant wonder of God. The Psalmist lists the qualities of idols, or rather the lack of them, and then finishes this section with the thought that the makers of idols are just like them, lifeless. So when the reader gets this far in the psalm, he is presented with the stark contrast between the living God and lifeless idols, and the pointlessness of putting trust in dead and immovable objects. 

But the Psalmist wastes no further time in the discussion, desperately impatient to focus and expound on God being the Helper and Shield, the totally trustworthy Creator God. In effect the Psalm itself comes to life, abandoning further talk of idols and preferring to focus on God Himself. It’s almost as though the world and its focus on worldly objects is left on the tarmac as our spiritual airliner takes off into the God-void above, where God rules and determines our environment. Those left on the tarmac missed the flight. They didn’t even know that there was one. But God’s people were on board the airliner and soared into the blessings above. Soaring on wings like eagles, effortlessly supported by the wind of God’s Spirit. 

The Psalmist briefly dips back into the thought that, like their idols, those that make them are heading for a silent grave. A grave where singing praises to God is not an option. But those soaring above continue to praise God eternally. Of course, we know that one day the graves will give up their dead and those within them will have a brief encounter with God before heading to their eternal home, a home especially built for idolators. But God’s people will continue to soar in the multi-dimensional environment where God lives. What else can we do except “Praise the Lord!” O, and by the way, the precious metal used to make idols on earth, is used for covering roads in Heaven. Hmmm..