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Psalms for Shepherds Podcast

Psalm 81: Psalms for Shepherds

September 24, 2022 • Holly Culhane, Psalms for Shepherds • Psalm 81

Today, we’re in Psalm 81, a psalm that starts beautifully with a call for God’s people to come together for worship. Let's read together: 1 Sing aloud to God our strength; Make a joyful shout to the God of Jacob. 2 Raise a song and strike the timbrel, The pleasant harp with the lute. 3 Blow the trumpet at the time of the New Moon, At the full moon, on our solemn feast day. 4 For this is a statute for Israel, A law of the God of Jacob. 5 This He established in Joseph as a testimony, When He went throughout the land of Egypt, Where I heard a language I did not understand. 6 “I removed his shoulder from the burden; His hands were freed from the baskets. 7 You called in trouble, and I delivered you; I answered you in the secret place of thunder; I tested you at the waters of [b]Meribah. Selah 8 “Hear, O My people, and I will admonish you! O Israel, if you will listen to Me! 9 There shall be no foreign god among you; Nor shall you worship any foreign god. 10 I am the Lord your God, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt; Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it. 11 “But My people would not heed My voice, And Israel would have none of Me. 12 So I gave them over to [c]their own stubborn heart, To walk in their own counsels. 13 “Oh, that My people would listen to Me, That Israel would walk in My ways! 14 I would soon subdue their enemies, And turn My hand against their adversaries. 15 The haters of the Lord would pretend submission to Him, But their [d]fate would endure forever. 16 He would have fed them also with [e]the finest of wheat; And with honey from the rock I would have satisfied you.” How often has God wanted to give us the very best He has to offer? In fact, He wants to provide us with much more than we can imagine. But we, under-shepherds, are so often like the Israelites were. We do not listen to the Almighty, we do not submit to Him or obey His Word and then a barrier exists and our voices to Him are hindered. When we disobey the Lord, not only do we feel the pain of His humbling, but we also miss out on the blessings He so desires to give us. It’s so important to remember because as good as it is to sing praises to Him and to pray, if we want Him to listen to us, we must listen to Him. I pray the Father has spoken to you through Psalm 81, and that if you need new mercies today, you know exactly where to find them. And may you live deeply into your calling this week.

Psalm 80: Psalms for Shepherds

September 17, 2022 • Holly Culhane, Psalms for Shepherds • Psalm 80

Today, we’re in Psalm 80 where in just 19 verses, the psalmist asked God to “restore,” return the people to God’s favor, or turn back to them — four times. Let's read together: 1 Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock. You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth. 2 Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh, stir up your might and come to save us! 3 Restore us,[a] O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved! 4 O Lord God of hosts, how long will you be angry with your people's prayers? 5 You have fed them with the bread of tears and given them tears to drink in full measure. 6 You make us an object of contention for our neighbors, and our enemies laugh among themselves. 7 Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved! 8 You brought a vine out of Egypt; you drove out the nations and planted it. 9 You cleared the ground for it; it took deep root and filled the land. 10 The mountains were covered with its shade, the mighty cedars with its branches. 11 It sent out its branches to the sea and its shoots to the River.[b] 12 Why then have you broken down its walls, so that all who pass along the way pluck its fruit? 13 The boar from the forest ravages it, and all that move in the field feed on it. 14 Turn again, O God of hosts! Look down from heaven, and see; have regard for this vine, 15 the stock that your right hand planted, and for the son whom you made strong for yourself. 16 They have burned it with fire; they have cut it down; may they perish at the rebuke of your face! 17 But let your hand be on the man of your right hand, the son of man whom you have made strong for yourself! 18 Then we shall not turn back from you; give us life, and we will call upon your name! 19 Restore us, O Lord God of hosts! Let your face shine, that we may be saved! There is so much from this short psalm that we can apply to our lives as shepherd leaders, but what struck me most is how very often we, as shepherd leaders, can withhold good from those to whom grace would supply it, believing (in our limited understanding) that it’s the right thing to do because that person has not earned it. I would encourage you to read through Psalm 80 with a person in mind, then cry out to God on behalf of that person — just as Asaph cried out on behalf of the Jews — and explore what God lays on your heart at that moment. Maybe it’s forgiveness. Maybe it’s blessing. Most likely, it will be grace. May you live deeply into your calling this week.

