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Singing Psalm 109 to make distinctions

How can you learn to make distinctions that count for something? If what you want to do is different from what God told you to do, do you do what God says or do you do you? In the latter case, it’s all on you. You walk around with a dark cloud surrounding you. Everything is grim. When you relinquish control, light suddenly filters through, the cloud is lifted, and you are free to enjoy life to the full.

When all is said and done from your efforts, will your thoughts be clarified regarding matters of life and death, matters of eternity? Or will you roll your eyes thinking: “So what?”

Much time is spent trying to make sense of differences that leave you on the outside, unacceptable, less than the rest. You make distinctions. Categories clarify. Isms exclude. Only in God’s word will you be able to make distinctions between what, in all of the details, is sin and what is not, and from there to make right judgments about how to proceed personally, socially, and relationally.

If you pursue infinite numbers of wrong paths on your way to the right path, you won’t ever get there. Of course, the Lord will use the errant paths you have pursued and studied to help you sift through the myriad of theories and philosophies “guaranteed” to accurately diagnose you and give you the answers you are looking for. You will subsequently recognize and make distinctions to avoid the paths on which the devil’s distracting you to walk.

You are called to make distinctions even about judgment.

“Judge not, that you be not judged.’ ~ Matthew 7:1

“Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” ~ John 7:24

Singing Psalm 109 would awaken you to make distinctions rightly between friends and enemies, between good and evil, and between mercy and judgment.

Between friends and enemies 

Who are your friends?

Those who return good for good, those who return evil for good, those who return evil for evil, or those who return good for evil?


Who are your enemies?

Those who return evil whether or not you first do evil or good toward them. They are influenced by the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms, which are your true enemies who are all too happy to embody the small minded sheep who are at best self-interested, at worst self-consumed, and who miss the vast opportunities they have all around them to love God and their neighbor.

Who is your best friend?

The One who uses evil to bring about good, who restores broken relationships, and who always returns good for evil even in the worst of circumstances. Jesus, the good Shepherd, who leads his sheep to see and make good on the vast opportunities they have all around them to love God and their neighbor.

Is your focus on following every nuance and flavor of fallenness in an attempt to achieve a righteousness of your own? What if you become skilled and can make distinctions among every variety of bad news, the many ways you can go awry in your feelings, thoughts, words, and actions, the enemies within yourself? Has the devil gotten your eyes thus fixated on yourself? Has he placed you stuck on a hamster wheel of attempts to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps, navel gazing your way into creating a level playing field as you use every ounce of energy hoping against hope to make distinctions clearly inside yourself among bullies, rescuers, victims, and nurturers?

“But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us…For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory. And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.” ~ 1 Thessalonians 2:7-8, 11-13

Are you championing the good news of the gospel of Jesus, looking for ways to give of yourself? Or are you distracted by lesser causes? Will you insist on expressing your individualism as you please, without regard for whether or not it is pleasing to God, second guessing yourself and loved ones ad infinitum? Will you dare to commit to Christ’s body, a church of friends, the straying sheep who finally settle in to follow the head of his church, the one good shepherd, the one King Jesus, humble, who gently leads them to perfect peace by keeping his focus on always pleasing the Father and not himself for your sake?

As the Lord fed the Israelites manna as they wandered in the wilderness for 14,600 days, it is he alone who feeds your soul, your mind and heart as well as your body each and every day to nourish you and satisfy every need in Christ who is, and who has come to be for you, the bread of life. He will help you make distinctions that will bring your affections, feelings, thoughts, and actions in line with him. Jesus frees you from the alleged need to make distinctions among all the flavors of wrong that send you running incessantly on the treadmill of self-help. Only he can keep you from being sidetracked on a quest to avoid shame. Only he can help you make the distinction between what shame you are culpable for and the shame for which you are not responsible. Only he can make clear to you which means of grace he is supplying to meet every need of yours according to his riches in Christ Jesus. Only he will keep you from seeing yourself and others as either all good or all bad which is inevitably what happens when you go seek to make distinctions that put others in a bad light and yourself in a good light or vice versa, both of which leaves you quite alone and sad.

When considering those enemies who would oppress, those enemies who would encourage you to oppose God masquerading as angels of light, singing Psalm 109 prompts you to sing confidently and boldly that the curses they lay on multitudes of people would come back on them in a great proportional reversal, and that they, and all who follow in their deceptive steps, if they refuse to repent and receive Jesus’ compassion, would be cut off and stopped!

