Tag Archives: psalms

Psalm 117: Shortest Chapter, Longest Message

We recently had the great, and eye-opening opportunity to study the longest chapter in the Bible, Psalm 119. Its subject was the Word of God. Come to think of it, it still makes sense that, in the Bible, the written Word of God, the longest chapter is devoted to the authority, power, and relationship of the Word to man. How important the Word, His Word, is to us … and, to God.

It just seemed natural to, then, look at the shortest chapter in the entire Bible, which is only “2 chapters back” of the longest chapter. Bringing us to Psalm, chapter 117.

Only 2, yes 2, verses. But, I discover in studying this chapter, that, perhaps, I should sub-title this writing with something like, “Fewest Verses, Longest Vision.”
Man, talk about looking at the big picture!
Yes, the chapter is, perhaps, “set apart” by being the shortest, but it is also set apart for another reason: It is the only Psalm which is strictly addressed to the Gentile world. It clearly sees the same vision other Old Testament writers saw … that the Gospel … that Salvation … would be sent …would be offered … would be available … not only to the Jewish nation and its people … but, to “all of us.” As we’ll see, this was a message many Jewish believers did not want to hear, and was still an issue in Paul’s day. More on that later.

First, let’s consider that, Scripturally, there are only 2 races of people: The Jews and Gentiles. Period. All of us are in one of these 2 categories. Yes, that means just that. It would be fair to say that this message, the message and fact that all nations, all peoples of the “heathen” nations, would have salvation made available to them, was the hottest, most debated topic of the very, very early church. Things haven’t changed much, have they? How God can offer the same salvation, the same eternal life, the same spiritual gifts, etc., to “everyone,” even those we consider to be “unsavable.” How, in God’s eyes, we are all, really the same … all are lost without Jesus, regardless of culture, class, or whatever else may “divide” us. And, that God offers the same salvation to everyone … regardless of where they live … and … I know this hurts some folks … but, the same salvation is offered to everyone, regardless of what they have done … what lifestyle they are now living … regardless of … regardless of … they are offered the same salvation which … which … which … we were offered …

Wow! This is supposed to be about the shortest chapter … I think the fact that its content has even led to this conversation proves the power of the message contained in these 2 verses. And, not only that, but the verses aren’t even that long to begin with!

It occurs to me that, already, there’s about a hundred lessons just in what we’ve covered so far!

OK, I must say it: Sometimes, the hardest thing for us to understand, to “get,” is that God may not approve of someone’s lifestyle, just like He didn’t approve of ours, but that doesn’t mean that He doesn’t love them. It doesn’t mean that the same saving grace which saved us … can’t save them. Jew and Gentile. Really, still, even within these two groups (yes, they are different groups!), it still all boils down to only 2 groups of people in the world today: Saved and Lost. That’s it. Period. Those who are lost need to be saved. Those who are saved need to reach out to those who are lost. Regardless of who, or where, they are. Have things changed since Paul’s time? How difficult is it for us to reach our hands-and hearts-out to people who are different from us? I mean … surely the Gospel message is not meant for them, too???

All this from Psalm 117? Only 2 verses???

How Great God is! If we could just catch hold of His vision! I’ll say this again: God knows what He is doing. Even if we don’t know what He’s doing … even when it seems that what He is doing goes “against the grain.” I’ll even write this: It’s a good thing He’s in charge, and not me. I think one of the greatest “against the grain” things that God ever did happened right there at the “beginning” of the Church. Think about this, as we ponder the “differences” between Jew and Gentile. Think about how big a deal this was in the early days of the Church. Peter was, perhaps, (please keep this in context) the most “Gentile” of all the Disciples. What did God do? Put him in charge of the Church in Jerusalem. Paul was, perhaps, (please keep this in context) the most “Jewish” man who ever lived. What did God do? Put him in charge of taking the Gospel message to the Gentile world … Indeed, revealing to him “the mystery of the Gospel …”

