Adonai, The Lord and Master: Psalm 86:3-4

“have mercy on me, Lord, for I call to you all day long. Bring joy to your servant, Lord, for I put my trust in you.” (Psalm 86:3–4, NIV)

In Psalm 86, there are three names of God used. One is YHWH, God’s personal name, meaning The Existent One, The I Am. The second is Elohim. This name means God. It was first used in Genesis speaking of the Creator. The third name is Adonai. That is the name we will discuss today.

Adonai is the word used for lord or master. It is used of God, but also of human master or rulers. It speaks to authority and leadership. Adonai, the Lord, makes the rules and we as servants follow them.

According to the Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible, “Adonai, coming from human lips, expressed honor for God and humble submission on the part of the believing person. Adonai, thus, is the name that expresses faith, assurance, security, ready service, and thanksgiving.”*

Psalm 86:3-4 use the name Adonai. “Have mercy on me, Lord.” We see that David uses it specifically to show submission and a humble heart. He would not be asking for mercy from a subordinate. Only someone who has power or authority can show mercy. The definition of mercy from the Oxford Dictionary states, mercy is “compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm”. David understands God’s authority and rule.

David also understands that the Lord, Adonai, is a good master. He trusts the Lord to be kind and loving. He depends on God for joy and he trusts that his master is faithful to give him this good gift.

It should be with this same confidence and trust that I come to my Lord, my Adonai, my Master, with an open heart. I know that He is Lord. I know that He is the ruler of all. I know He has all power and authority. But as David says later in Psalm 86, I also know that the Lord, Adonai is “a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.” (Psalm 86:15, NIV)

I am learning along with David, that Adonai is a Lord and Master I can surrender to without hesitation.

*Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. (1988). In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (p. 885). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

Elohim: The Lord of Intense and Extensive Glory

“Preserve my life, for I am godly; save your servant, who trusts in you—you are my God.” (Psalm 86:2, ESV)

In Psalm 86:2, David continues to call upon God. He asks God to watch over his life and to save him. As he prays, he asks for divine protection on a life lived by faith and in service to God, “for I am godly.”

David uses a different title for God here than in verse one. Remember in verse one he used YHWH. Here David uses Elohim, the first name of God used in the Bible, “In the beginning, Elohim…” According to The Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible, “God makes himself known by this name as the Lord of intense and extensive glory and richness as he exercises his preeminence and power in the created cosmos.”*

So David calls out to the Creator. He pleads with the One who has power over all things to care for him. How fitting to call on the Creator to care for his creation. So in confidence, David asks for salvation because he knows that God is in complete control over all things and has the power to keep him safe.

He worships and honors “the Lord of intense and extensive glory”, as he places his trust in Elohim. David knows that God existed in the beginning, so David knows that God has been in control and will continue to control all things, a good reason for trust. God is all powerful so he can answer David’s prayer, another good reason for trust. And because God created everything, he knows how all things work. David believes that God has a plan, has the strength and the knowledge to care for him, because The LORD is his God.

As I contemplated on David’s understanding of Elohim, the words I read grew in richness and depth. As I applied my understanding of YHWH and Elohim to the rest of the Psalm, I appreciated more and more David’s devotion to God. I pray that as you and I learn more about the God we serve, our devotion will grow and we will trust in God as we become godly servants.

*Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. (1988). In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (pp. 881–882). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

The LORD; The God Who Exists

Sometimes I read through Scripture passages too quickly. Over the past couple of weeks, I have been taking some time to meditate on Psalm 86. As I shared in my last blog, my first thought was how audacious David is to speak to God in such a forceful way. But as I have examined this passage, I realized that David knew God so well that he felt very comfortable in boldly approaching God’s throne.

There is something else that occurred to me as I studied the passage. David used different names for God in different places. For the Hebrews, this was significant. “A study of the word ‘NAME’ in the OT reveals how much it means in Hebrew. The name is no mere label, but is significant of the real personality of him to whom it belongs.” (*Manley and Bruce p 441) These names speak volumes about David’s understanding of and relationship to God. As I took the time to consider David’s usage of these particular names, the passage grew even more understandable and wonderful to me.

The first name that David uses is translated LORD, in English Bibles. LORD with all capitals is our translation of YHWH. This is the name the God of Bible calls himself. This is his personal name. The exact meaning is debated, but it is generally accepted that it is a statement of God’s existence. “I am”, “I will be what I will be” or “I am that I am” are all possible translations.