Psalm 79: Psalms for Shepherds

September 10, 2022 • Holly Culhane, Psalms for Shepherds • Psalm 79

Today, we’re in Psalm 79, a truly sorrowful song of Asaph, the priest, lamenting what had taken place in Israel: the Babylonians had taken God’s people captive, the city of Jerusalem had been destroyed, and those that opposed God were in control. Let's read: 1 O God, the nations have come into your inheritance; they have defiled your holy temple; they have laid Jerusalem in ruins. 2 They have given the bodies of your servants to the birds of the heavens for food, the flesh of your faithful to the beasts of the earth. 3 They have poured out their blood like water all around Jerusalem, and there was no one to bury them. 4 We have become a taunt to our neighbors, mocked and derided by those around us. 5 How long, O Lord? Will you be angry forever? Will your jealousy burn like fire? 6 Pour out your anger on the nations that do not know you, and on the kingdoms that do not call upon your name! 7 For they have devoured Jacob and laid waste his habitation. 8 Do not remember against us our former iniquities;[a] let your compassion come speedily to meet us, for we are brought very low. 9 Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name; deliver us, and atone for our sins, for your name's sake! 10 Why should the nations say, “Where is their God?” Let the avenging of the outpoured blood of your servants be known among the nations before our eyes! 11 Let the groans of the prisoners come before you; according to your great power, preserve those doomed to die! 12 Return sevenfold into the lap of our neighbors the taunts with which they have taunted you, O Lord! 13 But we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise. As I read this portion of Psalm 79, it’s sweet and reassuring to me to know that we have an advantage over God’s people in Asaph’s time. Unlike how it was in that day, if we are united in Christ Jesus by faith, then no disaster that ever washes into our lives is because of God’s frustrated anger. Take courage in this, no matter what happens, He does have a plan for our lives, fellow under-shepherd! He knows if there are circumstances that you and I need to experience to draw us closer to Him and to be better prepared to do what He planned for us long ago. And, He knows how to orchestrate them for our good and His glory every time if we let Him. May you live deeply into your calling this week.

Psalm 78: Part 3: Psalms for Shepherds

September 3, 2022 • Holly Culhane, Psalms for Shepherds • Psalm 78

We're finishing our time in Psalm 78 today, and with verses 67 through 72 before us, we see a consequence of the earlier rebellious behavior of the tribe of Benjamin. Because of that behavior, God removed the Ark of the Covenant — remember, that’s HIS presence — from Shiloh, in the tribe of Ephraim, who were Joseph’s descendants. Of course, although the Ark left Shiloh, God did not leave the Israelites. 67 He rejected the tent of Joseph; he did not choose the tribe of Ephraim, 68 but he chose the tribe of Judah, Mount Zion, which he loves. 69 He built his sanctuary like the high heavens, like the earth, which he has founded forever. 70 He chose David his servant and took him from the sheepfolds; 71 from following the nursing ewes he brought him to shepherd Jacob his people, Israel his inheritance. 72 With upright heart he shepherded them and guided them with his skillful hand. These 57 verses from Psalm 78 are indeed a Jewish history lesson. BUT they are not for the Jewish people alone, they are also for us! Of course, as an advocate of shepherd leadership, I love this passage! Kings were called “shepherds” in biblical times, and aptly so because God’s chosen people were the sheep of His pasture and because the responsibilities of a King included doing exactly what a shepherd does for his or her sheep: PROVIDING what they need, PROTECTING them from their enemies, and being PRESENT for those they lead — normally, even in battle. Whether shepherding the people of Israel, a family, a business, a non-profit, or a ministry or church, integrity and skill need each other. No amount of ability can offset a sinful heart, and no amount of devotion to God can overcome a lack of ability. We need both, fellow under-shepherd, a true heart AND skillful hands. May you live deeply into your calling this week.

