In the Womb

“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body 
and knit me together in my mother’s womb. 
Thank You for making me so wonderfully complex! 
Your workmanship is marvellous – how well I know it. 
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, 
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. 
You saw me before I was born. 
Every day of my life was recorded in Your book. 
Every moment was laid out 
before a single day had passed.”
Psalms‬ ‭139:13-16‬ ‭NLT‬‬

David, the Psalmist, continues his theme of the omnipresent God in Psalm 139. This time his thoughts extend into the wonders of creation, of how a human being grows before it is born. Even in his day, without the scientific and medical knowledge that we have in the 21st Century, it seemed to be common knowledge that something significant happens in the womb. And he is overwhelmed by how “wonderfully complex” it all is. He uses the phrase “knitted together” to describe what happens. 

My wife is a great knitter. It doesn’t matter how complex the pattern, she manages to produce these amazing garments with nothing more than a pair of needles and ball of wool. And I have been greatly blessed by beautiful jumpers far better than anything mass produced and sold in our shops. But the miracle of how a human being is formed eclipses anything mankind can derive, even my wife. And in some way God watches the processes going on in the womb, working out what was going to happen to this new life. David was overwhelmed by it all.

When I read and meditate on these verses, I immediately marvel at the wonders of creation. I know many believe that all this happened by chance. But I don’t have the faith to believe a baby is the result of evolution. Instead, with the Psalmist, I can only thank our Creator God for His workmanship. And with a thankful heart I look in the mirror to see an amazing created being, fearfully and wonderfully made. Yes, there are facial lines. Yes, there are grey hairs. Yes, ageing takes its toll. But that doesn’t remove the wonder of being “fearfully and wonderfully made“. Which is what we all are. A God-creation, made in His image (Genesis 1:27). Wow!

God Knows Us

“O Lord, You have examined my heart 
and know everything about me.”
‭Psalms‬ ‭139:1‬ ‭NLT‬‬

The thought that God knows everything about us, good and bad, is both comforting and scary at the same time. In the next few verses, the Psalmist, David, goes on to say that God is intimately acquainted with not just what we are doing but even what is about to come out of our mouths. Distance and time are no problem to God. And there is nothing that we can do to escape His presence; should we want to, of course. So if we know all that, why do we get so caught up in doing things that we know would cause God pain? The sins that blight our lives. Actions that are just plain wrong. The Apostle Paul felt that frustration. He wrote in Romans 7, “I have discovered this principle of life – that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong.” Thankfully God forgives us of our sins when we repent. And we allow His life-giving Spirit to lead and guide us, and live within us (Romans 8). 

But back to our Psalm. It gets better and better. The wonder in David’s heart comes out in verse 5, as he remarks that God goes before him and follows him. Can you imagine that? God is there right in front of us, leading the way. Pointing out the pot-holes in life to help us to avoid them. But in case we still stumble and fall, there He is behind us, picking us up and dusting us off. And there’s more – if we look up, there’s His hand of blessing about to touch our heads. It is no wonder that David can’t cope with what it all means, as we read in verse 6. And he continues to meditate on God’s omnipresence, which extends all the way from Heaven to the place the Jews called Sheol (verse 8). And the lovely word picture emerges of David riding “the wings of the morning” and “dwelling by the farthest oceans” (verse 9). And he finishes this section with the thought that God is always there in the dark, because it is light to Him. Perhaps there’s a comforting thought there for people who do have a fear of the dark.

There is an amazing truth in this Psalm. No matter how we view God. No matter if we reject Him and try and run away from Him, He is still there with us. Embracing us. Encouraging us. Blessing us. All because He loves us. So if we’re feeling neglected and unloved today, we are believing a lie. Our enemy, the devil, would want to deprive us of God’s presence and His blessings. But he can’t. We reach out, switching on our God-receptors; switching off our devil-receptors. And because God knows our very thoughts, He will complete the circuit. Connecting us to His throne room. Giving us a glimpse of His wonder. Helping us in our life-pilgrimage, every step of the way.