In the first verse of Psalm 86, David used YHWH, the personal name that reminds him of God’s existence and personal nature. “Incline your ear, O LORD, and answer me, for I am poor and needy.” (Psalm 86:1, ESV) When we read this verse with the knowledge that David used the specific name LORD, it gives a deeper meaning. Incline your ear, O LORD, my personal God, who I know by name and the one who exists. From my reading of this, I believe David understood that because of God’s personal nature, he could share his feelings openly.

David was also free to confidently express his needs because he knew that God existed. I do not believe he was only thinking of false God’s that are nothing, in comparison to the God who exists, although that would be in his mind. I also think he knew that only God could be there for him during his time of struggle. There is no one else that is always present in our lives. No matter how close we are to other people, they are not the “I AM”. They are not always present, always able to help, nor always able to love. Only YHWH can truly hear and help when we cry out in our despair and need. David understood this, Lord help me to understand it too!

* Manley, G. T., & Bruce, F. F. (1996). God, Names of. In D. R. W. Wood, I. H. Marshall, A. R. Millard, J. I. Packer, & D. J. Wiseman (Eds.), New Bible dictionary (3rd ed., p. 421). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Psalm 86; An intriguing beginning

I always find comfort and encouragement in the Psalms. In the past few weeks, I have been memorizing Psalm 86. This beautiful, honest and passionate song has given me the confidence to openly express my needs before our great God.

This Psalm starts off with David commanding God. At first, I was surprised by this. “Incline your ear, O LORD, and answer me, for I am poor and needy.” (Psalm 86:1, ESV) I thought it was pushy and irreverent for David to start his prayer with a command to God. But as I meditated and examined, I realized that this was the way I should approach God.

A revelation came when I went to see my grandchildren. My granddaughter started many conversations with commands and she calls me by my first name, Sheri. It is commonplace for her to say,“Hey Sheri, come!” Hey Sheri, look!”

My grandson is one. He doesn’t say full sentences, but he commands by reaching out, pulling my, and leaning toward the object he is trying to reach. He is definitely directing me by his actions. And the funny thing is I do not consider my grandchildren’s behavior disrespectful or pushy (at least most of the time).

My grandchildren respond this way to me because they know my character. They know who I am and they understand our relationship. They know I want to be involved in their world, their activities and their lives. They understand that I desire to join with them in the adventures of life and I take pleasure in the fun they experience. They also know that they can express sadness, discontent, hurt, and pain. I also continue to love them through the anger, frustration, and outright defiance that they sometimes convey.

David knew God’s character. He knew that God loved him and would love him throughout his life, no matter what that entailed. He knew the character of God and because of that, David was not afraid to demand that God act in line with that character. This is as it should be.

I want my grandkids to know that because I love them, I will consistently act in line with my character. I want them to be able to trust me. I desire a relationship in which they feel safe and comfortable expressing my neediness. Our great God also desires this kind of trust and love.

So today, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16, ESV)

Thank you, Lord, for loving me so much! I trust you and believe that I can come to you with confidence that you will act in line with your character.

Like a Watchman Waiting For the Morning

“I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning.” (Psalm 130:5–6, ESV)

My soul waits for the Lord, more than the watchman waits for the morning! What a great word picture. This really made an impact on me as I read it.

The watchman is up all night. He has to keep his post all alone at night. The rest of the world sleeps while it is dark and quiet, but the watchman spends the long hours waiting for dawn. He fights off sleep and wrestles to keep his wild imagination in check. All the while reminding himself that his shift will be over at dawn. When the light shines, his long battle with fatigue and loneliness will be over. He will find his rest.

As I wait for the Lord, it sometimes seems lonely. The rest of the world is sleeping. They are not waiting for the light, the breaking of dawn. I fight sleepiness, and in the still of the night, I fight to keep my wild imaginings under control, because I know the Light is coming. My shift will be over when the dawn comes. In the meantime, I keep my post. I keep his Word. It sustains me. It gives me the strength to wait.

Dear Lord, please help me. My soul longs for you. I wait. The dawn is coming, but sometimes it seems very dark and lonely. It is a battle to keep my mind in check. Thank you for your Word that gives me hope. Give me the strength I need to keep waiting for the morning.

I Have Not Troubled You

Are we living in troubled times? Yes, but it is not new.The author of Ecclesiastes, King Solomon, once said, “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9, ESV)

I was reminded of this verse when I read the story of Ahab and Elijah from 1 Kings this morning. Elijah stood firm for the Lord. He opposed the false teachers and their sinful behavior. He did this by proclaiming the truth. As a prophet of God, he spoke the Word of God and many did not receive it well, including the evil rulers of Israel.