Psalm 78: Part 2: Psalms for Shepherds

August 27, 2022 • Holly Culhane, Psalms for Shepherds • Psalm 78

We're continuing our time in Psalm 78 today, and — spoiler alert — this psalm is going to hit home... and it’s going to be a little longer than most in the Psalms for Shepherds series. So let's jump right in! 9 The men of Ephraim, though armed with bows, turned back on the day of battle; 10 they did not keep God’s covenant and refused to live by his law. 11 They forgot what he had done, the wonders he had shown them. 12 He did miracles in the sight of their ancestors in the land of Egypt, in the region of Zoan. 13 He divided the sea and led them through; he made the water stand up like a wall. 14 He guided them with the cloud by day and with light from the fire all night. 15 He split the rocks in the wilderness and gave them water as abundant as the seas; 16 he brought streams out of a rocky crag and made water flow down like rivers. 17 But they continued to sin against him, rebelling in the wilderness against the Most High. 18 They willfully put God to the test by demanding the food they craved. 19 They spoke against God; they said, “Can God really spread a table in the wilderness? 20 True, he struck the rock, and water gushed out, streams flowed abundantly, but can he also give us bread? Can he supply meat for his people?” 21 When the Lord heard them, he was furious; his fire broke out against Jacob, and his wrath rose against Israel, 22 for they did not believe in God or trust in his deliverance. 23 Yet he gave a command to the skies above and opened the doors of the heavens; 24 he rained down manna for the people to eat, he gave them the grain of heaven. 25 Human beings ate the bread of angels; he sent them all the food they could eat. 26 He let loose the east wind from the heavens and by his power made the south wind blow. 27 He rained meat down on them like dust, birds like sand on the seashore. 28 He made them come down inside their camp, all around their tents. 29 They ate till they were gorged— he had given them what they craved. 30 But before they turned from what they craved, even while the food was still in their mouths, 31 God’s anger rose against them; he put to death the sturdiest among them, cutting down the young men of Israel. 32 In spite of all this, they kept on sinning; in spite of his wonders, they did not believe. 33 So he ended their days in futility and their years in terror. 34 Whenever God slew them, they would seek him; they eagerly turned to him again. 35 They remembered that God was their Rock, that God Most High was their Redeemer. 36 But then they would flatter him with their mouths, lying to him with their tongues; 37 their hearts were not loyal to him, they were not faithful to his covenant. 38 Yet he was merciful; he forgave their iniquities and did not destroy them. Time after time he restrained his anger and did not stir up his full wrath. 39 He remembered that they were but flesh, a passing breeze that does not return. 40 How often they rebelled against him in the wilderness and grieved him in the wasteland! 41 Again and again they put God to the test; they vexed the Holy One of Israel. 42 They did not remember his power— the day he redeemed them from the oppressor, 43 the day he displayed his signs in Egypt, his wonders in the region of Zoan. 44 He turned their river into blood; they could not drink from their streams. 45 He sent swarms of flies that devoured them, and frogs that devastated them. 46 He gave their crops to the grasshopper, their produce to the locust. 47 He destroyed their vines with hail and their sycamore-figs with sleet. 48 He gave over their cattle to the hail, their livestock to bolts of lightning. 49 He unleashed against them his hot anger, his wrath, indignation and hostility— a band of destroying angels. 50 He prepared a path for his anger; he did not spare them from death but gave them over to the plague. 51 He struck down all the firstborn of Egypt, the firstfruits of manhood in the tents of Ham. 52 But he brought his people out like a flock; he led them like sheep through the wilderness. 53 He guided them safely, so they were unafraid; but the sea engulfed their enemies. And so he brought them to the border of his holy land, to the hill country his right hand had taken. 55 He drove out nations before them and allotted their lands to them as an inheritance; he settled the tribes of Israel in their homes. 56 But they put God to the test and rebelled against the Most High; they did not keep his statutes. 57 Like their ancestors they were disloyal and faithless, as unreliable as a faulty bow. 58 They angered him with their high places; they aroused his jealousy with their idols. 59 When God heard them, he was furious; he rejected Israel completely. 60 He abandoned the tabernacle of Shiloh, the tent he had set up among humans. 61 He sent the ark of his might into captivity, his splendor into the hands of the enemy. 62 He gave his people over to the sword; he was furious with his inheritance. 63 Fire consumed their young men, and their young women had no wedding songs; 64 their priests were put to the sword, and their widows could not weep. 65 Then the Lord awoke as from sleep, as a warrior wakes from the stupor of wine. 66 He beat back his enemies; he put them to everlasting shame. These 57 verses from Psalm 78 are indeed a Jewish history lesson. BUT they are not for the Jewish people alone, they are also for us! Couldn’t any of us rewrite these verses as our own history lesson? Couldn’t you replace what Asaph listed for what God did for the Jewish people with what He has done for you? I know I could! I pray that as you’ve listened to this retelling of the nation of Israel’s experiences, that you — as I must do — would focus on where you are today and the many ways God has brought you to this place and how He will continue to be faithful. May you live deeply into your calling this week.

