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Bible Insights

Longing for God

May Our Soul Pant for God with the Same Urgency as a Deer Panting for Water

King David penned Psalm 41. He opens with a powerful image of a deer panting for water. It illustrates David longing for God. David concludes his song by confirming he will praise God. Sandwiched between the opening and ending of this Psalm, David shares the turmoil churning in his soul.

But we’ll focus on the opening two verses.

A Deer Pants for Water

Imagine a thirsty deer running up to a stream, anticipating a refreshing drink of water. This isn’t so much as to keep the deer hydrated. It’s more urgent. The deer, a mighty buck, has traveled a distance and has a vital need to drink. He’s dehydrated and needs water to live. The deer needs living water.

The buck pants after traveling in the hot sun. His chest expands and contracts as he sucks in as much oxygen as possible, as quickly as he can. He perks up his ears to listen if danger lurks. He looks right and then turns left. Confident he is for the moment safe, with no predators nearby, only then does the deer dip his head down to drink from the cool, energizing water he so longs for.

Our Souls Pant for God

Just as the deer pants for water, do we have a similar longing for God? Does our soul—our mind, will, and emotions—pant for God? Does our soul thirst for him? Do we need the living God as much as the deer needs living water to survive?

As the deer traveled in the hot sun to find life-giving water, we, too, travel through the difficulties of life to find God’s living water. But for me my search doesn’t feel as imperative. Yes, I know I should have a longing for God. But in actual terms, my search for him, and to be with him, doesn’t carry the urgency it should.

May we have a longing for God that causes us to seek him with all our heart. Click To Tweet

Seek God with All Your Heart

For our soul to pant for God the way a deer pants for water, we can start by seeking God with our whole heart. Three of David’s other songs mention this: Psalm 22:26, Psalm 27:8, and Psalm 69:32.

May we have a longing for God that causes us to seek him with all our heart.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Psalm 41-45 and today’s post is on Psalm 42:1-2.]

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Peter DeHaan News

New Book: Beyond Psalm 150

Discover More Sacred Songs of Praise, Petition, and Lament throughout the Bible

The Psalms capture our emotions in a unique way, but they’re not limited to one book of the Bible. Study more sacred songs that appear from Exodus to Revelation.

Explore the beauty and delight of the psalms that appear throughout the Bible. You’ll learn about songs of lament and praise as you immerse yourself in the lesser-known poems of Scripture, written by people of faith, like Moses, Esther, Mary, and more.

Biblical psalms recognize what God has done throughout the history of his people. Beyond Psalm 150 is a treasure that helps you to uncover these awe-inspiring songs of worship and praise that often get missed in the study of God’s Word.

Both a devotional and a Bible study, Beyond Psalm 150 gathers these buried passages to make it easy to immerse yourself in their themes, meaning, and poetic style.

Each psalm in this book includes a reflection, a thought-provoking question, and a blessing, giving you the chance to understand and appreciate these expressions of worship in a fresh, new way.

In Beyond Psalm 150, you’ll:

  • Discover sixty-seven songs of worship that don’t appear in the book of Psalms
  • Explore how you can apply these words to your life today
  • Develop insights about each psalm in the context of the story
  • Dive deeper into the Word to better understand each song
  • Explore Biblical worship songs throughout the Old and New Testament

Beyond Psalm 150 will help you gain a greater appreciation for the God who holds history in his hands and how he has shaped the lives of people just like us.

Peter DeHaan, PhD, is an author of over 18 devotionals, biblical-based studies, and church resources. He yearns for Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.

If you desire to deepen your faith and embrace the variety of psalms scattered across the pages of the Bible, then dive into Beyond Psalm 150.

Perfect for your personal study time or small group, Beyond Psalm 150 will help you to understand these beautiful songs of praise as you worship a mighty God.

Read Beyond Psalm 150 and enhance your understanding of the psalms throughout God’s Word.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Reviews of Books & Movies

Book Review: The Psalms in the Light of the Lord’s Prayer

By Patricia M Robertson, D.Min

Reviewed by Peter DeHaan

Take a fresh look at the Psalms.