Taking the Gospel to the Gentile world. Whose idea was that? It was God’s idea all along. Yes, Jesus came first to the Jewish nation … but, when they rejected Him … the door opened for “everyone else” to have the opportunity … the same opportunity … While, yes, there is still the “Jewish Nation/Family,” we are just as important a part of that family … by adoption into that family … A “hidden” message, sprinkled throughout the Old Testament …

I think I see another hundred lessons …

Back to Psalm 117: There have been some scholars who didn’t think that this Psalm “stood alone;” that it should have been a part of Psalm 116. However, Psalm 117 has the basic 3 elements of a “Psalm,” or “hymn of praise”: It clearly has a call to praise, “O Praise the Lord, all ye nations (Gentiles); praise him, all ye people.” It has a reason for this praise, “For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the Lord endureth for ever.” Then, it finishes with a conclusion, “Praise ye the Lord.” By the way, for those who thought this chapter should have been just added to finish Psalm 116, that Psalm already has a clear conclusion of … “Praise ye the Lord.”

With its call to praise, addressed to the Gentile nations, and the word “people” meaning “all ye peoples,” there is no question that the Psalmist is clearly focusing on God’s interest and desire to save the “Gentile Peoples,” resulting in their praise for, and to, Him.

Is Psalm 117 the exact center of the Bible? Well … I must ask you to independently search for this answer. When you do, you will find that some say it is chapter 118, and some say it is chapter 117. I say that both are really great chapters … and, you should read and study both.
Again, I ask you to search for this. Here’s a sample of what I found:

For those who favor Psalm 118:
Fact: There are 594 chapters before Psalms 118
Fact: There are 594 chapters after Psalms 118
Add these numbers up and you get 1188
Q: What is the center verse in the Bible?
A: Psalms 118:8
Q: Does this verse say something significant about God’s perfect will for our lives?

The next time someone says they would like to find God’s perfect will for their lives and that they want to be in the center of His will, just send them to the center of His Word!

Psalms 118:8
“It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.”
Now isn’t that odd how this worked out (or was God in the center of it)?

(I just wanted you to read that!)

Then, for those who believe Psalm 117 is the center of the Bible, I found this:
“According to independent research, the King James Version (KJV) of the Holy Bible contains 1189 chapters; Psalm 117 is the 595th; there are 594 chapters before Psalm 117, and 594 after it. Thus, it is 117, not 118, that is the center chapter of the Bible.

Here is what Charles Spurgeon wrote, in his “The Treasury of David”:
“This Psalm, which is very little in its letter, is exceedingly large in its spirit; for, bursting beyond all bounds of race or nationality, it calls upon all mankind to praise the name of the Lord. It is both short and sweet. It may be worth noting that this is at once the shortest chapter of the Scriptures and the central portion of the whole Bible.”

We spoke of the Apostle Paul earlier. The verses of Psalm 117 are one of 4 passages of Old Testament Scripture which Paul used, in Romans, chapter 15, to prove that God’s plan is to save Gentiles. Again, this was perhaps the most hotly debated topic during the days of the early Church, to which Paul would repeatedly write that, in God’s eyes, there is no difference between Jew and Gentile, bondman or free, etc. Paul wrote, “that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written …” Then, Paul would quote from Psalms, Deuteronomy, and Isaiah. In so doing, to prove his point, Paul quoted from the Psalms, the Law, and the Prophets.

So, in closing, “O Praise the Lord, all ye nations: praise him, all ye peoples. For his merciful kindness (loving-kindness) is great toward us: and the truth of the Lord endureth for ever.
Praise ye the Lord.”

Richard. Vincent. Rose.

 

Psalm 119: The Wonder and Wisdom of “The Word”

Hi Friends:

For the last several days, I have been studying Psalm 119. I have read the entire chapter many times in the past, but, in sitting and studying the words this time, it’s like I had never read it before. God is so good, as He is always revealing new things to us, each time we read His Word, and I think He takes great pleasure in giving us new insight into something we have read many times. Yes, “Wisdom is gained every time we open the Bible and read His Word,” as an old, old bookmark I have still reminds me.