“God of my praise, O do not be silent.” ~ Psalm 109:1

Indeed, the Lord is not silent. He beckons you to come to him, you who are weary and burdened, so that he can care for you and give you rest. He has compassion on you who are looking for love and answers in all the wrong places. He beseeches you to come to him, take his yoke upon you, and learn from him who is gentle and lowly and heart. He alone will give you rest for your soul. He has given you himself, the balm for every errant thought and emotion. He alone will satisfy you completely.

In an attempt to paint a word picture of children and parents as friends and not enemies, the best I could muster was a collection of attitudes and activities to ponder, words and phrases on which to meditate, in hopes of landing on the ability to make distinctions that matter for life and relationships for generations to come. May the Holy Spirit use both major and minor efforts of each one of his people to serve Jesus Christ, a perfect display of the Father’s love, that he would so graciously and kindly use their meager efforts to help his servants make distinctions that will snatch his people from the fire of judgment and securely place them into his everlasting mercy.

The Lord Jesus has given you the psalms to sing to move your mind and heart to make distinctions toward a close friendship and an intimate affection for God who is Father, Son, and Spirit, toward an intentional emotional connection with him who is holy where he becomes your heart’s desire, where his hidden footprints lead you to engage in the moment-by-moment process of seeking him, learning him, trusting him, and following him. Jesus is your best friend.

Between good and evil

How can you take up every opportunity to return good for evil? It is easy to love those who return good for good and particularly difficult to love those who continually return evil for good. But God’s word directs you to love your enemies, not to return evil for evil. Returning evil for good is particularly heinous. The very definition of an enemy is one who returns evil for good.

 O Lord, you have returned good for evil in my life. When I have not obeyed your word by loving neither my neighbor nor my enemy, you have continued to love me. Please, then, let me live to please you and not myself. Please soften my heart that I might not return evil for good in my relationship with you by not loving those from the heart who often return evil for good in their relationship with me. Let me like David inquire of you as to where you would have me show kindness to bless others.

May you seek the Lord to help you to love both those who love you and those who don’t without partiality as Jesus loves you though you’ve done nothing to deserve it.

Our Father, please help your people to follow and imitate Joseph who points to Jesus who always returns good for evil. “Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.”

“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” ~ Genesis 50:20-21

God loved those who had become his enemies through their proud rebellion and hostility, by giving them hope for their posterity by taking on flesh as the seed of the woman who would crush the head of the serpent (Genesis 3:15). Where Adam failed, Jesus crushed it at the cross. He did only what pleases the Father without veering off on an independent streak. This is why, like Paul, you would do well to resolve to know nothing if not the cross of Christ. Jesus is your only hope.

After unsuccessfully tempting him to eat bread before the Father provided it and before tempting him, again unsuccessfully, to attempt suicide, you see the Lord Jesus, the very Word of God, the second Adam, undo the curse of the first Adam by using Old Testament Scripture to stand up to the temptation to take a shortcut to procure what could only be accomplished at the cross. The devil tried to divert him from humbling himself, to get him to care for his own interests and avoid suffering so that he would forgo taking the curse for his people:

“And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” And Jesus answered him,

“It is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.’” ~ Luke 4:5-8

Singing Psalm 109 brings to your mind King David’s forethought and foreshadowing about his future Son, the Lord Jesus, and how He would ultimately fulfill the prophecy that David would always have a descendant on the throne of Israel. Jesus, the King of kings, would be mocked, spit upon, tortured, and would subject himself to die the death of a criminal in my place, in your place. While we were still enemies looking out for self, he called us “God’s people” and suffered intensely to make us so.

Jesus asked for the Father to forgive the soldiers who carried out the orders to crucify him. They really didn’t know what they were doing. But divine retribution does fall upon Judas, Pilate, and those who did not repent of their rejection of Jesus, who would not cry out to him for mercy, seek his compassion, nor come to him for life. The dark cloud tunnel vision of self-interest drove Judas to utter despair. Rather than turn to Jesus, hoping in him, crying out to him for mercy, he saw that he could no longer hold on to the control he so coveted, and like Ahithophel before him, took his own life.