Psalm 78: Part 1: Psalms for Shepherds

August 20, 2022 • Holly Culhane, Psalms for Shepherds • Psalm 78

We're beginning a series in Psalm 78 today, where Asaph, the psalmist, is recounting how God had been faithful to his ancestors, the Israelites, and how they had often repaid Him with disobedience. Please join me in the first 8 verses... 1 My people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth. 2 I will open my mouth with a parable; I will utter hidden things, things from of old— 3 things we have heard and known, things our ancestors have told us. 4 We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done. 5 He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our ancestors to teach their children, 6 so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. 7 Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands. 8 They would not be like their ancestors— a stubborn and rebellious generation, whose hearts were not loyal to God, whose spirits were not faithful to him. The first eight verses in this psalm serve a great purpose. It's what I’m calling the “yets” and the “therefores” and the “so’s” of what God did without being reminded that God always has a bigger purpose than we think in everything He does. My encouragement to you today, dear shepherd leader, is to evaluate what God has done in your life — or in previous generations of your family — that your children need to know so that they, and generations after them, may continue to put their hope in God and keep His commandments. What are the testimonies in your life of God having a bigger purpose than you imagined? Have you shared them and allowed them to encourage others? May you live deeply into your calling this week.

Psalm 77: Psalms for Shepherds

August 13, 2022 • Holly Culhane, Psalms for Shepherds • Psalm 77

We're in Psalm 76 today, another psalm written by Asaph where he reminds God’s people what to do in times of trouble. 1 I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, and he will hear me. 2 In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord; in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying; my soul refuses to be comforted. 3 When I remember God, I moan; when I meditate, my spirit faints. Selah 4 You hold my eyelids open; I am so troubled that I cannot speak. 5 I consider the days of old, the years long ago. 6 I said,[a] “Let me remember my song in the night; let me meditate in my heart.” Then my spirit made a diligent search: 7 “Will the Lord spurn forever, and never again be favorable? 8 Has his steadfast love forever ceased? Are his promises at an end for all time? 9 Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he in anger shut up his compassion?” Selah 10 Then I said, “I will appeal to this, to the years of the right hand of the Most High.”[b] 11 I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old. 12 I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds. 13 Your way, O God, is holy. What god is great like our God? 14 You are the God who works wonders; you have made known your might among the peoples. 15 You with your arm redeemed your people, the children of Jacob and Joseph. Selah 16 When the waters saw you, O God, when the waters saw you, they were afraid; indeed, the deep trembled. 17 The clouds poured out water; the skies gave forth thunder; your arrows flashed on every side. 18 The crash of your thunder was in the whirlwind; your lightnings lighted up the world; the earth trembled and shook. 19 Your way was through the sea, your path through the great waters; yet your footprints were unseen.[c] 20 You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron. Dear shepherd leader, is there somewhere in your life — maybe even in your leadership journey — where you need to be “confounded” by God’s power or might? Where you need Him to absolutely mystify you in how He works and show you that He’s there working righteously? Well, He can do that! Although he does not always let us in on what He’s doing, there are certainly times that He does. The times He knows it’s best for us to know, to see, and to experience the mystery of Who He is. He is a good Shepherd, rest in that. May you live deeply into your calling this week.