I think it can be said that in all the great chapters and passages in the Bible, Psalm 119 stands alone. It is a written monument to the importance of God’s Word. In fact, it is God’s Word that is the sole subject of the chapter. We all know that Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible, with its 176 verses. How important is it that we read, study, believe, and learn the Word of God? How important is God’s Word to us? Let’s put it this way: What is the single subject matter of the longest chapter in the Bible? God’s Word.

As I read and studied the chapter, I learned so many things that make this chapter unique. Of course, we always begin any conversation with the length of the chapter. But, it is the way the chapter is arranged that sets it apart. Like many of the Psalms, it is an “acrostic.” An acrostic is when sets of letters (such as the first letter of a line) are written in order: “A composition, usually in verse, in which sets of letters (as the initial or final letters of the lines) taken in order form a word or phrase or a regular sequence of letters of the alphabet.” The Hebrew alphabet had 22 letters. Usually, when writing an acrostic verse, only one verse per letter of the alphabet is used. In other words, each line would begin with a letter, the next verse begins with the next letter of the alphabet, and so on. In Psalm 119, there are 8 verses for each letter … that is why Psalm 119 has 22 stanzas: One stanza for each letter … 8 verses for each letter … 22 letters in the alphabet … 8 verses per letter … equals 176 verses! Amazing! Yes, I had to go back and look at each stanza … 8 … 16 … 24 … all the way to 176! For this reason, the chapter is also referred to as an “Alphabet Psalm.” There is a tradition that King David used this Psalm to teach his son Solomon the alphabet. It’s also thought that King David taught his son to not just use this alphabet for writing letters, but as an alphabet for spiritual life.

Perhaps the one word most associated with the Psalms would be “praise.” In Psalm 119, the entire chapter is a “praise” song for God’s Word: Its authenticity, its value, and its purpose. Here’s the number 8 again: There are 8 words which repeat, over and over, throughout the chapter, and they all have to do with the Word of God: Word, Law, Statues, Commandments, Judgements, Precepts, Testimonies, and Thy/His Ways. All of these words stand as synonyms for the Word of God, revealed to man. Here we have the longest chapter in the Bible, 176 verses, and the Word of God is mentioned in every verse, but three! Reading God’s Word … learning God’s Word … knowing God’s Word … hearing God’s Word … and … and … keeping God’s Word close to us must be of the utmost value and importance. Another word which appears repeatedly throughout the chapter is “quicken,” which means “revive.”

Who wrote Psalm 119? Not sure. It is one of the 61 Psalms which credit the author as “anonymous.” Just as with the book of Hebrews, there is debate over authorship, and the list is only a couple of names. For Psalms 119, as with Hebrews, it comes down to writing style. It is believed that either King David wrote Psalm 119 (compiled over his lifetime), or Ezra wrote it. But, consider this: The ultimate Author of Scripture is God Himself, using men to write, as inspired by the Holy Spirit. That’s why you need the help of the Holy Spirit to understand the Scriptures … Who better to get the true meaning from … than the Author?

Psalm 119 is approximately the same length as the books of Ruth, James, or Philippians.

I never miss an opportunity to encourage people to read the entire book of Psalms. People, especially those reading the Bible for the first time, will ask me, “Where should I start?” While it is easy to say, “At the beginning,” which, of course, isn’t a bad idea, I always suggest the book of John … and, the book of Psalms. If they will, seriously, read either … it will make them want to read more. I think that one of the reasons Psalms is so “popular” (if I may use that word in context) is that they are so easy to understand, and they express so well the feelings that we all share. Plus, and I think this is important when someone is first learning to start devoting time to Scripture reading every day, the Psalms are easy to read an entire chapter in one sitting … I can’t remember a time when I have read through the book of Psalms, and, every chapter I read, every time, spoke directly to something I was going through at the time.

I’ve known so many people who have told me that Psalms was their favorite book. This includes my Mom, who, like all of us when going through difficult times, turn to the Psalms … and, in particular, favorite Psalms. Time and again, it is the peace and comfort found in the Psalms that give us “just what we need” for any situation we are facing. C.S. Lewis said that, “The most valuable thing the Psalms do for me is to express the same delight in God which made David dance.” And, R.C. Sproul said that, “Whenever I read the Psalms, I feel like I am eavesdropping on a saint having a personal conversation with God.”