Why did the religious leaders reject Jesus? Why were the disciples so often perplexed and reluctant at times, questioning his judgment as they followed him? Why is it tempting to seek answers from sources other than Jesus? The reason is simply to avoid suffering. Jesus gives you a new mind toward suffering so that you can endure it. The cross of Christ is foolishness to those who are perishing. That is why they are perishing. Otherwise, after suffering a little while, Jesus would give them life filled with joy that never ends. Indeed, our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs any suffering he calls you to endure.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” ~ Matthew 5:4

“About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” ~ Hebrews 5:11-14

If ever you pray with false motives to condemn someone who is righteous because you don’t like the implications of their faith that condemns your lifestyle, it is all in vain. Though you curse them, God will make distinctions between good and evil; he will hear and bless that other. He would never answer such a prayer to condemn the faithful nor would you expect him to. No, he will look upon a prayer that is filled with slander and lies as the sin that it is. Because our first parents disobeyed God’s voice and listened to the serpent who lied saying they would be able to make distinctions between good and evil, we often allow our self-interest to direct our decisions and fail to make distinctions necessary for a right judgment.

“When he is judged, let him be found guilty,

    And look upon his prayer as a sin.” ~ Psalm 109:7

“I am very poor and needy;    I am wounded in my heart…Help me, LORD, my Lord; O save me    In accordance with Your love.” ~ Psalm 109:22,26

Between mercy and judgment

The devil is to you as Goliath was to David who breathed murderous threats on the people of God, and in particular, David. Just as David slew the evil giant with the skill, precision, and strength that the Lord gave him, you can slay the influence of Satan with the sword of the Spirit, the word of God.

Singing Psalm 109’s imprecations with strength from God, you use the sword of the Spirit to cut off the head of the entanglements Satan and his angels send your way to distract you and prevent you from serving the Lord as David cut off the head of Goliath after killing him.

David, with the help of Abigail, would rightly make distinctions between Goliath and Nabal. He then later failed to make distinctions in his heart which deceived him, between the preciousness of Uriah’s life and the monster that Goliath was. He indirectly used the mechanism of war to kill Uriah. Because it was not with his own hands, he attempted to justify it. He ought to have considered Uriah’s life precious as God considered his life. God brought the hard thing to light through his servant, Nathan, disciplined him with consequences, and showed him mercy through his grave lack of judgment.

Tough-mindedness is needed to make distinctions between your responses to monstrous and upright influences. The thief that comes to steal, kill, and destroy God’s people ought to be slayed while the good shepherd of God’s people ought to be free to shepherd. In the deceitfulness of human hearts protecting special interests, it was the Lord Jesus who was slayed while the thief went free—for a time—until the Lord returns to set all things right.

The church is to be like Nathan was to David, stripping away the deception from his heart. Admitting wrongdoing, being cut to the heart, and repenting are the marks of God’s people. God gave you his church, bought with the blood of Jesus, to free you from hiding and rationalizing your sins. Rather, you admit and renounce them so that you can live with him forever.

You need God’s church to confront you with God’s grace and mercy for a pure heart where you rightly make distinctions between how you think and feel about the unrepentant Goliath-like influences and those who lay down their lives and strive to influence you to follow Jesus.

Singing Psalm 109 is like a chiropractic adjustment for your feelings that rids you of the deception embedded in your heart and gets you in line with God’s truth. It enables you to think through motives, attitudes, activities, and guides you to act honorably with consistency not partiality, where you make distinctions between Goliaths and Uriahs. The Lord Jesus moves you to sift through your interests, avoid convenient expedience, and make right judgments. 

Jesus helps you call to repentance those who oppose God. He helps you do this without sentimentality, without rationalizing their self-interested cause. Pray without ceasing for their heartfelt repentance. Pray also for their Goliath-like influencers to turn to God in repentance and find mercy or be stopped from destroying God’s people. Compromising here might prevent the suffering of persecution and preserve good feelings in the relationship, but at what cost? You are inadvertently depriving the clarity of truth, grace, and mercy that the lost person would need in order to repent. If you give the impression that one who opposes God is great as they think they are, what is there to repent of? Acceptance is a must, but approval is damning as it moves the unrepentant sinner away from seeing his need to come to Jesus for mercy. O Lord, please give your people courage that they not unwittingly be accomplices to the demise of the lost. Judas hid his rebellious heart to the end. It is a grace to speak a word of truth in love, warning a friend you know is opposing God. You make distinctions that lead you to a right judgment so that your friend will find mercy in Christ.

“You shall make no covenant with them and their gods.” ~ Exodus 23:32

“Bless me, even though they curse me;

    When they strike, they’re put to shame.