“The Lord will work out His plans for my life –
for Your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever. 
Don’t abandon me, for You made me.”

‭Psalms‬ ‭138:8‬ ‭NLT‬‬

What are God’s plans for my life? I look back in my life and see at times how a potentially chaotic situation resolved into a good result. How a far from ideal life-choice I made somehow became something better. Was God working out His plans for my life? Gently and persuasively whispering in my ear, “Not that way, better this way”? 

The Psalmist was clear in today’s verse. Because God’s love for each one of us is faithful and ever-enduring, He will work out in our lives what He wants us to do. He has plans for each one of us. And David, the Psalmist, says why – because He made us. But we look around us, at our nation, at world events. We see the ravages of the pandemic. We see wars and conflicts. We see persecution, the ill-treatment of our Christian brothers and sisters, and ask the question, “Where are God’s plans in all this?” This is a world in the grip of sin. And a sobering thought is that it would be infinitely worse without God working out His plans in the lives of His servants. Because He made us. Because He loves us. As we work out God’s plans in our societies and communities, we are “salt and light” bringing peace to where there is no peace. Bringing God’s presence into a godless world.

There is a day coming, when all His plans will have been completed. Job done. But as the Psalmist says, God’s love for us will still be there. It endures forever. God will never abandon us. Our lives on this planet will end and instead transition into a wonderful life with Him.


“I give you thanks, O Lord, with all my heart;
    I will sing your praises before the gods.
I bow before your holy Temple as I worship.
    I praise your name for your unfailing love and faithfulness;
for your promises are backed
    by all the honour of your name.”
Psalm 138:1-2 NLT

David is back behind the writer’s desk; another Psalm emerging from the experiences of His long life with God. Right at the start of this Psalm, he declares that he doesn’t care what people might think. He will sing praises to God regardless. And we certainly found that in the passage in 2 Samuel 6 where David, wearing nothing other than a linen ephod, danced in front of the Ark as it was brought to his city. As he said later in the chapter, “I was dancing before the Lord“. He didn’t care that his wife was unimpressed. And neither did he care about the “gods” other people worshipped. 

David declared that he would praise God for His “unfailing love and faithfulness”. Because, and here’s the thing, God’s promises are backed by His name. In this country, an arrest of a criminal might take place with the phrase “I arrest you in the name of the Law”. And I have in front of me a Scottish banknote which says, “The Royal Bank of Scotland promises to pay the bearer on demand…”. But both the Law and the Bank cannot guarantee 100% of the time that they can fulfil their promises, because the name of both has limitations. The “name of the Law” means nothing in a state of anarchy. The Bank might go bust, and unable to pay out. Now, the Creator of the Universe and everything within it – God Himself – His name has weight. If God makes a promise, and the Bible is full of them, then that promise will be delivered. No doubts. And when He puts His name behind the promise, the result is absolute.

So it’s no wonder that David gives thanks to the Lord with all his heart. And sings His praises. On our pilgrimage through life, God’s promises ring in our ears. Make a step – thank You God for Your love for me.  Make another step – thank You God for Jesus. Make another step – thank You God for Your faithfulness. And somehow the rigors of our journey becomes easier, step by step. As we call out to God in response to His promises, He delights in us and our faith. His promises are not green-backs – they are God-backs. Worth so much more.


“Beside the rivers of Babylon, 
we sat and wept as we thought of Jerusalem. 
We put away our harps, 
hanging them on the branches of poplar trees. 
But how can we sing the songs of the Lord 
while in a pagan land?”
Psalms‬ ‭137:1-2, 4‬ ‭NLT‬‬

This is a dreadfully sad Psalm, written by the Jewish exiles while in Babylon, a place where they didn’t want to be. A place of idolatry, of customs and laws foreign to the Jews, a place where they were separated from their God and His home in Jerusalem. And it ends with the gruesome thoughts of what they would like to do to the Edomites, who were apparently instrumental in the demise of their beloved city. Before we condemn them for their thoughts, though, I suppose we should think through what they had experienced, walking mentally in their shoes for a bit. The barbaric and cruel Babylonian soldiers had performed unspeakable atrocities on them, their families and their cities, and those that had survived had been force-marched for miles, away to a foreign land. Away from their homes, their homeland. And now, once they were there, their captors were taunting them, ridiculing them for their religion. They were at rock bottom.