Some people love the Psalms and other struggle through them. Regardless of which camp you’re in, this book will provide added clarity. In The Psalms in the Light of the Lord’s Prayer, Patricia M Robertson, D.Min, applies the suggestion of Father Thomas Murphy that each Psalm aligns with one of the seven phrases in the Lord’s Prayer.

This provides a pleasing structure and rhythm to the Psalms that isn’t available by reading them straight through from chapter 1 to 150.

Starting with the opening phrase, “Our Father in heaven,” Robertson teaches about this line and connects it to 12 specific Psalms that address the confidence and trust we have in God. She repeats this process for each of the remaining six phrases in the Lord’s Prayer to produce a delightful, instructive grouping of each Psalm into an organized structure that provides clarity.

These subsequent chapters are:

  • Hallowed be thy Name: Psalms of Praise (19 Psalms) and Thanksgiving (15 Psalms)
  • Thy Kingdom Come: Royal Psalms (23 Psalms)
  • Thy Will Be Done: Wisdom Psalms (22 Psalms)
  • Give Us this Day our Daily Bread: Psalms of Supplication (10 Psalms)
  • Forgive Us our Trespasses: Penitential Psalms (10 Psalms)
  • Lead Us not into Temptation and Deliver Us from Evil: Psalms of Deliverance (39 Psalms)

Robertson ends each grouping with some thought-provoking questions for further reflection.

She concludes with some additional thoughts on the doxology to the Lord’s Prayer: “For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” Though she doesn’t connect this phrase to any of the 150 Psalms, be sure not to skip this part of her teaching.

The overall result is an accessible Bible study that readers can use during the seven weeks of Lent, for seven days, or even for seven months to explore the Psalms in new ways and gain fresh insights through them.

[The Psalms in Light of the Lord’s Prayer: Bible Study, by Patricia M Robertson, D.Min. February 10, 2021, 63 pages; ISBN: 9781393252573]

Read more book reviews by Peter DeHaan.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Balance Freedom of Speech with Being Careful in What We Say

The Tongue Is a Dangerous Tool that We Must Tame

In one of his Psalms, David writes that he will be careful in what he says so that he doesn’t sin. He talks about putting a muzzle on his mouth (Psalms 39:1). He says nothing about having freedom of speech.

James is clear about the dangers of an uncensored tongue. A small part of our body, the tongue can do great harm, setting a whole forest on fire from the single spark of a careless word. What we say can corrupt our whole being, setting our life on fire, a fire born from hell (James 3:3-6).

Jude likewise warns about us saying too much. He writes about people who slander what they don’t understand, operating on instinct like irrational animals. In doing so we destroy ourselves (Jude 1:10).

Freedom of Speech

Today too many people assume that freedom of speech gives them the unfettered right to say whatever they want. In the process they often hurt others and risk making themselves look foolish. Or worse yet, their tongue causes them to sin.

They—and us along with them—will do well to put a muzzle on our mouth, to tame our tongue. We should use our words to praise God (Psalm 40:3) but never to cause harm to another. Watching our words with care will keep us from sin and setting our souls on fire.

Responsibility of Speech

As a society we will do well to follow David’s example, as well as James’s and Jude’s wise counsel. Instead, too many people grasp the concept of free speech that we can say whatever we want, however we want, whenever we want without a thought given to the consequences. Yet freedom of speech carries a responsibility. Our freedom of speech is not without limit. As followers of Jesus, we have a duty to speak truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), to muzzle our mouth so that we do not sin, and to not say things that may harm others.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Psalms 36-40, and today’s post is on Psalms 39:1.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

The Twenty-Third Psalm, a Favorite Passage for Many

David Teaches Us About God as Our Shepherd

In the twenty-third Psalm, the former shepherd boy David, looks to God as his Shepherd. This short six-verse Psalm is a favorite of many, who have perhaps memorized it as a child. Here are a few of the key points we can learn from the twenty-third Psalm.