Psalm 76: Psalms for Shepherds

August 6, 2022 • Holly Culhane, Psalms for Shepherds • Psalm 76

We're in Psalm 76 today, a psalm where Asaph shares four basic truths about our Jehovah God. In Judah God is known, his name is great in Israel. 2 His abode has been established in Salem, his dwelling place in Zion. 3 There he broke the flashing arrows, the shield, the sword, and the weapons of war.Selah 4 Glorious art thou, more majestic than the everlasting mountains.[a] 5 The stouthearted were stripped of their spoil; they sank into sleep; all the men of war were unable to use their hands. 6 At thy rebuke, O God of Jacob, both rider and horse lay stunned. 7 But thou, terrible art thou! Who can stand before thee when once thy anger is roused? 8 From the heavens thou didst utter judgment; the earth feared and was still, 9 when God arose to establish judgment to save all the oppressed of the earth.Selah 10 Surely the wrath of men shall praise thee; the residue of wrath thou wilt gird upon thee. 11 Make your vows to the Lord your God, and perform them; let all around him bring gifts to him who is to be feared, 12 who cuts off the spirit of princes, who is terrible to the kings of the earth. The four basic truths described are: 1. God wants us to know Him. 2. God wants us to trust Him. 3. God wants us to fear Him, and 4. God wants us to obey Him. Dear shepherd leader, as you read through this chapter, I pray you WANT to know the Father, you WANT to trust Him, that you WANT to reverently fear Him, and that — because of those desires — you also deeply want to OBEY Him. For that is what will make us the most effective influencers... no matter WHERE we lead. May you live deeply into your calling this week.

Psalm 75: Psalms for Shepherds

July 30, 2022 • Holly Culhane, Psalms for Shepherds • Psalm 75

Today we’re in Psalm 75, ten verses that one commentator calls a “digest” of a worship service summoned to thank the Lord for what He had done for His people. Beautiful! Let's read together: 1 We give thanks to you, O God; we give thanks, for your name is near. We recount your wondrous deeds. 2 “At the set time that I appoint I will judge with equity. 3 When the earth totters, and all its inhabitants, it is I who keep steady its pillars. Selah 4 I say to the boastful, ‘Do not boast,’ and to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up your horn; 5 do not lift up your horn on high, or speak with haughty neck.’” 6 For not from the east or from the west and not from the wilderness comes lifting up, 7 but it is God who executes judgment, putting down one and lifting up another. 8 For in the hand of the Lord there is a cup with foaming wine, well mixed, and he pours out from it, and all the wicked of the earth shall drain it down to the dregs. 9 But I will declare it forever; I will sing praises to the God of Jacob. 10 All the horns of the wicked I will cut off, but the horns of the righteous shall be lifted up. This chapter begins with an invocation of praise, then moves to a message directly from God in His words, and then to a reminder from the psalmist of application. The author closes the psalm with a benediction of praise and a reminder that God is in control and that He will judge the wicked and increase the power of the godly in His time. Fellow shepherd leader, may we do as this psalmist has done and recognize the importance of humble submission to the Father and the power that arrogance and pride has to destroy us, our testimony, and the lives of the sheep we impact. Let us declare forever to sing the praises of the God of Jacob — living for Him, serving and sacrificing for those we lead and influence, and bringing those we influence closer to Jesus. May you live deeply into your calling this week.