But there was one ray of light shining out in this Psalm. In verse 6, the Psalmist’s memory of Jerusalem couldn’t be destroyed. Only death would take that away. Today, we mustn’t forget that there are many Christians in the world who are exiled. Dear brothers and sisters forced away from their homes into an exile in a place where they don’t want to be. A place with a different language, or dialect. A place where they are resented as refugees, treated as third class citizens. The Middle East has numerous examples of what is happening to our Christian brothers and sisters. Persecuted, they have little option other than move away. And in Western societies today, Christians are increasingly being marginalised. Thankfully not to a place where exile, forced or otherwise, is required, but if the current trend continues, one day this will perhaps happen. 

But one thing is for sure. We cannot be exiled from our relationship with God. We cannot be exiled from the Kingdom of Heaven, our home. The Jews in Babylon seemed to think that they could only find God in Jerusalem, so taking them away from their beloved city was in effect removing them from God’s presence. Thankfully we can find God anywhere we live. In Acts 17:28 we read, “For in Him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are His offspring.’” Paul was explaining to the people around him how close God is and, more, that we are His children. No exile will ever prove that verse wrong. Our loving Heavenly Father is always with us. We will always be His children. So with a lightness in our spirits, we can “sing the songs of the Lord”. Wherever we find ourselves.


“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
His faithful love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods.
His faithful love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords.
His faithful love endures forever.”
Psalm 136:1-3 NLT

This Psalm is designed for a responsive congregation. The leader shouts out a God-truth, and the people respond accordingly. Over and over again a declaration of gratitude to God for something that He has done is responded to with a shout of how good He is and for who He is. A repetitive environment that implants within us a knowledge of God, what He has done for us, and how we should always respond. One day in Heaven, repetitive praise and worship of God will be the norm. We read in Revelation 4:8, “….Day after day and night after night they keep on saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty – the one who always was, who is, and who is still to come.””  Being in the presence of God will be so amazing that we won’t want to do anything else. 

Repetition can be a good way of keeping our relationship with God fresh and vibrant. We can write our own version of Psalm 136, merging into it our own experiences of how good God has been to us. We have so much to thank Him for, so this should be a regular part of our devotional life. Let me start it off today with my own personal thoughts. Everyone will have their own of course.

Thank You Lord for Your love for me.
Your faithful love endures forever.
Thank You Lord for Jesus and His sacrifice for me.
Your faithful love endures forever.
Thank You Lord for all You have done for me
Your faithful love endures forever.
Thank You Lord for the food on my table.
Your faithful love endures forever.
Thank You Lord for my family.
Your faithful love endures forever.
Thank You Lord for my health.
Your faithful love endures forever.
Thank You Lord for …..

And as we continue to write our own Psalm, our attitude of gratitude to God will take us to new heights in our relationship with Him. Our pilgrimage through life will somehow be a bit easier as we dwell on what God has done for us. With a heart of gratitude, gratitude never forgotten and always repeated.

Praise the Lord!

“Praise the Lord! 
Praise the name of the Lord! 
Praise him, you who serve the Lord, 
Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good; 
celebrate his lovely name with music. 
The Lord be praised from Zion, 
for he lives here in Jerusalem. 
Praise the Lord!”

Psalms‬ ‭135:1, 3, 21‬ ‭NLT‬‬

A Psalm of praise. It starts and ends with the phrase, “Praise the Lord!” An instruction. An invitation. And the Psalm continues to expand on the where, who and why the Lord should be praised. Because of what He has done and will do. Where? – everywhere. Who? – all who fear the Lord. Why? For He is good. Pretty well an all-encompassing situation. A cornucopia of praise. And just in case there is any doubt, the Psalmist rubbishes the man-made trinkets that some people worship.