King Ahab and Queen Jezebel, the rulers of Israel, were wicked and they promoted idol worship. They had led Israel down a sinful path and God was angry. God sent Elijah with a specific message for Ahab. There will be no rain in Israel for three years. This was a serious proclamation because drought would cause famine and result in political unrest.

Elijah did nothing more than declare the truth, based on the Word of God. The declaration said unless God says it will rain, it won’t. By predicting the famine in this way, Elijah exalted God above the false gods, above leaders and authority, and above His creation. He made it clear that no false God or king could control what belonged to God.

Ahab became very upset about this declaration, but instead of directing his anger toward God, he became furious with Elijah the man who seemed to be in the center of the conflict. My explanation for this is that Ahab did not believe in God so he directed his anger toward Elijah, who he knew existed. Ahab and Jezebel threatened Elijah with death, but God protected him.

Three years later, Elijah meets up with Ahab. “When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, “Is it you, you troubler of Israel?” And he answered, “I have not troubled Israel, but you have, and your father’s house, because you have abandoned the commandments of the LORD and followed the Baals.” (1 Kings 18:17–18, ESV)

This situation is so similar to the world today. Nothing is new under the sun. What has been done will be done again. Elijah’s situation is not uncommon today. God’s people continue to proclaim the truth of God to an angry world who does not acknowledge His authority, power, or existence. Since they cannot display their anger towards a God they do not believe in, they hurl threats and insults at the messenger. They refuse to take responsibility for their sin and they attempt to blame shift.

But like Elijah we must stand firm. We must not back down or take responsibility for the sins of others. Their own choice to dismiss God’s truth is what brings consequences for their sin. Our declaration of truth does not cause trouble, it only states the obvious, sin brings pain, suffering, and death.

A paraphrase of 1 Kings 18:18 helped me to find my voice in the midst of a blame shifting culture. “I have not troubled you by stating the Truth of God. I am not intolerant, angry, mean or bigoted. It is you and the culture that you espouse that has brought the trouble because you have abandoned the commandments of the LORD and followed a false god of your own creation.”

I Have Hoped in Your Word

“Those who fear you shall see me and rejoice, because I have hoped in your word.” (Psalm 119:74, ESV)

This morning as I was again reading in Psalm 119, I came across this verse. It reminded me of the many years I have spent in church and enjoyed fellowship with others who hoped in God’s Word.

I loved going to church even as a small child. I wouldn’t think of missing. It was comforting, soothing and safe. It was like coming home after a long journey. When I was young, I didn’t understand why I loved it so much. I just knew I did.

I realize now that it was because I got to see people who feared God and hoped in His Word. I think back over the years and remember so many friends, mentors, teachers, prayer warriors, pastors, and children who blessed my heart because they were people who believed The Bible. The Scripture was not only the basis for their faith, but for their convictions, morals, lifestyle, and behavior.

They were not a perfect bunch, but they wanted to exalt the Lord in more than just their songs. They believed God and wanted to live their lives in a way that would honor Him. They hoped in the Word.

The Hebrew word for hope in this verse has the idea of waiting, staying in, resting in. It implies knowing that it is true so you stick with it faithfully. So another way to look at the verse is that the believers who trusted in God’s Word habitually were excited when they saw another believer who was also holding fast to the truth of the Word.

I want to be one of the faithful. I want to cause rejoicing in the fellowship of believers. By hoping in the Word, I can bring joy, comfort, and peace to those that I encounter. I pray that this verse is true of me.

Whose Kingdom Am I Living For?

Last blog I wrote about God’s laws and commandments. I have been frustrated that so many professing Christians pick and choose what rules they think God really meant. Many people only quote verses that further their own personal kingdom, rather than the kingdom of God.

It seems that the Bible and even God have been relegated by much of the population to tools for self-help. When we need encouragement we find it in Scripture. When we are lonely we can pray because God is always there. If someone is ill, we have a Great Physician. No matter what problem we face in our little kingdom we can go to God to seek solace and support.

I am not saying it is bad or wrong to ask God to intervene or help us. He loves His children and desires their best. I am saying that trying to use God as our personal genie to grant our wishes for a perfect life is wrong. It is shallow and self-serving. Christianity is not God endorsing our little kingdom and supporting it, rather it is seeking to be a part of His Kingdom.