Psalm 74 | Part 2: Psalms for Shepherds

July 23, 2022 • Holly Culhane, Psalms for Shepherds • Psalm 74

Today, we’re concluding our time in Psalm 74, where the Israelites felt like all was lost. The psalmist is leading the community in telling God how they feel and, in essence, questioning why God allowed the catastrophic events to happen. Let's read again together: 1 O God, why have you rejected us so long? Why is your anger so intense against the sheep of your own pasture? 2 Remember that we are the people you chose long ago, the tribe you redeemed as your own special possession! And remember Jerusalem,[b] your home here on earth. 3 Walk through the awful ruins of the city; see how the enemy has destroyed your sanctuary. 4 There your enemies shouted their victorious battle cries; there they set up their battle standards. 5 They swung their axes like woodcutters in a forest. 6 With axes and picks, they smashed the carved paneling. 7 They burned your sanctuary to the ground. They defiled the place that bears your name. 8 Then they thought, “Let’s destroy everything!” So they burned down all the places where God was worshiped. 9 We no longer see your miraculous signs. All the prophets are gone, and no one can tell us when it will end. 10 How long, O God, will you allow our enemies to insult you? Will you let them dishonor your name forever? 11 Why do you hold back your strong right hand? Unleash your powerful fist and destroy them. 12 You, O God, are my king from ages past, bringing salvation to the earth. 13 You split the sea by your strength and smashed the heads of the sea monsters. 14 You crushed the heads of Leviathan[c] and let the desert animals eat him. 15 You caused the springs and streams to gush forth, and you dried up rivers that never run dry. 16 Both day and night belong to you; you made the starlight[d] and the sun. 17 You set the boundaries of the earth, and you made both summer and winter. 18 See how these enemies insult you, Lord. A foolish nation has dishonored your name. 19 Don’t let these wild beasts destroy your turtledoves. Don’t forget your suffering people forever. 20 Remember your covenant promises, for the land is full of darkness and violence! 21 Don’t let the downtrodden be humiliated again. Instead, let the poor and needy praise your name. 22 Arise, O God, and defend your cause. Remember how these fools insult you all day long. 23 Don’t overlook what your enemies have said or their growing uproar. Focusing on verses 12 through 17, the psalmist makes a beautiful point. When the outlook is bleak, look up. And that’s what I’d like to leave you with today, dear fellow shepherd leader. Whether you're a CEO, a shepherd parent, a shepherd supervisor — if your situation seems desperate, look up and remember how God has displayed His faithfulness to you in the past. May you live deeply into your calling this week.

Psalm 74 | Part 1: Psalms for Shepherds

July 16, 2022 • Holly Culhane, Psalms for Shepherds • Psalm 74

Today, we’re in Psalm 74, where the nation of Israel is in deep lament over the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. In fact, this psalm very much seems to be a community lament over what’s happened, similar to how we now gather at a site of tragedy and leave flowers and notes. Let's read together. 1 O God, why have you rejected us so long? Why is your anger so intense against the sheep of your own pasture? 2 Remember that we are the people you chose long ago, the tribe you redeemed as your own special possession! And remember Jerusalem,[b] your home here on earth. 3 Walk through the awful ruins of the city; see how the enemy has destroyed your sanctuary. 4 There your enemies shouted their victorious battle cries; there they set up their battle standards. 5 They swung their axes like woodcutters in a forest. 6 With axes and picks, they smashed the carved paneling. 7 They burned your sanctuary to the ground. They defiled the place that bears your name. 8 Then they thought, “Let’s destroy everything!” So they burned down all the places where God was worshiped. 9 We no longer see your miraculous signs. All the prophets are gone, and no one can tell us when it will end. 10 How long, O God, will you allow our enemies to insult you? Will you let them dishonor your name forever? 11 Why do you hold back your strong right hand? Unleash your powerful fist and destroy them. 12 You, O God, are my king from ages past, bringing salvation to the earth. 13 You split the sea by your strength and smashed the heads of the sea monsters. 14 You crushed the heads of Leviathan[c] and let the desert animals eat him. 15 You caused the springs and streams to gush forth, and you dried up rivers that never run dry. 16 Both day and night belong to you; you made the starlight[d] and the sun. 17 You set the boundaries of the earth, and you made both summer and winter. 18 See how these enemies insult you, Lord. A foolish nation has dishonored your name. 19 Don’t let these wild beasts destroy your turtledoves. Don’t forget your suffering people forever. 20 Remember your covenant promises, for the land is full of darkness and violence! 21 Don’t let the downtrodden be humiliated again. Instead, let the poor and needy praise your name. 22 Arise, O God, and defend your cause. Remember how these fools insult you all day long. 23 Don’t overlook what your enemies have said or their growing uproar. If you are in a similar place of despair as you are listening today, be encouraged by how the psalm's author went from despair to hope by remembering who God is and what he has done. He lifted his eyes by faith from the burning ruins to the holy throne of God and with that, he received a new perspective on the situation. Confidence IN God always flows from attention TO God. And I believe that’s one of the most important lessons this psalm has for us. Be encouraged. May you live deeply into your calling this week.

