Ps 28:7 The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy, I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.
Years ago, a study showed that people, especially those with devastating or terminal illness responded better to medical treatment if they laugh. I want to take it one-step further to praise. Praise can be as simple as a compliment or approval of a coworker for a job well done or admiration of a friend who did something nice for you like sending a get well card.
As Christians, we know that praise used against spiritual warfare is effective. Satan can use any negative thought or action to bring us down but, complete focus on and praise to the one who controls everything is the power that breaks all those chains. Unbelief is another that can sneak in. When life is trying to bring you down, go to your quiet place, even if is only in your mind, and praise God for everything in your life. Think about all that he is doing for you every minute and PRAISE him.
So many times working in NICU, having a bad day would cause me to stop and think about what was really going on. Perhaps a medication dose needed to be changed or maybe the noise level of the room was overwhelming the baby. Taking a minute or even a break to clear my mind, I started praising God and thanking him for all the times, he brought me through worse situations. Before long I would go back not only feeling better but also have the ability and strength to complete the task that was causing so many problems. As I reflect on my career, I just have to praise him again for all the times he helped me and realize that he was with me every day as I cared for his tiniest little sheep.


Ps 23:4 Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and staff protect and comfort me.

God’s “rod and staff” are extremely important to our spiritual growth in today’s volatile climate. Not only spiritual but also political, social and economic issues we deal with on a daily basis can be difficult to filter through to see the truth of what God is doing in this world. We need discipline and guidance, without it we get lost. Discipline is one of the most important traits a person can learn and without guidance, we get lost.
The Hebrew word “shebet” translates to both rod and staff. It can also mean “club.” The top end of the Shepherd’s staff usually has a “crook” or hook on it to help the shepherd catch, control and guide his sheep. In biblical times, a staff was a first choice for traveling for its usefulness as a walking stick and a weapon. The staff was also symbolic of God’s authority. Our Great Shepherd Jesus leads us in the way we should go and the decisions we make. That is to lead us with love, not hit us over the head even though sometimes it feels like it.
The rod was also used as a symbol of correction and discipline metaphorically speaking. This is an expression of love. Love disciplines. The opposite of love is not hate, but indifference. If God did not love us and want the best for us, he would let us wander off a cliff. His rod is needed to protect us from enemies and his staff is to keep us close to him.
We need to use the metaphorical rod and staff on ourselves and those we love on a regular basis. Without self-discipline, our lives would be a shamble. Without rules and laws our world will be chaos.


Ps 27:4 The one thing I ask of the Lord—the thing I seek most—is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord’s perfections and meditating in his Temple.
David had the right idea. Think about it, all you have to do is live in church every day. No job, no bills, no children vying for your attention. You pray, worship, and serve God all the time. That is your only responsibility. Lofty goal but not practical, or is it. I think it is attainable in a metaphorical sort of way.
The house of the Lord is our mind, spirit and soul. Implanting praise, worship and the Word of God starts the process but how do you water those seeds. Christian fellowship, positive thought and the ability to filter out distractions in our life will give us a stronger desire to seek him first. When we set our priorities of putting him first in everything we do, it will give us more joy than we can imagine.
The “distractions” of life can keep us unsatisfied, and cause us to ignore God, the “One Thing” who can satisfy us with joy, peace and contentment. So many in the world today try to fill a void with a new car, relationship or other things, but the emptiness remains.
Our “temple” was made to be filled with only “One Thing”. The New Testament refers to our body “as a temple”. What do you fill your body with, spiritually speaking? I know our body needs food for nourishment but how about your soul. You can go to heaven with a sick body but not a sick soul.