There is just a special “connection” we feel with the Psalms. And, so many of us keep going back to our favorite verses within the 119th chapter. For instance, John Calvin preached 22 sermons (one for each stanza) from Psalm 119. Here is this statement about one of those great, “we all know” verses from Psalm 119, from Thomas Watson: “I have hidden your Word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:11. The Word, locked up in the heart-is a preservative against sin. As one would carry an antidote with him when he comes near an infected place-so David carried the Word in his heart as a sacred antidote to preserve him from the infection of sin.” Wow! That was really good!

Charles Spurgeon liked Psalm 119 so much, that he said, “We might do well to commit it to memory.” Commit it to memory. I know that most of us know, maybe, Psalm 23 by heart … but all 176 verses of Psalm 119? We wrote that there is a belief that King David used this Psalm to teach Solomon. It has been suggested that Psalm 119 may have been written as an acrostic poem so that it would be easier to memorize. The words of this particular Psalm were considered to be that important! I’ve learned that there have, indeed, been some pretty famous people who have made a point to memorize the entire chapter … all 176 verses. Some people you may know, who were known to have the entire Psalm memorized, include William Wilberforce (19th century British politician who led the movement to abolish the slave trade in the British Empire), Blaise Pascal, the French philosopher, Henry Martyn (19th century pioneer missionary to India), and David Livingstone (19th century pioneer missionary to Africa).

These examples epitomize the words of verse 11: “Thy word have I hid in mine heart …” meaning “to deposit or place” in my heart. Which leads me to the question of which are my favorite verses from Psalm 119? Who could pick? Allow me to write that there are so many, and, on any given day, every verse could “stand out” as being just what God wants me to learn for today. There were a couple of verses I specifically wrote down, as I went through. One was verse 160, which personally responded to my last writing about why believing God’s account of creation was important: “Thy word is true from the beginning.” This spoke to me about what I had written about believing God’s Word from the very “beginning.” I’m working on the “Wealth Stored for the Righteous” series, which speaks so much about the benefits we have right now … so, verse 162 spoke to me about what should be tops on our list of wealth we already possess: “I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great treasure.” Verse 42 repeats what we should say, constantly: “I trust in thy word.” And, not just trust: “I hope in thy word” (verses 81, 114). Another treasure we have is the assurance that God is always with us, that “thou art near” (verse 151).

What a great, great chapter. What Words! No wonder I am “in awe of thy word” (verse 161).
I am reminded that, besides Isaiah, the book of Psalms is most quoted in the New Testament. I am also reminded that this chapter praises the Word … and, that Jesus is, literally, the Word in human form. The Word made flesh. When we praise Jesus, we are praising His Word, and when we are praising the Word, we are praising Him. You can’t separate Jesus from the Word.

I will close with another example of someone from history who had memorized the entire chapter of Psalm 119. I found this same story on several different sources, so I will share this with you:

George Wishart was the Bishop of Edinburgh in the 17th century. Wishart was condemned to death, and was scheduled to be executed. But, when he was on the scaffold, he made use of a custom that allowed the condemned person to choose one Psalm to be sung, and he chose Psalms 119:1-176. Before two-thirds of the psalm was sung, his pardon arrived and his life was spared.

Please read Psalm 119.
And … the rest!

Blessings to you, and your family,
Richard. Vincent. Rose.

 

Shared Email Stories: “Baskets”

A story is told about an old lady who was living in the village. She had never owned or even been in a car before.One day, she was returning home from the market carrying a big heavy basket on her head, when a rich man riding his car passed by. Kindly, he offered to drive the lady to her home. She thanked him and got into the car with her basket. On the way, the man glanced at the lady in the mirror, still holding her basket over her head. Astonished, he asked her to lay the basket down in the car and rest. The old lady naively replied, “Oh my son, your car is carrying me; this is enough, I should not burden it carrying my basket too!”