But may gladness fill your servant,

    While dishonor covers them.” ~ Psalm 109:28-29a

“For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” ~ James 2:13

The law of proportional reversal, where someone digs a pit for another to fall in but instead falls in it himself, is recorded in Psalms 7:15, 9:15, 57:6, and Proverbs 28:10. When you live to please yourself, you are in essence, digging a pit for others to fall into who do not please you. By all rights, the law of proportional reversal would require that you fall into your own pit. Singing Psalm 109, you perceive that Jesus fell into that pit for you in your place. But he didn’t just stay there. No, he arose from the dead and will raise you who trust him to be with him in paradise. 

The key to you loving your enemy is that, though you fundamentally disagree with the reasoning of the enemy, you want to do good for your enemy and would love nothing more than for your enemy to become your friend.

The key for your enemies to recognize themselves as the beloved is that your enemies need to know that you want to be their friend. Take care to guard against the sin of partiality toward those who are high in demand or of little account. Learning to disagree while taking the time and effort to be involved as far as it depends on you with the person with whom you disagree is vital to actually loving your enemy not just in theory but in ways that can be grasped in reality. Love always trusts that God can bring anyone to repentance, but it is not wise to entrust yourself to one in whom unrepentant self-interested rebellion, falsehood, and hate abound.

“You shall not fall in with the many to do evil, nor shall you bear witness in a lawsuit, siding with the many, so as to pervert justice, nor shall you be partial to a poor man in his lawsuit.” ~ Exodus 23:2-3

“By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.” ~ 1 John 3:10

    “Give us this day our daily bread,

    and forgive us our debts,

        as we also have forgiven our debtors.

    And lead us not into temptation,

        but deliver us from evil.


“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” ~ Matthew 6:11-15

God certainly does make distinctions between mercy and judgment. Those nations like Egypt who disregarded him experienced his wrath in judgment. God’s people were foreigners who prospered in their land so much so that they began to oppress them for fear that they would take over. But that only set the stage for God to make further distinctions between his people and those who paid him no mind—the 10 plagues leading up to the Exodus. Later, when his own people disregarded him, God used the Babylonians to keep them in exile until he brought them out in his mercy.

Jesus took the curses that should have been placed on me and on you. Before the incredible blessing of his resurrection, it must have felt like a curse for Jesus’ mother to witness the death of her firstborn son. God, the Father did not hear Jesus’ prayer to take the cup of death from him so that the cup of death would ultimately be taken away from you.

Jesus was put to death without a cause even though they couldn’t find any false testimony against him but only false witnesses.

“But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” ~ Matthew 5:44

“They cried out in a loud voice, ‘O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” ~ Revelation 6:10

The purpose of your suffering is to drive you to Jesus. If it doesn’t do that, it serves no purpose and has no meaning. It would be better not to have been born than to be a sinner who won’t take his sins to Jesus to receive his mercy, but instead, takes his sins to people who say, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” ~ Matthew 27:4 “You do you” leads to death except when you have died to sin and have surrendered your life to Jesus.

“All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” ~ John 6:37

Ask the Lord to remove the war in your heart and that you would make distinctions between pretend peace and true peace and choose the course leading to true peace with him and with those around you.

“In return for my love

     They would rather accuse,

But I still am in prayer for them.

So they have repaid me Such evil for my goodness,

And they gave hatred for all my love.” ~ Psalm 109:4-5

Psalm 109 makes clear what is in store for those individuals and families who are said to love cursing, wearing it as their daily clothing, and who reject the only merciful, compassionate one who could forgive their sins:

“No mercy show to him or his children.    Cut off his offspring; blot out their names. Let his father’s sin be remembered by the LORD.  Do not blot out his mother’s sin. Let the Lord remember The sins they’ve done, forever. Remove their mem’ry from all the earth.” ~ Psalm 109:12-15

“But, O LORD, my Lord, for Your name    Will You kindly deal with me?For the goodness of Your mercy,    May You my deliv’rance be.” ~ Psalm 109:21

Who else bore all the wrath of God to save a people? Who else takes your sins upon himself and gives you his righteousness in exchange? Who else invites you to be clothed with salvation instead of curses? How can your allegiance be divided between Jesus and anyone or anything else? He arose to live through death like he said he would. You will arise to live through death like he said you will if you follow him, first and only, now.

“Clothed with shame be my accusers,

    Wrapped up in their own disgrace.

With my mouth then I will offer 

   Great thanksgiving to the LORD.

In the multitude I’ll praise Him;

    For He stands beside the poor

At their right hand; and He’ll save them

From those who condemn his soul.” ~ Psalm 109: 29b-31

February 7, 2023 – February 9, 2024


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