So what does it mean to be seeking God’s kingdom? How are we to act as citizens of the heavenly realms?

First, we worship the King. Jesus is the central figure. People are not. I am not. We give honor, glory and praise to Jesus individually and corporately with our hearts, minds, intellect, and will. “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” (Revelation 4:11, ESV)

Next, we as citizens work for the common good of the kingdom. We need to work in cooperation, as one body, to point others to the greatness of God. We should be doing all we can to lead others to eternal life. “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:3, ESV)

We also need to follow the rules of the kingdom. God’s laws are not always popular, even among His citizens, but they are good. They are good because they provide safety, peace, community, joy and love. A society thrives when the citizens all conform to an honorable set of standards and rules. When people establish their own rules or disregard the rules of the kingdom, we have anarchy.

I often forget that my kingdom is not the one I should be living for. When I forget that I am not the queen of my world, I start to pick and choose which rules of God I want to be part of my kingdom. I need to start every day worshipping the One True God. I also need to make it a priority to cooperate with other kingdom citizens for the common good. I must also seek to know God’s law and follow it, all of it.

“The LORD is my portion; I promise to keep your words. I entreat your favor with all my heart; be gracious to me according to your promise. When I think on my ways, I turn my feet to your testimonies; I hasten and do not delay to keep your commandments.” (Psalm 119:57–60, ESV)

God’s Word, His Rules and Commandments

God is good. Like a good parent, he knows what is best for us and he teaches it to us. He does this through his Word, the Bible. It is in the Holy Scripture that we learn what is holy, righteous, and healthy.

From what I have been reading on social media, it seems that many people feel that God’s laws are subjective. I disagree. The Bible makes it clear that God has set rules and commandments. I will be writing more on this subject in the upcoming days. But for today, I want to leave you with a few verses from Psalm 119. Take the opportunity to read this Psalm over the next few days. I hope that you will be impressed with the importance of holding fast to the absolute truth of God’s laws.

“My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word! Put false ways far from me and graciously teach me your law! I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I set your rules before me. I cling to your testimonies, O LORD; let me not be put to shame! I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart!” (Psalm 119:28–32, ESV)

“Teach me, O LORD, the way of your statutes; and I will keep it to the end. Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart. Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it. Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain! Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.” (Psalm 119:33–37, ESV)

“Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day. Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the aged, for I keep your precepts. I hold back my feet from every evil way, in order to keep your word. I do not turn aside from your rules, for you have taught me. How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. I have sworn an oath and confirmed it, to keep your righteous rules.” (Psalm 119:97–106, ESV)

Dear reader, I pray for you today, that God blesses you as you follow Him and hold fast to His commandments.

Sunlight in My Soul Today

I like to spend time outdoors. I especially enjoy the sunshine. The warmth of the sun washing over me feels good. It lifts my spirits. I wanted to go spend time in the sun this morning, but it is a cloudy day. It is warm outside, but the sun is obscured. So I won’t get my dose of sunshine before work today.

As I thought about this, I was reminded of how much I enjoy the Light of the World shining on me. I like to spend time with Him out of my normal setting. I enjoy being away from the usual stresses of life and basking in the warmth of His glory. It feels good. It lifts my spirit.

Lately, the storms of life have been obscuring the Son. I have also been staying “inside” my own little space. I have not been going out and trying to find the Light. It is taking a toll on me. I have not been nearly as joyful or healthy as I should be. I need the Light of the world to shine on me.

I know what happens if I stay in the shadows. I get pale. I get more lethargic. I feel more discouraged. If I stay too long, I meet shady characters that tempt me to become a creature of darkness. I must not allow the world and its ways eclipse the light.

I need to get back into the warmth of Jesus comfort and love. I was called out of darkness. I should not be there. I was called out for a purpose. I need to be in the Light so I can declare God’s glory and praise. “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9, ESV).

Jesus, I call to you for help. I leave the stresses of the world and walk toward the Light. Let me bask in your glory. Allow the warmth of your love to wash over me. Keep me from the dark places and the shadows. Let me walk in the Light and” proclaim the excellencies of him who called me out of darkness into his marvelous light.”

Impress on my mind the words of this hymn.
“Tho’ clouds may gather in the sky,
And billows round me roll,
However dark the world may be
I’ve sunlight in my soul.

Sunlight, sunlight in my soul today,
Sunlight, sunlight all along the way;
Since the Savior found me, took away my sin,
I have had the sunlight of His love within.”

Thank you Jesus.