What an innocently funny response! We sometimes do the same with God. Everyday, God carries us during the day. Still, do we insist on carrying our heavy baskets of worries? And, fear of the future, for family, kids, spouse, money, job, etc? We are carried by Almighty Hands, watched over by Sleepless Eyes, and God plans our future. Let us then relax and lay down everything in God’s hands.

The old lady, if she agreed to lay down the basket, would have to carry it again when back home.
But the beautiful thing about God is that once we cast our heavy baskets in His Hands, we do not need to think about it anymore.

“Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart”
(Psalms 37:4).

Modern-Day Psalms: “Early” Reviews

We have been so blessed by the positive response we’ve received from our new book, Modern-Day Psalms: Praise Songs and Love Messages. It is amazing to hear how the words have deeply affected the readers, which is exactly God’s intention for the book. I have been honored to have heard from many people who have, very early in the reading of the book, contacted me to share how the book has touched them. I wanted to share a couple of examples:

Over the weekend, and please understand the sentiment, I received a telephone call from a beloved relative who had started reading the book, and, as soon as Carol handed me the phone, her first words were, “How in the #@*# did you write all this?” At the first sentence, I was expecting to be chastised … severely … but, what she meant was that the book had already touched her, reached her in a way that words can’t explain. My explanation is always the same … as I explain in the book … that God was the writer … I only held the pen. God still has the ability to speak through words, and touch us in a way which “words” can’t.

Last week, I heard from a newspaper reporter/writer, who had received a copy of the book, and was contacting me to set up for an interview. She had read only the first chapter (poem), and she was brought to tears. I can honestly say that, and God deserves all of the praise, that I do hear that a lot. And, not tears in a bad way. Just today, I heard from another reader, who, asked me if she could send this same, first poem, to a friend of hers … to minister to her … as this friend of hers was struggling through the same issue which the poem was meant to address, and minister to. She said that the poem was like it was written just for her. She told me that her friend had been going through anguish and pain over a particular situation for many, many years. This reader was going to type the words of the poem, and then send them to her friend. She wanted to check with me first, to make sure that was ok with me. I will be emailing her a copy of the poem, to send to her friend. I will send my prayers along with it.

Also today, and I mean this in a good way, I heard from another reader who told me that she had to, in trying to read some of the poems, stop, and close the book … then open the book back up, and try to read something else. Then, she would have to stop, go to another page, as she couldn’t finish that one, either. Apparently, the words had touched her heart so deeply, had stirred up emotions which, at the moment, were so intense, perhaps so painful, she couldn’t deal with. At least, not now. I pray this reader will open the book back up, and allow the words to do what they were written for. To comfort, console, and encourage her. To hear from someone who has “been there,” and God brought out. Brought out for the purpose of “going back in” and helping others “out.” This particular reader was looking for something special she could share with someone who was special to her. Keep in mind that a part of the “Love Messages” in the book make it clear that it’s ok to love Jesus … to love your wife/spouse … and, to love your family. And, it’s ok to show them. So, even though many of the “Love Songs” are metaphoric in nature (symbolizing Christ’s love for us and vice-versa), they are still written in a style which can be shared with others. So, I am sending her a copy of just that one Love Poem for her to share.

One of the unique aspects of the book is that I provide an introduction to each one of the works. It explains how or why (or both) that particular poem was written. The story behind it. My intention was that these short introductions would bless and minister to people, as well as the work itself. Again, part of the “messages” within the book. The publishing world thinks that it is a bad idea to introduce a poem. I don’t think it’s a bad idea, and I’m just following the instructions I received about how to lay the book out.

Anyway, I am so blessed by the response to these introductions. So far, everyone who has said anything about the book, always mentions the introductions, and what they have received from them. So, God was right again!

As we go along, we’ll share more about the book. My intention at the beginning was to only mention that we are now offering the book on Pastor Appreciation Gifts, both personalized and signed … just to make that announcement, as we’ve had questions about when that would happen. But, I think the most important thing about the book will always be how the book ministers to, how it affects, how it touches the deepest human emotions … that these are truly living words, meant to do exactly what they are doing.

