KALEO Notes: Psalm 92 – Everyday Exhilaration

Introduction: This week I read a story in a publication about a man named Charlie Duke. He was born in Charlotte, North Carolina, grew up in South Carolina, went to school at MIT, and entered the Air Force Test Pilot School. He was chosen for the Apollo program and was the communications astronaut in Mission Control when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon in 1969. It was a time of such unbelievable drama that Charlie thought nothing could top it. But three years later he was chosen for the Apollo 16 mission and he became the tenth person – and the youngest person – to walk on the surface of the moon. He said the moon had a stark beauty. There were no colors, just different shades of gray, and the sunlight was brilliant yet the sky was dark because there was no atmosphere to reflect the light. The sky was a velvety jet black though brilliant sunlight radiated off the ground. Charlie called it a jewel of beauty.

He came home realizing that nothing could compare with that experience, and he struggled with what to do with the rest of his life. His wife Dottie became deeply depressed and contemplated suicide. The marriage became troubled and seemed headed for divorce.

In their desperation, Charles and Dottie attended a weekend event called Faith Alive at their church in La Porte, Texas, and as a result of that weekend they both eventually came to faith in Jesus Christ. Charles has spent the years since then studying the Bible and serving as a witness for the Lord Jesus Christ. He even laughs about some of his experiences. He recently said, “People all over the world want to meet someone who was walked on the moon.” Instead, he said, his goal is to introduce them to the greatest person who ever walked on earth. And if you ask him about it, he will say that it was exhilarating to walk on the moon for three days, but it cannot compare with the exhilaration of walking with Christ every day both now and forever.[1]

I love the word exhilaration. When did you last feel exhilarated? I feel that way sometimes when I’m traveling and I see something so special or beautiful or iconic that I can hardly believe I’m there. I can’t imagine being on the moon, but I do know what it is to visit some pretty special places on earth and to be there without a care in the world and with no agenda except to take it all in. To me that’s exhilaration.

But there’s a sense in which we should experience everyday exhilaration, and that’s the subject of Psalm 92. Listen for it in the tone of the verses. It’s exhilarating to:

1. Praise Him Both Day and Night (v. 1-4) – It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; to declare Your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night, to the music of the lute and the harp, to the melody of the lyre. For You, O Lord, have made me glad by Your work; at the works of Your hands I sing for joy.

How things open and close are very important. Think of a traditional wedding. It opens with a processional perhaps with the music of the majestic Bridal Chorus by Richard Wagner and closes with that beautiful piece by Mendelsohn. Done well, they really are majestic.

Corey Hawkins and I talk a great deal about how to open and close our worship services every Sunday.

Think of how wonderfully the Bible opens and closes. Compare the first chapters of the Bible to the last chapters, and the first verse to the last verse. Think of how extraordinarily the earthly life of Christ began on with His birth in Bethlehem and ended with His Ascension. And think of how wonderfully God created nature to open and close each day with the rising and setting of the sun.

How we get up and how we go to bed is extremely important. We need to get the day started off with the right routine and we need to close our eyes at night in the same way. If you start the day well and end it well, you can deal with a lot of stress and strain in between.

The Psalmist here tells us to open and close each day with praise. In the morning we’re to focus on His steadfast love because we need that assurance as we go into the day; in the evening we need to be reminded of His faithfulness (verse 1-2). It’s also good to add some music, both instrumental (verse 3) and vocal (verse 4).