Psalm 73: Psalms for Shepherds

July 9, 2022 • Holly Culhane, Psalms for Shepherds • Psalm 73

Today we're in Psalm 73, which is a song written by Asaph, one of the Levites that King David assigned as a worship leader in the tabernacle choir. Interestingly, both he and David were skilled singers and poets, according to 2 Chronicles. 1 Truly God is good to Israel, to those whose hearts are pure. 2 But as for me, I almost lost my footing. My feet were slipping, and I was almost gone. 3 For I envied the proud when I saw them prosper despite their wickedness. 4 They seem to live such painless lives; their bodies are so healthy and strong. 5 They don’t have troubles like other people; they’re not plagued with problems like everyone else. 6 They wear pride like a jeweled necklace and clothe themselves with cruelty. 7 These fat cats have everything their hearts could ever wish for! 8 They scoff and speak only evil; in their pride they seek to crush others. 9 They boast against the very heavens, and their words strut throughout the earth. 10 And so the people are dismayed and confused, drinking in all their words. 11 “What does God know?” they ask. “Does the Most High even know what’s happening?” 12 Look at these wicked people— enjoying a life of ease while their riches multiply. 13 Did I keep my heart pure for nothing? Did I keep myself innocent for no reason? 14 I get nothing but trouble all day long; every morning brings me pain. 15 If I had really spoken this way to others, I would have been a traitor to your people. 16 So I tried to understand why the wicked prosper. But what a difficult task it is! 17 Then I went into your sanctuary, O God, and I finally understood the destiny of the wicked. 18 Truly, you put them on a slippery path and send them sliding over the cliff to destruction. 19 In an instant they are destroyed, completely swept away by terrors. 20 When you arise, O Lord, you will laugh at their silly ideas as a person laughs at dreams in the morning. 21 Then I realized that my heart was bitter, and I was all torn up inside. 22 I was so foolish and ignorant— I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you. 23 Yet I still belong to you; you hold my right hand. 24 You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny. 25 Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth. 26 My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever. 27 Those who desert him will perish, for you destroy those who abandon you. 28 But as for me, how good it is to be near God! I have made the Sovereign Lord my shelter, and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do. This chapter is so encouraging! In the midst of all that we witness in our world today — all that seems to go the opposite of what the Scriptures teach us — a lesson from an ancient reminds us that our God is our fortress, our rock, our strength, and ALL that we need! I pray this word reassures you, dear fellow under-shepherd, that no matter what is happening on the surface around you — that even if your heart and your flesh may fail — God is the strength of our hearts and our portion forever. May you live deeply into your calling this week.