God Takes Care of Us

As our Shepherd, the Lord will take care of us in the same way a human shepherd cares for his sheep. Yes, sheep are not the smartest animals, and they need help if they’re going to survive. The same holds true for us. We’re not so smart either, and we need God’s help if we’re going to make it.

God Provides What We Need

With God as our Shepherd, we don’t need a thing. He provides everything. He gives us a safe place for our bodies to rest. And he guides us to a place of peace to restore our souls.

God Guides Us Down the Right Path

Next in the twenty-third Psalm we learn that God shows us which way to go. As our guide, he walks with us on our journey of life. Though we may not know which way to go, he does.

God Protects Us When We Go Astray

Even when we stray from his path and go in the wrong direction, he’ll protect us from the evil we may encounter. He’ll go with us. We’ll move without fear because God, as our Shepherd, will keep us safe from harm.

God, our shepherd, will make sure that goodness surrounds us and love follows us through the rest of our life. Click To Tweet

God Blesses Us Throughout Our Life

God, our shepherd, will make sure that goodness surrounds us and love follows us through the rest of our life. And when our life is over, we’ll hang out with him forever in his house, our eternal home.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Psalm 21-25, and today’s post is on Psalm 23.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Reviews of Books & Movies

Book Review: A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23

Spiritual Insights from a Real Shephard

By Phillip Keller (reviewed by Peter DeHaan)

The idea of a shepherd overseeing his flock is a powerful metaphor of the relationship between God and his people. Unfortunately, today’s world has largely lost touch with its agrarian roots, missing much of the deeper meaning of a shepherd’s watch and care over his flock.

A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 takes an interesting and insightful look at the 23rd Psalm from the perspective of a shepherd, who is also the author. By learning how a good shepherd protects, cares, and provides for his sheep, we can gain a better understanding into how our Good Shepherd cares for us, his sheep.

Furthermore, as we learn about the sacrifices Keller made for his sheep and the ways in which they benefited—generally oblivious to his loving efforts—we gain insight into God’s sacrifices for us to keep us safe from enemies, healthy from maladies, and content in our existence.

Sometimes, though, sheep thwart the shepherd’s efforts; in this regard, Keller again shares from his experience, in which we see the loving patience of the Good Shepherd emerge.

Reading this book will appreciably change the way you read Psalm 23.

[A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, by W. Phillip Keller. Published by Zondervan, 2007, ISBN: 978-0310274414, 176 pages.]

Read more book reviews by Peter DeHaan.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

Do You Enjoy Reading Psalms?

Many people love reading the psalms in the Bible. They connect with the beauty and the flow of the words; they resonate with the pains, passions, and praises of the writers; it is their “go-to” place to find, express, and reveal their emotion of the moment as it emotes from daily living.

I am not one of those people.

Let me be frank. The psalms bore me to tears. I want to reach back through the passage of time and slap King David (a writer of many of the psalms) with the rejoinder, “Quit your whining.”

However, when reading the psalms in The Message—a Bible paraphrase that attempts to capture the raw, earthy nature of the original text in a comprehensible way for today’s world—I, too, become captivated by the power and honesty of it.

If, unlike me, you enjoy reading the psalms, then by all means continue to do so. Don’t let my curmudgeonly outlook spoil your joy and appreciation for this ancient text.

However, if, like me, you too struggle connecting with the psalms, then check them out in The Message—you might just find a new appreciation for them.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

God is the Shepherd

God is the Shepherd

In the fourth word picture for God, we consider the common image of God as the good shepherd and we as his sheep.

God, as the good shepherd, is caring, protective, patient, brave, wise, sacrificial, and most significantly, knows us by name.

Sheep, are known as being not too intelligent, easily getting into trouble and frequently needing to be rescued, but they do know the voice of the shepherd, usually going to him when he calls.

(See A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 for a more in-depth and insightful consideration of this word picture.)

[Psalm 119:176, Isaiah 53:6, Ezekiel 34:11, Matthew 9:36, John 10:3, John 10:15, John 10:27, 1 Peter 2:25]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.