Monthly Archives: October 2017

Blessed are You, O Lord, who increases the strength of my soul.

I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart;
before the gods I sing your praise;
I bow down toward your holy temple
and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness,
for you have exalted above all things
your name and your word.
On the day I called, you answered me;
my strength of soul you increased.
All the kings of the earth shall give you thanks, O Lord,
for they have heard the words of your mouth,
and they shall sing of the ways of the Lord,
for great is the glory of the Lord.
For though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly,
but the haughty he knows from afar.
Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
you preserve my life;
you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies,
and your right hand delivers me.
The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me;
your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.
Do not forsake the work of your hands.

Psalm 138 is a psalm of thanksgiving and praise. One thing the psalmist is thankful for is an answer to his prayer the same day he cried out to God. However, I imagine the psalmist mostly thanking and praising God for increasing the strength of his soul. The Hebrew translation says he gives thanks and praise to God for making him bold in his soul with strength. When was the last time you cried out to God for strength? In response, did God give you a boldness that surprised you?

When it comes to our spiritual needs, God always increases our faith, our hope, our love and seeks to decrease our doubt, our despair and our hatred so that our greatest response to others will be love. I am thankful God is a God of increases!

Blessed are You, O Lord, who increases the strength of my soul.



Blessed are You, O Lord, who is our Help.

If God hadn’t been for us
—all together now, Israel, sing out!—
If God hadn’t been for us
when everyone went against us,
We would have been swallowed alive
by their violent anger,
Swept away by the flood of rage,
drowned in the torrent;
We would have lost our lives
in the wild, raging water.
Oh, blessed be God!
He didn’t go off and leave us.
He didn’t abandon us defenseless,
helpless as a rabbit in a pack of snarling dogs.
We’ve flown free from their fangs,
free of their traps, free as a bird.
Their grip is broken;
we’re free as a bird in flight.
God’s strong name is our help,
the same God who made heaven and earth.
~Psalm 12(MSG)

Historically, the last verse has been part of church liturgies. These words state a community of faith’s intention to live in such a way that their faith is worked out with love. How this happens is a mystery that becomes reality through God’s miraculous help.

I have found the pronoun “our” helpful during my prayer times these past few months as people around the world find their lives devastated by hurricanes, earthquakes, shootings, fires and terminal illnesses. My prayers consist of few words. I simply hold in silence people I know and those I don’t know: those who don’t have homes and those who do, those who lost a loved one and those who did not, those who will die and those who will go on living. In the silence, I am reminded that I am not alone. Just as the communities experiencing these disasters pull together, I have no doubt there are many others holding silence in the same way I am. I am thankful God is not just my help, but our help.

Blessed are You, O Lord, who is our help.

And may our faith continued to be worked out with love through God’s miraculous help.

Blessed are You, O Lord, who is merciful.

I love the Lord, because he has heard
my voice and my pleas for mercy.
Because he inclined his ear to me,
therefore I will call on him as long as I live.
The snares of death encompassed me;
the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me;
I suffered distress and anguish.
Then I called on the name of the Lord:
“O Lord, I pray, deliver my soul!”
Gracious is the Lord, and righteous;
our God is merciful.
The Lord preserves the simple;
when I was brought low, he saved me.
Return, O my soul, to your rest;
for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.
For you have delivered my soul from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling;
I will walk before the Lord
in the land of the living.
~Psalm 116:1-9 (ESV)

Whenever I read Psalm 116, I find myself wondering where the land of the living is and what it looks like. In the Old Testament, the land of the living is Canaan, and the prophet Ezekiel 26:20 tells us that God sets beauty there. With the help of the Psalmist I can imagine just how beautiful the land of the living is.

  • A place of quiet rest where desperate pleas are heard by the Lord who is merciful.
  • A place where child-like believers trust that the Lord who is merciful will preserve them.
  • A place of grace where the Lord who is merciful freely offers life, comfort and sure-footing.
  • A place of compassion where the Lord who is merciful abundantly blesses.

Moreover, the land of the living is a place where the Lord who is merciful invites you and I to walk each new day so we discover what it looks like to be merciful to others.

Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. ~Luke 6:36

Blessed are You, O Lord, who is merciful.