Ps 25:1-2 O Lord, I give my life to you. I trust in you, my God! Do not let me be disgraced, or let my enemies rejoice in my defeat.
David wrote almost half of the Psalms about his enemies. Most of the time he was referring to actual people. Nevertheless, deep down he wanted to make sure that no other “things” interfered with his relationship with God. He wanted his life to prove that living for God wasn’t futile. He trusted his faith but he didn’t want his mistakes to be an obstacle to others’ walk with God. David was just a human being but his faith in the triumph of God is an example to us all.
One day I was having a bad day at work, then someone said something very inappropriate and that was the “last straw”. I lost it. I became aggressive and defensive. Because everyone I worked with knew about my Christian beliefs, one person immediately said, “Wow, I thought better of you than that”. My spirit quickened and I regretted the whole situation. I stopped what I was doing and sat down. I was not only embarrassed by being called out to account for my actions but also I was ashamed by my attitude. Quickly God gave me the words to apologize and prove that we all struggle with life on a daily basis. I stated my regrets for my attitude and thanked her for showing my improper response to it. Then I said, “I guess God is still working on me and he’s not finished teaching me a few things”. She seemed surprised at my response but later thanked me for my honesty.
Did I make a difference in her life; I think so. I earnestly began to pray for her to find peace and contentment in her life. I noticed many changes in her life and at one point, during an illness, she asked me to pray for her healing. She recently changed jobs and seems very happy with her life choices.


Ps 20:4 May he grant your heart’s desires and make all your plans succeed.
This is a prayer for victory in battle and is a prayer every Christian should pray. Not because we face military conflict but because we find ourselves deep in spiritual warfare everywhere. When we pray for a person, whether for salvation, redemption or healing, it is a spiritual battle. David knew that true success comes from God and with prayer and faith, believing that God will answer; he would achieve success in life.
We need to pray, every day, for victory against every spiritual enemy. Hatred, prejudice, bigotry, racism, discrimination and indifference are enemies to be conquered. Our nation has problems but it seems that these “enemies” are the crux of the matter. David understood discrimination when he went to fight Goliath but he also knew that victory was in the hand of God. God wants us to succeed but without his help and his plan, we don’t have a chance.
How can we succeed and fulfill the purpose God gave us in the midst of all the “enemies” around us? Stay focused on God and use every tool he gave us to overcome the world. We need to maintain a delicate balance by trusting God as if everything depends on him, while working and doing our best, as if everything depends on us. If we commit our actions to God, his plan will succeed. There is no human wisdom, understanding or plan better than God’s.


Ps 18:30-32 God’s way is perfect. All the Lord’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection. For who is God except the Lord? Who but our God is a solid rock? God arms me with strength, and he makes my way perfect.
David wrote this Psalm on the day the Lord rescued him from Saul. He sang in gratitude for his deliverance and victory. Until that time, he felt weak and unable to overcome all the deception and evil he experienced at the hand of Saul. Nevertheless, he believed in God and his perfect plan. He believed in, thought about, imagined, addressed, and prayed to God. David’s existence was not about himself but about God. I imagine even with everything David had going for him, he still had questions about his life Just like us, he wondered if he were following the path God had for him. It is okay to ask these questions of God; he will never turn away an honest and sincere heart. Seek out God, even with the “tough” questions and in finding God, you know the One who has all the answers.
Do you want to “make it on your own”? Do you think belief in God is a crutch and shows you as weak? The world wants us to believe depending on others is weakness but God is our strength. God is our shield of protection. He guides us through the fight. The strongest person in this world is infinitely weaker than God.
So many times, in life, I felt weak and unable to rise above the situation but in my weakness, I had faith. To me, faith is going beyond what eyes can see. When I quit looking at the mountain (problem), I was able to see God’s strength. Even today when someone questions me about something in life, my response is “I don’t know but I know when I am weak, God is strong and his plan for me is perfect.


Ps 22:1-2 My God, my God, why have you abandoned (forsaken) me? Why are you so far away when I groan for help? Every day I call to you, my God, but you do not answer. Every night I lift my voice, but I find no relief.

David gives an amazing description of what would happen to the Messiah hundreds of years later. Jesus spoke the first part while he hung on the cross. At either time, day or night, were these words spoken in hopelessness or in hope? David was going through a great test or trial, but with suffering, he gained victory. Feeling hopeless but praying in hope is the key to that victory.
David felt hopeless. Sometimes Christians are taught we will never endure hopelessness and if we do, it is because of failure, sin in our lives or lack of faith. David demonstrates here, that believers do hurt. Sure, we may have a problem with sin or lack of faith, but if Jesus endured feeling forsaken and hopeless, why shouldn’t we? From experiences, David knew God would fulfill his promises.
Just as verse, one and two express the hopelessness of life, verses 3 and 4 validate all the hope that we can receive. David realizes that God already answered his prayer because our ancestors had received the answer. Therefore, hope was alive and he held onto that hope throughout his life. Can we do any less? Jesus died for us all and gives us hope every day.