I want to give you four quick suggestions for how to do this:

  • Have Christian music ready to go on your playlist so you can turn it on and let it fill the house while you’re getting ready or getting the children up. Let Christian music be your alarm clock. Wake the children with gentle strains of Christian music, which has never been more accessible. Fill your home with Christian music in the morning and evenings. (I got excited about this point I stopped my sermon preparation and downloaded a new album onto my iPod).
  • Have a time of Bible reading and prayer at the opening and close of the day. I harp on this so frequently I’ll not say any more about it here, but this is my number one habit in life.
  • Send your children off to school with a verse of Scripture. A man told me the other day that his mother never sent them out the door without a verse for the day. He said, “One day she had to take my dad to the airport and she told us not to leave the house until she got back. My two sisters and I waited for her, but we became so concerned about being late for school that we left anyway for the walk to school, which was nearby. Just as we were about to walk up the steps into school we heard a car horn blaring and it was mother, who had driven up to the curb. She beckoned us, and we jumped in the car while she quoted a verse of Scripture to us, and then she let us go on into the school. I remember it was a little embarrassing. I never asked her about it, but I think she had made a vow to the Lord that she’d never let us go to school without a verse of Scripture, and that habit left an indelible impression on me.”
  • Memorize and quote this passage – Psalm 92:1-4 – at the start and close of every day. Create a personal ritual with prayer and song.

2. Trust Him Through Thick and Thin (v. 5-11) – How great are Your works, O Lord! Your thoughts are very deep! The stupid man cannot know; the fool cannot understand this: that though the wicked sprout like grass and all evildoers flourish, they are doomed to destruction for ever; but You, O Lord, are on high forever. For behold, your enemies, O Lord, for behold, your enemies shall perish; all evildoers shall be scattered. But You have exalted my horn like that of a wild ox; You have poured over me fresh oil. My eyes have seen the downfall of my enemies; my ears have heard the doom of my evil assailants.

Having opened and closed the day with the Lord, we’re bound to encounter a lot of stress in the interim, for Jesus Himself said that every day has enough trouble of its own. But we can trust Him through thick and thin. Remember:

  • His thoughts are very deep. See Isaiah 55:6-9. Yesterday I transcribed some of my journal entries from December of 1990 – over twenty years ago. That was a very hard month in our lives. We had multiple pressures. I’d forgotten the details, but as I read and typed up my notes they all came back to me. The funny thing is that you see them differently twenty-two years later. What was a series of extreme ups and downs then now have been smoothed out by time. And I thought of how everything looks to the Lord who sees all from the perspective of eternity. That’s why we keep going back to the Word. To get His perspective, for His thoughts are very deep.
  • Fools and evildoers flourish and die. Whether someone is a personal enemy or a public menace, they are as temporary as a withering blade of grass cut by the scythe.
  • God anoints us with fresh oil. The Bible uses “oil” as a symbol for the Holy Spirit, for joy, for power. While evildoers are withering, we’re receiving fresh oil from day to day. We can turn this into a prayer. Lord, anoint me with fresh oil—fresh joy, fresh power, a fresh experience with the Holy Spirit.

3. Serve Him In Youth and Age (v. 12-15) – The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted in the house of the Lord; they flourish in the courts of our God. They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green, to declare that the Lord is upright. He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.

Now we come to one of the most reassuring promises in the Bible about aging—we can serve Him through youth and age. While the wicked are like grass that withers, we are oaks that keep growing, like fruit trees that keep bearing our produce. See Psalm 1.

Have you ever heard of Barzillai? See 2 Samuel 19:31-40. Barzillai was 80 years old, which in those days was truly aged. But he was able to organize an effort to care for the displaced King David during the revolt of Absalom. “Barzillai’s greatest service to God and His people—the one deed from his entire life that was worthy of being recorded in the Bible—took place when he was an old man.”[2]

Conclusion: Let me close by quoting the first paragraph of the Living Bible paraphrase (the old original version with the green cover) by Ken Taylor. Memorize it and say it daily to experience the Lord’s brand of quiet everyday exhilaration:

It is good to say, “Thank you” to the Lord, to sing praises to the God who is above all gods. Every morning tell Him, “Thank you for your kindness,” and every morning rejoice in all His faithfulness. Sing His praises, accompanied by music from the harp and lute and lyre. You have done so much for me, O Lord. No wonder I am glad! I sing for joy.

[1] “Most Important Walk for Astronaut is with Jesus” at http://www.breakingchristiannews.com/articles/display_art.html?ID=10387

[2] Billy Graham, Nearing Home (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2011), 10.