Psalm 72: Psalms for Shepherds

July 2, 2022 • Holly Culhane, Psalms for Shepherds • Psalm 72

Today we're in Psalm 72, one of only two Psalms credited to Solomon and he is asking God to bless him as he takes over as king. 1 Give your love of justice to the king, O God, and righteousness to the king’s son. 2 Help him judge your people in the right way; let the poor always be treated fairly. 3 May the mountains yield prosperity for all, and may the hills be fruitful. 4 Help him to defend the poor, to rescue the children of the needy, and to crush their oppressors. 5 May they fear you[a] as long as the sun shines, as long as the moon remains in the sky. Yes, forever! 6 May the king’s rule be refreshing like spring rain on freshly cut grass, like the showers that water the earth. 7 May all the godly flourish during his reign. May there be abundant prosperity until the moon is no more. 8 May he reign from sea to sea, and from the Euphrates River[b] to the ends of the earth. 9 Desert nomads will bow before him; his enemies will fall before him in the dust. 10 The western kings of Tarshish and other distant lands will bring him tribute. The eastern kings of Sheba and Seba will bring him gifts. 11 All kings will bow before him, and all nations will serve him. 12 He will rescue the poor when they cry to him; he will help the oppressed, who have no one to defend them. 13 He feels pity for the weak and the needy, and he will rescue them. 14 He will redeem them from oppression and violence, for their lives are precious to him. 15 Long live the king! May the gold of Sheba be given to him. May the people always pray for him and bless him all day long. 16 May there be abundant grain throughout the land, flourishing even on the hilltops. May the fruit trees flourish like the trees of Lebanon, and may the people thrive like grass in a field. 17 May the king’s name endure forever; may it continue as long as the sun shines. May all nations be blessed through him and bring him praise. 18 Praise the Lord God, the God of Israel, who alone does such wonderful things. 19 Praise his glorious name forever! Let the whole earth be filled with his glory. Amen and amen! 20 (This ends the prayers of David son of Jesse.) This is a unique Psalm as it focuses on the king's role in defending and protecting the weakest in society. An important role that we as shepherd leaders in today's world must not forget. Are you defending those less fortunate than yourself? I encourage you to take a moment and ask the Father that question. Ask Him if there are ways you need to be a more effective under shepherd in this space. Be encouraged today to stretch yourself. And may you live deeply into your calling this week.

Psalm 71 | Part 4: Psalms for Shepherds

June 25, 2022 • Holly Culhane, Psalms for Shepherds • Psalm 71

We conclude our time in Psalm 71 today with these verses: 22 I will also praise you with the harp for your faithfulness, O my God; I will sing praises to you with the lyre, O Holy One of Israel. 23 My lips will shout for joy, when I sing praises to you; my soul also, which you have redeemed. 24 And my tongue will talk of your righteous help all the day long, for they have been put to shame and disappointed who sought to do me hurt. Again, the psalmist’s confidence in our Father is encouraging me to increase my faith! But what I love most about these verses is that the author of this psalm isn’t just keeping this confidence to himself... he is sharing it with others. His desire is that we all know that no matter the circumstances — no matter how long the wait is to see the other side of a calamity or frustrating circumstances or disappointment — that God will bring fulfillment, restoration, and joy. I encourage you to re-read the entire chapter of Psalm 71 before you conclude your devotional and I pray you continue to live deeply into your calling this week as shepherd in the lives of those you influence.

Psalm 71 | Part 3: Psalms for Shepherds

June 18, 2022 • Holly Culhane, Psalms for Shepherds • Psalm 71

Today, we continue in Psalm 71 with verses 14 through 21 where we find the psalmist looking to the future, moving from “You are my hope” in verse 5, to “I will hope continually” in verse 14. 14 But I will hope continually and will praise you yet more and more. 15 My mouth will tell of your righteous acts, of your deeds of salvation all the day, for their number is past my knowledge. 16 With the mighty deeds of the Lord GodI will come; I will remind them of your righteousness, yours alone. 17 O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds. 18 So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come. 19 Your righteousness, O God, reaches the high heavens. You who have done great things, O God, who is like you? 20 You who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again; from the depths of the earth you will bring me up again. 21 You will increase my greatness and comfort me again. The psalmist’s confidence in God is so inspiring! He’s said in the previous verses that He trusts God during difficult times, then he tells us how he trusted God in the past. Now, he reminds us that his trust in God’s faithfulness is absolutely sure! No matter what happens, He is confident that God’s right-ness – His righteousness – will rule the day. We pray you take comfort in this truth, and that you live deeply into your calling as shepherd this week.

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