One thing that emerges for me in this psalmistic word-explosion, this smorgasbord, of praise is the place music holds in our praise of God. Verse 3 associates the Lord’s lovely name with a celebration of music. Human beings are wired for music. The love of music and song is deeply embedded within us. It’s part of our design. It’s how God has created us. Some people have the gift of being able to make music. Minstrels there to bless their fellow humans. Gently and diligently developing Heavenly themes that permeate into our earthly lives. But just about everyone has the capacity, the ability, the desire to enjoy music. Music and song can take our praise of God to extraordinary heights, lifting us there in the process. Every fibre of our beings can be involved, taking us into the very presence of God Himself. 

The pilgrim sings his way through life, developing in his mind God-themes of words and music. Lifting his feet out of the the mud and clay, the worldly life, lightening his steps. No place in music for the worship of idols, much as our enemy, the devil, likes to be praised. Music was designed by God, for God and for our use in His praise. Let’s sing our way through this day with God-songs. Let’s find a new song in our hearts today and allow it to burst into our spirits with an explosion of praise. Elevation music for our journey to the place of music – Heaven itself.

Heaven and Hands

“Oh, praise the Lord, 
all you servants of the Lord, 
you who serve at night 
in the house of the Lord. 
Lift your hands toward the sanctuary, 
and praise the Lord. 
May the Lord, who made heaven and earth, 
bless you from Jerusalem.”
Psalms‬ ‭134:1-3‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Another Psalm from the pilgrim’s song book. A short one, easily remembered, and with a refrain that echoed around the crowd as they ascended up to Jerusalem. Perhaps in the way a football crowd will start a song, lustily singing in support of their team. 

This time the song encouraged the priests in their nightly worship of God. Encouraging them to lift their hands in the direction of where they understood God to dwell. And the last verse is one entreating our wonderful Creator God to bless His people, right from the seat of His power in Jerusalem.

Two thoughts came my way today as I meditated on this Psalm – where does God live and when we worship Him what do we do with our hands? To the Israelites, God had to live somewhere. It was either the tabernacle in the wilderness, a portable building – its blueprint is detailed in Exodus – or the elaborate temple buildings erected in Jerusalem. In the AD years, churches and cathedrals have dominated towns and cities throughout Western societies. Ornate and decorated with statues of saints, stained glass windows and a variety of edifices, they have been the focus of worship in many generations. But where does God really live? Perhaps the best indication is what Jesus said. After all, He is God’s Son. In Matthew 6:9 we read, “… Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name“. So we know that God lives in a place called Heaven and we also know that Jesus is there, preparing a home for us (John 14). So it must be a real place. But its location in the universe is unknown – perhaps mankind doesn’t yet have the technology to find it. Perhaps only God can reveal it to us. Or it may be in a different physical form beyond our comprehension. We also know that we will be given new bodies when we get there (1 Corinthians 15). However, we can assure ourselves a future in Heaven by accepting Jesus as our Lord and Saviour. There will be an exciting time for us when we cross the “great divide”. 

My second thought today concerns what we do with our hands when we worship God. There is the traditional religious pose of putting our outstretched hands facing upwards, palm to palm, finger to finger, holding them close to our chests. Not too ostentatious. Not bringing attention to ourselves. Or in wild abandon, we can stretch out our arms and hands upwards to the heavens, in a deeply felt heart attitude of worship to our Creator God. But what is in our hearts is the key. What are we thinking about when we worship God? Are we reviewing what we watched on TV last night, or are we overwhelmed by God’s love and kindness to us, and in response reaching out to our Heavenly Dad? Stretching upwards with every sinew in worship to God, expressing what is within. God has done so much for us – how can we not respond to His love and grace in whatever way we can? Wherever He lives.