I praise God for that, for allowing me to hold the pen, and be a part of something so special …

Below, I am placing a link to the “Modern-Day Psalms” Book page over at Pastor Appreciation Gifts. Please note that the book, both hard cover and paperback, is being offered at as close to the online retailers’ price as possible. But, Pastor Appreciation Gifts is the only place where the book is being offered both personalized and signed.
On the page are links to take you to more information about the book (I will be including part of this blog post as well), including a “Table of Contents” listing for you, and other information pertaining to the book.

You can also order (from the Publisher) the book in eBook format, available in whichever format you have). There is a link on the book page for the eBook, as well.

Thank you again for your kind words and thoughts.
Blessings to you, and your family,
Richard. Vincent. Rose.
Link to Pastor Appreciation Gifts: Modern-Day Psalms Book Page

Richard. Vincent. Rose.: Finally … Our New Book Published and Available Now!

We can finally announce that our new book, “Modern-Day Psalms: Praise Songs and Love Messages” is now available!!!
We just got the official word from our publisher that “Modern-Day Psalms” is now available online, and at booksellers everywhere!
It is an honor and privilege to make this first announcement that our new book is ready …
Book CoverWe wanted to make the very first public announcement, in advance of any press coverage and marketing efforts, only to our friends who have been so faithful and supportive of our writing and business efforts through the years. So, for you, our visitors and friends at Pastor Appreciation Gifts, our Pastor Appreciation Blog and Facebook ministries, as well as Our YouTube Channel this is the first announcement that the book is finally ready.
Hard Back CoverWe made the decision to go with an independent publisher, so that we could maintain all artistic control. I think we made the right decision, and chose iUniverse Publishing, because of their experience and reach into the global marketplace.

The full title is “Modern Day Psalms: Praise Songs and Love Messages For Your Heart and Soul From the Heart and Soul of Richard. Vincent. Rose.”
Paperback CoverFor several years, I have had the distinct privilege and honor to be allowed to share many of my poems, works, and thoughts with dear friends all over the world. This is the first opportunity to put many of the favorites, most requested, and new works, into a single volume. My prayer is that you will be encouraged, inspired, edified, comforted, and blessed as you read, and allow your very soul to absorb the words.

Here are a couple of notes from the book:
Now, for the first time in one complete volume, all of the classic works, together with new inspired writings, become available to impact a whole new audience of hearts, minds, and souls. Read about great tragedy and loss leading to even greater joy, as someone who has been there and was led out, “goes back in” to help, encourage, and lead others out.
“I had no way of knowing at the time, that what I thought was the worst thing to have ever happened to me, turned out to be the best thing  that ever happened to me. I don’t write about tragedy or loss … I write about comfort, victory, and great gain.”
Richard.Vincent.Rose.

It is our distinct honor to introduce you to Modern-Day Psalms, “A timeless collection of living words, composed of poetry and life-changing messages, which will encourage, inspire, console, and reach the depth of your heart and soul.”

Here are a couple of direct links to the book:
First, here is the link to go directly to our publisher, where the book is available in Paperback, Hard Cover with Dust Jacket, and also available in eBook format, which will allow you to download the book in multiple formats, including Kindle and PDF:

Modern-Day Psalms at iUniverse Publishing: Click Image:
Paperback Book Cover

Now, here is the link to Amazon: 

Modern-Day Psalms at Amazon: Click Image:
Amazon Look Inside
 Again, for those who have been asking for the Ebook, it is now available directly from our Publisher.

We also encourage you to review the book, and add you review and comments as you enjoy the book!

Please be blessed and encouraged and “Be prepared to read-and feel-living words, able to penetrate your deepest emotions, reaching into your heart and soul, as the writing of Richard. Vincent. Rose. leaps from the pages, bringing hope, joy, encouragement, comfort, and inspiration into every area of your life!”

It is such a joy to be able to make this special announcement, fittingly made on this, Thanksgiving Day.

Blessings to you, and your family,
Ted, Carol, and
Richard. Vincent. Rose.