How good and pleasant it is 
when God’s people live together in unity!”
Psalms‬ ‭133:1‬ ‭NIVUK‬‬

Another Psalm from David. This is another “Song of Ascents”, sung by God’s people during a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. You can just imagine him watching the crowds of pilgrims, ascending the roads and paths up to Jerusalem. And what he observed brought into his mind thoughts of unity. You can almost feel the emotional glow in his musings, when he thinks about “How good and pleasant” unity is. And we too can imagine joining that throng of people, singing, shouting, laughing. A throng full of joy and camaraderie. But perhaps the exclamation mark at the end of this verse reveals that this was not the normal state of affairs. Perhaps, in those days long ago, God’s people were far from being unified in their approach to their lives and religion. David finished the Psalm with thoughts about the anointing of Aaron back in Leviticus, and the importance of that event in Israel’s history. How it then unified the people as they stood before God. 

Today there is little unity in society. Everyone seems to have their own opinions about everything and anything in life, and Christians are not excluded from having their own ideas. Perhaps this was what was in Jesus’ mind when He referred to people as “being like sheep without a shepherd”. Lost and rudderless in the sea of life. In many ways societies today have lost their way because they don’t have a life compass any more. Their moral parameters have disappeared. The concept of there being an ultimate Creator God is now largely missing from society and if thought about at all, is considered irrelevant. So perhaps when David observed the pilgrims ascending the heights, he realised what was missing from his society. I wonder what he would have thought about 21st Century Western society!

The verse about oil is significant. The ritual of a priest being anointed with oil is a practice not normally found in our liturgies today. But if we replace the precious oil with the precious Holy Spirit, then we have a different situation. God loves unity. And through His Spirit He brings that unity, that togetherness, into our lives and communities. Unity doesn’t mean that we all have to be clones of some God-image, all behaving in the same way. But it does mean we must all have the same understanding and are in agreement over the important issues in our faith, and particularly our faith in our loving Heavenly Father. The Holy Spirit is the glue that binds us, God’s people together. Sadly, too many Christians get caught up in differences between denominations. Instead of celebrating the Biblical foundations of our faith, they criticise and ridicule the liturgical differences. And on the way, the Christian faith can be replaced by militant sectarianism, demeaning God and His ways. 

So how do God’s people, Christians, live together in unity? We pray of course. But more than that, we do what Jesus would do – we show God’s love, grace and compassion to those around us, regardless of their denominations.


“Let us go to the sanctuary of the Lord;
    let us worship at the footstool of his throne.
Psalm 132:7 NLT

This is a Psalm that starts with references to the desire David had to build a splendid home, the Temple, honouring God and providing a place for Him to live. In the verses come references to the Ark, “the symbol of [God’s] power”, and remembers the promise God made to David, that his “royal line will continue forever and ever”. The Psalm finishes with the significance of Jerusalem, God’s choice for His home, and a prophetic glimpse of the coming Messiah. 

Anything in here of help in our pilgrim’s journey through life? There is probably quite a bit worth further examination, but I have pulled out today’s verse, verse 7. It contains the invitations, “let us go” and “let us worship”. Action required. In our pilgrimage we cannot go far without meeting our basic spiritual need of visiting God and offering Him our worship. And this need is no less important today than it was back in the days when this Psalm was written. Of course, God doesn’t need our worship. But in some incomprehensible way, we, God’s people, need to do so. Often. We need to come to God frequently, acknowledging who He is, what He has done, thanking Him, praising Him, and spending time with Him. And by so doing, we connect with our loving Heavenly Father, finding refreshment for our very souls. 

The Israelites needed a physical focus for their worship. And some of our denominations have “helps” in the form of ornate and elderly buildings with their stained glass windows, effigies of saints, an altar with a cross, all helping establish that connection between man and God. I sometimes look around me to the natural world and find God there, resplendent in His creationary prowess. But the right attitude of heart is found at His footstool, where we establish how great God is and how small and insignificant we humans are. And we worship Him there. His footstool, a place we develop in our minds, a go-to place whenever we worship our amazing Creator God. So today join me in His presence – “let us” go and worship.